Tag Archives: suffering

Going Deep: The Garden of Dark Delights

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Getting right to it, Dark Delights are all the things we think are “Not OK”… anything from certain thoughts, ideas, fantasies, sensations and emotions, to particular words, decisions, behaviors, actions, objects, situations and events. Each category holds numerous items we experience that might be considered to be poor choices or even downright wrong and bad. We’ve all been there.

And where, exactly, is “there”? What are these things that happen and are then evaluated as a Dark rather than a Light Delight in the Garden of Life? Let’s take a deep look.

Two things show up fairly quickly. The first is that each thing is just what it is. Closely examining anything at all, what is seen is that whatever showed up is simply what it is, no more or less. It does not come with any instructions on what to do with it, no application of particular value judgments or even a clue as to whether it’s right or wrong. It comes as only itself; everything else is after, however brief the interval (and it is sometimes micro-seconds). So there it is, whatever “it” is. All by its lonesome.

Moving the view back out a bit, we can see that there are then labels applied that are thoughts about what just appeared. Add a little more focus and we see the individual thoughts: the “That’s not OK”, the “That’s bad”, “Not supposed to do that” or the opposites saying something is OK, good, do it. Or even this kind: “I am (she/he is) so awful/so wonderful for thinking/feeling/saying/doing that”.

These are all labels; ideas and thoughts that come through and seem to stick as accurate assessments. Take a look; this two-step process (something appearing and then a label sticks to it) can be seen.

And it can be tough to find if blaming/shaming of ourselves or others happens, so to become proficient with this, perhaps start with something small and not emotionally loaded. Look at a vegetable that is not enjoyed, a color that doesn’t resonate, an insect that is found not appealing. Zooming in the view can reveal that it is only a vegetable, color or insect; it is just whatever it may be. Can any attached labels or ideas that say “This is not OK, it’s wrong” be found as an intrinsic part of them? A genuinely bad veggie? A color that is wrong by just being? An insect that is not OK just because it exists? As well, if it’s a liked vegetable, color or insect, does it come with “This is good and right” tacked onto it?

Zooming back out again, there it is: the thing (anything) showed up first and then the thought indicating the label came after. They are two things, showing up one after the other. The second, the label, having nothing at all to do with the first, the thing, other than when we imagine that this stuck-on thought is actually a part of what originally shows up.

So, two different appearances: a happening and then the mind’s idea of how to categorize it using the ages-old system of good/bad, right/wrong. Things show up and then voila! The labels come, glue on, and then further thoughts arrive that say they are built-in parts of the original appearance. They are not.

If good/bad, right/wrong are applied after something appears (and sure, they can be effective in pointing to where we wish to go: “I like doing what seems good”; “I don’t care if it’s wrong, I want it”) what in fact is a more authentic view of life’s appearances? In other words, how can we understand what life actually is without the labels? We look again, even more deeply.

In doing so we see forms appearing and disappearing. Nothing ever stable, always morphing. See that? From the sub-atomic level through human experiencings, all the way to galaxies and beyond, is a forever flux. Change the only constant. All forms (and everything in life is form, a thing) show up from one moment to the next and are but a change from the previous moment. Each moment is spontaneous and unique (ultimately, there is only a single moment and not really even that; but this is for another day). Examine this; each moment is itself, unique and fresh. And the next, and the one after, on and on. No labels anywhere except when thoughts stick to what appears.

This is how the universe, how life itself, “does” itself. It shows up as each and every new moment, as each and every thing. And yes, all applied labels are a part of that. Yet because in our experience they seem to come “after” in time, we can see they can be considered extras. Cherries on top. Not a “must” or a “should”. They are also just an as it is, one called labels.

Because they are interpretations of life’s forms we can decide if those labels and value judgments actually serve. We can use them to guide our actions and if done with full understanding that they are not built-in or binding, they can be just that, guides. They do not morph in our thinking into doctrines and dogmas or even the “musts” and “shoulds” of everyday life.

And so label application… in either direction… is never wrong, as it too is a spontaneous appearance of life. Why discuss it? Because it can be freeing when it seen how the system is set up. The legion of thoughts that label and interpret come as part of the script of one’s life and once realized as such can be either embraced or released. No more automatic applications that then seem cast in stone. No need to interpret everything; much can be left simply to be. Things are either liked and preferred, or not liked and not preferred.

It is all life unfolding as it will, no matter what the interpretations or preferences (or lack thereof) that also show up. Not good/bad; not right/wrong… just life. This isn’t a license to do say or do a particular thing, but an acknowledgment of what is present.

