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Looking Through Other Peoples Eyes

Many talks I’ve given have been about the perspective shift of being able to look through other people’s eyes. And while this is a deeply important skill to develop to inform ourselves and to evolve, if not done from a place of health, it can lead to enabling co-dependent behavior.

Healthy perspective shifting includes:

  • Understanding that someone beeping in a car might be late and it might not be about you.
  • Making the effort to see a situation from your loved one’s eyes during an argument.
  • Taking the time to listen to a co-worker to really understand their needs.
  • Consciously integrate shadow elements of ourselves (part of the 3-2-1 process from integral theory).

Perspective shifting is paramount to evolving and growing. But we need to do it consciously and mindfully. When we don’t, looking at the world through other people’s eyes can lead to unhealthy co-dependent behavior.

What is co-dependence?

  • Someone who exhibits too much, and often inappropriate, caring for persons who depend on him or her.
  • Co-dependence can also be a set of maladaptive, compulsive behaviors learned by family members in order to survive in a family which is experiencing great emotional pain and stress caused, for example, by a family member’s alcoholism or other addiction, sexual or other abuse within the family, a family members’ chronic illness, or forces external to the family, such as poverty.
  • Codependency advocates claim that a co-dependent may feel shame about, or try to change, his or her most private thoughts and feelings if they conflict with those of another person. An example would be a wife making excuses for her husband’s excessive drinking and perhaps running interference for him by calling in sick for him when he is hung over. Such behaviors, which may well lessen conflict and ease tension within the family in the short term, are counterproductive in the long term, since, in this case, the wife is actually supporting (“enabling”) the husband’s drinking behavior.
  • My simplified definition is when we lose ourselves to the idea of another. When I am looking at my life solely or primarily through your eyes.

What is the difference between a healthy perspective shift, and losing oneself in another through co-dependent behavior? The difference is when we know who we are. Other’s perspectives should inform us, but our actions need to remain based on our own values. This touches deeply on understanding our values and beliefs. And while this could be a whole other talk, our values and beliefs need to be understood, and at least peripherally mentioned here.

My first talk I said that beliefs are an error of taking an opinion and treating it as a truth. What I meant by that is that an unconscious, unexplored belief is an attachment that limits, or affects, how we see the world. But we all have beliefs, we all have values, even though there is an ideal groundless state of being. To express ourselves as humans, as selves in relation to others, we need to be clear on what our attachments, beliefs and values are. The more we know about who we are as people, the more evolved, awake, and informed we are.

Gaining the skill of looking at the world consciously through other people’s eyes is an important growth for people. But we need to use the idea of an other’s perspective to inform our own perspective, not lose our own perspective to someone else.

Introduction to States and Stages

This talk is an introduction to states and stages of consciousness. States of consciousness are our now experience, and stages of consciousness deal with the growth of self along many lines of development in time. In this talk I want to explain the importance of each of these perspectives of consciousness and begin to point at how we develop each of them.

States of consciousness are not permanent. They include: emotional states, drug induced states, meditative states, waking and sleeping states, and others. Much of our time is spent trying to manage our state experience. We feel hungry, we go for food. We have a headache, we take aspirin. We want to feel good, we have a beer.

Stages of consciousness instead deal with development along many different lines. Those lines include cognitive, value, interpersonal, moral, sexual, etc. On each of those lines there are altitudes of development. Some are more developed morally than others. Some are more developed cognitively. There can also be movement along these lines. An individual may start out as selfish, and move to nationalistic, and then finally resonate from a world view. Stages are objective judgments of subjective experience. They are the structures and beliefs from which we see the world.

Why do these altitudes of development get to be called stages? Because study after study shows that over time the answers to certain question about our experience go in one direction. The way we process and interpret the world tends to keep going in the same direction along these lines. There is a tendency to grow and widen our capacity and our understanding and experience of deeper stages. We all may not move along the line, but almost nobody goes backwards. There is a direction to the movement.

Healthy stage development, along any line looks like this: When one experience (or stage) is taken from subjective experience into objective experience. When we can look back at the prior stage objectively we have fully and healthily evolved through that stage.

Meditation (state management) practice doesn’t always show us our current stage. And while true subjective state experience doesn’t allow us to see our current stage ever (because we’re in it) we still grow through the stages over time. Working on meditation isn’t always only a direct state experience. Often it is a thinking dialog and running into walls of self, belief, structures, etc. It is my opinion that this part of the practice of meditation often leads to an understanding of the stages we’re going through. This is not because of the state experience, but rather the opportunity for introspection sitting offers.

States don’t tend to evolve, unless trained. And even then, they still jump around a lot. (Buddhas still sleep, wake and dream.) But states of mind can evolve when trained. The idea here is that non-dual awareness and the like can be developed. To a certain extent that is a stage in the realm of state experience. Once you understand and have non-dual experience, it has the capacity to inform the rest of your state experience.

