Why isn’t everyone awakened and able to realize unfiltered reality? Turns out the mind tosses up apparent roadblocks to enlightenment. Here’s how to recognize and overcome them.
Get Dr. Angelo DiLullo’s book on awakening, Awake: It’s Your Turn, here. Check out Angelo’s YouTube channel with excellent pointer videos here. Sign up for Angelo’s email list for future meditation retreats and updates here. And watch ALL of our videos on awakening with my fellow Dr. D here. Full transcript below topics & timecodes.
– [Zubin] Angelo DiLullo, welcome back to the show. Angelo is a physician, and author of “Awake: It’s Your Turn” about awakening, enlightenment, if you’re nasty. Angelo, let’s talk about barriers to awakening, ’cause many of us, myself included, struggle with these perceived blocks. Something is stopping me from experiencing unbound consciousness. Something’s stopping me from experiencing a thoughtless space that you point to in your book. How do I get there? I feel like there’s these obstructions, there’s doubt, there’s all this other stuff, and I know you deal with this all the time, so help us get familiar with these barriers so we can potentially transcend them.
– [Angelo] Sure, so the first thing that came to me as you were saying that was to point out that when you say or believe or feel that something is preventing me from experiencing this, that’s not really true. It’s already being experienced. It is already in your experience, and that’s an important thing to understand, because you’re not gonna find something out there that’s gonna cause you to be awake. You’re not gonna find something out there that’s gonna cause you to be enlightened. It’s going to… .
– [Zubin] Sorry, I was crawling on the ground getting a panel that I forgot to put up for sound as he’s talking about this. And I’m listening in one ear and then I’m like, “Wait the sound,” should we start again?
– [Angelo] Well, when you went down, I wasn’t sure if you’re crawling under the table and coming after me or what was going on there.
– [Zubin] I wonder if we should just keep going.
– [Angelo] Sure, let’s go.
– [Zubin] What do you think?
– [Angelo] Yeah, let’s do it.
– [Zubin] All right .
– [Angelo] What I was saying is that the belief that something is obscuring my view of unbound consciousness or presence, it’s okay that that belief or thought comes, but it’s kind of erroneous. Because nothing is actually obscuring your view. What it is is that the view, the clarity is there, and very quickly the mind, the thought system grabs a hold of it and then turns it into something it’s not. And then it sort of distracts attention. So it’s something like you’re looking at the sun, you’re looking directly at the sun, which I highly recommend that. Five, six minutes, right, can’t hurt you. So as an analogy, say, if you’re looking at the sun and you think, “Well, there’s the sun,” it’s obviously there, and then a cloud goes across the sun and obscures it, but then you get distracted with the cloud and you keep paying attention to the cloud and following it across the sky. Well, suddenly, you’re not really looking at the sun anymore, you’re looking at the cloud. But it doesn’t mean the sun stopped shining. It’s something like that. The, let’s say the ego, is a sort of a magician. Its job is redirection. So it grabs your attention and then it uses whatever thought works on you to get you enticed, and often it’s through fear, doubt, things like that. Once you grab on to that thought, it just says, “Okay, here’s a whole bunch of other thoughts to pay attention to,” and then you’re on the though train. So in truth, nothing is obscuring your view, and you’re not even obscuring your own view, really. It’s just that there’s that extra view being added, and it’s distracting. And that is the constant, incessant thought train that many people, most people spend their entire day in, often without even realizing it. So to summarize, what we’re talking about is always there. Presence is always here. Unfiltered reality is always here. And it’s actually always in your experience. From that standpoint, once you, you may not fully accept that, and I wouldn’t ask anyone to accept that on a belief, I would ask them to investigate, investigative intuitively, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. It may take a while, but at some point it will become clear. So once we recognize that it’s already here, what we’re “looking for” is already here, it’s already in our experience. We don’t have to find anything new, and we don’t actually have to get rid of anything. It’s more of a perceptual shift, or a series of perceptual shifts. So from that standpoint, all that really makes sense to talk about is the barriers. What is the nature of those distractions? What is the nature of those perceptual filters that are distracting us ongoing? And it’s actually an activity. It’s not a simple thing like the cloud covering the sun, we actually have to distract ourself ongoing and add energy and struggle to the system of distraction to keep ourself distracted enough. Because unfiltered reality is screaming right in your face. It’s so obvious. It’s literally like we’re hiding everything from ourself. We’re hiding everything we want from ourself. So what this process becomes about or this communication becomes about is actually investigating the nature of the filters that are making it seem as if it’s not already the case, that unfiltered reality’s not already the case. What are the perceptual filters in place that are making it seem as if everything is divided up, that there’s boundaries, that there is solidity, that there is predictability instead of recognizing the unfiltered nature of reality itself? And so there’s a series, or there are a series of barriers that I would say are common to this process that I see among almost everyone who goes through this. The first one is one we talked about in a previous video, and it is that many people, maybe most people, maybe the majority of people, still don’t really have an inkling or a sense that awakening is possible. Now, just because they don’t have a sense of it doesn’t mean it’s not possible for them, but the fact that they’re not really aware of it, or they haven’t somehow been pointed to look into that part of their experience where they get a glimpse of something very real and a knowing of, oh, that’s what you’re talking about. Yeah, that’s always been here, I just never knew to pay attention to it. And the possibility of an opening, the possibility of actually living with a much deeper sense of presence, spontaneity, intimacy becomes obvious to you. Once that happens, you’re past the first barrier. The first barrier is just, it’s just hidden in plain sight. The first barrier is 99% of everything everyone talks about all the time is almost pointing away from this. It’s pointing towards a distraction, it’s pointing toward the human narrative and all that, which is fine, and it has its place, but when it comes to what we’re talking about, you have to get that pure taste. You have to get a distinct taste of something more real than real, something beyond the usual ways we experience day-to-day life. And that’s the first barrier, which we discussed yesterday.
– [Zubin] And that could be as simple as sitting out in your backyard and suddenly everything getting very quiet and there just being a sense of pure presence or being or you’re just there.
– [Angelo] It happens all kinds of ways. It happens through meditation. It happens through insight practices, like maybe self inquiry. It can happen completely spontaneously. A very common way is it happens listening to this kind of conversation, videos like this, people who point to this because they’ve realized it or they’ve dropped these perceptual filters and they kind of experience this ongoing. This kind of communication and use of language actually has an effect that can open it. And it happened many times with our last series of interviews, based on people telling me it did. So it can happen in many different ways, but this is a very potent way to bring it about in yourself, if you’re interested in this. You listen to this long enough, read the book, watch other non-duality videos, whatever your taste is, it’ll click at some point. And I think it will for anyone. And you’ll know you’re interested in it because you’re not not interested in it. If you’re listening this long and you haven’t turned this off, you probably have some interest in this at some level. And so what I’m really pointing to is a pure taste, a taste of pure experience. So pure that it’s like you collapse into the experience. Often, people refer back to their own childhood and they remember it. They remember, “Oh, there was a time when I was playing and it was just so pure and so pleasant. And everything was so close and present and simple and enjoyable and innocent,” and they kind of harken back on that, wishing they could bring that into their adult life. Well, this message is saying it already is in your adult life, you’ve just added some layers of adulting, of selfing, of distracting thoughts. That’s all it is. And so we can actually get back to that, get back to right now. And that’s why we use the term present. So this taste, this glimmer can come from anywhere, and often it does come from that sense of remembering the innocence of childhood. And then it’s like, “Oh, that’s not a memory, it’s a feeling, it’s actually kind of here right now, but it’s not as bright as it was when I was a child, I know that.” So then you can start doing some work. But again, once you have that taste, you’re past the first barrier, and probably the most common barrier.
