Transcript from a meeting with Jim Eaton on 28 November, 2020
Q: A lot of things have been coming up, especially in the last session. I had this image of a labyrinth that I kept bumping into. It’s like I don’t even know where I came from, or how I got here, and I’m trying to piece things together. I can feel my mind constantly trying to make a bigger picture of what’s happening, and then I just get confused. That’s where I’m at.
Jim: Yeah, nice image: the labyrinth. That’s the rational mind right there. So, we allow that ‘trying to work it all out’ to have a place. Let it keep on bumping into walls, trying to piece things together, trying to get the bigger picture. And we allow the confusion too. Staying right here . . . Here as the openness . . . That notices the mind wrestling with itself, doubting itself, getting confused; that whole war going on in the head.
Q: Yeah. It’s very violent.
Jim: When we identify with it and get caught up in it, or try to get rid of it, it can be very, very violent; and then, in noticing what’s going on, we take our place again as the noticing, as what’s aware, and disentangle ourself from it. Then the ‘trying to find the answer’ pattern is something appearing—like a cloud appearing in you, the blue sky of awareness. It’s a very welcome cloud, but it’s no longer running your life, and so the inner war can finally come to an end and there can be peace . . . What’s the mind saying now?
Q: It’s tentatively giving me some rope. I feel moments of ‘letting go of the handlebars’ so to speak, but then there’s this voice, “What are you doing there?! Slow down buddy!”
Jim: Yeah, “Slow down buddy!” (Q laughing) So the question is: what’s already here, in which that ‘letting go of the handlebars’ is happening? You don’t have to answer it, but that’s always the invitation. We’re so identified with the mind that we think it’s the one doing everything, and then we start to see: no! Actually there’s something here that is noticing all of this, in which a mind ‘being confused’, or a mind ‘giving some rope’, or a mind saying ‘slow down buddy’, is all appearing.
Q: I keep projecting outward. I keep trying to imagine endpoints, and that adds a sense of intensity, like there are high stakes involved.
Jim: Tell me more, what are the high stakes? (Q laughing) “If I don’t get it, if I don’t understand this, then . . .” What’s gonna happen? Just let it all come out, whatever is there. Don’t censor it.
Q: I’m gonna lose my mind. (Q laughing)
Jim: You’re gonna lose your mind, and then everyone’s gonna think . . .
Q: “What the fuck is this guy doing!”
Jim: Yeah, “He’s totally lost it.” You’ll be the story that everybody tells everybody forevermore about the guy who lost his mind.
Q: “He really went for it, yeah. Too bad for him!”
Jim: Yeah. So we let the mind paint its tragic picture, do it’s catastrophizing, and then we bow to it, and say, “Thank you. I know that you think it’s unsafe and are trying to protect me, but it’s ok now.”
Q: I feel a lot of shakiness in my upper spine; it keeps pushing me into this position (Q sits upright, head up to the ceiling, arms to the side and chest open)
Jim: Yeah, that’s it, let that happen, let the body do what it needs to do. It’s naturally opening up your central column. You might get huge yawns coming, the biggest yawns you’ve ever known, where the whole of that central column feels like it’s opening up—from your mouth and throat right down to the guts of you.
It’s all of that mind domination, that mental tension easing up. And the patterns will keep trying to haunt you and scare you back into the old contractions—the old familiar. Keep bowing to them, like old friends: the ‘I’m going to go mad’, ‘they’re all gonna see what a crazy loser I am’, or whatever it is. (Q laughing)
So we keep taking our place as that which notices these thoughts and strategies coming up. You see how it works? As soon as you identify with the mind you’re back in the labyrinth; and as soon as you realize it’s a thought appearing, then there is no labyrinth. You don’t find the way out, it just doesn’t mean anything once you’ve dis-identified.
Q: There is still this lingering feeling of danger in that unknown space.
Jim: Yeah, so let that feeling of danger have a place too . . . Here we are, together in this unknown space, feeling the danger. It’s like the mind is saying, “I need to hold on to something.” But what if you don’t? The mind really believes that if it lets go it’s just oblivion; but what you start to realise is it’s not that way at all. There’s just this open, radiant presence . . . with a thought about letting go, and a fearful feeling about what might happen if you let go, all appearing in ‘this’, the ultimate ground, the ultimate safety.
