The articles below aim to bring clarity to different aspects of the Way, whether related to the Inner Child concept, the Awareness Intensives or any other topic of interest for those who are on the Way.
They are listed chronologically
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The following text is the transcription of a video talk given on Zoom platform on different aspects of ‘personal transformation’.
Dear Friends on the path,
Welcome back to our weekly Zoom Meeting,
Today we have a question from a participant about loneliness and connection. She is asking: « Can you talk about loneliness versus a fulfilling connection? I feel so lonely and desperate, I long for love, for trust and I am craving for a complete connection. What is wrong with me, what can I do about this? »
First of all, I’d like you to know that there is nothing wrong with you. You are simply the unfortunate outcome of a non-loving environment. Your loneliness and crave for what you call ‘a complete connection’ are simply the consequence of a deep love starvation. As a child you were not loved enough, cared for enough, supported enough and certainly not understood in your needs. All this created a sense of loneliness in you, together with the desire for a warm-hearted connection. There is also nothing wrong in this desire which is simply the expression of something missing in you. The ones who were in the wrong were your caretakers, certainly not you. Let’s this be clear in order to prevent any ideas of guilt or blaming yourself for not being good enough; refrain also to fall into victimhood, this would lead you to a dead end.
Let me also point out that being alone and being lonely are not the same; we can be alone and perfectly happy about this, just as we can be with relatives or friends and feel lonely. Loneliness is not the outcome of being alone, it is the outcome of a missing connection; it is lack of togetherness.
You say: « I feel so lonely and desperate »; all right, I understand that this is your reality today and probably has been for many years; yet loneliness is a feeling that can be triggered by a wide variety of situations or events and finding the probable sources of your loneliness is important. Once the particular kind of loneliness that you are experiencing is pinpointed, it will be easier to find ways to address it.
When one of the parents is absent because of his work or because of sickness or any other reasons, a child will feel that he is missing something, but this does not necessarily generate a feeling of loneliness since the other parent is present. Yet when a child is repeatedly left alone, mainly because both his parents or caretakers are busy working or attending some other matters, the child will feel abandoned, this physical abandonment will no doubt create a feeling of loneliness. It can also be that parents are more concerned about the child’s studies than of the child himself; the child is then not seen for who he is but only for his scores at school or his achievements in life. The result is a deep sense of unworthiness for the child. He will form the thoughtform that he can only be worthy if he matches his parents’ expectations which he will try his best to achieve in order to get their recognition and be considered. Yet being considered can be a false antidote to loneliness.
In the same way, when a child is not included in the family discussion, when his words or opinion are not being considered or treated seriously, the child will feel excluded, left out which leaves him with a deep sadness and a feeling of loneliness.
What is common to the different situations that I’ve just mentioned is the element of ‘not being understood. For a child being understood in his needs, whatever these needs are, is equal to feeling secure. Look at a young child running towards mama or papa, simply to be in their embrace and when he is in this embrace, he feels safe, protected, and relaxed. In this togetherness his need has been understood and met.
Not having our basic needs met or not being understood in our basic needs will create resentment together with a feeling of being denied or unwanted; the perfect grounds for loneliness to grow.
About a year ago we had a Zoom meeting about ‘the need to be understood’ together with some exercises to help clarify what was not understood about you. Being clear about our needs and what has not been understood about us is an essential step, especially when we want to identify the source of our loneliness. I would therefore encourage you to read the talk again and do the proposed exercises to clarify your needs as I sense that something is not completely clear for you.
Let’s come back to your desire of a ‘complete connection’.
What does every child or I should say every human being long for? Everyone longs for what you’ve named a ‘complete connection’, a warm-hearted connection. And what does a warm-hearted connection bring? It brings a sense of security, of stability and most of all a sense of togetherness. We’re not alone anymore, someone is with us and we feel accepted, included, in other words we feel loved.
It is this sense of togetherness which is missing for the majority of people and they unconsciously seek it relationships, in sex, in sports, in work or in leaderships, not realizing that what they are doing is simply avoiding facing their feeling of loneliness.
Every one of us knows what a complete connection is since we’ve all experienced this sense of togetherness when we were in the womb, it was unconscious of course, yet nonetheless crucial for the little being that we were. The baby and the mother were one, there was no separation, separation arose at the moment of birth and from that moment onwards each being starts to crave for a ‘complete connection’, a re-union with what was felt as a unity. Thus, the importance for a baby to be touched, to be held and later on for a child to be physically and psychologically supported; a great suffering is generated if a baby or a child does not get this. Separation is the seed of loneliness and whether it is a physical or a psychological separation, it does not matter as far as loneliness is concerned.
Your craving for a complete connection is quite understandable and I would say very normal, you must have missed both physical contact and psychological support.
You write: « I feel so lonely and desperate, I long for love, for trust and I am craving for a complete connection. »
You are bound to feel desperate; this is part of feeling lonely and when we are lonely, we do crave for love, for someone to trust and for a real connection. I’m saying this to emphasize that what you are experiencing is perfectly normal. You are not wrong to crave for love, to long for trust and connection. It is part of feeling lonely; all you need to do is to accept that this is the case, that this is what is happening for you. If you don’t admit and accept that this is your situation, you are simply anchoring your loneliness deeper because you will be denying an essential part of you.
Refrain from doing this, be open to your feelings, be honest about your feelings, don’t hide them and give them the space that they need by expressing them. Yes, I yearn for love and I feel miserable from being cut from love. Yes, I long for trust and be trusted. Yes, I crave for a fulfilling connection.
Being in accordance with your feelings will help a resolution to take place.
You are mentioning that you long for trust, this seems to indicate that not only you haven’t been trusted in your actions or aspirations but that your caretakers were also not trustworthy. They probably deceived you in many ways by not keeping their words, by denying you with their expectations and most surely by not understanding you in your needs and desires. With such a background, trusting anyone, including yourself becomes impossible.
Your craving for a complete connection also indicates that up to now you haven’t been able to trust anyone.
Trust is an essential element in our growth; we come to this world completely dependent and vulnerable and can only rely on our caretakers for all our needs. We depend on our elders for protection, for support whether this support is material or psychological.
Even though trust is inherent to every living being, it comes as a seed and to develop into self-confidence, attention and support are needed. It is part of parental education and responsibility to support building trust in their children and when this is not happening the child develops a lack of confidence, becomes self-doubting, indecisive, timorous, and even mousy. Insecurity, worry, anxiety and fear become the person’s regular companions.
A ‘complete connection’ as you call it, is impossible without trust. To be fruitful a connection can only be based on trust and love, it needs trust from both sides and trust is not possible without love. Love and Trust go hand in hand, without love there cannot be any trust and vice versa.
All you need is love as the song goes. Yet love starts with you, not with anyone else. Bring love into your life, into your inner world. Love is an acceptance of oneself, a yes to who you are, as you are. It is a true fact that you did not receive enough love from your parents or caretakers, but you can start loving yourself a little more by accepting your current condition.
You ask: « What can I do about this? »
Probably the first thing that you can do is to clarify your situation. Clarify your needs, clarify the source of your loneliness. I was recently talking with someone who had a similar issue and what came out at first was how confused this person was. Reading your question, I sense that it could be the same for you. This is why I would strongly encourage you to bring clarity into the different aspects that I’ve been talking about today.
Take some time to ponder on what your needs are, first make a list of all your needs and then discard what does not feel essential for you. Second, in front of each need write down how you would have liked this need to be fulfilled in the past. Be as specific as possible with each need and for each need, there may have been different possibilities of fulfilment, write them all, regardless of what happened in reality.
In doing this, by and by the one or two essential need for you will emerge, you can also add to this, the exercises proposed in the talk about ‘Not being understood’.
Once you have gained more clarity about your needs, continue with what I have mentioned in previous talks and workshops: ‘The Transformative Trilogy’:
• Recognize (what is)
• Accept (that this is the case)
• Express (what needs to be expressed)
Actually, recognizing is not enough because I became aware that many students do recognize that they feel angry, sad, or lonely but they don’t want to admit that this is the case, they would feel ashamed to admit the fact; their pride is in the way. Pride, fear, and shame become the barrier to the possibility of acceptance; they create a stuck point which needs to be dealt with before acceptance can kick-in. So, check whether pride, fear or shame are active within you and if so, to what degree do they prevent you from accepting your reality and expressing whatever needs to be express.
In your question you are mentioning that you long for trust. As I said earlier, trust in inborn in each of us as a seed which needs support to develop. Since you are not a child anymore, it becomes your responsibility to give yourself this support and develop trust in your own capabilities and thus become more self-confident.
I’m sure that you can do it, just like this student who was telling me how desperate he was, even to the point of wanting to commit suicide. He talked about his despair, his helplessness and loneliness but was unable to really connect with it, simply because he was too afraid of what might happen if he did connect with his despair. Fear was the obstacle; however, at some point he managed to be with his despair, not pushing it away, not avoiding it; a yes to it, and to his surprise, something started to change in him, an openness was created and with it some acceptance kicked-in with, in its wake, a happiness and a sense of being more free. This gave him more confidence to open further.
Trust and acceptance go hand in hand; when there is acceptance, fighting disappears, relaxation takes over and love starts to flow. It is as simple as this, yet sometimes difficult to undertake because of fear, pride, or shame; perseverance is needed.
I trust that this talk will have clarify what was not clear for you, at least partly. It is now in your hands, do your homework and if you need more support, know that support is available.
All right, thank you everyone for your attentive listening; let’s now move to the questions that some of you raised today.
The following text is the transcription of a video talk given on Zoom platform on different aspects of ‘personal transformation’.
Dear Friends on the path,
Welcome back to our weekly Zoom Meeting,
Today’s question is about Fantasy & Reality.
« I feel that I am living in a fantasy world and fighting for my life to be happy and relaxed. What is fantasy and what is reality? »
Fighting for your life to be happy and relaxed is a sure sign of living in a fantasy world. You ask: « What is Fantasy and what is Reality? »
Fantasy is what mind is producing most of the time. Mind dwells in the past and/or in the future, rarely in the present moment and Reality is always in the present moment. Have you noticed that mind is a constant firework of thoughts, sometimes beautiful and bright ones and sometimes awful and nightmarish ones? Mind gives you all sorts of ideas, beliefs and concepts which can greatly influence your feelings and your senses. Mind can be like a hypnotic drug putting you in a sort of trance and distort what you perceive.
Just last week there was a question from Katia which illustrate this capacity of the mind to live in fantasy land. She, or rather her mind, had this fictional desire to defeat her father and be strong and Helen was mentioning: « If I can connect with my heart then I would be able to forget what happened. » I also recently heard of someone who had a ‘crush’ for someone of the opposite sex and that person started to fantasize on how life with this person could be much better than with the one she is currently living with. Romantic love can be a heart opening and you suddenly feel that you have wings to fly in heaven and so much passion for life; it is nonetheless a reality blinder.
I’m confident that everyone one of you can find examples of your own mind’s favourite fantasies.
Such ideas or passionate moments are pure mind fantasy and one has to realise their futility. Having such thoughts or ideas is like living in dreamland, in hope; just like a child who has no other option to ease his pain than to dream of a better and ideal world.
For most part Fantasy is the outcome of Despair and Hope; in a recent Zoom meeting I was mentioning: “Hurt creates Despair and despair creates Hope; when a child is psychologically or physically hurt he enters in a shock state and as a result he dissociate from reality. But since he has to continue living his thinking mind creates fantasies, hope for a better world as well as hope for revenge.
Our need to be loved is so deeply embedded in us and so fundamental to our survival that the desire to have it fulfilled will veil the reality of our immediate environment and create a feeling of Despair with its counterpart, Hope.”
Fantasy and Hope are similar words since they point in the same direction; the unreal.
Swami Prajnanpad, an Indian sage used to say that « mind does nothing else than not seeing things as they are but interpreting them based on past experiences. »
And this is what Fantasy is; the interpretation of reality through different filters. These filters can be based on hope or on despair since they are for most part the outcome of a person’s experience or based on beliefs when they are the outcome of the social environment in which the person lives, not to forget the outcome of the collective mind.
When you catch yourself thinking, observe the thoughts that you are having and you will immediately be in contact with your filters. At that moment, instead of remaining in fantasy land you can stop and ask yourself: 'What goal am I trying to pursue with these thoughts?'
Bringing awareness to our thought processes always pays and what you are most likely to find is that you are trying to tell yourself a story; either a comforting story because you feel miserable or a story about blaming or taking revenge on someone or some situation because you have been hurt. Stories can be innumerable in their variation since they are linked with each person’s personal development. Yet you will notice that they all have the same root; being hurt. And since the hurt is still pervading as an ache in the person’s heart, mind is doing its best to divert the pain in all sorts of twisted ways, seeking for some ideal resolution which of course always remains in the future with the well-known ‘if’.
Remember Katia's desire to win over her father. Why does she has this strong urge? Simply because she has been deeply hurt as a child by her father and she feels powerless; her upset has not yet found a satisfactory resolution; her heart is still bleeding.
I’m quoting Katia, not because she is doing something wrong but because what she explained about her desire to win over her father. It is a perfect example of fantasy land and exposing this will support her out of her mind's fantasy and help her come to some reality; a reality which she actually started to connect with when she spoke from the wounded little girl in her during our short exchange.
In our last Zoom meeting, at the end of my exchange with Helen I asked her to tell me: 'what is it about you that had not been understood?’ In that moment she was not able to find out what it was but I’m sure that she will at some point. This may seem to be a strange question, yet it is an important question because it will cut through all minds’ crap and lead the person to understand and realize what has created the hurt in the first place.
Actually I could have made this suggestion to each questioner last week because in finding what has not been understood about me by mama or papa or those who took care of me during my childhood, I can bypass and even wipe out most of the filters which are preventing me from seeing my inner reality.
This question can be applied at any point in your adult life, with your spouse, with your boss, with your friends; it is not specifically related to childhood situations. When you become clear with what is it that has not been understood about you, you can then express your need in a simple way.
I remember a participant telling me how much she suffered from work overload but did not dare to say anything to her boss because she feared to be rejected or even fired. She struggle with that issue and had the belief that all her trouble came because she was not good enough and that she should work harder to be worthy of appreciation. She looked at why she could not dare to express herself, why she was afraid of authorities, why she was always enduring and forcing herself to be a good worker and felt so crushed down. But this did not bring the desired resolution. The resolution came when she asked herself: ‘What is it about me that had not been understood?’ It became obvious to her that it was that she did not wanted to be forced. In her childhood she was constantly forced to do things that she did not wanted to do, put on clothes that she did not like, eat food that she did not like, take responsibilities for her siblings and in some ways she became the family scapegoat. At the time she had no other option than to obey and do as she was told; she could only swallow her ‘no’, partly because of the fear of being blamed and punished but mostly because of the fear to be rejected and not loved. This ‘discovery’ changed her life.
You may have noticed that at first Katia was talking about her story and desire to win over her father and after I said a few words to her, she fell into the little girl in her who was so hurt by father’s attitude. At that moment Katia was not talking anymore about her story but expressing from the part of her who is hurt. And this made a huge difference; she moved from fantasy to reality. Of course, her inner reality is not yet the ultimate reality but it is the reality in which she is living in and one has to start with this reality.
Reality is what is and not an idea in the mind; for Katia, reality is living with a broken heart and fantasy is her ways of seeking revenge. Her reality is distorted; she lives in a false reality which she believes to be her truth. Out of despair she hopes.
We keep living in fantasy land because we are afraid of facing reality, our inner reality and often our inner reality is not only uncomfortable, it is painful.
The outer reality can also be uncomfortable and saddening but what is important is how we meet with reality, whether it is the outside reality or our inner reality does not matter, what matters is how we deal with reality. We can either push it away and deny it or accept it for what it is. Acceptance sets us free; remember the talk in Nov about repression and acceptance. When we accept something, immediately there is relaxation; when we repress or deny, immediately there is tension and tension is the feeding ground for fantasy.
There is a beautiful poem from Erich Fried an Austrian born poet and writer which can illustrate the difference between fantasy and reality.
« It is madness – says reason
It is what it is – says Love
It is unhappiness – says caution
It is nothing but pain – says fear
It has no future – says insight
It is what it is – says Love
It is ridiculous – says pride
It is foolish – says caution
It is impossible – says experience
It is what it is – says Love »
I’m just remembering what a Zen master told me during a silent Zen retreat: ‘Accept what is because it is what it is and not otherwise’. I struggled a lot with what he said because it was so painful for me to sit silently for long periods of time and I was cursing him silently inside for telling me this. How can I accept this excruciating pain in my body? My mind was in a constant fighting mode with the pain and with the teacher because of his words. Yet at one point acceptance kicked in, a yes to the pain and suddenly I felt peaceful, all fighting had disappeared, the pain was still there but it did not disturb me anymore. At that moment I was accepting the reality of my situation and this acceptance made a whole difference.
Acceptance of what is because it is like this; is the key to enter reality; to move away from denial. And when we are in accordance with our inner reality, we suddenly find ourselves in tune with the world around us.
Buddha is reported to have said the following words: « The mind which is unattached to all things in the world, does not think, does not feel; it is fluid and flexible. »
Attachment is what keeps us away from reality and because we identify with our thoughts of hopes and our denials we keep living in fantasy land and never feel fulfilled.
In one of today’s questions Isabella is asking: 'What does real life looks like? Why does fantasy world exist?’
Isabella, real life looks bright and shiny, constantly joyful, and creative with playfulness all around; there is an easiness of living in real life whilst fantasy is made of false hopes, despair and struggle. The fantasy world exists because of denial; we deny our feelings, we deny our pain, we even deny our qualities and consequently live in the hope of a better future. We live with the thought form: ‘If only I had…’ If only I had a better spouse, better friends, a better job, more money, and so on…, my life would be so much more enjoyable.
Remember Helen's words: ‘If I can connect with my heart then I would be able to forget what happened’.
If only it was like this, if only ‘they’ could change, if only ‘they’ could listen to me, or see me, hear me, understand me then my life would be fantastic and I would be happy. The list of ‘ifs’ can be endless, yet all these ‘ifs’ will never bring you happiness; they will always lead you to hopelessness, to misery and to resentment. Stop avoiding, stop escaping, face your insecurity, face your loneliness, face your painful heart; a Yes to you is needed.
Reality starts with a yes to who we are, as we are; with our pain, with our flaws, with our qualities. The Spring Festival will soon be there, let this New Moon lead you towards more acceptance of yourself, as you are, with your pain, with your sorrows, with your hopes and despairs, welcome everything don’t be selective, all is welcome, even a smile on your face, even laugher. Remember to laugh your heart out daily in this New Year to come.
The following text is the transcription of a video talk given on Zoom platform on different aspects of ‘personal transformation’.
Dear Friends on the path,
Welcome back to our weekly Zoom Meeting,
Today’s question is about Problem Solving. « In my daily life I keep meeting various problems, at work or in relationships and for most of them I feel at a loss and don’t know what to do to solve these issues. Could you say something about this difficulty? »
Everyone is encountering challenges in their life, sometimes small challenges and sometimes more difficult ones and it does happen that we are at a loss in front of some situations. We can look at the difficulty in terms of trying to find a solution to the problem and eventually solve the issue but in the context of personal development or spiritual growth problem solving is irrelevant. And this is where I’d like to bring everyone’s attention since I often receive questions asking me for a solution to a practical problem or sharing some intellectual point of view that the person has.
It is not that these questions or sharing are wrong in themselves but they totally miss the point in the context of personal development. In a previous talk I mentioned that if you want to become a free individual, a mature person you will have to put the focus on you and not on whatever is happening outside of you. Yes describing a situation is useful to understand the context but the main point is about you and your reactions and feelings in regards to the situation.
It is your life; you are the main actor of your life, no one else is. Never forget that it is always about you and not about someone else. Pay attention; bring the focus on you rather than on the outside. I will probably never repeat it enough; You are the only important person in your life, so why not give yourself a chance to grow and live a happy life by taking care of you.
Taking care of you is important, not only important but essential and no one can do it for you. Someone pointed out that we are all ‘damaged goods’ since most of us did not receive the love, the care, the attention and the support that we were entitled to receive as a child. This is a fact and we can victimize ourselves about this and remain in a constant resentment and complain mode or, and this is my proposal to you, take this ‘damaged good’ that you believe yourself to be as a challenge from existence in order to grow and blossom to your full potential. It is a choice that you can make; a direction that you can take and most of all a decision to turn your focus towards what is important and the only important item in your life is: ‘You’.
Not long ago I sent someone a little humoristic video about the answer that a psychologist consultant is giving to someone who came to him for advice. His answer consisted of only two words. ‘Stop It’. This was, of course, only to poke fun at therapy yet it carries a deeper implication when related to personal development.
It was the same word ‘Stop’ that an Indian teacher, Papaji, used to answer his American student, Gangaji when she was telling him about her life problems. On hearing this word, she truthfully stopped and became enlightened as a result. Papaji’s meaning was: ‘Stop all your mind activities’.
Without going to this extent of stopping all your mind activities, do stop looking outwards and instead put the focus on you. It is you who is important, not the situation, not the other, whoever they are.
I can understand that this is not an easy thing to do this since our mind tends to avoid what does not feel comfortable but this is the direction which is needed to take and put efforts towards, especially in the beginning, if you want to become free from the emotional bondage that you are trapped in and become a free individual.
Don’t be mistaken, it is not the situation in itself that is the cause of suffering; it is the emotional bondage in which you are entangled in which creates suffering. The situation is as it is and does not need to change; what needs to change is your emotional implication and response to the situation. When there is no emotional entanglement, the resolution of a problem can be very clear.
It is your emotional entanglement which needs to be looked at, which calls for being taken care of and this is where I can be of support for you.
Although at some point in the past I’ve talked about how we can free ourselves from emotional bondage, it would probably be a good idea at this point to review what is meant by emotional bondage as well as how to free ourselves from it.
Emotional bondage means that we are tied up, in bondage with our feelings; they tend to run our lives rather than be at the service of our wellbeing. Everyone has feelings, feelings are part of our emotional make-up and as such they play a healthy role in maintaining a balance within us. Whether it is sadness, anger, fear or shame they are part of our regulating system in order to help us face situations which we encounter in life.
Anger and fear, the ‘fight or fly’ responses are our main survival mechanism; it would be very difficult for us to be in life without these two feelings. They protect us; and in similar way sadness and tears help pacify our aching hearts just as natural shame is our wisdom regulator since it prevents our egos from inflating by reminding us that we are limited beings.
Broadly speaking a feeling arises because something in us is felt threatening or painful so the feeling acts as a regulator of our nervous system to maintain a healthy balance. This is why it is important to allow their expression if we want to live happily.
The problem only comes when our feelings are repressed, whatever the reason for this repression is. It can be because we are not allowed to express, because we feel guilty for having this or that feeling or because our parents were themselves not expressing their feelings so we did not learn and understood that it was Ok to express our feelings and consequently expressing feelings became something shameful.
When we repress a feeling, the feeling does not disappear; it simply moves into some unconscious part of our psyche waiting to be expressing at the nearest opportunity. The more we repress a feeling, the more the feeling will have a grip on us and the more it will push to be express in ways that can often be disproportionate to the situation. It is easy to see this at work when someone makes a huge fuss about something which is in reality not a big deal. This reminds me of someone telling me how she used to get enraged when her mother-in-law was changing her flower pots arrangement; in a similar way, I hear from many parents about how they scold or even beat their child for not doing their homework or making small mistakes.They all could see that the expression of their feeling was disproportionate for the situation but at the same time they feel at a loss about doing anything to change this.
I’m sure that you all can relate to this and even find similar examples in your lives.
The solution is not about blaming or throwing anger at the person or even trying to change this ‘shabby’ (stupid in Chinese) person but more to look at the disproportionate explosion of feeling in a caring way. It is also pointless to blame yourself for having these emotional bonds; they have their reasons to be there. I’m well aware that when we turn the focus on ourselves and not on the outside we start to uncover what feels uncomfortable and this is where most people don’t want to go. They don’t want to feel uncomfortable, they don’t want to feel lonely; they basically they don’t want to connect with themselves because they fear to meet with their pain. Unfortunately, there is no other way if they want to live a free and happy life.
Often we find ourselves in the desire to get rid of the uncomfortable feeling, yet when we have this desire no transformation is possible and we simply reject a part of ourselves. Once this rejection is seen, already some change is taking place. This is why I very often talk about the transformative trilogy: recognize, accept and express. These are the three pillars for a supportive and sustainable transformation to take place.
Recognizing comes first, because it is not possible to deal with something that we are not conscious of.
Then accepting that this is the case opens the door to understand what this feeling wants to tell us.
Finally, expressing helps create a discharge of the stuck energy and this ‘expressing’ can take different forms, not only emotional release as many people think. Verbal sharing, writing, painting, dancing can be used as well as different bodywork techniques.
Walking this transformative path alone is not an easy thing; support is needed and as mentioned just now support can take many forms. Outside support is needed because our mind can easily delude us and relying on a supportive hand can be encouragement, an incentive to drop our fears and to gather the needed courage to trust ourselves, to trust life or existence. Because ultimately it is only about trusting and nothing else; a famous song says: ‘Love is all you need’, I would change this to: ‘Trust is all is you need to walk your life’.
I’d like to summarize this talk by emphasizing this point; stop raising questions that are not related to you directly. Ask questions related to your difficulties in dealing with your emotional world, with feelings which create a problem for you and forget about others, you are the only important one in your life.
And remember not expressing is going against the aliveness in you, against life; not expressing is ‘Life killing’. Stay alive and express yourself, you can only gain joy and happiness out of it!
Thank you for your attentive listening.
Dear Friends on the path,
Welcome back to our weekly Zoom Meeting,
Today's question is about Addiction and Escaping.
« People often escape their fear and pain by having all kinds of addictions. You even mentioned that meditations, mindfulness and self-awareness can be ways of escaping. Could you say something about addiction and escaping? »
Remember the fight or fly behaviour that one can adopt. Addictions and Escaping are part of the fly behaviour; they are fear based. And what do we want to escape from? We want to escape from our inner misery, from our loneliness, from our aching hearts, from our tensions and in order to do this we take on specific behaviour patterns. All behaviour patterns are in essence escaping mechanisms.
Escaping means that we enter into a search for something which will give us what we want; the search can be to fulfil a need as we’ve seen in a previous talk; yet behind the desire to fulfil a need there is also an attempt to escape from the painful reality that the unfulfilled need creates and this is what all addictions are attempting to do.
Why do people smoke, drink or take drugs, simply to forget or to cover something that feels intolerable for them. Addictions are a cover up for pain and it is pointless to try stopping an addictive behaviour. Pointless because it will be replace by another addiction.
As a teenager, in order to be included and accepted I became a smoker, some years later I wanted to stop this addiction and I did manage to stop smoking but I only replaced it with being a non-smoker which is still an addiction. Yes non-smoking can be an addiction in the sense that the avoidance to feel the pain which was covered by the first addiction was still there, it just changed form. For sure it is healthier to not smoke than to smoke, but the addiction remains in the form of being a non-smoker; the only change is the direction that the addiction takes. I was still covering the pain of not being accepted, of not being included.
Other than smoking, drinking or taking drugs which we usually consider as harmful addictions to our health, any ‘doing’ can become an addiction; eating, not eating, work, shopping, sex, reading, meditation, the search for enlightenment, acquiring knowledge; all these activities which in themselves are blameless and not hurtful can turn into addictive behaviours. Even not doing anything can be an addiction.
It is not what one does which creates the addiction; it is the compulsiveness in doing what one does which is an addiction and this compulsiveness comes from not being able to connect and feel one’s aching heart. The compulsiveness in doing is a major escaping mechanism.
We fear meeting with our aching hearts, we fear connecting with our feelings and we even become afraid of meeting with our fear. We carry the belief that if we allow connecting with our feelings and with the pain that our heart carries we will die. It is this fear of dying that we try to avoid at all costs in escaping to meet with our feelings. It is not that we would really die; in reality it is the fear of being overwhelmed by a strong emotional release which we believe we cannot face. In order to avoid facing the fear of meeting with our aching hearts we occupy ourselves in all sorts of ways.
The way out is not about trying to stop or change our escaping mechanism, the way out is to recognize that we are in a constant ‘doing’. We have become compulsive doers for the simple reason that we want to avoid feeling a deep emptiness inside of us which the pain creates. Not only our heart aches but we also feel lost and helpless with our aching heart and in order not to feel this emptiness we move from one addiction to another. The bulimic-anorexic person is probably the most known example of switching between addictions.
The key point is that ‘doing’, any kind of doing, has become the norm in order to avoid connecting with our aching heart; to avoid feeling miserable and lonely we escape in ‘doing’. Check for yourself how much ‘doing’ is present in your life and even when you don’t know what to do you occupy yourself with checking your mobile phone. Isn’t that so?
Please understand that I am not saying that ‘doing’ is wrong; doing is necessary when we want to achieve something; sitting silently doing nothing will not top up your bank account; you will have to roll up your sleeves and get to work for that. Doing is necessary to provide and satisfy our practical needs. Practicing meditation, self-awareness, yoga or any health oriented technique is also needed when we want to become physically and spiritually healthier. For transformation to take place doing is needed.
What I want to emphasizing is that it is the compulsion of doing which is the source of unhappiness, not doing in itself. It is the source of unhappiness because it is an escape from the reality that we are. Just like a child escape in his fantasy world to avoid feeling his aching heart, the adult escape in compulsive doing. In a way compulsive doing can be seen as the extension or the continuation of the fantasy world of the child.
I have noticed in many people and it has also been my experience that the search for enlightenment, that practicing meditation can become a subtle way to escape our aching hearts. ‘Once I will be enlightened all my problems with be solved’. This is what most enlightenment seekers have in mind. The search is then diverted from its intended purpose; it becomes an escaping trip, a journey to escape our misery.
Here is a little story to illustrate this point; it is a poem from the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore.
« The poet has been searching for God for millions of lives. He has seen him sometimes, far away, near a star and he started moving that way but by the time he reached that star, God had moved to some other place. But he went on searching and searching, he was determined to find God's home and surprise of surprises one day he actually reached a house where on the door was written: ‘God's Home.’
You can understand his ecstasy, you can understand his joy and just as he is about to knock on the door, suddenly his hand freezes. An idea arises in him: ‘If by chance this is really the home of God, then I am finished, my seeking is finished. I have become identified with my seeking, with my search. I don't know anything else. If the door opens and I face God, I am finished; the search is over and then what?’
He starts trembling with fear, takes his shoes off and runs as fast as he can. He used to think that he had been running after God but today he runs as he has never run before, not looking back. The poem ends: ‘I am still searching for God. I know where his home is, so I avoid it and search everywhere else. The excitement is great, the challenge is great and in my search I continue to exist. God is a danger; I will be annihilated. But now I am not afraid even of God, because I know where he lives. So, leaving his home aside, I go on searching for him all around the universe. And deep down I know that my search is not for God; my search is to nourish my ego.»