Life is here. Labels optional.

The Garden of Dark Delights and the Garden of Light are the same amazing place… only believed thoughts saying one or the other is the one in which we currently find ourselves. The world does not change when this is seen… and it doesn’t have to. We are simply seeing with new eyes, and that makes all the difference.

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Becoming Sky

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How many soul’s dark nights are enough? How often? Once a year, twice a week? All day every day? What does it take for us let go of the beliefs and attitudes we cherish because clinging to them all our lives has built a false feeling of security and safety? We know, in our heart of hearts, that this is a reaction to fear, don’t we?

Not wrong to do this and at some point if we want the final and forever security of living in our true nature as peace we will have to release it all… release everything we thought of as ourselves and our lives, our truths and our lies. This is so tough to think about and if my experience is any yardstick, the toughest and most frightening thing that can ever actually be done. But do it we must or there will be only the continuation of dark nights within and then projected without.

Let’s do it. We can. How? Looking into the interior. Radical, 1000% honesty that burns down the house and all its contents. Lies and half-truths keep us scared and suffering. Seeing what is really there to be seen takes us out of that dark seething pit and into the clear cool sky…

Old Stuff Still Showing Up

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Ever feel possessed? As in: things seem OK and then wham! An out-of-the-blue thought takes root, grows and flowers very quickly and suddenly the mouth is saying things, the body is warping and commitment to the aberrant thought mushrooms into justifying, defending or even attacking?

That’s conditioning, programming out of the past popping up from the dungeon of buried stuff, ready to be seen. It’s old old belief surfacing and making itself wildly known, demanding to be heard and soothed. So hear it. Soothe it. How? Look deeply: is this clutched and communicated idea about life really true or is it an explanation adopted in childhood/youth, originally designed to mollify, neutralize or rationalize difficult experience? When it appears, or as soon as possible after, step back. Move into neutral. Look at it with an accepting eye. It has a story to tell and it might just be one that is ready to be dissolved. 

This is pertinent information for awakening ones in particular because this kind of response to thought is often more confusing after waking up than before. When we are still locked into imagining that thoughts are accurate we may feel uncomfortable or regretful that such incidences happen but they are seen as normal. After awakening it can be very clear that thoughts are often inaccurate and arbitrary and also very confusing when they still seem to take over.

The key is to remember that awakening is a beginning only. It is never final and never over. Things continue to evolve both in understanding and experience and that’s just how it is. Awakening does not, cannot, change the basic set-up here. Time and space may be inherently non-existent yet as long as there is life they come into play; they are part of the foundational rules of the game. We can see through them but cannot erase them.

And so there is evolution, sequencing, growth. Time seems to pass. Change simply is. No one is free from conditioning and it will fall away however it does. Much of it as the awakening door opens, the rest as time passes. Seeing that this is a natural part of continuing on with life is a good way to assist it. And since it will happen anyway why not work with it by accepting that stuff will show up and then looking carefully, without judgment? Lots can be seen and clear sight is always a bonus. 

Find out about this for yourself. If you are not yet over the waking up threshold, it can help. If you have passed through the gateless gate, it can help. Conditioning is what makes us human before and the dropping off of it is what makes us more free as human after.

Quaking and Burning

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When drugs and alcohol collapsed my life I was definitely old enough to “know better”… and obviously that kind of thing is not about knowledge. As my mother said about it, “But you never took drugs”. Correct. Until I did. I was 35.

Because everything fell apart so completely I met the first of two incredible therapists. He was one huge ear. Listening was what he did best and I had a lot to say. We never got far past surface issues to what really needed to be seen, yet it was very helpful. He was the second person, up until that time, who gave me unconditional acceptance; such a huge gift! And through the insights gained with him drugs became history. Alcohol lingered for a few years and then it too evaporated.

He set the stage for what would come later: the second therapist, a woman who also had a huge ear as well as the ability to lovingly reflect what she saw happening when I could not. With her gentle yet incisive feedback I began talking about things that had previously been unavailable even to think; they’d not been so much as a glimmer on the horizon.

I addressed the core issues of this particular life: childhood trauma and its deep, powerful and utterly beneficial (until it wasn’t) denial. Suddenly the absolute fact of these were staring me in the face and I did not look away. Exploring happened. Every sludgy, forgotten and pain-filled cranny was searched. Found were the events I’d been looking for all my life without even knowing they existed. I was 62.

