The Search for the Second Truth

practicing Constancy

Tag: thesearchforthesecondtruth

Primary Text : what is the 2nd kind of truth?

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What is true for you?        How do you know something is true?

 

Vibe-Pattern98

 

There are two kinds of truth.  The first kind, is where we agree that something is true. An example of this is when people thought the world was flat, until it was proved to be round. The world was always round but at one time most people did not know this. People “agreed” the world was flat, until it was proved to be round, then most people (eventually) agreed it was round.  This first kind of truth is therefore one of process which in the wider social context, is likely to include some organised decision making, (like the courts) and reference to previous decisions, data, rules, and/or convention.

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The second kind of truth is where we feel that something is true in our hearts. This second kind of truth is enhanced but not dependent on agreement from others. The second kind of truth may involve others – or it may not. It might lead to agreement or conflict but it begins inside us, inside each of us, inside our hearts, inside our world of feelings.  I use the word ‘heart’ here to describe the feeling of truth, recognising that the heart is where most people locate their most important and tender feelings : (if you like, the word ‘heart’ can mean emotional centre or just emotional importance.)

What are feelings?  (please see ~footnote~ below this section )

How can we know what is really true at any one time?  In the first truth, where we agree on what is true, we do this by describing things to each other and quite often, recording the result for future reference. With the second kind of truth, we find if it is true or not, by looking in our own hearts, in our ongoing world of feelings.  (Thoughts are of course important but we will come back to thinking a bit later on).  Feelings are whole body events, centred in the heart. It sounds too easy to say we find the second kind of truth by just looking in our hearts but it is one of the most difficult things a human being can do.

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It seems to me, that feelings have layers and I think this is true for everyone else as well.  Clear easy feelings seem to be ‘on top’ of less clear, murky feelings, which are often harder to describe.  Or the deeper feelings might be mixed up and perhaps even have contradictory aspects.  It seems a good starting place to think of some feelings as ‘underneath’ the ones that are clearly seen.  Because these deeper feelings are hard to see, many people just ignore them.  Our own minds make it easy to do this ignoring.

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Our minds are driven by survival instincts and habits that form a complex “auto-pilot” style functioning. This provides a kind of optimum package which delivers our best chances of survival. This is good, we want this functioning to carry on but to know the second truth, we need to see that this functioning can also obscure the deeper feelings.

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Where feelings and choices contradict each other, the mind’s auto-pilot will push one to the forefront, to facilitate survival. We need this functioning, often automatic and occuring at speed,  to continue.  At the same time, if we want to explore the second kind of truth, we need to learn to be as open as possible to the deeper feelings whilst allowing our minds to carry on looking after us.

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Feelings then have ‘surface’ and ‘deep’ layers. The deeper layers are hard to see but we can learn to be open to them. If the deeper feelings are mostly not visible, because they do not assist our auto-pilot with its busy survival tactics, why would we need to seek them out at all? Because it is at the deeper feeling levels that second truths are found.

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The deeper feelings may spontaneously rise up but exploring the second kind of truth is usually dependent on actively looking at deeper feelings. There are practical steps we can take but before we do, I would like us to consider the term “unconscious mind”. For me, the term unconscious mind is too restrictive, like a box inside a box. The inside box is seen as locked and not directly accessible. I prefer a model of consciousness that is fluid and dynamic: the seamlessly connected fluid levels contain mobile depths we cannot easily see  –  at least at first.

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Being open to the deeper layers usually comes from consistently applying a method.

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Just because we are dealing with feelings/emotions it does not mean we have to be any less rigorous or precise in pursuing this, than we would with any other important endeavour. We require a consistent method and it would be most helpful if the method was one that all people could use, so comparisons can be more easily made. Such a method exists and although its origins are ancient, it is as relevant today as it ever was.

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The best method I have found for seeing the deeper layers of feelings is called Mindfulness, though I prefer the more descriptive term, Constancy.  Whenever I use the term Constancy it is equivalent to the term Mindfulness, (of the 24/7 kind : different kinds of mindfulness are covered in chapter 4).

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Mindfulness/Constancy is a technique developed in India’s ancient past and was taken up by Buddhism, via which, it made its way to China, then Japan and eventually, the rest of the world. Although its origins were based in Eastern religions, it is not itself a religious practice, it is just a technique that can be used by anyone, whether they have ‘beliefs’ or not.

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The practice of Constancy is easy to describe and difficult to do. Put simply, it is constant but also heightened attention. You have to be as aware as you can, of everything you think, feel and do, all of the time. Anything that goes on ‘inside’ you and anything you do ‘outside’ in the world, you must watch with as much constant attention as you can muster.

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Your awareness, that you are perhaps going to be more attentive to, can vary. This is my list of awareness types, (they may not be consecutive or exclusive) :

(1) Unconscious, you have some memory afterwards, of a time where you were not aware,

(2) Asleep : we seem to join a dream that is already happening.

(3) Drowsy, sleepy, just woke up or descending into sleep

(4) Day dreaming

(5) Normal. Relaxed but awake, wide awareness of what is going on around you, or, you have your head down, concentrating , with only a narrow awareness of your surroundings

(6) Hyper = speedy

(7) Manic. Out of control speediness

(8) Physical exertion, leading to greater awareness, adrenalin rush

(9) Drug induced, altered states

(10) Insanity. Impaired functioning and/or little or no control

(11) Shock. Sudden induction by fear or tragedy

(12) Awe. Powerful feelings of appreciation; suspends ordinary awareness

(13) Mystical. Can be aimed for or accidental,

(14) Transcendent. Ordinary human awareness is let go of, temporarily or permanently

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The above could be shortened to just three :

  • no awareness, (that you are aware of only after it has passed).
  • current awareness
  • and more awareness

  . . . . . . . the principle at work here, is that awareness varies. Because it can vary, it can therefore be increased. This may seem so obvious but it is an important factor; how much can it be increased? Both ancient and modern practitioners of Mindfulness/Constancy report many benefits but there is one I want to refer to here  – Constancy helps us open to, and watch, our deeper feelings.

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Constancy is, as the name implies, something you have to do all the time. You take your ordinary everyday kind of awareness but you use it to watch yourself. By “watching yourself”, I mean using your awareness to be aware (to “watch”) everything that is happening in your mind. Inside your head, inside your brain, “inside” your mind, there are many things going on, often at very great speed but broadly speaking there are three types of occurrence and they are :

  • memories,
  • thoughts
  • feelings (feelings = emotions).

With Constancy, we watch all three, all the time. And by all the time, we really do mean ALL the time. Every second.  Every minute.   Every hour.   Every day.   For ever . . . . . . (in practice, our awareness comes and goes, so we are, as often as not, returning to the awareness as soon as we notice it has gone.  However, the intention to watch constantly is as important as the actual doing and this intention itself can be developed).

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We start the constant looking at the feelings we can see, the surface ones. We learn that all feelings are connected to each other. The feelings we watch are connected to the deeper ones we cannot at first see.  From the known feelings we become connected to the deeper unknown ones.

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This is how Constancy can help you see the second truth. By watching your feelings (all the time, constantly), the deeper ones (underneath the surface feelings) will emerge and over time, you can explore them.

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The process of Constancy, of watching all the time, lets the deeper feelings surface, allowing exploration of them but there is another reason that watching all the time is important. There is no one feeling, no one event that reveals the second truth, it is rather a process over time  –  as much time as it takes.

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That is it. There are no secrets, no hidden teachings, it is just a case of applying your chosen method and doing it all the time. The second truth is explored by watching the deeper feelings over time, the deeper feelings will then show you what to do. If you do not know what to do, carry on with the Constancy, until you do. There are many teachers and maybe all can help you but it is actually doing the method consistently that counts the most.

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The rest of the site contains helpful pointers from many sources. The advice may be helpful but it all points to the same thing, the need to choose a method and do it wholeheartedly.

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Imagine, you are at the end of your life and you have a few moments to consider. There are three questions that often surface when death is certain :  (they have many variants but mostly they are of the same kind) :

~ Have I loved enough?

~ What was that life all about?

~ What happens next?

You do not need to wait for your last breaths to address these questions, but, to address them at the most profound level, you will need to rely on luck  –  or  –  sustained insight from a powerful method consistently applied.      One such method, that I recommend to you, is Constancy.

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I wish you health and happiness but most of all, I wish you clear insight.

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~Footnote~ : What are feelings?

They are internal to the body, biological events, most likely to be originating from the workings of homeostasis, which is the body’s system of self-regulation.  Homeostasis involves the whole body, the brain and the mind.  Feelings can be triggered by external events or by internal neurological events or by very rapid interactions of both.  A memory can trigger a feeling or sometimes, feelings emerge with no discernible cause.  With the latter, it might be the subconscious mind initiating a feeling the causes of which, we are unaware.

Some hold that feelings and emotions are related but different things : the author of this site holds that these terms are interchangeable.

That feelings are biological events, triggered by internal bodily workings and external events perceived by the bodily workings, does not minimise their impact.  The author of this site holds that they are the beginning and the end of everything.  He also believes that some feelings may be more than bodily originating or only bodily located.  Please also see https://thesearchforthesecondtruth.com/2014/02/09/a-little-theory/  the next section, “Supporting information (1) a little theory”

An excellent description of feelings/emotions can be found in the works of Damasio :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Damasio

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Supporting information (1) a little theory . . . .

A little theory the supports the mindfulness / Constancy practice, which starts by pondering about the inside and outside of us.  None of this is required to practice mindfulness / Constancy but can help, especially over the longer term and when extending awareness to how feelings are layered .  .  .  .  .  . 

a-yerst

We think inside our heads. We look out from behind our eyes.  We can identify a sound as outside but when all is quiet we can hear our heart beat inside our chest and ears.  We touch something we see as outside but feel hunger inside our bodies.

In so many ways, we can identify an inside and an outside and between them is a boundary – our skin. We look out from our skin vehicles, riding on top of them, our heads like cabins that our pilot-minds and it’s helpful auto-pilot, sit inside.

Memories, thoughts and feelings – all these are inside the boundary of our skin . . . . . . . or are they? Are all of them on the inside of our skin? I would like to explore this a little.

Feelings, emotions, can be seen as being two aspects of the same process, the sensations that are bodily based and the emotions we are aware of mentally.  (For a description of what feelings are, please see the footnote at the end of this section).   These are the same process, the same event; we say ‘I am angry’, we do not say, ‘my heart is beating faster, my eyes are narrowed, my face is getting red and neck is getting stiff . . . . . I feel angry’. We do not even say, there ‘is anger in my body’. We say, ‘I am angry’. This convention is perhaps hard-wired into our makeup and is obviously more convenient than adding a fuller bodily description every time.

However, we loose something by minimising the role of the body in our emotional life. The body and mind are not separate things co-existing but each are intimately bound together. We have an external boundary which is our skin but we also have an internally held sense of that boundary, dynamically held as a perceptual marker. The body-brain-mind system with its sense-of-skin boundary, seems entirely to be living behind the skin and that commonsense view is the most prevalent – yet it may not be the whole story.

