Anything you avoid in life will come back, over and over again, until you’re willing to face it – to look deeply into its true nature.– Adyashanti, The End of Your World: Uncensored Straight Talk on the Nature of Enlightenment
Why would it come back?
What we want to avoid tend to visit us again for a few different reasons.
Life is rich and diverse and the same type of situations, thoughts, emotions, and experiences tend to visit again.
Anything we want to avoid or hold onto has a charge for us. Or, rather, the idea of it has a charge for us. The thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions we have about it, and the identities we associate with it. Anything that has a charge is something the mind’s attention is automatically drawn to.
Our system seems to have a natural tendency to bring what’s unhealed to the surface so it can be seen, felt, befriended, and healed. For that reason too, the parts of us we want to avoid tend to come up again. It’s an invitation for healing our relationship with it, and for it in itself to find healing.
We cannot escape it, so we may as well face it and get to know what it really is.
How can we find its true nature?
The easiest is to first find our own true nature. If I find myself as capacity for my world, as what my experiences happen within and as, then I can notice that any of my experiences has this same true nature.
An emotion comes up. I notice the physical sensations of it, and I can notice it’s true nature is the same as my true nature. And the same with thoughts, sights, sounds, and so on.
I can also ask it what’s your true nature? And notice. (The answer is in noticing, not what a thought says.)
Our true nature vs the true nature of our experiences
If we notice our own true nature, wouldn’t we also notice the true nature of all our experiences? After all, it’s the same thing. Our experiences happens within and as what we are.
Yes, in a very general sense. But many parts of our psyche likely still operate from separation consciousness, and when these come to the surface, we tend to see what’s triggered – and often what triggered it – from separation consciousness. We revert to a separation consciousness way of perceiving it and relating to it.
That’s why Adya’s second pointer in the quote – to look into its true nature – is important.
Getting to know it
Adya goes straight to the heart of the matter, to seeing the true nature of what we – our conditioning and habits – want to avoid.
There are other ways to know it, which can support this process and give us some insights.
We can inquire into the beliefs telling us to avoid it, saying something terrible will happen if we don’t, and any other belief related to the situation.
We can inquire into how our mind creates its experience of the situation – how certain thoughts and sensations combine to create the charge, associations, and our earliest memory of this wish to avoid it.
We can do a mental imaginary dialog with the part of us that want to avoid it and get to know it, its experience of the world, what it fears, what it wants to protect us from, and seeing that it comes from a wish to protect us and from love for us.
The importance of guidance
We need guidance and experience to do all of this, otherwise we can just create additional unfruitful discomfort for ourselves.
We may need to try out different guides and approaches and see what works for us.
For me, Headless experiments and the Big Mind process seem the simplest and most effective supports for helping us notice our own true nature, which then helps us notice the true nature of our experiences – including the ones our personality wants to avoid or hold onto.
What we want to avoid
What do we want to avoid? We may want to avoid certain situations as much as we can if we wish to be a good steward of our life, and that’s a very good thing. It makes sense to avoid being hit by a train, or getting sick if we can avoid it, or going hungry for too long.
What Adya talks about is wanting to avoid certain experiences – emotional pain, physical pain, distress, discomfort, and so on. One purpose of basic meditation – notice & allow – is for these to surface, for us to see how we habitually relate to them, and for us to shift how we relate to them (befriending them) and notice and get familiar with their true nature.
May still visit
If we see its true nature, does it mean it won’t come back?
No, it may still visit again and likely will. It’s just that seeing its true nature helps us relate to it differently.
It tends to undercut the struggle we habitually have had with it, and that’s where most or nearly all of the discomfort and unpleasantness is.
This noticing happens here and now. Having noticed in the past can help as a reminder and pointer, but the noticing happens here in immediacy.