Emotion and identity

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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.

“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…

 

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…

 

The inner place that scared me most

 

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It’s early, so early in the morning and I want to write a personal blog here on Simply Here, a place where personal blogs don’t usually appear because the fingers are too busy delightedly typing about non-duality and awareness and Oneness.

For most of my life this ego-personality has felt very restless, unsettled, a bit uncomfortable and confused.  A spiritual journey ignited early in life as a quest to *find myself*.  To learn to deeply settle into this skin, to collapse into the solidity of these bones, to breathe clearly from these lungs, to beat upon the earth in full cooperation with these feet.

It felt like the journey to truly claim the self would somehow serve others, in the same way the action of a single bird serves the entire flock.

 

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Consciousness after slipping out of the womb

This.  Here.  Now.

This. Here. Now.

Pretend you just slipped out of the womb.  You peer around at the glaring hospital lights, feeling a cool breeze on your naked belly.  Faces appear before your interested gaze. (Unless, of course, you’re annoyed to be here, frustrated and uncomfortable, wondering what the heck just happened.)

You look around.  You have no words for anything.  It’s all shape, movement, texture, energy.  A world sparkles around you, an entire dream filled with the five senses and consciousness.

Consciousness is!  It looks out your eyes and envelopes the entire room.  It doesn’t create a separate self yet.  Everything dances together and apart.  It’s all simply presence, or now.  It isn’t really aware of itself AS awareness.  It’s undefined, non-conceptualized, simply what is, without boundaries, without limits.  It’s free.

Now imagine yourself fifteen months later when Mama has called, “Annie!” or “Susan!” or “John!” sixteen thousand times.  Every time you’ve focused on Mama’s face and lips she’s pointing at you and calling you a name.

That’s when a kind of pretending starts.  Something dawns:  “Ahhh, when she calls Annie she means ME!  She means this body, these thoughts.”

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