Questions and Answers

by dave0searby0mason

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Questions and Answers Supporting information ( 13 )

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This is a series of questions and answers. I have picked out a few, from many hundreds over that last 30 years, that illustrate aspects of Constancy practice. Those asking remain anonymous but all gave their permission; in some cases I have taken the liberty of combining answers to create a fuller response.

This is a list of the questions :
1. Are feelings more real than thoughts?
2. How could we be guided to the truth without GOD?
3. The attention comes and goes
4. Constancy and Therapy
5. Confronting fears
6. Using restlessness
7. Peace of mind
8. Sleep and dreams
9. Where is the Good News?
10. Strong feelings arise
11. Intensity of watching
12. What if I am stuck?
13. Returning To Constancy
14. Final description of Constancy
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(1) Are feelings more real than thoughts?

Q.
I would be interested to know why you think feelings are any more real than thoughts.
A.
The trite but true answer is I don’t “think” this; I feel it. A second answer is with another question:
What is the difference between thoughts and feelings?
Yet this question is a priceless gem. When I could not answer that question, I was told this:
“as a blade cannot cut itself
as a finger cannot touch itself
so a thought cannot see itself.”
. . . . . so, a blade cannot cut itself. Unless you break the blade in half and use one half to cut the other. Then you have 2 blades . . . . and this is what thoughts do. They work out answers. They “calculate.” They comment, but they do more than this. The mind uses thought to “arrange” things. And the mind goes – this is good, this is bad, this is good, this is bad, this is good, this is bad, this is good, this is bad, on and on and on. You can work out a truth with thought, but it just remains a thought, until your emotions validate it. I am not talking every-day thought like 2 + 2 = 4, which rarely needs validating emotionally. I am talking about a situation where someone might say, for example, mathematics is more important than love. The former thought process is a calculation; the latter, an idea of how-things-should-be. Both are thoughts but it is the feeling of love that will show you what is important.
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(2). How could we be guided to the truth without GOD?
Q.
How could we be guided to the truth without GOD ? GOD is the everlasting Truth. Correct me if I am wrong.
A.
I do not know who God is. I have never met him/her. Truth, however, is attainable; especially when seen as a process, rather than as a single achievement. If God has spoken or shown him/herself to you, then everything is ok. You do not really need to go on soul-searching; you put your effort into discovering his/her intentions. You may look into your soul to discover the intentions God put there but it is not the same kind of looking that I do. You look into your soul for extra information to help with a truth you already know. I look into my soul to find truths I do not yet know.
Most of the people I know who talk about God a lot seem more like people who have hopes rather than truth. I suspect that the power of their needs, manifesting through hope, lead them to cast that hope as truth. However, I recon they have just stopped at a comfortable place. I do not mind that. What I mind is when that place of comfort becomes a fortress from which they go forth to punish those who do not agree. The trouble with a lot of ‘looking for God quests’, is we are really looking for Dad. We look for Mum in different ways. I have never looked at a tree and thought, hmmm, God must have made that. I have waited for him/her in quiet places and he/she did not come. When I gave up looking for him/her and went to deeper quieter places I found neither god nor not-god. But that 3-letter word just won’t do it for me, too much baggage. Love the art though, the poems, the paintings, the candles.

Of course, maybe God is there (smiling away) and I just cannot see her, this apparent invisibility being caused by my personal failure, perhaps my arrogance gets in the way, blinkering me. Or not. When I ask God people if they have actually met and spoken to God, the answer is almost always no, that they have hand a strong feelings they interpret as coming from God. Those strong feelings can be examined, you can find out what they are, if you want to. You might have to leave comfort behind.
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(3) The attention comes and goes
Q
I can only focus when doing nothing at all – sitting still and quiet and staring at things. If I read – it’s gone. Play on computer – gone. Listen to music – gone. If I talk – it’s gone.

A
The attention coming and going is natural, it’s not a failure if it goes. Just be sure to bring it back. It is difficult to hold the attention whilst doing other things. Try this:
Sitting quiet doing nothing and hold the attention but have a book in front of you, in your hands ready. When the Constancy is ok, raise the book, read and keep the Constancy. (nb read slower, at first, than you would normally. you must remember what you read -not every word, but the gist – or the Constancy won’t be right either).

Slow and steady steps, take your Constancy into your activity. Don’t punish yourself when it inevitably slips, just gently bring it back. Being gentle with yourself in how you bring your Constancy back, is very important.

The pressure is uncomfortable but part of it is your own self image’s judgement and fear. The pressure can be a friend. Just watch the pressure, like everything else.