Change the word ‘God’ by ‘aching heart’ and the story describe beautifully how we escape our pain. We know exactly where to look but we take a different direction and lose ourselves in doing. It is reported that after many years of practice a Zen student came to this conclusion: «There is nothing that I can do anymore; I simply need to stop searching and let myself be found.»
Take this advice, stop escaping and let yourself be found. Let your aching heart come close, value it, take care of it and in doing so you will discover a hidden treasure. This of course needs courage, perseverance and discrimination and you all have these capacities, make use of them. It is about moving from doing to being; it is about moving into acceptance.
Someone asked: « Many people are not able to express their emotions, they are repressing instead of expressing. Can you share how can we move from repression to expression and from expression to acceptance? »
Yes, this is unfortunately true, many people simply repress instead of expressing. Their motivations for repressing may be different but in a long run they all suffer from repressing their feelings and emotions. As mentioned in the previous topic, escaping is a form of repression. We tended to repress out of fear and when we repress we contract physically and psychologically and this contraction leads to tensions in the mind as well as in the body. In turn these tensions lead to sickness, whether physical or mental. Unexpressed feelings will sooner or later turn against us into all kinds of physical or mental disorders.
Our reasons for repressing come from education, from social conventions and also mainly from fear. Fear to transgress established conventions and be blamed, punished or excluded for doing so.
For a child, repression is activated mainly from the fear to be rejected, not included, abandoned or be forced; in other words, from the fear of not being loved. The need to be loved, included and understood is so strong in a child that he would rather repress his feelings and his emotions rather than express them.
A child would often choose to be obedient and not be a disturbance for his parents in the hope of attracting their attention, of being seen and included by them. But parents are often blind and cannot recognise that in behaving like this their child is actually acting out his need to be accepted and loved. They can only see the obedience on the surface and feel satisfied and proud with this; they completely forget that their child desperately needs them. For the child this parental attitude is excruciating; he is painful and at a loss but he does not know what to do to change his situation. When the pain becomes too intense for the child and when he sees that nothing is changing for him, he may start acting out a rebellious attitude in order to get his parents interested in him. The child might stop being interested in school or become lazy and indifferent, he might choose to stay up late at night and play computer games or become sick; all this in order to attract his parents’ attention, in order to be taken care of. This rebellious behaviour is merely an unconscious way of taking revenge but the child is still not able to clearly and openly express his feelings; his rebellious attitude simply becomes another form of repression.
Some of you have children and to a certain extent, they may behave in the way I am describing. Beware; it is a call for help and support. Don’t miss it!
What is often overlooked when we repress is that we unconsciously do harm to ourselves. We repress because we feel hurt for not getting the attention that we want to get and also because we don’t dare to ask for what we really want since we fear to be rejected in our request. Rather than taking the courage to ask for what we want, we escape into all sorts of behaviour patterns or mind fantasies and in doing so we are building up resentment, anger and hate.
This is exactly what was going on for the first three questioners last week; their questions were not related to them but to some intellectual generalization; in doing this, they were unconsciously escaping connecting with who they are and this is also an indication that they are repressing their feelings, not only their feelings but their life energy too.
Not expressing is going against the aliveness in us, against life; it is ‘Life killing’ and some even die out of doing this. Stay alive and express yourself, you can only gain joy and happiness out of it!
The strange thing is that even when there is the possibility to express, even though people know that they have the permission to express, that it is safe for them to express they will find all sorts of excuses not to express. I see this constantly happening during one-to-one sessions. I encourage people to express but they often find all sorts of excuses not to do so. I understand that there must be a deep-rooted fear in them which prevents them from expressing. It is not that they don’t want to express, they have a willingness to express but they seem to have a certain loyalty towards their repressing mechanism. Who will they be without their repressing behaviour? They have formed a certain image of themselves and they unconsciously cling to this image, it is who they are, at least this is what they believe. But until this barrier is unveiled, no true expression will be able to manifest.
Moving from repression to expression is not an easy task for many people; it requires a jump into the unknown and the unknown is by definition scary! To enable this jump some support is needed; the support to express that parents could not give can be found elsewhere; in all kinds of workshops or growth-oriented activities and well as in one-to-one sessions. Existence always provides opportunities; we only need to make use of them.
The questioner is asking: « How can we move from repression to expression and from expression to acceptance? »
It is a misunderstanding that there would be a sequence of steps before one could move towards acceptance. Whether we are repressing or expressing acceptance can occur. Acceptance is not tied up with expressing, it is a misunderstanding to think that we have to move from repression to expression and then to acceptance as if acceptance is conditioned by having to express. It is not so. Acceptance is independent from repressing or expressing.
Acceptance is a stand-alone affirmation; it is self-sufficient in the sense that it is not linked with any attitude or behaviour pattern.
In March this year, I mentioned that acceptance is a difficult concept to understand for our mind since we constantly live our life from a mind point of view and rarely from ‘Being’.
Being means that we are life, we are life being lived, manifested; yet we keep ourselves in a constant thinking and evaluation mode which made some people say that: ‘We are not living our life we are only dreaming it away’.
Life is a constant unfolding of events which are taking place without any evaluation that this is ‘good’ or this is ‘bad’. It is only us humans, who, with our thinking and controlling mind, define, make a distinction between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ or in this case ‘expressing’ and ‘repressing’. From the point of view of being, everything is acceptable even repressing.
What is acceptance?
Acceptance is simply a ‘Yes’ to what is. It is not relevant whether it is about a situation which is outside of us or whether it has to do with our own thoughts, feelings or sensations. Acceptance is the very simple fact of being in agreement with the reality that we meet, whatsoever this reality is.
If our inner reality is in a repressing mode, there is a need to be in accordance with that fact, with that reality. ‘Yes, I am repressing’ and I could add: so what!
This is a crucial point because unless we accept the fact that we are repressing, nothing can fundamentally change. I call this ‘owning’. We need to own our resistance, our feelings, our thoughts, our qualities, whatever is happening within us.
Many people that I meet in one-to-one sessions or in workshops have some resistance to admit that they are angry for instance, or hurt or that they need help. They can easily recognise that it is so, yet it becomes difficult for them to make the step to a full ‘yes’ to their feelings. Not wanting to admit seems to be so deeply anchored in them that they become stuck with their ‘no’, with their resistance; they hold on to their ‘no’ as if their life depends on it. And in a way it is true, at some point in their life, their life depended on saying ‘no’. It was crucial to say ‘no’ when facing a certain situation, but the problem is that this situation is long gone and not threatening anymore so there is a possibility of a letting go of this ‘no’, and for this letting go to happen, a ‘yes’ to this ‘no’ is first needed. ‘Yes, I am resisting, yes I have closed my heart, yes, I don’t want to talk to this person’ and most important, ‘yes I am hurt’.
Admitting our inner reality is essential before one can open to the ‘no’, to the resistance, to the closed heart, to the pain that this closed heart carries. It is the opening to the resistance, the acceptance of the resistance that will allow healing to take place. Resisting the resistance only reinforces isolation and misery.
There is no ‘yes’ button that one could switch on; for this ‘yes’ to be uttered, to manifests, the controlling mind needs to let go and this cannot be forced, it is an inner process of recognition and when this inner recognition happens, a deep relaxation follows immediately.
Relaxation is the other side of acceptance.
Do remember that without having a sincere ‘yes’ to your resistance, no sustainable transformation can take place.
The following text is the transcription of a video talk given on Zoom platform on Communication Exercises.
Dear Friends on the path,
Welcome to this special Zoom Meeting,
As I came to know that many of you are involving yourself in one to one communication exercises, I’d like to bring some additional information so that each of you can gain more benefit out of such practice. Some of you may recall a talk that I gave a few years ago on 'Communication and Communication Cycles'. If you feel inclined, this talk is available for you to read on my website in the perspective section.
Why take the trouble to sit with a partner and communicate about what is going on for us? What is this practice about?
May be the first reason to practice such exercises is because we would like to clarify what is going on in our mind or solve an issue that we have. Yet this we can do by using writing or drawing, so what is so special about these one to one communications exercises. What is special about these one to one communication exercises is that they give an opportunity for the person to express herself unconditionally and most of all to be understood.
In a Zoom meeting in March this year I gave a talk on the need to be understood; I would suggest to everyone to read or listen to that talk again because being understood it is of tremendous importance for everyone. And this is what these one to one communication exercises can provide, the contentment of being understood.
During that talk in March I mentioned that being understood does not simply mean that the words that are spoken are understood. Yes it is important but it is only the apparent layer, the essential part is that the person feels recognized in her individuality, in her specificity; for who she is. And this is of importance because this recognition allows life to flow. We are life, life flows through us and when life is being recognized, it blossoms. See a child who is being understood in his needs, whose needs are met; he immediately feels contented and a smile arises from his heart. Being understood is essential for our growth, as essential as our physical needs; that’s why I would say that being understood is not only essential but vital too.
Unfortunately as a child we have seldom been understood by our caretakers; our needs, our desires were for most of them not understood and thus not met and as adults we are still trying to have these child needs met which often generates distortion in relationships.
Yet to be understood as a person requires the meeting of two elements:
→ One is that we express what we want to express as clearly as possible. This is part of our responsibility.
→ And second that there is a listener who is willing and able to receive and understand our communication.
Without these two active elements no understanding can ever take place and frustration will prevail.
In that talk on 'Communication and Communication Cycles' I was developing this point and mentioning that for communication to be fruitful six steps are needed.
• Becoming aware that something in us wants to be communicated (identification)
• Expressing it exactly as it has been identified (expression)
• It being received and accepted by another (acceptance)
• It being understood by another (understanding)
• It being acknowledged by the other for what it is (acknowledgement)
• Noticing that it has been fully received and understood by another (fulfilment)
The drawing shown will give you a clearer idea of these steps.
These steps can be summarized as follow:
Whether you are the communicator or the listener do your best to follow these steps when you are practicing these one to one communication drills.
Both roles are important.
If you do these exercises with the only desire to be understood and don’t really care about being a listener, you are completely missing the point. Being the listener is of equal importance as being the one who communicates.
Remember that in these drills you are not face to face with a therapist; it is not an individual session where you can completely give the responsibility to the therapist and where he can guide you or give suggestion. You are with a person who is like you, with similar issues, with similar unconscious beliefs and preconceived ideas. So it is not a question of letting go of your responsibility; it is a question of becoming more conscious, more aware of what we want to communicate and how we are communicating what we want to communicate so that what we communicate can be understood by our partner.
These one to one communication drills requires being self-responsible, even more so because no-one is monitoring you in your practice.
There are three most common pitfalls that one can encounter in doing this type of exercises.
→ Probably the main pitfall is that very often we are not really communicating but having what I would call verbal diarrhoea; a nonstop talk. Our mind is simply following an impulse to talk and is pouring out words. In this case we are simply looping within our own mind as if we were talking to ourselves and we are using the other person as projection support. Stating our point has become primary; being understood becomes secondary.
→ Another important pitfall is to not have a direction, an aim or a track to follow and to simply talk randomly about what comes to our mind. In doing this we soon fall into story telling which often leads to sharing how miserable or how great we are.
→ The third main pitfall is that out of shyness or shame we communicate without looking at our partner or with a tendency to close our eyes when communicating. For various reasons, many people have a fear to communicate about themselves and they unconsciously use this strategy to bypass their fear.
When we practice these one to one communications it is common in the beginning to fall in these pitfalls, especially if there is no one monitoring the drills. And for those who have been practicing these one to one communications, check for yourself if at some point you have fallen into one or more of these pitfalls.
Being aware beforehand of these pitfalls will help you to get back on track if and when you become aware that you have unconsciously fallen into one of those pitfalls. Yet if you follow the guidance that I am about to give you, the risk of going astray will be limited.
The first thing is to understand the dynamic that is at work in these one to one communication drills.
There is you and a partner, one is communicating and the other is listening and each of you takes equal turn in these 2 roles during the 40 minutes that the drill lasts. It is not a conversation with a partner where you would share something about you. It is a precise question and answer and both partners need to follow the given guidelines.
The guidelines are as follow:
• All instruction given to a partner should start with the ‘Tell Me’ format
• The focus of these one to one communication exercise (Dyad) can be defined each time. Yet once it is define the person need to stick with it and once started, refrain from changing the focus, even if it becomes difficult for you.
• Use a timer so that each person has 5 minutes of communication in a total cycle of 40 minutes.
• These communication drills can be done with different instructions in order to clarify and even clear issues that are creating a problem for a person.
The easier instruction to start with is this one:
« Tell me something about you that you think I should know »
… Let your partner tell you what he wants you to know about him and when he is complete say:
« Thank you »
The listening partner gives this instruction to the active partner and then remains attentive to receive the communication from his partner without making any comments, approval or disapproval.
When the partner has finished the listening partner says ‘Thank you’ and gives the instruction again; this cycle continues until the 5 minutes are over, at which point the roles reverse.
The now active partner should not comment on what his partner has said but only comply to the instruction given.
This five minutes changeover continues until the 40 minutes are over.
The purpose of this instruction is to help each person to bring more awareness to what they fell is important for them to communicate to someone and to express it as clearly as possible. The listening partner’s role is to receive and understand the communication. If what his partner is communicating is not clear the listening partner can say: ‘please clarify this’ in order to fully understand the communication.
It is important to respect this procedure and the wording in order to avoid any side tracking.
Once you have become familiar with this first instruction and are able to communicate about you and not about others, you may want to bring the focus to a more specific topic which is important for you. It can be any of the following: money, sex, illness, abuse, drinking alcohol, smoking, a goal that you have in life, having children, relationship or marriage, death & dying (or getting old).
In this case the instruction will be slightly different in order to include the chosen topic.
The instruction will be:
« Tell me something about you, in regards to money that you think I should know »
… Let your partner tell you what he wants you to know about him and when he is complete say:
« Thank you »
As you can see the only difference from the previous instruction are the words ‘in regards to + the topic’. The rest is exactly the same and the procedure for this instruction is the same as with the other instruction. In this example the person will talk about her and money.
Once the topic is defined, stick to it until the end of the communication exercise, even if you become blank and don’t know what to say; keep going with the same topic.
It is advisable to do at least 2 rounds of 40mins with the same topic.
There is also the possibility to use an even more advance format once both partners are at ease with communicating and listening.
The first instruction will be:
« Tell me something about you that you want me to know »
… Let your partner tell you what he wants you to know about him and when he is complete say:
« Thank you »
Then you give the second instruction:
« Tell me how communicating that changed our relationship »
… Let your partner tell you how communicating the above has changed something in this relationship and when he is complete say:
« Thank you »
Some explanation about this format:
The receptive partner starts with: “Tell me something about you that you want me to know.” This gets the active partner to communicate something to the receptive partner. Although exactly what you say is not of primary importance, it should be something that you really want the other to know. It should be fairly short, not your life story or anything like that. Keep it short enough so that you can spend some time with the second instruction.
The second instruction is: “Tell me how communicating that changed our relationship.” With this instruction, you notice what happened when you gave your response to the first instruction; for instance:
• What changed in me?
• What was the effect in me of saying what I said?
• How did I react to what I’ve just said?
• Perhaps even, what was your motivation in saying what you said and did saying it accomplish that?
• You turn your attention from your message to the relationship you have with your receptive partner and consider what occurred in the relationship from your communicating what you said to them.
If you have any doubt, confusion or argument, stop the exercise and get proper help and instruction to overcome the difficulty that is arising. Once both partners are clear on the procedure, start the dyad fresh.
It is not uncommon to have issues around Shame or Guilt; with a specific instruction it becomes possible to clear beliefs around Shame or Guilt. For this use the specific instructions below.
« Tell me something you have done, that in your own estimation you should not have done »
... Let your partner tell you what he has done and when he is complete say:
« Thank you »
Do the one above for 20 mins (2 rounds) and then do the one below for another 20mins (2 rounds)
« Tell me something you have failed to do that in your own estimation, you should have done »
… Let your partner tell you what he has failed to do and when he is complete say:
« Thank you »
When clarifying Shame or Guilt, I suggest doing 2 rounds of 40 minutes each and after that finish with this instruction below (2x time 5mins each)
« Tell me what you have gained in doing these exercises »
… Let your partner tell you what he has gained and when he is complete say:
« Thank you »
This is quite a lot to integrate hey! Practicing, practicing and practicing again and again is the only way to truly benefit from these one to one communication exercises. My experience with this practice is that the closer we can be with our inner reality and communicate it clearly, the more fruitful it will be. Remember that each partner has to take on a responsible attitude for what he communicates. These drills are not a conversation or a sharing with a friend; they are tools to know one-self better and gain maturity through dedication, perseverance and care. When you partake in these drills remain open and relaxed.
Here is a little note for those of you who have participated in the awareness retreats with me.
Although the one to one format of communication in the retreat is quite similar, there is an important difference in the way of practicing the given instructions. Not only the questions are different but the intention is also different. It is different in the sense that within a retreat the focus is on intending to directly experience one-self and not merely to understand better and clarify aspects of our personality. One format is personality oriented whilst the other is geared to go beyond the personality.
It is advisable not to mix these two communication format since they have different purposes.
Thank you for your attentive listening and now your questions.
The following text is the transcription of a video talk given on Zoom platform on the Obstacles to Awakening to True Nature.
Dear Friends on the path,
Welcome back to our weekly Zoom Meeting.
In my last talk I was mentioning that Enlightenment, Awakening or True Nature are only pointers or sign posts that can help our minds to turn its focus into a direction which is beyond mind understanding. Remember; ‘Enlightenment is not what we think’.
Yet since we are gifted with a thinking mind and a persistent compulsion to think rather than to feel or sense, the access to Tue Nature becomes a potential arduous and almost impossible task.
Any acquired knowledge, any book, any practice, will not be of any help to experience the ‘isness’ that True Nature is. Yet ‘isness’ or True Nature is here, so what can be done to enter experiencing ‘isness’?
The answer to this riddle is actually quite simple when we understand the nature of the mind, the nature of the thinking process and the nature of identification.
The mind is a very good tool which can create and discriminate; as mentioned during the talk on truth, we are gifted with ‘Intelligence’ and ‘Discrimination’ and one way to bypass or to go beyond the thinking mind is to use it for what it can do. During that talk I also proposed some exercises to uproot the false sense of self and its beliefs in order to come to what is real. The same principle can be applied when we want to return to True Nature.
You may have noticed that the thinking mind is single pointed; it always go in one direction and this direction is always towards something; whether this towards is directed towards the outer or the inner does not matter. What matters is to recognize the single pointed direction. Mind is like an arrow; it shoots towards a target and has the capacity to pierce it. It is this capacity of the mind that can be used to go beyond it and enter or experience True Nature.
We have to first recognize and marvel about the capacity of the thinking mind to create. Mind is like an illusionist. Just like a magician can make a dove come out of a folded handkerchief; the mid can make us believe that there is a ghost where in fact there is only the wind moving a curtain. In India they use the metaphor of a rope being taken for a snake. The mind can make us believe that we are strong and confident whilst the reality is a total opposite. The thinking mind has this incredible power to create illusion, yet it also has the power to discriminate and dismantle the illusion. In other words it has the power to create and dissolve any hindrances.
In many instances and more so during awareness retreats, I point out to the participants that our focus is always on what we are aware of but rarely on the one who is aware. We are aware of many things; that we have a body, that we have feelings and thoughts or memories and that the world is happening and unfolding around us but our mind tends to forget or be oblivious of the one who is aware, the one who is holding the bow and shooting the arrow.
To be able to go beyond the thinking mind, the one holding the bow needs to be taken into account. Therefore a question like: ‘who is aware?’ becomes a useful tool to bring the focus on the one who is aware. Although this is not obvious for many, but the first thing that we tend to discover when we start using this question is that it is always ‘me’ doing something or being aware of something. I am doing this, I am feeling this, I am sensing this, I am aware of this, etc.
Using this question, one can start to notice that actually everything revolves around ‘I am’. Whatever we do, say, feel or think, it always points or comes back to ‘me’. Recognizing that it is ‘me’; that I am the one from where everything starts is an important realization. Some of you may remember the ‘Ten blind men’ story which points exactly towards this realization that ‘me’ is rarely taken into account.
Although there is obviousness about the fact that it is always ‘me’; many people, for various individual reasons, have a hard time realizing this, let alone accepting it. This difficulty to accept that it is ‘me’ comes most probably from a fear of being responsible. If I accept that it is ‘me’; that I am the one who acts, that I am the ‘doer’ of all my actions, thoughts and feelings, it implies that I am responsible and this is sometimes difficult to accept.
The acceptance of being the doer is difficult because it involves taking responsibility for our thoughts, feelings and actions and shame often comes in the way, especially when our actions or thinking and feelings are not in conformity with some moral standards that we have taken for established laws.
For many people it is difficult to accept that they are angry, sad or in fear. They can recognize that there is anger or sadness in them and express it to some extend but to actually admit or own these feelings is a different matter. Simply because they hold on to some moral standards that it is wrong or shameful to be angry or sad and that they should be different. This can also sometimes give rise to a form of stubbornness in not wanting to admit that one is sad or hurt which manifests through these often unspoken words: ‘I will not let you win over me’. This attitude has its origin in the wounded child; a very hurt child who does not want to let his caretakers see how much he his hurt.
Owning being the doer is an essential step towards regaining a sense of being present and upright; it gives a sense of identity, a recognition that ‘I exists’, that ‘I am here’ and that ‘you’ are different than ‘me’. This ownership gives a sense of strength, of confidence and power which is heart-warming, gratifying and very useful to go about in life.
I am aware, I am doing, thinking, feeling or sensing this or that is the vast field within which we generally live our life in. We have become ‘doers’, compulsive doers, compulsive thinkers; so completely engrossed in our doing to the point that we don’t imagine anything else. Sitting silently doing nothing has also become a doing. ‘What are you doing? I am doing meditation, I am meditating.’
Unconsciously we have become identified with being the ‘doer’, with this sense of ‘it is me’. ‘Me’ has become our identity and we usually live our lives without questioning its authenticity.
But is it true; I’m I really the doer of my actions, of my thoughts or of my feelings? At first glance yes, there seems to be an obviousness of the fact that it is me speaking, looking, hearing or acting and not anyone else. Acknowledging that it is ‘me’ and not anyone else is essential and in some ways empowering and fulfilling.
Yet this sense of ‘it is me’ is nothing but identification and as mentioned during the last talk, all sense of identity, of identification, needs to fall before True Nature can be realized. Even though everyone longs for an end to their suffering, an end to their aching hearts, which is quite natural; it is not so much the aching heart which is the problem; it is the thought form that it is ‘my’ pain, that it is ‘my’ aching heart which creates suffering. I am the one who suffers is the problem; identification is the real disease. Dissolving the identification with this sense of ‘me’, with the ‘doer’ will not only bring an end to suffering, it will also open the door to experience True Nature.
Stepping out of the identification with being the ‘doer’; dissolving the ‘me’ identification has been the pursuit of many spiritual schools and over time different approaches have been laid out for this purpose.
Devotional approaches are certainly the most common and have spread all over the world through different formats. Whether in the East or in the West their main characteristic is, for a person, to devote her focus towards some higher entity or divinity who will provide all sorts of benefits if the devotion is practiced well. The main sought benefit is to be set free from suffering. Faith and beliefs are the main pillars to these devotional approaches which are heart oriented and feelings based.
Dissolving identification can also be done via body oriented approaches such as Yoga, Tai Chi, Zen Archery or Ritual Dancing to name a few. Through movement, all these practices aim to dissolve identification so that any personal doing disappears and only moving remains. In China this is known as ‘Wuwei’.
And last but not least, mind has also been used to dissolve identification with self-enquiry practices. Challenging the reality of the nature of the ‘self’, the ‘I’ or ‘me’ helps put the focus on ‘that’ which is aware, on the awareness itself by moving from obvious identifications to more subtle ones until no identification remains.
It is a negative approach in the sense that the emphasis is on questioning the reality of this ‘I’ that we take for granted until the realization that actually ‘I’ or ‘me’ is only a construct of the mind and has no reality whatsoever. Yet the thinking mind cannot come to this realization because it would imply its own extinction which for the mind is not acceptable.
What is needed is a leap out of the mind and this leap can only occur when the mind fails to find a solution, when the mind recognizes its inability to explain, to understand, to comprehend and stops trying. It is in this moment of surrendering of the mind that True Nature reveals itself. As long as we hold on to want ourselves, situations or others to be different than what they are, we are in the grip of the thinking mind, in the grip of the doer. When there is acceptance of what is, suffering disappears and True Nature shines.
Whether a person chooses to practice a devotional approach, a body related or a mind related approaches, the common factor that will enable experiencing ‘isness’ is always the act of surrendering. Suffering has its roots in our tendency to want things and situations to be according to our estimation and not according to what they are. This tendency is what some people have called the ‘ego trip’ or the ‘power trip’. The ego or power trip is simply a pure identification with being the ‘doer’, living our life as we please; not realizing that in fact the reality is that we are being lived, that it is Life which is breathing me, that it is Life which is carrying me, supporting me. This recognition that it is Life constantly unfolding and not me doing something is what surrendering is about. We unconsciously take ourselves for being the center from where everything revolves around and by doing so we miss Life and at the same time create our own suffering.
We are living beings yet unfortunately thinking has taken the predominance and we have forgotten that our roots are in life, that Life is our essence, the very substance that we are made of. Looking at a starry sky or into the infinity of the blue sky can remind us that there is something which is much vaster than our limited body and personality; it can help us surrender to this vastness, to this infinity that in reality we are.
As mentioned in this talk today, from a mind point of view ‘Identification’ is the obstacle and more specifically identification with being the doer or the centre around which everything revolves. ‘Me, myself and I’ are the obstacles to realize, to experience True Nature, to awaken to ‘Isness’. There are no other obstacle because who is it that wants to experience True Nature if not ‘me’?
True nature is and does not need ‘me’ and from True Nature’s point of view, there are no obstacles or problems; all obstacles, all problems are simply a construct of the mind and as such, totally acceptable and part of ‘Isness’.
Wanting to experience True Nature or wanting to be enlightened are simply constructs of the mind, a pure illusion created by the identification with something labelled as: ‘me’.
« When ‘I’ exists, the world appears, when ‘I’ disappears True Nature appears. »
Thank you for your attentive listening and now your questions.
The following text is the transcription of a video talk given on Zoom platform on Enlightenment & True Nature.
Dear Friends on the path,
Welcome back to our weekly Zoom Meeting,
Enlightenment; True Nature; in many people’s mind, these two words carry a lot of preconceived ideas, unfounded beliefs and mostly a certain idea of hope. Hope for a different life, for a better future and mostly hope for an end to suffering. Even though it may not be very conscious, there is also often a sort of arrogant attitude linked with these two words; something like: ‘I am a seeker, I am on the Path’; ‘I belong to a special group of people who are concerned with meditation, with spirituality; we are out of the common masses’. In Zen this attitude is called the ‘Zen Stink’. Beware of this!
In this talk today, rather than highlighting what enlightenment is and comfort your thinking minds, I’ll do my best to point to what it is not, in this way you won’t have something to hold on to, a goal to attain to or a creed to believe in.
An American teacher once wrote a book named ‘Enlightenment is not what you think’. He did not say: ‘Enlightenment is not what you think it is’; only: ‘Enlightenment is not what you think’.
And this is exactly what enlightenment is about; it is not what we think. All thinking, any kind of thinking is not part of enlightenment. There is no thinking process that would lead someone to enlightenment. There are no methods either to attain enlightenment; it happens and it has appended for many people over the course of time, yet this happening is not dependent on any method whatsoever.
One of the best example is the one of Buddha; Buddha wanted to know what is beyond death, what does not die and he spent many years trying to attain to a state of non-suffering, practicing all kinds of techniques without any real success until one day he got so fed up that he said: ‘that’s it, I’m finished with all these practices, let it be’. And it is in this letting be that he awoke to True Nature.
The common meaning of the word ‘enlightenment’ is when we suddenly and abruptly understand something that we did not understand before. The famous ‘Eurêka’ that Archimedes exclaimed when he discovered his formula on volumes is a good example of what the word enlightenment means. He had been pondering for days about finding a formula on volumes and liquids but his mind could not come with the correct formula. He gave up and decided to relax and take a bath. The moment he entered his bath something clicked, he realized what he was looking for since days. In that instant he knew the formula, he knew without a doubt because he had experienced it.
In spirituality circles this word has a slightly different meaning; it means awakening to something which is beyond any mind concepts. It is not possible to ‘become’ awakened or enlightened; wanting to be awakened or enlightened is simply a fantasy of the mind, just like wanting to become a ‘great poet or a great soul’, it has no substance whatsoever.
However, this desire to be enlightened is common to all seekers who are ‘on the path’ but one has to see that this is nonsense. It is nonsense because this is a mind desire and enlightenment has nothing to do with desire and the thinking mind. Enlightenment is part of an idea that there is a certain ‘state’ that one could attain where everything would be flawless, smooth and pain and emotion free; like we imagine saints to be.
There is no such saintly state. Enlightenment is not a state that one could attain.
Yet there is in each human being this desire for something different, for something that is not of this world; a different sort of consciousness where suffering is no longer present.
This desire comes from two very different sources.
One source is that each human being carries an intrinsic pull towards wholeness, towards a return to a sense of unity, where everything is as it should be, safe and peaceful and where suffering is not present. Some call this wholeness: ‘True Nature’, others ‘Essence’ or ‘Consciousness’ and Buddhists call it ‘Buddha Nature’.
Whatever name is given to this sense of wholeness is not important; what is important is to recognize that there is an inner longing for wholeness. A longing is different from a desire. A longing is an aspiration towards something that we want to be in union with; it comes from a deeper part of our being whilst a desire mostly comes from needs that have not been fulfilled on the personality level.
This pull or longing to return towards wholeness is there because we have been in wholeness at some point in our life or better say we were this wholeness, yet at the time we were not conscious about it simply because our brain was not yet at its full potential.
This longing is there and we unconsciously search to fulfil it through different means because it has become mixed with our unfulfilled childhood needs. Sexuality is probably the most ‘at hand’ and natural possibility to return to this wholeness simply because during sexual intercourse one can experience a moment of union which is quite similar to wholeness. Sexual orgasm is a doorway to wholeness and it has been used as such by different ‘spiritual’ schools in India and in China.
The other source for this desire to be enlightened comes from discontentment, from being unsatisfied with our condition, in other words from suffering. It is no more a longing, it has become a desire to end something or to be someone special and as such it is part of our personality like any other desire. ‘I want this because it will take me out of that’ or ‘I want this because it will make me special’. This desire comes from a denial of reality.
