Free "Back to Breath" 7-Day Challenge Join Now

Nested Duality

What is nested duality? This talk begins to discuss the play of opposites. I talk about the importance of relating in new ways to good and bad. Ultimately this talk is trying to convey the error of nested duality which is when we make the non-dual experience something good.

As we look at good and bad closely, we see we can relate to the concepts in different ways:

  • Good and bad can feel like absolutes. Things outside us that we have no control over.
  • Good and bad can begin to define one another. Without bad, there is no good.
  • Sometimes perceived bad events end up being good events.
  • Good and bad can be seen as perceptions of is-ness. We realize that we are much more involved in good and bad than we originally thought.

As we take responsibility for ourselves and our perceptions, we learn we are intimately involved in our perceptions of good and bad. They end up being our judgements. As we learn we can “mess” with our perception of good and bad we start to wonder about non-dual experience. A non-dual experience is experience without duality, without good and bad.

When we first learn about non-dual experience we see that we can escape good and bad in a certain sense by staying in a nonjudgemental state of mind. Sitting in stillness can be very pleasurable. Often times people get the idea that non-dual states are better than dual states. This is where duality has come back in, this is nested duality.

Once we’ve made the non-dual state of mind better than the dual state of mind, we’ve been caught in nested duality. If we begin to prefer, or call good, the non-dual state of mind then it is no longer non-dual. This makes it very hard to correctly sell this state of mind, or even point to it, because when we do we are not in it. But when we treat the non-dual experience in this way, it becomes just another opinion, another belief. It becomes something we think about instead of do.

Mastering Perspectives

This talk is about mastering perspectives. It assumes that someone capable of seeing more perspectives is better informed, and more able to act appropriately, happily, and well.

There are many perspectives to any situation. Every moment there is your point of view, someone else’s point of view, and third person perspective as well. There are also historical perspectives, we perspectives, singular and plural perspectives, inner and outer perspectives, emotional perspectives, and even imagined perspectives. To simplify, there are many ways to look at things.

So the practice then becomes to relate as fully as possible to the moment by being aware of as many perspectives as possible. Learn all the different perspectives, and work to integrate them into your life. It may sound like a lot of work to do this, but it becomes very natural. Also, in the beginning, it may be useful to apply this only when in conflict. It’s a great tool to use when you’ve hit a wall.

I suggested learning about Integral Theory for a deeper understanding of perspectives. I also mentioned that “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you” is really just an ancient perspective teaching. We’re not all aware that there are many perspectives, and we certainly don’t often act from more than our own point of view. Learning about and applying perspectives can help us grow.

Referenced: Integral Theory

Introduction to Transparency

When something is transparent it is able to be seen through. In this talk I make an effort to show the link between transparency and awareness, making the assumption that awareness is healthy. Transparency is an idea that can be applied to any system to allow that system to behave healthily and naturally. Systems mentioned include self, companies, governments and society in general.

Exposure puts natural pressure on behavior that is only OK behind closed doors. Lies in personal relationships, corporate dumping, dishonest motivations of governments all become fixable when we are aware of them. For us to be aware of them, these systems need to make efforts toward transparency. While it’s true that most entities may not immediately want to become transparent, there are many reasons to motivate them to foster transparency. Companies can become more profitable by fostering internal and external transparency. Governments can run more smoothly and efficiently as well. As more individuals understand this concept and want to foster it, we can bring these ideas to the systems we’re a part of.

We all have emotions to help us make appropriate behavioral decisions. If we allow for too much privacy, we can hide behind walls and bury emotions of shame and guilt. Those feelings would naturally curb behaviors if we were only to remove the walls of privacy. It’s easy to continue doing destructive things if we think no one is watching. Once we know others can see us, natural systems kick in to guide us.

Our legal system is losing the battle of specifics. We can’t write specific laws to govern all action successfully. We need a more elegant and complete idea to work from. Any elegant solution ends up being a simple solution. Transparency offers us a simple central theme to work with any system. It fosters awareness in any size system and helps us all resonate at wider levels of identification.

The Next Evolution of Man

Today I want to discuss evolution. There are many ways to think about evolving:

  • Individual evolution, societal evolution, human evolution
  • Evolutions like Homo Erectus to Homo Sapien, etc.
  • Agricultural age, to Industrial Age, to Information age
  • An individual growing through identification with self to identification with society
  • etc.

A good definition of evolution is this: A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form.

