Notes On Personal and Impersonal Love

Love of a person is not love, it is a projection onto an appearance.

There is no person in reality – no person or persons – so love of a person is love of an illusion.

Yet behind that illusion is reality – the reality of the true Self. So the love is both real and unreal. If e are aware of this, here it is coming from, it can help keep us out of trouble.

Love of an illusion a projection and temporary. An illusion by nature is something that comes and goes and had no substantial reality.

If you have an image of a person in your mind, is that the person? The image is constantly shifting, fading in and out, morphing. When you see the person, they are always looking different, depending on endless factors. So both the appearance when you meet them and the appearance in your imagination are changing all the time.

How can you know them or know their true nature by this appearance?

If a human being were an object like other objects, treating them as such would be unproblematic. But we are of two natures: objective and non-objective. Likewise, one cannot treat or think of oneself as an object, for who or what is perceiving the object?

There is a sense in which life is both real and unreal. We must come to grip with this. It’s a mistake to see it as just one or the other. It would be delusional to say life is totally unreal. Obviously, we are having an experience. The experience is real. At least we know that for certain! Even if this were a dream, it is a real dream: there is a reality to even a dream, in that there is an experiencer experiencing it. There is a someone or something having the dream. There is a dreamer.

However we would not want to say the persons, places and objects of the dream are real. If someone in the dream gives us a diamond, and we place it in our pocket, we do not wake up with a diamond in our pocket, unless that diamond already happened to be there by coincidence.

Likewise, we meet a person, talk to them, encounter them, have an experience of them: it would not be entirely true to say they are a complete illusion. Nor would it be entirely true to say are absolutely real, when we have no idea what that means. Even if we were some super scientist with a mind like a god that could divine the state of every quantum wave in their body, and read their encephalogram, would that be their real nature: quantum states in a space? Or the sum of their conditioning and genetics playing out in the moment? Is that what’s “real”? Or is what’s real the sound of their voice, the appearance of their body and movement, gestures and the complete impressions and feeling you get? How much of that is your subjective projection and interpretation. How much is an idea you have of the person from previous encounters: in other words memories of opinions, thoughts, evaluations, concepts, summaries, judgements etc., *about* them. Is that them? Do you see where this line of inquiry is going? You have no objective basis of knowing someone.

And what is a person? Is it a body (there are bodies in morgues), a name, a profession, a place they live, where they have been or where they are going in time and space? A family (living or dead? how distant a relative?), a set of friends (current? what is a “friend”?), a set of posessions, constantly changing, a bank account and a paper record, a education and a set of clothes, a thousand other things… we could say it’s a sum of that, but if you put all that together there is still no living separate entity called a person, and no unhanging substantial reality. It is all concepts, without Life…

This is the outward form of applying the same process of investigating ourselves, and finding there is no unchanging thing, other than the experiencer – whatever that is – so we see that other’s nature must be the same. This opens the possibility of meeting in un-knowing.

Love for the other is love for the Self, in disguise. In other words, it’s hidden form of only one true love, which is Love itself, the un-manifested Being-ness of time, timeless…

What is Nonduality?

Nonduality is the cutting edge.

It is the cutting edge of spiritual seeking — the end of it; it is the cutting edge of creativity – the source of it… and it is the cutting edge of society: where “thought leaders” hang out (in unknowing).

So strap in and take a ride in nonduality, in this article and blog.

One day, after a satsang, a friend asked me at lunch, “So what is nonduality?” The satsang — a meditation and dialogue — was with the (unorthodox) spiritual teacher Francis Lucille. I just gave a basic, dictionary definition. Later it occurred to me she might have been asking more; after all, it was her first time there, and she may not have been able to absorb much, given her stress level and the seeming complexity of the questions and answers.

I’d merely said, somewhat glibly, and not wanting to overthink it, that nonduality means “not two,” and that we normally see things as duality: up/down, right/wrong, good/bad. I said nonduality is pointing to the underlying reality that is Consciousness.

What follows is what I wish I’d said, and so I wrote this for her and for others who might appreciate it.

