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Inquiry :: Teaching Sunday, April 30, 2006 |

He shouldn't teach.

  1. Yes.

  2. No (Cannot know if that is true. Nor what is best for his path or those learning from him.)

  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    I judge him for not being familiar enough with the larger terrain, for only knowing some sections of the terrain, for firm statements about areas he is not familiar with, for allowing his students to believe in what he is saying, for not placing his own teachings in context, for not acknowledging the limitations of his experience and teachings.

    I experience separation from him, his teachings, his students, and myself as well. I avoid his teachings, even though I see something of value for me there.

    I see him as green, not experienced enough, not well enough trained, not mature enough, not clear enough, not aware of his own limitations enough, not aware of his projections enough.

    What do I get from having that belief?

    I get to be right. I get to see myself as clearer than him, most honest, more aware of the larger terrain, more accurate. I get to experience separation from him. I get to not having to become his student, and take his teachings seriously. I get to not explore the teachings more in depth. >> I get to feel good about not teaching myself, and not wanting to teach.

  4. Who am I without that thought?

    Present. Clear. Able to hear him, free from the cloud of judgments and mental commentaries. Able to be receptive, free from the resistance to him and his teachings. Free to be his student or not, in any way that seems appropriate. Free to teach myself, following my own advice.

  5. (a) He should teach.

    Yes, because that is the reality of it. Also, it may be of benefit to him and even to his students. Not every teacher needs to be "perfect" according to an abstract ideal. His teachings may well be perfect for those who choose him as their teacher.

    They may get exactly what they need out of it, both in terms of content and in terms of whatever blind spots may be there. Imperfect teachers and teachings are reminders to trust our own immediate experience, to find the teacher within.

    (b) I should teach.

    Yes, true as well. First, I should be aware that I am teaching all the time anyway, just by living my life. We are all teachers, whether we want it or not, whether we see it or not. Also, I should teach more consciously - being aware of my life as teachings. And, I may also teach more formally, if the situation presents itself. Or not. At least, I should be free to do it or not, equally.

    (c) I shouldn't teach.

    Yes, I shouldn't teach him how to teach. It is his business. My advice is for myself.

    (d) My thoughts shouldn't teach.

    Right, they shouldn't teach by me believing in them.

    (e) My thoughts should teach.

    Yes, they point to ways to explore the world. They pose questions about the world. They help with communication. In all these ways, they teach and should teach.

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Inquiry :: His Religion

A. shouldn't make others believe his religion. (about how difficult it is to make money doing ..., how difficult it is to make money in E., how only one diet is right for everyone.)

  1. Yes.

  2. No (Cannot know that is true. Also, cannot know what is best for his path nor for others.)

  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    I judge him. I see his behavior as disrespectful, trying to impose his views on others. I see it as destructive for others, planting ideas in their heads which prevents them from being successful. I see how he is creating limits for himself, and try to impose the same limits on others through having them believe the same (limiting) ideas he believes in himself.

    I see him as trapped in his belief system, how destructive it is, and how much he is struggling with it. I see how he is trapped within his belief system, how he sees it as real, and how he is struggling to become free from his self-created prison. I see the confusion and suffering in that.

    I see how I am doing similar things. I experience empathy with him and myself, and others trapped in a similar way.

    What do I get out of holding onto that belief?

    I get to be right. To be more aware than him, more clear, more insightful, more potentially successful - at least in my own mind.

  4. Who or what would I be without that belief?

    I would be more clear. More able to speak up freely, free from defensiveness. I would be able to see the same in myself, more clearly.

  5. (a) A. should make others believe his religion.

    Yes, because that is what he does. It is his path. It is what he has to do when he believes certain thoughts. We are not so different there.

    (b) I shouldn't make him believe my religion.

    Yes, that is as or more true. I shouldn't impose my views on him, not in the topics he brings up, nor in refraining from imposing one's views on others. It is my advice, for myself. I am the one who needs to live it.

    >> (c) My thoughts shouldn't make me believe their religion.

    Yes, that is very true. I shouldn't allow my thoughts to convince me about their religion.

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.

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Study the Self Saturday, April 29, 2006 |

This is probably the most often quoted phrase from the Zen tradition:

To study the Way is to study the self.
To study the self is to forget the self.
To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things.
To be enlightened by all things is to remove the barriers between one's self and others.


- Dogen Zenji

Simplicity

The first that comes up for me is the simplicity and clarity in it.

First, we study the apparent self - or rather our sense of self. And we can do this through for instance sitting practice, allowing the mind to bring itself into awareness, and/or inquiry - such as Big Mind, Byron Katie's inquiries, Headlessness or Atma Vichara.

Then, we realize that the whole sense of self comes from something as simple as a belief in the idea of I. We have glimpses of selflessness, and then emerge more stably into a realization of selflessness. We forget the self by seeing what is really true in our own immediate experience, and this allows the belief in the idea of I to fall away.

The whole world is now revealed as the play of God. Everywhere and nowhere is I. It is Big Mind awakening to itself, while functionally connected with a human self.

And in this, there is no I and Other. No barriers.

Diving into self-centeredness

To do this, we need to fully dive into self-centeredness.

As long as there is a belief in the idea of I, there is a natural and unavoidable self-centeredness.

There is a belief in the idea of I, this is out of alignment with our own (unnoticed) immediate experience, so attention naturally goes to this sense of I. Whenever something is out of alignment, attention goes there to allow it into awareness and resolution.

Typically, this process takes the form of self-protection and functioning with a limited circle of care and concern.

If we dive into it more fully, with intention and some skills, it can unfold into realization of selflessness.

Studying the self

Studying the self can be seen in two ways in this context.

One is studying the sense of I, wherever it is applied. The belief in the idea of I, which creates the whole I - Other dynamic and the identification with a segment of what is. This is the one that leads to a realization of selflessness.

The other is the more conventional study of the self, in this case meaning our human self. How does it function? What are the processes? How can we allow it to heal and mature? How can we fine tune this instrument in the world of form? This is an exploration that takes place before and after realization of selflessness. Nothing changes except the context - first within the context of a sense of self, then within the context of realized selflessness.

Some approaches focus mainly on one of these. For instance, Headlessness and Atma Vichara emphasize mainly the exploration of selflessness.

And other approaches include both. For instance the Big Mind process and Byron Katie's inquiry process. Both of these allow us to study in finely tuned detail how our human self function, allowing knots to unravel and the human self to mature and function more effectively. And they also bring us to a realization of selflessness. Elegantly, through the same process. Two birds killed with one stone.

If we only focus on realizing selflessness, we may have Big Mind awakened to itself, but functioning through a relatively undeveloped and unhealthy human self.

If we only focus on the human self, we may have a relatively healthy and mature human self, but there is still the inherent dissatisfaction from a sense of separation.

With both, we can function within a context of selflessness, also also allow our human self to continue to mature, develop, heal and explore news ways of functioning in the world of form.

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Mirrors - Three Ways |

Whenever I listen to Bush talk about terrorists, I cannot help having a story of how perfectly he is describing himself and the policies of his administration.

And of course, in that, I also see how I describe myself. I can find everything I see in him in myself - it may just show up in different ways and in different areas of life.

The world is my mirror.

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Inquiry :: The Way it Used to Be |

Sometimes, the thought it should be the way it used to be comes up. It can come up for my life as a whole, when I have a story that it is not going well, or it can come up in certain areas of my life, when I have a story that these areas are not going so well - not as well as it used to be, at some point in the past.

My life should be the way it used to be.