Crossing the boundary : from ‘out’ to ‘in’

We experience ourselves as inside our bodies, as being on one side of the boundary of our skin yet that boundary is crossed repeatedly every second of our lives. Light enters through our eyes, sound waves enter through our ears, sensations from stimuli to our skin tell us much about the changing state of the environment we are in.

We also know that our skin boundaries have things that cross them we cannot directly experience. A virus is too small to see but it can kill us. Some sound waves are too low to hear but we can sense some of them. Neutrinos are subatomic particles that constantly pass through our bodies, apparently undetected.

Our commonsense view sees consciousness as being inside the boundary of our skin and this is a very powerful perception. This allows us to manipulate our environment to our advantage, we can judge where we are and where other things are in relation to us.

Yet this very successful feature overshadows something not so important from the point of view of survival but nonetheless of great interest to many humans. Some of us have noticed that some deeper feelings appear to originate from outside the skin boundary.

Before going on to explore this we need to frame these experiences and check them by looking at them from different angles. It is a significant step to say that some of the deeper feelings, or parts of them, come from outside the body – perhaps the person experiencing this has just made a mistake? The person might be deluded, insane or being driven by needs that are too easily met by an implausible theory. Perhaps there is a brain malfunction? We need to explore some more.

If you sit in a room at home and close your eyes and just listen to any sound that arrives, what is actually happening? You might hear some distant traffic noise. You have identified that sound as coming from some distance away. You judge the distance or may not know it exactly. The sound (sound waves) on which that judgement is made has travelled from the sound source, (the traffic outside) to your ear and then is transmitted to various places in your brain where perception and recognition takes place. The source of the sound may be outside your skin boundary but the perception and then recognition, takes place inside the skin boundary.

The emergent discipline of neurobiology is producing ever more complex maps and descriptions of the brain. Much of this fascinating effort is framed by studying those who have sustained brain damage of one kind of another. The impairments can be complex and yet subtle, they can leave a person fully functional in some ways and yet suffering bizarre gaps in their abilities, for example, not being able to recognise your own arm. Some sufferers have become very upset that the thing attached to them, their own arm, suddenly as a result of a stroke, is now perceived as on the “outside” of their boundary and not “theirs”.

Clearly, the boundary that separates the world “out there” from the self “in here”, is one maintained by the brain and can be subtly changed or profoundly damaged. With these sufferers the skin boundary may be intact but its mental equivalent is not.

We also know that the mind can generate a perception that is not derived from an outside source. People who are mentally ill may report hearing things that are not audible to anyone else or any recording equipment – an experience very real to the perceiver but incomprehensible to anyone else.   The brain/mind can deliver overwhelming certainty and maintain it even when no one else agrees.

I am aware that I am not the only person to have experienced feelings that seemed to have crossed the skin-boundary. Although my perceptions cannot yet be “falsified” in accordance with the classic scientific method, nonetheless, my experiences are testable in one way, in that any can use the technique and have similar experiences themselves, (and indeed, they have done, as far as we can tell at this time).

Eventually, I seen no reason why a brain/mind cannot be mapped as comprehensively as anything else and perhaps we will then be able replicate experiences in real time from one brain/mind to another. Perhaps at that stage others may experience the feelings coming from ‘outside’ their skin boundary without the need for years of rigorous practice or some chance mental or external event.

The Deeper Feelings

There is a reason why I call them feelings or emotions and not just signals or stimuli, because that is what they feel like.   With the Deeper feelings there may be a trigger but I am having a feeling that I experience as arriving from “outside”.  I use a capital “D” here to indicate that special group of feelings. I detected them first as a result of the Constancy discipline, where the practice eventually shows that emotions are layered.

I noticed that with complex feelings, the layers were initially related in an obvious way but the “deeper” you looked, the stranger and less obvious the relations became. I used to laugh at my description that some feelings were “underneath” other feelings but that is exactly what it feels like.

I realised that my memories, thoughts and feelings happen in a place – my body – but this place is also a mental creation. There is sensory data going to my brain/mind that maintains this body place and it has depth to it. Depth and distance perception must frame my experience of the Deeper feelings in a similar way to how my toes feel further away than my nose.

In a very similar way to sound being identified as outside my skin boundary and sight involving the identification of an object visibly outside my skin boundary, so, the Deeper feelings, or parts of them, some of their layers, were ‘perceived’ to come from outside my skin boundary. The body/brain/mind therefore creates a mental sense of the body that is informed by that body but not necessarily exactly coterminous with it. This mental sense of the body is called the Sensorium.

Things cross this boundary and I was surprised to sense that some of the Deep feelings do as well. A feeling requires an ‘experiencer’, in this case, “me”.  How is it possible for “me” to experience a feeling coming from outside of the sensorium boundary, with qualities of “distance”, just like hearing a sound from far away?  In some cases, the Deeper feeling was both ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ as well.

I might hear my heart beat and identify that as “inside”. I might hear distant thunder and identify that as “outside” and far away. I might hear the clock ticking in my room and identify that as “outside” but near. So I eventually came to recognise that some Deeper feelings, or parts of them, were arriving from “outside” my sensorium. Processing the experience still happens inside, in a similar way that a sound comes from outside but is processed “inside” by the brain.

The Deeper feelings presented as emotions but not in any I could name easily.  I thought that this was because they were more primal, up-welling unconscious forces like a substrate of emotions that will underpin other emotions.  Some of the Deeper feelings seemed to fit this description  –  others did not.

My experiences would indicate that, after sufficient practice, it is possible to identify something that enters the Sensorium from outside of its boundary. I have defined that “something” as a Deeper feeling. Proof of this in the scientific sense is probably a long way away, when we can literally map and “read minds”. Till then, there is always the chance that this is not Deeper feelings crossing the Sensorium boundary but illness or malfunction. I do not experience this to be the case and my “findings” can be replicated by any who want to try. We are our own laboratories.

Meaningful comparisons can be made with other disciplines and this would be a fruitful line of enquiry though limited by cross cultural and linguistic difficulties. My own readings of mystical states and altered states of consciousness in many western and eastern traditions, indicates that my experiences are far from unique. Proofs notwithstanding and giving me the benefit of the doubt for now, what does it mean that “some things” – Deeper feelings – cross the Sensorium boundary?

Beyond the Sensorium : where is the “me” boundary ?

What does it mean, that some of the Deeper feelings are not localised inside the body? This is the crucial distinction because if my experiences were just a signal, from outside, crossing the boundary to inside, then what is inside (“me”) might remain all there is.

A signal, like a sound or a beam of light, comes from outside, crosses the skin boundary, is perceived and accessed by the brain/mind – but my experiences show (as long as I am not mad or malfunctioning) that the experiencer is not just inside the skin boundary, that means aspects of me are “outside”, because, they present as emotions.

I experienced Deeper feelings crossing the sensorium boundary, and they are not just signals, because I am feeling them. The feeling itself was mobile and crossed the boundary. A feeling requires a person to experience the feeling. It was not just that the feeling was mobile and crossed over “into me”, the boundary of “me” was not as I previously believed it to be.  I accept that I might be mad though I do not believe I am.  I have been as rigorous as I can in checking my perceptions and their products; that is part of the discipline of using Constancy.  We are certainly skin-encapsulated beings, that live and then die in our skin vehicles but Constancy (and some other mystical events) hint at a tantalising perception, that we are simultaneously connected to some larger more dispersed field.

Patterns and Nodes – experience into words

If we start from the place that some of the Deeper feelings do come from outside, cross the Sensorium boundary and then are perceived by the brain/mind in some way, it means that consciousness is not solely restricted to the body/brain/mind, or at least some aspects of it are not entirely localised “inside”.

Another assumption is, that the act of reasoning itself, thought, is localised inside. I have not experienced thinking as arriving from outside, only particular (Deeper) types of emotions. Thoughts certainly happen spontaneously, some not generated consciously by me but they are still “inside”. So rational thought and its components are a product of the brain/mind, ordinary feelings are a product of the body/brain/mind system but some Deeper feelings arrive from outside.

The Deeper feelings are only experienced by accident or by by-passing the normal perceptual routes; (accident here would include medical malfunction). Prolonged spiritual practice and things like meditation, side-line the usual perceptions. Sometimes (but not always) this side-lining allows the Deeper feelings to surface, or rather, we “see” them in-situ in ways not possible when the normal perceptual processes are dominant, filtering and controlling all experience.

The Deeper feelings could be called a mystical substrate . I would speculate that this mystical substrate is the basis of all religious experience and that it is like a field with wave-like properties, (the term ‘field’ explained in the notes below).

Science is showing us that electricity, magnetism, light and gravity are expressions of the same thing. This understanding has been slowly established over the last 200 years or so and the barriers of that understanding are being stretched all the time. There is a lurking principle in all this which has a strong resonance for me, that being, the consciousness in our heads is a localised intensification of, but not separate from, a widely dispersed field.

In a nutshell, we might say this : the field behaves differently in differing circumstances. One part of the field is intensified and corresponds to what I feel my identity is, this is located and thus ‘ framed’ by the body/brain/mind system. The other part of the field is a “weaker” dispersed system that nonetheless feels things.

In the right circumstances the field feelings surface in the body/brain/mind frame, the intense node of being that temporarily buzzes inside the sensorium. Deep feelings appear to propagate across the field in a similar way that feelings can flood across the body; they move through the body and are detected, in some circumstances, by the frame.  All feelings can have wave-like properties but my experiences would show that dome Deeper feelings also move like waves and so enter the sensorium from outside the skin boundary.

We cannot see what happens outside our mind and beyond death perhaps because of the intensity of the local skin-bound consciousness. Through the application of techniques, like Constancy, it is possible to experience non-localised consciousness, that is, to become aware of something always there but lost in the ‘glare’ of our own heads.

There is an associated danger. The field of dispersed consciousness that exists outside our skin-bound selves is hard to see for a reason. Evolution produced the kind of attention we have to increase our chances of survival. In tampering with it, we potentially undo some of that protection. Yet this dynamic hints at another perspective we might speculate about. Perhaps we are evolving into different kinds of human beings that require more knowledge of the mystical substrate.

The emerging model informed by my experiences is of a dispersed field of consciousness, that is localised and intensified “inside” our skin-bound selves and shaped by the biological and cultural circumstances of this frame. The demands on how the frame is structured put limits on interaction. We get only glimpses of the field and often do not recognise what we see. In a similar way that a wave passes through water, the Deeper feelings exhibit movement, they are indeed wave-like.

If we say that consciousness is a field with waves passing through it , through the medium of the body/brain/mind, the waves are then disturbances of component parts. Whilst that holds true easily for the body-frame with its biochemical transmission along nerves and synapses what happens to this model if we extend it to Deeper-field feelings?

This model makes sense if the proposed dispersed field of consciousness is one of the fundamental structures of the universe, like light, magnetism and gravity – these being all different aspects of the same ‘unified thing’. This difference between the aspects is therefore in perception; how we perceive large underlying structures.

so far summing up

The significance of the sensorium boundary is, that common sense would indicate our consciousness is found on only one side (the “inside”) and apparently not on the other, (the “outside”).

