Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Day 1: Revealing of the "impostor" and Changing states of being

Hi. Linda here. As always, the things I am about to share are likely to be distorted, with missing information and gross generalizations, but alas...it's all I have.

If you've just tuned in, this is a humble record of the time that we sit together in dialogue. It's a place to encounter what is present for all of us.

I begin this post in a funny place: our homework for the week

Recall someone you love. Locate them in your felt sense of reality. Feel their existence.
[You may need to read the homework again in order for this directive to make sense.]

The impostor in our midst

Someone revealed that they had an experience that stimulated in them the sense of being an imposter, to which Roger asserted that we are all, in fact, impostors.

Several others revealed that they too felt (on and off) as if they were some kind of impostor. While I too have experienced this impostor syndrome, the word "impostor" stuck out to me. It rather implies that you are a counterfeit, masquerading as something "real."

I wondered about this--what is "real?" What is the real thing that we feel that we are pretending to be?

People had different versions of the real thing. For one person, the real thing represented a perfect or idealized version somehow collectively created through culturally shared expectations. For example, some may believe that a "real professor/professional" is one who never makes mistakes and knows everything or can perfectly deliver on commitments.  We can see that this model is a construct and might vary for people.

I might say a "real" person is one who is authentic. And what do I mean by authenticity? I think I mean someone whose external life matches something about their internal state and commitments in the world.

"Get real!" This might be a call to honesty, rather than fantasy.

Some wondered if there is such a thing as a non-impostor, perhaps someone who is "the real thing." (Again, I am wondering what this real thing is).  Another provided an example of someone having mastery---they can be the "real thing."  Really?  Roger posed the question, will that thing that they have mastery in be around forever?  How about in 3000 years?

At this moment, I laughed inappropriately, as is my pattern.

What was funny about this was the absolute mummery of all that we presently do, all that presently gives us anguish or even satisfies us. Some of us are heavily invested in our identity as experts ("Of course, you should address me as Doctor, I worked hard for that title.") But all of it is truly impermanent, despite our insistence that we are somehow "real" in our mastery.

In this moment, I saw that the meaning of the word real, at least for Roger, would seem to be:
real- (adjective) impermanent, transcending time and space--as in REAL-ity.

So, now, when we hold up this notion of impostor, the thing that is not real , we can see that "we" are not real, but truly impostors to something real (or possibly not); the interesting question is now, "who is it that feels like they are an impostor?"  "who is this 'we?' "

(I won't keep you in suspense). It is the ego, that little "me" who is so ever concerned about its own reputation. In fact, it is the part of our selves that makes up a narrative about our "self"--it constructs its own identity:
Dear Reader,  I am the happy person on this FACEBOOK page who does nothing but enjoys life and basks in the glory of my brilliant offspring. Listen to my story--Sincerely, My Ego

When something happens, such as we "fail" to meet some expectation--our own or others--the story of the little me, as Eckardt Tolle says, is threatened as "not real"--you counterfeit! you said (to yourself) that you were x, y, z, and now I see you're nothing of the sort!

What gets revealed, Roger points out, is that we have a fear of death...death of a projected reality, the death of our illusions of competency.

Again, I ask, who is this "we" who is so afraid?

Well, I already said it is the little me, the ego, but we could also call it "the mind"--the thing that is iteratively engaged in thought--producing thought, but doing it in a way that prevents us from seeing that it is in fact produced, rather than a self-occurring phenomena.

It seems that the main activity of this mind is to tell a story of "it self" by which it is attached to the form of some thing.  For example, "I am a competent professional, which means ...[forms: a bunch of stories and mental models, omitted here]...I am not like those unprofessional buffoons" This, itself is a buffoonery, the self-narrated story, spoken by the impostor, who has attached itself to the forms.  The forms might be, "I am always on time."  When we (the little me) prioritize these "forms" as "reality", we (our identity, the little me) then feel threat when faced with change of form.

The funny thing about being attached to form, i.e., having your self identity contingent on a particular formal expression, is that forms are always going out of existence. (If this doesn't seem true to you, imagine 200 years from now...will there still be the iPhone 5?) So we will always be faced with impermanence.

