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Assumptions

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Assumptions

We’re Hopelessly Trapped Because Our Knowledge is Based on Assumptions

It is only the compassion and love that spontaneously arise from the perception of the facts that have a capacity to dissolve the boundaries. That’s why when we want to cross our boundaries, we try to do it through love. We want a lover. But we go about it in the wrong way—we try to love someone, try to get someone to love us. We don’t let ourselves see that these are assumptions that we take to be facts or that suffering results from them. We have taken ourselves to be separate individuals all of these years, and we have been doing everything that we can to free ourselves from that trap. But we aren’t free, because we don’t know what to do. We’re hopelessly trapped, because our knowledge is based on assumptions. When you see that the individuality that you have taken to be you all these years is trapped and really cannot free itself, from that arises compassion and love. And when the love arises, you will see that the love is you, is your very nature. When you see that the love is you, you will see that there are no
boundaries, and that love is also everyone else. Love is the consciousness of everyone, and that consciousness, which is love, has nothing to do with boundaries. The moment it is there, there are no boundaries. The other person is love so what does loving them or not loving them mean? When you finally see that you are love, that everyone is love, there’s no need for hoarding, there’s no need for competition, there’s no need to fear anyone else.

Assumptions that are Only the Appearance and True Only from the Perspective of the Apparent Reality

There are many assumptions and beliefs that keep the personality in power over you. You assume that there is time, and that there is space. You assume that you are an entity separate from other entities. You assume that you were born. You assume that you are going to die. You assume that you will change. But these assumptions are only the appearance, and are true only from the perspective of the apparent reality. They are not true from the perspective of true reality. Again, we are not saying that the way things appear is completely untrue. We are just taking the appearance to be the reality and thus, we are not paying attention to the much more fundamental, basic reality that is actually there. The primary and ultimate objective of the Work is for us to see that there is another, deeper, reality, that the appearance is not all of it. This does not mean that you need to leave the world of appearance, the world of the senses; it means that you need to see that there is something else without which even the appearance cannot exist. The world we see could not exist without the true reality. It is better not to try to imagine what the true reality is because it cannot be imagined. You can try to imagine it only by using what you know from appearance, and that just does not apply. True reality is what appearance is not. So one way of knowing the true reality is to know that everything you see and experience, everything you think about, is not true. Just eliminate one thing after another: Not this, not that. Everything goes. It all goes: everything you have experienced, everything you can experience, everything you can think, anything that can enter your mind. When all that goes, that, then, is the true reality. You cannot think of it, you cannot conceptualize it.

Being Predisposed Towards Certain Assumptions, Certain Expectations of what Our Lives Should be Like

We are not saying that there is something bad about ordinary human life, nor that one should seek something better. It is a matter of harmonization and balance. The absence of that balance or harmony predisposes us towards certain assumptions, certain expectations of what our lives should be like. Then our consciousness becomes stabilized with the idealizations of certain
elements to the exclusion of others, which only leads to more imbalance and disharmony. That is why a consciousness that is not balanced usually does not know how to balance itself, for this consciousness can see things only from an imbalanced perspective. In turn, what this consciousness believes or feels that it needs and wants is determined by that perspective. The consciousness first needs to be balanced and harmonized before it can see what is truly needed. One element of imbalanced consciousness is the dream of a magical event, an idealized intervention, a romantic experience or a person that will suddenly make things wonderful. Of course, the fantasized situation is wonderful only from the perspective of that imbalanced consciousness. Since reality is mostly not like that, things do not generally turn out according to our expectations, and then we feel disappointment. The hopeful expectation of a miraculous event or person typically manifests in ordinary life as an idealization of success or fame, or sometimes an idealization of a person, perhaps a prince charming who will come along and enable us to live happily ever after.

