Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mind Weeding: Freedom From Thought

I think this is what they call "baggage".  Although I'd always pictured it as something carried on my back, it's more accurate to say it's carried on my head.  Like a potted weeds I water with worry or anxious thought, the spindly growths become top heavy. 

It's time to weed, or at least begin a good pruning.

Thoughts seem to give rise to other thought, but what if I got myself a good batch of weed killer and doused the roots?  And I think I've figured out a way to do just that.  It's deceptively simple, as all effective inquiries seem to be. 

Here's how it goes.

In looking at thought itself, I can see that there's no way to predict them, no way of telling what sort will show up next.  But they're amazingly varied and lots of times, the content is just plain ridiculous.  So how do I know which to choose as valid or 'real'?  By what criteria is that choice made?  And do I even have control over which of them seem to carry more weight than the others?

When looking closely, it's evident that the worrisome ones are just a repetitive pattern.  They seem to take on 'weight' simply because they pop up often.  A feeling of "there must be something to this thought" comes up, even when the contents never materialize.  And most of the time... maybe more than 99% of the time, they never materialize.

Statistically, it's ridiculous to fret.

If I look even closer, I can see that thoughts are very mysterious and have no business causing anyone issue.  They come from nowhere (no material substance).  They exist nowhere (can't pick them up or collect them).  They disappear into nothing (can't even find them once they're gone).

In what world does something non material, something that has no shape, size, color, or texture become threatening or cause harm?  This makes little sense.  What if I gave thoughts the weight they deserve... none?

I have to admit that the last thing that would help with this inquiry is to think about it.  Rather than stopping thought, which is what a lot of spiritual folks tend to try to do, it seems to me it's much better to just see through it. 

Freedom from believing in ghosts we call "thoughts".  Right now, that makes sense.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Myth of Separation - You are not alone

If my beliefs truly had any substance the world would long ago have become overpopulated with fairies, leprechauns, and regular disasters from imagined house fires, accidents, and an assortment of personal embarrassments.

That's what I know about beliefs, but I'll take a closer look at this particular inquiry!

I have a body
In looking for what has a body, or owns one, I've admitted in previous posts that there's really nothing there as owner.  The owner is an assumption that just doesn't stand up to examination.  You can read about that inquiry here.  And in one simple question to wake up, here.

I need to compete
Normally, I'd say that I'm not a competitive person, but selves are always trying to measure up against other selves.  It seems to be a very good way to solidify a self, actually, because there's a subject/object kind of dynamic going on.  I can see that without an "other" who is different, whether I'm being snarky and making comments about their being worse or better, there's really no "me" here.  They cancel each other out very nicely.

I am not good enough
This is the same as "I need to compete", but dressed in drag.  It's still a comparison born of creating an other.  Is there actually an other?  It doesn't seem so!  It's happening only in my mind because there's nothing in reality that says that "my body" belongs to something that exists here in any essential way, so how could something other over there exist separately?  Mysterious.

I have to try harder
Oh, this is a good one.  I can see that at this point, we have a cascade of beliefs which started with the very first fallacy, that there is something here that has a body.  Owns a body.  That there's a little Delma in the head steering Delma's mind and body (talk about redundant!)   So what exactly would have to try harder?  I can't find anything!

These inquiries always leave "me" mysteriously empty of self consciousness, and the heavy burden of trying to *be* something or someone special. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Really Short Tale About the Internet

I've been marveling about the fact that as I read messages from my online friends, they're not there at all.  They're off hiking, golfing, washing dishes, fighting with their significant others, or maybe even at the pool.  

It's the future and the past, at once.  We are living in a virtual reality with different time zones that aren't measured by a clock, but by the lag in online communication.

Even when we're simultaneously on line, we often exist in different time zones.  So.... What time is it on the internet?

What's more, on any given day, when I engage in online conversations, what I'm reacting to are actually just squiggles made of dots on a computer screen... This is another oddity, especially when I find that there's someone on the internet who is just plain WRONG and needs to be corrected.  Perhaps you know the type?   All I've done when that happens, is to interpret the pixels, get all riled up about them, and then spend time crafting more squiggles that I post up on my screen.  I fuss with the juxtaposition of these lines and curves and set them in ways I believe make me seem smarter than they are.

Squiggle wars.

Very strange.

What exactly am I reacting to?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

When There's No Escape, Look for the Escapee

Artwork by Ingrid Lill

This simple little drawing holds the key to breaking through some points of inquiry I've been trying to get at for a while.  Only I didn't realize I'd been trying.

It's funny how when you need something (and I don't mean material things, I mean life lessons), it comes right to your doorstep.  In this case, it came to my computer screen in the form of Ingrid's next doodle in her facebook doodle stream,  Just this morning, rather than try to stop my habit of negative thinking, I sat down with it.

Like a lot of people, a generalized sense of anxiety about a nebulously uneasy expectation can sneak up on me.  This usually happens in the middle of the night and kicks off with one of those dreams with a repetitive themes.  For me, the theme is generally centered around an apocalyptic event.  A tsunami.  Nuclear War.  Something fun like that. 

