“Ex-Gay” Survivor Narrative

Brian Mahieu powerfully shares his “ex-gay” experiences in a recent letter to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

I submitted to every tool in the “transformational ministry” arsenal: religious conversion, renunciation of homosexuality and all my social contacts, extensive daily prayer, fasting (up to five days at a time), weekly exorcisms some lasting many hours each, “spiritual warfare including: inner healing, deliverance ministry and the breaking of generational curses (supposedly going back hundreds or thousands of years), 12-step type programs, aversion therapy.

Nothing helped. My excruciating journey culminated with christian psychotherapy that prescribed massive doses of four different medications designed to eliminate my sex drive and enable me to live in the state of suicidal depression brought on my nearly two decades of trying to accomplish the impossible.

Trying to change one’s sexual orientation is akin to growing a new arm or changing the color of one’s skin. After nineteen years of doing everything offered by the Transformational Ministry movement to be “cured” of homosexuality my sexual orientation had not changed in the least.

Mr. Mahieu goes onto share about his tragic 15 year marriage and then beautifully makes a case against “ex-gay” experiences to parents considering reaparative therapy for their queer/questioning children.

The vast numbers of people affected by these sort of “ex-gay” experiences are not fully understood, but in a New York Times article yesterday Katy Butler writes about the plight of women who have been in what she calls Brokeback Marriages.

On June 1, 2000, Mrs. Remmele, then 31, discovered her husband’s profile on the Web site gay.com. The couple stayed up all that night weeping and talking. Soon afterward, 10 days before she gave birth to her second child, Mrs. Remmele’s husband went off to spend a couple of nights with his new boyfriend. “I tried to talk him out of it, and he left anyway,” Mrs. Remmele said. “I was devastated.” Three months later the couple divorced.

Mrs. Remmele — now married to a farmer who raises cattle, corn and soybeans — is one of an estimated 1.7 million to 3.4 million American women who once were or are now married to men who have sex with men.

The estimate derives from “The Social Organization of Sexuality,” a 1990 study, that found that 3.9 percent of American men who had ever been married had had sex with men in the previous five years. The lead author, Edward O. Laumann, a sociologist at the University of Chicago, estimated that 2 to 4 percent of ever-married American women had knowingly or unknowingly been in what are now called mixed-orientation marriages.

These powerful narratives need to come out more and more so that no one will ignorantly enter into an “ex-gay” experience or into a marriage that in most cases is bound to end in tragedy.

Hat tips to Bill Ware and Tom Murray.

This post has 3 Comments

  1. Bob Painter on March 9, 2006 at 3:19 pm Reply

    This is indeed powerful, Peterson. These are the kinds of stories we need to tell and to tell well.

  2. Michael on March 10, 2006 at 1:41 am Reply

    Peterson,

    These are the type of stories that convince me that the traditional view of homosexuality is seriously flawed. I have a friend who is still suffering terribly after years of trying to live as a heterosexual and sticking to a mixed-orientation marriage.

    Have you heard of the Equality Ride that Soulforce is sponsoring? Check out my blog and the Challenging Closed Minds entry.

  3. Anonymous on March 24, 2006 at 5:18 pm Reply

    i believe we continue to suffer mentally and physically because we don’t listen to the word of god.judging others and lust are not forms of love,they are disguised hate.we cling to these sins because our ego wants to protect us from hurts.when we truly love we will see ourselves in others.i think most of us think of sin as a verb,but sin is a noun.not recognizing god in all of us by judging others in our thoughts causes us mental discomfort and will allow us to seek problems outside ourselves.god will allow us to accept our own faults and forgive the mistakes of others when we stop doubting and put our faith in him(her).then and only then can we forgive ourselves!we see what we want to see in a sense.here are some articles that helped me.

    Chapter 2

    Perception: Why Can’t We See
    What Is There To Be Seen?

    The process of perception links people to their environment and is critical to accurate understanding of the world about us. Accurate intelligence analysis obviously requires accurate perception. Yet research into human perception demonstrates that the process is beset by many pitfalls. Moreover, the circumstances under which intelligence analysis is conducted are precisely the circumstances in which accurate perception tends to be most difficult. This chapter discusses perception in general, then applies this information to illuminate some of the difficulties of intelligence analysis.18

    *******************

    People tend to think of perception as a passive process. We see, hear, smell, taste or feel stimuli that impinge upon our senses. We think that if we are at all objective, we record what is actually there. Yet perception is demonstrably an active rather than a passive process; it constructs rather than records “reality.” Perception implies understanding as well as awareness. It is a process of inference in which people construct their own version of reality on the basis of information provided through the five senses.

    As already noted, what people in general and analysts in particular perceive, and how readily they perceive it, are strongly influenced by their past experience, education, cultural values, and role requirements, as well as by the stimuli recorded by their receptor organs.

    Figure 1

    Many experiments have been conducted to show the extraordinary extent to which the information obtained by an observer depends upon the observer’s own assumptions and preconceptions. For example, when you looked at Figure 1 above, what did you see? Now refer to the footnote for a description of what is actually there.19 Did you perceive Figure 1 correctly? If so, you have exceptional powers of observation, were lucky, or have seen the figure before. This simple experiment demonstrates one of the most fundamental principles concerning perception:

    We tend to perceive what we expect to perceive.

    A corollary of this principle is that it takes more information, and more unambiguous information, to recognize an unexpected phenomenon than an expected one.

    One classic experiment to demonstrate the influence of expectations on perception used playing cards, some of which were gimmicked so the spades were red and the hearts black. Pictures of the cards were flashed briefly on a screen and, needless to say, the test subjects identified the normal cards more quickly and accurately than the anomalous ones. After test subjects became aware of the existence of red spades and black hearts, their performance with the gimmicked cards improved but still did not approach the speed or accuracy with which normal cards could be identified.20

    This experiment shows that patterns of expectation become so deeply embedded that they continue to influence perceptions even when people are alerted to and try to take account of the existence of data that do not fit their preconceptions. Trying to be objective does not ensure accurate perception.

    The position of the test subject identifying playing cards is analogous to that of the intelligence analyst or government leader trying to make sense of the paper flow that crosses his or her desk. What is actually perceived in that paper flow, as well as how it is interpreted, depends in part, at least, on the analyst’s patterns of expectation. Analysts do not just have expectations about the color of hearts and spades. They have a set of assumptions and expectations about the motivations of people and the processes of government in foreign countries. Events consistent with these expectations are perceived and processed easily, while events that contradict prevailing expectations tend to be ignored or distorted in perception. Of course, this distortion is a subconscious or pre-conscious process, as illustrated by how you presumably ignored the extra words in the triangles in Figure 1.

