Finding safety in understanding

Finding safety in understanding is a big one for me.

That’s partly why I write here. It makes me feel I understand something, and it makes me feel safe and OK.

It’s true that some understanding can be helpful, in a practical sense. And yet, it can also be used to avoid feeling something, and look at apparently painful thoughts.

Right now, what would I have to feel if I didn’t write here? If I didn’t go to my understanding? Feel that.

What am I afraid would happen if I didn’t understand X?

I would be lost. Scared. Confused. Aimless. I wouldn’t know how to live my life. I wouldn’t know how to feel better. I would be miserable. Alone. In a dark hole.

Can you find X? Understanding? The one who understands? If you sift through images, words, sensations, can you find X?

Insight as protection

Insight can be used as protection against experiencing what’s here.

I tell myself I know what’s going on, I have a map, I have an understanding, I have clarity. Mind identifies with these positions. And this creates a protection against confusion, pain and sensations and images a thought says are unpleasant or dangerous.

Mind takes refuge in a belief in clarity (insight), telling itself it’s a way to not experience what’s here.

One sign of this happening is that mind becomes very fascinated with its own insights and understanding, instead of wordlessly experiencing what’s here. And there may be a slight sense of fear or dread in considering wordlessly experiencing what’s here.

How would it be right now if there wasn’t this belief in clarity?

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Taking refuge in the label of dark night

I notice how I sometimes hide behind or take refuge in labels, such as dark night, chronic fatigue, tired, and also awakening, clarity.

Any image or thought can be something to take refuge in or hide behind, a way to avoid looking at what’s here, avoid taking responsibility, avoid knowing what I know and taking it in.

One way to explore this is to ask myself:

What am I not able to notice, say, or do when I have the thought of dark night?

What am I getting from it? Why would I hold onto such a painful thought?

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Refuge in beliefs – how safe is it?

I keep seeing this:

There is a belief that something is not OK. Fear comes up. I seek refuge in a belief to avoid fear. And this refuge is not very safe since the belief is not true.

I seek safety, and yet don’t find it in taking stories as true.

There is more safety in reality. In acknowledging that I don’t know. Befriending fear. Inquire into my stories that something is not OK.

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Shifting refuge

A shifting refuge….

First, we take ourselves to be a me. This human self and its body, identities and roles in the world. There is an inside and outside, and it all seems real and substantial.

Then, we may notice that the me is content of experience, it comes and goes as any other content of experience, and it is not what I am. There is a softening or release of identification with the me. This process can appear as a dark night of the senses, called so since there is a release of identification with the senses. The temporary outcome is an absence of a sense of inside and outside, a recognition of all as awakeness itself or God, and possibly insights, clarity, bliss, a clear inner direction and so on.

The remaining refuge here is the separate I and the spiritual joys mentioned above.

Finally, we may notice that the separate I is content of experience as well. The doer, thinker, chooser, owner, observer – all of those – are content of experience just as anything else. That too comes and goes. That too is not what I really am. As I keep noticing this, maybe first in formal practice and then in daily life, there is the possibility of a softening and release of identification out of these. This process is called the dark night of the soul, experienced as a death of the core of what we take ourselves to be.

When identification is released out of the separate I, what is left is doing without doer, thinking without thinker, observing without observer and so on. Everything is as before, although now all content of experience – including the doer and observer – is recognized as living its own life. The center falls out, and the bottom or ground falls out.

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We always take refuge in something…

When the content of awareness is in the foreground and awareness itself in the background, we take refuge in content… in health, friendships, our family, money, success, and so on. We really have no choice. It is what seems most real to us, so that is what we take refuge in.

When awareness itself is in the foreground of awareness, and its content in the background, we take refuge in awareness itself… in the timeless and spaceless awakeness, inherently absent of any characteristics, which forms and allows for any and all content of awareness. Again, it just happens.

In both cases, we take refuge in what we take ourselves to be. When we take ourselves to be content of awareness (thoughts, sensations, this human self) we take refuge in content of awareness. And when we take ourselves to be awareness itself, inherently absent of an I with an Other, then we take refuge in awareness itself.