Transformations in Consciousness Must Include Action
Obviously transforming mental habits is meaningless if it doesn’t show up in our behavior – in how we speak, relate, choose, and act.
Freedom, if it means anything, must include freedom in action. To be free, we must have the sense that our response to the world is not programmed – is not conditioned by other people’s beliefs about us, or our beliefs about ourselves.
We must also rigorously question the sense that we always have to act (do something). Just like our thinking, we must see when our behavioral patterns are compulsive – when they are an avoidance. Remember: even “acting out” is an avoidance! We read acting out as “expressing” an emotion. In reality, we are often “dumping” the emotion on a person or situation so we don’t have to feel it completely.
What does our life look like when we are not planning, strategizing and acting from the ego?
The fact that our direct experience of being, of joy, of peace is so simple provides an important clue. When we live from true nature, we awaken the longing for simplicity – for the structures, rhythms and relationships of our life to resume a kind of natural, flowing quality. The people and structures of our life are honored. They are important, but not absolutely important. In simplicity, the pieces are put in their right place.
Another clue from our experience of awareness is the sense of space. The sense of enjoyment, love, and peace are all infused with spaciousness (they are in fact synonyms for, and different flavors of, spaciousness). As this is noticed, there is a natural desire to create as much space as possible amidst our commitments.
Slowly, over time, our love of inner space is mirrored by an outer spaciousness in the activities of our life. We stop over-committing. We see our time and energy as precious jewels. We cease saying yes to things our heart is not in. We cut the B.S. and focus on what matters.
Speech & Conduct Inquiries
One set of questions we can sit with as part of our simplicity inquiry is:
What is needed right now? In this situation? With this person? What is actually helpful here? What is essential for me to say/do? What is extra? What doesn’t need to be said or done?
In asking these questions many times throughout the day, many habitual energies are recognized:
We might notice that a good deal of talking or doing comes from the desire for certain kinds of acknowledgement and validation. What is it like to do, or not do, based solely on your own intuitive sense of what’s useful, rather than projections of how others are going to respond to us?
We might notice an avoidance of saying our piece. The tendency to let (seemingly) more confident people spin their wheels while we retreat to the background. Can we focus on getting really clear about our contribution and making it?
We might notice that we use activity itself to avoid being with ourselves – to avoid feeling. Can we see how the mind subtlety makes a case that certain things “must be done immediately” when, upon investigation, this is clearly not the case?
We might notice that our meditation practice, yoga practice, breathwork. relationship to food, etc. have become subtlety “complexified” by the ego over the years through the constant intake of third-person advice and information. What is it like to return to essence of why we began these activities to begin with?
In this inquiry, pausing is going to be our greatest ally.
Our commitment is not to act automatically. We wait. We become a field of deep listening. Listening for what’s true. For awareness to guide speech and action.
And the more we do this, the more this field of listening becomes available, even in very challenging or confrontational situations. Our confidence becomes unshakable, not because we are believing something about ourselves, but because we actually trust the information that comes through when we take the time to deeply listen. We trust the information we get when we really investigate. We are back in our power, our inner authority.
Finally, as much as we are able, we incline toward kindness, toward compassion, toward generosity of spirit.
We do this in small ways, in tiny actions, in ordinary moments, with all kinds of people, in all kinds of situations. We look people in the eye. We open doors. We say thank you. We are gracious.
This is grandma stuff! But we’re doing it from the heart. The world needs the expression of the open heart! It is literally starving from a lack of love. Like most things, the problem is actually too big to conceptualize, much less “solve.” But we are totally committed to our small little piece of it – to the acts of love that are within our jurisdiction.