– [Zubin] And when we think about that first barrier, we talked about this in another video, too, I mean, sometimes it can be a psychedelic experience. Sometimes it can be a near-death experience. Sometimes can be a trauma. Sometimes it can be dissociative experience where you are thrust right back into what’s already here and it’s more real than real. And you just know intuitively, oh, oh. And when you talk about it as a barrier, I think for many people, they either have obscured it with all the obstructions that you’re gonna talk about, or there is other deeper resistance to accepting this as a thing. Even sometimes giving yourself permission, to say this is okay to even look for. It’s okay to actually try to reconnect with what you actually are.
– [Angelo] Yeah.
– [Zubin] Have you encountered this resistance quite a bit in people?
– [Angelo] Well, it’s always there to some degree or you’d already be awake, because the truth of it is reality is just as it is. So that’s why I say much of this pointing or teaching may not really be about something you’re doing, but about learning to undo some things. Much more falls along those lines.
– [Zubin] Subtractive process, really, yeah.
– [Angelo] And that’s why I talked about it as far as barriers. There’s not really a barrier to realization, there are just these perceptual filters that we have in place that we’re continuing to build without realizing it. And you’ve touched into something that is dear to my heart, because I put it in the book, and that is most people in Western society, I grew up here in the United States, so that’s my reference point, but I would say the vast majority of people, no one ever pulled you aside as a kid and said, “Hey, going to college is important. Here’s how you have good relationships, have a good work ethic,” or whatever you learned about being an adult. Maybe you learned far less functional things about being adult, but regardless, whatever collection of things you learned about what you can do in life, how many people can say someone pulled them aside and said, “Oh, another thing you can do, you can investigate the deepest truth of reality. You can investigate directly the nature of who or what you are.”
– [Zubin] Nope.
– No, exactly, no one says that, but guess what? That’s what I’m saying. If there’s anything I’m saying, that’s what I’m saying. Not only can you do that, it’s not foo-foo, it’s not goofy, and most importantly, you can actually find an answer. And you’ll be very surprised what that answer is. It’s not a word answer, it’s not a conceptual answer, it’s a living answer. So not only am I saying that you can do that, I’m saying if that’s what you really want to do, if that’s what your heart tells you is the most important thing to you, then I would almost say you kind of have to do it. And I don’t mean you have to do it by listening to me or reading my book, I mean you have to find a way to address that prompting of your heart or else you’ll continue to suffer and it’ll probably get worse because you know you’re kind of fooling yourself. So that’s kind of dropping a lot on somebody, but I really believe that, I see that. Now, if someone’s listening to this and it’s just uninteresting and it makes no sense, that’s not who I’m talking about. I’m talking about someone who goes, “Yeah, I know. I know this is actually where I need to look or where I really have always wanted to look, I just haven’t been given permission.” This is the permission, it’s worth it. You’re gonna go through a lot of stuff as you start digging into this, and that’s fine. Good stuff, bad stuff, painful stuff, amazingly blissful stuff, but all of that isn’t the point. The point is identity, the point is, what are you, who are you, what’s really real? And you have every right in the world to orient toward that with at least part of your will, part of your heart. It doesn’t mean you have to give up on everything else in life, because you don’t. But to make this a priority, you’ll never be disappointed.
– [Zubin] Yeah, and I’ll say, man, I tell you, when you transmit that, there are so many people who feel like I do, where it just hits right to something that they either have been running from, denying, or they’ve actually tried to figure out. I do this, I go to church, I joined this group, I actually went to this particular monastery, I did, whatever it is, but there’s still, it’s not direct enough a pointing. It’s obscured by other belief and other things. And one thing that I think is very important is to understand that both you and I are physicians. You’re practicing full time as an anesthesiologist. So people who think that undergoing this path is gonna cause them to renounce the world in some way and be incompetent at functioning, that is not true at all.
– [Angelo] No.
– [Zubin] It’s more permission to go through that first barrier, that this is possible for you. And it’s actually, if you’re drawn to it, it’s not just possible, it’s almost imperative, unless you wanna suffer.
– [Angelo] Yeah, I mean, that’s how it was for me. The more obvious it was that I could look and that I could continue to look, the more I knew I might as well just get it done, because it became clearer and clearer that I was suffering. I stopped hiding it from myself. I stopped hiding it from myself so much once I had the sense that there was actually a way to find my way through it. So then when you stop lying to yourself more, you start to actually realize actually I was suffering quite a bit. And so the other thing I wanted to point out is, you made a really good point, when somebody starts to orient toward truth, however that happens, often one of two things, they look in one of two ways, and one is through a group. “Oh, I have to find the church.” I’ve had so many people tell me this. “I spent years trying to go to this church, that church, I even tried different religions. I tried all these things, and I never found it. Never found what I was looking for.” And my answer is that’s because you were looking for it in a group or a setting or an environment, not in yourself. You have to look in here, that’s where you have to look. That’s what you have to start, introspection.
– [Zubin] Omicron.
– [Angelo] Excuse me, Omicron’s got me down. So that’s one place that people often look and end up disappointed. Now, I have nothing against churches, religious groups, Buddhist temples. If that’s your thing and that’s what you doing, awesome. But that’s independent of what we’re talking about. You don’t have to quit that to do this, but you also may not find it in that if you put it on your priest, your guru, your teacher, your institution, your sangha, your friends, you can’t put it on anyone else but you. You really have to just get real and start looking inside. Once you do that, it doesn’t matter if you’re atheist or religious or Christian or Buddhist or just doesn’t matter, scientific, artistic, it doesn’t matter. That’s what does matter, is realizing that the truth I’m going to find, the living truth, I have to find through the apparatus that I have, which is my mind and my body. That’s where you’re gonna look. That’s where you’re gonna start looking. And then the other place people will often look, so that might be the more devotional or religious people, perhaps, will look in a group or an organization, the other place people look and sort of on a different end of the spectrum is through information. I’m gonna learn everything there is to know. I’m gonna learn everything about Buddhism. I’m gonna learn everything about neuroscience. I’m gonna learn about, learn, learn, learn, learn, collect, collect, collect information. And that also ends up being unsatisfying often. Now, if you collect the right information, you read the right thing, you read a story like I did in “The Three Pillars of Zen” about people waking up and writing about what it’s actually like to go through that from an emotional perspective, from an intuitive perspective and realizing, wow, that can actually happen-
– [Zubin] Personal story, yeah.