Whether a longing or a desire, enlightenment is not something that one can attain by doing something because enlightenment is not a thing, it is not a thing or an object that one can grab, it is not a state that one can attain, it is not even a process that would take the person from A to B, from unconsciousness to some imaginary super state of consciousness.
So what is enlightenment then you may ask?
I could word it like this: “Enlightenment is an awakening to our True Nature; it is the realization that we are”. But even saying this is only food for the mind and cannot give a true sense of the reality that is. It is only pointing to a direction and this direction is not really a direction but more an experience, a realization. Buddha used to call this realization ‘Nirvana’. Nirvana means the extinction of desires. Become desire-less and the doors of Nirvana or True Nature will fling open.
The only way to know this True Nature that teachers over the centuries have been talking about is to enquire in order to experience it; just as the only way to know the taste of watermelon is to bite into it. Then you know; there is no other way. Many books have been written about True Nature, many explanations have been given about its qualities and the ways to attain this ‘Nirvana’; yet all these writings are only describing something that is now taken as an object or a state to attain; they don’t deliver the taste of True Nature and they cannot because it is not about ‘seeing or understanding’ it is about ‘being’. Not about being someone or being something but simply being.
The realization ‘I am’ is the first step towards ‘being’. It is not about, ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’, but simply ‘I am’. However ‘I am’ tends to fix something, to define, to stop a movement, the movement of Life; something like: ‘Amness’ would be better because it would point to a continuum, something flowing. Yet even ‘amness’ still carries a sense of identity and the doors of Nivana will not let any identity pass through them.
All sense of identity, and identity means identification, need to fall before True Nature can be realized. Even ‘being’ True Nature will not allow passing through the Gateless Gate as Zen calls it; because even in being a zest of identification lingers. To enter Nirvana or pass the Gateless Gate all identification have to be dropped and when all identification have disappeared, one is not and when we are not suddenly everything ‘is’.
In a previous talk I mentioned that ‘it is Life which is breathing us, that it is Life which is carrying us, supporting us; that we are Life itself’. It is not that ‘one is Life’ but more ‘Life is’.
‘Is’ is not something static, it is a constant motion; ‘Life’ is a constant motion, never at rest, always expanding or contracting, yet expanding or contracting silently, effortlessly and painlessly. To underline this notion of movement some sages have even coined the word ‘Isness’.
Bashō, a Japanese poet found a way to expresses ‘isness’ with this Haiku:
« Sitting silently, doing nothing, spring comes
and the grass grows by itself. »
Native Americans are expressing it in this way:
« What is life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the winter time.
It is the shadow which runs across the grass, and loses itself in the sunset. »
Enlightenment, Awakening, Realization, True Nature, True Self, Nirvana or Buddha Nature are only pointers or sign posts that can help our minds to turn its focus into a direction which is beyond mind understanding. Remember ‘enlightenment is not what you think’.
Yet since our mind tends to think and therefore create hindrances to this possibility of awakening to True Nature, in an upcoming Zoom meeting I will put the focus on these hindrances and ways to deal with them.
Thank you for your attentive listening, now let’s take some time to look at your questions.
The following text is the transcription of a talk given on Zoom platform as an introduction to a series of Q&A.
Dear Friends on the path,
Welcome back to our weekly Zoom Meeting,
Before I answer your questions today I’d like to say a few words about the work that I propose so that you clearly understand the direction that I aim at in supporting you with your personal issues.
My interest is not so much to help you function better on a personality level but more to guide you towards experiencing and living your True Nature, who you really are. It is my understanding and my own experience that we are Life; we are Life manifested in this body form and when I say Life I am referring to ‘that’ which is alive in us, the Life force or Life energy that we are.
This life force manifests in numerous and various forms, just look at the world around you and you will see that every living entity, whether a mountain, a river, a plant, an animal or a human being, is a unique expression of this Life energy. Everything on this planet is vibrant with Life and except for humans all these expressions of Life follow their natural course.
As human we have the potential to distort this natural course, not that this distortion is done voluntarily; it happens unconsciously due to a survival mechanism; yet the outcome is that we lose the connection with our True Nature, the connection with this Life energy that we are and become identified with a self-created personality; a false identity. The work on the personality is only the first and basic steps to help this reconnection to take place. We can only start from where we are at and most of the time we are lost and very much entangled and alone with our issues and identifications.
If we want to be in alignment with what we are, with the life that we are, it becomes our responsibility to consciously make the needed steps to return to our real home. It is not about artificially jumping into some high states of consciousness; it is not about becoming enlightened; it is more about being in tune with our nature, with the life energy that we are. We are born out of Life, we are the sons and daughters of Life and the only way that we can honour Life if by becoming what we are and we are Life itself. The finality of this work is not to become a better person, a saint or to believe in some supra consciousness or deity, the finality of this work is to be Alive, to be totally alive within this body mind system.
When we are able to stand on our two feet and be face to face with Life we become Life itself; we are Alive for the first time; for the first time we are a true human being. We have regained our True Nature; the circle is then complete and we can live in the environment that we are in without fears, without problems; all ‘problems’ have disappeared, what remains are only situations that we need to attend to, to deal with. We are free. This freedom is accessible to all, it is everyone’s birth right, we only have to claim it.
It is towards this freedom that I aim to guide you and for some of you this freedom is very near, just a few more steps are needed. It only needs the simple recognition that it is Life which is breathing me, that it is Life which is carrying me, supporting me.
What could be more beautiful, what could be more honorable, more magnificent than to be Life itself?
From the moment of birth to the moment of death, we are this pulsation of Life in a human form; our sole responsibility is to become conscious of it. It is towards this responsibility that I aim to guide your steps.
Unconsciously we have disowned ourselves; we are living away from ourselves, in a dream made world made of ideas and beliefs and we continue dreaming and hoping for some enlightened states, for some miraculous realization whilst the only thing to do is to come back to the reality of now and our reality starts with our body, with our so-called personal issues. The work is simply about owning yourself again. Owning yourself is the greatest marvel that can happen to you. This is why I will always encourage you to recognize, accept and express whatever is coming up for you, because these are the steps towards being a free living being. Acceptance is just another word for Love; Love is acceptance; accepting yourself as you are is what owning yourself means.
Now your questions...
The following text is the transcription of a video talk given on Zoom platform on Personality & Spirituality.
Dear Friends on the path,
Welcome back to our weekly Zoom Meeting,
After this short pause, I’m able to resume our weekly meeting and I’d like to continue from where I’ve stopped last time when I clarified the direction that I aim at in supporting you. I mentioned that working on the personality level is merely the first step towards something much vaster and more fulfilling which can be called Spirituality.
Personality and Spirituality are nothing but man made concepts. Man likes to conceptualize, to name anything that he sets his eyes upon; yet in conceptualizing man wipes out the very essence of Life and thus misses his own nature.
This being said, conceptualizing is however useful to gain an intellectual understanding on how we function and how we fit into what we call the world or existence.
You may remember that in our last talk I mentioned that we are an expression of Life manifested in this specific body form and that the only important thing is to realize that we are vibrant with Life, that we are Life itself. In a nutshell this is what this work is all about.
In order to achieve this or better to realize one’s own nature, a few preliminary septs are needed and understanding these concepts of personality and spirituality will be useful. It will be useful because it will help clarify the path you are treading on and shed a light on some specific terms or aspects of this path.
The fist point to understand is that Personality and Spirituality go hand in hand; there would not be any spirituality if there were no personality and vice versa. Personality and Spirituality are complementary opposites. They are opposites in the sense that they refer to and take into account two different aspects of Life and they are complementary in the sense that without one, the other would not exist. We need to keep in mind that although each concept has its own specificities, in the end they are both an expression of Life.
The Personality concept
Since the closer to us apart from our body is our personality, let’s have a look at what this concept is mainly pointing to.
Personality is defined by most psychologists as the characteristic sets of behaviours, cognitions and emotional patterns that evolve from biological and environmental factors. Quite a broad definition that would need a thorough explanation!
My aim in this talk is not to enter into a discussion about the different personality approaches or even to use the common differentiation of personality types and personality traits but more to clarify and be practical about what is common to each individual.
What we call ‘the Personality’ is actually centred or focus on one and only parameter and this parameter is ‘me’. Everything is centred on or revolves around this ‘me’, hence the term ‘ego’ in Latin or ‘persona’ in Greek. Every young child discovers and starts experiencing in his early years what I would call a sense of ‘me’ when he begins to recognize that: ‘I’ am here or ‘it is ‘me’.
This ‘I am here’ or ‘it’s me’ is not at all self-centred or egoistic; it is a physical experience that each child is going through; a down to earth level of ‘me’ standing on my own two feet with a sense of strength, of openness to life in general together with the joy of simply being alive, existing. Watch a child starting to walk and stand upright for the first time and you will notice his proudness, his strength; the child cannot conceptualize or even word what he is experiencing but through his body language he is saying: ‘it’s me, I’m here’.
Prior to this discovery the child was living in non-separation and had no idea of ‘me’ or ‘mama’ but with this experience, all of a sudden there is separation; there is ‘me’ and there is something other than me. It can be a person or an object. Even though language and conceptualization are not yet fully mastered, a division is created; the world now becomes a relationship between ‘Me’ and ‘Something other than me’.
As the child grows up and his brain develops, this division becomes more and more obvious. At first it is related to: ‘Me and my belongings’ (my toys, my mama, my papa, etc.). For a child this is not about possessiveness; it is about building a sense of security which he needs in order to grow.
As the child develops and goes through the different phases of his growth this sense of ‘me’ expands and becomes more centred on the person and becomes:
• My feelings
• My thoughts
• My body and its limitations
• My ideas, judgements, beliefs and expectations
• My belongings (my house, my bicycle, my friends, girlfriend/boyfriend and later on my wife/husband, my child, etc.)
This self-centredness is part of a normal growing process; the positive side of it is that it helps us set boundaries and acquire confidence in our ways of relating with the world around us. Yet the down side is that it tends to screen out the connection with our true nature since we now mainly relate with the world around us from this ‘me’. We have lived with this ‘me’; we have lived from this ‘me’ for as long as we can remember. ‘Me’ has become our identity, we have taken this ‘me’ for granted and have never questioned its reality.
‘Me’ has become our identity and we tend to naturally hold on to this ‘me’ since it is all that we know and also because of an intrinsic fear that is being generated through the identification with this ‘me’. “Who will I be without this ‘me’?”
Although it manifests in the foreground, ‘me’ is only the apparent centre or outer layer of our personality. Our personality is a multi-layered structure, in the same way as our body which is a multi-layered structure from skin to marrow. On the surface or conscious level we find the most obvious, our ways of relating with the world, our behaviour patterns and personality traits, our ideas and beliefs and our emotional world.
Yet this conscious level is not autonomous, it is driven by a deeper level where thought process, feelings and memories originate and even below this subconscious or pre-conscious level we find the ‘Unconscious’. The unconscious is the seat of our preverbal memories, of our feelings and vital functions connected with our nervous system.
What is generally overlooked is the sense of separation and the duality that ‘me’ generates. You may have noticed yourself that there is always ‘me’ and ‘something other than me’.
• ‘Me’ and ‘you’
• ‘Me’ and ‘my body’
• ‘Me’ and ‘my mind, my ideas, my beliefs’
• ‘Me’ and ‘my feelings, my emotions’
• ‘Me and my actions, my doing’
• ‘Me’ and ‘my story’, the story of this ‘me’.
• And for those more ‘spiritually advanced’ there is even ‘me’ and my ‘awareness’ or ‘me and enlightenment’.
Understanding this constant duality at play is a needed step in order to break free from this ‘me’ identification and from the suffering that it creates. It is this sense of separation together with the duality which is the root cause of our suffering. Since everything is now ‘other than me’, we have lost the connection with our inborn reality and at the same time created a deep suffering. The suffering can be summarized as being the loss of our true identity which is the Union or non-separation from our true nature.
So it is not the personality that creates the suffering; it is the identification to the personality which create suffering. The personality in itself is not at fault, even though it may be flawed in various ways; the personality is needed and very useful to go about in the world. Without a personality we could not survive in this world. We do need a personality; yet a healthy one and not a too distorted one!
Understanding clearly that it is not the personality that is at fault but our identification with it will help us to break free from our identification with the personality. The identification is the problem, not the personality.
Spirituality in a broad sense has been known over the centuries for being the resources, the means to dis-identify from our personality in order to return to this Union or non-separation from our True Nature.
The Spirituality concept
Spirituality is mainly associated with religion, any form of religion and the most common meaning of spirituality, whether is the West or in the East, is that trough some devotional efforts the adept will save his soul an access some sort of heaven.
In this context Spirituality is based on hope and on belief. The belief that if I behave well and worship accordingly, I will reach heaven after my death or in a next life; if I don’t behave well and don’t worship accordingly either I will go to hell or be forever doomed. A western variation of this is that if I behave well and worship accordingly, Jesus or God will come and save me and I will forever sit on his right side.
Most religions operate in this childish way based on punishment and reward, they are fear based religions.
Another accepted understanding of spirituality is that beyond our personality, beyond our usual understanding of the world, there exists another realm that a person can connect with in order to become immortal. In a different way this is also a quest for immortality and in that sense it is a refusal of our mortal form; this form that we are confined to from birth to death.
The personality can be called the form. Spirituality is about that which is beyond the form; it is about the formless. The form is limited, our body appears to be limited and in some ways it is, when we consider it from our usual mind’s perspective. Yet if we broaden our view we can realise that this body is not just limited to what we can perceive with our senses. We are much more than our physical body. Since ancient times it has been discovered by sages that we are not just this body enveloppe that we can see and experience. Like the colors of a rainbow or the sound scale, our body is an expense of energy, ranging from basic red energy to higher purple and white energy. Not only do we have a range of energy bodies but our consciousness is also going from a basic down to earth understanding to what some sages called a super or higher consciousness. Science is now coming to these same discoveries.
Over the course of time, many methods have been developed to explore these realms that are beyond our thinking and conceptualizing mind.
The link or the thread of all these different approaches of what is referred to as Spirituality is something that is often overlooked. What is overlooked is that Spirituality is all about Life energy; the energy of Life in manifold manifestations.
As mentioned earlier and also in our previous Zoom meeting we are an expression of Life manifested in this specific body form; Life is what we are and the only important thing is to realize that we are a vibration of Life.
All concepts about Spirituality, all efforts to reach, to attaining some specific state, such as immortality, enlightenment or Buddha nature will fall apart once we realize and experience this simple truth. Life is what we are and as the saying goes, ‘Life has no goal other than to be lived and enjoyed’.
This realization is what ‘Spirituality’ is really about.
I would like to illustrate this by taking the example of Buddha’s teachings; his teaching is all about the extiction of desires and refusals, the source of suffering created by identification. Buddha called this extinction ‘Nirvana’. Nirvana in Pali, means extinction, it does not mean paradise or any special state.
His teaching is often misunderstood as: ‘I should not have any desires’ and if I have, then I am a siner and I won’t enter Nirvana. The person having these ideas falls prey to beliefs and behaviour patterns.
What needs to be understood in buddha’s teaching is that Nirvana is about dis-identify from the cause of suffering; our identification with a ‘me’. It is dis-identification that is the core of spirituality, the core of all ‘spiritual’ teaching.
The Indian sage Ramana Maharshi was teaching the same thing in a different way. He was constantly bringing those who came to see him towards questioning who is having this though, who is having this belief, who is having this emotion. His only concern was that the person start to question: ‘Who is this ‘I’.
Personality and spirituality are not separate, they are inteconnected since they are a variation of life; they are the song sheet of life. Life can sing its song throught the infine variety of forms and our task as human being is to tune in to Life by moving from personality to spirituality.
From Personality to Spirituality
Over the course of time and according to different cultures or religious orientations, sages have developed numerous methods or techniques to lead those aiming to discover or realize their True Nature.
They range from passive or active meditation techniques such as Vipassana, Zazen (silent sitting) Dynamic, Mandala or Sufi Whirling to specific practices like Yoga Tai Chi, Chanting, Tantra, Calligraphy, Archery or Tea Ceremony to name a few.
Most of them are body oriented practices in order to bypass the thinking mind.
During the first talk on truth, I mentionned that we have been gifted with Intelligence and Discrimination, in other words, with awareness. Awareness is our capacity to discriminate the false from the truth and bring what is unconscious to a conscious level so that it can be dealt with and leave us.
Questioning this sense of ‘me’ is the purpose of all spiritual teachings and in order to do this, over the centuries different ‘self-enquiry’ methods have been developed. Self-enquiry simply means enquiring about the authenticity of what we refer to as: ‘me’, also called ‘the self’ or ‘I’ in order to discover the true nature of this ‘I’ of this ‘me’; another way of saying this would be: ‘Is it true?’, is this ‘me’ a tangible reality?
Self-enquiry is a quest for truth and this quest require a plunge into the reality of what is and leave aside what we dream or imagine the reality to be. The knack of self-enquiry is to bring the focus, not on what is ‘other than me’ as we usually do but on ‘me’ and to question its reality.
Self-enquiry is about discarding what is not ‘me’, like peeling an onion, not this, not this, not this, until nothing more remain to be discarded and it is then our True Nature reveals itself.
From personality to Spirituality is a journey of many rewards, a journey worth travelling on and this is my invitation to you, now that you’ve regained a sense of strength, of openness to life in general and the joy of simply being alive with the work with the Inner Child, to continue your journey with the awareness intensive retreats.
In these retreats we use a specific self-enquiry method derived from the Japanese Zen tradition that is designed to lead the participant to directly experience what is referred to as ‘True Nature’.
Tomorrow we will start an online retreat specially geared for this purpose and thanks to the Covid-19 pandemy it will probably be the first time ever that such a retreat is proposed on line. I’m confident that these 5 days will unfold seamlessly for all and that identification will disolve effortlessly.
I’d like to end with this talk with a quote from Marianne Williamson, an American writer and lecturer.
« Inner peace doesn't come from getting what we want;
it comes from remembering who we are. »
It is said that Buddha used to give his disciples this advice: ‘Remember, Remember, Remember’, which could be rephrased as: ‘don’t forget who you are’.
Thank you for your patient and attentive listening.
The following text is the transcription of a video talk given on Zoom platform on Sexuality and Love.
Dear Friends on the path,
Welcome to our weekly Zoom Meeting,
As this will be the last talk of our Zoom meeting series, I’d like to talk about Sexuality and Love. I’ll do my best to clarify what these two different energies are and how they can be combined in order to bring moments of bliss for the persons involved. However, for this to happen, a few pre-conceived ideas and taboos need to fall apart first.
Sexuality is our primary energy
Sexuality is our primary energy as well as the source from where we came to be a living being. Without sexuality we would not be here to talk about it, we would not exist. We are the outcome, the product of a sexual intercourse; but more than that we are a manifestation of the energy of life, we are the embodied manifestation of life energy. It is this life energy that makes us breathe, stand, walk, see, hear and talk. This Life energy is our partner for life, without it we cannot exist.
This life energy is mainly stored in our genital area and its main purpose, other than to keep us alive, is to be used for procreation; for the survival of the human race. This is not specific to human beings; all forms of life on this planet depend upon this law. The main difference with us human beings is that we are gifted with the ability to enjoy and to be consciously aware of our sensations and feelings. We are also gifted with the ability to think and conceptualize what we sense and feel. And within the context of sexuality, our capacity to think and conceptualize tends to create numerous pre-conceived ideas, beliefs and taboos which often channel twisted behaviour patterns around sexuality.
Pre-conceived ideas, beliefs and taboos around Sexuality
One of the first taboos around sexuality is probably the naked body. In the western world, the bible mentions that when Adam & Eve, the first human beings on earth, discovered that they were naked, they immediately started to hide their nudity and more specifically their genital parts. In that moment shame was born.
Although they are the source of and the production of our life force, the genital parts are the most vulnerable parts of our body and as such they need to be protected. Yet protection does not necessarily mean hiding, but hiding these parts has become quite common among human beings and this tendency generates shame and shame deviate sexuality from its natural course by creating moral standards.
Observe young children, they are not at all ashamed of their nudity and moreover they are very curious about these parts of the body and every child wants to know why little boys have this little dangling thing between their legs whilst little girls have a hole. Childlike curiosity is without any taboos, without any pre-conceived ideas, without any shame; it is pure innocence. We are not born with moral standards, they are given to us as we grow and for a vast majority of people, nudity has become an issue because of moral standards. Most of men and women are concerned with and judgemental about their body appearance which in turn creates issues when related to sexuality.
One of the main problems with the human mind is that when something is hidden it immediately creates a tension in the mind; a desire to seek for this hidden thing, to see it, to touches it or even to possess it. The hidden object becomes desirable and since sexuality has been tabooed by so many different civilisations throughout the centuries it is probably the most desired item on the list for many people.
Sexuality is probably the most desired and also probably the most fear generating topic. Because of moral standards and possible illnesses Fear and Shame are playing a large role in restricting sexuality from being lived naturally.
It is always a good exercise to become more aware of our fears and shame around sexuality and question their relevance. I would encourage you to use the following question format to clarify your fears and your shame around sexuality.
→ ‘What are my fears around sexuality?’
→ ‘What am I ashamed of around sexuality?’
This is something that you can do on your own or, for better results, with a partner using a one to one communication format with the ‘Tell me form’ such as: ‘Tell me about your fears around sexuality’ or ‘Tell me about your shame around sexuality’.
Remember that healing takes place when we express our feelings and when what we are expressing is being received without judgement, when we are understood.
What is actually meant by sexuality?
Sexuality is a general word which covers different manifestations of our Libido or life energy. The most obvious manifestation is the fact that life energy is gender related; it is divided into two specific principles: the male principle and the female principle; each one having its specific characteristics and functions. In order to be able to reproduce Life both functions have to combine as illustrated in the Tao symbol. This is the primary aspect of sexuality shared by all living beings where giver and receiver are strictly fixed in their roles assigned by nature.
What we call sexual desire is in reality a strong spur of energy which comes from our life force and manifests as a pull towards the opposite gender. This energy can easily be noticeable, just rub your hands together for a little while and then separate them about a couple of inches; what you will sense between your two palms is similar to the density of the layer of sexual energy. If the other gender is in the same layer of energy, both can choose to follow this energy or not. It is a choice that we can make and not a compulsion. It is important to remember that we always have the choice to move or not to move with this energy. It is part of our responsibility.
Sexuality and beyond
Sexuality for us human, can go far beyond this initial aspect of being a mere reproduction factory or the uncontrollable impulse to have sex. Nature has gifted us with some additional faculties which can play an important role in the evolution of our consciousness and the first one is the faculty to experience pleasure and its opposite, pain.
Due to some specific hormones and nerve endings on our skin and in different parts of our body we are able to experience sexual pleasure. This implies that touching can play an important part in sexual activity and touching is not limited to our hands; it can be done with any part of the body. The sensations are taking place at the skin level, yet the centre of pleasure is located in our brain. This has its importance because it implies that sexual stimulation can happen without any physical contact. This is particularly true when people are having ‘wet dreams’ or when they are watching explicit sexual videos or have mind sexually related fantasies. In these situations only their creative mind is involved.
Sexuality and Love
Intrinsically love has very little to do with sexuality or with sexual attraction, yet people often talk about ‘falling in love’ and ‘making love’ when they have sex. Love is a completely different energy which involves the heart and not the sexual organs. Love is an intrinsic aspect of our life force and as such love becomes a weaver who bring people together at the heart level and when sexuality blends with love something quite different from being simply physical can take place.
There is, in each of us a deep longing for love. at our core we are love but most of the time, if not always, we have lost this inner connection with the love that we are and we tend to seek it through or via the other; then sexual activity becomes a search to fulfil this longing for love.
When we are searching to fulfil an aspect of us that we miss, we are simply using our partner to get what we miss inside; we try to fill an emptiness that we have inside. We fall prey of becoming ‘love beggars’.
True love making implies that both partners are already conscious that they are love and they come together to sublimate this love. This is totally different from ‘having sex’, it is more related with the third aspect of sexuality, the spiritual aspect of sexuality.
Sexuality and Spiritually
For many people spirituality and sexuality are far apart, as if they were two completely different aspects of our human nature. The reality is quite different. It is different because spirituality is not something which is mind related, spirituality has nothing to do with ideas and beliefs, it has to do with life energy, it is the uttermost flowering of life energy. It is life energy in its ultimate expression and expansion. Spirituality and sexuality are both experiences and not thought forms; they are the manifestation of the same energy. Sexuality is the most basic manifestation of life energy whilst spirituality is its highest manifestation. This is why some religion or spiritual schools have used sexuality as a mean to reach to the highest realms of consciousness. The Indian map of the kundalini and its 7 energy centres is a vivid example of that.
As mentioned before we are the embodied manifestation of life energy and as such we have the potential to allow our life energy to move from the sex centre to the heart centre and further to the crown centre and we can do this alone or with a partner.
Sexuality, Awareness and Responsibility
Our sexuality and by this I mean the way we relate with and use our sexual energy, can move into different directions. We can use it selfishly, just for our own enjoyment; we can use it carelessly; we can use it to dominate or overpower another; we can use to abuse others; we can use it for a mutual enjoyment with a partner or we can also refuse to use at all. As mentioned earlier we have the possibility to use this sexual energy as a way to raise our consciousness. The spectrum of possibilities is quite wide and it becomes only a matter of how much awareness do I want to bring in my sexuality.
The choice is clearly in our hands and the important question becomes: ‘what do I want to do with my sexuality?’ Or said differently: ‘what do I want to use this life energy for; what direction should I give to my sexuality?’
Raising such questions is not only a way to bring awareness to our sexuality; it also generates a sense of responsibility. Consciously choosing how we relate and use our sexuality is a must when we want to live a harmonious and fulfilling life.
It is a choice that we have, yet I know that this choice is limited; it is limited because of our beliefs and preconceived ideas around sexuality, around love and around spirituality.
What are these limitations?
As mentioned in a previous talk our limitations come from our past experiences and from what we have assimilated from our parents and the society we live in. Our limitations around sexuality are for the most part mainly psychological and consist of all the beliefs and pre-conceived ideas that we have around sexuality. These beliefs can be challenged and overcome with the different exercises mentioned during this talk and the talk on beliefs. Make use of these exercises, they have the power to bring saneness in you.
Our limitations also consist of the physical abuses perpetrated on us as children, whether they are clearly physical sexual abuses or non-sexual abuses, these physical abuses will play a large part in impeding a healthy relationship with sexuality.
When we have been physically and/or psychologically abused as a child we carry a ‘no’ inside, a very deep ‘no’; yet we had to survive so this ‘no’ was buried deep inside of our heart and a behaviour patterns that seemed fitting with our environment was adopted. This survival mechanism happened unconsciously, it was the best response our nervous system could come up with but it did not removed this ‘no’; it only put it aside and the ‘no’ is still there and quite tangible when it comes to sexual activity. In sexual activity we are ‘naked’ in the sense that we are vulnerable and often entangled between desire and refusal. We want to experience pleasure; we have a longing to melt in love with our partner and at the same time we have to deal with various inhibitions and fears that are emerging during sexual activity. Fears which range from shyness to a deep fear of being mistreated, not understood in our inhibitions and in some ways abused together with a lot of shame and lack of self-confidence.
As mentioned earlier Fear and Shame are the two most obvious feelings that restrict our relationship with sexuality, thus the need to take care of these two feelings appropriately.
Because of our social upbringing, because we want to appear strong and smart or polite we tend to bypass our ‘no’, our fears and our shame and allow ourselves to be abused in various ways. The most obvious one is saying yes to have sex when we don’t want it, saying yes to be touch in ways or areas that we don’t like or don’t feel good about.
When we allow this to take place we are betraying ourselves by not taking responsibility for our needs and desires. It is easier to play a victim role and blame our partner for not caring enough, for not respecting us, for not giving us what we feel we deserve and many people fall into this trap. A healthy sexuality implies that we express our needs, our fears, our likes or dislikes and our shame to our partner and that these needs, these fears, these likes and dislikes and shame are understood and respected. When this happens sexuality can develop into a much more pleasant and loving relationship because the heart start to be involved. And when the heart starts to be involved, love emerges and with it the possibility to go beyond a hormonal related sexual activity. Sexual activity can then turn into a meditative time for both partners. From sexual partners they become Love partners and from Love partner they become Spiritual partner, using sexual activity as a dance to expand their consciousness. It is no more about ‘having sex’ or ‘making love’; it is about allowing oneself to enter a non-doing space and to be taken by the flow of sexual energy into its uttermost realms. It is about a complete let go of desire and needs; it is about surrendering to the energy of life which moves in us, allowing life to carry us to its ultimate peaks with both partners disappearing, melting and merging in the energy of life.
This is what sexuality can be for each human being. Without exception each of us is entitled and intended for this; nature or existence has given us everything we need to fulfil this potential, it is our birth potential; we only need to move towards it and claim it.
I’d like to close this talk on sexuality by encouraging you to use the mentioned exercises in the different talks in order to let go of all your beliefs and ideas around sexuality so that your ways of relating and acting your sexuality can become shared blissful and fulfilling moments.
This talk might have stimulated some specific questions for you, different from those that you have already raised. Feel free to send these questions for our next meeting since right now I’d like to answer the questions that you’ve already put forward.
Thank you for your patient and attentive listening.
The following text is the transcription of a video talk given on Zoom platform about beliefs and ways to dissolve beliefs.
Dear Friends on the path,
Welcome to our weekly Zoom Meeting,
Some of you may remember a talk on beliefs that I gave in a public meeting a couple of years ago and throughout the recent talks and the questions that you’ve raised, I’ve noticed how much beliefs are playing an important part in the lives of many. This gives me an incentive to refresh the understanding that we have about beliefs and how they hinder our energy as well as review different ways to dissolve their grip on us.
When I talked about Truth in March, I mentioned that we are all gifted with Intelligence and Discrimination which help us to separate the true from the false; and during that talk I also mentioned about a practice to challenge and dispel any preconceived ideas or beliefs. And when talking about Shame I did briefly describe how, through the internalizing process of a feeling, a person can be led to become identified with a thought form or a behaviour pattern which will in turn becomes a belief.
I am well aware that beliefs can sometimes be so deeply anchored in our subconscious mind that they becomes difficult to be recognized, let alone being dispelled. Bringing a little more clarification on this topic will make it easier for you to challenge the truth of your beliefs.
As you all know a belief is an idea or a thought form that is accepted, considered to be true, or held as an opinion; something that we give credit to whether it has a reality or not. When we believe, we have the conviction that what we believe in is the truth and as mentioned in the talk on truth we always have the possibility to challenge the reality of our belief with this question: ‘Is it true?’
