• November 14, 2019

    Have you noticed how little we depend on sensing? The headbrain is the tireless translator of my experience. I have replacement thoughts for just about everything I experience in my senses.

    I see the vastness of the sky filled with stars and I think about how far away the stars are, that the light I see was emitted billions of years ago by stars now long dead. The sensing lasts only a moment, if at all, and then it is replaced by thinking. Instant translation to the mental sphere. My ancestors had far less ‘knowledge’ of these things but they had a much greater possibility of being in relationship with the heavens.

    Perhaps you think this is not important, that what matters are the facts? Perhaps you think that realism is based in knowing the facts? In my view, this is an enormously limited understanding of our capacity to know and the potential of knowing through sensing.

    My observation is this: sensing engages me in a relationship with what is sensed and that relationship does not arise from thinking. In my sensing, I can relate to phenomena outside of my limited location in time and space. And the extraordinary added benefit to entering into sensation, penetrating it with attention and holding it without mental translation, is that it also opens up the realm of feeling…higher emotions as they are sometimes called. Thinking rarely provides this bridge to feeling unless it first engages sensation.

    Try this at home. Watch an insect or small animal. Sense in yourself how it moves. Notice that it very often responds to your attention if you do not get caught in your thinking.

    How does sensing engage feeling? In my view, sensations have parallel feelings. The sensation of lowering the head may invoke humility. The sensation of remorse may invoke compassion. The sensation of beauty may invoke ecstasy. Can I learn to fill my senses with these sensations? In my experience, learning means to not let thinking interfere. This is a skill that opens many doors.

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  • June 21, 2019

    As a human, I wish to see. This places me at the center of my seeing. This is my ordinary state, my doing state.

    There is another way but it does not accord with my mechanical nature. It is this: to be seen, to be sensed, to be breathed…not as the center of knowing, not as the knower, but as the known.

    This is not theory. The shift in direction can be known instantly by anyone and it is always immediately transformative. Take it on. Does understanding open like a flower and include you in its embrace?

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  • August 3, 2018

    Reflection is the basis for understanding. I can be engaged in an experience but understanding it depends upon the mirror-effects of knowing the experience, knowing that I know it, knowing its impact on me and knowing its impact on the context. Past experiences of a similar nature and expectations of what may arise in the future are integrated into the present experience without dominating it. There is space for all this to occur simultaneously, not in thinking but in sensing and feeling.

    I have different avenues of experience. There is attention, the activating instantaneous non-mediated bridge that connects me to my experience. There is awareness, the passive scanning of myself and my environment. And there is consciousness, the integration of the different facets of my experience through the medium of reflection. Consciousness is required for understanding. Reflection is required for consciousness.

    Reflection is active but not assertive. It discerns but does not discriminate. It allows things that may be opposed to exist side-by-side for consideration. Reflection finds and traces the latticework of impressions that have shaped who I am.

    Where there is reaction, there is less reflection. The alchemist uses reaction to fuel reflection.

    Where reflection is lacking, the door of communication, the passageway to shared understanding, is closed. When I am not reflective, I may be quick to find answers and facile in explaining them but I do not learn easily and I typically do not ask questions. Reflective people ask questions and weigh their words. What they seek is not conceptual. They seek understanding. They reflect on the past and make it present, thus gaining access to their own lifetime.

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  • April 26, 2018

    Know Thyself” was written on the wall of the ancient Temple of Apollo at Delphi. It is the basic requirement of our work. Our approach is observation of self.

    Notice that the Delphic advice is not to accumulate self-knowledge or to learn about yourself. To know is an active quality that occurs in the present…not knowledge but knowing. Framing in language what is known, what has been observed, is not the aim. Conclusions are not the aim. As soon as you think you know yourself, you have ceased to know.

    Fortunately, our self is constantly revealing itself…in gestures, postures, facial expressions, tone of voice and so on. We begin there. Perhaps you would like to know about your soul or spirit or you would like to observe thought. These diversions will yield nothing. Begin with objective facts.

    I must learn to know. I have many ways of not knowing such as thinking, analyzing and assuming that I already know.

    Another great obstacle to knowing is partiality. Consider an example. I sense that I am experiencing a state of physical agitation. My breath is quick and shallow. My diaphragm is contracted and my hands are clenched. Mind recognizes this as anger and the word arises. No problem so far. I know this state. Knowing and recognizing are not antagonists as long as I remain attentive to present facts.

    Perhaps I see that the anger is a reaction to words spoken by another. Still no problem. This is knowing. These are facts.

    Do I now justify my anger? Do I criticize myself for being angry? Do I experience guilt and try to hide my anger? As soon as I engage in any of these things, I no longer observe impartially. At this point, I am self-observing. One of my identities, perhaps the one that feels guilty or the one that blames others, has stepped into the role of judge. This is the moment of truth. If I see this occur, this process of identification, perhaps I can observe the judge, the critic, the blamer, the partial self that seeks to take control. Can this identity be the observed, and not become the observer? If so, knowing self continues.

