May 30, 2007

An Experiment in Anger: First Results

Driving along for several miles this morning on neighborhood streets and a highway, I willed myself to fall into a bygone pattern of irritability and find reasons to be angry at other drivers. It was amazingly easy, a reflex that had gone into retirement but was ready to re-emerge; and soon it became an exaggeration, a parody, of the old behavior. I found that I could get angry at literally everything. Another car passing me, a driver talking on the phone in the car behind me, even a totally innocent pickup truck waiting at a stop sign. I could even become angry, with the same effortlessness, when something I approved of happened; for instance, when I joined the shorter of two lanes waiting at a red light, I was irritated at the ineptitude of the drivers on the long line. I wasn’t yelling. I was quietly cursing, making an effort to keep up a string of profanity for the experiment’s sake (and only I could hear it, of course). I brought up the bitter words with a feeling almost like nostalgia: So this is what it used to be like!

I felt as if I had overlaid a filter of irrationality upon every aspect of my experience. I knew I could undo it in the blink of an eye, and it grieved me to think that there are many people who go through their lives wearing this filter, their minds poisoned by thoughts they learned so long ago they don’t realize they’re unnecessary. (I want to make clear that my former behavior and worldview were not this unhealthy; what I achieved today was a distillation of one mode of feeling. I was repeating over and over, in every moment, a feeling I would only have had intermittently in real life.)

I tried to sense, inside myself, how authentic these feelings of irritable anger were, and to my relief I sensed that I had to work at them; they were an act, though a convincing one based in remembered experience.

Driving home in the other direction, it was the easiest thing in the world to drop the angry pose and to feel once again the calm and optimism that has dominated my state of mind lately. The angry state of those few miles seemed ridiculous, valueless, artificial, alien, and obsolete. I couldn’t imagine why I would want to feel that way.


May 29, 2007

An Experiment in Anger

In a wonderful book I just read, Stephen Mitchell’s philosophical comedy Meetings with the Archangel, there’s an anecdote about an exceptionally gifted young Zen student who achieves ultimate enlightenment in only a handful of years. Seeking to deepen his practice, he continues without a teacher, only to feel intense rage welling up from some unknown source when he meditates. Wrathfully he rejects his beloved teacher and concludes that he has gotten nowhere.

That person isn’t me. Feeling rage is no surprise in my life. I’ve known about it from Day One, and possibly before, in the womb. It’s been my worst enemy, and having your worst enemy living inside you is confusing.

I’ve spent a great deal of my time trying to squash this enemy, and the results have been encouraging. Living alone after my marriage, I’ve felt amazingly calm and optimistic. Perhaps I was made to live this way even though I’ve always yearned to live within a contented, stable family. Whether or not the term “made to live this way” has any meaning, I’m living this way now and liking it, learning from it.

I’ve only had one outburst of rage in almost a year and a half, and that one was enough for the rest of my life.

But something feels hazardous about all this calm and confidence. How long is it going to last? Is it going to suddenly collapse? I can rely on today’s good mood only for today, and if some would reply that today is all we can ever know – if I myself would make that reply – then I’d like the thing I know today to be more solid than a passing mood.

Avoiding anger is not going to work forever. So what will work? They say one needs to make friends with one’s shadow, embrace one’s demonic side and welcome it, retrained for a healthier function. I’ve never understood that kind of talk. It seems too metaphorical; I have trouble connecting it to a concrete action one could take. How do you embrace your demons, really; what specific acts do you perform aside from sending an interior telepathic message: “Hi, there, demons, I’d like to embrace you now.”

These thoughts came to me this evening as I drove my car in the warm Austin sunset, an almost full moon above the hills and a pale sun setting behind gilded clouds across the river. A charmed evening, driving in the breeze past the scent of wildflower gardens, the humic aroma of the soul simmering up from the earth. The very simple thought came that in order to embrace and integrate my rage, I would have to feel it. I would have to show it – the thing I have most feared showing, the thing I have been running away from for a good deal longer than a year and a half.

