reflectivesun

life, reality, self, mind and sometimes ducks

visual

The visual field is very alluring. First I get drawn into what I see with my eyes, then in my mind with my memories and imaginings. My attention, regardless, always preoccupied with images. Interpreting and parsing apart what I've seen or am seeing in my mind.

How much of it is accurate, I wonder? Probably very little. Most likely it's an enormous waste of time and energy. Incorrect interpretations about what I'm seeing, tainted from the core by faulty conditioning and beliefs. Hours, days, years of this life spent in the process of creating and interpreting what I'm seeing through false assumptions. Wild.

views

It's interesting that despite how nihilistic my thinking might seem at times, I carry on doing things anyways. On an external level it doesn't seem to matter much what I think; life continues unfolding, including me. What does change seems mainly to be my experience of what unfolds. I can perceive it as empty, miraculous, amusing, pointless, mysterious, tedious, insignificant, transformative or any other number of adjectives. All of it depending on my internal state - what I'm thinking and feeling.

This internal response reflected outward then appears to influence what continues to unfold. More than controlling external events, I seem to color them with my responses which are then colored by the responses of the other people and elements of the external world. Or maybe, just my perception of them. Again, it depends on my internal response to the externalized expressions I'm perceiving.

So, I can be as nihilistic or optimistic as I want. In the end, the thoughts and feelings that come along with these viewpoints/beliefs will only influence my experience of and responses to something that's beyond them. Ultimately, with enough attention and awareness of what's going on within, it can be a matter of choice. How will I choose to perceive this?

feeling

Feeling defines experience. It isn't insignificant. It's where life is felt. I know that sounds redundant but I don't know how else to say it. Without feeling, this world is just empty data. It's not worth anything. I can't explain it because it isn't logical but that's how it is. Feeling makes life worth living. It makes it visceral and real.

All those things that can end up getting explained away - desire, emotion, conflict, chaos, fear, longing. Maybe the point isn't to transcend and be untouched by them but to become ready to go whole-heartedly back into them, only now without the extra baggage of separation and delusion. In other words, not to have to think twice about anything but to just live it then and there.

Maybe...I don't know. I really don't. Sometimes I think we are meant to transcend. More thoughts of course. But I'd like to embrace it too. I don't want to be ashamed of feeling shame or afraid of feeling fear or anything like that. If something happens that makes me feel some way, I just want to feel it. Whatever it is, I want to be okay with it.

choose

True learning is really unlearning, whether through gradual investigation or sudden insight. Conditioned beliefs and ideas clouding reality are seen through and let go of as truth reveals itself behind them, self-evident, ever-present and immutable.

Conventional learning is the accumulation of data for the purposes of engaging in superficial affairs and passtimes - the games and rituals of man. They're built upon inherently flawed and insecure foundational premises, ideals and assumptions, and their inevitable end is always dissolution.

This isn't to say that they can't be appreciated or enjoyed, only that there's no ultimate or enduring fulfillment or salvation to be found in these systems. They're limited and temporal and therefore subject to emergence and decay. What goes up will soon come down, what expands will soon contract, what grows will soon wither, what succeeds will soon fail, what comes will soon leave, what satisfies will soon dissatisfy, what begins will soon end. These are all inevitabilities of engagement in the realm of matter/time.

With this in mind, detachment is possible and participation can be a matter of choice rather than need. Knowing that nothing in the world can ultimately satisfy or complete (since satisfaction and completion are intrinsic and immediate matters of perception), knowing that each path can only bring its own set of temporary experiences, what will I choose?

perspectives

Every bit of information we can and could possibly access is composed of perspectives drawn within certain frameworks of context, including what we call facts. It all relies on subjective reference points and definitions. When we look something up, all we're collecting are details created about a phenomenon that could never be sufficiently encompassed or defined.

In one context for example, we call something a human.
In another, we call it a bipedal mammal.
In another, an organism.
In another, a father.
In another, a doctor.
In another, a painter.
In another, a corpse.

All of these can be said to be true about something within certain contexts but none encompass the phenomenon itself. None of it tells us what it really is.

There was a mighty white elephant with a strong trunk and long tusks, trained by a good master, and willing and serviceable. This elephant, led by his trainer, came to the land of the blind. Very soon the rumours went in the land of the blind that an elephant had come to their country. So the wise men and teachers of the blind came up to the elephant and began to investigate him. And when the elephant was gone they met and discussed the animal among themselves.

