Final release

The final release is also what allows any and all experiences and any and all ways the world of form happens. The only way this can happen is to see, feel and love as all God. And the only way that can happen is to release identification with the idea/sense/feeling/experience of an I with an Other.

It is only then that there is a final release, and an allowing of all since it is all God itself. It is God allowing itself as it happens to show up here and now.

And it is really just God noticing what it already is… This awakeness inherently free from any content and characteristics, so allowing it all. This awakeness here and now, allowing this field of content which is this room, the music, this body, these sensations, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, thoughts.

In the process up to this noticing, there are often layers or release and allowing, going in the familiar way from personal development (embracing more of all of who this human self is) through mysticism (a sense of all as God shines through everything, including the remaining sense of I with an Other) to a release of the final sense of I with an Other.

Identification with stories creates these layers, veiling who and what we are. And as one is released, there is an invitation and opportunity to explore what is revealed right there, in a unique way. Our center of gravity is in one particular place, and the world is revealed as it only can be revealed right there.

It is God manifesting, experiencing and exploring itself in a unique way, here and now.

So even as there are more veils, there is also a perfection right here and now. It is God exploring itself in a unique way, as it only can when these particular veils are here. It doesn’t get much more beautiful than that.

And yet, as long as there are veils, there will always be a sense of dissatisfaction, of something being slightly off. Because it is. Something is off. There is an identification with a story, and this veils who and what we really are.

There is a dissatisfaction inherent in an identification with a story, a sense of I with an Other, and this dissatisfaction comes out in two ways.

When there is an I with an Other, there is a sense of precariousness. There is identification within form which is flux, so what is born will die, and what is an object within the world is at the mercy of the larger whole. It is always at odds with the world, even when things temporarily is going its way, so there is always a sense of dissatisfaction.

At the same time, there is a knowing of what we already are, and in the tension between what we are and who we take ourselves to be there is also a sense of of dissatisfaction, of something being off.

And within this sense of something being off is a great beauty. It is God exploring itself in a unique way, as it only can when these particular sets of veils are here. While there is a sense of something being off, and something may be off according to our stories, there is really a great beauty and perfection in it all.

A perfection and beauty that can only be fully appreciated when what we are notices itself.

Evil and beating the head against the wall

In Suffering, Evil and the Existence of God, an opinion piece in New York Times, two books on that topic are reviewed. They seem to share a conventional Christian theological approach to the topic, the view that there is no good solution to the question of why a good God allows evil in the world, and they also share not going much further.

Within the conventional Christian views on this topic, we end up beating our heads against the wall. So the reasonable course of action would then be to go outside of this context and see what we can find there.

Why not look at why the Christian mystics have to say about the topic? What about other philosophies and religions? And maybe most importantly, why not explore it in your own experience?

Even a superficial inquiry into our own experience would tell us that (a) good and evil are human-made and culturally dependent concepts, and (b) suffering comes when our stories about what is and should be clash.

In a way, it is so obvious and so simple that it is easy to dismiss. We may notice it, explore it to some extent, and then tell ourselves that there has to be more to it than that. It cannot be that simple. And there may also be a fear that embracing this fully would lead to a breakdown of any shared norms into anarchy, nihilism, the worst forms of value relativism.

Exploring it a little further for ourselves, we find a freedom from identification with particular views, which is also a freedom to apply any view as seem appropriate to the situation. With this release of identification with views, the appearance of substance and inherent truth in views goes out, there is no need to defend or attack the truth of views anymore, and they appear as tools of limited and practical value only. We can allow ourselves to be guided by our experience and the natural empathy that arises when there is this release from identification with views, and freely and fluidly use any view that has practical value in a particular situation.

Layers of release and harvesting of nutrients

In working on knots, I notice two layers.

First, it is the release from being blindly caught up in it. It is a release from beliefs, identifications, shoulds, and the war created by these. I find more peace with whatever is going on, I befriend it. I shift into that part of my that naturally allows it, which is myself as awareness.

Then it is the layer of accepting the gifts and harvesting the nutrients inside of it. I do this through The Work, in exploring the truths in the turnarounds of the initial belief, and then bringing these turnarounds into my daily life. I do it through voice dialog and the Big Mind process, when I investigate what the disowned voice has to offer to this human self, and how I can find a more nourishing relationship with it. I do it through Process Work, when I become the Other and that which holds both what I previously identified with and the Other. And there are innumerable other ways of finding the gifts and harvesting the nutrients inside of the knot and the (previous) disturbance.

