Shedding Skin - by Doug Marman

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Re: Shedding Skin - by Doug Marman

Postby Jonathan Reams on Sun Sep 06, 2009 3:26 am

Hi Doug,

Yes, I am enjoying this as well. I like your description of Shams and his relationship with Rumi and students in general. I hope to learn much each semester from my students, and also look for those who will ask questions that open up new perspectives on issues. In answering such question I find that I must expand how I see things, sometimes letting go of some aspects of a perspective and adding others. There is a saying I recall (I don't know where from) that a good teachers should always be learning more than his or her students.

Dialogue can indeed go much deeper. I studied David Bohm's approach to this and his views underling it, a good exploration of which can be found in his 1992 transcript of a seminar, Thought as a System. I have come to see dialogue as a principle of countering what Bohm calls the inertia of thought. Thus it moves us towards wholeness in awareness and helps to shed the skins of deeply held implicit veils of illusion, or mental models, or stories. I also like to use the phrase "disentangling enmeshed threads of thought" to describe the process of carefully sorting out aspects of beliefs that casually get lumped together and associated with each other. Thus certain triggers often bringing up charged emotions that are connected to big balls of tangles threads.

The article on the myth of conflict between science and religion was great! I may even get a couple citations from it for something I'm writing at the moment. I also met Brookes at a conference at Oxford. I think the article well illustrates how these tangled balls get causally built up and used in service of other agendas.

Your point about spiritual experiences not being tied to states makes a great distinction. The common associations you mention do tend to lead to people lumping spirituality in with all kinds of "states" that they feel represent the spiritual. It is almost like a projection - people are not sure what spirit or a spiritual experience might be, so they presume it must be like something or other. Thus they then exclude all of the other kinds of states or experiences as not being spiritual.

I think that what this does is point very powerfully to it being something more subtle. It may well indeed be part of some transcendent state experience, but the essence of it can be disentangled from other characteristics of such an experience. In this way it can be possible to bring awareness of that more subtle spiritual "state/awareness/realization/mystery" to ever expanding domains of our lives. This then leads to the transformation of our experience of life, consciousness etc. Hmmm, much like dying to the old and shedding a skin eh ;)

Jonathan
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Re: Shedding Skin - by Doug Marman

Postby Ben on Mon Sep 07, 2009 12:08 am

The wind is gently blowing and the rain is softly falling from the sky. I am sitting on the front porch after posting about the campout and are pondering the words in Doug's first post and on what I had written. Even though, a long time ago I'd given up the idea on dreams about dying meaning the death of the physical body it was still not clear to me about them being an initiation into a new way of being. Now it was clear. I now reconized this campout experience as a calling to Soul. Blackwolf and Gina have offered me a great gift and my heart goes out to them, and now my heart becomes filled with love, this experience is now a celebration, the words "coming home" enter my head, the wind gets stronger the clouds darken, my being becomes filled with gratitude, I am awed, I am humbled, my eyes fill with tears but do not cry, the sky cries for me the rain is coming down hard and raining ice, the wind is now a gale, the power and phone lines are taken out, unbeknownest to me i will soon be spending over an hour clearing fallen trees from the driveway and road in front of my home. I think of work, I cannot work without the power or phone line, I laugh, does it really matter, does anything matter compared to the love I feel and what it means. God loves me, that's all that matters.

It is me that has to thank you so much Doug, your encouraging replies to everyones posts are a breath of fresh air, a rare gift. The spirit of your replies is infectious as well as encouraging. I hope to succeed in passing this onto others.

Your following words helps to describe what posting here has been a bit like. One of the reasons I wanted to post my experiences is so others can possibly be encouraged, maybe someone may go on a camp while spending time healing and contemplating the universe and nature, and in the process shed some skin, it may be something they have thought about doing but now may be motivated to do. By sharing like this i have learnt and been enriched with experience.

From one of Doug's posts; He was just as interested in being challenged and found any who were willing to set aside their own ego to learn as someone who would also open up his own desire to learn from them. It became his way of teaching, while learning himself.

He openly stated that when he found Rumi, he finally found the student he was looking for. And Rumi's willingness and desire to learn and grow opened up for him a great desire to be for Rumi the teacher that he needed, which became a great means of growth for Shams. For Shams, it was as if Rumi were his teacher.