Nonduality is about recognizing who, or rather, what you are: not an object.

It’s about having the courage to stand alone, but knowing that in the aloneness is true unity with everything and everyone. There are no “others,” really. It’s having the courage to question, see through and drop the societal or personal beliefs and demands that we’ve taken on, and living according one’s inner truth, the quieter sense within.

It’s about seeing and feeling only what is actually present in the moment: bodily sensations, thoughts, images — and knowing that really, it’s all that is happening.

We become aware of what is not present — what is not now — such as when we project into the future or past mentally, or think and act from habit. We realize it’s not us, but rather the false self, the illusion.

It’s about accepting the illusion, that those thoughts and feelings are lies in a sense, and being OK with it.

It’s about recognizing perceived limits and realizing they are not real, but only projections and beliefs.

Ultimately, once “what is” is glimpsed, even human thought, activity and all the illusions are what Is. Life is both real and unreal.

It’s about happiness — it’s about recognizing more and more often, on this crazy path, that life is not serious. It’s an adventure. It’s to be celebrated.

It’s about spiritual maturity.

It’s about going directly to who and what we are: a self-aware, awake, real experiencer, rather than searching endlessly and indirectly through practices like meditation. It’s pointing to the pathless path.

It’s about that which is timeless and always present, but at times seems invisible: Love, Truth, Beauty, evidence of a deeper universal intelligence.

It’s about dying to the false and unreal, surrendering the superficial and realizing the extraordinary: a spark of the infinite.

It’s about our fundamental nature and the extraordinary paradox — that it can seem very hard to just be what we already are: effortless, infinite, boundless consciousness.

It’s about seeing what not to trust — the beliefs we assumed about ourselves and the world — and trusting Life. Trusting that behind the appearances all is perfect and unfolding as it should. That all is well.

It’s about realizing how small and insignificant one is as a body-mind, and accepting a humility towards the unfathomable power and mystery of what Is.

It’s about seeing what is transitory, fleeting, changing: all the thoughts, feelings, sensations, and experiences of the world, every thing in the world, all relationships and anything that we call human life, and finding what doesn’t change, what is immutably present and Real.

Its about waking up from the dream: the dream of being a body, a human being, a world, an actor on a stage, a doer and changer.

It’s about Being, not doing.

It’s not about any thing. It’s about no thing.

It’s about realizing there is nothing to do and nowhere to go. Though life goes on for the body and the mind ¬— and doing and thinking happen — it’s about responding rather than reacting, being in harmony. It’s about seeing desire for what it is: a belief in lack because one believes or feels one is separate.

It’s about the paradox: here we are, trying to perfect the nature of Love, though it’s already perfect. It’s about growth and evolving the conscious experience of life.

It’s about setting aside the noise of the world, looking within, discovering, uncovering, though grace: the seemingly undeserved, unexpected, perfectly timed divine moment.

It’s about going beyond all our small selves, giving and being of service, in the transcendent joy and love of Being.

It’s about letting freedom and simplicity run your life. Living inside-out instead of outside-in.

It’s about realizing nothing is separate.

Beware of the Spiritual Path: It’s Not About *You*

The “spiritual path”, though it is about happiness – causeless, innate, not from objects (situations, people or things) – is not about feeling good all the time, while you are on it, because it’s about seeing oneself from a true and honest perspective, which can be shocking or not comfortable at moments… and it’s not even about changing something or fixing something, it’s about surrendering who you are, or rather think you are.

By nature we do not know what we are getting into: the Unknown. You get deep into it and you realize you’re on a ticket with no return trip except to go back to your old self – in other words stay stuck on the old flight or jump out the door! Then why do it? For the ego, there is no-thing to be gained. There’s nothing in it for the little, limited “me” — the image I have of who I am — unless I want to gain a spiritual ego. Pride. Pretension. Pretending. That’s a dead end too. A cul de sac, leading to the same: ups and downs, happy/not happy, problems, solutions, setbacks, progress, delusion, enlightening moments, pain, pleasure… duality in other words.