I’m going to perform an experiment. I’m going to open myself to opportunities for rage. I’ll do it in situations I judge safe, probably when so one is around, certainly when my wife and children aren’t. Alone in my house, alone in my car (perhaps giving a hostile glower to a driver here or there). Some shouting, some cursing. It will have to be a real emotion with a real stimulus, not a dutiful, “I will rage for the next two minutes.” But it will be a controlled reality and it will stop comfortably and it won’t echo and blast through my life. Maybe I’ll have to do it one time, maybe two or ten. At some point, I will know my anger as something other than a terrifying monster, and it will learn that I am not out to eradicate it. Since we have to live in here together, we will finally learn how not to destroy each other.

So if you’re driving in the Austin area and you pass a small white sedan with a man screaming in it, wave hello.

Labels: ,

May 24, 2007

If We Could Only Understand a Pink Sock

I once knew someone who collected litter, or threatened to. The scraps people tossed away, which the wind from cars had stirred. Shopping lists, torn halves of photographs, crushed cans, a single glove. In them she imagined she would find a culture’s identity, and mysteriously, her own, the long-sought meaning of her quixotic self emerging in the pattern of drinking-straw wrappers and magazine subscription cards dropped by strangers. She probed the unconscious of the city, reading the tea leaves of the street. From the crumbs she tried to reconstruct the loaf.

This is the kind of person I decide to believe. And if a stray bottlecap can tell us our identities, what about the fugitive words that slip away the moment we try to hear them? Words said into telephones passing by: “Is it okay if I come semi-dressed up?” “Made a redneck corkscrew for the pinot: a drywall screw and two vise clamps. Pulled that sucker right out of the bottle.” “I’ve known her for eight years and I have never known her to say the word Yes.”

I listened and thought, “These are the expressions of my truth.”

I heard my birth-cry and heart-sigh in the sounds a car makes when it drives past: the motor sound, the muffler sound, the tire sound, the airstream sound. The textures of a bird’s singing: how its voice moves its feathers, moves its branch, how the notes echo subliminally off the houses.

She came home one afternoon carrying a child’s grimed pink anklet with a big hole through the bottom. “Look!” Was this the piece of evidence that would take her back to the first months of her life, even the moment she was conceived, and cancel out all dread?

I heard the child crying, the mother scolding, at the throwing away of the sock.

The woman and I stared at the sock on the kitchen counter. “I have a feeling this is the central discovery,” I said, wanting to love someone.

No, no, there can’t ever be a central discovery. “I need to get over this obsession,” she said, and that night she ransacked under the beds and threw out all the unsorted orphan objects, which now seemed to her like junk.


May 23, 2007

Now Showing at Qarrtsiluni

I've been trying to produce better stories, with the result that they may possibly come at longer intervals. Actually, I've been threatening to do this for some time, and now I finally feel ready to do it. (I've noticed a slowdown among many of my favorite blogs lately, with no loss of quality.)

Meanwhile, an old story of mine from April 2006, "Old Enough to Write It," has been republished by the notable online magazine Qarrtsiluni.

Go over there for a look, and make sure to read the many other fine stories, poems, and essays in this issue and past issues. This is an online publication with high standards, and they deserve lots of support.


May 18, 2007

What Sky Held and Water Knew

Once there were three little brothers who lived by a pond. Their parents must have lived there too, but the story doesn’t say anything about them. What do parents matter, after all?

The pond was so clear that it reflected the white house and the green trees and the blue sky perfectly, with only enough of a ripple to show that everything it mirrored was alive. When the brothers tired of playing ball or wrestling each other down or chasing blackbirds, they sat on the shore of the pond looking at themselves in the watery mirror, and when they tired of themselves there was the whole reflected world to admire.

“We could look at this forever and all it could ever do is show exactly what’s in front of it,” the oldest brother instructed.

