Over on What do you Create?, I talked about how the world is formed, how we create our world. This invited further questions from Ariel and Jacob. To get a handle on questions of doership and attention, we first need to get an understanding of the process. As we step out of the box of the ego, the rules start shifting and can seem to become kind of loose. People may offer you this or that truth but it may seem to conflict or be paradoxical. This is because consciousness is the container. As consciousness shifts, so too what it contains.
It’s worth mentioning a simple observation. Our perspective determines our moods and thoughts and thus the decisions and actions we make. What determines our perspective at any given moment? The ego? Consciousness does. The ego has nothing to do with it. There is one doer and a bunch of different ways of seeing how that happens. The ego only claims doership out of fear when we cannot see.
I use the term perspective to qualify our worldview. The consequence of the value of consciousness we reflect. If you pay attention through the course of your day, you’ll notice that your perspective is continually shifting and thus your mood and other qualities.
We could say we tend to function in a certain range, that our perspective will tend to go up and down within certain limits. For example, we may be dominated by an inner exploration at home but shift into a more tribal mode at work or with family. The kinds of thoughts and moods and habits we experience will shift with the perspective, and the ‘performance’ we perceive in that area of life will correspond. In other words, if we tend to run from a lower perspective in certain areas of life, we’ll feel less empowered there and more likely to feel victimized or fearful.
A ‘spiritual experience’ is one that takes us out of our usual perspective range. Stretches the boundaries. When we begin to step out of the sense of being individual, our perspective can shift considerably. Whole new ways of seeing the world arise. But for a time, the old habits of mind are still present so we can still find ourselves ‘falling’ for the same old dramas. We may also have trouble differentiating the new me from the old me. This is because they are made of the same stuff. One is the wave, the other the ocean.
From a higher perspective, there is no states or perspectives. There is just one consciousness shifting and directing it’s attention. But we have to get there from here and that process is typically in a series of general stages or shifts in perspective. We step out of the person to step into the whole.
This leads to a few points:
– there is no one ‘true’ perspective – if there is a perspective, it’s not yet complete.
– the ‘truth’ of one perspective is as valid as any other
– we should not discount one truth nor try to blend several together
– the eternal truth cannot be conceived of by mind – we can only be it
Net result, one has to learn to simply hold the ideas loosely and not seek a right or absolute truth. Perhaps consider it like a scientist – as a working hypothesis until there is new evidence.
This whole arena is one of the biggest challenges of the path. And it can actually get quite a bit more complex for a time as more perspectives are added.
Let’s explore what Jacob raises first, doership. As we climb the ladder of perspective, the sense of person and doership gets stronger and stronger. We are the thinker, the dreamer, the actor of our lives. But as we begin to connect with our spiritual selves, a new perspective dawns with the experience of the witness. We find ourselves as the observer, a witness to our actions. The body and the field of action seem to take care of themselves, without any input from the me. We can live our lives like breathing. No personal doer is found.
We may then build concepts of no doer, but just like the ego idea of a doer, it too is just a concept to be seen through. As the old habits fall away, it can dramatically change what is important to us. It can seem that nothing needs to be done. The key thing to understand is that this is a transitional stage.
In the meantime, we have a body that lives in the world. While our perspective has changed, the play still goes on. What has changed is only how we see it. Things still need to be done, responsibilities still need to be met. The sage Vasishta talks about this at some length. It’s also a core of Krishna’s teaching in the Bhagavad Gita. We could say that a major part of the teachings of the last 2 avatars, Rama and Krisna, was on how to be in the world but not of it.
As our mind tries to grapple with this new experience, it looks for ideas that can fit. But as our perspective is still shifting, the concepts don’t seem to work. Or they are paradoxes. As the experience gets clearer and deeper, knowingness will arise that will satisfy the mind.
Let’s explore doership further. As the sense of being the doer falls away, the world can seem to be running on automatic. There can seem to be no doer. Further, it can seem like an illusion, that nothing is actually happening at all. As the perception refines, new values of experience begin to unfold and the deeper mechanics of becoming are revealed. The question of who is actually doing is answered. More deeply, who is having this dream that holds this vast illusion. More deeply still, I am That dreamer. More deeply, I am the dream, the dreamer, and the experience of dreaming. More deeply, there is no dream – it’s all real. More real than ever, because it is only silence, moving within itself.
When this experience is not yet fully established, you can imagine the possible range of perspectives. Some shrapnel of person grumping about the life I have created for mySelf in the dream thats not really a dream at all, imagined by someone else who’s really me. I am some guy plus all my past and future persons, along with every other life of every being and their history and every concept that may have arisen. Who do you want to be today? Anything and everything becomes both truth and illusion. Consider it transitional and it becomes easy to move forward. Just another experience. As attachment falls away at ever deeper levels, the need to know and the need for it to be a certain way falls away too. The more we release, the more we gain. That is the end of the seeker and the end of suffering.
Throughout all this, the fundamental rules of action remain, whoever we perceive to be doing or not doing.
To Ariel’s questions, thoughts arise from several places. Processing noise, associative like memory and habit, and occasional deeper signals. We could say their source determines their degree of truth. But even the deeper signals are affected by how clear the thought came though. How much associative baggage we tack on as the thought arises.
Our perspective of the moment then determines how we perceive that thought. Do we see them as background noise or as truth? That rather depends. Are they true? Maybe. Is it either or? Good time for inquiry. 😉
It’s worth noting that sub-conscious habit mind is exponentially faster than conscious, creative mind. This is partly why it’s tricky to see through it. It’s only when we can step out of it that we get effective.
When the silence is not fully established, there can seem to be a need to choose what we give our attention – silence or what arises. When it gets deeper, it will no longer be a choice. The silence will be eternal and never lost to what arises. We become able to have a focused thought while still in unbounded awareness. This is the art of Samyama that Patanjali outlines, the essence of manifestation. It is the beginning of truth.
Passion and other emotions are much the same way. They can seem to take us out of ourselves for a time. But eventually, even the deepest feelings will never overshadow the inner peace and love. We can experience the suffering of all beings at once and not be overshadowed. All is contained within That which we are.
In the meantime, it is a process of alternation. In India, they describe this as like dying the cloth. You dip it into the dye of silence, then bleach it in the sun of life. Repeat until the colour is fast.
In time, the duality of observer and object, of a sense of doer and doing, truth or not truth all collapse together into oneness. Everything is found to be contained in that, nothing is separate. Many of these questions become meaningless. The passion is the stillness, moving through this apparent form, created to have experiences as a way to know what is unknown. This is why the mind has questions – it is on a journey of self discovery. Welcome the questions, they are the journey, not the answers.
This path does not lead to a place we can get to or something we can achieve. It is not a journey to answers but rather a journey over answers. It is something we just allow. Just by surrendering our concepts of person, our ideas of doership, our concerns about what to focus on or what is right or best, all the answers and achievements. Step by step, letting it all go. Emptying out the vessel. It’s very easy really. We may need some concept to complete a step, then toss it out for the next one. At first it can seem difficult because we have such a habit of holding, such a desire to know who’s really doing all this. Who’s really in control. So we just bit by bit see it and let it go. See it and let it go. Soon that becomes the habit and it becomes a perpetual surrender.
In the seeking, everything is lost. In the stopping of seeking, everything is found.