Two things stand out about that time. The first is that there was clearly a total readiness that had not been fully formed in the earlier scenario. When it showed up, denial was no longer needed as it had done its job. What was its job? To keep the trauma and its aftermath well out of awareness. To protect first a small child and then the adult she became. From what? The overwhelming fears, memories, feelings and thoughts that could have been spirit crushers, life deadeners.

And it worked. A few memories that were somehow easily rationalized away were all that were present throughout the decades before denial dissolved. The vulnerable child and her older counterpart were safe from the effects of complete memory for most of a life.

The second stand-out is that the collapsing of denial and the flooding in of memories and realizations were concurrent with the literally overnight appearance of the burning desire for spiritual awakening. In the same time period of seeing the past come into focus came the consuming fire for waking up. They were two sides of a single thing.

The confusion resulting from the sudden seeing of the truth of childhood utterly shattered the sense of self, life and orientation to all that had been known. It was an earthquake that helped trigger the fiery conflagration of awakening. And together they destroyed all ideas of the past and future, leaving only the moment. Eventually trauma became simply a word; conditioning but false ideas believed. A new living began.

Bottom line 1: perfect timing is always at play, no matter what the story seems to say.

Bottom line 2: We think denial and unconsciousness are bad or wrong somehow when in fact they are protective, shielding allies that drop their vigilance when it’s time for fullness to be felt.

Bottom line 3: Life can be experienced big and free. And not just bigger and more free than past events; also without the conditioning and programming that is cooked up after those occur.

Work with it. Work with life. Be open, be willing and look deeply. It’s all right there and it’s never, ever what you think it is.

 

Blowing Up Bad and Good

LIfeHow often are you seeing in operation your beliefs of things being right-wrong/good-bad? Most of us take a position on that continuum of assessment regarding everything that comes our way. “That’s right”, “That’s wrong” and “This is good, that is bad” are so much a part of our thoughts and words, and often so automatic, that they are often barely noticed.

It’s considered normal, this belief in the innate rightness or badness of everything from our own interior condition to the state of the world. It is believed factual that most everything is one or the other. But is it justified?

Is the assigning of a built-in, intrinsic rightness/wrongness to all we experience or see in life accurate? Is it correct and true to say that things actually are good or bad in some foundational and non-changeable manner? That things come with those attributes somehow built-in?

It is definitely what we do and it is definitely deluded. Why? Because in the commitment to the good/bad continuum we lose sight of naturally occurring balance. And without that we are imagining fantasy to be reality.

Natural balance shows up all the time, everywhere. It is not created; not an equilibrium brought about by x-percent of badness and y-percent of goodness jockeying for dominance. It is not a constant reshuffling of right things and wrong appearances so that a certain order is maintained between the two.

Instead, natural balance is a constant presence of life emerging without right/wrong, goodness/badness as inherent qualities built into any of it. Natural balance needs no adjustment. Imbalance cannot happen. All of life’s appearances are simply empty of inherent right and wrong; no tweaking necessary to maintain this. It just is. Constantly occurring balance is always in play so there is no good stuff to toss at the bad stuff as neither is present. Only life and all that it is, as it is, is present. Any qualities, characteristics and attributes are simply of the physical variety: tall, short, hot, cold, blue, green, smooth, sharp. Can good and bad be amongst those?

The qualities of right and wrong we imagine intrinsic to any and all things have but a false reality, one that appears only in our thinking. Life does not contain these ideas as content within any of its appearances. Life is a naturally balanced occurrence, containing no inner attributes of rightness/wrongness, goodness/badness. Everything of life is inherently equal; appearances empty of all but their physical characteristics (and even those empty; but that is another post). Only believed thoughts say otherwise.

The idea of a rightness/wrongness imbalance springs from imagining that human designations of intrinsic value or goodness/badness, projected onto particular things, are correct. They are not. They are just that: projections. They are opinions imagined as truth. Because of these imaginings the world is seen as lacking balance when in fact it is everywhere.

Natural balance is obscured by the notion held by most that only one end of the right/wrong continuum is worthy; indeed, by the notion that the continuum actually is in existence and is to be honored and adjusted when needed. We imagine that it is up to us to fix what life has presented on a silver platter! This comes from the idea that only what is assumed good is valuable, that what is deemed bad is less so. This leads to natural balance remaining unseen. When it is not recognized that neither end of the continuum is genuinely true we flounder in artificial and erroneous beliefs of needing to fix; we try to enhance and eradicate.