    This tendency of people to perceive what they expect to perceive is more important than any tendency to perceive what they want to perceive. In fact, there may be no real tendency toward wishful thinking. The commonly cited evidence supporting the claim that people tend to perceive what they want to perceive can generally be explained equally well by the expectancy thesis.21

    Expectations have many diverse sources, including past experience, professional training, and cultural and organizational norms. All these influences predispose analysts to pay particular attention to certain kinds of information and to organize and interpret this information in certain ways. Perception is also influenced by the context in which it occurs. Different circumstances evoke different sets of expectations. People are more attuned to hearing footsteps behind them when walking in an alley at night than along a city street in daytime, and the meaning attributed to the sound of footsteps will vary under these differing circumstances. A military intelligence analyst may be similarly tuned to perceive indicators of potential conflict.

    Patterns of expectations tell analysts, subconsciously, what to look for, what is important, and how to interpret what is seen. These patterns form a mind-set that predisposes analysts to think in certain ways. A mind-set is akin to a screen or lens through which one perceives the world.

    There is a tendency to think of a mind-set as something bad, to be avoided. According to this line of argument, one should have an open mind and be influenced only by the facts rather than by preconceived notions! That is an unreachable ideal. There is no such thing as “the facts of the case.” There is only a very selective subset of the overall mass of data to which one has been subjected that one takes as facts and judges to be relevant to the question at issue.

    Actually, mind-sets are neither good nor bad; they are unavoidable. People have no conceivable way of coping with the volume of stimuli that impinge upon their senses, or with the volume and complexity of the data they have to analyze, without some kind of simplifying preconceptions about what to expect, what is important, and what is related to what. “There is a grain of truth in the otherwise pernicious maxim that an open mind is an empty mind.”22 Analysts do not achieve objective analysis by avoiding preconceptions; that would be ignorance or self-delusion. Objectivity is achieved by making basic assumptions and reasoning as explicit as possible so that they can be challenged by others and analysts can, themselves, examine their validity.

    One of the most important characteristics of mind-sets is:

    Mind-sets tend to be quick to form but resistant to change.

    Figure 2

    Figure 2 illustrates this principle by showing part of a longer series of progressively modified drawings that change almost imperceptibly from a man into a woman.23 The right-hand drawing in the top row, when viewed alone, has equal chances of being perceived as a man or a woman. When test subjects are shown the entire series of drawings one by one, their perception of this intermediate drawing is biased according to which end of the series they started from. Test subjects who start by viewing a picture that is clearly a man are biased in favor of continuing to see a man long after an “objective observer” (for example, an observer who has seen only a single picture) recognizes that the man is now a woman. Similarly, test subjects who start at the woman end of the series are biased in favor of continuing to see a woman. Once an observer has formed an image–that is, once he or she has developed a mind-set or expectat i believe we continue to suffer mentally and physically because we don’t listen to the word of god.judging others and lust are not forms of love,they are disguised hate.we cling to these sins because our ego wants to protect us from hurts.when we truly love we will see ourselves in others.i think most of us think of sin as a verb,but sin is a noun.not recognizing god in all of us by judging causes us mental discomfort and will allow us to seek problems outside ourselves.god will allow us to accept our own faults and forgive the mistakes of others when we stop doubting and put our faith in him(her).then and only then can we forgive ourselves!we see what we want to see in a sense.here are some articles that helped me.

    Chapter 2

    Perception: Why Can’t We See
    What Is There To Be Seen?

    The process of perception links people to their environment and is critical to accurate understanding of the world about us. Accurate intelligence analysis obviously requires accurate perception. Yet research into human perception demonstrates that the process is beset by many pitfalls. Moreover, the circumstances under which intelligence analysis is conducted are precisely the circumstances in which accurate perception tends to be most difficult. This chapter discusses perception in general, then applies this information to illuminate some of the difficulties of intelligence analysis.18

    *******************

    People tend to think of perception as a passive process. We see, hear, smell, taste or feel stimuli that impinge upon our senses. We think that if we are at all objective, we record what is actually there. Yet perception is demonstrably an active rather than a passive process; it constructs rather than records “reality.” Perception implies understanding as well as awareness. It is a process of inference in which people construct their own version of reality on the basis of information provided through the five senses.

    As already noted, what people in general and analysts in particular perceive, and how readily they perceive it, are strongly influenced by their past experience, education, cultural values, and role requirements, as well as by the stimuli recorded by their receptor organs.

    Figure 1

    Many experiments have been conducted to show the extraordinary extent to which the information obtained by an observer depends upon the observer’s own assumptions and preconceptions. For example, when you looked at Figure 1 above, what did you see? Now refer to the footnote for a description of what is actually there.19 Did you perceive Figure 1 correctly? If so, you have exceptional powers of observation, were lucky, or have seen the figure before. This simple experiment demonstrates one of the most fundamental principles concerning perception:

    We tend to perceive what we expect to perceive.

    A corollary of this principle is that it takes more information, and more unambiguous information, to recognize an unexpected phenomenon than an expected one.

    One classic experiment to demonstrate the influence of expectations on perception used playing cards, some of which were gimmicked so the spades were red and the hearts black. Pictures of the cards were flashed briefly on a screen and, needless to say, the test subjects identified the normal cards more quickly and accurately than the anomalous ones. After test subjects became aware of the existence of red spades and black hearts, their performance with the gimmicked cards improved but still did not approach the speed or accuracy with which normal cards could be identified.20

    This experiment shows that patterns of expectation become so deeply embedded that they continue to influence perceptions even when people are alerted to and try to take account of the existence of data that do not fit their preconceptions. Trying to be objective does not ensure accurate perception.

    The position of the test subject identifying playing cards is analogous to that of the intelligence analyst or government leader trying to make sense of the paper flow that crosses his or her desk. What is actually perceived in that paper flow, as well as how it is interpreted, depends in part, at least, on the analyst’s patterns of expectation. Analysts do not just have expectations about the color of hearts and spades. They have a set of assumptions and expectations about the motivations of people and the processes of government in foreign countries. Events consistent with these expectations are perceived and processed easily, while events that contradict prevailing expectations tend to be ignored or distorted in perception. Of course, this distortion is a subconscious or pre-conscious process, as illustrated by how you presumably ignored the extra words in the triangles in Figure 1.