What is the type of evolution I’m talking about today? Making a habit of coming back to our breath is only the beginning of the deep shift I’m referring to. The evolution would be the significant shift in the capacity of the average human to express and hold onto the state of mind that lives outside of time. Humans would need to learn to be the expression of presence and stillness. We don’t need to stay in that space all the time, but we need to learn about it and make it a larger part of our lives.

Stillness is more significant than just a way to deal with problems. It can have an amazing impact both on the individual, and also society.

We have made massive technological changes. Those can all be thought of as external. We’ve learned to bend the world to our wishes to a certain extent. Learning our own minds, learning about time and how we relate to this moment would be an internal evolution. The external changes and progress can and will continue, maybe even faster than it has to date.

Fostering stillness is where the mind needs to go. All of our problems arise out of attachment to concepts that come from being unaware. We need to understand that practicing stillness is a bigger deal than just dealing with our own simple problems. It is actually dealing with all problems. So it is important work that we’re doing.

The world I see involves all these evolutions (each one would be an evolution in it’s own right)

  • Much less need to express ourselves violently
  • Higher desire to appreciate and create art and live creatively
  • People become more physically healthy, because our joys won’t come as much from physically detrimental substances (smoking, drinking, drugging, eating poorly). Our joys will come from deep connections to being.
  • Corporations will learn to be much more sustainable and fair (both ecologically and to people)
  • Countries will come from a world view instead of a nationalistic view – lessening wars, learning to cooperate, etc.
  • People will base their lives and goals more on finding and sharing meaning, rather then gratifying self (what Maslow thought was the more rare expression of mans purpose)
  • We’ll have more technological advances as well because much of technology is creative
  • etc.

Again, making a habit of coming back to our breath is only the beginning of the deep shift I’m referring to. The evolution would need to be the significant shift in the capacity of the average human to express and hold onto the state of mind that lives outside of time. Stillness is more significant than just a way to deal with problems. It can have an amazing impact both on the individual, and also society.

PlayPlay

Are We Stuck In Time

In this talk I describe why we seem to be stuck in time, and what an enlightened mind might look like.

If we have the fundamental understanding that there is only this moment; meaning we cannot leave it to go elsewhere, or more specifically that time is a construct of thought, we can start to understand that we need to relate differently to this moment.

None of us would argue that time doesn’t exist. It just may not exist as we think it does. We can’t go to the future, and we can’t go to the past. There is change, but we are always here. The inner desire for a better future is where our unhappiness comes from. We need to learn to stay.

Any expression of enlightenment is an expression of timelessness. There is no wanting for the future. No struggle, or need for anything more than what is. Any expression of enlightenment also is an expression of abundance. Most of us walk around feeling as though we need: We want that car, that spouse, that job, more money, etc. But every expression of enlightenment comes from a place of not want, not need.

If we can learn to drop time when we see our own dissatisfaction arising we will grow immensely.

These two expressions, timelessness and abundance, are related. To learn about dropping time is to learn about dropping wants.

The freedom from time, and want is learnable. We can practice it. That practice doesn’t have to be hard. Just learn to bring it back to your breath.

PlayPlay

Dealing with Death – Ours and Others

We lose loved ones all the time. We hope for an afterlife. The self wants to grow and be powerful and young. It is completely opposed to it’s own extinction. So there is fear and panic around the thought of death for many. In fact, many people can’t even discuss it. But all living things seem to pass away. How do we deal with that?

Today we’re going to talk about death of the body, but also death of the self. We’ll talk about how meditation relates to death, and how putting your life in perspective can be meaningful. We’ll talk about the death of others and how to deal with that. We’ll talk about the desire for an afterlife, and how death really makes everything deeply meaningful. Death is a part of life, so let’s talk about it.

We’ve discussed in the past, that we are not only self. We are also in some way connected to everything. Can that other identity help us deal not only with our own death, but also the death of others, and finally other types of change as well?

All living things die. But we can expand the idea of death from there. Situations die, friends change, we get divorced. All of these things are mini-deaths. We “die” in a different way as well. I am not the same 10 year old boy I once was. That boy is gone forever. So we are all changing. Everything is in a state of change. Death s a kind of change.

Meditation actually teaches us a death of self. We are putting down the ego and just identifying with the big mind. You obviously don’t actually die, and you can retain your “self” as much as you wish, but each time you enter this other mind, you will see it is a death of self in that moment. You will find that this type of practice can change you fundamentally. It can make you more able to deal with change, and hence your own death, and the death of others.

Truly being in the Now is about not thinking about the future. The entire thing is to watch the mind that wants to leave this moment. So in that, the Now becomes much fuller. Our entire attention is on it, and it becomes rich and thick. The understanding of this type of mind leads spiritual leaders to talk about eternity. Many talk about no death, in the death of self. So the temporary idea of you, or your ego, dies in that moment. And what is born is a fuller understanding of timelessness, or eternity.