There are experiences that point to consciousness or a form of it, being outside the body and although some of these are clearly the result of malfunction, (that being mental illness and/or brain damage) we should hesitate before assuming that all such experiences are of this kind. Eventually, science should progress in mapping brains and minds far enough to be able to “read” an experience from one person, then “load” it into another so they have the same or near enough experience.

The experience should go on to be replicable in real scientific terms; until then we must share as best we can and build helpful theories and models to aid research design. We must also offer help and advice to those who choose to explore their own consciousness.

Rational logic, based on our bodily bound experience must hold the position that we cannot be both a discrete individual (frame) and a dispersed collection (field) – we cannot be both the pilot flying through the air and the air itself at the same time. Whilst conceptually we can see ourselves as an individual that is simultaneously part of a crowd our identity remains individual – we see the crowd, we do not become the crowd. Yet the Deeper feelings show we are simultaneously both crowd and individual; we are the pilot, the plane flying through the air and the air itself.

How can we be all things at the same time? The dead do not talk to us because individual identities do not survive bodily death. When the individual (frame) winds down (dies) the structure that temporarily held it together dissipates – the frame goes. We believe ourselves to be the frame but perhaps we are the feelings that the frame contained, both local and Deeper. Those feelings continue as waves in the field. The dead do not talk to us because the field does not need to communicate. Communication is a skin-bound frame activity based upon the frame’s needs, based upon being separate.   The field may have no needs, therefore, does not need to communicate . . . . .

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some notes:

For those interested in philosophy, the ponderings above might be labelled by some as panpsychism. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panpsychism

(i) Neutrinos

(ii) Constancy, the main technique used.

(iii) Sensorium

(iv) perception of layers

(v) more on Fields

(vi) more on Waves

(i) Definition of Neutrino: “An electrically neutral particle that is often emitted in the process of radioactive decay of nuclei. Neutrinos are difficult to detect, and their existence was postulated twenty years before the first one was actually discovered in the laboratory. Millions of neutrinos produced by nuclear reactions in the sun pass through your body every second without disturbing any atoms.” From Answers.com .

(ii) The technique used by me that informs this work is Constancy.  There are many methods. To explore these matters experientially, it is best to use a technique of one kind or another, sooner or later.

(iii) “The term sensorium (plural: sensoria) refers to the sum of an organism’s perception, the “seat of sensation” where it experiences and interprets the environments within which it lives. The term originally enters English from the Late Latin in the mid-17th century, from the stem sens- (see: sense). In earlier use it referred, in a broader sense, to the brain as the mind’s organ (Oxford English Dictionary 1989). In medical, psychological, and physiological discourse it has come to refer to the total character of the unique and changing sensory environments perceived by individuals. These include the sensation, perception, and interpretation of information about the world by senses, perceptual systems and minds (MedTerms 2001).” From Answers.com

“Synesthesia (also spelled synæsthesia or synaesthesia, plural synesthesiae or synaesthesiae)—from the Ancient Greek σύν (syn), meaning “with,” and αἴσθησις (aisthēsis), meaning “sensation“‘—is a neurologically based phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. In one common form of synesthesia, known as grapheme → color synesthesia, letters or numbers are perceived as inherently colored, while in ordinal linguistic personification, numbers, days of the week and months of the year evoke personalities. In spatial-sequence, or number form synesthesia, numbers, months of the year, and/or days of the week elicit precise locations in space (for example, 1980 may be “farther away” than 1990), or may have a three-dimensional view of a year as a map (clockwise or counterclockwise).

While cross-sensory metaphors (e.g., “loud shirt”, “bitter wind” or “prickly laugh”) are sometimes described as “synesthetic”, true neurological synesthesia is involuntary. It is estimated that synesthesia may be as prevalent as 1 in 23 persons across its range of variants (Simner et al. 2006). Synesthesia runs strongly in families, but the precise mode of inheritance has yet to be ascertained. Synesthesia is also sometimes reported by individuals under the influence of psychedelic drugs, after a stroke, or as a consequence of blindness or deafness. Synesthesia that arises from such non-genetic events is referred to as adventitious synesthesia to distinguish it from the more common congenital forms of synesthesia. Adventitious synesthesia involving drugs or stroke (but not blindness or deafness) apparently only involves sensory linkings such as sound → vision or touch → hearing; there are few if any reported cases involving culture-based, learned sets such as graphemes, lexemes, days of the week, or months of the year.” (from Wikipedia.com )

(iv) When I first noticed that feelings were layered, I wondered, was I really seeing layers (depth) or was I seeing a feeling mass that was just changing, creating memories? Perhaps I was not seeing layers, I was seeing a feeling that then created a memory, which grew into series of successive memories, not layers (depth) but “horizontal” sections (width). After many years my original observation was confirmed; each time a memory was created, it had layers itself. Closer examination did reveal “depth”. Although I could see a series of feeling events, (a horizontal progression), each event had vertical layers too, hence depth. This depth is as real to me as any 3D visual though I do not “see” it like I can “see” an imaginary apple. There are differential aspects to it that are spatial, there is a “near” and a “far”, very similar to the sense of hearing something from a near source next to me or a far source like thunder in the clouds.

(v) Fields : “Physics. A region of space characterized by a physical property, such as gravitational or electromagnetic force or fluid pressure, having a determinable value at every point in the region.” ( from Answers.com )

“The region around a charged body within which it can exert its electrostatic influence may be called an electric field. In principle, it extends to infinity, but in practice it falls off more or less rapidly with distance. We can define the intensity or strength E of an electric field as follows. Suppose that we place a small test charge q in an electric field. This charge will then experience a force. The ratio of the force to the charge is called the intensity of the electric field, or, more usually, simply the electric field. Thus I have used the words “electric field” to mean either the region of space around a charged body, or, quantitatively, to mean its intensity.” (JB Tatum)

“Unified field theory is sometimes called the Theory of Everything (TOE, for short): the long-sought means of tying together all known phenomena to explain the nature and behaviour of all matter and energy in existence. In physics, a field refers to an area under the influence of some force, such as gravity or electricity, for example. A unified field theory would reconcile seemingly incompatible aspects of various field theories to create a single comprehensive set of equations. Such a theory could potentially unlock all the secrets of nature and make a myriad of wonders possible, including such benefits as time travel and an inexhaustible source of clean energy, among many others. According to Michio Katu, a theoretical physicist at City College, City University of New York, those in pursuit of a unified field theory seek “an equation an inch long that would allow us to read the mind of God.” James Clerk Maxwell proposed the first field theory, for electromagnetism, in the middle of the 1800s. Early in the 20th century, Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity – dealing with gravitation – became the second field theory. The term unified field theory was coined by Einstein, who was attempting to prove that electromagnetism and gravity were different manifestations of a single fundamental field”. (Whatis.com)

“The weak-field approximation in general relativity is used to describe the gravitational field very far from the source of gravity”. (Answers.com)

“Because of this interdependence of the electric and magnetic fields, it makes sense to consider them as a single, theoretically coherent entity — the electromagnetic field. This unification, which was completed by James Clerk Maxwell, is one of the triumphs of 19th century physics. It had far-reaching consequences, one of which was the elucidation of the nature of light: as it turns out, what is thought of as “light” is actually a propagating oscillatory disturbance in the electromagnetic field, i.e., an electromagnetic wave. Different frequencies of oscillation give rise to the different forms of electromagnetic radiation, from radio waves at the lowest frequencies, to visible light at intermediate frequencies, to gamma rays at the highest frequencies.” ( Answers.com )

(vi) Waves : . . . . “Wave motion is the process by which a disturbance at one point in space is propagated to another point more remote from the source with no net transport of the material of the medium itself. For example, sound is a form of wave motion; wind is not. Wave motion can occur only in a medium in which energy can be stored in both kinetic and potential form. In a mechanical medium, kinetic energy results from inertia and is stored in the velocity of the molecules, while potential energy results from elasticity and is stored in the displacement of the molecules.

In a free travelling wave (as distinguished from a stationary or standing wave) one part of the medium disturbs an adjacent part, thereby imparting energy to it. This portion of the medium, in turn, disturbs another part, thereby causing a flow of energy in a given direction away from the source. More technically, wave propagation is the result of kinetic energy at one point being transferred into potential energy at an adjacent point, and vice versa. The rate of travel of the disturbance, or velocity of propagation, is determined by the constants of the medium. A stationary wave is the combination of two waves of the same frequency and strength travelling in opposite directions so that no net transfer of energy away from the source takes place. A standing wave is the same but with the returning wave (toward the source) being of lesser intensity than the outwardly travelling wave so that a net transfer of energy away from the source does take place.

Wave motion can occur in a vacuum (electromagnetic waves), in gases (sound waves), in liquids (hydrodynamic waves), and in solids (vibration waves). Electromagnetic waves can also travel in gases, liquids, and solids provided that the electrical conductivity of the medium is not perfect or that the imaginary part of the dielectric constant is not infinitely great. By current usage, elastic waves propagated in gases, liquids, and solids, regardless of whether one can hear them or not, are called acoustic waves. ( From Answers.com )

the following are two ‘sketches’ I doodled to help me think about these matters . . . . .(please click on them, to open them and make them more readable).

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Footnote : What are feelings?

They are internal to the body, biological events, most likely to be  originating from the workings of homeostasis, which is the body’s system of self-regulation.  Homeostasis involves the whole body, the brain and the mind.  Feelings can be triggered by external events or by internal neurological events or by very rapid interactions of both.  A memory can trigger a feeling or sometimes, feelings emerge with no discernible cause.  With the latter, it might be the subconscious mind initiating a feeling the causes of which, we are unaware.

Some hold that feelings and emotions are related but different things : the author of this site holds that these terms are interchangeable.

That feelings are biological events, triggered by internal bodily workings and external events perceived by the bodily workings, does not minimise their impact.  The author of this site holds that they are the beginning and the end of everything.  He also believes that some feelings may be more than bodily originating or only bodily located.

An excellent description of feelings/emotions can be found in the works of Damasio :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Damasio

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Supporting Information (2) Stillness / Meditation

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How to practice Stillness : (which is another name for Meditation)

Practice once a day

In the morning

For ten minutes each time

Six days a week.

After 2 months or so, go to:

Twice a day, (morning and evening)

Twenty minutes

Seven days a week

In the first six months you do not need to do Meditation more than this, this practice is not about duration or endurance; it is a quality, not a quantity thing. Later, when you have consolidated your practice, you can plan longer more intensive sessions if you feel the need. Walk first, run later. When you are ready to do more (or less) then your practice itself will show you what to do. Meditation may not be about endurance but it is about persistence – you are wasting your time if you do not practice regularly.

Sitting

Unless you are a yoga adept, a dancer or naturally bendy, do not sit cross-legged. Posture is very important but you do not need to force your body into an uncomfortable position.

Find an ordinary dining room chair, sit and then see if you knees are slightly lower than your hips – that is, your thighs will point downwards just a bit. Use cushions to adjust your sitting height.

Do not lean back; your back must be unsupported.

Put your hands on your knees, then draw them back until your arms and shoulders feel comfortable. (If your hands are too close to your body then your lower back will get tense; too far forward and you will eventually slump).

