Friends, here is another piece that emerged this morning – I trust these writings are useful.
Does the subject of my thinking bring me suffering or peace? Consider any topic you spend time thinking about and ask yourself this one question: Does the subject of my thinking bring me suffering or peace? It would seem that some forms of thought perpetuate suffering and some forms of thought bring us to peace, resolution and understanding.
In contemplation I ask myself three further questions.
- What makes these forms of thought different?
- How can I characterise the difference?
- How can I increase my ability to choose between them?
To the first question, when I reflect on the difference I see the following. In suffering thoughts I run an enemy narrative – I believe something or someone has the power to take away my power. In most cases I have given it away and continue to give away my power in these situations. In peaceful thoughts there is a co-creation narrative – I see my part in the play.
To the second question, when I reflect on what characterises the difference I see that: In suffering thoughts, there is much judgment, blame and accusation. In peaceful thoughts, there is empathy, curiosity and compassion.
To the third question and with the above in mind, as I consider ways to increase my ability for the latter of the two – naturally, practices like meditation, loving kindness and mindfulness come to mind.
Too add to these I’d like to share a recent practice that has been helping me get to peaceful thoughts and reduce suffering thoughts.
I believe this practice is about taking full ownership of my part in the play.
To explain: I am working from the premise that Life is constantly co-creating itself. Life is in co-creation with itself and everything physical and non physical is connected and in relationship. Using this premise I then ask myself: What if everything that causes me to perpetuate hurt and anguish is, at the deepest level of significance, an opportunity to see my part in the co-creation of the hurt and anguish itself?
And further, What if everything I judge and is causing me suffering is signifying, a blind spot?
What might this mean? Well firstly, it means I’ve got work to do.
Today my work is to catch in myself the voices of judgment and fear, the physical contractions, the mental narrowing on the problem, the ruminating, in fact anything that takes me down the rabbit hole of suffering thoughts.The first part being to recognise this.The next step is the kicker and its where I turn the ‘what if’ questions to statements. I do have a part in this, I am responsible for that part. I have a blind spot.
Then I’ve been taking it one step further.
Whatever I judge in another I reverse it. For those that know Byron Katie’s work, I’ve been inspired by what she calls ‘the turnaround’ – turning the judgement back on oneself.
What I’ve discovered is not only the neutralising effect this has on the ‘suffering thoughts’ this reversal also takes me directly to ownership of my part in the interplay and begins to illuminate a blind spot.
To give you a recent example. I judged a person close to me for their lack of grace and consideration of others. Happily I caught the judgment and then proceeded to explore when lacking grace and being inconsiderate of others was true for me. Taking full ownership I saw very clearly that there were times when this was true.
Talk about a way to extinguish self righteousness.
In continuing this practice I’ve never yet found a moment where what I’m judging in another is not also true for me and/or where I’m playing a part. Of course when I’m hot with emotion and feeling wounded this practice feels impossible. In waiting for the heat to cool I can usually get there in time.
It works for historic incidents as well. Many years back I felt betrayed by two work colleagues – and you could say there was good justification for this. However even years later without doing this work I’m still suffering. So I applied the reversal of judgment and saw that in their eyes I had betrayed my colleagues in terms of their expectations as we’d never had clear and constructive conversation about any of the undercurrents at play. Voila – peaceful thoughts of acceptance.
Another example – I recently judged a family member for ‘throwing me under the bus’. When I reversed the judgement, guess what – in their experience I’d done the same. Suffering gone. Blind spot lit.
Ownership plus blind spot illuminated = ego reduction. And therefor with ego-mind reduced an eco-mind is enhanced and from this comes more peaceful thoughts. I’m excited about this practice because it allows me to really see what is being co-created when I show up with contracted – suffering thoughts. I perpetuate the suffering by not taking ownership and falling into the trap of the enemy narrative.
I’m coming to understand that this is tapping into a universal truth or natural law.
What I judge is what I fear and this points me to where my work is.