dealing with a crowd of inner voices

inner community

wherever we move into our inner experience a similar cast of characters come out. some of them are wise characters:

—desiring peace, virtuous integrity, ease, generosity, effort, awareness, etc

these voices are stable, generally not too loud or repetitive, dramatic, agitated


others aren't as wise in the long term (nivaranas)

i want: craving love & approval, status, things that make us feel good, pleasant events, etc

dislike and fear: disapproval, loss of status or things, unpleasant events

restlessness, busyness: so much too do, can't relax, but it can never pinpoint what the exact most important thing we have to do, just a general we're not getting it done

escapist laziness: its all too much to deal with, i want to check out & feel nothing (not ease or relaxed, more annihilation)

mistrust, suspicion: nothing will work to bring me peace, its not for me, no confidence


often we've relied on these voices for security; they're great short term solutions and occasionally bring important news

—generally they're bad news if relied on or followed without investigation

—no matter what we acquire, where we go, we'll always have this inner community: they're survival instincts

unskillful voices are much louder, repetitive, insulting, drama queens, more agitated than the wise voices


normally we're so distracted by the world we only hear these voices whispering thoughts in our head about the world, influencing our behavior.

—but when we try to get peaceful and let go of the world, then we become aware of how distracting they can be

—they'll whisk us away from put on multimedia presentations, completely taking us out of our present experience


the closer we get to these thoughts, the more encompassing they become, like black holes the greater their gravitational pull, which in turn spreads agitation (kiriya) throughout the body, whisking us away from mindfulness


unsuccessful ways of relating to these characters:

1) playing dictator when we try to develop focus the mind.

—we beat up on ourselves with punishment and harsh judgments if we fail

—works only for a limited time

—encourages us to behave that way with others, which ingrains the behavior

—eventually our inner mob rebels.


2) dismissive facile reasoning

—telling fear there's nothing to be frightened of

—telling restlessness there's nothing to do

—telling craving everything it wants is empty,etc

—nivaranas don't go from shame, they're misguided survival strategies


how to get the community to work together towards peacefulness?

1) try to find wise voices in the world to embolden the calm inner voices


2) offer this inner community compelling reasons to work together, then we'll have longer term success:

—remind craving that we can get something that few beings have, inner peace, free

—remind fear that being focused makes us safer in the long term, more adaptable to real threats as they arise

—offer restlessness that we're not dropping anything of importance, that being focused will make us more efficient in getting things done

—escapist laziness: the goal is relaxed ease after all!

—mistrust: if meditation & the path doesn't pay off, we can always try something else


3) Sucitto suggests a nice rhythm--for example the breath

the breath has an amazing way of settling down the mind.


4) The mind is large and strong enough to contain thoughts and feelings without us breaking apart.

—Contact experience (ithoughts) without being pulled in

—we practice not being lured away into their multimedia presentations, we stay apart from mindfulness

—Learn to expand the felt, energy movement body beyond the shrunken confines of the emotional body


5) As a practice we learn to occur the mind not on that which is loudest or most active and dramatic and frantic, but on those experienced that are most stable, calm, etc

—if we learn to see that thoughts are like foam crests on a wave of inner sensations, we can catch them earlier and deal with them when they're small