  1. Yes (That seems true sometimes, either as a whole or for parts of my life, compared with some times in the past.)

  2. (Cannot know that is true. Also don't know what is best for my path.)

  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    Sense of nostalgia. Sadness and grief over having lost what was, and what could have been. There are images of what was and what could have been, and I compare these with images of what is. Dissatisfied with what is. Finding examples of how things are not as they should now, and how they used to be better or could have been better. I blame myself and others for having lost what was, and being in a situation that seems less desireable.

    What is the worst that can happen if I don't have that thought?

    >> I would forget about how it used to be, be happy with what is, and not strive to change or improve it. I may be complacent.

    What do I get out of that belief?

    Able to blame myself and others for having lost something good, and being in a less desireable situation. Feeling sorrow for myself, and inviting others to do the same.

  4. Who or what would I be without that belief?

    OK with what is, along with what was. Clear. Able to enjoy what is, whatever it is. Able to see it as all part of the same process.

  5. (a) My life shouldn't be the way it used to be.

    No, the whole world of phenomena is process. Nothing stays the same. Life is flux. So how can I even believe that I should hold onto anything? Also, I can allow myself to enjoy the freshness of it. The newness of it. The sense of adventure.

    (b) I should be the way I used to be.

    Yes, if there were qualities alive in me back then, I can allow them back in the present. I can allow them their life right now.

    (c) I shouldn't be the way I used to be.

    That is true as well. This is a new situation, which invites some qualities out and others stay more in the background, and that is OK. It is as it has to be.

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Inquiry :: Crazy |

I listened to a dialogue with Byron Katie this morning where she asked the audience how many believe all is good? and then how many believe all is God?

Answering those questions for myself, I see that there is a clear yes to the second question, but not so clear an answer to the first. In looking at the world, and my experiences (as a human being, and also realizing that all is God) what came up is God is crazy (!).

God is crazy.

  1. Yes (That was what came up for me first when I looked at it. I see that I cannot take it as a conscious worldview, that it is just meant for fun, but also see that it does reflect a more serious belief in me.)

  2. No (Cannot know that is true. Also cannot know what is best of all ours paths.)

  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    Sense of amusement. Seeing the craziness of the world - that it is all God, yet most don't realize it and create huge amounts of (apparent) troubles for themselves through that. Seeing the suffering, yet how that too is part of the game. Seeing the delusion, and how that too is God exploring itself, this time through suffering. It is pretty crazy.

    I also notice a certain confusion coming up when I attach to that statement. Confusion, bevilderment, sense of being lost. Sense of separation from myself, others, life, God.

    The statement is both amusing, and also confusing. I can see how it is just a story, just another overlay and filter. Just another projection. It gives some relief if taken lightly, but is confusing if taken more seriously.

  4. Who would I be without that belief?

    OK with what is, free from this layer of interpretation. Clear. Sense of intimacy with myself, others, life, God.

  5. (a) I am crazy.

    Yes, that is probably more true. I am crazy when I think God is crazy, because I attach to an abstract overlay on what is. Whenever I believe in any abstraction, I am crazy. And that is OK too.

    (b) God is not crazy.

    No, what is, is. Crazy is just another interpretation, another story.

    (c) My thougths are crazy.

    Yes, when I believe in them. They create craziness when believed in.

    (d) My thoughts are not crazy.

    No, they are just doing their job, innocently. It is only the belief in them which makes it appear crazy. Which creates a sense of separation and suffering.

  6. I look forward to seeing God as crazy.

    Yes, because it is a reminder of how I am patently crazy when I believe in abstractions.

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Inquiry :: Hobos Friday, April 28, 2006 |

We have hobo spiders in our house, and although I generally am quite generous in sharing living space with other beings, these particular ones are not so welcome. I notice a concern about these spiders in daily life, including when I take on my clothes (found a hobo in my laundry pile when I folded my clothes the other day), sit or lie on the floor (which I tend to do doing Breema, yoga, or reading), or other activities.

There should not be any hobo spiders in our house.

  1. Yes (It would be nice.)

  2. No (Cannot know what is the best for my path.)

  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    I am watchful for hobo spiders, or any other spider that looks similar. I sometimes shake out my clothing before taking it on. I sometimes am concerned when I sit or lie down on the floor. I sometimes am concerned when going to bed, especially as we have a futon close to the floor and we quite often see hobos in the room.

    I image the many situations where I may be bitten by a hobo spider, and the possible outcomes - including large open wounds and scars, even on the face.

    I typically kill them when I see them. I experience some shame and regret by doing this, and justify it by telling myself that this is about survival - drawing on red and below Spiral Dynamics levels. It is my animal nature coming out. It is me/us or them.

    What is the worst that can happen if I don't have that thought?

    I may be complacent, not try to minimize their numbers in the house, and get bitten.

    What do I get out of that belief?

    I get to feel that I am doing something to protect myself and the others in the house. I get to feel that I am flexible enough to operate from survival levels in some areas of life. I get to feel "right" about killing them to protect myself.

  4. Who would I be without that thought?

    Clear. Doing what seems neccesary to protect myself and others in the house, yet without drama or stories around it. Wouldn't mentally obsess about it.

  5. (a) There should be hobo spiders in our house.

    Yes, because that is the reality of it. They are. Also, I don't know what is best for my path. Maybe this is it right now. In any case, it is what is and there is little I can do about it.

    (b) There shouldn't be hobo spiders in my thoughts.

    Well, at least not obsessively. I don't need to make it into a drama by imagining what may happen. I can take neccesary precautions, and leave it at that.

    (c) There should be hobo spiders in my thoughts.

    Yes, because they are. And also because it is an aspect of taking care of myself and others in the house. In this case, compassion (or is it fear?) takes the form of killing a specific type of spiders, whether that is the most skillful way of going about it or not.

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Inquiry :: Selflessness |

I notice a hesitancy in me about stably realizing selflessness. It has come and gone in different ways, and I have been at the edge of it for a while now, but also notice how I hold back. One of the reasons seems to be a fear that it may be boring, which comes from listening to folks who present realizing selflessness as some goal, or even some final destination. This seems boring, and also not aligned with my (limited) experience of it.

Stably realizing selflessness is boring.

  1. Yes (That seems true when listening to some folks talking about it, although I also suspect it is not necessarily so.)

  2. No (Cannot know that is absolutely true. Also cannot know what is best of my path.)

  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    I hover at the edge of it, not wanting to take the plunge into it. I hold back. Have a taste of it, and see that as sufficient. There is hesitation about going further. My intention is to hold back some, just enough for it to not be stable.

    What is the worst that can happen if I don't have that belief?

    I may realize selflessness, and be bored (!) without noticing it. I may not go further. I may see it as a final destination. I may not deepen into it, nor deepen into living from it. In that case, it would indeed be boring.

    What do I get from holding onto that belief?

    I get to hold back. Stay at the edges for a long time. Not taking the plunge.

  4. Who or what would I be without that belief?

    Free to allow it in or not. Not stuck at the edge. Clear. Receptive. Adventurous. Interested in exploring that territory, and how to make it dynamic and evolving, and not boring.

  5. (a) Stably realizing selflessness is not boring.

    That is probably as or more true. I have seen many who obviously do not make it boring. They continue to develop, evolve, mature, engage in life - at their human level. They just do it from a different context. That is all.

    (b) I am boring.

    Yes, that is true as well. I am boring when I attach to the initial belief. I am boring because I hold back. Because I stay at the edge for a long time. Because I am not evolving when I hold onto that belief.

