Tag Archives: pattern

Pride and Fear, the Curse of Alienation

       When one begins the process of looking at oneself, many hitherto unknown facets of personality begin to appear. At first we may wish to think the meditative process itself has created these behavior patterns, but soon enough we come to see that our previous state of sleep was greater than we wished to admit.   If we keep at our practice long enough, we will begin to see that certain states of mind are behind the newly discovered patterns, and may be shocked to discover our true motives in day-to-day-life. When these facts come to light, the first reaction may be to sort the behaviors into good and bad categories, and then set ourselves to the grim task of removing the negative while accenting the good.  In other words, the ego will start a campaign of behavior-modification meant to bring us closer to ‘perfection’.  Actually this is nothing new, having been going on since birth, but the new found level of awareness gives the ego a new sense of cleverness.  It’s going to outwit itself this time, for sure.


When we begin to see the underlying motivation for a negative pattern of behavior is, say, pride, we can hardly resist wanting to counter it by creating a projection of humility or altruism.  If we are honest, we may see through this, but be left

Pride and Fear
Pride and Fear

wondering if there is another solution. Renewed effort in the form of continued self-observation may take us to the next step. The pride itself could be just an effect, a compensation for an underlying state of fear. As we continue with our observing, we may come to wonder if there is ever an end to all this, if the root cause of our aberrant behavior can be found.  If we persevere, we eventually come to the root cause of the fear, a feeling of alienation, the battle of the self with the not-self, the mistaken belief that we are a separate thing.  This thing, or body/mind, lives in constant opposition with what it sees as other separate things. The universal has become lost in the particular and forgotten itself. This unnatural situation brings about the sense of anxiety and fear underlying most of our lives.

 


What now? Here we find ourselves head to head with our very sense of survival, where no ego effort can help. By looking within long enough, we may come to the door of awareness, and with grace and luck, find ourselves beyond the mind.  From this new awareness, we come to see the former belief in separateness to be, as John Wren-Lewis puts it, ‘some kind of inflation or hyperactivity of the psychological survival-system’.  We will also come to see the futility in putting new and improved patterns of behavior in compensation for any negative ones.  The old Zen warning against putting a new head on top of the one we already have comes to mind.


All negative patterns of behavior can be traced back to the ‘I am the body’ idea, the feeling of alienation.  Our natural state has no sense of separateness, for it contains all.  Trying to fix an ego problem with an ego effort is doomed to failure, for as Wren-Lewis again states, ‘the underlying universal consciousness, with its every-present-moment happiness, peace and wonder, gets shut out ”.  True peace can only come from our true self, or universal awareness. The body/mind will then continue to function, but in a sane manner, without the inflated ego-sense as master.


The effort of self-observation is the revealing of the false. Our true nature will remain, and as such, needs no modification.  All we can do is to follow the old adage for crossing a busy road: look and listen. If we can see something, anything, it’s not us. In this manner we can come to see we do not exist, yet Are, and Life can become a wonderful thing.


Bob Fergeson

 

 

Are Our Thoughts Our Own?

How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy: Article on Jaroslav Flegr and his research into a parasite shared by humans and their cats.  The research shows how T. gondii  “can turn a rat’s strong innate aversion to cats into an attraction, luring it into the jaws of its No. 1 predator. Even more amazing is how it does this: the organism rewires circuits in parts of the brain that deal with such primal emotions as fear, anxiety, and sexual arousal.”

If a parasite can control the behavior of infected rats, as this one does, could our thoughts be influenced by the same or similar sources? Are all our thoughts our own, or are we just as susceptible to parasitic influences as we are to marketing?

Parasite
Parasite

 http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/03/how-your-cat-is-making-you-crazy/8873/

 

Stalking Yourself with the Listening Attention

     Above the door to the ancient temple in Delphi were inscribed the words, “Know Thyself”. These words describe the process by which we separate from our false state of ignorance and rediscover true Being. But how do we initiate this process, this grand work of spiritual discovery? What tools should we choose to come to know this thing we call ‘ourselves’? If we are to engage in the pursuit of self-definition we will need to use the best tools available. To stalk our ‘self ‘, we will need something above or behind this personality to best observe with, something of a different order. Using the personality to observe the personality simply doesn’t work. It’s like trying to lift a plank while standing on it. This self we wish to come to know is a constantly changing, moving target, a veritable chain of reactions and patterns, seldom still, but always within our sight. To observe it we will need something calm and constant. Something that looks but doesn’t react; a seeing that listens.

