20 – Adaptation
The changes that happen after the Shift in your experience in the world and your relationship to it
‘If one is sick of sickness, then one is not sick.’ – Lao Tzu.
Jez: I’ve described life after the Shift, through the various attributes that arise, such as Stillness, unconditional Love and non-Doing, as well as the realisations that, on the Absolute Level, one has no purpose and no choice. However there’s something missing in this description: The fact that, after the Shift, there’s a period of Adaptation, and this has its own specific consequences. Will you look up the definition of that word?
Matthew: Adaptation is: ‘The process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment.’
Jez: The ‘environment’ we’re referring to in this context is life beyond Personality. Adaptation (with a capital ‘A’) refers to the bodymind system adapting to living in a totally new way, without being under the governance of Personality.
One of the first parts of Adaptation is the realisation of the fact that the world does not understand or recognise what has happened to you.
Matthew: What do you mean?
Jez: After the Shift, you experience the Original Relationship to Life in which you’re no longer separated from the ‘Mother’* who always takes care of you. You’re no longer Seeking fulfilment of something you’ve lost; you’re no longer psychologically outside of life’s embrace, you’re inside it. However, as far as the world of Man is concerned, in one respect at least, you become an ‘outsider’.
Matthew: In what respect?
Jez: Every tribe has certain characteristics that the people who belong to it share; they’re what bonds them together. Followers of religions share their belief systems, countries share national characteristics and history, and families usually share genes and generally share the experience of living and growing together. Tribes offer the security and protection of community, the comfort of knowing: ‘We’re all in this together.’
Of course, sometimes people abandon their tribe. For example, you might lose your faith and leave a religious group; you may move to a different country and lose your connection to your national tribe. When this happens, you forfeit the sense of solidarity and protection which belonging to the tribe afforded you.
The tribe I’m talking about, the Meta-level of the ‘Tribe of Mankind’, shares the experience of living on planet earth so, in this respect, we all belong to the same tribe. The Tribe of Man obviously has all sorts of sub-tribes, but it shares one other Meta-trait, and that’s identification with the Personality.
Matthew: I’ve never thought of it like that.
Jez: That’s because, although you’ve glimpsed the view from beyond Personality, it’s not your ongoing perspective, so why would you think about it? Thoughts reflect where you are physiologically located; if you believe you’re the Personality then your thoughts arise from that perspective. In these talks I’m taking you beyond your normal perspective.
Matthew: You’ve got me thinking now… Maybe somewhere there’s a world where human life forms exist, in which Waking Up is the norm, and living identified as Personality is the exception!
Jez: Maybe, but it’s certainly not the case in this world. This experience, here now, is that the tribe of mankind shares the trait of identification with Personality. So in this sense – and in this sense only – when you Wake Up beyond that identification, you leave the tribe of mankind. The world that’s created by humans is not run according to this perspective, it’s not geared towards Being; it’s all run by Doing. It’s run from the group belief that you are your Personality, and so everything created by this tribe serves this belief. Everything facilitates, encourages, protects and glorifies Personality; this in turn keeps you firmly rooted and invested in that belief.
When you Wake Up you find yourself in a curious position. On one hand you feel this incredible affinity with everyone, because you know on the Absolute Level we’re all One, all brothers and sisters with the same Mother; we’re all children of Life. However, in the Relative Level, when it comes to belief in the Personality, you’re constantly reminded of the fact that you’re not ‘in the club’, you have well and truly left and become an outsider.
So Adaptation has to occur to align yourself to where you are now, in a perspective beyond Personality, and that perspective is constantly shown up by the world around you, which is run on totally different rules.
Matthew: How are you constantly reminded that you’re not ‘in the club’?
Jez: Technology is a good example. From this point of view you see how advances in technology, especially in connectivity, are used in the service of Personality. If you go out into the street now in any cities you’ll see a tribe of zombies walking along staring down at their screens. Being constantly connected to the Internet is a great way for the Personality to keep occupied, to stop Being, and feeling in the present. Now you can get apps to help find what you’re looking for in the supermarket, so instead of being present in the aisle, looking at signs and understanding your environment, the computer tells you where to go. This is a good symbol of what’s happening; the relationship is no longer between you and your environment, it’s primarily between you and a screen. The computer acts like a filter between you and your life; it’s just another way to avoid being present to what’s going on around you.
Matthew: But there are Mindfulness apps now to help you be present! (Laughs.)
Jez: To me that’s like sitting in the sea and looking at a photograph of water on your phone, trying to imagine you can feel its wetness! (Both laugh.) You see what I mean about the screen being a filter between you and life? A friend told me she noticed that her twenty-three-year-old daughter was uncomfortable making eye contact when they talked; her generation are so used to communicating through texts or one step removed as an image on a screen, that they’re forgetting how to connect intimately, face to face. This is a classic example of Personality avoiding feelings and relationship, because feelings are threatening to it.