The youngest said, “What if it decided to show something different? Like what if it showed the house orange?”

His two elder brothers were in the midst of mocking him when he stood up in the greatest excitement and, pointing down at the water, said, “Look, there’s a balloon in the reflection and there’s no balloon up there!”

While his brothers were turning this way and that, he ran along the rim of the pond, his forefinger jabbing down at the ripples to point out the red balloon. He splashed into the water and tried to high-step onto the balloon, but it bobbed in the reflected sky and rose toward the center of the pond, pushed by the kicked-up wavelets till it diminished out of sight.

“Hey, I saw it too,” said the middle brother, coming up beside him. “That was neat.” Then he returned to the lawn and pulled up a stalk of grass to chew and seemingly forgot all about it, for he always thought about where he was going to be rather than where he was.

“This means we can do anything!” the youngest said. He felt an urgent knot in his chest –- he tried to tell his brothers how important this day was -- that the balloon wasn’t only for them, it meant everyone and everything -- but he didn’t have words for it.

The oldest said in a knowledgeable voice, “All it means is that something unusual happened. Unusual things happen all the time.”

The youngest pointed to him: “You didn’t see it!”

“I did too!” the oldest said.

“Oh yeah, what color was it?”

“Red,” the oldest guessed, and the youngest turned away with a pout.

“Well, I’m going to remember it for the rest of my life,” he said.

All summer the three brothers sat at the rim of the pond hoping to see another gap, for “gap” had become their private word for the separation between what sky held and water reflected. But it seemed that the one small sign, a balloon escaping from somewhere unimaginable, was all they would be granted.

Summer after summer they looked, with this difference, that each year they talked about it less. With each inch they grew toward the sky, they grew away from the pond. Then came a summer when the youngest asked, as always, “You think we’ll see a gap today?” and his elder brothers told him, “Enough. That was just a child’s story.”

“I still remember it,” he muttered to himself, although perhaps what he remembered most clearly was not the balloon but the vow to remember it. At night in his bedroom he drew the scene on a pad, and played tunes on his flute, tunes that sounded like a balloon in a pond. The drawings and melodies became more and more wonderful, but at the same time of course they were less and less faithful likenesses of a balloon in a pond.

Then the children were grown and they went into the world to find their futures. The oldest brother did serious work and was much acclaimed. But the memory of the balloon he hadn’t seen nagged at him, and when years had passed he saw that his work had been too serious to really matter. One winter, telling no one beforehand, he returned to the house by the pond. And there he sat by the edge of the water, peering, peering. He cracked the ice morosely with his boot so it could reflect the sky. He took water samples and squinted through a microscope, he snapped photographs and blew them up, he hunkered at the pondside day after day, year after year, fiercely keeping watch for what he never saw, and when anyone asked if he had seen something yet, he snarled, “I will.”

The middle brother traveled far away and made an immense fortune. On his desk he kept a picture of a red balloon in a blue sky. But he thought one miracle was enough and never visited the pond again, and whenever he thought about that day of his childhood, he gave a little laugh and shrugged.

And the youngest brother? Ah, the youngest brother… Your guess is as good as mine, because he could do anything.


May 16, 2007

Clear Communication Is the Last Disguise

I mean everything I say. To do otherwise would be beneath me. I know myself, and that’s why I can show you so much. I want you to know me fully, however you’ll respond. I lay myself bare for you. For you, yes, but more for me, as a spiritual exercise. To be an open book is the highest state.

I don’t understand those others. The ones who hide. The ones who lie. I’ve tried to copy them, but it doesn’t work. My lies are so transparent, they only work against me. I never developed the skill of it.

Do you remember the time you asked me that question? And the answer I gave. I meant it then, and I mean it now. I can’t promise I’ll always mean it, because we can’t know the future. See, I’m revealing even this.

That’s why you can believe me when I say you should do what I want you to.


