Simplicity

A path of awakening, healing, and maturing is often about simplicity.

Here are some of the ways I have found simplicity, and I’ll end with the most essential one.

SOME SIMPLE WAYS I HAVE FOUND SIMPLICITY

When I trace my needs and wants back, I find simplicity. I find that what I need and what are some universal essentials: Love. Acceptance. Safety. Being seen and understood. The rest are strategies to get those innocent universal essentials. To find this, I take any surface need or want, even the most mundane ones. I ask myself: What do I hope to get out of it? And then repeat that question until I arrive at something very simple and essential with nothing behind it. (This inquiry is from Adyashanti.)

When I communicate, at least with my partner and some friends, and it seems appropriate, I say: I feel X, because of Y. Often, it’s in the form of: I feel scared, this is what triggered it, and it really comes from an old wound in me. I may also add a request. (This is from Non-Violent Communication and Marshall Rosenberg.) When I look, I find that most of my emotions – independent of what surface form it takes – can be traced back to fear, and a kind of survival fear. I don’t know if it’s like this for others.

I tend to map my being in a simple way: Who and what I am. As who I am, I am this human self in the world just as my passport says and the way most see me. It’s a role I play in the world. As what I am, I am what I more fundamentally am to myself. I find myself as what the whole field of experience happens within and as. I find myself as what a thought may call consciousness, and the world to me happens within and as that consciousness. What I am is oneness and the world, to me, happens within and as that oneness. Even more fundamentally, I find myself as capacity for the world. I find myself as capacity for any and all experience.

I like to use a simple idea for understanding my psyche, and that is parts or subpersonalities. I think of my psyche as consisting of subpersonalities. Each of these has its own world, they experience the world in their own way. And any perspective I can think of comes with a subpersonality. They are innumerable and create an amazing richness. I can dialog with them, and I can dialog while taking on the role and view of a certain part. When I communicate with myself and others, I also find it helpful to say: I notice that a part me of feels this, is angry, is scared, and so on. That helps me relate to it more intentionally, and see it as a part of me and something happening within my field of experience.

I like to say “I want” and “I choose to”. They are wants since I don’t really have any needs, apart from in the most informal sense. And I choose my actions, I don’t really have to do anything. That also makes for a simpler and more honest communication with myself and others. (I think this also comes from NVC?)

I like to differentiate needs and strategies. My most essential needs are universal, innocent, and simple: Love, safety, being seen and understood, and so on. My body also has some basic needs: Water, food, shelter, comfort, etc. And there are many strategies to get those essentials. I can give myself the essentials of love, safety, etc. I can seek companionship where I experience it. I can try to be a good steward for my human self in the world and provide for the essentials of what my body needs. Differentiating needs and strategies opens my mind to a range of different strategies, and it also makes it easier to negotiate with others so I have my needs met. (This can still be quite challenging for me, at least in some situations.) This is also from Non-Violent Communication and Marshall Rosenberg.

Another simple guideline is being a good steward of my life. To take care of my life as a good friend or parent would. It seems obvious, but I don’t always do it. This guideline is from Adyasanti.

SOME MORE COMPLEX APPROACHES THAT SIMPLIFY

And a few things that simplify for me but are a little more complex…

It’s not strictly necessary, but I like to differentiate small and big understandings of awakening. A small understanding stays close to what we notice and can say something about. To myself, the world to me happens within and as what I am. I can explore my nature as consciousness, oneness, capacity, and so on. And I cannot assume that the nature of all of existence is the same as my nature. A big understanding of awakening is in the context of all as the divine. Here, we take a jump and assume that the nature of all of existence is the same as our own. This is the traditional way of understanding awakening. It’s a simple differentiation, honest, and we can use either one depending on the situation and what seems most useful. The small understanding allows for better communication across traditions and is compatible with most worldviews. The big understanding is more traditional and more inspiring to some.

I understand oneness in different ways. Again, this is not strictly necessary but I find it useful. In the world and at the level of stories, I see the universe as a seamless system, as a whole, a holarchy made up of holons. To me, I find that the world happens within and as the oneness I am. They are two different things and it’s good to notice. (If I confuse the two, it’s possible to get into unnecessary complexities.)

I use an integral model of the world, at least for myself although I often don’t talk about it. Although integral models can be complex, they have a simplicity in that they acknowledge the validity in many or most ways of understanding the world and place them into a bigger whole. (It’s simpler than the alternatives of pretending one understanding is “true” and another is not, or accepting the validity in most or all but not seeing them in a bigger picture!)

THE SIMPLE CONTEXT

There is also a context to all this, and it is, in a sense, fundamental simplicity.

In the initial oneness shift when I was sixteen, all was revealed as God. Everything without exception is God or Spirit or the divine. Everything is God experiencing itself as that1. That’s the words I used to try to point to it at the time.

These days, I would rather say that, to myself, I am fundamentally consciousness and that consciousness woke up to itself. To what I am, all is consciousness. The world, as it appears to me, happens within and as the consciousness I am. Just like in a night dream, the consciousness I am forms itself into any and all content of experience, whether we call it a night dream, waking life, or whatever else we choose to call it.

Even more fundamentally, I notice I am capacity for all of it. What I am is capacity for consciousness and all that consciousness forms itself into. I assume this is also the case for any “conscious beings”.

It doesn’t get much simpler than that. And living from and as it has infinite wrinkles.

I’ll add a couple of notes:

It seems that any “conscious being” is fundamentally consciousness to themselves, and that the world – as it appears to them – happens within and as the consciousness they are. That’s not at all special. I also assume that most beings live with a kind of noticing of this, but the noticing may not be so conscious or at the forefront.

This is the essential simplicity. I had it at the beginning of this article but decided to put it here since it may require a bit more to notice and live from.

(1) That includes anything related to this human self and any sense of being anything in particular within content of experience, including ideas of a doer or observer. All of it happens within and as the divine. In my case, there was first a shift into an observer-observed duality for about a year, and then there was a shift out of the observer-identification and all was revealed as the divine AKA consciousness.

I took the photo several years ago at the Exploratorium in San Francisco


INITIAL NOTES

  • Simplicity
    • Find what we really want, trace back (Adya) 
    • Simple communication – what I feel, what triggered it, request (NVC) 
    • Subpersonalities, dialog, 
    • Who and what I am 
    • Capacity, 

I use stress and tension as pointers to where my system holds onto painful beliefs. Quite often, “I” as a whole may not hold onto a particular belief, but parts of me do. I can identify and examine these stories and beliefs, for instance, using The Work of Byron Katie.

……

That includes any sense of being a separate self, this human self, a doer, an observer, and so on. It’s all the play of the divine, the play of consciousness. It’s existence forming itself into that experience.

….

In other words, my word happens within and as the consciousness I am.

…..

It’s not very special. It’s just the consciousness we all are noticing itself, and noticing that it forms itself into any and all content of experience – including of this human self, of a doer and observer, and any sense of fundamentally being any of it, or not.

…..

In the initial oneness shift when I was sixteen, all was revealed as God. Everything without exception is God or Spirit or the divine. Everything is God experiencing itself as that1. That’s the words I used to try to point to it at the time.

These days, I would rather say that, to myself, I am fundamentally consciousness and that consciousness woke up to itself. It was clear that, to what I am, all is consciousness. The world, as it appears to me, happens within and as consciousness. Just like in a night dream, the consciousness I am forms itself into any and all content of experience, whether we call it a night dream, waking life, or whatever else we choose to call it.

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