• October 3, 2016

    You have said that it should be ok to express emotions in the work group. I’m not sure I feel safe enough to do that.

    I have said that it should be possible to express emotions in a work group because the participants have agreed to work together. They have agreed to take ownership of their own reactions. I have not said that work group members should express their emotions in the group. Do you see the difference? Many of you try to make instructions into rules.

    The point is to make it more possible to observe self in the work group. In ordinary society, we are likely to suppress emotions in order to be socially appropriate and this makes observation of self more difficult. If you have a tendency to repress a lot, you may benefit from expressing in the work group. But if you are able to observe self while going through an emotional reaction, you probably gain nothing from expression and there is no need for it.

    If I begin to express my emotions, I may lose control altogether.

    Exploding is not an option. This is not a primal scream group. If you are in this group it is because I think you have been house-trained. If you prove otherwise, you must leave.

    I think we are experiencing a vocabulary problem here. Expressing does not mean cutting loose and letting it all hang out. Perhaps we should use the word ‘articulating’ instead. Let’s say I am getting very frustrated with our conversation. I could say so. I do not say ‘you are frustrating me’ because then I am no longer owning my reaction, I am blaming you. If there is a rule in this work it is that you do not blame others for your state. That would be practical work on others, not on oneself.

    So you might say ‘I am frustrated by this conversation’. The potential benefit is that you have made a statement that allows you to separate somewhat from the state and see it more clearly, more objectively, without denying it, without pretending not to be frustrated and repressing the symptoms of frustration. Perhaps at that point you can laugh at yourself for having such a reaction. You may also get a sense of how your state looks to someone else. Impartial observation of self includes the sense of being seen and that is the aim.

    On the other hand, if you are able to hold and observe your frustration, neither expressing nor repressing it, you may be able to ingest the energy and move on with no one else being aware of your work. Great. But if not, it should be possible to articulate your state to members of the work group, for your benefit.

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  • April 11, 2015

    Last night in zikr you said something about it being an encounter with yourself. Isn’t it about fana, the annihilation of self?

    Zikr is many things and it incorporates many possible points of view. It is not logical or linear. You have to find out what it is for you, not what it is supposed to be. Zikr is an invocation, a call to enter a relationship. Speaking of zikr, Ibn Arabi asks: “Where were you and where was I when we had our meeting?” It’s all about the meeting. What happens there is up to the two of you.

    Do you know where you are? Conceptually, you think you are in the zikr chamber in a certain building on a particular street. Your position is fixed by ideas and by your personality which is held together by fixed postures and muscle tensions along with the perpetual humming of one of your habitual emotions…you  have at least three or four…anxiety, disagreement, elation, greed…

    To change where you are, you must first relax the physical, release habitual tensions, become more fluid. Mind clears. Direct sensing becomes possible. Where are you? Sensing looks for orientation. There are the sensations of the body, of breathing, and there are other more subtle influences. The space around you has texture and movement, the turning of the planet, the radiation of stars? There is no need to speculate or itemize. You enter the present. Heart awakens, feelings are engaged that have no name. You have become human again. This is the first remembering, re-establishing what it is to be human, you remember yourself. This is where you are. The conceptual world is nowhere to be found.

    Now you must let go of the sense of being the center, cease to be the active one. Can you sense that you are seen? Does this naturally give rise to a feeling of humility? Do not be rushed. Can you agree to be experienced, recognized, accepted? Is there a feeling of intimacy in this contact? Who is it that recognizes you? Is this your Lord? What could this mean? There is nothing abstract in this feeling of being seen. There is nothing theoretical about this Lord. This is not the mentally constructed God of the religions. This Lord is unique to you, the pattern from which you were created. You were made in the exact image of this One. This is the second remembering, in which you are remembered.

    The repetition of zikr begins. Sound enters the body, circulation is altered, breath synchronizes and lengthens. Silence follows. Fikr, fikr-a-sirr. The molecules of the body, mind and heart are newly ordered, formed as a key for a lock which opens another chamber in this house of many mansions, where your Lord may be worshipped and honored and glorified in all the ways that He has devised in order to share Himself with you. You are entering a co-dependent relationship. Because you exist and turn in His direction, He may experience His own splendor in your response to Him. The adoration is mutual. You have entered Suhrawardi’s NakojaAbad, the Country of Nowhere. This is where you are.

    I have said, in my response to you, that my Lord is He. Do not let pronouns disturb you. The conscious universe takes form in every being and finds itself in every possible human expression including genders beyond our knowing. In this hall of mirrors, no one else exists.

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  • April 6, 2015

    What does it mean to have a wrong functioning of the centers or a wrong placement of the centers?

    You are reading too much. Let’s find out what we really know from experience.

    Humans have three capacities. When they are functioning, we are human. When they are not, we are something less. These functions we call sensing, thinking and feeling. All kinds of complicated theories and metaphors can be created to elaborate on this simple fact but what matters is that these capacities are experienced and understood through experience.

    The problem with our species is that we have learned to confuse this most basic fact of our existence. We generally do not experience feelings but we think we do because we confuse feelings with emotions. Emotions are counterfeit feelings. I can tell you this but you must really see it for yourself, you must penetrate this fully.  Emotions are a combination of thoughts and sensations. They are primarily body states.

    Emotions are characterized by an excitation of the nervous system which charges and then discharges in a purely mechanical and predictable manner. The sensation-based body state has a parallel mental monologue, a ‘tape’ that reinforces the body state in an exact and predictable manner. Typically, the tape either justifies or condemns the emotional reaction. Usually, the body state leads and the tape follows as a reverberation which has the effect of prolonging the charging sequence until discharge occurs and the state can change to the next predictable sequence. You learned this behavior very early in life, as documented in object relations psychology. Baby’s needs are not fully met…it is hungry, tired, cold, wet or alone. These sensations cannot be resolved by baby. Frustration builds, an agitation of the nervous system. Baby cries until the discharge completes. Baby either sleeps or starts another charging cycle if its source of irritation remains.

    From this point of view, all emotions, including the most enjoyable ones, are negative in nature, they are electrical, negative charges that discharge predictably, leading to a shift of state. There is an observable rhythm to the cycle. The particulars are unique to the historical conditioning of each individual as well as the body’s state of health, sensitivity and the level of damage inflicted by life. But the pattern is the same for all of us. We are mechanical because we have learned to be so.

    There are two tragedies inherent in the confusion of emotion and feeling. First, we do not know feelings because we think we have them all the time. We celebrate emotions, dwell on them, consider ourselves sensitive and three centered when we are not. From a sufi point of view, the heart is dead, that heart which is the organ of receiving/perceiving/participating in the world of feeling.  Second, we constantly lose the possibility of creating, holding and transforming the energy needed to awaken the heart and become fully functioning human beings because we are addicted to discharging.

    You must learn to distinguish the exact nature of emotion, to convince yourself that it is mechanical. Feelings are natural to humans and you will find them in your experience as you awaken. Even now, in sleep, from time to time the miracle of being here, the tragedy of being here, will bring you feeling.

    What then is feeling? How can it be described?

    Start where you are. Observe emotions. We can discuss feeling in more detail when you have learned more about your experience. See what happens when…or should I say if…your observation becomes non-judgmental, impartial. There is no blame in being a two centered being. If your emotion fails to find its partner in thought, does it continue?

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