The activities of the Personality that are taken for granted in the tribe, such as addiction to technology, become obvious once you Wake Up. I view technological advancement as a wonderful manifestation of the creativity of the human mind. I use it and enjoy it but it doesn’t control me. There’s no possibility of addiction to it, of using it to disassociate myself from my surroundings. Without the need for distraction or disassociation, it’s used for functional purposes only – which of course can include entertainment.
Matthew: How else are you reminded that you’re not ‘in the club?’
Jez: It happens every time I see advertising. The world is run according to future desire – that’s what all advertising is based on: the belief that ‘When I get this I’ll be happy’. You’re not ‘in’ if you’re not wearing the latest fashion, you’re not ‘with it’ if you haven’t got the latest upgrade to your phone. After Waking Up you can See that silent pressure going on in the Group Personality very clearly. Advertising is a game of manipulation; the admen read the psychology of the tribe and manipulate its fears and desires to make it buy their product. After the Shift, without those desires and fears, you see through the whole game; you can’t be manipulated any more.
Matthew: You mention the disappearance of future desire, but what about the future and the past in general? Enlightenment stories would have us believe that these disappear into something called the ‘eternal now’.
Jez: We usually think of time as being linear; this is a representation of the Relative Level’s perception of time. In this model, the Absolute Level appears as a vertical line cutting down through that horizontal line. The phrase ‘the eternal now’ refers to the perception of the Absolute Level; of course that doesn’t preclude you thinking about something we call the past or the future in the Relative Level. We learned to do this when the self was developing; it’s an ability you need to operate in the world. Cavemen thought about the hunt, then went out and brought a slain beast into their reality so they could eat and survive. However, despite the popular idea of ‘living in the present’, most Personalities are constantly living in a mental idea of the past or future.
After the Shift, that ability to project into the past and future is not laden with all the Distraction and neurosis of Personality and it falls back into its natural place. So it’s a mental function that’s used when it’s needed and not used when it isn’t. The past is not leaned on, it’s not needed to prove anything, the future is no longer overlaid with the hope and Distraction of ‘When I get this I’ll be happy’. You’re no longer the summation of your past, or the hope you project into the future; you’re simply what’s appearing now.
Most people spend a lot of their day in the past or future with perhaps occasional moments of Stillness or thoughtlessness, resting in the now. After the Shift, that set-up reverses. In some ways this can make you less efficient in the world, because you can be less tuned to skills needed to operate out there. Sometimes, projecting into the future can actually become difficult, for example it can be an effort to pack for a trip, to think about what you might need in ten days’ time.
Jez: Yes. In this moment, ‘ten days’ time’ doesn’t exist, it’s a thought, a concept, but it’s a concept that you need if you’re going on a trip and need to have something to wear when you arrive! Birthdays are interesting too. People load a lot of Emotion onto them: You’re one year older, what are you going to do that’s special? Are you going to have a party? What do you want as a gift? In Relative terms, yes, it’s technically the date of your birth, a marker in your life, but in Absolute terms it’s just another moment. It’s not more special than any other moment.
So you can see how the Adaptation is about learning to live from a totally different perspective, and the particular lessons you have are sometimes dictated by what your Personality was like. For example, I used to be quite naive when it came to people: I was too trusting, I always gave them the benefit of the doubt and this sometimes resulted in me being a victim of their Personalities. This was a blind spot which came from a need to see the best in people; it was an example of my Personality’s selective awareness. Now I see Personalities as they are; I have no illusions about where people are coming from. If they’re coming from a place of Love, I feel it and enjoy it. If they’re coming from Contraction, from the loss of Love, it’s obvious to me. I can See it and I can’t be a victim of it.
Matthew: What do you mean?
Jez: Let’s use you as an example: Everyone has their own way of releasing stress; you tend to get very speedy, you start having rapid thoughts and you fire them off like a machine gun. You’re aware of it now as I say thig, but you’re not conscious of it when you’re doing it. Every Personality has its own particular form, its own characteristics: Some people are pleasers, some are perpetually miserable, some are show-offs, some have low self-esteem etcetera. Very few people are conscious of the form of their Personality, that’s why those habits continue. The Personality wants us asleep; otherwise we might Wake Up from the Dream. One of your particular Personality’s characteristics is to become very busy in your mind as a way to discharge stress.
Matthew: I don’t know why I do that.
Jez: It’s basically a technique your Personality uses not to feel. I’ve noticed it increases in intensity when there’s something going on in your life that’s stressful for you. In difficult times some people become quiet and reserved; you go in the opposite direction. As long as you’re in your head, throwing out all these thoughts, you’re not feeling. Remember, for the Personality, feelings are unsafe, feelings are dangerous, feelings are a way that Personality can lose its control. You probably started this when you were young; for some reason you must have learned that your feelings were unacceptable. So you replaced them with activity that was acceptable, which in your family was thinking, intelligence.
Matthew: You’re right: Intelligence and thinking seem to come near the top of the list of what my family values.
