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Piet/Steven Dialogue

More about “the Self” and Alternatives #2

Steven: a “thing” is an item among other items. A self in a bed, separate from the bed, in a room but separate from the room, with other people but separate from them … that’s a “thing.” Separation. The perception that these things are not separate from one another, but are codependently given, is the alternative. These two distinct cases can be seen, and also seen as distinct. {July 5, 2006 note to the reader: I'm ignoring certain complications here about types of separation or delineation that we'll discuss later ... obviously there are good reasons for delimiting things for many purposes, but the perception of integration or connection also has its place.}

Piet: OK, that makes sense.

Steven: then theres a third case, when you start seeing the second case that I mentioned, and you work with that in a fairly thorough way, for most people it takes time … but gradually a third dimension comes in and that is the Ground nature or Founding nature, which I've been saying is the real point behind the use of words like “God” and so on. That starts looming into view, and you see that every instant of your presence there as what you call “you” is actually something that doesn’t leave this originally pure, spiritually Founding nature. It’s like going to the bank and getting the cash that stands behind a check that someone gave you. Note that I don’t mean this in a substance or “ens” (thing) way … I’m not buying into a metaphysic here. In the traditions this is a big subject, and we’ll need to talk about it at length sometime.

So first you are an isolate among isolates, then you are part of a codependence field of some kind, then you are part of a ground and that ground dimension has a radically different logic. Time there is completely different than the time of an apparent isolate. The latter's kind of time is based on being connected to or correlated with the past and anticipating a future that you are “not yet in,” etc. The kind of time associated with the original or grounding nature is very different. It cannot be conceived by the ordinary mind movements that go with this belief in an isolate.

The mind has to thaw out, it’s like ice following out and becoming water, and then the water becoming vapor … it becomes very subtle and tenuous, and able to do all kinds of things that ice couldn’t do. Ice is just stuck there. And in each case, it’s not just that you can do more, it’s that your appreciation of what’s true about your situation changes radically.

So the implications are vast. If you are an isolate among isolates, then the only thing that’s available to you is a change of state. You can go from being an isolate which is in one state, like hot or cold, or happy or unhappy, to the alleged same isolate in a different state. So you can undergo an apparent change of conditions. In fact you will need and seek a change of conditions, or you will seek the maintenance of a particular condition over time, in opposition to other conditions … these are your only choices.

So in an ethical or spiritual context, all that you could do is to try to undergo a change of state of an alleged ethical kind, like a feeling of compassion for someone or the condition of sympathy or generosity, etc. But this is still just taking on conditions. And these conditions would then be things you'd have to seek—“I don’t have them but I can acquire them and try to hold onto them.” It’s a rather superficial dress-up game, and it’s also based on reaching for something that hasn’t already present. So the whole thing is frozen and clunky and not very likely to ever work very well or to be very meaningful or authentic in an ethical or spiritual sense. So what you can really do to help others when following that logic is very limited. If you go to a more refined appreciation of what you are, then you can do more, etc. I don’t know of any of this addresses your concern, but it’s one line of answer.

Piet: so here's the central problem...

Steven: OK. Who has this central problem?

Piet: (laughter)

(long pause, then more laughter)

Steven: wait, you can’t use thinking to answer this question, that won’t work!

Piet: (more laughter) Yes.

Steven: anyway, go ahead!

Piet: (Laughter) Yet the fact that there is a problem can of course only be posed from the limited view that there are problems.

Steven: and somebody has to own that problem and want a resolution to it, and hold the pieces together that constitute the appreciation of the problem and also the resolution … this is all evidence of little kernel like a grain of sand that you make a pearl around or something, except that it’s merely a grain of sand here, it’s this “self” thing, it’s not something truly precious. If you relaxed that, or saw clearly what the core thing really is, you’d actually have something more valuable than a pearl. It’s not that we would lose our minds, or become incapable of framing thoughts, we would actually be more capable but in a different way. Cognition works very differently then. This is the “ways of knowing” issue.