    (c) I am not boring.

    True as well. There is always change, always something new, even at that edge. It is not that different. Evolution, maturing, exploring, engaging - all that happens before and after realizing selflessness. There is no difference, apart from in the context.

    (d) My thoughts are boring.

    Yes, when I believe people presenting the realization of selflessness as a final destination or a goal of some sort. That is truly a boring view to me, and one that I adopt when I attach to that thought - whether I believe it or try to push it away.

    (e) My thoughts are not boring.

    True, as they are always changing. They come and go, freshly in the present, as everything else. They also engage freely in the exploration process of whatever happens.

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Inquiry :: Something Can Go Wrong |

Something can go wrong.

  1. Yes (Seems that way. Seems that things go wrong now and then.)

  2. No (Cannot know that is true. Is just an opinion, a story. Also don't know what is best for my path.)

  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    Afraid of what may go wrong. Playing a series of images of what may go wrong, the many ways it may go wrong, and the many possible consequences for myself.

    Afraid to engage in life. Holding back both my engagement and my enthusiasm and passion, from concerns of what may go wrong. Not able to enjoy the present fully, as my attention goes to what may go wrong.

    Ashamed for the many things that have gone wrong. Ashamed for what may go wrong.

    Frustration over not engaging as fully in life as I would, if I was not concerned about what may go wrong. Sense of loss, and sadness over that loss.

    Sense of separation from myself, others and life.

  4. Who or what would I be without that belief?

    Free to engage in life, and free to allow enthusiasm and passion. Free to allow things to go wrong. Free to enjoy it, even when it goes wrong. Free to reorient from clarity and a sense of intimacy with myself, others and life.

  5. (a) Nothing can go wrong.

    Hmm... The idea of something going wrong is just an idea. So in reality, things just happen - inherently free from being right or wrong. It is only our stories about it that make them appear right or wrong, desireable or undesireable. Realizing this, I am more free to engage in life - enjoying the process more independent of its particulars.

    (b) My thoughts can go wrong.

    Of yes, especially - or only - if I believe in them. I see that when I believe in my thoughts, they go wrong no matter what. I create drama and stress for myself, in many different ways. I become less clear and effective in the world. I become a victim of my own beliefs.

    (c) My thoughts cannot go wrong.

    That is true as well. They just do their job. They just live their own life. They are innocent, asking innocent questions about life. They only appear to go wrong when there is a belief in them. In themselves, they are completely innocent.

    (d) Others can go wrong.

    Yes, same as for me when I believe in thoughts, and live as if they are true.

    (e) Others cannot go wrong.

    Yes, again same as for me. We are all innocent, just confused when we believe in thoughts. We all just play it out the way we have to. It is all part of the process. And it is all God, it is all the play of God.

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Inquiry :: Contractions |

I notice that other people going into contractions and resistance sometimes trigger the same in me. So...

She should not attach to resistance.

  1. Yes (Because it is uncomfortable for me.)

  2. No (It is just what people do. Also, cannot know what is best for her and mine paths.)

  3. What happens when I believe that thought (and she goes into resistance)?

    I go into resistance myself. I resist her resistance, and I attach to my own resistance to her resistance. I do exactly what I see her do.

    What is the worst that can happen if I don't have that belief?

    I wouldn't care if I go into contractions or not myself. I would go into contractions, although I also see that going into resistance is what I do with the belief.

  4. Who or what would I be without that thought?

    Free to not go into resistance, even if others around me do. Free from having to mirror what I see in them. Free to stay in clarity. Free to follow my own process, independent of what I see in those around me (at least in this particular area).

  5. (a) She should attach to resistance.

    Yes, it is what she does, according to my story. It is her process. Her path. It is what people do. I cannot expect to only be around people who never go into resistance.

    (b) I should not attach to resistance.

    Yes, the advice is for me. When I see someone else going into resistance, I do not need to do the same. I can stay in clarity.

    (c) My thoughts should not attach to resistance.

    True as well. When I see resistance in others, I tend to fuel thoughts about that resistance so my own thoughts attaches to it that way. Again, my advice is for myself. I don't need to fuel these thoughts. I can allow them their freedom.

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Causal Only? |

I thought of the night last summer where I woke up during a lightning storm, and there was just pure awareness - nothing else. There was no sense of time. No sense of space. No sense of any form of conceptual knowing, and no sense of awareness of the absence of conceptual knowing. No associations, and no awareness of the absence of associations. No knowledge of being a human being, in a room, watching lightning outside the window, on Earth, in this universe. There was just pure awareness of the situation, absent of all this.

After some time - which I later assumed could have been 30 seconds to a few minutes - there was a slight discomfort stirring, an emerging awareness of the not knowing, and this lead to the "booting up" of my conventional knowledge and associations. I then realized that although there was no sense of time, there had been several lightning strikes so it must have happened over some time - maybe up to several minutes.

Looking back at it now, it seems that this could have been the causal level apparently functionally isolated from the other levels - apart from the physical obviously, since this body sat up in bed, opened its eyes, and looked at the lightning flashes outside of the window.

There was just pure witnessing, pure awareness. Pure causal level.

Until, after some time, the other levels functionally came back in.

Maybe the main outcome of this episode was a renewed and deepened appreciation of all these other levels. The causal level alone, functionally isolated from the others, is not really that interesting. It is just a big eye, taking it all in equally, and not much else.

With the other levels, it provides a sense of disidentification and liberation which is wonderful. But alone, it is not much to write home about. To anthropomorphise, I guess that is why all the other levels are around, to flesh it all out and make it more interesting.

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Guidance System |

Of all the practices I have explored, it seems that the Byron Katie inquiries have one of the most accurate inherent guidance systems: stress indicating beliefs, then examined through inquiry.

Whenever there is stress, we know that it comes from the belief in a stress-producing thought, which we can then take to inquiry. In this process, we peel off layers upon layers of beliefs, revealing our nature of clarity, wisdom, compassion, effortless effective functioning in the world and selflessness.

In areas where we are still not aligned with what is, there will be stress, helping us to identify another belief and take it to inquiry.

It is a beautiful process, and one that is largely self-directed. It seems that it can take us all the way, through its own guidance system of stress indicating remaining beliefs.

And the inherent joyfulness of the process does not make it all that difficult either. As we inquire into one belief after another, we gain confidence and trust in the truth of our immediate experience and the liberation that comes from seeing our own truth more clearly.

We also gain trust in the ability of the process to self-correct. If we left something out, or went to an idea rather than our immediate experience, life will let us know. If something is left to be seen, stress comes up as a faithful guide pointing the way to yet another belief, waiting to be seen through.

Life is always inviting us to see what is really true for us, in our own immediate experience, and the BK inquiry is a beautifully simple and elegant way to more actively engage in this process.

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Peeling Off |

It seems that as the deepening into selflessness - both the realization of it (seeing through the belief in the idea of I) and the living of it (reorganization at our human level) - there is a sense of peeling off more layers.

Layers which previously were "innocent" now come to the surface, demanding attention, one after another. And they sometimes have consequences in my daily life, creating apparent blocks where there used to be none or few, inviting awareness into the issue.

Along with this is a continuing normalization of the sense of selflessness, appearing more and more ordinary and unremarkable.

And there is still a sense of "dryness", of not finding any excitement in it - even the explorations at the edge of selflessness. It all seems neutral, in any sense of the word. All dials are at zero.

