• September 17, 2021

    It is easy to think and talk about work on self but very difficult to do it consistently. The secret is to use the difficulties of doing work to work more often.

    Do you know how to observe yourself? At first you will observe yourself with judgment or justification. This is good, this is bad, this is why. These reactions block further observation of self.

    Perhaps you try to stop judgment or justification. Does this help you to observe more? No? So, alternatively, observe the judgment and justification. Do not allow the judge/justifier to become the observer; make them the observed. They are primarily body sensations, are they not?, followed by strings or loops of thought which trigger more sensations.

    Sensations do not need commentary. They exist in the nervous system and can be sensed there. Accept the sensations and track them. As the thought loops arise, taking you towards discursive thinking, take refuge in the sensations. Don’t leave sensing for thinking. This is something you can learn to do. It’s simply a re-placement of attention.

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  • November 22, 2020

    We are so conditioned to make efforts. We think we can make efforts to change ourselves. We want to affirm and we do so with the pushing force. And what does that do? Look into it. You can see that it defeats itself. Can you jump over your own knees?

    Let us go by way of the negative, shall we? A somersault rather than a jump.

    Let’s consider fixation. What could be more ‘me’ than fixation? I’m always compulsively thinking about something so I miss much of what’s going on. My attention is forever being attracted to something or other, either because I like it (and therefore cling to it), or dislike it (and therefore avert it, push it away). My attention may skip from one thing to another but is it not always fixated one something, somewhere?

    What would it be like to be unfixated? Well, that would mean seeing/hearing/sensing everything around me. Immediately my affirming self jumps to the fore. “I can do that,’ says me. Wrong step. Let’s start again. If I am not clinging or averting, what is going on? What is the gesture that is neither? A gesture that is neutral, unattached.

    I have such a gesture, one that does not arise automatically, a conscious gesture therefore seldom arising. This gesture is releasing, allowing everything to be exactly as it is without my engagement.

    My eyes are open. I see. I notice that I am looking at something and my field of vision is narrowed. Can I release this something and temporarily see everything?

    There are two steps…noticing the fixation and releasing it. Affirming that I can see everything is not a step, it is a fixation.

    Can I learn to notice and release fixation? Find out. There are many fixations, of thought, of sensation. Can I notice and release them all as they arise? What happens if I do?

    Here’s the real secret. Skillful releasing offers up a direct perception of emptiness, not the emptiness of depression but rather the emptiness of pure consciousness, consciousness unattached and able to sense/glimpse itself. In Buddhist terms, you have experienced Sunyata and the spontaneous response is very joyous, a momentary freedom known as the first Bhumi. Bet you didn’t see that coming. No one does.

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  • May 15, 2020

    The fourth secret of the work: there is nothing I can affirm that is worth a plugged nickel because my ordinary efforts come from my personality. This is not to say that I do not experience exalted states from time to time. But they are not from me or by my effort. They are gifts.

    Let us say I notice that I have a tendency to exaggerate and that I often claim to know things that I do not know. I wish to break this habit and be more honest and sincere. Can I decide to be honest; can I affirm the quality of honesty without self-flattery, in a sincere way?

    I am willing to bet I can’t affirm a positive quality. Any quality. Perhaps I can fake the behavior or posture…the outward appearance of sincerity…in a convincing manner but my habitual tendency to lie will reassert itself. Over years, I have accumulated a persona built on reacting to stimulus using a range of behaviours learned from mimicking those around me. This persona is the counterfeit, preventing the unfolding of real being. Anything flowing from the persona is a substitute.

    There is another way: to become sincere, can I observe my lying objectively…perceive its every nuance in real time, the fluttering sensations that lead the mind down false alleys into the momentary pleasure of deceiving and exaggerating. When I know it well, in real time, I no longer experience the attractions of lying. Then l can call upon the quality of sincerity.

    Every good and bad thing can be called to us, voluntarily or not. By observation of self, without justification or judgment, we are able to discard the unreal and open a space for the real to be invoked.  The undesirable must be relinquished before the desirable can be attained. Note the word ‘relinquished’. When we know something very well, we can let it go… the habitual substitute is no longer needed.

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  • May 5, 2020

    I wish to have a deeper experience of my life. Do I know where to begin? Knowing where to begin anything is critical. Every good thing must be approached correctly. Before love, humility. Before humility, remorse. Before remorse, confession. Before prayer, an apology. Know the steps. The inner world is not commanded, it is seduced by delicacy of manner.

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  • January 31, 2020

    The most important tool for work on self is attention. Without access to attention, there is no work.

    Perhaps you think you can develop your attention, that you can have more attention if you make efforts. There are qualities that can be developed over time with effort but, in my experience, attention is not one of them.

    The secret to accessing more attention is to observe and understand inattention. This is yet another example of the via negativa. The problem is that the ‘me’ that would practice attention is itself the source of inattention…the source of distraction. Attention itself is not a property of the ordinary world and it is not something that can be manipulated by the elements of this world for more than a few moments. Instead, can I observe my tendency to be distracted?

    Attention is a natural function of the universe by which it establishes connections with itself. Attention is the very life of the universe, the means for knowing itself in its particulars. This will not make sense to you until it is part of your experience.

    One thing I can do to enhance my access to attention is to clean up the vestiges of past attention. I leave behind me a trail of connections which are held by attention…things promised but not completed, unnecessary worries, possessiveness about things like a car, a wallet, a future meeting and so on. Can I lift attention from these small fixations when it is not needed there? Is this something I ‘do’ or is this simply allowing attention to call itself back from the places where it has been left and is no longer needed or where it is not needed now?

    Let’s call this ‘retrieval’. Can I retrieve misplaced attention? Can I invoke attention and then allow it to call to itself the scattered bits of itself that are not needed where they are? Obviously, this does not include removing attention where it is properly placed on people, things and tasks you are committed to.

    Invocation of attention is a potent tool. Attention can attend to itself. In fact, only attention can attend to itself; everything else is too slow.

    The secret? Learn how to summon attention and learn how to submit to it. Presence is your reward.

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  • January 13, 2020

    This is my failsafe, my touchstone. Can I let my mind rest upon nothing? Just for a moment? I am not talking about blanking out the mind or stopping thought. This is the opposite of control. Can I let go, fully release? Can I, in one moment, completely submit…my self, my breath, my posture. And if I can? I get an immediate hit of ecstasy.

    Now I’ll warn you about this ecstasy thing. It’s not the same as extra joy, not euphoria nor extreme happiness. Ecstasy is laced with pain, with sorrow and with exaltation. Its exquisite intensity is inherent in its contradictory nature. Ecstasy is not one thing but rather the simultaneity of many things…a dose of another reality. This is the door-opener that takes you to the heart of the Universe.

    This is not something that can be maintained for long periods, at least in my experience. But if I can perform this maneuver, it’s like being shot out of a cannon and I have a moment when the work can be remembered and understood.

    The key is submission. Can I learn to submit? The whole of life is a lesson in submission. Every sacrifice I make for another’s sake, every sincere confession of my limitations, every time I voluntarily give up my point of view, I am learning the path of submission.

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