May 13, 2007

The Coin Sower

In a weedy lot on the walk between my house and the used bookstore, I once found more than two dollars in coins. I smiled secretively and slipped them into my pocket, telling no one. But what I wanted to do was shout like a child, “Look what I found!”

The next time I walked that route, I checked the grass, more to remember my lucky find than expecting a new one, and to my amazement I saw two quarters, three pennies, and a nickel.

A bubbling spring of coins? An anonymous philanthropist sowing happiness on the ground? I imagined a silent, unacknowledged relationship between a homeless man and a benefactor he never saw. Or maybe the vacant lot was a private shrine, a superstitious neighbor’s tribute to local gods. This time I didn’t pick up the coins. They were for others, not for me. I’d already taken my due.

The third time, they were strewn everywhere, like baubles at some tribal wedding. I counted three dollars in quarters before I stooped close enough to touch them. Then the smaller change, the shiny and the tarnished, in plain sight and hidden in the grass, everyplace I searched, as if my looking multiplied them.

I imagined a voice saying, Who are you to refuse what the world sees fit to give? What if you picked these coins up and broke a spell you hadn’t even known had been cast on you?

My fingers grasped a penny. And as I hunkered in the grass, dreaming, a car horn blasted behind me and a young male voice called out, “Hey!” like a whip across my back. I slipped in the dirt; I hit the ground, then bolted to my feet, angry at myself for being startled. Noticing the penny in my hand, I dropped it to the grass.

I stared at the field of treasure and thought, Your way is the way of renunciation. My eyes unfocussed until there was no glinting left to see. I stepped off the curb and scuffed away along the asphalt.

A few yards down I stopped and looked back. I dug into my pants pocket and pulled out…eighty-nine cents.

“Here, kids!” I shouted, and flung my coins in a shining arc of copper and silver. They were all for me.


May 10, 2007

Dream Cuts 1

A new genre of dream reportage: the dream cut, a single image taken from a larger dream. A movie still or a fingersnap moment. Linked as a montage of quick cuts, each from a different dream and usually from a different night, perhaps adding up to a synthetic dream, a recombinant dream. Like:

A knitting circle of white-haired women talk about me as they ply their needles.

The top floor of a department store: expensive leather easy chairs and sofas being shipped away: the store is closing forever.

Needing a piece of thread to fix something, I pull the monogram off a woman’s blouse, and apologize tenderly.

A woman, lying on a bed of dense gray clouds thousands of feet above the earth, begins to fall. I will be next.

In the dewy grass where my foot has just missed stepping on it, a half-hidden, shiny CD with the handwritten label “Richard C.”

Labels: ,

May 09, 2007

Dream Journal: Homunculus

Millions of sperm cells are floating on the ocean, but they don’t look like the sperm cells we see through the microscope, they look like homunculi, tiny people. As with all creatures who reproduce in large masses, most will die before reaching maturity. Among them I find one who, to my amazement, speaks: “Help me!” He can’t move: the ocean has become a sticky seminal semisolid. I am overwhelmed with grief for him; I know I can’t help him, he is doomed.

All I can think of is to offer him food, but this distresses him, he can’t eat and has no use for food. (In the dream, these cells have no insides, they are just membranes filled with water, like jellyfish.) There is no solution.

In reality an early theory of sperm cells saw them as homunculi. Shortly before going to sleep I read about this in a story, “Seventy-Two Letters,” by the great young science fiction writer Ted Chiang.

A few hours before dreaming this, my kids and I attended a lecture about giant leatherback sea turtles, which lay many eggs, produce hatchlings who often die soon after birth, and feed on jellyfish.


May 04, 2007

Writer Without a Story: The End of Something

A man and a woman, or whatever combination you like, are sitting sipping mochas in the sleekest café in town. A conversation is in progress:

“My mother – “

“My father –“

“My ex-husband – “

“My ex-wife – “

“My childhood – “

“That’s so weird! My childhood too!”