Do not try to block out or ignore any background sounds. If the phone rings, just ignore it, don’t disconnect it. If an intrusion is so great that you practice, then try again later. If the intrusion is not so great, then work on ignoring it. You ignore it by focussing on the technique.

Close your eyes. Keep them lightly closed throughout. Open them as soon as the session ends. Do not give into temptation and linger in the Meditation. It is very important to end cleanly and completely. Use a timer that does not sound too harsh.

Standing is also good, providing you get the posture just right, (see the diagrams at the end)

Posture

Correct posture is vital to Meditation practice. The following is no exaggeration: unless you can find and maintain the right posture you are wasting your time.

Have you ever sat in a cinema and been stirred by some powerful music and strong emotional scene? Felt shivers run up and/or down your back? Felt something similar when you sneezed? Ever scratched and felt a flood of some sensation in a different part of your body? If it is cold then shivering (semi-involuntary muscle spasms creating mild exertion, hence warmth), shivering makes sense. But why shiver in a cinema because you are emotionally moved? And what is an orgasm?

These sensations cannot be explained fully here, other than to say that they are a form of energy. It is very very important that these sensations are not blocked. Meditation will not work if these sensations are blocked. Your practice is quite likely to generate some or all of these sensations at some time. They should always be ignored completely in every respect save one – make small adjustments to your posture so the sensations can dissipate freely. Let them come, let them go.  These small adjustments can have a very big impact.  These adjustments are more than just changing you position, they involve an approach whereby you “allow” your body to find the correct posture : (and this “allowing” is the opposite of force, where you might force your body to change position, thus creating more tension and more blockage).  One of the insights that will come from prolonged Stillness/Meditation is that much of the tension in our bodies is caused by our unconscious holding of particular postures.  As we release that holding, as we “allow” that holding to decrease, the internal energy will flow more freely.  This “allowing” is a very subtle thing but very much worth pursuing and it comes from small gentle adjustments to you posture ; (see diagrams below).

The better your sitting posture the smaller the adjustment you need to make. An experienced meditator looks like they are carved out of stone – in fact, they regularly adjust their posture, just imperceptibly. Beginners need to adjust their neck and shoulders a lot. Don’t wriggle, just adjust. (see the diagrams at the end)

Breathing

Correct breathing is also very important to Meditation practice. There are no special techniques or procedures – in my experience, controlling the breath can be harmful in the long term. Nonetheless, attention must be paid to how you breathe during Meditation.

Try and breathe in and out through your nose only.

Lightly place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, so the tip of your tongue just touches the back of your top teeth. (If you have a cold, breathe through your mouth but keep your tongue in this position.)

Never force the breath in or out, rather, ‘allow’ the breath to come and go. This is a very fine distinction that can take years to fully appreciate.

Breathing is important because it is the focus for your attention whilst practising Meditation. If you concentrate on something intensely, you will probably block-out much of what is going on around you. If someone is reading with great attention, you can probably go right up and stand next to them and they will not notice. Then again, a soldier on ‘point duty’, slowly walking through the jungle, expecting an attack at any time, will be aware of every leaf and every sound. Attention can vary. If we characterise these two types as ‘inner’ (the reader) and ‘outer’ (the soldier on point) Meditation is not one at the expense of the other. It is both. Even though it is both, the attention for beginners has to be focussed somewhere. Focussing on breathing is best. This is what you should be aiming for:

Without controlling the breath in any way,

watch it like a hawk, yet simultaneously,

be aware of everything. . . . . .

This dual focus is quite difficult but is a significant step forward when you can do it. You will know when you can do it because, without trying, the two forms of attention become one. When this happens, you will know it . . . . .

The tricky bit

No one really knows what a mind is. From the point of view of Meditation practice, this does not matter. A famous Zen master once said, when a student asked what to do about his mind:

“Completely ignore your mind”

This is very good advice but very difficult to do. For most beginners, it is not possible to ignore their own mind. For a beginner to ignore their own mind might seem that they are not doing something but actually they are “doing something”, they are attempting something. They are attempting an act of ignoring. And who is doing the ignoring? Their own mind. Fortunately there is a way out of this potential loop.

Rather than ignore your mind during Meditation practice, just watch it. (Watching in this context will always mean “with eyes shut, being continuously aware of . . . “).

Expectations

This is hardest thing to deal with both during and after Meditation, so it gets a section on its own. This applies to the whole of Praxis but is often most noticeable around Meditation practice.

Mostly, meditation is about some kind of spiritual attainment, whatever definition of spiritual is being used. No matter what the definition used, there is a common theme to most practices. Wanting something. Yet desiring some spiritual outcome can also be an obstacle to progress. There is a powerful contradiction at work here, or at least, an apparent contradiction. Wanting to achieve some future state where you will not want anything is confusing. Wanting to ‘not want’ something causes a problem, it is like wanting to loose weight by eating too much food.

It is best to try and honestly make all your wanting as clear to yourself as possible. You may have very grand ambitions, you might want to be a Buddha, or an angel or some transcendent master. Why not? You may simply want peace of mind. Everyone holds some image of where they want to go however hazy it may be. It is not the having of such desires that matters, it is what we do with them that counts.

This is what meditation is really about:

It might make you feel good, might make

you feel peaceful and will certainly improve

your health if done correctly but it is really

about becoming more aware.

If you can make your desire as clear and as honest as possible then you can address the next question. How much do you want it?

This is an important question to ask yourself. You might want to become free of all suffering and pain – but how much time would you devote to the task? We live in a market where material values reign – how much would you pay for real peace of mind? If you are not prepared to give away all your money and devote every minute of every day to getting what you want, then how much do you really want it? This is a minefield but there is an important aspect to this as far as Meditation is concerned: try to balance your expectations in proportion to your effort.

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this is a page from a meditation guide that is quite good : http://www.getsomeheadspace.com/
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there is more on posture and “allowing” here :

https://thesearchforthesecondtruth.com/2009/06/30/the-physical-side-of-mindfulness/

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Supporting info (3) – initial help with Constancy or 24/7 Mindfulness

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This is a beginners exercise, for those attempting the 24/7 practice.  (More info on the different kinds of Mindfulness can be found in the next entry, number 4).

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Find a little smooth pebble, about the same size to your hand as the one in the picture. Carry it in your left hand, if you are right handed, (or, vice versa etc). Use your little finger to hold it against your palm, as in the picture. You will get quite skilled, quite quickly, at hiding it from people. If people see it and ask, tell them the truth, or, tell them “It’s my lucky stone” and offer no more explanation. Only tell people if they see it. For the duration of this exercise, avoid long explanations or justifications if you can.

Carry your pebble ALL THE TIME.

When I say, all the time, that is what I mean. Carry it every minute of every day. If you are forced to put it down, pick it up as soon as possible. Carry it in the bath, or shower. At night, get a silk scarf and tie it into your hand. When not engaged in some activity, look at it as much as possible. Every time you become conscious of the stone, every time your become aware of your Constancy practice, every time you re-join that practice having drifted away, watch very carefully what is happening inside. Don’t hold on to what’s happening; just watch it, as clearly as you can.

You will need to hold it for 2 months or so, not longer.

Do not worry at this stage what kind of feelings you are having.

Whenever possible during the day, and, first thing before sleep and first thing on waking, stare at the stone. Stare at the stone but try and see what you are feeling. Stare at your feelings but try and resist the urge to interpret them or analyse them. If you do see yourself analysing or interpreting, just notice this and let it fall away. Concentrate on the staring. Do this staring as often as you can during the day. If you feel nothing, stare at this nothing.

When this exercise is over, put the stone somewhere special. Give it to someone else when it feels right.

The aim of this exercise is to intensify Constancy.

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Supporting info (4) – more detail on Constancy and the different kinds of Mindfulness

This is a general overview of mindfulness 

 

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There are two kinds of Mindfulness.  The older form emerged from Hinduism and Buddhism and involves practicing 24/7. This grew out of religious practice but does not itself require any religious belief, being a collection of techniques to develop constant attention.

The newer form grew out the 1980’s Well Being movement and has become widespread in the public and commercial sectors. This form involves a large number of techniques, most of which are time limited, some only taking 5 or 10 minutes and aimed specifically at improved health and well-being.

Meditation is usually a specific time limited technique. The oldest forms grew out of Eastern Religions and whilst know to some Westerners since the 1850s become widespread in the West during the 1960s. The number of available techniques has grown and many extensively modernised.

Meditation is widely used in the newer form of Mindfulness, to such an extent, that the terms are often used interchangeably.

This is another definition of Mindfulness :

“The English term mindfulness already existed before it came to be used in a (western) Buddhist context. It was first recorded as ‘myndfulness’ in 1530 (John Palsgrave translates French ‘pensee’), as ‘mindfulnesse’ in 1561, and ‘mindfulness’ in 1817. Morphologically earlier terms include ‘mindful’ (first recorded in 1340), ‘mindfully’ (1382), and the obsolete ‘mindiness’ (ca. 1200). The Buddhist term translated into English as “mindfulness” originates in the Pali term ‘sati’ and in its Sanskrit counterpart ‘smṛti’. Translators rendered the Sanskrit word as ‘trenpa’ in Tibetan (wylie: ‘dran pa’) and as ‘nian 念’ in Chinese. Mindfulness practice, inherited from the Buddhist tradition, is being employed in psychology to alleviate a variety of mental and physical conditions . . . . .”. (Wikipedia).

In October 2015, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Mindfulness published their Mindful Nation UK report with recommendations on mindfulness in health, in education, in the criminal justice system and in the workplace. www.themindfulnessinitiative.org.uk

The Mindfulness initiative is a good site and states this : “Mindfulness is best considered an inherent human capacity akin to language acquisition; a capacity that enables people to focus on what they experience in the moment, inside themselves as well as in their environment, with an attitude of openness, curiosity and care. We are all somewhat mindful some of the time, but we can choose to cultivate this faculty and refine it to ever-greater degrees through ‘mindfulness practice’”

I found this helpful caution on their site : “On occasion, participants in meditation groups or retreats report unusual or unexpected experiences. This can prompt a variety of reactions, from curiosity at one end of the scale, to concern or distress at the other. Further research is needed to better understand the origin and frequency of such experiences and how best to respond to them ( e.g. under what circumstances it is appropriate to continue with mindfulness meditation, to change the type of practice, or to pause or stop altogether.) Teachers should be trained to be alert to these experiences, and teacher-training organisations should establish protocols for how best to manage them.” I would just add, if you are going deeper, do factor in some support for yourself before starting.

Constancy is a form of the 24/7 type of Mindfulness.

I describe Constancy as watching yourself. You are not actually looking at yourself with your eyes but rather extending your awareness of what is happening “inside” you. This involves watching thoughts, feelings, memories, dreams and all the combinations they can appear in.  This of course also includes what the you “inside” is aware of “outside”, of what is happening all around you.  It is not just a case of experiencing an emotion or thought, when we practice Constancy, we observe the experience of the emotion or thought as well. We have the feeling but also watch ourselves ‘having the feeling.’ When thoughts appear we observe ourselves thinking and pondering. The emphasis is on adding a little extra awareness.