There is also a sense of a relatively stable transparency now, a sense of the Ground co-existing with a vague sense of I - transparent to this ground. I assume this is a quite typical phase in the process - where the habitual sense of I is still around to some extent, yet also seen as not real when looked at, and transparent to the Ground.

When I look, I find myself as "capacity for the world" as Douglas Harding puts it. This human self happens, along with the rest of the world of phenomena, within space and awareness. There is no strong sense of identification with any of it. And yet, there is the vague and habitual sense of "self" in some areas, although transparent and not believeable when looked into.

It all seems similar to a purgatory, although that too is just a story. Just another story, aimed at making sense of what is happening and providing some comfort. Another story used to distract from what is.

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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.

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Inquiry :: Center of Attention Thursday, April 27, 2006 |

Another residual belief - not completely aligned with my conscious view, yet apparently still there somewhere...

I shouldn't be the center of attention.

  1. Yes (I can find that in me, although I don't consciously believe it.)

  2. No (Cannot know that is true. Also, cannot know what is best for my and other's paths.)

  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    I resist being the center of attention, in many ways.

    I organize my life so I avoid being the center of attention. I avoid situations where I may be center of attention. I sometimes don't speak up even when it seems appropriate to do so, and I want to speak up. I resent people for placing me at the center of attention, especially in larger groups.

    When I am the center of attention, I become very self-conscious and tend to lose some of my clarity and comfort. I act differently than I do individually with people, or with smaller groups I am comfortable with. I try to pass on the attention to someone else sooner rather than later, even if I do have something to contribute to the group.

    When I have something to contribute and hold back from sharing, there is a sense of frustration and even inauthenticity. I have something to share, I want to share it, the group may benefit from it, and I hold back from sharing because I don't want to be the center of attention.

    What do I get from holding onto that belief?

    I get to avoid attention. To hold back. To be in the background. To avoid embarrassing myself. To avoid that particular form of responsibility, from being center of attention.

    I get to feel superior, judging those who are the center of attention from my safe place in the audience.

    What is the worst that can happen if I don't have that belief?

    I may find myself at the center of attention in many different situations, and embarrass myself in many different ways. I may not have the sufficient knowledge or skills to impress people. I may stumble physically or in words. I may do or say something foolish. I may act so people's impressions of me goes downhill. I may not be liked, or even actively disliked.

  4. Who or what would I be without that belief?

    I would be free to be the center of attention or not. Free to move fluidly between those two according to the situation, and what seems appropriate in the present. I would even enjoy being the center of attention, because it is a difference from how I have lived my life in the past.

  5. (a) I should be the center of attention.

    Yes, that is as true as the original statement. I should be the center of attention, because I sometimes have something I want to share, and it may also benefit others. I should be the center of attention, because I sometimes am - and I can be OK with that. And I should be the center of my own attention, especially in terms of exploring and inquiring into stressful beliefs. That too benefits both me and possibly others.

    (b) My thoughts should be the center of attention.

    Yes, when I notice stressful thoughts I can take them to inquiry.

    (c) My thoughts should not be the center of attention.

    Yes, that is true as well. They come and go as clouds. They are innocent questions about the world. So they are not really that important. They pale in comparison with clear, immediate experience and knowing of the present, the nature of mind revealed when beliefs fall away.

    (d) Others should not be the center of attention.

    That is true as well. When I am the center of attention, I don't need to place my attention on others - on their impressions of me. If I do whatever I am doing for myself, in a way comfortable for me, it is far more enjoyable.

    (e) Others should be the center of attention.

    Yes, because they sometimes are for me when I am the center of attention. And that is OK as well.

  6. I look forward to being the center of attention.

    Yes, because I can then see if there are any (other) residual beliefs around it. Any further stressful beliefs, which I can then inquire into.


If I am the center of attention, I need to impress people.
  1. Yes (Seems true.)

  2. No (Cannot know it is absolutely true. Also don't know what is best of my and others path.)

  3. Always looking for feedback and hints about how others perceive me. Always looking for ways to impress people. I know I can't control others impressions of me and stories about me, but I try anyway.

    There is quite a lot of attention and energy going into this, taking attention and energy away from what I am doing, and how I can do it in a way that is meaningful, rewarding, comfortable and enjoyable for myself.

    What do I get from holding onto that belief?

    I get to be distracted while being the center of attention. I get a way to explain away any bumbling from my side. I get to perform less well than I do in a situation where that belief does not come up.

    What is the worst that can happen if I don't have that belief?

    I will not try to impress people, and may do something stupid. I may act so that people create unfavorable stories about me.

  4. Who or what would I be without that belief?

    I would be myself when I am the center of attention, free from trying to live up to anyone's stories about me and free from trying to manipulate others stories about me. I would be clear, comfortable, fluid. I may enjoy being the center of attention for a while, since I may have something to share, it is a role that goes around to many individuals so it is interesting for me to try it out as well, and it is different from how I have often lived in the past.

  5. (a) If I am the center of attention, I don't need to impress people.

    That is as or more true. I do it for myself, not others. And I cannot control others impressions of me anyway. They create their own stories, no matter what, and these stories are likely to be something else than what I expect.

    (b) If I am the center of attention, I need to impress myself.

    Yes, also true. I can do it in a way that is comfortable for myself, and that would certainly impress me.

    (c) ...

  6. I look forward to being the center of attention and needing to impress people.

    Yes, because that shows a stressful belief that I can take to inquiry, and explore what is really true for me around that.

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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.

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Absolute & Relative |

Listening to Byron Katie dialogues, and also talking with Jen about what we discover about inquiry, the relationship between the Absolute and the Relative comes up again - as usual with a different flavor.

Absolute

The Absolute is the world as it appears when we realize selflessness. We see that all is God, in front of and behind the eyeballs. We realize that Existence is beyond and includes any and all polarities, including that of existence and nonexistence. We see that words split the world, and cannot describe existence as it is when selflessness is realized and there is no I and Other anymore.

Relative

The Relative is the world as it appears when there is the filter of I and Other, whether we believe in it or not. If we believe in it, there is suffering and confusion. If we have seen through it, there is only clarity and this filter becomes a useful tool for operating in the world as a human being.

Byron Katie and the Absolute

Following her awakening, Byron Katie, was quite clearly absorbed in the absolute, and the relative was swept off the map for a while. Then, she had to relearn how to function as a human being, how to come back to using the filter of I and Other, although now in a quite different context - that of selflessness.

Returning to the world

She did this (my story) out of compassion. She saw she could help people if she met them where they are at, which is operating from the filter of I and Other. She saw she could only communicate and function in the world of form if she herself used this filter, now only as a temporary tool. She did it out of compassion for others - to help them, and out of compassion for herself - so she could engage in the world of form.

She is using the filter of I and Other within the context of selflessness, and in knowing that there is really nobody to help - it is all God. All the play of God. Emptiness dancing.

Smaller scale example

I talked with Jen earlier today, and invited her to share her stressful (and other) stories about me. She hesitated as she sees so clearly how all of these stories are about her, not me. She is not capable to have any stories about me. She only sees the turnarounds.

This is quite beautiful. It comes from a clear realization. And it is quite accurate as well.

Yet, sharing her stories about me with me can also help me. It can be an act of compassion. It can help me see my own stories about myself - and her as well. It can help me see my own stories and inquire into them for myself. And this is true whether my stories are similar to hers, or triggered by and in reaction to hers.

None of us are that different. We tend to have similar stories about ourselves and others. And within the same culture, we also tend to share stories about specific individuals, situations and topics. We tend to share our basic 1st generation labelling stories, and - in ethnic/political/value subgroups - share more elaborate 2nd generation interpretive stories as well.

