Posts Tagged anxiety
Q. Yesterday you tossed around a lot of frankly fancy language about this thing you call the Wound, before I question the basis for your remarks, would you be kind enough to inform your audience a little more about this thing you claim is real?
First, know that everything that is not the authentic self is psychosocial in nature. The authentic self is neither a product of society nor does it possess psychological attributes.
Q. Well you certainly started off in a rather heavy fashion haven’t you? Not feeling all that light hearted and lovey dovey this morning are we?
L. I’m sorry for the complicated language. I wish I could make it simpler for you. But let’s move on.
The Wound is psychological in nature. While our emergence in this world is perfect and the purest reflection of the Great Spirit, our birth as a person with a story begins with the Wound. This is the one birth we, as individuals, can point to. It is the birth of our psychological self..
So, going back to the wounded self, as the one who is rejected, how are we to respond?
We respond the way we respond to anything that causes us pain; we remove the source of the pain.
Q. What does that mean?
L. The primal psychological self removes the pain by struggling for love or, conversely by proving the correctness of the projected identification by bringing even more negative attention to itself.
Q. And how does it do that?
L. Living with the Wound is something that cannot be borne. To cancel the pain of the Wound, the child needs to figure out how to obtain love from the parents. The lesson, it most typically learns is this: love is earned. So, the next step is how to earn love. We do this by becoming compliant, good, pleasing others, obedient, in other words, lovable. Some children take the opposite path. They, on some level, accept their belief in their own inadequacy and reify the experience through opposition, rebellion, anger, and depression. Thus the story of our life begins and, for most of us, ends.
Q. Would you be kind enough to give us an example or two?
If the child believes that the basis for the inadequacy identification is that he is unworthy of love, then she will begin her life-long struggle to please the important people around her. In this way she will get the love she believes that she failed to obtain as the inadequate child. She learns the complex path of manipulating life with the purpose of elevating herself by pleasing important others (and often demeaning unimportant others). In the second example, let’s take a look at the Expert Fear-Self. If the young child believes that he is so worthless that his voice fails to merit attention (a very common type – such as Mr. Liberation himself), he will seek to develop a personality whose voice must be heard to gain him, at the very least, attention, and, hopefully, respect and even love. Liberation calls these Wound responses Fear-Based Selves. In the first case we have the Pleaser and in the second, we have the Expert. The compensatory responses to the Wound are who we believe ourselves to be. They are compensatory adaptations to the agonizing pain of the Wound. They are motivated by fear and overall insecurity. We hope to make our mark on the world with these personalities. They are, in a way, the children of the Wound. They generally don’t stray too far from their parent, for when life gets difficult (and it will), when the pleaser powers of the Pleaser fail to please, when the Expert is ignored, the full, dark force of the Wound returns and life becomes agonizing. This is the way the life of fear and insecurity works.
Q. You certainly have said a mouthful. I must say it’s rather compelling, but how do you know this is true?
L. We cannot know anything in a vacuum. We can only know something through contrast.
Q. What the hell does that mean? You know you can really be exasperating sometimes. Has anyone else mentioned that to you?
L. Yes, several times and yet I try to be very clear. I guess I’m not the greatest communicator.
Q. So what does that statement about contrast mean?
L. We can ask the question, do we notice the Wound and the Fear-Selves phenomenon in all cultures?
L. In fact, the Wound and the Fear-Selves are all but absent among hunting and gathering people, a type of culture, although dominant in most of human life on this planet, is all but extinct today. These cultures respond very differently to children in ways that are too numerous to mention for the time we have today, but suffice it to say that they experienced children as direct creations of God and not as objects that needed to be molded into a projection of the parents through discipline, correction, isolation, or (god forbid) comparison. Children were seen as mysterious, carrying their own unique gifts that flower in each moment. We know this to be true based on the accounts of dozens of anthropologists, explorers, as well as my own experience working on the Navajo Nation. These children present a very different psychological profile than do the children of civilization, particularly of the intensely competitive society of the United States, which is one of the most fear-driven cultures in human history.
These children tend to be emotionally balanced, are not prone to temper tantrums, and often show an effortless smile and easy laugh. This is not a romanticization of primal cultures. These are the observations made by highly trained researchers and explorers who lived directly with people living in this way. These cultures possess their own frailties and beliefs, but they are not the concern of this book.