The release is a transcending of blindly identifying with it, and the harvesting of nutrients is an active embrace of its content.

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No way out

After some exploration, we realize that there is no way out, in the sense of escaping content, and escaping content living its own life, on its own schedule.

And yet, there is a way out, in the sense of allowing identification to be released from this content, which means a release from the belief in stories, including the one of a separate self.

The two goes hand in hand. When there is a clarifying realization of content living its own life, there is a corresponding release of identification with content. And when there is a release of identification with stories (and content), there is a corresponding realization that content lives its own life, absent of a doer.

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Emotions and actions

When emotions come out of stories I believe in, there is a sense of identification with the emotions as well, of being caught up in them. They arise, and I either act on them or resist them, or get caught up in the drama around them both ways.

So I am at the mercy, to some extent, of reactive emotions. And the same is also true, in a certain way, for empathy and compassion. I rely on the presence of the emotion or feeling of empathy or compassion to act in an empathic and compassionate way.

When there is a release from a belief a certain story, or stories in general, it changes. There are still emotions, but they arise as anything else, living their own life, coming and going on their own schedule. There is a freedom in allowing them their life, and also in using them to fuel or flavor action or not.

And, again, the same is true for empathy and compassion. To the extent there is an absence of belief in stories, there is also an absence in a sense of I and Other, so when suffering arises in any living being, there is a natural impulse to help, if the situation calls for it.

There is action from care, concern and empathy, but independent of the presence or absence of the emotion or feeling of compassion. It is more like the left hand helping the right. There is a thorn in the right hand, and the left moves to take it out, even in the absence of thoughts and deliberation, and independent of the presence or absence of particular feelings.

Changing the emotional component of a memory

A recent study has found that a drug can help change the emotional components of a memory. A memory is recalled, the emotional component is different than before, and this helps change the emotional association next time the memory is recalled. (If I interpret the study correctly.)

This is a similar process as other approaches, only that the strategy is slightly different. This time using a combination of psychology (simple recall) and biochemistry (the pill).

Just to go through the processes I usually tend to write about here:

The Work does something similar, first by changing our relationship with the stories around something stressful, which in turn changes how emotions are triggered, both in type and intensity. And then also by visualizing the trigger situation, but now with different emotions associated with it.

It happens at each step in the process. For instance, at question four: who would you be without the story? Here, we recall or image the situation (past or future), but this time without the story, and so without (or with less of) the emotions triggered by the story. So next time the story is triggered, the habitual emotional component is reduced in intensity, or sometimes not even there. The turnarounds allows the truth in new stories to be seen, so the initial story no longer seem so solid, which means the emotions associated with the initial story are not triggered in the same way.

In both of these cases, the situation is recalled with a different relationship to the story, which means the emotions are not triggered in the same way as before. So when the story comes up in the future, there is likely to be a different relationship to it again, changing the way the emotions are triggered.

And also, the triggering situation is now associated with a different emotional component, so when it comes up again, either in real life or by going to it in a thought, the new association is more likely to come up. New habitual patterns are formed.

Being with whatever comes up also does something similar. By fully allowing whatever comes up and being with it in an heartfelt way, there is a reduced grasping on resistance to it. And this allows the emotions to arise in a different way. With resistance, they seem very solid, and maybe also fixed and persistent. Allowing resistance to go, they are revealed as they are without the resistance… in a more fluid form, and for instance more as a sweet fullness. So here too, the emotional component associated with a memory is changed. The next time it is triggered, something will be different in how we relate to it. We may remember to be with it again, and the emotion itself may have a different quality and seem less solid.

Choiceless awareness is another example. Here, we differentiate between pure perception and the overlay of thoughts, and realize that what appears as a solid unit of emotion is really just a perception (sensation) and an overlay of stories. Seeing clearly that the two are two different things creating the appearance of emotion, there is no emotion anymore, just sensation + a story. The experience of it is quite different, and the label is quite different as well. And this too, inevitably, changes the emotional component triggered by certain stories.

The Work explores the initial story triggering the emotion. Being with it allows the emotion to reveal itself as it is prior to and absent of resistance. And Choiceless Awareness (labeling practice) allows the components of emotion to reveal itself, and the gestalt (emotion) to fall into its components and appear much less real and solid.

