Life is a performance of appearances

(sound of bells ringing)

Stuart: Notice if there is anything going on that you’re aware of in your mind or your body that is stopping you from resting and being totally relaxed. Is there anything happening in your life outside of this room that’s calling your attention right now? And if there is, observe it, look at what your mind is telling you, and then leave it alone if you can. And choose to relax even more right here in the present. Notice if there is an emotional feeling arising right now, like do you like the bells or do you dislike the bells? Would you like to go to church or not? And once again, notice if your body is doing any kind of holding, bracing, any tightness at all, and see if you can just open up and relax even more. And could the bells be brought into the silence also? Could they be welcomed? Or do you have a sense of them intruding on your presence and peace?

(pause)

The story on my mind is pretty much that trying to fix myself when I was very young. I had an experience which left me very frightened, very, very, went into extreme terror, when I was about 16. When I was 16, I thought I was dying. And this feeling of death sort of went on for years; the dread of it. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and feel myself dropping. Anyway, the thing is the fear. Sort of immense fear. And it’s been sort of main occupation of my mind is to find a way out of this fear. And trying to find a way out of the fear, at the same time I could see that there was a lot of, you didn’t need to live in pain, I mean, there’s something else there too. So it was that I’m looking for that at the same time as trying to be free of the fear.

Stuart: Was the pain intense?

It was emotional pain. It was an LSD experience, actually. And doing this I thought I heard this voice saying, you’re going to die now. Just relax. It’ll be fine. And I thought, oh, okay, for a bit. And then after a bit, I went, I’m not going to die.

Stuart: It didn’t seem like a good idea.

It did to begin with. It seemed completely natural to begin with, and then it didn’t. And then I went into real terror and fought whatever it was. I didn’t know what I was fighting. And then at the end of it, I made a deal with God—that he’d let me stay providing I lived a good life. And at the time I was doing that there was like me, like all that I thought of as me, and the body, and terrified and trying to make this deal. And then next there was me sitting there as well, sitting completely serene watching me.

Stuart: You don’t have to talk over this. You can just be with it.

And this me was like a serene, perfectly like don’t worry about it, it’s just unnecessary. Anyway, I wasn’t intending to talk about that really. It was more that in the process of trying to fix myself for such a long period of time, with seeming great success sometimes. I mean there were periods of—

Stuart: What do you mean by fix?

To make myself free of the fear. It seemed to me that if I could be free of the fear, then I would be free as a human being to live my life with love. It seemed to me that love was on the other side of the fear, and if I was to be free of the fear, I would then be love. And I’ve tried it. I’ve tried everything I could since I was 16, for years and years, and all kinds of things. And the whole emphasis, even though I could hear it time and time again, it was always on being rid of what was there in order to then be left with what should be there. And that premise has seemed to be the, even when it appears at a time when that clearly wasn’t what was happening, whether I was doing it or not doing it, I don’t know, but it seemed to—. And then it’s like so obvious that the inclusion of everything is completely, actually, completely the opposite of it. And so obviously that something will disappear if you leave it alone. You’re grappling. It’s almost as if there’s a button that gets pressed, so that as soon as I hear that, and that’s been lived for a while, it just gets hit on again. It’s absurd. It can’t possibly work. It gets kicked out even in the face of some lovely experiences. Very illuminated times where there was no fear and seemed to be no person, and yet this would be, this unwillingness to include, this compulsion not to, in a way.

Stuart: This compulsion not to what?

Compulsion that to be free is to be rid of as the way that you are free. You move through things. It’s like a processing. An idea of processing. Processing is the way that you move forward.

Stuart: It seems logical, doesn’t it?

It does. I mean, I suppose it’s all our culture’s completely built on that. Which I suppose may be partly why. I think it’s like I feel probably more less interested in surviving my life than I have ever been before. I mean, I care so much less about what people think of me, and it has always been so important, even though I would pretend or hope that it wasn’t. It’s like, it really is a dream. And I feel like I’m in a dream. It’s emotional, but it’s no big deal.

Stuart: It’s a revelation.

Yes. The dream is here. And it’s like it seems very clear. The world is seen very clear. Everything is seen very clear. And now, I feel like I’m in a dream. And it seems the unconscious, if that’s the right word, I don’t know if it is, but there’s so much which is, and I’m sitting, and I’m feeling this, watching this endless dream of mind stuff going by.

Stuart: Not wanting to die. That’s the mind’s dream.

Oh, not wanting, yes.

