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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

We May Need To Kill Faith

How can we make faith make sense? So many of us are lost in rational minds. Rational minds that are right in the external sense of “right”, but they lack the inner connection to being. Faith is something that often sounds too “religious”. But faith may end up being important, but maybe we need to change the definition.

Quoting the Tao Te Ching we read “There is no greater illusion than fear, No greater wrong than preparing to defend yourself, No greater misfortune than having an enemy. Whoever can see through all fear will always be safe.”

That quote rings absolutely true to me. I know it as fact. I know fear is an illusion. I know that knowing that makes me eternally safe. This is obviously a deep faith, so what kind of faith could rational thinking people understand? And what kind of faith won’t be winning any arguments?

Faith in a certain action, like getting the third parking space from the left, becomes ridiculous scientifically. If you have that kind of faith, great, but you won’t be successfully debating any scientists. It is not about you getting a parking space. It’s not about you winning, or getting “things” necessarily. The kind of faith that science can’t argue with is this: a deep understanding that it is all OK. It is all OK. Whatever happens will be fine. There is a deep peace in that statement when we know it to be true. There is also durability and courage.

This kind of faith makes sense because we are able to drop our expectation, and science can’t argue with that. In doing it we free ourselves of potential let downs. Science can’t argue with experience without expectation. It can only argue with expecting magical things to happen.

Letting go of how things are supposed to be is perhaps the largest spiritual lesson we can learn, and it ends up being faith. Faith in the Tao, faith in Christ, faith in the Now, or just faith in you; whatever we call it, it will all be OK. It may be painful, it may be tough, but it will all be OK. Deciding to accept whatever comes is an amazing spiritual lesson that science can’t argue with. Once we see that, and drop our assumptions and expectations the world becomes very beautiful. We are surprised instead of disappointed. We are pleased with challenges instead of frustrated. We are thrilled with quiet instead of bored.

Referenced: Tao Te Ching

Learn To Surrender

Surrender means to give oneself over to something. The type of surrender I’m discussing in this talk is not a sign of weakness, in fact, it might be the greatest sign of strength. The ego doesn’t usually like to hear about giving in or surrendering, but one of the greatest teachings we can learn is to surrender.

This practice is learning to allow your ego to surrender to what is. No experience is bad when we learn to drop the conflict around a situation. That conflict is the ego’s desire for things to be other than they are. Surrendering to what is is the dropping of the ego for true experience.

Surrender implies awareness, because we need to know what to surrender too. Learn to ask yourself what you’re feeling, that brings about awareness. Then the trick is allowing yourself to be the thing you’ve become aware of, to be what you feel. Often this will seem counter intuitive: I don’t want to be sadness; I don’t want to be anger; I don’t want to be cold. But learning to be these things, even when that isn’t what you want to be, is true surrender. It is waking up to be what you are. That is surrender, and it can change your life.

Honoring Imbalance

In this show I discuss honoring imbalance. Many people (including myself) critique the world and describe the need for “balance” (listen to my last show, I use that very term). This talk discusses three ideas:

The first idea is that everything is in a state of achieving balance. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. As we push something over, we watch it achieve a new balance. The action involved is the “balance through movement” also known as imbalance.

The next idea is that we prefer an ideal state of balance, but that’s just not realistic. The entire world is in motion. Constantly balancing itself through imbalance. The beauty is in honoring the imbalance. We have the capability to stay still through that motion.

And lastly, on the level of betterment, imbalance brings growth. When we’re stressed and feeling the pressure, we can be comforted understanding that we are growing.

Getting to the Beauty

This talk is really an exercise looking at the split between internal/external, and thinking/experiencing. I discuss the words below and ask you to identify with each word as I do.

thinking experiencing
form feeling
outer inner
external internal
different similar
motion stillness
time now
attachment freedom
expectation actual
them us
you we
disconnect awareness

 

First we go one by one down the rows identifying with each side. Then we look at the left column, and identifying with all those states of being. Lastly we look at the right column.

