The Way of Seeing® -- a simple, practical path


Look At Your Life

The following dialogue occurred during a group meeting with Ken Russell.

Ken: I was telling you about trying to clarify where you're going with your life and that it's terrific that you are only 18. It may not feel like a big thing but I assure you that even the fact that you're going to a meditation class and are willing to look at yourself is very impressive. To look at your life this early on is really wonderful. It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you know what you're doing. You follow me on that?
Teenager: I'm not sure what you mean by "know what you're doing".
Ken: Let's say you do something, anything. You just pay attention to what effect doing this has on you, whether it leaves you in a good place or not. It is the same with thoughts. Does following certain thoughts help you or create problems for you? If you think thought A, you see what it leads to. Does it help bring up a feeling and is it a good feeling or not. If you feel something you see what prompted that or what thoughts are then prompted by that feeling.
So you begin to watch your thoughts and feel your feelings and you will begin to get a sense of how your mind works, how it creates your experience of life. This can be quite exciting because you will not be puzzled by mood changes and the like. You will see how they happen. And the more you do this the more you will not be led into mischief by your mind.
Basically, your mind comes from society and your parents. And I don't know anything about your parents, but I assume they're not perfect. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Teenager: (laughing)
Ken: And I assume your teachers in school, none of them are perfect, so you've got all this stuff that you just picked up. And to start looking at it now, even to be aware that you have a choice is wonderful. It's a wonderful opportunity. It doesn't matter what you do. It doesn't matter whether you play soccer or you don't play soccer. You just learn how to view your life so you can make it work better for you. Does that make more sense?
Teenager: I think so.
Ken: Just ask questions, I do well with questions.
Teenager: Ok. How do you figure out what you're doing?
Ken: Excellent question. You don't. You don't want to figure out anything because "figuring it out" means you're going to be using your mind. And, as we have just seen, the mind has been wrongly informed, actually is full of misinformation. What you want to do, is to be more in touch with your feelings because your feelings will tell you what is actually going on; is it good for you, or bad for you, or just neutral.
And you also want to watch your thoughts and see whether your thoughts make sense, whether they're relevant or true, or whether it's something you heard from a parent or a teacher or a friend which might not be right for you. You want to say to yourself "Does this make sense, does this work for me?" This is different from figuring something out which flips you up into the mind. You're probably quite good with computers?
Teenager: I'm not a super computer person, really.
Ken: Yeah, so your mind has been programmed like Microsoft software, worse than that, it's really full of bugs. And the way you don't get into trouble with mind bugs is to watch them and check them out. So you want to look at the thoughts and ask, "is it true?" rather than just accepting whatever your mind portrays to you as reality.
Teenager: Are your feelings perfect then?
Ken: Another good question. No, they're not perfect because the feelings are still... Are you familiar with the concept of Buddha nature, what we truly are, the essence, the core, Christ consciousness, whatever?
Teenager: No.
Ken: Well, our real nature is something infinite, beyond anything we can conceive of but we've gotten identified with a body and a mind. And we believe this is who we are. Now if you watch you'll see that thoughts just happen to you, right? Close your eyes, let's just do an experiment. I won't do anything funny, I promise.
Teenager: Ok.
Ken: Watch your thoughts. You see thoughts are happening, right? Do you see where they come from and then somehow they disappear, right?
Teenager: Sometimes.
Ken: But I don't see a pile of thoughts piling up around you.
Teenager: Ok, yeah.
Ken: But check it out. You don't want to take a chance that I'm misleading you, so you want to verify it for yourself. Close your eyes and just watch, thoughts appear and they disappear. Sometimes a whole bunch of them link up and a whole bunch of them happen together. So obviously there are the thoughts and then there's you. Right?
Teenager: I guess.
Ken: Don't guess, take your time. Do you see that thoughts come and go in your awareness?
Teenager: Yeah.
Ken: Good, you can check this out anytime. You closed your eyes and you saw thoughts coming and going. Something in you registered thoughts. Something had to be there to watch the thoughts. That something which is aware of the thoughts is what we're really about, that is our essence. Thoughts are really the most distant from what we actually are.
If you were born in India, you might be a Hindu and your whole life would be different. If you were born in France you'd speak French. The thoughts are just what we pick up from parents and cultures and they're not us.
Have you ever seen a new born baby?
Teenager: Yeah.
Ken: They're so full of life and vitality, right? There are obviously no thoughts, thoughts come later. You are born with feelings but you acquire thoughts. The feelings are closer to what you are, but feelings are still not you and thus not perfect. I'm not one of these new age flakes that says to follow your feelings. But your feelings will give you clues about things. Asking yourself "How do I feel when I do this?" will give you a much more accurate sense of how something is for you than trying to figure it out with your head.
So feelings are definitely not perfect, but they're major clues to how things are affecting you. They're sort of a way station back to that which is really you. So to the extent you can move from thoughts into feelings you'll be more connected to yourself and whatever decisions you'll make will be better for you because you'll have a better sense of what is going on in your life.
But no, feelings are not perfect by any means. But it's a wonderful shift to go from almost exclusively relying on thoughts, which is what we have been taught to do, to being in touch with your feelings. Once you are in touch with your feelings it is easier to shift deeper towards what you really are. Does that answer your question?
Teenager: Yeah. So what's the point of having a mind then?
Ken: Well, how would you survive in society without a mind? Man is a so called social animal, which is debatable, but we live in groups and we have to be able to talk and learn about how to function in the world. So we need to have a mind.
The problem is that in the process of getting socialized, in the process of learning how to be part of society, we pick up a whole bunch of stuff that is not true, is positively misleading, which doesn't make sense, and will not help our lives work better. Most of what we learn will not make us happy, will not make us fulfilled. Society wants docile members, motivated consumers; it doesn't want fulfilled individuals who will question it.
You have to have a mind to be in society. But you can have a mind and not let the mind run you. The mind is like a tool, like a hand. Suppose your hand just starting doing weird stuff on its own, that would be a real problem.
Teenager: (laughing)
Ken: But when your mind does its own trip, irregardless of your well-being, it's the same thing!
Teenager: I'm going to be laughing for 20 minutes straight over...
Ken: That's wonderful! Laughter is a great way to undo the minds control over you.
Teenager: yea (still laughing)
Ken: Once you get the hang of this you'll never have to be depressed again. You may get sad, you may be in pain, but you won't ever have to be depressed again. You learn to move through whatever happens and make life an enjoyable and fulfilling game.

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