This is not about convincing you there should not be desires and preferences, that taking a stance or an action is unnecessary or futile. Nor that both ends should be equal in our perception of them. Natural balance simply highlights good and bad as not intrinsically within anything at all. Right and wrong are our ideas. They trigger erroneous evaluations. We give credence to phantoms.

As always, don’t believe any of this. Look for yourself. An effective inquiry might be to look very carefully at objects, events, situations, actions. Can any concrete quality or characteristic that contains goodness or badness be found in them other than in your thought of it? Can any be located that indicate intrinsic wrongness or rightness? Look at how opinion and thoughts about these can say yes or no to the questions. Then let those beliefs pass by. What remains? The thing as it is. No imagined add-ons.

Moving further, we can develop the habit of acceptance of life and its appearances as they are; even the embracing of them. Why do this? Because it feels better than resistance of reality. Because it is more realistic. What is present is present. Period. Fighting this fact is not only futile, it’s painful. And dropping belief in inherent right and wrong within life’s presentations assists with dissolving resistance.

Accepting life as it is does not imply that we condone hurtful behaviors in others and ourselves or imagine that things that feel loving and joyful are to be dismissed. It does not mean that we cannot move towards what appeals and avoid what does not. It means seeing that nothing comes with built-in qualities that have the power to attract or repel. Value and attraction or repulsion are human generated. Yes, even spontaneous liking or disliking, wanting and rejecting, valuable and worthless responses are a result of human thinking and never originate in the thing around which we have the thoughts and feelings.

It can never be known how or why life shows up as it does. We can only know that it simply does. We have to work from that moment forward. A seemingly discreet and particular “something” is present and right there in the noticing of it we can either attach our ideas about its value, rightness and innate attributes or we can simply acknowledge that it is present as whatever it is.

So give it a go. Look. Ponder. The world-as-it-is awaits. It is right/wrong-neutral and ready for you to like and dislike however you wish, without embracing false thinking that says it is as you believe it to be. It isn’t. What a blessing!

Beyond Sweet

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Well, the river of life is delivering me to so many diverse stops along the shore. Some of them simply would have been unendurable in the past and are now welcomed with gratitude. What made the difference? Cannot point to any single thing but can say that the entire story of this universe is now one of open, free acceptance.

Remember hearing “Life is to be lived, celebrated?” I just never got that as life felt like a lot of pain and bleakness, with intermittent clearing of the clouds that helped with continuing forward. Now it’s just “Bring it on. It is all welcome”. And yes, of course there will be more big things. I now see that when they show up, I’ll be right there with them.

This is a natural evolution for me. It’s been three years since the awakening experience began and never was it imagined that this is what could come. It’s been a slow and gradual movement recently, after a year of grief, huge unhappiness and turmoil with the deaths of two beloved family members and the huge legal issues that followed. That period ended abruptly eight months ago. The light was suddenly seen again and just kept deepening. This is beyond sweet. Peace is experienced pretty much continuously and when it is not, it quickly returns. It is a one-eighty for the former Lisa.

Please know, somehow, that this is not exclusive to any particular human, it is the baseline for all. It’s a natural progression that unfolds and is happening in ever increasing numbers. Not experiencing it now? You can.

Look deeply within your own interior and find what is present when all else comes and goes, because everything does come and go except your own true nature. There it is, right there. Your heart of hearts, the peace that prevails.

It is you, as you are and never as you think you are. Take a look right there, at the thoughts that seem to dictate “how it is” concerning everything, but particularly about your own is-ness. The truth awaits only attention. It is your own “beyond sweet” that awaits.

Dive in.

Everything from Nothing: No More Fight Club

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Awakening is a door. It opens and we cross into a new way of being, one that eventually becomes ordinary, everyday experiencing. I enjoy exploring these new ways of being; an on-going breaking of what is for me new ground far from the place I entered, but somehow still exactly there all the time. This never ceases to amaze… the journey of no distance.

Something that has remained a clear realization each moment during this exploration, and so now seems quite familiar, is the spontaneous seamless appearing of life moment to moment. It first rolled open before me during the initial months of awakening (always on-going, never “done”) and continues to be seen using just a slight shift of attention. Memory does not enter into this. I stop, look and there it is again: the constant fresh renewing of the universe as unbroken singularity, springing up into manifestation. It’s all brand-new as each instantly and constantly reappearing moment.

This is not a visual thing, nor a connection of thought-dots; rather it is a an ever- fresh view or knowing. While there is no longer the huge impact there was once it continues to delight and gently nudge a feeling of security: life has things well in hand.

The implications of this are significant.