Shadows on Snow
Shadows on Snow

 

  Coming to know ourselves eventually crushes the ego, in that we find we are not what we imagined ourselves to be.  We begin to see that the person we think we are is purely mechanical, a robot. Honesty and courage will be needed if we are to accept what we see, and perseverance when we find our task difficult and wish to retreat back into imagination. This process of dis-identifying leads to ego-death, as we separate from our pattern. The simple act of clearly seeing the person we were for what it truly is, is enough to bring about its death. We find we have become that which witnesses experience, where before we were experience, creating more and more experiences in an endless mechanical pattern. We are no longer the wily animal we have been tracking, which becomes cleverer with every experience, but instead something free, eternal, and indescribable.

Love, and Reason

Once we’ve had profound realizations on love and intuition, we have to watch for the ego taking these over and saying, “look how special I am, I can now do whatever I want”. You’re not special. This feeling just leads you into another trap that can be seen in the following two different ways: One, is we can think we’re special, and can do whatever we want without consequences. We treat other people however we feel with impunity, because we’re special, “I’m me” and me knows all about love.

Heart of Little Wild Horse
Heart of Little Wild Horse

The other one is, we think we are special and know about love, so we have to save everybody. The ego now has to fix, correct, and save everyone we meet. We forget about taking care of ourselves because we’re too busy rushing around doing everything to everyone, for ‘love’.

These two reactions basically come about from a lack of reason, brought on by base infatuation with ourselves. We have to allow reason to come into our decision-making process to double-check what the emotions, and our ego’s love, are up to. We don’t have to have reason as the final arbiter, the final decision-maker, but we should allow it into the process. It’s very easy to get tricked if we lose our heads, but not our egos, and start running around in love, thinking we’re infallible.

Experiments, in Isolation

” What I suspect we need is not any kind of path or discipline, but a collection of tricks or devices for catching the Dark at the corner of the eye, as it were, and learning how to spot its just-waiting-to-be-seen presence, combined with strategies for stopping the hyperactive survival-programmes from immediately explaining the perception away. D. E. Harding’s exercises for discovering one’s own essential ‘headlessness’ are the best ideas I’ve yet come across for the first half of this process, but, by his own admission, most people ‘get it but simply don’t believe it’ .” – John Wren-Lewis

” Anything that pays the bills or works in the everyday world, including psychological systems, is never able to be rejected or seen for its errors. As long as you pay the bills, you have little chance of escaping your thought patterns. You never get to see how things are on the other side of the street, so to speak. If it works, it is self-maintaining, including all the mistakes built into the mind set.” – Jim Burns

In the above quote, Wren-Lewis has outlined a method for seeing our own ineffable awareness, the first part of which is Douglas Harding’s ‘experiments’ or tricks.  He outlines the second part as the need for a strategy ‘for stopping the hyperactive survival-programs from immediately explaining the perception away’, but only gives a hint as to how to proceed.

The Harding experiments are simple and direct, but must be practiced rather than read about for any effect to occur. I’ve noticed through the years what Wren-Lewis describes as the survival programs immediately explaining the trick away occur again and again, in myself as well as others: someone has a breakthrough at a Harding workshop, after practicing the experiments at home, or even after a spontaneous event while driving or eating, but soon the ego grabs hold of the ‘experience’ and lays claim to it. “Look what ‘I’ did,” it boasts, “’I’ saw what ‘I’ was looking out of, as now I’m seeing it, as I always see it, and so now don’t have to do anything more, so lets get back to the real business of doing whatever we were doing before this seeing nonsense came up.” This last part about getting back to business isn’t actually admitted, even in private, nor announced in public. Soon the person has no connection with the anterior seeing other than a vague memory and a new storyline about how they’ve finally made it to the promised land, end of the road, they’re off the hook.