Ideas and Experiences from the Past form the Foundation of Your Assumptions About Who You Are

These elements of the mind—memory, conceptualization, thinking processes, creation of images, projections into the future, and so forth—become the basic ingredients of our suffering. Ideas and experiences from the past, from early childhood as well as later on, good and bad, form the foundation of your assumptions about who you are. For example, if as a youngster your mother always thinks you’re cute, you’ll build up an idea that you’re a cute person. If she thinks you’re dumb, you’ll build up an idea that you’re dumb. If, for whatever reason, you always feel weak with your father, you’ll build up an idea that you’re a weak person. Not only that, both your mother and father think you’re a person, so you build up an idea that you’re a person. Right? It is very basic. Your mother talks to you as a child in a body; who’s she talking to? You look at your body and decide that it’s you. Your mind holds on to these childhood happenings and stores them in its memory. They become the building blocks of what you think you are, and
then you’re stuck with them. If you’re a weak person, you’re always going to be a weak person. If you believe that you must be tough, you will always get stuck being tough, even when you don’t have to be, even when something nice is happening. You can’t stop it. Your mind is stuck on thinking you’re tough, and it can’t change.

If You are not Experiencing Expansion and Abundance it’s Because You are Interfering

If you recall the times when you have experienced a release, when there was an opening, you will see it was always by your understanding something, by your somehow getting out of the way, by your letting go of some belief, some resistance, some idea. This never happens by your accomplishing something. It happens always through losing something. We should write on the door to this room, “Whenever you feel you are going to lose something, celebrate!” Because you can only lose what is false. What is real cannot be lost. What is real is you—that can’t be lost. What can be lost is the false. So whenever you feel you are going to lose something, welcome the feeling. You can only lose your ideas, your assumptions, your blindness, your blockages, your misunderstanding, your prejudice. Everything we do here is oriented toward seeing exactly what is happening right now. We never try to make things happen. We always look at what is here, what you are doing, what’s causing you to do it. When a student comes to a new understanding, that is when there is an openness, a release, an expansion, a change. When it is allowed, change can only be good, can only be expansion. The natural movement is toward greater abundance. If you are not experiencing expansion and abundance, it’s because you are interfering. There is no other reason.

If You Confront Your Assumptions You See that in Reality You do not Really Know

Right. What we see around us we do not really know directly, right now, in terms of immediacy. We need to see that fact in a very deep and fundamental way. You need to see that when you look at the table you do not know what you are looking at. What you know is a word, the concept of a table. You do not know what you are looking at. And the moment you really see through the word, you see that the reality that you are seeing around you is a mystery; that we live in complete, pure mystery; that the world around us that is old, drab, and normal is actually a wonder, a mystery. It is a mystery that defies our minds, that defies our best efforts. But we kill that mystery, we separate ourselves from it by putting up a barrier of words and concepts. Then the best thing we can do is know it through words and concepts, through the old. But if you confront your assumptions, you see that in reality, you do not really know. When you say, “I" know this table is made out of wood,” what are you saying? What is wood to you? What do you know? Do you really know wood the way wood knows itself? It is something you have seen, you have touched, you have read things about, you have used. But you still do not know what wood is. Wood, ultimately, is a word, and there is a mystery underlying that word, but the mystery is eluding you through the word wood. But you see the words, our mind, is actually what we perceive. We not only perceive through the mind, we perceive only our mind. When I look around, I see the table, I see people, but what I’m seeing is my mind. The table is not separate from my mind, from the word table in my mind. The person is not separate from the concept of
person in my mind. It is the same thing. It is my mind that I see around me. And if I want to penetrate beyond my mind and see what is there, it is a mystery. It is unknowable, completely, one hundred percent unknowable.

Individuality is Taking Itself to be Something and by Merely Believing that, all Its Experience Emerges From It

So we are pointing to certain things that we think are facts, and I’m saying that they are assumptions. You don’t need to believe they are assumptions. Just single out the facts and look at them. Scrutinize them. Try to understand them. And remember that boundaries are not dissolved by trying to do anything about them. The moment you try to do anything, you are believing you are a separate individual who has his or her own volition, and that strengthens the boundaries. If you are aware of the boundaries, just aware of them—you will also be aware of the individuality that is created by the boundaries. You will be aware of the problems, conflicts, and suffering of that individuality that thinks of itself as a person with boundaries. If you see that it is what you have taken yourself to be throughout your life, it is possible that within that simple awareness, there can arise compassion for the suffering that is caused by those beliefs. Just look at the suffering of that person, the pain of that person. When you see the assumptions of that individuality and all the things those assumptions have caused it to go through, there can arise a compassion; there can arise a love. You may see that this individuality has no bad intentions. It is just ignorant; it doesn’t know. It is taking itself to be something and by merely believing that, all its experience emerges from it. It is jailing itself, creating its own prison, and it doesn’t know what to do about it. And just by wanting to do something about it, it strengthens the walls of its own cage.