– [Angelo] That’s a personal thing, and it’s a transmission. But if you just collect a ton of information, thinking if you just learn enough about this you’ll feel better, you won’t. You’ll become an expert in Buddhism and you can be not awake, actually.
– [Zubin] You could talk about dependent co-arising and you could talk about Dharma Seals and you could talk about all this, but you’re no closer to living truth.
– [Angelo] Yeah, there are professors of Buddhism that know vastly more about it than I do, I actually don’t know a lot about Buddhism, I know some, but there are lay people and professors, of course, that know a ton about Buddhism that aren’t actually awake. There are some that are awake, but again, it’s sort of independent. You have to really make this journey yourself. You have to do it yourself. Even if it’s in the context of a group, a sangha, whatever.
– [Zubin] It seems it’s not about knowledge, it’s not about acquiring more mind stuff in that sense. It’s about actually orienting to a way of looking and a possibility. So if there’s any knowledge you need, it’s the knowledge that it’s possible to do this, that it exists.
– [Angelo] That’s right.
– [Zubin] And everything else, that’s fine, it seems like. And again, I’m editorializing on my own experience, I am very easily captured by all these technical aspects of this process. I can speak to a lot of this stuff. But it does not, if anything, it hinders my own letting go into what’s actually happening in this very moment. And instead, I’m riding my own kind of thought train and often not recognizing it’s thought or not recognizing the fixation that I’m trapped in or not recognizing that I’m using this in a way to distance myself from the possibility of real realization, because of whatever it is that’s doing that in the mind that is afraid, yeah.
– [Angelo] Yeah, and you point to something really important, and that is, what we often don’t realize is that fear disguises itself as knowledge, it disguises itself as knowing, as thirst for knowledge. It doesn’t mean that all acquiring of knowledge is fear based, but with this that I’m talking about, this tendency to sense that there’s something potentially a transformation at hand or something’s possible there, and then try to learn your way into it, there is fear there. There’s almost always fear there. And the fear is, what happens if I let go? As I’ve said many times, our society values intelligence. It rewards intelligence. Any physician knows that, right? So we find that as a safe place. My intelligence has saved me in so many ways in life. It’s gotten me into situations where I didn’t have to depend on people who were not dependable or whatever. It’s gotten me safety, it’s gotten me position, security, all that’s great. In the relative sense, all of that’s fine, that’s knowledge. But we don’t realize how much identity we often tie into knowledge and acquiring knowledge. When it comes to this, reality doesn’t really care about your knowledge. It cares about your surrendered, vulnerable, willingness to let go of your identity. That’s what it cares about.
– [Zubin] Everything you just said is triggering to most egos, everything you just said, I realized as you said it, as the words came out of your mouth, there’s a deep part of the mind that’s like, you said surrender, you said letting go, you said willingness, you said vulnerability, and especially with people who focus on intelligence as a egoic point of pride, those are the wrong orientations for that type of ego mind.
– [Angelo] Yeah, I mean, I can tell you this, I know the gravity of saying that, and I know how hard that can hit, but I also suffered so much because of my own attachment to my mind, to intelligence. When I was growing up, I didn’t have a healthy emotional landscape. So for me, intelligence was my only, that’s the only place I could put identity. And it worked for me, I was smart. I could figure things out, I was clever. And I would work hard and things like that. So it did so much for me, but it never gave me, even in the relative sense, the things I really, like true connection with another human being. It totally, I could not figure it out. I couldn’t figure it out because I was trying to use my mind to do it. And that’s in the relative, when you’re talking about what we’re talking about, you have to really let go, and in a very deep way. And so I understand how triggering that stuff can be, but I wouldn’t say it unless it was true. And I will also tell you that you’ll be very, very pleasantly surprised when you see through that attachment to intelligence. It doesn’t mean you’re suddenly unintelligent, it just means you don’t have identity built into it anymore. You’re not attached to it. You move in so many different spectrums than you would not even realize you could move in, emotional spectrums, connection with other humans, connection with yourself, the things you really want, but you’re using surrogates to try to get them, like security, safety, money, position, validation, all of it. What you want is to feel okay right now, you wanna feel connected, fully connected, deeply in tune with your environment, with the person in front of you and with yourself when there is no one in front of you. You want to feel completely okay alone, by yourself, and just enjoying being alive. That’s what people want.
– [Zubin] And I’ll vouch for, everything you just said is actually on offer with this. Like, it’s there, it’s right there. It’s what people, when you touch into it, you know right away, this is what people want. This is what they’ve been looking for. And we’ve been looking for it in the wrong place usually.
– [Angelo] Yeah.
– [Zubin] Like you said, through mind.
– [Angelo] Yeah, and this brings us to the second barrier. By the way, I’m just making these up as I go along.
– [Zubin] Excellent.
– [Angelo] These are based on my experience of working with a lot of people, but I’m just sort of using them as pedagogical tools and pointers right now, don’t solidify this. I might say it differently in a different context, but it’s generally true. I would say the second barrier, the first one being knowledge of the insight that it’s possible, that awakening is possible, and that it’s okay to orient to truth. That’s sort of the first barrier. Once you’re past that, the second one is something like, a little bit of a deeper layer of identity. And it’s sort of a doubt layer. We don’t realize how much doubt we carry, how much hesitation, doubt in ourselves, doubt in spontaneity, doubt in life, right? We hold ourselves in such tightly wound positions and conformations and identities and personas so that we can avoid stepping out of line in various ways that would be socially unacceptable, that would be whatever, unethical, all these ideas we have about things, which, of course, you don’t want to be an unethical person, you don’t wanna be an immoral person, but the belief that by moving spontaneously and naturally you will become one, that’s a massive doubt. And it turns out not to be true. At some point you can learn to trust yourself. You can trust spontaneity. You can trust life to just take care of things. And it works really, really well. So the counter, the other side of that is doubt. Doubt is kind of this thing that’s always in the back just going, “Mm, I don’t know. Maybe you shouldn’t do that. Maybe you should do this. I don’t know, I’m not sure.” And so when you have that sort of doubt tone threaded throughout your, at least part of experience and part of your self structure, then the next barrier becomes, “Well, okay, I know it’s possible now, I know there’s something there, and I’ve tasted it, but probably not for me. It’s probably not possible for me. It probably only happens to special people.” And I’ve heard this so many times after awakening, people will say, “Oh my God, I knew it was possible, but I really didn’t think it was possible for me. It was just, how could this happen for me?” There’s something that really doubts ourself. And after awakening, it’s like, “Wow, what a relief to realize, yeah, of course, it’s my birthright to feel peaceful, to feel free, to feel spontaneous.”
