In working on oneself, what are the missteps to avoid?
A pitfall that appears from time to time is the desire for permanence, the “once and for all,” which often follows a feeling of happiness, and which leads to falling back asleep and dreaming. Don’t make the mistake of judging what we see in ourselves (“it’s wrong, it’s good”), just note the inconsistencies of the various selves that make up our personality when they emerge. Don’t make the mistake of believing having knowledge, instead, remain humbly aware of the “I don’t know” state. Avoid transforming experiences into concepts. Generally speaking, avoid having expectations (of life, of the instructor …)
First of all, believing there’s a checkered flag finish and everything… The “eurekas” or sudden understandings can make us think that this is it, we have arrived, and that we just can to take it easy. It’s a big trap. Always remember impermanence! Hence the importance of vigilance. Another trap is to compare one’s path with that of others. Each person being unique, each path is also unique and therefore incomparable. Another mistake is to judge oneself, instead of remaining in neutral observation. Understand that momentum is not commitment. And lastly, a big mistake is to underestimate the endurance that this work requires.
In addition to what has just been said, I would add that a mistake to avoid is to consider that I myself am the author of this work, with all that results from it. If I see the work on me as the deployment of a force, of the consciousness that uses my person to feel itself, the observation is more relaxed, more amazed.
To avoid: thinking that I can stop being vigilant because I feel ok with myself, making a compromise to avoid necessary suffering or preserve my personal comfort, internal consideration (also towards myself: self-judgment, self-pity…), procrastination, conceptualizing work on oneself and losing body-consciousness: avoiding everything that makes me lose humility.
The main errors are the recovery by identity in the form of mental theorization to avoid the confrontation that leads to the necessary suffering. Effort also, which goes against existential relaxation, direct perception and acceptance of the necessary suffering: notions that I link directly to humility. Avoiding situations that could potentially lead to suffering. Having expectations and/or perspectives.
The major mistake to avoid is the loss of confidence in one’s master. Of course, there is resistance, but it is part of the process of burning it.
This is what came to me and what I find in the sayings of some and others: to believe that we have reached the Holy Grail and to rest on our laurels, to believe that we can find the answer through the mind and concepts. Confusing logical levels, especially in the relationship with the teacher… for example, seeking to imitate him to be like him instead of seeking to imitate him by being oneself. I mean, thinking I’m a separate entity that’s on the way and I am doing the work!
Forgetting to stay in the here and now and taking the risk of diving into the mind, forgetting to remain vigilant, forgetting to observe myself in relaxation and openness, forgetting to read my expectations as expectations, forgetting that it can be fatal to me.
These are the points that have come to me, already underlined by others: to believe that the Work is being done, while we are only thinking about it, that we are conceptualizing it, to believe that we have reached a stage where we can no longer regress. Believing oneself superior to others because of significant experiences or understandings (loss of humility), attaching oneself to an experience of grace or ecstasy and WANTING to relive or perpetuate it. Leaving the “I don’t know” (again, loss of humility) and thus rigidifying one’s ideas or understandings and losing the openness inherent in this “I don’t know.” Denying our shadows, our weaknesses, our own shit. Losing confidence in the guide. Wanting to avoid the discomfort that he invites us (consciously or not) to live. To abandon the presupposition that life leads us to live exactly what is necessary to liberate ourselves, and thus feel injustice or non-acceptance of what is. Get out of body consciousness, which leaves the door open to identification.
Losing body consciousness. Identification, comparison and judgement. Procrastination. Avoiding useful suffering through all this.
Believe that I can’t be touched by the lie. In fact I realize that it takes many forms, even very subtle. And sincerity doesn’t guarantee no lies.
To be in oblivion of oneself, to forget one’s commitment to oneself, to let oneself be won over by discouragement, despair, no longer trusting life, falling asleep in comfort, no longer feeling vulnerability.
Allowing oneself to lose alertness, allow oneself to identify, etc. For example, by putting a psychological parenthesis around a certain situation, thinking that they don’t count.