This rambling exposition contains a bracing dash of protocol I gleaned from Diane Musho Hamilton, a way of Voice Dialogue – working with inner parts – I like a lot. Persevere and you shall find it below. The rambling part I left in so I don’t forget that a lot of meditation for me often involves rambling around wondering where I am and that that might be just how it is.
It seems to help to just be curious about what’s there, best as I can. Every time I try and forge ahead I have unconscious rebellion. Maybe it’s a part of me remembering that, as “they” say, the truth is already present and won’t be forged.
Realization is inversely proportionate to the Time and Energy spent trying to accomplish it. R=1/TxE. Or Realization is a Gift, the gift of our own nature, and our attempts to receive it take away from our noticing that it’s a gift. Instead of reaching for it we could be just be expressing Gratitude. R=G=1/TxE.
To try and realize it is to start off imagining that it’s not there. And you can’t get there from there! You’re in a closed loop!
So to work with all this is to not presuppose a goal that we’re working toward. This isn’t easy or rather, this itself requires considerable awareness. It’s not “hard,” it’s just that it doesn’t occur to us. I’m only cognizant of this sometimes myself in a complicated temporal algorithm. But when I do notice it, it’s not hard. In fact it’s deliciously easy.
But how to not presuppose a goal? One way to language this is this (of course there are many others): It’s by curiosity about what the Authentic Voice wants at any particular time. For Authentic Voice substitute God or Higher Power or Truth or whatever you like. That curiosity is a an act of humility because it doesn’t come in demanding that “God” to give us something. Nor does it assume that we know what the gift of the moment is. And so for that moment we’re not in the way. We’re not caught up with our grand scheme of “inner world domination” like a little fuehrer. In the world of the gift you see that there’s nowhere that doesn’t have the gift and in fact that everyone is equally gifted. There’s no non-realization. That’s why we can’t realize it. We can only step down from our vain attempt to control and possess it.
But how do we get curious? (I’m curious about that too!) Don’t think I have the answer.
By practicing curiosity! It means that at each stage when we could “know” what to do and how to proceed we are curious instead if that’s really what wants to happen here.
I’ll share some of my examples but it’s 100% certain that my example will not correspond to your life. The inner life is way more specific than fingerprints, which only number the whorls on your fingertips. And what comes up for me at one moment is different from what comes up at another moment.
There’s no map and no app. Truth is a pathless land as J. Krishnamurti famously said.
One little structure I like to work with I learned from Diane Musho Hamilton. It’s a protocol for working with “inner parts.” Inner parts is the notion that we have parts or sub-personalities we can interact myself. Inner parts may be imaginary but that doesn’t make them less useful to work with. Inner parts are tremendously valuable to work with because they show us that there are multiple perspectives. And we so often get stuck on the limited perspective we have. That’s precisely our problem. Inner parts are a contribution from modern psychology and the integration of it and Buddhist philosophy has given rise to the notion of Big Mind. Big Mind means that every mental state and position, right up to non-dual awareness and enlightenment are already present and available. Why would they be hiding?
I work with parts a lot myself but to figure out which “part” I want to spend some time with, and how much time to spend comes up in the moment. I am curious about which part wants to speak. The more curious I am about it the more “truth” it has to say.
So what I do might be something like this: I wonder if I want to work with parts and then which part arouses my curiosity. Sometimes I imagine a neutral dial perfectly free to move this way or that. Where will it land? What will come up on the Wheel of Fortune? And I check to see if there’s a “voice,” a sense of something that I don’t know yet that’s fresh in the moment. I do that by sensing into my body. What’s there! Sometimes I ask, What am I representing now on behalf of the whole, but that may not be a languaging that works for others.
How to work with that voice? Here’s the way I typically do it. But notice, I do it “a way.” I’m not, at least not now, curious about that too. Curiosity is a muscle, a skill. We don’t do it all the time or we’d never be able to drive a car, or walk. Curiosity is an awareness skill but it’s not an absolute. We can be curious about when to use it too!
As I learned it by listening to integral teacher and Zen Master Diane Musho Hamilton, there’s a simple three-fold protocol for working with parts that seems to work for me. The parts repeat as many times as there are parts you want to work with.
First you have to choose what part to work with. That can be either a part that seems to be “up” or one you just choose because you’re curious about it. Some of the regulars in my menagerie include Unique Voice, the Angry One, the Resentful One, the Evolutionary Current, the Manager. They don’t have to have names. I just did that now.
Here’s the three part protocol once you’ve identified a part to work with.
1) First, ask the part if it’s OK to speak with it and notice if your inner sense is Yes. (If you’re not certain spend a little more time with this.) This is a way of being polite and helpful and it seems to create space for more. If you do get a Yes (I virtually always do but I ask anyway because respect and curiosity is important here too).
2) Then secondly ask “Who am I speaking to now?” and speak as the part. It might say, for example, “I’m mad because you never pay attention to me. You often say you will and then you don’t. I’m seriously angry.” Or it might say, “I’m Unique Voice and I know something that no one else does, that is really mine and that is me.” Quite often, a more negative voice is on top, is first, in which case you’d continue working with it.
3) And thirdly, “What do you do for Andrew?” Or “What is your role?” A response might be, “I don’t let him forget that what he most cares about can’t be forgotten. I keep him on track with what’s really important and true. I bring him a sense of identity with his inner nature.” The “answers” may be the same as ones I’m familiar with but I’m not looking for a verbal answer. I’m looking for a knowing, a sense of truth, something that was not present to me.
A very useful character to have around is an inner part called the “Aware Ego.” I ask the three questions above with him, or her, too. The Aware Ego can step back and take a wide view, can negotiate between two parts. so that they can each know their place a little better.
That’s it. If something comes with energy and beauty, a feeling of depth, rest in that.
All this is a practice you work with over time!
If you’re curious about this, check out Voice Dialogue resources online or contact me and I’ll guide you through a session.