There were some who said he was like a great thick snake; others said he was like a snake of medium size. The former had felt the trunk, the latter the tail.

Further, there were some who claimed that his figure was like a high column, others declared he was large and bulky like a big barrel, still others maintained he was smooth and hard but tapering. Some of the blind had taken hold of one of the legs, others had reached the main body, and still others had touched the tusks.

In the end they abused and scolded one another over their disagreements, and finally every one of them swore that everyone else was a liar and was cursed on account of his heresies.

Everyone of these blind men was honest in his contentions, sure of having the truth and relying on his own experience. But the elephant trainer knows that every one of them has a parcel of the truth, that every one is right in his way, but wrong in believing his outlook to be the whole truth.

Not one of these sectarians observed that the elephant was white, for all of them were blind who had investigated the truth to the best of their ability.

We take for granted that the things we've learned tell us what things are. We can gather facts about what we sometimes call (for example) the sun and come to think that we know what it is. All we've really learned are perspectives about something drawn from certain reference points and comparatively defined within certain contextual frameworks using certain modes of expression. "The sun is a star." "The sun emits light and heat." "The sun is a spherical object in space." We can create and gather countless definitions but essentially, we still won't know what it is. We'll just have observed and assigned apparent interactions it has within some frameworks available and familiar to us. The thing itself remains vastly mysterious from countless other contextual reference points, many of which are simply beyond our capacity to perceive or communicate. This applies to everything.

This is why knowledge in the typical sense is, essentially, meaningless. It's apparent meaning and value exist entirely within conceptual frameworks of reference which are as subjectively conjured as whatever we come to believe we experience by their acquisition and propagation, which essentially amount to networks of shared ideas and functions. Matrixes of interdependent concepts which may indicate interactions that can be observed from certain perspectives but which have no actual bearing on reality itself beyond their impacts on our senses, feelings, perceptions and beliefs. What's learned and shared are only details within and about the conceptual frameworks that we've created, some of which allow us to manipulate aspects of phenomena but not to know it.

Grasping this is what can lead one to eventually "know only that they know nothing" after a lifetime of gathering knowledge. It's coming to recognize that everything that was thought to be known basically amounts to clouds of vapor in the air - collections of conceptual models, details and perspectives being projected onto phenomena. While the thing itself, whatever it is that's being perceived, remains essentially mysterious and unbounded by whatever limited perceptions have been drawn about it.

shoulds

Whatever any individual, group, religion or even greater society dictate and promote in terms of what/how a person "should" or "shouldn't" be must remain psychologically contained as the opinions/beliefs of those people/groups to avoid falling into the unnecessary conflict of condemnation or inflation (both self and other directed).

However someone or something is, that's how they are. Regardless of the opinions of various individuals or groups, that is how nature/the universe/life created and shaped them. The fact of their existence indicates that they "should" be as they are, regardless of what humans think or feel about it.

To preserve internal integrity and perceptual clarity, all shoulds and shouldn'ts must be seen as relative and contextual. Overarching group norms of any size or type are typically based on either median standards, beliefs around practical concerns (like survival and safety) or active promotion to mould or drive individuals to serve certain ends. The resulting expectations and judgements are not based in existential truth. Existential truth is what is.

All such ideas can be observed and understood as factual (by virtue of their existence) without being internalized as representing truth in a greater sense. Rules, standards and expectations can be respected and adhered to without casting judgement either onto self or others for inherent or inherited differences. Individuals can't control their biology or upbringings and the thoughts, feelings and traits that emerge as a result. It could be argued that without awareness, which largely comes about through a combination of unpredictable circumstances and experiences, (re)actions similarly occur without conscious control. Therefore judgement is better left aside, whether positive or negative, in favor of looking at and accepting whoever/whatever is there. And then responding accordingly.

true mind

Beneath the whirling of (mostly stupid) circular thoughts and feelings, there's another aspect of mind with a totally different quality. Thoughts and feelings from this place don't wheel about repetitively and compulsively but blossom outward from the depths like an opening flower. Its expressions are spontaneous, focused and original, blooming forth and then dissolving.

