How does this relate?

-- Spiritual Approaches -- Psychotherapeutic Approaches --
-- Secular Approaches -- Philosophical Approaches --
--Scientific Approaches -- Healing Approaches --

There is a practical teaching below, called
"Looking for the Language of Being,"
with a how-to-do-it approach for researching all these fields "with new eyes."


How does mindful awareness tie-in
with the rest of what we know?

In each of these great fields there are certain teachers, and certain students of these teachers, who have been using mindful awareness every day.

Among Jews and Christians, these are the mystical Jews and Christians. Awareness can be in the province of other Jews and Christians, too. But the mystics are the ones who have specialized in this. In each of the other Great Religions, there is a mystical sect, as well.

Awareness rightfully belongs to all religious people everywhere. Yet, the Buddhists seem to have taken a lead in recent decades in showing how to do the practice of mindfulness. In particular, teachers of vipassana insight meditation and masters of Zen are the ones to look for this with.

And there are other Buddhist groups that teach this ancient practice, too--as I've found in surfing the Web. Any and all Buddhists are allowed to experience the awakened state. The Buddha's name, itself, says so (i.e. "Being Awakened").

Humble Vietnamese Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh's name comes up, as "the leading Buddhist teacher in this field today." (He wouldn't say that, of course!) All he says is, "Peace is Every Step,"the title of his major book. And waking up is what that takes. The subtitle: "The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life."

In the field of psychology and psychotherapy, it is certain schools and modalities of modern psychotherapy that bring mindful awareness into play in the practice of what is called, by some, "present-centered psychotherapy." In the main, these have been the Humanistic psychologists of mid-Century, like Carl Rogers, and Fritz Perls, who popularized the word "awareness"--also a number of the Transpersonal Psychologists of today, like Charles T. Tart and Arthur J. Deikman. And there are other contemporary approaches that have been developed, as well, such as Stephen Wolinsky's.

The practitioners of Humanistic Psychology, with their encounter groups, were known as "the founders of the human potential movement." Although Transpersonalists don't link up with Humanists, they are cousins under the skin.

Deikman, a psychiatry professor at the University of California, wrote a paper for the Tucson consciousness conference, called: "I = Awareness." Perls wrote "Gestalt Therapy Verbatim -- an action approach to deepening awareness and living fully in the Here and Now, as experienced in workshops at Esalen Institute." Wolinsky wrote "Quantum Psychotherapy" about awareness, too.

Although Carl Jung appears to have known and used mindful awareness in his practice of psychotherapy (and his life), and in certain key ways was a harbinger of the use of mindfulness in modern therapy today, much remains to be discovered about his work, perhaps even by some current Jungians. To me, he is like a "grandfather" of the Humanists.

More authoritatively, according to the Association for Humanistic Psychology in San Francisco (see Virtual Library):

. . . on the whole mainstream American psychology was dominated by two schools of thought: behaviorism and psychoanalysis. Ivan Pavlov's work with the conditioned reflex . . . had given birth to . . . "the science of behavior" (in Abraham Maslow's terminology, "The First Force.") . . . The "Second Force" emerged out of Freudian psychoanalysis and the depth psychologies of Alfred Adler, Erik Erickson, Erich Fromm, Karen Horney, Carl Jung, Melanie Klein, Otto Rank, Harry Stack Sullivan and others." . . . By the late 1950's a "Third Force" was beginning to form. In 1957 and 1958, at the invitation of Abraham Maslow and Clark Moustakas, two meetings were held in Detroit among psychologists who were interested in founding a professional association dedicated to a more meaningful, more humanistic vision. . . . In 1961, with the sponsorship of Brandeis University, this movement was formally launched as the American Association for Humanistic Psychology. The first issue of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology appeared in the Spring of 1961. -- (This is a long quote to presume to take, but . . . let the credit lie where it belongs!)

As for Jung, here's a little of what he says:

. . . There is a psychology which is the knowing of the knower and an experiencing of the experiment. (1935)

'Nuff said, for now. That's enough for me to see this might be "awareness talk."

Throughout the history of philosophy, proponents of mindful awareness have sprung up here and there. Where our own generations have started paying attention to this among modern philosophers, the most prominent teachers have been Edmund Husserl, secular creator of "the phenomenological method," his student Martin Heidegger, the Christian founder of modern European existentialism; also, atheistic existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre, and Hassidic existentialist Martin Buber.