Because life is new in each split-second what we consider to be cause and effect is an assumption based on the belief that time is unfolding; that it somehow flows from “earlier”, to “now” and then to “later”. This assuming is so ingrained it is almost never seen or questioned. Yet time actually is not; nor are space, objects, situations or events actual, despite their sensed immediacy.

What is occurring is a built-in perceptual mechanism of the body that allows for “slices” of time and discreet experiences of space, objects and events to be uniquely perceived, and this serves us well. Without it everything would merge together as a single lump; the past, future, all space, all objects and events would be continuously here as the present moment. Imagine a life of that!

And so it is that there is not a something “before” influencing or creating a something “after”; nothing caused by anything previous; no effects which then morph into new causes. Without time, space and objects constantly morphing and flowing in a linear movement, this simply cannot be.

With no causes to make things happen, they simply happen spontaneously each moment and then the next (or don’t), each new and complete; whole. And because there is no person here (no separate self, no me or you) choosing and making decisions (as what is labeled decision or choice is the same spontaneous emerging moment, un-caused) there is also no need for angst or argument over so many things: outcomes, being right, mistakes, optimizing, diminishing, the future, the past… on and on. It’s a long list.

Of course thoughts and feelings that are labeled “concern” over these can still show up. If an action comes that seems to be triggered by something previous (I see situation x, I’m concerned, I do such-and-such) all that need happen is to look closely. Nope, that action was not triggered by the concern that came, nor was the concern triggered by a situation that occurred.

The looking can reveal that

there is not “a this causing a that”.

It only looks that way.

Whatever shows up is ordinarily thought of as having happened in sequence, one after the other, due to our sense of time seemingly passing (as in “passing by”). And it is also thought that the earlier events caused the later ones, which then caused ones even later than those. In other words: it’s natural that we believe it is all causes and effects, as it all seems to actually show up that way, with ramifications then springing out in all directions as well.

But what we are really experiencing each moment is just that… each moment. Brand new. Complete and whole. Nothing before that prompts anything after because there is no before and hence no after. There is only right now.

Sit with this a bit. Can you find anything other than this moment? Is there a past anywhere, with causes? A future with effects? Can any of these ever be found?

Ponder how this lack of time and the resulting lack of cause and effect might create a new view, perhaps a new acceptance of life. If it genuinely were not possible for you to choose which way to go; if each seeming choice, each perceived cause were but life showing up fresh yet again with absolutely nothing being done by you or anyone else, what would drop off your worry list? What would you stop arguing with, fighting against?

If it was deeply seen and known that all of life is always spontaneous and never emerging from human behaviors, would ideas about behaviors change? What if was clearly realized that outcomes do not come from you or anyone else, that only ideas and thoughts about “I created this, you created that and causes bring effects” are what say this is true? Might significant amounts of angst dissolve, drop away?

What I am pointing to is that stressing and fretting about what we see as our decisions and choices is not inherent. Arguing with what life brings is like shaking your fist at the weather; pointless indeed. These are all add-ons. And life can and will function very nicely without them. The reality is this:

Life itself takes care of everything,

down to the most minute of details and up to the largest of imaginables, as it always has. It does this by showing up. That’s it. Life shows up. Worry, argument, stress… none of them required for life to flow and unfold exactly as it is meant to be.

And we experience as we do, believing whatever is believed. Feeling that time is actual or believing that causes create effects is not bad or wrong, just untrue except in thoughts. And it can be hugely unproductive to pretend that you don’t believe those thoughts if you do; to be in denial of your own perceptions and experience. This is why it is important to not take my word or anyone’s in these matters. This is an “Experience it yourself” kind of thing. So look to your own inner knowing. Remember that you are your own best guide to the interior territory and that it can be explored with ease and in-depth. Remind yourself that direct, non-intellectualized experiencings of truth can emerge.

Look, openly and honestly, without attention given to thoughts.

The entire universe happens in a manner totally different from how we’d ever thought it did. And we can know this. All is appearing as it will, right on schedule without a single thing being decided or chosen by a single human anywhere. It can become apparent that it just looks as if we are doing it even though we aren’t; it can be recognized that this includes all things: the disruptive, the mean-spirited, the kind, the loving. They come not as choice (not even the “good” ones) but simply and spontaneously as whatever they are; things happening. All of it just life, as it is. The opportunity to see and understand ourselves and our world in this completely new light is available to all.

And once seen, there is often the emergence of deep, satisfying acceptance of however the “as it is” shows up. No more resistance, no more arguing with life. It is the putting down of our oh so battered fight gloves and walking out of the ring into a new livingness.

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