Stuart: I’m here. I’m here. I’m here. Pay attention. This is you. (chuckle) It lied. You see, what you said in the very beginning, where you heard you’re going to die, and there was no resistance to it, and there was no reaction, it seemed very okay, it seemed right. The question really is, is under the influence of the LSD, who heard it? The witness heard it, and it was quite alright because the witness knew it couldn’t die. So people take LSD to have an experience that’s out of body, beyond mind, hopefully they want a good experience. And then it seems like, oh, wait a minute, (chuckle) logic comes back. I don’t want to die. I’m alive here, and I don’t feel comfortable not being here. This is my life. And I’ve got to fight to keep it. And once that assumption that I am this body, and it’s my life, and I’ve got to keep it, then like the deal you made with God, you’ve got to purify yourself. And be worthy of God’s approval. So you have a good life, not a suffering life. And that’s endless because you always, we always, wander away looking for something that gives us pleasure immediately. Or we do something we disapprove of or we speak in a certain way or we’re not kind. Whatever. We’re human. And then more penance, more fear. Oh my God, God won’t love me. I won’t love me. I’m doomed. And the play, the dream, becomes very, very real. I must fit in. I must be like everyone else. I must have their love. Whatever. I’ve got to make it happen. And all the while, the witness to the whole dream has been already known, felt, experienced. It’s here right now. Isn’t it? Is it Jill? Strong. Because I would say everybody sitting in this room has a heart’s desire to know themselves, even if they didn’t think about it consciously before they got here. Did you, Marie? To know yourself?

(Marie) Yeah, it did actually, when I think about it, about coming.

Stuart: Yeah. It’s what pulls you to something you don’t know anything about, but you do know what it’s about, don’t you? It’s about something you can’t really speak about, but you know it. And when I say to rest and relax, what you’re doing is expanding into it. Out of the dream character going through the days, this is my life, there’s got to be more than this. I love it. I hate it. There’s got to be more than this. I’m having a good time. This is a good period, right? Isn’t it, for you? Lindsey?

(Lindsey) Is it a good period?

Stuart: Your life.

Sometimes.

Stuart: More than not, don’t you think? Oh, whatever. (laughter) Yeah, sometimes. That’s the truth of it. And that’s good. Sometimes, it’s good is really great.

Sometimes it’s really great, and sometimes, it’s, oh well.

Stuart: Yes. It looks the same, but you see it differently, depending on how you feel. It’s like you’re either connected or you’re not connected to this mystery of you. If you’re connected, you can do no wrong, even if it’s not going your way. But if you’re not connected, it better go your way because—

It also moves very quickly, doesn’t it? Everything moves very quickly. When the stillness is there, and you are witnessing it, then what’s actually present, and it could be a problem, moves so fast that you’re in a new environment so quickly with new feelings and new thoughts going on. It’s almost as if, if it’s left alone, it can speed up, and you can watch it going past at a rate that there’s no problem.

Stuart: Are you talking about like a vibratory rate?

Well, it’s like now, my mind goes, Stuart is talking to me, now he’s talking to somebody else. And I’m watching this going on, and then there’s this moment of, it’s not really fair, is it? Or something like that. And then I’m watching it, and I mean, of course it’s like two year old humorous. And then a second later, there’s something completely new there. And I’ve no idea what it’s going to be next.

(laughter)

Stuart: And don’t try and make any logic out of the laughter. There is something about the recognition of who you are that makes the whole world seem very humorous. On that recognition in particular. That there’s somebody watching it. And your real awareness of existence has nothing to do with your life. It’s you, but it doesn’t have to do any chores. Get that. Your real identity before you know yourself, before you identify as the person that has to get up every morning and make good, in some way or another, is a part you’re playing that you must play. You must. Because it certainly does appear like you. Get up. Get ready. Get out of the house and go to work. That’s your life.

But it’s also unpredictable, isn’t it? It should make sense, the next thing that’s going on, because it’s me, and yet, it doesn’t. It’s irrelevant. It’s almost irrelevant. The set next feelings and thoughts that come up are almost irrelevant to anything. I mean, they’re meaningless. A meaningless flow of, I don’t know what it is.

Stuart: It gets your attention, doesn’t it?

Always. It’s incredibly interesting. And I can see and feel the belief that this is me again, and then that it’s not me again. It’s like, I’m in it, and I’m swimming in it, and this is me. And I’m kind of immersed in the movie—suddenly all so real—and I’m immersed in it. And oh my God, they said this and this is happening then what’s important gone again. And I’m like—

Stuart: Am I losing my mind?

I’m watching it go by. And it’s irrelevant and it’s mysterious and it’s interesting. It’s like it’s interesting from a standpoint of that this is supposed to be me. This is what I’ve identified with. It’s difficult. I feel the difficulty when I’m talking about it because I feel that so much of my identity, or so much of who I think I am, is invested in the whole process of discovery. My ego is entirely, since 16, it’s always been, I mean, I’ve been searching and doing all kinds of stuff. And I’ve all the rewards in the world have always come from being not necessarily a good person, but a person on the journey.