The point of this is to show that we often find ourselves living external thinking lives only. We should balance that with the internal feeling experience from time to time. Being able to dance freely between these different states of identification is a deep fundamental shift.

This Path is Not Easy

Everyone listening to a podcast like this is trying to better themselves. I want to commend all of you for trying to do that. This work is difficult, and not enough teachers say that’s the case. Many sell this path as an easy fix for people. It can often be very difficult. Meditation is hard. Being authentic is hard.

The big point of this talk is that learning to be authentic brings up difficult things to deal with. You end up seeing that there is potentially a lot to change in your life. Our unconscious lives leave large patterns and situations that we see are not authentic. Examples include: relationships that are codependent and messy, the tools we use to deal with life can be destructive, our work may be dissatisfying, etc. It can be very scary and difficult to deal with these situations once they arrive.

So why do we choose to do the work? One reason is because we have to do it. There is something in you that is searching. You wouldn’t be listening to this podcast or reading this blurb if that weren’t the case. Something in you knows that there’s got to be more. Once we start looking at ourselves, our belief systems, our own inner becoming, we notice that on some level there’s a lack of authenticity in our lives. So truths begin to open up to us. We can’t go backwards. Once we’ve seen that our life isn’t authentic, we can’t unlearn that.

Other reasons we do this work is because we find our joy in different places now. We learn not to fear “bad” situations or “bad” emotions. We become courageous. We become whole. However, you may not get the same pleasure from old things: TV shows, drugs, drinking, overeating. In fact, that lack of satisfaction may have started happening before you knew you were beginning this work. That dissatisfaction is what ends up making people search more deeply.

Disconnect, which is a huge tool for dealing with life situations, may not feel the same. It may not bring the same “peace” it once did. You will, at times, miss it. It has been what you’ve used to deal with many of life’s problems thus far. Instead, you’ll now rely on presence, and being true to your feelings.

Teachers often imply that this path is simple and natural; and that the now is always available. That is true, it is easy, but it also can be hard… to find the easy. It’s not a long path to this moment. It’s always right here, and yet we still miss it. Being authentic can be hard. Be courageous. Keep working. You might find there’s not much else to do.

The Pleasure Pain Treadmill

Basic ideas:

  • Seeing that good and bad, or pleasure and pain are in all things.
  • We can use pain to promote change.
  • Ultimately, we can get off the treadmill of pain and pleasure.

Our desire to avoid pain and experience pleasure tends to push us around if we are not paying attention. When we use introspection to learn about the mind we see that we all try to avoid pain and move toward pleasure in everything we do. This is a huge thing to understand fully.

Pain tells us something is wrong, but we tend to overreact and begin to avoid all pain and discomfort. This creates a treadmill of pain and pleasure. Where we are constantly trying to manage our states of mind by moving away from pain and toward pleasure.

We can deal with this three ways:

  • Do nothing.
    • How does this hurt us? Well, if we’re unconscious of it we end up not being very durable. We end up running from any and all pain we see. We might think we deserve no pain, and so whenever it comes up, we feel like we’re cursed or unlucky.
  • Secondly we can learn to use pain effectively.
    • Think of someone who’s life situation is fine, versus someone who is in pain. The person in pain is motivated to change. The person who is fine, may want to change, but will often not go through the bother or work to change because there is really no motivation to do so. This is the first way to use pain effectively. Become aware of it.
    • We can also use pain for gain. This is a way to develop in a worldly sense. It can help us do things like lose weight, or perform better at sports, and evolve spiritually or behaviorally. We can learn to associate pain to things we’d like to change, rather than where they happen to fall. Examples of this might be associating pain with being out of shape, or associating pain to not meditating.
  • Lastly, we can get off the treadmill of pain and pleasure.
    • Pain is inherent in all things. The duality of being shows us that there is both good and bad in all things. Good and bad are facets or opinions of things and situations. So it is unwise to try to always get the “good.” It just won’t work. Seeing this truth is a huge teaching.
    • Learning to accept pain as a part of the experience is a great teaching of meditation. Pain/pleasure treadmill response is the normal human response to being. What would an exceptional response look like? How can we achieve that state? Meditation is one way.
    • We place ourselves in an accepting mode, and train that response to stimuli. Boredom and frustration, and even physical pain can come up during meditation. It is training to learn about the nature of our relationship to pain and pleasure, and ultimately have the ability to get off that treadmill.
    • We learn to stay through different painful events and not judge them. That lack of judging gives us a different, and better, experience of both pain and pleasure. Then we are off the treadmill.

