Over the last two weeks, there has been much anger and judgement and disagreement. There has been much suffering and pain. Tears shed and positions taken. What I offer here is the route to heal the division within ourselves which heals the division ‘out there’.
We’re all doing best based on the thinking that looks real to us in the moment.
What comes up for you when you read that quote? For me, it’s compassion and relief.
I once shared it on social and someone challenged back saying ‘I’m not sure everyone’s doing their best all the time’ which isn’t the intent of it. It’s the best we can do in that moment — whatever that moment is — based on whatever thinking looks real — just in that moment.
Because hands up who’s done something or said something and then regretted it? Hands up who’s had a ‘not my finest moment’ moment? Every single one of us. And what do we tend to do? Judge. We judge ourselves. We judge others. We might tell a story about how they wound us up to that point, or how it wasn’t my fault, or how we’ve told them repeatedly what we need from them — while inside there’s a drip of anguish at the untruth of it all.
Last week, in the heat of emotions and discussion following George Floyd’s death, I saw people on social media being jumped on for offering their perspective about why they hadn’t posted a black square or talked about it (yet). Judged by the very same people who’d said silence = compliance, and yet in speaking up these others apparently weren’t meeting the speaking up expectations.
This was a visible version of what the conceptual mind, or idea of self, does all the time:
- Set an idea of a benchmark of expectations / what best is
- Make that definite and right and everything else wrong
- Create in the world the very thing it thinks it doesn’t want
- Judge self, regret, feel bad and/or judge others, wag fingers, demean
- Try and make ‘me’ better or make ‘that out there’ change — try harder, not good enough yet
But the idea of ‘me’ or of ‘that out there’ is, in that moment, merely a reflection of ‘this in here’ in that same moment.
Thought creates our world and then says “I didn’t do it”
In truth, there is just what’s happening and then the conceptual mind layers on stories and judgements. It can only operate from these. It can only work in boxes and filing systems and grading scales of good-enoughness.
The great thing about this is it’s 100% reliable. Every time there’s resistance or judgement to ‘out there’ or towards ‘me’ it’s an opportunity to see the fixed rule the conceptual mind has created. In seeing this the rule starts to dissolve, returning us to the nuanced flow of life, and action is taken from there.
Writing this stopped me in my tracks.
If there’s just what’s happening, and if tension appeared when I noticed the ‘jumping on another’ scenario, intellectually there must be a conceptual mind judgement at play, but what was it? I decided to do a worksheet from Byron Katie’s The Work. The turnarounds at the end are the part where the mirror is held up to the —
I am being angry — yes, angry that it looks like she’s being mean to someone for speaking up.
She wasn’t being loving — the words on the reply could have been the most loving statement for the long term. It could have woken that person up to something. We could never know.
I wasn’t acknowledging her views or understanding where she was coming from before assuming she was ‘jumping on someone’ — the very action I thought she ‘should’ be taking, I wasn’t taking either. I jumped in too, defending the ‘victim’ before understanding.
Who would you be without that thought? — love, inclusion, understanding. This is what it always comes back to. This is who we are in our essence. This is the place we’re trying to get back to, just going about it all topsy-turvey. It starts in here. Every time.
So now what?
Where normally we look outwards for advice of the imagined right thing. This brings us inwards to our inner knowing of ‘right’ for this; now. Whatever looks obvious to do.
For me, right now, the seeing of my own internal war in that moment, which created a war ‘out there’, feels enough to have dissolved another layer of fixedness. Any other actions will emerge from that. I’m curious to see what does! Anything is possible.
Back to the conceptual mind
So if this conceptual mind creates rules that trip us up, makes us judgemental and limits our experience of life — how do we get rid of it?
Thankfully that’s not needed. Without the conceptual mind, we wouldn’t even have language — there wouldn’t be an experience of life.
Instead what’s available is to start to see the conceptual mind for what it is and return it to its rightful role as efficient organiser — not ruler of life. We’ve inadvertently promoted it beyond its capability and it’s trying to run the show without the tools to do the job.
The more times we see this, the more it stops jumping in with its ideas. The cart goes behind the horse again. From there, we increase the chance of experiencing the truth that, prior to ideas of good, bad or right, wrong there is a space — beyond concept — that holds multiple perspectives at once, the wholeness at our core, present to the present moment. From there we act more consciously, more lovingly, more inclusively. Maybe that would be useful for the world?
It’s this space that, after an argument, you drop into and get a broader perspective, you realise a way through the deadlock or an idea comes of something you could say that might bring a win-win.
This is who we really are. This is what we’re all looking for.
But in the over-promotion of the conceptual mind, our experience has become cluttered with boxes and filing systems, blocking our view of what’s already here, what’s innate and what is at the heart of everything.
We can clear out the boxes.
And, when we forget (which we all do) and we are momentarily led by the conceptual mind, we are still doing our best with the thinking that looks real to us in that moment. Now though, we notice it sooner, we bring compassion to it instead of judgement. We see that we’re lost — it’s nothing to do with this idea of me or them or that out there — and we give our lostness space to change and move. Dropping us back into the space before concepts. Actions, perfect for now, emerging.
Notice what you notice.
With love, Helen