Being stuck in the absolute is not very helpful

If our awakening path is conceptually driven – or conceptually hijacked – it’s possible to get “stuck in the absolute”. To focus on what we are at the expense of who we are, and see the two as opposed to each other. Of course, if we are sincere and put our direct noticing first, we’ll see that both are part of what we are and the richness of what we are. It’s not one or the other.

I have seen this in people who go into a non-dual or awakening teacher role as well. The student comes with a very real human challenge or problem, and the teacher seems stuck in answering from a more absolute view. It’s partially true and valid of course, but it’s not very helpful to leave out the human dimension.

So what do we do if a mouse is stuck in a maze and asks for help?

We can focus on getting the mouse out, which is often what the mouse wants and needs there and then. (“If the maze doesn’t have circles, then take only right turns and you’ll get out.”)

We can focus exclusively on the “inner teachings” or the absolute view, which is partial and not very helpful for a desperate mouse. (“The maze is inside you”, “This whole experience is happening within and as what we are”.)

Or we can include both, which is helpful at two different levels. (“Take only right turns and you’ll get out. Also notice what this brings up in you and examine the stressful stories. And notice it’s all – the maze, you, anything coming up in you – is happening within and as what you are.”)

I have certainly experienced people in an awakening-teacher role who seemed stuck in the absolute. For instance, I have come to spiritual teachers – and often junior teachers – with legitimate concerns about the organization, and they dismiss it and say something along the lines of “notice it’s all happening within you”. Again, it’s partially valid and yet not very appropriate when people come to you with understandable and valid concerns. To me, it seems they are deflecting, coming from a one-sided view, and dismissing the human side of who and what we are.

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