Emotion and identity

july-122

In recent weeks it becomes clearer and clearer how strong emotion and identity link together to form a sense of the separate self.

Let’s say a wave of annoyance or anger arises against Trump, immigrants, your spouse, your own actions.

That emotion somehow seems to cement identity.  You seem to know who you are.  You are the one, you think, riding that white-hot feeling of rage.  Or that mild buzz of disagreement.

This link seems to convince us who we are.  We are the one who wants to right wrongs.  We are independent beings deserving a say, a voice, an opinion.  The emotion bubbling alongside the thought somehow convinces us that it’s true.

I recently experienced a disagreement with my husband.  He thought one thing; I thought another.  A wave of annoyance arose.  Thoughts clamored to the surface:  he’s wrong, I’m right, the answer is of course my answer.  Simultaneously a logical part arose attempting to find a solution to our dilemma.

What was interesting is that the wave of annoyance and sense of “I” arose simultaneously attempting to convince the separate self of its existence and truth.

If you’ve done inquiry for a while, it’s sometimes possible to surf that wave of emotion and simply be with it.  To see very clearly that the emotion does NOT mean it’s coming from a separate self.  In fact, surprise!, it’s possible for the view to shift to a perspective which sees that the emotion is simply a reactive arising–and definitively not who one ultimately is.

It’s possible to look around the living room and see–once again–that what one truly is is aware, free, all-encompassing.

Identification shifts from the focused to the expansive.  It shifts to reveal the emotion as not-self.  Simply another arising in an infinite field.

The argument with the husband or Trump or your own actions?  With the shift comes an opening for something else to appear.  A space for unknown possibilities now arising out of peace.

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“That little one never made it”

Who we are

Adyashanti shares an interesting story.  I am paraphrasing from memory, but this is the gist:  A spiritual seeker tells him–I want what you have.  Adya appears puzzled.  What do I have?  The spiritual seeker says–I want to be enlightened, to be awake, to be realized.  I want what you got.  Adya replies something like–oh no, I never got anything.  That young man never got anything.  That little one never made it at all.

This story comes back to me at times.  Like this morning.  Sitting here on the couch, thoughts appear in the background.  They keep referring to a “me”, to a Kathy.  They continue to reference a solid separate person with certain characteristics.  The foreground of consciousness watches them appear and disappear, appear and disappear.

I sometimes want to explain to my friends and blog readers here on line.  To tell them what happened, what shifted, how the outgoing blogger and social media participant dissolved–poof!–now you see her, now you don’t.

I want to make up a story telling you where the person went. “This is what happened,” I will say, craftily spinning a tale, pretending that there is an actual person who can come and go, arise and fall, create stories and fall silent.

But the stories can’t really be told without fabricating more creative non-truths.  I can’t tell you anything about me without shape-shifting into a me.  (Which is perfectly OK if that’s what the Universe wants to do in this ever-changing moment.)

Sometimes, like this morning, there’s a nostalgia which arises for the person.  Oh, that little one, that one, where is she?  I almost want to create her this morning out of sticks and stones and a rib from Adam and some grinning amusement from Eve.  To craft story after story to make a solid character who acts predictably in certain ways, who is dependable as the heroine or villain of the tale.  Or who loves acting unpredictably!

(And some days she returns–oh here I am, darling!  Let’s play today.  What character do you want to be?)

But it doesn’t seem possible right now.  It’s as if the old characters have fallen away into the snowy woods, a snowman melted away, the archetypes empty icicles gleaming in the weak January sun.

Matthew of Biblical fame says it this way:  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

The fullness that remains when one dies while still alive! Wow!  What appears in place of the stories is truly amazing in the most ordinary way.  Fingers typing, can you imagine?  The wood stove humming?  Thoughts and stories appearing? To enjoy encounters with people more than before, but without needing anything in return?  All without reference to a central character, a separate person?

Perhaps it was Adyashanti who said that you may lose the separate self but what you gain is the whole world. The whole darn world!  Can you imagine that?

When Awareness plays as a separate self

One vase, two profiles?

All perspective

In the last week–for two full days–Awareness decided to play as a separate self again.  The “I” seemingly forgot everything and slipped into a dream of itself.  It thought it was a separate person in a separate body with a separate mind and separate feelings making separate choices and doing separate actions.

Oh how that little self suffered when it forgot!  The contraction of identifying as a separate self–with thoughts and feelings fused as an identity–can feel so excruciating.  Unlike the wide-open radiant sense of inclusiveness there is a sense of tightness, obligation, worry.  There is a horrible conviction that one must make the right decision, do the right thing, act in a right way, save oneself.  The little self actually contracted into thinking she was in control and needed to–well, she wasn’t sure what she needed to do.  She just wanted to get away from the contraction of her little self and didn’t know how.  So she kept struggling to regain balance, to regain the Absolute knowing.  To fix herself.

