beyond personality

I was recently talking with a friend about the challenges that can arise in seeing all people as equal (yet different). We were actually discussing a basic Buddhist perspective that everyone is ‘the Buddha’ or has Buddha nature. For me, regardless of the ‘spiritual’ teaching or text…..essential equality is a simple truth. In my authentic core I can find no reason for this to be ‘untrue’.

But it doesn’t mean it’s easy to practice…..

I was remembering a few years ago when I was on tour in the SE. I had gone out for my morning walk and was pondering the difficulty I was experiencing with ‘living’ this simple truth on a daily basis. I questioned more deeply and asked myself what it was that got in ‘my way’ of being able to see each and every person without exception as equal; no one person intrinsically greater than or lesser than another.

The general reply I found was ‘personality’.

I would get stuck around people’s personalities and my ensuing preferences and opinions about them. Basically, nuances in my personality juxtaposed with theirs.
Over the years, I had developed the ability to find space in my attachment to my own personality but there would still be those exceptions, those individuals where it would get sticky for me.
With the exception of becoming a hermit, I wanted to create a tool or practice to help me dissolve this stickiness.

As I continued to walk, I noticed I was in this lush garden district filled with such incredible variety of flowers and trees. I saw particular types of flowers and trees that I thought ‘I love those, they are my favorite’….etc.
And as I noticed my personality and preference expressing itself for these ‘personalities’ in nature, I wondered if I could see all of this plant variety around me as ‘equal’ and individually (and collectively) beautiful. And believe me, there are some plants that I could easily not see as ‘equal’ to others. So, on that morning walk I began to ‘practice’ with the plants…..and I practiced every day.

After a little time I was able to let go of the stickiness of comparison/judgement and just accept each plant I encountered with equal appreciation. (I still have my opinions or preferences but I have created space to choose my perspective moment to moment….stickiness is not the ‘default’)
With my new tool and lots of enthusisam I thought ‘I am ready to now apply what I have learned to people!’
Needless to say, it didn’t work the same with humans as plants. There was still so much attachment and ego fluctuation in relation to certain people and interactions.

So I pondered some more…..wondering if there was a middle step….a place where personality would be less potent….?
And I thought about newborn babies; the way they can feel less ‘sticky’ for me. (They certainly have personality, but seem to be less ‘filled’ with it.)

So I decided to try something else.
Any time I found it difficult to see someone as ‘equal to’ (and without comparison to) others…..I would imagine them when they were first born. As soon as I did this, everything just came into balance and the attachments/judgements evaporated. It was like a love bomb went off and there was no need for the comparisons of greater than/lesser than. It was a simple space of ‘being’….neutral witnessing.

By using this tool I found a way to work with these ‘sticky personality’ moments and find a reprieve from my conditioned mind. I was able to create more space and compassion, not only for the complexities of the personalities of others……but for myself too.

Ahhh yes, a lifetime of study and practice…..

….and thinking makes it so….

We live these finite lives and each of our days we fill with continuous thought.  In a way I suppose we are our thoughts because it is these very thoughts that construct our worlds, opinions, actions, emotions, choices….the manifest  ‘reality’ of our days.

There is a quote from Hamlet that often leaps to my mouth….’There is neither bad or good but thinking makes it so.’

…..’thinking makes it so….’

I am sure many would make debate about the existence and definition of ‘good’ and ‘bad’.  But my focus of curiosity is on …..‘and thinking makes it so’.  As I peel layers of ‘self’ I find continuous chains of thinking.  Peeling brings thinking.  Writing brings thinking.  Most activities are thought based.  We are formulating thoughts constantly.  And all these thoughts inform and influence us.

Such influence in fact that there can be a challenge to know one self without the thoughts.  How can we separate our ‘essence’ from all the thinking?

I must say that in writing about this I put my pen down often.

I simultaneously feel I could write indefinitely (in circles) but that it is also as simple as the words of Hamlet. 

So then, why do I write?  Well, I feel compelled to follow threads and ask questions; to question the ‘thoughts’…..all the thinking.  Even though it is the mind I use to do this questioning (the mind that also indulges the habitual thinking process)….I find these flash moments of the unexpected.  Glimpses that are in between these mechanisms and offer me the very breath I use to interrupt the habits of thinking  that can limit me….get me stuck…..put me on auto-pilot.

To be honest, this experience is beyond words to truly describe.  But I feel it….something…..I feel it.  And I witness the possibility of interrupting thought and thinking.  I witness an expanded palette of ‘choices’ when I am aware (and interrupt) this slipstream of the mind; when I am not simply riding on the unquestioned suction of its propellers.

The vehicle of my thinking is an elaborate creation that has been in continuous design since my birth (at least).  How incredible.  How vast.  I don’t know that I could (or need to) dismantle such a work of ‘art’.  But I have found that creating spaces in the soundtrack of my thinking has changed my life.  Changed it in a way where I experience more compassion, spaciousness, unconditioned love and a range of choice.  I am able to see an array of other possibilities in my concepts, perceptions and ensuing emotions.   I also get to see where I feel attached to certain concepts and emotions.  I don’t feel inclined much these days to figure out these attachments as much as ask if they are serving to nourish.  What do they create?  Perpetuate?

(….’but thinking makes it so’….)

I have found there is a dance with thinking and that I am not just along for the ride.  There is infinite potential and discovery in those spaces within the slipstream/soundtrack of our thoughts.  These spaces are not quite as ‘straightforward’.  They leave a bit of mystery to it all and a loosening of the ego.  But if I am improvising with …..’and thinking makes it so’…..then perhaps I can counteract the possible discomfort that accompanies mystery with simply ‘thinking’ another potential  ‘reality’….

What do you think?

Thanks for coming along on the journey…..


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