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(4). Constancy and Therapy
Q.
How can I keep from getting knocked away by emotions? I try to watch but the memory of what happened consumes me . . .
A.
In order to get by in the day-to-day world we use tactics learned during very early childhood. These tactics mostly involve how to handle and suppress feelings. Sometimes that control breaks down. If it happens strongly and often enough, then it gets labeled as an illness. The emphasis with Constancy is to let all your normal mental and physical functions happen as they occur – deal with your feelings – and any other problem – as you would do normally.
If your normal functioning is having problems, then devise a tactic to deal with it, just like you would if you were not engaged on a spiritual quest. Perhaps seek therapy to solve this. Constancy is not necessarily going to help you deal with “normal” problems – you cannot use Constancy to “patch” personal problems. Constancy brings benefits, but they are long term. Having said that, Jung wrote this many years ago:

“….the main interest of my work is not concerned with the treatment of neuroses but rather with the approach to the numinous. But the fact is that the approach to the numinous is the real therapy, and inasmuch as you attain to the numinous experiences you are released from the curse of pathology. Even the very disease takes on a numinous character.” (Jung : Letter to a colleague 1945)
This is a very interesting observation form Jung but in my experience a spiritual path is not the best way to deal with personal problems; indeed, some personal problems may get worse as spiritual quests can be stressful. In the long term, personal problems can loose their centre-stage insistence if a spiritual method is diligently followed. However, if you have personal problems it is better to fix them directly. If you break a leg, a Doctor will fix it; if you have personal problems see a therapist who will help you fix them. Therapy will not clash with Constancy ; they go together very well.
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(5). Confronting fears
Q.
I try to be conscious of all I do, say, feel, etc. It is very difficult during the course of my workdays, which are long. But I always seem to find myself not breathing. I realise periodically throughout the day that I must have been holding my breath. How could I go so long without breathing?
A.
Breathing is a mysterious and complex process. Do not worry if you have periods when it seems you are not breathing. Your body will know when to start breathing again.
Holding the breath is natural; your body and your unconscious mind are denying the fear inside, so they prevent the flow of energy and that limits the escalation of fear. Never force your breathing. When you realise that you are holding your breath, just let it out; don’t punish yourself, but go back to your Constancy. You will get past this, but at some stage, you must be ready to confront your fears.
When your body/mind holds the breath it is doing this as a kind of self-defence. So it is worth heeding that warning. If you are going to face your fears then plan to have some support in place. If you do not have anyone to lean on, then be cautious and gentle with yourself as you go forward. It is my experience that a fear faced squarely and with honesty is never as bad as a fear left lurking in the shadows of your mind. It is also my experience that very, very few people can “go it alone,” so, look to your support. It does not have to be people that are doing the same thing or even know in detail what you are doing (though this is nice if you have it) but it needs to be people (family or friends or both) who you can go to when you feel troubled. Ideally, you would have a teacher of some kind and perhaps some group around that person who you can share things with. However, at the end of the day, whatever your situation, you will need to choose your method and apply it whole-heatedly.
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(6). Using restlessness

Q.
I am consumed with busyness. I like to work. I like to create. I like to do, do, do. Sitting in meditation is so difficult for me although when I force myself I often enjoy it. How do I manufacture hunger for spiritual practice?
A.
Use your busy-ness as your practice. Don’t just be busy, watch yourself be busy. You cannot manufacture hunger and passion. They will be there in you and they will come out, when you watch your self all the time ( or what ever practice you choose and stick to all the time).
Use all of what you do, to see all of what you are !
Do some Stillness/meditation too and just watch your restlessness. Try not to see your restlessness as a problem to be solved or by-passed rather see it as something to observe.
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(7) Peace of mind
Q.
Does constancy ever bring you peace of mind?
A.
It is best not to plan or aim for peace of mind. Instead, aim for something even better: find out who you are! You do this by constantly looking. And when you are sick and tired of looking, look some more. Constancy certainly works, but what it brings is different for all. It would be better for you to ask this: not “will I get peace of mind from this or that method,” but rather, “what will I bring to the search, how much do I want it, what am I prepared to do and how often?” To answer your question, I would say yes, but my “peace of mind” might be different to yours.
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(8). Sleep and dreams
Q

Is it really possible to take constancy – as we know it while awake – into sleep/dreaming? How can we “wake up” dreaming the same way we do when awake?

A
This is a big area because there are different kinds of dream work and like many things, some suite and some don’t. Firstly, the basics. All practicing Constancy should try and take it into sleep by making a special effort as they lay in bed, waiting for sleep to arrive. You can also using the “stepping stones”‘, where you count very slowly as sleep comes. This counting is not designed to hasten sleep but to help you see what is happening to your thoughts and feelings. On waking, do not move till full Constancy comes back.  This “do not move” is not as easy as it seems.  Do not move “at all” – until you are sure your Constancy is in place. This is is the basics.
 