After two days of chaotic feelings and thoughts, Awareness seemingly decided to remember itself.  To awaken from the dream of the separate self once again.  It sat on the couch and prompted the small self to look around…to truly see.  Was there a separate self here?  (The separate self shouted YES!  What the heck could you possibly mean?)  Is there a separate doer here?  (The separate self said:  Are you insane?  Of course I’m the doer. Who else is the doer except this person in this body?)

The separate self literally could not see or remember anything other than its own perspective.  I remember thinking that Awareness was literally crazy with its prompts and inquiries.  That there was no other way of viewing reality than as a person in a separate body with separate thoughts and feelings.  This feeling was absolutely sure.  It was as if I had never heard of absolute awareness before, and it was totally impossible to imagine or reach.

I continued to sit on the couch, looking, looking, peering around the edges of the small self who was so conflicted and contracted.  About twenty minutes in physical time passed.  And then–all contractions ceased.  It was utterly clear once again!  Oh my stars.  Only freedom.  No boundaries.  No exclusivity.  No separate self.  No terrible obligation or decisions to be made (or not made). Now contractions could rise and fall naturally and easily without resistance, without identification.

Simply this Oneness.  The little Kathy felt embarrassed.  Really?  How could I fall head-long into this game yet again?  And yet it was seen clearly that it was only awareness playing, playing, playing, no need to fuss.

It’s Awareness choosing to play–a simple thing, really.  And Awareness choosing to return to itself.  This seeing relaxes the body/mind so fully and deeply. And the whole world arises in itself, as it always has.

 

 

Universe dancing

Sept 5(2)

Waves and rocks dancing

Almost every day I cock my head and listen.  Does the Universe want to say anything through Kathy in the blogging world?  Does it have anything to say?

It’s odd when one begins operating through a sense of listening to Universal direction, rather than relying on thoughts and desires to compass one in the next unfolding moment. It’s a different orientation, a different motivation.

You never know what’s going to happen next.

Sometimes you find yourself habitually listening to commanding thoughts again, but it seems to actually hurt.  So you stop in this fresh new moment and simply notice.  Ah ha, THIS is what I am.

I can remember getting annoyed with friends who behaved in ways that irritated me.  There was a definite belief that there was a separate “me” and separate “other”.  That the person was separately independently making decisions that seemed wrong or unjust.  Now it often usually appears as a dance with no unique separate self at the helm deciding definitely to do this next.  Instead it’s a seamless interconnected Universe simply dancing.

Shimmer, shimmer, wave, rock.

You never know what’s going to happen next, and that seems to transition from fear to fullness as the ego relaxes its fierce grip.  What relief!  We don’t have to know.  And so we listen for the symphony’s next movement…and the dance continues…

 

Stuck in emptiness once again

Cougar in forest

Emptiness/fullness

Sometime in late May the ego seemed to dry up and disappear again.  One knows it because the wanting and desiring and craving fades.  At first it felt soooo peaceful and relaxing and wonderful.  Like the peace that passeth all understanding.  Feelings (both positive and negative) came and disappeared.  Thoughts of all kinds arose and fell away.  The space of awareness held everything, all was allowed, welcome all you vagabonds!

A sudden desire to meditate on emptiness appeared.  I usually feel no desire to meditate any more, so this felt surprising.  OK, emptiness, here you are.  The body relaxed deeper, soothed by no-thing-ness.

Suns rose and suns set.  The days meandered by.  Personal will seemed gone.  Emptiness simply moved through the mornings and evenings, occasionally jarred  by sadness, anger, or whatever human emotion the body-mind produced.  Nothing ultimately disturbed.

We split and stacked our wood for next winter.  I ran the wood splitter and we both lugged the firewood into the truck.  Eventually we unloaded the pickup.  It all felt good and flowing.

The body was ill, as well, during that time.  A dull ache permeated from the underarm to beneath the right breast.  The emptiness allowed it all.  In the midst of the discomfort I called the doctor and scheduled mammogram and eventually ultrasound.  An inner thought wondered if this was it–dread disease, come to inhabit and take the body.  I remember fear and then thinking, “OK, yes, if it’s time, that’s OK, too.”

The body breathed and breathed and breathed.  We split wood, I did diagnostic tests, and hurt while feeling peaceful and flowing.  Emptiness surrounded.

Then I noticed another feeling arising. Almost a light depression.  A hollowness.  A feeling of being stuck.  A frustrating sameness to life.  No ups, no downs, no joy, no real fear.  Just this over-arching emptiness at the base of all things.

Suddenly I felt a desire to listen to Adyashanti, one of my favorite spiritual teachers.  So often his teachings truly change things at a deep level for me.