With sufficient room, it's able to emerge and spread beyond the confines of habituated programming, personality, minutia and chatter to provide needed insight, wisdom, clarity, guidance, stability and courage. Pretty cool.

whirling

Whenever I'm paying attention to my thoughts, it doesn't take long to realize how dumb most of them are. Day in and day out, stupid pointless thoughts circling round and round. All of it consisting of what essentially amounts to speculation and conjecture experienced as truth. Ideas about things that appear to have happened, be happening or could happen made up of interpretations, projected meaning and judgements.

And along the way, feelings being stirred in the body depending on what thoughts happen to be passing through. Day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute. Round and round and round the wheel of thoughts and feelings go. Where they'll stop...

dependency

Little by little I've been reducing all of my old coping mechanisms, distractions and numbing agents. It's taking so much presence of mind (and sometimes just the luck of a grounding thought floating by) not to get caught up in the projections created by the emotions I'm opening myself to. And I have been getting caught up in them.

It's a big experiment really. I know how I'm supposedly meant to be living according to general consensus but it just doesn't seem right to me. Being dependent on so many stimulants, depressants, interactions, and activities just to avoid slipping into an emotional black hole? Humans supposedly went centuries without these things and while it does seem like we've never been so comfortable on the outside, we've also never been so uncomfortable within. There's something not right about all of it. And I know, experientially I know, that all that's really needed to be happy is the slightest of internal shifts. External circumstances are entirely perceived and evaluated based on interpretations emerging from internal contents. It all begins and ends in the body/mind.

I'm not convinced that many of these external things are truly relevent unless/until they're believed to be. Most seem to compound suffering as much as they alleviate it so as long as dependency is there, freedom and happiness remain constrained.

story

I heard a perspective the other day that I found really compelling. Basically that this obsession we have with defining and theorizing about the universe based on its composition is essentially meaningless, bottomless and missing the point. That underneath all that, the "coding" of life plays out less like science and more like story. Lines of text in the form of characters and events all moving from and towards something.

It sounds obvious but I found it to be a fascinating shift in perspective. Experientially it's true. So what if we learn what everything is composed of? Atoms and electrons and neutrons and such. Okay great, we've named some things. We have found the pixels and the wireframes and such that compose the game world and delineated this from that. Is that worth so much attention? Does it really tell us anything meaningful?

For some, exploring the makings of the world, defining them and sharing their findings with others is their role in the story-driven game of life. But for most of us, this enforced obsession with scientific definition and theory holds very little meaning or play. Actually it more often strips them and reduces everything to endless series' of empty labels and processes. Names and theories delivered one after the other as if each was profound and necessary. As if it held as much meaning for everyone as it does for the explorers of these aspects.

For most of us, it doesn't and isn't worth so much attention and reverence. For most of us, the real juice of life is playing out within and in front of us. It's playing out right now and has been playing out and we're probably missing it because we're either caught up in identifying and labeling or paying more attention to stories lived and told by others. Labels and judgements, calling that something and this another thing. I'm this, you're that, that's that, that over there is that, that's what's happening over there, etc. Names and labels and arbitrary differentiations and plotlines, all of it removing us from the story that's waiting to be played out by us.

We're each a unique character that's part of a unique storyline that's part of a series of greater and greater storylines. My life and life as a whole is moving from and towards something. For what reason, I don't know and maybe never will. But along the way unlikely new characters and plotlines appear, events unfold and lessons are learned. In hindsight it all plays out almost like a series of scripted storylines. That's probably why it's so easy for us to recall the story of our life in a certain sense. It's because it is a story. One in which we can be both active participant and co-creator.

cleansed

Had an exchange with a friend recently that set off an upsurge of uncomfortable emotions. Irritation, anxiety, frustration, defensiveness. My body was tense and uncomfortable and my thoughts were mostly circling around it. I felt strung out and drained.

I knew that something deeper must've been triggered so I did my best to let the thoughts go and focus on the feelings in the body. It wasn't easy, I felt cut off from them somehow. In other situations recently it's been pretty visceral, like feeling through the heat of anger over a passing incident with a stranger, but maybe since this was more complex it was less straightforward to process and release? I'm not sure.

After getting home for the day I lay in bed and gave myself more room to settle my thoughts and feel. Again I mostly felt slightly numb so I tried breathing into it and just giving it time. I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to release whatever was coming up. I also wanted the discomfort and circular thinking to pass.

