This is another basic topic I thought I would revisit.
Pointers and spiritual practices are medicine for a condition.
MEDICINE FOR A CONDITION
Each one is medicine for a specific condition. That means we need some experience and discernment to see which one may be helpful in any one case.
They help us shift out of a place where we are stuck. These are places where we are stuck due to separation consciousness, and they eventually help us unstick from separation consciousness itself.
Some are more universally useful and some are more specific to specific phases and conditions. I love the more universal ones, but also sometimes use more specific ones.
The pointers are not meant to reflect any final or absolute truth. These too are medicine to help us unstick from a certain viewpoint or position.
RELATIVELY UNIVERSAL PRACTICES
Here are examples from some of the practices I find most helpful. These are all relatively universal and work for a range of different conditions and at most phases of the awakening process. They are, in a sense, the adaptogens of spiritual practice.
The Work of Byron Katie helps us unstick from holding a thought as true, and identifying with the viewpoint of the thought. Through the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet, we get to identify a number of stressful thoughts about something specific, and we are then led through the four questions and the turnarounds to examine each one. We get to see we can’t know for certain, what happens when we hold onto the thought as true, how it would be without it, and the validity in the reversals of the initial thought. Each one of these helps us unstick, and together, they can work miracles.
Living Inquiries is based on traditional Buddhist inquiry, and it helps us unstick from taking appearances at face value. We get to see how thoughts – in the form of mental images and words, combine with sensations so that sensations lend a sense of solidity, substance, and truth to the thoughts, and the thoughts give a sense of meaning to the sensations. Exploring this, the mental “glue” softens a bit and we get to recognize a thought as a thought and sensations as sensations, and this helps us unstick from beliefs and identifications.
We also get to see how our mental field functions as an overlay on the world, giving it all labels, interpretations, associations, and stories, and that these are thoughts and not inherent in what they appear to be about. This helps us unstick from taking our labels, stories, and associations as inherent in what they refer to.
Heart-centered practices help us shift how we relate to ourselves, others, situations, and life in general. Practices like tonglen, ho’oponopono, and metta help us unstick from an adversarial relationship and struggle to befriending what’s here.
Basic meditation is to notice and allow what’s here, and to also notice that what’s here – whatever is here in our experience – is already noticed and allowed. This helps us unstick from identifying too much with any particular thought and as something in particular within the content of our experience. We recognize all our experiences as happening within and as what we are, and it all lives its own life.
Headless experiments & the Big Mind process help us unstick from taking ourselves as something in particular within our field of experience (e.g. this human self) and find ourselves as what it all happens within and as. This is obviously helpful if we are not used to noticing this, and it can be helpful even if we are used to it – it can help us clarify.
RELATIVELY UNIVERSAL POINTERS
Some pointers are relatively universal and can be helpful through most or all of the awakening process.
What I see in the wider world reflects what’s here in me. When I have a story about anything in the wider world, I can turn it around to myself and find specific examples of how it’s valid. This pointer applies even when we notice what we are since our human self and the wider world are still here, even if it all happens within and as what I am.
What’s the underlying assumption? Is it true? Whenever we notice we hold a thought as true, it’s helpful to question it. And it’s also helpful to identify and question underlying assumptions, including the ones that seem the most obviously true for us. Leave no stone unturned. Again, this is helpful for us wherever we are in the process.
Our experience of the future & past is created here and now. This is helpful if we take our ideas about the future and past as the actual future or past, or reflecting an actual future or past, or that the future and past actually exist. Even if we are in the habit of recognizing this, there may still be times when we fall into old habitual patterns of taking a thought about the future or past as the actual future or past.
What would someone who loves themselves do? For most of us, our habit is to not fully or always love ourselves, and not always love all parts of ourselves or our experience. This simple pointer can help us shift out of that and first imagine how it would be to love ourselves and what we would then do in this situation, and see how it is to bring that into life.
How would it feel to be completely lovable? This is another remedy for not feeling completely lovable. It can help us shift into feeling it and making it more real and alive for us.
POINTERS FOR SPECIFIC CONDITIONS
Many pointers are for more specific conditions.
How is it to live from noticing what I am? How is it to live from it here and now? This is a universal pointer when we notice what we are, and it’s obviously not so relevant if we don’t.
How is it to notice this as a flavor of the divine? When we find what we are, and in the process notice all as the divine, this can be a helpful question. Especially if we experience something that our habitual response is to avoid or reject, for instance a particular emotion or sensation. This question can help us more consciously recognize that too as the divine, and soften out of the struggle.
What’s the true nature of this phenomenon? When we notice what we are, and still respond to some experiences out of separation consciousness habits, this can be a helpful question. It can help us recognize that what we experience, for instance an emotion, has the same true nature as ourselves. It’s all happening with and as what we are, so to us, it has the same true nature as what we are. And, as with the pointer above, this can help us soften out of our old habitual struggle with it.
Each spiritual practice and pointer is a medicine for a particular condition.
Some are more broadly helpful, and some have a more narrow use.
They tend to help us unstick from a place we got stuck due to separation consciousness.
Any pointer helps us unstick from a particular view. They don’t hold any final or absolute truth.
The practices and pointers I mention here are just a few I happen to be familiar with and find useful. There are, obviously, a wide range out there that are all compatible with awakening and what we find in awakening.