Q. So what are we supposed to do with all of this information?
L. See if there is validity to it. Find out if it is true. If it seems to be true then what do we do with this knowledge? This is the most challenging question you could ever ask yourself, for if your whole identity rests on this personality type that lives to avoid underlying fear and insecurity, then who are we really if we are not the person we have taken ourselves to be? Making this journey even more scary, we realize that if who we have believed ourselves to be is false, then we risk falling back into the Wound; the very last thing most of are motivated to do. When we are fear motivated, and nearly all of us are, then the person we have needed to be is false. There is not a wake-up call more powerful than this.
What makes this doable, is that the Wound to, as we understand it, as false as well. This is the silver lining. This is the gold ring.
Let’s take a look at our Expert. He has dedicated his life to getting noticed, being respected, whatever – now he sees that all along he was compensating for a belief in his own innate inadequacy and insufficiency. This identification in his innate inadequacy is the LIE that is referred to in the title of the Liberation book. At once, he sees both his Fear-Self and its corresponding Wound. He sees the whole trajectory of his life. What then?
Q Yes, what then?
L. He is now much more in touch with his authentic self, however fragile that contact might be, that energy that can observe without the undermining contamination of false belief. That is huge and immediately transformative. He watches himself and, for the first time, he sees, but now he sees with the eyes of the authentic self. This is Liberation, or, at least, the beginning of it. This is the next great step in the Journey of his life. The tethers are coming off and the light of freedom glimmers on the horizon.
Hey, my friend – this is enough for today. Thank you for giving me this time. I’m sorry to have to take my leave when we have reached such a pivotal point in our discussions.
Q. Well, you have certainly given us quite a bit to mull over. Frankly, I find your ideas intriguing and would like to know more. Thank you Mr. Liberation.
First, the response.
hmmmm….you may need to look at how most of these teachings are taught. There is always a BEGINNING – neti neti – which means – not this – not this – to assist someone sifting themselves out as the unchanging stable from the fleeting and changing… when Jesus said “build your house on rock not sand” this is what he meant. Align with what is permanent then you will not be afraid – fear is based in impermanence/death.
Once you gain a sense of BEING then its naturally – not only this – not only this – you then see clearly that you indeed are ALLl that there IS! How could ANYTHING NOT be you? Every fool knows that ice and rain and steam and waterfall is water. Teachings are for the unenlightened not the enlightened. Once someone has been pointed to that which IS, the rest need not be taught it becomes self evident.
The beautiful maalaa used in those teachings illustrates – the beads are different in appearance but are held together by one string – Oneness.
I am not trying to “throw the baby out with the bath water” – but I am referring to very direct teachings of a sophisticated nature – including Ramana, Nisargadatta, etc. This is not a simple discussion. As you put it, the “fleeting and changing” nature of life, is life, as well as the still. It is, both, one and separate. It’s ineffable.
My blog post rails against those elements of EST (and there are many – let’s face it) that seek to allay normative fears with faith. In this way, they are no different from any other form of institutionalized religion that promises “la-la” answers to authentic concerns. I was told that if I mixed dairy with meat that I would be violating my jewishness. That is so true. So much for my jewishness. But on the other hand, I’m proud of my jewish heritage and there is so much of beauty and sadness there and that’s what I love and that is, in part, who I am.
So the hell with empty philosophy. Live life and do what you love, stand up for what you believe in, and seek to be free from everything that is false … only then does what that is “right” shine forth. Ultimately, it’s all about dealing with our fears. The choice is ours’. Do we retreat to empty homilies or do we investigate what is true and live our lives in accord with what we have seen as false? The true is, ultimately, mysterious in any general sense, but what is false tends to be consistently false. This is all the philosophy I need in this life. But that is the journey we are all on.
You wrote: “Our thoughts and feelings change, but, as these philosophies point out, there is a part of us that doesn’t change.”
In Advaita, what is not changing is not seen as “part of us”.
You wrote: “Within this array of change, we can detect patterns of thought and feeling. These patterns suggest an individuality that is, in fact, real.”
I think they just suggest that there are patterns that are changing on a slower pace than others.
I think you need to clarify how you use the term “real”. You seem to use it in a relative way. So when something changes slow enough, it becomes real – like what you refer to as rather consistent individual traits – and when it changes fast, it becomes an illusion? That is a bit problematic, because you would have to define the boundary between them.
