Our karmic patterns of body, energy, and mind possess us and are desperate to survive. Like incompetent attorneys, they make us complicit in their dull and dogged cases to justify their existence. Shambhavi talks about how to break karmic patterns and get rid of our inner Realm Attorneys. A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi
So I wanted to talk a little bit about the ways that we defend ourselves. Or the ways that our realm fixations defend themselves.
So this talk has a little title. It's Attorney at Realm, Inc. [laughter]
Esquire, yeah. [laughter]
We have various patterns of karma. And we can just call them karma. We can call them fixations. We can call them compulsions. We can also refer to them as– through the teaching of the six realms.
We can describe them in many different ways. But basically they are threads of karma or segments of personalities that just repeat themselves compulsively.
So they're patterns of body, energy, and mind that act like independent little pieces of personalities within us. And so for that reason they're almost like possession. They just keep doing their thing.
And when we try to change them, they fight back. That's kind of what makes them possession. Or, partial possession. Right? [laughs]
We inherit them from who knows where. We're born with a lot of them. It's not like we're born a blank slate. We already have many, many of these karmas that are operating when we're born.
And then we start to identify with these patterns as our personality. Oh, I'm just an angry person. Or, oh I'm just a this person. I'm just a that person. Or, no one ever loves me. Or, you know, whatever we think.
Then we think that's who we are.
So not only do these things inhabit us as patterns, or repeating pieces of personality. But then we also start to take ownership of them.
And certainly the process of waking up is a process of relinquishing our ownership. Relinquishing our identification with those patterns.
That is the first step. We have to dis-identify from those patterns.
We have to start to feel like those patterns are not worth defending. That they're not actually who we are. That they're just, like, as I like to say, trains going through a train station.
And our job is to get them out of the train station as quickly as possible. [laughs]
However, before we have that experience of dis-identification, we're still in the process of participating and defending our patterns.
We defend them by saying that they are righteous, by saying that they're inevitable, by saying that there's nothing we can do about it. We have many, many different ways of defending those patterns.
So whether we're sad, or mean, or competitive, or whatever we are. Or whatever THEY are, we should say, those patterns. Before we get to that point of starting to feel estranged from them. Before we start moving toward our breakup with those patterns.
We will defend them, and they will fight to survive.
And each realm, or each kind of fixation, or each flavor of fixation, has a different set of cases that it will build for itself.
So Attorney at Realm, Inc. is YOU when you're building a case as to why it is absolutely normal, natural, right, justified, righteous, even heroic, to hold on to your pattern of body, energy, and mind that's very limited, and that's actually the cause of your suffering.
And of course, when we're not only still identified with those patterns, but very much attached to them. Because we don't know who we are without them, and also because it's pleasurable on some level to exercise those patterns...
We will not even listen when someone like a teacher or a friend tries to tell us, oh, THAT IS your pattern. This is not anything to do with how things actually are.
And we will fight tooth and nail. That is a symptom of very deep attachment to a pattern. When we really put up a fight.
Attorney at Realm will pretty much say and do anything to hold on to the pattern. You're basically the mouthpiece for the pattern. The pattern is paying you in a feeling of pleasure. The pattern is paying you in a feeling of meaningfulness and importance.
Because whether you are mad at other people, or whether you're mad at yourself. Whether you think ill of other people, or you think ill of yourself, or the whole world.
You are gaining some feeling of self importance through that. Some feeling of meaningfulness, some feeling of even superiority.
Even if just, like, I'm suffering better than everybody else. [laughs] Nobody else is like me. I have this terribly unique form of suffering. It's the first time it's ever occurred in human history, and I ain't giving it up. [laughs]
So there's some of that. But there's also, just, underneath that, a terrible fear that we really aren't anybody without those patterns.
Or just a fear of our own unknowing, our own not knowing what we are without those patterns. A fear that our lives are not important, that they aren't filled with meaningful things.
And in our culture in particular, we mistake emotional overdrive with meaningfulness. Emotional intensity. We mistake having problems and issues with meaningfulness. I mean, all the time.
So if we give all that stuff up, we think our lives will be empty and have no meaning.
And we won't know who we are. And we won't be important. And we won't have anything to prove ourselves to other people with. And, you know, we'd just be lost.
While we're still stuck in all that, we have cases that we build. And what happens is that we become very stupid.
Because these cases are like someone who is out of touch with natural intelligence trying to defend something that is actually just a brute force repetition of an emotional pattern.
So there's not really any way that these cases that get built actually have any intelligence. Particularly from the outside perspective. They're really nonsensical.
I had a friend, I mentioned her once or twice, in San Francisco, who was very angry at everything. And her story about why she was always that angry was because the world was so terrible.
Everything in the world was so terrible. That's why SHE treated people badly and was angry all the time.
And she would just repeat this story over and over again. And if you tried to interrupt the story, she would get very angry at you. Because that was the whole point. She wanted to feel anger. You know?
Anger is lively. Anger makes you feel important in some way. Superior, right? It's an experience of vitality. So she just wanted to keep reenacting that.
But the things that she said about it were really quite dumb.
So all of the cases of Attorney at Realm have this quality of this sort of dogged, stubborn, dull... Like a not-very-well-trained attorney. [laughter] One who ignores all the actual evidence. [laughter] Maybe like Giuliani. [laughter]
Nonsensical from the outside. [laughter]
It's very biased!