    This tendency of people to perceive what they expect to perceive is more important than any tendency to perceive what they want to perceive. In fact, there may be no real tendency toward wishful thinking. The commonly cited evidence supporting the claim that people tend to perceive what they want to perceive can generally be explained equally well by the expectancy thesis.21

    Expectations have many diverse sources, including past experience, professional training, and cultural and organizational norms. All these influences predispose analysts to pay particular attention to certain kinds of information and to organize and interpret this information in certain ways. Perception is also influenced by the context in which it occurs. Different circumstances evoke different sets of expectations. People are more attuned to hearing footsteps behind them when walking in an alley at night than along a city street in daytime, and the meaning attributed to the sound of footsteps will vary under these differing circumstances. A military intelligence analyst may be similarly tuned to perceive indicators of potential conflict.

    Patterns of expectations tell analysts, subconsciously, what to look for, what is important, and how to interpret what is seen. These patterns form a mind-set that predisposes analysts to think in certain ways. A mind-set is akin to a screen or lens through which one perceives the world.

    There is a tendency to think of a mind-set as something bad, to be avoided. According to this line of argument, one should have an open mind and be influenced only by the facts rather than by preconceived notions! That is an unreachable ideal. There is no such thing as “the facts of the case.” There is only a very selective subset of the overall mass of data to which one has been subjected that one takes as facts and judges to be relevant to the question at issue.

    Actually, mind-sets are neither good nor bad; they are unavoidable. People have no conceivable way of coping with the volume of stimuli that impinge upon their senses, or with the volume and complexity of the data they have to analyze, without some kind of simplifying preconceptions about what to expect, what is important, and what is related to what. “There is a grain of truth in the otherwise pernicious maxim that an open mind is an empty mind.”22 Analysts do not achieve objective analysis by avoiding preconceptions; that would be ignorance or self-delusion. Objectivity is achieved by making basic assumptions and reasoning as explicit as possible so that they can be challenged by others and analysts can, themselves, examine their validity.

    One of the most important characteristics of mind-sets is:

    Mind-sets tend to be quick to form but resistant to change.

    Figure 2

    Figure 2 illustrates this principle by showing part of a longer series of progressively modified drawings that change almost imperceptibly from a man into a woman.23 The right-hand drawing in the top row, when viewed alone, has equal chances of being perceived as a man or a woman. When test subjects are shown the entire series of drawings one by one, their perception of this intermediate drawing is biased according to which end of the series they started from. Test subjects who start by viewing a picture that is clearly a man are biased in favor of continuing to see a man long after an “objective observer” (for example, an observer who has seen only a single picture) recognizes that the man is now a woman. Similarly, test subjects who start at the woman end of the series are biased in favor of continuing to see a woman. Once an observer has formed an image–that is, once he or she has developed a mind-set or expectation concerning the phenomenon being observed–this conditions future perceptions of that phenomenon.

    This is the basis for another general principle of perception:

    New information is assimilated to existing images.

    This principle explains why gradual, evolutionary change often goes unnoticed. It also explains the phenomenon that an intelligence analyst assigned to work on a topic or country for the first time may generate accurate insights that have been overlooked by experienced analysts who have worked on the same problem for 10 years. A fresh perspective is sometimes useful; past experience can handicap as well as aid analysis. This tendency to assimilate new data into pre-existing images is greater “the more ambiguous the information, the more confident the actor is of the validity of his image, and the greater his commitment to the established view.”24

    Figure 3

    The drawing in Figure 3 provides the reader an opportunity to test for him or herself the persistence of established images.25 Look at Figure 3. What do you see–an old woman or a young woman? Now look again to see if you can visually and mentally reorganize the data to form a different image–that of a young woman if your original perception was of an old woman, or of the old woman if you first perceived the young one. If necessary, look at the footnote for clues to help you identify the other image.26 Again, this exercise illustrates the principle that mind-sets are quick to form but resistant to change.

    When you have seen Figure 3 from both perspectives, try shifting back and forth from one perspective to the other. Do you notice some initial difficulty in making this switch? One of the more difficult mental feats is to take a familiar body of data and reorganize it visually or mentally to perceive it from a different perspective. Yet this is what intelligence analysts are constantly required to do. In order to understand international interactions, analysts must understand the situation as it appears to each of the opposing forces, and constantly shift back and forth from one perspective to the other as they try to fathom how each side interprets an ongoing series of interactions. Trying to perceive an adversary’s interpretations of international events, as well as US interpretations of those same events, is comparable to seeing both the old and young woman in Figure 3. Once events have been perceived one way, there is a natural resistance to other perspectives.

    A related point concerns the impact of substandard conditions of perception. The basic principle is:

    Initial exposure to blurred or ambiguous stimuli interferes with accurate perception even after more and better information becomes available.

    This effect has been demonstrated experimentally by projecting onto a screen pictures of common, everyday subjects such as a dog standing on grass, a fire hydrant, and an aerial view of a highway cloverleaf intersection.27 The initial projection was blurred in varying degrees, and the pictures were then brought into focus slowly to determine at what point test subjects could identify them correctly.

    This experiment showed two things. First, those who started viewing the pictures when they were most out of focus had more difficulty identifying them when they became clearer than those who started viewing at a less blurred stage. In other words, the greater the initial blur, the clearer the picture had to be before people could recognize it. Second, the longer people were exposed to a blurred picture, the clearer the picture had to be before they could recognize it.

    What happened in this experiment is what presumably happens in real life; despite ambiguous stimuli, people form some sort of tentative hypothesis about what they see. The longer they are exposed to this blurred image, the greater confidence they develop in this initial and perhaps erroneous impression, so the greater the impact this initial impression has on subsequent perceptions. For a time, as the picture becomes clearer, there is no obvious contradiction; the new data are assimilated into the previous image, and the initial interpretation is maintained until the contradiction becomes so obvious that it forces itself upon our consciousness.

    The early but incorrect impression tends to persist because the amount of information necessary to invalidate a hypothesis is considerably greater than the amount of information required to make an initial interpretation. The problem is not that there is any inherent difficulty in grasping new perceptions or new ideas, but that established perceptions are so difficult to change. People form impressions on the basis of very little information, but once formed, they do not reject or change them unless they obtain rather solid evidence. Analysts might seek to limit the adverse impact of this tendency by suspending judgment for as long as possible as new information is being received.