Stuart: A person expanding.

Yes. It’s like from when I was 16, and I went off, I hitchhiked to India. And I got back, and I was written up in the school magazine. It’s like wow! I have achieved fame. And this is a good thing. I mustn’t give this up. This is what works.

Stuart: He’s back from his pilgrimage.

(laughter)

People who never would even speak to me before wanted to know me. I thought this is great. But I didn’t think this is great because I wasn’t aware of the sham. I wasn’t in the distance kind of aware of the authenticity of it. But it’s like going in combination with what really works to get me what I really want in my life to survive, and then the discovery happening at the same time, which is amazing and wonderful and the feeling of freedom and so on. And thinking thoughts like sincerity is the key to friendship. I remember at 16, I thought that, and it just opened up a world of friendship for me with other people. I didn’t feel alone anymore.

Stuart: Because? Because when you are not identifying with the character, you are in a state of love. And when you are in your mind identifying as the character, you are craving love. That’s the curse. And you hear great masters like Ramana Maharshi say, you have to die to the ego to know your glory because when there’s no remnant left, moment-to-moment, as you were describing it, you have moments of being all love and not identifying with the character. So therefore, everything you see is seen through love. You’re not craving love. You’re not looking. You’re not asking. You’re not begging. You’re not hoping. You are it. And nothing else. Nothing else. There’s no question of you being impure or unworthy or worthy or spiritual (chuckle) or anything. You’re nothing. But you are this awareness of love. And there’s a very fast vibratory rate. You could say that in the stillness, it’s like the exact opposite of logic and reasonableness. In the mind, things must make sense, but when you’re in this a witness, awareness, loving, being, and sometimes it’s just like absolutely nothing going on, but it’s very pleasant because everything is speeded up. The vibratory rate is fast. You’re still, but it’s fast. And when it stops, all of a sudden, you plop back into an identity. And it’s kind of like now we can stretch out time, open it up. Curtains open: I am me. You are you. How are you? Tell me more about me.

(laughter)

I think that’s one of the things that’s so fascinating about being honest is there seems to be a channel to that. It seems to be more available in that. The hiding is the worst of it. The most painful of it.

Stuart: I would say pretending to be happy is very painful. Very painful.

Pretending not to be afraid.

Stuart: Pretending not to be afraid. All the things that make us human. That we are or what we believe we are, we have to, well, it’s like making everything very solid: solid, real, material, manifest. We’re manifesting our dreams. We’re trying to make this state beautiful and fill it with love and things and people that give us pleasure. We’re trying to solidify our original state and hold onto it to the exclusion of everything else that’s going on. Hold onto the good; push away the bad.

Instead of encompassing it as it comes. Instead of embracing it or welcoming it.

Stuart: Instead of seeing that it cannot be done. Nobody is that good a juggler. Nobody can keep away the things that make them afraid or nobody can keep away what’s really going on. You can be hurt. You can get sick. You can do all kinds of things that cause great pain to yourself and others. You can suffer. You can have remorse. And you can have great joy. That’s why we like theater. It’s all over the place. And we’re gonna make it the way we want it, hopefully. And sometimes we do for a while.

It seems to happen, doesn’t it.

Stuart: For a while. It has its moments.

I’ve never felt more insane in my life. I feel absolutely completely mad.

Stuart: And that’s the good part.

(laughter)

It is. It is. It’s nice

Stuart: Absolutely, because see, it’s a seeing through. It’s a seeing through. It’s like what I would say is you’re awake, and it’s a complete joke. I am completely fine and my life might be a complete mess. I might be a complete failure. I may be completely off the mark. And who cares? Because I-Am. You see? I am here. And I know it. And what else can the Self do but look at the whole play benevolently, without judgment.

And the mind wants—

Stuart: It’s stymied. It’s stymied by the awareness of truth. It has no rebuttal. So it’s still. The power of the witness, the self, the consciousness is full. So your thoughts taken as you, cannot seduce you back to the known in this moment. Impossible. Not interested. I’m not interested in the player.

It is disinterest, isn’t it?

Stuart: Yeah. Disinterest. It’s too involved right in this moment. Yes, Jill? Are you involved in the self? If not, we’ll wait.

(laughter)

Maybe not this moment.

Stuart: I frightened her. She thought she was going into someplace very meditative. Juice it up, Jill. (chuckle) Is your head kind of empty?

Yes, pretty much.

Stuart: Yes. Just a few wavelength thoughts going by like goldfish?

Yeah.

Stuart: Well, they just go in a loop.

(laughter)

Stuart: Watch them swim around. They have lots to say.

Actually, it’s mainly, I’m listening. I’m not sure if that’s thought, but I am listening. Even when I don’t understand what I’m hearing, I’m just leaving that open. Not struggling too much to understand if I don’t. But most of what I hear, I’m kind of, I’m fairly at home with so far.