In each case, all we are doing is just seeing more clearly what is already there. No manipulation of content is needed apart from that.

We see what is already more true for us than the initial story. We allow emotions to reveal themselves as they are prior to and without resistance to them. And we notice the components of emotions, which makes the gestalt of emotions seem far less solid and real.

Relativism revealing the heart

I see more and more how a thorough relativism opens for a guidance by the heart.

When there is a thorough relativism at the levels of views and stories, a sincere investigation of each story and the truth in its reversals, there is a release from attachment to any of them. There is a freedom in how we relate to them and use them in our daily life. They become only tools of temporary and practical value. An aid for this human self to navigate and operate in the world.

And when there is a release from stories, it allows the heart to reveal itself.

An attachment to stories closes the heart. It creates beliefs and identities to be protected, it creates a sense of absolute truth and false at the level of thoughts, it creates a sense of contraction and constriction, it creates rigidity, it closes our heart down towards people and situations that do not conform with what our stories tells us are desirable. It splits the world down the middle, and closes our heart to one half of it.

So when there is a release from this attachment, the heart naturally opens to include what was previously left out.

There is a natural guidance from the heart, and the views – now liberated from beliefs – are in its service.

Far from nihilism, a true relativism leads to actions that are likely to be seen as wise and compassionate, especially if combined with some worldly maturity and wisdom.

The fluidity of views rests on the steady heart.

In real life, it is usually not as clear cut of course, but this is at least a pattern we can glimpse every time a belief bites the dust, and one that is revealed in its fullness when Ground noticed itself more clearly.

Pragmatics of inquiry

The reasons for doing inquiry, and specifically the work, include…

  • To see what is already more true for us than the initial belief
  • To become more familiar with the dynamics of beliefs (attaching to a story, taking it as substantial and an absolute reality and truth) and so also the mechanisms of samsara
  • And to find peace with what is

But it also has a very pragmatic side, in conventional terms, which is of course why many do it.

I find for myself, over and over, and most recently this evening, how inquiry helps shift…

  • At the head center
    • From being confined to the inside of the story to an open landscape where the initial story is a small part
    • From rigidity to fluidity of views (able to see the truth in the reversals of the initial belief or identity)
    • From identification to disidentification
    • From taking the story and some objects of the story as an I to seeing it as a me or an it (subject to object, or first to second or third person)
  • At the heart center
    • From a closed to an open heart, towards myself, others and life
  • At the belly center
    • From emotional reactivity to neutrality or a sense of nurturing fullness
  • At each center, or emerging from the combination
    • From confusion to clarity
    • From drama to ease
    • From separation to intimacy with oneself, others, life
    • From a split to a seamless terrain
    • From aversion to sympathy
    • From judgment to recognition, finding in myself what I see in others
    • From war to peace with what is and particular stories about it (the reversals of the initial belief)
    • From fighting to joining with what is and particular stories about it (the reversals)
    • From a deepening sense of I and Other to what holds and embraces both

And each of these, which are aspects of the same process, have a tangible and practical effect on my daily life.

When I am caught up on the inside of a story, I create a prison for myself which hinders my view and actions, and the drama, struggle and confusion created by the belief does not help the situation. I am caught up in rigid views, possibilities and actions and act from contraction and confusion, so my actions are not likely to be very effective, have the outcome I desire, or be aimed at an outcome I would want when there is more clarity. In addition, the struggle drains energy so there is less available. Or it may bring about a compulsiveness which initially may seem very energetic, but then leads to a crash.

When there is a release from the attachment to the story, the landscape opens up, I am free to the see grain of truth in the reverse stories and identities, and there is a sense of ease, clarity and naturalness which opens up for more effective solutions and actions in the world. It opens for more clarity about goals and strategies, and the clarity and energy to engage in it in a steady way.

So say I have the story that people should not lie, someone does, and it impacts my business adversely. If I am strongly caught up in the story about it, there is a volatile fog of emotional reactivity, rigid views, self-righteousness, aversion, and more. I may get mired in the dust cloud and prevent myself from acting. And when I act, it may be rash or from reactivity, so the outcome is not likely to be all that good for those involved. At the very least, it will create ill-feelings and a memory which my attention will return to in an attempt to resolve and find peace with it.

