We are currently in a Socratic Email Class in which participants choose what they wish to focus on. Below are excerpts from the class with the Guide’s responses.
I’d like to live guided by that which animates. Feels like have lived most of this life so far in relationship with ego; looking to it for how to survive, get approval, love, etc. That hasn’t led to the happiness, creativity and experience of Life I know is possible through seeing it modeled in practice, and touching into it occasionally. So, time to try something new! In many ways I guess this is always what practice is about, and in the spirit of the class would love to explore how to set my compass more clearly that direction. R/L
It’s critical to realize we are always on the Path. We go through whatever forms of relationship with egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate we get snagged by and attempt to have that “work” for us (get us what ego tells us we want), until such time as, if we’re very fortunate, it occurs to us that ego is never going to get us where we want to go. The thing ego then wants a person to believe is “Oh, no, you’ve wasted all this time going in the wrong direction.” You’ve realized that’s nonsense. All those efforts were happening on the Path. You were finding out all the things that didn’t work—like Edison and the light bulb! So, given all that, what is True North for you? What is your experience of That Which Animates? Gassho
I've always seen the universe as neutral--neither friendly nor unfriendly. It just is, and is constantly creating. I see Life as Yin/Yang. There has to be suffering for some species (like rabbits--the universal prey) so other species can eat and survive. Is Life kind? yes/no. R/L
We are talking apples and baseball bats here! There are two perspectives in play. One is Life, which is a “nondual” oneness, nothing separate, nothing other than. That’s the one most people call God, except as soon as the label is applied, those same people shift to the “other” (which Life contains), which is the “dualistic,” imaginary, appears-to-be-separate faux “reality” of egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate. There’s a story (who knows from where) that illustrates this: God is driving down the road sloshed to the gills. God slams head-on into God and God’s whole family driving in the other lane. God kills God and God’s whole family. Is there a problem? Only if we divide God up into ego’s dualistic good/bad, right/wrong. In that ego view there’s what is God and what isn’t God and God needs to make sure to guarantee that God does what ego says is the right/good thing. But if all is God, and how can it not be if God is actually God, where’s the problem? If the rabbit is as much God as the fox, is anything wrong? Gassho
So ego assigns meaning and is behind the reaction that follows? What happens right before eating and internet? How do I interrupt that? Is it as simple as staying present? Do you have any recommendations on an R/L practice around this?
First, yes, it is as simple as staying present, but egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate thrives because we can’t stay present. We can’t stay present because we’ve been trained to keep our attention on an old, repetitive conversation with ego in conditioned mind. As you’ve clearly noticed! What you can do is to make some recordings about how you want to be, how you want to feel, how you want to take care of the human being who is being made to suffer. Never hurts to toss in lots of information about what’s so very good about that person that s/he is worth doing everything possible to save. (There’s more there than any recording device can hold once we get past ego negativity and start seeing the person clearly.) Then listen as you prepare to eat and as you eat. (Internet can follow this experiment.) Brace yourself because the resistance from ego is going to be MASSIVE. You’ll forget, you’ll get talked out of it, you’ll get beaten for having gotten talked out of it—all standard ego fare. Just stay with it, watch as carefully as you can, make lots of notes about what you see and DON’T GIVE UP. Okay? You’ve got this. Gassho
Wow! it's just a belief - "possible to hold on to something". And "choosing beliefs over experience" - mindblower! Really resonates! So "feeling good" is not something to "protect", just enjoy and continue to show up and practice - which invariably brings and is presence. And what happens happens. R/L
You got it! We get to choose Life as our life companion rather than looking to a slimy system that promises safety and delivers suffering. Gassho
I see clearly how my mind is "addicted" to problems, to imagining future scenarios that always end up poorly. Me alone. Me failing. Me being fooled. Me not getting what I yearn for. Is there an antidote to this?
Yes, there is. And you’ve found the “how” of it. We call it awareness practice. You are now aware that “the” mind (not “yours,” none of this is personal) is addicted to problems that can be gone over endlessly but never solved. YES! That’s what’s going on. That’s how people are kept in a lifetime of relationship with what we call egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate. Egocentric karmic conditioning/ self-hate is a “system” that drains the lifeforce out of people. (I know all this can sound wacky, but if a person keeps watching it all becomes clear and obvious.) One common word for that system is “stress.” If you read what’s being offered to your classmates you’ll begin to see how it all works—and you’ll be able to start engaging with the activities that end the misery. Recording and Listening is our very favorite, most effective tool. Want to give it a go? Gassho
Listening to recordings overnight. Conditioning's making the same arguments -- in the same sequence -- that it made years ago during daylight hours to get me to give up. "You're feeling better, you don't need this any more, etc." I'll skip that and incorporate nights into strong, steady daytime practice.
Very good. If we’ve been training for a marathon, something on the “bucket list” for years, and we’re chugging along happily when we hear that old familiar, “You don’t need to do this; why don’t you just quit?” we know for sure that voice, that system, is not on our side. One of our great advantages here is that ego only has a single playlist. Once we recognize it for what it is, we don’t need to listen any longer.