Our upsets are an interruption in well-being. If we react to them instead of being with and observing them, we send them back down into memory recharged. They will rear their ugly heads again some time in the future.
Positive thinking will not help us get to the source of an upset. Only the truth will set us free.
While positive thinking is generally a good thing in attracting to oneself a wholesome and satisfying future, it isn’t enough to process an upset or flatten a vasana.
There are so many places along the way in which this process can go awry. Here are a few.
- Step One. Notice that you’re upset. Stand in the face of the upset without reacting.
At step one in the process, things can go awry if I forget what it means to “be with and observe.” I may get into thinking about the situation and scrutinizing it. “Being with and observing” is not thinking and scrutinizing. Being with is an open spaciousness. Observation is almost osmotic and effortless.
- Step Five. Ask yourself what earlier, similar incident is in play here? Take the first thought you get.
What can go wrong at step five? Three things. First, you aren’t quick enough to catch the flash. The mind mirrored it back in a flash, but, you weren’t watching for it and so you missed it.
Second, you actually used the mind to think about what incident lies behind the upset, if I try to figure the whole thing out, say, the mind will not operate as it’s designed to do. It won’t throw up a picture and I may not be able to find the earlier, similar incident. I have to use the mind without employing it. I have to leave it free to operate as it’s designed to.
Third, you say, “Nah, that can’t be it” and reject what the mind sends you. The flash disappears and you arrive at no insight into what it is that triggered you and say the process doesn’t work.
So a light touch is required. If I simply ask and wait, a thought or a picture will arise. It will seem to go shooting across the screen of my attention and I am vigilant and catch it. I accept whatever the mind casts up and I accept the very first thing.
Another thing that can go wrong generally is that I run the whole process and find that the upset persists.
In fact, the upset may have layers and I may have only caused one layer to disappear.
Many feelings may be piled one on top of the other. I may have to go down through one layer after another.
Having gone through one layer only to encounter another, I could say, ah, to heck with it. It isn’t worth it. I’m gonna look for an excuse for myself and blame the other guy. I’ve spent long enough on this. Let’s go have a drink.
That’s the easy road out. But, knowing what I know about Ascension, I have to do this work sooner or later.
So I persevere and say to myself, you know darn well that there may be several layers of feelings you have to go through, each most likely with a different memory attached. Start in.
The feelings at the top of the heap may be the most familiar. Or they may be the most recently recorded feelings, chronological speaking.
Down, down I go, but still I can feel some lurking emotions, subtle but just as much able to upset the apple cart as any, unless cleared.
It is these hidden and lurking emotions that are really what are meant by Hindus when they use the word “vasana” or Buddhists by the term “sleeping volcanos.”
These barely-experienced feelings are the seeds of later upsets.
Again and again, I check by taking a deep breath to see if there is any muscular holding in the throat or chest until i am through the entire process and the situation is concluded.
I may have no ability at this time to relate what I have learned to whatever it was that brought the process on. I am not in my head. I may not able to think.
If the barrier lifts, I don’t go back into the incident or the upset. If someone is helping me, I ask them to stop as well. I will not to respond to their invitation to do more work. If I do more work, I could recreate the upset and have to run through all the steps gain.
I’ve been present to the upset, observed it, and watched the upset disappear. This is the process I recommend to free us from our past.
But instead I’ve “experienced the upset through.” If I have to experience the upset again, it will be far easier the second time. It will have lost some of its power over me.
This process takes practice. There is lots that can go wrong. But run correctly, it will cause the original and the present upset both to disappear. It may take going through the same episode a few times before it disappears, depending on how central an issue it is to you, but each time you go through it, it will subside some more.
Learn this method of standing in the face of upsets and you’ll move from adding to your store of tension to subtracting from it. Your mind, body and emotions will become, not more sclerotic, but more supple. Your stock of incompletions, instead of increasing, will decrease.
Yes, it will feel the same as if you just had an upset because you did. But this time instead of ramifying it and increasing your inner arthritis, you experienced it through and increased your inner freedom.
To be with the truth of the moment and observe what arises is to be fully present but with no harmful intent and to notice what occurs. If unfinished business arises from within, we be with that and observe what arises as a result of it.
If a challenge to our conventions or attitudes arises from without, we be with that and see what emerges in us. We are either being with or noticing.
Using this process, I believe we will be well positioned with the proper attitude or orientation to maximally move through our past residue, present challenges, and future fears.
This process will help us take in the greatest amount of novelty in a situation that we can predict is rapidly going to become entirely novel.