Our path by Kit No Comments »

You ask about the origins of empty-mindedness.  One was my experience of long, drawn-out arguments with shouting, crying, begging, with-holding, accusing, sulking, withdrawing, and attacking.  Words and acts from the past would be dragged in to make a case.  Threats and demands would be made to gain the advantage.  Finally, through exhaustion, we would reach a position where each of us would abandon the attack and just express our needs.  It felt like a summer squall had blown in and passed over, leaving flooded paths, downed branches and litter all over.  At that point we were able to hear the other person and accept their needs as real.

After a long time, I saw that the argument was merely the precursor to this place of communication and potential resolution.  I never liked arguments, and these days, I choose to go directly to that post-squall place of self-expression without attack, where I can clearly distinguish between what I want to happen and what other people should do.

A second contribution to empty-mindedness has been a decade or more of sitting.  I won’t give instruction here, but through repeated practice, the ability to separate thoughts and actions, still the mind, be present and distinguish between thoughts and direct experience makes access to a center point of stillness easier and easier.

Lastly, I have done a number of Enlightenment Intensives, 3-day events which excel in removing the fog of language and revealing the truth underneath.

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Our path by Kit No Comments »

One of the remarkable things about you is how much I am drawn to being present when I am with you.  I attribute that to your total acceptance: you offer a place for me to be myself — more than that, you encourage and rejoice in it.  This is so rare a quality in this world that I joyfully respond to it.

I am present when I respond and react to what is actually happening, rather than using what the past has taught me, or reacting in order to bring about some future outcome.  I don’t claim to be anywhere near perfection in this; presence is a matter of the degree to which we are focused on the events in front of us.  Neither do I claim that being present is always the most desirable state.  Sometimes the future needs attention, too, so we try to control the world in order to make our imagined future come to pass.  There are times when that is appropriate, but often it’s like always ordering the next meal while you’re eating the current one.

Being present is an important part of non-interference.  By being present, the world just is, so I can let you be who you are, which in turn gives you the opportunity to be present.  It’s a virtuous circle, and having experienced it, why would either of us ever want it to be any other way?  That is why I was so sure early on, even though I could not articulate the reason, that not only hadn’t we argued, but that we probably never would.

There is another aspect of being present that we have both remarked on, which is the experience of newness that it brings.  Nothing is ever the same, and it is very mysterious and counter-intuitive.  You would think that settling in for a movie or walking around the park would become drab through familiarity.  They don’t.  I surmise that they are intrinsically different – there is no Groundhog Day.  The walk I am taking on Thursday is never confused with the walk I took on Tuesday.

Another way to put this is that we are not constrained by our past, which gives us an extraordinary sense of potential, change and growth.  By being open to what is present, we are open to change.  It is not suppressed in favor of what has been, nor rejected in fear of what might happen.  The result is a sense that we always have more to do and more to explore.

P.S. In writing this, I really enjoyed some of our earlier posts on the subject:

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The Present

Dialogue by Kit No Comments »

Dear Kat,

We talk about presence and the present a lot, but it’s a hard subject to pin down.  I see it as an alternate, more basic way to view the world.  Life has learned not only to react to the environment, but to remember the events so that it can react appropriately, and to predict events also.  In other words, our model of the world contains a past and a future.  Furthermore, we have invented language, wherein words are a stand-in for one or a bundle of experiences, and can also incorporate other words, leading to a very efficient way of storing information.

All this has been such a successful strategy that our attention routinely roams around the brain areas that manage the past and the future, interspersed with checking on linguistic summaries of the present.  As a result, to experience the world in anything but verbal terms is very hard, but I want to point out some of its attributes.

FlowersIt’s unspeakable, by definition.  It cannot be captured in words.  It is like a reflection in a pool; if you reach out to grasp it, the ripples of words only hide the reflection.  It is a hard discipline to leave it be.

It is primary.  Our entire verbal and intellectual edifice is derived from this.  It cannot be dismissed as of no consequence just because it has no place in our mental model of the world.

It has a timeless quality.  The sense of time does not vanish completely (though it can be severely distorted by the flood of sensations), but our view of time is a construct of the mind, and it is as if I simultaneously experience two facets of reality: the flux of change (for time is change, nothing more or less) and and an eternal, unchanging element.  It’s not eternal in the sense of lasting forever, but in the sense of being outside of time.

It’s constantly new.  This moment has never been before.

All that is preamble to talking about how we are together.  We both choose to focus our attention on the present, whether it be the scenery while driving or the press of flesh on flesh, and we react in concert to an uncanny degree, far more than if it were viewed in the light of our past or our expectations.  It is as if we are drinking from the same fountain, tasting the same wine.