Learning about this allows us to wake up to the understanding that this is how we’re built. We also learn that we can use pain to grow. And lastly, we learn that not fearing pain or being attached to pleasure allows us a deep freedom. Those experiences are a part of the oneness of being. We can learn to relate to them differently.

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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.

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Why We Can’t Hold On To Stillness

In this talk I want to discuss what might be our biggest challenge. To find a state of stillness, and remain productive in the world. How do we accomplish, while remaining present.

Why are most of us unable to hold on to stillness? Many of us can find stillness, but why isn’t it easier to just stay there? This talk assumes that you know what I mean when I say stillness. Some call it big mind, or a state of presence.

I did a talk before called Stillness in Motion. While this talk is similar, it will differ in the level we’re talking about. Stillness in motion was a talk about the feeling of holding stillness while we do things.

I’ve heard Ken Wilber say things like you can’t be in a non-dual state and in a state of duality at the same time. I’d be interested to speak with him about that because I have a deep sense of being still, or in a non-dual state while still seeing and being aware of, and able to function in the world full of duality.

This talk will discuss, and point out that we definitely still have the desire to accomplish and do things. We may drop the attachment to that desire, but we still discern.

At the base of our being is a function of judgement. This judgement leads to most of our discomfort. It puts us on the treadmill of time. Judgement says this situation isn’t as I would like it to be, so let’s change it. It leads to inner becoming. I’m not enough, etc. Many spiritual teachings seem to imply that this is a bad thing. But it’s important that we don’t vilify this idea. We need this function to survive. It’s the same impulse that tells us we’re in danger. It also allows for us to better the world.

We don’t lose the ability to judge when we’re still. I usually begin to describe this judgement as “discerning” to show that there is a difference. It isn’t a lost, deeply judgemental, place that we come from, but we can tell what our preference would be. We do chose to walk, and eat, and talk, etc.

Many stereotypical representations of meditation imply that the meditator is unable to discern when in a deep meditative state. That’s just not accurate. I mentioned before the Burning Monk, who had gasoline (or some flammable liquid) poured over him and lit. Then there was a picture taken of him not moving. While his experience of that might have been different than yours or mine, he still was aware that he was burning. The amazing thing is not some otherworldly state of mind he found, but rather the choice to stay. The discipline to stay.

The trick is going to be to learn to remain still while we judge and think. Can we remain aware while we judge? We need to learn to watch our judgements. The subtle distinction is this: A frustrated meditator learns about a pleasurable state of mind and then catches themselves thinking and discredits all the stillness they achieved. Whereas, a centered meditator finds himself or herself in a thinking state and watches it, thereby remaining centered.

In this world, we have things to accomplish. There is work to be done. In every moment we look at the world and have opinions about how it could be better, things we need, things we want to have, or do, or give. None of that is wrong. It’s really important that we allow for that. There is such a thing as growth. There is betterment.

So is stillness in conflict with betterment? Doesn’t stillness imply that we’re done? While it is an appreciative state, we can be aware of movement, and the need for change while holding on to stillness. Stillness is a state of awareness. One that is realized and awake to the truth of a situation. If there is betterment to be done, do it, but try to remain aware.

Our innate ability and need to create and judge is what’s impairing our ability to remain still. And that’s a wonderful thing. The work we’re here to do is to marry the two. We’re here to blend the duality. We can engage in both experiences, and do our best to remain aware of where we are and what we’re doing.

Referenced: Ken Wilber, and Burning Monk