Posts Tagged psychology

Exhaustion


Normally waking up means rising refreshed after a long and restful sleep. But, prior to falling fully asleep we must be truly exhausted.

Exhaustion is one thing to the body, but it is another thing in spiritual inquiry. In this sense, exhaustion means to becoming tired and indifferent to our conditioned selves. To put it another way, we loose interest in our own agendas. Only until we become this exhausted with our apparent selves are we ready to allow life itself to become the magic carpet of our lives.

Before this, we are navigating the often troubled waters of our life. Because the underlying theme is nearly always self-deficiency, we are always seeking opportunities to gain in life or, conversely, to avoid loss. Thus every situation presents a win/lose outcome.

It is this very win/lose quality to life to which we must, one day, become weary of. Again to put it another way, we opt out of the game of our small selves. Our investment and interest in winning or losing just falls away.

This is the essential exhaustion of the self that will always precede awakening to the light of this moment.

Thoughts about “me” and what “I” need to do will continue to pop up. Conditioning has its own momentum, but now instead of falling for it and doing our usual psychological routines, their power to control our behaviors and mental life is greatly reduced. The real test of self-exhaustion occurs in those situations that really engage us in either a very positive way, where the ego perceives an opportunity for very substantial gain or negative way where the fear of personal loss is especially vivid. Authentic self-exhaustion will even cancel the emotional charge that these situations have had for us. We stop seeking gain (especially spiritual gain!) and avoiding loss.

We have now moved pass the egotistical concerns of the everyday life. To put it in the clearest language possible, the locus of control moves from “me” to “life”. When this happens we embark on the literal wings of life and allow ourselves to be guided by the substance of life rather than the substance of ego.

Each moment becomes alive for it is our newly created sense of self – so greatly expanded. It is a kind of spiritual molting. Our judgments have become painfully boring for us. The demand for gain and fear of loss no longer weigh us down. We are so much lighter. This is the portal to awakening.

Don’t negate exhaustion of the self. It is the prerequisite to the full awakening that is, even now, happening.


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Compassion Vs. Projection by Christine Wushke


What can I do about the suffering in the world? If the world is an illusion, why do I feel so much sadness about children starving, and animals suffering?

There is a difference between compassion that unconditionally loves and acts in the world, and projecting your inner pain onto the world. Only you can know what is what. Is there anything left inside you that is suffering? If so, deal with that first. If not, then you are being moved by compassion. If that is the case you will be called to service, you will know what to do in each moment, because true compassion is balanced with wisdom, and clarity. Each moment consciousness moves you through life with total clarity, and you will just know what to do. Compassion will at times push you to act, and to DO something, but if it is from a clear place within, you will just know…..no suffering no anguish…just consciousness moving itself consciously in life….moment to moment.

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Let’s Relax and Touch the Mysterious


If Awakening has an enemy (and it doesn’t), it is the energy of contraction. What we are is this moment full and allowing without limit. But then we notice another energy, one that is effortlessly linked to the separate “I/me”, it is likely to be the energy of attention (not awareness, which is holds attention).

Things call to us. They demand our attention. This is natural to life. But I’ve noticed that the energy of attention links back to the idea of a separate “I/me”. I am reading this blog, I am focusing on this report, I need to attend to my partner’s needs, etc.

So the question becomes, why is this so? The conditioned self is a direct function of our individual and unique socialization. This process is as real as anything else in our universe. But our pain and suffering, that which is psychologically rooted, is a direct consequence of our family’s and culture’s projection of inadequacy and insufficiency onto us, which we began to absorb even before we could verbalize the experience.

Once we agree with this projection, it becomes who we believe ourselves to be. So begins the life of endless seeking.

For this reason we become hard workers. We try to figure all of this out. We seek pleasant mind states to avoid the pain, We work to become better. It’s important to be heard, to be respected, to prevail in life. We work and work and work. So much of the attention energy circulates around this identification with inadequacy.

Like EVERYTHING else in the universe, every quality is dialectical (it comes in two flavors). There is attention rooted in open love and there is attention rooted in our struggle with inadequacy/insufficiency. All of this can be seen as the interplay of light and dark in our lives.

Rather than work, yet again, on this “problem”, is it possible to just see and experience this without seeking any mind state from the process – without seeking any outcome – without wanting any understanding? Just letting it be as it needs to be?

