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The looking for me seems to have acquired a kind of schizophrenic quality again

John,

The looking for me seems to have acquired a kind of schizophrenic quality again ("again" because I have engaged and disengaged with this work several times before, more about this later). What I mean by schizophrenic is that it is at times entirely obvious, to the point of laughter (just thinking about those times can make me start laughing again).

And at other times I just have no clue what you are saying to me, what it is you are suggesting I do. I think of it, and then the thought just fades back into the usual noise, activity, perceived suffering, etc.

Likewise, my general attitudes around all this have a kind of schizophrenic quality as well. At times pretty much everything you are saying is entirely obvious, including some things that never made any sense before, like the existence of a (false) sense of distance between me and the life, and the fact that it is only me, fundamentally me that has any personness to it, that is a person, a sentient being here... not any of the rest of it, including the impossibly intimate bundle of sensations that I usually call "me," like the central experience that seems to answer to the name "me," which seems to be made up of my internal experience of my face, something like a half-visualized proprioception of my facial expression, mixed up and colored by whatever emotional tone is here at the time. All that stuff, even though it passes as a kind of "operational me," well it is just stuff, rather fascinating, colorful, intimately expressive stuff. The fact that I actually am OK, have been OK, and will be OK, all this becomes obvious too.

At other times, probably most of the time, it seems quite obvious how that is all some kind of hopeful nonsense, that there just isn't anything to it, that it is all some kind mental trick.

It's like these contrasting points of view are parallel to each other, one becoming dominant for a time, then back to the other. It's also sometimes a little like that movie Groundhog Day. By the evening perhaps some clarity arrives--I go to sleep and in the morning it's like it all starts again from scratch, the same confusion, doubt, perceived difficulty with the looking, perceived suffering, hopelessness, etc.

Very strange.

The thing is, I do understand that, from your perspective, this really is beside the point, especially the part about the laughter, the insights, the belief structures/doubt structures. The point of the work isn't that, doesn't take place in that realm, and doesn't affect that directly or immediately (though perhaps indirectly and over time).

Also, I have heard you explain how when you are trying to do this and are seemingly experiencing great difficulty and apparent failure, what's actually happening is simply that your attention is drawn very strongly to the colorful thoughts and sensations of frustration and difficulty. As another person wrote in, "You are always already there, looking over your shoulder as you effortfully try to look at yourself."

This kind of thing has been very helpful to hear. It is also profoundly strange: it is like all the effort and all the difficulty and all the confusion hinges on the simple assumption that this must be really hard, and this must be really hidden, and this must not by any means be already here. If I just relax that assumption, or if something you say to that effect catches me off guard, well it becomes quite obvious indeed.

And then not at all again.

So, regarding the schizophrenic quality to all of this, including in trying to do the actual looking, is it correct to assume that I should just keep trying to do this, best I can, whenever it's not obvious--and when it is obvious, well not much to do there, maybe just notice that it's obvious? Until it's pretty much always obvious, and the active looking doesn't have much of a point anymore?

I suppose I know the answers to my questions, but maybe you can post something on the forum, or mention something in an Open House or an Online Meeting.

Thank you very much,

E.

PS: Just to be a little more precise and less melodramatic with my language, I can see how it is really all the stuff that surrounds the looking that can become quite complicated (which is not really all that surprising). The looking itself remains simple. The stuff that comes up around the looking is the same stuff that is around everything else.

I will try to remember what you say about how it's the looking itself that is of any real consequence.

 

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