– [Zubin] And that second barrier of doubt, I actually would say that it’s even bigger than the first barrier, for anyone who transcends that first barrier, that second barrier is so seductive, because in a way, our internal mind and our thought structures and our beliefs and our sense of identity, that ego structure knows us better than we know ourselves. It knows exactly what to trigger in you that will capitalize on doubt. It’s generating the doubt. And I can tell you in my own experience, so many times I’m just not cut out for awakening. I’m just not, and this is early on, this is not for me. You know what? I’m gonna become like less, my memory’s gonna get worse. I’m gonna be less sharp, I’m gonna be less competitive in like work or whatever it is. What if I can’t do my show anymore because I’m just so soft and squishy and present? Who needs that? And this is all mind talk. And then there’s the experience of when you actually do start to introspect and look at the present moment when you do see something really authentically real there, the mind then injects doubt. You know what, that’s not important. That’s boring, that’s not real. And so that doubt is a very powerful hindrance, I think. I could certainly speak to it personally, but I’m imagine it’s quite widespread.
– [Angelo] Yeah, you characterized it very well. In fact, I was gonna say that until you said it, I don’t have to, but that after a taste, after an initial taste or something that is just so clear that you can’t deny it anymore, that there’s definitely a possibility here, and you’ll either sort of overlook it for a while and then come back to it or, or you’ll start chasing it. Like, I really gotta get that back. Whatever I need to do, I’ll meditate, I’ll do inquiry, like really gung-ho people about awakening, which is awesome, but they will orient that way, and even though they really want to wake up, or at least part of their ego structure is saying, “I really wanna wake up and I am working at it,” amazingly, they still often will overlook and discount their own experiences of presence pretty frequently. There’s something in the back just going, “No, that can’t be it. No, that can’t be it. Nope, can’t be right here.” And as I said from the very beginning, it is right here, so what is preventing you from seeing it? Well, in one way of speaking, the only thing that’s preventing it is doubt.
– [Zubin] Doubt.
– [Angelo] Is a sort of recoiling from life, but we have to get into the mechanism of thought to understand this a little better, but the truth of it is it really just comes down to a sense of just recoiling back into a subjective self to hold the world at a distance and try to navigate it and think about it, et cetera. And then we believe that’s how we actually live. That’s how we cause life to do what life does. But we don’t, it’s a holding back and a reflective “safe place” of the mind. It might feel safe in the moment when we can just recoil from life and not feel something intense or whatever, but over time it becomes a monster. It’s like an addiction, it is an addiction, right?
– [Zubin] It is.
– [Angelo] Taking one hit of cocaine or one drink of alcohol in and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with doing it. It’s not gonna really harm anything to do it one time. But what happens is we learn to use that control of our emotional experience right then to put an emotional experience in place so that we don’t have to face the unknown of what I could feel in the next moment. So I’ll put something in place so it’s always there, because it’s predictable. And so that instant gratification of pleasure, when it builds up over time, it becomes a monster. And it’s the same thing with thoughts, although everyone’s doing it, right? So you believe the doubt one time, you back up into the thought space, and you feel a little bit more safe because in that space, you feel distanced from life, you feel like you’re in control, but over time you start to feel kind of numb, distant, truly distanced from life, distanced from yourself. You might react to things unconsciously and not know why you did it. You’re ultimately sort of fracturing reality internally, and that’s the discomfort, that’s the uncomfortable place of suffering that we talk about.
– [Zubin] And that is the baseline default of the human condition in most of our functioning people in society, that’s how it is.
– [Angelo] One degree or another.
– [Zubin] One degree or another, different degrees of it. So one thing, just to bring back something you said in a previous show, it’s like being sucked back into the standing wave of our mind pattern of thought going to thought going to thought, going to thought that constructs, it’s not a real thing, it’s just a standing wave of identity, belief, thought, this is what I am, and the belief that I can control reality, that somehow what I do will actually warp reality in a way that will disallow me from feeling pain and allow me to get pleasure and so on. And distancing from emotions that are uncomfortable by telling stories and repressing and identifying with different aspects of these belief structures. So that jumping back into the standing wave seems to be, it’s a doubt wave, and that is the hindrance, it seems.
– [Angelo] Yeah, I might say it this way. I would say probably the average person, even the average well-educated, scientific person, probably has almost no idea how much thinking actually is going on and how much their attention is bound into thinking. If you just have someone reflect on their day, they might say, “Oh yeah, I probably had a couple hundred thoughts today or a thousand, who knows?” As if you’re just totally present and occasionally a thought comes by here and there. That’s not how the mind is usually set up. The mind is usually set up where there are so many thoughts and you’re so identified with the thoughts that you’re almost constantly actually taking the external world to be, well, you’re taking your thoughts to be the external world, I’ll say it that way. And that’s what you referred to as the standing wave. What you don’t see in the standing wave is when those thought patterns become so repetitive at, like in late childhood and early teen years, and by early adulthood, it’s pretty solidified, you don’t realize you’re always overlooking the sense of you being a subject. And the world of objective reality is actually just a pattern of thoughts and you’re overlaying it over your experience all the time. So you’re looking from a very solidified view, actually, that’s uncomfortable of subjectivity. And that’s one side of that standing wave. The other side of the standing wave is the endless display of thoughts that you’re taking to be your life. And that’s where we find ourself when we say, “Wow, something’s just not right.” Again, like what we did yesterday. I’ve got the career, I’ve got the family, I’ve done the things you’re supposed to do in life, and if I’m really honest, I’m still just not happy, or something’s really unsatisfying going on and I don’t know what it is. And I can’t blame my family, my wife or the job, it’s just something in me. And that’s good news, right? Because now you know where to look. And that’s that standing wave. It’s the life of quiet desperation. You know something’s wrong, but you don’t know what the heck it is and you’re almost kind of scared to look. That’s that feeling of being in that standing wave. What you’re not seeing is your own view, the subjective nature of that polar inward pull in that thought space that’s inherently uncomfortable. When that collapses, how ever that collapses, instead of feeling yourself as this very discreet thing that you never actually look at it because it’s constantly subjectifying and seeing life and everything what you think life is at a distance through your thought pattern, that’s the standing wave, and that that’s inherently isolating, it has a feeling of isolation. So if you feel isolation, that’s what you’re feeling. If you feel not good enough, that’s what you’re feeling. If you feel scarcity, that’s what you’re feeling. You’re feeling into the fact that you’re not actually looking at what you’re taking yourself to be as that standing wave continues to propagate itself. Once you really look in the right way through say like self-inquiry, and it collapses, then you experience yourself as the entire ocean, instead of one standing wave that you’re not actually seeing clearly. And you don’t have to continue to exert all of that effort to keep the, ’cause you’re the one who’s doing this, right? Not on purpose, but you have to actually add effort to keep this standing wave there. And when you stop exerting that effort, it’s a huge release.
– [Zubin] It’s just a massive outpouring of the energy that you were expending to maintain it is now free. And you sometimes see these videos of people who have had awakenings and they’re just laughing uncontrollably, and then sometimes it’s very silent. I mean, there’s a whole spectrum of it. But it’s almost like you think of in chemistry the sort of Gibbs free energy equation for the nerds. You have all this potential energy, and when you break the bond that is containing that energy, the energy is released, and that bond, in a way, is this kind of standing wave of identity. You put it very clearly. It’s a di-pole, so there’s this sense of a perceiver, this me, and there’s the sense of reality, but it’s not reality as it is, it’s reality as overlaid and filtered through thought in some way. So you’re not seeing clearly, and you’re also not seeing that the thing you think is seeing is also not there, really.
