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My observation is that much, if not all of human misery is due to a mistaken sense of identity. We imagine ourselves to be someone separate, someone limited, someone in need of protection. And then we invest huge amounts of energy and anxiety into our endeavors to keep this separate someone from death or harm.
My biggest passion at present is discovering ways to help end much of this unnecessary misery and suffering. Hence much of what you read on this blog.
We each are different, unique expressions of life. There are no two people that I’ve ever met who respond to the same things in exactly the same way. And this, I believe is one of the major shortcomings of many of the teachings that suggest how to discover true freedom and peace. All too often the teachings present a one-size-fits all approach. And, I too am guilty of this!
Ultimately, no teaching or pointing or technique is “it” anyway. At best they merely point someone to see the ever-present simplicity of being for herself or himself. That is all. And the ever-present simplicity of being is so completely simple that it’s impossible to describe it accurately with words. It’s just something that one may discover. And upon discovering it, then it is obvious.
By and large, I believe (at least as of right now) that it is only our adherence to concepts that seemingly obscures what is completely unavoidable. Upon seeing what is as it is, then it is obvious that most people are imagining themselves to be someone or something that simply isn’t true. Most people imagine themselves to be definable, particularly by their past or their appearance or their personality. Yet it is completely evident from here that no such definitions exist. The definitions are mere fantasy.
In working with people, this is the challenge: simply to play with all of the definitions and self-images and self-concepts until they all loosen up enough and one sees that there is only just this. Nothing separate. No conceptual objects. Just this present happening, which is what you truly are. Or, sometimes it seems more accurate to say the spaciousness in which this is happening.
Both are pointing to the same, of course. And neither is precisely correct. It’s just pointing.
So I experiment with ways to point and dance around this in hopes of dislodging the concepts that obscure clarity. And I may well post more of these little exercises and explorations here over time. For today, I want to share with you one curious exploration that I happened upon just by chance (hah!) yesterday.
I have been experimenting with various ways of playing with perception that can be useful. Seeing what is as it is, it is perfectly evident that all objects, including thought objects and sense objects, are merely conceptual. There are no “real” objects. It’s just a very persuasive illusion. There is, of course, nothing wrong with the illusion. It is quite beautiful. It’s just that when one believes in the illusion of separate objects, it can be painful.
So I was playing with this last night, and I found an interesting experiment. Try this for yourself.
Notice what is just behind your eyes. Do this with direct experience. Often times there is a habit of looking to thought to give you an answer. And then you come up with things like “my brain” or “the backs of my eyes” or something like that. But notice that in actual experience you don’t perceive those things. So notice what it is that you actually perceive.
I’ll tell you what I perceive: spaciousness. Right behind my eyes is alive, awake, spaciousness.
Now, what do you find in direct experience? Don’t look for spaciousness. Don’t look for anything. Because then you’ll just find a concept. Instead, see what you actually find there. Notice that you cannot see any form behind your eyes. Thought will tell you that you cannot see at all behind your eyes. And yet, what is your actual experience? Is there not formlessness seen behind the eyes? It’s just that you are accustomed to looking only for objects.
Next, look to this screen. And then notice the space between your eyes and the screen.
Is this space in front of your eyes different from what is just behind your eyes?
Now, allow yourself to perceive what you find behind your eyes and in front of your eyes at the same time. Don’t try to do this by thinking about it. Just allow it to happen effortlessly.
I would very much like to hear your experience with this exploration. Whatever your experience, it is only an experience, of course. It is not “the truth.” However, I believe that this curious exploration may be a useful pointer. I find it to be quite an enjoyable experience.
Today I took a look at what John Sherman is up to these days. Upon doing so, my heart began overflowing. I am truly amazed at John’s consistent authenticity, honesty, humanity, and generosity. And if you have not yet, then I encourage you to head over to justonelook.org. There you can find out more about what John and Carla are doing with Just One Look.
I first learned of John through a friend of mine, Brian Marc Zimberg, over a decade ago. John lives in Ojai, California. I was living in the San Fernando Valley. And when Gangaji would come to town, John was usually at the events. He always had a humble, quiet presence that drew my curiosity in him.
