I’ve been getting lots of questions lately about dealing with sickness, in relation to the message I share on this site.
Some of the questions seem to be coming from confusion over the distinction I make between “what you are”, and “how to be.” (I draw that distinction strongly in this video.) I’d like to clear up some of that confusion.
Distinctions are tools only. They are not factual. They let us tell the difference between things for purposes of skillful living. Distinction making is what stops us from eating stones instead of apples. As useful as that is, the distinctions we hold do not make an apple different from what it is.
So, the distinction between “how to be” and “what you are” is there to help. It does not propose that there is an actual separation between two realms of being. In my experience, there is no separation. Approaching some tasks though “as if” there were a separation has been exceedingly helpful for me to stay on target for a specific task.
I have found it to be incredibly helpful when looking directly at me to stick strictly to the “what I am” realm. That means looking at me without reference to anything about me. Everything about me, every story told about me (by myself or others) exists in the realm of “how to be,” as far as I can tell. Using that distinction to cleave away distractions allows for a laser focus on the goal of looking directly at me. I have found that extremely advantageous.
Another piece of confusion seems to come from using the looking as a therapeutic tool. When I look directly at me (and this report is mirrored by tons of people I have shared about this with), there can be an incredible sense of relief and a visceral experience of that relief. As near as I can tell, this comes from dropping all the stories we have accumulated, and struggle to maintain, that lay in the “how to be” space. Letting go of the energy bound up in that can be an amazing release. Since we are are taught to focus on “how to be” rather than “what we are,” many novel things (insights, realizations, re-alignments) can come from changing the focus of where we look.
Both of those gifts (relief and insight) are well and good, but the moment we get sidetracked into pursuing them rather than simply looking, we are off the track. There is nothing wrong with sidetracks. Relief and insight is something I think everyone should enjoy more. However, getting into the habit of chasing those gifts, rather than looking directly at you, muddles things up a bit. Sidetracks won’t harm you, but it may slow down the dissolution of the lie of the separate self.
That lie is the only disease that the looking cures. That’s it. So in a way, looking is a therapy for a disease, but exactly one disease and no other. I find that when I use the looking for relief from stress, depression or pain I go off course and slow down my own recovery from the lie of the separate self.
I want to be clear that I think seeking out and implementing cures for whatever diseases, confusions, or shadows that afflicts one is a great and good thing. I am a staunch supporter of psychotherapy, fitness and self-reflection. I have gotten tremendous benefits out of therapy. It’s simply that the looking does not directly treat those issues.
That being said, it seems to be the case that many of those conditions are tied up with (and founded on) the lie of the separate self. It has been my experience that dealing with that lie makes working with all of the other issues in my life a great, great deal easier and more effective. The difference for me has been astounding.
I strongly urge that you continue with whatever practices are helping to sort issues (journaling, psychology, religion, philosophy, NLP, spirituality, prayer, meditation. medication, 12 Step programs, therapy, etc.) I suggest not using the looking as a replacement for any of those practices. I recommend that the looking only be used to get rid of the lie of the separate self and the fear of life it generates.
Looking does deal with sickness, but it deals with one sickness only.
If you have any questions about this distinction or if there is any lingering confusion, I would love to hear from you in a comment below.
Please, keep looking.