• August 17, 2015

    I notice how encumbered I am by my beliefs. I believe certain things and I don’t believe others and both seem to be permanently fixed. I cannot believe in an unseen world. Can this rigidity be shifted so I can believe?

    What you are describing is the sickness of our time. What you are describing is a lack of faith which is not the same as belief.

    To inquire into this matter we must be careful to make distinctions. I wish first to explore the differences between knowing and believing.

    I know that the sun will rise tomorrow. This is based on personal experience, the experience of many others, and verification over thousands of years. It is explained by a theory of celestial mechanics which is also based on verifiable observation…we understand why the sun will appear to rise tomorrow.

    The resurrection of the dead is in another category. I can believe in this but I cannot know it.  I have no experience of it, neither do others, there is no historical record of it and there is no verifiable theory to support it. My belief is likely based on religious authority or some sort of intuition.

    Inquiring into belief, I find that it is a marriage of thought and emotional preference. My belief consists of thinking what I want to think about something or someone.  It is supported by an emotional need.

    Not believing something requires an equal amount of careful consideration. Is my non-belief a refusal to believe something because there is no evidence, or because I want to reject it?

    The issue here is emotion in its dual forms of clinging and averting.  If I do not know that something is true, I can test it to see if there is evidence for it. Or I can decide to believe it or disbelieve it.  My motive for doing so is observable in myself.  Most likely, I believe because I cling to something I like and I disbelieve because I reject something I do not like. These emotions are facts which can be determined by observation. They are not immutable because they are based in emotion.

    One of the primary functions of believing or disbelieving is to reduce uncertainty, which is unsettling and anxiety-producing.

    Observing these mechanisms is fundamentally important because I continually adopt beliefs and disbeliefs that then block my capacity to know. We commonly use the expression that ‘seeing is believing’ but the converse is far more true…believing is seeing. I precondition perception by what I want to see and then delight in confirmation, which provides a false sense of certainty. To open my experience to the unknown, I must first unwind the beliefs that block perception.  “The undesirable must be relinquished before the desirable can be attained.”

    One of the strongest beliefs is what constitutes evidence. Thinking based on sensation is believed and has become completely dominant despite its home in the transitory world. Feeling is not considered evidence. Aesthetic experience, the perception of beauty, the feeling of truth…these are not taken as evidence of perception. They are thought to be subjective and ephemeral and therefore they are disbelieved. But in the world of feeling, there can be just as much certainty based on evidence as there is in the physical world where I know the sun will rise tomorrow. The evidence is the feeling.

    Humans have three capacities for the play of perception—thinking, sensing and feeling—but we habitually rely on only the first two. Feeling is the perceptive capacity that opens the second dimension of time, the dimension that is all-certainty, unchanging by its very nature.

    If you rely on belief, you cannot have faith. Faith is perception of the heart, perception by feeling. It has no emotional needs, no subjective preferences motivated by clinging or averting, no history, no development, only uncovering.

    Faith is not blind. Faith is knowing, but not the knowing of the mind. It cannot be overturned by reason because it is not rooted in the mind. Faith comprehends the shape and texture of truth before it reaches the mind. What does faith apprehend? It knows relatedness, it knows with certainty that all things communicate and cohere. It knows that life has meaning. Faith is the feeling of being held and sustained. It is the cognition of being embedded in something immeasurably large and compassionate.

    Faith serves the unseen world, the world of the Absolute. He who is lost is found by way of faith.

    Rumi writes that each of us must dig out the foundations of the self and discover underneath two veins, one of ruby and one of gold. Faith is one of these veins. All beings have faith but it must be freed from the beliefs that cover it. We do not need to produce faith from our own efforts, rather we need to expose its counterfeit, the beliefs which stand in its place.

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  • April 27, 2015

    Is there an alternative to clinging and averting? Like and dislike? (See previous post on Agreement).

    Consider hand gestures. Clinging is the hand grasping. Averting is the hand held up to push away. What can we say of the gesture of the hand held open, palm upward? Can we call this releasing?

    Is there a middle way that is not based on the opposites imposed by conditioning?

    The middle way is releasing, a conscious gesture which allows phenomena to occur without interference. An impulse to cling is observed, just data, and released. What is released? The gesture of clinging, its muscle tensions and posture, its sensations noted and also released into space. No judgment or justification.

    Can troublesome thoughts be averted? This is difficult and usually employs defenses which require distraction and cost energy. These thoughts can be released, beginning with the physical tensions and sensations which always accompany them. Without the physical, do the thoughts continue?

    In releasing, there is freedom to respond to what comes next.

    Before the ability to release, much observing is required. Can this observing be impartial? To be impartial, the observed must include the automatic reactions of judging and justifying. The would-be observer, presumed entity-in-charge located in the head brain, becomes part of the scene.

    Ironically, it is possible to respond rightly when there is no longer a mechanism for self-evaluation.

    Living in a like/dislike world is sitting on a drain. The drain is for your energy. It goes somewhere but not for your benefit. The movement is down and out. Up and in is evolutionary, transformative.  Can you sense what is needed to reverse the flow?

    Related Post:

    Agreement – April 23, 2015

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  • April 23, 2015

    I am working with the fact that I am often in disagreement with my surroundings.

    Observation of disagreement is valuable work on self. The room is too hot. The sun is too bright. The soup is too salty. I don’t want to do this right now… I want to do something else. Are we not nearly always in a state of disagreement, rejection, resistance? This is sensation-based, is it not? I seek to push things away from me that I think will not be pleasant. There is a physical contraction or recoil. My disagreement may be conditioned by past similar experience or it may arise from the fact that current experience contradicts my mood. In any case, my reaction is mechanical and it is some variant of ‘no’. Buddha called this averting.

    I would like to know if it is possible for me to move towards agreement.

    What we call agreement seems to be the opposite of disagreement.  I like my surroundings so I feel expansive. I want more of the chicken, my it’s good, this is a great party, I want to stay. I’m comfortable in my chair, listening to my music. My mood or past experience says to go with it. This is perhaps not so frequent a state as averting but it’s based on exactly the same phenomena…automatic reaction based on like instead of dislike. Buddha called this one clinging.

    Yes/no, like/dislike, grab/push. Clearly, this is all happening at the same level. We can move from one to the other but this movement does not involve a change in the nature of the experience, only its pleasantness. I would not call this agreement. It is slavery.

    Real agreement would mean aligning inner and outer. It would mean voluntarizing the present moment. It would mean participating in what is happening. Not necessarily to change it, which easily slips into disagreement, but to ride the wave and use it for its energy, its will and its possibilities. In this way, you are not separate from what is happening and you are able to influence it by your movement because you are part of the unfolding.

    Agreement is the beginning of real will…agreeing not because it is pleasant but because it opens the door to mastery of self and circumstances. Events have power over us because our mechanical reactions give them that power and cost us our mobility, our freedom to act. Can you choose when you are mechanical?

    Agreement starts small. Can you agree to be here? You may have noticed that I ask this question before meditation and zikr. Real agreement can sometimes be noticed as a sensation in the solar plexus but you cannot make this a rule and you certainly cannot engage will by squeezing your abs. That is similar to forcing hay through the wrong end of the elephant.

    But surely there are things that I must disagree with?

    Just because I speak favorably of agreement does not make it a god. Of course, this is a theoretical question on your part since you will never be able to agree to everything anyway. Real disagreement also has great value because it does not come from the machine. To stay on the path you must learn to say no and mean it. Such a no is not to avoid unpleasantness, it is to avoid betraying your conscience or your work.

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