There is nothing unusual about this. It’s the valuation that’s wrong, for it’s placed on observing a projected memory, rather than on actual seeing in the moment. The person believes that one instance of seeing what they are looking out of has somehow made the seeing permanent, when actually they are being fooled by the ego’s penchant for taking unconsciously referenced and projected memory, as reality. This process happens much faster than conscious worded thought. In a manic mind fraught with the demands of modern living, it is for practical purposes, invisible. The person thinks he is ‘seeing’ when he is actually remembering his seeing, and thus is fooled into never seeing again. How can this survival program of the ego be seen through, and how can we stop it from fooling us so completely? Can we admit our seeing is something that we must practice, perhaps for years, before it becomes an actual real time spontaneous state?

A possible answer occurred to me when I remembered the above quote by Jim Burns. We must somehow still the mind from its pressing quest to believe it has day-to-day life under control in every aspect just long enough to allow the survival program to relax. Then, when a breakthrough such as a moment of seeing what you’re looking out of occurs, you can observe the entire event without the ego’s overwhelming need to add it to its bag of survival tricks, thus relegating it to memory, projection and self-trickery.

A plan of action would require a period of isolation, a time set aside with no human contact. Especially no contact with the human system of emotional reactions such as family, the workplace, and all media, including the news, cell phones and email. Once isolated from outside influence, a person’s hyperactive reaction pattern will lose steam, and any event such as a glimpse into the anterior realm will not be immediately rationalized as a deed of the ego, but can be seen for what it is. The entire pattern of self-deception can be noticed, without identification, from the moment of ‘seeing’ to it’s relegation to memory and the ego’s attempt to claim it, and henceforth project it as proof of its accomplishment. This combination of isolation from outside influence long enough to still the mind, coupled with a earnest desire to perform experiments designed to see our own awareness at work, is a possible scenario for upping our chances at a breakthrough. For some a few days might be enough to break the pattern of mind chatter, for others, several weeks may be necessary. Aids such as fasting, meditation, and a resolve to watch for the need for distraction however it tempts, will help to calm the mind. It is getting harder and harder to find a place where one can be free from the mind’s manic reflections, and still stay reasonably comfortable so as not to spend all one’s time and energy battling the elements and other irritations, but it’s necessity has never been greater. Any effort towards this would be beneficial, any actual practice of it invaluable. The greater the resistance, the greater the reward.

isolation
isolation

The Inner Ashram

Inner Ashram
Inner Ashram

To find a still place within that’s free from the drama of the working world is paramount in our attempt to contact intuition and higher thinking. Once we move out of the patterns of mechanical thinking, we must also leave behind the emotional motivators that cause them, and instead allow the questioning and intent of our spiritual search to come forth. Mechanical thinking will continue to assert itself if we try to solve spiritual problems from the level of mechanical emotions. A vector towards inner truth is the path out of outer reactive tail chasing. We can’t win the battle for control of our thinking if we try from the realm of the battle itself. A higher realm is needed, one of higher emotion than found in the jungle of life.

If we find ourselves afraid to do something because we don’t want to face the emotional reaction the act brings comes up in ourselves, this is a clue that we’re buying into the false world of mechanical reaction.  We imagine how we will react when faced with another person or circumstance and cramp up, remembering how we may have mishandled it previously. We become afraid to do what we need to do, for the thoughts of other’s possible offences raises our defences, and avoiding the situation altogether is added to the mix as well. Fight or flight, the law of the jungle, becomes our only mode of thinking, and the residual emotions from it linger throughout the day, long after the events are over. By the time we get home, we’re full of the unconscious but active vibrations our mechanical upset has created, leaving us in a state of inner turmoil. No wonder week after week goes by, and our spiritual vector remains just below the level needed for dynamic action.

