Self-Centered

When I look, I see that I have no option but to function in a self-centered way.

As long as there is a belief in the idea of I, that functions as a center in my world. Whatever this idea of I is placed on (my human self, family, nation, Earth, life, universe, witness) become the center of my experience and functioning in the world. Whatever I do, however selfish or altruistic it may seem from a conventional view, is for myself.

I act from a should. I act from a belief. I act from a sense of ethics. I act from my integrity. I act from a sense of compassion. I act from a realization of interconnections. And so on. It is all for me, although I am of course free to tell myself the story that I am doing it for others.

And when this belief in the idea of I falls away, when there is a realization of selflessness, we can say that the self-centeredness also falls away. But we can also say that it just changes from self-centeredness to Self-centeredness. The new center (of gravity) is in Big Mind, the realization of Ground. That which has center nowhere and everywhere, and yet is temporarily functionally centered on a particular human self.

Peeling the Layers of Beliefs

The first two questions in the Byron Katie inquiries are Is it true? and Can I absolutely know that it is true?

Few beliefs questioned

In the beginning, it may seem that most of our beliefs are true. I believe in it, so it naturally appears true to me.

Personal beliefs questioned

Then, we may go through a phase where certain beliefs are seen as clearly not true, such as my personal opinions. And others are still unquestioned and appear true, such as the ones taken as given in our culture, or by most humans anywhere.

Any belief questioned

Finally, we may realize that any belief is questionable. When sincerely explored, any belief falls apart – it is shown to not accurately reflect our immediate experience. And this goes for even those beliefs taken for granted by most humans – such as I am a man or woman, I am an adult or child, I am a human being, there is I and Other, I experience, something exists, and so on.

This is where Big Mind opens up for us, where we begin to taste the Ground. The most basic identities start to fall away, such as that of a man or woman, a human being, or awareness. The most core beliefs, such as in the idea of I, now seem precarious and begin to erode.

Driven

Another topic that keeps coming up for me…

We can be driven. In Voice Dialogue, Process Work and other approaches, this is seen as something in us pushing us. There is a voice or a figure pushing us. And there is an element of compulsion, obsessiveness, and lack of freedom in this. It is somewhat contracted.

There can be an apparent absence drive. From the Byron Katie inquiries, it can be seen as coming from beliefs holding us back, draining us of energy and passion. In a way, this too is a drive although towards lack of engagement. Or, it can probably also happen in an awakening process where the drive has dropped away and something else has not yet taken its place.

And there can be an absence of drive in a conventional sense, and the presence of engagement and passion. In the awakening process, this deepens as (a) the neurotic drives are seen through and erode and (b) there is a new passion and engagement from the realization of selflessness, of it all as Ground manifesting, and of rehumanizing and deepening compassion.

So when we are caught up in beliefs in ideas, including the idea of I, there can be drive or lack of drive – both with a lack of freedom and a sense of compulsiveness. When these beliefs are seen through, there is a renewed engagement and passion – free from compulsiveness, free from any sense of I and Other. It is just emptiness dancing, the divine mind naturally and effortlessly manifesting throgh and as our human life. There is a sense of ease and simplicity in this, far beyond any conventional ease and simplicity.

In real life, it is of course often more interwoven than this. Drives and awakening may well co-exist in different variations.

Ice Cream, Rugs & Arrogance

Icecream

I had some ice cream a couple of days ago, and then some hot cheese sandwiches yesterday, and they predictably made for a miserable body. Which in turn influences the mind.

I notice how things get triggered far easier, and also how there is more identification with what is triggered. It seems that instead of just allowing thoughts come and go on their own, with little or no identification, there is an attachment to just about every one of them – each one is hold onto, seen as real, used to make myself miserable in various ways.

Under the rug

And this may be the blessing of icecream for me – or rather food intolerance, because it allows whatever is normally not seen, not paid attention to, swept under the rug, to surface and be seen.

There may be minor triggers, minor beliefs, surfacing during the day, but then left to sink below the surface again since they appear to have little impact. I tend to focus on what goes well, and ignore the minor signs of beliefs and stuckness.

So this is the blessing of the mind/body being in a less healthy and well-functioning state. It allows all of these minor hangups to surface and be noticed. It is an invitation for me to explore them further, to see what is really true for me around those themes. It is an invitation to take more beliefs to inquiry.

Arrogance

When this happens, I also see the tremendous amounts of arrogance still left here. Again, when this body/mind is relatively well-functioning, I don’t notice it so much. But when the body/mind goes downhill, it stands out more. I see that everything triggered, every thought held onto and fueled, have to do with arrogance. And a tremendous amount of it.