– [Angelo] Yeah, that’s right.
– [Zubin] Yeah, and so when that relaxes or collapses, and again, we did a video on inquiry, so there’s ways to look at this, but that is the hindrance that you’re pointing at it sounds like.
– [Angelo] Yeah, and I wanna point out that, as I described earlier, after an awakening, let’s say, when it’s fresh and you’re experiencing boundlessness, it sounds to the mind very hard to understand how that could be. But from the standpoint of the experience of boundlessness, you almost forget how you could experience things as bounded, as that standing wave. It’s like, how was that even happening? How was I suffering so much? How was I holding onto that? How was I exerting so much effort? It’s almost like the altered state is the state of that standing wave. The mind identified state is an altered state.
– [Zubin] Is an altered state.
– [Angelo] Yeah, and one way of saying what the reason is, it’s like, this is very strange, but you almost have to hide something from yourself all the time to keep the standing wave going, to keep mind identification going, and that’s how we get all these epi-phenomena. I don’t know if I used that term right. I just like to use terms that I don’t quite understand.
– That’s a great term, I love it, it’s very scientific. It’s sciency.
– [Angelo] Yeah, right. So we get those experiences of things like imposter syndrome, I don’t really know who I am, shame is a big one. Shame is like, “Don’t look here, don’t look here.” There’s something here I don’t want to look at in yourself. And it feels like an emotion that is hindering you, but it actually has a very important purpose. The important purpose is so you don’t turn around and look at the fact that there’s no subject, because when that happens, the standing wave collapses. So there’s a lot of emotional barriers and resistance patterns that keep us from looking back. So you need to have, there’s hiding that has to be built into this, and hiding from yourself is probably intrinsically what causes suffering, because in reality, nothing can hide from anything because it’s all connected. Not just connected, it’s all one flow sort of.
– [Zubin] It’s just this, yeah.
– [Angelo] So the discomfort is because you’re not living in truth when you feel like you’re hiding anything from anywhere, because that’s not possible. Very strange, right? And it requires a lot of energy to do something that’s not possible and keep an illusion going, ’cause it’s an illusion.
– [Zubin] So another way of saying that is it takes energy. It is a net energy requiring process to be inauthentic.
– [Angelo] And to be mind identified and to hold a subjective view that you’re not actually looking clearly enough to see it doesn’t exist and to not know what you are and not know who you are, and to avoid emotional connection and to avoid looking for, seeing, and feeling into resistance patterns and to explore your own emotions. All of that actually takes effort not to do. And the more effort you put in, the more you suffer, the more distance you feel from life, the more distance you feel from other people.
– [Zubin] An analogy might be that the energy that it takes to do that, to maintain that kind of illusion, generates heat in the form of suffering.
– [Angelo] Absolutely, it’s an effort, really.
– [Zubin] Effort.
– [Angelo] When I say it’s effort, it’s just an internal effort. And again, there is nobody doing this.
– [Zubin] That’s the truth.
– [Angelo] I’m not telling you like you’re doing this bad thing to yourself, but the effort is going on and on and on, and that’s weirdest thing about awakening. You’re like, “What do you mean, I don’t have to do anything?” The effort is just gone, it’s completely effortless. Effortless being.
– [Zubin] Flow.
– [Angelo] Effortless being and enjoyment of being alive. What more could you ask for in life?
– [Zubin] And for people who think this is like, we’re making this up or this is like new age woo, woo, almost everybody has experienced this, whether they know it or not, they’ve experienced it.
– [Angelo] Yep, they get tastes of it, for sure.
– [Zubin] They get tastes of it, they’ve touched into it, and they just don’t have the language for it or they haven’t paid attention in that way or-
– [Angelo] Or the doubt masks grabs your face very quickly and turns it toward it and says, “No, no, no, don’t look there.”
– [Zubin] Oh, fascinating. Yeah, and I’ve experienced that. It’s just, “Come on, dude, this is boring. Let’s go get online and yell at someone on Twitter.”
– [Angelo] Yeah, whatever works. If it’s boring and that gets your attention, so be it. If it’s terrifying and that gets your attention, so be it. And sometimes when you really start to push the ego and it’s really threatened, the gloves come off. It’ll tell you, “Oh, you’re gonna abandon your family.
– [Zubin] Totally.
– [Angelo] “If you keep doing this, you’re gonna go join a monastery and your kids will starve.”
– [Zubin] Or you’re gonna die.
– [Angelo] You’re gonna die, you’re gonna go crazy.
– [Zubin] Go crazy, yeah.
– [Angelo] Those are the three big ones, you’re gonna go crazy, you’re gonna die, or you’re gonna abandon your family. Those are the common, big, big fears that come up with this that people will tell me about.
– [Zubin] And ego knows you, like we were saying earlier, it knows, it knows you better than you could ever understand yourself in that way, because it is a pattern of illusion, it knows all the right trigger buttons to push. If you’re a family person, it’s like, “Dude, you’re gonna say that your daughter is empty of being and she’s a pattern of, like a weather pattern and it’s all connected, and your daughter is as beautifully, transcendently real and authentic reality as that rock? Hello, you are a horrible person.” And then you believe it, the doubt mass kicks in, and you turn away.
– [Angelo] Yeah, and you know what’s interesting, when people have big shifts, awakenings and so forth, you know who validates it the most? Their kids.
– [Zubin] It’s true!
– [Angelo] Is is not true?
– [Zubin] This is absolutely true. When I came back from retreat, my kids were like, “Who’s this awesome dude?” They were telling me their life story. And it still, it persists, it continues. So it’s almost like you hold holding up the mirror, the same person you were worried, your mind was telling you you’re gonna abandon, is now in love with you deeper than ever.
– [Angelo] That’s called co-opting. That’s what we talked about yesterday. Justification is a thin skin of truth, stuffed with a bald face lie. The thin skin of truth is you care about your family. It is true that you care about your family, but it’s a thin skin, and what’s stuffed with is you’re just scared, you’re scared. And you’re using the illusion of compassion to justify your fear of looking inside in a more authentic way.
– [Zubin] The illusion of compassion, oh dear. Well, you know, it’s fascinating, because love for, say child, there’s a true compassion that’s fundamental.
– [Angelo] Yeah, absolutely.
– [Zubin] It actually is unconditional. Unconditional on them even being your child.
– [Angelo] Of course.
– [Zubin] But because you shower it on them, but then the mind wraps conditions on it. Because they are yours, because, yours, yeah, really interesting.