A recovering alcoholic learns quickly that he can no longer associate with his former so-called friends and their negative thought patterns, called “stinkin’ thinkin’ ” in AA. The same may be true for us. The circumstances of our karma and lives may not allow us the freedom of the ashram lifestyle with it’s quiet seclusion, but we can find a place within that gives solace and room to think. Just the humble acceptance of the above quandary will bring help into our soul, and show us the path to inner freedom. This calm mind that can allow our vector to assert itself is found when we drop the pattern of the false self and move into neutral territory long enough to let our defences down, and listen. Move within to a place where reaction is no more, and watchful listening prevails. There you may feel a longing for even more stillness, a faint remembrance of something better, whispering a direction home.

Ache of the Heart

One way to spot the emergence of the false self, the sleep walker and its pattern, is by an ache in the heart, by that tender nerve that gets touched, a longing for escape or

Shipwrecked
Shipwrecked

relief.  This nerve is tender and sensitive from our believing in the world of the false self.  Think of a valid action or event you like, that’s natural and healthy, and the negative guilt reaction it may induce, such as a quiet walk in the park. There’s no material or emotional profit from it, it doesn’t put bread on the table, or pump up someone else’s idea of us, but it helps clear our mind and gives us time alone to think. If during our little walk we find our thoughts drifting to duties, to should’s and could’s, to having to make excuses why we aren’t being productive or perfect(why do we need quiet time, to meditate, what’s wrong with us?), we can shift our attention from the inner world of our negative imaginings, and instead focus on what’s going on in the moment. We then leave the false world of manufactured worry and come back to ourselves. We leave the false world, we wake up.  The ache is because of our attachment to the world of our worry and imaginings: it’s the knot.  Our heart does not ache because things aren’t the way they should be, it aches because we have become attached to our false idea of things, of how we are told we should be. People poke at our life, we get defensive and feel that ache. It’s a sure sign we’re buying into their take, into their false world, it’s hurting our heart because we’re connected to their projections, we believe it, therefore we have to react to it as if it’s real. If we could keep ourselves in our own heart, in ourselves in the moment, then we wouldn’t react to them. When we react, we believe them, for we’ve lost our reason and fallen asleep.  This causes the pain, because we come out of ourselves and allowed the world of imagining and projecting, the land of sleep, to touch us through our believe in it; the knot of the heart.

A Pattern of Becoming

Over the Shoulder Man-web
Reactive Man

If we buy into the anger, criticism, or praise of others by believing in it, and by believing that their take on events is realer than our actual perception, the innocent perception, if we buy into their criticism by reacting to it defensively, or their praise by getting puffed up, this means that we agree with it, and are fast becoming it.  If this agreement causes an emotional reaction inside, this sets up dissonance and the inner conflict.  We come to not trust our own take on what we see, and believe instead in the critical or flattering take from outside. We develop our own defensive reaction pattern to this outer offensive pattern.  This reaction pattern to the criticism/praise creates a false self in us in order to match the false world that we’ve agreed to through our belief in it.  This sets up a reactive little universe of drama in which we are trapped. We say “I” to this false self for so long we come to automatically believe it to be us.

When we get into situations that cause this to be acted out, such as work, social situations, and around certain types who are overly critical or fawning, we defend ourself against this criticism/flattery and start criticizing, flattering, patterning our “I” to be just as they are. We lose track of our innate innocence, most of our reason, and the connection within. We’ve been drawn outward into a false emotionally reactive universe of defensiveness: a fake self.  This entire thing has to be dropped, it can’t be improved, it’s a desperate down hill ride through a dark swamp with a messy ending. A clean break, a return to our own direct perception of the world, the acceptance of own capacity to be aware, is the way out. This drama and its pattern forming can never be solved at its own level.

If we make a mistake, can’t do something the way other people insist we should, or find we are planning ways to garner praise, reacting emotionally by believing in the drama, the way out is to stay connected to our own innocent perception of what’s actually taking place, a pure non-judgmental awareness that is not formed from experience, but is aware of and contains our experience. Our reaction pattern, which is a reaction to other reaction patterns, and all entirely in the imaginations of those involved, can by definition only progress along set lines, there is no lasting relief.  Some people are almost completely this false self, walking bodies, trouble. Is that all you wish to become?