Although mindfulness appears to have been associated with healers and shamans, perhaps for as long as humans have been around on this planet (as a natural homo sapiens "calling," perhaps), it does not appear to have been accepted by modern practitioners of medicine until recent years. A master of the applications of mindfulness to the medical setting is Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the best-selling "Wherever You Go There You Are, Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life." Dr. Kabat-Zinn is a pioneering specialist in the uses of mindfulness for medical stress reduction, and his books are in bookstores now.

Let me emphasize-- since many of these people we are speaking of here are not in the realm, formally, at least, of "spirituality"--that mindful awareness is not solely a practice and tool of religion, but also of the secular and social side of life. Dr. Kabat-Zinn, however, describes making a medical practice from weaving in his experiences in the practices of Buddhism, as well.

Mindfulness is this modern doctor's only "medicine." He is a modern "medicine man."

 ·    ·    ·

Looking for the Language of Being

How do we know for sure that the words of an inspired mystic of several centuries ago, or some beatific philosopher from a foreign culture meant exactly the same thing as this experience of mindful awareness that is being examined and studied here? (I include you in this, by the way, because after you have taken a little of this training --if you cannot do so already--you will be able to do what I am describing here, too, with any of your favorite books that you may have wondered about.)

Well, perhaps we don't know for sure. As don Coyotl pointed out in our e-mail correspondence (see Mindful Awareness Magazine) "Seek and you shall find (what you were looking for)." Yes, it's easy to imagine things. It's easy to pretend that the intellectual concepts of others are saying what we think they mean when, in truth, we really don't understand each other.

The words that practitioners use for and about awareness are metaphors of the experience. These metaphors are sort of like puns. One "catches on" to them. They go beyond intellectual explanations, because they allude to an experience. If it is an experience that two people have had in common, then either one of them can "try on" that metaphor and be able to say, "Yeah, this experience is really a lot like that metaphor for me, too!"

The metaphors of awareness are like a language of their own which describes a realm of experiences. I think it was Carl Rogers who called this "the language of being." When you take this training you are going to be learning the language of being. Most of what any of us say and write down for others to read is in "the language of thinking."

These two metaphors are clearly understandable to all practioners of awareness. The language of ordinary life, as most people know it throughout the surface of this planet every day, is the language of thinking. The language of awareness is the language of being. If you don't understand this now, you will understand it like you know the rain is wet when you have completed the training in the kindergarten here.

After don Coyotl and I met by e-mail through the Net, two strangers who didn't know anything about each other, don Coyotl let me know right at the outset that he is a practitioner of mindful awareness. He doesn't call it that. I don't remember if he's ever used any particular word for it. Yet we were both able to catch on at the outset that we are both practitioners of awareness, and that awareness means the same thing to both of us in our experience of it.

We did this by metaphors. We did this by starting to speak the language of being with each other. (Oh, I did get off into the language of thinking a lot with him there, too. After these conversations that appear in Mindful Awareness Magazine, he confronted me on this like a jaguar. But, that's another story. The point is, we established from the beginning that we both are practitioners of awareness.)

So when I am reading one of the Gnostic Gospels, or a Gospel in the New Testament, or a teaching by a Buddhist master, or a Jewish existentialist, or a profound statement by a nuclear physicist after an epiphany of seeing existence as an energy flow (instead of things)--when I'm reading in Carlos Castaneda, or Thich Nhat Hanh . . . or Charles T. Tart, Jon Kabat-Zinn . . . what I am looking for is hints, and clues, and maybe a pun or two.

Is this person talking to me about awareness as I know the experience? I am looking for metaphors of experience. I am looking for little samples, dropped in here and there, perhaps as if "by accident," which seem to be speaking to me on a deeper level than intellectual understanding. I am looking for little obscure fragments, and phrases off in the corner that tell me, with a sense of surprised certainty, that this writer is speaking to me in the language of being.

Spiritual Approaches


I wish the word could get out, somehow, to Fundamentalist Christians in America, that just because a person is a "secular humanist" does not mean that they are anti-religious, or anti-Christian, or even anti- the things that Fundamentalist Christians are sharing with us about. A person can be a secular humanist and love the Lord, as well!

My own teacher of secular humanism is Mitsuo Aoki (former Dean of the University of Hawaii College of Religion, and now Founder of the Foundation for Holistic Healing, in Kaneohe, by the ocean on the North Shore of the Island of Oahu). Dr. Aoki is a Hawaiian-Japanese teacher of Zen Buddhism, an ordained Christian minister, and a personal pupil of a Jewish Hassidic master.

