• January 10, 2019

    I have said many times that the real enemy of work on self and the greater Work is self-importance. Perhaps this statement needs further elaboration?

    What is self-importance? Is it the strutting, boastful ego attempting to impose its will on others? Or is it much deeper and more pervasive than that?

    Is self-importance also the ongoing concern about self, anxiety over what happens to me, to my plans, my wants, my accomplishments, my happiness? Can I live without the worry that I could be doing so much better?

    Is an exaggerated sense of guilt about what I have done or not done also evidence of self-importance? Yes, I need to make efforts to keep my word and to respect the needs of others, not only for the sake of others but also for the sake of my own conscience. When my conscience is clear, my capacity for work is much greater. But despite my best efforts, I will fail to meet my own standards and I will certainly fail to satisfy the wants of others. Do I become excessively concerned about, and bound to, the judgments I make about myself? Do I assume that my life and the lives of others rotate around my shortcomings? Is holding onto my guilt also evidence of my self-importance?

    When do I accept my imperfections, when do I accept forgiveness, when do I agree to feel compassion for myself and for all the other sentient beings who are doing the best they can in a world that does not favour or support our best intentions? Does my ongoing judgment of myself stem from a sense of self-importance?

    If I am not important, if I am not precious to myself and others, perhaps there can be room for the importance of relating to a universal being. Perhaps by realizing my unimportance, I am more able to find and express the gesture that is right for this moment. Can I then trust the work to guide me?

    Of course, if you take this view as a blank cheque to do what you want without guilt, you have missed the point…which is that what I do from a sense of self-importance takes me away from the work.

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  • March 12, 2018

    The more we think about ourselves, the more unworkable everything becomes.

    Observing self is one thing, in the middle of whatever we are doing. But thinking about self, which inevitably gives rise to analysis and evaluation, judgment, excuses, criticism and praise…better to be doing something, engaging in whatever is at hand. Even better is if my efforts are not directed to self. And even better is if there is a sense that perhaps the universe can participate.

    My sense is that each of us is a portal through which the universe, the all and everything, has the possibility of participating in its creation. The enjoyment, clarity and simplicity of the individual can be shared with the whole. The only thing preventing this is the habit of referring everything back to me…the selfie…the sense that it is all about me.

    Olympic track star and preacher Eric Liddle put it this way: “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure. ”

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  • June 26, 2016

    I think that one of the greatest challenges we face in our lives is isolation. What does this work say about isolation?

    First, can you explore the sensations of isolation? Can you inquire into the state objectively?

    It would be easy to think that isolation means not having contact with other people and that the solution is to have contact with others. But if you explore the state objectively, you may find that isolation is not about the need for others. It’s about you.

    When I experience isolation, I am focused on myself. I am thinking about myself. I am not sensing my environment. I am not able to access feeling. My isolation is self-created, it’s identification with an aspect of self, a psychological state characterized by self-absorption.

    To feel isolated is to be disconnected. Disconnected from what? Perhaps attention? Can you shift attention?

    Consider this. Isolation is personal. To exit isolation, exit the personal.

    Impartial attention exists in all places and times. It instantly connects all that it touches. It is the matrix of unity.

    Partial attention, attention appropriated by the head brain, funneled through the narrow portal of the personality, focused on self, reinforces separateness. Do not take attention into the person…step out into the greater field of attention.

    It is the impersonal, the formless, the abstract, the metaphysical, that removes isolation. See what happens when you enter presence. Is it possible to be a uniquely existing exactness without having boundaries? That is what presence is, that’s what it is to be unidentified. No boundaries.

    The abstract is the glue that permeates and holds everything in relationship. It is the universal origin of all apparent individuations.

    Related Post:

    The Abstract – Mar 14, 2016

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  • April 16, 2016

    What is the most important thing to remember on this path?

    Remember that you are returning home. The early Sufis called this ‘safar dar watan’…your journey is towards your homeland. Do you feel at home here? Or do you feel that you are from another place?

    At first, my journey is outward, through the country of myself–my thoughts, emotions, reactions, prejudices and assumptions. They seem quite real until I have observed them for a long time and then I see that they are empty. It is not enough to think this. The dissatisfaction must reach deep into the bones. Please understand, this is not a rejection of the world, it is for yourself, because you have been occupied with unworthy pursuits.

    Later, the journey is through the landscape of the heart—objective feelings that emanate from your origin, guiding you home.

    Can you remember yourself as the voyager? Can you remember the feeling of home? This is not just poetic metaphor. Each of us has this longing because we are truly a long way from home.

    I become identified with this place, its beauty and its horror. I become invested in how things turn out. I become a part of the drama and that attracts my attention. My life becomes a story about me, my accomplishments and failures. A very minor story, and rather short after I account for all the repetition.

    Where am I facing? I can know this by where my attention goes…what could be called my ‘attention default settings’. Where I place my attention—or where it goes automatically—turns me in the direction I am going. Attention is always the rudder.

    To be in the work, I must be facing the nameless, the formless. I must have a nameless longing. That is where the impetus for this work comes from. Otherwise, I will be enmeshed in self-development and that leads nowhere. I must stop accumulating and start relinquishing, thereby retrieving net free attention for an assault on that unknown region which lies above the roof of the world. Suhrawardi called it ‘na-koja-abad’, the ‘country of nowhere’. If I analyze it, I will lose the thread. This is for the heart to follow.

    Qur’anic verse (41:53) says: ‘We will show them Our signs on the horizon and within their selves until they know We are the Real’. How will you be able to lift your gaze to a far distant horizon? You could begin with objective observation of self, to ‘Know Thyself’, as recommended by that ancient Greek aphorism inscribed on the wall of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, according to Pausanias. This is not a pleasant intellectual learning. Rather, it is a crucifixion of conscience for which no forgiveness is quite enough. Perhaps you may then find the signs in your heart and on the horizon.

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