Stuart: That’s good. Great. And really, the whole process is one of being aware and then perhaps turning away or feeling like you’ve lost it. And then being aware, and then the thoughts come up, and all of a sudden it pulls you in, and then wait a minute—it’s going to and coming back.

It’s like the inclusion of whatever’s there turns into love. It’s like instead of fighting what’s there, inclusion of it causes it to turn into from something which I’m so used to trying to manipulate and not manipulating it but just accepting it. It just seems to have turned and disappeared: it looks like a dragon, and all of a sudden, it’s not, it’s flowers.

(pause)

So what’s outside? So what’s outside and what’s inside? (tears)

(pause)

Stuart: Don’t manipulate this. Don’t judge this. Catch yourself judging it.

It’s so fast. The mind’s so fast it gets in there. Make this part of the show. That’s the same thing, isn’t it?

Stuart: Well, it’s a performance. Life is a performance of appearances. And some appearances are more desirable according to culture and custom than others. And a show of emotions is definitely not part of the acceptable ones. So you have to cut that self out. Deny it and shut it off. Which also means you have to cut down the joy and be kind of somewhere in the middle. I think that’s called balance.

(laughter)

Stuart: Kind of silly, isn’t it? Because your nature is this joy, but it’s not really acceptable.

No, I remember that from when I was a child. You behave. Go over there.

Stuart: You cannot manipulate joy, you see.

(laughter)

It just some memories flashing back of how seriously I took all the telling offs. I remember like a very little person and very just want to get out—the day is out there. It’s out there! I can get out there. Hurry, I can’t wait to get out there. And I went looking, and I see adults who are so serious about it all. What am I missing? Look at them. There is something really important that I must find out because obviously I’m not doing this right. (laughing) I’ve sort of spent my life to heal this so very seriously. All of this strange game that is so serious.

Stuart: But you’re right. You’re absolutely right. You substituted joy for power and wealth; stocks and bonds; possessions; living grandly. We’ve manifested joy into things and appearances, so life has become some sort of game to get there. And if you aren’t born into it, maybe you can win the lotto or the jackpot or a dancing contest, and then your life is worthwhile.

(laughter)

Stuart: Then there’s a reason for you to be alive because you’ve played the game well and you won.

(laughter)

And it’s so deadening, isn’t it? The winning.

Stuart: Well, it’s not a real winning. It’s an appearance to try and look like joy, but what it really gets most of the time is haughtiness.

Yes, arrogance.

Stuart: Yes. And we all love arrogant people, don’t we?

(laughter)

Stuart: You like them, right Andy? Never mind.

(laughter)

Like what?

Stuart: Arrogant people.

Absolutely not. You knew that.

Stuart: That’s why it was a joke. You could say self-discovery is discovering that what appears is not the real knowingness. But you are it. That’s self-discovery. You discovering who you really are. And always have been.

It’s a substitute for it. This image, it’s just very clear that certain watching the television, watching the news, and everyone else seemed to understand what they were talking about. And I don’t understand, and I’ve got to understand what this is about. I have to understand this. This school, something or other. And it’s like it became so important to be seen to understand.

Stuart: And get serious. This is a serious game. And everything that comes out of your mouth you’re accountable for. Best to keep it shut. It’s a lot of pressure. It’s like the truth is so strong. It’s bursting through the circuits of the conditioned mind. So you catch yourself being yourself, and then they kind of fizzle out and burn themselves out, like the old televisions with all those tubes in them. You know what I mean? They’re like popping, and you’re seeing through them. I am not this. I am not all of this learned behavior of be serious and do this and be quiet and be afraid.

And when it is compelling, then what? When it’s not funny and it is compelling and it is drawing you in and it is painful, then what? It’s not going fizzle, fizzle. When it’s really feeling real, then what?

Stuart: Then what? Then you have a choice of remembering what you already know by being still and being as open to what’s going on as you can. Being present. Being aware. Because you know that very well. I know you know that. Allowing things to be as they are. You catch yourself taking it very seriously and tight and wishing it was different. You catch it, and you start where you’re at, and say, okay, could that be okay? In your own way. You know how you do it. Could I be with that?

And it isn’t okay?

Stuart: That’s right. And I hate it. And I hate it!

And it bloody isn’t okay!

Stuart: That’s right. And I hate it!

And okay, well it’s okay. I can just about manage this, but when is it going to end? When?

Stuart: Never.

(laughter)

Stuart: You’re stuck in it. I would say it’s about being honest. I hate it. It’s not gonna end. And I hate that. That’s the parts that we don’t want to alter. We just want to take away the parts we don’t like: the boring, tedious, painful, annoying parts, and people that fit that. Especially.