Jez: You can see how becoming conscious of that and Understanding how it informs your Personality helps you lose identification with it; because the more you can see its game, the harder it is to be pulled into that game.
However, let’s not get stuck in that. This isn’t a therapy session! The point I’m making here is that once you’ve seen through your Personality, Seeing through other people’s becomes second nature. In your case I see what’s going on. Although it might make you feel temporarily more relaxed to release your stress in this way, when I’m in the firing line of your mind’s relentless thoughts it feels like a violent assault.
So my point is that, after Waking Up, you can’t be a victim of other people’s Personalities. You have a right to be exactly how you are, but I have a right to not be a victim of it. So that means, in your case, I’ll speak up about it so that you become conscious of it. And hopefully slow it down – or, even better, stop it! (Both laugh.)
Matthew: It’s just happened: Since you explained this I feel different, slower. And I’ve become aware of a slight wave of sadness about a situation happening in my relationship to my family.
Jez: By pointing out your pattern I tripped it up; then you started contacting the feeling which all that mental noise was Distracting you from. As you dropped into feeling you became present, more Still, more quiet.
Matthew: With me you can point this sort of Personality stuff out, but what do you do when it comes with someone you don’t know so well?
Jez: I would vote with my feet – I’d move away. This is not something one Does; it’s not a practice, it’s just something I’ve sometimes observed happening when I’m around others. It’s all part of Seeing: when you See clearly where things are coming from, you have the ability to decide what you want to let into your experience. I say ‘you’, but of course it’s not really ‘you’ making a decision, it’s life.
Matthew: Do you have any more examples of what changes after the Shift?
Jez: I’ve noticed that my diet has changed over the last few years: For example, I rarely eat ready meals or fast food nowadays.
Matthew: Why’s that?
Jez: Because I realised it wasn’t nourishing food. There’s one quality that characterises nourishing food: the amount of energy, or what the Chinese call ‘chi’, that’s in it. Fast food is designed to appeal to your taste buds. It’s cheap and widely available, but it’s had most of the chi processed out of it. Once you See and Understand the mentality of where this food is coming from – which is primarily the pursuit of money rather than the sharing of the fruits of the earth – that attraction for it can fall away.
Food is obviously a big area of addiction; I’m not just talking about people who are seriously overweight. Most people have some level of addictive relationship to food. I certainly did. When you don’t need that comfort any more, those sorts of habits can drop away.
What I’ve described here are a few examples of how life beyond Personality offers a very different perspective on this world. This brings us back to my original point of how Waking Up turns you into an outsider. When I was young, in one way you could say I thought the same kind of thoughts as everyone else. My thoughts resonated with the group mind because they arose from the same perspective, which is that we are this thing called ‘Personality’. That is how we’re brought up: We’re trained to think like our parents think, to adopt this worldview.
But there were times when I had a feeling that something was wrong, that life didn’t fit this model that I’d been taught. It was just a feeling. I had no Understanding of why I felt that, but looking back I can see this feeling was an experience of Knowing. However, if you’re young and everyone around you sees life in one way, it’s very easy to think that you’re the one who’s wrong, that it’s your perception that’s faulty. But then I came across books that talked from this perspective. For example I heard about the life of Buddha, and I realised that I wasn’t mad; other people saw things differently too.
After the Shift you know you aren’t mad. You understand where the world of man is coming from and you know that you don’t come from the same place. The way the world is run doesn’t relate to you. So there can be this feeling of being an outsider, as if you come from another species. It’s a bit like being undercover: On the surface my life looks like everyone else’s. I eat, cook, earn money, pay bills etcetera, but there’s a profound difference, which is that I have no belief that I’m a Personality.
In the past, people who entered into this enquiry left the tribe and lived in monasteries or ashrams. They removed themselves from the usual world of man and lived with people who were of the same orientation. When this realisation happens in the middle of the world you’re confronted with the fact that you’re surrounded by people who are not like you. You’re living in a tribe that, in one fundamental aspect, doesn’t resonate with you. From the viewpoint of the world, most of what I’ve discussed in these talks is madness; from the viewpoint after the Shift, it’s the world of man that appears utterly mad.
Matthew: What do you mean?
Jez: The addiction to thought, to needing to find approval from others, to distract oneself, to avoid feeling, to be forever engaged in neurotic thought about the past or future. To come from violent thoughts (you see it everywhere you look, in the media, politics, entertainment) is, from this point of view, totally mad. But in the world it’s an accepted, normal madness – and when you accept madness, it becomes reinterpreted as sanity.
Matthew: So none of this ‘madness’, as you call it, arises in you after the Shift?
Jez: That’s a really important question. The answer is, ‘Yes, that madness can still arise.’
Matthew: I’m confused. If it’s the product of Personality, and you have no identification with Personality, how can it arise?
Jez: It can arise as part of the Personality’s Residue. This needs a discussion of its own.
*The Story of ‘You’ – Chapter 4