This is one approach; another way of looking at our beliefs is to become more aware of their source. Where do beliefs come from or, if we want to take responsibility for our thought forms, where did I pick up this belief?
Most of the time, if not always, we pick up beliefs from others, from family members, from friends, from teachers or from priest because we assume, and this is another belief in disguise, that they must be right since they are older or have a position in life.
Children are born innocent and guileless, they don’t know much about the world around them and consequently they take for granted what elders are saying or affirming.
• When a parent frequently tells his girl child that men are dangerous and that she should not approach them, the girl will believe and follow what the parent is saying and become distrustful towards men.
• When at school you are told by teachers that you are a hopeless case since your scores are so low, you form the belief that this may be true, ‘I’m a hopeless case’ and there is no hope for me to change.
During our childhood we tend to pick up beliefs from our elders but not everyone does, some rebel and take a different attitude. So what in reality makes me believe what I believe?
If I can recognize that what the other persons says is her point of view and obviously not mine then I won’t take that belief on board. But this discrimination is difficult to have for a child and there may be an investment for the child to adopt that belief; so the question that can arise is:
‘What pushed me to take that belief on board; why did I do that?’ another way of saying this can be: ‘What was my motivation for taking this belief on board?
And you may well be surprised by the answer. It may be because you wanted to please someone, to get approval or be accepted by someone or be included in a group, whatever that group was, family, school or a community.
Often as a child we feel insecure or fear someone and in order to bypass this feeling of insecurity or this fear, we adopt the belief from that person.
• My father had the belief that women should not get involved into politics. Taking on my father’s belief about women will keep me on his side, I will be approved and be accepted by him and probably the most important is that to be on the same side as my father will give me sense of security.
• Or the mother is constantly worried about money in her marriage, cursing existence for not giving her the man that she thought she deserved and who could bring a good income for her and the family. And you want mama’s attention, love and care so in order to get this love and attention, you agree with her that yes there is fate and bad luck.
Finding out your motivation for taking a belief on board will gently allow a melting of your belief because you will understand the reasons behind your belief.
Let’s go through a little exercise right now and you can write down the steps.
First find out a belief that you have
‘I believe that…’
Now ask yourself: ‘Where did I pick up this belief?’
The more clarity you can gain on the origin of your belief, the easier it will be for a transformation to take place. Once you have recognized where the belief came from, ask yourself: ‘What pushed me to take that belief on board?’
This practice has three steps:
→ What is my belief?
→ Where does it come from?
→ What was my motivation for taking this belief on board?
Write it down so that you can practice this at home. When you proceed step by step as proposed you are taking responsibility for your belief and this has its importance in the process of letting go of beliefs or pre-conceived ideas.
Up to now I’ve talked about beliefs that come from others, from outside of us. During the talk on Shame I mentioned about the internalizing process of a feeling. The same is happening for beliefs. Your belief can come from a repeated situation that you have experienced.
For instance as a child you were often expressing your feelings or desires, yet each time you did that you were blamed or made ashamed of. The belief that such a child can form could be that expressing my feeling is wrong and shameful and maybe even further to: ‘I am shameful to have feelings or desires’ or ‘I am wrong’
In this case your belief does not come from you seeking attention or love but from your experience of elders imposing their attitude on you, from elders not respecting you.
The way out of this type of belief will be to consciously allow the expression of your feelings and desires in a safe environment, an environment where you won’t be judge, condemned or made ashamed of.
From what has been said and your own experience in the little exercise of tracking back where your belief come from, you can understand that the problem is not really with or about the belief that you thought had a grip on you but more with or about your motivations or your experiences. It is not so much the belief that is important but more his source and you are the source of the belief. This means that for transformation to take place, the focus should not be so much on the belief itself but on you.
It is ‘you’ who wanted to be loved, approved, respected, etc. and in order to get what you wanted you took on a belief with, in its wake, a behaviour pattern.
This recognition, when it happens, will completely eradicate the belief from your mind because you are now dealing with the root cause of your belief. And this is how transformation can take place, when we bring our awareness to the root cause of any phenomena and give support to what calls to be taken care of.
A complete different way to deal with a belief in order to dispel it is to draw a representation of the belief and I would encourage you to try this different approach at home and see where it takes you.
Start by drawing an image, a representation of your belief, using paint or colour crayons, letting your subconscious guide your hand. Once you’re done with the drawing, write underneath what your belief is. Then look at the drawing of your belief and ask yourself these questions:
→ Was this easy or uneasy for me to draw this?
→ What feelings came to me as I was drawing?
→ What thoughts or memories came to me as I was drawing?
Once you’ve done all this, start talking to the representation of your belief; say anything that comes for you while looking at this representation of your belief. Yes it may sound a little bit weird but nonetheless try this and see what the results are for you.
What I’ve mentioned up to now only concerns conscious beliefs, beliefs that we can easily identify. Yet there is another type of beliefs, a more insidious type which I call ‘unconscious beliefs’. An unconscious belief is a belief that is active within us even though we know perfectly well that the reality is different. This type of belief is generally fear based and often has its roots in early childhood, when we cannot really discriminate the false from the truth.
The fear of darkness or the fear of ghosts is shared by many people, even though they have no reality. It can also be that a parent who wants her child to behave well will frighten the child with some horrific stories or spells such as ‘the wolf is going to get you if you don’t behave’ or a common one for girls: ‘impure girls will never marry, stay away from boys’.
Such stories or spells will go deep into the child subconscious and later on in life, even though the child will have forgotten about it, such stories or spells will continue to run his behaviour.
Can you relate to this? Has this happened to you?
It is not easy to recognize and dispel these beliefs because they are not obviously conscious. Yet by questioning our behaviour we will be able to gently bring this belief back to our conscious mind and then be able to deal with it like with any other belief. Remember that bringing awareness to our beliefs and expressing their contents enable transformation to settle in effortlessly.
In order to gain even more clarity on your beliefs, you can add a couple of steps to the previous procedure.
You start with the two first questions:
→ ‘What is my belief?’
→ ‘Where did I pick it up that belief?’
Once you have the belief that you want to explore and you have recognize where you picked it up you can look for the associated thought forms that come with the belief.
If I take the example of the belief: ‘I have no value’. Some of the associated thought forms can be: ‘no one will love me’, ‘I will be always alone’, ‘I will never find a good job’ or ‘I will never find a suitable partner’.
These are all ideas that we form in our mind in relation with the initial belief and they can also become themselves beliefs. In order to uproot these ideas we can use the following question: ‘What are the thought forms associated with this belief?’
Furthermore, when we believe something we tend to act in accordance with the belief, so if I believe that ‘I have no value’ my attitude in life or behaviour pattern may be to isolate myself and be helpless and depressed or on the opposite to try hard to prove that I have value, become strong and very energetic.
To make these behaviour patterns clearer to us we can use the following question: ‘How believing what I believe made me act in my day to day life?’ Before moving to the final one: ‘What was/were my motivations for taking this belief on?’
The practice now comes with these five steps:
→ What is my belief?
→ Where does it come from?
→ What are the thought forms associated with this belief?
→ How believing what I believe made me act in my day to day life?
→ What was my motivation for taking this belief on board?
The false always dissolve in the face of clarity; this is why bringing awareness to our beliefs and our thought forms will make it possible to painlessly dissolve beliefs.
With this talk and the exercises proposed you now have in your hands valuable keys to challenge and melt away your beliefs and thus regain the vitality and the freedom of your true-self.
Before answering some of the questions that you’ve already put forward, I’d like to thank you all for your patient and attentive listening.
The following text is the transcription of a video talk given on Zoom platform about Shame and ways to dispel shame.
Dear Friends on the path,
Welcome to our weekly Zoom Meeting;
Tonight I would like to talk about Shame and ways to dispel shame.
It is a well observed fact that a vast majority of people live in shame and suffer from its insidious aspects. Shame is for many people so much part of their lives that they even don’t imagine that they could, one day, be free of shame. This may be your though form and you may even think that you are doomed to be forever shameful. Remember that it is only a thought form and with this talk tonight you will have an opportunity to understand shame through its different aspects and realise that it is possible to free yourself from shame.
We have all experienced shame at some point in our life and often sooner than we can usually remember; but was it really shame or was it something else that was labelled by others as shame? In many occasion, as a child, we’ve experienced what I would call a ‘natural shame’. ‘Natural shame’ is actually a healthy inbuilt device shared by all human beings on this planet which helps us understand that as human we are limited beings.
Even though it is a well observed fact that our mind has a strong tendency to deny its limitations in an attempt to go beyond what is already known and Science and Technology are good examples of this constant pursuit of beyond, of more; the fact remain that we are limited; we are physically and mentally limited beings. Face a typhoon, an earthquake or the current corona virus epidemic and our limitedness will strike us right in the face.
Our most obvious limitation is our physical limitation. Our body structure only allows a certain range of movements and however creative our minds can be, we are equally mentally limited, even though we’d like to think that we are not, natural shame is here to remind us of this arrogant tendency.
A young child meeting a stranger will automatically experience natural shame as shyness and the recognition that ‘I don’t know’ is a sign of humility and truth; an expression of ‘natural shame’.
Modesty, shyness, embarrassment, humility and humbleness are all aspects of ‘natural shame’; an inner feeling that keeps us aligned with wisdom.
The other aspect of shame, widely referred to as ‘toxic shame’ by psychologists is not inbuilt; it is passed on to us, or rather dump on us from outside by our caretakers, our elders, our teachers as well as our so called friends and also by society in general through its restrictions and taboos. It is this ‘toxic shame’ and not ‘natural shame’ that is damageable for people since toxic shame creates a deep sense of unworthiness in a person.
For those of you who have participated in Connecting with our Inner Child, you may remember that in that workshop we do spend some time looking at the feeling of shame and the different ways that it manifests within us as well as the feelings and behaviour patterns that shame generates.
In this talk tonight I would like to go more in details on this topic of ‘toxic shame’ by first looking at how shame comes into being, how we can recognise it and what are the behaviour patterns that shame generates. Once it becomes clearer for us how shame operates, we will be able to finds ways to free ourselves from the bonds of shame.
Before I talk about Shame, I’d like to say a few words about Guilt, mainly because guilt and shame are often confused since the feeling of guild looks very similar to the shame feeling. A person will feel guilty about having done something which, in her estimation, is wrong and this guilt may or may not generate a feeling of shame.
The basic difference between Guilt and Shame is that guilt involves the awareness of having done something wrong or failed to do something whilst shame is the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonourable, improper or ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or by another.
When someone feels bad about the behaviour they exhibited, they are experiencing guilt.
When someone feels bad about who they are as a person they are experiencing shame.
Shame is about our personal self while guilt is about our actions, acts or failures to act, events for which one bears responsibility. That’s why it is possible to easily free oneself from guilt by using some specific guilt related communication tools.
This distinction being made, let’s now look at ‘toxic shame’
♦ What is toxic shame?
On the contrary to ‘natural shame’ which helps us to recognize our limits and stay in tune and aligned with our environment, ‘toxic shame’ is a pervasive feeling which create in us a deep sense of worthlessness and failure. Toxic shame creates a split in us in the sense that it tends to control everything that we do or say; this implies that a shame-based person will guard herself from exposing herself to another and will also behave similarly towards herself.
Shame, like all other feelings and emotions is a transitory feeling, something which comes, has its momentum and then leaves us. Yet when shame is internalized it is no longer present as a transitory feeling but it becomes our identity. We identify with being shame, in the same way that some people will identify with being a loser, a victim or someone who ‘knows it all’.
These identifications are the behaviour patterns with which we operate within society; they are our ‘masks for society’. And according to the situation which we are involved in, our family, our work or with our friends we can wear different masks.
Can you relate with this?
Does this sound familiar for you?
With the drawing shown, do you recognize one or more of the masks that you wear according to the situation at hand?
This internalizing process is not at all a conscious process, it happens independently of our will or knowledge; we usually internalize a feeling when the feeling it being repeated over time.
Recently someone told me about the fact that as a child and teen-ager she was many times promised something but when the time came for the promise to be fulfilled, there was always some adjournment. Of course this generated sadness and frustration for that child but it also generated, beneath these most evident feelings, a feeling of betrayal and of abandonment together with a strong sense of not being understood which, in turn, gave rise to a feeling of loneliness. Although these feelings were not conscious, they were nevertheless active within this person and since this situation kept being repeated over the years, these feelings of betrayal, of abandonment and of loneliness anchored themselves in her subconscious mind; they became internalized and the person became identified with loneliness and the fact that never getting what was being promised was her fate.
Abandonment needs to be understood in a broader sense and not only at a physical level. For instance; when as a child, you are never allowed to express your anger or your tears and are instead asked to repress these feelings, there will come a moment when you will reject these feelings as if they should not be there, as if you are ‘wrong’ to have these feelings; in doing so you have abandoned or rejected a part of you and that part becomes shameful. Shame is then internalized; you become shameful to have such emotions or feelings. And this is particularly true when a child starts to have sexual related pleasure feelings.
‘I am a mistake, I should not exist, I am unworthy or I’m dirty’ all are shame-based beliefs that come as a result of abandonment. Even though they may be strongly anchored in a person, they are only thought forms, either imparted on us by others or derived from a distorted sense of reality, a conclusion that our mind forms which soon become a belief; if I’m not getting what I had been promised it is because ‘I must be unworthy’ or ‘I’m a bad child’.
When identification sets in, the feeling disappears from our awareness and move in some subconscious part of our psyche. We no longer recognize it as a feeling. We simply think that we are like this, that this is who we are. It is only when we discover how much a feeling is crushing us, how much we are at the mercy of that feeling that we become aware that we have internalized a feeling and become identified with it.
To recognize our identifications is not obvious and it does take a good share of awareness for the simple reason that these identifications have become like a second skin or rather have become our invisible protective skin.
All internalized feeling become toxic feelings in the sense that they veil our true-self, that they veil our energy, our spontaneity and our capacity to discriminate. Yet shame and shock are by far the most toxic ones.
One thing to remember is that identification is the deadliest dis-ease, much more deadly than the corona virus in the sense that it creates in us a false sense of self and hides our real self or true self. As mentioned in the talk about Truth last month, this false-self is the unfortunate outcome of our protection mechanisms and since internalizing is also a survival mechanism we are all identification prone. We cannot escape this internalizing process which becomes the source of many types of addictions as well as codependency within relationships. We cannot escape it but the good news is that we can free ourselves from it.
♦ Recognising shame on the body level, how do I know that I am ashamed?
When we are dealing with shame or any other feeling for that matter, it is important to recognize how the feeling manifests in our body. In the audio series on ‘Embracing our Inner Child’ (day-12 audio 7) I’ve talked at length on how shame manifests in our body, so I’d like you to listen again to that talk and also, as a practice to free yourself from the shame that binds you, use the guided meditation included in that series.
♦ The five main operative mode of shame
→ Imparted shame (humiliation from others)
In the majority of cases shame derives from being humiliated by others and for a child home and school are certainly the two main grounds where humiliation can take place. I’m confident that many of you have been more than once humiliated by a teacher for making a mistake in a school exercise, or blamed and shamed by parents for not having good results at school?
Humiliation is widely used as a means to gain power over others. It can take the form of humiliating words or despising looks and the tone used can also carry a humiliating intention.
I’m quite certain that each of you knows a wide range of humiliating words since as a child we learn these humiliating words in order to gain some sort of power, to appear confident and strong in front of our school friends. Humiliating words are also often used as a way to mock or ridicule others. Schools playgrounds are a favourable milieu for humiliation to take place.
Gratifying or praising words can also become a source of humiliation and subsequently bring shame.
→ Parental shame as an educational tool
Parents are also shame carrier, sometimes unconsciously, sometimes consciously in the sense that they use shame as a means to educate their child. In order to push a child to have good results at school, they might say: ‘I am ashamed of your bad school results!’ or ‘You are making me ashamed with these poor results!’ Comparing a child with another child is also a way of shaming.
This is sheer→anipulation and it will reinforce shame in the child by adding a second layer.
→ Integrated shame
When shame is integrated as something personal it becomes a belief. A person who has been humiliated countless times by being told that she is stupid, ugly or too fat or too thin will start to integrate this as being her own norm. It becomes her believed standards and her attitude in life will circle around the belief that she is stupid or ugly. She must be since so many people have said this to her as she was making mistakes or not understanding something. Body shaming is affecting many people, especially women.
Shame has slipped under the belief, shame has become a belief. Shame implies that we don’t fit with the system; that we are not acting according to what is supposed to be the norm. When we feel bad about who and how we are as a person we are experiencing shame.
→ Emotional abuse
Parents who are shut down emotionally, who are not manifesting their feelings or emotion are shame-based people and as such they will not have the healthy mirroring effect that a child is entitled to have; consequently the child will not be able to recognize his own feelings and moreover these shame-based parents will generally prevent their child to express his feeling with the thought form that expressing any emotion or feeling is wrong and shameful.
For the child this is a form of psychological abandonment and the child will most certainly come to this conclusion: ‘I must be wrong to have these feelings’ or ‘I am ashamed to have these feelings’ and because he is being condemned for expressing his feelings he will think that: ‘I’m unworthy of their love since I have these feelings’.
It can also happen that when a parent disappears physically, either because of work, divorce or death the child is then deprived of a parental reference and in such cases he either idealize the lost parent or falls prey of shame by blaming himself for the disappearance of the parent. A child may have this kind of thought form: ‘It must be my fault if father has left mother, if they have divorced’. The child will feel guilt and remorse for not having behaved well and it is this remorse that will turn into shame.
→ Sexuality and gender related shame
Being a girl and not a boy is, in many countries, a source of shame for the parents and for the child who has to bear this parental shame. Being an unwanted child is also an important source of shame for a child. We are sexual beings defined by a gender and every child, girl of boy, will be curious about their sexual organs, especially when it becomes a taboo to show them or talk about them. A young child is not afraid, nor ashamed of being naked, but as he grows older and mainly because of parental shame, hiding nudity becomes the norm, not only the norm but showing nudity becomes sinful and shameful. Parents who are not informing their child about what sexuality is and how it functions leave their child in a muddle, in confusion, especially when puberty start flowering. Girls are often at a loss with their first menstruation and their breast growing and so are boys with their penis. These are all shame providers if not handled rightly and subject to much unease, dissatisfaction and mostly shame when it will come to sexual intercourse.
When sexual abuse happens, especially at a young age, shame is being anchored at the deepest core of the person and thus it becomes difficult for the person to have a healthy and fulfilling sexual life afterwards. All abused children, whether boys or girls will remain with a sense of being dirty and having been forever soiled, they have become impure and because of the shame that the abuse created it will not be easy for these persons to talk and express the feelings related to their abuse.
♦ Behaviour patterns that shame generates
Earlier on I mentioned about behaviour patterns or the masks that we use in society according to the different internalized feelings and since shame is a direct consequence of being criticized, disapproved, condemned or mocked, in other words humiliated, it creates typical shame related behaviour patterns such as arrogance or obedience with of course their opposite: rebelliousness and false humility. Shame also gives rise to quite a number of other feelings or behaviours such as those shown on the drawings.
♦ Strategies used to avoid shame
Shame is certainly the most difficult to live feeling and because of this, we have developed strategies to avoid experiencing the feeling of shame in us. It is still there of course but in hiding, as if it does not exists.
Justifying our actions or behaviours is often shame related; just as not wanting to admit that we made a mistake or having this or that feeling. Pretending to be other than we are is a common way to hide our shame.
According to some parents boys should not be afraid and certainly should not cry and in order to avoid the shame feeling of being afraid or crying, boys and later on men, tend to deny their fear and shut down any tears; they become warriors, fighters, mountain climbers, trying to prove in any way they can that fear has no grip on them.
These common strategies are of course mostly unconscious and we tend to genuinely think that shame is not part of our psychological make up whilst it is.
♦ Ways to free ourselves from the bonds of shame
The ways to move out of the bondage of shame are quite simple, yet they require a great deal of courage, determination and patience.
Taking responsibility for our errors, for our mistakes is certainly one of the ways to prevent toxic shame from enchaining us. And when shame is already binding us, understanding its components and its physical and psychological ways of binding us will come as a helping tool.
Yet the main shame liberating device is to talk about it and express all the feelings related to the shaming events or situations.
In this talk today I’ve tried to bring as much clarity as possible on what shame is and how it binds us; I’m also quite certain that much more can be said about shame and how it interrelate with all our other feelings yet the main point that I would like to emphasise is that we need to recognize and accept our shame if we want to free ourselves from it. There is no other way. Without recognition, acceptance and expression shame will continue to bind us.
I know from experience and from working with people that this is a difficult and lengthy process, yet such a rewarding one. Not only will you free yourself from the bonds of shame but you will also regain your innate joy and walk your life in love and contentment.
Let's end this talk for now so that I can answer some of the questions that you’ve already put forward.
Thank you for your patient and attentive listening and I'll be happy to meet you again next week.
Hangzhou_21 April 2020
Dear Friends on the path,
Welcome to our weekly meeting,
Tonight I would like to talk about the nature of relationship and its implication within interpersonal relationships.
We usually think that relationships are merely about me and another and sometimes we even narrow it down to couple relationships. This is probably so because couple relationships are what people struggle most with on a day-to-day basis. I hear from many of you how worried, unhappy and distressed you are in your interpersonal relationships and how much you would like some change to happen.
There are multiple reasons for dissatisfaction to occur in relationships and it seems to me that these reasons are often overlooked because the nature of the relationship is not clearly understood.
With this in mind, I would like to first bring a little more clarity on the nature of relationship and then have a closer look at what makes interpersonal relationships challenging.
You may not have noticed it but we are constantly involved in relating with everything that is around us as well as within us. We connect with the outside world through our five senses and with our inner world through sensations, thoughts and feelings. Each time we establish a connection with something outer or inner, the very moment that we set our eyes or any other sense on something a relationship is created.
Notice the relationship that you have with your body, with your feelings or your thoughts or with something outside of you like a car passing in the street, a situation in your vicinity or with an actor in a movie.
Have you noticed that a relationship takes place?
If you have, you may also have noticed that most of the time it is a like/dislike relationship?
And if you have not, bring a little more awareness in your relating next time.
The relationship may be momentary like seeing a bird passing in the sky or reflecting on a problem or it may last a lifetime, like the fact that from birth to death we related to the world outside of us as well as with our body, mind and feelings. In both instances a relationship takes place and with it comes thoughts, feelings and sensations.
We may like what we see or sense or we may dislike it, this is not so relevant right now; what is essential at this point is to notice that a relationship is taking place; this is the significant point to understand because interconnectedness or relationship is the essence of Life.
Everything is interconnected on this planet, not only on the outside with what is directly visible to us but also in the ‘invisibleness’ of our body and psyche.
We can be alive only because trees and plants are transforming carbon dioxide into oxygen. Trees and plants can only live because humans and animals are producing carbon dioxide and what is referred to as the ‘Food Chain’ is nothing but a continuum of interconnectedness.
As humans, we can move, feel and think only because of the interconnectedness of millions of chemical molecule reactions happening within us; we are a living illustration of relationships. Since interconnectedness is the very nature of Life, from birth to death relationships are constantly manifesting within us as well as with our outside environment. Life is a constant relating and relationships are everywhere we set our senses on but we usually don’t notice them and take it for granted that things are the way they are.
What is the essence of relationship?
The essence of relationship is this mysterious and tremendous force that makes Life possible, not just life as we know it on this planet but Life as the immensity of the universe. Some call it ‘Consciousness’, some call it ‘Divine Presence’ and some call it ‘Love’.
For us human, ‘Love’ is probably more accessible because we can more directly relate with it. In some form or other we all have experienced love at some point in our life and I’m confident that every one of you have an object, a plant, an animal, a person or a part of you or a quality that you like, which you are fond of, that you love.
Love is not only the base, the foundation, but also the very substance which binds and unites everything in Life. Love is the invisible fabric of interconnectedness; love weaves relationships because Love is in everything; Love is what we are made of and what makes us function in life.
At the core we can only relate from Love since Love is what we are, yet on the surface things become a little different mainly due to the nature of our incarnation. And this incarnation will have a serious impact on our future relating and relationships.
Relationship at our human incarnation level
As human beings, we are born dependent; it is a fact that cannot be overlooked; just as it cannot be overlooked that we are born with the capacity or better say, the ability to become self-sufficient or independent. This reality is not specific to us humans; we do share this with the animal world, at least the warm blood species.
It is obvious that a baby cannot survive without his mother feeding him and caring for his well-being. Babies and toddlers depend a lot on physical contact in order to feel secure and as they grow up, it is support and recognition in their actions which help them acquire self-confidence. For the most part of his development, a child lives in the dependence of his parents; he needs his caretakers’ support to have his physical and psychological needs met in order to develop into a full grow mature and independent adult.
Parents or caretakers are the need providers at the beginning of our lives. They need to provide us with everything, ranging from food to shelter, from recognition to support, from warmth to affection in order for us to mature and become self-sufficient.
Dependency is normal and natural for a child; it is his source of security, even though children rapidly gain access to their autonomy and swiftly become independent in their movements, they need to return to and reconnect with their source of security.
By nature this dependence tends to fade away as we grow older and we naturally move towards independence, to the point that we leave home and start having our own life, yet in most cases interdependency still prevails and will prevail for a long time since this independence is often only happening on a physical realm. Most people will continue to be psychologically dependent and also for some, materially dependent. This is mainly due to the fact that their basic psychological needs have not been met.
These unmet needs are the reason why most relationships and especially interpersonal relationships become a source of struggle for many.
Earlier on I mentioned that the fact that we may like or dislike what we see or sense is not so relevant; that it is secondary. This is true when we consider the essence of relationship, but when relationships are being lived, likes and dislikes become primary. It is the changeable reality of their psyche which becomes the primary concern for people when relating with something or someone or themselves.
The way we relate with our body, with our feelings and with our thoughts is generally driven by our likes and dislikes, it is also a good indicator of how we relate with the outside world.
Check for yourself how you relate with what is closest to you; your body, your mind and your feelings. How many judgements, how many likes and dislikes do you have concerning your body, your thoughts and your feelings?
Quite a fair amount I’m sure!
And this is only about you; from you to you!
The good news is that actually all these judgements, these likes and dislikes have been imparted to you by others, by your parents, by the society. They are not yours, so with a little awareness it will be fairly easy to let them go.
As you are well aware of, relationships are not limited to our physical and psychological environment, they are also interpersonal and this is where they tend to bring challenges and become the main source of our frustration and unhappiness.
In this talk I will leave aside the child-parent relationship since most of you have participated in our different Inner Child related workshops and are well aware of the dynamic at work within this type of relationship.
Other than with ourselves, as adults we relate within three main different contexts; family, work and social context and within each of these contexts we tend to encounter difficulties in relating.
As part of this talk on relationship a little exercise will help you bring more awareness on the difficulties that you meet within each context.
Write down the different contexts listed below, leaving a large gap between them.
→ The relationship with my parents, with my siblings and with other family members
→ The relationship with my child or children
→ The relationship with my work colleagues, my employer or employees
→ The relationship with my friends
→ The relationship with myself
Now take a moment to ask yourself this question: ‘What difficulties do I meet in the relationship with my husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend?’ whatever is relevant for you and if you are not in a couple or intimate relationships use your closest family member.
One difficulty could be: ‘With my wife/husband I have a difficulty to be understood’.
Check whether there are other difficulties that you meet within this relationship and list them. Refrain from being selective; write every difficulty that you encounter from the strongest to the smallest.
And when you are done with one relationship, move to the next one.
→ ‘What difficulties do I meet in the relationship with my child?’
→ ‘What difficulties do I meet in the relationship with my mother-in-law?’
→ ‘What difficulties do I meet in the relationship with my brother, with my sister?’
→ ‘What difficulties do I meet in the relationship my work colleagues, with my employeror with my employees?’
Continue making a list of your difficulties with every context that is relevant for you.
What you are likely to discover as you go through these different relationship contexts is that the same difficulties or very similar ones are occurring, regardless of the relationship context. What you will find will most certainly circle around: Fear, Shame, Jealousy and Frustration.
Why is that?
It is like this because the eagerness to relate which prevails in the beginning of any relationship soon fades away to the profit of those unmet needs that are screaming to be met. The interconnectedness is still there because of the essence of relationship, yet it has sunk so deep into the unconscious part of the psyche that it becomes barely perceptible and what is now appearing on the foreground for both persons in a relationship, are the psychological needs that have not been met. Mainly the need to be understood, accepted, respected and included.
Yet very often, the need will not show itself directly but indirectly through the attitudes or feelings that I mentioned earlier; mainly Fear, Shame, Jealousy and Frustration.
In the context of working with people, I’ve noticed that this is the experience of many and it was certainly mine too at some point in my life.
Not long ago in a session a person told me that she was afraid that her marriage was going to collapse because her partner decided to live separately since he could not understand her needs. For someone else it was the blaming and constant humiliation from her partner that made life unbearable. And for another one it was the fear of authority and the insecurity that this fear created that was hindering the relationship.
I’m sure that you can relate with these examples, they may even apply to you is some form or other. Do they sound somewhat familiar and resonate with how you relate with the different persons in your immediate environment?
Although these persons were suffering from the relationship as it was happening, they could not figure out what was really going on and how they could find an adequate or satisfactory solution to their issue mainly because their focus was on the other. And you might have noticed this as you connected with your difficulty in one specific relationship.
You may have found that ‘with my wife/husband I have a difficulty to be understood’.
This is what it looks like because we tend to put our focus and the responsibility on the other. It comes from an old habit of being dependent when we were children; besides it also helps us to skip being responsible for our own needs.
Putting the focus on the other has its advantages, it helps us project on the other our likes and dislikes, it keeps us clean of any imperfection and we can claim our right for the other to be different, be to our liking.
« If only my partner, my child, my mother-in-law, my boss was different! If only they could change! My life would be so much easier and fulfilling. »
Isn’t this a recurring whine that you’ve heard or uttered yourself?
Yes, if they were different your life would be for sure more enjoyable; but it is not the case, it is not the reality. Wanting the other to be different from what he presently is, is living in dreamland, it is hoping for some miracle, it is also a waste of energy and time, although some people do enjoy whishing this!
This tendency to put the focus on the other can only lead to frustration, blame, resentment and anger together with a deep feeling of helplessness, despair and loneliness.
A more fruitful way, yet not necessarily an easier way, is to turn the focus towards oneself in order to recognise our own difficulty, our own needs and the projections that we throw on others.
Rather than saying: ‘With my wife/husband I have a difficulty to be understood’; check whether it would be more accurate to say: ‘With my wife/husband I have a difficulty to make myself understood’.