    Implications for Intelligence Analysis

    Comprehending the nature of perception has significant implications for understanding the nature and limitations of intelligence analysis. The circumstances under which accurate perception is most difficult are exactly the circumstances under which intelligence analysis is generally conducted–dealing with highly ambiguous situations on the basis of information that is processed incrementally under pressure for early judgment. This is a recipe for inaccurate perception.

    Intelligence seeks to illuminate the unknown. Almost by definition, intelligence analysis deals with highly ambiguous situations. As previously noted, the greater the ambiguity of the stimuli, the greater the impact of expectations and pre-existing images on the perception of that stimuli. Thus, despite maximum striving for objectivity, the intelligence analyst’s own preconceptions are likely to exert a greater impact on the analytical product than in other fields where an analyst is working with less ambiguous and less discordant information.

    Moreover, the intelligence analyst is among the first to look at new problems at an early stage when the evidence is very fuzzy indeed. The analyst then follows a problem as additional increments of evidence are received and the picture gradually clarifies–as happened with test subjects in the experiment demonstrating that initial exposure to blurred stimuli interferes with accurate perception even after more and better information becomes available. If the results of this experiment can be generalized to apply to intelligence analysts, the experiment suggests that an analyst who starts observing a potential problem situation at an early and unclear stage is at a disadvantage as compared with others, such as policymakers, whose first exposure may come at a later stage when more and better information is available.

    The receipt of information in small increments over time also facilitates assimilation of this information into the analyst’s existing views. No one item of information may be sufficient to prompt the analyst to change a previous view. The cumulative message inherent in many pieces of information may be significant but is attenuated when this information is not examined as a whole. The Intelligence Community’s review of its performance before the 1973 Arab-Israeli War noted:

    The problem of incremental analysis–especially as it applies to the current intelligence process–was also at work in the period preceding hostilities. Analysts, according to their own accounts, were often proceeding on the basis of the day’s take, hastily comparing it with material received the previous day. They then produced in ‘assembly line fashion’ items which may have reflected perceptive intuition but which [did not] accrue from a systematic consideration of an accumulated body of integrated evidence.28

    And finally, the intelligence analyst operates in an environment that exerts strong pressures for what psychologists call premature closure. Customer demand for interpretive analysis is greatest within two or three days after an event occurs. The system requires the intelligence analyst to come up with an almost instant diagnosis before sufficient hard information, and the broader background information that may be needed to gain perspective, become available to make possible a well-grounded judgment. This diagnosis can only be based upon the analyst’s preconceptions concerning how and why events normally transpire in a given society.

    As time passes and more information is received, a fresh look at all the evidence might suggest a different explanation. Yet, the perception experiments indicate that an early judgment adversely affects the formation of future perceptions. Once an observer thinks he or she knows what is happening, this perception tends to resist change. New data received incrementally can be fit easily into an analyst’s previous image. This perceptual bias is reinforced by organizational pressures favoring consistent interpretation; once the analyst is committed in writing, both the analyst and the organization have a vested interest in maintaining the original assessment.

    That intelligence analysts perform as well as they do is testimony to their generally sound judgment, training, and dedication in performing a dauntingly difficult task.

    The problems outlined here have implications for the management as well as the conduct of analysis. Given the difficulties inherent in the human processing of complex information, a prudent management system should:
    • Encourage products that clearly delineate their assumptions and chains of inference and that specify the degree and source of uncertainty involved in the conclusions.

    • Support analyses that periodically re-examine key problems from the ground up in order to avoid the pitfalls of the incremental approach.

    • Emphasize procedures that expose and elaborate alternative points of view.

    • Educate consumers about the limitations as well as the capabilities of intelligence analysis; define a set of realistic expectations as a standard against which to judge analytical performance.

    Footnotes

    18An earlier version of this article was published as part of “Cognitive Factors in Deception and Counterdeception,” in Donald C. Daniel and Katherine L. Herbig, eds., Strategic Military Deception (Pergamon Press, 1982).

    19The article is written twice in each of the three phrases. This is commonly overlooked because perception is influenced by our expectations about how these familiar phrases are normally written.

    20Jerome S. Bruner and Leo Postman, “On the Perception of Incongruity: A Paradigm,” in Jerome S. Bruner and David Kraut, eds., Perception and Personality: A Symposium (New York: Greenwood Press, 1968).

    21For discussion of the ambiguous evidence concerning the impact of desires and fears on judgment, see Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976), Chapter 10.

    22Richard Betts, “Analysis, War and Decision: Why Intelligence Failures are Inevitable”, World Politics, Vol. XXXI (October 1978), p. 84.

    23Drawings devised by Gerald Fisher in 1967.

    24Jervis, p. 195.

    25This picture was originally published in Puck magazine in 1915 as a cartoon entitled “My Wife and My Mother-in-Law.”

    26The old woman’s nose, mouth, and eye are, respectively, the young woman’s chin, necklace, and ear. The old woman is seen in profile looking left. The young woman is also looking left, but we see her mainly from behind so most facial features are not visible. Her eyelash, nose, and the curve of her cheek may be seen just above the old woman’s nose.

    27Jerome S. Bruner and Mary C. Potter, “Interference in Visual Recognition,” Science, Vol. 144 (1964), pp. 424-25.

    28The Performance of the Intelligence Community Before the Arab-Israeli War of October 1973: A Preliminary Post-Mortem Report, December 1973. The one-paragraph excerpt from this post-mortem, as quoted in the text above, has been approved for public release, as was the title of the post-mortem, although that document as a whole remains classified.

    I recently attended a metaphysical lecture facilitated by Guy Williams, a friend of mine who also happens to be a minister of Religious Science. After the lecture, Guy opened the floor for prayer requests, and one of the attendees asked for healing for a family member who was experiencing a significant health crisis.

    In the course of the discussion, Guy asked if the attendee was certain that her family member actually wanted to heal, observing, “Most people don’t really want to heal. Most people just want to stop hurting.”

    Once again, an off-hand comment by Guy Williams completely rearranged the furniture in my head. (If you’d like to see the results of some of Guy’s other off-hand comments, check out The Relationship Handbook: How to Understand and Improve Every Relationship in Your Life. The sections on forgiveness and anger are both inspired by Guy’s wisdom).

    Most people don’t want to heal. Most people just want to stop hurting.

    Most of us want to wave a magic wand and make the pain go away. Most of us focus on treating the symptoms: we’ll take pills, injections, or have surgery. We claim that we want to heal, but we rarely choose to heal. We remain motivated as long as we’re in pain, and once that pain has become bearable or manageable, we choose to return to our normal lives.