I only ever attended one meeting with John. I don’t recall the exact year, though I suspect it was 2003. There was always something about him that was clearly genuine. Yet the meeting didn’t give me the “high” that I was looking for. It didn’t give me the “high” I got from a Gangaji meeting. Which is, of course, one of John’s tremendous gifts, and one of the things that I now so appreciate about him and his message. It is something that I hope to communicate to others as well. That you don’t need the high. You don’t need something extraordinary. That all the search for something extraordinary is what composes much of the suffering.
But I didn’t see that then.
Over the years I heard this and that about John. I was always glad to hear that he was still sharing. Because John is one of the rare people who shares so simply and authentically. He is one of the rare people who demystifies. And that is a gift.
Only today did I check out what John’s been up to. And it’s awesome! Since 2010 he’s vastly simplified and demystified even more. He has a simple message that I know can change lives. I know it because I experience it.
That message (and I’m paraphrasing here, so you’ll have to visit justonelook.org for his wording) is:
Turn your attention to the direct experience of what it is to be you. Not the you that you think you are. Just the direct experience of yourself as you are. As you always have been. That which does not change. That which does not come and go. Just turn your attention to that, and catch a glimpse of yourself as you are with the intention to see yourself directly and clearly.
John and Carla have set a goal of getting this simple message to at least 700 million people across the globe. John believes that this can form a critical mass that can turn the tide of insanity to sanity.
John’s language is very different from my own. And at the surface there are many things that could seem to be in contradiction. But the beautiful thing about the simplicity of being is that it welcomes everything. This is always it. Always this. And this takes many expressions. All always this.
So I am excited by seeing what John and Carla are doing. I encourage you to take a look. First, take a look for yourself at yourself as you are – that sense of yourself that is always here. See this first. Then take a look at justonelook.org. And if you feel moved, please consider donating to their organization. They are a non-profit organization with a tremendous heart. They have been changing lives in a very real, very simple, very honest way for many years now, and every dollar helps. They make all their meetings, recordings, and so forth free to all. You can donate at their website here.
For those of you who have become fans of this site for the nonduality writings, then I encourage you to read this anyway. Freedom is freedom. It’s the freedom to be who you are. Unafraid. Willing to say yes to everything. The ultimate recognition that there is only ever just this.
I notice that so many people fear food. I was one of them. Discovering true freedom to eat what you desire is liberating. And, it has health benefits too!
Ever since recovering from decades of anorexia and related restrictive eating disorders, I have been a huge fan of 180 Degree Health. Well, I should qualify that. I have been a huge fan of Matt Stone’s research and the information that he publishes about metabolism and diet recovery. Frankly, much of the rest of what appears on the site regarding mental and emotional health isn’t my cup of tea.
But really, I should say much of what used to appear on that site. Why? Because recently 180 Degree Health has gone subscription-only. It’s still free. In fact, in some ways it’s even better than it was before. However, (and this is a big however) with 180 Degree Health as it is now, it seems unlikely that anyone will stumble upon the potentially life-changing information on the site.
(I’ve studied enough about internet marketing to understand and respect some of the decisions to make 180dh subscription-only. I merely want to make the essential information available in a search-engine-friendly format here. And if you want more information, then go to 180dh and subscribe for free to get the newsletter and information for how to download Matt’s books for free.)
So in this post I want to share some of what I believe is the most important information in regard to metabolism and diet recovery.
I work with a fair number of people who have chronic Lyme disease. And I have yet to meet a single person with chronic Lyme disease who is eating enough.
180 Degree Health was what first really opened my eyes to the reality that I wasn’t eating enough. And had I not gotten that important information, I may well have remained sick.
People with chronic Lyme disease aren’t the only ones who don’t eat enough.
Lots of people don’t eat enough.