What exactly is meant when we say, add “a little extra awareness”? If you are having some thoughts and if you then watch them as well, is this more thinking, is this a thought being used to watch other thoughts? If you are experiencing some emotions and practising Constancy, is it thoughts being used to watch feelings? What is it, that “watches? If the answer is “me”, and if that answer is sufficient, then you do not need Constancy. For many of us this answer will not do; this “me” label, means less and less as time goes by.

If you are solving a problem, or doing something that requires careful and sustained concentration, do it as you would normally, just add a little extra awareness to it. Watching yourself think. Watching yourself remember. Watching yourself have feelings. Watching carefully all that is happening inside. The more you look for the “watcher”, the person doing the self-exploration, the harder that person is to find. You can find many thoughts, feelings and memories but the inner person experiencing those things is strangely elusive. If you find that you are the sum total of your thoughts and feelings, then you probably will not need Constancy. If you feel yourself to be more than a collection of thoughts and more than a label, then Constancy is an effective technique you can apply. The watcher, the real you, does not just appear on demand, the watcher becomes apparent as a result of continuos observation over time. Watching over time releases some of our deeper feelings and these will eventually reveal the person watching.

It is not so difficult to watch thoughts and feelings when sitting quietly, relaxing but very difficult if we are fully involved in some activity. How is it possible to hold this kind of awareness, and do other things? It is best to start with simple activities like housework, watching TV, sitting on a bus. Then, build up to more difficult things, like watching whilst talking to others, driving or writing. There should be no danger or conflict involved with this watching; if you cross the road you look to see what is coming and you watch yourself looking, you do not stop looking at the traffic. If you get caught up in watching yourself so that you do not pay attention to the traffic then you are not doing Constancy properly, you are just distracting yourself. A golden rule : Constancy always involves more awareness, never less – so of course this involves more awareness of what is happening ‘outside’ of you.

When you begin Constancy, add this extra awareness to watch everything that is going on inside you. Do not be concerned if your watching lapses; it is very difficult to keep 100% attention 100% of the time, especially at the beginning. When you “wake up” and realise that your Constancy has slipped, just restart it without any fuss or recriminations. Keep coming back to it, as often as you have to. This can become very difficult sometimes but does get easier in the long-term, especially if you can see that, the extra awareness you are developing is more like a slow pulse, coming and going and coming again.  The intention of doing Constancy is almost as important as the actual doing of it. It is the intention of Constancy that you take into unconsciousness. When you are about to sleep, be it napping or in bed at night, set up the intention to continue with Constancy even while you are asleep.

The following are more notes which further stress the importance of feelings.

When I first practiced Constancy, I noticed the following two things:
 (1)  all the events going on inside me are jumbled up together and they happen very fast.      (2)   I talk to myself inside my head.  When I got into the stride of watching what was going on inside I noticed these 7 aspects :

(1) . . . . I can make thoughts

For example, I can decide to think about an apple

it’s a green apple

if I close my eyes, I can visualise it.

(2) . . . . Thoughts happen spontaneously

Without intending it, I find myself thinking of a red apple

I can visualise it

but I did not “make” this thought

it was suddenly, just “there”.

(3) . . . . I can choose to remember

I decide to remember an apple I ate yesterday

I can visualise it

I can replay the act of eating it, “seeing” the action

or, I can tell myself in silent words, “I ate an apple yesterday”

(4) . . . . I remember without choosing

I remember , when I was 8 or 9

taking an apple from a neighbour’s tree

I can “see” myself doing it, and “see” my Dad

telling me off. Choosing to remember something

has triggered another memory, a memory which I did not choose.

then, I tried to create a feeling . . . .but I cannot do it !

I use memory to try and make a feeling.

I remember feeling sad about something last week;

although I can remember sadness, I no longer feel sad.

I remember something that happened at work yesterday

and I am angry again. But I have not “made” the anger, like

I made the thought about the green apple.   The event at

work happened yesterday, but my anger is fresh. I am not

“re-feeling” yesterday’s anger. I am angry now!

(5) . . . feelings arrive

Feeling uncomfortable and not wanting to feel anger

anymore I decide to stop feeling – and cannot do it. I

cannot just switch off a feeling or bundle of feelings just

because I want to. I distract myself by watching television.

after a while, the feelings fade away.

(6) . . . . I daydream

Sitting in front of the television, I almost fall asleep,

I have a reverie, in which I get the better of people at

work, then somehow we are all playing football . . . .

(7) . . . .  I go to bed and dream about a football the size of a house.  I can’t kick it, so I go inside and eat some toast.

Seven aspects, or types of events that happen inside me.

in summary :

1 . . . . I make thoughts

2 . . . . thoughts happen spontaneously

3 . . . . I choose to remember

4 . . . . memories arrive without my choosing

5 . . . . feelings just arrive, I cannot create them

6 . . . . I daydream

7 . . . . I dream

Sometimes, 2 or 3 happen at once (though thinking and dreaming together is unusual, thinking and daydreaming is not).

Sometimes they happen separately, sometimes they happen very fast, sometimes slow.

I noticed that I talk to myself, inside my head. The voice is “my” voice, I make it happen. This voice uses regular words and sentences. It is the voice that “reads”, I am aware of it as I read. This silent but persistent voice seems at first, to be part of number 1 above, “I make thoughts”, because I do not have a sense of the voice just happening, or just arriving, like a feeling arrives. But when I tried to stop talking to myself, I found it very hard to do. One thing was clear, the voice was a thought. I might “say” something that evokes a feeling, or a memory. But the voice itself is thought.

Please don’t try to stop your internal voice!  With Constancy, the effort is put into watching, not controlling, just watch the internal voice. It will get quiet eventually without you having to do anything. If you are feeling peaceful and your voice won’t shut up, don’t get angry with it. Try and be tolerant and just watch it along with anything else that is going, just watch what is happening . . . .

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this is a small note I created for a social media site :

thinking-watching-or-both

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The following is aimed at those more experienced in 24/7 mindfulness / Constancy

What is belief?

With 24/7 mindfulness, we watch everything, forever.  This is the bottom-line.  Of course we lose it often and need to return to the watching.  The returning is indeed perhaps the most important part of the action, it becomes overtime a default intention that can have its own momentum.  It can become apparent that we are constantly returning to the attention

Part of that watching involves seeing mental phenomena.   It is the watching, the constantly returning to it, that matters but an interesting development can happen over the longer timeframes.  We watch the three standard phenomena, thoughts, memories, feelings (emotions) but also note that these are often shaped by predispositions we have.  These predisposition are complex and made of a mix of hardwired instinct, psychologically acquired defences and cultural shapings.  Some of these are seen as choices and others are deeper and seen as compulsions and even addictions.  Mindfulness opens doors, some of which lead up to the roof or out on to the garden but some lead down to a dark cellar  –  we become aware of these, that I think of as mood textures and they are layered.  Belief can be one of these.  It can be a psychological need, a comforting parameter or even just a simple hope.  You may or may not have judgements about your beliefs and the beliefs of others but prolonged practice of 24/7 mindfulness reveals eventually that belief – all beliefs – are a layer, under which are deeper, structures.   This direct experience indicates that, on the whole, knowledge replaces belief.  The Zen people have a nice balance to this, called “Don’t Know Mind”.  You know something or you are in “Don’t Know Mind”.  The grey area in between is for guessing and belief but the Zen people still put these in to “Don’t Know Mind”.  For our 24/7 mindfulness these distinctions aide the watching. This is not about deciding which is which – that is just more thinking, it is about recognising what is manifesting, when you can.  (If not, it is “Don’t Know Mind”).   Knowing what you are watching, helps that watching, especially, it helps the letting go.

In summary, we have mental predispositions, that have multiple causes that we can get to know and once we can easily recognise them, they are much easier to let go.  The following analogy might help to illustrate.   Imagine you are laying down next to a fast flowing river but your eyes are fixed on the far shore.  One arm reaches down to gather succulent and tasty river reeds – but you cannot see what you are reaching for.  You take your eyes from the far shore and look down into the river, where you can see the tops of the river reeds.  Even though you cannot see their roots, you see enough to be able to gather some.   So with 24/7 mindfulness.  It helps to recognise what surfaces from the depths, that way, our constant returning to the attention is more fluid.

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Supporting info (5) – Kernels

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Kernels are bite-sized bits of knowledge, reminders that you can use to help some stages in Constancy

(1)

the wholething

we wake up and

find we want the truth.

finding out about ourselves

and finding truth are the same thing.

in presenting ourselves to others

we put ourselves on the journey

of finding out everything else

 

(2)

We open the door to feelings and start the constant looking at the ones we can see. We learn that all feelings are connected to each other. The feelings we watch are connected to the deeper ones we cannot see. This then can be our path, from the known feelings to the deeper unknown.

 

(3)

Inter-weaving and layering, patterns manifest as we proceed directly to the truth. The patterns we see are connected to ones we cannot see. Causation involves an act of recognition. A cause, is then an act of recognising a phase in a pattern.

 

(4)

The most wonderful things, are in the easiest place to look, yet seem so difficult to find. To dig a hole, we would use a shovel but what tools might we use to look inside our own hearts and minds? It is best to have a method to help our looking.

 

(5)

We do what we must

Doing what we must is mapped out for us

We are the map.

 

(6)

Simplicity, is complexity seen from a long way away

 

(7)

Our Sky

it struck me a while back
with the force of an imploding star
that on this planet
there is not one mediocre human being
that each has a heart the size of a continent washed
with oceans of swelling tidal feelings
whether we see them or not
that each has a playful child inside and
a playful grandparent, no matter how deeply buried
and while I cannot love them all
(especially the nasty ones)
they are my brothers and sisters
their eyes laced with naked pain
and its hidden redemption
under the sky,
our sky.

 

(8)

Do all day

Imagine a world where machines make everything we need.
These machines repair and replace themselves.
And if there was no more war and poverty
What would we do all day?

 

(9)

So, what’s it all about then?

(Q). please tell me what to do
(A) . no, I cannot
(Q). why not?
(A) . it wouldn’t work
(Q). are you enlightened?
(A) . tell me what enlightenment is and I will tell you if I have got it.
(Q). enlightenment is . . . . knowing everything
(A) . I don’t know everything
(Q). enlightenment is . . . . freedom from suffering
(A) . I am not free from suffering
(Q). enlightenment is . . . . being able to save others from suffering
(A) . people save themselves from suffering
(Q). enlightenment is . . . . total wisdom and grace
(A) . only you can tell me if I am wise and I have no grace to give
(Q). so what do you have?
(A) . I know what is true
(Q). what is truth?
(A) . it is a direct experience
(Q). will I get it?
(A) . that depends how much you want it.
(Q). how can I know that?
(A) . by looking
(Q). why can’t you tell me what it is?
(A) . I can tell you what it is, I just did
(Q). but I don’t feel any different
(A) . that is because you have not experienced it directly, you heard the words I said, your mind/brain processed them – but you have not felt the truth directly.
(Q). how can I feel it?
(A) . you must choose a method of looking and apply it constantly till you know
(Q). that does not sound so hard.
(A) . if it is not difficult, why have you not done it already? have you been doing something more important all these years? When you have found your own truth, then look for it the faces of others.

