As we recognize that as long as we function from limited and conditioned belief systems and programming, we will see that we cannot experience anything new. This is because we see the world through the lens of our beliefs. Thus, we must learn to quiet our mind if anything new could ever hope to begin. This recognition results in our being faced with a real question. How can I quiet my mind in a deep way? An even better question may be the more basic one – can I deeply quiet my mind? Let us continue to do what we’ve been doing and look at our assumptions and beliefs that are operating within us as we propose this question.
Can We Change Ourselves?
We live in a culture that is seemingly ruled by the notion that in a fundamental sense we are not OK as we are. The dominant religion tells us that we are a state of “sin” by the very act of being born. And even if we don’t consider ourselves to be adherents of this view, we find that every ad, every promotion, and nearly everything we think about ourselves comes with a basic sense that there’s something wrong with us and that to fix these problems we must change ourselves. We must buy this or that product, have a certain type of friend or mate, and wear this type of clothing, etc. The libraries and bookstores have large sections devoted to self-help books, magazines, and articles all of which claim to offer solutions that will make us better, happier, richer, more successful, and fix all that is wrong with us. This operates so deeply that as a therapist I have become aware that it is difficult to recognize exactly how deep it goes. One example is the degree to which we ask our friends for advice. Ask yourself how comfortable you are working something out for yourself and refusing to seek any input from anyone you know. Why is this so hard? Do you trust yourself enough to be satisfied with your own discovery or knowing? (I’m not referring to the asking of something from an expert on something about which you have no knowledge).
Is It OK to be Who We Are?
It is important to look deeply at the question of whether or not we truly believe we are not enough, that we must change ourselves in order to fix what’s wrong with us, etc. We need to see how far this goes. To do this all we need to do is listen to our thoughts. Just sit down and do this. Listen to the words. Write them down if you need to. And when you do this, you might wonder what would be left from all those thoughts if you began to consider that you are simply who you are, that you are OK, and that there’s nothing to change about all that. Would your mind be silent or at least very quiet if you ceased to be a problem to yourself?
So, what does one do now? Can we stop our thoughts? Since the thoughts are constantly going in a manner that one tradition describes as ‘the crew that never rests’, we would be changing ourselves to try to stop it. Here is where the work we have done so far can assist us.
True Recognition of the Power of One’s Conditioning
When we realize that we cannot experience anything new as long as we are controlled by limited beliefs, we will have recognized a fundamental truth. When one realizes this, that we cannot change ourselves, that truth will make us very quiet. The desire to change ourselves is one of the primary aspects of our conditioning. Let me put this in a different way. As you read this, do you find that you want to change yourself in order to have new experiences and thoughts? Well, it’s one’s conditioning that’s thinking that. The desire of the old for the new, IS the old! I will repeat: The desire to change ourselves is the old way of operating. When we fully, totally, and completely see this, we will immediately quiet. You will know with total certainty that there is nothing to think about, nothing to change, and nothing to fix. There may be life problems to solve, of course, but that isn’t what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about what is necessary for Wisdom-Intelligence-Love to emerge in us.
When we discover that past conditioning is limiting us, that very perception is the seed of Intelligence. The discovery that I cannot do anything to bring about the new is itself the beginning of the new emerging in us. Why? Simply because it is the truth. This is the beginning of freedom and openness. As long as we are controlled by all the automatic thoughts composing our internal dialogue we are not free. This very Knowing is the beginning of Intelligence and simultaneously the beginning of the possible emergence of the new. But can we remain in this state of not-knowing for very long? For most of us, it lasts at best for a very short time.
What We Are Seeking
To briefly summarize, the nature of the new state can be stated quite clearly:
- The development of openness to new ideas and paradigms. This is true open skepticism.
- Learning how to distinguish between new ideas that take you forward in an evolutionary way from those that do not.
The Essence of the Enlightenment Intensive Technique
In the technique used in the Enlightenment Intensive, (read here) the practice requires that after one has expressed what has come up as a result of asking the question “Who am I?”, one is asked to return to groundlessness and again contemplate the question. It is this act that is critical for the participant. The content of what is expressed to one’s partner is the ‘old brain’ in operation. What makes this worthwhile is when it is seen as the old brain in operation. That’s the nature of what is expressed. The return to the asking of the question is what creates the space for this to be seen and recognized. The ‘old brain’ begins to quiet the more the contents are seen as simply the same-old thoughts, reactions, feelings, emotions, etc. which have composed our internal life. And when this realization is maintained long enough, something amazing can happen. The truly new can begin to be felt, new thoughts begin to emerge, and we find that we feel a sense of freedom unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before.
In Part 5 we will take a look at the experience of Wisdom-Intelligence-Love.