Questioning the way things are and seeking a better way appears to be the nature of normal human behaviour. We tend to occupy our mental focus with past memories and future aspirations, while forgetting the moment we find ourselves to be in. Fear, dislike, irritation, desire, envy, pride, self-centeredness, self-loathing, hostility, depression, anxiety, distress, discontent and confusion can dominate thought patterning. Any of these thought patterns sound familiar? Why do we think that we merely are what we think?
Who we believe ourselves to be is simply thoughts that we attach to and assume to be our very own character. When we realize that the feeling or thought arising in the mind is one mind-event, while the attitude generated in response is simply another mind-event entirely, we see that habitual tendencies are the mistaken entanglement of these separate mental events. The following states, related to how deeply our mind is entangled with thought, are possible:
Is it truly possible that we choose to entangle thoughts and reactions into habits of behaviour of mind, speech and actions? Can we simply let thoughts and feelings appear and disappear, without entanglement in reaction? Can we be free from all these habitual tendencies of reacting? Is it possible to establish a true sense of ease?
Can we invoke a gentle shift in attitude? Is it possible to be open to the moment as it is rather than as we wish it to be? With sufficient understanding, the journey from discontent to ease can occur in the blink of an eye.
Things are not as they appear to be. Are you ready to ask some potent questions?
Self-Improvement – We may wish to focus on emotional growth, integration, resilience, and psychological freedom. We may wish to experience relative harmony and ease. This gradual self-transformation is often termed self-improvement. This self-transformation is analogous to a Master stone-carver refining a rough stone and uncovering the beautiful image apparently locked within.
Self-Realization – There comes a time that we may feel a strong desire to see through the 'subject-object' and 'self-other' viewpoints that are such entangled characteristics of our experience. We may wish to be open to, realize, and put ourselves in accord with our essential nature. This openness and clarity may be termed self-realization, illumination, enlightement, satori, nirvana, holy union, awakening, nondual-realization or something else.
The interpenetration of self-improvement techniques and self-realization appear to open a framework within that allows us to become freer, wiser, more peaceful, more alive and more compassionate. Life with a 'fresh beginning'. The journey is truly holistic!
Self improvement is a common goal as presented by the foundational forms of religion and philosophy. Once self-refinement is adequately set in motion, the wisdom traditions and religions typically reflect teachings that begin to diverge from solely focusing on self refinement and begin pointing to an inward journey of self realization. It is with this in mind that the upcoming book and practice pointers may prove most helpful.