Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Facebook "Spiritual" Groups: Training Ground for Factions at War?


How many times have we fallen into facebook debates that quickly escalate into ego battles?  The subject of discussion is never the actual issue, whether the talk is on spirituality, religion, or the right way to raise a child.   When the exchanges get heated and nasty, we're left with a vague uneasiness and or even embarrassment at our reactions.  Worse, our posts are immortalized for future onlookers to sit in judgement of our poor self control, lack of self esteem, or bullying behavior. 

A lot of times after engaging in these "talks" we end up exiting our browser in disgust, vowing to never EVER participate in the group again. 

Until next time. 

There's more than good reason why on and off the internet talks turn into debate, and debate into arguments or even physical altercations.  It's the exact same dynamic at work as conflict escalates into war and collective reaction results in destruction so large that we appeal to the entire human race to never. ever. let it happen again.

And then it happens again.   

Just take a good look at the symbol for this dynamic which has stood the test of both time and place.  In it, is both war and peace.  Your position for or against any given idea is there.  So is mine.  And so is our enemy's.

In taking a meta view of conflict in general from trading insults to full out war, we can start small and use the social media example introduced above, because the dynamic is the same.  It's just a matter of scale. Lucy Cargill has written a long and thoughtful post about the mess that are spiritual facebook groups.  And despite so many of us wanting to make them work, newly created groups eventually fall into one of two states:

Explosive Endings
Withering Death

The factors in the cause of both is the same.  When people see eye to eye on an issue, there's really nothing to talk about and the group discussion collapses in on itself. On the other hand, disagreement, when left unchecked, leads to an explosive crash and burn with members either leaving abruptly, and in worst cases, dissolution of the group.  We're left with the death of another community and several splinter groups being formed by members who believe they are "like-minded".

We're not like minded.  Not for long. It's just a reprieve because opposing viewpoints are necessary for our continued interaction.  There's no escaping it entirely.

But there's another way to look at these exchanges.  That's what I'm calling the "meta" view, and it's one in which we observe the patterns of behavior.  When we do, we can see that while there are the appearance of individuals in conflict, it's actually happening on a grander scale as the Whole, balancing itself.

Have you ever read a conversation that leans too far into wholehearted agreement on a topic?  You're guaranteed to see a voice of dissention appear, and the intensity of the objection will be in proportion to the person's perceived idea as to how much of a correction is necessary to bring the conversation into balance.  If a third person joins in, they will likely come in with a position meant to tip the scales to whichever "side" requires it for balance.  And If the original objector is alone in their opinion, they will likely voice their views in an exaggerated way, particularly if they feel that they're up against a prevailing headwind of opposing voices.

Yes.  It's always, and only about the balance.

Notice when it's you who feels compelled to join in a thread.  Is there a feeling of needing to "correct" someone's position, or do you feel the need to make the opposite opinion heard?  This feeling of compulsion can sometimes seem to come from nowhere or even take you by surprise.  Ask yourself where that voice comes from.  Take a look at it to see how it came to be and which way it's meant to tip the scales.

For My Yin, You've Gotta Have a Yang

Conversationally, we're always chasing each other.  It's the reason this exchange is possible in the first place.  Within each opposing point of view is enough truth to give conviction to its expression.  But more than that, the seed of its converse is within it.  And that converse is also both true and false.  One feeds the other.  If one side of any position feeds too much (gets heavy and tips), the balance is disrupted and the conversation ends.  And when there is too much agreement, there is conversational starvation or inertia, and the dynamic dies.

So the next time you find yourself in a facebook debate, take a step back and take in the view of the whole.  Look for the seed of truth in each side, as well as the seed of what's false in each.  The exchange is a fractal, a small demonstration of the balancing forces found in every exchange in the natural world.  And our online interactions are no different... they are pushed and pulled by the very same forces shaping politics, religious conflicts, and all out world war.

It starts so very small.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

When You've Seen No Self then "Lost It"

The sudden realization of no separate self isn't as elusive as some like to pretend it is. Teachings have spread like wildfire through the internet and people are waking up after just weeks rather than years of seeking.  But the truth is that I've run into quite a few seekers who've quickly seen it then run back to the safety of selfing claiming that they haven't.  It's a fairly natural response.  After all, how many of us really want to be exposed as an elaborate work of fiction or nothing more than character in some fantastic story?

Then there are those who clearly see that there is no central controller "inside" and the revelation brings a tremendous sense of openness, freedom, and a lightness of being.  For the first time, they feel real joy. Unfortunately, the bliss of initial realization may wear off rather quickly, leaving the seeker with a sense that they've lost something precious.

But that just can't ever be true.

No matter how many times it's seen, of course the self comes back.  There's no reason for it not to as it's as natural a part of life's function as the fact that it was seen to be false.  As Liberation Unleashed co-founder Ilona Ciunate says in her "I think I haven't seen it" post, life doesn't stop.  It was life that created the sense of self in the first place!