 

(10)

How big is your unconscious mind ?
How much does it influence you ?
Do you know when it influences you ?

 

(11)

I cannot think the unthinkable

But I can feel it.

 

(12)

end of the day

at the end of the day

what really matters?

that we hold affection for someone

and that someone holds affection for us,

that we do it when it’s easy and

especially when it’s difficult.

and if we can’t do it

then we turn our passion

onto why we can’t do it until

we can.

and everyone knows this,

we just forgot for a while.

 

(13)

House Lights

Imagine you are in an isolated house in the countryside where there are no city or street lights and when you look outside at night, you cannot see much.  What you see, is illuminated by the lights of the house you are in.  To see more, you might switch off the house lights, and although you can see more once your eyes adjust, it is then dark inside the house. If you go outside to see more, you leave behind the source of light you had inside.  You might find a torch to take outside with you but, you cannot take the house and its lights with you.

 

(14)

It is misty over the train tracks at Auschwitz

The rail tracks are as cold to the touch

as they ever were

 

(15)

“To all sufficiency

From all sustainability”

(Jason Stoddard : http://www.strangeandhappy.com)

 

(16)

Are you waiting at the station?   Are you waiting for the train to arrive?

. . . . . . .  It’s not coming.

You are the train.

 

(17)

What memes should we be supporting now, that will help those not yet emergent? Anything that helps build a culture where it is unfashionable and deeply uncool, to be rich.

 

(18)

The second kind of truth is fluid because we are always moving. It is not that truth is malleable   –    it is that we are mobile.

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Supporting info (6) – helpful quotes

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We don’t see the world as it is. We see it as we are.

~Anais Nin

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“Whatever the great masters says, however they expand the scriptures,
of what use is all their learning to another? That which flows out from
your own heart – that embraces heaven and earth”.
~Ganto

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“Make no friends with an elephant keeper
if you have no room for an elephant”.
~Saadi of Shiraz

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“I bear the wounds of all the battles I avoided.”

~Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

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“I was listening to National Public Radio the other day when someone asked the question” ‘Once you wake up, can you wake up any more?’ Yes, I thought. In a way my whole life has been about waking up and then waking up some more.”

~

Sue Monk Kidd from The Dance of the Dissident Daughter

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“I believed that I wanted to be a poet, but deep down I wanted to be a poem.”

~Jaime Gil de Biedma

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“The myriad of named things
spring from an inexhaustible matrix,
these point beyond themselves
to the all encompassing unity.

The enigma of things deepens
into the fathomless beyond,
from mystery to mystery is the gateway
into the streaming wonder of existence”.

~Lao Tzu

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My heart burns like fire

But my eyes are as

Cold as dead ashes.

~Soyen Shaku

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“Nobody can escape from all these kinds of changes, that technology makes possible, but which economics makes absolutely essential”.

~Charles Handy – talking on “Visions of heaven and hell” C4

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“….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 friend

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“The dreadful

has already

happened”

~Bakunin

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One does not become enlightened by imaging
figures of light, but by making the darkness
conscious. The latter procedure, however,
is disagreeable and therefore unpopular.
~Carl Jung

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For 50 years of a fine marriage, Nasrudin made sandwiches for saturday lunches he and his wonderful wife shared. One day she said that she was angry:

“For years now you have given me the end slices of every loaf of bread we eat together. I hate them, they are the worst slices and you always give them to me.”
Nasruddin sat silently for a second and said

“But they are my favourite pieces”

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“Holiness is in right action and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves. And goodness – what God desires – is here in your mind and in your heart. In what you decide to do every day, you will be a good man . . . . . . . or not”.

(The Hospitaler : from the film, “Kingdom and Heaven”).

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“you are not too old
and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out
it’s own secret”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

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“When one door closes another one opens. But we often look so long and regretfully upon the closed door that fail to see the one that has opened up for us”
~Alexander Graham Bell

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“Apophenia is the spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness of unrelated phenomena. The term was coined by K. Conrad in 1958. . . . . The propensity to see connections between seemingly unrelated objects or ideas most closely links psychosis to creativity … apophenia and creativity may even be seen as two sides of the same coin.”
~Peter Brugger

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I used to think my brain was my most important organ.  But then I thought: wait a minute, who’s telling me that?
~Emo Phillips

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“It is through light and a clear idea that the mind sees the essence of things, numbers and extensions. It is through a vague idea or through feelings that the mind judges the existence of creatures and that it knows its own existence”
~Malebranche 1638 – 1715

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“It is manifest… that every soul and spirit hath a certain continuity with the spirit of the universe, so that it must be understood to exist and to be included not only there where it liveth and feeleth, but it is also by its essence and substance diffused throughout immensity… The power of each soul is itself somehow present afar in the universe… Naught is mixed, yet is there some presence”.
~Giordano Bruno in Cause, Principle, and Unity — 1584

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“Whoever fights with monsters should see to it that he does not become a monster in the process. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.”

~Nietzsche -Beyond Good and Evil, aphorism # 146.

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“Again, within the heart, there is a heart hidden, like a horseman hidden in the dust

. . . . . . . . . . .   The lamps are many, the light is one”.

~ Rumi

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“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

Constitution of WHO: principles – World Health Organization
https://www.who.int/about/mission/en/

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Supporting info (7) – patterns

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If you throw a pebble into a pond, ripples move out from where it sank – patterns. There are patterns in a pond and there are patterns in human lives too. It is very hard to see the patterns in our lives for most of them come from unconscious sources. The patterns within our lives reflect the structured patterns of our minds. What is ‘outside’, that is the shape our lives take, reflects what is ‘inside’. For this reason, patterns can be important but we get more out of them if we are not too hasty to pin them down with explanations. Constancy is about watching all your thoughts and feelings: the act of watching (constantly) is more important than interpreting what you see. The act of watching all the time allows the Deeper feelings to surface and that is, at the end of the day, more important than how you interpret them.  The Deepest feelings surfacing bring their own meanings.   So with watching patterns, allow their meaning to emerge over time rather than be too quick to fix their meaning early on with theories and speculation.  This ‘too early’ fixing can create blocks to further emergence.   It may take time for meanings to emerge, and/or, meanings may appear but in layers, not all visible at first glance.

Imagine a clear pond in front of you. You drop a pebble at on end of the pond and quickly walk round to drop a pebble in at the other end. At first, the ripples spread out uninterrupted. Then the two converging sets of ripples meet, interference occurs and a new set of ripples forms. When two patterns meet, they create a third pattern. Cause can be seen but it is complex. Too often we see “third pattern” and assume the second pebble caused it. Really, it is interaction and interference that caused the third pattern. We look for interaction but mostly we find interference. Another reason that caution is best exercised when looking at patterns.  This interference factor is another compelling reason to be cautious with interpretations and speculation.

“Patterns have an underlying mathematical structure; indeed, mathematics can be seen as the search for regularities, and the output of any function is a mathematical pattern. Similarly in the sciences, theories explain and predict regularities in the world”.  (Wikipedia)

Patterns also have phases.   There is movement. We move from one state to another; we move from one place to another. We look back and identify a “past”, that is where we have moved from. We look forward to where we expect to “go”, to travel to. Even if I sit still and do nothing, it is not a “nothing”  –  my body is decaying, my brain is moving from one state to the next. States like “being still”, “balance” and “nothing” are thus illusions and linguistic conventions only, albeit helpful ones. We invent time, by creating a measurement system, seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, years are all measurements, that is, an order we impose on a fluid ‘now’.   And then we have to modify it by creating nanoseconds and even smaller units. But really, this measuring is just an act of perception, codified and mechanised to be sure, but it is still us looking.  We invent mathematics because that too, at the end of the day, is still just us looking.  Mathematics does not exist outside of those who are counting and calculating.

Whichever direction our perception goes, whether out in to the astonishing distances of cosmology, or in, towards the equally astonishing distances of the sub-atomic, it is just a form of travelling, we move from one perception to another, from near to far and back. In the same way that “nothing” and “balance” are illusions, temporary linguistic and perceptual conventions, so to is the concept that “things end”. The most we could say is that a phase might seem to end.   Phases are connected to other phases, both consecutively and concurrently, with subsequent interference.  This is demonstrable in almost any place you look. Phases are parts of patterns. So, death is the end of a phase. “You” die but the body decays into something else or is burned and converted to gas and ashes. If consciousness is just a by-product of neural complexity, then it ends when the neural network decays. Then again, phases are connected consecutively and concurrently; this certainly seems to be true, so why would consciousness be the only thing not connected to other phases? Seen this way, consciousness cannot be an isolate thing, (even if we cannot see the connections), because there are no isolate things, save for convention and temporary linguistic convenience.

So in summary, in terms of Constancy practice, it is probably unhelpful initially to try and grasp all the patterns that present to our looking  –  they go too deep and too far.  On the other hand, patterns stimulate in us a desire for meaning.  It seems this is best fostered by allowing rather than grasping.  The emergent Deeper feelings will bring their own meaning, eventually.  Put another way, it is not necessary to know all or even most, in order to ‘be’.  The pursuit of knowledge is limited, being open to ‘being’ is something that happens right now, (constantly) and helps our Constancy practice.

” . . . within the heart, there is a heart hidden, like a horse-man, hidden in the dust”

Rumi

 

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Supporting info (8) – little acorns

IMG_0957

 

A fine mind said this . . . . . . .

 

“But here she is, all mine, trying her best to give me all she can. How can I ever hurt her? But I didn’t understand then. That I could hurt somebody so badly she would never recover. That a person can, just by living, damage another human being beyond repair.”

~ “South of the Border, West of the Sun” by Haruki Murakami

 

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. No one can be neutral.   We cannot start from scratch.

There are consequences that come out of prolonged efforts to find out about ourselves. We are always applying what we learn, whether we see it in action or not, whether we want to or not. To cut a long story short, this means that changing ourselves and changing the world are inextricably linked, even if the connection is hard to see. And this is a two way street.

Perhaps you have already saved the life of the person 

who will grow up to be the next Hitler.

What we do, both deliberately and accidentally, affects our inner selves and the outer world, (this connects to the page on Patterns). This interaction involves complexity beyond our imagining. Trying to predict and track such change is vastly difficult. Yet we see that a few snowflakes can start an avalanche. The acorn grows into a tall tree.  In essence, this means the if the seeds in your heart are true, they will bear good fruit eventually. In summary, get your heart right and then your choices follow more easily.  It does not rule out error, it might still be a road through hell, but you have done all you can if your heart is clear. If you are not sure if your heart is clear, then, find out.  You find out by diligently applying your method of self-discovery and of course this something only you can do, (albeit with help and guidance from others).

If you can find what is really true for you, it follows, that you stand a better chance of seeing what is also true in the world.  In other words, we can find what is true ‘outside’ as well as ‘inside’, because they are inextricably connected, they are in a pattern :  ( it is usual, to start on the ‘inside’ first).  It therefore follows, if we can find what is true in the world, then, we can decide which parts of the process to nurture.  It helps us understand the choices we have already made.