Just take them out.

Stuart: Yeah. We’ll just have to shoot them for their own good. But they don’t even realize.

No they don’t.

(laughter)

Stuart: They don’t. I know. They just don’t get it. They should not be here.

(Student = #2) We do sometimes think like that though, don’t we?

Stuart: Yes, we do. That’s because we’re such loving people.

(laughter)

You reminded me of somewhere I was over summer. And it was a gathering in a forest of lots of really lovely people from all over, all over Europe, all over the world, in fact. And all living as one, living close to the land. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. And I noticed, within a few days, you can see where this is going.

(laughter)

(#3) Your mother turned up again.

(laughter)

I had this idea that everything in this beautiful, magical forest should be beautiful and peaceful and harmonious. And people should be living consciously, but this wasn’t the beauty of this. And then after about three days, a group of people set up a camp about 10 or 20 yards from me. And they were very loud. They took lots of drugs They had psychedelic workshops, which basically involved dropping acid for a day. And they somehow managed to rig up a car battery with a base guitar amplifier.

(#4) The bastards.

(laughter)

And on the same day, there were some people, we were serving food, and I’m not even gonna be specific about this, but there were some people in the fellow servers, and it takes about 80 people to serve the food, and there were a couple of people who were saying, that’s not the way to do it; this is the way to do it; you’re doing it wrong. And if people come late, then they shouldn’t get the first serving of food. And I noticed that the people who were being sort of a bit gruff and bossy and arrogant in the food serving circle were the same nationality as the people who had rigged up the big base guitar amplifier next to where I was trying to sleep. And immediately, I noticed that my mind started putting people into pigeonholes, and this was a very easy place to do this because oddly enough, people did tend to cluster with their own nationalities. You have a forest and a mountain, and anyone can go anywhere and everybody’s lovely and call each other brother and sister and its harmonious and its conscious and da-da-da-da-da, and people start falling into little groups. So you have the French camp, the British camp, the Russian camp.

Stuart: And the lines are drawn.

Yeah. And I kind of saw in a moment how prejudices and hatred and division and ultimately wars can arise from that mental state. I really had to catch myself. And I had one nationality that I thought were lovely because they were the most fun, and they always fed you when you met them, and they were sort of calm, and they didn’t like doing drugs, and they even—

Stuart: One that shall go nameless.

One group even brought some of, this woman brought some of her mother’s cooking with her in jars from the homeland and was heating it up over an open fire. And they were just fun, and they had these cheesy folksong traditions. But it really made me realize how our minds tend to want to put things in pigeonholes, draw boundaries around things, and put labels on things, and have the potential destruction that that state of mind can do if it’s allowed to spiral out of control. Anyway, just a realization. How wonderful it is when we can let that drop.

Stuart: So it’s either all there or it’s not there at all.

What do you mean?

Stuart: Well, either you’re relating to the divisions because the mind can only divide into good and bad and right and wrong and you and me. It’s what it does. Because it’s coming from my individual point of view. I see it this way. I prefer it this way over that way. You’re in or you’re out. That’s all it can do. It’s a dividing machine. I’m right; you’re wrong. If you don’t like it, too bad.

I see exactly what you’re saying. It’s so intrinsic in human nature, isn’t it.

Stuart: That’s right. My way is the right way, and if you don’t agree…

Well, yes. When it becomes, when it mutates into right and wrong and entitlement and not entitlement, then it can be very dangerous.

Stuart: Yes, and if the ones that feel entitled have the power, then the other ones are exterminated. And then the ones that are exterminated take the power, and they become arrogant, and the cycle goes around and around. Who is on top today? Who’s got the power? And who is suffering?

And so much of our so-called entertainment is about the goodies and the baddies.

Stuart: It’s probably all about that with a few exceptions. The good guys and the bad guys.

I saw something for a film or a book, and I cannot remember what it was, and it was something like, the evil is lurking just around the corner, or something like that. That’s our idea of entertainment. What’s just over there is bad and needs to be exterminated.

Stuart: It’s because it’s in us. It’s held in us. You could say, in the cells of the body, it’s held: the fear, the anger, the prejudice, the righteousness, the judgment.

Would you say if you deny it in yourself, for example, then you are more likely to see it outside of yourself?

Stuart: Sure. Most definitely. Even if it’s not conscious. Even if you’re not thinking about it, it’s still held, and then it’s shown to you, like you say, it mirrors back. And then you can say, oh, look at that. I don’t like that or I do like that. I agree with that or I disagree with that. And then you either catch that reaction and kind of mellow out, dismiss it, let it go, or you take it as real and you react to it and amplify it—we’re back to the amplifiers. Now, let’s say you see something you don’t like. You don’t recognize that it’s a projection of what’s in you. You don’t like it, and you give that person a piece of your mind. Of course then they have to come back stronger, and then you’re having your own little feud. That’s what makes the life story so real. The preferences, the judgments, the holding onto it, the justification, the revenge.