That there isn't a You is a fact, not a state.  It's a fact that can be looked at through all of "your" history.  Examine it.  Has the you ever been there?  Is it here right now, ready to be pointed to?  If not, rest assured that nothing has changed and that a separate self hasn't suddenly popped into existence.

Do you feel a sense of self now?  Where?  Take a look to see whether it can be found in this moment, and if you need to do it again in the next moment, do so.

Has it been located yet?  No?  Keep checking until you stop looking over your shoulder.

photo credit:  Light and Sound by ahermin on deviantart

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Rocking You Like a Cat 5 Hurricane

For those new to the idea that there may not be a central controller of the mind or body, to begin to understand this notion, you might want to take a look at a hurricane.  Make it a really very powerful one.

See that well-defined eye? 

It's made of an absence.  Just like you.  The hurricane itself continues to move and form but its core can't be found.  The round shape and seeming existence is entirely dependent upon everything else that's swirling around it.  The eye is quiet, calm, and welcome in any storm because NOTHING happens there.  Nothing happens in what is usually thought of as a Self, either.

Take a look.

See all of the things and people that are supposedly moving and forming around you?  Ok.  Then turn 360 degrees.

Yep.  "You" are the eye of a hurricane.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Enlightenment, The Robin Hood Spirit, and A Tale

There's just no way to not be heard as a radical voice when it comes to talking about enlightenment.  There was nothing mainstream about what Jesus or Buddha had to say about the nature of reality and in their time they stirred up enough controversy to get themselves shunned, tortured, or killed.  Since then, select groups of self appointed guardians have packaged, preserved, and placed select teachings high on shelves of churches and temples, outside the reach of  many.  That act effectively transferred the value from what was being pointed to, to what was pointing.  Since then, newer radical voices have dusted the cobwebs from the teachings and found ways to communicate the pointers, making realization available to many during their lifetimes. 

Oh, but they didn't have Oprah and DSL.

Within the past few years I've watched as new internet voices have joined in on a chorus to pull the teachings from their lofty perches, dust them off, then repackaged them in pragmatic wrappings meant for a hungry new line of guru-weary seekers.   Eckhart Tolle kicked off the mainstream discussion.  Sam Harris has thrown his spin on it.  But what's more interesting is the groundswell of everyday people who've added their experiences and pointers to the pool of information now freely available to anyone with a computer and connection.

This blog has been an attempt to add to those voices.  There are lots of folks who've taken offense to this movement, calling it disrespectful and not a TRUE awakening.   But they're the very folks who should know better.  What's their mantra?  Everything changes.  And yes, the secrecy and mystery surrounding waking up is also changing. 

When it comes to thought, change is exponentially accelerated by the internet.

That my family and friends kind of look at me funny when I mention these ideas surrounding self, time, space, and reality has stopped giving me pause.  The truth of the findings have held, and there's no denying the obvious.  You've heard the line...Once seen, this cannot be unseen.  There's no turning back and I don't think I'd ever want to.  Instead, I will press forward.

Today, I sat in a Barnes and Noble, reading books on blogging and growing an audience.  My intention in growing a blog following is one initiated alongside friends on and old forum... to make direct and pragmatic pointers into the nature of the self available to everyone, everywhere, free of charge.

That original 2011 intention remains.

The reason making this promise was bound up in the collective and then radical act of grabbing straight for the treasure of core realizations first, then freely distributing wealth.  The many posts on this blog and others listed in the right hand column of this page, have constituted just some of the everyday voices currently caught the act of trying to communicate what's been hidden, even though it's in plain sight. 

And then we have my own take on the repackaging.  It's just part of the direction I want to move in, and this blog's future direction is something I've been mulling over for quite a while.  The next questions too explore is what does this realization actually MEAN?  Because the implications are really extraordinary.

It's becoming clearer. 

In the end, this blog's purpose and direction isn't about pointers on the self.  Though that's the core of all "mystical" teachings, it's not enough unless thoroughly explored in the context of seeming to live in the world.  Friends and loved ones still get sick.  Babies are born.  Change comes.  Life doesn't magically begin bending to your will, simply because there isn't a you for it to bend to.  Ultimately, even when getting to the heart of enlightenment, the show does go on.  There' a return to the world.  After all, there isn't anything that lives outside of it

And there was never anyone here to leave it. 

I'm excited to explore ways to integrate and grow Tabula Rasa and Lill Inpsiration.  I hope they will become a fuller, richer communication not just about pointers on the core teachings of enlightenment.  There's more to explore when it comes to pointing to "the rest of the story" and how this new seeing affects the amazingly juicy experiences that make up this ALWAYS wide open world. 

delma (thassa)

photo credit:  Monk vol.1 by CenkDuzyol

Sunday, August 23, 2015

What to Do When Earnestness meets Desperation

It's at some point in your search that you'll discover the difference between earnestness and desperation.  The distinction between these two approaches can easily get lost when a seeker is in the midst of dogged inquiry.  It's a difference worth fully grasping, though, and here's why.