We are already swimming in the river so we are already wet  –  in that we have no choice   –  but we can choose which direction to swim in.  So over time, Constancy and choice are more and more deeply linked.   Over time, Constancy shows us the choices we are making, the choices we have made, and the choices we did not make.  We get to see the patterns and choices and how they frame what we see.  So we are watching mental phenomena and part of that is watching the framing of what we see.   In summary, we might be watching the acorn but we are seeing the roots, the seedling, the young tree, the mature tree and its decline back into the ground.  All of these phases are of course connected and Constancy reveals the patterns of their connection.  The seeing of Constancy is therefore a dynamic act and not a passive observance.   This is the crucial distinction between the mindfulness of Constancy and the ordinary looking of awareness.

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Supporting info (9) – the Ten Year Notebook

This is a scan of a notebook I kept between 1976 and 1986, copied here by way of far background info. This represents some of where I came from.  It is a collection of quotes I found inspirational but also my early notes that lead to the TSFTST creation.

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Questions and Answers (10)

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Questions and Answers Supporting information ( 12 )

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This is a series of questions and answers. I have picked out a few, from many hundreds over that last 40 years, that illustrate aspects of Constancy / Mindfulness practice. Those who asked the questions 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? (+footnote)
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.

15. Replies to questions about sections 9 & 10 of this site

 

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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 really 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.   Or, have no memory of that meeting.  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 had 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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~~~ footnote to this question ~~~

some later info prompted by this reply :

What is the difference between being an agnostic and an atheist?  And going deeper with 24/7 mindfulness.

The definitions from wikipedia :

“Agnosticism is the view that the existence of God, of the divine or the supernatural is unknown or unknowable.  The English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley coined the word agnostic in 1869, and said “It simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or believe.” Earlier thinkers, however, had written works that promoted agnostic points of view, such as Sanjaya Belatthaputta, a 5th-century BCE Indian philosopher who expressed agnosticism about any afterlife; and Protagoras, a 5th-century BCE Greek philosopher who expressed agnosticism about the existence of “the gods”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnosticism

 “Atheism is, in the broadest sense, the absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is the rejection of belief that any deities exist.  In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism

I would add the following, as an additional approach.  Atheism is a theory.  Agnosticism is an experience.  For 24/7 mindfulness, this is quite an important distinction.  As we practice over the years, and, we watch deeper feelings surface and disperse, surface and disperse – some of this traffic brings in its wake an impactful void.  This void always initiates fear, sometimes, a great deal of fear.  The fear of course we handle the same as any feeling – watch and let go.  In some instances this must be strengthened to, face it, watch and let go as some avoidances are deeply ingrained, are indeed structural.  In some instances, the departing experience of the void leaves a growing knowledge of our own personal death.  Sometimes, the need to cling to a life-raft – to cling to or reignite a faith, can be very tempting.  It is at this crucial junction, that the essence of 24/7 mindfulness needs consolidating to go deeper.  Instead of clinging to a life-raft of faith, we watch whatever is happening.  This is an option, as you can have faith and still practice 24/7 mindfulness.  However, for many, the going deeper sees the withering away of faith and this too can be scary.  There is only one approach, that being, however painful, fear has to be faced.  The amount of persistent fear experienced is in direct proportion to the held structures of avoidance.  Once the fear is faced and fully accepted, it will wither away and eventually, the avoidance structures will also dwindle, (though rarely go completely).  The fear will come again but then depart sooner and cleaner.  Psychotherapy can be very helpful at this level. Good luck to all.

Future posts might look at the agnostic and the afterlife, which inevitably raises questions on the nature of consciousness.

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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 I’ve 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.

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 the goals 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 possess. “It” is a journey, or, can be described as a constant process.

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.

The Deeper feelings surface but do so more easily as a by-product of the constant looking.

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– 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 a growing awareness of a journey you are already on.

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(15).   Replies to questions about sections 9 & 10 of this site

Q.  It is very hard to see patterns – what about patterns of behaviour and thinking. Aren’t they quite easy to find ?

A.  Some patterns are easy to find and some are not but it is a good idea to assume that some are not visible.  We may look at a set of behaviours and devise an explanation and even if that explanation is good and practical, it’s still best to assume there are things we do not know.

Q.  Can you give me an example of how a pattern of the mind is reflected in our life?

A.  It is sensible to put your socks on first and then your shoes but why do I always walk on the left side of the road?  I throw salt over my left shoulder because my Mum used to.  Predispositions in my mind manifest as outward observable behaviour.  Habits are the classic patterns, some we choose, some we just find ourselves doing.  Both are patterns.

Q.  Watching is more important than interpreting ? Wouldn’t lots of therapists disagree to protect their jobs ?

A.  Watching is more important but that does not mean interpreting stops.  It just means we should be wary of settling for any one answer, so we carry on looking.  It is the act of looking that allows the deeper feelings to surface, not how well we interpret what we see.

Q.  Can you give me an example of what a deepest feeling could look like?

A.  Big, demanding, contradictory, multi-faceted, mysterious, beautiful, you will know them when you feel them.

Q.  Watching versus action/choices –  could there be a tension between these?

A.  Always

Q.  Ripples = good. Linguistic conventions = good but how does recognising their existence contribute to the idea that everything is connected ?

A.  If you see ripples and see patterns, the reverse begins to take shape.  You find yourself pondering – how can things not be connected?  How can there be an isolate thing?  

Q.  Isn’t that belief the equivalent of faith?   Is this your faith ?

A.  When it comes right down to it, I don’t really know what faith is, as the word is often used.  Is it the hope that something might be true? That is what it seems like to me, as in, strong hope.  I just see things and feel things mostly.   I might want things and I might hope that they will happen but I don’t have a faith that they will happen in the way religious people use that word.  With the religious kind of hoping, they have faith that something is true and feel obliged to hold that faith in order to get some later reward.  For me, truth is something I discover and if I have to wait to do that, then that is ok.  For me, the searching is something I do, not something I feel obliged to believe in. 

Q.  Why do phases exist ?

A.  Things pause but they never stop completely, so a phase is what happens between pauses.  A lot of that is just how our perception works.   

Q.  Are the consequences of a person trying to find out about themselves better than those of a person not looking at all?

A.  Good and bad are sometimes hard to call.  The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Thomas Grey famously wrote, “where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise” but the context of that is about staying in youthful innocence as long as possible, he was not defending ignorance.  We are hard-wired to find out why.  The choice involved in this action is whether we stop somewhere or whether we keep on looking.  The informed life can be harder and involve more suffering.  Is it worth it?  Some would say yes but sometimes they are justifying their own choices.  I try to simplify this.  When you ask me, I ask you, what do you want?  If you know what you want, then you apply whatever technique you have chosen to find out.  If you don’t know, and are troubled by the not-knowing, then seek advice on what technique to use to find out.  Sometimes, the technique to find out what you want and how to find it, are the same thing, as in Constancy.

Q.  Can prioritising the search for your own clear heart make you selfish?

A.  Yes. Is that selfish good or bad? (See answer above).

Q.  What is true for you ?

A.  What is on my website, it is my life’s work.

Q.  Is it constantly changing ?

A.  Yes but it tends not to fluctuate wildly, I notice.

Q.  Is it fixed ?

A.  No.  It’s process not arrival.

Q.  We experience a truth as a fixed thing, even if only momentarily – don’t we

A.  If it is momentary, it is not fixed

Q.  If it’s constantly changing, isn’t that exhausting? Can’t we just stick with one truth for a while ?

A.  There can be no sticking.  It is what it is, dynamic.

Q. But how long before that truth becomes ‘not your truth’ anymore?

A.  2 + 2 = 4 and has done all my life.  No signs of that changing currently.  But what I feel about it might change.  I feel that love is more important than mathematics, but maybe that will change. Because it is a feeling and feelings can change.

Q.  Isn’t truth dead ?   

A.  No

Q.  Why try to find something that doesn’t exist any more ?

A.  I feel things.  There it is.

Q.  Which is more important, truth or kindness ?

A.  One does not exclude the other.  I don’t tell people all the truth because they have not asked for it.   That’s my rule, they must ask first.  My website is like a stall in the market, my wares are on display but it’s display only.  If people want more they must ask, this act of asking clarifies the relationship and puts the onus where it belongs, with the seeker. Then they can take responsibility for unfolding events, that may be one or the other, truth or kindness.  In practice, there seems to be a mix of the two.

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There was thread of postings on Facebook that discussed many things about possible future states of being and society. The combined comments prompted me to add this :

“Such food for thought, how wonderful, thank you all. I am wondering if there is some other pattern at work as well. It is certainly in our nature to try and alleviate or dispense with suffering. And it seems to be in our nature to model ideal future states to aim for, thus informing our current actions. Yet I am also a fan of dialectics. It always seems that tomorrow’s problems are being nurtured in today’s solutions. I am not advocating scepticism, ( I plan like mad everyday) but I cannot help but feel we may benefit from being a tadge more cautious in our expectations. Neurobiological control, gradients of bliss, AI singularity, harvesting resources from asteroids – bring it on. Will it be better? Yes. In the same way that we can point to things being better now than in medieval times. Will it be a lot better and have more meaning?  Maybe not.  Restless minds may broker the future but peace of mind may be what we are actually looking for . . . .”
Posted on Facebook in March 2014.

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Return to site description and index :

https://thesearchforthesecondtruth.com/about/

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The 18

IMG_8619

 

The 18     .  .  .  .  .   a shape to help us manage ourselves

Introduction

The 18 is a frame or shape, designed to help us manage ourselves.  It attempts to collect in one place, the key elements needed to inform humanity’s future and how we get there. It is designed to be a seed, from which all aspects can safely grow but also a bedrock that informs everything. Large or small, these principles can be applied but they work best and are strongest, if they are accepted as a whole. It is designed to be the seed of a new morality and corresponding legal structure. What is good and right is not dependent on being told so, but on deciding so. Decisions are not enough, there then has to be communication and negotiation. History shows that change goes through periods of slow development followed by violent confrontation – the discipline of the 18 is one of persuasion and use of force only as last resort, sanctioned by a two-thirds majority. Leadership still plays a role, the leaders will need to be be those who persuade, those who engineer consensus.

This was designed to be more than a method, it could be a way of life. The act of applying it and seeking to establish it in the real world is as important as the principles themselves.   An important part of this process is the discipline of how it is applied  –  all 18 must be applied at the same time in every circumstance.

The 18 principles are outlined first and they are followed by some notes on each.

Principles

1. Doing good, is something we choose to do.

2. Defining and describing ‘good’ can be agreed.

3. Building the future safely, can only be achieved from seeing clearly where we are now. A description of where we are now can be agreed

4. Those beings who choose the future and agree on how it can be reached, must be sentient

5. A sentient being must have a core identity that is beyond doubt, registered in a recognised organisation. A core identity can be mobile but it is registered in only one place. A core identity has one vote in any one agreement process

6. An agreement process can be a one-off or on-going

7. A two-thirds majority is always binding on the whole.

8. Conflict within the group can be resolved by agreement. Where conflict cannot be resolved, the two-thirds majority is binding and is the authority for enforcement

9. The planet we are on is our home and everyone must protect it

10. Poverty must be abolished, all must have the basics of survival – water, food and shelter to a minimum standard. This approach can have many reasons but at the core, it is because we choose it.