My response to him:
Rene – I can always trust that you will make me think! I am suggesting that “what is not changing” (aka – presence/consciousness) is like the old and highly respected theory of “the ether” that was thought to be essential in holding the universe together. Even Einstein briefly supported the theory until he disproved it (I’m NOT saying that I’m Einstein). Many Advaitists present the belief that our real identity is this consciousness that is neither born or dies (Salior Bob, Nisargadatta, and many others). But is this consciousness real? By real I mean, does it exist? I am suggesting that it is not real, that it does not exist. However, the mind, by its very nature reflects on the thoughts that pass through it. One of the distinguishing characterisitc of a sociopath is the absence of such reflection (autism as well). This concept of the unborn consciousness is like the ether. It appears to explain a complex situation, but it doesn’t. It’s not necessary to understand perception and thought or so I’m suggesting. Moreover, it appeals to fears that are not unreasonable, such as the death of the body/mindm by promising a kind of eternal existence as presence. Is this true?
Regarding rates of change – it’s just an observation. There are thoughts and feelings that are fleeting, but there are long standing patterns of thought and feeling that appear much more solid. True – they may be the consequence of conditioning, culture, and genes, but for whatever reason, they would appear to define the person that I have TENDED to be. There is no perfect consistentcy – thank goodness for that. Everything changes – even these deeply embedded personality characteristics, but those characterisitics that survive the longest would appear to be those characteristics that make a thing comprehendable and identifiable. It’s far from a perfect construct. It just appears to be “real”.
What is it I lack? That is the question you need to ask yourself. You need to find out if you really lack anything.
What is it you want? What do you want right now? What do you need now? What do you need in the larger perspective of your life? What do you want to be? What do you need to be? What do you need to achieve? What do you lack in your life? What is love? What is life? What???
Each what is a psychological traffic light. When it happens you believe you will be happy. If it doesn’t happen you believe you will fail to be happy. In fact, depending upon the want, you might think of yourself as a failure in general. Is that true for you?
So each want is a traffic light that either happens or it doesn’t. What are YOUR traffic lights?
Each what points to WHAT you Lack. This word – LACK – is the keystone of depression and anxiety. We start from the identification with Lack and pin our hopes to fill that vast chasm with achievements, with love, with connection, with stuff, with time, with attention, with experience, with ______ (fill in the blank).
WHAT does this tells us? Let’s be perfectly clear about this. Does it not tell us that we are starting off from a position of lack, of need, of absence, of deficiency, of inadequacy, of unlovability, and of worthlessness (each depending on the particular what).
If we were content in life, we wouldn’t be consumed by this collection of ceaseless WHATS.
I need to be a successful writer, I need to be in love, I need to be cared for, I need to love another, I need respect, I need to be trusted, I need life to be fair, I need to be enlightened and on and on it goes.
Let’s look at these needs a little deeper. Each I is deficient. As long as it lacks what it believes it needs to be happy, it is stuck with its feeling sense of inadequacy. Isn’t this the driving force of your life? It can’t be content. This “I” is the very unhappiness we dread! We are exactly the person we don’t want to be. Because we always start the hunt from some WHAT, we are condemned to a life of ceaseless seeking. Yikes! Could this be true. Remember, the truth will set you free.
This sad I is a hunter. This sad I hunts in the world for what it lacks. This sad I always returns to itself-its sad self. It goes to the bookstore looking for direction, it goes to bars looking for solace, it goes and it goes. As we start in life, so will we end. Since we are always starting from a position of lack, we start in deficiency and end in deficiency.
Is this what you want?
We cling to this I with all our might – it’s all we got. Together let’s get really sad about this “I”. Feel the sadness in the middle of your chest and in your stomach. Take full measure of its pain and its many, many hopes.
This is the WHAT of depression and anxiety. It is the cluster of needs we project we must possess to be happy – fulfilled.
I’m going to end this post before moving into the WHY section, which will arrive tomorrow. Unless we know WHY we need, we will never be able to get past this special station in life.
But before leaving you today, I ask you to do one more thing. Get a tangible sense of this “I” with all of its needs. Get a sense of it as a hunter of things – of love – of trust – of respect – of fairness. See it move through the world walking – running on thin ice, for it must always be on the move. If it is just with itself that ice might break and we will fall into the abyss of our own desolation. How will it ever find what it needs. Get a sense of this person. Feel it in every fiber of your body and mind. See it. See it as a child growing into adulthood. See the full trajectory of need in your life. Where did it start? Where did the hunt begin? Where is it headed? That is a key question. Where are you going with this hunter of feelings?
The next five posts on this blog will deliver to all who choose to listen a cure for anxiety and depression. So stay tuned!
This will be the What-Why-Who-How-Wow of healing. These processes will work for you.