“And those people I work with – “

“I know what you mean.”

“This is so great! We’ve been sitting here for fifteen minutes and I feel like I know you.”

“I feel that too.”

This is known as making a connection. We sit knee to knee and validate each other’s stories. Each other’s myths, projections, illusions. And so we make a pact. We vow to love, honor, and cherish each other’s stories until we find a more rapt audience.

This is what I don’t want to do anymore. It’s particularly relevant for me at this point because I’m starting to date after a long marriage. Very fine people, too. I’m still playing the game, loving to swap stories, and more than ever, loving to listen.

You can’t banish your stories. We carry them – no, they carry us – through life. And maybe “I won’t settle for guarding the stories” is an additional story. But you can at least notice.

Notice how you can love someone whose story doesn’t fit yours. You can love them just for having a story, no matter what it is. And love them for starting to leave the story behind despite how long they’ve sheltered it. Together you might watch your stories pass through your minds, watch them jump from mind to mind, and smilingly wave to them as they move across the screen and into the wings.

What would a relationship look like if it wasn't based on the partners' validating each other's stories? Maybe two people listening closely to reality. Maybe deep silence.

One of the things I learned at the School was that I can love people without regard to how much I think they resemble or complement me. During partner work, I deliberately tried to find people I wouldn’t have chosen at first sight, people much older or younger than me, people I considered too beautiful or too plain, gays and lesbians, and people I had disliked at first sight for one shallow reason or another. Not only did I in every case find them to be wonderfully interesting and to make as much connection with me as anyone else did, but in many cases I found that the less like mine their life experiences had been the more I warmed to their souls, and in a strange way, the more I identified with them. I was finding what was underneath and what was constant. (I should make clear that I’m not ordinarily an opposites-attract kind of person. The people I’m attracted to, either sexually as friends, have been the ones I’ve felt were most like me.) They were me in other costumes.

There was a brief moment of remorse, even horror, in this: the remorse of seeing that all the things I disliked about others were projections of what I feared or disliked in myself. The horror of seeing that many of the people I had been friends with or fought with throughout my life had been hallucinations. The remorse was quickly drowned by joy – a novel experience in itself.

Yes, to spout a cliché, I found my joy at the School. For the past three weeks I’ve been going around grinning to myself, smiling at strangers, saying the extra thank you, carrying on the conversation for an extra moment, and importantly, doing the thing I want to: doing what my first impulse tells me, not overriding it with a second impulse.

There are beautiful parts of yourself you’ve kept hidden all your life simply because other people, who were hiding things of their own, belittled yours. Or only because you imagined they did. It wasn’t so bad for the things you knew you were hiding; they were a secret treasure, a glowing jewel in a cave, which you could retreat to and sit near for light and warmth. But some you hadn’t known were there at all, till you stumbled over them in the dark.

As you find them, the insincerity leaves your voice. Maybe because deep in the cave, the things you stumble into hurt more.

I’m a writer. If I don’t have stories, what can I write? If I don’t want to sustain others’ stories or my own, what characters can I write about? Who would I be if my writing weren’t a theater for the drama of grandiosity versus shame: How good is it, is it good enough, will they accept it, it’s great! I’m great!, it’s too good for them, oh no I was fooling myself and it’s terrible.…

Those characters of mine: just projections of me, a decades-long exercise in self-therapy of the most inefficient sort. Had I ever really created a character or a story? What would happen if I renounced the ratchety, whining machinery of “creative writing,” if I renounced characterization, the endless round of reincarnation of my culture’s types? What if I just waited for something to arise from the dark well?

As Katie says, Who knows? But here: as my characters become more unlike me, they need me more. If I’m writing a disguised version of myself, or a composite of two people I know, I’m not creating anything that doesn’t already exist more fully in real life. But if I’m truly creating a character, someone entirely new, then that person only exists in me. I am his birthplace, his native soil; I’m the only one who can bring him to life. Whether he ever makes it into the outside world or not, he exists as long as he’s in here. I watch him pass across the stage, and we wave, and he thanks me for the only life he’ll ever have. And I thank him for helping me be more people than I ever knew.