If you are on a GAPS diet or any sort of selective carbohydrate diet or a low carbohydrate diet or a paleo diet or a primal diet or an auto-immune paleo diet or a zero carbohydrate diet or a raw vegan diet or an 80/10/10 diet or a fruititarian diet or a (non-raw) vegan diet. Or even if you’re slamming green smoothies like there’s no tomorrow. Or if you’re on a diet that your naturopath or your chiropractor or your alternative MD or your mainstream MD put you on because you tested to be sensitive or intolerant or genetically predisposed to be unable to eat certain foods. If you’re on a grain-free diet. Or a gluten-free diet. Or if you’re trying to lose weight by restricting calories. Or any other sort of diet.
Then chances are, you’re not eating enough.
If you’re like 99% of the people I talk to, then you find this hard to believe.
But if you’re like 99% of the people I talk to, then when you start eating enough, you’ll feel better.
It may not happen overnight that everything will get better. In fact, some aspects of eating enough may be uncomfortable for a while.
But 99% of the people I communicate with about this feel WAY better when they eat enough.
How much is enough?
Way more than you think.
I spoke with a woman with chronic Lyme disease a few months ago. She was eating 1200 calories a day. She knew that was too little. She knew she should be eating 1600 calories a day.
Try 2500. Minimum.
Weightwatchers lies. The USDA lies. The dieticians lie. The nutritionists lie. The gurus lie. Your mind lies.
If you feel fatigued or if you have cold hands and feet or if you have insomnia or if you experience mood swings or if you experience anxiety or if you have frequent urination or if you have cold intolerance then you may well not be eating enough.
Eating enough is important. Way more important than you’ve imagined.
And the primary problem with all the diets is that it’s nearly impossible to eat enough calories on those diets.
Yes, you can come up with arguments as to why this is not true or why it is suspect. You can hold to your ideologies and your beliefs in whole grains and spinach and kale juice or a strict low carb paleo diet as the perfect diet.
But eat enough calories from highly-palatable sources for a few months and see if you don’t feel better. And then, maybe all the ideologies can go out the window.
I like the numbers from Youreatopia.com. Minimums. 2500 calories a day for females over 25. 3000 calories for <25 females and 25+ males. 3500 calories a day for pregnant or lactating women and males <25.
And those are the minimums. I personally was eating close to 5000 calories a day for a while during my own healing. I hear reports from people who eat far more than that. I hear reports from 5′ women who eat 10,000 calories a day during healing. There is no upper limit as long as there is an appetite.
When I suggest this to people they tend to fall into one of two categories. There are those who embrace this and start eating enough. And there are those who hold to ideologies and refuse to eat enough.
In my experience, those who eat enough feel better. Those who don’t eat enough keep searching for answers as to why they feel so terrible.
Is eating enough a panacea? No. Sometimes people have other problems. But no matter what, eating enough seems to support better health.
And sometimes, it’s the answer to the long list of health complaints.
I make these suggestions in my book, Healing Chronic Lyme Disease Naturally (which is going to be free on December 7 – December 11!,) along with some other suggestions. And I truly believe that this is one of the big missing pieces of what keeps people stuck in chronic Lyme: not eating enough. So I cannot emphasize enough now important I think this is.
And, as I’ve already suggested, it’s really hard to eat enough when eating only “healthy” foods. Ironically, I see people feeling better and regaining health by eating the foods that they thought they weren’t supposed to eat: ice cream, hot dogs, sugar, chocolate, caramel, cookies, cake, fried foods, white rice, white pasta, bread, cheese, whole milk, and so on.
At first, if you’re really sick, then it may require a commitment to eating enough even if you don’t have an appetite for it. Just focus on the most calorie-dense foods that you can stomach.
Eventually, ideally, let your appetite be your guide. If you’re hungry, eat. Eat whatever you want. Whatever sounds appetizing. Whatever you crave. As long as you are eating at least the minimums.
And you’ll probably gain weight.
My suggestion is that you get over it. Seriously. Because an extra 10, 20, 30, 50, 100 pounds is easily worth it if you get to enjoy life again and have energy and sleep through the night and go for walks and do things without feeling panic and exhaustion and anxiety and fear.
I know that sounds easier said than done.
But actually. It’s easier done than said.
I welcome your comments as always.
My latest book, No One Home: a Guidebook to Discovering the Simplicity of Being, is now available for purchase from Amazon.com here.