If we see someone, or meet someone we don’t like, or some situation that irritates us, or makes us angry, remember: they are you, and it is you. They are literally you, projected from your mind, reflecting what you don’t want to see. The plank in your eye, as it says somewhere in an old wise book… And that situation is you: you give everything all the meaning it has. That is an absolutely comprehensive statement. Sorry for the bad news! But it’s good news in reality. All is well and unfolding as it should.

The body is involved too. It’s not just the mind that is in the spotlight. If you were living from the mind, and that starts letting go, the body gets involved, in the play of life (will update you n this “revelation” when I can).

I’m always a beginner at this…

The good news is that, at some point, someone can swap out the old “Life’s a Bitch, Then You Die” bumper sticker with, “Life Is Fun And You Never Die”!

Laugh a lot…!

The Final Frontier Is The True Self

Joy arises, and astonishment, spontaneous freedom… then you discover you got more than you bargained for, or rather, less than you bargained for! You thought you could take “you” with you, be a new and improved self, get recognition, love, real love for being enlightened, wise… but here now, having to face the fact there’s no luggage allowed on this flight. Not even the clothes on your back.

And even though you’re being served champagne on this airline, it turns out you’re invited to sky dive without a parachute.

But you know in you’re heart it’s OK, there’s nothing real to hit. But the illusion sees illusions.

Have fun on the fall …

If someone were to ask me, “How are you Eric?” I would say, or could say, “However you are, is how I am.” with conviction, because whether it’s from the mind or from the self, it’s true: they are seeing themselves, and I am seeing myself.

So as one of my wonderful teachers – Laura Lucille – has said, “no one can help you”. Meaning, in absolute terms, especially on that final mile, that ultimate jump. You have to step off that plane yourself and fly through the air yourself. The baby hawk has to step off the branch and actually fly for itself. And thank God for that, since as long as there are persons to help that need help, and helpers, you’re helpless.

You don’t need anyone because you literally are everyone, and whatever you need will come along, in perfect synchrony with true need, love, Consciousness, or life, however you want to say it, saying, “I am here. Have no fear, I am near. Nearer than near, I am you, already.” It’s pre-destined.

And also true, the body does what it does, but it’s not a problem, because it’s just happening, whatever it is, now, and takes care of itself, through whatever means necessary now, including using these arms and brain and eyes and legs… it’s very intelligent. Or using other people, who are not really others. Funny how that works.

Everyone wants to be special. And everyone is, but only as themselves, the same as everyone, canceling out a special specialness above any other specialness. I’m being treated very well, or ignored, or even spurned, “rejected”, in my mind at least.

But what is exposed is this investment, an unwise investment. And the more unwise the investment, the greater the pain perceived when the inevitable loss is perceived to occur. As another teacher once said – George Pransky – pain is a measure of ego, of who you are not, and are trying to be – that which is of true value can never be lost or gained. Gain or loss are ideas predicated on a game of desire and fear.

My teachers were telling me all this all along, but I wasn’t hearing it, or rather able to really take it in, see it as fact, with the “filters” of the mind guarding, holding court, holding out, safety straps in the face of the unknown…

The Direct Path: What It Isn’t and Is

It’s not about a mental state; it’s the clarity of seeing What Is. Since there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do, a description is offered.

It’s not about psychology: the absolute subject is eternally free from psychological activity.

It’s not about experiences, it’s about the one experiencer that exists.

It’s not about being spiritual, it’s being natural, open and accepting of what is real.

It’s not about knowledge of the known, it’s about living knowing the knowingness of the Unknown.

It’s not about becoming enlightened, it’s dissolving the illusion of there being someone to enlighten.

It’s not about gaining anything, it’s life in it’s natural rhythm refreshed, cleared by stillness.

It isn’t a serious undertaking; it stands alone: an earnest cosmic lark masquerading as you and a world.

It isn’t about love, it’s Love itself: infinite and ungraspable.

It isn’t about changing anything, it’s about uncovering what’s changeless.