Cheers. Ben.
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Re: Shedding Skin - by Doug Marman

Postby Doug Marman on Mon Sep 07, 2009 7:44 pm

Jonathan,

I like Bohm's phrase - the inertia of thought. That's a great image.

When you start talking about "disentangling enmeshed threads of thought," it raises a different question. A lot of people I see often assume that the thoughts are the causes of the person's state of consciousness, and thus by disentangling their thoughts they can create a better view of life.

My question is: How do we know it isn't the state of consciousness that forms and shapes our thoughts?

If this is true, then it isn't important to disentangle the threads because they are a part of a woven tapestry. All we need to do is change our state of consciousness. Which of course brings us back shedding skins.

I agree completely with your last paragraph. In some ways it is almost too simple.

Doug.
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Re: Shedding Skin - by Doug Marman

Postby Doug Marman on Mon Sep 07, 2009 7:51 pm

Ben,

Thank you for your moving post.

And especially telling the story again about Shams and Rumi.

Doug.
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Re: Shedding Skin - by Doug Marman

Postby Jonathan Reams on Tue Sep 08, 2009 2:03 am

Hi Doug,

Great question. But first, your comment on my last paragraph reminds me of another phrase - "You can find spirituality everywhere, sometimes even in religion." I think we could add to that "sometimes even in transcendent state experiences, higher stages of development, etc.

"How do we know it is not our state of consciousness that forms and shapes our thoughts?" I would agree that consciousness comes prior to thoughts, but that depends on what one means by it as well. Consciousness is often used to refer to the contents of our thoughts or mental activity (I cited a dictionary definition like this in my dissertation). I am also reading about neuroscience from a non-materialist view and found some related articles that begin to show consciousness as shaping brain activity (taken as a correlate of thoughts). This then goes to my good friend Amit Goswami's view of consciousness being primary and creating the material world.

So from this "downward causality" view yes indeed, changing consciousness is more fundamental than disentangling enmeshed threads of thought. However, I find that the world can work two ways, and that we can be impacted by the environment we are in (as a reflection of our consciousness) and from that our thoughts can influence our consciousness.

Another way of looking at this is to say that as soul we are learning by pushing our energy and attention into the far reaches of matter, and thus we create mental, emotional and physical bodies to engage these domains. Then we get these bodies tangled up in all sorts of karmas, and need to clean them up to better be a vehicle of service, love and learning in this and other worlds. I think that we create these tangled threads and do not realize them to be tangled at the time. Then we, in learning from the reflection of our consciousness as seen in our thoughts etc., take them to be the way things are, or accurate. Thus disentangling them could help to give us a clearer mirror to learn from. (This is similiar to Bohm's notion of how dialogue can help counter the inertia of the system of thought).

So I think it can work both ways, from the transcendent to the immanent, and from the immanent to the transcendent. Does that make sense?

Jonathan
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Re: Shedding Skin - by Doug Marman

Postby Doug Marman on Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:11 pm

Jonathan,

Yes, I agree. It is a two-way street. The thoughts we think do entangle us, and consciousness often overshadows our thoughts. That's a part of where I was going as well.

Let me take this a little different direction.

You were talking about consciousness, but I was trying to talk about something I called a state of consciousness. My use of the term might be different than the way others use it. So, I think some of what I was saying probably got lost because of that.

If you think about Newtonian physics, we can see that scientists have long liked this idea that the material world was something separate from our consciousness. We are observers, and the laws of physics exist on their own, independent of our consciousness of them.

However, as you know, Quantum Physics and the laws of relativity that Einstein discovered, have led physicists into new realizations where our consciousness is no longer separate from the world. How we measure a thing or the way we look at something changes what it is. This is how the world really is.

Thus, what we think of as physical reality is not something outside of our consciousness of it. It is an amalgam of substance that responds to consciousness and consciousness that responds to substance. Our whole notion of reality, and everything we know about reality, is something that exists in our consciousness and at the same time is a part of the substance. You can't separate the two. Thus, the merging of these two is what makes it a state of consciousness.

Einstein said that matter, energy, space, and time are not separate, but we need to consider them as dimensions of a single continuum. On top of that we need to see that our consciousness and viewpoint of this matter, energy, space and time (MEST) is not just an experience of observing MEST, but is welded into the reality of it.

We are never actually aware of anything outside of us. We can only perceive the reality that we are a part of through our consciousness. We must be interconnected with a reality in some way to be aware of it.