I was right to be angry.

Stuart: Well, look what you did. It’s undeniable. I guess that’s why we have intermission.

(laughter)

Stuart: Okay, the curtain is closed for a few minutes. Have a drink. Chat among yourselves. I like this play. I hate this play. It’s a good act, but the other one is better, you know, the judgment. Or, oh, look at that play. And what’s really real here. And who am I? Who am I really? Where is my nature? Where is me without all of that baggage and pretense? The one who doesn’t take it seriously but understands that everybody else is taking it seriously. So you’re in the play knowing you are not a character, watching the play, being yourself. Understanding the predicament of the ones that are believing it. And sometimes being caught in it yourself, like you say. Forgetting. Oh, I forgot. I forgot who I was. Like when you were talking about those kids running around. There’s a day out there, for God’s sakes. I’m free. I could run around and see what I can see. Look at that. Look at that! There’s a whole day out there, and I’m cooped up here with the serious adults who look like they’re at a funeral. They’re dead walking around in rooms. Looking at bad news. Talking about people. Having a grand old time of being dour. And I want to just get out of here and be free. Cause I am free. (chuckle) Until you become one of them.

(laughter)

I have a sense that there’s so much that’s very easy to let go of when I just, I’m still, and I remember. And then there’s something that feels impossible to let go of. That draws me in. And it’s about keeping things at bay. It’s about pushing away the things that I can’t accept in myself. And I feel that that draws me in all the time. That I’m completely hooked into that. And it feels impossible to rest from it. It feels as if there’s a whole part of me that if I ever rested would be so unacceptable. I couldn’t possibly ever rest from the job of suppressing that.

Stuart: That’s a huge perception of danger. It feels as if I would die, if I did. If I ever took even a second of rest from that job. So you must prevent that from ever, ever, ever happening. Even at the expense of your own ease and joy. And even that slips through more than you realize. Just for your own edification here. I’ve never seen you so open, in spite of what you’re saying. This danger. You used to keep it locked. The whole personality. The whole beingness. But it’s not, and it’s very clear what you’re saying. It still feels like to completely relax and be open would be the end of me. I understand. It’s traumatic.

I can feel it in my body. The tension is there all the time.

Stuart: Yes. And you can feel it more when you are yourself. Because when you’re in action, doing your daily part, you’re not aware of the subtlety that’s underneath the holding. You know, all the little details that go into it. All the holdings. Which are a very, very, very real right now.

And it’s tiring. It’s very tiring.

Stuart: Exhausting. But it feels completely necessary. Don’t let go for a second because if you’re not on guard, who is going to protect you? You don’t happen to notice that what we’re talking about here are concepts. Trauma, danger, holding, all makes a lot of sense, but it’s logically understood in the mind. It’s got a grip. Hold. Danger. I can’t. These are all concepts. Do you see that?

Yes.

Stuart: It’s my understanding of what must happen in order for me to exist superimposed on complete nobody. Empty. Your nature of I am pure space. Because without the mind there is no limitation of your own identity. Just to put it in perspective. So maybe you should hold on tighter right now. Try it. Pump up those concepts.

(pause)

Stuart: What is it that you’re trying to do right now?

Right now?

Stuart: Yes. Right now. Are you trying to let go?

I’m trying to get it right.

Stuart: That’s why I told you to tighten. I’m supposed to tell you to let it go, aren’t I? I’m confusing.

(laughter)

It feels very scary. Even looking at this. Cause it’s very serious.

Stuart: So she says.

(laughter)

Stuart: I mean this is my life for God’s sakes. Get on my side here.

(laughter)

Stuart: All right. It’s real. I get it. I could understand a child going from the freedom of wow look at this! what is it?! what is that?! you know, amazement to something thunderous happening, and you’re shattered, let’s say. And from your position, or maybe it happens often, and all of a sudden, the joy is like squashed and it’s too painful, right?

Yeah.

Stuart: It’s traumatic. It’s horrible, horrific. And I’m two and a half, and they’re big, and I’m scared. And this world, I thought, I thought it was a fun place. I thought I liked it here. I was wrong. So what can I do about this? You could see how the identify becomes solid. And I have to use my own awareness to manage it in some way. So, I’m scared. I grip, and I hold on for dear life. And maybe that way, I can’t be shattered. It makes sense. But I can’t let go either. Well, you’re not two and a half.

It feels like I can breathe.

Stuart: You can let the breath in. The life. Coming back to life.

It’s like arriving in my body as well.

Stuart: And nothing is expected of you in this moment. You don’t have to be a certain way, at all.

