Do I have to become somebody before becoming nobody?

You have to become somebody before you can become nobody.

I recently heard this again and thought I would say a few words about it.

As far as I understand, it means that we need to develop a healthy psyche before we can start exploring what we are and how to live from that.

Is it true? As usual, the answer may be yes, no, and it depends.

YES, SOMETIMES IT’S GOOD ADVICE

Yes, it’s generally good advice if you are unusually ungrounded, unable to take care of your life very well, are dealing with a lot of trauma, and so on. In these cases, taking care of this goes before most other considerations, including exploring what we are.

NO, IN MOST CASES IT DOESN’T NEED TO STOP YOU

No, in most cases you don’t have to wait. If you are normally unhealthy and dysfunctional, you can do both. Seek out approaches that invite in healing for you at a human level, and also helps you find what you are and live from that.

There are a lot of tools out there that does both, including different forms of inquiry (The Work, Living Inquiries), heart-centered approaches (tonglen, ho’oponopono, metta, prayer), body-centered approaches (yoga, taichi, chigong), training a more stable attention (good all-around), basic meditation (notice + allow), and more.

IT DEPENDS ON THE PERSON, SITUATION, INTENTION ETC.

And it depends. It depends on what you mean by somebody and nobody, the person, the situation, what you are interested in, and so on.

I assume by somebody, they mean a healthy and functioning human self. The operating system works reasonably and normally well. By nobody, they may mean finding what we are, which is what allows this somebody and all our other experiences.

Who we are happens within and as what we are, so finding what we are doesn’t at all exclude who we are. On the contrary, finding what we are can allow our human self in the world to function in a more authentic way, with more flow, and it often starts a process of a deep healing of our human self. That healing process can be challenging, which is why it’s typically easier and safer if we start out normally dysfunctionally healthy.

What can go wrong? Nothing is inherently wrong since whatever happens becomes part of our process. But there are some typical challenges that can happen if we explore what we are while our human self is unusually unstable or we are dealing with a lot of trauma.

If we have a lot of trauma in our system, and whether we know about this trauma or not, it can get released through meditation and other forms of spiritual practice. And this can be frightening, overwhelming, disorienting, and we may respond to it by creating new traumas. It’s important to work with a guide or instructor who is familiar with trauma work and signs of trauma, and knows how to help you deal with it. At the very least, the person needs to be aware of what may come up, the signs, of it, and who to send you to for further assistance.

We may also react to our pain by wanting transcendence, or by going into disassociation. We may want and hope that awakening will help us leave our human self and the pain we associate with being this human self. If this is the case, it’s good to address this early on. Finding what we are is not really about transcendence, it’s more about finding a different context for our human life.

And we cannot avoid whatever is unprocessed in our human self. It’s always there, it will always color our perception and life, we’ll always be in reaction to it one way or another, and it tends to surface on its own because it too wants release and healing.

In some cases, people may get fascinated by what they are – or the idea of what they are – to the exclusion of living and taking care of their life in the world. That happens with other things as well, including – I assume – stamp collecting. If this happens, it’s natural and to be expected if it’s relatively mild and not too long-lasting. And there may be a component of avoidance there, especially if it is extreme, and something to look at and find healing for.

In general, it’s good to focus on healing parallel with any focus on noticing and living from what we are. And it’s good to examine any beliefs we have about awakening and what we think we’ll get out of it.

Many who get into exploring what they are do so partly because they want to escape something. Again, there is a lot of potential for finding clarity around our painful beliefs here and finding healing for how we relate to our own discomfort and for the unhealed parts of us. The motivation is not wrong, it’s a pointer to something in us we can find healing for.

SUMMARY

So do we need to become somebody before becoming nobody?

In some cases, yes. If we are unusually unstable, have a lot of trauma, have a strong tendency to disassociation, and so on, it’s good to address this first. That’s true in general, even outside of this context.

In most cases, no. If we are just ordinarily unhealthy and dysfunctional, we can do both. Especially if we use tools and approaches that support healing, noticing what we are, and living from this noticing.

And as usual, it depends. It depends on who we are and what we are dealing with. It depends on the situation and what support we have. It depends on our motivation and what we are really seeking. If we just want some relief from discomfort, then healing may do the trick. If we are genuinely drawn to what we more fundamentally are, and also seek deeper and more thorough healing, then awakening is the ticket.

INITIAL DRAFT

You have to become somebody before becoming nobody.

I think I rougly understand where this is coming from, and partially agree.