This won’t be a touchy-feely approach. It won’t be intellectual either. It will be a hard look at what is true and what is false. The Truth Will Set You Free and when we can see the false as false and the true as true, you are free. I assure you of that.
You too will believe this to be true. There is only one ground rule that I ask you to take seriously. You need to be ruthlessly honest with yourself. Right now you are in LOVE with a lie (hence the Lie in the title of my book Liberation from the Lie). All you will need to do is fall out of love with this lie.
Here is the first truth: If you’re persistently depressed or anxious – then you are believing in ideas and identities that have absolutely no basis in truth. You are living in darkness and, to make matters appear worse, you are living in a trance.
The purpose of these posts will be to awaken you of the falseness which you now assume are true. In these posts you are asked to suspend belief in what you believe is true. Unless you’re willing to do this, the healing power of these posts cannot work for you.
So be brave – learn how to become your own healer.
Later today (May 7,2009), the first post WHAT will be posted. If you have any questions about its content, you need to contact me. Ask questions, demand the truth.
One last proviso. Know that no one can heal you but you. There are no therapists, counselors, partners, or gurus who can make us see the truth. Only we can do that. So the responsibility for our own healing lies in our own hearts and minds. Let this power delight you.
The challenge of waking up is seeing who we are not. That is why the Buddha called this the negative path. When we find out who we are not, who we are can finally emerge the crystal clear light of its own.
We cannot find out who we are by adding on, but by seeing what is not true in our beliefs. That is the challenge.
It is like taking a bath. The process is one of removing the great weight of false beliefs and identities we carry with us. Carrying this weight is not only personally exhausting, but it the very source of insecurity that we so desperately seek to end. Thus, the insecurity we desire to be free of, we make possible by our having faith in identities that just are not true.
Awakening is to wake up to this radical truth.
Where do you distrust? Do you distrust yourself? Do you distrust where you currently are? Is there any uncertainty about your place in life?
Why do you distrust? What is the root of this uncertainty?
What could you trust?
Start exactly where you are. Start with whatever fear or confusion you might be experiencing right now.
Now look inwards. See what is there.
Can you find the Presence that has always been there and is there right now? This presence is the aliveness that underlies Everything.
Find this presence in yourself. It is there. It is what is seeing THIS.
Can you NOT trust this presence? It is there. If nothing else, you can be absolutely certain of that. How could NOT trust this presence?
That is truth. It is the fundamental truth of your existence. Everything that you see, hear, touch, feel, and think is linked to this presence.
Now REALLY get a sense of that presence that underlies everything. It is deep within you. It is always there for you.
Once you are centered there – expand outwards. Expand NOT in your head, but in your actual sensed reality. See how that underlying presence makes everything you see, hear, feel, and think possible. Everything you see, hear, feel, and think is made possible through this presence.
Now, notice how the presence never changes. It is always just there – unchanging and always available.
It is life itself.
Now, notice how everything it sees, hears, feels, and thinks is in ceaseless change.
That is the dynamic nature of the awakened state. Everything changes on the field that is unchanging and ever-available.
Now dig deeper. Who are you?
Notice that how you Want yourself to be is attached to what you fear. This is key. Your identity is the opposite side of your fear identity.
What do you fear? Isn’t it true that you fear aloneness? Isn’t it true that you fear pain? Isn’t it true that you fear failure? Isn’t it true that you fear the death of your loved ones? Isn’t it true that you fear your own death?
Really absorb your fears. Be brave and see them in their full, awesome array. Feel their power – feel their vitality in your life.
Now, see how stable they are. Unlike the sights and sounds of your immediate life, they are very much like the Presence we talked about. They seem changeless. They appear to be stable and dark.
They are the visible manifestation of the Great Wound. They are the incarnation of everything we feared in our earliest times.
But see that despite their seeming power, they are just an echo of a much earlier time that continues to play out in our present life. They are like the universal Big Bang, the background noise of the universe.
Within what do they play out? Ask yourself this question deeply. Stop reading, for a moment – in what do these fears play out?
Notice that they play out in the complex web of the identity you believe yourself to be. They play out in your deepest insecurities. They are expressed by the person you believe yourself to be! They play out in the difference your presumed self believes it needs to be in this life.
Now listen carefully!
They are the DREAM of YOU. The self you believe yourself to be and all of those swarming fears are a Brand. You and I were branded even before we could speak – as we left our mother’s womb – as we ventured uncertainly out into this life. They are the Dream of LIfe. They are the shadow.