    This is not healing…

    For most of us, healing is a big, scary, and uncomfortable prospect. Healing requires that we do two very simple, yet incredibly unappealing tasks. First, we must accept that we are responsible for creating our own illness: Our thoughts, beliefs, choices and actions are directly responsible for the imbalance and dis-ease we are experiencing in our physical bodies. Second, we must be willing to change our lives and eliminate the thoughts, beliefs, choices and actions that created and supported the imbalance and dis-ease, replacing them with new choices that support balance and health.

    The process of healing really is very simple, and if we break it down into small, manageable steps, following the process can also become easy as well. As with most challenges we encounter during our human experience, healing requires that we first become familiar with and learn how to master our egos.

    THE CARE AND FEEDING OF THE EGO

    Let’s begin by remembering who we truly are. We are each whole and complete, eternal, multi-dimensional beings, individualized aspects of All That Is. We are also each currently having a human experience, in the third dimension of matter and form, on the planet Earth.

    When we begin our human experiences, we’re given a very useful tool to help us to interact with the third dimension: the ego. The ego is entirely a third-dimensional construct. In a sense, we put on an “ego suit” so that we can experience and explore the third dimension from a unique and specific point of view. The ego helps us to pretend that we are individuals; more specifically, the ego helps us to pretend that we’re not, in fact, connected to each other as a part of All That Is. Ultimately, our egos are designed to help us to remember where we left our car keys, and not much else.

    The problem is that our egos don’t know this.

    Our ego believes that its job is to protect us from what it perceives to be a very cruel and dangerous universe. Since the ego was created to help us maintain the illusion of separation from the Source, separation is all that the ego knows. The ego feels lost, isolated and alone. In an attempt to protect us from the pain of the world, the ego increases our sense of separation. Of course, the greater the separation, the more pain. The more the ego tries to protect us from the pain of separation, the more pain it causes.

    The ego’s single greatest fear is death. Everything the ego does, it does to try to prevent itself from being destroyed. The ego can be destroyed-it’s a product of the third dimension, and therefore it’s fragile and finite. We, on the other hand, are eternal, multi-dimensional beings who can never die or be destroyed because we are a part of All That Is. We get into trouble when we start to identify with our egos and forget our true natures. When we start to believe that we are our egos, we see the world from our ego’s point of view and experience fear and pain.

    All fear comes from the ego. All fear, in fact, is directly related to the ego’s fear of being destroyed. Fear can only exist when we believe that we are separated from the Source. The more we believe the ego, the more we believe we are separate from the Source, and the more we experience fear.

    Only two states of being exist: fear and love. We experience fear when we listen to the ego and buy into the idea that we’re separate from the universe. We experience love when we remember the truth that we are whole and complete. It’s not possible to experience both states of being at the same time, although most of us are masters at switching between them almost instantly.

    Many of us are familiar with the truth that our reality is nothing more than words. Our thoughts and beliefs define our experience of reality. Therefore, if we change the words, we change the world. We can, in fact, change our lives in an instant, simply by choosing to create more elegant and supportive thoughts. We can release any negative belief, eliminate any destructive pattern, and instantly experience the levels of joy, love and prosperity that are our birthright.

    The challenge is that the ego does not understand this. And, more to the point, the ego has a vested interest in making sure that we do not change our thoughts, beliefs, patterns or behaviors. Moreover, whenever we do set an intention to change our thoughts, our egos interfere in subtle and insidious ways to insure that we continue to think, believe, and behave exactly as we have in the past.

    And why does the ego do this? The ego does this in order to protect us. One could even go so far as to say the ego does this because it loves us. Granted, it’s definitely a “Mommy Dearest” “No-More-Wire-Hangers” kind of love, but even so, when the ego encourages us to cling to our painful, negative beliefs, it does so because it truly believes that it’s acting in our best interest.

    Remember, the ego is a part of the third dimension; we are not. What the ego believes is in our best interest is not always actually in our best interest.

    The ego believes that it is protecting us from being destroyed. (In point of fact, the ego is actually protecting itself from being destroyed. The ego can be destroyed. We, on the other hand, cannot, because we are eternal, multi-dimensional beings, and individualized aspects of All That Is.) The ego believes that even our most painful, limiting beliefs are essential, because the small amount of pain that we experience actually protects us from a much bigger pain: death.

    When we choose to change our thinking, we must be careful not to trigger our egos. One of the most powerful ways to approach changing our thoughts and beliefs is to consider this radical thought:

    Every belief that we currently hold, no matter how negative, painful, limiting, and even wrong it may be, actually serves us. Because we are whole, complete and perfect exactly as we are, it follows that each and every one of our beliefs is also perfect.

    This may seem a strange approach to changing our thinking, but consider it more deeply. The root of every negative, limiting belief is the belief that there is something wrong with us. This belief, in turn, can only exist when we buy into the illusion that we are separate, and forget the truth that we are completely and eternally connected to all of creation; that since we are individualized aspects of All That Is, we are, by our very nature, perfect.

    Often, when we believe that there is something wrong with our beliefs, we trigger the ego. As a result, we beat ourselves up for having created the negative belief in the first place. This, of course, only reinforces the root of all of our negative beliefs: that there is something wrong with us. When we accept ourselves and our current beliefs as perfect, we avoid triggering the ego. This is the most effective way of actually changing our beliefs.

    Once we’ve convinced our ego that there’s nothing wrong with the beliefs that we currently hold, we can introduce a new thought. While all of our beliefs are currently working just fine, it may be possible to upgrade our beliefs, and make more elegant choices.

    Consider this: most of our most limiting and painful beliefs were formed while we were children. We created these beliefs using the resources and skills available to us at the time, in order to protect us from very specific circumstances and situations. Even though these beliefs worked beautifully when we were children, we’ve never actually updated them. Our circumstances have changed. We’ve developed significantly greater skills, and have infinitely more choices and resources at our disposal as adults than we did as children. It may just be possible that we can create a new belief that does an even better job of protecting us than the old one did.

    Or, to put it another way, when we formed most of our painful and negative beliefs, we only had the 8-color box of crayons to use. Now, as adults, we have access to the big, 128-color box. The 8-color beliefs still serve us, but when we’re ready, we can also choose to upgrade and create more elegant, skillful, and above all, more colorful beliefs.