In a sense we can say that the kind of reality we are involved in does not exist outside of consciousness, and consciousness doesn't exist outside of a reality. This apparent truth is the meaning of a state of consciousness.

This hopefully explains a little better why the term I was using is something different than just consciousness.

I think all the entangling that goes on is exactly what the state of consciousness is. It is not something we can untangle from the world, because the entanglement is what makes it a world.

What we can do is simply step out of that state of consciousness. By stepping out, which means shedding that skin, we let go of all that entanglement that ties us to that state.

Only then are we free to move into another state.

Moving into a new state means becoming involved in the reality there, and this entangles us.

In other words, the value of disentangling is not to understand our thoughts so we can control them better, but to move out of the state of consciousness altogether, so that we can see from outside that state. That is the true means of objectivity - not looking at things as separate objects, but witnessing that whole state of consciousness from outside of everything entangled in it.

People are often criticizing themselves for the thoughts and feelings they have - they don't have the inspiration or ability to be who they would like to be - but these are all aspects of the state of consciousness they are in. It isn't about changing who we are, but simply changing our state of consciousness, and then we change automatically because the worldview we are in is different. The whole atmosphere and insights and chains of reactions all change at the same time.

This is part of the agreement we strike when we assume and become involved in a state of consciousness. And then, oddly, we blame ourselves for our limitations. We forget that we accepted that reality in order to live in that state. We forget that it was our choice.

Well, I've used a lot of words to describe something that is almost too simple, as you know, but it is hard for the mind to find words to wrap around it, because it seems more basic than Mind itself.

This all seems to lead to self-awareness. It probably seems this way to me because these don't seem like my thoughts I'm explaining, but more the reflections of a state of self-awareness where this is the reality. Hopefully you know what I mean, because I don't think I could explain it.

Back to you, Jonathan.

Doug.
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Re: Shedding Skin - by Doug Marman

Postby Jonathan Reams on Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:06 pm

Doug,

As we begin to peel away another layer in our dialogue, clarifying terminology and trying to get at the accumulated meaning behind our use words, and I listen/read your words, I notice what I perceive to be strong similarities with other views I have been influenced by. In particular, I find your description of a state of consciousness to have many aspects in common with how David Bohm talked about a system of thought.

Thus when I talk about "enmeshed/entangled threads of thought," I am not necessarily referring to our everyday conception of thoughts or thinking, just as your term state of consciousness means more than an everyday use of the term consciousness.

You wrote "the value of disentangling is not to understand our thoughts so we can control them better, but to move out of the state of consciousness altogether, so that we can see from outside that state." Yes, that is along the lines of what I mean, and I will try and "disentangle" our words a bit more.

Bohm's notion of a system of thought was very inclusive, showing that not only our thinking, emotions and physiology are one system, but that this system is not limited to our individually perceived existence here and actually extends out to include what you refer to as MEST. His notion of dialogue was premised on the assumption that while all of this system was in a way conditioned, there could also be something outside of the system that was unconditioned by it. His time with Krishnamurti enabled him to see a certain ways, but he did not have the advantage of a more direct spiritual framework to understand the nature of soul as this unconditioned element.

From the premise that we could have the realization of being outside of the system of thought/MEST, he saw the possibility of that realization "re-hardwiring" the system, or in other words, changing the state of consciousness as you describe it. Dialogue was a means to support or facilitate that realization in small and large degrees.

One aspect of that experience he talked about what the concept of coherence. A given system of thought or state of consciousness will be more or less coherent, or more or less aligned with reality. I might frame it as bringing our state of consciousness / manifestations in MEST more in line with our beingness as soul, enabling a greater flow of spirit into the worlds we are entangled and learning in.

The term Bohm used for what I perceive you to be calling "shedding skin" was "insight." I might frame my understanding of his notion of insight as realization of soul, or as you say, self awareness. I agree that this is a "simplicity on the other side of complexity." We are (hopefully) using our self awareness to enable a transmission into the states of consciousness we are inhabiting and sharing in this world.

I also think that part of my sense of my being in this world at this time is to find better ways to explain things. In one way it kind of sucks, because it really focuses my attention on working with and massaging so to speak these states of consciousness. This can lead to being preoccupied with what appear as "mental" orientations. Yet the heart of my research (through my dissertation and current writing) is on how to enable the mind and these states of consciousness to be better servants of the heart and soul.