As with all my books, I will be running a 5-day promotion in the very near future during which the book will be available for free. Until then, it’s just $0.99. After the promotion I’ll likely be increasing the price. In other words, I encourage you to sign up on my mailing list to get notified when I’m running the promotion. (You can sign up over to the right -> )
This is a short book. It’s just 42 pages. And in my opinion it packs a wallop. I write all my books as though I would be sending them back in time to myself some 5, 10, 15, or even 20 years ago. These are the books that I wish I could have read back then.
I honestly don’t know of any book that does what this book does. I walk you through self-inquiry relentlessly. I reveal the common pitfalls – the places where I got blocked and where I see lots of people stumbling and falling and getting stuck. And I endeavor to clarify these points and move you through them to discover the utter simplicity of being.
I truly believe that this is the most useful book on self-inquiry anywhere. I’d be glad to hear your feedback.
As with all my books, your feedback is helpful in making them even better. One of the wonderful things about Kindle publishing and print-on-demand print publishing is that I can make updates to the text rather easily. So any time that you offer insightful feedback – things that need clarification or questions that you have – that helps make the books even better. My goal is to publish the very best books in the world on the subjects that I write about. And your feedback helps ensure that is the case.
Most of you know my story. So you know that I suffered from severe restrictive eating disorders for a long time, starting when I was around 11 years old.
Anorexia is a delusional state. Hence the title of this post.
I maintain that many more people suffer from the anorexia delusion than fit into the clinical category of anorexia nervosa. And my hope with this post is to share with you a snapshot of what the anorexia delusion is as well as how to see through the delusion to a life of peace and freedom.
The common myth about anorexia nervosa is that it is about food.
In my experience it is not. It manifests as a dysfunctional relationship with food. But food is not the heart of it.
The second common myth about anorexia nervosa is that it is about control.
In my experience it is not. It manifests as an seeming need to control. But control is not the heart of it.
So what is the anorexia delusion? What is the experience? I’ll share with you my own experiences briefly to explain my view.
When I was coming of age I began to notice that I had breasts. I don’t recall any specific incident in which anyone told me that was shameful. But I felt shameful about it.
I tried to change my body in various ways. None of it worked. And after a few years, I arrived at the idea that I needed to lose weight in order to solve my problem.
Thus began a 20 year fixation. But what is important to note is that the fixation itself morphed until it had very little, if anything, to do with the original causes. Instead, it became an conceptual identity. It was a habit. And it was entirely based upon a mistaken sense of self.
Everyone’s specific story is different. But after communicating with people with a variety of eating disorders – whether categorized as anorexia, bulimia, EDNOS, or even binge eating (believe it or not) – I have noticed a pattern.
The superficial specifics differ. But the underlying problem is living a delusion.
A delusion is defined as a firmly held belief or impression that contradicts rational argument or consensus reality.
And that wasn’t even the worst of it. At that point in my life I was able to walk. I was able to sleep. I had digestive problems, but nothing compared to what followed for the next four years.
I had extremely low energy. And I had no idea why. I was completely in the dark about it. I had no idea that I was starving. If my shirt was off in this photo you would be able to see all of my ribs in detail.
But I didn’t see that. I had no clue.
This is delusion.
When you are starving and you don’t recognize it, that is delusion.
When you are chronically over-exercising and you can’t understand why you feel so exhausted and anxious and fearful, that is delusion.
And this delusion is fundamentally rooted in a false sense of self.
So right now, do this exercise. Imagine that you are seeing yourself as an observer might. See your body as an observer might. See your behavior as an observer might. And what do you notice?
Is there a discrepancy between what you normally see and what an observer sees?
Now, once a person sees that he or she is living a delusion, the next thing that can happen is that he or she will either feel overwhelmed or resolve to fight against the delusion.
Either way is more delusion.
And more delusion only serves to maintain the suffering.
The solution is to see through the delusion.
The quickest and most direct way I know of to do this is to see through the fundamental confusion in regard to who you are.
Notice that all the thoughts and habits and patterns and beliefs center around one character: you.