    The story so far…

    At a metaphysical lecture facilitated by Guy Williams, Guy made the comment that most people don’t really want to heal. What most people want, according to Guy, is to stop hurting. In Part 1, we met the ego, and discovered that the most effective way of letting go of our limiting and outmoded beliefs is to accept that there is no need to change these beliefs because they’re actually working just fine. What we have, on the other hand, is the option to upgrade our beliefs and to make more elegant choices.

    For most of us, healing is a big, scary, and uncomfortable prospect. Healing requires that we do two very simple, yet incredibly unappealing tasks. First, we must accept that we are responsible for creating our own illness: Our thoughts, beliefs, choices and actions are directly responsible for the imbalance and dis-ease we are experiencing in our physical bodies. Second, we must be willing to change our lives and eliminate the thoughts, beliefs, choices and actions that created and supported the imbalance and dis-ease, replacing them with new choices that support balance and health.

    Taking Responsibility For Our Illnesses

    The first step to healing is to accept that we created our illnesses in the first place. This can be a difficult concept to swallow. So many of us are invested in the prevailing Western scientific medical view of reality that we can’t quite understand how we created our illnesses.

    Most illnesses are caused by viruses or bacteria. If we catch a cold, or get the flu, how is that our responsibility? Someone sneezed on us in an elevator, and now we’re laid up in bed for a week. We’re so helpless against the various flu strains that there’s even an annual cold and flu season every year. Every ad for cough medication, every news report on flu vaccinations only serves to reinforce the belief that we’re helpless victims of forces beyond our control. The only way to avoid getting sick is to avoid human contact for six months of the year.

    But what about the people who don’t bother with flu shots, and don’t avoid human contact and yet they also don’t get sick? Are they just lucky? They’re being exposed to the same bacteria and viruses that we are. How is that that they stay healthy? Could it be that their thoughts support perfect health and a strong and functioning immune system, while ours somehow invite illness?

    What about hereditary or genetic disorders? How can we be responsible for these? Or is it just possible that our belief in heredity is what creates hereditary diseases? If we believe that because heart disease “runs” in our family that we are “at risk” for a heart attack, how does that belief become our reality?

    Of course, in the case of heart disease, there are so many other contributing factors, such as diet and exercise that have as much, or more to do with the health of our hearts than heredity does. It may just be possible that what we inherit is not a genetic predisposition to heart disease, but the nutritional and lifestyle habits that actually result in heart disease. We inherit behaviors from our families as well. We’re responsible for our choices, and we’re responsible for any dis-ease that results from our choices.

    I have a friend who “inherited” a degenerative neurological disorder that affects her feet and makes it difficult for her to walk. Every doctor she saw told her that she would be in a wheelchair by the time she was 40, and there was nothing she could do about it. She knew how her relatives had lived out their lives with this disease, and decided that this was not an acceptable life for her. She refused to accept the diagnosis, and began to explore alternative therapies. She made radical changes to her diet and lifestyle, and very quickly noticed a radical improvement in this chronic, progressive, degenerative condition. According to the best medical experts, she shouldn’t be able to walk today. However, because she took responsibility for her illness and changed the thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that created her illness, she has been able to reverse it.

    Many conditions result from negative thinking and limiting beliefs. Unexpressed anger, regret, grief, and other painful emotions can manifest as chronic, painful, and sometimes terminal illness. In order to heal these conditions, we must identify the negative thought or belief that is at the core. The challenge, however, is to identify and release the negative thought without triggering the ego. All too often, we punish ourselves for having negative thoughts in the first place–we beat ourselves up for beating ourselves up. This only reinforces the negative thought and destructive patterns.

    We must accept that every belief we hold, no matter how negative or limiting, serves us in some way. This goes for our illnesses and dis-eases as well. Before we can heal, we must become aware of what benefits we get from our illnesses.

    Discovering And Accepting That Our Illness Serves Us

    Every choice we make, we make because it meets a need. We created our illness because it gives us something that we believe that we want. What is the payoff we get for being ill? What are we getting out of this situation?

    No matter how painful or debilitating the illness, there is always a benefit. Objectively, we may have made a rather unskillful bargain, of course. We may feel that we’re paying much too high a price for the benefits we receive. But until we identify the benefit-until we become aware of what it is that we get out of being ill, we can never truly heal.

    Healing requires that we identify what it is that we get out of being ill, and then become aware of our beliefs surrounding this need. We must be willing to give up these benefits, or recognize that we can meet these needs in less debilitating ways.

    When it comes to minor illnesses such as the cold or flu, often we get sick because we haven’t been listening to our bodies. We’ve been working too hard, and under too much stress. We haven’t been taking care of our physical, emotional, or spiritual needs. The only way that we will take any time for ourselves is if we’re too weak to get out of bed, so that’s what we create.

    I have a friend who has a rather intense family history, with enough drama and intrigue to fill a prime-time soap opera. A number of years ago, she experienced a rather significant identity crisis. An inheritance set her up financially so that she could do whatever she wanted to do with her life. The fact that she could do whatever she wanted with her life meant that she had to actually choose what she wanted to do with her life, and this created a great deal of stress. She began to have anxiety attacks, and soon developed acute agoraphobia, finding it very difficult to leave her house. She’s struggled with this condition for many years. The payoff of this condition is that she has an iron-clad excuse not to face her fears and do something with her life. All of her time and attention is focused on her condition and her anxiety.

    We may find it difficult to accept responsibility for having created our illnesses because we created our illnesses to avoid having to take responsibility in the first place. Illnesses and injuries are often cries for attention and validation. When we’re ill, injured or otherwise in pain, we’re entitled–and even expected to think only of ourselves. We are excused from our responsibilities to others. We don’t have to go anywhere we don’t want to go, we don’t have to do anything we don’t want to do. And we can expect other people to do things for us and we’re under no obligation to return the favor. We can cancel plans at the last minute, or even simply not show up, because we were in too much pain to fulfill our social obligations–and we don’t even have to call to apologize.

    Within reason, we’re able to complain to others about how we feel, or put on a brave face, enduring the pain (but also making certain that everyone knows that we’re a martyr to our pain and we don’t want to ruin everyone else’s good time). Either way, our illness is making us the center of attention, and this makes deposits in our Validation Accounts. Granted, the deposits are very small, and the cost is extremely high, but for many of us, this is the only way we believe that we can receive validation and attention from others.

    Healing means that we will have to give up our “special” status. We will no longer be entitled to be the center of attention at all times. We will no longer be able to demand that other people notice us and pay us special attention. We will be expected to do things that we may not particularly enjoy, in order to meet our personal and social obligations to others.