Whenever I want something else than what is, there is arrogance. It comes from a belief in the idea of I as a segment of what is, as somehow separate from all there is, as I as opposed to Other. Whenever I resist what is, whenever I compare what is with a particular self-image, there is arrogance. It comes from an exclusive identity.

I can see how this crops up everywhere in my life.

And I see how completely innocent it is.

  1. There are beliefs in certain thoughts, and I have to see the world and behave in certain ways. When the beliefs are there, there is no choice.
  2. There is also no choice but to hold onto these beliefs until they are seen through.
  3. And when they are seen through, they are automatically dropped like a piece of hot coal. Again, no choice is involved. They have to be dropped.

Relating to Thoughts

Nothing new here, but still something that comes up for me…

As long as we believe in thoughts – or more precisely in abstractions in any form, such as images, memories, models, theories, thoughts and so on – we will experience stress. The world will show up in a way that does not conform with our beliefs in particular abstractions about it, and the discrepancy creates discomfort, uneasiness, and suffering. Our conscious view is out of alignment with what is, and this naturally creates suffering.

And as long as we believe in thoughts, as long as they have a charge for us, we will also experience what we perceive as unwanted thoughts. Thoughts appear because that is their job. They come and go as clouds. And if we believe some of them should not, then they appear as unwanted. We interpret them as intruding, and some of them may even be labeled negative, destructive, pathological and so on.

We use many ways of trying to deal with these thoughts, including developing a strong focus (temporarily pushing them aside), shifting attention (to the breath, the body and so on), therapy, affirmations (trying to replace them with other, more “positive”, thoughts), and so on. But none of these will really work as long as we still believe in the original thoughts. For as long as they have a charge for us, they will show up and want our attention. They will come back wanting resolution. Wanting to be resolved. Wanting to be seen through.

These thoughts are completely innocent. It is only our belief in them, or in our stories about them, that gives them any charge. We attach to them because they appear real, significant, substantial, powerful, accurate and/or true.

And this belief can only hold as long as it is not thoroughly investigated. It is only the unexamined beliefs which stay beliefs and maintain their charge.

When we investigate the beliefs, through the four questions and the turnaround, and explore more in detail what is really true for us in our immediate experience, the belief naturally erodes and falls away. It is seen through. The thought loses its charge. It loses its apparent grip on us. It loses its apparent reality, substance, power, accuracy, significance and truth.

The thoughts are now revealed as what they are – completely innocent questions about the world. And as they have no charge anymore, they come and go as clouds – and with as much (or rather little) impact as clouds passing through the sky. They no longer appear intrusive. No thoughts are seen as positive or negative. No thoughts are any longer pathological. They just are.

In releasing these beliefs, we also uncover the inherent nature of mind – is clarity, wisdom, compassion, love, and effortless effectiveness in functioning in the world. These qualities are what we are, inherently, each one of us, and they are only temporarily covered up by beliefs in abstractions and the consequences coming from that. It never goes away, no matter what the surface phenomena may look like in the present.

Ultimately, we end up seeing through the belief in the idea of I, and even that one falls away, revealing the selfless nature of what is. We discover that we are not exclusively our human self or awareness, but what is – beyond and including any and all polarities. There is only the suchness. Only God. It is all the play of God, and it is all good.

It is good, far beyond even the most appealing and attractive images and hopes painted by any belief.

The Problems of Separation

As long as I believe in the idea of I – creating an appearance of I and Other – there is suffering. And this suffering take many forms, all the ones I recognize in my own life, see in the lives of others, and I am sure many more.

A particular subset of how this is played out is feeling that others impinge on me, for instance through their ideas, behaviors, energy, or just by their plain existence – displaying some qualities that bug me.

I talked with my acupuncturist last week, and she mentioned a healer in town who specialize in separating out other’s energies from one’s own. As any other approach to healing, I am sure it is useful and has its place. At the same time, it clearly comes from duality and also from a place of believing in stories (those two are obviously the same).

If I don’t believe in stories, then there is no problem there. There is only clarity.

Anything that could be labeled “bad energy” or “disturbed” or “confused” or “unhealthy” all comes from stories, in two different ways. First, it is obviously labeled based on a story. And more importantly, when these things come up they seem to do so due to somebody’s belief in a story.

I may believe in several mutually contradictory stories, and experience confusion. I may tell myself a story about somebody – including myself – which brings up contraction and hatred. I may believe I am not worthy and act in a way that is not good for my health. And so on.

When we see through these stories for ourselves – when we find what is more true for us in our own experience, the stories are harmless. They may come and go, in ourselves and/or others around us, and they have lost their charge. They come and go with the same innocence as as clouds.

The “bad energies” and “unhealthy tendencies” apparently from others are (a) recognized in ourselves and (b) the thoughts behind them are seen through and revealed as harmless.

When I can see through my own stories, and how patterns unravel when these stories are seen through, I can also see through the stories when they appear in others. They are harmless, either way.

I see the complete innocence in myself and others.

Innocence

Byron Katie often says that it is all pure innocence.

This is what we see when we discover ourselves as Big Mind. And I also see that it becomes very clear through the Byron Katie inquiries, at least in my experience.

I see that when there is a belief in a particular thought, it has necessary consequences and these are quite predictable and shows up in similar ways in all of our lives – somewhat modified by the other beliefs they happen to co-exist with.

And I see that as long as this belief is unexamined, it is held onto and acted upon as if it is real, as if it accurately represents reality. As soon as it is examined, as soon as we explore what is really true for us behind it, the belief is seen through and falls away – just as we drop a piece of hot coal as soon as we notice we are holding onto it.

So there is a pure innocence in how it is lived out. And there is a pure innocence in whether we hold onto it or drop it.

There is nothing mysterious here. Nothing malicious. No evil ego holding on to anything or protecting itself. No dubious human nature.

It is all pure innocence. And beautiful in that – although the consequences of unexamined beliefs can appear quite ugly. We only see the beauty in it when our own beliefs start falling away.

Beliefs as Time Bombs

Beliefs are time bombs, waiting to go off.

I have a belief, and it may lie dormant and unnoticed for a long time. Then, a situation comes along which triggers the belief – by not matching it – and the time bomb goes off, in the form of suffering.

Normally, we dread these explosions and do whatever we can to avoid them. Yet, the same bomb goes off again and again, in similar situations.

But with the Byron Katie inquiries, we come to see these bombs as friends. We welcome them in with open arms as they offer us an opportunity to examine these beliefs, allowing them to disarm themselves.

Having them in the ground, armed, is OK. But having them go off, and allowing them to disarm themselves, is even more satisfying. Another bomb goes off, and it is another opportunity to explore more fully what is really true for us behind unexamined beliefs.

Precision

When I listen to or read various teachings, there is often an impulse coming up around precision.

So there is an impulse of precision coming up. If I think it is for someone else, it takes the form of judgment. If I realize it is really for me, it is an invaluable pointer towards maturing a little further.

Thoughts as problems?

If someone talks as if thoughts themselves ever are a problem, there is a discrepancy with my experience of thoughts as never a problem – only beliefs in them are. This discrepancy can takes the form of wanting more precision.

And if I put it on him, it becomes “he should be more precise” and is associated with blame, judgment, sense of separation and so on. If I see that the impulse is for me, I take it as an invitation and opportunity to differentiate for myself.

I can see that for me, only beliefs appear as a problem, never thoughts themselves – they are innocent. And it also invites me to inquiry into and explore this further. What is really true for me in the present? How is it true for me in the present?

Attachments

The same is the case for talks about attachment. Sometimes, it is presented as if we can ever be attached to situations or things. That does not seem true in my experience.

I find that I can only be attached to stories and beliefs, and this may – and usually does – take the appearance of attachment to situations, people, things and so on. But it is only an appearance. I can only find attachments to stories and thoughts…

Again, it is an invitation to explore what is true for me, and what is true for me right now – which may, and usually is, different from what I expect.

Sharing findings

My experiences and findings are obviously for me, meant for me, and if they can help others inquire and explore for themselves that is great as well.

They may find something entirely different, which in turn can stimulate me to inquire a little further and more honestly.

Liberation

One of the main forms of liberation is the liberation from beliefs.

Our human self is liberated from an overlay of the belief in I.

Our thoughts are liberated from being believed in.

As long as our human self is taken as an “I”, it becomes a vehicle for torture sometimes. It is taken as an I, and in battle with everything and everyone – including itself. When it is liberated from being taken as “I” – from the belief in the idea of I placed on this human self, it can function free from this, as a vortex of matter and energy serving as a vehicle for in the world of form.

As long as our thoughts are believed in, they similarly becomes a vehicle for torture. They are taken as true, but somewhere there is the knowing that they are not, and life also shows us they are not, so there is a sense of drama and suffering. When they are liberated from being believed in, they become free to do their job without this overlay – free to explore this world and create temporary maps of it.