In this way, I put focus on ‘me’ and something can be done. I can do something about making myself clearer about my need to be understood. I become responsible for my need and this will make a huge difference in the relationship because there will not be any blaming, any humiliation, any hurt anymore.
In the previous talks, I gave you some exercises geared in this direction. I expect that you’ve been practising them and are now able to recognise what your needs are and further, dare to express them in a responsible way.
The primary problem with unmet psychological needs is their distorted ways of being acted out. And this is what needs to be taken care first because these distorted ways are a sickness within relationships, any relationship, whether couple, social or work relationships. The acting out of unmet psychological needs is much more harmful than any physical sicknesses because they create hurt and can literally destroy a relationship.
The other significant problem with unmet needs, likes and dislike is that they create a dependency. Although we are adults, we still behave as children wanting to have our needs met by our partner on whom we often project our father, our mother or other significant person in our life. We become dependent on our partner to fulfil our unmet needs. Most couples live in a state of codependence, each depending on the other to fulfil his own needs.
One thing to be remembered is that unmet needs have most of the time become unconscious and have created a related behaviour pattern, an acting out. Most behaviour patterns are unmet needs acted out. This is what is being pointed out and emphasised in various ways through the different Inner Child workshops in order to bring awareness to these shadow parts of our psyche.
We act out our unmet needs by unconsciously taking on a behaviour pattern, a role that we play in order to have our need met.
In order to have his need met a person will behave as a caretaker, a pleaser or a saviour or play the role of a victim, of a tyrant, of a manipulator or of an escapist. Roles or behaviour patterns are numerous and interchangeable; the important is to recognise the need behind the role. That’s why conscious role-playing in growth work has its importance in recovering a healthy personality.
Within interpersonal relationship, the behaviours are often of opposite match, they fit together; for instance, one of the partners is in a pleaser or caretaker role whilst the other is in a victim or beggar role; a complementarity is in place and it works well for both and the relationship seems to be harmonious. But in reality it is only harmonious on the surface since the basic need of each partner is not really recognised and thus fulfilled.
It can also happen that the behaviours are in total opposition, for instance when we have a responsible or reliable person together with a dreamer or an escapist, then both partners are in trouble and fight and blame each other continuously; the relationship does not work.
Within any interpersonal relationship both persons are acting out their needs, even though they may have the same need such as being considered, recognised, accepted, respected or understood. This makes it impossible for any of them to truly understand the other. Although the unmet need maybe the same, the role played can differ because of the psychological environment that the person grew in.
Whether at work, in your family circle or with friends, I’m sure that you can recognise how these situations are familiar for you and from what I often hear, this creates unhappiness and frustration. Many of you simply bear it, not knowing what else to do.
Coming to term with our own needs
The good news is that there is always a solution and I’m sure that you know what the solution is. But the question is: ‘Am I ready to make the needed steps or do I prefer to remain in some uncomfortable but known security or comfort zone?’
If you truly want your interpersonal relationship to function, to be a harmonious and loving one, you’ll have to come to terms with your own needs.
And by this I mean that the first point is to recognise what your main need is behind your acting out and for this you already have some elements on how to do this with our previous talks and the exercises proposed at the end.
The second point to understand is that the other person has no obligation to fulfil your need; that it is not his role. Just as it is not your role to fulfil the needs of the other, except when you are in a parent/child dynamic.
You will have to come to term with your own need so that you can first establish a true maturity in you and relate from this maturity and not from unmet needs. Your dependency will prevail until a true maturity is established; until you stop projecting your lopsided inner world on the other.
Taking good care of your need first will certainly change the dynamic at work in your interpersonal relationships and it might also have a positive effect on the other person.
Before we end this talk I’d like to mention that if you want to clarify your side of any of the relationships that you are involved in, you can use the exercises that were proposed in this talk and in the previous ones as well as using this format of question:
‘What do I want in this XXX (be specific) relationship?’
To bring clarity and understanding within couple relationship there is also the possibility to practise specific couple related communication exercises with your life partner if he or she is willing and interested. It does need a strong commitment of both so that it does not turn into a boxing match.
The recommendation and prerequisite to practise these couple related communication exercises are that both of you are involved in growth work and have participated in personal development-related workshops. If that is the case, connect with me for the guidelines.
My aim in this talk was to give you a broader understanding of what relationships are and can be so that your way of relating can change and your life can become more joyful, more harmonious in future. Remember that ‘any relationships can become a nurturing source providing your own needs, likes and dislikes are out of the way’.
Thank you for your patient and attentive listening during this momentary relationship. We will now make a short pause before answering questions that you’ve already put forward.
The following text is the transcription of a video talk given on Zoom platform about the Need to be Understood.
Dear Friends on the path,
Welcome to our weekly meeting.
Following our last week Q & A, tonight I would like to talk about one specific need that everyone longs for: the need to be understood.
I’ll try to be as clear as possible so that you can understand what I am trying to convey. And as I say this I immediately feel a wish to be understood in my passion for sharing with you what I call: ‘this work’.
Through these talks, and especially this one, it is not so much guidance or knowledge that I am trying to convey to you, even though there will be some, but more the passion for this which is alive in all of us; the passion for being curious about who we are and what we are.
What I’d like you to understand is that I am curious and passionate about what makes us alive and how we can de-construct what is false in us so that the Life that we are can blossom to its full potential.
The need to be understood is always about something in us that we carry and which calls to be revealed, brought to the open so that it can bare fruits and be shared.
In the exercise that I will propose at the end of today’s talk, you will have an opportunity to understand and know better what it is about you that longs to be understood and in some ways, ‘you’ is the main focus of this talk. Remember, in this work, it is always about us and never about someone else or something outside of us.
But first I’d like to make a distinction between Needs and Desires (wants) so that we are clear on this point.
What are Needs?
A need is a basic function in each human being; it is something that is necessary for a person to live a healthy life. As most of you certainly know, we come to this world with three basic needs: being fed, protected and cared for. These are our existential needs, without them we would not be able to survive.
As we grow and develop, our needs also grow and develop in the sense that their range widen and become more focused or more specific. Hence we find ourselves with two categories of needs:
Physical needs such as the need for food, for exercise, for rest and play. These are often referred to as: Objective needs.
Psychological needs such as being accepted, being supported, being respected and being understood to name a few. These are known as Subjective needs.
These psychological or subjective needs are just as important for our growth as the physical ones, yet with the difference that when they are being met and nurtured during our childhood and teenage time they tend to subside and are no more in the foreground of our preoccupations. They subside because confidence, self-esteem and maturity have naturally grown roots.
Yet most of the time these psychological needs have not been met and the person remain immature, childish even though she may be 40, 50 years old or more. And this becomes the source of unhealthy relationships, where each partner is endlessly and insistently asking the other to fulfil his needs thus creating a co-dependant relationship.
Since it is a very common situation I will talk about co-dependant relationships in our next meeting in April.
Physical needs are about ‘Having’, we need to have air, food, water, warmth, rest, play, protection (clothing, shelter), reproduction and sex in order to be alive and go about in life. They are a must for our incarnation.
Whilst Psychological needs are about ‘Being’, they are concerned with the development and the wellbeing of our hearts or essence which in substance is Love & Acceptance. Thus being loved is like a large umbrella that embraces: being accepted, being seen or recognized, being understood, being supported, being accompanied, included and valued to name a few.
With inner work and right understanding we might reduce or even completely let go of our psychological needs as we become rooted in our Essence or Being but it will not be possible to discard or let go of our physical needs since they are vital for our survival.
Let’s now have a look at Desire
When psychological needs have not been met, not only do they create a deep emptiness inside of us which makes us behave like beggars but they also give rise to cravings and desires.
Desires are wanting oriented and are entirely psychological, even though they may express themselves physically, since they are a craving for something outside of us (the desire for) or a wish to be other than we are (the desire to).
Desire for and desire to
→ The desire for power, for fame, for knowledge, for sex or for approval are certainly the main ones. Even the desire for enlightenment or for God is mainly a psychological craving.
→ The desire to possess, to please, to gain something, to better others, to hurt, to have a child and to control (self or others).
What is the seed of desire?
In ancient times most people were born out of a need, the need to perpetuate the lineage or the race or simply in order to support parents and elders in their old age and this is still the case in many areas around the world, especially rural areas. It is part of a need for security.
Yet as the economic situation improved something changed and nowadays most people are not born out of a need but out of desire; the desire to have a child, the desire to have sex, the desire to procreate, to be a mother or a father or even the desire to be respected or complimented by others for baring a child.
Note that whether we are born out of a need or out of desire, something does not feel right in the sense that Love is absent. Rare are those who are truly born out of Love.
I’m mentioning this because it does make a difference whether we are born out of a need, a desire or out of Love. It gives an imprint to the child to be and this imprint will influence his life by creating related behaviour patterns linked with the psychological environment of his parents.
What was originally a need for survival has now becomes a desire for power or a mean to attain or achieve something.
Where is the root of desire to be found?
The root of desire is to be found in the inborn longing for each human to be whole. There is in each human being a longing for Union; union with our ‘Essence’. Essence or ‘untampered consciousness’ is what we are born out of and this longing for union is like a driving force that subconsciously pulls us from unconsciousness to consciousness; an energy which steer people to seek for means to attain some form of bliss or ecstasy trough sex, spirituality or religion and often nowadays through drugs. Something that will take them beyond their usual conditioned lives. This longing for union is the very movement of Life, it is Life itself.
The problem with desires is that they create a psychological tension in the individual and consequently a suffering; just like unfulfilled psychological needs do and it is the extinction of desires and psychological needs that Buddha was talking about; not about the extinction of our basic needs. Being desire-less is possible whilst being need-less is not since from birth to death we will always have physical needs. This is also the aim of any spiritual or growth work.
The Need to be understood
Now that a clarification between needs and desires has been established, let’s look more specifically at the need to be understood.
Out of all the psychological needs that we carry, some are basic, and some are superficial. The need to be understood is probably the most important one as it is deeply rooted in our nature of being a human being.
What does being understood implies?
Being understood does not simply mean that the words that are spoken are understood. Yes it is important but it is only the apparent layer, the essential part is that the person feels recognized in her individuality, in her specificity for who she is. And this is of importance because this recognition allows life to flow.
We are life, life flows through us and when life is being recognized, it blossoms. See a child who is being understood in his needs, whose needs are met; he immediately feels contented and a smile arises from his heart.
Being understood is essential for our growth, as essential as our physical needs; that’s why I would say that being understood is not only essential but vital too.
If you remember, in a previous talk I mentioned about my stubbornness and how this recognition from someone helped me to understand something about me that I could not see. What I did not mentioned when I last talked about this was that after having been caught red handed in this stubbornness, I started to ask myself: ‘What is this stubbornness really about? What am I trying to manifest through this stubbornness?’ And by and by I began to realize that actually all that I wanted was to be understood and certainly not judged. So I went on with this question: ‘What is it about me that had not been understood?’ I stayed with the question and very soon some answer came: ‘I need connection, I need contact, I need to feel alive, let me be alive!’
Of course this answer is linked with my personal story and the fact that my parents were afraid to let me move around and ‘explore the world’ which made them keep a tight and strict control over my comings and goings.
The connection that I needed was more on the subtle level of a mutual understanding, the recognition that as a child it was crucial for me to allow my vitality to flow otherwise I would die. And in some ways I did die of sadness for not being allowed to let my overflowing vitality express itself as it wanted to. Unconsciously I put a blanket over it and became the good boy that my parent wanted, especially my father.
It was my experience, yet I am quite certain that many of you share a similar predicament, the difference would only be an environmental difference.
This understanding about what I really needed came as a result of someone telling me about my stubbornness; it was the triggering point for me to realize something about me that no one had understood so far, not even me!
The need to be understood has two sides and each sides is itself a two sided coin.
Being understood by someone, especially by our parents is vital as a child and a necessity as an adult. But most important is to understand oneself and this is of primary importance because if we don’t understand ourselves, if we don’t understand the deep longing is us, how are we going to express this need or longing and be understood about it?
This is the double sided coin that I was talking about. If we don’t express our need, our longing, how can we be understood by another? It is not possible. No one will understand us if we don’t first clearly express our need.
As children, parents are the ones who are supposed to recognize and fulfil our needs. But often the problem is that they haven’t themselves recognized their own need, so how can they recognize their child’s need. It is not possible! And since a child is not able to conceptualize and articulate his needs or longing, it becomes difficult for him to clearly express his needs other than by acting them out.
As adults we have to understand that it becomes our responsibility to be understood; it is not entirely in the hands of the other to understand us. It is our responsibility to clearly articulate our need or what we want and to get it across to the other in a way that it can be received and understood.
But for that we do need to know what we dearly want. And to find it is often a long and winding road because what we dearly want has been buried long ago in our unconscious.
What I’ve just said may clarify for you why I often mention and insist on the transformative trilogy: Recognition, acceptance and expression as a key for transformation, as well as the emphasis on asking people who come for individual session: 'what do you want?'
Knowing what we want or what we need is a key step because when we can express our needs and are understood by another in our specificity, we feel cheerful, contented and relaxed and when we are not understood we become disappointed, depressed, frustrated or even angry and revengeful.
See the importance of these two sides: being understood and making yourself understood.
I am certain that much more can be said about Needs or Desires and Understanding, but for now I would like to propose that we put into practice what has been talked about.
The practice is simple and you can take it home with you, all you need is a notebook and a pen.
Here is the question that you will need to ask yourself:
What is it about me that has not been understood?
With these related focus:
• By my parents as a child
• By my parents as an adult
• By my spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend
• By my boss (if you have one)
• By my co-workers (if you are in that situation)
• By my friends
And last but not least:
• By me about me
List these different instructions with a large gap between them so that you will be able to write what comes out of your questioning.
The procedure is simple:
You ask the question out loud and you let it resonate in you for a while: 'What is it about me that has not been understood by my parents when I was a child?'
You may want to repeat the question a few times in order to ‘wake up’ your subconscious mind. Don’t be in a hurry to try to find an answer, let the answer come to you. Your subconscious mind knows it already, it just needs a little time to bubble up to the surface and be noticed by your conscious mind.
Remember: the question, then a pause or silent waiting and in that silent waiting something will emerge, it will be the answer to your question.
It can come in the form of a memory, a sensation or a feeling. All are Ok. Then briefly write it down starting with these words: What has not been understood by my parents (in this example) is… and then your discovery
The idea is to be spontaneous in your answers, and not let your mind interfere too much by analysing, searching or trying hard. Be curious and playful. What you will most certainly find is usually positive, yet it can be something that will bring tears or a strong emotion, be prepared knowing that it is totally Ok to have this need or longing, even if you feel shameful about it and ashamed to communicate it. In any case, for the moment you are only writing it down, so allow being shameful if it comes!
Now the second part of the practice:
Ask yourself this question: ‘Why has this (what you have recognized in the first part about you) not been understood by…?’
Was I clear about my need?
Did I express my need clearly?
As mentioned earlier, sometimes we are not understood because we are simply not clear about our need or don’t express it properly and think or have the belief that the other will or must understand us; taking for granted something which is not necessarily obvious.
This little exercise can also be done with a partner.
And for those of you who are not familiar with the Awareness Intensive retreats, it is this format of communication: recognizing, accepting and expressing to a non-judging listening partner that is being proposed and practiced during those retreats.
Sharing with a partner what has not been understood about you is more effective in the sense that when you express your issue and consequently your reality, this reality is being heard by someone and this is exactly what you are looking for; that your reality is understood by someone; that you, as a totality, is understood.
Being understood by someone is crucial for our development and wellbeing, especially as children and teenagers. It brings peace, relaxation and contentment as well as a sense of being taken into account, a sense of existing. It brings self-confidence and maturity.
This is good and needed, yet understanding oneself is even more important and this is really the point that I’d like to make with this talk. Because when we understand what is going on within us we start to discover what it is that we really want. We start to discover what has been missed about us and what we so much long for.
One thing is certain; you will never be understood if you refrain from expressing yourself and more specifically your needs.
As our meeting is coming to an end I’d like encourage you to: “Dare! and to make it a point to express yourself as fully as possible, to your heart content, so that understanding can arise and fill up your hearts with contentment.”
Thank you for your patient and attentive listening. We will make a pause now before answering the questions that you’ve already put forward.
On Line Meeting_24-March-2020
The following text is the transcription of a video talk given on Zoom platform about the importance of Truth and Being True in growth work and more specifically in the work with the inner child.
Dear Friends on the path,
Welcome to this Zoom salon,
As mentioned in our last week salon, tonight I want to bring to your attention the importance of Truth and Being True in growth work and more specifically in the work with the inner child.
1. In the context of the work with Inner Child what is Truth about?
Is Truth something that someone should tell us about? Is it something that we need to believe in? Is it something special that we need to say or a certain behaviour that we need to take on?
No, it is none of that. Truth has nothing to do with ideas, beliefs or with something external to us; Truth arises in a person when there is a direct connection between what is felt inside and what is being expressed. In other words when you are what you express.
You can see this happening in young children, their behaviour and/or their speech expresses exactly the tempo (the nature) of their inner world. In their spontaneity, they are a direct manifestation of Truth.
Unfortunately this is seldom the case for the majority of adults. For various reasons, adults tend to be disconnected from their inner world; there is hardly any relevance between their speech or behaviour and their inner world which means that they are often in denial or in dishonesty with themselves. This dysfunction is not intentional of course; it is generated at an unconscious level and the consequence is the development of a false sense of self.
This false sense of self cause adults to live far away from their inner world, far away from their true self and this tends to generate a profound unhappiness which is often coupled with bitterness.
The aim of the work with the Inner Child concept is to dispel this false-self so that the innate self or the True-self can emerge. Said differently, working with the Inner Child helps moving from the false to the truth, from denial to acknowledgement and further on, to acceptance.
And this is probably one of the most difficult tasks that one can endeavour because the false is so much present, so much imbedded within us that it becomes difficult to be recognized for what it is; a falsity, a multi-layer falsity.
The difficulty becomes even more challenging when we try to pierce through its layers because regaining access to our ‘True-self’ can only be done by using our false-self as a tool to move through the layers of the false-self; simply because the false-self is the only tangible entity that we have at our disposal.
With this in mind, regaining access to our ‘True-self’ seems to be an impossible task or an unsolvable riddle and you may wonder: ‘How will it be possible to use the false-self to dispel the false-self?’
Trust me, it is possible.
It is possible because as living beings we are gifted with Intelligence and Discrimination.
Intelligence is the ability to acquire, understand and use knowledge and discrimination is the ability to make distinctions, to differentiate. Without them we would not be able to survive; they are both our driving force and protection mechanism and we all use these two qualities in order to go about in our daily life.
The intelligence that I am talking about has nothing to do with the level of our IQ and I would like to add that intelligence and discrimination are not specific to us human beings, they are intrinsic to life itself. They are the very foundation of life, the core elements of Life. Life only exists because of these two principles: Intelligence and Discrimination. If it was not so we would not be here to talk about it, we would not exist. Look at Life around you and you will be able to recognize its intelligence and capacity to discriminate in order to grow and flourish.
In our endeavour to pierce the layers of the false-self and move towards our ‘true-self’ through the layers of the false-self these two principles: Intelligence and Discrimination are going to be our reliable and supportive allies.
This talk and the practice of the exercise that will follow will show you how these two principles can be used in order to dispel confusion and gain clarity.
But first things first
2. What is the ‘False-self’ and how does a false-self set itself in place?
The false-self is a created entity that sets itself in place unconsciously, that is to say independently of our will, in an attempt to reduce the anxiety associated with instinctive desires and painful feelings resulting from traumatic events, inappropriate education and unfounded beliefs.
The false-self is the unfortunate outcome of our protection mechanisms.
Children are in essence innocent, vulnerable and dependant. They don’t know much about life and the world around them and they certainly need proper guidance, support and direction to make their way into adulthood. Yet a child also has an inner sense, an ‘inborn knowing’ of what feels right or does not feel right for him. Although he cannot conceptualize it, a child senses and feels what is energetically happening within his immediate environment and this perceptiveness is Intelligence and Discrimination at work.
With education and the various challenging situations that he encounters in the course of his growth a child starts to lose his capacity to recognize what feels right or does not feel right for him. Moreover, he is often not even given a chance to express his views and feelings and instead has to obey or follow what his elders are telling him. In order to go about in life (to survive) a child tends to take for granted what his caretakers or elders are telling him; unconsciously granting the adults with his trust along with this though form: ‘they must know better since they are my parents or elders’.
In doing so, over the years, the child starts to deny his feelings and his sense of truth in favour of those of others. By and by, he unconsciously loses connection with his true-self and start behaving from an obliging self, a false-self in order to have his needs met.
Not only does he unconsciously start to behave from a false-self, but his identification with this false-self begins to creep in and identification has the power to blind us and cover our innate Intelligence and Discrimination.
3. How can we identify, recognize the false-self?
Recognizing the false-self is, in some ways, quite easy. The false-self feeds on judgments and not on facts; it feeds on comparison and unfounded beliefs, it feeds on fear and control. Emotions, rather than feelings, are the false-self preferred territory.
The false-self will claim that: ‘it can’t be true’, even in the face of reality. The false-self will tend to generalizes and collect straws. ‘They are all against me’ or ‘I hate everyone’ are some of the false-self motto.
If I have a belief that the world is out to get me, or that nobody loves me, or that my partner, friends or family hate me then I will find lots of evidence for this. And I will ignore any evidence that contradicts this. All these little pieces of ‘confirming’ evidence are carefully collected along with our irritability about each situation. This is the false-self at work.
To give you an example, not long ago in an individual session, a person was totally in this dynamic of: ‘I’m not supported’ and she was connecting with many situations in her life where she had not been supported, expressing her rage and despair of not being supported. When her emotional discharge was over I asked her: ‘When was the last time that you felt supported? She could not pinpoint any situation when she had felt supported, her answer to my question was: ‘I’ve never been supported, non-one has ever supported me.’
This is a typical false-self pattern and she could not recognize that in this very moment I was supporting her in clearing out her issue. When I pointed this to her, she hesitated for a moment and then recognized that actually, yes, in this current situation she was being supported.
What happened was that she was so totally immersed in her false-self that she overlooked the reality at hand. Her intelligence and discrimination was blinded by the false-self, by her protection mechanism because that’s what the false-self is; a protection mechanism.
In order for this person to step out of this veiling mechanism and regain access to her discrimination and reality, she only needed a little push. After that she could recognize that: ‘Actually yes, I did have been supported at different times in my life’ and she could recall these moments of support.
Relaxation and joy started to kick in and she felt more true (truer).
Another way for the false-self to exist is by maintaining himself in a story. Story telling is by far the dedicated propulsion force of the false-self. When people come to this work with the Inner Child, they start telling the story of what happen to them; the hurts, the humiliation, their disappointment, their anger or behaviour patterns that are hindering their life in the hope to free themselves from all their undesired painful feelings.
There is no doubt that their story is true, that they are not inventing; these painful situations did happen and they did get hurt and traumatised, yet telling the story about the hurt does not really help a healing to take place because the story in itself is not related to the truth of the person, it is always about the person.
When a person is talking about her issues, she usually talks from her thinking mind and the thinking mind is always disconnected from sensing and feeling and whenever we say something that is not connected with our inner senses or feelings it does not really convey the truth of the person. The story may be true but the connection is not.
When this happens, we talk from a ‘false sense of me’, a disconnected sense of ‘me’. It is the false-self at work.
For sure, speaking about what happened creates an opening and helps unload a burden that is often felt as too much to carry. It is a needed step and the person might even feel more relaxed after telling her story which is a good point, yet it does not generate any real changes for the person because it all comes from a false sense of self.
Change will arise when a connection between what is felt inside and what is being expressed takes place. And when this connection is taking place, not only does the person feel true, the sound of her voice is also different. In this sense we can say that Truth has a sound.
And some of you may have experienced this when expressing a feeling during a meditation for instance. You express and you keep expressing the same feeling and still it does not feel complete, it feels like this feeling has no end, that you’re doomed to be with this feeling forever. Yet at one point, as you keep expressing, a connection takes place inside of you, the expression changes completely and it feels as if you are expressing this feeling for the first time. What follows is a sense of freedom, of wholeness and of completion. I’ve made it, I’ve expressed what I have been trying to express since a long time.
Has this happened for some of you?
4. Stepping out of the False-self?
Stepping out of the false-self implies taking a step back so that discrimination can take place. Using intelligence and discrimination to challenge, to inquire and to doubt your beliefs, your ideas and your judgments is the key to unmask the false-self. One needs to be curious as well as challenging by raising the question: ‘Is this really true?’
Whenever you catch yourself telling a story about your issues or having a judgment on someone or on yourself remember that story-telling and judgments are a distortion of reality whilst feelings and facts are real occurrences. By remembering this you will challenge the false-self. And when you do this you discriminate, you separate the false from the true and thus come closer to the truth of who you are.
Much more can be said on Truth and Being True but for now I would like to propose that we put into practice what has been talked about.
The practice is simple and you can take it home with you, all you need is a notebook and a pen.
On one page list some of the ideas and/or beliefs that you have about yourself.
It can be negative or positive statements.
Once you have listed 5 ideas or beliefs about yourself, arrange them in increasing order, from the least strong to the strongest for you and leave a good amount of space between them.
Now take the first one, read it aloud a few times so that situations linked with it can come to your consciousness and write down these situations in a few words below the statement.
Once you’ve done this, ask yourself this question: ‘Is it true that no-one loves me?’
Or whatever your statement is.
Repeat the question a few times in connection with your statement.
Question, challenge, inquire and be curious, is it really true? Wasn’t there moments when I was loved, when someone did love me?
And briefly write down these moments or situations where you actually felt being loved opposite to the situation where you did not felt being loved.
After having done this close your eyes and pause for a moment.
Now open your eyes and look at the two sides; can you truly say that no-one loved you?
When you realize that no, it is not true, I did have been loved a few times; your false-self is unveiled. You enter in truth you are true to yourself.
Truth is not something extraordinary, truth is simply what is real and when you express the reality, you are truth.
You’ll be able to continue practicing this in your own time later on.
We are now coming to an end of this video meeting and I’d like to conclude with these words: “It is not who you appear to be that is important; what is important and can give a meaning to your life is to become who you truly are”.
Thank you for your patient and attentive listening. We will make a pause now before answering the questions that you’ve already put forward.
Time for questions…
On Line Meeting_10-March-2020
The following text is the transcription of a talk given on a WeChat platform about clearing personal issues and the relationship between Mind- Emotions and Body.
Dear Friends on the path,
Welcome to this WeChat salon,
Tonight I’d like to clarify why clearing personal issues can be difficult and the relationship between Mind- Emotions and Body.
A questioner asks: « I’ve taken many individual sessions to deal with my issue of abandonment but I am still with the fear of being abandoned. Why is that? »
A transformative path usually starts, but not always, with an attempt to understand what is going on for us. For most people it is a difficulty encountered in their life that sets them on this journey. It may be a conflict in relationships, a divorce, a depression, an illness or the death of someone dear to them that makes them feel at a loss, not knowing how to resolve the situation, not knowing any more how to be in life, how to continue living. They can be in confusion or even in a state of shock so they start seeking help to sort out their confusion and hopefully resolve their issue.The first doorway that is most generally taken is to consult a counsellor or a therapist in an attempt to solve the issue by way of intellectual understanding.
The first doorway that is most generally taken is to consult a counsellor or a therapist in an attempt to solve the issue by way of intellectual understanding.
This seems to be quite an appropriate way to proceed, since our mind or more specifically our thinking mind, has taken the foreground of our lives. For the majority of people life is lived through or via intellectual understanding.
As such, intellectual understanding is an ideal and wonderful tool that we have at our disposal to grasp and resolve any situation that life presents us with. Our thinking mind with its logical approach and intellectual understanding helps us to move forward and it is certainly a common experience to many that once we understand something, a relaxation arises together with a sense of confidence and we regain our capacity to move forward and be creative.
Yet, what is not seen is that intellectual understanding only deals with what is apparent, it does not deal with the root cause of the problem which very often lies in the subconscious or even further in the unconscious part of our brain.
The hidden aspect of intellectual understanding is that it is also linked with and at the service so to speak, of another part of our brain; the reptilian brain which is in charge of and monitors all the vital functions in our body-mind systems such as breathing, heart beating, digesting, etc. and most of all our survival.
All our behaviour patterns in life are underlined with a survival mechanism. When we get angry for instance it is because we feel threaten in some ways. When we cry, it is to unburden our hearts from something that is felt as too heavy and thus threatening for our life. Most of our actions in life, our behaviour patterns are an indirect response of this survival mechanism.
To summarize, intellectual understanding only serves as a plaster covering the source of the problem; yes it help us to move forward in life but without dealing with the source of the issue. It simply helps us to momentarily feel safe.
Why is it so?
It is so because of two factors.
One is that the root cause of the issue is not seen and thus not taken care of and also because our nervous system is geared towards survival and therefore put aside what it cannot digest.
But this is not all, our nervous system is also geared towards health and aliveness and as such does its best to bring to the conscious level what has not been digested so that it can be processed, dealt with in order for us to live freely and more vividly. This is why we often find ourselves in similar situations, similar behaviour patterns; a taste of ‘déjà vu’. And you may have noticed this for yourself; that although you may have dealt with an issue, it tends to comes back recurrently in your life through different situations and in different forms.
Have you observed this?
The reason for this is simple, the core of the issue or its root, has not yet been seen fully and moreover, the original feelings linked with the issues have not been expressed from that place where it originated from; I’ll say more on this later on.
Rose came to see me because the relationship with her boyfriend ended abruptly and she does not know how to deal with this situation.
Here is Rose’s account:
“I am a little bit lost and don’t know what to do; my boyfriend left me for another woman and this is the second time that this happens. My previous boyfriend also left me for another woman. What is happening to me, why can’t a man stay with me for more than a few months? Am I not lovable? What is wrong with me? It seems that all men are unreliable. Of course I’m jealous of this other woman, who would not be. Is she better than me, prettier than me? What does she have that I don’t have? I feel ashamed and guilty for not being strong enough to keep a man with me. What am I supposed to do, run after him, beg him to stay with me just like my mother did when my father left her for another woman when I was 7-years old? I don’t want to lose face and end up depressed and miserable like her.
I hate this guy! Such a prick! I also hate my father for abandoning my mother and leaving us in misery. I also hate my mother for being so weak and not standing for what she wanted.
Am I going to end up like her? Is our family doomed, Am I doomed to stay alone all my life?”
Although Rose was actually talking to me about what happened for her, she was so completely absorb by her story that it felt that she was, in some ways, simply talking to herself; angrily reliving the drama of her life in an attempt to gain some understanding and approval that she is not wrong, that it is not her fault. She could not go any further than this level of communication.