It’s always felt clear to me that I can’t be any different than I am. It’s just felt like that I have to pretend. So it’s always just such a big pull. I’m me, and I have to pretend to be somebody else. But the me is pulling me this way as well.

Stuart: That’s why I say right now, you don’t have to do anything or be anything in particular because in this moment, the only thing that matters is the breath. Existence. No past. No future. Right now.

(pause)

It’s always felt like you can breathe but don’t let it animate you. Don’t let the breath into you. Don’t let the breath give you life.

Stuart: I see another concept being protected here. Which is something like, I don’t want to be here. So if you start to become alive, it activates itself. It reminds you, don’t forget that. This is my protection. I am dead to this life. That’s my safety.

Yeah. Yeah. That’s right.

Stuart: I can’t be hurt if I’m dead, and I won’t be hurt again.

(pause)

I was feeling like a shadow. Maybe there’s an outline, but there’s nobody inside.

Stuart: Now, in this moment, come over to where I’m sitting as the witness and look at her, as I’m looking at you.

(tears) There’s this big feeling like wanting to be very destructive. Wanting to be very physically destructive. A very powerful feeling.

Stuart: Well, that’s been pressed down for a long time.

Can I ask a question that’s kind of related? Say, for example, there is some kind of experience, some trauma or something that has happened, and it’s been repressed, but it’s still affecting your life now.

Stuart: Yes.

And you kind of want to let it go. I always feel confused about how much to kind of go into an experience or feeling because, for example, these kind of things start to come up. Like I start to want to go be destructive. So it’s like how much to go into that in order to let something go, or is it more kind of what you were just suggesting in terms of focusing on who we really are and focusing more on the breath as a way to release all?

Stuart: Do you see when the person is dealing with the issue, they’re not dealing with it, they’re becoming it. And they look like they’re taking on the emotional attitude of the destruction and the hatred. And then the pretense gets put on top of it that I am here for you in my part, but it bursts through, and you can feel the energy. So we’re sitting here as the witness, as who we really are, and that’s what allows the presence to stir up the stuff that’s been compressed down, look at the holding, the opening, the fear, and as you do it, it arises and you stay with it. That’s all that’s necessary from this awareness of who you are.

So as well as—

Stuart: You don’t step into it and become it because you’re not identifying as that one. You’re watching that one. And so there is a state of compassion meeting the presumed necessity of holding because what’s underneath all of it, the cause of the drama, is all that repressed rage. And even that can arise, and it can be watched. It can be shaky. We’ve done this before. We’re going deeper, right? Because the more you open up, the more you can really see what’s in there, and you have more power to be with it and not identify as it.

So maybe the key is that observation of it. So that distance from it, as well as experiencing it, so as not to become it and be in it.

Stuart: That’s correct. That’s correct.

More than just experiencing it.

Stuart: It’s here. You don’t have to make it bigger. You don’t have to express it and pound it. You may have had to do that in the past because it’s so strong and because you don’t really have the awareness of something bigger than it. So you have to battle it. There are many modalities like that. But being with it, like you say, is more than enough. It’s like stay with it until it passes.

And then again.

Stuart: And then again and again. It can feel like there will be no end to it.

Yeah. That’s the kind of thing. You go, you’re digging deeper and deeper and you go—

Stuart: Who is digging?

The ego.

Stuart: Yes. Stop that. Because that’s just a loop of trying to get it out so that I am free again, so I can do what I want. Expand. Who am I? Who am I? Breathe into that. If it brings up rage, rage is appearing. Be with that. Stay with it. Watch it as best you can.

Yeah. It’s kind of like, so then I’ve stopped digging. So then I don’t dig, and it’s fine when I don’t dig. And everything’s fine.

Stuart: You can be sure it will come up. You don’t have to dig when you’re feeling good. It will come up. How are you doing, Prim?

Been a bit more humorous.

(laughter)

Stuart: Great.

Just very aware of the, it doesn’t feel like rage. It doesn’t feel like a negative thing. It just feels like sitting on top of a volcano.

Stuart: And it’s not ready to blow.

Oh, it’s very ready to blow.

Stuart: Okay, we can clear out now.

(laughter)

I won’t let it. I know better.

Stuart: Oh, let it.

(laughter)

Stuart: We’re brave and tough. Right, Jill? Absolutely.

For me, it’s like a feeling in my stomach. Which is a feeling of discomfort. It’s like it’s folded up inside. And I can unravel that feeling, and that feeling is discomfort. And I can breathe with it, and when I remember to breathe it, like I’ve just been doing now, the feeling of discomfort is kind of washed away. It feels clean again. But then I feel like still, I can delve deeper, and I can unfold more of the stomach, and I can unfold more of the stomach, and when do I stop? Because is it me? Should I hold with that feeling of discomfort, and as you say, be with it, or should I wash it away?

