Working with painful or difficult emotions is something everyone encounters in practice. This series explores ways to let go of reactions associated with powerful emotions so you don’t have to repress them or express them in the world.
Releasing through bare attention, part 1Download
Emotional reactions, what they are, why they are problematic, what does releasing mean, difference between releasing and suppression, instruction in five-step method of releasing from Thich Naht Hanh based on bare attention and the four foundations of mindfulness
Ken: This morning I want to do two things. First is to define a context a bit more extensively for our practice. And second is to go through the particular technique that we’ll be working with today, which is based on the full awareness of breathing.
Now, when we approach practice, we almost always come to it, at least in the beginning, with the idea that we’re going to get something out of it, or get something from it. And, while that’s inevitable, it’s also a bit of a problem. Because right from the start, it’s very easy to have this constant appraisal: “How am I doing?”, or “Am I getting there?”, “Is this right?”, and so forth.
Buddhism, for reasons which I don’t feel qualified to go into—and I can’t say that I really understand—has always placed a great deal of emphasis on this quality of knowing and trusting knowing. So that’s really the heart and essence. And there are many different paths in Buddhism to that knowing. In some traditions of Buddhism it comes through contemplation of things like impermanence, which by studying the way things arise in one’s experience, one comes to know very deeply the nature of experience itself. In other traditions it comes through cultivating compassion, through which we come to know actually, all of the ways in which we hang on and protect the sense of I.
In other traditions, it comes through faith and devotion. That by placing your trust and faith in a teacher sometimes; in the dharma itself; in a certain way of doing things, and trusting that completely, you come to know all the ways you can’t trust and don’t trust.
So, this quality of knowing is very, very important. It really is, I feel, the very heart of Buddhist practice. And this knowing is not what we ordinarily understand as knowing. It’s not a knowing about; that’s the kind of thing we get through our education system, through study and so forth. We know about a lot of things. And while that’s one form of knowing, it’s very heavily dependent on a sense of separation, of “I know about that.”
There are other kinds of knowing, which you might say is the knowing how to do. And this is not an intellectual knowledge, but is a knowing that comes through practice, through training and so forth.
Chuang Tzu describes, one of his poems describes a wheelwright, who says to the duke, who’s reading a book. He says, “Well, what are you reading?” He says, “The knowledge of men.” The wheelwright says, “Alive or dead?” And the duke says, “Dead.” And the wheelwright shakes his head and says, “Then you are just studying the dust they left behind.” The duke takes umbrage at this and said “You’d better say more about this or I’ll cut your head off.” (Being a Chinese duke, he could do things like that). The wheelwright says, “Well, look at it from my point of view. Here I am a wheelwright and I shape the metal which goes around the wheel. If I work too tightly it doesn’t work. If I work too loose, the wheel doesn’t work. You just have to do it the right way. But how you do that, I can’t even explain to my own son. So, what you’re reading in these books is just the dust they left behind. They took everything they really knew, with them.”
This is knowing how to do things. And it’s a more intimate form of knowledge, because there isn’t the separation as in the knowing about. It’s much closer. In Buddhism we go for a different kind of knowing. It’s the knowing which is not separate from the experience itself. Now that may sound mysterious, perhaps even mystical, but it’s something we touch into, everyone of us, usually many times every day, and don’t notice. Because there are many times in every day where we’re just there, and there’s a response. And the response doesn’t come from thinking about, or just from the habituation knowing what to do. It’s an actual response to the situation, but comes from a knowing which is not separate from experience.