This calls on us to just relax in this moment, then watch that same inadequacy contraction arising, then we might ask ourselves, what is the beauty of this moment? What if I just love this fragile inadequacy? … What if, I cease being the harsh parent? … What if I see the lost child in this experience? … What if I just reach out and touch this feeling?


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Let's Relax and Touch the Mysterious


If Awakening has an enemy (and it doesn’t), it is the energy of contraction. What we are is this moment full and allowing without limit. But then we notice another energy, one that is effortlessly linked to the separate “I/me”, it is likely to be the energy of attention (not awareness, which is holds attention).

Things call to us. They demand our attention. This is natural to life. But I’ve noticed that the energy of attention links back to the idea of a separate “I/me”. I am reading this blog, I am focusing on this report, I need to attend to my partner’s needs, etc.

So the question becomes, why is this so? The conditioned self is a direct function of our individual and unique socialization. This process is as real as anything else in our universe. But our pain and suffering, that which is psychologically rooted, is a direct consequence of our family’s and culture’s projection of inadequacy and insufficiency onto us, which we began to absorb even before we could verbalize the experience.

Once we agree with this projection, it becomes who we believe ourselves to be. So begins the life of endless seeking.

For this reason we become hard workers. We try to figure all of this out. We seek pleasant mind states to avoid the pain, We work to become better. It’s important to be heard, to be respected, to prevail in life. We work and work and work. So much of the attention energy circulates around this identification with inadequacy.

Like EVERYTHING else in the universe, every quality is dialectical (it comes in two flavors). There is attention rooted in open love and there is attention rooted in our struggle with inadequacy/insufficiency. All of this can be seen as the interplay of light and dark in our lives.

Rather than work, yet again, on this “problem”, is it possible to just see and experience this without seeking any mind state from the process – without seeking any outcome – without wanting any understanding? Just letting it be as it needs to be?

This calls on us to just relax in this moment, then watch that same inadequacy contraction arising, then we might ask ourselves, what is the beauty of this moment? What if I just love this fragile inadequacy? … What if, I cease being the harsh parent? … What if I see the lost child in this experience? … What if I just reach out and touch this feeling?


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The Powerlessness of Prayer


It sounds nice to pray for someone in need. It sounds right. It sounds loving. It sounds spiritual. But there is nothing to show that prayer has even the slightest impact on the one being prayed for.

Prayer by Albrecht Durer

The largest and most carefully controlled study on the effect of prayer on cardiac patients (press here for the link) showed:  “Analyzing complications in the 30 days after the operations, the researchers found no differences between those patients who were prayed for and those who were not.” In fact, the study showed that those being prayed for actually did a little worse than those not being prayed for.

So why are people drawn to prayer? The answer is that we are drawn to anything that offers some modicum, however fragile, of control over challenging events in our lives and in the lives of people we care about. It is a solution we “hope” will do something beneficial for the one being prayed for.

It is, therefore, resistance to what is. And, as resistance it affirms the primacy of the ego in daily life. The false “me” experiences fear when it suspects that it has no control over its life. So what will this false me do? It will cajole, it will threaten, it will sell, and it will pray. None of these work, because this is not how the universe works. We are free to be ourselves, but we must be willing to recognize how the universe operates.

We really only need to know one basic rule; the universe doesn’t give a crap about you or me! As it is said in the Tao Te Ching:

Heaven and earth are impartial;
they see the 10,000 things as straw dogs. The sage is not sentimental;
he treats all his people as straw dogs.

Why is this so? It sounds rather cruel. It is so because the person we believe ourselves to be is found to be true among only one entity in the universe: YOU! That person is just a thought – or cluster of thoughts; nothing more. What we are is a holographic oneness with everything else in the universe in both its dimensions of time and space. We are the sick person we are praying for and so much more. When we invest independent existence in ourselves or any other object in the universe, we sustain the lie of independent existence. It just isn’t true. It is a story, a narrative.

And this is why prayer has no effect on anything, except perhaps the thought of “me”. After all, when I pray, the thought I have about myself feels good about this “me”. I’m playing the game of connection and that makes me feel good. I’ve done my good deed.

Here’s an alternative approach. See yourself and the patient as one. So find yourself in the patient. If possible, be with this ailing person. Touch yourself as the patient. That will make you both feel good and, who knows, maybe it will actually have a positive effect on the patient. I suspect it will.