It isn’t about peeling away layers to uncover a true self, it’s selflessly surrendering a will that never existed.

It’s not about making a better movie, it’s seeing that it’s a movie and enjoying it all the same.

It’s not about finding a balance, it’s letting go of the branch, finding your wings flying free.

It’s not about togetherness or community, it’s standing alone in the family of the Unknown.

It’s not about anything, it’s no-thing writing this and reading this now.

Spiritual Reflections on The Three Principles

I would like to offer a set of reflections on The Three Principles, a spiritual psychology teaching that originated in the mid-70s and has spread globally, and with which I’ve been involved for about 19 years. This view is from, and as, a spiritual perspective. I don’t really like the word “spiritual” since it always bring to mind images and ideas, all of which are not “it”. But it’s a starting point.

When we read or listen to something about the The Three Principles understanding (or anything else) there can be a tendency to hear from an agree/disagree filter – in other words, from a point of view.
But in presence there is no point of view, as it is within what all points of view appear, and disappear.
What we are has no borders, no manifest containers or boundaries. In a borderless, effortless space, things appear, such as our lives. A sense of self, of motion, of love for ten thousand things, the objects of consciousness, awareness.
In this space, any image of what this space is, is only an image, passing and vulnerable to revision. Another word for that is “illusion”.

True intelligence begins and ends with knowledge of one’s nature. The three principles offer a shortcut, a stepladder to the formless.
It’s a form that says there’s no form: a pointer. It’s a tool. Why is it important to see it as as tool? Because there is a tendency to take a tool too seriously, to focus on that which has already been formed, on memory. These tools were formulated (by psychologists such as George Pransky and Roger Mills, with Sydney Banks as a guide) in order to be able to communicate, teach, to convey a teaching, to repeat an outcome in time.

True understanding happens outside of time, in an instant the mind cannot create, since the mind is a machine that creates nothing, only repeats what was input, like a computer.
The gift of understanding comes unbidden, like a long lost relative showing up at the door, happiness on both sides, which is One happiness.

The word spiritual can also seem to imply there’s something that is not spiritual. Or something to do to be spiritual. Or someone to be, some kind of person, a spiritual person. Nothing could be further from the truth.
You can’t help but be spiritual. In fact the more you do, the less you are, even though you are anyway – a paradox, because there’s no way the mind can get this.

So treat the The Three Principles lightly, like a good friend, and not like they are your master. In fact that goes for any spiritual teaching.

We have tendency to get lost in psychology. And this is especially true with a teaching that is used to address psychological issues, or social issues, and focuses on the idea of thought and thinking in order to transcend thought and thinking. Many “get it” right away and free themselves from the tyranny of the small mind (“mind” is just a word or concept for a collection of thoughts, images and sensations – all thought-like), but others are fascinated, or frightened, or puzzled and full of questions, or in some way paying attention to and focusing on thinking. It’s our biggest hobby. We play with it all day long, and into the night, pick it up first thing in the morning. But …
Who are you?

Once you kick the ladder out, or let it fall away, the question has a different meaning. You’re all things, in a sense, and no things. The unknowable knower… words fail. And the mind falls quiet. You might laugh, or smile. It doesn’t matter – there’s no real mattering going on. There is this un-graspable simplicity. Quiet.
So Mind, Thought and Consciousness mean the totality of what is, and that’s the way Sydney Banks meant it, or Lao Tsu, or any other sage you want to name. Let’s not get hung up on names, but have fun along the way, playing with them, as they come and go, friends. Be happy, be free.

Do Circumstances Cause Feelings?