Pulling away from your life and looking at it on a time line is very helpful and can put your life into a different context. Often we find ourselves just drifting along, but all events are precious, so it can be useful to find that context and check in.

There’s an old saying, or it might have been a viral email that went around way back, about filling a jar with a marble for every year of your life expectancy, and removing one on your birthday. It shows the significance of our lives. That could potentially give a deeper context to your life as well.

The desire for an afterlife comes from the mind that that is unhappy and wants salvation. It also may have been used as a carrot and stick for controlling people. But whether that’s true or not, it is really important to expose the mind that craves a better future, the ultimate of which would be a glorious afterlife.

We think that to stay moral, our culture needs to be held in a “proper space” with the appropriate carrot and stick. Meaning, if I were to take away the idea of living a good life being the thing that gets us into heaven, people might begin to behave poorly because there’s no point in behaving well. The idea of putting down the external carrot and stick scares many people. They immediately image anarchy and insanity ensuing from removing those guidelines. But a sincere morality comes from seeing the beauty that’s here, not a future hoped for beauty.

We need to become OK with who we are, without the hope for a prize. Because fear of not getting the prize does not work as our motivation. Fear based morality will not work. The example of extremists who die to get to heaven also cause great pain and suffering. They want the “prize” too much. Their morality is quite different, but also belief based. Either type of morality doesn’t seem to be working. To be clear, I’m not attacking peoples beliefs necessarily, I’m just saying that the mind that thinks about salvation, or hopes for it, or gets attached to it, is not the healthiest mind. It is ego based, and fear based. Seeing the beauty right in front of us, rather than being controlled by fear will work much better.

Death of others is very hard to deal with. It is very hard to lose a family member or loved one. We are attached to permanence, which doesn’t exist. This is a fault of the egoic mind. While losing things we care about will always be hard, I want to point out that the natural desire for permanence can make dealing with death and change even more difficult. If we realize that nothing is permanent, then we don’t have unrealistic expectations around things like a loved one dying. We need to learn to face non-permanence.

Fear of death and the unknown is enormous. But death makes everything matter. Living forever would take value away from lots of things. You’d be able to take literally forever to master things, so being a master chef as an example would have little meaning. We’d constantly be approaching everyone knowing everything, with no risk because we’d have forever to fix any problems, etc. It would be a very different existence for sure. Certainly different than most people would fantasize. Death is a part of life, and it is something we’ll do well to get more comfortable with.

Show Music: Live At Tonic by Christian McBride

Can We Make It All Sacred

If we want to evolve it would be good to learn that everything is sacred. Using certain objects to wake up is useful, but we need to watch how attached to those objects, places, etc. we become.

What good comes from making things sacred? It is normal to notice certain things as more orderly or beautiful than other things. We tend to make some of those things sacred. But we should watch how we do this. It is a certain type or quality of mind that wants to do this. Again, it’s normal, but normal is not necessarily good. We have the challenge to better ourselves by going for good, without degrading ourselves by getting too attached in the process.

What problems does turning some things sacred create? Good necessitates bad. Many religious wars have been caused by minds too attached to sacred things (Middle Eastern land, etc.). This is also one of the problems with New Age ideas of today. The mind that makes a certain charm, or symbol, or building, or area more sacred than another can become problematic as we get too attached to those objects. The more power we give these symbols as being sacred, the more we have the potential to depend on them.

So is this idea important? I think this has the potential to end wars. If we as a people could see the importance in loosening our attachment to sacred things, or rather, notice that everything is sacred, we could begin to end conflict. No land is better than any other land. Everything has the essence of being in it. Space does, objects do. That awareness is in you, so learn to foster it. Realize that when you are in a mind of preference, that you might be able to look at things differently. You might be able to see that it’s all sacred.

Show Music: Wholeness & Separation by Halou

What Does Paradox Have To Do With It?

Question I’d really like answered for a future talk:  What, if anything, would be the best thing humans could do to make the world a better place?  Please leave an answer as a comment to this blog or email me directly.

In this talk we explore paradoxes and logic and point out where we’ll find them in learning about stillness.

One interesting paradox is “This sentence is false.” Another might have to do with using language to define impossible situations.  The logical mind doesn’t like paradoxes.

The most common paradoxes we will find in these talks tend to come from different levels of experience clashing against the same thing, or the idea of the same thing. Normally those two experiences come from a mind that feels separate from the moment, and the mind that feels at one with the moment. If you have no concept of what being one with the moment feels like, it is simply when we are doing anything without critique. That’s stillness in it’s simplest form.