Seeing an overweight person, we tend to think "unhealthy" and have either judgmental, defensive or compassionate stories around it. Seeing a young movie star, we tend to think "successful" and "beautiful" and either judge the cult of that image or ourselves for not measuring up, or both. Seeing Bush, we look at our stories about what he is doing and then elaborate into "liar" or "conservative hero".

So Jen sharing her stories about me - with me - can be an act of compassion and a great help to me.

And it is a parallel to coming down from the mountain and into the marketplace. Coming from the Absolute and into the Relative, out of compassion for ourself and others.

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Trusting the Universe & Truth |

When there is an identification with any segment of what is, there is the appearance of I and Other and the whole dynamic which emerges from that. And this dynamic includes, quite naturally, a certain lack of trust.

I am an object in a world of innumerable unpredictable objects, so I cannot fully trust the world.

Selflessness and trust

The only way to uncover a deep and unconditional trust is through tasting and ultimately realize selflessness, and deepen into that realization.

As Byron Katie - and mystics from any tradition - say, God is All and God is good. When there is no I there is no Other, and there is nothing to not trust.

Seeing the truth about beliefs

To realize this, we need to see through the belief in the idea of I. This core belief which creates the I-Other appearance. We actually need to see through any and all beliefs. We need to see what is really true for us - in our own immediate experience - about the beliefs.

We can come to see thought and abstraction as what they are - innocent questions about the world. Not accurate or true representations.

As BK says, we come to see - gradually, one inquiry at a time - that reality is always kinder than our stories about it.

Trusting truth

A part of this process is to trust truth. Not any abstract and absolute truth, not any permanent truth, not any truth handed over from someone else, not any truth discovered in the future.

Simply what is true for me - first person singular - in the present.

As long as I am identified with any segment of what is, I won't completely trust my own truth. That too becomes an Other, and something to be suspicious of. And this seems to be even more the case in our western culture, inherently suspicious of nature and the universe.

This is one of the beautiful aspects of Byron Katie's inquiry process. I gradually, slowly, learn to trust my own truth - what is true for me in my immediate experience.

I see - over and over and in smaller and larger ways - that the truth does indeed set me free. It is the only thing that does. I come to want and seek my truth, because I know the liberation inherent in it. I find courage in the form of a desire for truth and liberation.

Truth vs. shoulds

I also see more clearly the relationship between truth and shoulds.

The various spiritual traditions are full of "shoulds" in the form of ethical guidelines and so on, and these can be very useful. They help us live with less conflict, and also help align us with a future realization of selflessness (they - at their best - reflect how we naturally tend to live when selflessness is realized).

At the same time, when I look into what is true for me in the present, I see that I don't need any abstract guidelines. The same is found in my own already existing truth, when I only look. So instead of a should, imposed from the outside, it becomes a want emerging from myself.

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Working from Big Mind & Human Self Wednesday, April 26, 2006 |

It seems that an awakening to realizing selflessness often appears as a work from two sides: from Big Mind and from the human self. If we split it up in those two, it appears that way. If not, then we see that it is really the same thing.

Any glimpse of selflessness is grace. It comes on its own, in its own time. And it can come completely out of the blue (as it initially did for me), or it can be intentionally invited in through prayer, meditation, yoga, mantras, and so on. It is a gift from the divine. And when it happens, even for only a brief moment, something shifts. It is not really possibly to take this sense of a separate self seriously anymore, even if it is there. And we may also engage in practices to realize selflessness more clearly.

At our human level, there are many practices we can engage in to clarify any glimpse of selflessness, including prayer, meditation, yoga, mantras and various forms of inquiry. None of these can shift the center of gravity into a clear realization of selflessness, but they can prepare the ground for it, they offer an invitation for it to happen.

In most cases, it seems that the two work towards each other. There is the working towards it at the human self level, aligning our human self with a realization of selflessness so that it can function more effectively as a vehicle for the realization of selflessness. And there are the glimpses offered from the divine, which helps us with a taste of it, with renewed inspiration, and also in aligning our human self a little closer with it.

And this seems to often occur over time. There is work at our human level, then one or more glimpses, then more work, and so on. All the time aligning our human self more closely with a realization of selflessness, repatterning at all levels from body to emotions to thoughts and behaviors, and there is also a gradually deepening familiarity with how it is to function from the realization of selflessness. We gradually become more familiar with this territory, so different from operating from a belief in the idea of a separate self or I.

Eventually, our human self is repatterened enough, and we are sufficiently familiar with the selflessness terrain, so it can become more stable. First, maybe as a sense of transparency - seen through a vague although not quite believable sense of I. Then, through "popping" and becoming completely obvious and clear.

And when this happens, there is also the clear realization that it was all a game. It was all the play of the divine, from the beginning - even in the exclusive identification as our human self, as an object in the world, even in the middle of the times when the sense of being lost, separate, confused and suffering was at its most strong.

It was just the divine waking up to its own nature, which was always there - although not noticed as long as there was an exclusive identification with something finite, or with any segment of what is.

It was the divine working towards waking up to itself, from the side of the human self and the divine mind. It was the divine tunneling through the mountain of itself from two sides, and meeting itself in the middle. It was the divine facing itself in the mirror, facing away from itself in the mirror, walking away from itself in the mirror, and walking towards itself in the mirror.

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Space & Time |

In Anatomy of Miracles (on Sat Nam Rasayan), Subagh Singh Khalsa mentions something that seems quite obvious when pointed out: when we shift our attention from one object to another, it is inevitably accompanied by a sense of space and time.

To say it in a different way...

When there is an identification with any segment of what is, when I believe in the idea of I and place it on a segment of what is, then my identity narrows down to an object in the world, to something finite, appearing in space and time. I apparently am - in my own experience - "trapped" in space and time.

So identifying with focus of attention is one example of this. When I identify with focus of attention, I see how it moves - or I move - from location to location, one after another, and this gives a sense of being trapped on the "inside" of space and time.

When the belief in the idea of I drops, there is only what is - beyond and including all polarities, including space and time. If I call this "I", then I can say that space and time unfolds within me.

Original draft...

When I look at it, I see that it is not the shifting of attention itself which gives rise to this experience of space and time. It seems to be the identification with the focus - and sometimes the content of the focus - which brings this about. As soon as this focus becomes "I", then there is space and time. "I" becomes the one moving around bringing first one thing, then another, into focus of attention. "I" am the one travelling from destination to destination, one after another.

Going one step back, I see that this comes from the belief in the idea of "I" as a segment of what is. And in this case, the "I" is placed on the focus of attention (and maybe other things as well, such as the object of attention, intention, awareness, thoughts, and so on).

If there is no identification with anything happening, there is also no identification with space & time. Everything is just happening in an always fresh and eternal present.

Here, the focus of attention can move around as it naturally does, and space and time unfolds as it does, yet there is no identification with either - so no contraction of identity down to ay segment of it, such as focus of attention and/or space & time.

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Inquiry: Other People's Stories About Me Tuesday, April 25, 2006 |

I notice an uneasiness when people look up to me, similar to having people look down at me (although the latter is a little less stressful since I then don't have anything to live up to!). I also notice an aversion to people having stories about me in general. It somehow feels like too much of a burden, too much to deal with. So...

He shouldn't look up to me.

