Tom: So I'm sitting in my practice and some material comes up. And my understanding is that I'm to sit in awareness with that material. How can I get to the bottom of this without doing a bunch of thinking and noodling on this?
Ken: The way you get to the bottom is not doing thinking. And the reason is that most of the time thinking is in service of habituated patterns. The Age of Enlightenment suggested that reason trumped emotion. It's absolutely not true. Emotion determines the framework in which thinking takes place. And so when something comes up in your life, if you think about it, and we're all intelligent people, we find ourselves where we can think of arguments on this side and arguments on that side and arguments on three or four different sides.
And, you know, there are all of these wonderful schemes about, you know, weighting, things like that. I don't know about you, but whenever I try these, I'm always cheating in the weighting. And that's the emotional stuff running. You know what I mean?
So this thinking process is extremely unreliable. To give you an idea of how unreliable it is, World War II, the British Admiralty resisted the use of convoys for a very long time. Because their statisticians assured them that convoys made of large numbers of ships are more subject to attack. And so it would be less effective than single ships trying to sneak across the Atlantic. But the U-boats were so ineffective that they eventually said, "The hell with this," and they started using convoys 'cause that wasn't working. And they found that large numbers of convoys would get through.
When they went back and examined their data and analysis, the statisticians had made the error that the probability of finding a fleet of a hundred ships in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean was for all intents and purposes the same as the probability of finding one. This is the kind of thing that if you just rely on thinking you can get into.
So something comes up, and rather than relying on thinking, what I suggested to you is you go to the body, first. And you become aware of and open to the physical reactions that arise in connection with that issue. Now what happens is that as we do this we start hitting those physical reactions, story number one pops off, story number two goes off. We're just flooded with stories. And the function of those stories is to dissipate attention so that the issue is not actually felt or experienced.
Now what we do in practice then is as soon as we notice we're off in another story, okay, come back. Come back to the body. And as we do this over and over again we'll begin to be able to stay in the experience of the physical reactions which may be various kinds of tension, discomfort, openings. All kinds of things are possible. It can be pleasant, unpleasant. They're aren't any rules.
As we develop the capacity in attention to be present with those bodily sensations, body sensations, we'll then find ourselves beginning to experience the emotional sensations associated with that. And that's similarly challenging, especially if it's a deep issue. And again there will be lots of stories. But they won't quite have the same power 'cause you've already taken a step.
Eventually we're able to be in the body sensations, the emotional sensations, and all of the stories and associations. Now we are in the complete experience. Being in the experience this way we know the stories to be stories, not true. And that is how we get out of the mind killing. And that's essentially what's outlined in Seeing from the Inside, that practice. That is actually how you get out of mind-killing, by coming as deeply as you're capable of into your own experience. Because what mind-killing is doing is shutting you down from the possibility of experiencing what is arising for you.