People who speak without thinking are my heroes. People who let it all hang out are my friends. And I’ve noticed something weird about this…
By Chris Morris
Most of us seem to have a version of the same fear: that simply being in the moment and expressing our absolute aliveness, unfiltered, would be a form of vanity or even madness.
Instead, since these days we tend to identify mostly with the human aspect of our human-being nature, it starts to seem normal to keep checking ourselves, editing our expression, and living only within the limits of what we think a human is (and what a human is for). Going beyond these limits can seem so abnormal, so beyond the pale, we don’t even notice or consider the possibilities.
What if you’d been the first one here? What if nobody had guided you on who or how or what to be? Would you have walked on two legs? Would you have given yourself a name? Would you have liked yourself? How can you know?
The more we think an understanding is true, the more it feels true; the more it feels true, the more we think that proves it is true. Whole communities, whole societies, can get swept up in the game of ‘my truth feels truer than yours’. Humans even go to war because their images of divinity take a different form.We may understand intellectually that human-beings are simultaneously human and beings: beings shaped into human form by biology and culture. But as biology has evolved, and particularly as culture has become more pervasive, most of us have come to identify so closely with what we think a human is (our biological/cultural imprint) that being is now experienced through the human mind as a kind of ethereal concept to try and grasp, if we’re into that sort of thing, and if we have time.
As a boy, I learnt to identify almost exclusively with the mind that’s felt in the body. Since I swam in culture that told me that’s what I was and all I could be, it soon became almost impossible to live beyond what seemed obviously, blatantly and viscerally true. Only by stopping the background meditation I didn’t know I was doing could I break the spell. I had to wake up without knowing I’d been asleep.
I find this kind of talk can be easy to nod along to and tremendously difficult to realise. For me at least, the difficulty has arisen persistently whenever my mind has tried to understand. Every few months, (sometimes every few hours), my mind generates elaborate new concepts about what it means to be alive. This has been useful in some ways. Incorporating broader images of human potential into my individual self-concept has been great for becoming a rounder human, for example – more effective, more powerful and much happier. Yet the mind’s fundamental misunderstanding is always the same: since a mind cannot know what’s before the mind, and can only conceptualise no-thing into some-thing, it is in a sense always assuming a whole human mind is the same as a whole human being.
I think this is why it’s become common to treat psychology and spirituality as one and the same. Living in a flow of culture that’s convinced us we are only human, now the same culture tries to explain our ancestors’ greater experiences – but now solely from within the modern human mindscape. This usually channels more attention to the mind, and many of us start acting out a very strange delusion: dreaming about waking up.
I was cursed in this respect by several well-meaning teachers. As beautifully poetic as their words sounded at the time, my experience of following the words drew my attention deeper into conceptual illusions. I started to feel clearer while actually becoming less clear than I’d ever been.
The more my mind conceptualised what it meant to be, the more I felt that thinking reflected in my body. Sometimes it felt amazingly powerful, especially when I was following the dot-the-dot patterns of a teacher who seemed to fit my mind’s model of what ‘smart’, ‘free’ or ‘enlightened’ would look like. We know thinking can be powerfully felt in the body’s spinning pulses and rhythms – so if we think a thought is true, it will feel like truth. (And if it feels like truth, why wouldn’t we believe it?)
Framing psychological concepts within spiritual imagery can create sweet experiences and our bodies can feel wonderfully nurtured by sitting in these experiences. By seeing the conceptual wholeness before the conceptual separation, many of us feel whole. By experiencing reflections of new thinking about awareness, we can feel more aware – or even feel like we are pure awareness. And wow, who wouldn’t pay for these experiences? Except they’re really just circus tricks; persuasive speakers can convince you to feel wonderful because you’re sitting quietly, just as stage hypnotists can convince you to cluck because you’re a chicken.
This is often the only game going on in modern spiritual cultures. And remember that culture includes the word cult. We’re sold simple, catchy understandings that turn truthfulness into an image of truth. Then we start thinking the image is truth, we feel that thinking, we think the feelings prove the thoughts are true. And typically we go round and round in tighter and tighter circles. (As the hypnotists say, “going deeper”.)
Recursive feedback loops are very powerful in the psychological system. The more we think an understanding is true, the more it feels true; the more it feels true, the more we think that proves it is true. Whole communities, whole societies, can get swept up in the game of ‘my truth feels truer than yours’. Humans even go to war because their images of divinity take a different form.
This is why I’ve made a practice of regularly and mercilessly setting fire to my understandings. It can feel like hell sometimes. I mourn the loss. I cry for days. But I am determined to live beyond images.
There was a period a few years ago where I felt so peaceful. My skin was radiant and my bright eyes were sparkly; the kind of image that looks so spiritual. The more peaceful I felt, the more I thought I was seeing clearly; and the more I thought I was seeing clearly, the more peaceful I felt. My nervous system played along too. My resting heart rate was down to 40bpm. I glowed warmly. And round and round I went, feeling my thinking and thinking my feeling. Yet who was this ‘I’ who was so busy thinking and feeling? Away from this experience, a more fundamental presence couldn’t be denied or explained away. And this presence was more peaceful than peace.
Many years ago I used to take anaesthetics and numb my body before meditating. That way I could experience thoughts in a different form, without feeling the thinking. (One of the many strange ways I’ve explored!)
From my perspective, being is pure knowing-awareness. But just like an eye cannot see itself, and a scale cannot weigh itself, awareness cannot be aware of awareness, and knowing cannot know knowing. This is why we come into form, to know and be aware of being through the mind-body.
And this is why I love spontaneity – expressing every eternal moment through the mind-body, but not as the mind-body. As I write this, I don’t know what my fingers will type. I’m curious as I watch the words appear. When I speak, I usually don’t know what I’ll say. I don’t plan what I’ll paint, I don’t think about where I’ll wander, I don’t have a strategy for great sex. Aliveness flows, and the only job of my mind-body is to block as little as possible.
‘Wouldn’t it be self indulgent to express everything all the time?’, people ask me. But really it’s the opposite.
When we act spontaneously, without checking and filtering ourselves, we stop indulging the self we’ve been pretending to be. We stop identifying as the conditioned personality; the psychological mask. We even stop trying to be human. So we dance to all music, and don’t identify as a particular tune.
This endless flow of aliveness may look wild and even dangerous to a tight mind. Pure aliveness gets swept up in flows and counter-flows, moments and movements. But as unpredictable and undisciplined as it may look from a mind’s perspective, the weird thing I’ve realised is that it’s the wild ones who are most likely to see you and truly love you as you are. Humans relate to humans and need reasons to love. Beings dance with all beings, in love, as love, unreasonably, endlessly.
As they say in Costa Rica, Pura Vida. Pure life.
I see the space in you where the entire universe resides
I see the space in you of love, of light, of truth and of peace
And when you are in that space in you, and I am in that space in me, there is only one of us
You can explore with me 1-2-1 in a personal session – one-off, regular and ‘pay what you can’. I like exploring with curious friends 🙂
“I felt so accepted and safe when talking with Chris; I have never experienced an acceptance like that before. It was actually a great experience just to be present with him. At the end I experienced real peace and saw other people and the world in a different light.”Ben Liebich
“I’d loved the idea of performing stand-up comedy for over twenty years, but there always seemed to be things that held me back. After a few conversations with Chris, I changed the way I look at life and I’ve done several stand-up gigs since then and performed at the Edinburgh Fringe. Other parts of my life are brighter too – I enjoy more confidence, relationships are more fun and I am stepping up for more of the things I want to do in life. It is like I have finally arrived at my own party!”Vince Knight