  1. Yes (That seems true. And I live, to some extent, as if it is true.)

  2. No (Cannot know that is absolutely true. Also cannot know what is the best for my - and his - path.)

  3. What happens when I believe that thought?

    I filter and regulate what and how much comes out, to regulate his impression of me. I hide in various ways, and play games with myself and him. I try to play down my own insights, clarity, power, skills and so on. I also allow it through just enough for him to see it.

    There is a frustration here in having gifts that are not shared as freely as what is possible. Of holding back.

    And there is a frustration in now knowing what his story is, and how to manipulate it effectively. There is a constant watching out for signs, for feedback, to allow me to manipulate his impressions more effectively and precisely. And a constant worry if it is working or not, and what type of strategy to use.

    I avoid being too skilled in anything. At the point where I glimpse how it is to have mastery, I tend to go on to something else. I choose to not follow my passions, to not allow my skills to mature and continue to develop. At the same time, there is frustration about not allowing my skills to continue to mature and refine.

    It becomes a balance between mediocricy and admiration, trying to avoid both. It is a struggle between the two. It is a loosing battle. I try to control how others see my, which I ultimately cannot do. And there is a deepening frustration over not continuing to explore and develop my skills and talents in many areas. There is a growing dissatisfaction over unlived life, potentials and possibilities.

    As long as I try to control the impressions of others, I cannot win. Partly because I cannot control the impressions and stories of others. And partly because when I do this by holding myself back, either in the situation or through not developing my skills, there is a mounting frustration and dissatisfaction.

    There is also a fear of falling down. Fear of doing something that does not match his story about me. And a wanting to do something that does not match his story. And the ambivalence between the two, and the shifting between the two.

    There is a sense of having to live up to somebody else's story about me. I feel trapped by his story about me. And I also don't know exactly what it is, and how to live up to it - or even how to deflate or puncture it.

    So there is a lot coming out of this simple belief:
    • Wanting to live up to his story of me. To reinforce it.
    • Fear of his story of me changing, deflating.
    • Wanting to deflate his story.
    • Wanting him to have no story about me.
    • Feeling trapped by his story about me.
    • Wanting to manipulate his story about me.
    • Not knowing exactly what his story of me is, so not knowing how to effectively manipulate it.
    • Watching for signs of what his story is, and how effective my manipulation is (in either reinforcing or deflating it).
    • Not showing my skills, insights, clarity, wisdom, power clearly in our interactions. Holding back in the situation.
    • Not continue developing my skills and talents in different areas, for fear of other's looking up to me and its consequences.
    • Frustration and dissatisfaction over not developing these gifts, and over not feeling free to share them with others.

    Why shouldn't he look up to me?

    I get uncomfortable with it. See that it is just his story about me, and has nothign to do with me. Yet, do not want that story placed on me. People start to behave differently to me. There is a sense of separation if they have a story about me which makes them look up (or down) at me.

    What is the worst that can happen if I don't believe that thought?

    I would be OK with him looking up to me. And I would not want to control his perception and story of me. I may get arrogant, inflated. And he may not find his own clarity, skills, wisdom, power.

  4. Who or what would I be without the thought?

    Able to allow him to look up to me. Be OK with him looking up to me. Clear that it is his story, and has nothing to do with me. He is just reflecting himself in me. Able to see the beauty in that.

    I am free from his story. And I am free from needing to control his perceptions and stories about me (which I cannot anyway).

  5. (a) He should look up to me.

    Yes, because he does. It is what is happening.

    Also, because it allows him to reflect himself in me. He can familiarize himself with certain qualities through first seeing them in me, then in himself. It is a beautiful process, and it is a wonderful gift to someone else to allow them to use me as a mirror. This mirroring is a generosity built into our lives.

    (b) I should look up to me.

    Yes, admire the strenght, clarity, wisdom etc. that is there. Allow them their life.

    (c) I should not look up to me.

    No, because it is just a story.

    (d) I should look up to him.

    Yes, for him being free to allow me as his mirror. For beeing free to see himself in me.

    (e) I should not look up to him.

    Yes, I should not make his stories so important to me. They belong to his process, not mine. Making his stories so important to me is what brings up this stress for me.

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Inquiry & Organic Unfolding |

I don't know if this is true (it is, after all, only my story), but it seems that inquiry allows for a gentle unfolding.

With many other approaches, it may not be possible to do it "too much" (what would that mean?), but it is definitely possible to do enough for there to be a serious backlash. And that can be quite unpleasant, while also carry some opportunities for insights and maturation.

But with inquiry, I only look at what is true for me (first person singular) in the present. What is alive for me right now? There is a gentle curiosity and receptivity in inquiry, which allows the unfolding to occur in an organic and gently paced way.

Inquiry works with what is already there, just noticing what is already there. Nothing is imposed. Nothing is added. Nothing is pushed.

Unless, of course, something is imposed, added and/or pushed. When that happens for me, I see that it often comes from an idea of a "goal" besides or beyond just seeing more clearly what is true for me in the present. When there is the belief in an idea of a goal - such as relief from suffering, realizing selflessness, being a good spiritual student, being insightful and so on - it brings discomfort. And this discomfort is an invitation to bring this belief itself into inquiry, and see what is really true for me there. Do I really want an abstract goal, however compelling it may seem? Or do I want to see more clearly what is really there, what is true for me right now?

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Self-Centered |

Some of the many layers of self-centeredness...

First, it is unavoidable as long as there is a belief in the idea of I. When there is such as belief - experienced as a sense of I - everything is filtered through it.

Then there is the beauty of it. There is a belief in the idea of I, and at the same time a knowing - at some level - that this is not quite true, so there is naturally a focus on it. As there is any time something is real for us, yet not quite noticed or brought into awareness. Our attention is brought to it so we can become more familiar with it, bring it into awareness, and bring what is real for us into awareness. In this case, what is real for us - although not noticed, is selflessness and that the sense of I only comes from a belief in the idea of I.

And in a similar way, what may appear as an individual self-centeredness is really universal and shared. We are really all just exploring what happens when there is a belief in the idea of I, and many other ideas as well. We are each exploring the same territory, yet in each case also with individual flavors.

Another layer is the consequences of living from a belief in the idea of I. This is something we all (with some exceptions) are quite familiar with, although also something we have not yet explore in real detail and with sincerity. When this happens, the belief starts to unravel - leaving only the ground, realizing itself as selfless - with no I anywhere, yet still functioning through and as a human being.

So we have...

  • Filter
    Self-centeredness functioning as a filter. The belief in the idea of I filters all our experiences and our whole life.

  • Discrepancy
    The discrepancy between knowing what is real for us - selflessness, yet believing in the idea of I. This brings a sense of uneasiness and suffering, and also an attention to this discrepancy, which invites us to become more familiar with it and bring it all more into awareness. It invites us to explore what is real for us more in detail, which in turn - eventually - leads to a realization of selflessness.

  • Consequences
    Explorations into how it is to live from the belief in I, and many other beliefs. This is an exploration into a shared territory, universal and really quite impersonal, yet also with individual flavors.
And of course, it is all completely innocent.

There is the Ground forming itself into all there is, everything inherently empty of any I. There is the belief in the idea of I. There are the consequences of this belief. And among these consequences are the impulses to bring what is real for us around it more into awareness, which in turn leads to a realization of selflessness.

The final layer is the ultimate self-centeredness: realizing selflessness - and discovering the divine or Big mind. It is all God, all Spirit, all emptiness dancing. If an I is placed on this (as Eckhard said, only God can say "I"), then it is all I. Although since there is no Other, there is not really any I there either.

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Movies as Analogy |

Since I read Yogananda's analogy of a movie screen, I have been curious about it - mainly because it does not (yet?) fit my own experience.

