Beyond Compulsion

I don’t know what is true. I can only describe what the experience is from here. All the following sentences should begin with, “It seems as if,” simply to get the what-is-true thing off the table.

There is this inquiry we’re calling the Compulsion inquiry (CI). Since undergoing and working on this inquiry with Scott Kiloby, there have been significant perceptual, physiological, behavioral, and psychological shifts.

Perceptually, there is more beauty in this world than ever realized. I seem to want to take a picture, or simply stare at, everything. It’s all intricate, fascinating, perfectly stunning. Even pond scum warranted a few moments of amazed appreciation. Can’t seem to find an ugly or a plain face.

Physiologically, tension seems a curious memory. A jaw that felt clenched for millennia has to be grasped with the hand to make sure it’s really there. I must say though, these contractions had to be felt, or brought to the fore, before relaxing. So a kind of tightness was experienced first, more than once, in places I had never thought about much.

Behaviorally, I still smoke an occasional cigarette, but the need, the frantic puffing and sucking is absent. If there are no cigarettes around, there’s about as much hurry to go buy more as I would hurry to buy bananas. I like bananas, but running out of them is not a problem. As a matter of fact, I saw that there were 2 cigarettes left in a pack sticking out of my purse as I was driving yesterday. I passed umpteen gas stations during that drive, and never stopped to buy another pack. I just enjoyed the drive, windows open to this glorious fall day. Perhaps only a fellow smoker would understand that kind of nonchalance in regard to cigarettes.

A couple of times recently, I made myself a drink—but then never drank the thing. When I walked passed the full glass wherever I had left it later, I ended up pouring it down the sink. That’s not to say I won’t ever drink. It’s just that the making-but-not-drinking is a peculiar thing to report. And I have ordered one at a restaurant, yet felt no compulsion to drink it. And curiouser and curiouser–I eat when hungry, and don’t have to finish what is in front of me. Snacking doesn’t happen, seemingly because there’s no edge, no gnawing need for more or something else.

Psychologically, up until very recently, there was this certainty, this oft regaled story of being overextended, coupled with the feeling of being exhausted. This thought was believed: “There isn’t enough time in the day, or enough energy, to do what needs to be done. One person can only do so much.” Now, it’s the seeing that there are things to be done. Some get done. Some don’t. My barely perceptible jaw drops at the simplicity of that realization, and the flood of relaxation and rejuvenation that follows. There is no such thing as “too much.” And any sense of personal agency is an error of perception.

Another amazing, and recent discovery is that annoyance is a totally unnecessary precursor to a movement away. When the word “choice” is replaced by “movement,” annoyance becomes an add-on to any experience. Try this on: people are neither inherently annoying or engaging, there is simply movement towards or away from, with seemingly no one choosing the flow, like colorful tropical fish swimming around the tank. Annoyance can still happen, but it’s now seen as an elective response.

And as a bonus, look to see if there is a command anywhere, in any thought, that says “follow me,” or “believe this.” Thoughts about ourselves, the situation, or the world, do not come with a mandate to be believed. If thoughts were trains coming and going through a station, let it be seen that there is no conductor shouting out “all aboard!” Not even thoughts about non duality, or shoulds, or declarations of love, or those pesky ones that tell us what is wrong with us, have a seal of approval stamped upon them, insuring their authenticity and reliability. They needn’t be the gold standard by which we live our lives.

So essentially, there is this overall sensation of being a relaxed, content, human being that alternately engages in movement and rest; adjectives optional. There’s very little conflict or tension, but both are allowed. The thing is, there is a sense of fun, of play, relief (!), and joy, in all of this. What am I missing? Oh, yeah—this kind of talk can be seriously annoying.

To whom is this all happening, or where is this experience occurring right now? Ha! That’s the kicker. Try and find me.

Homeostasis and Compulsive Behavior

In trials using the Compulsion Inquiry (CI), it has been observed that addiction and compulsive behaviors have a lot to do with the body functioning as a homeostatic organism, not just in regard to physical well-being, i.e. temperature regulation and fevers, but energetically as well. It’s as if there is a baseline, which in this case appears to be rest, relaxation, and ultimately what we might call peace. When we get excited, we drink, we smoke, have sex, or we might engage in other stabilizing activities. When we’re upset, and this is clearly the case—we eat, we fidget and pace, all the above, and so on.

There is an often unquestioned assumption that the drink, the cigarette, the sex, or the piece of cake causes this relaxation response. We come to believe that we must do something, anything, to get back to “normal,” or rest, relaxation, and peace. And when we’re low energetically, i.e. boredom, we feel the need to get high, or higher. Thus we eat sweets, take drugs, look at porn, or go shopping, or bungee-jumping. Even joy and bliss can seem like “too much,” at times, so we do/eat/smoke something to take it down a notch.