. . . . . . . but for some, more “dreamwork” might be worth trying.  I have one big warning.  Most, who go into dreamwork ,do so for 2 reasons, either (1) they have sleep problems and these should probably be addressed by counselling or psychotherapy, or, (2) they want to control lucid dreaming.  I do not recommend dream work unless you feel a strong urge.  Bottom line  –  daytime Constancy is so difficult that often people will use dreamwork to avoid the rigours of Constancy.  So, my questions would be, why do want to “go into dreams”?  Check your motives carefully.

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( 9) Where is the Good News?
Q
I had recently said something like, “I’m certainly a mess inside.” You said there was good news and bad news. The bad news being that I’ll “always be a mess” inside. Could you remind me what the good news is again? . . . . . . It’s taking so much energy to sustain this that I’m having trouble “existing” externally for more than a day or two . . . . I find myself ‘slipping away’ from that constantly watching.
A
This is something you may want to consider: it may get worse. In such a place as you are now I say 2 things to people.
(1) Stick at it. Normal life isn’t so great either, it just seems that way now.
(2) If it hurts that bad, you are probably doing something right.
No bland reassurance from me. But I understand that you are searching for something you have not seen, of felt or tasted. You trust that “it” is real, even though most people disagree or describe it differently. Peace of mind? Freedom from worry? Insight? Whatever it is called, if you have never had it, how do you know it is real? Is “it” worth it? How long will “it” take to arrive? For you, I have no idea. If I told you how long I suffered it would not help you. You would not be able to resist comparing, no one on earth can resist that comparing.
Do you remember my favourite Zen poem?
‘my heart burns like fire
but my eyes are as cold
as dead ashes’
( Soyen Shaku).
Can you see now why my eyes are cold? My heart can burn with compassion for you but my cold eyes are saying, if you want to find the 2nd truth you have to do all the digging yourself. I am only showing you the shovel.
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(10). Strong feelings arising
Q
I felt a fury of feelings rise up, mostly embarrassment and then raging anger at [someone] for embarrassing me. Once they passed, I began to feel something else: depressed. I literally became tearful. Then a minute later I was laughing at myself for being so emotional about something so silly.”

A

The depressed feeling, though unpleasant for you, is not only ok, it is completely inevitable and necessary. It may come up a lot but, believe it or not, it’s a good sign. So is the sulky kid feeling. This is your internal self-defence mechanism, created when you were a kid, adjusting. As it adjusts, it leaves a downer, a depression it its wake. Just grin and bear it, you are doing well. I promise you it is a good sign. The other good sign is the speed of feelings coming and going. You are suffering and that is never easy but it happens when you have been practicing Constancy for a while. Let the feelings come, let them go, watching all the time.

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( 11 ). Intensity of watching
Q
I watch and watch and watch, and then something comes, and then SLAM! Like an iron wall door falling, it gets cut off, completely muted. And on top of that, not knowing if what is on the “other side” of this slamming-down-muting-thing is even worth the trouble. I don’t know what I’m looking for anymore. Peace of mind? Self-knowledge? Something special to impress others with? “Truth”? What is it that others have done that it is now “my turn”? I know something’s up and boiling when I start looking for a way out, but I’m oblivious to it’s significance.
A
I know it is hard, but no matter what you do that ‘wall slamming down’ is going to come. If you put on orange robes and became a monk in a monastery, you would face it. If you climb a mountain and get pure air, it will slam down. If you fast in the desert it will slam down. You might find a somewhere or something that is the more conducive to you; who knows, it might suit you to be a monk – but it will slam down and you will confront it. Or, you can turn away. Let’s face it, most do. There is nothing wrong with choosing happiness rather than knowing. If you do get past the slamming down, no one is going to give you a medal either. I can tell you, that the harder it is to focus, then the closer you are. It really is that simple.
Put your anger and despair and all your feelings into the Constancy practice. Your internal defences will throw anything at you, anything that will get your attention and turn you away form your practice. The worse you feel, the closer you are. You know this. It may get worse you can be persistently tenacious and yet also gentle with yourself too.
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( 12 ). What if I am stuck?
Q
How do we determine when I am “stuck” somewhere?

A
This may sound trite but if you truly practice Constancy you can never be stuck. You may feel you are but by definition YOU cannot be, because you are watching your “stuckness.” If deluded, then you are watching your delusion. This is why Constancy is so powerful. If you do not know what to do, watch that. If nothing’s happening, watch that. If you join a group who meditate, then meditate and watch that. When feelings emerging from the “underneath” (your “space”) reveal some truth, watch that. Knowing, watch that. Not knowing, watch that.