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Why We Suffer: An Example from My Own Life


Anytime we experience psychological suffering in our lives, we are also experiencing a direct invitation for self-understanding. This is why grief, disappoint, frustration, and even hopelessness can be seen as gifts possessing great value for us.
I would like to present an example taken from my own life. After all, it is the life I know best.
My wife asked me why I become so upset and even militant when people disagree with me at social networking sites, such as Facebook. Often when someone posts, what seems to me to be a spiritual quip that is naive or doctrinaire, I become quite annoyed and without much delay, post a strongly worded rejoinder. She asked me, why do I seem to care so much what anyone says?
Why do I care what someone else thinks?
This was an invitation for exploration into a very real and immediate source of suffering.
Here is how it played using the Theory of Invalidation as it is proposed in Liberation from the Lie.
First we need to know that when we are experiencing suffering of this type, we need to know that this is psychological suffering. This means that the suffering is a direct reflection of who we believe we are, which is in conflict with how the world is presenting itself to this psychological being (me). We also need to know that this psychological suffering is an echo of a much older and self-sustaining pattern.
All psychological suffering is a consequence of invalidation. The expression of anger, frustration, depression – each is an expression of the invalidated self. So what is happening in this example?
I could see that this need to reply, this intensity, was really a need to be heard. I was the youngest of two brothers. In my family of origin, I was thought of as the lesser person. My voice was more one of annoyance than of integrity. Although well intended, my parents tended to ignore who I was and often made light of what I had to say. The attention that I needed (as well as the love) was roundly ignored and I was placated by occasional gifts.
In this way, among others, I was invalidated. What resulted was a psychological profile that I call the Fear-Based Expert. Because I needed to be heard, I needed to have the authority that lots of information would provide me. The Expert profile is one that believes it knows a lot and generally feels some superiority over those that are seen to know less.
In my own case, this Expert Profile is tempered by lots of compassion and love that I have for most people. If I weren’t expressing these ideas in this blog, few would guess that this is true for me. But it is.
This pattern of militant, strongly worded replies on Facebook reflected a deeper expression for a need to be heard, respected, admired, and even loved. It was a plea for serious attention, the one thing I lacked as a child.
But there is a lot more to this realization.
Frankly, my life has been fraught with failure in just those areas where I focused my expertise. I failed to complete two Ph.Ds on account of my controversial topics and occasionally anti-authoritarian attitude I had against well established academic protocols. My statistical work with various foundations ended because of their tendency not to be politically correct, and even the book I wrote about this process had received relatively little attention at amazon.com.
Thus, not only was I struggling for attention in much of my adult life, but I was continuing to fail in the very endeavor that has been most important to me.
It is for this reason, that I would sink into despair over a world that just didn’t appreciate me or what I had to say, no matter how diligent I was about the quality of the ideas and their contextualization with human experience as well as their academic rigor. I continue to fail and thus my tendency to melancholy and sadness are sustained. The child that needed attention was still alive and well in the 57 year old version of me.
Now part two – I also could see that people whose views I consider naive and, frankly, unoriginal received much more public accolade than my own. I resented these people and wanted to “set them straight” by showing them how uninformed they are. When we are invalidated and living through our Fear-Based selves (like 99.9% of the human population), we will also replicate, ironically, our primal invalidators, just when we are feeling the pain of our own invalidation. So, when I am resenting the admirers of people I generally don’t respect, I am replicating the behavior of my parents who invalidated me. I become the invalidator and the people I invalidate reflect my invalidated self! In this way, the whole invalidation process is repeatedly recreated. I am both victim and perpetrator!
We can also see how this process further informs my life. My quest for knowledge and understanding was made possible through this invalidation. It, literally, made me to be the person I am. When we see the manifestation of invalidation in our lives, it is clearly NOT a black and white situation. It is, nearly always, gray. If we look deeply enough, we will see that nearly every psychological element of our personality is explained by our core invalidation experience. The psychological self is the invalidated self.
The moment I can see the whole trajectory of the invalidation shadow in my life, I become one step removed from it. I am not, necessarily, healed from its effect, but I am, to some extent, liberated from its hidden effects.
The question becomes, “who am I without this invalidation behaviors?” This is the key question we need to ask ourselves as we explore the effect of invalidation in our lives. Only we can answer this question.
There is great poignancy to this exploration. When we feel our own sadness, we know what everyone else is going through. The investigation of invalidation becomes authentic compassion, not only for ourselves, but for all people. We see how fear-based psychological strategies, of which conventional nonduality is one, become our essential psychological self. They are all attempts to adapt the pain of invalidation.