Mhmm. It's very biased, because the point of it all is to simply survive in any way you possibly can.
So understand that if you're doing that for more than a second... We all have fixations, including me. And we all have those moments when our attachment to them is present.
But the practice is to notice that. And pull yourself out of it. However you can.
Sometimes that's just as simple as doing a little bit of practice, or thinking of Ma. Or sometimes it's much more nitty gritty than that.
But as you go along, you have to basically deny yourself the pleasure of being right, being justified in whatever it is that you're feeling. Whether it's sadness or anger or whatever it is.
There's nothing wrong with anger and sadness. I'm talking about that repetitive, chronic kind of emotional pattern of behavior.
It's the same thing if we're not treating other people well. Or we're not being kind or considerate of other people. You know, we're expressing something when we do that.
When we forget about other people, we're expressing something.
We're either expressing our own self-concern, you know, because we're just so anxious about ourselves that we actually CAN'T think of other people.
Or we're expressing anger toward other people. We're trying to make other people feel badly by conveniently forgetting about their welfare. Right?
In those moments, especially when your fixations, your attorney is attacking others, you really need to try to remember your practice. That is the practice, right? The practice is to remember your practice.
And if you're not remembering it, then you're not in the practice.
You know, in those moments when you just insist on your particular dogged, dull way of relating to things. To get– just keep going back to the same place, to get the same pleasure, the same reinforcement.
In those moments, YOU are NOT a practitioner.
You are not BEING a practitioner. You're simply just being, you know, an unconscious person being driven by compulsive patterns. That's what you're being.
And it's not like we can avoid that all the time. But I just want to say that there's never a moment when exercising those patterns is the right thing to do, as a practitioner. Never.
Sometimes we just do anyway. But I'm saying that [laughs] you know, we're human, and none of us are enlightened. But it's NEVER justified. There is not a single argument for it that would– that stands up against the open-heartedness of the natural state.
Not a single argument. There's no reason. There's no circumstance.
You can call in: Judge! But THIS happened! This is what made me so angry! See this cop? I was just pulling out of the parking space when he gave me a ticket!
You know? There's NO circumstance. Not war, not famine, not rape, not anything, not somebody else was mean to you.
There's NO circumstance that justifies, in any kind of absolute way, not being in your heart, not being in your practice. In fact, the times that are hardest...
When you get further along in the practice, you realize that the harder circumstances are the best times to practice. And in fact, sometimes you welcome hard circumstances because they give you that opportunity to wake up faster.
They give you that challenge. Can I stay in my heart when circumstances suck? Right?
When people are being mean to me. When I'm sick. When I don't have enough money. When something really rough is happening. Can I still stay in my heart now?
So in some sense, I found, anyway, personally, that even though it's not pleasant [laughs] to be in hard circumstances, in a sense they're a gift.
Because a lot of times, here, in this country, if you're a person of a certain ilk, your life is just too cushy. Right? We're very cushioned here, some of us, and certainly I have been.
So when things get hard, it's a good opportunity.
But if we insist on having a relationship to circumstance, that we use circumstance to justify our case, or to help us build our case, as to why we should just stay the way we are. And not be in our practice, and not open our hearts, you know.
Then we're, A) not being practitioners, and B) missing opportunity.
So this actually IS the practice. The practice is resting in the natural state. That is the WHOLE practice.
And everything that we do, all these other things, is so that we can learn how to do that.
Integrated practice means doing that in every circumstance. Direct realization practice isn't really about ritual, and zillions of mantras, and sitting for zillions of hours doing things.
I mean, we do that stuff. Until we realize that it's not really necessary to do that stuff.
If we have the adhikara: the capacity, the natural capacity. And the bhumikara: the oomph, the determination. To recognize that natural state and remain in that, remain immersed in that in every circumstance. Not getting distracted and pulled away.
If we could do that, then all seated practice, all ritual, everything that we do would become a grace note. You know, we could do it for fun, but it wouldn't be necessary.
Because in every moment we would be making that effort to rest in the natural state. And that is actually the practice.
You may be doing a billion mantras. And you may be doing all this ritual. And you may be meditating for hours on end, or whatever you're doing.
But if you are not integrating. If you're not attempting to be in your practice in an integrated sense, in circumstance. You're not being a direct realization practitioner.
Integration isn't an afterthought. It is actually the main practice.
That's why we have all this stuff that we have. That's why we spend so much time together. It's why we have "cruocracy." It's why this community has taken the shape that it has taken.
Because we integrate. We have to have a field of activity to integrate with. To practice integrating.
That's why I encourage people to live together. Because then we can integrate with people, integrate in circumstances with people who understand what we're trying to do.
There's zero compartmentalization. Ideally. [laughs] Because the point is we live in the world.
Jivanmukti: liberated in life. Not liberated in our bedroom. You know, or our practice room. [laughs]
Liberated by morning, asshole by afternoon. [laughter] I mean, that is not, that is not the practice! [laughter]
But make no mistake, the essence of the practice is integration.
An Attorney at Realm represents compartmentalization, lack of integration, lack of recognition.
I'm gonna stop there. I'm sure you're all glad I'm going to stop there. [laughter]
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