Collage by Sae Kimura
You continue to emphasize that everything in this work comes back to observation of self. I think I am beginning to know my habitual reactions but I do not see much change in myself.
This is a subtle process. You may not notice the changes that arise over time. It’s a form of homeopathy, like curing like. The tendency to anger is observed as anger…its sensations and related gestures. The cure is the thing itself. Anger releases anger. Adopting a posture of peacefulness is most often a form of repression which does not release anger.
By release you mean express?
No. I mean a voluntary release of the impulse, which means that it is transformed into energy which can be expressed in other ways or not expressed at all. I have the power to choose, in the moment.
So you are not erasing the tendency to react with anger?
No. I am putting the anger reaction on wheels. I have baggage but it’s mobile.
Perhaps you are missing a critical intermediate step. Observation, knowing the sensation and shape of your reaction as it takes place in real time, is the first step. The next step is to be impartial…that is, not reacting to your reaction. No judgment, no justification, just observation, recognition, perhaps amusement. Then you can easily move the reaction out of the way and respond to the situation at hand freely and creatively.
The secondary reactions such as justification and judgment must also be observed impartially.
When I discover and begin to track my habitual reactions, it’s natural that I should want to eliminate them. This is wrong motive. Perhaps it will come about, perhaps ongoing impartial observation will eventually erase the sensation-based electrical anomaly that sustains my reaction, but adopting this orientation risks becoming goal-seeking, which is not impartial observation. Our work is not a path to self-perfection, it is a path to freedom from self.
The freedom is in the moment, to be able to set aside the reaction because impartiality has put it on wheels.