But know that we can’t wish them away, we can’t will them away. That is in fact what the Dream of self-help urges us to do. That is all part of the dream.
Instead we see the fears just as they are; as energy. We stop labeling them. They are a part of our environment, just like this computer is part of my immediate environment. They just are. The more we see them as energy, the less power they hold over us.
When their power weakens, our false identity with them begins to weaken. The dream loses its reality. We no longer define ourselves as the somebody we believe we need to be to give our life meaning and purpose.
But, to whom does this dream lose its reality? Ask yourself that question before reading on. To whom does it lose its reality?
It loses its reality to the dream character we have believed ourselves to be.
When we wake up to the dream of fear, we too easily move back into the dream character. We have grown used to its feel. We have grown overly comfortable with our fears and insecurities.
So, if we are not this person we have believed ourselves to be, then who are we? When we are not our memories, nor the future they project, then who are we?
Our journey takes us back to where we started. We are that presence we discovered deep inside, we are that presence as it manifests in this here and now. We cease to be the false person looking out of their fear-based shell onto an ever potentially threatening life.
But here is the decisive point. Here is where this dialogue takes us to new places.
Life call on us to join the dance. When we rest exclusively in the paradox of unchanging and ever-changing awareness, our own song withers. We are called upon to manifest the love that emerges when we realize that we ARE one with everything. The spirit of oneness is LOVE and the purest TRUST in that which IS. We take that universe changing NEXT STEP. We act from limitless connection and the love that binds all of together. How YOU express that love is your song. Most of the time this song will just be a quiet appreciation for what it, but life will call on us to raise our voice – that time will come.
Only you can take that step wedded in love and trust. It is the voice of presence in life. It is the co-creator of life. It IS.
The ego is not real. It is a label we place on those personality traits we define as demanding, insistent, self-righteous, and controlling.
In fact, all such qualities are of the self. The self is those energies that originate with a fear of being nothing. This is the identification with universal insecurity. The fear of being nothing creates and maintains the needs of the personality.
Contextualized within spirituality, this means that the pursuit of personal enlightenment is no different from any other self drives. It is the fear of nothing demanding to be something. See it for yourself.
The fear of being nothing is an illusion, for when we realize it is false, when we realize this to the depth of our false being, we are open to everything. This is the key to living life free and secure.
The false self takes control of our life through the vehicle of attaching to selected thoughts. The fear-based thoughts arise in our life in ways that are obvious and ways the are extremely subtle. Since the obvious is obvious, let’s briefly talk about the subtle.
In my own experience the most subtle arousal of the Fear-Self always involves sustaining the belief in a “me”. This me has rights, entitlements, special knowledge, and essential preferences. But, and here’s the important point, it activates each of these thought based centers through its near constant assessment of its environment. Notice how this assessment manifests in your own life. It’s this delicate energy that is evaluating your moment to moment life.
Who is the person who can easily notice this cluster of me based behaviors? THIS is our essential self. It is utterly open to whatever is happening, including this assessing self, all of the time, but it is all but invisible, because on some level we are attaching to a me based thought cluster.
So, when anger happens we can see that it’s based on some thought construct. Life is unfair. I’m never the lucky one. I shouldn’t be treated this way. Everyone deserves respect. There shouldn’t be traffic on this road at this time. This is bullshit. I hate know-it-all people. I like her because she likes me. I like him because he respects me. I like him because he’s smart (his opinions agree with mine). I love my kids because they listen to me. And on and on it goes.
Anger is the conduit revealing the falseness of our me based thoughts. Our ego tells us how fantastic we are and it uses assessment to establish our greatness. When life doesn’t measure up to how we think it should be, anger or disappointment happens. There is absolutely no problem with that. It is exactly how life should be operating and, if anything, we ought to be grateful for life not to be living up to our perfectly honed expectations.
Thus, anger is a gift. Disappointment is a gift. They are gifts that push us to what is true in the moment. We refuse these gifts when we ignore their generosity. We thus resist life and even resist god (if you believe in a deity – I don’t), when you resist your own anger and disappointment.
So next time you get angry or disappointed, stop for a moment and explore what identity your ego is asserting. See what’s happening as what’s happening. See the insanity of the underlying thought pattern. See the suffering instigated by the ego’s demands. See it and the path to a happier you will have begun.
Finally, notice how this deepest, most fundamental you is affected by neither success or failure – good fortune or bad fortune. All such labels are just reference points that originate with the false me.