Seeking Discomfort

Seeking Discomfort

“I’m slowly learning how to bring anthropology and mindfulness together. I think they complement each other beautifully, but how to talk about it is a whole other thing. I think it comes down to excavation – what you do physically to understand where people come from. That’s a process of discovery and insight.”

Dr. Michael J. Kimball

Put Something Into The World That Hasn't Been Said Before

Seth Godin

Seth Godin

Seth Godin from "Seth Godin on the Art of Noticing, and then Creating," On Being, January 24, 2013:

When I give a talk — at the end [I'll] say, are there any questions? And the only people who are raising their hand are raising their hand because they think they have a question the group wants to hear. They think that they have something to contribute.

Now what's fascinating about it is five minutes after we're done, everyone has a question. Right? Because now it's safe to ask your question because you're not going to be judged on the question that you're going to ask.

But the people who do ask a question have demonstrated to themselves that they have good enough judgment to be able to put something into the world that hasn't been said before. That's what makes it a good question. And that practice is something that we should learn and we should teach our kids, and we should teach our colleagues how to do it.

See also:

Question Your Answers

December 29, 2012

Excerpts from The Way of Liberation: A Practical Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Adyashanti

As a guiding principle, to progressively realize what is not absolutely True is of infinitely more value than speculating about what is. Many people think that it is the function of a spiritual teaching to provide answer's to life's biggest questions, but actually the opposite is true. The primary task of any good spiritual teaching is not to provide answer's to your questions, but to question your answers.


In our modern society we expect to have everything given to us in easy-to-consume bite-size portions, preferably very quickly so that we can get on with our hurried lives. But Truth will not conform itself to our frantic avoidance of Reality or our desire to have the whole of something for the very least investment of time and energy. 


Summary of the Teaching

Be still. 

Question every thought. 

Contemplate the source of Reality. 

And keep your eyes open. You never know when something that seems entirely insignificant will split your whole world wide open into eternal delight. 

Download free ebook version of The Way of Liberation...

Careful Attention to What is Real

Arjuna Ardagh, from Whiskey River:

Self-inquiry is simple. It does not require you to do anything, change anything, think anything, or understand anything. It only asks you to pay careful attention to what is real.

I have two sons. When they were about four, they both went through a phase of having nightmares. I would go into the room and switch on the light. Two small eyes blinked at me from the corner.

"What's the problem?" I'd ask.

"Daddy, there's a monster in the room," a timid voice would reply.

Now, I had more than one choice of how to respond. I could tell my frightened boy that it was not true, there was no monster, go back to sleep.  That response is the equivalent of reading a book that says, "We're all one, there is no problem, just be with what is."

Fine ideas, but they don't help much. I could also have offered to feed the monster cookies, talk with the monster, negotiate. That approach is like some kinds of psychotherapy. Treat the problem as real, then fix it on its own terms.

But the only real solution I ever found was to have a good look. Under the bed, in the closet, behind the curtains, we undertook an exhaustive search.

Eventually my sons would let out a deep sigh, smile at me, and fall back to sleep. The problem was not solved but dissolved. It was never real in the first place, but it took investigation to make that a reality.

See also: "The Translucent Revolution," interview with Arjuna Ardagh by Deborah Caldwell,

Sitting in a Pool of Me

Excerpts from Question Your Thinking, Change The World: Quotations from Byron Katie:

questionyourthinking We’re often quite sure about what other people need to do, how they should live, and whom they should be with. We have 20/20 vision about others, but not about ourselves. When you do The Work, you see who you are by seeing who you think other people are. Eventually you come to see that everything outside you is a reflection of your own thinking. You are the storyteller, the projector of all stories, and the world is the projected image of your thoughts.

*     *     *     *     *

We only fear what we are—what we haven’t gone inside and taken a look at and met with understanding. If I think you might see me as boring, it would frighten me, because I haven’t investigated that thought. So it’s not people who frighten me, it’s me that frightens me. That’s my job, until I investigate and stop this fear for myself. The worst that can happen is that I think you think about me what I think about myself. So I am sitting in a pool of me.

*     *     *     *     *

I like to ask, “Are you breathing yourself?” No? Well, maybe you’re not thinking yourself or making decisions either. Maybe it doesn’t move until it moves, like a breath, like the wind. And you tell the story of how you are doing it, so you can keep yourself from the awareness that you are nature, flowing perfectly. Who would you be without the story that you need to make a decision?

*     *     *     *     *

No one has ever been able to control their thinking, although people may tell the story of how they have. I don’t let go of my thoughts—I meet them with understanding, then they let go of me.

*     *     *     *     *

The ego is terrified of the truth. And the truth is that the ego doesn’t exist.

Standing Up to Reason

The Joy of Living and Dying in Peace (1997)"If this [scientific finding] contradicts some aspect of Buddhist doctrine as contained in the scriptures, we have no other choice but to accept that that teaching is in need of interpretation. Thus, we cannot accept it literally simply because it has been taught by the Buddha; we have to examine whether it is contradicted by reason or not. If it does not stand up to reason, we cannot accept it literally. We have to analyze such teachings to discover the intention and purpose behind them and regard them as subject to interpretation. Therefore, in Buddhism great emphasis is laid on the importance of investigation."

~ The Dalai Lama, from The Joy of Living and Dying in Peace

Ready to Accept Truth

"I am looking on benches and streets, in logic and code. I am looking in the form of truth stripped to the bone. Truth that livesmadmandreams independently of us, that exists out there in the world. Hard and unsentimental. I am ready to accept truth no matter how alarming it turns out to be. Even if it proves incompleteness and the limits of human reason. Even if it proves we are not free.

"They are here in our minds, Turing's luminescent gems, Gödel's platonic forms. There are no social hierarchies to scale. No racial barriers given to us along with our brains, built into the structure of our thoughts — no bullying into blind faith, no threats of eternal damnation — just honesty, truth, and reason."

-- Janna Levin, from A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines

Listen to Krista Tippet's conversation with Janna Levin on Speaking of Faith (1/10/08) "Mathematics, Purpose, and Truth"