From: Warrior's Solution 8
Note: See related material in Making Things Happen
There are several steps here. I don't have them nicely formulated, so we'll just go through them.
The first step is to be clear about what you want.
Many years ago, I was staying with a couple of friends, husband and wife, who'd been practitioners for some time. And the wife wanted to ask me about how to work at ngondro. She'd tried the practices and just hadn't been able to complete them. And so I asked, "Why are you doing ngondro?" (Ngondro is a set of practices in the Tibetan tradition, for those of you who are not familiar with it.) And she answered and we had this discussion. And what it came down to was that she was trying to do ngondro out of a sense of obligation to a certain teacher. So I started to question her about her sense of obligation. And what it boiled down to was that she wanted to feel a closer connection with this teacher. So she didn't really want to do ngondro at all. She just wanted a closer connection with this teacher. And that kind of thing is very, very common.
We aren't in touch with what we really want. We want this because somewhere else in us we think it will bring about this. And that's what we really want. And you can't possibly manifest something that's out here if this is what you really want. Because your effort will be striving to manifest this, but it won't be based in what is actually the case in you. So it won't go anywhere.
So the first step is to be clear about what you really want.
Now, one tool is a technique called the five whys.
"Why do I want this? Because I want..." And you're going to go down to the next level. You do this five times, you'll probably get down to the core. This is not an easy exercise. And it's going to bring you, usually, into some fairly uncomfortable feelings. But you will become clear about what you want.
Second, is to check whether this want generates balance or imbalance. And part of this is, "Is this realistic from where things are now?"
I want a million dollars tomorrow. Quite unbalanced, quite unrealistic. Okay, I want a million dollars. Well, there are ways to do that. Not all of them are legal. But when I start considering that, a sense of balance or imbalance, that's important.
The next is making use of a magical technique, not for the purpose of magic, but it's a technique that's often used in magic. And that is: get a symbol of what you want. Something relatively small and durable that you can carry around with you, in your pocket or your clothes or what have you. And every time you touch it or look at it, you move into your intention. So, it's basically a way of reminding and strengthening your intention.
In my executive coaching work, most the people I work with are quite resistant to a meditation practice, but I try to give them enough information about the possibility of presence that they get some idea of how helpful it is. And then I ask them to get an object which reminds them of their intention to be present. Usually, I suggest a pen, a very brightly colored pen. So whenever they see it, it goes, boom! It works remarkably well! There they are in a meeting, somebody says something, they pick up their pen, and they remember. That's the way the object works.
Then explore possibilities. How does what you want actually come about? You are going to have to learn something here about how the world works or about how that particular world works. If you are going to buy a house, you have to understand how the real estate market works, and it works differently in different locations. If you want a particular kind of job, you've got to learn what kind of industries, what kind of companies, have that kind of job available. Or need that kind of work. What kind of people? So you explore the possibilities. This can be quite interesting, quite fun. And you end up with a list of possible ways that this could come about. You have the opportunity to be quite creative. One person wanted a particular kind of job, so he talked with some senior executives in General Motors, they said, "We don't have anything like that." But he kept talking to them. And he persuaded them that they actually needed someone to do exactly this job in their company. So they hired him. So he created his own job. That's a possible way. So you explore and develop possibilities. Get a good list. Six or seven is not too many. Some of them will be a bit far-fetched, some of them will be adventurous, some of them will be very traditional or conventional. Then look over the list. And pick three or four that interest you. More than that is often too much. It divides your energy. Pick three or four. More than that, you can’t keep track. You can’t really put your energy into them.
Watch the signs; that’s the next step. And the principle sign here is balance versus imbalance. Sign is balance versus imbalance. You remember when I talked about balance originally, the sign of balance is that doors open. The sign of imbalance is that things become progressively more difficult. So as you pursue possibility, you see what happens.
In 1970, I was journeying overland to India with Ingrid, my wife at that time. And we had no clear direction. We arrived in Tehran, I came down with hepatitis, we got stuck there for a long time waiting for the insurance money to come, and we asked ourselves, “What the hell are we doing?” And then we decided -- we’ll go to India and learn how to meditate. We were staying at a campsite outside of Tehran, and all kinds of people came through that. Some going east and some going west. This was before the Shah fell, so the overland route was quite well-traveled. And so we started talking to people. And from one of these we learned about some kind of mission outside of Delhi which was a good place to stay. So when I was healed and we set off, and we got to Delhi, got to this mission, it turned out to be a Buddhist mission. We weren’t even aware about that when we left. It was very cheap. It was safe. It was fine. And there, there were a lot of people, westerners, interested in Buddhism, coming and going. We’d started to read a little about Buddhism, picked up some books in Tehran. And there was a monk there, and we asked him if he would give us instruction, and he said, “No, I’ve got to do traveling, and it’s important to keep progress steady, and I’m not going to be around consistently enough, so no, I’m not going to take you on as students.” Then we met another person, who was a Dutch woman who was a nun with Kongtrul Rinpoche, and we said, “Where do we go?” And she said, “Oh, why don’t you go and see Kalu Rinpoche. Well, you go to Darjeeling, but you’ll need a permit in Darjeeling, you are Canadians, right? You can get the six month permit. You go here in Calcutta.” So we went. Got the permit. Got to Darjeeling. Doors just kept opening all of the way.