But lately, there has been a shift here. Maybe not so much in my experience, but in how I see it.

Using the headlessness inquiries, I can see how - in Douglas Harding's words - the whole world of phenomena is "out there", always at a certain distance from me, and that "I" am here, at zero distance. Or, as he also says, I am capacity for the whole world of phenomena.

This is a somewhat clumsy way of putting it, setting up a seer-seen duality which is not really there. At the same time, it is an elegant way of easing people into the experience and realization of it. It helps people shift the center of gravity into the seeing, the witness, which is a step on the way to realizing selflessness.

As we awaken to ourselves as seeing, and then to realize selflessness, there is also a sense of everything becoming more intimate, more "two-dimensional" - with no distance. There is intimacy and distancelessness, yet also clearly the conventional distance we all are familiar with. This is most likely because it really is this way. It is all God, Spirit, Ground - so there really is no distance. Yet, in the world of form there also is distance.

And there is also a sense of disidentification with any particulars of what is happening. It all comes and goes, within and as Ground. None of it is really more "I" than anything else.

So from all of this - finding myself as the seeing within which all happens, through a sense of intimacy with everything happening, of no distance, of it all being "two-dimensional", and through the disidentification with particular content - I can see how the movie screen analogy can match some of my own experiences.

There is really a sense of (a) it all being flat and "out there", yet also (b) of intimacy, no distance and no separation, and also (c) a sense of disidentification with any particulars of what is happening. And this could be described using a movie screen analogy.

Clarification

Some aspects...

  • All phenomena as a seamless field
  • No I inherent in any segment of it
  • A sense of intimacy with everything
  • And no distance to anything
  • Yet also conventional distance
  • A disidentification with everything happening, including everything associated with this human self
... which together could be described as a movie unfolding (light dancing) on a screen.
  • It is all a seamless field. On the screen because it is just that, on the screen. In the world of phenomena because there is no I anywhere.
  • It is all "equal" in the sense that there is no I inherent anywhere. Not on the screen, not in the world of phenomena.
  • It is all up front, right there, intimate and with no distance.
  • And there is a disidentification with it. With the movie because it is just a story, with the world of phenomena because there is no I anywhere - it is just happening.

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Offering Up or Right Here |

One practice, common to many traditions - and one that may arise spontaneously during awakenings as well - is offering to the divine.

Offering any perceived problems, a difficult situation, our human self, our relationships and those close to us, our material possessions, our community, earth, the universe, existence. All we do is really to offer aspects of God back to God, and we do it for our sake - to remind us of this, to release our sense of anything being not divine, of anything being separate, of any "I" anywhere in all of this.

In terms of perceived problems - and everything else, it helps us loosen our grip on it and our perceived identification with it.

Some time back when I did this, there was a sense of it being offered "up" to the divine. Now, it just seems to happen in place. This is similar to the shift that happened for me in receiving deeksha, initially experiencing it as coming from above and "outside", and now as happening right in place - coming out of every point of space. Flowing directly out of the Ground, everywhere.

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Just Happens |

During our walk Sunday, I shifted my shoulder bag over from one shoulder to another. I noticed how I initially tried to image and figure out how to do it, and then how it just seemed to happen on its own - in a different way than I expected, and much simpler.

This is just one of many examples of how things just seem to happen on their own. For every thing I look into, I see that it seems to just happen on its own. It is just happening.

There is a thought, coming out of the blue and then vanishing again. There is an intention, coming out of the blue and vanishing. There is a focus of attention, shifting around. There are movements. And it is all just happening.

Just happening

There are many ways to look at this.

One is that every instance has infinite causes, tied to the universe and existence as a whole. It is not possible to narrow it down to some factors and exclude other.

Another is that it is all happening within and as the ground. It is all emerging out of and as the ground, right where it is at. Its source is right there. The ground is a fountain from and as which the whole world of phenomena is arising right now, always new, fresh, different.

A more conventional way to look at it, which also is included in the situation, is that my conscious mind does not really understand how anything works. I may have an intellectual understanding how what happens in the brain when there are thoughts, intention, or a focus of attention, but that does not really explain what is really going in. It is an overlay of abstractions on top of something that is really utterly mysterious and unknown to me.

Even the seemingly most ordinary and daily activity is utterly mysterious. It has infinite causes, tied to the whole of the universe and existence. It goes on at a level where any layer of abstractions cannot touch it. It arises from and as the ground.

It just happens, seemingly in its own. When I look, I cannot find any "I" inherent in it, or inherent in anything else that "causes" it.

Ideas and explorations

Knowing this as an idea may be temporarily interesting, but not have much consequence. It is only another belief at best.

Sincerely exploring it - how this appears in my own immediate experience, is something else. It can slowly unravel our whole vague and unquestioned sense of an "I", an I a separate and independent "agent" which brings these things about.

Shoulder bag

So in the case of the shifting of the shoulder bag, I find...

  • Awareness of sensations in the shoulder, the labels "pain" and "discomfort" placed on it, and the idea of this having to do with carrying the bag on one shoulder for a while.

  • An intention arising of shifting the bag over to the other shoulder.

  • Images arising of how this may look.

  • Movements happen in my arms and upper body, resulting in the bag shifting over to the other shoulder.

  • Surprise arising, of how it actually happened in a different way than the initial image of it.

  • Thoughts following the surprise, noting how my initial image was different than what happened.

  • Words spoken to Jen about noticing this.

  • A focus of attention shifting throughout this process, from sensations, labels, analysis, image of shifting the bag, the movements of the upper body, the surprise, the thoughts coming up from the surprise, the talking of it to Jen.

  • Awareness within which this all unfolds.
Is there an "I" anywhere in this? I cannot really find it. Even now, as I look for an I anywhere, I only find a conglomerate of sensations, feelings, mild emotions, thoughts, focus of attention, and awareness, each one apparently empty of any "I". The seeing of it may be what appears the most as an "I", but I cannot find an indisputable I even there. There is seeing, for sure, but is there a seer?

Inquiry

I also see that there is a wanting to not find an I anywhere, and this prevents me from engaging sincerely in the inquiry. I am looking for "no I", so any hint in that direction is taken as evidence and an opportunity to say "good enough - there is no I here". There is not the freedom to sincerly explore what is true in my immediate experience, whatever it may be - different from expectations and memories.

The times that realization has "popped" it has been great - freeing, liberating, blissful. And there is also the implicit "should" in many of the spiritual traditions: there is no I anywhere, so having a sense that there is comes from delusion. Of course, the should comes from myself.

I shouldn't have a sense of an I.
  1. Yes (I can find that.)

  2. No (Cannot know for sure. Also, cannot know what is best for my path.)

  3. Restlessness. Notice a sense of I, the belief that I shouldn't have it, and the discrepancy between the two. This gives rise to restlessness, discomfort, wanting to get away from the situation, distracting myself away from it. Vague sense of shame and guilt, of not being good enough, not clear enough. Wanting to jump to any evidence of no I, and be done with it - not having to explore and investigate it further. General restlessness and wanting to get away, bring focus to something else. Confusion. Latching on to memories of times of clearer seeing and abstractions around the topic. Go to abstractions rather than what is really true in immediate experience. Sense of seaparation from what is, including what is real for me in the present.

  4. Free to explore what is true for me, in my immediate experience - independent on whether it conforms to expectations of what to find or not. Able to inquire in a more sincere way. Able to enjoy the inquiry process more, independent of the specific findings. Sense of intimacy with what is.