    When I am partial, one part of me observes another part. When I am impartial, all parts of self are observed. This is the difference between self-observation and observation of self.

    Who or what is the ‘I’ that observes impartially? It is attention, and the seat of attention which we call presence.

    Many times a day, impartial observations occur. We have moments of non-identification, moments of being present. We see our self in operation. Then our reactions take us out of these moments.

    Therefore, our reactions are key material to observe. In doing so, can we learn not to identify with them? Knowing precisely the process of falling into identification and remaining outside of it is a great skill that arises from observing self. Can we trust that repeated impartial observation is sufficient to neutralize our reactions? That impartial observing is the genuine path to unlearning them? Or do we let our identities take charge, falsely assuming that they can overturn themselves?

    When reactions lose their power, there is much more to see. Beneath the reactions you will find the being that they have obscured.

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  • September 20, 2016

    I have noticed that there are apparent inconsistencies in your explanations about the work. What you say from one day to the next sometimes seems to be contradictory.

    Yes, I’m sure that is true, even allowing for the fact that you may have been subjective in what you think you heard me say. Why is this important to you?

    I think something as important as the work should be coherent. There should be basic agreement among the ideas and instructions that have been given.

    You have made a very important point but perhaps not the one you intended.

    In my view, there is no value in having a coherent set of ideas about this work. None whatsoever. There is no unified theory of the work, no set of principles that cannot be challenged or restated in a clearer or more effective manner in order to better suit the needs of the moment.

    The aim of this work is to wake up. That’s it, that’s all. As far as I know, there is no exact definition of what that means that can be systematically applied to everyone but it is clear to me that being awake enhances our capacity to perceive. The ideas of the work are valuable if they provide the basis for insight into oneself. Insight can lead to observation and observation can lead to insight. When this occurs, you are working. When work ideas lead to analysis, comparing ideas and looking for exact formulations or fixed rules, you are thinking. Thinking is not working.

    If there is one overarching principle here, it is ‘Know Thyself’. You can discover and realize all and everything by pursuing this direction. This knowing is the action of direct perception, not a collection of ideas. Knowing and knowledge are two very different things in the context of this work.

    As for contradiction, it seems to have great value, at least in part because it challenges us to inquire further. Contradiction is built into the way of all things. The qualities inherent in human nature are themselves in constant conflict. I value agreement as an expression of our potential for real will but that does not mean that agreement is expected or desirable in all things.

    You do not seem to value thinking very much.

    On the contrary, thinking has great value when it follows perception and then acts as the springboard to look further. Thinking has far less value when it becomes self-referencing. It is the interplay of thought, sensation and feeling, held by attention and presence, that makes us human beings. We are not thinking beings, as Descartes proposed. We are perceiving beings.

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  • September 5, 2015


    With physical eyes, I see into the physical world. With the mind’s eye, I see into the world of the mind, which has its own forms and textures as surely as the physical world. With the eye of the heart, I resonate with the play of feeling, formless yet as distinct as light and shadow on a summer’s day. All of these are the objects of perception.

    Is perception based in the brain and nervous system, the cumulative result of experience which has patterned a genetically constructed mechanism evolving over time? And is the ‘I’ of this experiencing merely the reflexive thinker, the afterthought of a psychological entity who reacts to incoming data based on conditioning and claims the reactions as itself?

    Or, are we perceiving beings, whose essence is in the knowing, before the processing of the brain and the afterthoughts of the thinker?

    The paramecium, a single cell creature, has no brain or nervous system. It senses food and when to flee. Is this chemical programming evolved over millions of years or a quality of knowing? In sensing, is it all a matter of structure performing its tasks mechanically or is there knowing behind the sensing, a reader of the data, a perceiver of experience, looking into life?

    Does it not seem that the universe is intelligent, that it is a knowing entity? Do you sometimes have the sense that the universe is looking back at you, in the eyes of another, a human, an animal, an insect? Is knowing a shared phenomenon?

    It seems to me that the world is a play of perception, of what I see and do not see. The seeing comes first, before what is seen. Sometimes I have the sense that the universe sees through my eyes.

    As Rumi says, “Looking is a trace of what you are looking for”.

    If you can look and simultaneously know (not think) you are looking, you have entered into an ‘a priori’ state of being.

    The problem is that perception is obscured by the psychology of the perceiver.

    Yes. The constructed self…that dearly held pastiche of identifications, undigested experience and conditioned reactions to stimuli…interferes with perception, expending its resources interpreting the little that is perceived and limiting the range of what can be perceived. The aim of observing is to see and unravel the constructed self. Meditation provides an opportunity to see the mechanisms of interference, the stage manager as one might call it, and experience moments of bare attention.

    What is the difference between perception and attention?

    When perception is voluntarized, it is attention. Attention is perception but also the qualities of holding, connecting and choosing, all of which are aspects of will. So, attention is perception and will together. Of course, there is also automatic attention but this is another matter for another night. Every impulse has will but not every impulse is conscious of itself and its source.

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