Back to you :D

Jonathan
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Re: Shedding Skin - by Doug Marman

Postby andrea on Wed Sep 09, 2009 2:21 am

This is in response to the notions of lumping spirituality in with all kinds of “states” that people
feel represent the spiritual and disentangling threads.
A story about my new neighbors gardening experience came to mind. Their new home came with a riding lawnmower which they diligently used on everything short and green from the first signs of spring till the last struggles of autumn for the first 2 years. The third spring the neighbors were away for long enough for the flowers and vines and even vegetables to burst forth out of the assumed lawn and show themselves in all their beauty and potential. The neighbors were so surprised at what had been growing where they had assumed was just lawn.
A potential Garden of Eden seen through the filter of a riding lawn mower looks much like a lawn until one get off the machine and down on their knees to sort through the blades of grass and see that there are a lot of things growing there that don’t look like grass.
Much as life experienced through the filter of assumption looks quite different when we can take off those filters of assumption and realize what we were experiencing was a mass of tangled threads blurred into something that makes us comfortable. Life seems much richer, vibrant and challenging when I let each thread stand out and shine clearly with its own unique beauty as a spiritual experience. And then realize the value of a tapestry woven from those threads of experience. And allow the tapestry to be incomplete and open to being expanded beyond what I know now.
Ahh to shed the skins as one would shed the clothes woven of experience. Valuable and useful in their time but not necessary now as we have grown beyond them.

Andrea
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Re: Shedding Skin - by Doug Marman

Postby Marian on Wed Sep 09, 2009 2:55 am

Beautiful Andrea :) Thank You.

Marian
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Re: Shedding Skin - by Doug Marman

Postby Ben on Wed Sep 09, 2009 11:40 pm

Beautifully written and observed Andrea.

I awoke this morning to the noisiest ride-on lawnmower I,ve heard in my whole life, they were the actual words I said to my partner.

So when i saw your post about the riding lawnmower, I decided to make sure to listen and contemplate.

A book called the The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Riuz first introduced me to the filters of assumption you speak of or at least that is when I started noticing. I like the simplicity in the way the author writes and the simplicity of the teachings.

The Four Agreements are;
1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don,t take anything personally
3. Don't make assumptions
4. Always do your best

When I decided to put these agreements into practice, the one that stood out the most was 'Don,t make assumptions'. My eyes opened right up or I should say the filters came down or an old skin was shedding. I had little idea how much the people of the earth including myself were living so much of our lives on assumptions. Nearly all the misunderstandings were basically because of assumptions. Not long back I wrote 4 small paragraphs in a first post on a forum and another poster wrote back accusing me of this and that and in the process described what sought of person I was and what my intentions were. One would think that he knew me better than my most intimate friends and this was all from four small paragraphs and also from the person I least expected or should I say least assumed to be like this. I have been on other forums and virtually the same thing happens. I have never been asked "what do you mean" on a forum. Of course this goes well beyond forums they just seem to be the vehicle where it stands out the most. Maybe this is why we have forums, so people can more easily see the filter of assumption. I am glad you brought this up Andrea, I, also, think this is one of the prime filters amongst the human race. One doesn't need to say or write a single word or even make an action to have a whole lot of assumptions made about them.

This agreement sounds easy but when put into practice it becomes obvious that it is not so easy. I know I am better at it, though i still catch myself out often enough but that is what it's about. This agreement is just common sense when one is introduced to it. Written next are the last two paragraphs from the book in the chapter on this agreement.

A white magician uses the word for creation, giving, sharing, and loving. By making this one agreement a habit your whole life will be completely transformed.
When you transform your whole dream, magic just happens in your life. What you need comes to you easily because spirit moves freely through you. This is the mastery of intent, the mastery of the spirit, the mastery of love, the mastery of gratitude, and the mastery of life. This is the goal of the Toltec. This is the path to personal freedom.
by--Don Miguel Riuz

It is a bit like some of the other words of yours that have hit home for me and will stay with me----
Much as life experienced through the filter of assumption looks quite different when we can take off those filters of assumption and realize what we were experiencing was a mass of tangled threads blurred into something that makes us comfortable. Life seems much richer, vibrant and challenging when I let each thread stand out and shine clearly with its own unique beauty as a spiritual experience. And then realize the value of a tapestry woven from those threads of experience. And allow the tapestry to be incomplete and open to being expanded beyond what I know now. by Andrea

Thanks Andrea for sharing your valuable insights.

Ben
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