  5. (a) I should have a sense of I.

    Yes, if there is a sense of I there, there should. It is what it is. Also, having a sense of I - and exploring its consequences - allows me more real empathy with myself and others.

    (b) My thoughts shouldn't have a sense of I.

    (c) My thoughts should have a sense if I.

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Inquiry :: Stuck |

In some areas of life, I notice a hesitancy to commit to some things for longer time. This is especially the case where there is not a strong and complete "yes" coming up for me. The hesitancy seems to come from the thought that...

I will get stuck.

  1. Yes (Seems that it could be true.)

  2. No (Cannot know for sure. Also cannot know that wouldn't be exactly what I need.)

  3. Fear of being stuck. Images of all the many ways I can get stuck, in all the many places I can get stuck, and all the many possible consequences of it. Sometimes avoid comitting because of this fear of getting stuck. Hold back. Wait. Sit on the fence. Allow life to pass by. Wait for the ideal situation, or until I get desperate enough to go ahead in spite of this fear.

  4. OK with whatever is. Clear. Able to go into something or not, free from the fear of being stuck. Able to make choices from clarity and more freedom.

  5. (a) I won't get stuck.

    Yes, that seems as true. First, life is inherently change. It is not really possible to get stuck, there is only the appearance of stuckness - coming from belief in abstractions around it. Second, I can see how I have extracted myself from apparent stuckness in the past, and even learned something from it (although not painless).

    (b) My thoughts will get stuck.

    Yes, my thoughts do indeed tend to get stuck, especially when believed in. Of course, they come and go as everything else, but when there is a belief in them they tend to hang around. When I believe in them, they are fueled, either through resistance to them (which makes them more persistent) or by elaborating and ruminating on them, or both.

    (c) My thoughts won't get stuck.

    That is also true. They come and go as anything else in the world of phenomena. They cannot really get stuck, even if believed in. Also, if I examine the beliefs, they are freed.

    (d) Others get stuck.

    That is true as well. I am not the only one who (appears) to get stuck. Others get stuck too, in many different ways - including many ways I may be freed from right now. There are innumerable ways to get stuck, and I tend to see my own stuckness far more than that of others.

    (e) Others don't get stuck.

    Yes, life is flow, always fresh, new, different. Nothing is really stuck. There is at most a temporary dwelling in particular places, allowing us to deepen into, familiarize ourselves with, and inviting awareness into it.

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Currently... |

Reading

Luminous Night's Journey - A. H. Almaas

Spacecruiser Inquiry - A. H. Almaas

Anatomy of Miracles - Subagh Singh Khalsa (Sat Nam Rasayan)

The Healing Art of Sat Nam Rasayan - Guru Dev Singh

Classical Five Element Acupuncture Vol. III - J.R. Worsley


Listening to

Aerial - Kate Bush

Ancestral Voices - Carlos Nakai, William Eaton

Voices from the Distant Steppe - Shu De

Orphan's Lament - Huun Huur Tu

Egypt - Yossou N'Dour

Glassworks - Philip Glass

Unfolding - Axiom of Choice

Niyaz

Portals of Grace - Azam Ali

Himalaya - Eric Valli

Blue Idol - Altan

Morimur - Bach (Hilliard Ensamble)

Die Kunst der Fuge - Bach (Keller Quartet)

Byron Katie - dialogues

Joel Morwood - talks (Center for Sacred Sciences)


Practices

Byron Katie inquiries, daily in periods

Atma Vichara - inquiry into what appears most as "I" and seeing that too as empty of any I, just appearing within space as everything else

Breema - Self-Breema and bodywork, daily

Facilitating Big Mind - couple of times a week

Kundalini yoga - weekly classes, simple exercises a few times a day (breath of fire and more)

Sitting practice - shikantaze, now and then

Deeksha - monthly hands-on deekshas, and inviting in at any time

Sat Nam Rasayan - weekly classes, sometimes during the day

Being with whatever is - going into experiences, especially uncomfortable ones

Water (80+ ounces a day), diet, some strength, walks, biking

Offering to the divine - any perceived problems, my human self, my whole being, my relationships, the house and material goods, community, earth, universe

Intention - to have resolved/cleared whatever prevents... (awakening, living a fuller live)

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Disturbance as Invitation Sunday, April 23, 2006 |

A disturbance is always an invitation to explore something a little further, to bring something already true for us into awareness.

As I did a self-Breema exercise this morning, I noticed an impulse to get away.

And in exploring this impulse a little further, looking at what was alive - although not yet noticed - in my own present experience, I found that...

  • The impulse came from a slight discomfort.

  • The discomfort seemed to come from doing two things at once: a Self-Breema and engaging in thoughts about something else.

  • When I saw this, I made a small shift into being more present with the movements, finding a way to do it so I would want to do it for a long time. And in this, the discomfort and the impulse to get away dissolved. They were not needed as signposts anymore.
I also saw how easy it is to interpret the impulse in different ways.
  • I can see it as an invitation to explore why there is discomfort, and change the way I did the self-Breema (as I did). This is a movement into and through the discomfort, exploring what is behind it.

  • I can see it as an impulse to get up and do something else (which also would have resolved the discomfort). This is a movement away from the discomfort.

  • Or I can create more elaborate stories around it. For instance how self-Breemas are not for me. That there is something wrong with the self-Breemas themselves. Or that I am no good at self-Breemas (and lots of other things). This is yet another movement away from the discomfort, although one that itself creates a good deal of discomfort.
What I wanted to explore here is a very simple dynamic. Yet, it is obviously not quite clear to me right now since it came out in a very convoluted form - as the drafts below show...

As I did a self-Breema exercise this morning, I noticed that part of my attention was caught up in thoughts about a different topic, and I also noticed an impulse of wanting to get away and doing something else.

I was doing two things at once, self-Breema and engaging in thoughts, which gave rise to a discomfort. And this discomfort took the form of an impulse of wanting to get away.

Initially, I saw the impulse as telling me to get up and do something else. But looking into it further, I saw that the impulse was telling me that the way I was doing the self-Breema was uncomfortable.

The impulse told me to get away from the particular way I was doing it, which could take the form of doing something else, or

When I explored the impulse further, I saw that it was
the way I was engaging in the exercise that I wanted to get away from. I was not present with it, I tried to do two things at once (self-Breema and exploring something through thoughts), and it was uncomfortable. Seeing this, I also saw the invitation in it to find a way to do the self-Breema that is comfortable - with whole body/whole mind. I made a little change in this direction, and now again enjoyed the self-Breema. I found a way to do it so I would want to do it for a long time.

So again, the impulse itself was completely innocent and also very accurate.

When it arises, I can
interpret this impulse in different ways.

I can create a story about not wanting to do self-Breema right then, which may lead me to interrupt it and go and do something else. I can even create a story about not enjoying self-Breemas very much in general. Or that there is a flaw in the exercises themselves.

And I can also simply see that the impulse of wanting to get away is just that: an impulse of wanting to get away. Exploring this further, I see that what I really want to get away from in that situation was the
way I am doing self-Breema.

An impulse arises, I take it as an invitation to explore what may be behind it - what is true for me in the present, and in doing this I see that the impulse itself is completely innocent and just a helpful guidepost into seeing what is true for me right now.

I am not in touch with what is true for me in the present, an apparent disturbance comes up, and this disturbance turns out to be a guidepost for discovering what is more deeply true for me in the present.

And sometimes we need a framework for discovering this, such as Process Work and the Byron Katie inquiries.

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