– [Angelo] Yeah, and as you said, your kids are the ones who notice. “Wow, Dad’s in flow. He’s paying attention to us much more than he ever did before, and I feel it.” And it’s like, wow, how cool, right? And I would say some part of us knows that. That’s why I really do believe it’s really fear that gets in our way, ultimately. So if we’re just really honest with ourselves and just say, “Why would I abandon my kid?” Doesn’t even make sense, right? If you’re already thinking about abandoning your kids, that’s a different kind of issue.
– [Zubin] That’s gonna happen at some point anyway. Yeah, exactly, you got other problems.
– [Angelo] You might want to go get some therapy.
– [Zubin] Exactly . So that doubt and fear are kind of intertwined probably in some way, shame, doubt, fear. Anything else, any other core emotions?
– [Angelo] Just this big doubt mass that’s holding you back. So that’s kind of the second barrier is the doubt mass that you just secretly believe you’re not special enough for this, but the beauty of it is you don’t have to be special. It’s not about being special. It’s about actually being not special. It’s about letting go of all those silly identities that you’ve thought were gonna make you happy, but you’ve had evidence again and again and again that they don’t make you happy, they make you unhappy. When you try to defend your identity, try to defend all these beliefs about who and what you are, generally, you suffer and you make people around you suffer. And when you just let go and live and see what’s right in front of your face, you start to feel love. You start to feel natural enjoyment, spontaneity, peace, connection.
– [Zubin] Yeah. Yeah, I mean, there’s nothing to say to that, that’s it. So now we have another, yet another barrier though, right? We’ve had the not knowing that this is even available to us and living with our suffering as a fundamental right of human life. The second one, then, the doubt and the egoic mind, standing mind waves that keep us from looking at truth.
– [Angelo] I wanna add two .
– [Zubin] Say that again, sorry.
– [Angelo] Two , second part.
– [Zubin] Oh, okay, yeah, subsection b of paragraph four?
– [Angelo] It is doubt based, but it doesn’t look at much like doubt, I think, when you’re experiencing it, and that is you might get the sense that it could happen, it could happen to you, part of it’s happened to you or you feel it, you know it’s a possibility, and maybe you’re not so turned off by the belief that I couldn’t actually do it myself, et cetera, but you might be somewhat turned off by the belief that, but, if I really wanted to investigate this, I would have to join X, Y, Z. I’d have to become a spiritual person. I’d have to become a Buddhist. I’d have to go join a temple or learn this or learn that or learn stuff I don’t understand or don’t believe in. ‘Cause meditate, I don’t get all that stuff. And it’s a different kind of doubt where it’s like I’m not that category of person.
– [Zubin] Right, it’s almost an identity doubt. Yeah, I don’t want my identity to shift to this.
– [Angelo] Yeah, and part of that is probably laced with a fear of losing validation with some people who know you as you are and stuff like that. But the answer to that is simple, and it’s like you don’t have to join anything specific, you don’t have to start believing anything. My book explains that at the beginning. This isn’t about belief, I don’t care what you believe, it doesn’t matter. You can keep your beliefs, you can get rid of your beliefs, but just be willing to investigate your beliefs. But you don’t need to join a certain kind of club, society, group, you don’t need to talk about it to your friends, even. You don’t need to tell your friends, “I’ve decided to work on awakening.” None of that matters, because it’s a personal journey.
– [Zubin] You don’t have to set like a Facebook goal where you tell all your Facebook friends, “By six months from now I shall be enlightened.”
– [Angelo] Yeah, you need to put a board up in your kitchen.
– [Zubin] Oh yeah.
– [Angelo] We’re going to Disneyland next year, and then by next June I’m gonna be enlightened.
– [Zubin] I’m gonna be enlightened. And that way when I ride Small World, I’ll just be so woke.
– [Angelo] Yeah.
– [Zubin] I’ll just be like, it’s a world of laughter.
– [Angelo] I won’t even need the boat. I’ll just be wading waist deep through a bunch of children of the world singing to me.
– [Zubin] And you won’t be there, ’cause there’ll be no self.
– [Angelo] Right.
– [Zubin] Because you’ve intellectually understood, well, there’s supposed to be no self, so…
– [Angelo] Right, and there’ll be no self in the psychiatric ward when they come get you. When the police extract you from It’s A Small World and you’re…
– [Zubin] Using the jaws of enlightenment to extract you from the boat. That’s amazing.
– [Angelo] Make a good news story, though.
– [Zubin] It really would, I could see it in a L.A. news story. Uh, a purportedly enlightened, awakened being extracted with the jaws of enlightenment from the Small World ride.
– [Angelo] Right, and he was holding a box of Oreos.
– [Zubin] That was the last shred of self that he kept was this idea that I like Oreos. That’s me, I love them. Ah, what were we talking about?
– [Angelo] I don’t know.
– [Zubin] Doesn’t matter. Oh, the third barrier, the third barrier to awakening.
– [Angelo] So this is, again, don’t solidify these, there’s other ways of talking about this stuff, but a third reasonably common one that comes, this will come up for everyone, some form of it, for sure, and it’ll come up multiple times, and this is a little more technical, it’s when you start to self inquire or start to meditate in a certain way. But when you start to really navigate the nature of thought, because a big part of this first big shift, this first big movement is realizing, as we were talking about the standing wave, realizing first that all of those thoughts that are parading in front of my internal movie screen about my life, realizing those aren’t actually happening right now. They’re just not happening. All the remembering the same memory that happened three weeks ago, day after day after day, multiple times a day because it’s triggering to you, that’s never happening. It’s not actually happening right now. And all the other memories and the thinking about what’s gonna happen 15 minutes from now because I feel a little impatient right now in the environment I’m in. So now I’m imagining what I’m gonna be doing when I go home. And this endless parade of thoughts, realizing in a very fundamental and direct way that all of those thoughts are not actually happening right now. And they’re not what you are. And that’s sort of half of the story. The other half is when you get behind the subject and realize that sense of being the subject to all of those objects of thought is also a thought and that they’re all made out of the same stuff, which is, I could say, I could call consciousness.
– [Zubin] Thought stuff, yeah.
– [Angelo] Yeah, now, when I say that, I always have to throw a disclaimer in that. Don’t learn what I just said. If you just learn, oh, all my thoughts are consciousness, I’m made outta consciousness, that’s gonna get you nowhere.
– [Zubin] That’s a thought.
– [Angelo] You’ll still be back here as the subject of the standing wave and that’ll just be another thought on the parade of thoughts in front of you, right? So that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about a fundamental shift in transformation and identity. We’re talking about collapsing that standing wave, so to speak. So yeah, you start to first de-identify or disidentify from the thought stream, realizing, oh God, those aren’t me. Meditation can be very helpful here, actually. Calms the mind, helps you realize all of those thoughts are just not what’s happening right here. What’s happening here is the sensations, the sounds, et cetera. And then again, the second part is realizing the sense of subjectivity itself is also just consciousness, and all of this is just fluctuating in consciousness.
– [Zubin] The thinker of the thoughts, the thinker, the person that you imagine is having the thought, when you see the thought and you recognize, oh, that’s a thought, okay, turn around, and who’s the thinker of this thought, and you look back, wherever that is, and realize even the sense of the thinker of the thought is made of the same stuff as that thought. It’s the same empty goo.
