November 10, 2023•1,513 words
Some miscellaneous reflections:
Recently been slipping into the old misery mires of the mind. Swimming through internalized complaints, frustrations, resentments, fears, feeling trapped, feeling alone, feeling helpless, feeling hopeless, feeling burdened, feeling stressed, all these kinds of thoughts and feelings coursing through my mind and body throughout the days. I guess it's to be expected, since I drastically cut back on some pleasurable coping/distraction strategies that I've leaned on pretty much my whole life. I'm starting to come out of it a bit though, thankfully. It usually starts with the recognition that "oh, it's happening again", meaning that I'm slipping back into the conditioned habit of focusing on the "problems" rather than enjoying and appreciating life/the experience of being myself. So, the problems remain and in all likelihood will persist until my dying day. Let them then!! In the meantime, I shall enjoy some tea (metaphorically).
I've been making an effort to get out of my head and into the body/sensations whenever these things come up. Recognizing that the unprocessed feelings are generating the thoughts, and the thoughts perpetuate and strengthen the feelings. When I'm really able to let the thoughts go and get into the body, it usually doesn't take too long for them to dissolve and for a sense of peace and contentedness to return. Sometimes it can take longer but usually it's not more than 5 minutes or so. Pretty wild.
Felt drawn to renew my efforts to stop feeding the mind/concepts and transition more into being and interfacing directly with reality. It just became abundantly clear to me once again that there's a marked distinction between the two. Everything I learn is being added to a mental database that gets superimposed onto reality, but which doesn't necessarily reflect it accurately (since ideas/concepts/words can never sufficiently reflect the total contextual complexity of anything). It's quite insidious, really. I get better and better at thinking about and communicating ideas and stories which are conceptually compelling but not necessarily as useful as they seem. So I end up fooling myself and others who are somewhat dissociated from physical reality and overly invested and absorbed in the conceptual and imaginal, which is most modern humans. The mental database continues to grow and become more complex and efficient in relation to its input, while other aspects of myself remain disconnected somewhere behind the screen of ideas, images and words floating through the imagination and memory banks. It almost creates a sensation of partial anorexia, or like one pet is being fed too much while others are whimpering with hunger, and I keep feeding the one hoping it'll fill the stomachs of the others. They're being neglected, essentially, and my attention keeps going to the pet I'm more comfortable and familiar with. The parts of me that are starving have little to do with the mental. It's so compelling to keep feeding this mental part, but no matter how much it's fed it doesn't necessarily translate to the world of action, play and connection, the world where the rest of me must be fed through direct engagement with the world. And this requires a completely distinct area of learning - that which can come only through experience. This is where the distinction between knowledge and experience comes. I can know about something that I've encountered and experienced myself, and I can absorb knowledge about things through talking and reading. Direct experience is still limited in some ways but it's a more reliable databank to draw from since I can confirm the validity of its conclusions myself, and this occurs intuitively and instantly in reality. Learned knowledge is far less reliable since it's usually shared by some guy somewhere who may or may not be totally sincere, intelligent, aware and discriminating and all that and is then filtered through the limitations and biases of my own mind, though it can sometimes be useful in filling in gaps in direct experience and expanding possibilities and willingness to explore reality. The problem comes in when knowledge becomes a substitute for experience, which is certainly a risk for me. I'd like to lean more towards encountering and experiencing reality with a sense of openness towards that which remains out of my experiential awareness, perhaps while acknowledging and accepting my probable clumsiness in doing so and embracing the mistakes, setbacks and failures that are sure to happen on the way towards more experience.
Following this realization, I've decided to once again step back from some things that I tend to find very compelling. Namely reading/learning about topics like spirituality, religion, psychology and philosophy which expand my ideas while taking time, energy and attention away from MY life. That which is unfolding and awaiting my attention within and around this particular body/mind, not in someone else's body/mind somewhere across space and time. It's all very compelling but more than being of use it's obscuring perception and attention of what's more important, real and reliable, which is what I can encounter, enjoy and learn from through my own imminent engagement. So that's another coping strategy that I'm stepping back from...wonder what'll come to fill in the gap? Hopefully I move towards the courage to let MY life/world start to enter more.
I've decided to let go of all ideas and conceptions of God. It occured to me that I've been incorporating ideas about God through things I've read without being sure of their validity/accuracy, and I don't want to fall into that trap. Like when certain texts and teachers claim that meditation is communion with God, and that God is Love and such. Depending on what the writers/teachers are trying to convey these can be useful but they're the kinds of things that can very easily turn into kinds of conceptual imaginings rather than what's really being experienced at the moment, which may not be so clearly defined as communion or Love or anything really. I might just be sitting there and hearing the fan blowing, and that's all that's really going on for me, despite my mind saying that God's present and such, which may be true in a sense but isn't being EXPERIENCED, only thought. I'd rather stay in a state of uncertainty about the innumerable experiential facets of Life without knowing what the heck any of it really is than start thinking I know any damn thing at all. I'll lean towards using the word/concept of Life to describe the invisible/intangible source and the experiencable movements of reality which I'm immersed in/surrounded by, but I'll drop believing I know anything about it. I've experienced and interpreted aspects of it from my own vantage point/mental and physical processing as this being, that's all. Even the strong sense of knowing that came with the awakenings are better let go of than held onto. They came and went, and as long as I'm holding onto them I'm not fully available for new and possibly conflicting data. The fact is, as strong as a sense of knowing and certainty can be, it could always ALWAYS still be wrong, unhelpful or incomplete. I'd rather remain in a state of doubt and alertness and continue to question whatever comes and appears to be. From now until the end. I'd rather remain skeptical, curious and alert than hold to rigid/false certainty. As far as I'm concerned moving ahead, everything is a distinct "maybe". At best, a "probably".
Given this relinquishing of certainty, I'm now feeling both sad and I suppose relieved that I haven't shared some of the things I've experienced while I was in a state of certainty about them. Particularly those things centered around God/spirituality, awakening and enlightenment. I'm totally fine with sharing the process as it unfolds, but I don't like the idea of a passing experience being cemented as Truth. It's hard but the best practice probably is something closer to the practice of making beautiful art in the sand and then brushing it all away. The thing is though, I'm not sure if I'm really ready for that. There's something in me that wants to share it anyways. I'm just not sure how to go about that without claiming to know, though as I write this an idea has occured to me. Some kind of disclaimer maybe? Something that makes it know that what I'm expressing and sharing is only a reflection of a moment in time for me, not an ultimate statement about anything.
Last reflection. I'm going to start ever so slightly nudging my approach away from seriousness and towards playfulness. So even doing something like this, my internal feeling/approach can be one of dryly carrying out a task OR it can be of enjoying what I'm doing. I think almost everything can be approached in various ways like this, and if I can remember to shift the emphasis ever so slightly it may start moving me away from heaviness and seriousness and towards more lightness and fun in everything I do. Let's see how often and for how long I remember...