11. Buying and selling takes place in a transparent market but one that is regulated to protect the planet

12. Privacy is a luxury only possible if the planet is not threatened

13. Sentient beings with a vote must protect those beings who do not have a vote

14. Two wrongs do not make a right. The end does not justify the means because there are no ends, only change and continuity.

15. The 18 operate within virtual boundaries. The smallest unit might be a family or cell. The next size up would be a community or a business. The next size up would be a city. The next size up would be a nation. The largest group would be an assemblage of nations. All apply the principles to make decisions in the same way.

16. Some decisions need to be taken so quickly that voting is not fast enough. Some functions will need to be carried out by individuals. These individuals will operate within terms of reference delegated to them by the group. Duration, change and revocation are set by the group. Decisions taken by individuals, who must have auditable terms of reference, are binding on the group.

17. People will be members of different groups and different sized groups. Interactions between the different sized groups will be agreed by the group members. In a situation of conflict, the larger group (and its two-thirds) takes precedence over the smaller group (and its two-thirds).  (Unless there are more smaller groups that collectively out number the one larger group).

18. Doing good, is something we choose to do and this choosing is both individual and collective. Any future we have can only be achieved if we get this balance right. The process of getting this balance right is something we can choose to agree on, no matter how difficult.

Principles expanded

1. Doing and describing good, is something we choose to do.

There has been much debate about whether we are free or not. Does free-will exist? The 18 starts in a very simple place. We choose to give ourselves freedom but this is not a freedom to do as we want. It is a freedom to do what most of us want. It is a circular piece of logic – we choose to be beings that choose. We choose this bootstrap, because we can. ‘Good’ is a very simple concept here. It is what we want. It is that simple. Up till now we have, as it were, ‘inherited’ our concept of good, mostly influenced by religion or its legacy. The 18 is an attempt to strip back this process to absolute basics. If ‘good’ is what we want, then morality, its framing, is also what we want. We choose our morality and the means of its deployment.

2. Defining ‘good’ can be agreed.

If good is simply what we want, how we do decide what we want? Choosing to choose (1 above) has to be the first principle. As important as that is, it still needs a “how”. We have to agree. Whatever mechanism is devised to deliver agreement, that act of agreeing is the crucial next principle. We can look back on history and see a range of options – tyranny, democracy of various kinds, anarchy, slavery – what do we want?

3. Building the future safely, can only be achieved from seeing clearly where we are now. A description of where we are now can be agreed

The starting place needs to be agreed or the directions taken later will diverge more as time passes.

4. Those beings who choose the future and agree on how it can be reached, must be sentient

There is a saying : ‘you will wait a long time for a rock to speak’. We draw the line somewhere in order to survive. Sentience is the best place to draw the line. We must agree what ‘sentience’ is.

5. A sentient being must have a core identity that is beyond doubt, registered in a recognised organisation. A core identity can be mobile but it is registered in only one place. A core identity has one vote in any one agreement process

Sentience is the best place to draw the line but it is a mobile line. We can agree where to draw the line but the act of drawing the line has to be secure. We have to trust each other but that trust must be transparent, structured and beyond doubt. Before we get to agree, we have to have trust in who is doing the agreeing. At the moment, a human being has a passport and a voting right. As science advances we will see a range of potential beings, from humans to post-humans, human-machine hybrids, machine intelligences and all of these might include copying and/or cloning. Human beings may live organically at first but then choose to exist entirely on-line. On-line identities themselves will become more complex. There needs to be a manageable baseline, that is, one being, one location, one vote.

6. An agreement process can be a one-off or on-going

As our electronic life develops, technology will offer multiple ways of connecting and decision making. All will still be based on one being, one location, one vote. Whether a macro political process or a minor domestic one, principle 5 still applies.

7. A two-thirds majority is always binding on the whole.

Stalemate can be a difficult problem, democracy and fairness are important but not if we are all dead because a decision could not be made. A discipline we must all embrace is the principle of accepting the majority decision. If you and yours cannot build a two-thirds majority, then your plan is not going to happen. Keep trying and move on but the overall system must continue.

8. Conflict can be resolved by agreement. Where conflict cannot be resolved, the two-thirds majority is binding and is the authority for enforcement

Conflict resolution is key. There will be laws and policies for a long time yet but they cannot cover every eventuality. The same principle at work in 7 must cover conflict resolution. The discipline is to accept the group decision for the overall greater good. Where people refuse to accept the two-thirds majority, then enforcement must be used. The speed of life is getting faster and faster, compete audit will be constantly available. The two-thirds majority, fully accepted by all, will facilitate clear action in real time.

9. The planet we are on is our home and everyone must protect it

This has to be seen now. We are not free to destroy our home. In fairness to all, none can opt out of this. A good principle that influenced this was first posted by Jason Stoddard ( http://www.strangeandhappy.com ). “To all sufficiency, from all sustainability”.

10. Poverty must be abolished, all must have the basics of survival – water, food and shelter to a minimum standard. This approach can have many reasons but at the core, it is because we choose it.

If there is no poverty, then whole series of inter-connected problems go away. We can make a case for poverty being immoral or even just express a sentiment like, ‘we look after our own’. Yet on a practical level alone, the human race will be more productive if all can contribute to a minimum level and not spend time just struggling to survive. Poverty breeds conflict, conflict inhibits the safety of the planet. At the end of the day, we can just choose this as an option. If a critical mass of decision makers choose this, poverty will wither away.

11. Buying and selling take place in a transparent market but one that is regulated to protect the planet

Capitalism has grown and developed and other experiments in organising production have failed. Even with its limitations (like waste), there seems to be no alternative to capitalism. Capitalism will continue to develop under the accelerating speed of online life but needs to be framed by principles 10 and 11.

12. Privacy is a luxury and only a necessity in some commercial practices

Privacy is expensive. Do we really need it? Principle 11 states the importance of shelter. People need a refuge from the struggles of life but we can make a distinction between personal privacy, (where people should not be intruded upon or bullied) and commercial and social business, where no one needs to hide anything. Commercial competition will still require secrets in some circumstances.

13. Sentient beings with a vote must protect those beings who do not have a vote

The distinction between who is sentient and who is not, will get more and more complicated but we can choose to live in a world where those who vote and control resources can choose to look after those who do not.

14. Two wrongs do not make a right. The end does not justify the means because there are no ends.

This principle just recognises that solutions that are short term only at the expense of our future survival, are not acceptable. Things actually do not end, they change and continue. Solving a problem now that results in another future problem is not an acceptable solution unless it is a dire emergency.

15. The 18 operate within virtual boundaries. The smallest unit might be a family or cell. The next size up would be a community or a business. The next size up would be a city. The next size up would be a nation. The largest group would be an assemblage of nations. All apply the principles to make decisions in the same way.

Boundaries are important and they would need a secure, transparent and automatic audit trail of all decisions and associated data. A group might change its mind but not the record of how it made each decision. The decision making process to ensure transparency, can be stored by the same system that keeps identities secure, thereby avoiding disputes about who said what and when.

16. Some decisions need to be taken so quickly that voting is not fast enough. Some functions will need to be carried out by individuals. These individuals will operate within terms of reference delegated to them by the group. Decisions taken by individuals with auditable terms of reference, are binding on the whole group.

Delegation is inevitable and not a problem as long as accountability is in real-time, effective and easily revoked. A unit should not permanently delegate its power to an individual as this will clash with the rest of the 18.

17. People will be members of different groups and different sized groups. Interactions between the different sized groups will be agreed by the group members. In a situation of conflict, the larger two-thirds takes precedence over the smaller two-thirds.

In exactly the same way that individuals vote in a group, so smaller groups will be part of larger groups, and will have a vote in that larger group. Smaller groups will be nested in larger groups. When a smaller groups is making a decision, it will need to factor in the necessity of making sure its decision can operate within the larger group structures it is a part of.

18. Doing good, is something we choose to do and this choosing is both individual and collective. Any future we have can only be achieved if we get this balance right. The process of getting this balance right is something we can choose to agree on.

Whilst it is possible for a person to live alone and self-sustain this is not how humans work. Our past was a collective one and our future needs to be a collective one as well. Perhaps there will be hermits living alone, or, break-away groups but the main momentum will be a collective one. We would choose maximum individuation but not support harmful renegades.

Engineering Consensus

It will not be easy but we will need to create some discipline. This may be fostered by some simple steps in the process. These could be as follows:
Sharing ideas
Debate
Building proposals
Agreeing the agenda
Voting

Each step is different. Sharing ideas is just putting things on the table to be looked at, ( people may even put opposing ideas on the table to see what happens in the next debating stage). The debate stage is still informal, it may itself generate new ideas. When two-thirds agree the debate is over, the proposals need to be structured and priorities in the agenda agreed. Voting does not include more debate. At any one time, a group may choose to go back a stage but mixing up the contents of the stages would be counter-productive.

The hard discipline will be accepting the two-thirds majority in all cases. This will not always be easy. For example, supposing you do not like cleaning. Then supposing the community group you are part of decide that the street they all live in, is not clean enough and a two-thirds majority agree that all members will sweep the street they live in by rota, once a week. You will have to do it, or pay someone to take your place in the rota, or negotiate a swap of some equivalence – or move away. Accepting the 18 does not involve the option of choosing which decisions you are part of. It is the rough with the smooth. Some may see this as a loss of freedom but others will see this as an act of taking responsibly that leads to some greater freedoms of participation.

Some difficulties will emerge, for example, two community groups that are next door to each other and one introduces no bonfires and the other does not. The wind blowing smoke may cause all kinds of hostilities. Negotiation and compromise will be called for and perhaps referral to a larger group that both are members of.

The transition from ‘here’ to ‘there’ (there being full macro acceptance of the 18), will be difficult – especially the transition to new legal structures. However, if enough people start doing it at small and local level, it can grow from the bottom up, thus leaving the most complex (city, national and international level) till last. In this transition period, some groups may have to hold back on some decisions for strategic purposes. This is about gradual change. Just like throughout history, the ‘old’ and ‘new’ will coexist going forward so decisions must be principled but also realistic.

Conclusion

These principles are designed to replace existing morality. At this stage, the 18 need road testing against ‘reality’. We can imagine a set of circumstances and then just say, “what if”? Consensus can be built from the bottom up. The discipline is simple but not easy to follow. The principles must be accepted in total; no ‘pick-and-choose’. This is about forging a consensus. The one-third who “loose” the vote, must accept the group decision. Leadership still plays a role, the leaders will be those who persuade, those who engineer consensus.  Decision making can be difficult but indecision can be disastrous.  The education system must explain the dangers of indecision and hence the need to accept all the 18’s parameters – two thirds majority but absolutely binding on all.

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