• May 5, 2017

    I understand that we are fragile as humans. Doesn’t that mean that we should try to create a safe environment where we don’t have to fight against negative influences?

    It is rational to value physical safety and to take reasonable precautions to preserve it, recognizing that perfect safety is not attainable. Psychological safety is another matter. In a sleeping world, there are negative influences everywhere. You cannot protect yourself from them. The problem is not in the environment. The problem is in you. So-called triggers cannot be eliminated by managing the behaviour of others. If your ego is fragile and sensitive, there is no end of possible so-called micro-aggressions. The answer is to be less fragile.

    Ego fragility…let’s call it identity fragility…is the first target of work on self. What triggers reactions in you? Find out. Observe the sensations, physical expressions, emotions and thoughts that arise. Learn to observe them impartially. What does impartiality mean? It means that you do not justify or defend any of these reactions. They are programmed reactions. They have no psychological validity in themselves, they are not special in any way and they have no significance that needs to be rationalized or understood. Nor are these reactions failings you should feel ashamed of. They are simply conditioning, which every human has. The moment you judge or justify them, you are identified. The aim of this work, if we can put it into one sentence, is to dis-identify.

    Therefore, triggers and micro-aggressions are welcome evidence that work on self can proceed. Not work on others, where they must refrain from triggering you, but work on impartial observation of yourself, which in time will free you from unnecessary reactions. Let me be clear that impartial observation is the work of voluntary attention, not the little voice in your head that tries to explain everything.

    Attention is the key. Your circuitry has been compromised by life in this world. Impressions have imprinted themselves on your nervous system. Certain experiences in the present now trigger a reaction from the past. You can engage in therapy to explore the origins of this programming, understand it and forgive yourself and others in order to move past judgment and justification. Or you can expose your reactions to wordless impartial attention and let it gradually remove the charge from your nervous system. In so doing, you may discover compassion for yourself and others. I leave it to you.

    Does impartial voluntary attention have the power to erase my fixations?

    Yes. The essential issue is identification. If your engagement with the fixation is to defend or condemn it, you are identified with it and it has power over you. You become its slave. This is because the fixation is being observed by your personality which is not separate from the observed although it pretends to be. The fixation is you. Can your personality surrender itself to being observed, leaving the false seat of authority and exposing itself to impartial attention along with its fixations? Who, then is the observer? Why, attention itself.

    Voluntary impartial attention is by its very nature dis-identifying. It proceeds without the interference of the thinking self. This form of attention is a higher form of energy than the energy of the fixation. Attention is able to reorganize and free the energy of the fixation. This process may require repeated exposure to accomplish its task but like wind and water it can erode even the hardest material.

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  • April 29, 2017

    Do you feel fragile? Are there setbacks or disappointments that you don’t think you could bear?

    I have things I depend on…relationships mostly…that I have constructed my life around. I have certain aims and values that I sense I cannot live without. These dependencies make me fragile, vulnerable, anxious. Is there a sane way to deal with this issue?

    Let me first examine my dependencies. Where am I fragile? Why? If I inquire carefully, pulling apart the strands of my sensing, I may find that some of these fragilities are unworthy. They reflect my unwillingness to face a challenge, my lack of courage or confidence to deal with the efforts that would be required if my fears are realized. Faced with real situations, I am often more resilient than I think I am.

    But there are deeper dependencies, ones that would seemingly extinguish any remaining wish to live. How do I deal with these?

    It seems to me that much of this fragility comes from a false sense of certain knowledge. If this thing happens, this is what will follow and this is how it will end. The discovery on the other side of the unbearable event is unknown to me. My imaginings are not the whole story, they never are. This has been shown to me many times. How many losses also prove to be a gain?

    Can I go deeper? Life is inherently unreliable. It is temporary and highly uncertain. There is no permanence anywhere in the outer world. The structure of dependency I have created is inherently unstable. I know that I am insufficient. Can I, while here, find something that is reliable and cannot be taken away? This is not an idle philosophical question. I would say this is a real work question that is worth a lifetime of inquiry.

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