Eventually I went to take a shower and as soon as I started shampooing the floodgates opened up. I wasn't sure what exactly I was crying about but god damn was I crying. I did my best not to get too caught up in the thoughts and just let the feelings out of my system, trusting that doing so would change my perspectives and responses without the need for active thought right then. Trusting that wisdom would come later.

I felt so refreshed after. Body and mind relaxed again. Feeling light and unworried. Cleansed inside and out.

anxiety

There's wisdom waiting to be released from the processing of every emotion. Once I've gone through it, accute anxiety especially tends to lead to realizing that I messed up somewhere. Usually in relation to boundaries or values, or even just my interpretation of a situation. A wrong turn was made and a course adjustment is needed, either as soon as possible or just moving forward with a permanent adjustment to a certain behavior or pattern.

There are even benefits to feeling more intensely. Since it can be so disruptive and uncomfortable, it makes it all the more necessary to identify cause and correct course. Continuing along in a half-asleep state isn't an option since the impacts and feelings can be nearly intolerable. Recurring issues that might follow others for years without causing sufficient discomfort to warrant addressing can be solved over a restless night or two of concentrated anxiety, if the lesson is explored and extracted.

Once any emotion runs its course, deeper wisdom and understanding is like a fragrance left behind. It can be subtle, floating quietly across the mind as the tide of feeling recedes.

releasing

I'm increasingly getting the sense that in order to continue healing and growing (whatever those words mean in an overall psycho-spiritual sense), I can't hold onto anything. Anything that's been said, done, thought, felt, believed, explored, experienced, absorbed, received, lost, even cherished. Like leaves on a tree, it all needs to be continuously let go of to make room for the growth of the new. Anything that's held onto seems to rot in time, eventually festering and stunting growth. What was once beautiful becomes ugly and warped if it isn't released.

Writing here is interesting because I can see it unfolding on a certain level. When I'm in the process of feeling certain emotions and expressing the thoughts that are emerging from or alongside them, it's clear to me that none of it should be held onto. Much of it is emerging from feelings of pain and confusion that I've carried for years. I can almost see the energetic difference between them. Some thoughts have a lightness and purity to them while others are muddy or heavy. They emerge from different spaces, different inner states and aspects, and so have different qualities.

Either way, nothing can be bypassed. It all needs to be moved through and experienced fully. Welcomed, experienced and then released, allowing this riverlike process to continue unabated. Remaining a conduit for it, an impartial observer/experiencer of it. Letting it wash through without clinging to any of it.

disillusionment

Tonight's theme is disillusionment. It's hitting me how much and for how long I've been led astray by others. People I trusted more than myself, more than my own instincts and intuition, which have turned out to be incredibly reliable compared to the people I've put my trust in.

It started from so early on. Being misled by family, whether intentionally or as a result of their insecurities, fears, agendas, delusions, opinions and beliefs. From the beginning I could see the truths they were denying but after having my perception invalidated and rejected so many times, my natural reliance and trust in it gradually turned to doubt. I was taught to dismiss what I saw and felt and to rely instead on the directions of others, which turned out to be a huge mistake. First with my parents and then with almost every other person and institution from then on. It's only after all these years that I've come to find that they've been unreliable almost across the board. They've mostly either been deluded, lying, manipulating, overconfident, full of unexamined programmed beliefs or, frankly, just wrong.

The whole realm of words and ideas is entirely its own thing. It's this mental hologram of concepts that we all carry around and project onto reality. When we read and talk, whatever we engage with gets added to our holographic impression of reality and evaluated according to sets of programmed beliefs, values and agendas. It has no existential reality, its only function aside from practical engagement is in the realms of human imagination and discourse. The word love is not love - it's an idea loosely indicating a potential aspect of experience. The word trust is not trust. The word sky is not the sky. The word God isn't God. All these words just trigger the hologram to bring up our ideas about the word along with associated feelings that we either get off on or despise. It's all completely abritrary and meaningless when it comes to reality. It's all its own separate thing, we're just engaging with and exchanging ideas that don't necessarily match up with what we're referring to. The number of times I've heard or felt pressured to use the word "love" while my intuition was telling me that it wasn't there makes me shudder to this day. Same with God, faith, honor, loyalty, empathy, all these beautiful and utterly misappropriated words that can so easily be used to coerce. Without awareness of the relativity of these conceptual subrealities it's incredibly easy to be waylaid by words and appearances.