The Zen tradition is, among the traditions of Buddhism, probably the one that makes this kind of knowing as explicit as possible. And so you find that their versions of traditional stories bring this out. And one is the story of how Ananda became enlightened. Now in the Theravadan tradition the story is told as follows:
After Buddha died, Ananda who was Buddha’s cousin, and could just hear everything that Buddha said and immediately it was in his memory. He had a phonographic memory so everybody relied on him, you know, “What did Buddha say on such and such an occasion?” Ananda would just tell them. But even though he was at Buddha’s side for 40 years, pretty well—Buddha lived to 80 and Ananda was his attendant all of that time—he never came to complete understanding. So at the first council after Buddha died—it was meant to be for all the arhats, the ones who had some degree of understanding—Ananda figured he would just go, because he knew that everybody would rely on his memory of Buddha’s teachings. And he went, and Kashyapa who was one of Buddha’s principle disciples, said “You can’t come in.” And this was just crushing for Ananda. So he went back to his hut. And was just about to lie down on his mat. And just as he was lying down, the effect of not being able to be in the first council, and the shock of Buddha’s death, and everything like that, everything fell away and he woke up. And In the Theravadin tradition they say this is the only instant that they know where a person woke up when they were neither sitting, nor standing, nor lying down.
But the Zen version of this story is a little different: Ananda approaches the first council, and there’s Kashyapa at the door, and he says “No, you can’t come in.” And so Ananda is not happy about this and walks away. And Kashyapa goes, “Ananda!” And with absolutely no hesitation, Ananda turns and says “Yes” and he wakes up. It’s the knowing which is not separate from experience. It’s right there. So the shout by Kashyapa; Ananda was just in that state in which everything was just let go of because of his disappointment and everything like that. Kashyapa shouts and then Ananda is right there with experience. So there’s no separation between the Ananda and the yes. What Takuan describes as a gap—there’s no gap, not even a gap in which a hair can enter. So that’s the union of knowing and experience. And it is that natural knowing which is how we actually are. We function under the illusion that we are separate from what we experience. And in the talk yesterday afternoon, that was what I was trying to point out. That, that is the illusion; it’s not that what appears is illusion. The illusion is that we are separate from what we experience. And that natural knowing is what we seek to uncover and live from in our lives. And every tradition of Buddhism has its own way of approaching that.
So today, and I didn’t bring my clock with me. Somebody give me a timepiece. Thanks. Yeah. yeah, great.
Ken: In the practice we’re going to do now—and this is a very, very ancient method or approach in Buddhist practice—we use the breath as a basis on which to move into the union of knowing and experience. Now, as I said yesterday, this particular technique is based on the Full Awareness of Breathing Sutra, which along with the Foundation of Mindfulness Sutra, are the two core sutras of the Theravadin tradition, and also the basis of the Zen tradition. And it’s well worth reading these, and neither of them are particularly long, They’re quite concise and compact. And there’s endless amount of commentary that can be given on them.
And Thich Nhat Hanh—and many of you I know have done retreats with him—is quite an amazingly skillful teacher. I’m very, very impressed in his ability to take what can be quite abstruse aspects of Buddhist practice and make them very alive and very, very accessible. In 1989 I was at a retreat with him that he was giving to mental health professionals. And he took these bits of Abidharma describing the emergence of experience, consciousness and subject-object frame work, which is really dry technical stuff. It was just beautiful, the way he expressed it and made it very, very alive.
And so he has taken the Full Awareness of Breathing Sutra, which has actually sixteen steps in it, brought it down to five. Now, I say steps, but this is really to be understood as phases. So it’s not like you walk through this. But you work in one phase and it will mature into a second, and into a third, into the fourth, and into the fifth. And that’s very important is to allow that maturation to take place naturally, rather than trying to force it.
And the other element that Thich Nhat Hanh brings into this, which is so useful, is how to hold something in attention. And the image he uses, is that of holding your own newborn child. And the adjective that is probably most apt in English for this, is tenderly. The adverb. And tenderness is a very interesting word, because while it certainly carries the idea of gentleness, it’s not just soft. There has to be something behind that tenderness. So when you’re holding a baby, you can’t be completely relaxed. Because you actually have to support and hold it. And the same time if you’re holding with any kind of tension or something like that, then you just hurt the child.
Ken: Now, there are many parts of our experience which we, for one reason or another, are alienated to a greater or lesser extent. And this technique is about holding those elements of our experience from which we are alienated, or they are alienated from us; i.e., there is a real sense of separation.