If our human self has a heavy trauma load, is dysfunctional beyond what’s normal, is very emotionally unstable, or there is already a lot of disassociation, it’s good to address that first.

In most cases, where our human self is just normally dysfunctional, we can do both. And there are many approaches that address both human healing and healing from separation consciousness.

One doesn’t exclude the other. On the contrary, it’s more likely that they mutually support each other, especially if that’s our intention and we use approaches that address both types of healing.

WHERE DOES THE ASSUMPTION COME FROM?

Where does the have to become somebody assumption come from?

I am sure it’s well intentioned. It seems to come from a place of acknowledging the importance of functioning well as a human being, and address any issues there.

And I am also wondering if it’s coming from some misconceptions.

They may assume that finding what we are somehow makes it more difficult to function as a human being.

There are some cases where that happens. Typically when the system is so traumatized that the center of gravity shifts into transcendence and out of the human (as far as it’s possible) in order to escape the trauma.

If someone has a lot of trauma, or if they are already disembodied one way or another, it’s good to address that right away and prioritize it.

In general, noticing what we are either doesn’t impact our daily life so much, or it makes it easier. It creates more flow, more acceptance of our human self as it is, and it opens for living with more authenticity.

Since our human self becomes more of an object, it also opens for relating to our human self – and its quirks and hangups – more intentionally. It means there is a little more space to avoid automatically acting on any remaining issues in us. (Although we will likely still act on some and that’s OK and part of the process.)

Noticing what we are means we become more ourselves, even at a human level.

HOW WE CAN DO BOTH

Most of the approaches I write about here address healing at our human level and healing out of separation consciousness.

For me, the two forms of healing go hand in hand.

We can use certain forms of inquiry to notice what we are, and keep noticing and exploring how to live from it. And, at the same time, live our human life and heal and mature in an ordinary way.

As mentioned earlier, the noticing may even aid healing and maturing of our human self.

We can investigate our beliefs (The Work) and how our sense fields create our experiences, including of separation and emotional issues (Living Inquiries). And this will aid our healing as a human self and also help us find what we are.

We can learn to shift how we relate to life and our experiences through heart-centered practices. (Tonglen, ho’oponopno, metta, etc.) This invites in healing of our human self and helps soften separation consciousness.

We can use basic meditation to notice and allow our experiences, as they are, and perhaps find they are already allowed (by life, mind, space) and noticed (since they happen within consciousness).

This helps healing our relationship with our experiences (unless a lot of trauma comes up, in which case that has to be addresses) and it helps us find ourselves as what our experiences happen within and as.

There are also many other practices that invite in both of these forms of healing.

In each of these cases, we find healing from separation consciousness, and we find healing for our human self.

HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

What about human development?

Do we need to create separation consciousness before we can discover – and live from – what we are? Or is that just what we are most familiar with because that’s what happens in most cases?

I assume the latter. I think the assumption that we need to go through separation consciousness, as some have, come from a bias. It comes from having seen a lot of cases of just that happening, and not so many – if any – where people never went through separation consciousness.

I suspect that has more to do with the current phase of human evolution than something inherent in the process.

We obviously need to go through all the normal stages of human development, from infancy to adulthood and within adulthood.

And I don’t see that requiring us to go through a phase of separation consciousness. I assume we can live from oneness and still function as a human being, and allow this human self to go through all the normal phases of development and maturing.

DRAFT FRAGMENTS

Where does the have to become somebodyassumption come from? 

I am sure it’s well intentioned. It seems to come from a place of acknowledging the importance of functioning well as a human being, and address any issues there. 

And I am also wondering if it’s coming from some misconceptions. 

They may assume that finding what we are somehow makes it more difficult to function as a human being. 

There are some cases where that happens. Typically when the system is so traumatized that the center of gravity shifts into transcendence and out of the human (as far as it’s possible) in order to escape the trauma. If someone has a lot of trauma, it’s good to address that right away and prioritize it. 

In general, noticing what we are either doesn’t impact our daily life so much, or it makes it easier. It creates more flow, more acceptance of our human self as it is, and it opens for living with more authenticity. 

Since our human self becomes more of an object, it also opens for relating to our human self – and its quirks and hangups – more intentionally. It means there is a little more space to avoid automatically acting on any remaining issues in us. (Although we will likely still act on some and that’s OK and part of the process.) 

Noticing what we are means we become more ourselves, even at a human level.

….

We can use basic meditation to notice and allow our experiences, as they are, and perhaps find they are already allowed (by life, mind, space) and noticed (since they happen within consciousness). This helps us notice thoughts instead of getting caught up in the stories they want to tell us.

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