Piet: okay well, let me try again! (Laughter)

Steven: I’m really sorry …

Piet: no no, that’s very interesting, because that’s part of the problem, just as you said. Given everything I've learned in my life up till this very moment, there's really no doubt I can think of that the one thing which has value, relatively speaking within the world we live in, not from an ideal but just practically speaking, the one thing I can think of which really has value is to find a way to really see through all the patterns that hold me and to really obtain freedom.

And this is again the assertive spiral thing, that I can see much more clearly now than when I wrote Freedom from Identification. This freedom business has always been my intuitive pointer to what is really valuable. I mean, values … I've always been very unhappy with the word “values” from the beginning of Kira, but freedom—that is my one value!

Steven: yes well, they map into each other. I hate to be assuming something in our discussion that you quite rightly are suspicious of and want to gain more clarity about, but for the moment I will just do that … I'll say that this typical, more isolate-oriented stance or self-assuming stance, understands by “freedom,” the freedom to do more things. Whereas my claim is that the real point of freedom, where you get real freedom, is not by doing something more different or longer or more powerfully, but by awakening to a radically enhanced kind of Being. That isn’t a “doing” thing. And it is also just an aspect of stepping into “significance.” More fully appreciating what is so, is already freedom. You're not doing anything, you may not even be moving, but the appreciation of what is present there is enhanced and that is where you find real being, and it is also where “significance” comes in.

Significance and freedom are two sides of the same coin. More insight, more significance, more freedom—those or all the same. And I think even scientific insight, in some cases, can be to various degrees and appreciation of this kind of greater freedom, greater fulfillment, you're stepping into an appreciation of Actuality, not just a solution of a narrowly-defined technical or theoretical problem.

Piet: so the way I understand this, and began to see it more clearly yesterday, is the one thing which I can think is valuable, is to find a way to see through all the patterns. And by seeing through them, letting them all go, letting their spell or power on you all go, and becoming free and spontaneous. Like the ideals of all these people I have been reading about …

So yesterday that somehow crystallized more clearly than before, and also at this very moment, while we were talking. Here I am, a concrete situation, here I am and whoever I am, as long as I still think I am an “I” or whatever … so within this picture, which of course has to be dropped… and there's nothing else which seems to be more interesting, whether it’s a gain in my career or money or fame, you name it.

It’s so crystal clear that this is so much more important than anything else, this overrules everything else, this is the highest priority. Once this is in place, this seeing, once I can connect with that way of being, then everything else will fall into place, whether it is doing my job better or connecting with other people better, all those can only get better as a result. That’s completely crystal clear now, more than it ever was before. And in the spiral movement I also remember seeing this pretty clearly at a number of times in my life when I was very inspired, etc., and I welcome all this to come back again, but in a wider setting with more understanding of what’s going on.

So the question is, well … the game seems to be over! Even when described within the “I” picture … because in leading up to the game, the problem was “well spiritual practice seems to be nice, but I first have to milk the cow, I first have to comb my hair, or this that in the other thing, and then I can do this.” I honestly don’t feel I have that now … I think basically that has dropped away, as far as I can see. The obstacles towards really focusing on this have largely dropped away. It took a long time, but as far as I can see … and I may be completely blind and confusing myself, but as far as I can tell, more than at any other earlier point in my life, I see that clearly—that this is the only valuable thing.

Now on the other side of what you could do, having come to this conclusion, again still within the “I”-based picture, I’m getting more and more convinced that indeed there is nothing to do, that there is only insight. And I’m beginning to taste more what this really could mean, what the famous teachers say, that you first have to start at the end of the road. You first have to really see it and then you can polish, then you can practice, then you can spend twenty years watching a wall or going through the marketplace, whenever you like to do to sort of make it really complete … what you have said too.

So I’m more than happy to do this polishing business, whatever it may wind up being, although I have some intuition about that too. But this seeing picture … it seems like my obstacles have largely dropped away and I see the rest is so non-effort like … here I am, at the border, ready to change my currency and the game seems to be over. But at the same time I’m still sitting here and I don’t quite feel yet like these noble saints I have in mind. So something must be lacking!

Steven: as you know very well, lots of things are probably wrong or need improvement, but none of them change the basic fact that it’s over.

Both: (Laughter)

Piet & Steven, recorded 5/11/05, posted 7/5/06

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