Two Questions from a Subscriber
Good day, good people!
Here's an exchange with someone that I thought would be of general interest. "Q" is my correspondent. "D" is me. Be safe and well!
Q: I wanted to especially thank you for the session last night. It was wonderful again being part of a group of people working to be their authentic selves and to recognize conditioned mind. It might take me a while to speak up -- but I promise I will at some point!
D: Great! It was really fun to see you there. I look forward to connecting with you and hearing your voice whenever you feel ready to start chiming in. I hope you'll experience the group as a low-pressure, safe place to share from your experience.
Q: 2 things are coming to mind that I'd love to ask: 1. While I am observing my mind and all its chatter, I find myself being resentful of my conditioned mind. It's like somehow I was programmed to respond with frustration/impatience to things (like conditioned mind) that seem "in the way". Then I realize that my conditioned mind has inserted itself there and has somehow decided that I am frustrated .. with my own mind! Why is it easy to self judge such things (at least for me)? I guess what I'm asking is how I might better be in touch with an authentic self who is compassionate and accepting toward conditioned mind, such that it might not have quite so much power. but then, that's an outcome, huh? hmmm. ;)
D: There is no problem with desiring certain outcomes, and especially this outcome. The trouble comes when we attach to outcomes, as I've been saying in recent blogs. To wish to be free of conditioned mind and to work towards that is a good and beautiful thing. To need to have things, even this thing, go a certain way in order to feel okay sets a person up to be dependent upon conditioned mind for security and well-being, and that's not going to work. To be in relationship with conditioned mind produces the opposite of security and well-being. In practice we're working towards independence from external circumstances, such that our relationship with ourselves and with Life becomes the source of security and well being, as well as peace, joy, love, connection, belonging, and everything else good.
Nice insight! What is happening here, it appears, is that conditioned mind is resenting itself. It does that sort of thing all the time: it blames itself, accuses itself of various things, shames and humiliates itself, and other stuff along those lines. It's function is to be always self-referencing, and to have us caught up in the circular conversation it's having with itself, such that our attention is caught up in imaginary things and is not available to rest with whatever is simply here, in the moment. It creates a sort of a smoke screen, in other words, that is designed to trap our awareness inside a fictional reality such that we are not in touch with Life and in the flow of Life as it unfolds. Currently, it sounds like, you are identifying with the conditioned voice that is resenting conditioned mind. You are assuming that the resentment is you thinking, in other words. The reality is that conditioned mind is talking to you about how you resent conditioned mind, and the reasons for that. None of this really has anything to do with you.
What you need to do is to recognize the conditioned conversation as a conditioned conversation as it occurs--to see that you are being talked into feeling resentful. If you can see how you are being talked into resentment within your mind, this puts you in a position to make a different choice. You can choose to drop the thoughts and bring your attention back to your breath, your body, your sensations and perceptions, and anything else that is in the moment. The word I use for this process is "disidentification". To see what conditioned mind is up to is to "disidentify" from conditioned mind and step back into a centered, authentic place.
Keep on observing your mind as it chatters away about everything. That's the way to support the possibility I'm talking about. Recognize, as you have been, that most of what is happening between your ears is not you thinking--it's conditioned mind talking to you. As you do this over time you'll more and more identify with awareness rather than with your thoughts.
Q: 2. Making decisions while living in the moment. Just find it difficult. Trained as I have been as a scientist, I have a tendency to gather evidence in order to make a decision. Yet when I'm doing that, I am guessing at the future and living in my mind (ie, the decision about when to fly to the states was difficult).
D: Great question. The answer can be somewhat subtle and complex. I'll give you a summary here, and if you want to explore it further feel free to bring it up in the Sunday group.
There are two ways to make a decision, the conditioned way and the centered way. To make a decision the conditioned way is to gather evidence, as you say, and then to go up into your head and allow conditioned mind to think about it. If conditioned mind is in charge you'll end up on one side of the decision, then the other, then back to the first side, and on and on, with the result that you'll feel somewhere between stuck and paralyzed. Then when you finally make the decision conditioned mind will tell you that you made the wrong decision and you should have gone the other way, or some other such thing. Sound familiar?
Here's the way to make a centered decision (and again this deserves some fleshing out, which we can do another time if you like):
Get out of your head. Don't let conditioned mind think about it, in other words (easy to say but hard to do, of course)
Open your mind and heart to the insights that arise (and they will arise in an open mind)
Do what the insights tell you to do. The insights are the guidance that comes from the mysterious intelligence that is orchestrating everything. In general the insights will ask you to do small things--research this, talk to someone about that, consider this, question that--that will gradually build a clear picture as to where you are and what you need to do
Avoid making the decision until all the information is there. People can tend to feel a lot of urgency around making decisions because they feel uncomfortable being with things unknown. Learn how to be still and wait until things become clear. And again, they will not become clear if you go up into your head and think about it. They will become clear as you allow the insights that drop in to guide you towards understanding.
Avoid making the decision before it's time. Here too you'll need to let go of the urgency that arises to make the decision. It's not possible to make a decision until it's time for the decision to be made.
When all the information is there and it's time for the decision to be made, the decision will make itself. You won't have to do anything. It'll just suddenly become clear what there is for you to do. When a decision is made in this way there is no doubt or hesitation, and the decision will come with the willingness to follow it, even if it asks for you to do something scary or difficult.
This is actually all very scientific, to my mind. Just as in a science experiment, if you follow these steps they will produce a centered decision every time without fail. It's also perfectly rational and logical. The thing in this that's difficult for a scientist, I imagine, is the the need to let go of the process and allow Life to take over. Said another way, it's difficult to allow the needed information to come in the form of insight rather than from the assumptions and misapprehensions in conditioned mind. It's not easy to allow ourselves to be guided by the vast intelligence that I call "Life", but it's a skill that can be developed, and the more one is able to let go and allow Life to take care of things, the better things go.
Q: In addition, I am deeply appreciative of what you're doing; your willingness to share your experiences and your desire to help others. I can imagine (hmm, just a guess ;) that you also need to live and would appreciate help in the form of a donation/donations. Although I don't want to put you in an awkward position, I'll just be completely honest and say I have no idea how to determine an amount. You are most totally welcome to bounce that back at me -- I'll figure it out. But if you've had experience guiding people in this .. I'd be grateful for advice!
D: Thanks for the thought, and thanks for asking! Everybody has this question, and I never answer it directly. The reason is that I consider this to be a spiritual issue, and I want people to look deeply at this for themselves. If I just tell people what to give me they they don't have to look. You might consider using this as an opportunity to practice centered decision-making in the way I outlined above.
Thanks a ton for the fun questions! Be safe and well!