    If our illness is a chronic disability, healing means that we will once again have to work to earn a living. If we believe that the only way that we can earn a living is doing work that we find repugnant and draining, where is the incentive to heal? And, could this belief be one of the primary reasons we created our disability in the first place?

    Sometimes it’s more important to keep our handicapped parking privileges than it is to heal and have to (or even be able to) walk an extra block to the supermarket.

    Please know that there is nothing at all wrong with that choice. We are free to choose to keep our illnesses and our dis-eases. These conditions meet very important needs for us, albeit at a considerable cost. We may not really want to heal, and that’s a perfectly acceptable choice.

    Of course, once we accept responsibility for having created our illness, and become completely aware of the costs and benefits, we may realize that we can, in fact, meet those needs more effectively in other ways. When we realize this, we are truly ready to heal.

    The Courage to Heal

    Healing is a very threatening process because it requires that we make significant, often dramatic changes in our lives, and change is always threatening. On the most fundamental level, safe equals familiar. When our most basic, physiological needs are being met, we’re often able to overcome minor concerns about the unknown and embrace change without feeling threatened. When we’re in pain because of dis-ease, however, our most basic needs are not being met.

    When our Physiological Need account is overdrawn, all of our need accounts are put on red alert. When we’re in pain, we’re most definitely not feeling safe, and any change will be a threat. To make matters worse, the behaviors that we will have to change-often eating, drinking, and/or smoking-seem to be the few reliable ways that we can make deposits in our Safety Accounts.

    On an intellectual level, we may understand that the only way to truly heal and be free of the pain of our dis-ease is to alter our behavior. However, when our safety needs aren’t being met, we act on instinct. The very thought that we have to give up the few things that give us pleasure makes us feel even less safe.

    What happens next is that we often retreat into victim consciousness. We long for the magic wand that will miraculously make the pain go away and let us continue with our lives exactly as they are, because that’s the only option we can imagine that lets us feel reasonably safe. When we escape into fantasy, of course, we avoid any personal responsibility. We also give up all personal power, and lose the ability to heal.

    In order to truly heal, we must accept each healing crisis as a call to awareness. When we’re in pain, all we can do is find some way to alleviate the pain. This is an essential first step. Healing requires that we address our safety needs, and we can’t do this until our physiological needs are being met. Healing isn’t about stopping the pain; healing is about what we choose to do once the pain has stopped.

    Healing is not about pain management; it’s about safety management. In order to change our behaviors and allow our bodies to heal, we must learn how to manage our Safety Accounts.

    For example, we might have an emotional attachment to sugar. Anytime we feel stressed, unhappy, or otherwise unsafe, we can always rely on a candy bar or some ice cream to make us feel a little better. If we are at risk for diabetes, however, eating sugar poses serious health risks. Of course, the thought of having to give up sugar makes us feel unsafe, and in order to replenish the balance in our Safety Account, we dive into a pound of Godiva chocolates.

    The only way to break this pattern is to learn to manage our Safety Account. We must discover other behaviors that help us to feel safe that do not involve eating sugar. We can use the “Present Moment Awareness Safety Exercise” (see The Relationship Handbook: How to Understand and Improve Every Relationship in Your Life, page 48) to manage our general stress levels so that we’re less likely to give in to our cravings. We experience the truth that we can meet our needs in many different ways, and so we do not feel threatened and unsafe by the thought of limiting or excluding sugar from our diet. And, of course, we apply AWARENESS, OWNERSHIP and CHOICE to create new behaviors that support our health.

    Now, anyone who has struggled with attachments or addictions will tell you that while the theory is very simple, simple isn’t the same thing as easy! Throughout the process, we also have to be careful not to trigger our egos (as we covered in Part 1). We must take small steps, validating and rewarding ourselves for each elegant choice, no matter how small, and avoid punishing ourselves for not being able to change our behavior patterns instantly.

    We did not create our dis-eases overnight, and we won’t be able to heal them overnight, either. We must accept that healing is a gradual process, and in this acceptance is one of the keys to healing. We generally do not need to make drastic, immediate changes in order to heal. We can make gradual changes in our behavior and our beliefs, and the more gentle we are with ourselves during the process, the more successful it will be.

    Healing does not have to be difficult. It’s just that for most of us, as soon as we stop hurting, we lose interest in actually healing.only when we can unconditionally love others can we truly love ourselves!

    In Buddhism we use the words “self” and “no-self,” and so it is important to understand just what this “no-self,” anatta, is all about, even if it is first just an idea, because the essence of the Buddha’s teaching hinges on this concept. And in this teaching Buddhism is unique. No one, no other spiritual teacher, has formulated no-self in just this way. And because it has been formulated by him in this way, there is also the possibility of speaking about it. Much has been written about no-self, but in order to know it, one has to experience it. And that is what the teaching aims at, the experience of no-self.

    Yet in order to experience no-self, one has first to fully know self. Actually know it. But unless we do know what this self is, this self called “me,” it is impossible to know what is meant by “there is no self there.” In order to give something away, we have to first fully have it in hand.

    We are constantly trying to reaffirm self. Which already shows that this “self” is a very fragile and rather wispy sort of affair, because if it weren’t why would we constantly have to reaffirm it? Why are we constantly afraid of the “self” being threatened of its being insecure, of its not getting what it needs for survival? If it were such a solid entity as we believe it to be, we would not feel threatened so often.

    We affirm “self” again and again through identification. We identify with a certain name, an age, a sex, an ability, an occupation. “I am a lawyer, I am a doctor. I am an accountant, I am a student.” And we identify with the people we are attached to. “I am a husband, I am a wife, I am a mother, I am a daughter, I am a son.” Now, in the manner of speech, we have to use “self” in that way — but it isn’t only in speech. We really think that that “self” is who we are. We really believe it. There is no doubt in our mind that that “self” is who we are. When any of these factors is threatened, if being a wife is threatened, if being a mother is threatened, if being a lawyer is threatened, if being a teacher is threatened — or if we lose the people who enable us to retain that “self” — what a tragedy!

    The self-identification becomes insecure, and “me” finds it hard to say “look at me,” “this is me.” Praise and blame are included. Praise reaffirms “me.” Blame threatens “me.” So we like the praise and we dislike the blame. The ego is threatened. Fame and infamy — same thing. Loss and gain. If we gain, the ego gets bigger; if we lose, it gets a bit smaller. So we are constantly in a quandary, and in constant fear. The ego might lose a little bit of its grandeur. It might be made a bit smaller by someone. And it happens to all of us. Somebody is undoubtedly going to blame us for something eventually. Even the Buddha was blamed.