Dear Eric, thanks for your reply to my enquiry about meditation. Perhaps you might clarify something I’m also struggling with. I really don’t get this 3P [Three Principles Psychology] idea that it’s never the circumstances that cause our feelings. If I were in Auschwitz, or had a relative murdered in Orlando, or was wrongly imprisoned for 30 years, wouldn’t these dreadful circumstances not cause me to feel sick, disgusted, angry, suicidal etc ? If you can help me understand this I’d be really grateful. Also don’t you find that the 3P world is turning into a bit of an industry these days ? Like TM it seems to promise the earth !
Thanks. Keith

Hi Keith – Your question has two parts.
1. Do circumstances cause feelings. This is easy to discredit if you notice how different people react entirely differently to the same circumstances. If it were the circumstances, you would have consistent responses, but in fact you see as many versions of “reality’ as you do individuals, as a function of the thought systems they’ve developed, and thinking in the moment, to use the language of the Three Principles (3P). As further proof of this, there was a gentleman (Jewish) who found profound meaning amidst his experience at Auschwitz and later wrote about it: Viktor Frankl.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. – Viktor Frankl

Another way to put it is, there is a third factor between “you” and “the world”: the reality that your brain and consciousness (or whatever one points to as the “manufacturer” of experience) has constructed.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. – Viktor Frankl

We don’t know the true or ultimate nature of these things (nor of anything) – brain, mind, consciousness, etc. (despite the claims of many to the contrary!) – but we do know our personal experience is an illusion. In other words the reality you experience is a construction, not reality. We don’t even need to delve into “what is reality – consciousness or material reality?” Leave aside philosophy for now. However, *that* you experience is not an illusion: you are conscious. That’s the starting point of your investigation.
The awareness of this fact may or may not free you instantly or over time. The ego is pernicious.

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
– Viktor Frankl

That’s a short answer. I did not talk about grieving, which is a good topic to look at (don’t hang onto personal thoughts of loss – for longer than their shelf life anyway – that’s ego again!). This whole topic you bring up is very deep and is at the heart of many of these teachings.

I also did not mention that there are what you could call automatic, physiological reactions to circumstances that are wired in for the survival of the body (whatever a body is – we don’t know). An example would be: you step out in the road and truck is bearing down on you and there is a reaction to step back (even physiological response can potentially be controlled however such as the yogi who controls his body temperature – that such a possibility exists is good to know about). However the response we are talking about that are problematic – the ones that cause you to seek help or change – are psychological in nature. They are arbitrary, learned, self-made and maintained, and ill-adaptive. They are what stand between you and permanent peace and happiness, the foundation that is our Being.

2. The Three Principles Psychology industry. Yes I do find that. It’s double-edged sword in that it helps spread “the message” but it does get watered down and misunderstood and become more and more a packaged product (and sometimes takes on the character of a evangelical religion: dogmatic and world-saving). However, I originally learned of it from one of the very early “packagers”: Richard Carlson. He didn’t call it “The Three Principles” or as something that was inspirited by Sydney Banks, but he was a great popularizer. It was too watered down for me, so I was fortunate to find a footnote at the end of his book about a book by Roger Mills (Sanity, insanity and Common Sense, by Rick Suarez, Ph.D. Roger C. Mills, Ph.D., Darlene Stewart, M.S.), that led me on a journey through “Health Realization” as it was called then.

Peace,
Eric

NOTES:
Dependent on circumstances is no happiness at all
Re-creating the spark from circumstances doesn’t work
Manufactured happiness is elusive

Deep connection, from phenomenal to present

The spark not a product of the objects

The Nature of Ego in the Psychology of Happiness

Preface
I found this article on my computer. I don’t remember writing it – it says 1998 (this is June 2016) – but I kind of like it. The writing seems fairly cohesive and has a friendly tone, and I think it might be of interest or who knows, even useful, to someone new to a spiritual take on psychology such as what is now known as “The Three Principles” field, or has an interest in Buddhism and how it relates to everyday functioning as a person (with an “ego”), etc. At the time I’d been heavily influenced by a dream I’d had about innate natural peace: namely that it is our birthright, and that the only thing that takes us away from that is our imagination. After the dream I discovering the work of Richard Carlson (instant recognition of “Yes!” when I saw the title “You Can Be Happy No Matter What”), then Roger Mills from a footnote, George Pransky, and going to a “Psychology of Mind” conference in 1997 (what became Health Realization and the Three Principles) – all of whom were influenced by the enlightenment of Sydney Banks.
In any case I’m putting it out there and you can be the “judge”. I guess it was just my ego that didn’t think the article was good enough at the time, haha!