Many Assumptions Inherent in the Conventional World View Must be Seen Through

A person who engages in spiritual inquiry does not at the beginning expect to have her perception of herself and the world entirely and radically changed. However, in the transformation from one’s normal identity, which might involve some experiences of essential realities, to recognizing oneself as the essential nature, many assumptions inherent in the conventional world view must be seen through. One such assumption, for instance, is that a human being is an entity fundamentally separate from other entities, which are also fundamentally separate from each other. Another, related, assumption is that the dimension of solid physical reality is the most—or even the only—fundamentally real existence. Another assumption is that one’s concepts about the world, about other people, and about oneself are actually objective, accurate representations. This category of assumptions constitutes what we are calling phenomenological barriers to self-realization. It is these barriers which are addressed in most traditional spiritual practices, which use methods that are specifically designed to confront them. From the point of view of seeing narcissism as a failure of self-realization, one could say that the mistaken assumption is the very stubborn belief that the concept of the self is who one is.

Seeing that the So-called Law of Cause and Effect Does Not Exist

So Holy Law means that the whole universe changes and transforms as a unity, like one ocean whose surface is in a constant state of change and transformation, continuously rippling as one. It is not that things are changing in unison, but that one completely unified mass is moving without the possibility of any part going its own way or changing, independent of the rest. If one thing were to change separately, the unity of existence would be broken. Clearly, this view is a radical departure from our usual way of perceiving things. It challenges all kinds of assumptions. For example, we see that the so-called law of cause and effect does not exist, since causality means that one thing causes something else to happen. According to Holy Law, there are no isolated objects or events, so to experience one thing as causing another is not accurate. From this perspective, for instance, the experience that you are turning the pages of this book is not what is really happening—there is no separate book with a separate you turning the pages. There is actually a wholeness, a whole movement of reality in which the pages turn. You cannot walk from one place to another, since there is no separate you and there are really no distances to be traversed. The whole picture changes from one instant to the next. What we think of as walking from here to there is more like the changing arrangements of dots on a television screen; at one moment, they’re arranged so that you are here, the next, you are there, and so on. So there are no actual distances crossed. If you really understand the unity of Being, how else could it be? The moment there is separate functioning in any part of the whole, the unity is broken.

Facets of Unity, pg. 258

The Moment You say that “I” Have Been Doing Anything, You are Making Assumptions About an “I”

We’re only exposing things that you think you know. If you’re getting confused, that’s good, because the confusion is there anyway. You have been covering it up by believing that you know. At this moment, you probably don’t know who you are. For a long time you have said out of habit, “I’m sitting or getting up, talking, feeling sad.” But are these statements accurate? If you question these assumptions, you may wonder why you keep saying these things. Why do I keep saying that? Who is saying that? What is this “I”? You see it must be inaccurate. When you look at things this way, you’ll see that you’ve been confused all these years. You may ask, “So what have I been doing all this time?” You may feel you have been wasting your time, but what are you taking yourself to be that’s been wasting your time? The moment you say that “I” have been doing anything, you are making assumptions about an “I.” There’s no need to think about what you’ve done and haven’t done, since what you think “you” have done depends on what you thought you were. The past is completely irrelevant. Completely.

The Work Challenges Our Inaccurate Beliefs and Assumptions About Ourselves and Reality and Exposes Issues of Separation and Individuation

In spiritual work, we can progress for some time without fully confronting our narcissism. This is because, for at least a few years, our development deals with issues that do not challenge the deeper structures of the self, such as those of self-identity or self-entity. Pursuing the open inquiry involved in our work brings up issues and conflicts related to the superego, neurotic or character conflicts, the pain and defenses related to early abuses of different kinds, and character distortions. The work challenges our inaccurate beliefs and assumptions about ourselves and reality, and exposes issues of separation and individuation, dependence and independence, and so on. Understanding these issues and clarifying the ego structures underlying them connects us to Essence. (See Appendix G) This process goes on for some time, with varying degrees of accomplishment, depending on our endowment and history, until the connection to Essence becomes more or less established. Then, at some point in our process, we are bound to arrive at the understanding that our development is incomplete because we are still identified with the surface of the self, rather than with its core. The beauty, depth and fulfillment attendant to the repeated or continuous experience of the presence of Essence activates our desire for a more fundamental integration of Essence, reflecting the guiding pressure of the optimizing force of Being.