He spoke of fixation and how our point of view can fixate in any state.  We can fixate in emptiness, fullness, oneness, separate self, or divinity.

The minute he spoke I KNEW what had happened.  I was stuck in emptiness once again.  (Not the first time, and probably not the last…)

How subtle–that even a point of view can fixate like that!

As he spoke, the fixation shifted and changed and dissolved.  And now it’s all brand new.

Now the heart feels full once again.

And, joyfully, the body received a diagnosis and the pain seems to be dissolving.  Turns out I have an inflammation of the cartilage in the rib cage–probably caused from lifting wood too high to throw into the truck.  Now I can remember lifting a log and feeling a pressure under the right arm…before the discomfort spread all around the rib cage.

And life continues to change…empty, full, and who knows where next?

 

 

 

 

Moving it into the nervous system

Work Zone

Work Zone

It’s one thing to understand non-duality or spirituality with the mind.  My thoughts heard about awareness and read a hundred spiritual teachers in this lifetime, so often nodding and saying yes, yes, yes.  I understand.  Yes, I get it.  I grok this, I know–well, sort of–what teachers are saying with their fingers pointing toward the moon.  Or at least I THINK I know.

Enough to write a hundred blogs attempting to explain what I think I know about what can’t be put into words.

Thoughts love to lasso possible concepts and make sense of the world.  We like to order our concepts into a giant interlocking jigsaw puzzle.  We sometimes think if we find that last missing piece–we’ll finally get it.  We will have arrived at some understanding.  We’ll know.

Of course, eventually, it sometimes starts to dawn that what the spiritual teachers (and maybe even our own thoughts) say is true.

It’s a journey of un-knowing.  It’s a relaxing into not knowing anything.  Literally not knowing where to turn next.  Not depending on thoughts as a lifeline.

Our nervous systems have been operating since birth with thoughts as King.  We think thoughts are “ours”; we often blindly obey them; they form our sense of identity.

When identity with thoughts and personality loosens, our nervous systems literally often do not know how to respond. They must rebuild circuitry with the un-knowing trust at the center, instead of thoughts.  (Thoughts still carry on, it seems, but more as advisors rather than autocrats.)

The nervous system can feel very frightened during this time.  It literally has not learned to trust “nothing”.  It feels Spirit is too insubstantial, too flimsy.  It often thinks it’s going to die without control at the helm.

So much of my spiritual work in the last eight years has been allowing awareness to move deeply into the nervous system where real change can occur.  Moving into tight, closed, clutched places in the gut, liver, knees, heart.  Awareness itself opens, releases, allows.

One of the litmus tests of the nervous system seems to be:  can we meet feelings of fear without going unconscious into a story?  Can we meet sensations of pain without resurrecting a self who is suffering?  Are we still craving food, alcohol, activities to fill our days?  Do we sense life is not enough?

If so, our realization often hasn’t sunk deep enough into our nervous system.  It’s a continuing journey of meeting whatever hasn’t relaxed in our bones, our blood, our organs, our skin.  Of learning to trust in an embodied way.

The mind can’t think its way into this.  Every time the body contracts it’s another opportunity to allow awareness to move inward and sit with the sensations without a story, without an explanation.

And slowly, usually slowly (although sometimes immediately) the body relaxes even more and kinesthetically realizes trust in the unknown is an amazing gift…

 

Gorilla eyes

The following is a one-page handwritten stream-of-consciousness writing without commas, periods or any other renegade punctuation.  I am typing it into this post in short fragments, like a poem, to make it easier for passersby to read.  Heaven knows where stream-of-consciousness writing comes from!

Posting it here, well, just because.

Dream

Restlessness oh the world

can not be fitted into stories and categories and definitions

oh no except if the stories shine open-ended and

do not point definitively

because it’s all so all so much and

I cannot make heads nor tails nor sense of

lapping waves changing skies and songbird chatter

let alone restlessness in the gut like an invisible piano player

hitting note after note on his duality instrument with

cigar smoke permeating the bar and wine running in the gutters as a

homeless man sobs and a wealthy duchess sips

and how much can a mere mind make sense of this and

yet the thoughts continue to line everything up like ducks in a row

in a carnival game and the man hoists his shooting iron from Turkey

and grins confidently at the laughing woman

on his arm and aims and

bang bang bang

down go those ducks and the carnival guy asks

what he wants and he points to a six foot gorilla and

he carries it to the laughing woman and the shooter goes out toward the

merry go round all bravado never suspecting

in ten months he’ll be dead by sniper’s bullet in Afghanistan and

the woman will weep but only for two nights

before donning her blue dress and sitting in Charley’s bar

trying to forget

those gorilla eyes