Yet notice that this central you character is merely an idea, a concept. It’s not the reality.
This is easy to see when someone points it out to you. So let me give you an example of what I mean from my own experience.
I used to have an idea of who I was. And that idea involved a very limited set of possible experiences. “Me” only involved calm sensations. Pleasant sensations. Calm thoughts. Pleasant thoughts.
If I experienced anxious or unpleasant sensations or thoughts then I felt that those were not me. They were intruding on me. I had to get rid of them.
For me thoughts about sugar or McDonald’s seemed to provoke anxious and unpleasant sensations. So sugar and McDonald’s were no allowed.
There was me. The real me. The calm and pleasant me.
And then there was sugar and McDonald’s. Anxious and unpleasant. Not me.
So I was constantly struggling with this conflict.
Here’s the thing: the reality was that sometimes I felt anxious and unpleasant. So in actual, direct experience there was anxiety and unpleasantness.
That was the reality.
My idea of myself was in conflict with the reality.
The delusion was to try to alter reality to fit my concept of myself. That was the mistake.
Can you see how this sort of conflict can only ever result in suffering? Reality will not conform to my concepts. Reality is primary.
This is why seeing through the limited, false self-concept is liberating.
So right now, take a look and see if you can find the character that you call yourself. Refuse to settle for any concept. Refuse to settle for an idea. Refuse to settle for a thought.
Remain with direct experience. And see if you can find anything separate from what is happening right now. Before you apply names or labels to what is happening, simply remain with what is directly.
Can you see that reality, direct experience, is all that is? There isn’t something separate from this. The ideas and concepts about something else seem to reference things, but upon closer inspection these ideas and concepts are merely ideas and concepts – nothing more.
The ideas about what you are allowed to feel and experience and think are merely ideas. Let them go. Let them happen. See them for what they are, and recognize that you are free.
Then, choosing behavior that supports your well-being and health is natural and effortless.
I’m not suggesting that the problem of anorexia nervosa will be instantly and forever changed by seeing through the delusion of a separate self. Because the problem or anorexia nervosa also requires some behavioral changes. For example, it requires that the person begins to consistently eat when hungry and eat in an unrestricted fashion based on true intuitive need and desire rather than concepts and ideas.
Yet seeing through the delusion of the separate self can, in my experience, liberate the mind-body to tune into and act upon intuitive cues with greater ease.
And furthermore, seeing through the delusion of the separate self liberates the mind-body from suffering more broadly.
As always, I welcome your questions and comments. I enjoy hearing from you.
My latest book, “Discovering Freedom from Obsession and Compulsion” is now available from Amazon.com. Please do NOT purchase this book yet. It is currently priced at just $0.99 USD. However, I will be running a promotion in a few weeks, and it will be free to download. So if you can hold off for a few weeks, you can get it for free.
I’ll post here when I’m running that promotion. I’ll also send out an email to my mailing list. So if you want to get an email notification, then sign up.[yks-mailchimp-list id=”c9020440d0″]
I’ve got a few more books in the works, and I’ll post updates when those are available.
Also, I’m not sure I ever mentioned here that I’ve got two other fairly recent books up on Amazon. Already Awake, Already Free and Healing Chronic Lyme Disease Naturally are both available as ebooks. Both are priced at $0.99. However, as with Discovering Freedom from Obsession and Compulsion, I’ll be running promotions for these books too in the coming weeks. So hold off on purchasing them because they’ll be free during a 5-day period in the next few weeks.
In my experience suffering is complicated. Anorexia is complicated. Depression is complicated. Obsessive thinking is complicated. Compulsive behavior is complicated. Chronic Lyme disease is complicated.
But meeting what is directly as it is, in my experience, is utterly simple. It’s so simple that it’s effortless. There’s no doing whatsoever.
And in my experience, this is the end of suffering.
Does it mean that there’s no longer any pain? No thoughts? No loss? No sadness? No fear? No compulsions? No sickness?
No. Of course not.
But the direct, immediate simplicity of being is so utterly simple that there’s no room for any complications whatsoever.