If there is more clarity around that story, and what is more true for me, I can act from clarity, empathy and a sense of ease, which is far more likely to bring about a situation that is more satisfactory for everyone involved.

Awakenings: dramatic and gentle

I am enjoying reading through David’s articles at justperception. It is the real thing, and quite uncompromising as well. (Similar to U. G. Krishnamurti in that way). In a world where many teachers couch their words, it is refreshing and much needed.

But I am also reminded that awakenings come in different flavors. The awakening itself, to realized selflessness, Ground awakening to itself, is of course the same. But the flavors of the leadup and the fallout are many and different.

The flavors of the leadup can range from very dramatic and painful (strong beliefs and clashes with what is, and little awareness of what is going on) to gentle (more fluidity, and transparency of beliefs), and can progress quickly or slowly, as Vince Horn mentioned in a recent comment of his.

(To me, it seems that the more dramatic and painful version comes from a basic sense of insecurity, which leads to a holding onto beliefs with particular vigor. There is a vigorous war with reality which creates a good deal of drama. A basic and deep sense of safety and security, of trust in life and existence, often leads to more fluidity, receptivity and more gently held beliefs.)

The flavor of the fallout of the awakening also comes in different flavors, and it seems that it depends, at least partly, on the degree of pre-alignment with Big Mind, and also the amount of pressure built up beforehand.

With a more thorough and finely tuned pre-alignment, through inquiry (Big Mind process, headless experiments, The Work, etc.) or other practices, the shift can be more gentle. The pre and post shift terrains are closer together.

When there is not much of a pre-alignment with Big Mind, when there is a good deal of caught-upness in coarse delusions, the shift and its fallout is more dramatic. The gap is greater, so the shift is also greater.

Similarly, pressure builds up through the strength and level of attachment to beliefs (stories). The stronger beliefs, and the more these beliefs are at odds with life, the more pressure. A great deal of pressure leads to a dramatic shift, and less pressure to a more gentle shift.

(My initial awakening, although not complete, was very dramatic due to a combination of absolutely no preparation and a great deal of built up pressure. The fallout, the reorganization needed, was also quite dramatic, long lasting and very painful at times. When it recently slipped into Ground awakening (which lasted for a couple of months and then subsided because more work is needed) it was very gentle, just a simple shift into finding “myself” as awake emptiness and form, without any “I” there at all. This time there was much more familiarity with the terrain, and there was not much pressure built up, so the shift was correspondingly gentle.)

Of course, these are all stories, as I am sure David would be quick to point out. And although it is possible to pre-align to a certain extent, it is also equally (or more) true that no real preparation is possible. When it happens, it comes as a shock, a complete surprise, turning everything upside down – independent of finely-tuned preparations.

Journey: rocks

I did a process work session earlier today, and started a process, which I continued on my way home, and then now. (In Process Work, the unfolding can be similar to what is described here, but they also include a more active exploration of the meaning of the process and how to bring it into daily life. When I do it on my own, it tends to unfold easily, but the meaning of it may not surface until much later if at all. Somehow, it still allows for a shift that is sometimes profound.)
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The joy of figuring things out

I have always enjoyed figuring things out. (I was one of those kids who would take things apart and put them together again, with varying degrees of success, to see how they work.)

So, in the spirit of figuring things out, I am wondering why I enjoy figuring things out…

No matter what the area of exploration, the enjoyment is still there… unless it is temporarily clouded over by stress from deadlines or dire consequences of not figuring it out.

It can be making this WordPress blog work, exploring what works in relationships in general and with a particular person or group, exploring how the mind works, thinking through what is needed for winter camping, exploring how to train a specific cat using clicker training, or whatever else.

Here are some things that come to mind…

  • Evolution
    There is a clear evolutionary advantage in enjoying exploring and figuring things out. It helps us solve problems when they arise, find new strategies to reach certain goals, and move beyond where we are in general. It is to great benefit to individuals to have this to some extent. On a group level, only some need to have this joy of exploration as a passion, and that is exactly what we see.
  • Release
    Whenever we are faced with (something we define) as a problem, there is a certain tension there. Life is one way, and we would like it to be a different way. This tension is often experienced as unpleasant (which actually comes from a belief), so we are motivated to resolve the situation, which means to either change life itself, or our stories about it, or a combination. In either case, figuring out how to resolve it gives a sense of release, which we experience as pleasant (which actually comes from another belief).
  • Socially
    There are also social aspects to the joy in exploring. It is a shared belief, at least in our culture, that exploring it a desirable thing… for its own sake, and also for what it produces. So when we explore, we are aligned with our own beliefs about what is desirable and good. It also means that explorers, in just about any area of life, are often admired (or at least approved of) by society.
  • For its own sake
    Then there is the joy in exploring itself. What I find (and what I hear from others to who look into it) is that there is a quiet joy in experiencing itself, independent of the content of the experience. There also seems to be a joy inherent in exploration itself, although that may really come from what is described in the previous posts (and whatever is left out).