Yet deep down, she carries the belief that she is wrong and weak, together with a strong guilt feeling and unworthiness to be with a man. But she could not connect with these feelings and did not notice that she had fall prey of a belief. She was simply using her thinking mind in an attempt to gain clarity on her situation.
What is then needed in order for Rose to see her situation more clearly and come out of her belief?
She needs to understand that she is not only her thinking mind, that we are not only thinking beings, that we are also emotional beings with feelings and emotions. Every human being has feelings and every life situation that we encounter triggers at least one feeling.
When we see a sunrise or a sunset or the immensity of a starry night, we are in awe and feel touched by the beauty that lay before our eyes; we may feel love seeing a dear one and when we see someone being mistreated, we may feel sad or angry. It is common to feel joyful when we succeed in achieving something and when we failed at something we may feel inconsolable and even ashamed.
The feeling spectrum is quite vast and like a rainbow it has different shades or nuances.
Feelings are not the problem; the problem arises when we are not able to express our feelings as they are, as they manifest in us. Numerous situations, especially in childhood, create pain in us and if we cannot express the feelings that comes with these situations because it is not allowed, or because we are afraid of being judged or mocked, or because we are ashamed of expressing, then the feeling falls into some unconscious part of our psyche and remain there until we become able to deal with it.
Repression is the problem, not the feeling in itself and when we repress our feeling it creates a disharmony inside us and this disharmony is not only uncomfortable, painful; it also creates what some people call the ‘Emotional body’ or the ‘Pain body’. And unless we start taking care of this ‘Emotional body’ our lives will remain lukewarm, half lived and joyless.
How can we take care of this ‘Emotional body’?
Simply by allowing a connection with our feelings and letting the feeling express itself. As mentioned earlier our nervous system is intelligent. We have the inbuilt capacity to express our feeling and we do it via emotions. An ‘emotion’ is nothing else than the outburst of a feeling; it is a feeling in motion, the visible part of a feeling. One could compare it to the visible part of an iceberg; on the surface is the emotion and underneath is the feeling. It is the feeling that gives birth to the emotion, not the opposite. So we can use the emotion to lead us back to the feeling and when we are able to consciously be with the feeling a transformation takes place.
Yet it is common for some people to get entangled in their emotion; to become identified with their emotion; believing that this is what they are and that by emoting, that is to say indulging in emotion, using it dramatically they will gain the recognition or the object that they want to get. This way of emoting is very similar to a child making a tantrum when he is not happy about something or when he wants something badly. The emotion is lived without any awareness, without any consciousness and therefore keeps the person in emotional bondage rather than freeing her. This is the typical attitude of the ‘drama queen’, who plays being a victim whenever she can simply to get attention.
This not the right approach.
To free oneself from the ‘Emotional or Pain body’ one needs to consciously live the emotion in connexion with who the person was when she originally felt this feeling and most of the time it is related to the child that we once were.
When this alignment takes place we feel a true connexion with ourselves and this brings a transformative shift of our energy; we feel liberated, more spacious inside, more relaxed and with it usually comes joy and contentment.
For instance if it is a feeling of abandonment related to me when I was a child, I need to allow myself to ‘fall’ in that place of the child that I was and express the emotion and the feeling from that place of a child and not from the adult that I am now.
Doctor A. Janov, who was a pioneer in this field, talks about the ‘Tree of Feelings’ linked with the ‘Three Lines of Consciousness’. As you can see on the image below, each line of consciousness refers to a specific part of our brain.
And when we express a feeling it is that specific part of the brain that is involved as shown below.
In the case of Rose mentioned earlier, she was talking from her cerebral cortex, the thinking mind, the adult mind. Therefore no real resolution of her issue could take place; for that to happen she would need to express her feeling of abandonment from the second line, the time when she was a 7-year old child, when her father left her mother.
It does take time to ‘walk back’ to the source of the hurt simply because our nervous system has put in place resistances in order to protect us from overwhelming feelings; thus the need to ‘unlock’ these resistances one by one. It takes courage and determination.
Alan came to see me not long ago; Alan was a 7-month premature baby who suffered a lot from not being the girl that his parent wanted and from his father’s constant humiliating words as well as from a neglecting mother. Anxiety, constant worry, fear and depression are his day to day companion since as long as he can remember. In order to survive and counterbalance his aching heart he disconnected not only from feeling his feelings but also from sensing his body and took refuge in his mind.
And because of this it will be difficult for Alan to benefit fully from using a mind oriented approach. He will gain much more if he starts his journey by using a bodywork oriented approach. By doing so, he will bypass the resistances that his mind has put in place. It is a well-known fact that the body knows better than the mind. This is also why in the individual sessions that I give I encourage the person to sense what is happening in her body and to let the body talk or express whatever it feels right to express.
Do know that it is not the privilege of our mind to carry memories and just as we have a thinking brain, we also have an emotional brain which is located in our belly and more specifically in the wall texture of our guts. It is this understanding that Bio-energy uses to release traumatic feelings accumulated in the body thus enabling a more natural and healthy flow to return to the body.
Furthermore, it has been discovered that all the little tiny cells of our body carry memories of past happy and traumatic feelings. Just like the computer hard disk stores information, our cells also store information and they do this record-keeping of memories systematically from the first cell that is created in womb of the mother after the egg has been fertilized until the body dies.
This understanding has an important implication because not only our cells carry memories of our personal feelings but they also register our mother’s feelings during the 9 months that we spent in her womb. And has an influence on our belief system and later on our behaviour patterns.
Unfortunately, unlike a computer, we don’t have a delete button at our disposal to empty or clear our cells from their memory; the only thing that is in our hands to do, is to allow a caring connection with our feelings and our body in order to authentically face these ‘non-supportive’ memories so that a transformation can follow on its own accord. Thus the importance of letting our chattering and judgemental mind become a little more silent so that we can regain the capacity to let our body talk, to let our body lead the way towards these memories that keep our hearts painful.
It is about being with what is and not with what we cherish or would like; it is about allowing not knowing, it is about letting life flow within us as it wants, without interfering; trusting that we can only benefit from letting go. This requires courage, perseverance and above all a non-judgmental attitude towards oneself.
I’d like to complete this talk by answering our questioner the following: “Many people live their lives with a feeling of guilt for not being good enough, for not being capable enough, for not being worthy of being loved. But these are only assimilated beliefs, they have no existential truth.
We are all born lovable, at our deepest core we are ‘Love’ and as such we all have an intrinsic capacity to self-heal, it is only a matter of where we put our attention.
Thank you for your attentive listening. We will now make a pause before answering your questions.
The following text is the transcription of a talk given on a WeChat platform on relationship between Responsibility and Freedom.
Dear Friends on the path,
Welcome to this WeChat salon; tonight I’ve been asked to talk about: « The relationship between Responsibility and Freedom and how this relationship impacts our day-to-day living. »
Let us first consider what is usually understood by responsibility and being responsible.
Often when we talk about responsibility we are referring to ways of behaving according to usage or conventions imposed by our social environment. The driving rules for instance, the law that one should not steal or commit a crime or abuse another in any way.
We consider that it is our responsibility to drive safely, that it is our responsibility not to harm another, our responsibility to follow the rules and laws of the society that we live in. And if we fail in these responsibilities we can feel guilty, be blamed, taken to court to be fined or even jailed.
Every community, every society, every country has a vast array of usages, rules and laws to ensure the social welfare of its citizens and it is a general understanding that everyone has to comply with these usages, rules and laws. In other words, everyone has to be responsible or bear the cost of it.
In addition, there are also some unspoken, yet commonly accepted attitudes about raising children or supporting elders that we usually refer to as responsibilities. Even for children, whether at school or at home, elders asked them to be responsible by behaving according to some social agreements labelled as ‘education’.
It is true that all these commonly accepted attitudes, rules and laws are needed to ensure a smooth and harmonious living among people. Yet, what is not seen is that all these so-called responsible attitudes are driven by social agreements and as such they do not really let rise to a sense of responsibility. They are more in line with obligation, duty and accountability since when one fails to comply with these agreements and rules it can become an offence done to the other or an unlawful act which may generate guilt, shame or even punishment for the ‘irresponsible’ person.
Although these are commonly referred to as responsibilities, I would rather call them ‘outer responsibilities’ because they are dictated by usage, by law or by social standards. And since they do not come out of one’s own understanding, they tend to enslave us by generating an obligation to comply with the imposed usage, rules or laws; we become obedient beings rather than individuals genuinely responsible.
Considering what I’ve mentioned above what then would 'true' responsibility be and what does being responsible implies?
Responsibility is the ability to respond; it is a ‘response-ability’.
And to be able to respond in accordance with a situation at hand, inner freedom is needed.
Responsibility and freedom are the two sides of a same coin. There cannot be any responsibility without inner freedom, nor can inner freedom be without a sense of responsibility.
As you all know, and have most certainly experienced for yourself, we are often governed by all sorts of beliefs, conditioning and behaviour patterns. These beliefs, these conditioning or behaviour patterns act like a veil on our energy and on our capacity to respond in life. They imprison us rather than leaving us free.
We like to think that we are free to think or do what we want but this is not true.
Our so-called freedom is shallow and if we are honest with ourselves we can recognize that in reality we are not free but driven by all sorts of ideas and beliefs connected to the personality that we are and unless we start emptying ourselves of the beliefs and ideas that we consciously, and unconsciously, carry it is not possible to be responsible, to act in a responsible way.
Another insidious way of acting out what I call ‘outer responsibility’ is the following example of Eve.
Eve is a young woman who, in her early childhood, had to bear the divorce of her parents with her mum leaving the family cocoon to start a new life with another man. Eve believed that it was because of her that her mum left the family. She believed that it was her fault and consequently felt guilty about her mother abandoning her and her father.
From that day on, not only did she took on the responsibility of being a mother to her own father in replacement for the wife that he lost but each time her mum ran into trouble by not behaving according to the law, Eve felt that it was her responsibility to come to her rescue, that it was her responsibility to help her mother out of these situations. And this was emphasized greatly by her family members and friends who were also pushing Eve to take these responsibilities by saying words like: ‘It is your mother, you have to help her, it is your filial duty; it is your responsibility’.
Her family members and friends were driven by this social agreement and not considering Eve at all. Their focus was only on the ‘outer responsibility’. And because Eve had this abandonment issue and believed that it was her fault that her mother divorced, she took on the belief and the attitude that she had to be responsible for her mother. In many ways this made Eve’s life complicated and full of dramas.
Eve’s case is quite interesting because not only she took responsibility when she did not have to, which created trouble for her; but her attitude also made others not take their own responsibility. Strangely enough and up to now, her different boyfriends were all men who could not take responsibility for themselves.
Do remember that as human beings we are a manifestation of life and thus are born free of ideas and conditionings; we only acquire them as we grow up, which implies that we can discard them and regain our inborn freedom.
And this is where being responsible begins; it begins when we endeavour to set ourselves free of all these ideas and conditionings that we consciously and unconsciously carry.
I would say that this is our foremost responsibility.
If we want to be responsible beings, the first step is to set us free from our beliefs, from our conditionings, projections and behaviour patterns. At this point I’d like to emphasise that to be free from our beliefs, projections and conditioning does not necessarily mean to change them for different or better ones; it means not being identified with them.
Let this be clear, it is the identification that is the problem, not the beliefs or the conditionings.
In the example of Eve mentioned earlier, it is when Eve became aware of her behaviour pattern and expressed what she really wanted to express (the pain and the rage of being abandoned) that she realized that her understanding of responsibility actually came from her desire to have her mum staying with her. So her responsibility was not a genuine, heartfelt responsibility but only a distorted response to a strong unconscious desire in her.
As she expressed what was truly there for her, she took responsibility for herself and the outcome was that she gained in relaxation and freedom and she is now able to clearly see that the responsibility that she took was in fact the other side of her desire to not be abandoned.
When we dis-identify from the beliefs, the projections or the conditionings we gain inner freedom and as we do this a sense of responsibility will start to emerge; a sense of responsibility that has nothing to do with usages, rules or laws. It will be a sense of responsibility driven by a free heart and not by a thinking mind.
It will not be an ‘outer responsibility’, a responsibility imposed from outside but a sense of responsibility that will arise from the core of our being and to make a distinction I call it: ‘inner responsibility’.
And this is what inner freedom generates; it generates a sense of ‘inner responsibility’ which we could call 'true' or heartfelt responsibility.
We become able to respond wisely to any situation that comes our way because we are not identified anymore with the beliefs, the conditionings or the behaviour patterns that compose our personality.
Our response to situations may not be in accordance with outer usages and rules, but it will be in accordance with our hearts, in accordance with thoughtfulness for others, in accordance with Love. And this is where heartfelt responsibility comes alive, when we act in accordance with our hearts, with Love, when we are in tune with Love.
The impact on our day-to-day living
When, in our daily life we function on the basis of ‘outer responsibility’ our relationships are somewhat damaged because outer responsibility does not include love, only usefulness, efficiency. We tend to go about in life with do’s and don’ts, invading, imposing on others rather than being considerate and respectful. In many ways our communication with others is often aggressive, violent and disrespectful; mainly because it is based on needs, desires and projections.
Check for yourself how you communicate with your spouse, your children, your elders and your friends and how they communicate with you.
Additionally and mostly due to desires, needs and projections, most people go about in life in a state of dependency from others. Most of the relationships, whether they are couple relationships, parent-child or adult-elder relationships are co-dependent relationships.
If your relationship with your spouse or child is a co-dependent one, it is bound to bring unhappiness to both and your responses to situations will only come from an understanding of outer responsibility.
I invite you to check for yourself how you act and what your part is, in the different relationships that you can be involved in.
You might argue that we are all interdependent, which on one level is true. Man cannot subsist by himself; he needs other fellow humans to be able to live in this world.
If I want to eat food, I need to find someone who can provide food for me, if I want to have a roof over my head; I need someone to build a house for me. We are all part of a survival yet fascinating life chain where nature (the planets, the plants and the trees), animals and humans are all inter dependant. This interdependency is part of the nature of life; it is the essence of life.
Yet this interdependency has nothing to do with co-dependency. Co-dependency is the result or the outcome of immaturity. Immaturity is when we haven’t emotionally grown up, when we live our lives from our emotions, when as adults we behave like 5 or 6 years old, afraid of being abandoned, rejected, hurt and most of all wanting to be loved.
What we could not get from our parents we try to get it from our spouse or our children. We look for a ‘soul mate’, a ‘charming prince’ or the ‘perfect lover’ whom, we hope, will provide us with all of what we desire, whom will fulfil our needs and most of all love us unconditionally. The problem is that such a person does not exist so we end up with a partner who is trapped in the same needs and desires as we have.
Since we don’t have this ideal partner, it is quite common to project our desires and our unfulfilled needs on our children, imprisoning them in responsibilities that are not theirs.
We become co-dependent because we are not emotionally free. And as long as we are co-dependent, we cannot be genuinely responsible; we can only function on the basis of ‘outer responsibility’.
On the other hand, when we are free from our emotional conditioning and connected with our ‘inner responsibility’, we bring honesty and gentleness in all our relationships; our relationships become harmonious, loving. They are based on unbiased and fair exchanges.
It is in our hands to set ourselves free from our emotional conditioning, projections and needs and move in life from a state of ‘inner responsibility’ rather than blindly following ‘outer responsibilities’. The outcome may be the same; we will follow the usages or rules of our society if it is needed; not because we are diligently obedient but because it feels right to follow these usages or conventions.
A Zen master used to say: “Freedom is the capacity to stop at a red light”.
What he meant was that it is the inner attitude of the person that makes the difference, not the outer attitude.
When we live from a free heart and free mind, we bring a heartfelt attitude to all our relationships. Our response-ability flows in tune with our wisdom voice and not according to our thinking mind; our response-ability brings awareness and love to our environment.
I’d like to end this talk by mentioning that: “The choice to regain our inner freedom and become mature adults is always ours; it is only a question of setting priorities and being considerate for this unique living being that we are”.
Thank you for your attentive listening. We will now make a pause before answering the questions that you’ve already put forward.
The following text is the transcription of a talk given on a WeChat platform on the influence of personality types in our life.
Dear Friends on the path,
Welcome to this WeChat salon; tonight I’ve been asked to talk about: « The influence of personality types in our life »
Before we look at how personality types influence our life, it is necessary to first understand what a personality type is and how it comes into being.
Personality types start their existence in our childhood as a response to our psychological and emotional environment. They are an attempt to have our basic needs met and in that sense they are not wrong.
As you know for yourself, as a child we have some basic needs (being seen for who we are, being supported, being respected and most of all accompanied. Said in a nutshell: being loved) When these needs are not fulfilled, it creates an aching heart in us and with this aching heart comes a feeling of Despair together with Hope.
Because our need to be loved is so deeply embedded in us, so fundamental to our survival, this need acts as a veil on the reality of our immediate environment. As a child we are not able to see the reality for what it is and instead we keep longing for our needs to be met which makes us fall prey of despair and hope.
Hoping that if I behave the way I think that my parents want me to behave, I will have my needs met, satisfied. And in order to do that we start developing personality types or behaviour patterns. Please understand that this development takes place in the unconscious part of our psyche; it is not that the child says to himself: “I will behave like this in order to have my needs met”, no it is not so. This development is a response from our nervous system which is always geared towards survival.
So we can say that our personality types or behaviour patterns are in fact and in essence, a survival mechanism organized around the psychological and emotional environment that we live in. For instance if the psychological and emotional environment we live in is fear based we will tend to develop a Victim or a Pleaser personality type. If our emotional environment is anger or violence based we will tend to develop a Rebellious or a Fighter personality type. Please understand that this is a tendency, not a law and many exceptions can be found since each individual is unique.
As shown on the PPTs below, there are numerous personality types, yet we could divide them into 4 major categories based on how, as a child, we emotionally related to our environment.
(Please note that this list is not exhaustive)
Yet, although these personality types are an attempt to have our needs met, they seldom work as you’ve most certainly have experienced yourself.
Why is it that they don’t work?
They don’t work because they are not a strait forward, open request; they are detoured ways of asking for what we want and are built on hope. Moreover they subtly carry the energy of resentment; sometimes in an open way like when we are angry or rebellious; yet most of the time the resentment stays hidden in some unconscious part of our psyche.
Remember, it is the hope that the need will be fulfilled that creates a personality type or behaviour pattern, nothing else; so we can say that personality types are like soap bubbles built on thin air. They have no reality, they are just a mean to hopefully get our needs met which they never succeed to do. The problem is that over the years we tend to identify with these personality types and forget what we actually want. We become a Victim-Tyrant or a Pleaser, not seeing that we’ve taken on these roles in order to cover our aching heart. Not only these roles do not bring us what we deeply want but they also veil our life force and our true personality. And as such, they have a serious impact on our lives because they prevent us from living with an open heart, innocently. They make us live a restricted and controlled life, a life of survival.
As mentioned earlier all personality types put a veil on our life energy in order to preserve us from feeling our aching heart. Yet it is important, if we want to let go of the personality type that we are in, to recognize how these personality types are driving our life.
How do we act out our desire to be loved?
More than often we use not just one personality type but fluctuate between 2 or 3.
For instance someone who takes on the Victim role because he did not receive the attention that he was entitled to receive will have these kinds of thoughts: “It is not fair, the whole world is against me, nobody loves me, I feel so hurt, I’m so lonely, no one cares about me; it is their fault.”
And that person will spend a great deal of his time crying and weeping in an attempt to raise attention: ‘Look at poor me, how hurt I am’.
Yet underneath this Victim attitude, there is a Tyrant in disguise because resentment and anger are not far away. By his never-ending lamentation the Victim is trying to force attention. Moreover he is in a strong ‘no’. ‘No, it should not be like this, you should give me what I want; it is your fault if I am miserable’.
On one side crying and weeping and on another demanding to have his needs met. Both of these attitudes will tend to drive people away and reject such a person. The exact opposite of what the victim wants. Who wants to bear the constant lamentation of a victim? Who wants to bear the constant blaming of a tyrant? No one except maybe the Saviour/Rescuer which is another common fear based personality type.
The Saviour also known as the Rescuer type will do anything and everything he can in order have his needs met, which is to be loved, like the victim.
He so much wants to be loved, appreciated and recognized for his value that he is willing to sacrifice himself and even sometimes put his life at risk in order to get that. His main tool is to please, to say yes. Pleasing is the other side of the Saviour. He does not know how to say ‘no’, he is like a doormat, you can wipe your feet on him, he will still say thank you for using him.
The Saviour cannot bear to see someone miserable because it reflects his own misery. He is a Pleaser in disguise! Just as the Pleaser is a Saviour in disguise. He pleases in order to be recognized, to be appreciated but also in order to save ‘these miserable/poor people’. There is a subtle element of superiority in both the Pleaser and in the Saviour. By acting the way they do, they take on a despising attitude of being better than you.
You may have observed that in your own family (parent or nuclear) couple relationships are often ruled by these personality types and this leads to misunderstanding, confusion and even hatred between husband & wife as well as between parents and children or even between children.
When we’re taken by a personality type, so identified with it; it veils our discernment, our faculty to discriminate, to see what the reality at hand is. Thus the need to recognize and understand how we function, what personality type we’re in so that we can see the need and the hurt that the personality type veils. And by taking care of our need and our aching heart (recognizing, accepting and expressing), the personality type will fade away and disappear because it won’t be needed any more.
It is as simple as that!
I’d like to conclude this little talk with these words: “It is not who you appear to be that is important; what is important and can give a meaning to your life is to become who you truly are”.
Thank you for your patient and attentive listening. We will make a pause now before answering the questions that you’ve already put forward.
Hangzhou, July 2019
The following text is the transcription of a talk given on a WeChat platform on the Path of knowing ourselves.
Dear Friends on the path,
Welcome to this WeChat salon,
Tonight, I’ve been asked to talk about: « The path of knowing ourselves » with the following questions: ‘What is awakening and why is the work on the personality important to know the truth of ourselves?’
This is quite a vast topic but I’ll try to be as clear and to the point as possible.
The first thing is to understand how our personality and what we call the True Self or True Nature are interconnected. In some ways, we could compare our personality to an iceberg floating on the ocean of our Essence or True Self.
The surface of this iceberg represents the conscious part of our personality with the behaviour patterns (how we act and react in life) our emotional world and our thinking apparatus. A little underneath is the subconscious layer where are stored the ideas and beliefs that we have on ourselves and on the world around us together with some not yet conscious feelings.
Underneath these two layers is the unconscious layer, which is also multi-layered and it is in the upper part of this unconscious layer that the root cause of all our feelings, ideas and beliefs are stored.
All the above are components of our personality.
But our unconscious does not stop there and as we descend into the depth of this unconscious layer we will find our vital functions (breathing, heart beating, etc.) which can also be affected by the various traumas encountered during our life. Yet these are not part of our personality but of our human nature and at the very depth and containing all of the above is Our Essence, the ocean in which this iceberg is floating and also made of.
Understanding this, you can recognize that actually our personality is like a wave on the surface of the ocean. It is made of the same water as the ocean, it is not different from the ocean; it is the ocean in a different arrangement, in a different appearance.
The problem arises when the wave (our personality) starts to think itself separate from the ocean and starts to identify with itself. It is ‘me’, I am the wave and the ocean is something other than me.
This phenomenon happens spontaneously around the age 2 or 3 when a child starts to recognize that ‘It is me’ and this recognition is greatly emphasized by his environment. Everything becomes a duality. There is ‘Me and Mama’, ‘Me and Papa’, ‘Me and You’. And by and by this ‘Me’ becomes the centre around which everything other than me revolves.
Check it for yourself, isn’t it your experience?
To fully recognize this is already a huge step towards awakening.
This phenomenon is called ‘identification’ and ‘awakening’ is the dismantling of this identification. And because this identification occurs with the arising of the personality, there is a need to work on that level first in order to dis-identify from ideas, beliefs and thought forms that carry.
Since within the personality we also carry various traumatic situations that have influenced the building of our personality, these traumas do call for attention and healing too. And since most of these traumas and beliefs that we carry were formed during our childhood, working with the Inner Child concept is a needed step towards this dis-identification.
The work on the Inner Child will help bring a dismantling of some of our ideas & beliefs but most important, it will bring peace to our aching heart and when our heart is at peace, our mind becomes peaceful as a result and a peaceful mind & heart are needed for those who aim to know themselves more deeply.
It is for this reason that I strongly recommend the work on the Inner Child if you are interested in knowing yourself and awakening to your true nature. It is almost a prerequisite when we want to embark on a path towards awakening.
If you understand rightly what I have been saying up to now, you will recognize why this work on the Inner Child and on the personality is so important. It is also important to understand that on the personality level we live in thoughts, our mind is very active and awakening has nothing to do with what we think, with ideas or beliefs, it has to do with experiencing, directly experiencing who we are.
For various reasons and mainly to avoid an aching heart, we tend to refrain from experiencing our feelings and the consequence of this is that we live via our mind. Our mind act as a controller to prevent us from feeling what is felt as threatening for our life. Our mind helps us to stay in a sort of comfortable layer. We are not totally happy but also not completely unhappy and we tend to stay in this grey zone.
The work is firstly about moving away from our mind set of ideas & beliefs into sensing and feeling what is going on for us inside. And in order to do this we need to bring awareness to what is. Cultivating awareness is therefore an essential step towards awakening.
Awareness is about bringing what is unconscious to a conscious level so that it can be dealt with and leave us. And once we become more familiar with our inner space, we will be able to notice that besides the mind activity, besides the emotional activity, besides the sensations, there is also something that can be called silence or stillness.
And when we go deeper into awareness, we can perceive that actually silence or stillness is always there underling the perception of tensions in the body, underling feelings or thoughts.
This Silence or Stillness is our True Nature; it is the very stuff that we are made of and we can sense that it is always there whatever action we take, whatever move we do.
This recognition needs to happen on an experiential level, it needs to be your experience and not just an intellectual understanding as it can be at this moment.
Once this experiential understanding has arisen, that silence/stillness is underling everything, the next step is to allow a merging with this silence/stillness. And for this merging to take place the focus needs to change slightly to awareness itself with the recognition that: ‘I am this awareness’.
Please understand the difference between I am aware of something and I am awareness. We are constantly aware of something, whether it is outside or inside of us, yet this understanding is not obvious and it needs to be clear as a bell ring that I am aware that I am aware and further on that I am awareness itself.
Translated on an experiential level we can recognize that I am not seeing but seeing is happening, I am not hearing but hearing is happening, I am not speaking but speaking is happening.
This can only happen when the sense of ‘me’ has left, when the identification with ‘me’ and ‘something other than me’ has disappeared. The doer, the one who is aware, has disappeared and in that disappearance awakening is taking place.
The problem is that you cannot do it; you cannot force it to happen. It happens but without you doing anything. That why some paths put forward devotion or surrendering as their main focus of teaching.
To summarize, awakening refers to this moment when you understand experientially that you are awareness. Please also understand that this is not the end. Awakening is not the final step! Sorry to disappoint you!
Once you have awakened to Reality or True Nature, whatever name you give it, you will need to cultivate this awakening, meaning to deepen your merging in it and this has no end.
Yet before awakening can take place, working on the personality level is a needed step. That’s why I would encourage you to participate not only in workshops geared towards clearing the personality but also participate in retreats where you can more directly access these realms of silence and stillness with the practice of self-enquiry within a silent environment.
Thank you for your patient and attentive listening, the next part of this WeChat salon will be answering the questions that some of you have raised.
Hangzhou, March 2019
The following text is the transcription of a talk given on a WeChat platform on the Personality & Inner Child work.
Dear Friends on the path,
Welcome to this WeChat salon,
Tonight, within the context of the Embracing Our Inner Child audio series, I’ve been asked to talk about: « Why is the Inner Child work important in order to have a full grown healthy personality? »
The first thing to understand is what the personality is and why this personality does have all kinds of issues and therefore cannot be a full grown healthy personality.
Our personality can be compared to the weaving of a piece of cloth which is not made of just one thread but of many different threads and this weaving starts in early childhood. So not only our personality cloth was weaved with many treads but also with many knots and holes which gave rise to a heavy heart with unbalanced emotions, body tensions and consequently unhappiness.
The way to regain a healthy and joyful heart as well as a stable peace of mind is to understand how this weaving has been weaved so that the knots can untied and the holes be filled in order to let emerge a full grown healthy and mature personality. And to bring this peace of the heart, working with the concept of the Inner Child is the most beneficial way.
You may wonder, and this is the question that was raised tonight, why working with the concept of the Inner Child is the most beneficial way. Isn’t there other ways?
In a nutshell, there is no other ways because a heavy heart and consequently an unbalanced personality is the outcome of how we have lived our childhood and working with the concept of the Inner Child is helpful to tackle and understand our personality, our ways of functioning in life and this work also allows our emotional world to regain a natural and healthy flow.
The work on the Inner Child is efficient in regaining a full grown healthy personality because it takes into account and helps reconnect with the different aspects of our emotional world which are the foundation of our personality. Yet when we are talking about the personality, what are we exactly referring to?
We are referring to a multi-layer and inter-related association of character traits, thought patterns, ideas and beliefs and most of all feelings and their emotions that is active partly in our conscious mind and partly in our unconscious.
In some ways, we could compare our personality to an iceberg floating on the ocean.
On the surface, in the conscious part we find our character traits or behaviour patterns (how we act and react in life) and our emotional world.
A little underneath in the subconscious layer are stored the ideas and beliefs that we have on ourselves and on the world around us together with some not yet conscious feelings.
Underneath these two layers is the unconscious layer, which is also multi-layered and it is in the upper part of this unconscious layer that the root cause of all our feelings, ideas and beliefs are stored.
All the above are components of our personality.
But our unconscious does not stop there and as we descend into the depth of this unconscious layer we will find our vital functions (breathing, heart beating, etc.) which can also be affected by the various traumas encountered during our life. Yet these are not part of our personality but of our human nature and at the very depth and containing all of the above is Our Essence, the ocean in which this iceberg is floating and also made of.
As you can start understanding our personality is not simple and straightforward, it is complex, has multiple facets and therefore carries many issues or better say, unresolved conflicts. And just like a jigsaw puzzle, before we can come to a complete picture, we need to identify the different pieces and how they relate with each other in order to form the final picture and this is what the work on the Inner Child work is doing; it processes by identification or better say by dis-identification and expression.
The character traits that are on the surface of our personality are the manifestation or the results of the way we have been educated, they are the outcome of the ways we have been in relationship with our parents or those who took care of us during childhood and these character traits are sustained by our emotional world and the ideas and beliefs that we carry about ourselves and the world.
And because the Inner Child work helps identifying, connecting with and expressing these inner conflicts and bring their root cause to a conscious level so that they can be seen and accepted for what they are, it becomes an efficient way in regaining a full grown healthy personality.