So everything that happens is seen to be simply what is. Thoughts aren’t so much thoughts. Loss isn’t so much loss. Fear isn’t so much fear. It is just what is.
Which doesn’t mean that I’m indifferent.
It just means that none of it is happening to me. It’s not about me. The one who is supposed to be at the center of it all isn’t there. Never was.
There is this. Being. Happening.
Which may appear to be personal. It may appear to be about someone.
But upon looking, it is evident that there is only this.
So it is puzzling that there are so many complicated teachings. Even teachings of supposed non-duality and self-realization are often extremely complicated.
But there’s no complication in direct experience.
Whatever anyone else says, no matter how complicated they make it out to be, no matter how much you want to figure it out, no matter how afraid you are of not figuring it out…
Just become simple. Utterly simple. Just for one moment.
Let all of the rest of it go.
And become curious.
Look for yourself. Really. Literally. Look for the one you call yourself.
And see what you find.
It’s that simple.
Obsessive thinking and compulsive behavior used to dominate my life. If I wasn’t deeply asleep then I was involved in obsessive thinking and compulsive behavior. And it was hell.
This is why I’ve been so passionate about sharing with others the possibility of discovering true peace and freedom after suffering from obsessions and compulsions and the general hell of OCD.
Because hardly anyone else is sharing this information. And yet, it’s so much easier than you can imagine. In fact, it’s utterly simple. It’s so simple that you can’t do it. it’s not a doing.
Just notice that all the obsession and the compulsion is a doing. It’s very effortful. It’s hard work.
Hell. I used to work so hard at the obsession and compulsion – and the trying to get rid of it (which is yet another layer of doing!) – that I was exhausted before I even got out of bed in the morning.
“Oh, no! Not another day of hell!” I’d think. And then more thinking. And more trying to get rid of it. And more compulsion. And more trying to get rid of it.
For those who aren’t yet familiar with my story, let me briefly explain that it was extreme. I’m talking about sheer panic at least 50% of my waking hours. I’m talking about living out of a cargo van as a (very poor) strategy for dealing with anxiety. I’m talking about eating nothing but raw sweet potatoes for months at a time. I’m talking about paranoia so severe that I was all but certain that every drop of drinking water available was poisoned by someone or another…all one great conspiracy to cause me to suffer.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It was nuts.
It’s strange because after 20+ years of that nightmare, you’d think that it would be a big deal to now be completely and utterly free.
And it is.
But at the same time. It’s not. Because it’s now obvious that this is all that is.
When everything is seen to be simply this, then there’s nothing to compare anything to. I can no longer go back to any of those memories and compare them to the present. Because it’s obvious that the memories too are just this. They are not separate from the present.
And if that seems strange or incomprehensible to you. Then read on. Because I’ll explain.
What I’m talking about isn’t a theory. it’s not a new idea. It’s not a concept. It’s not a belief.
It’s direct experience.
And if you take a look right now then I’m betting that you’ll also find that it’s your direct experience.
Let me tell you my basic strategies that I used to use to deal with obsessive thinking. I would try to change my thinking. I would try to get rid of my thinking. I would try to improve my thinking. I would try to quiet my thinking. I would try to numb my thinking.
Any of that sound familiar to you?
And the same with the compulsions. I would try to get rid of them. Or change them. Or distract myself. Or numb them.
Again, any of that familiar?
If you said yes, then I suspect that what I have to say (or, more accurately – write) may prove to be very helpful for you.
None of those strategies worked. Ultimately. They failed. Because what I most wanted was true peace and freedom. And those strategies just resulted in more suffering over time. Louder, more disturbing thoughts. Increasingly more demanding compulsions.
Finally, I came to realize that all those strategies had at their core the same presumptions. And those presumptions are…
That thoughts have inherent power
That sensations have meaning
That thoughts can solve the problem
That action can solve the problem
That something was wrong
That it was about me
And more to the point, that there was a me separate from this present happening.
Upon discovering that there is only this, and that this is all there is – that there is no me separate from this – then all the presuppositions fell apart. It all becomes quite transparent. And then there is clarity.