    Now the blame that is levied at us is not the problem. The problem is our reaction. The problem is that we feel smaller. The ego has a hard time reasserting itself. So what we usually do is we blame back, making the other’s ego a bit smaller too.

    Identification with whatever it is that we do and whatever it is that we have, be it possessions or people, is, so we believe, needed for our survival. “Self” survival. If we don’t identify with this or that, we feel as if we are in limbo. This is the reason why it is difficult to stop thinking in meditation. Because without thinking there would be no identification. If I don’t think, what do I identify with? It is difficult to come to a stage in meditation in which there is actually nothing to identify with any more.

    Happiness, too, may be an identification. “I am happy.” “I am unhappy.” Because we are so keen on survival, we have got to keep on identifying. When this identification becomes a matter of the life or death of the ego, which it usually is, then the fear of loss becomes so great that we can be in a constant state of fear. Constantly afraid to lose either the possessions that make us what we are, or the people that make us what we are. If we have no children, or if they all die, we are no longer a mother. So fear is paramount. The same goes for all other identifications. Not a very peaceful state of living and what is it due to? Only one thing: ego, the craving to be.

    This identification results, of course, in craving for possessing. And this possessing results in attachment. What we have, what we identify with, we are attached to. That attachment, that clinging, makes it extremely difficult to have a free and open viewpoint. This kind of clinging, whatever it may be that we cling to — it may not be clinging to motor cars and houses, it may not even be clinging to people — but we certainly cling to views and opinions. We cling to our world view. We cling to the view of how we are going to be happy. Maybe we cling to a view of who created this universe. Whatever it is we cling to, even how the government should run the country, all of that makes it extremely difficult to see things as they really are. To be open-minded. And it is only an open mind which can take in new ideas and understanding.

    Lord Buddha compared listeners to four different kinds of clay vessels. The first clay vessel is one that has holes at the bottom. If you pour water into it, it runs right out. In other words, whatever you teach that person is useless. The second clay vessel he compared to one that had cracks in it. If you pour water into it, the water seeps out. These people cannot remember. Cannot put two and two together. Cracks in the understanding. The third listener he compared to a vessel that was completely full. Water cannot be poured in for it’s full to the brim. Such a person, so full of views he can’t learn anything new! But hopefully, we are the fourth kind. The empty vessels without any holes or cracks. Completely empty.

    I dare say we are not. But may be empty enough to take in enough. To be empty like that, of views and opinions, means a lack of clinging. Even a lack of clinging to what we think is reality. Whatever we think reality is, it surely is not, because if it were, we would never be unhappy for a single moment. We would never feel a lack of anything. We would never feel a lack of companionship, of ownership. We would never feel frustrated, bored. If we ever do, whatever we think is real, is not. What is truly reality is completely fulfilling. If we aren’t completely fulfilled, we aren’t seeing complete reality. So, any view that we may have is either wrong or it is partial.

    Because it is wrong or partial, and bounded by the ego, we must look at it with suspicion. Anything we cling to keeps us bound to it. If I cling to a table-leg, I can’t possibly get out the door. There is no way I can move. I am stuck. Not until I let go will I have the opportunity to get out. Any identification, any possession that is clung to, is what stops us from reaching transcendental reality. Now we can easily see this clinging when we cling to things and people, but we cannot easily see why the five khandhas are called the five clung-to aggregates. That is their name, and they are, in fact, what we cling to most. That is an entire clinging. We don’t even stop to consider when we look at our body, and when we look at our mind, or when we look at feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness — vedana, sañña, sankhara, and viññana. We look at this mind-and-body, nama-rupa, and we don’t even doubt the fact that this is my feeling, my perception, my memory, my thoughts, and my awareness of my consciousness. And no one starts doubting until they start seeing. And for that seeing we need a fair bit of empty space apart from views and opinions.

    Clinging is the greatest possessiveness and attachment we have. As long as we cling we cannot see reality. We cannot see reality because clinging is in the way. Clinging colors whatever we believe to be true. Now it is not possible to say “all right, I’ll stop clinging.” We can’t do that. The process of taking the “me” apart, of not believing any more that this is one whole, is a gradual one. But if meditation has any benefit and success, it must show that first of all there is mind and there is body. There isn’t one single thing acting in accord all the time. There is mind which is thinking and making the body act. Now that is the first step in knowing oneself a little clearer. And then we can note “this is a feeling” and “I am giving this feeling a name” which means memory and perception. “This is the thought that I am having about this feeling. The feeling has come about because the mind-consciousness has connected with the feeling that has arisen.”

    Take the four parts of the khandhas that belong to the mind apart. When we do that while it is happening — not now when we are thinking about at-but while it is happening, then we get an inkling that this isn’t really me, that these are phenomena that are arising, which stay a moment, and then cease. How long does mind-consciousness stay on one object? And how long do thoughts last? And have we really invited them?

    The clinging, the clung-to, are what make the ego arise. Because of clinging the notion of “me” arises and then there is me, and me having all the problems. Without me would there be problems? If there weren’t anyone sitting inside me — as we think there is — who is called I or me or John, Claire, then who is having the problem? The khandhas do not have any problems. The khandhas are just processes. They are phenomena, and that is all. They are just going on and on and on. But because I am grasping at them, and trying to hold on to them, and saying: “it’s me, it’s me feeling, it’s me wanting,.” then problems arise.

    If we really want to get rid of suffering, completely and totally, then clinging has to go. The spiritual path is never one of achievement; it is always one of letting go. The more we let go, the more there is empty and open space for us to see reality. Because what we let go of is no longer there, there is the possibility of just moving without clinging to the results of the movement. As long as we cling to the results of what we do, as long as we cling to the results of what we think, we are bound, we are hemmed in.

    Now there is a third thing that we do: we are interested in becoming something or somebody. Interested in becoming an excellent meditator. Interested in becoming a graduate. Interested in becoming something which we are not. And becoming something stops us from being. When we are stopped from being, we cannot pay attention to what there really is. All this becoming business is, of course, in the future. Since whatever there is in the future is conjecture, it is a dream world we live in. The only reality we can be sure of is this particular moment right now; and this particular moment as you must be able to be aware of — has already passed and this one has passed and the next one has also passed. See how they are all p

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