So all around, from biology, psychology, socially, and practically, there are benefits to exploring which all (can) trigger a sense of joy.

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Complete release

Knots (beliefs, and their effects) show up in different ways…

  • As something we are blindly identified with and defend in every way. We take it as an absolute truth, we see ourselves as completely justified in being contracted and acting on it.
  • As something we are caught up in, yet recognize as a knot. There is some disidentification with it, some space, a little more of a sense of choice in how we relate to it and act on it.
  • As something we know how to relate to when it arises, allowing the charge in it to be greatly reduced… for instance by fully allowing it (as much as we can). It still arises, it is there, but there is more space around it, even more of a sense of freedom in how we relate to it, and whether and how we act on it.
  • As a ghost, a pale reflection of itself without much or any charge. The pattern may still come up (for instance the old story) but arising within clarity.
  • And as nonexistent, something there is a complete release from. And maybe even with a new appreciation for exactly that which used to be a trigger for contraction.

When I explore old patterns using The Work, I see this process… Often, it starts with knowing intellectually that it is a knot, but still sometimes being in the grips of it. Then, some of the charge goes out and there is more of a sense of space around it, even if it still arises. Then, not much charge there at all, just a ghost of the pattern arising within clarity. The story free from a charge. Then, no charge and no pattern, only clarity, and even appreciation.

I am sitting on the deck right now working on the computer (on either side of writing this!), one of our neighbors is playing loud music, and I find myself not noticing, or when noticing at peace with it, and even appreciating it… his enjoyment of it, and me being exposed to music I wouldn’t normally be exposed to (oldies).

This is one of the situations where an old pattern used to come up for me: being annoyed, going into stories about how inconsiderate he is, why can’t he use headphones?, why can’t he turn it down? When I first started doing The Work on it, there was more of an intellectual shift around it, and this became more and more experiential and lived as I sat with what came up from that and similar inquiries, each one allowing me to see more clearly what was going on, and allow the truths of the turnarounds to sink in a little deeper.

At times, even early on in the process, there was an easy and effortless peace with it. Other times, even later one, and especially when I was worn down physically, old patterns got triggered again. But it has been quite a while now since anything got triggered by our neighbor playing loud music… apart from the transparent ghost of the story occasionally, and other times appreciation.

In this particular situation, I decided to work on myself instead of trying to change the external situation (the guy is retired, and his big love is fixing up old cars, so why not let him have that enjoyment). But in many others, it may be more appropriate to work both here with myself, investigation beliefs and finding some clarity, and also in the world, directly with the situation.

Also, as Byron Katie says, we can be enlightened to this thought, but maybe not to the next one. I can find complete release from a particular belief, and the stress that goes along with that belief, but there may still be other beliefs there, stories taken as more than just stories, relative truths, mere tools for orienting in the world.

Inquiry and release

Of the various approaches I have explored, either aimed at resolving knots or allowing them to resolve as a side effect, The Work seems by far to be the most effective.

Where most approaches are partially or sometimes effective in allowing knots to resolve, The Work seems to consistently allow them to resolve. And the reason may be that it allows us to see what is already more true for us than the beliefs we were trying to hold onto, and through which we created stress for ourselves. In the light of truth, knots seem to untie themselves.

As Jesus said, the truth will set you free.

Rearranging content, which many approaches do, works to some extent. But no amount of rearranging content will be entirely satisfying. It will always leave something unresolved.

The brilliant aspect of any form of sincere self-inquiry is that it works with what is already there. It is just an exploration of content as it already is. And it is an exploration of what is already more true for us, already here, waiting to be noticed.

And in this seeing, knots are allowed to resolve.

The Work allows for a taste of resolutions that otherwise come through awakening to selflessness. And it allows us to connect with insights prior to awakening which usually are available in and from this awakening.