The thoughts don’t have to change or go away. The sensations don’t have to change or go away. It’s all welcome. Because finally it’s seen that it’s all just this.
And this is not a thing. It’s not THIS. It’s just this. Exactly what is right now. Exactly this.
Before the thought about what this is there is just this. And the thought is just this.
Here’s my recommendation. If you suffer from obsessive thinking and compulsive behavior. Then start to notice that before the thoughts about what it is and what it all means, there is actually the direct, immediate experience of what is. It is so close and so direct that if you look to thought to describe it then you’ll overlook it. So just notice that there is a direct experience that you cannot describe or understand. But you know that it is happening because there is undeniable experience.
Then notice that what you have tried to solve with various strategies isn’t actually a thing. Notice that there is no such thing as a compulsion. There is only a sensation. But even the sensation is ever-changing. So to call it a compulsion or even a sensation is to miss what it actually is.
The only way to know what it actually is, is to remain with it directly.
Which is always happening. So just notice. And don’t try to add to it.
Begin to take a look and see who is it that all these thoughts and sensations belong to?
You assume that it’s you. You assume that it all is about you. It’s your experience. Your thoughts. Your sensations. Your compulsion. Your life.
But just look. Start to see what all of this actually refers to.
What do you find? Do you find anything there?
I discovered that there is no one there.
This discovery doesn’t change anything. Because this is always what is. There is only ever just this.
So don’t look for fireworks or psychedelic experience or out of body experience or any of that.
It’s just seeing what already is. There is no separate thing called me. It was only ever just a phantom.
Thoughts happen. Sensations happen. All of it happens. But it doesn’t happen to anyone. It doesn’t belong to anyone.
This doesn’t mean anything. It’s not about a better you. Or a new, improved, “non-existent you.” It’s just seeing what is as it is. Which is all that ever is. It’s not different than before. Because now it’s clear that there is no before.
“Before” is just this. Always this. And it’s not about someone. It’s just this.
And, incidentally, in my direct experience, it turns out to be the end of suffering. It’s not that thoughts stopped. Nor did the sensations of compulsion stop. But it is now clear that it isn’t about me. It isn’t happening to me. None of it is mine. That doesn’t mean that sometimes the same old patterns and behaviors don’t seem to happen. But there’s no suffering. Because it’s seen simply as this. And, strangely, it seems that the patterns and habits that you might call obsession and compulsion happen much less.
But that’s not important. That’s not the goal. It seemed like it before. But it turns out that in my experience true peace and freedom has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with less obsession or less compulsion. It’s just that those things show up less when it’s seen that they aren’t any big deal. They are just what is.
As always. Your comments and questions are welcome.
We’ve all heard plenty about the power of positive thinking.
But not so much about the power of negative thinking!
What? You think maybe I’m just pulling your leg. But I’m not. The power of negative thinking is often overlooked. And it’s a secret that hardly anyone else will ever tell you.
I’m not suggesting that you try and think only “negative” thoughts. Good luck with that anyway. You can’t do it. Go ahead and try. I’ll give you 30 seconds right now to think only negative thoughts. Go ahead…
Okay. And we’re back. How’d you do? Not so well, eh? Yeah. I bet at least one positive or neutral thought slipped through the cracks. Or, perhaps a moment of silence? Or confusion? Or disorientation? Or floundering?
And this is the whole point. There’s no way to control your thinking. The only thing you can do is layer on more crap and end up severely mentally constipated. It’s not a fun way to live.
And it’s pointless.
Because all that they teach you about the power of positive thinking is just nonsense. Even if you could think only positive thoughts (which you can’t) then the only thing you would have achieved would be to think positive thoughts! That’s it.
Why? Because contrary to popular opinion. thoughts are just thoughts. They don’t mean anything. They are not creative. They are merely thoughts.
The power of negative thinking isn’t so much that negative thinking is inherently powerful. It’s not. It’s just thoughts. But because we have either an inherent or a conditioned reaction to negative thinking: we try to avoid it. And this is a tremendous distraction from the peace and freedom that is already what is.