Labels: ,

May 01, 2007

Writer Without a Story: Some Things He Heard

I’ve been out of School for as much time as I was in it -- and are you still high, Richard? Well, when I’m tempted to answer No, I start laughing to myself.

And will he keep at it, will he make this Work his center of gravity for the rest of his life? Well, I did some this morning.

And what did I learn, finally? How will I be changed? I don’t know how I will be changed, and to say what I’ve learned would take much more than just an hour or two’s blogging time. So I’ll take advantage of the casualness and slapdashedness and forgivingness of this form and instead of reams of justified pages, throw some handfuls of confetti at you all.

Here are some things I heard Katie say during those days and evenings. No attempt to be systematic or complete. I’m choosing ones that strike me right now. Statements within quotation marks are verbatim from my instantaneous notes of Katie’s spoken words. Statements not in quotation marks are my paraphrases, as close as I can make them to the original, sometimes with my brief explanations.

A caveat: the following are merely ideas, comments. They are part of what made the School experience so powerful, along with the communion both silent and spoken. They are not The Work itself. The Work is done in solitude or with a partner, preferably on a sheet of paper. It is a confrontation with oneself.


The whole thing can be summed up as: Who would you be without…? Without your belief, your thought, your story.

What story are you running inside your head? Name it with a brief, basic, what Katie calls “first generation,” title. Give it a picture. Watch it fade out of the scene. Thank it for sharing its whole life with you.

“How could things be separate without names?” The things we’re naming don’t care -- or maybe they do, but they let us, they don’t mind.

“In the moment you believed you were (person’s name), you were born. You became a believer.”

“Without identification, mind cannot be anything. Mind has to identify with something to exist.… It has to attach as something to be, or it’s nothing.” Body is the reflection, effect, or voice of mind.

“Mind needs drama to stay identified as you. And mind is not you.”

All the things you notice about others are hallucinations, projections.

“Do you believe everything you think?”

Everyone has moments of clarity. Seize it. Find the thought that sends you away from it, and inquire into that.

“Where did you get that identity? From your parents or you? Never say anyone gave you anything. I gave it to me, so I have the power to question it, to get back to where I came from.… And I don’t have to lose this imaginary world -- it’s just not real.”

“I love your world, it’s a beautiful world, but do I believe it?”

“I’m a believer -- until I’m not.”

“Mind is not an enemy.…We’ve been fighting the enemy within, forever.” The goal is for all our thoughts to be our friends. No enemy within.

“If you want to see an alien, look in the mirror.”

“You don’t feel at home -- of course. You’re defending what cannot be defended -- and we kill over it.”

Einstein said that the only important question is, Is the universe friendly? “It is. No exceptions.” There is nothing that is not grace. Any thought that argues with the friendly universe is felt as stress.

The true nature of everything is not just kind, not just good, but amazingly, love. And that is the last story. Any thought that believes otherwise is signaled as a feeling -- all of which are names for fear.

“If you think it’s hell and you’re taking the cap off it, let it fly, be a volcano. It couldn’t be worse than what you’ve been living -- and if it is, let’s test it.”

“Have the courage not to be a big person.”

“It’s all remembered for you, you don’t have to be the rememberer, the knower.”

“You’re a teacher and there’s nothing you can do about it.” You have no choice: you teach what you believe and that’s what you leave after you. “That’s reincarnation.”

“Evil is a confused mind. Nothing worse than that has ever happened or will happen or could happen.”

“When our family dies we don’t like it because they’re the ones who know our stories.”

Feel hate and notice how the only thing happening was that you weren’t getting what you wanted. If you hate, who feels it? It’s not economical. Imagine that energy channeled into the opposite.