Of course, these are really the same. It all boils down to beliefs in abstractions, and the idea of “I” is one of the core ones. It is the one that takes differentiation and makes it appear as separation. It takes differentiation and makes it appear as I and Other. And from that comes the whole sense of drama, struggle and blind likes and dislikes.

Inquiry: Believing in thoughts

When I believe in a thought, I have to act in a certain way

Recently, I have mentioned to a couple of people how I – through the Byron Katie inquiries, can see more clearly how we all have to act in certain ways when we believe certain thoughts.

There is a belief in a thought, and this brings up relatively predictable and universal consequences in our experiences and actions. Although it is all also modified by our other beliefs.

Seeing this brings up a great deal of compassion for myself and others. We are all innocently playing out what has to be.

Tonight I mentioned the same, and immediately the question came up is it true?

When I believe a thought, I have to act in a certain way.

  1. Yes (It certainly seems true. There is a belief in a thought, and the consequences seem pretty predictable and universal, modified by our other beliefs.)
  2. No (I cannot know it is absolutely true. Since it is just an opinion, it is probably not absolutely true.)
  3. When I believe that thought, there is…

    Compassion, from seeing how we are all playing it out – innocently, although also sometimes with great drama. Also, a sense of stuckness, of being trapped, although I know there can be release through inquiry. A sense of smugness, that I have found the “key” and not everybody else has. Which in turn brings up compassion, and sadness for the suffering we are all creating for ourselves this way. The sense of being trapped comes up more strongly, of there being no way out. Of being trapped in habitual patterns, and completely impersonal patterns. And of not knowing if there really is a way out. Maybe there is not?

  4. If I cannot have that thought, there is…

    Peace. Openness. Receptivity. Freedom to explore it further, to see both the ways predictable patterns play themselves out, and even other options. Freedom to explore it further, with receptivity and curiosity, just for the sake of seeing what is there. Not needing or even wanting to know in advance what I will find.

  5. (a) When I believe a thought, I don’t have to act in a certain way. (How is this as true as the initial statement? Can I find a place in my own life where it is true? Yes, I can. I see that through inquiry, there is a liberation from the belief. I can notice the typical signs of a belief, such as a sense of contraction and narrowing of possibilities, and then take it to inquiry. Sincerely see what is true for me there, behind the assumptions of the belief. And who knows what that may lead to? Maybe a certain freedom from having to act according to particular beliefs, or not. Both are OK.)

    (b) When I don’t believe in a thought, I have to act in a certain way. (Yes, I can see how this is true. When there is a freedom from beliefs, there is still an impulse to act in a certain way – maybe now from more clarity, and this too comes from somewhere. It is not unconditioned. At the very least it may be conditioned on whatever is present and available in the moment, including whatever insights and obscurations are there, whatever skills are available, what comes up in the outer situation, and so on. I see how the whole idea of conditioned or unconditioned is somewhat silly, just a struggle between two ideas.)

Positions & Discomfort

I talked with a friend on the phone this morning, and noticed that whenever I took a (temporarily fixed) position, there was a good deal of discomfort associated with it. The discomfort was actually stronger, more in the foreground, than anything else.

Exploring the discomfort, I see that it comes from taking a particular position, and in particular from justifying and defending it, making it appear right and other positions wrong. It all comes from belief in a story, including the story of my identity.

And there are several ways this brings up discomfort…

  • It creates a sense of I and Other.
  • It creates a sense of separation from others.
  • It creates a sense of separation from myself, from those perspectives and qualities in me placed in the Other category.
  • I become more rigid, less fluid. I paint myself into a corner.
  • I experience a need to protect and defend a particular position, even if some part of me know that other positions are as valid.

And the reason it comes up so strongly now is most likely doing more of the Byron Katie inquiries. A part of me knows that taking and defending any position comes from an unexamined belief.

Of course, I do need to take a variety of positions throughout my daily life. I couldn’t function without it. And if I know they are just temporary and functional positions and do not reflect any absolute truth, then I am free from having to stick to and defend them. There is more fluidity, more easy, more sense of intimacy with ourselves, others and life.

>poof<

This last week – after some weeks with Byron Katie‘s inquiry process, an eight-day Breema intensive in Oakland, and the deeksha last Sunday – I have not been able to believe in thoughts very easily.

I am spacious clear awareness, and when a situation that typically triggered contractions come along, I can see the habitual patterns thoughts/confusion appearing in the distance – but there is no need or wish to engage in them. It is much easier to stay in the clarity. They drop like leaves off a tree. They appear in the distance and go >poof