When you're earnest, you'll look at everything a guide asks you to examine because you fully trust that they've been down the same path with others who've come before.  You'll find yourself working with any pointer given, and from every angle imaginable.  You'll focus on finding the gem that it might possibly reveal, no matter how simple and inconsequential.  At this stage of the game you understand that any small crack in the fa├žade could expose the entire secret.

When you're desperate, you're a drowning victim awash in spiritual concepts.  In a hurry to hold onto insight, you grasp harder and faster at the surface of the water even when you realize that it continues to slip through your hands.  I've even seen drowning seekers attack the guide out of an overwhelming sense of frustration, even as they recognize that the guide is there to show the way.  Why does this happen?  It stems from a basic lack of trust in the process, in the guide, or in yourself.  Looking for a belief to cling to, none is found.  The shore seems farther away than ever.  Panic begins.

Don't grasp at the water.    Instead, stop.  Grasp at the pointer itself and be earnest in using just one pointer at a time.  Keep true to that pointer.

"Look" is a perfect pointer. 

Do it now.  Look.

Point to the things seen.  Point to the thing seeing it. Then do that again.

Scour the list for what is found and what is suspiciously but utterly absent.  Then trust that the answer is as ridiculously simple as it first seems.

photo credit:  treading on glass by katelizabeth23

Thursday, May 7, 2015

One Simple Question to Wake Up

This is from an email exchange with a seeker.  Note that Answers can only ever be met by more Inquiry....

Inquiry:  Pull this sentence apart:  "I am"
What is the "I" in that sentence. Don't think about it. Point to it right now. Then stop. Point to it again. Then stop. Point to it again. Then stop.

Seeker:  "I" is this body sitting here. The head, the body, the arms, the legs, the eyes... That's "I".

Inquiry:  If that sentence is true, why do you say, "my body"? What is the My in My Body? Point to it.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

5 Lessons from the Road to No Self

And they said the path was pathless?  Here are those I'd consider the top five of the thousands of self (less) lessons learned from this three year "trip". 

Number 1.  Yes, Virginia, there is no self.

There.  I said it.  Lots of folks have the idea that it's wrong to say "There's no you!", but I disagree.  It's not wrong.  It's exactly right, depending.  I've noticed that it's always people who have already seen through the separate self who tend to denounce that phrase.  I'd ask them to just remember, there are those who have not traversed the same path and may need to read or hear something which shakes up the paradigm.  Remember the Bahiya Sutta?  It's brilliant.  Why?  It's the same as saying, "There's No You!".   Just read it:

There is thinking, no thinker
There is hearing, no hearer
There is seeing, no seer

In thinking, just thoughts

In hearing, just sounds
In seeing, just forms, shapes and colors.

Paradigm-shaking?  It's what opened my eyes to a new way of seeing.  Had it not been framed in such a startling way, I may have missed... well... Everything.

Number 2.  But also, Virginia, there IS a self

It's just that it's not what I was taught.  The self is literally what "I" think it is, but that's all that it is.  It has or owns no history, no future.  It can't.  Impossible.  But thoughts make it seem so, moment by moment.  The sense of a me feels like a me and will continue to feel like a me.  But it's just feeling without a me feeling.

Buses and trains will still hurt.  So do my toes when hitting up against coffee tables.

Number 3.  If you're trying to make the self disappear, it won't.

Looking for a state of persistent No Self (complete with capital letters) isn't going to work because it's the very supposed self that's looking for it.  Moments of nondual seeing come through grace.  Yes, grace may be preceded by practice or inquiry, but just when there's no me looking... BAM.  And, well, that's the only way this can happen, isn't it.  Grace.

Number 4.  Big Self is not the same as No(t) self

The reason why looking for the core self and clearly seeing that it is not found is important is because the sense of self is an unimaginably persistent thought.  It colors everything, including awakening.  So you can bet that it's really easy to jump right into Big Self because it just feels so good.  It's heady.  But what about that small self?  It's a good idea to see whether it's been seen through completely, or just merged into a Big Self.  How will I know the difference?  Well, if I feel big, wide, or enlarged somehow... it's still a me feeling it.  If there is just everything.... limitless everything without a me in the mental picture, then we're really onto something.

Number 5.  There is just one Enlightenment SuperPower

Once seeing the ego's bag of tricks, the only superpower I found is that I can understand human emotions and dynamics in ways I'd never dreamed.  Without a separate me, it's much easier to see the trajectory of human interactions on scales both large and small.  The same dynamic happening on facebook posts is the one that goes to war.  Both could be diffused if everyone saw this.

Seeing and anticipating the trajectory means that sometimes I can appear to be wise. Don't be fooled.  It's not wisdom, it's just understanding.

I can see how anger is pain, how arrogance is pain, how judging others is pain, and how terrorism is pain.  I see what it is that is in pain, and how the only response left after seeing through all of this, is compassion.  It doesn't even have to be cultivated because it's a natural result.  Compassion has the effect of diffusing wars big and small, conflict, envy, jealousy, ill will, and a host of negative emotions.   And that, for all intents and purposes, is one hell of a superpower.  Too bad there's really no one to have or own it.