You cannot harm another human being in your opinion without self-hatred being the result. You don’t know you’re experiencing self-hatred because your mind is justifying it. And no justification can save you.

“No thought, no world.” Thought comes first, though we identify feeling first because it justifies thought.

Rage is an accumulation of thoughts. “Defense is the first act of war.”

“All problems are imagined and that’s very difficult to hear. I invite you not to believe me but to test it out.”

“If you died and went to hell, the worst that could happen would be that you believed your thoughts.”

“How loud does God have to get before I hear it?… Who needs God when you have your opinion?”

“You think you’re the thinker? Thoughts appear. It’s a happening.”

“No one’s attached to people and things. We get the one we want and then we don’t want them anymore.”

“It hurts not to care. Why do I care? Because it hurts not to.”

“We become nicer people when we don’t have the job of saving people.”

Thoughts of inadequacy are universal. We overcompensate to prove our adequacy, but we don’t believe it. Shadows underlie the things we think we are. But light drives out shadows. Inquiry (The Work) breaks the habitual pattern of seeking images to prove adequacy.

“’I don’t have a belief’ is the first belief.”

“No one has ever been in the wrong place.”

“When you are positive that life is so good it can’t possibly get better, it has to.”

“Enjoy your suffering. It may be the last suffering you ever experience.”

On giving: If you can give and not get found out, you begin to let ME out.

Making amends is not for masochism but for discovery.

“Authentic is the most natural thing to be.”

“The one who’s free is the teacher in the house. And the one who’s in pain is the teacher in the house. Freedom or pain: what are you teaching?”

“’The rapist scared me.’ Is that absolutely true? If you can’t question that, why are you here?”

“I have never met a mind that was not suicidal.”

“Make friends with the ordinary. Can you love it from here wherever you are?”

Open up to what is going on beyond what we believe is going on.

“No story, no world. Is ‘no world’ good? Well, that would be up to you. It’s nothing serious, I can promise you that.”

“Depression is the effect of believing our thoughts.”

Which is better, not to have a thought at all or to love every thought you think? “Let God play.… Loving our thoughts is letting God play.”

“If you love everything you think and there are no new stressful thoughts, what are you going to hear when we talk?… Love.”

“Keep it very simple and remember ultimately nothing is true.”

Answering the question, When the body dies, does the mind continue? “No, it’s all you.… Don’t even try to get it. Just bathe.… Don’t believe. Just open. Just open or not.”

We’re working toward God awareness, God realization.

When you notice a feeling, inquire: What story is my body reacting to? As you experience a feeling, list the prior thoughts. Notice how the mind attacks others and then begins to attack you, using pictures and concepts.

“Notice how busy [mind] is identifying as the one sitting. Notice how it’s only about that.”

“Before there are words you understand, there is no you.… It was my mother’s story and I believed it.”

“You believed, so you can unbelieve. Because the only thing that happened was that you believed.”

“A life of suffering is the life of a believer.”

“The true seeker gets very still.”

Definition of The Work: “It’s a way to identify and question the thoughts that cause all the suffering in the world.”

Mind is cause, body is effect. “Body and pain are only symbols that take us into The Work.”

“’My body is aging’ – is that true?”

“Images are all you have of what’s not.”

Feelings are like a temple bell that says, you’re asleep! Wake up!

“We wonder why we’re tired. Our work doesn’t tire us, our thoughts exhaust us.”

“In my experience there is nothing more exciting than peace.… It’s so underrated. It’s got a bum rap.”

“’I am awake’ -- are you sure?… Do you have to take credit for everything? Is there no room left over for God?… What’s beautiful about creation is that it’s beautiful. If you were God…wouldn’t you want to see yourself?… If you wanted to make sure that you didn’t miss it, what would you be? Everything.”

“When you’re the only thing in the universe, it gets interesting.”


In the next post, what I, individually, got out of the School.