Now, tell me, WHAT IS WATCHING? Don’t know? Watch that till you do. This is why Constancy is so fantastic. It’s harder for you because you are not doing much else, but Constancy is resonant with and can run in parallel with most other methods of introspection. If you found a great job tomorrow that used up most of your passion, you can still take Constancy with you; if everything works out fine you can still take your Constancy with you. If not, still watch.

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( 13 ). Returning To Constancy

Q
I am not able to watch constantly, far from it but I hope Ive put enough effort into watching these few years . . . . . Watching as much as possible really is the hardest thing to do, even after years of trying.

A
You have crossed a significant bridge, you really know what Constancy is. Don’t worry about ‘how much’ you do, that’s an ego thing. It’s the “returning” to Constancy that matters most. Remember, returning is not a mark of failure; it is a crucial act of Constancy. The quality of your returning to it is as important as the actual doing of it.

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(14) Final description of Constancy

Q.
Tell me again, why do we do it all the time? I don’t get it.

A.
We practice Constancy all the time (24/7, for ever) because it works. So the question ‘underneath’ is, why does it work? There are two main reasons. Our busy minds have many automatic functions that I nickname, the ‘auto-pilot’. Those functions work differently at different times, for example, when your are asleep they work differently to when you are wide awake – but they are always on. One of the functions of the auto-pilot is like an ‘aiming’ facility. Your mind can ‘aim’ at something. To do this, it ‘arranges things’, makes plans, checks up on things, makes adjustments, assess results. Much of this is unconscious. So your conscious mind and your auto-pilot work (mostly seamlessly), to make things happen. This is good, this partnership keeps you, your family, what matters to you, alive. We want this to continue. This vital process, this honed-by-evolution system, must continue because without it we descend into illness and/or madness. So it is not really a choice is it? Another way of saying this is, eat and stay alive – or – starve and die. Technically a choice (and of course, some choose to die) but not really a choice. Put simply, we are structured and this is good, it works but the functioning of our minds blocks things. Our structuring prevents some things from happening. The first powerful reason why Constancy works, is that by looking at out feelings all the time, we become aware of some things that we would otherwise not know. Deeper feelings, blocked by our structuring, by our auto-pilot, surface and become more visible. These deliver, eventually, your second kind of truth. They surface, not on demand but as a by-product of looking but the looking has to be all the time.

The second main reason is related to the above and concerns destinations. Our auto-pilot is results orientated, is destination focused. In fact, it is more complicated than that. Our auto-pilot can handle multiple destinations lined up. In a sequence, when one destination is achieved, the auto-pilot is already lining up the next one. Here we need to take a brief diversion and then come back to the ‘results orientation’.

Why do people practice Constancy? Because they want something. That something can have many descriptions, peace of mind, greater awareness, religious insight, enlightenment, release from suffering – whatever the goal is, all these goals have something in common. People do not actually know what they are. They just feel these things must be good, that others seem to have them and they seem good or happier or more powerful – or their current circumstances are not acceptable and they have to do something to move on, to be ‘better’, to be free perhaps. So they have an aim they hope to achieve, to get something from Constancy. They might say something like this to themselves : ‘I think it (Constancy or some other method) will make things better for me, make me better’. The trouble is, they do not actually know what”it” is. Because if they already had it, they would not need to do anything to get it. So they are trusting that there is ‘betterness’ they can achieve without actually knowing what that betterness is, what “it” is. Their auto-pilot is underpinning their desires with an aim or series of aims. And here is where the trouble is. There is no “it”. “It” is not a destination you can arrive at. “It” is not a thing you can acquire and then posses. “It” is a journey.

And because it is a journey, we do not know when to stop. This is the second main reason we do Constancy all the time. At the deeper levels, the second kind of truth is not a truth you get, it is a truth you become. Becoming, does not have an end. It can change but it does not end. So Constancy matches the nature of the second truth, it is a journey not a destination.
– don’t all journeys have destinations (I hear you ask?).
– not all, some have phases
– isn’t death a destination (I hear you ask)?
– death is a transition from one phase to another.
– does this mean I will survive death (I hear you ask?).
– see your ” I ” clearly and then find out
– why can’t you give me a straight answer on that (I hear you ask)?
– because the question is not straight – you tell me, what is this ” I “?
– ok, not my body, though that influences it – it is my mind.
– your mind is a collection of bits working together, it’s was born and it will die
– so no one survives death? (I hear you ask)
– what survives death, was not born. this is an experience and not a lump of knowledge to acquire. to have these experiences you need to choose a method, like Constancy, and then do it all the time. the experiences are not a thing you have but an awareness of a journey you are already on.

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