Basically, we want to learn to manage our state experience as best we can, and grow through the stages of development along all the available lines as best we can. Doing those two things is what self development and growth is about, in this moment and through time.

Referenced: Integral Theory, Spiral Dynamics

Do We Change The World Or Accept It

Surrendering to the moment is a very important teaching. Learning to accept what is, is one of the fundamentals of growing spiritually. So if acceptance is fundamental to this teaching, then why do all these teachers want to change what is? Why are they unable or unwilling to accept the world in its perfection exactly as it is? Teaching is asking people to be different than they are. Why don’t all the teachers just accept the current state of understanding and move on?

This is a really great question, and points out a large logic problem with all this teaching business, and what enlightenment means. Do we want to change the world, or learn to accept it? The answer really is both. And the important clarification is the misunderstanding that to become enlightened is to blindly accept everything. That is not necessarily what enlightenment, or growth is about. Accepting absolutely everything would leave us motionless. That idea of stillness is an illusion. To a mind that is trying to manage state experience only, that would make perfect sense, and hence be a very attractive thing to try to attain. But that attraction is the same attachment that’s in any other form of desire. So what is this growth or enlightenment we’re talking about?

Integral theory and spiral dynamics talk about the difference between states and stages. And while a full explanation of the difference is beyond today’s talk, I will say that we are definitely trying for deeper states of consciousness, but also (and possibly more importantly) higher stages of development. Each stage is a level of attachment. It is a set of beliefs, or a paradigm that we walk through and act from. So the idea is not that we are trying to stay peaceful, or joyful, or happy all the time (which would be a state experience only, and doesn’t happen), but rather we are trying to walk through these larger stages of development (which would lead to more and more wisdom, durability, capability, and hence better state management as well). We try to become identified with larger and larger portions of reality.

So no matter what stage we’re currently identified with, what can we do to work within this paradox? At what point is our own attachment to change, or to an idea of something better, a problem? It is compassionate when we want to help someone else with their pain. But we begin to get lost when we insist on their growth or begin to get attached to it. Work to explain things you understand to those who don’t understand it, but don’t get attached to the outcome. Be mindful of your attachments, especially when they are masked with change for the “good” of something. Change and creation is always occurring with or without our intention. Be involved in that change to whatever degree you want to be, but know that acceptance is always available to you, and use it well. We have the ability to change what is (the external), but we also have the ability to change instead what we are (the internal) to acceptance.

Referenced: Integral Theory

Fearlessly Feeling Fear

A teenage boy just heard that Tommy wants to fight him in the schoolyard. He feels fear, but it’s not OK to feel fear. He’s supposed to be a man. He’s supposed to be tough. Or at least that’s what his belief system is telling him.

A woman in college was raised Christian and believes we should all love one another. But someone named Maggie just was hitting on her boyfriend. Anger starts to rise up in this woman, but it’s not OK to be angry because of her beliefs. So she feels anxious and get a second level of emotion because of the conflict of the first emotion, anger. It wasn’t OK to feel the way she felt.

Let’s take it away from a belief based idea. Let’s just say that we don’t like feeling fear, or sadness, or anger. I get scared and I don’t like the way it feels. It’s not OK to feel the way I feel. Once, for whatever reason, it’s not OK to be who I am or feel how I feel, I am in trouble.

This talk is about that second level of emotions. When we feel something and that feeling is not OK. When we feel fear and we don’t want to feel fear. The added anxiety and discomfort that we add to what we feel. This talk relates to beliefs, emotions, and surrender. All our feelings and emotions are necessary. Emotions are the language to tell us how we are relating to our situation and circumstance all the time. And yet it takes courage to feel what we feel sometimes.

Some teachings say we should try to transcend emotions. Some say we need to endlessly honor emotions. I say doing both is really important. We must investigate the self that’s feeling the feelings. It could need to adjust it’s beliefs and hence, change itself. But we also need to really feel what we are feeling.

The worst thing I see in people, and myself, is when we resist what is. When I am resisting life, I am deeply unhappy. When I accept what is, I can face anything. I can fearlessly feel fear. Whenever I choose to spend my time wanting what is not, rather than appreciating what is, I’m lost. The practice is to become aware that we are fighting this moment, and to drop that critique. We can feel fear, and not want to be anything else. We can be sad, and fully feel it without running away. When we do that we open ourselves to the joy underneath.

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.

Realizing We Have Enough

It makes sense that people who don’t have much feel a sense of lack. It doesn’t make as much sense that people who have tons of stuff, lots of money and means, also feel lack. One point of this talk is that the sense of external lack is driven by an internal lack. If we learn to get our joy from inside, we don’t need these external things to the same extent. Another point is addressing the actual lack in people and places on this planet.