I want to talk about ego. I want to define ego simply as anything that takes you away from the moment. Any kind of thought process that takes you away from full awareness and living in the moment, being free, having your mind free, in the moment. So this pulling you away could include fearful thoughts, insecure thoughts, could include jealous thoughts, anything involving over-planning, worrying, or anger and resentment clung to, or desires leading to expectations not fulfilled.

What is ego? It’s not a thing, it’s not a thing in the sense of a psychological entity, it’s more like a habit pattern – something that’s always there – everyone has ego. So I am going to talk about ego in a sense different from a Freudian sense of ego. A Freudian sense of ego, is, as I understand it, a psychological structure of the adult, something that needs to be strengthened, more like the center of adult identity and action, it’s what you’re operating out of. But I want to talk about ego more like the Buddhist would talk about it, where ego is anything that is false to your true self. It’s an illusory kind of activity, mental activity leading to behavior (all behavior starts with thought – thought broadly defined).

Anytime you’re trying to prove something to someone – acting out of that kind of insecurity – that’s ego. So rather than something that makes you strong, ego is a limiting factor. It limits you in your happiness, it limits you in your ability to live in the moment, and experience enjoyment, love, all the richness that’s available within yourself, and that’s capable of being experienced here and now. The ego relates to externals, to what you think you want or need, or have to have from the external world, or what you need to sort of falsely create as a shell protect yourself , in your behavior, as in the example I gave earlier of trying to prove something to someone. Or ego can be the personality you pull out when we are feeling insecure – when we are frightened at some level around other people – we’ll put on a persona. If we’re not relaxed and letting ourselves be, letting ourselves flow, spontaneously, self-consciously, then we are acting out of ego.

There are countless examples of how ego can act. It’s endless. But there is only one example of perfect peace, and it cannot be described, only experienced. When you put ego aside, it’s very simple, it’s difficult to describe what it’s like. You cannot replace it with a verbal description. One can point to those states though that almost everyone is familiar with.

What we need to do to feel beautiful feelings is get beyond personality. Personality only darkens our spirits, causes us to despair in our loneliness, behind walls of our own creation.

Probably everyone has noticed how, when they are engaged in an activity they really enjoy, their mind works differently. Let’s say you are with a close friend you really trust, and you are not worried about how you are acting, you are not self-conscious, your ideas and behavior just flow from one moment to the next, there is no effort involved, and it’s not contrived. Things just happen naturally.

So, you don’t want to get rid of ego, in the sense that, through some effort, you try to get rid of this “thing” called ego. First of all, the effort would increase the strength of the ego, the effort itself is ego. Second of all, it isn’t exactly a thing – an object in the normal sense of the word – that you can push out or push aside. Maybe we could call it a “reaction pattern”.

So that points up another interesting aspect of ego. If it’s a reaction pattern, where does the pattern come from? Well it comes from the past, from memory. Now, everything is in the present. Everything that we experience is in the present, even if we are going over the past or thinking about the future, that is still mental activity in the present. The reality of the past is that it exists as thoughts in the present.

OK, so what are the nature of these thoughts? They are habits or patterns or memories that we’ve stored, and we’re putting them into place, we’re using them in the moment, but not in a new way. And so what would be different from that would be newly generated ideas which come along and are let go. We spontaneously generate new ideas and create new patterns in the moment – there is something generative or productive.

So the ego then is circular in the sense it’s using old habit patterns, old thoughts, old memories. It’s self-validating in the sense that you will perceive that as the reality and it will validate itself wherever you look outward, in a circular way.