Self medicating is nothing new, but to look at the energetic component, and to see there is this ongoing need to stabilize, is to make conscious this unconscious regulating mechanism. Find the baseline that exists independent of any substance or activity, and the whole roller coaster slows down to a pleasant rhythm, if not to a different beat entirely. That beat is the natural state, calling all to dance to a primordial pulse. The relaxation point discovered in the CI points this this natural state, experienced independent of substance and/or activity.

Note that it is the body that is homeostatic in its natural tendency towards wellbeing. It is a balancing act only for the presumed self. The self, or supposed doer, is the unconscious aspect—that which appears to act for its own immediate “gratification,” and only appears to have some control over what is otherwise a natural process. Peace is the body’s instinctive objective. The fictional self, in play, turns this natural tendency into a comic/tragic display of Charlie Chaplinesque antics to the contrary.

Compulsion Inquiry sessions will be widely available on or before October 1st . They are being offered now on a limited basis. And of course, as always, that which is purely conceptual can only be experienced, and is not offered or expected to be accepted as true.

The Compulsion Inquiry~Self as Contraction, Manifesting as Compulsion

Over at Living Realization, we’ve been working on a new form of inquiry specifically designed to address addiction and compulsive behavior. It’s called the Compulsion Inquiry (CI). Scott Kiloby’s book on addiction, Natural Rest, will be out in a few months, and all is revealed expertly there, so without going into a lengthy description here, there is an aspect that is of particular interest in regard to the unfindable self.

In brief, first we look for the command to use, or engage in the compulsive behavior, in images, words, and bodily sensations. For instance, the image of a cigarette, or even the cigarette itself—Where is there a command to smoke in either the image or even the cigarette in your hand? We go through all possible associations with the behavior, even looking at a clock, the place where the behavior occurs, and other triggers, like smoking with a morning cup of coffee. No command can be found anywhere.

Then it can be seen that when an urge or a craving arises, there is an almost fleeting, flash image of the act itself, like a “ghost image” of the activity already happening. When this image is seen, really looked at, prior to using, the craving miraculously seems to disappear, or is simply forgotten.

In addition to looking for the command, it is usually the case that when someone attempts to curb any form of compulsive behavior or addiction, there is often a period of abstention that is achieved, in part, by a subtle but often unconscious agreement made to use or engage in the behavior in the future. There is usually an image of the behavior—we actually see ourselves doing it—but more importantly, there is also a physical sensation that is associated with this promise we make to ourselves. It is similar to a barely noticeable relaxation that happens when, for instance, we have come to a decision about something. For most, the discovery of this point of relaxation is a discovery of the sweetest peace imaginable. This is not a fleeting experience engendered by a substance or activity, this peace. This relaxation response is the natural state, hence the title, Natural Rest. It is the complete allowance, complete agreement with what is experienced physically, and this allowance, this rest, is not dependent upon anything external—no substance, no activity required—nor is it something to seek for in the future. It’s right here, right now, always. It is the experience of the end of seeking.

“…feelings and good times are temporary energies. They arise and fall, providing no ultimate or final relief. This question is asking what you’re ultimately seeking from the thing. This requires you to look a little deeper. Beyond the experience of temporary energies such as pleasure, something else happens when you attain what you’re seeking: The seeking energy relaxes for a moment. As that energy dies, presence reveals itself naturally. Present rest is synonymous with peace and contentment.” ~ Scott Kiloby, Natural Rest

The point of relaxation reveals that the self is often felt as a barely perceptible bodily contraction. People can have the clearest seeing of no self, of oneness, yet this contraction remains or recurs, albeit slightly to barely detectable. Thus, there can be great clarity, but forms of compulsion persist.

“…there is a core type of grasping…it is our most rudimentary sense of self…It is that grasping and contracting around which all the other senses of self are constructed…awakening is the sudden releasing of this grasping in the gut. There’s no guarantee that the grasping will stay released; it may grab hold again.” ~ Adyashanti

“The body is a warehouse in which all our hurts, rejections, failures, fears and resentments are stored, long after thinking has forgotten them…It is these layers of tension and contraction that obscure the natural transparency and openness of the body and give the impression that a separate, inside self is in residence…These may be dormant much of the time but may also be triggered for irrational reasons at unexpected times, and betray in us, over and over again, the residues of a separate inside self.” Rupert Spira

Thus far, in our limited trials using the CI, feedback seems to indicate that this innate physiological grasping is at the root of compulsive behavior. The unconscious grasp within produces grasping, seeking without. Beyond the implications of reducing, if not completely eradicating compulsive and addictive behavior, it has been reported and experienced as an overall diminishment of this sense of a separate self. With the relaxation of this contraction, overall compulsion and the sense of separation relax as well.

Addiction then, could be viewed as a significant portal not only to the recognition of the residual self that remains (in theory), as well as the dissolution of both the behavior, and the root of its persistence. The Compulsion Inquiry is a radical approach to recovery. The good news is, the impact of this work goes far beyond the curbing of addiction and release from compulsive behaviors. It potentially reveals, and subsequently undermines, the sense of separation at its core.