I’ve talked before about the state of consciousness that expresses enlightenment comes from a place of abundance. It has arrived. It has what it needs. It’s interesting to see that the external things we want, all the Christmas gifts, and all the status we shoot for, they are fleeting. As I make a higher salary, I still want a higher salary. There is a treadmill here, and I’m not going anywhere no matter what I get or accomplish. Can we see this fictitious sense of lack and expose it?

Real lack does exist on our planet. There are lots of people without enough food. Lots of people without homes and basic needs being met. But at what point do we realize that we are abundant? For those of us that are not starving, and do have shelter, at what point do we feel abundant? Most of us never do.

This sense of lack drives our governments and our corporations. If we were to realize, deeply realize that we are abundant internally. What would change on this planet? One way we can make a dent in the actual lack on this planet is realizing we have enough both internally and externally. If we have enough, we can begin to share.

One could argue that there has been an evolutionary need for the feeling of lack. In small circles without enough resources the strong survive. But now we can see the entire planet, and we’ve never been able to do that before. We all have enough. There is enough food. There is enough money. For the first time in the history of the world, we can see that there is enough.

Those literal external expressions of lack are probably not fixed only by a redistribution. We can’t necessarily just feed the hungry. Historically that ends up creating more dependence and corruption than help. So the issues of lack are complex. But we have the capacity at this point to realize that we all can make it. In the past only some of us, the strongest of us, were going to be able to make it. But now we have the technology and the capacity to work toward all of us making it. All of us having meaningful and productive lives.

What would change on this planet if we all realized that there is enough? There is enough joy. There is enough food. There is enough money. The world is abundant. We are not stuck. The only thing keeping us stuck is our own erroneous sense of lack.

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.

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Doing It In The Now

It seems many people want to get the idea of what enlightenment looks like.  We’re all trying to “figure it out.”  I get many emails discussing understanding these ideas.  This podcast is about doing them instead.

The “Now” has become very trendy.  So let’s not get lost in ideas about it.  We even have great philosophical minds telling us we don’t have time to be in the now, which is a bit ridiculous.  What I think they are saying is that we shouldn’t be trendy about the Now.

Because we can play with words and ideas and labels at this level we should see that we will never “figure it out.”  Rather we should look at the desire that we have to figure it out.  The idea of how to do this is less important than doing it.  Our minds want to become experts, and so we look at all the possibilities of “getting lost” so that we can be sure that we will win “when those things show up.”  But that state of mind is already lost.  The waiting, thinking, planning mind is exactly the mind we are trying to put down.

Someone comes across the idea of being at peace.  And they are listening to these podcasts, and trying to meditate.  And they realize they are not at peace.  The mind that is trying to get to peace is lost in time.  The mind that wants to “DO” peace is the mind that puts down expectations.  This may feel very unnatural to us.  We want to figure it out instead.

So when we “DO” peace, when we allow for peace of mind by coming to this moment, whatever it is, we are doing it “all the time”.  Because we start to realize that now is all there is.

The important concept is this: getting to this moment “is the end of it”, EVEN if we leave this moment.  Sounds like a cop out, and is hard to get your mind around, but it’s the truth.

So let’s look at the actuality of living in the Now.  We don’t care if we can do it permanently, because that is another idea.  We just want to do it now.  When we come to the Now in this moment (whenever that is), we realize that this moment is always here.  So that is all we have to do.  The mind will kick up again and say things like “You won’t be able to do that in the future.”  And that may even knock us off a bit, but seeing that once we DO come back, there is no tally of how long we’ve been gone.  So doing it now IS doing it forever.  Because the illusion is the mind that creates a future that doesn’t exist.

So doing it in the now is as simple as coming to what you are, your breath, this moment, the sounds, the fears, the whatever, without worrying if you can do it again later.  If you’re doing it now, you’re doing it forever.

Referenced: Pema Chodron, Eckhart Tolle

You Don’t Have to Fix It

As we grow and consciously evolve, we will find wisdom in many situations.  However, we should watch how attached to those opinions we become.  We often will want to tell other people how to be, and get very attached to what is “supposed” to happen.

The main point of this talk is that once you find yourself with strong opinions, use that as an anchor to wake up.  Even if you are morally correct, once you are attached to an idea, you start to become just as lost as someone doing wrong.  It is much more important to bring presence to a situation, than the right action.

New-agers often get lost here.  It’s not about getting to the right beliefs, it’s about seeing all your beliefs.  It may be right to not want war, but as we fight for that idea, we begin another war, or argument, or conflict.  That’s when the idea of being right, or fixing the situation breaks down.

We may have opinions about how other people should live, eat, and behave.  All those opinions can come from a deep caring, and our advise can often be sound.  However, when we get too attached to our idea we’ve gotten a little lost.  Learn acceptance instead of righteousness.

Referenced: Joel Goldsmith

Show Music: Building the Bass Castle Vol. I by Voltage