Let’s see if I can explain this more clearly. Perhaps an example would help. Let’s look at a typical kind of insecurity. Let’s say someone believes they are not a very likable person or that people find them unattractive, and this is an idea, a fear – you could call it part of their ego – when they are around someone, their insecurity triggers fearful thoughts, and they act out of that in a way that validates it. That is their reality in the moment, according to how they are thinking. They will not perceive anything that does not correspond to that reality, to those thoughts – they will not perceive someone acting in a way that makes it evident that they like that person. They won’t be able to see that someone likes them. And they will act and generate behaviors that are less likable. So there is a sort of self-validating logic to it – or psycho-logic. It’s what is known as a self-fulfilling prophecy as it were.

So all these ideas fit together. But what I want to talk about, and what you probably want to hear, is how do you get beyond ego? Well that’s a very interesting question. The Buddhists would say that it’s through meditation, and that kind of awareness, you see the illusory nature of ego.

I would say not through meditation but by being in a meditative state, and not by the rituals, techniques or effort of meditation per se. That sort of artifice – getting into all the trappings of meditation, schedules, the discipline, and what happens when you do that, or you don’t do it – either clinging to the rituals and schedules and disciplines, or reprimanding yourself if you don’t do it. That’s simply reinforcing ego. Now, some Buddhists would probably recognize this, but they would still it is as very hard work – you know, penetrating, cutting through ego.

But there is a paradox there. Letting go of ego is absolutely the simplest, easiest thing in the world. It is the nature of effortlessness: what we are talking about is a natural state of being – and how we get out of that into this way of reacting called ego. So you want to be careful about setting it up as something that you have to do to get in the future somewhere, or worrying about that you didn’t have in the past, or worrying about that you don’t have now.

Does a child have to meditate or worry about their ego?

The way around this seeming dilemma, or the way I want to suggest as a way of helping you, is to point you in a direction of deepening your understanding. Because by looking at your own experience and what happens in the present, reflecting on it, understanding your mind a little better, you can get a perspective. And furthermore, by pointing you in the direction of positive states of mind, and what that’s about, you can familiarizing yourself with that. The Taoists call it gathering Virtue.

That is the direction that will help you let go of ego: becoming more and more familiar and at ease, and having greater faith in that positive state of mind. And then it will just happen, without you even noticing or looking for it. You’ll start developing greater awareness, greater ability to live in the present, to let go of old patterns, get insight into yourself and your life and what’s going on. This will happen easily and naturally, with a higher level of understanding. Which is not to say that you won’t have moments, times, perhaps days when your psychological functioning isn’t as good. But you’ll always have a way back to peace and faith, and you’ll have a way forward – you’ll know, you won’t be as disturbed by your own thoughts – what I was calling ego in this essay. And you’ll have hope. I mean, everyone has moods and ups and owns, and an “interesting life” as the old Chinese curse about living in interesting times talks about. But you can learn from those. But above all, over time, you’ll make sense of things. You’ll see the psychological realm is not this superstitious, chaotic, scary realm. There is a way to comprehend, to understand what is going on.

I don’t want to give you the impression that I know the ultimate nature of mind. What I am talking about is understanding what is happening in the mind with thought and consciousness. I can talk about consciousness in some other essay. Mainly I was talking about thinking and ego – what kind of thinking patterns I’m calling ego. But the mind – or the Mind with a capital “M” – I don’t think anyone knows the nature of mind. Things come from Mind – it’s like the power source behind our thoughts, backing them up. You can speculate, give it a name, but I don’t think we understand where creativity and new patterns in life, and the energy of life comes from, except in material terms. We can explain, or describe realistically, material “energy” in physics. But the creativity of life and mind, and it’s beauty, is still a rather wonderful mystery. We can deepen our understanding of what we see going on, but we can’t explain it away. Like trying to explain the nature of love, these are big things, bigger than me, bigger than any individual – and bigger than ego. We can participate in them, but not capture them in our concepts.

So what I was doing here was taking the idea of ego and use that as a point around which to talk about conceptions of psychological functioning, or healthy and unhealthy psychological functioning, and pointing the reader in a positive direction.