An aside: Last year I was entangled in this embarrassing conflict about equipment and space to which I had become attached. From my perspective, things that I had worked hard to "acquire" were being taken from me. Geeze this was so painful. There was a great deal of emotional content and process involved. There was weeping and gnashing of teeth (I kid you not).  Today it seems all quite ridiculous when I step back with the 3000 year view.  It was not really anything like a child dying in Rwanda.  It was an egoic struggle, but how very "real" it seemed (my, that impostor is a trickster).

---and we're back

States of being - how do we get there from here? 

Another thing we talked about was states of being.  How does one "attain" a state of being, for example, happiness?

One often practiced model is the formula, where we attach a STATE to a form (oh, that's that form again)
If I had __________, I would be happy. (fill in the blank)

What this model has embedded in it is the ontological assumption that happiness resides external to your "self." 

It is a model of acquisition: I acquire the state from the outside world (because it does not reside in me). 

Subtle, but you can see this model is a paradox: You cannot internally acquire something if the definition of that something is that it is outside of yourself.  Also, there is an attempt to achieve quality through quantity: I have 0=I am not happy; I have 1=I am happy. Roger says it can happen that you experience the qualitative state proximal to the quantitative acquisition, but this is accidental/random. 

sidenote: Roger reminds us at this point about experiments with laboratory rats who have been surgically altered so that the experimenters can willfully stimulate the rats' hypothalamus (presumably this feels good). The rats then discover that when they activate a lever, they receive the stimulus. The case where the stimulus is not reliably received, but received randomly, turns out to be the case where the rats become desperately addicted to constantly activating the lever in the hopes of getting the buzz. Alas, our lives are a giant Skinner-box, ...well, that is, if we are not awake....read on. 

What are alternatives? STATES as pre-existing

What if these "states"--happiness, peace, joy, ...exist prior to our "creating" them? What if it was the case that our mind was active in "separating" us from this natural state and the only thing required to recover the state of being was to stop the activity of the mind (iterative thought)?

How would you do that?  Your might simply try to see the activity and name it (like Pete's friend, "Oh, I no!  I don't know that answer, how scary!  What will I do?")  This sort of reveals the impostor in a way that makes the masquerading ineffective--if you can see the guy behind the curtain who is operating the illusion of the frightening Wizard of Oz, the illusion is no longer convincing as "real".

Another model--What if you consider the possibility that at any moment of conditional reality, you knew what it was like to be happy? That is, you could simply "go there" because you knew what it was like--you could recall it, embody it.  [This makes me think of Nelson Mandella in solitary confinement and whatnot, all those years.  How did he do it? ]  How would you do this?

Roger's hint: If it involves a great deal of effort on your part, that's probably not it. 

Another thing you could do is to simply attempt to encounter the world through another part of your being, such as your heart (this is a metaphor of course, but what isn't, really, when you get right down to it? )  When you begin to encounter the world without the process of thinking (cognitive activity), the thinking becomes more evident.  What you've done here is equivalent to stepping into a 3rd dimension of a previously 2-D world.  It enables you to see something that you couldn't before because you were "in" the frame that you were attempting to see. 

This way of encountering the world might be called contemplation or real-izing (vs. knowing--the mind). Another way of posing this same question is, "If cognition was not the container of your attention, what would you encounter in the world?" (or "If your attention could transcend your thoughts, what would you encounter?"). 

STATES as a field effect

Consider the possibility that when you notice a phenomenon around you--e.g., irritation, --that you are animating a state.

Animating is distinct from emoting.  But what is it?

I'm guessing that what Roger meant by this is the possibility that states are like an invisible field of energy. 

A metaphor for this is waves in water. They are a kind of mechanical energy.  Let's say we're all bobbing on the waves of irritation an thus animating it's energy.  Are we creating the waves? Maybe not. What if those waves are reality and our apparent actions are simply an animation of the waves? Or, what if we are reality and coupled to it so that what we see as our behavior is just an animation of the inseparable unity of which we are apart?  What if our actions along the same lines of irritation only add energy to the field and we experience it in even greater magnitudes in us and in those around us?

This would actually be quite wonderful if we used a positive energy field instead. 

Now, this might be a good time to go back and read the homework assignment:
Recall someone you love. Locate them in your felt sense of reality. Feel their existence.

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