Another example of paradox, as I’m defining it here, is the good/bad dilemma. Having something that seems bad turn out to be good. Or learning something from a bad thing, and finding good value in that learning. Then the thing is good and bad, etc.

What I am really trying to describe is the problem with being “away” from reality. The normal existence of man feels separate from life. We feel distinct and separate from other people and things.  I’m trying to discuss the sense of oneness, and how a separate mind will often not find logic in discussing oneness.  In that lack of logic we will often come to paradoxes.

All spiritual traditions seem to be based, or at least discuss oneness.  In Christianity, the original sin is about mankind leaving stillness, or oneness, to come to knowledge. We obtained the knowledge of good and evil. It’s man entering duality. In Christianity they say that after death we go to heaven. Is it possible that all that needs to die is the self?  Because there is no self in stillness, can we come to a heaven on earth?  Taoism speaks of everything being the Tao – that is their reference to oneness.  Buddhism speaks of stillness and oneness frequently as well.  This is all mentioned only to point out that oneness seems to exist, even though our normal experience is a separate one.

So are we OK with paradox?  Can a mind see that paradoxes exist, and move past them?  Can we put down the discerning mind to come to peace?

You Can’t Kill God

This is a talk about fear and fear based teaching.

Any teacher that offers fear should be watched very closely.  There is nothing to fear.  You cannot kill god.  The death of bird, the Exxon spill, 911, tsunami’s and hurricanes, all of it can’t kill god.  We may not understand it, but it is OK.  Even the extinction of the human race can’t kill god.

If we can learn to identify with god-consciousness, we will see that we are a part of the whole.  That realization allows us to not fear things.  We are temporary, but we are part of the infinite.  All things in the infinite will change, but the infinite itself is timeless.

The idea that we need to save the planet is quite funny.  What we really feel is the need to save ourselves.  When we set up the idea that we need protection, we introduce the birth of fear.

The planet will be just fine whether we litter a five feet deep layer on it, or blow craters the size of Texas in the side of it.  It will be fine.  It’s us who feel we need the protecting.  Wildlife extinct itself and yet new species are born.  Change is constant.  I’m not at all saying we should try to extinct things, but as we do, we don’t kill god.

Leave a plot of earth barren or in any horribly assaulted condition and eventually life will come back to it.  We’re getting better at making it barren for longer periods of time, but we still can’t stop life.  Life wants to come forth.  And so it will.  There is nothing to fear.

Fear based teachings aren’t helpful.  We need to learn to grow past fear.  “Bad” actions, like mistakes and killing things come from a fear based mind.  If we open to a fearless state of mind, we will make better choices.  Not a reckless state of mind, but a truly fearless one.

There has always been catastrophic things to fear.  War, famine, sickness, nuclear attacks, etc.  Our current struggles are nothing new.  They won’t end until we evolve past the idea of fear.

We all die, and need to learn not to fear that.  But we most importantly need to learn to live.  The illusion is that we’re not OK.  This world is perfect as it is.  This moment never has anything wrong with it.
Referenced: Tao Te Ching #46

The Paradox of Change

A talk about impermanence.

Mentioned that pain comes when we try to hold on to things that can’t be held onto: relationships, jobs, hopes.  In holding onto those ideas, we are not free to appreciate the true quality of being.  We aren’t able to appreciate that everything is change.  We try to create a ground where there isn’t one.

Because everything is change, because everything is impermanent, time becomes obvious.  Of course we can work in time.  Stillness isn’t as obvious.  Understanding stillness will be the next evolutionary step for humans.

Mentioned the saying “what can be seen dies, and what can’t be seen is eternal.”  The eternal part is the quality of change that is underneath all forms, the energy of isness.  What can be seen is all the forms: landscape, bodies, things – they all change, they all die.  When we identify with “change” – or the energy underneath the forms – we identify with our own eternal being.  Again, eternal isn’t an endless amount of time, it is the absence of time.

I talk about how stillness *is* motion, and a time based mind is stuck.  This is the paradox of change.  You would think a time based mind has motion and a still mind is stuck, but that isn’t the case.

A still person stays with the motion of change – the change within this moment.  A stuck person stays with events in history.  Identifying with the experience of change is what being still means.  Getting stuck on events as they go by is living in time.  Staying in this moment is the appreciation of “change” and staying in a time based mind is not moving with what is.  That’s why we can say stillness is motion (or the appreciation of it), and time based minds are stuck (in past events and hopes of the future).