I was really grieving today realizing this and its impacts on my perception and choices. First it came as anger from recognizing how much I've been let down (to put it lightly) by various people and systems, and then finally the grief at how I abandoned myself and reality for so much nonsense. When all along it turned out I've had this built-in guidance system continuously humming in the background and showing me the utterly simple and raw truth of people and situations as I encountered and engaged with them - instinct and intuition.

It's all there. The necessary data is just picked up and known. The truth is almost always obvious, just not necessarily to the eyes or ears. It's knowing without knowing exactly why. It's right there. Animals operate on it instinctively and we do too initially but we've been programmed so thoroughly to doubt and override it and rely on superficial impressions, words and formalities instead, which are all incredibly unreliable. We're taught to have everything externally validated or approved by someone with an arbitrary higher social position. What's the good in that if almost everyone is either deluded, lying, manipulating, overconfident, full of unexamined programmed beliefs or wrong? Their validation is more than likely going to come from an agenda, bias, fear, or something like that than the truth.

In the end, nothing has been more consistently reliable than gut instinct. I've just chosen to dismiss it over and over. I've chosen to mistrust it and to trust others instead, either from being fooled and compelled by superficial appearances or because of my conditioning to believe that I couldn't possibly be smart enough to trust myself. All of these disempowering beliefs pushed on me by those who benefited from my lack of confidence. Not smart enough, not good enough, not knowledgable enough, not capable enough. All of it bullshit from the start, mainly so I could be used for various ends.

Even in terms of learning. The only learning that I can say with certainty has been of real value has come from direct engagement with the world. Whatever I learn from experience gets integrated seamlessly, I don't need to think about it. It just gets added to the capacity to effortlessly know and navigate more effectively. Or maybe it just brings me back to my instincts and intuition - to recognizing once again that I failed to tune into and trust myself.

I really don't know about the things I've learned from the words of others. It's entirely possible that it's just compelling for me to conceptually explore and expand my mental hologram, in part because I don't trust myself and I'm still looking for someone else to tell me what's what. Has any of it improved my life or understanding? That's debatable. Maybe in relation to certain goals at times. Otherwise it's given me a lot of ideas and things to mess around with but the amount of it that can be confirmed without a doubt to have been true and useful is unclear. Almost everything that can be read or said relies on a framework of implicit beliefs and values which can almost always be deconstucted or collapsed with a bit of effort. Examine one deeply enough and thousands of other associated ideas fall apart like a house of cards. It's why all of us can have such vastly different views on what appear to be the same things. It's why we're always arguing. It's why everything I say here can and likely would be argued with no matter how carefully I wrote it out, and why those arguments could be considered perfectly reasonable from certain perspectives.

I'm going to start trusting my own judgement more. If it turns out I'm wrong about something or someone, I'll learn far more through experiencing it myself. But I don't care who it is, I won't take the word of someone else over what my instincts and intuition are telling me anymore.

trauma

Working through trauma seems, in essence, pretty simple. Accept that it happened, feel the feelings and let them and any outdated narratives go. It just requires a lot of attention, and I guess a certain amount of knowledge and awareness. Or maybe just to be in connection with the innate wisdom of the body and intuition, which most of us seem separated from to varying degrees. That chronic dissociation from having attention perpetually focused on thoughts and distractions. There's so much going on in the body that we're just not giving attention to, and without attention the flow of feeling seems to get stunted. And feeling seems to be the key to processing and release.

When attention is in the body things just seem to fall into place. Thoughts, judgements and reactions dissipate, memories are processed, feelings are felt. It all just works its way through on its own, though maybe slower than we'd like. Some memories float by, maybe you cry a little, laugh a little, change perspective on some things. For the most part you just sit there and watch it happen without interfering or resisting. Just breathing and feeling and watching.

seeking

The buddhas, christs and other prophets and masters throughout the ages had profound inner encounters which they then began to project outward, most visibly in the form of their words and actions. Consequently the rest of us become captivated and preoccupied with these words and actions of theirs rather than looking inward as they themselves did.

This is one of the great ironies of organized religion and spiritual seeking in general. Rather than doing as the masters did, the rest of us seek outside of ourselves by looking to them. They themselves often rejected what came from outside, the established religious and societal norms of their times, and instead found guidance and wisdom and God and truth within themselves.

If there's something to be learned from them it isn't in their words but in how they themselves came to understand.