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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

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.

Finding the Similarity

It would help us greatly if we decided to look at others for our similarities instead of for our differences. It is very natural to see someone of different color, or ideas, and focus only on the differences. In this show I discuss some examples of how we focus on the differences, and how things might be different if we were to realize how alike we all really are.

When we come from a place of looking first at differences, we tend to assume that everything about the person is different. If we can realize that we are basically similar, and that the differences are in the details and perspectives, then we would have much less conflict in our lives.

The ways in which we are all similar:

  • emotions
  • physical traits
  • needs
  • behaviors
  • we all want to prosper
  • etc.

Focusing on differences is very natural. Similarities seem boring. Of course we all breathe. Of course we all feel fear. Not very exciting stuff. But coming into a situation with that literally on our mind helps us to see things in a cooperative way instead of a conflicting way.

What if nations focused on similarities? What if religions did? How might that change our world?

Show Music: A Lesson In Crime by Tokyo Police Club

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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?

How Committed Are You?

Making any kind of change is very difficult when we aren’t truly committed to it. So what is commitment and how do we find it?

I see people use meditation and become spiritual all the time to feel better when they are sad. But they often drop the practice once things get better. Finding commitment is hard to do, but we don’t want to get caught in the common loop of: being in pain, working to escape it, forgetting we were in pain. We can’t really escape pain fully until we learn to stay committed to change through all seasons.

Can you practice stillness when the world is good too? Can you “sacrifice” to try to stay awake at all times? This is not meant to imply that being awake isn’t fun. It’s only meant to show that commitment is necessary for lasting change.

How can we stay committed? We can use anchors. We can surround ourselves with books and podcasts and ideas that support our goals. We can commit to practicing meditation. But what is the thing underneath? It might just be our pain itself. Finding your reason to stay committed is really important. What happened to you that got you started down this road? What pain happened to you? Make a point of holding on to that.

People often mention that we can’t change other people. I disagree. We are all connected and intertwined. A change from you affects me. So if there is learning, if there is change, then we can point to something. We can find the “ah ha!” we can turn on a light switch for people.

In this talk, the light switch is the idea that being committed makes change easy. Finding commitment can be hard, but once we find it quitting smoking, eating differently, losing weight, meditation, all become simple. So what’s your reason to stay committed? Make that an “ah ha!” for you. Create new grooves of thought. Be awake to your pain. Change.

The Different Meanings of To Be

I want to clarify what I mean by “to be” because it is actually more than one thing. It is both “to be – still” and also “to be – what you are.” This may be hard to stomach because these seem to be in opposition, but they are both really important. It’s actually many many layers, and facets of things to wade through. So let’s look for more language around this issue.

“To be still” implies working with the mind through concentration and space to “still” the busy mind. You might think of this as the Buddhist way of practicing meditation. It implies a lot of things: Peace, but also difficulty in finding that peace. It has a sense of carrot and stick to it: I’m not still now, and I want to be still. So time is implied. “I’m not what I want to be.” There is a part of us that is trying to grow. This is the part that realizes that need for growth. This type of practice is important. We could call this discipline.

“To be what you are” implies a looser idea, of “I’m OK” in any situation. So if you are busy, be busy. If you are still, be still. You could think of this in a more Taoist sense, or more “zen” if you will. Up is down, right is wrong, everything is OK. This sense is much less rational, but also very important. It’s being gentle with who we are. It’s also dropping expectations about what we are supposed to be. This is the state that has no conflict, even when “conflict” is there. Meaning, in this state, you are not trying to be anything but what you are. This is the awakened state. This you might call freedom.

So the discipline allows for the second freedom, in a sense. The discipline is hard, and the freedom is soft. They are two ends of a spectrum. The Buddha talked about the middle path, and this is what he meant. You can’t leave your mind too loose, it needs some discipline. It also can’t be too rigid, or you never actually sit in the space of freedom.

A mystical Christian might say that since everything is God, each moment is the expression of God right now. We should learn to be in alignment with that, and it takes forgiveness (being what you are) and a bit of discipline (learning to be still) to align with that expression.

So the practice of meditation is working with your mind to still it. But it is also the practice of forgiving, or allowing to be whatever is. You may sit and have a busy mind. That’s OK. You may sit and fall into a lot of freedom, that’s OK too. If you feel too loose, bring some discipline. If you find you’re being too rigid, loosen up. That’s the middle path.

Language is a Lie

This talk is about the box of language. The main point is that since we are all one, when we create the separate reality (the one to talk about), we are “lying” to ourselves.

Language creates a box of agreement. But we are still separated by perspective. A smaller point but something we tend to miss. Perspective is what language is trying to relate, but we trust memories as if there was little or no perspective. Again, this is a different point than the main theme, but still important.

Language will always be incomplete. You can’t capture things with language, you can only point. The structure of thinking ends up being a detriment because we tend to remember our judgements about things. The language of the situation. We tend to get stuck in the labeling mind rather than the listening mind. The party was “bad”. But not to someone who enjoyed the party.

Language is a descriptor. It is an abstraction of truth. It adds a layer onto truth. So, what’s the point? Why discuss the box of language? Well, as we’re trying to open our minds, we need to learn that we can think differently.

I discuss the need to talk. The need to fill space with commentary. Truth comes from the act of listening, not speaking.

I also mentioned oneness and unity consciousness. Mentioned the book Cosmic Consciousness by Richard Bucke, and Ken Wilber’s No Boundary. All the greats had this state of mind, or state of being.

Other interesting points: Math is a language. We use words to define other words.

The World Is Your Body

This is an advanced talk. Many people may find this content weird, but I’m serious when I say that the world is your body. We’re trying to learn to look at the world differently. This is very literally a different way to look at the world. It’s a shift in consciousness.

Normal subject/object consciousness has ego and self boundaries involved with it. It’s important that we don’t look at these ideas from a place of self. We need to drop self to understand these ideas.

Subject and object aren’t separate. The act of listening, seeing, tasting, hearing, feeling can’t occur without both the subject and the object. That being the case, the actual act of sensation is the real content, and the parties involved are only ideas. The listening, as an example, *IS* the thing that’s going on. When we learn to dive into experience on that level we widen our perception of ourselves, and the world. Our experience is further out than we thought. We start to realize that we are larger than we thought.

Another point to understand is that we become, literally, whatever we focus on. When we see a sunset, we are the sunset. When we think a thought, we are that thought. When we hear a car horn, we are the car horn. The reason most of us don’t feel that way is because we are too busy bouncing from thought to experience to thought, etc. to realize any content deeply enough. This understanding is a new way of approaching things, but it allows for many freedoms.

What are the benefits of these ideas? An unchecked ego is the basis for all of our pain. This is another way, or facet, to understand dropping the ego. It’s another way to describe a new way of being. This will allow us to be filled with what is: sunsets, car horns, stillness, joy.

The practice is to realize that you are not a separate thing. You are an integral part of the greater whole. You are necessary to the process of life. Everything you hear, taste, smell, see, and feel shows you a wider self. That horn down the street is you. That breeze is you. You are vast. Realize it. Imagine, as a side benefit, how respectful we’ll be of the world once we realize it’s us.

Lastly, realizing that your body is the world quickly allows us to relate to the idea of “oneness of being” that all great philosophies speak of. This understanding is a way to realize that oneness.

Show music: La Bella Monterosa by Sahnas