Have you ever been on a program about the Three Principles or exploring some other spiritual path and wondered why it is that everyone but you seems to be “getting it”?
Here are a few things worth knowing that may be helpful to you if you feel like “the exception to the rule”:
1. You can’t compare your inside to someone else’s outside and expect to learn anything useful
We all live in our own Thought-created reality bubbles. That doesn’t mean we can’t learn to sense and intuit what’s going on with other people; it just means that most of the time when we look out into the world, most of what we see is our own thinking reflecting back at us.
I make up you as my image of perfection, believing your Facebook presence is your reality; simultaneously I make up me as a worthless piece of crap, noting whatever it is that I think is particularly wrong with me in this moment. Which is sort of like comparing a photo of you, tanned and dressed to kill on a cool night out after a day of being massaged by the pool, with a picture of me after a 72 hour work jag and a colonoscopy.
This doesn’t mean that other people might not see things about life that you don’t yet see to the same degree, or live in a nicer feeling more of the time; it just means that a. you can’t really know that and b. it’s not particularly relevant to your benefiting from a deeper understanding for yourself. When we see that, we can adjust for it, taking it into account when the ticker-tape of comparisons and judgements about ourselves and others runs along the bottom of the newsfeed of our mind and continuing to refocus on our own exploration.
2. “Understanding” is kind of a confusing word for what we’re talking about
Words are messy no matter how much rigor we apply to defining them, but talking about “understanding” in relation to the principles is particularly messy because for so many of us it has become synonymous with “getting the idea”. But “understanding” in the transformative conversation is more about getting the joke than getting the idea. When you get the idea, you can talk about it intellectually at a dinner party; when you get the joke, you laugh.
Since not getting a joke that everyone else is laughing at can seem a bit exclusionary, we either fake laugh along with them so that we feel like we fit in or we reject their laughter as fake, pointedly declaring that “it’s just not funny.” We either give up on ourselves or we give up on everyone else.
But there’s another way of getting the joke that’s a lot friendlier and in my experience, a lot more fun. The minute you find your sense of humor, everything becomes funnier. And the minute you re-connect to your sense of insight, everything becomes simpler.
How do you find your sense of humor?
Stop taking your thinking so seriously.
How do you re-connect with your sense of insight?
Stop taking your thinking so seriously.
When we tune back in to our native capacity for understanding and insight, everything in life starts to make so much more sense. We see our psychological innocence, always doing the best we can to take care of ourselves given the way the world looks to us in the moment. We get insights into our relationships, ambitions, and working life. We start to see the futility of trying to become somebody amazing in contrast to the ease of waking up to how amazing we already are.
Best of all, we stop buying into thinking that anything good comes from pretending to see what we don’t yet see or know what we don’t yet know. We learn instead to keep our inner eyes and ears open to seeing and hearing something more.
3. There’s no exam, just your life
In teaching thousands of people about the principles over the past number of years, I’ve noticed a very distinct difference between people who are listening as though they’re studying for an exam and those who are listening to be impacted by what they hear. While someone else might know the right answers for the exam and even be able to take the test for you, no one else can climb inside and live your life for you. So what matters is what you actually get for yourself, not what you can repeat when asked.
In a talk I gave at a conference last year, I spoke about this difference as “researching” vs. “exploring”. When we “research” the principles, we’re collecting data samples, making comparisons, and drawing conclusions. When we’re genuinely exploring, we come to the conversation with an open mind, ready and willing to throw ourselves into the unknown and see whatever is there for us to see. Instead of listening for “the right answer”, we look to see what’s true.
How do we know the difference?
The truth is not made of words.
Over 5000 years ago, the Taoist sage Lao Tzu wrote:
The Tao which can be expressed in words is not the eternal Tao;
The name which can be uttered is not it eternal name.
This doesn’t mean there’s no point in talking about this stuff. In the same way as hanging out in comedy clubs is a great way to uncover your sense of humor, hanging out in a transformative conversation is a great way of uncovering your sense of insight. But if your head is filled with comparisons to others, intellectual arguments, and “right answers”, you’re likely to struggle. And “faking it” is the guaranteed path to feeling like a fraud.
Instead, in any moment we can drop the quest to “get it” and turn our attention on to what’s behind it – the wordless, soundless truth that echoes in the silence of our deepest Mind.
With all my love,