I do wonder if the search for awakening or enlightenment is really about something different than what it is often made out to be.
Every time I have watched someone use this kind of work we do to start resting with and making all emotions conscious, letting them be as they are, inevitably the spiritual seeking begins to wind down right alongside that practice.
I think it is much more than a coincidence.
It would seem to be that it might drastically change the entire conversation about enlightenment or awakening if we all began to experience that this is indeed the case, that the mechanism of avoidance and escape of feelings is very much behind the drive to awaken.
It seems the conversation around awakening would be much different, more pragmatic, if we began to view the search to awaken as merely an extension of our desire to avoid or escape painful emotions. It would no longer be about being special or being “those who are awakened” or any of that. And really no more about gurus. There would be a very practical view of it, helping everyone to reorient themselves systematically and begin addressing this desire to avoid and escape what is quite natural – emotions.
It seems that identification with thought itself diminishes greatly, once these feelings are owned fully. The Kiloby Center has become a lab for me to test out this theory. And it seems very accurate.
The focus for those who search for awakening often centers on the notion of awareness as something prior to the arising of thought, emotion. The focus is often on thoughts themselves, or identification with them. The idea is, “If I identify less with thought, I will recognize my True Self as this Awareness.” Ok, fair enough. But what will that give you? What will that show you ultimately? Is there something about the human experience itself that is driving this idealized search for something beyond? Virtually every mature awareness teachings says that even awareness (as something prior to thought and emotion) falls away at some point. So recognizing an Awareness prior to phenomena is not even the final frontier. It seems to me that recognizing awareness ultimately must come with a full-on acceptance and allowance of all phenomena to be as they are – all thoughts and emotions. And this results in less identification with thoughts and emotions. Could it be that it is our relationship to thought and emotion that is the key factor here – not some transcendental notion of awareness?
In the last few years, I have been focusing much more with people on the Velcro Effect, which is the experience of thoughts being stuck to emotions and sensations. The Inquiries undo this stuckness, not through avoidance and escape, but through the bare naked present allowing of all emotions, both conscious and unconscious. And at the Center, when clients become adept at this skill, their spiritual seeking fades. They come naturally into alignment with the present moment and the natural acceptance of all that arises. Identification with thought decreases with the undoing of the Velcro. And although many report a shift into present awareness, it ends up being not something prior to thought and emotion.
The whole idea of “prior to” starts looking like an escape or avoidance of thought and emotion. As the Velcro Effect is undone, even thought and emotion are totally ok. Everything is allowed. And so the whole paradigm of awakening is blown out of the water. The word “awareness” and all the other words thrown around about awakening begin to seem silly and unuseful.
What people actually come to see is that they just didn’t want to feel. And they had spent their whole lives trying not to feel. As feelings are fully felt and the velcro is undone, life looks different. There is no longer a state in the future that looks so appealing, either as a state of only positive bliss or a state in which emotions are absent. There is nothing to seek. There is nothing to avoid or escape. There is no specialness to this. It’s a matter of simply reorienting themselves to emotions that were stuck to thoughts. Learn to undo the Velcro, and the avoidance and escape stops. Therefore the seeking stops.