A more level-headed approach II

As the previous “level-headed” post was quite unfair and one-sided, I thought I would be a little more inclusive here. It is also more interesting to me.

If we make the distinction between who and what we are, we get three ways to meet our human and spiritual longings.

We can meet all human and spiritual longings with spirituality tools. We can meet them with psychological tools. Or we can meet them at their own levels.

First some terminology: Who refers to who we are as humans in the world, with everything typically associated with the human – sensations, emotions, thoughts, desires and so on. What refers to what we really are, that which all happens within and as. And there is a “spiritual” longing that naturally happens when we temporarily identify as/with the who and forget what we are. A quiet longing for truth, reality, God. Knots refer to what happens when stories are taken as true, when there is identification with a viewpoint – which tends to create wounds at a human level, and also the quiet longing for – again – remembering what we are. And the distinction between who and what may be useful, sometimes, but it is also imaginary. The distinction only happens when there is an overlay of an imagined boundary.

So we can meet all longings – whether the ordinary human ones or the quiet spiritual longing – with tools from spirituality, emphasizing awakening and what we are. This may be quite appropriate in a traditional and monastic setting. For some, it may provide the fuel or drive they need for awakening to happen. These tools may invite in healing and maturing at a human level, especially if presented or used with that intention. In short, it may or may not invite in awakening, and it may or may not invite in healing and maturing. A risk here is also that simple, ordinary and effective tools for inviting in healing and maturing are overlooked – so the person is missing out of the sense of wholeness and satisfaction that comes at that level.

We can meet all longings with psychological tools. These are often quite effective at the human level, helping the person to find a sense of wholeness, meaning and satisfaction as a human being in the world. But it may also lead to ignoring or misinterpreting a genuine spiritual calling, which creates its own – sometimes dramatic – problems.

And we can meet the human and spiritual longings at their own levels. We can meet the longings at the human level with psychological tools, inviting in healing and maturing. And we can meet the quiet longing for truth or God with tools from spirituality, inviting what we are to noticing itself. We get to address both. We learn to differentiate and recognize the two. Is there a sense of compulsion? Then mainly use psychological tools. Is there a quiet longing for truth and God? Then use tools from spirituality. We get to explore more consciously how certain tools address both levels such as allowing experience (in daily life or through silent sitting) and various forms for inquiry and self-inquiry.

These are of course all tools, including these three ways of meeting longing. It all depends on how they are used.

And as mentioned above, the distinction between who and what we are is itself only a tool. It is an imaginary distinction. Useful in some situations and not other.



  • a more level-headed approach II
    • meeting all with spirituality tools
      • channeling neediness (knots, wounds) into spiritual practice
      • benefits
        • if in monastic situation, may be quite appropriate
        • for some, may provide the fuel/drive needed for awakening to happen
        • the tools may invite in healing/maturing, especially if used with that intention
        • (in short: may invite in awakening, and if not, may still invite in healing/maturing)
      • drawbacks
        • may not work for awakening
        • may work for awakening, but still unhealthy/immature as a human in the world
        • may overlook more ordinary – and effective – tools for healing/maturing
    • meeting all with psychological tools
      • benefits
        • get to include healing/maturing
      • drawbacks
        • may ignore a genuine spiritual calling
    • meet at its own level
      • meeting neediness with tools aimed at healing
      • quiet longing for truth/god, meet with spiritual practices
      • benefits
        • healing/maturing and inviting in awakening are each attended to
        • meet each at its own level
        • learn to differentiate neediness (holes, wounds at human level) and spiritual calling (quiet longing for truth/god)
      • drawbacks
        • may take some fuel out of spiritual practices (although not likely, the opposite seems more likely)
    • tools
      • nothing inherently right or wrong in either, it all depends on how it is used/done
      • each of these approaches are tools, and as with all tools, it depends on how they are used
      • (the overall approaches are tools, as are the specific practices – as are traditions etc.)
    • who and what distinction
      • finally, the who and what distinction itself is – obviously – imaginary
        • who happens within and as what
        • who is what what temporarily takes itself to be through mistaken identity
        • who doesn’t exist as anything solid, separate, lasting – it only appears through an imagined overlay of boundaries, labels, interpretations etc.
      • tools tend to work on both areas – if work on mainly one, tends to open for the other (especially if have that intention)

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