So, I want to do this in the form of a guided meditation so that you have the idea of it. To begin with, I want you to choose a painful experience, a difficult feeling—maybe a situation, interaction—that is painful for you, and positive interactions can be difficult just as much as negative ones. So it doesn’t have to be necessarily negatively toned.
It can be a problem, an emotion or some actual physical or emotional pain. And just bringing it to mind, you notice like “I’m here, and that’s there!” And we don’t want to deal with it; that’s how we all are. We’d be much happier if it would just go away. But it’s part of our experience. And because we are ultimately not separate from our experience, sooner or later we’re going to have to deal with it. And by pushing it away, or erecting a wall and not dealing with it, we’re actually creating an imbalance in our world of experience which manifests as imbalance in our lives. It can lead to, in the case of interactions with other people, the disruption or even the dissolution of relationships which we value. So, this is quite important.
Ken: So the first phase is, “Breathing in I experience this,” and I am going to use the word feeling, but it could be emotion, it could be pain, it could be problem, and you just fill in the blank. So let’s just do that. You take this and you say, “Breathing in I feel this pain.” Breathe in. “Breathing out I feel this pain.” With each breath, “Breathing in I feel this pain. Breathing out I feel this pain.”
Now, in the beginning, depending on what you’ve chosen, that may be a bit like a hot potato—ow! So there are two methods I’ve found which can at least get us in touch with it to some extent. The first is: “Okay, that’s too hot, too difficult, too much for my capacity of attention at this point,” so experience one-tenth of it, or one-hundredth, or one-thousandth. And that approach works for some people. For other people, they find it more helpful to think, “Well, that’s too close, if I put it on the other side of the room, well, maybe on the other side of town.” So it’s—quotation marks—a safe distance away, but still in one’s awareness.
So the first step is just to bring it into awareness: either a small piece of it or at a proximity that you can handle. And that’s for you to determine in your own practice. So set it up that way—whatever’s appropriate for you—we go back to phase one. “Breathing in, I experience this pain, breathing out.” And imagine holding the pain tenderly in your attention. Which means you’re not going to do anything to it. And you’re not trying to get anything from it. You’re just holding it, and you are holding it very, very gently.
Ken: Now as you do that, phase two starts almost immediately. In phase two, we become aware of our reactions to that pain. Basically there are three kinds of reactions that arise. There are reactions in the body, in some cases we may flinch or tense against the pain. A defensive posture or something. Or maybe there are feelings of nausea or discomfort in various parts of our body. But they’re actual physical reactions to the pain or the feeling. And secondly, there are emotional reactions. With the pain or the feeling when you start holding it, you may feel some fear or some anxiety. Maybe there’s some anger or sadness. Maybe jealousy comes in, or grief, or wanting. There are all of these different possibilities, and those are the emotional reactions. And then there are the stories and associations. “Oh this is always happening to me. I always get into this kind of mess.” Or “This has never happened to me before. I don’t understand how this could have possibly happened.” Or “This was all my fault.” Or “This is terrible what people did to me. How could they treat me like that?” There are all of these different stories. So the second phase is “Breathing in I experience the reactions to the pain. Breathing out I experience the reactions to the pain.”
And start with the physical. And when you can be in the physical reactions, then include the emotional. And when you can be in the physical and the emotional, then include stories and associations—the cognitive reactions. And as you do this you’ll find yourself moving into a fuller experience of the pain or feeling itself.
So phase two builds on phase one and actually enriches it. Let’s do that for a minute together: “Breathing in I feel the reactions to the pain. Breathing out I feel the reactions to the pain.” And just as you hold the initial pain or feeling tenderly, so also hold all of the reactions, the reactions in your body, the emotional reactions and the stories, tenderly, in attention. Don’t try to make them one way or the other. Don’t try to get rid of the physical discomforts. Just hold them tenderly in attention and let them be experienced.
Ken: Phase three begins with a discovery: that even though we’re in the presence of a uncomfortable or difficult pain or feeling, we can actually be in that experience and quiet, calm. That is, we can be experiencing the pain and all of the reactions to the pain, and that can all be going on. And yet, there is the capacity to have a sense of calm in all of that. So the third phase is, “Breathing in I experience calm with this pain. Breathing out I experience calm with this pain.”
Now, I’m doing this, taking you through this. You may or may not be there with your particular pain, something like that but the possibility is there. And if you have it at an appropriate distance from you, or just working with the right fraction of it, then you can experience, “Oh, yes, I can experience this and be calm. I don’t have to be fighting against it.” So let’s just do this for a few minutes. “Breathing in I experience calm with the feeling. Breathing out I experience calm with the feeling.”
Ken: The fourth phase begins with the discovery, that in that calm, we can actually relax. We discover—sometimes to our surprise—a sense of ease. So here’s this difficult feeling which we are experiencing. But our experiences now has a basis of calmness and we begin to relax into the feeling. And this is the beginning of a very important point in practice: resting in the experience. By this point in this process we have a pretty full experience of the feeling and everything that’s going on with it. And we’ve discovered the calm and now we begin to rest in the experience. It’s that sense of ease or relaxation. As Gunaratana says, When your mind joins with the object of attention, body and mind both relax. That’s what’s being pointed to here.
So we’ll just do this for a few moments together, but go back to that sense of calm and then just rest in the calm. Letting the feeling and all of the reactions be there. But resting in the calm at the same time. “Breathing in I experience ease in the feeling. Breathing out, I experience ease in the feeling.”
Now you may find that when you start relaxing in the feeling, you suddenly experience the feeling more completely, and you tense up again. Push it away. So this takes you back to phase one, but now you’re working at a deeper level. And the way this particular practice works, there’s a constant cycling going through phase one, phase two, sometimes back to phase one, right there. Phase three, phase four, you begin to relax, you experience more of the feeling or now you are able to bring the feeling closer to you. And everything becomes more vivid, more awake, and so now you work again with phase one. So there’s a constant cycling back.
But each time you cycle back, you’re moving into a deeper and deeper experience of the feeling. You’re moving closer to the feeling and experience the feeling itself. And that process goes on and on. Depending on the nature of the feeling, the degree of conditioning, how it’s arising and so forth, that process can take anywhere from five seconds to five decades. So there’s no specific time frame. And you may find at certain points that when you begin to relax, that feeling dissolves and just seems to vanish and there’s something else there. And if that’s the case, then you begin working with that. Because you see that the original feeling was actually a layer which was obscuring something else underneath. And now you start working with what’s underneath. And in either of these ways you’re moving deeper and deeper into your own experience.
Ken: The fifth phase happens naturally—one could say spontaneously—and it happens when you actually join with the feeling. That is, there’s no longer any separation between the knowing and the experience. Or to put it another way, the illusion of being separate from the experience crumbles. And what happens there is that an understanding naturally arises. You understand the feeling. You understand what it is, how is arises, and you can be fully in the experience of the feeling and there’s no confusion.
So the fifth step is, “Breathing in, I understand this feeling. Breathing out, I understand this feeling.” Now, when that understanding arises, often it will take some form of cognitive. You think “Oh, it’s this and this and this.” And people say, “I’ve had this insight, etc.” Don’t hang on to the insight. When you go with the insight, you actually fall into distraction. It arises. Rest in the understanding, not the formulation. The understanding or the knowing, is like a quality of knowing there. Rest in that.
It will feel, some, most of the time, like you have no reference. But that knowing is the union of knowing and experience. Now you’re no longer separate from what you experience. So this technique uses the breath as a way of coming into the union of knowing and experience. Go through these five steps, or five phrases. Let them unfold, naturally. Thich Nhat Hanh uses the image of holding the feeling tenderly in attention. Another image, which I found very helpful, is to imagine that you’re holding a flower. But the flower hasn’t opened, and your attention is like the sun. And just being in the breathing, letting your attention be with this flower. Then the flower, in it’s own time, opens in the warmth of your attention.
Okay, any questions. Pat?
Karen: I’m Karen.
Ken: Karen, I’m sorry.
Karen: When you say hold, as if you’re holding a baby, it seems to me that that puts a kind of intentionality into the feeling as it emerges that creates a distance, a separation that needn’t be there? Why not just be aware of it? [unintelligible]
Ken: That’s fine. Quite often, when people are given the instruction, just be aware of the feeling, there’s a sense of separation. Feeling’s there; I’m here; I am aware of it. When you imagine that you’re holding the feeling, now there is a natural connection. You’re really connected with it. You’re feeling the feeling; you’re not simply aware of it. You’re feeling it and experiencing. Don’t forget, awareness—and this may not be the case with you—but many people, when they hear the word aware, they…the way that they understand that, is primarily cognitively. That is only one aspect of awareness. There’s tactile, you know—awareness through the body. There’s emotional awareness—sensing the emotion, and then there’s the understanding or cognitive awareness. And in this practice we’re working with all three. And that’s why sometimes poetic or metaphoric language such as tenderness, holding it that way, helps people to remember that this is not simply cognitive thinking. There’s the tactile, emotional relationship. So it moves them into a more complete experience. And you can judge whether it is useful to you or not.
Okay? Other questions? Josephine.
Josephine: [unintelligible] I guess I’m curious what I think of [unintelligible] suppression of these feelings [unintelligible]
Ken: From what you describe, I would surmise that you are getting a bit ahead of yourself, in terms of the first two phases. You want to get to that calm, and then, and absolutely, if you get ahead of your actual experience, then it is going to end up as suppression. But you’re absolutely right about that. Just be in the experience of the feeling itself. At this point no, you’re not calm. That’s why you have to put it on the other side of the universe to begin with. And say, “Okay, I can handle it out there.” And for instance, you take a feeling and you think of it being right here, and like, “Oh no, I can’t do that!” Okay. Put it on the other side of the room: how do you feel?
Ken: Just as agitated. Let’s see, is this west?
Ken: Thank you. Okay, approximately 800-900 miles is the Pacific Ocean. Is it still agitated just there?
Ken: How far does it have to be away from you, before you can be with it?
Ken: Okay. Well…
Josephine: if I put it somewhere else [unintelligible] I put it somewhere.
Ken: Okay. Then here. You touch into this feeling—it doesn’t matter how much of it, or how far away it is—it’s all there, right? So, phase one for you is: “Breathing in I feel this feeling. Breathing out, now, I feel this feeling.” Right? You’re right in the turmoil, okay? Be right in the turmoil. Now, how do you experience the turmoil? Well, you’ve named one thing. Agitation. Okay. How do you experience agitation in your body?
Josephine: In the heart.
Ken: In the heart. So, feeling of tightness? [thumping] That’s good. Okay, that’s where you are. So if the next twenty four hours, it’s [thumping]: that’s your experience.
Okay. But you don’t make it anything other than it is. And so this is a very important point you raise. Don’t make it anything other that it is. There it is. Heart’s pounding. Okay, so I sit with a pounding heart. And every now and then you may want to take a break and just [unintelligible]. And then you come back, and there it is. Now as you do this, you’re going to discover the capacity to just experience a pounding heart. And that isn’t suppression, now you’re moving into the actual experience.
Ken: That’s the beginning of it. Once you are able to experience the pounding heart, you may find that you have a totally contracted stomach too. Which you hadn’t noticed, because you’ve been focused on the heart pounding. Okay, so now you’ve got, “Okay, I can be with the heart, oh, stomach!” Okay? And so, and you can’t do anything with the stomach, it’s just tied up in knots. “Breathing in I experience the stomach.” Okay?
So whatever is arising, you’re not trying to make it into something else. And this is very important because when we hear these instructions, many of us feel, “Oh, I’m meant to experience this.” What’s being described in these is a sequence of experiences that arise, as you are completely in whatever is arising in experience at the time. So it’s not about making something into something else. It’s how your relationship with the experience changes, as you’re in the experience.
Josephine: I think the other issue for me [unintelligible] recognizing…
Ken: Not recognizing…
Josephine: …not recognizing [unintelligible] because of the intensity of…of things that are still coexisting.
Ken: And so you get caught in one thing and eventually you’re able to be with that. And then you notice something else. And what’s important there, is not to switch from A to B, but when you become aware of B, include that in the experience of A. So it’s constantly including, including, including. And because our experience isn’t piecemeal. It’s the whole thing, and we tend to latch onto one piece here and one piece there. But as we’re able to be with one part of it, then we can include another part, and then another part, another part. Until finally, we begin to rest in the whole experience. That’s what the second phase is all about. Including all of the reactions to the experience. That’s how we move into the complete experience, the feeling everything that it’s doing, that’s going on in our world, with respect to that.
Josephine: [unintelligible]…anytime…in the future?
Ken: As I said, it depends entirely on what feeling you choose. I would encourage you to choose something fairly juicy. [Laughter] Because I know you’re capable of it for one. You don’t get a free pass on that. And the other is what is it that Piet Hein says? Problems worthy of attack prove their worth by hitting back.
And I did this with a group of business people a few years ago and one person took as what he was working with a fight he’d had with his wife that morning. And at the end of half an hour he went, “I was totally out of line!” I mean, he really understood exactly how this arose, and his part and everything like that. But that didn’t take a long time to solve. Other times people have discovered a deep pain, and it literally has taken decades to move into the complete experience. So, you know, as one of my students once said, So what you’re saying Ken, is you buy a ticket but you don’t get to pick the destination. Deborah?
Deborah: I’m curious following up with Josephine’s inquiry. Is the tenderness a way of experiencing the calm, all the turmoil and the interaction, is the tenderness…?
Ken: The tenderness helps us to move in that direction but to me the real value of the tenderness instruction, is that it starts to take down the wall between you and the feeling.
Deborah: It’s earlier.
Ken: Yeah, it’s earlier. I mean, when you hold something softly, you experience it completely. When you hold it with tension, you don’t experience it completely. And so many of these uncomfortable feelings we hold with tension, and that’s why the tenderness I see is very valuable because we have to soften to do that. And in softening, we experience more completely. Right? Molly?
Molly: In your second phase of your steps, I’m finding that I’m trying to really trying to conceptualize the discernment of the different segments of it.
Molly: And I don’t know if I’m having too much conceptualization [unintelligible]. I want to know what is the feeling stage: is this, you know, negative, positive, or neutral? When I’m trying to discern exactly what thoughts are coming up. I’m not exactly sure how much to just feel it or how much to [unintelligible] the different fragments of it.
Ken: Not really that important to discern the different fragments of it. That will come by itself. And you’re quite right, you can get caught up in labeling here. And this is not a labeling practice. I strongly recommend that you start with the body. Say, “Okay, I have this pain or difficult feeling, what am I experiencing in the body?” And very often the only thing that people have is a certain amount of agitation, or a certain amount of tension. That’s where you start. And you don’t even need to call it tension or things like [that]. There’s a certain sensation there. And so you just start experiencing that sensation. And then little by little, you become aware of other sensations. And if you start saying, “Oh, that’s that sensation, that’s that sensation, that’s that sensation.” You actually step back from the experience of the feeling. Because now you’re studying the sensation.
This isn’t about studying the sensations or labeling them. It’s about experiencing them. And we don’t have to label something to experience it. Did that help? Okay. And the other thing…see, once we’re labeling, we’re in the conceptual mind. And we’ve dropped the physical and the emotional expressions of awareness there. You follow?
Molly: Mmm hmm.
Ken: So, come back to the body, come back to the body, come back to the body. Just have to recommend that. Okay?
Ken: All right. Randye?
Randye: When we are in the stories, they become rationalizations. You know, I have this history. And it starts changing the emotional feelings. Or maybe the emotional feelings start running away, or conflict comes out of it, from this side and that side, as the stories come out. And I also thought that in the fact the stability in the breathing, attention on the breath is supposed to put aside the thoughts. Trying to concentrate on the breath, and now you’re bringing it back in.
Ken: The way that I described it, and this is quite important. Start with the body. Most of the time, when we have a difficult feeling, we start right with the stories. This is going on, this is going on, it’s because of this, because of that. And we’re not connected at all. So when you start working with the reactions, start with how you’re reacting physically to that. That’s going to cut through the preoccupation with the stories. Doing, you know, “Oh, I’m feeling agitated in my body. Well he shouldn’t have said that and, you know, it wasn’t really fair.” Agitation, body, mmmm. Ugh. Okay, Sick feeling in stomach.“ Then the stories will start up again, and as soon as you recognize it, come back to what you’re experiencing in the body.
And it may have shifted in that time. Now it may be a heavy feeling in the heart. And as you stay in the physical experiences, you will gradually become aware of emotional reactions. Sadness, you know, be sad, glad, mad. Feel bad about yourself. Betrayal, attachment, longing, and all of those in turn will spark stories. And you just keep returning, until you can really stay in all of that emotional turmoil. And when you can stay in all of the physical reactions, and then all of the emotional reactions, then you can start to include the stories. Because now that gives you a base there. And now there’ll just be stories. And you say, ”Oh there’s that story too.“ But you’ll still be in touch with the physical and the emotional. So you won’t be distracted and caught up in them the same way. And now you’re experiencing the totality of that feeling, And that’s where phase three, you’ll find it starts [to] click in at that point. That help?
Yep. Just want to check time. Yeah, last question. Yes. Sam
Sam: [unintelligible] this is more like a self-healing [unintelligible] the process coming where I can understand why it happens so that I can prevent it from happening [unintelligible]. Unless we understand it I don’t know how to prevent it from happening in the future. [unintelligible] blame, guilt, stories are interested in understanding the relationship—why it happens. So where does that part come in [unintelligible]?
Ken: The knowing of how it arose, why it arose, is all in the experience itself. So when you experience it completely you will find that you know. And in this sense, it’s more than just self-healing. It has that effect. I mean, by experiencing the feelings, as I said earlier, the function of a feeling is to be felt. As long as it’s not felt, it keeps calling for our attention. More and more insistently. When we actually feel it, it’s fulfilled its reason for existence. So it releases.
As you do this, again and again, you’re going to move into a deeper understanding of your own behavior and all of the processes that are active in you. And through that you will see—not even conceptually really—you will see directly—what you do to bring these difficult situations about. And from that direct knowing, your behavior will change quite naturally. And we don’t really have to understand it in the analytical sense, for these changes to come about. I mean, we’re so used to approaching things that way—in western thought—partially because of the scientific rationale thing; partly because of contemporary psychology. But a great deal of understanding just comes from knowing our own experience completely. And, you see, ”Oh, I don’t need to do this anymore.” And now…and now that particular situation ceases to rise because you aren’t doing your part in it.
Sam: So that’s what you call that [unintelligible]. That’s knowing.
Ken: That’s knowing. Yeah.
Sam: That’s knowing. [unintelligible] than understanding why. Does not require another party to have the same process. So in terms of two people [unintelligible]
Ken: No. And clarity is one of the few infectious qualities. All it takes is you to be clear. You don’t have to require anything of the other person. That’s up to them. You just have to be clear in your experience.
Sam: Yeah, that’s right. I have no control over the other person.
Ken: Good thing to remember.
We’ll close here. Jeff, can you start the [unintelligible] in a few minutes. We’ll take a break and we’ll meet here, we are a little bit over, so we’ll start meditation at 10:50.
Not bad. Just 5 minutes. Okay. Thanks very…Pardon?