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The Fatal Flaw: The Problem with Eastern Spiritual Philosophy – Part 1 of 3


It’s time to move on from what is simply false in Eastern philosophy (Buddhism, Advaita/nonduality, and some Taoism). Jesus said the truth will set you free and the whole purpose of this blog is to identify the false, so that the ineffable truth of being and life can shine forth.

1. The basic tenant of Eastern spiritual philosophy is that we are not our thoughts and feelings. We are, therefore, not who we “think” we are. So far, so good.

2. Our thoughts and feelings change, but, as these philosophies point out, there is a part of us that doesn’t change. This part is that presence that observes our passing thoughts and feelings. We are, they say, this changeless entity. Now we’re getting on some shaky ground, but let’s continue.

3. This presence, which is our true self is separate from the body/mind. It is neither born nor will it ever die. It is eternal consciousness. Here the philosophies collapse. I will try to show this below.

My experience shows that Point 1 is partly correct. Clearly, we are not our thoughts. Our thoughts, do, indeed, change. One day we “think” we love our wife/husband, then something happens and then we discover to our shame and disbelief that we now are not the one who loves this wife/husband. Life has changed completely. But we can also observe that some of our thoughts change constantly, other thoughts change only occasionally, and still others are nearly constant in our life. Within this array of change, we can detect patterns of thought and feeling. These patterns suggest an individuality that is, in fact, real. For example, I know that I love to explore issues, that with all my heart and soul I stand up for those who have been victims of unjustice, I love the music of Brahms and Mozart, etc.

Our Eastern Philosopher will say that my seemingly consistent thoughts/feelings are merely an outcome of my conditioning. They are “mere” appearances on the utterly changeless and characterless ground of being. They will further assert that this is not a theory, but the the outcome of direct experience, it is therefore not an issue of philosophy, but of direct experience. I can respond that the same is true for me. I am able to employ the power of presence, that power that is central to Eastern spiritual tradition (EST), to detect and identify these patterns. I can, therefore, make the same experiential claim. It is something I can directly observe.

But more importantly, I can also experience what is pointed to in EST and assert that the ESTer is drawing a decisive line of separation between “presence” and thought/feeling/experience, in which it is posited that one’s true identity is exclusively on one side of the experiential dimension. Our ESTer posits that Reality is the ground of experience and sensed experience (thoughts/feelings/observations) itself is mere appearance. All objects (thoughts/feelings/sensed objects) are passing and insubstantial. It is highly ironic that a philosophy that eschews separation so depends on this division, that this Maginot Line of separation is posited between one’s true identity and what is mere passing appearance. I can see the mere passing appearance of that tree just outside my window. I can look away and the tree is no longer in view (the tree ceases to exist!), but when I look back – what do I see??? – it’s remarkable, but it appears to be that same tree. Yes, the direction of sunlight might have changed a bit, but I am very sure that it’s the same true – perhaps five seconds older.

Now before moving on, let’s take a deep breath. What is the EST person really doing? Is it not possible that by labeling all sensed objects (thoughts/feelings) as mere passing appearance, he is negating his own role in this sensed life? Consider that possibility. Is this any different from the substance abuser who is also seeking to avoid the challenges of life through booze and drugs? Is this any different from the depressed person who lifts himself out of the anguish of his psychological being by adopting a zealous faith-based attitude on this life? Is this any different from the religious fanatic who believes that this life is just a preparation for the real life that begins at death and he can avoid all of the messiness and unpredictability of everyday life and dream of living an eternity in heaven?

I do not seek to judge the ESTer, but it is possible to detect a pattern in human history that revolves around the negation of everyday life – because life can be challenging, it can be complex, it calls on us to make tough decisions, it brings to light all of the empty faith-based beliefs we might cling to out of fear of the unknown. This is what life is. Wake up to its fantastic messiness. Life calls on us to be challenged. Anyone who has parented a little baby into adulthood knows this is true. Anyone in touch with their heart senses the vapid emptiness of EST.

Welcome to the challenge of your life. Make the best of it, for time is passing.

This is just part one of a three part series. Tomorrow I will comment on Point 2.

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