– [Angelo] And it’s not an object of thought, it’s the subject of thinking. So the sense of being a thinker, the sense of being an I, to put it very, very simply, just becomes this very simple, very quiet, self-validating knowing that requires no thought. Now, that can happen quickly, it can take a while, it can take a few years, it can take a lot of self-inquiry, it can happen spontaneously, but that shift is key. And it’s not an understanding, it’s an experiential shift. It’s a true transformation of identity. So the third barrier, let’s say, or the third challenge that tends to come up and this one, again, comes up kind of a repetitively as we start to really dig into this, is not realizing what is a thought and what is not a thought. Again, if you ask the average person how many thoughts a day do you have or whatever, they’d say, “Oh yeah, I have a lot of thoughts. I think sometimes here and there.” But they don’t realize that there’s a nearly constant stream of thoughts. There’s a overlooked subject of thought all the time. We just don’t realize how pervasive and how much, how pervasive thoughts are and how much they affect our experience of reality all the time, including the visual experience of reality, the dimensional experience of reality. It turns out to be an overlay of thoughts, that comes a little later. So realizing what is a thought and what is not a thought is sort of this important barrier that we come up against with this when we start to really get serious about and coming in contact with the possibility of actual awakening. And at first it’s, oh, okay, yeah, daydreaming about whatever happened two years ago that was embarrassing and I’m still thinking about it. Okay, that’s a thought, I can see, that’s pretty clear, that’s obvious. Or if I start self talking about something that’s coming up in the near future or planning a conversation. Oh, oh, okay, those are thoughts. That’s that’s not too hard. What often catches people are these more fundamental thoughts that feel like, really feel like you, like I have to make a decision about practice right now. And the reason those are sticky is because, in some sense, of course, we do make decisions in life, outside of practice. Yeah, you have to decide, do I want to buy this car or that car, do I want to wait or do I wanna buy it now? And sorts of things happen. And through communication with other people, you often outwardly debate or talk about these types of things and it’s a collective decision-making process. At least it appears that way, right? When it comes to inward investigation, though, those aren’t helpful thoughts. There’s no decision to make. You’re not deciding what’s real, you’re finding it, you’re investigating what’s real, right? So often someone will say, “Okay, Angelo, here’s what happened. So I’m meditating and then things get very quiet and then this comes, and so then should I do this or should I do that? Should I put my attention here or there?” And I almost always say the same thing in one form or another, and it’s, “What is the nature of that query?” Oh, it’s a thought, ’cause they’ll often say, “Yeah, I can calm the mind, I can start doing self-inquiry, and it gets very quiet. There’s not a lot of thoughts. And then this happens every time.” That’s what they say, “This happens and I get stuck.” And it can be anything but often it’s, “Oh, there’s a thing in my chest or another thought comes or music comes in my mind and I always get stuck there.” And I say, “Okay, the thought that’s catching you isn’t the music in your mind. The thought that’s catching you is ‘I always get stuck there.'” So in real time when you get to that barrier and you notice something that feels stuck, inquire. Go, what is the belief here? Oh, the belief is that something’s stuck. What is a belief? A belief is a thought. What if I release that thought right now? What does this feel like? And suddenly it’s like, whoa, much more depth, much more clarity, much more spontaneity of the movement of consciousness without forming thoughts and without polarizing into a subject object. So that’s the third barrier. It’s a more subtle, a little stickier barrier, but it’s discerning what is a thought and what is not a thought. And I have some simple litmus tests you can use if you don’t understand what a thought is or what a thought isn’t. One really good litmus test is if you can write it down, I put it in the book, if you can write it down or if you could speak it, it’s always a thought, 100% of the time that’s a thought.
– [Zubin] It’s always a thought, yeah.
– [Angelo] And there are also thoughts that don’t fall in that category. So there’s visual images. There are visual images and sort of non-conceptual thoughts that feel and look like a kind of spaciousness. A lot of people will convince themselves that they’re experiencing unbound awareness, and they don’t realize they’re experiencing a thought.
– [Zubin] It’s a thought of unbound awareness.
– [Angelo] They’re imagining-
– [Zubin] Imagining an expansive, vast, emptiness, yeah.
– [Angelo] Yeah, exactly. And that’s a really common one, actually. Even after awakening. And people will teach from that. They’ll tell everyone everything is formless awareness. You’re seeing everything from formless awareness.
– [Zubin] Yeah, yeah, you hear that a lot.
– [Angelo] Yeah, it’s not true. You might feel like it’s true for a while, but at some point you realize that’s not actually what’s happening, right? So being able to see subtler and subtler and subtler thoughts as thoughts is sort of the game here. And that’s an important, the barrier would be unwillingness to see that. Unwillingness to continue to collapse your view. And if you’re unwilling to do that, often you need to do some emotion work. It’s fear, it’s a fear of letting go. And fear of letting go is, you could almost say it’s about death or something really intense, but it’s usually much more human and simple than that.
– [Zubin] Helplessness.
– [Angelo] You can actually start to look in and go, “What am I actually afraid of? What am I afraid of, and why am I afraid of it? What situations in life do I start to feel helplessness and then feel fear of helplessness?” Oh, it’s when there’s a fear of abandonment, when there’s a fear of intimacy, when there’s a fear of humiliation. These are common ones. So yeah, if you really find that it’s very hard for you to let go and let go of that view again and again, let go of the subjectivity, let go of the insistence that I can make a decision about how to practice right now, if you can’t see that those are thoughts, then often it’s just some emotion work that needs to be done.
– [Zubin] Yeah, so, okay. As you talk, it’s so interesting, I’m introspecting and feeling into this, and I’ve had every single one of these obstructions at some point.
– [Angelo] Oh, I’ve had them all a hundred times. That’s why I can talk about it.
– [Zubin] And they vibrate in an inter-related way. So sometimes that last bit of inquiry where you get stuck is actually a manifestation of a doubt that is ultimately, again, repressed or an emotional valence of fear of helplessness, fear of letting go in that fundamental sense, fear of surrender in the purest sense. And there have been times when that has just been transcended, where it does let go. And what’s interesting is, this is my own experience again, and I have no idea if this gonna misguide people, it’s not me letting go when that happens.
– [Angelo] It’s you holding on. The sense of holding on and the sense of you are hand in hand. When the letting go happens, it’s like the sense of having to be a you is gone and the sense of holding on to anything is gone. And then you realize, wow, what is here when all that’s gone is really quite nice.
– [Zubin] Quite pristine, it’s life unfolding in itself. And you can’t describe it in words quite right, but you damn well know it when it happens, you know it.
– [Angelo] Yeah, it’s spontaneous, it’s unguarded. And it’s deeply enjoyable, it’s vulnerable, it’s simple, it’s innocent, and it’s no big deal, and it’s natural.