The secondary theme both within the dream and outside of it seems to be about escape.  I just want to run as far from the situation as possible, and without a glance back.  I want to escape my own skin.

But what if there is no need for escape from anything at all?  What if the situation doesn't apply to anyone and is just a situation, happening?  What if the troublesome habit IS the self?  It has to be because there's actually nothing holding onto it.  I just checked.  And there was no sign of an owner of a habit.

So, if I try to find the thing that escapes a physical situation, it would be the body moving away from a point in space or time.  But if it's an escape from the habit of anxiety, it's all about getting away from thought.

What would get away from thought?


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Gap Analysis- Finding the Space Between Thoughts

In trying to wrap my head around this doodle, it occurs to me that before using it for inquiry, I really should take a hefty dose of my own medicine by reviewing a few earlier investigations.  Because there were two critical turning points in this path-  one in which I was astounded to find that there's actually no separate me.   The second one was this moment of realization.

Bringing the two revelations into this scenario sets up an interesting framework for today's investigation.  Why?  Well, because if there is truly no separation, then what am I supposed to do with the nearly unquestioned assumption that there's a me doing the thinking and inquiring at all?

Here's a head scratcher:

Why should I try to begin this session by thinking that I need to look for separation between MY thoughts?.  What I can easily now see is that dragging the 'me' into this is entirely automatic  In truth, whether there are gaps or not doesn't matter!  (or at least not yet!) The elephant in the room is this question:

What is thinking?

or better yet,

What IS it that is thinking?
This is the first question.  Until it's examined and answered, looking into whether there are gaps just brings up a loop of more thinking.  But if I clearly see that there is no separate me doing any of it, then the gap becomes an unbelievably amazing mystery.  I mean, what IS that "space"?!  Is there anything at all there? 

(Here's a little secret.... I'm finding that it's incredibly quiet and peaceful there, especially without "me" in it.)

The next time I have one of those days in which I just want to choke the incessant voice in the head, maybe all I really need to do is to look for the thinker first.  Once this is fully understood, the work on exercises in which I spend hours looking for gaps can begin in earnest, and with abandon. 

The gaps are thoroughly enjoyed by no one at all.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Meditation: Just Practicing for the Big Game

Artwork by Ingrid Lill

I've never been a meditator.  Yes, I've tried it here and there but the exercise has never really amounted to anything life altering because I much prefer inquiry for shattering my paradigm, thank you.  With annoying regularity though, this so-called inquiry would decide to show up at around 3am at which time it would keep me up for at least an hour or two.  And that is when I find myself locked into a stare contest with my bedroom ceiling until the idea dawns to start relaxing with a little meditation.  (The ceiling wins every time, by the way)

As you can see, I've got meditation issues.

The biggest realization I've gotten out of a cramped-leg sitting session is that finding the space between thoughts is nearly impossible at first.  This, I know for sure.  Because as soon as I notice that the space is there, it's no longer a space.  Instead, a comment appears and the space is quickly filled with the newly discovered thought.  After a while, this cycle of thought birth and death becomes painful to note.  From what I understand, though, this is kind of the point. What you begin to do is to take a good look at the process rather than paying attention the content. 

It's practice for the Big Game.

And yet, here's what I think makes a session of meditation on Thought a bit more interesting.  Remember my investigation into the nature of Now and how staying in it is a crock?  Well, in this meditation I've noticed that thoughts are always in the past.  What I mean to say is that while I can't catch them midstream, I can just sort of take note that they've happened.  I've never caught a thought in the act, or at least not in the middle of the act.  They're awfully wily that way.  They're never now.

I do have to be honest and report that on one or two occasions, I have indeed noticed the elusive mind state of Nothingness.  This would be cause for celebration if such things weren't frowned upon by the enlightenment police.  To congratulate yourself for noticing Nothing is hypocrisy!  Besides it doesn't lend itself to conversation.

"Hey, what's up?"
"Yeah.  Been working on that for years."

Instant conversation killer.

Ok, back to the exercise.  As you can see, noticing thought ends up being quite a crazy game of hide and seek where the success of achieving the goal is fleeting as well as almost entirely elusive.  It takes some time to just notice what happens with thought because it's much to easy to begin spiraling into it.  It's like a cosmic swirling drain that seduces you right into the vortex. 

I need more time with this.  And that's quite likely the reason it's called practice.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Waking Up: A Zero Sum Game

The idea of living in a constant state of enlightened bliss is usually trumped by my habit of swimming the murky waters of self improvement.  Call it a desire to become EverBetter.

What's EverBetter?  Well, it's a drive that has lead me by the nose and straight into a spiritual search.  After all, to be enlightened is the Most Better one can ever get, isn't it?

Yes, that's all well and good but this blog is about holding every assumption up to Inquiry, and so I have to ask myself the most basic question: