Beyond Gratitude as Judgment

Gratitude is all about noticing and awareness. By asking a question, I can bring about noticing in a way that promotes awareness beyond the First-Second Degree of Illumination bubble. Within the bubble of limited perception, I experience gratitude as an emotionally-charged competition or comparison – a value-judgment backed by a defense that often takes the form of an expression in the syntax of emotion-comparison-justification:

“I feel grateful for [something I value-judge as positive]… because… [some reason this judgment confirms my values]”

Example: “I feel grateful for sunrises because they make me feel hopeful…”

Structurally, my statement includes an emotion, “I feel”; a comparison judgment, “grateful for…”; and a defense, “because…” – the basic structure of the bubble, in which I compare, compete, and defend. “Grateful,” in this case, means “compared to what I value” – a validation of my opinions/notions as truth.

Is there another way?

To experience gratitude beyond the bubble, it must take on a different sensibility altogether. In the realm of accountability for creation, awareness would appear as a sort of universal acceptance of ALL that IS. As a confirmed bubble resident, I can tell you that my experience of this kind of gratitude is exquisite, sublime, and ultimately life-affirming.

To turn bubble comparison into life-affirming accountability, I might question how I express thanks – and maybe reconsider in the light of acceptance.

Let’s start by reviewing how I express gratitude within bubble awareness:

  1. I notice an experience that I…
  2. relate to other similar experiences and then…
  3. make a judgment (better or worse) that I…
  4. justify with a defense that validates my values and beliefs.

Now, let’s look at it from an acceptance-of-accountability perspective:

  1. I notice that everything is as I perceive it.

From my limited bubble perspective, Fourth Degree of Illumination acceptance of accountability may appear to me as surreal – and maybe the truth behind the illusion.

Watering the Weeds of Distraction

In my First-Second Degree of Illumination bubble, I work at awakening into full enlightenment. Sometimes I experience distraction from that goal. You know, the illusive finger of fate that points your attention and intention away from your present goal? Even when I accept that such distraction is of my own making, I still on occasion find myself “off track.”

Perhaps such derailments are the result of confusion over the relationship between attention and intention. Intention directs while attention connects. To accomplish a task, one must give attention to what fulfills the intention of that task.

For example – A firefighter controls the direction and flow of water shooting out the fire hose. His intention directs while his attention connects the water with the fire. When the fighter is distracted from his intention or attention, he ceases to be an effective firefighter in that instant.

Attention without intention ensures a future of distraction

Some distractions grab my attention for days – disrupting my intention from the enlightenment I seek. As I focus more attention on the distractions, I seem to get even more distracted as my world seems to darken. Now I begin to notice how people aren’t getting along with me and each other. I have to honk, shout and do hand gestures at all those insensitive and unconscious drivers on the road. I might catch a cold or feel “down” for a while – validating the truth of my sense of darkening.

Parasol Thinking

My need to attend to this one distracting thought overarches all other thoughts – like unfurling a gigantic parasol over the entire universe, turning day into night, blocking out the sunshine that once ruled. My attention to distractions has clouded my vision and I lose sight of my intention.

While I focus on what I don’t like – the distraction – the rest that I do like starves for my attention. “Energy flows where attention goes.” (Huna principle 3 – Makia)

And, Oh, the Weeds, the Weeds!

Could my distracted attention be “watering the weeds”? Perhaps.

Or –

Maybe there’s something useful in the negative, distracting thought. What if I’m doing distraction “on purpose?” Could what I don’t like – that which is holding my attention hostage – be the result of a hidden intention that can lead me to an awakening? What then, eh?

What then, indeed!

Perhaps when I’m faced with a compelling distraction, I might ask some [maybe useful] questions about my intention:

  • What am I avoiding with this distraction?
  • How am I avoiding it? (looking at behaviors and captive thoughts)
  • Why am I avoiding it? (looking at emotional payoffs)
  • Who am I as I take accountability for my thoughts?

A Catalyst Reveals Hidden Treasures

A catalyst is a triggering agent that provokes action and choice. In a reactive universe, every action provokes another action and another choice. Relationships provoke change that is essential to experience. A Third Degree of Illumination question appears as a catalyst that provokes a choice and yet does not affect the question that prompted it.

The Catalyst Opportunity

Relationships carry intentions and resistance to change. The choices we make are the beginning of change. Choosing the same thing is not choice, rather, it is resistance to change, a validation of a previous choice. My relationships offer many opportunities for me to confront my resistance. Those opportunities often appear as conflicting thoughts that elicit questions that act as catalysts for change.

I can challenge resistance thoughts with alternative thoughts. In my inner-most personal relationships, those alternative thoughts are ever-present, an invitation to reconsider and choose again. A catalyst may require only a minute degree of leverage in the form of a question like, “Is that true?” to move the mind past the tipping point.

This type of catalyst is a question that reveals hidden intentions behind resistance. Light shone in the darkness acts as a catalyst that reveals what was in the dark. By questioning my resistance, I shine the light of conscious awareness on it, illuminating that which I’ve concealed from myself. I can shift my awareness from competition and defense to choice and accountability.

Revealing Hidden Treasures

I question my established beliefs by challenging present defenses. The more entrenched my beliefs, the greater the need for defense. The more I invest in defense the less creative energy I have available to me. I can use questions to reassign that investment. At some point, my investment in awakening will pass the tipping point to AHA! That’s when I’ll be faced with the ultimate choice – move ahead to complete personal accounting or fall back into defense. It’s a tipping point, after all.

Mindfulness means questioning my thoughts. Continuing to believe what I used to think vital simply allows my accountability to step aside while a misunderstanding takes charge. I can question that misstep and offer myself the choice again.

Any question can be used as a catalyst, yet certain kinds of questions lead to certain kinds of conscious awareness. Here are some questions I’ve used to provoke a 3rd Degree awareness – choice, in which 4th Degree accountability is an option.

From Conflict to Awareness – Choose!

Get quiet. Pick a recent conflict in which you continue to defend a side. Ask:

  1. What awareness am I resisting? (maybe the other side of the issue?)
  2. How am I resisting it? (my defense)
  3. Why am I resisting it? (my payoff for defense)
  4. Who am I resisting? (the one capable of resolving the issue)

Continue asking these questions until the answer to every question is a variation of “Who I am!” – the ONE dreaming this dream. BTW, I AM the treasure I seek.

What Drives My Causal Process?

Is need the universal causal element in my First and Second Degree Illumination bubble? How can I identify needs and bring understanding to my causal experience?

Sometimes it seems I’m going in circles, trying to figure out why I keep recreating the same conflicts resulting in the same need for resolution.

In my repetitive reality, I apply accepted patterns from the past to present process regardless of appropriateness. I run the same patterns of needs over and over, hoping for a different outcome, yet expecting only one.

I think, What comes from a thing is a reflection of what it came from. And what reflects comes more of the same.

Perhaps my ability to choose has a hidden agenda, one that seems to contradict itself: I can not not choose without comparing. When I turn what I choose into something I need to defend, I could be defending that choice forever! As my defense responses become automatic, I can no longer re-choose that thing. I can only choose to defend it or to defend my defense of it. My only apparent freedom is in choosing whether or not to defend my defense.

The Need for Value

I create ways to experience and “measure” who I am as value compared to the values I assign to others. In the bubble, I constantly compare and compete over values. That value is assigned by me and makes conflict possible. My judgements of right/wrong, good/bad, of sufficient value and insufficient value. Then with reasons based on agreement, I justify the value of my existence compared to…

My perceived lack defends my need for gain, my need to compare loss and gain, my need for conflict over loss and gain, my need for purpose within my reflexive bubble existence. All a zero-sum game in which need supports more need that in the end results in nothing. Do I see smoke and mirrors?

How can I change a second degree bubble defense into a genuine third degree choice? Once I defend what I choose, my freedom to choose again about that is either to defend or change. And once I’ve chosen I automatically defend for or against other defenses.

To break the defensive cycle, I might ask some questions to elicit options and help pull Self out of the reflexive quagmire:

  1. What else – could stop my need to defend?
  2. How else – could I  behave than defensively?
  3. Why else – could I be non-defensive?
  4. Who else – could I choose to be when not defending?

How My Life Story Defends My Current Beliefs

In my First-Second Degree of Illumination bubble, I use a variety of methods to convince me of its reality. One of those methods is memory – where I write my life story. It appears that I experience events and faithfully record them in memory where I retrieve them when necessary.

However, things are not always as they appear.

What if my ego uses my life story as a convincing agent to keep me firmly within my bubble beliefs, unaware of anything outside that reality?

Read more How My Life Story Defends My Current Beliefs