Stuart: Neither can you do. You can observe, but all of the observing and all of the washing and wishing it was gone is just that. What do I have to do to make this disappear? So it’s really a push no matter what you’re doing, even if it looks right. This cannot be the way it is. It just can’t. I can’t allow this. I have to get rid of it.

And in search of doing what feels right—

Stuart: And who, who cannot permit this?

That’s what you have to think. You have to tell yourself.

Stuart: You have to ask. You have to ask. Who is pushing? Who disapproves? Who wants, who will do anything to get rid of this? Russ. Russ. It’s Russ. It’s me. I will do anything to get rid of it. See that and stop in the moment.

Behind that for me is sadness. The rage turns into sadness when I do that. When I take it on. Angry. And then I just cry it out usually. And then feel like there’s a shadow there. Which lets me feels cleaner.

Stuart: It starts to move.

Yes. It starts to move.

Stuart: Yeah. Because you’re not in a position of push, you see. I’m doing the right thing, but I’m really just wanting to kill it.

That’s easier to do. It seems easier upon retrospect. It is easier to do. But it catches you up.

Stuart: How about you Russ?

I had a visualization of thrashing. I feel like, when you say, I will do anything to be rid of them all of this communication today has been relevant for me. I feel like I want to be a child. That it’s the child in me that wants to be free, and occasionally, I can release it. I can be happy. And that’s when I’m feeling most enlightened and most in tune with the things that are around me. I had another image when we were talking about holding on, holding onto those things that are stopping us from being us, stopping us from being free. I had an image of a little monkey holding onto its mother. And in that state, it was dependent on its mother to teach it about the world, to show it that the things that it’s fearful of, how it can deal with these things. How the community around them is warning him, and so he doesn’t need to be so fearful. And the community is the eyes for that young child. But I realize I still feel like that young monkey holding on, and that I haven’t had those lessons taught to me yet that allow me to be free and like the other monkeys to be aware, aware of the danger, aware of where the food is, and aware of where the sustenance is and to be free and swinging through the trees.

Stuart: I don’t know how to do that. So maybe you’re looking at it as something not positive, right? You didn’t have the right training from the mother, let’s say. It kind of like doesn’t give you a very confident experience of being this monkey, but it does make this monkey different and introspective. A very unique monkey. What’s before the swinging?

Reaching out.

Stuart: Maybe.

Exploring.

Stuart: What’s before that?

A realization of who you are. I want to say.

Stuart: You did say. And what is that?

I am me.

Stuart: And what does this feel like?

Better.

Stuart: Happier. With no expectations, right?

It’s difficult to stop trying to cling back.

Stuart: Very seductive. And it can be very, very compelling. Yes, very compelling.

(pause)

Stuart: So, what is present?

(pause)

That I’m not afraid of death, but that death is very close to me. And especially so if I cannot be me. I guess I’m afraid of in being me, how much will change in my life, and how many people I will upset. (tears) And how much I have to lose. I’ve always been about being in control of my life, and I kind of realize now in trying to take control of my life, I haven’t allowed myself to be free to be me. I’ve always controlled my emotions and hemmed my anger in. And not shown myself as I am to the people around me. But many wonderful things have come to me anyhow that I’m really thankful for. But now I do have a serious illness—I have leukemia—and at the same time, I have a beautiful family around me. And two young children. So there are elements of my reality which are beautiful, and there are elements of my reality which are, they just don’t feel like they should be a part of it. (tears) I think, really, I’m just afraid of being me. Because as a result of having this illness, my family has wanted to know me. And I think it’s only me from stopping it from really expressing myself and living happily. (tears)

(pause)

Stuart: Russ. They know your huge love. That’s the miracle. Nothing can suppress that. That’s quite a legacy. And a life well lived.

(pause)

How do you start to explain that life, when that life is so different to those who you really want to explain it to?

Stuart: As you’re doing it. You know, my son had the same condition, not leukemia, but a different cancer, and he is younger than you. And in the period that he had left, he explored everything because what else could he do? Like you. And he went from a child to a wise soul, in a short period of time, as you are. I would say that self-discovery is why we’re here. We take many side trips. We pursue many things. We’re looking for reason, for pleasure, for escape. We somehow miss the whole point, but you can’t, and you won’t. That’s why I say it’s a life well spent. You achieved something. You discovered who you are. (tears)

(pause)

Stuart: And when you discover that, you realize that you’ve always been that. The dream stops. Beautiful dream. Beautiful, exquisite creatures in the dream. But still a dream. But this knowingness of you, that’s permanent, unshakable, You know who you are. Risk it. I am as infinite as the sky. Unending. And I cannot be hurt. Nothing could touch it, this awareness infinite. Not many people get to witness that. Your children will, early.

Thank you.

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