Let’s take an example.
You are in a couple relationships and your partner does not give you the attention that you would like or expect from him and you become frustrated, resentful or even angry and you start to blame him, have arguments and claim that he should give you the attention that you deserve.
If you look closely at this situation you will find that actually the key point is not that your partner should fulfil your expectation but that you have an expectation and that this expectation is based on an unfulfilled need; the need to be accompanied or taken care of.
And this need has its root in childhood, for some reason your parents did not give you the attention that you would have liked, that you needed; they were busy with their work and in some ways did not pay much attention to you and this made you feel insecure, unloved, uncared for.
And this need for care and attention is still very much present in you as an adult and at the slightest opportunity this need will surface. This need will surface, not openly but in roundabout ways because you have disconnected from the original pain that the unfulfilled need created. Yet that pain is still greatly alive in you. But because you had to move on, because you had to grow up, you found ways to put this pain aside and took on a behaviour pattern, a character trait that attempted to have your need met. You became needy, dependant or pleasing. But as you might have experienced yourself it seldom worked to fulfil your need and it does not work because first of all your partner is also in a similar pattern and most of all your behaviour is disconnected from original need.
The Inner child work will help you recognize the need at play, reconnect with and express the feelings associated with that need so that a healthier ‘me’, a more peaceful ‘me’ can arise. Consequently your personality will change and become more mature because it will not be based on unfulfilled needs anymore but on a more loving and understanding of yourself.
Its efficiency (the Inner Child work) lies in the fact that the root cause of the behaviour patter is seen for what it is and that the feelings that accompany this pattern and the original need are expressed.
When something is expressed fully and in tune with what is true for the person, it melts away, disappear and give place to relaxation, peace and maturity.
As I’ve mentioned in some other talks the three components needed to come to this maturity are:
As mentioned at the beginning, all our adult behaviour patterns are the outcome of the ways we have been in relationship with our parents or those who took care of us during childhood. This is why it is important, if we want to have a more mature and healthy personality, to take care of these unresolved inner conflicts that took place during our childhood and teenage life.
The outcome of the work on the Inner Child will be a personality that is not based on unfulfilled needs or desires but on the reality of what is. You will be the actor of your life instead of being a puppet reacting to situations that life brings you.
This does not mean that you won’t have any feelings or emotions anymore; you will have because you are human beings and feelings and emotions are part of being a human being, but these feelings and emotions won’t be based on unresolved inner conflicts.
As a conclusion and answer to: « Why is the Inner Child work important in order to have a full grown healthy personality? » I’d like to quote Doctor Arthur Janov who was a pioneer in this work on the Inner Child
« Working with the Inner Child help us cry the tears that we could not cry
so that we can laugh the laughs that we could not laugh. »
Thank you for your patient and attentive listening and if you have questions you can send them now.
Hangzhou, October 2018
The following text is the transcription of a talk given during a public conference on Communication and Communication Cycles.
Welcome to this evening talk,
Tonight I’ve been asked to talk about « How does communication works? »
Every day of our life we relate with others, trying our best to communicate our thoughts, our feelings or emotions and our needs and we do this with the subtle, yet crucial intention to be understood.
It seems that the sole purpose of communicating with others is to be understood. And this is very true because we need understanding. We need to be understood in our needs, in our desires but mostly in who we are. We want to be understood for who and what we are and by being understood we additionally mean being recognized or approved and certainly not judged. And when we are understood, magic happens, we feel joyful and contented.
Isn’t it your experience?
Yet is it always the case? More than often the answer is no. More than often the outcome of our communication with others is dissatisfaction, frustration with, in its wake, blaming and resentment. It can also bring a deep feeling of sadness together with the thought: ‘I’ll never be understood’ which can eventually turn into a belief.
Isn’t this your experience too?
To move out of this unhealthy loop we can seek ways of communicating better and choose from the various communication skills available on the market to be more performant in our communication. Yet this can be misleading because most of these skills are sale oriented and cunning for most. They don’t really consider the person since their aim is more about proving a point or selling a product.
Communication needs to be approached from a different perspective, a perspective of mutual respect. A communication always involves a minimum of two persons and forms a loop where the one who is communicating expresses himself to another in order to have his need met, whatever that need is. It can be the need to express an idea, the need to get something material or immaterial like respect or recognition.
The need does not really matter what really matter is the contentment that comes from expressing fully what we wanted to express and being received and understood in our expression.
The implication of this statement is that both parties have a responsibility in this communication cycle. One has the responsibility of expressing as honestly and as clearly as possible and the other that of listening and understanding what is being shared. Being open is the key factor for a fruitful communication.
A sound communication cycle occurs when 'A' is able to recognize and express what he wants to 'B', and when 'B' is able to receive and understand what 'A' wants. 'A' then recognizes and feels that he has been understood; the communication cycle is then complete.
To summarize, the needed components for a communication cycle to bare fruits are the following:
The drawing shown will make it easier for you to understand a sound communication cycle.
1 → Becoming aware that something in us wants to be communicated (Identification)
2 → Expressing it exactly as it has been identified (Expression)
3 → It being received and accepted by another (Acceptance)
4 → It being understood by another (Understanding)
5 → It being acknowledged by the other for what it is (Acknowledgement)
6 → Noticing that it has been fully received and understood by another (Fulfilment)
The fulfilment aspect comes more from becoming aware that what wanted to be expressed has been fully expressed, understood, received and accepted by another, more that from it being satisfied (getting the apple in our example).
This way of communicating is what takes place in the Awareness Intensives retreats, that’s why they are so powerful.
Unfortunately such a sound communication is seldom the case, since the majority of people have conditioning filters operating consciously or unconsciously and most of the time a communication cycle looks more like this one:
In this example of a communication cycle I am a little unclear about what I truly want which is to be loved but I am not really aware of that because it is filtered by my conditioned mind, so ask for sex which is what I think that I want and further, I may also not be able to express openly that I want sex because of my conditionings, so instead I ask for a cuddle, hoping that it will turn into sex.
And since my partner has also his own conditioning filters he will not fully understand my request which will add to the vagueness of the communication cycle. He will respond according to his conditioning filters. He will hear 'a hug' instead of 'a cuddle' and because of his own conditionings he will not be able to act out this hug, so he will give me a big smile.
All these filters will combine and lead to a distorted communication or miscommunication and generate frustration rather than contentment. Yes, in a way some communication has happened, something has been achieved, a communication cycle has taken place but the outcome is far from fulfilment.
Sadly and to a certain degree, that's how most of our communication cycles are taking place in our lives, generating misunderstanding, sadness, frustration, resentment, jealousy and revenge. We can see this at work in couple relationships as well as in social relationships.
Isn’t this your experience too?
We’ve all experience these distorted communications at some point or other in our lives together with the frustration that their repetition generates. A frustration that can pile up to the point that we come to believe that: ‘I’ll never be understood’ or ‘no one understands me!’
Just as a sound communication cycle leaves the person with contentment and joy, a distorted one also leaves its emotional trace. Missed communications are the main source of anger and resentment in people.
This being acknowledge, how can we move out of this unhealthy cycle? How can we improve on our ways of communicating so that a natural fulfilment, contentment becomes the outcome instead of frustration and resentment?
We can improve our communication by becoming more conscious, more aware of how and what we want to communicate and with whom we are communicating. Very often, we are not really communicating but having what I would call a verbal diarrhea; a nonstop talk. Our mind is simply following an impulse and is pouring out words. Furthermore, we don’t really communicate with someone nor even to someone, we simply loop within our own mind as if we are talking to ourselves and use the other person as a projection support.
Realizing this, we can make a short pause in our communication so as to create a stop in our constantly active mind and in this gap we can ask ourselves the question: ‘What am I trying to say? What is it that I really want to communicate?’
This is a significant question because it forces us to take into account the filters that are operating within us. This question takes us out of an unconscious talk into conscious communicating.
And this is the key point; communicating consciously, with an awareness of what I truly want to communicate and the awareness that I communicate with another human being, not a robot.
What is it that I really want to say?
This question will bring us to the first step of a sound communication, the identification. Knowing what I truly want to communicate is a crucial step. In the example above; wanting to be loved. Then being sincere in our expression and communicating honestly how we are and how we feel will generate an opening in the other person. When we stop pretending to be different than whom we are, immediately an energetic veil lifts and understanding takes place. It is clear that we cannot ask the other person to be an ideal listener, yet when we communicate sincerely and honestly it has an impact on the other person. An opening is created and with this opening, understanding follows.
In order to bring an understanding from experience on what is being talked about here, practical communication exercises are being proposed to participants using relating dyads.
From your own experience after these exercises, you can recognize that sincerity and authenticity are certainly the primary components when we are communicating and when openness and acceptance of what is are also included, a sound communication cycle take place for the benefit of both.
One thing to be fully understood though is that the contentment is not dependent to the satisfaction of the need or the desire. As mentioned earlier, it comes out of becoming aware that what wanted to be expressed has been fully expressed, understood, received and accepted by the other. The reason for this is simple, when we need or desire something, an energetic tension is created around this unfulfilled need and as we are able to complete a communication cycle, this energetic tension leaves us; it has been expressed and received, understanding has taken place and we know that we’ve clearly communicated what we wanted to communicate.
To summarize the steps:
→ I know what I want to communicate (Identification)
→ I communicate as clearly and sincerely what I want to communicate (Expression)
→ The other receives and understands my communication (Understanding & Acknowledgement)
→ I feel understood, contentment arises naturally (Fulfilment)
It may happen that for some reasons the other person does not understand or cannot hear what we are trying to convey. If we are open it is possible to accept that this is the case and in this acceptance the communication cycle complete itself.
Whenever we communicate with someone, our aim should be to consciously go through these steps. A little practice is needed to get the knack of it, that’s why I would encourage you to practice these simple communication exercises that we just did to become more familiar with sound communication cycles.
And once familiar with sound communication cycles, it is possible to go further with other specifically oriented communication exercises.
Bringing awareness to your communication will not only give you satisfaction, it will also help completing communications that have not been completed in the past, miscommunications that have left tensions in the body-mind system. It is meaningful to complete communication cycles because we are dealing with the completion of desires. A sound communication cycle is, one could say, equivalent to the extinction of a desire.
Thank you all for your patient and attentive listening.
The following text is the transcription of a talk given during a public conference on how to transform behaviour patterns and beliefs?
Welcome to this evening talk,
Tonight I’ve been asked to talk about « How to Transform Old Patterns and Beliefs? »
On a self-development or spiritual path, the first thing to understand is that transformation happens on its own accord; we cannot do transformation; transformation is not in our hands, in our power. Yet we can do much for transformation to happen. And this is what we are going to look at and experience tonight; how to set the pace for transformation to take place.
Maybe the first thing to understand is that behaviour patterns and beliefs go hand in hand. Whenever there is a behaviour pattern, a belief is not far away.
A belief is an idea or a thought form that is accepted, considered to be true, or held as an opinion; something that we give credit to whether it has a reality or not. When we believe we have the conviction that what we believe in is the truth.
A behaviour pattern is a way of functioning or operating within our life environment. It is a way of managing our actions mostly according to past experienced situations. Very seldom do we act; we mostly react and our reactions are driven by our beliefs whether we are conscious of them or not. This implies that there is an association, a direct link between behaviour patterns and beliefs.
Behaviour patterns are not wrong in themselves; they are simply the outcome of a thought form, of a belief that we have. Yet very often we find that these behaviour patterns are inadequate and that they deserve us rather than serving us, thus the natural desire to change or transform them so that they don’t hinder us anymore.
And maybe you have tried to change certain behaviour pattern that you have and made efforts is this attempt. But did it really work?
May be yes for a while but sooner or later you felt back in the old groove and wondered why. The reason is simple and I’ve mentioned it a few moments ago, our behaviour patterns are driven by our beliefs.
And rather than spending time trying to change our behaviour patterns, let’s look at the beliefs that sustain these behaviour patterns.
• If I believe that eating meat is wrong I will become a vegetarian and most probably I will judge those who eat meat.
• If I believe that men are superior to women or vice versa, I will tend to act in a dismissive way towards women or men.
• If I believe that divorce is shameful, I will tend to stay in a relationship that may not be fulfilling for me.
• If I believe that fate exists, I will tend to be depressed.
These are just a few examples… and I’d like to invite you to participate in a little exercise to understand from experience, rather than taking for granted what I am saying. And together we will go through the different steps towards transformation of beliefs and patterns.
→ Take a moment to find out what beliefs you carry, the most obvious ones for now, the three or four most obvious ones.
→ Now, out of this short list of your beliefs, choose the stronger one, the most important one for you.
Once you’ve done that pause for a moment and hold that belief in front of you:
‘I believe that…’
→ And as you do so, notice whatever thoughts associated with this belief come to your mind.
Write them down
→ Once you’ve done this, find out how believing what you believe makes you act in your day to day life.
This first step will allow you to become more conscious of what your beliefs are and how they play a part in your life. Remember, we cannot transform what we are not conscious of and becoming aware or conscious is the first necessary step.
The second step is about understanding where that belief comes from. Where did I pick up this belief? Very often, if not always, we pick up beliefs from others, parents, friends, teachers or priest because we assume (and that’s another belief) that they must be right since they are older or have a position in life.
→ What made me believe what I believe?
Find out with your specific belief where and how you’ve picked it up.
→ Does this belief comes from someone else or was there a specific situation that you’ve experienced that gave birth to that belief?
Once again, the more clarity you can gain on the origin of your belief, the easier it will be for a transformation to take place.
If it comes from someone else, obviously it is not yours but only a thought form that you have adopted. And the question that you may now want to ask yourself is: ‘why did I take that belief on?’, What was or were my motivations for taking this belief on board?
And you will be surprise, may be it was because you wanted to please someone, get approval or be accepted by someone or be included in a group, whatever that group was, family, school or a community.
Finding out your motivation will gently allow a melting of your belief.
• I wanted approval and recognition from father so taking on his belief about women kept me on his side and gave me sense of security.
• Or mother was constantly worried about money in her marriage, cursing existence for not giving her the man that she thought she deserved and who could bring a good income. And you wanted mama’s attention, love and care so in order to get that you agreed with her that yes there is fate and bad luck.
On the other hand if your belief comes from a situation that you have experienced; for instance: as a child you were often expressing your feelings or desires, yet each time you did you were blamed or made ashamed of.
Your belief could be that expressing my feeling is wrong and shameful and maybe even further to: ‘I am shameful to have feelings or desires’.
In this case your belief does not come from you seeking attention or love but from your experience of others imposing on you, from others not respecting you.
The way out of this belief will be to consciously allowing the expression of your feelings and desires in a safe environment, an environment where you won’t be judge, condemned or made ashamed of.
From what has been said and your own experience in this little exercise of tracking back where your belief comes from you can understand that the problem is not with or about the belief that you thought had a grip on you but more with or about your motivations, your experiences.
The implication of this tracking back is that for transformation to take place, the focus should not be so much on the belief itself but on ‘you’.
You wanted to be loved, approved, respected, etc... and in order to get that you took on a belief with in its wake a behaviour pattern.
This recognition, when it happens will completely eradicate the belief from your mind because you are now dealing with the root cause of your belief. And this is how transformation is at work, when we bring our awareness to the root cause of any phenomena and give support to what needs to be taken care of.
It is our beliefs that are the drive of our behaviour patterns, therefore, trying to deal with behaviour patterns directly will not have much effect, yes a little can change can be put in place, but as long as the root cause is not seen, these patterns will continue to have a grip on our lives.
Remember, 99% of the time the beliefs that you carry are not from your own experience of reality; they were imparted on you from outside. This is why it becomes relatively easy to support a transformation to take place.
Remember the steps:
→ What is my belief?
→ What are the thought forms associated with this belief?
→ How believing what I believe made me act in my day to day life?
→ How did I picked it up that belief, what was/were my motivations for taking this belief on?
The false always dissolve in front of clarity this is why bringing awareness to our beliefs, to our thought form enable transformation to settle in effortlessly.
This being said, I need to add that there are two sorts of beliefs; conscious beliefs and also unconscious ones. And of course these unconscious beliefs are more difficult to spot and dissolve.
To make you understand what an unconscious belief is, I’ll give you a personal example.
When I was 9 years old I became very sick; I hosted a virus in my left leg that was eating the bone structure of the leg. The doctors were talking about cutting my left leg to stop the infection from spreading. The pain was so intense that most of the time I was in a sort of feverish coma, yet I could hear everything that was being said around me and I did hear the doctors and my parents talking about this eventuality of cutting my leg.
After a while I was taken to hospital for surgery and unfortunately, I woke up while on the operation table, completely shocked, screaming and shouting, not knowing what was really going on, not able to feel my left leg and I was afraid that they were in the process of cutting it. They gave me another dose of tranquilizer to calm me down and keep me unconscious.
When I woke up some time later I could not realize whether they had cut my leg or not because the whole leg was in plaster and I did not have any sensation from my leg. My parents told me that the doctors did not cut my leg but I could not really believe them. It was only when some sensation came back in my leg and that I could see with my own eyes that my leg was still there that I knew that they had not cut it. It took me seven months to recover and walk normally again.
On a conscious level I knew that my two legs were there; yet unconsciously and this I only discovered many years later, I was still with the belief that they were going to cut my leg. And because of that belief my whole left side was pulled in as a ‘no’ to: ‘I don’t want my leg to be cut’. And although I could see and feel that the reality was that my leg is here and function well, that it was obvious that it had not been cut of; the unconscious belief that ‘they are going to cut my leg’ was active in the background and created many draw backs in my body.
I had to work many hours psychologically and physically to access this unconscious belief because of the terror and panic that was linked to it. And when I discovered that I had this this belief, that it was active in me, it was both a shock to realize that I had carried this belief for so long and at the same time a relief because a deep understanding took place. Not only was the belief seen but its root cause too and the tension that was held in the body could then relax.
I’m relating this example because I know from experience that it is rewarding to take care of the conscious beliefs that we carry when we want to live a healthier and more natural life and it does pay off to go a little deeper and take care of the beliefs that are haunting our subconscious mind.
And working with people made me understand that it is a common strategy to every human psyche to bury undesirable or unbearable beliefs in some corner of our subconscious mind until there is a possibility of clarifying it. Life or Existence is always health oriented, growth oriented, even if it takes years for spring to come.
I’d like to conclude this talk by encouraging each of you to question every belief that you have, one by one, using the steps that I’ve describe during this talk so that your life can enrich and take a different turn, a healthy turn, so that you become the master of your own destiny and not a mere believer.
Thank you all for your patient and attentive listening.
Hangzhou, March 2018
The following text is an abridged transcription of the last talk from the Embracing Our Inner Child audio series.
I would like to clarify a possible misconception about working with the Inner Child concept and what is sometimes referred to as: ‘Our True Nature’. When we work with the Inner Child concept we work on the level of the personality, also known as the ‘ego’, and this work is mainly about:
All this, in order to regain the aliveness, the spontaneity and the creativity that was veiled during childhood.
This work with the Inner Child enables us to live a life more in accordance with our true aspirations, letting our intrinsic passion for life blossom. As this work helps us to gain a more loving attitude towards ourselves and consequently towards others, it also makes us permeable to another dimension; a dimension that is beyond what we usually imagine ourselves to be.
What we call ‘the personality’ is actually centered or focus on one and only parameter and this parameter is: ‘me’. Everything is centered on or revolves around this ‘me’, hence the term ‘ego’ (me in Latin).
And this sense of ‘me’ is made even stronger when we start experiencing that: ‘I’ exists, that: ‘I’ am here, that: it is ‘me’; not in a self-centred or egoistic way but more on an experiential level, a down to earth level of ‘me’ standing on my own two feet with a sense of strength, of openness to life in general together with the joy of simply being alive, existing.
This is what working with the Inner Child can bring you to experience and consequently live this sense of: ‘I’ exist, ‘I’ am here, it is ‘me’.
Yet when we reach this level of understanding and experiencing of our personality, we can also sense that there is more to life than this personality realm, maybe this personality realm is not our life ultimate goal; maybe something vaster is possible. This questioning can also come with a sense of something incomplete, something missing.
And a question may spontaneously arise: “if so, then what is actually this ‘me’?” or “who am I?”
When such a question arises naturally, and not because of following some ideal or the beliefs that it fits well to be interested in such questions, a plunge into a different dimension is then kicked off. A plunge into what is usually referred to as: ‘spirituality’; a door to a ‘spiritual path’ opens and with it the search for ‘who’ and ‘what’ we truly are has started, the search for our True Nature, for our Essence.
In our first audio and in Connecting with our Inner Child I mentioned about our our Essence.
I mentioned that: « when a child is born, he is untampered consciousness, this new life is pure acceptance; this new life is pure stillness. This new life is what is often referred to as Buddha nature, True Nature or Godliness and that Aliveness, Joy, Acceptance and Stillness are what compose this ‘Essence’. Our essence is the first layer from which all subsequent layers will spring ».
And this is what spirituality is truly about: regaining connection with our essence, living from our essence and not from this sense of ‘me’. So when we are on a ‘spiritual path’ we are not searching for something that would be outside of us, nor even inside of us, but more regaining the capacity to live connected with our Essence.
When we are working with the ‘Inner Child’ concept we aim to regain the aliveness, the joy, the spontaneity of this ‘I am’ that we were as a child so that our lives can be lived in openness and creatively. And to regain this true sense of ‘me’ we had to recognize and discard, let go of, what we were not: the judgments that were put on us, the ideas and beliefs that we took on, the behaviour patterns that we took on in order to cover our wounds.
In the same way the work on a spiritual path or towards Our True Nature is also about recognizing and discarding what we are not so that living from our essence and not from a sense of ‘me’ can become a lived experience.
Questioning this sense of ‘me’ is the purpose of all spiritual teachings and in order to do this, over the centuries different ‘self-enquiry’ methods have been developed. Self-enquiry simply means enquiring about the authenticity of what we refer to as: ‘me’, also called ‘the self’ or ‘I’.
So please don’t misunderstand the Inner Child work with the aim to regain the capacity to live connected with our Essence or True Nature. Working with the Inner Child concept and Self-enquiry refer to two different realms of this human being that we are; the personality realm of our incarnation and the trans-personal realm. Yet, although these two realms are quite dissimilar, their form an undividable unity often named: Oneness or True Nature.
And just as you needed courage and integrity to embark on this work with the Inner Child concept in order to face and heal the wounds that were gathered during childhood, in the same way, Self-enquiry will require from you courage and integrity together with an unwavering desire for truth in order to let this Oneness or True Nature emerge.
The quest for Oneness or True Nature is the natural continuation of the Inner Child work; some even say that the Inner Child work is the needed bridge towards our True Nature. And the question that may arise for you now is: How to get there? What is this self-enquiry and how to work with it?
As mentioned earlier, self-enquiry simply means enquiring about the authenticity of what we refer to as: ‘me’, ‘the self’ or ‘I’ in order to discover the true nature of this ‘I’ of this ‘me’; another way of saying this would be: ‘Is it true?’, is this ‘me’ a tangible reality?
That is what self-enquiry is; a quest for truth and this quest require a plunge into the reality of what is and to leave aside what we dream or imagine the reality to be.
We naturally tend to hold on to this ‘me’ because this is all we know and because of the intrinsic fear: “who will I be without this ‘me’?”, “who will I be without ‘my’ story?” We’ve lived with this ‘me’; we’ve lived from this ‘me’ for as long as we can remember. We have taken this ‘me’ for granted; never questioning its reality and not realizing that actually this sense of me generates a separation, a duality and that this duality or separation is the root cause of all our suffering.
Haven’t you noticed that there is always ‘me’ and ‘something other than me’?
Understanding this constant duality at play is the first step in self-enquiry and the knack of self-enquiry is to bring the focus, not on what is ‘other than me’ as we usually do but on ‘me’ and to question its reality. Self-enquiry is about discarding what is not ‘me’, like peeling an onion, not this, not this, not this, until nothing more remain to be discarded and it is then that Oneness or True Nature reveals itself.
It is a journey of many rewards, a journey worth travelling on and this is my invitation to you, now that you’ve regained a sense of strength, of openness to life in general and the joy of simply being alive after completing the work with the Inner Child, to continue your journey with the awareness intensive retreats.
In these retreats we use a specific self-enquiry method derived from the Japanese Zen tradition that is designed to lead the participant to directly experience Oneness or True Nature.
Simply see what feels right for you, knowing that when you let your heart guide your steps, you will never go wrong and never be deceived.
Hangzhou, November 2017
One of the advantages of taking part in a long intensive is that some of the beliefs or pre-conceived ideas that we carry get shaken in their very foundation and can even be uprooted for good. As far as truth is concerned, the question one is working on does not really matter, what really matters is that one keeps at it day after day. Before I took this 2-week intensive, I was under the impression that when I will ‘get to the truth’, the ‘ultimate truth’, this very fact will liberate me, will free me of all mental conditionings. But first I had to get to that point of ‘being truth’.
Some years ago, in a 3-day intensive, I did experienced ‘being truth’; yet that experience did not actually liberate me. At the most it gave me this certainty that what I am is truth and gave me the ability to recognize truth whenever it is expressed, either in me or in another. I came to experience and understand that Truth arises in a person when there is an adequacy between what is felt inside and what is being expressed. In other words when you are what you express.
Yet I was still under the impression that I ‘had to be truth’ in its ultimate sense to be liberated.
Well… this proved to be a ‘true’ pre-conceived idea. As I was trotting along in this 2-week intensive, expressing each truth of the moment as it arose in my awareness out of my intention to have a direct experience of me – I was working with the question: ‘Who am I’, I suddenly became aware of this saying: ‘Truth liberates’ and at the same time I realized that I was liberating myself as truth was being said, moment to moment, simple little truth after simple little truth.
In that moment of understanding, all went upside down, a crack of laughter came out; I realized that the mistake was that I had turned truth into an object, a goal to be attained before liberation could take place.
This was a relief in two ways; there was no ‘truth’ out there to be attained as a prerequisite to some liberation and I was liberating myself right here and now by the very fact of expressing truth moment to moment. In a burst of laughter I realized that I was the craftsman of my own liberation.
What a joy and a relief this was!
This understanding certainly gave me juice to move on through deeper layers of my psyche and a confidence, a trust that all is all right as it is. It also made me understand more clearly what is meant by ‘look at the path rather than the goal’ or ‘the path is the goal’.
Namaste to you all
The following text is the transcription of a talk given on a WeChat platform on being free from emotional bondage.
Dear Friends on the path,
Welcome to this WeChat salon,
Tonight, within the context of the Embracing Our Inner Child workshops series, I’ve been asked to bring answers to this question: « How do we get trapped in our emotions? » and clarify « what emotional bondage is ».
I’m sure that it is a well-known experience to all of you that sometimes you found yourselves entangled in one specific emotion that seems not to leave you. You are constantly angry or resentful for instance. Whatever situations life brings you, anger is roaming in you. Or sadness seems to be your life companion. It may also be fear, or shame or guilt and it feels like you’ve known this emotion since a long long time; almost as if you were born with it.
It is actually not so much the emotion that we are trapped in but more the feeling that sustain the emotion. And it may feel like an invisible net entangling us.
As a reminder, an ‘emotion’ is only the outburst of a feeling; it is a feeling in motion, the visible part of a feeling. You could compare it to the visible part of an iceberg. And although it is this visible part that causes relationship problems; it is not the source. The source dwells within the feeling. This implies that acting on the emotion to reduce it or dispel it may have some effect but will not actually solve anything.
I’m sure that many of you have tried to change behaviour patterns linked with a feeling or at least tried to regulate them as best you could and noticed that actually however hard you tried to change or control this emotional bondage, it is still active in you; whenever a certain button is pushed; the feeling and its emotion burst out and you are overwhelmed by it, feeling trapped in it and it leaves you helpless, impotent, at a loss with this.
So the question that naturally comes is: ‘How come?’, ‘Why am I trapped like this?’, ‘Why do I remain enslaved to this emotion?’
We remain trapped or enslaved because we don’t look at the feeling directly, we usually only try to control it so that it does not disturb us too much. Seldom do we take the time to question this feeling; to find out where it comes from, to understand what its root cause is.
We get trapped into emotional bondage because we cannot face our feelings directly. On the surface it may look like we don’t want to face this emotion or this feeling but in reality, it is part of an inbuilt and automatic mechanism to put aside what can be felt as a threat to our survival. We don’t have any say on this; it is part of the functioning of our autonomous nervous system, just like breathing is, just like growing old is. Everything in us is geared towards survival, so whenever a situation is recognized by our nervous system as potentially threatening to our survival it is put aside in order to keep us functioning in the best way possible. An adaptation you could say. We adapt; and this is not specific to human being; everything in nature is bind to this law. From plants to animals, all are bind to this law of adaptation in order to survive, in order to perpetuate the species.
I mention this because very often as human being we develop this idea that we are not good enough; that we should be different, that we have to work hard to change and this allows a feeling of guilt or shame to creep in.
It is really out of our control, out of our doing, yet because we also have a built-in health regulator system, a possibility of transformation exists.
So the root-cause of that feeling is put aside in some unconscious part of our psyche, where it stays dormant, waiting to be digested. Yet to be digested it needs to come to the open, to the conscious mind where it can be consciously felt and recognized for what it is and thus dissolve.
Existence is constantly giving us opportunities to bring the resolution of that bondage out but we seldom grab these as opportunities, most of the time we experience them as hindrances.
The feeling in itself is not the problem; the feeling is only the outcome of a situation experienced as painful, thus trying to fix the feeling will not bare fruits. What will bear fruits is a conscious acceptance of the situation, a yes to it. And this is often difficult because the original situation can be well hidden and our built-in health regulator system is also often incapacitated. So we are left with a sense of being trapped, enslaved to that feeling, with seemingly no other option than to fight it or bare it.
It is Fear and Attachment that are keeping us entangled in this non-healthy dynamic.
Understanding this mechanism, understanding that it is not out of our doing that we are trapped into a feeling can help us take away any unnecessary guilt feeling and give us the incentive to have a look at how can I take care of this feeling that is creating trouble for me.
It is this change of attitude, not wanting to get rid of the feeling but accepting it and letting it tell us what it has to say that will allow our built-in health regulator system to kick in. In a sense we don’t have much to do, simply being with, allowing; yet this seems to be the most difficult thing to do, at least in the beginning.
Once we have this willingness to understand what is at play in our psyche, to look openly at what is driving us, a different gestalt starts to operate. By and by fighting disappears and Love settles in. It may take some time to come to the root cause of that feeling, to walk that path towards being free from this emotional bondage, yet a healing process is being generated and transformation takes place with, in its wake, maturity.
A more mature person will be the outcome.
