Monday, July 6, 2020

Two Levels of Consciousness

     "Everyone is normal until you get to know them." Dave Sim

     "Bow to your own weakness, your own craziness, your own resistance. Congratulate yourself for them. Truly it is a marvel, the extent to which we are selfish, confused, lazy, resentful, and so on. We come by these things honestly. We have been well trained to manifest them at every turn. This is the prodigy of human life bursting forth at its seams, it is the effect of our upbringing, our society, which we appreciate even as we are trying to tame it and bring it gently round to the good. So we make offerings to the demons inside us and we develop a sense of humorous appreciation for our own stupidity. We are in good company! We can laugh at ourselves and everyone else.”
       Norman Fischer, Shambhala Sun, March 2013

     ALL of us have (at least) two levels of consciousness or 'kinds of psychological history':
     "One is the history of pain, discouragement, missed opportunities, unfulfilled hopes, and unrealized possibilities in relationships. Such a history of neurosis has a compelling quality that can freeze the therapeutic relationship into an endless dissection, searching for the origin of inhibited development. The implicit question becomes, ‘Where did things go wrong?’ Such a story is frequently filled with fear, guilt, blame, and aggression; it resembles the history of nations at war, where one war inexorably triggers another in the ageless recycling of insult and territorial revenge. The story line threads together a variety of memories with an explanation of why one event follows another and how one got to be the way one is.
     On the other hand, embedded within the history of neurosis is another kind of history – the history of SANITY. The history of sanity is episodic and often appears fleeting and subtle. This history of wakefulness, dignity, and patience is often lost by people in despair. To perceive the history of sanity, we need the curiosity and effort to look beyond immediate appearances
     When the psychotherapist relates directly to wakefulness and becomes curious about the history of sanity, a different kind of relationship can develop: one of mutual appreciation and trust, not based on dependency, hope, or even memory." 
       Edward Podvoll MD in John Welwood ed. “Awakening the Heart. East / West Approaches to Psychotherapy and the Healing Relationship.” Shambhala, 1983.

     In Zen meditation - zazen - we 'just sit.' We sit still, letting go of all the baggage - all our habitual physical / mental / emotional gymnastics. What remains is our original nature - 'our original face, before our mother & father were born.'
     These gymnastics can have a lot of momentum & can keep arising, but instead of habitually entertaining / maintaining / reinforcing these, in this form of meditation we only observe their arising, abiding & natural passing away (which all phenomena do) and we keep embodying our original nature
     With patient skillful practice, the intrusiveness of the gymnastics progressively, strikingly diminishes, and gradually & progressively we embody our original nature with growing consistency, regardless of internal / external conditions.

     "The term 'perennial philosophy' was coined by Agostino Steuco (1497-1548) and refers to a fourfold realization: 
          (1) there is only one Reality (call it, among other names, God, Mother, Tao, Allah, Dharmakaya, Brahman, or Great Spirit) that is the source and substance of all creation; 
          (2) that while each of us is a manifestation of this Reality, most of us identify with something much smaller, that is, our culturally conditioned individual ego; 
          (3) that this identification with the smaller self gives rise to needless anxiety, unnecessary suffering, and cross-cultural competition and violence; and 
          (4) that peace, compassion, and justice naturally replace anxiety, needless suffering, competition, and violence when we realize our true nature as a manifestation of this singular Reality. 
     The great sages and mystics of every civilization throughout human history have taught these truths in the language of their time and culture. It is the universality and timelessness of this wisdom that makes it the perfect focus for the spiritually independent seeker."
       Rami Shapiro. “Perennial Wisdom for the Spiritually Independent.” SkyLight Paths, 2013.

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