Q: Yeah, there’s that fear of oblivion (Q Laughing) . . . It comes in waves.
Jim: Yeah, so you start to get used to that, allowing everything to be here, just as it is, seeing that it’s all okay . . .
and now I’m sensing a kind of exhilaration . . .
Q: Yeah! (Q laughing) It’s like I’ve never been here before!
Jim: Keep sensing your feet, letting go of needing to know, and just being here . . . bowing to the mind as it tries to grab you again, “Thank you.” (Q laughing) . . . Yeah, that’s it, feel the tension as it tries to pull you back in; keep bowing: “Thank you. Thank you. It’s okay.”
Q: It comes back in with an aggressiveness, not necessarily malicious aggressive.
Jim: Yeah it’s not malicious, it’s fighting for your life, that’s what it believes. It believes you’re on the brink of oblivion, of something truly horrific, and it’s trying to wrench you back into the ‘safety’ of the mind maze—the labyrinth.
Q: Yeah, there’s definitely a threshold I feel uncomfortable crossing; when there’s a group here too.
Jim: Yeah, the group is helping to amplify the feelings, so we really get to see them loud and clear. But we don’t want to try and bulldoze our way through that threshold, right? (Q laughing) Then we’re just newly identified with being ‘the bulldozer’.
Q: “I’m gonna make it now! Yeah!”
Jim: Exactly. You see the game, right? Then we identify with that one—the dedicated spiritual adept that can bulldoze its way through—but it’s just another identity we’ve got caught in.
We keep turning it around: there is nowhere to get to. We keep clarifying the characters that we get identified with and noticing how, when we identify with them, it suddenly all seems so real—that we really do have to get there—which in turn creates all the tension, the struggle and the anxiety.
So, we see the characters, bow to them, “Thank you for your service,” and ease back into what we always already are. That can feel terrifying to begin with, because we’ve so forgotten what we are, we’ve strayed so far away from it, that we believe there’s nothing there. But as we become more familiar and our confidence grows in letting go of needing to know, and we allow ourself to abide in that not-knowing, then rather than oblivion we discover the true ground, the true security—the supreme delight of being.
What’s coming now?
Q: A subtle mourning, and then blocking it off.
Jim: Yes. As you start to open the mourning will come. It’s a deep sadness for having to abandon your true self, in order to earn love and acceptance and so survive in the world—for not being unconditional loved just as you are. And then if the blocking off comes, we honour that too. We’re not trying to bulldoze through. Nothing is judged as being ‘wrong’. There is great intelligence in that blocking off.
Q: (Q laughing) Yeah.
Jim: Yeah, really. It’s protecting you in some way. So we meet that blocking with love.
Q: I feel like I’m digging around trying to find something so I can breathe, so I can be relaxed.
Jim: Right. So we include the ‘restless digger’, let that one be here too . . . again, stepping back; back into the blue sky of awareness . . . The ‘restless digger’ is digging for what’s noticing the ‘restless digger’, but it will never, ever find it! It’s a no-win game! It’s only when we dis-identify from being the ‘restless digger’ that what it was ‘digging for’ is revealed. And then we can rest again . . . and breathe . . . and relax.
Q: Intellectually I know that, and I notice my mind thinking, “All right, well we can’t do it with that way, so maybe we just have to try something else, like meditating, try getting through it that way.”
Jim: Yeah, good catch. You’re seeing clearly how it shape-shifts to find another angle, rather than give itself up. It can’t give itself up. That’s impossible. A rubber can’t rub itself out. (Q laughing) Yeah, notice all the laughter that you’ve had coming up today, that’s part of the release too. It’s like the laughter could almost be tears.
Q: Yeah, and I notice another thought saying, “Stop laughing, you’re distracting yourself from what we’re trying to do here.” (Q laughing)
Jim: “What we’re trying to do here.” Yeah, that’s another good one! Or what we’re trying to not do. That’s even better! “I’m gonna try really hard to not do anything.” It’s still a trying. It’s just the latest shape-shift.
