Monday, July 26, 2010

The Two-Sentence Rule

The quote today, July 26, in Transform Your Life, “I respectfully decline the invitation to join your hallucination,” by Scott Adams reminds me of a very helpful “encouragement” we have in our practice: Don’t participate in any internal conversation more than two sentences long. Another, similar, guideline is: Spiritual practice does not begin until the beatings stop. Together these constitute a powerful set of reminders for who we are and how life works.

There are several basic understandings that are extremely supportive of a spiritual aspirant working to escape the “convincing’ arguments egocentric karmic conditioning puts forth for keeping one’s attention on “something wrong and not enough.” The first thing we need to get—as an intellectual understanding that moves as quickly as possible to the level of intuition and onto clarity—is that life is not dualistic. The conditioned human mind is dualistic; life is not. Life contains the human being with the ability to experience life as dualistic, but that’s not the same thing as life is dualistic.

How can we picture this? Imagine that life is a giant empty “container” the size of infinity. Now, of course, the difficulty in that endeavor is that conditioned mind, with its dualistic perspective, draws a line around the edge of infinity and wants to know what’s on the other side of that line. (It doesn’t actually want to know anything, but that’s the kind of remark that can derail a line of exploration such as this; conditioned mind will always consider it worth a try.) So, let’s put that aside and imagine our infinity has no edges, there is nothing beyond it, it is not contained in anything else—it is all there is.

“Inside” that infinity is everything that has existed, does exist, and will ever exist throughout time and space for eternity. There is nothing outside That and that That is This. Let’s say we call This the Ground of Being or Brahman or True Nature or God. Can we then see that there is no other or opposite or “separate”? There is only One and That is all that is.

It can feel when viewed through a conditioned mind by the illusion of a self that is separate, that we are having this discussion outside That. But of course we’re not because that’s not possible. There is no “outside”!

So, that’s very helpful to practice with, to move along from intellectual understanding to intuition or insight to clarity. There is nothing wrong. There are no mistakes. There is no “them.” There are no good people and bad people, no right/wrong, no past or future. This is it and it is us and we are it.

To help us get to clarity about that fact, we can practice the “two sentence rule.” Egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate keeps the illusion of duality alive in a conversation about what’s wrong, loss, lack, deprivation, fear, urgency, the past, the future, using judgment and comparison as its tools. Its method is conversation, a conversation in the head of a human who is vulnerable to being caught in a dualistic belief system. Without that conversation the illusion of a dualistic reality cannot be maintained. Why? It cannot be maintained because there is no illusion of a separate self creating and sustaining that imaginary reality.

The Practice: Conditioned mind starts a conversation that will quickly build to the “something wrong/not enough” perspective it must create and maintain in order to support the illusion that it is real. We, practicing attending to waking up and ending suffering, listen just long enough to get a sense of which story is being spun with an intention of drawing us into unconscious collusion. We recognize the ploy and turn our attention to Here/Now/This, the breath, the space between the thoughts, returning to an experience—even if fleeting—of the infinite container in which all arises.

Within that breath, that letting go everything as This, to be This, it is quite easy to respectfully decline all invitations to join in any hallucination the illusion of separation might currently have on offer.



  1. What you focus on EXPANDS...

    Breath by breath,
    we reach a fork in the road.

    Do we follow breath leading to
    the Infinite Eternal,
    arising and dissolving like ocean waves?

    Do we treat ourselves badly? Focusing
    on projected shortcomings and mistakes?

    The Gap is the more rewarding path,
    delighting, enlivening, heartening.

    Gratitude to be reminded,
    breath by breath,
    that we can deeply train our self
    and be That Which Animates the Everything.

    In Gassho

  2. Thanks. I was just thinking of something like this. I like the two-sentence rule.