Now there are other areas of my life where I tried to move something, and it’s just been block, block, block, block. So you pay attention to the signs. Yes?
You move into things, but the key is, do you get moved out of balance? And if all of your reactivity gets stirred up so that when you get moved out of balance, then everything else is going to move further out of balance. But if your intention is clear, then even though you encounter difficulties. What I left out of this is that in Herat, Ingrid contracted appendicitis. And she had to have her appendix out in Herat. Have any of you been to Herat? It is not the place you really want to have your appendix out. But she healed fine. And all of the difficulties, you stay in balance, so you make a balanced effort. That is most likely to lead to the dissolution of them.
Obstacles arise, but the essential point is balance. Can you maintain a balanced effort? Because it is only through being in balance that balanced results can come about.
Student: What does that effort consist of?
Ken: What does that effort consist of? Exactly. Not trying to avoid it, not actually trying to get through it. Just experience it. Because trying to get through it sets up an imbalance.
Ken: Well, it doesn’t necessarily shift right away. The big thing is can you stay in balance. If you are being pushed more and more out of balance in the effort to get what you want, or to make what you want happen, that’s the problematic sign. Some people work for years to bring something about. But they are never moved out of balance.
There was an article--I think it was in the New Yorker--about this guy who worked on the LA river. Did anybody read that? Yeah. I mean, this is nobody. He’s just this guy who wanted to, who had this idea about the LA river. And he just worked at it for the last twenty or thirty years, and it’s now becoming a political issue in LA, that they are going to possibly dismantle all of the concrete which encloses the river. All kinds of--
Ken: Intention more than temperament. Okay? Now,I need to read my notes here. Yes, the signs of imbalance. What are you ignoring, what do you avoid feeling, seeing, or knowing? Now, key to this is that manifestation is a process. You may discover as you work to make one thing manifest that it is not what you actually wanted at all. And now you start moving in a different direction. So it is not like simple cause and effect, "I do this; this comes about." You start moving in a certain direction, and something will come out of that. But it may not be exactly correspond to where you initially started. But if you make this movement in awareness, in attention, it usually moves things in a good direction.
I had the same thing after I came to LA at Rinpoche’s behest. Well, I meant to start a center or revive the center ,which was pretty well in ashes. And I did that for a couple of years, and really didn’t enjoy it. And then Rinpoche asked a number of senior students to come over to initiate a major translation project. So I left LA for three months and naturally closed down the center because there wasn’t going to be any income at that point. No point in paying rent, etc. And while I was over there, in India, I spent a long time doing just this, "What do I want?" Clarifying it, going through it again and again. We were in Bodhgaya, so I could spend time going around the Mahabodhi Temple there, where Buddha achieved enlightenment walking through the fields, and so forth. It was very nice. I spent a great deal of time reflecting, What do I want to do when I get back to LA? And little by little it became clear. I want to work with students in a way in which I'm getting regular feedback from them about their practice so that I can guide them, so they don’t get stuck in particular points. That was the main thing I was aiming it. So I thought, "Okay, what does this look like? Okay, I need to meet with them on a regular basis. And what models do we have for this? We already have the consultant model; we have the therapy model," and so forth. And that’s what gave rise to working with people individually. And once I made that decision, it was amazing what happened. I came back to LA met with the old group of students, told them what I was doing, they all disappeared, they just left. That was that. What they wanted was something else. And then people just started calling. I don’t know how they knew about me or anything like that. But Unfettered Mind is the result of that.
So you become very, very clear about what you want. And if you bring your attention to it in a balanced way, and you stay in balance in the process...I mean, this business about setting intention, when you really set intention--and this is the point of the symbol--it changes how you see things. So when I say here “doors open,” it’s a little bit more than that actually. Because of your intention, you see things a little differently. And whether it is on a conscious level or on an intuitive level, you sense possibilities and you start pursuing them. Naturally. And they start opening up. But it all comes from being clearly grounded in your attention and staying, as much as you are able to, in awareness in the process. Tenacity helps. Okay.
Note: See related material in Making Things Happen