To Question Our Assumptions about Reality and Ourselves Allows Us to Encounter Directly the Immense Mystery of the Arising of Our Consciousness and of the World

This way of speaking of our existence is unusual in the modern way of thought. Presence and Being seem to be philosophers’ concepts, concepts perhaps used in the same way that theistic traditions speak of God. What is Being? How can we use this concept to describe a very personal, yet universally available, experience? We do not need to solve the philosophical
conundrums of the ages definitively in order to say what we mean: In simple terms, to experience ourselves as Being is to experience our existence as such, to experience our own presence, our own “suchness” directly. It is the simplest, most obvious, most taken-for-granted perception that we exist. But this existence is usually inferred, mediated through mind, as in Descartes’s “Cogito ergo sum”—“I think, therefore I am.” Existence is background, not foreground, for our ordinary experience. To penetrate into this background, to question our assumptions about reality and ourselves, allows us to encounter directly the immense mystery of the arising of our consciousness and of the world. When viewed from the perspective of the ordinary experience of the self, the direct awareness of oneself as Being is a very mysterious category of experience. However, for the self-realized individual, it is an ordinary, common experience. In time it becomes the everyday experience of simply being ourselves. Being, here, is not a philosophical notion; it is the concrete experience and recognition of ourselves, before any mediation.

We Live Many Basic, Implicit Assumptions and the World of these Assumptions is a World of Suffering

Take, for example, the basic assumption that your mother is actually your mother. Who said that your mother is your mother? I do not mean that someone else is your mother, but the belief that she is your mother, or that you even have a mother, implies deep assumptions about who and what you are. We don’t question these deep assumptions when we think, “My mother didn’t love me, my father didn’t support me.” Who said your mother is your mother and your father is your father? How do you know you are something that can have a father or mother? When you say, “My mother didn’t do this,” “I haven’t surrendered to God,” “I am not successful yet,” you are taking how you usually know yourself to be an Ultimate Truth. We live many basic, implicit assumptions, and the world of these assumptions is a world of suffering. Working to become somewhat free from our history is useful, as is developing the capacity to surrender or to actualize essence. But these very capacities of surrender and actualization will naturally lead us to question much more basic assumptions. As our ordinary identity is affected or even displaced by essential qualities, it will not be so obvious that your mother was your mother or your father was your father, that you are who you think you are or even a person who has an essence or true nature that you need to actualize, that there is a God that demands your surrender. You do not know for certain whether these things are true.

What if I Told You that what a Person Usually Believes Himself to Be is Actually One Millionth of what He Actually Is?

So whenever we have an issue, a conflict, any problem or difficulty, it is good to ask ourselves, “What am I assuming that I know?” “Is there something that I think I know that I really don’t know?” If you are acting in a certain way and you see it leading to negative results, you need to find out what assumptions and beliefs you are acting on. Remember the premise we established that we always do what we think is best—what is the good in the moment—and that the beliefs on which we base our choices are often unconscious. When you see the belief behind your actions, check it out. Is it true? Is your knowledge correct? If you investigate what you believe you know, if you investigate the basis of all your knowledge and all your feelings, you may discover that there is more to you than you ever suspected, parts of you that no one ever told you about. When you discover these aspects of yourself, they will change what you want, what you think is good for you, what you think is the best way to live your life, how you live your life, and even what you believe life is for. What if I told you that what a person usually believes himself to be is actually one millionth of what he actually is? What if what most people take themselves to be is like the dry skin of an onion compared to the onion itself? How can someone who’s taking that dry shell to be the totality of himself live correctly? How can he know what is right and not right for himself? When you know that you are something beyond your body, mind, emotions, sensations, that there is a lot more to you which is deeper than these things, your point of view about life will change. If all your life you’ve looked for somebody to love you, and then find that your nature is love, what will happen to that search? You spent all of your life trying to get love, and then realize that you are love; you are no longer the bee looking for nectar; you are the flower itself. Suddenly your perspective is totally shifted; now there will be something else to do with your life other than searching for love.

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