The person who raised this question: ‘How do we get trapped in our emotions?’ most probably had a second question in mind, maybe something like: ‘and how can I free myself from this emotional bondage that I feel caught in?’
I’ve mentioned earlier the general direction to take; and that is to move out from the desire to get rid of the feeling and to accept that it is like this. This is a needed change and already a major change because you are moving out of judging yourself for having this emotional bondage and engaging into a more loving relationship with yourself.
And for this you will have to practice what I have mentioned in previous talks and workshops:
‘The transformative trilogy’:
→ Recognize (what is)
→ Accept (that this is the case)
→ Express (what needs to be expressed)
• Recognizing comes first, because it is not possible to deal with something that we are not conscious of.
• Then accepting that this is the case opens the door to understand what this feeling wants to tell us.
• Finally, expressing helps create a discharge of the stuck energy and this ‘expressing’ can take different forms, not only emotional release as many people think. Verbal sharing, writing, painting, dancing can be used as well as different bodywork techniques.
Walking this transformative path alone will not be easy, support is needed and support can take the form of participating in a workshop or taking individual sessions. Outside support is needed because our mind can easily delude us and the supportive hand of someone who has walked this path before can be an encouragement, an incentive to drop our fears and to gather the needed courage to trust ourselves, to trust life or existence. Because ultimately there is only trust; trust is all there is.
Acceptance is Trust and Trust is Acceptance, two words for the same reality.
Thank you for your patient and attentive listening,
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness
comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
Rumi, excerpted from: The Essential Rumi, by Coleman Barks
The following text is the transcription of a talk given on a WeChat platform on Western Psychology & Eastern Meditation.
Dear Friends on the Path,
Welcome to this WeChat salon,
Tonight I’ve been asked to bring answers to this question: « How can we combine Western Psychology with Eastern Meditation in order to come back to our True Nature? ».
Some of you may remember what I’ve said on this topic in a previous Salon in Hangzhou, yet it will be helpful to recall the main points for those of you who were not present at the time and it will also be an opportunity to go deeper.As you probably remember, in my talk in the last WeChat salon, I clarified the difference between Meditation and techniques for meditation.
To summarise what I said in that talk: all meditation techniques are designed to access a state of inner union or wholeness which can be called: ‘Meditation’, ‘True Nature’, ‘Buddha Nature’, ‘the Divine’, “the Self”, ‘Silent Awareness’, etc. many names for one single ‘experience’.
Moreover, in this approach, with these techniques, little importance is given to what we call the personality, simply because our True Nature has nothing to do with the personality level.
The Eastern approach regards what we call the personality as an illusion that we have to transcend. Or better said, regards the identification with this personality as an illusion.
The modern Western approach on the contrary gives much importance to the personality. I say the modern Western approach because in the past (10–13 centuries and before) the emphasis in the West was also on meditation and not on so much on the personality.
It is with the arising of modern age (17th century) and the development of knowledge and technology that a shift happened. The focus was then put more on the individual and how this individual could live and lead a better life, first materially and then psychologically.
When the basic material needs of food and shelter were fulfilled, the concern shifted towards fulfilling the psychological needs which in turn lead to the development of the psychoanalysis movement.
Psychology deals with the well-being of the human being, with feelings, with emotions with ideas and concepts, whilst the Eastern approach bypasses this to focus solely on the Self or True Nature.
What the Western approach takes for granted and for real, the Eastern approach gives little attention to it or even denies it.
With this in mind, you can start to understand the difference of these two approaches:
→ Eastern Meditation
→ Western Psychology
Generally speaking, the Eastern approach declares that we are not the body, that we are not those feelings and that we are not the mind. We are other than that, we are Consciousness to use one word. Our True Nature is Consciousness.
It declares that the separation that is created when we identify with our body-mind system is simply an illusion and that we have to see through this illusion to really be who we are.
The Western approach, on the other hand, puts forward that the only reality is this body-mind system and that if we want to live happily we have to take care of it physically and psychologically.
On its own, western psychology is helpful to resolve some basic suffering issues and this is already quite valuable; yet, for someone in search of his True Nature; western psychology will not suffice, it will need to be coupled with something else and that something else can be a self-enquiry method or some meditation techniques in order to better ease the way to this opening to what is real.
These two systems are radically different in their approach and may even seem antagonistic like day and night, like black and white.
It is not quite so and to make you understand more clearly how to understand this apparent dichotomy, take the example of the Tao symbol, this black-and-white circle with an opposite colour dot in each segment.
They seem to be opposite because our perception of ‘the reality’ is somewhat distorted and narrowed to focus on this side or that side and by doing so we keep ourselves in a dual perspective and we miss the fact that these two sides are in fact united in one circle. The key is the circle, not one of the sides or the other.
Similarly our approach to what we are needs to include both, the incarnation that we are and well as the non-manifested aspect.
→ On one level we are this body-mind system which appears to be a separate entity, independent, different from any ‘others’.
→ On another level we are the absolute, the non-manifested (our True Nature) which does not exclude anything, which is all inclusive.
Every human being is an incarnation that comes out of ‘nothing’, out of the ‘absolute’ and disappear into ‘nothing’. Before you were born you did not exist as a physical entity, after you pass away the body decays and returns to nothing.
Yet this time between birth and death is the manifestation of that ‘nothing’, just like a wave is a manifestation of the ocean. And for us human beings, this incarnation implies three main aspects under one roof:
→ A body and sensations
→ Feelings and emotions
→ A thinking mind
Plus…. and this is what I meant by ‘one roof’: the awareness of all these three aspects. That’s the circle I was mentioning before with the Tao symbol; the two sides that are united in one circle.
As human beings, we are all these: the awareness, the body, the feelings and the thinking mind.
The state of ‘Meditation’ is the inclusion of all these aspects. That’s why it is important, when we are in search of experiencing our ‘True Nature’ not to exclude any of these aspects.
We are multi-layer, multidimensional and each layer not only has its place, its function but is also inseparable from the other.
Yet, identifying with one aspect is a sure way to miss the whole, just like omitting one will lead to a misunderstanding of what reality is. And what is reality you may ask?
Reality is wholeness, unity, oneness, non-separation, non-duality. Said differently, reality is the inclusion of all there is, including the seemingly separation, the seemingly identification with an entity that we define as: ‘me’.
To come to this realisation, the easiest way is to start with what is directly at our reach. And what is directly reachable, palpable, is our body-mind system.
This body, these feelings and this mind are directly available to us, even if ultimately we have to transcend them in order to experience our True Nature.
The Western approach of psychology can be of a great help on this path towards our True Nature because it will help us to understand our functioning mechanisms as well as our psychological blockages. It will help us understand the cause of our suffering.
That’s why working on loosening the body, working with feelings and their expression, as well as making use of the thinking mind will help open and broaden our scope of understanding about what living is about, about what life is.
We are life at play, yet we are seldom conscious of this undoubtable reality.
While working on these three realms, body, feelings and mind, by and by the relationship between thoughts, feelings and sensations will be seen and with this observation, a de-identification from this play will start taking place which in turn will create openness for something wider to manifest.
When we disengage from our identification with the ideas and beliefs that we carry, it will automatically allow the experience of awareness to take place, simply because Awareness is our True Nature, two different words for a single reality, the reality that we are.
If we start from the other end, from the ‘spiritual’ end, the risk is to move into some dream land, some dis-incarnated land, like taking refuge on a mountain pick, completely cut off from the reality of this world, a kind of ‘spiritual schizophrenia’.
It can also feel like moving towards some seemingly inaccessible peaks.
It will be like talking about food while you are starving. This will not satisfy your hunger; you’ll have to eat real food first.
And only then, when you are contented with basic food, will you be available for more subtle nourishment. Just like you cannot write a book before you’ve learned the alphabet and how to put letters together to form a word and then a sentence.
That’s why I emphasise working on the personality level as a doorway to meditation.
Since most people are entangled in some emotional knots and mind sets resulting from their childhood experience, working on the personality level is needed to first make some room; to clean the space before something else can reveal itself.
And the active meditation techniques that I use, especially the dynamic meditation, are also geared in that direction of clearing the way for a state of meditation to arise.
Most of you have travelled by plane and you’ve all noticed that after take-off, the plane has to cross or go through a layer of clouds before reaching the ever and infinite blue sky.
You are the blue sky, each of us is this blue sky but each of us is also entangled in some clouds and for some, the clouds are darker, stormier.
But they are only clouds, the essential you is the blue sky.
Yet to realise this, a little clarification work is needed.
So, coming back to the ‘How’ question: « How to combine Western Psychology with Eastern Meditation in order to come back to our True Nature? ».
In the previous WeChat salon, talking about the work that I offer, I mentioned that: “Because we are incarnated human beings as well as ‘spiritual’ beings, working on both these areas is needed”.
And the form that I have given to my workshops matches the different phases that we go through in life. Since most of our distorted behaviour as adults come from childhood traumas, working on our childhood conditioning with the series of workshops: ‘Embracing our Inner Child’, is a necessary step.
As mentioned before, we are incarnated human beings, so in these workshops I weave work on the body together with work on feelings and their expression, since repressing has played a major role in many people’s lives. The thinking mind is also engaged to not only intellectually understand what is going on but also to bring clarity to what is being experienced.
And as we are also ‘spiritual’ beings, I’ve included an active meditation, dynamic meditation in all my courses. Dynamic meditation is a perfect meditation technique because it weaves together the physical and personality level during the first three stages and the spiritual level during the last two stages.
Once this personality level has been clarified, one can move on to the more in-depth approach with the Awareness Intensives Retreats.
When working on the personality level we must not forget that we are not ‘just that’. And when working on the ‘spiritual’ level we also must not forget that we are also incarnated beings.
We are one connected whole, there is really no separation between the physical and the spiritual; it is all one.
This weaving is important to support a durable change, a durable transformation and the two main ingredients of this weaving are: Commitment and Acceptance.
• Commitment keeps you in line with the task at hand, commitment creates freedom.
On this, let me quote a Sufi mystic Aziza Sa'id:
“When you commit to your path, when you give yourself over to your way of growth, magic happens... obstacles get out of your way, mountains lay down before you, the sky opens up above you, and you will find yourself transformed.”
• Acceptance creates a supportive and favourable environment for transformation to take place.
Attending these workshops can become an opportunity for you to learn, on a practical level, on a tangible level, on an experiential level, how to combine Western Psychology with Eastern Meditation in order to come back to your True Nature because you will be working on in the full spectrum of what composes a human being; your ‘beingness’.
To close this talk, I’d like to encourage every one of you who would like a durable transformation to take place, everyone who senses this desire to come back to his True Nature to gather courage and participate in these workshops as well as in individual sessions where a more personal support can be provided.
Coming back to your True Nature should be your primary focus, not simply trying to resolve some issue that you may have in your life.
Thank you for your patient and attentive listening
I am nothing. I believe that I am; my ego pretends to be the ruler, the king, the emperor; yet he rules on a kingdom of clouds, of inconsistencies, of illusions. I am nothing and my ego wants to be something, to be somebody, it wants to exist.
Yet I ‘know’ that I am nothing, I ‘know’ that it is Existence which is, it is existence which gives me shelter for a time, a lifetime. I ‘know’ that I am nothing and that Existence only is.
And this knowing enriches me, fills me with joy. I finally take my true place, I've found my true place, harmony in the world is again here; I do not disturb it anymore.
With this knowing, several generations of bragging, of blaspheming, of lies dissolve; humility is back, celebration can take place!
- Haïkus from Basho -
The old pond
a frog jumps in,
and the grass grows by itself.
During my stay in Taiwan I had this desire to learn more about the different kinds of tea. A friend took me to a 'Tea shop' where I could ask questions and taste different teas. Everything was going along smoothly, I was learning about 'white teas', 'green teas', 'Oolong Teas', 'Poor Teas' and watching the art of brewing & serving these different teas as well as seeping them.
Our 'tea master' was preparing different teas for us to taste. In fact it is quite a similar experience to wine tasting – looking at the colour, smelling the fragrance, slowly seeping the tea. Watching our 'tea master' preparing the teas was too, an experience in itself.
Cooling the water in a little jar after it has boiled so that the tea does not get a heat shock, then poring the cooled water over the tea in a glass container, covering it whilst the tea is 'waking up', discarding this first 'brew', then adding more water for the tea to reveal its qualities. From time to time she would take the lid off this glass 'tea pot' and smell the inside cover to check the fragrance. When the 'right timing' had come, she would then pour the tea into our tiny cups for us to smell, see and taste.
Quite a ritual indeed! And what to say about the 'instruments' and 'containers' used… We experienced white teas, green teas, 'poor teas' and more fermented teas like Oolong teas until she asked us if we would like to taste a vintage tea, an 80 year old tea.
Vintage tea…, 80 years old?
I am surprised, are we taking about Tea or Cognac? – Allright, let's try…
The first sip was a bit 'oaky' and not too pleasant, may be because of all the other teas we had experienced before, may be because it was the 'first brew'.
Our 'tea master' pores us a second brew, little darker in colour, amber like. I take a little time to smell it and start sipping it gently.
Suddenly all my senses are on alert, something is happening here. A meeting is happening; it is as if the tea is talking to me, as if the tea has a soul. It is no more a tea, some nice beverage, it becomes like a friend, a communion is happening.
I am not drinking tea – not even tea is being drunk – there is no me and there is no tea – simply a merging, a oneness.
Blissful moment, divine moment, silent moment!
All I can articulate is: 'this tea has a soul'. That tea touched my heart; I fell grateful towards this tea for giving me such an opportunity, such a divine moment.
What an experience it was, not easy to find the words to convey what happened, especially after a few days. Can any tea – or any beverage - convey a similar experience? Most probably, I guess it only depends on how I am open to 'this moment'. The previous teas, the set up, the relaxed state opened the way for this experience to take place. Still this 'old fellow' has something and it would have been pitiful to miss it.
Namaste 'old fellow', I bow to you 'old fellow', saluting the Buddha within you.
Taichung, Taiwan Septembre 2007
In the Japanese Rinzai Zen School, riddle-like question, called ‘koans’, are used to provoke the practitioner to discover truth within himself. A koan cannot be answered through logic; the answer can only be experiential. When the mind is exhausted with trying and trying to figure it out, it gives way and you are then available to experience the existential truth of the answer.
Similarly, the awareness intensive uses traditional questions such as: ‘Who am I?’ or ‘What am I?’ to point towards a ‘being’ experience. More specifically oriented questions such as: ‘What Love is?’ are also used to experience a quality, an aspect of our essence.
Self-enquiring with such like questions brings the practitioner to become conscious of his beliefs, his pre-conceived ideas and mind frames about that particular aspect of himself. As he fully communicates what came out of his intention to directly experience his question, a clarification occurs, with, in its wake, a letting go.
Questions used during a 3-day intensive
Who is in → Tell me who is in
Who am I? → Tell me who you are
What am I? → Tell me what you are
Life → Tell me what life is
Another → Tell me what another is
Questions used during longer intensives
The same one as above plus:
Relaxation → Tell me what relaxation is
Trust → Tell me what trust is
Sexuality → Tell me what sexuality is
Beauty → Tell me what beauty is
Love → Tell me what love is
Truth → Tell me what truth is
Freedom → Tell me what freedom is
Alone → Tell me what you are like if completely alone
Consciousness → Tell me what consciousness is
Mῡ → Tell me what mῡ is
True Nature → Tell me your true nature
« It is all about discarding, not this, not this and ultimately when nothing remains to be discarded -- then is the explosion. Do not cling to anything, to any thought. Go on and on until the nothingness.»
♦ A Zen story….
« I have heard about a little boy Toyo and his meditations.
He was only twelve years old but he wanted to be given something to ponder, to meditate on, so one evening he went to Mokurai, the Zen master, struck the gong softly to announce his presence and sat before the master in respectful silence.
Finally the master said:
Toyo, show me the sound of two hands.
Toyo clapped his hands.
Good, said the master. Now show me the sound of one hand clapping.
Toyo was silent. Finally, he bowed and left to meditate on the problem.
The next night he returned and struck the gong with one palm.
That is not right, said the master.
The next night Toyo returned and played the Shamisen with one hand.
That is not right, said the master.
Again and again Toyo returned with some answer but the master said again and again, “That is not right”.
For nights Toyo tried new sounds but each and every answer was rejected. The question itself was absurd so no answer could be right. And when on the eleventh night Toyo came, before he spoke anything the master said: That is still not right!
Then he stopped coming to the master.
For a year, he thought of every possible sound and discarded them all, and when there was nothing left to be discarded any more he exploded into enlightenment. When he was no more he returned to the master and without striking the gong he sat down and bowed. He was not saying anything and there was silence.
Then the master said, so you have heard the sound without sound! »
Osho, excerpted from: A Cup of Tea
The schedule of the awareness intensive is quite a demanding one. This rigor allow a secure and supportive framework within which participants are able to put all other concerns aside and focus intensely on their quest. The days start early and finish late. Each day there are up to ten communication exercises (dyads). These are interwoven with other meditative activities such as active meditations, silent walks, working meditation, eating and resting meditation. In this way, the day becomes a 24-hour self-enquiry.
20:00 – 21:00 → Introduction Talk
21:00 – 21:40 → Dyad 1
21:45 – 22:00 → Snack + 15 min to prepare for sleeping meditation
22:00 – 06:00 → Sleeping meditation [8h00]
06:00 – 06:15 → Wake up and get ready
06:20 – 07:00 → Dyad 1
07:00 – 08:10 → Dynamic Meditation [70min with explanation]
08:10 – 08:50 → Dyad 2
08:50 – 09:30 → Breakfast and Shower [40min - bells at 9h25]
09:30 – 10:15 → Work as Meditation [45min explanation included – bells at 10h10]
10:15 – 10:55 → Dyad 3
11:00 – 11:40 → Dyad 4
11:45 – 12:55 → Active Meditation or silent walk [70min explanation included]
13:00 – 13:40 → Dyad 5
13:40 – 15:00 → Lunch and Rest [1h20 - bells at 14h55]
15:00 – 15:40 → Talk & Questions/answers
15:45 – 16:05 → Silent sitting
16:10 – 16:50 → Dyad 6
16:55 – 17:35 → Dyad 7
17:40 – 18:20 → Active Meditation or silent walk [70min explanation included]
18:20 – 19:30 → Dinner and Rest [1h10 - bells at 19h25]
19:30 – 20:10 → Dyad 8
20:15 – 20:55 → Dyad 9
21:00 – 21:15 → Breathing exercises or Physical exercises for 15min
21:20 – 22:00 → Dyad 10
22:00 – 22:15 → Snack + 15 min to prepare for sleeping meditation
22:15 – 06:00 → Sleeping meditation [7h45]
13:40 – 15:00 → Lunch and Rest [1h20 - bells at 14h55]
15:00 – 15:40 → Dyad 6
15:45 – 16:25 → Silent sitting
16:30 – 17:10 → Dyad 7
17:15 – 17:35 → Integration Dyad
17:35 – 18:00 → End Talk
♦ Two timeless stories…
«The night Buddha achieved enlightenment, he sat under the tree and he said: "I will not rise from this tree again in my life if I don't attain enlightenment. Finished!" he said, "I am finished with doing anything for it. I am going to sit here -- this tree is going to become my death." A total decision. At that moment he dropped the 'decidophobia' completely -- a total decision. Just meditate on it! And that very night, by the morning he became enlightened.»
« I have heard one story about a Sufi mystic, Baba Shaikh Farid:
Once a young man approached Farid and Farid was taking his bath in the Ganges river, and the man asked him how he might find God. Baba Shaikh Farid took hold of him, led him into the water, and when they had gone deep enough, he forced him under the water. The young man nearly drowned before the holy man released him.
"Why did you do that?" he gulped incredulously.
"When you long for God as much as you wanted air while you were underwater," replied Baba Shaikh Farid, "you will find him."
« The desire should become so intense that you put all that you have at the stake. The passion to seek should be so total that not a single doubt is allowed to make you waver. The very intensity will bring truth. It can happen in a single moment! Just you need to become a total intensity of inner fire.
The decision should be total. It is arduous, of course, but everybody has to pass through that arduousness once. One has to pay for truth, and there is no other way to pay for it, you have to put your whole being on the altar. That is the only sacrifice that is needed. »
Osho, excerpted from: The Search
Talk 6 - Taming the Bull
During the awareness intensive retreat participants are invited to follow a set of agreements designed to ensure a safe and secure environment for all as well as to support each participant’s process.
These agreements are mainly about maintaining silence at all time during the intensive and the removal of all peripheral distractions in order to allow each and every one to dedicate his full attention and energy towards his inner search.
Last but not least, these agreements are also about ensuring a secure and nonjudgmental environment so that each participant can open to himself and to others in trust.
The Set of Agreements
We ask that each of you observe the following set of agreements in order to facilitate your own process and the process of all other participants.
For the duration of this awareness intensive you will be in Silence and Isolation
For the duration of this awareness intensive
Within the communication exercise, refrain from commenting on what your partner has said or from passing judgment in any way, either verbally or non-verbally.
Outside of the intensive, refrain from saying anything about another's process.
Please raise your hand to show your commitment to all the above agreements.
A Sufi story….
« Commitment creates freedom.
When you commit to a movement, you make it with your whole body.
When you commit to a feeling, your passion will give power to your message.
When you commit to a dance, your feeling reaches beyond your limitations.
When you commit to your path, give yourself over to your way of growth.
Magic happens... obstacles get out of your way, mountains lay down before you, the sky opens up above you, and you will find yourself transformed. »
This modern Zen like communication technique developed in the late sixties by Charles Berner has much in store, much more in it than it looks at first glance. It is a dance of Yin and Yang activities, with the partner in the interchange of roles of communicating and listening, as well as within oneself with the alternating of contemplating and communicating.
One aspect of it the technique is of being willful → to give the instruction - to intend - to set out to directly experience oneself - to communicate.
The other aspect is of surrendering, of being open → to be receptive and listening without comments - to remain open to whatever occurs in the mind, emotions or body.
Like in the dance of life, doing and non doing are at work within this technique and the non doing aspect is by far the most important; it is the non-doing that reveals truth, not the doing.
Practicing this technique day in and day out during an intensive will take you far beyond what you have ever dreamt of for yourself.
The Communication Technique step by step
(with 5-minute Bell Changeovers)
Two inpiduals sit facing each other, a comfortable distance apart. One begins as the receptive partner and the other as the active partner.
The receptive partner gives the instruction: « Tell me who you are »
The active partner accepts it from the receptive partner.
The active partner sets out to directly experience himself, by first contacting the actuality of himself in the moment.
He gets a sense of who he is, in the moment, as best he can
Then, he intends to directly experience it
While continuing this intention, he remains open to it, and to whatever occurs in his mind, emotions or body as a result of this intention.
The active partner then gets across to the receptive partner whatever occurred as a result of turning in, not adding anything or leaving anything out.
The receptive partner watches, listens and fully receives the communication without commenting, nodding or evaluating in any way.
The active partner repeats the process of turning in and communicating, keeping a rough balance of time spent in each, until the five minute bell sounds.
When the changeover bell rings, the receptive partner says, "Thank you." acknowledging his partner for his responses to the original instruction.
The active partner then gives the instruction to the receptive partner and the roles reverse.
The dyad continues until the end-bell rings.
Tips and note
Do this technique as well as you can, and accept that. Do not try to be master it from the beginning but gradually work your way toward that.
This technique can also be done with cycle changeovers. That is to say that the change of role happens when the communicating partner has completed his cycle of communication. In this way of practicing there is only the one ending bell. The cycle changeover is a more natural way of practicing yet it requires both partners to really be focus and acquainted with the technique so as not to let the mind drift into something that did not arise out of the contemplation. For the above reason the 5-minute bell changeovers is much easier for beginners, it gives them a secure time frame within which they can contemplate and communicate without having any concern other than their intention.
Last but not least...
Gratitude and appreciation to Charles Berner for developing this communication technique and the settings that supports it.
♦ A Zen story….
« The nun Chiyono studied for years, but was unable to attain enlightenment. One night, she was carrying an old pail filled with water. As she was walking along, she was watching the full moon reflected in the pail of water. Suddenly, the bamboo strips that held the pail together broke, and the pail fell apart.
The water rushed out; the moon's reflection disappeared and Chiyono became enlightened.
She wrote this verse:
« This way and that way I tried to keep the pail together,
Hoping the weak bamboo would never break.
Suddenly the bottom fell out.
No more water; no more moon in the water
Emptiness in my hand. »
« Enlightenment happens when it happens; you cannot order it, you cannot cause it to happen. Still, you can do much for it to happen, but whatsoever you do is not going to function as a cause. Whatsoever you do is not going to bring enlightenment to you, but it prepares you to receive it. It comes when it comes. Whatsoever you do simply prepares you to receive it, to see it when it comes, to recognize it when it comes.
It happens... but if you are not ready you go on missing it. It is happening every moment. Every breath that goes in and comes out brings enlightenment to you, because enlightenment is the very stuff the existence is made of. But to recognize it is the problem, to see that it is there is the problem. »
Osho, excerpted from: The Secret of Secrets
Talk 17 - A little bit of sky
Active meditations are use during the awareness intensive to help participants move more rapidly through physical and emotional barriers as well as to anchor themselves in a meditative space, in awareness. They also help create a balance between physical and non-physical activities.
All activities during the awareness intensive: working, eating, walking, resting and sleeping periods are pointing in the direction of being a witness and letting go of this false sense of ‘being the doer’.
The way these active meditations are structured helps moving in that direction.
They are called ‘active meditations’ as opposed to other more passive meditation techniques like Vipassana or Zazen for instance. They were developed during the seventies by an Indian master, Osho (1931-1990)
The active meditations used in the Awareness Intensive retreat
Dynamic meditation is used every morning after the first dyad, it helps moving the energy and offers a space to let go of repressed feelings and emotions. It It eases the anchoring in the sex center, where our life force resides. The non-active phase of this meditation is an opportunity to experience 'being a witness'..
Read more about this meditation and its different stages.
Mandala meditation takes place around midday the first two days of the intensive. This technique helps opening the hara center so that the energy can move upwards, from the Hara to the third eye. This meditation stimulates focusing and helps centering in the ever present stillness. It is a very good tool to stay connected with our intention.
Read more about this meditation and its different stages.
Kundalini meditation is the late afternoon active meditation. It unblocks tensions accumulated during the day and creates a fresh empty space where silence can simply take over and expand. Listening to a partner in a communication dyad from that empty space becomes true listening.
Read more about this meditation and its different stages.
Nataraj meditation is often used on the last day around midday. Dancing for forty minutes enables an intimate contact with oneself where feelings of joy and of celebration emerge naturally. This meditation is also an invitation to ‘dissolve in dancing’ and thus enter in a space where only dancing exists.
Read more about this meditation and its different stages.
♦ A Zen story….
« A great philosophical official, Riko, once asked the strange Zen Master, Nansen, to explain to him the old koan of the goose in the bottle.
If a man puts a gosling into a bottle, said Riko, and feeds him until he is full-grown, how can the man get the goose out without killing it or breaking the bottle?
Nansen gave a great clap with his hands and shouted, Riko!
Yes, Master, said the official with a start.
See, said Nansen, the goose is out! »
« It is only a question of seeing; it is only a question of becoming alert, awake. It is only a question of waking up. The goose is in the bottle if you are in a dream; the goose has never been in the bottle if you are awake. »
Osho, excerpted from: The Goose is Out
Talk 1 – The goose is out!
Silence is a tremendous help and support to any inward journey. In an awareness intensive participants are asked to maintain silence at all time except during the communication dyads.
All activities - working, eating, walking, resting and sleeping periods – are considered as meditation time and a support to the inner search.
One of these silent activities is known as ‘work as a meditation’. During a forty minutes period, a simple task is assigned to each participant. The emphasis is on ‘who’ is doing the task and on the quality brought to this action, more than on the task itself.
A Zen master used to say: “When you clean the room or the dishes, it is you who is being cleaned; the attention that you bring to your gesture, the totality of your gesture cleans you and, as a by-product, the room or the dishes are also being cleaned.”
This practice of doing a small task silently while continuing intending to directly experience the question at hand, helps gain the ability to be in the present moment; ability which can easily be transposed into daily life.
♦ A Zen story...
« A disciple had come to see Ikkyu, his master. The disciple had been practicing for some time. It was raining, and as he went in, he left his shoes and umbrella outside.
After he paid his respects, the master asked him on which side of his shoes he had left his umbrella.
Now, what kind of question is this? You don't expect masters to ask such mundane questions, you expect them to ask about God, about Kundalini rising or chakras opening. They must ask about such important things, about spirituality.
However, Ikkyu asked a very ordinary question. No Christian saint would have asked it, no Jain monk would have asked it, no Hindu swami would have asked it. It can be done only by one who is really with the Buddha, in the Buddha, who is really a Buddha himself.
Ikkyu asked him on which side of his shoes he had left his umbrella. Now, what do shoes and umbrellas have to do with spirituality? If the same question had been asked to you, you would have felt annoyed. What kind of question is this? But there is something immensely valuable in it. Had he asked about God, about Kundalini and Chakras that would have been nonsense, utterly meaningless, but this has meaning.
The disciple could not remember who bothers where you have put your shoes and on which side you have put your umbrella, to the right or to the left. Who bothers? Who pays so much attention to umbrellas? Who thinks of shoes? Who is so careful? But that was enough, the disciple was refused.
Ikkyu said: Then go and meditate for seven years more.
Seven years! The disciple said just for this small fault!
Ikkyu replied: this is not a small fault. Faults are not small or big, you are just not yet living meditatively, that's all. Go back, meditate for seven years more, and come again. »
« This is the essential message, be careful, careful of everything and don't make any distinction between things; that this is trivia and that is spiritual. It depends on you. Pay attention, be careful, and everything becomes spiritual. Don't pay attention, don't be careful, and everything becomes unspiritual.
Spirituality is imparted by you, it is your gift to the world.
When a master like Ikkyu touches his umbrella, the umbrella is as divine as anything can be. Meditative energy is alchemical. It transforms the base metal into gold; it goes on transforming the baser into the higher. At the ultimate peak, everything is divine. This very world is the paradise, and this very body the Buddha.
So do the small things of life with a relaxed awareness. When you are eating, eat totally, chew totally, taste totally, smell totally. Touch your bread, feel the texture. Smell the bread, smell the flavour. Chew it, let it dissolve into your being, and remain conscious--and you are meditating. And then meditation is not separate from life.
Whenever meditation is separate from life, something is wrong. It becomes life-negative. Then one starts thinking of going to a monastery or to a Himalayan cave. Then one wants to escape from life, because life seems to be a distraction from meditation. Life is not a distraction; life is an occasion for meditation. »
Osho, excerpted from: Take it Easy
Talk 26 – A Way of Life