We’re all likely familiar with the now-famous Jung quote: “what you resist, persists.” And as far as it goes, this seems to be true. So notice in your life how much energy you invest into trying to avoid all things “negative.”
Even overwhelming negativity such as deep depression or anger or the like. See how you still offer up resistance to it. Depression is rarely truly welcomed. Anger is rarely truly welcomed.
Even the habit of naming and labeling is a form of resistance. It’s like a shield or a wall of defense. As if the name could protect us from the actuality of depression or anger…or anything else.
So the power of negative thinking isn’t about trying to think negatively. It’s about welcoming all thoughts…including those that we think of as negative. It’s about welcoming all experiences, including those that we think of as negative.
And the reason that this is so powerful is that when we truly welcome everything without resistance, then we get to be free. Or, rather, we get to recognize the freedom that is ever-present as all that is.
Let it all come and go as it does. Notice that it’s all happening without your direction or your control or your permission. Notice that you’re not the one thinking the thoughts. You don’t create them. You don’t direct them. They’re not even your thoughts.
Let the negative thoughts arise. And let them linger. And then when they do so of their own accord, let them fade away.
And notice that before the thought that this thought is negative, it is merely this. In fact, it’s not even a thought. It’s just this.
Notice that the same is true of so-called positive thoughts. They are merely this. That is all. Nothing else. Not something apart from this. Not something we can compare against something else. Just this.
Notice how pleasurable it is to let thoughts come and go as they do. Remaining as this ever-present awareness that you always already are.
What will this mean? What are the implications? Will I die because now I won’t care about anything? Will I let trucks run over me for lack of care? Will I lose my job? Will I finally tell my boss what I really think?
All just thoughts. Let them come and go as they do. And notice that this which is before thought, this which is the very substance of thought, this which is all that is remains unchanged regardless of what happens.
The power of negative thinking is the power of true acceptance. This is wisdom because this is recognizing that the only true power is the power of being. And this power is uncaused. This power is undirected. This power is all that is. It is already here. It is already what is happening. And this power is infinitely alive and intelligent. Vastly more so than anything you can imagine.
Finally, simply rest here. This is all that is ever happening anyway.
This is hard to believe, I know. But take a look right now. Just notice that you experience sensations in your body. And then notice how instead of just staying with the direct experience, you have a habit of turning to thought to give you a meaning instead of the experience.
This is a well-known phenomenon among fine artists. Ask most adults to draw a human face or a cat face or just about anything, and they will draw something that looks not too dissimilar to what they drew as children.
That’s because we are in the habit of turning to thought to give us symbols instead of staying with direct experience.
So right now there is sensation. Notice how you want to label it or evaluate it. Sharp. Dull. Big. Small Good. Bad. Pleasant. Unpleasant. Pain. Pleasure. And on and on.
Then: what does it mean? What caused it? What should I do about it? Or how can I maintain this?
Meanwhile, there is simply this immediate and direct sensation. It’s not even a sensation when you look closely enough. Because even to call it a sensation is too much form. Too conceptual. Even to call it an experience is too conceptual.
It is just this. Whatever this is.
So without turning this into a compulsion or a rule or a new thing, can you right now in this moment simply notice what is? Just become curious. Simply experience this sensation directly. Notice the thoughts and the concepts. And let that happen. Stay here.
Notice that staying here requires no effort. This isn’t so much about restraint as it is resting.
Before the concepts and the thoughts and the meanings, what is this?
It’s not what you thought it was. It’s just this. And it’s always changing. It cannot be defined. It is this. It is the totality of what is. There is nothing else.
And this is always what is. Not as you imagine it to be. Not as you try to grasp ahold of. Not as a concept. Not as a thing. But just this. Pure. Raw. Immediate. Total.
So now you know the secret! This is always here. This is always available. This is who you are. And you can know this instantly simply by exploring direct experience. Simply by exploring with true curiosity. Not to get “back to that peaceful state” or anything like that. Because that is just another concept. But always staying with this exactly as it is. Before thought. Before concept.
And here’s a video I put together that is about this subject of Direct Experience as a Gateway to the Simplicity of Being.