To phrase it differently, our relationship consists of what is happening, not what did happen or what might happen.  So many complications and misunderstandings are avoided by this.  I thank you again and again.

As a postscript, I want to say that I am not advocating the hedonism of the grasshopper over the hard work of the ant, but I am saying that the rich fields of the present nourish and sustain the whole of our lives.

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Being Open to the Present

Dialogue by Kit No Comments »

Dear Kat,

We both awoke this morning from a especially restful sleep, and gave thanks to each other for the joy of each others’ company, then had the following conversation, which I want to capture before it escapes me.

Me: How come this happens?
You: Because we’re open to the present.
Me: So we are not yearning for how it formerly was, or wishing for some future state.  But if that is the correct approach, suppose you’re with an unsuitable partner – complaining, abusive, whatever – doesn’t accepting the present remove all motivation to change?  Isn’t the future ideal a great motivator?
You: But by being fully present, you see the behavior for what it is, and have the choice to change the situation.

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Presence and Union

Dialogue, Union by Kit No Comments »

Turtle and LilyMy Dear Kat,

To illuminate my main point, I first want to examine what it means to be present.  Yes it’s a cool phrase, and yes I can generally say if it is the case, but what exactly are we talking about?  Here’s my stab at it.

Some things are indisputable because their veracity stems from the experience itself.  Even if it’s an illusion, a mirror, a trick of the light, it’s still indisputably my world.  To the extent that our awareness and attention is on such experiences, we are present.  Phrased like that, presence is a continuum, not a binary state.  Nevertheless, the experience is closer to binary, like a seesaw, because of the way our attention focuses.

And so to my main point; I experience something existing that is not me and not you, but is us.  It is clearer when we are physically together, and most so in sexual union, but it is not simply the sense of touch or the pleasures of the flesh, because my sense of its existence is other than my physical senses.

I struggle to write these words because what I am saying is so beyond my objective, scientific view of the world, yet it fits in with Eastern/spiritual views of oneness and unity.  I feel as if I am in the process of turning a corner and perceiving a whole other landscape.


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The uniqueness of our experiences

Dialogue by Kit No Comments »

Dear Kat,

The other night, you talked about what happens when both of us are present – that it allows something to be created.  I know you wrote about it, but I wanted to try in my own words.

So what do I understand by that term?  That what we do together, whether it be sex or words or mute hanging out, is different from ever before, is completely unique in some way that hasn’t normally applied in my life.*  Here, I struggle for words.  The personal experience is one of power, of centered-ness, of balance.  Additionally, there is the joint experience of we, the sense that you and I are experiencing the same thing, and I don’t just mean sitting on the edge of the canyon watching the same sunset together, but a much stronger connection, as if we have joined circuits and the energy flows through us in a circle.

OK, I’m mixing metaphors and I don’t know if anyone else can follow this at all.


* I use the past tense because by being with you, that sense of presence is more and more in the rest of my life.

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The Probability of Sex

Dialogue by Kit No Comments »

My Dear Kat,

I want to talk about how sex is between us.  It’s fabulous, it’s instant, it’s mutual and it’s shared.

By fabulous, I mean that it’s breath-taking; time and time again, we go to places and achieve highs that we never did before.  I’m not talking about the physical positions; they don’t seem to have much to do with it.  It’s a strong sense that wow, we never danced like this before, we’re going hand-in-hand (maybe make that gland-in-gland) down paths we’ve never been before.  Afterwards, the experience seems so other-worldly, it can be hard to believe it actually happened.

By instant, I mean that the sexual energy emerges full-blown: pow, there it is!  We’re in this place again.  There’s no contradiction with what I’ve just said about each time being different; these two things exist simultaneously.  That’s just the way it is.

Then there is the magical way it’s mutual.  I get turned on, and you respond, and I respond to that, and it’s 0-60 in 5 seconds again.  It happens nearly every time.  Oh, occasionally the other fails to respond due to tiredness or illness, but that causes no grief; we merely flow into a different place.

This mutuality is magical because of its improbability, because it says that I touch you, I affect you, because it is wonderful to be seen and to have my sexual needs so ecstatically met.  And we synchronize like this not just sexually, but also with most other things we do together; we rapidly find the choice that accommodates both our needs.  We do this by being present, by wanting the best for the other, by not clinging to our ideas of how things should be.

Lastly, the experience is so self-evidently shared.  We move together, responding to each other, becoming the junction between the two of us, treating that skin like our own, each our side of the fence, but holding hands through the railing, proof positive of the other, touching and merging to be us together at the same time as remaining completely myself.  I have nowhere in my cosmology to place this, yet there it is.  Not just once or twice, but again and again, over and above my sense of self, that sense of us.

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