– [Zubin] It’s no big deal, that’s right, it’s no big deal. So this last bit of barrier here is, you’re right, it’s very subtle, but it’s absolutely real. And it’s that last, I don’t know if it’s last, but it’s very sticky to identify, especially if you don’t have someone to point. So what you’re very good at, I’ve noticed, when we interact is I’ll say, “This is going on,” and you’ll say, “So,” like you just pointed out, you’ll inquire into how I might inquire into this. And that really starts to elucidate where the stickiness is. So what would you say to people who don’t have an Angelo to point at them in this way? Are there ways they can…
– [Angelo] Yeah, I mean, I spent a lot of time writing the chapters on beliefs, inquiry, and thoughts in the book. I would reference those, and read them more than once, because they’re very, very dense and they have a lot of practical approaches that you can continue to work on with this stuff. There’s another really good piece of advice for people who have of a really sticky belief. If something’s really, really sticky for you, like there’s a lot of emotional baggage behind it, it just keeps coming, it keeps affecting your life, it’s outwardly affecting things in your life, jobs, relationships, whatever it is, and you can identify what it is reasonably simply, it could be a belief that people are out to get me, a belief I never get what I deserve. It could be a belief like, it can be literally anything. But if it’s really sticky for you and it’s repetitive and it keeps coming back and you know it’s affecting your life, you can really drill down in it with inquiry into beliefs and so forth. But Byron Katie has a simple tool. It’s an app you can download called “The Work of Byron Katie.” It’s a little app, and it’s a very good way to totally dissect a belief. You have to like reverse it. You do reversals where you look at evidence for the opposite and you really break it down, like in an incredible way. And it’s really good for very sticky beliefs, sticky fixations around something. So that can be really helpful. Working with a friend who’s good at this kind of thing. Circling can be helpful at a good group of circlers where it’s like authentic communication where you can say, “Hey, I have a trouble with this thing, I can’t quite drill down into it, can you guys help me?” And maybe the group can offer some suggestions on what’s behind it. A therapist could help you with those sorts of things. But just know you may have to do more than just tell yourself, “Oh, that’s just a thought.” Sometimes it’s really much more deeply rooted than that in the emotion body. You can do more vulnerable type inquiries, like, “Okay, what am I really afraid of here? And where is this fear rooted?” And you might be surprised it might be rooted in some event of childhood, and it often actually is. So you may have to chase it down that way, but get creative, look at it from different angles, sit with it, and patience sometimes when things are really sticky like that.
– [Zubin] I found the retreat setting to be very good for breaking down those things, for really investigating, “Oh, I have this really deep unconscious belief that it’s not okay to be compassionate because,” and then investigate that. Oh, it’s because it makes me vulnerable to being hurt when you show compassion, you’re that connected to someone because you love them unconditionally. And so those things become, they start to become apparent. And then what’s interesting is a kind of transformation happens where you realize, “Oh,” and suddenly it just becomes crazy. You’re like, “Oh, that was crazy.” And years of conditioning can evaporate. Now it doesn’t always happen like that. And the only other thing I wanted to say about that, in your book, which you’d mentioned, there are several, I mean, there are chapters that you just have to keep revisiting, revisiting, revisiting, because they’ll unfold in different ways when you’re ready. And sometimes you just need to keep doing that. And I love this sentinel belief piece, which is a belief about belief. And it’s like, here’s the empowering sentinel belief, I believe it’s valuable, safe, and worthwhile to examine my beliefs. If a belief is found to be inaccurate without evidence to support it and/or causes perceptual distortion, I’m willing to discard it. Versus the opposite stance, which many of us have, which is I believe it’s not a good idea to examine or question my beliefs, it could be dangerous. To change a belief is to compromise myself in some way. And even a belief that appears to be inaccurate without evidence, et cetera, should not be discarded. And I think we’re in a world now where that is the sentinel belief of many, many, many, many of us, because it is a contest of ideas, and to give an inch, and so then we internalize that even on our own, our own conditioned belief structures.
– [Angelo] Belief is a fascinating thing. But also a lot of people are brought up being literally told your beliefs are important, what you believe is important. You believe this, our family believes this, our church, our group, our religion, our country, whatever, we believe this, and this is what we believe, and this is why we believe it, and you don’t wanna compromise that. So you’re actually taught that growing up a lot of times. And there probably is some survival mechanism, if you look at like tribal evolutionary psychology with tribal, yeah, like our tribe, this is how our tribe functions, this is what we believe, this is how we act. And that may be relevant in some areas of the world or some parts of life or whatever. For the vast majority of the ways we live now, it’s not really that necessary, you know?
– [Zubin] Right, right.
– [Angelo] And you don’t have to defend your beliefs in your tribe endlessly. You can feel into what is important to you and who you vibe with and all that, that’s fine, but to internalize it and identify with it and then hold this rigid set of beliefs and then compare everything out there against your own set of beliefs as self or other constantly, that’s kind of the opposite of waking up.
– [Zubin] It’s really keeping yourself very unconscious. And the only thing I’ll add to that is, with our current social media sort of algorithms, that kind of belief holding, in group, out group stuff is really encouraged through dopamine release and addiction.
– [Angelo] And worse, it’s encouraged subconsciously. It’s as simple as click, click, click, click. I like, I don’t like, right?
– [Zubin] Angry emoji.
– [Angelo] It’s teaching you to do it constantly.
– [Zubin] Yeah, and then you have to defend your beliefs in a comment or attack, and it’s a sense of identity that’s built up. And it causes, listen, you and I both, well, I know it, you’re aware of it, but it doesn’t possess you the way it may possess me at times when I’m lost, a comment battle is an identity struggle to the death. It is I’m defending this perception of who I am, and I will win this battle at whatever cost. And the truth is, if you reflect for even second, it is causing you tremendous suffering, because you’re, again, perpetuating the standing wave with this energy that’s generating the heat of suffering. And it is real. So people who, like when I went on retreat, that was all gone, and I would say that’s a good percentage of the suffering release that I felt. And I would just advocate for people to really be aware of that, yeah. Angelo, brother.
– [Angelo] Dude.
– [Zubin] Every time.
– [Angelo] It’s fun.
– [Zubin] We’re gonna do more until we damage your voice so badly.
– [Angelo] My voice, yeah, it’s hanging in there, but-
– [Zubin] Sounds okay.
– [Angelo] But I’m not a professional like you.
– [Zubin] You mean you don’t just spend all your day in meaningless blather?
– [Angelo] Well, maybe.
– [Zubin] You weren’t gonna say it, but you were thinking it . Brother, thank you. Guys, do me a favor, get Angelo’s book. We have links down below. Sign up for Angelo’s email list. I’ll have a link down below. Check out Angelo’s videos, Simply Always Awake on YouTube, link. And if you think this is something you’re interested, if you’re watching this far, you’re interested in this, give yourself permission to keep going. And don’t let the doubt and the obstructions be the end of it, because there’s no end of it of how realization can unfold. And I’m only at the tip of it, and I’m just like, this is a bottomless well filled with just endless beauty and terror and wonder. So thank you, Angelo.
– [Angelo] Thank you.