One other thing about ego – or lack of ego rather – we don’t take our thoughts, our selves, or our selves based in thought, so seriously. We may witness ourselves acting in the world in a happy way, enjoying ourselves. But we don’t attach so much significance or seriousness to the “little” self. We experience a lighter sense of being, still rich and full and flowing along, but less acutely aware of being a center of the world. You see that your so-called personal problems are not that huge, not that significant in the overall scheme of things. The world looks different to you. Your perception changes drastically.

So, in short, when we step aside, or don’t let ego affect us negatively, we are more aware how thinking operates in our lives and don’t get caught up in it. We then have greater resources available to us from inside. We get fresh new thoughts, and beautiful feelings such as joy and gratitude. We can never step aside from our thoughts entirely, or we would be pure awareness without content. Leave that to the hard-core mystics.

But step aside from ego for a while and you uncover the ordinary peace and happiness that’s always waiting there. Isn’t that what we all need and want?

notes 6/15/04
Ego: both positive and negative sense of self-importance (I’m so wonderful or I’m so bad – form of excitement, distraction, amplification, falseness).

Eric C. Platt
© June 1998

Back To Reality?

Just back from a retreat yesterday, I go into the bank and am chatting with the cheerful teller, telling her how I’m just back from a week retreat and am adjusting, and she commiserates about vacations saying, “back to reality” twice in our conversation. What? I walked out, wondering, what on Earth was she talking about? I glance over as I write this and see a book with a sub-title “A Real World Design Guide”.
I suppose it’s an indication of some clarity of mind that I don’t see any division between the reality or real-world-ness of life here at work or at home and the one on a spiritual retreat or vacation. It’s all the same, to me. Mind and Reality. Making it up as we go along…
So am I *supposed* to be unhappy and uptight at work, and only allowed to relax and Be on vacation?
If your work isn’t feeling like a vacation often enough, or your vacation is too much work, there’s something you’re not understanding. You need to vacate your mental premises and let life work through you.

OK back to work …

(This posting is purely for your enjoyment…).

Transform a Difficult Relationship By Seeing Yourself

Seeing from the eyes of love and understanding, rather than judgement and fear, we can see someone anew. This is not a technique, but something that happens spontaneously, in the moment.

I’m not in a romantic or intimate relationship at the moment, but I’ve seen an amazing transformation in at least one “relationship” with someone in my life who was very problematic before. I perceived them to be egotistical, dominating, type-A, and saw their behavior as often manipulative, coming from an agenda, not straightforward.

Instead of seeing what was wrong with them,  I started to look from eyes of happiness and love. Things changed in an instant, then transformed over time. We are now on terms of ease and generally great cooperation, etc. Instead of me feeling an underlying fear and tension, I saw *her* fear, the insecurity that was driving her behavior– not intellectually as before but more compassionately, in the moment – as an ordinary human being, not from a critical standpoint. She no longer seems a threat.

I was looking at her ego.  What I needed to see was mine!

It’s so easy to identify other people’s “problems” – what’s that saying about the sliver in their eye and the two-by-four in your own?

So it’s not a matter of being critical of ourselves, but focusing on our own happiness, having an insight that we are indeed really the same: what I see in you is what I am seeing in myself, literally, because you only exist as thought in this “eye” …

It’s easy to fall into the trap of other people existing as something other than a thought in our selves. Another way of saying this is, we are all part of the same reality, which is one reality.

You think you know what’s wrong with someone, what makes them trigger your frustration in “dealing with them”.

I heard the psychologist Mark Howard say once that if you find yourself trying to teach a loved one some psychological understanding, you aren’t *listening*. If you have experienced this – seen the humor in the situation when they don’t exactly take kindly to you pointing out something like “It’s all in your thinking” – you know what I’m talking about.

In psychology, we come to this truth from inside thinking (thinking-feeling and perceiving), transcending it from the inside-out. In some spiritual circles, this is transcended directly, by looking at the experience of awareness of the “I am” and seeing that is the same as the reality of oneness, then looking back or down and transforming all the details of one’s life, such as thinking about others and oneself as separate entities, and feeling in the body, and so forth.

Change and learning and growing never stop, even for so-called enlightened folk…