Monday, November 29, 2010

Welcome

This is a welcome from the heart.  Thanks for stopping by to check out this blog.

The word "welcome" has great significance in nonduality.  Nonduality teachers and sages continually stress the importance of welcoming what arises, whether it be a thought, emotion, sensation or perception.  However, almost all of us have been taught and conditioned to resist what is deemed bad or negative.  As quickly as we can, we try to substitute positive (or neutral) thoughts for the negative thoughts.

Simply put, we want to change what is. This is a tension filled game, and in the end you may find (as I did) that resistance and substitution aren't effective strategies.

Resisting what is brings suffering.  Attempts to substitute positive experiences bring temporary relief at best.  Those dastardly negative emotions might take a coffee break for a while, but you know they will be coming back to visit again....and again....and again.   

Welcoming doesn't eliminate suffering instantly, and it isn't intended to be a cure. However, eventually (and often rather quickly) when we welcome what is present, we feel relief as the uncomfortable thought or feeling dissolves into the welcome space of Being.  We see that we don't need to fight or change anything.  All thoughts and emotions pass on their own, and that includes the positive ones as well.

So all you have to do is welcome everything.  How simple is that?

Easier said than done.  At the outset of your inquiry into the nature of reality, your mind tells you that you're crazy to think that welcoming the uncomfortable stuff is your best way to go.  If your mind could send you an email, it would read something like this:

"When fear arises, you mean to tell me you just want to let the fear be there and offer no resistance?  Are you crazy?  How can doing nothing, or worse yet, welcoming the fear, do you any good?  Good luck with your non-strategy.  LOL. Best regards, Your Mind."

When it comes to certain strong negative emotions or circumstances, you may find it almost impossible to "welcome" them.  You may even consider that approach to be crazy or cruel.  Can we welcome the news that our dear friend or family member was just diagnosed with cancer?

Here's an important distinction.  Welcoming does not mean we are happy with whatever arises.  We allow the flow of all thoughts and emotions.  If we hear that a friend is sick, we may be angry or sad.  We then welcome that anger or sadness.  If we are fighting to change our thoughts, we see that, too -- and welcome it.   It comes down to welcoming all of our thoughts and feelings as they arise -- something we have been trained to avoid.

Welcoming is something you do by yourself in silence.  I'm not suggesting that you vent and tell others what you are thinking and feeling. 

The word "welcoming" might be hard for some of you to embrace.  You can't see yourself welcoming certain negative thoughts and feelings.  If that is the case, substitute the word "allow" for welcoming.  Just allow whatever is to be there and don't fight to get rid of it.

By the way, you should know that even those who have been involved with self-inquiry and nondual teachings for years still have questions and struggles with welcoming or allowing what is.  However, as your investigation matures, you will see quite clearly the need for welcoming instead of resisting.

This is a subject that can't be covered in one post.  I'm sharing some things that have proved helpful to me but if you are unsure about this issue and have questions, direct your questions to a qualified teacher of nonduality.  They will be able to offer insights.

The Perfume of Silence, a book by nondual teacher Francis Lucille, contains many excellent dialogues about the importance of welcoming what is.   At one point, he addresses the issue of striving.  We are usually resisting what is and striving for something different.  Here is the advice Francis gave on this issue (page 116):

"Instead of striving, contemplate the striving.  Welcome your striving.  Let it tell its story.  Simply love, simply welcome the striving.  Welcome the striving mind and the striving body without striving for them to be different in any way from what they are."  (reprinted with permission)

I have found that to be great advice. You can learn more about Francis Lucille and his books, teachings and resources at http://www.francislucille.com/ .

Self-inquiry can bring feelings of peace, love and compassion -- and it also brings confusion, fear, anxiety, anger, sadness and frustration.  It's an unpredictable roller coaster ride.

Hopefully this blog is a place where you can feel welcome even in the midst of some challenges or frustration that will arise with your own inquiry.  Perhaps I can share some insights or experiences that will be of use to you -- or I can point you to a resource that resonates with you.

Of course, we're also allowed to laugh and have fun with this stuff.  Self-inquiry can drive you crazy if you take it too seriously. 

Welcome.