It’s incredible how powerful the rational mind is, and when we use it as a tool it can be very effective. But because it’s so powerful it can make itself jump through the most arduous of hoops, like sitting for hours in meditation without moving a muscle, as a way of still trying to get there.
And just to clarify, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with meditation, right? I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with thinking, planning or conceptualising either; or with anything for that matter! We just have to be really honest about what our motivation is. If it’s to try and get there then it doesn’t matter what we’re doing, we’re still caught in the same delusion.
Q: Yeah. It’s really helpful to see the stories I create to make sense of it.
Jim: Yeah. That’s why it’s good to speak them out, and then we see clearly what it is we’re believing, what story we’re buying into. The more honest about the story we can be, the more clearly we can see it.
So far today we’ve had the image of the labyrinth, the mind maze, and ‘I need to work this out’; and then the fear of going mad and worrying ‘what will everyone think of me?’ And then we had the ‘trying different angles, different techniques,’ and the ‘trying not to try’. They’re all part of the same modality, and here we’re stepping beyond that modality.
There are so many ways that the mind holds on. I’ve met people who’ve studied and looked deeply into the conceptual world, and they realise that there are infinitely many versions of ‘the truth’, each of which are true relative to the unique set of conditionings and experiences we’ve lived through. But then they conclude that, since all truths are relative, there is no absolute Truth, and that’s the absolute Truth! Despite the obvious contradiction, they are still identified with a mind position (Q laughing).
Then you get the really sophisticated ones who realise that all ‘truths’ are relative, but that some ‘truths’ have greater value than others in terms of human well-being and flourishing, and who also acknowledge that there IS absolute Truth that cannot be grasped by the rational mind. But even so, they’re still identified with this mind position, albeit a highly sophisticated one (Q laughing).
So here we take that extra step, and go beyond the rational mind, beyond belief—we step out of the labyrinth altogether.
Really notice all the laughter that’s coming up here, it’s really important. It’s a powerful energy that wants to release, to express (Q laughing). Yeah, nothing to hold . . . that’s the gateway.
Q: I keep wanting to add something but it’s so funny. Every time I try to say anything I realise I’m just trying to frame it again! (Q laughing)
Jim: Yeah, stay with that. It’s like the earth crumbling beneath your feet. Every time you try and take a position, you can’t stand there. So let it crumble, let the laughter come (Q laughing) . . . Yeah, nowhere to stand.
Q: But I had really something good to say before! (Q laughing)
(both breathing deeply)
Jim: There may be a feeling of panic, so just let that happen too if you can . . . Keep easing . . . easing, softening, letting go of needing to know . . . Feel the holding . . . ahhh, mmmm . . . Let yourself have it, let yourself ease into what’s here . . . this tender, sweetness . . . this loving welcoming . . . this homecoming . . . (Jim sings) “All I ever wanted, all I ever needed, all I ever wanted, right now, right now.”
It’s like we’re a small child, letting ourself be held, be rocked, relaxing into the loving arms of presence . . . How are you doing there?
Q: Good, thank you. Not restless anymore. The cycle is still happening. I can see the mind going right back to putting the same clothes on, thinking about, “Okay, well, what’s the plan of action now?”
Jim: But you’ve seen it, you’ve seen how it works, right? And as you see how it works you take your place again in the clear space, and then you’re out of the labyrinth—there is no labyrinth.
Q: Just about everything I do in life is dictated by that.
Jim: Maybe at the moment, but as you become more attuned to that not-knowing then you can start to operate from there. That’s what’s possible. That’s the invitation. But it’s just like any habit, it takes time to break that habit.
(to everyone) Let’s all have a good stretch . . . stretching the arms, loosening the neck, shoulders, wrists, all the joints, freshening up the face . . .
Q: Thank you.
Jim: Thank you my friend.
This labyrinth image is interesting as there are actually two types of labyrinth. One is the same as a maze, where you can make choices about which direction to take, and so it’s like a kind of puzzle. That’s the sense we’re using here.
But the other type is when there is only one route you can follow, and you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, trusting that the path will take you into the centre and back out again. This second version is actually a beautiful metaphor for authentic living: letting life lead, and walking ‘the path’ deep into yourself, and then shining your unique wonder back out into the world.