Once it has become established in my sense of experience that I am being addressed by a teacher of mindfulness in a piece of writing I'm enjoying, then I am able to examine all the rest of what that teacher is teaching literally. In other words, I do believe in a "literal interpretation of the Bible," as the Fundamentalists do.

I cannot say that I "understand the Bible." The plain fact is, there is much more there that I don't understand than the little I feel that I can. But I am able to look at the Bible as the literal teaching of God's Will. There are so many passages that baffle me, and whole books that I have no frame of reference for at all. Sacrificing animals? I don't *know* what I'd do if God called upon me to do that today.

And I wish you'd remember, above all, that I'm not saying *anyone* else should have the same experiences as me, on the solitary path that I travel. For this is a personal matter, and different in each and every one of us, indeed.

So, these are not "literal" translations I am attempting here:

You have eyes and you don't see. You have ears and you don't hear. Wake up! The Kingdom is here now.

While you guys are waiting here at the Garden, don't fall asleep. Remember to go into your inward chambers, and close the door behind.

Forgive them, Father, for I understand they are asleep, and they know not what they do.

For me, the New Testament is full of metaphors of the language of being. It is one of my favorite books, one of the books I sometimes carry in my pack when I'm off working in the desert at my other job. I think I see indications on the Web that more and more ministers and teachers of the Christian faith are realizing the relevance of mindfulness teachings in the good works that they are doing today. More power to 'em! As a Christian, I'd like to help out any way I can.


And I'm a Buddhist, as well. I've been reading the works of Buddhist masters for more than forty years. Of course, these books are replete with the language of being. And my teacher Mits is a Buddhist as well as a Christian, and taught me the language of being . . . in Manoa Valley, with his phenomenological method, and his smiles and hula dance.

"Mindfulness," itself, is a Buddhist word. Among the Buddhist teachers that I have admired the most have been Ch–gyam Trungpa, the wonderful Tibetan master, who taught for many years in Colorado, and Suzuki Roshi, the great Zen master who came to California in the 'Sixties--both now dead, God bless them--and His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, of the sorely pained people of Tibet. And, yes, the language of being seems to come up throughout all of their writings, too.

I was having lunch in downtown Tucson a number of years ago with one of the "highest ranking" Buddhist teachers in America. (I prefer not to be explicit, as I would not have a right to do so.) In this conversation, bless his heart, he urged me to attempt to write a book on the things I coach in the awareness game (in the kindergarten here!) in the language and technical terms of a "Buddhist Lamrim." He wrote the idea on his card, and gave it to me, as if to hammer his enthusiasm home.

I couldn't really do that, of course, since I'm not really "one of them," to that degree. I haven't really walked in their shoes. So I wouldn't be honestly entitled to take a crack at a project like that. Yet it was a very nice gesture. I felt very lucky that day.

He told me, in searching for the words that he came up with then, that he thought that what I am is what is called "a solitary realizer." I was delighted with that. I don't ever remember anybody trying to pin an explanation on me before, as to what it is that I am. Maybe he said "an independent realizer." Yes, I think that's what he said. I am an independent, at least. And I really like Buddhism, too.

Other Spiritual and Sacred Approaches

The language of being is to be spotted here and there in the sacred writings and scriptures of all the great religions over history. Modern experiences in such ancient practices as Hawaiian kahunism and Toltec sorcery have re-discovered the awareness components in these "primitive" approaches, as well. (When you are web-surfing, see, in any examples of all of these types, whether you can find the language of being. Sometimes yes, sometimes no, is what I've found.)

Among the Sufis, among the Hindus, among many small religious groups, the language of being is found. But not always. It is up to a seeker (this is a traditional teaching) to develop the *descrimination* to determine if it is there. For otherwise, one can go off into side-paths, that may be good on their own, yet which have nothing to do with the seeking after the "light" that certain religious pilgrims are pursuing.

Psychotherapy Approaches

There are those who regard the practice of spiritual approaches, like Buddhism, to be the practice of psychotherapy, itself. In fact, Alan Watts once wrote a book, "Psychotherapy East and West," that is all about just that. And you can find Buddhist Psychotherapists on the Web right now, if you'd like to. It makes perfect sense to me.

Before I met him, Mits went across the ocean to Esalen, in California, and learned gestalt therapy--I suppose to bring the pro-active techniques and methods of a modern psychotherapy modality back with him to Hawaii. This could only add to the panoply of wisdom and experiences that he had as a Buddhist-Christian-Jew. I was one of the students that was allowed to be in psychotherapy with him--as I worked for him as an assistant teacher.

I was sort of an independent rascal, too. And he needed to keep an eye on me at times. He drew a bit on gestalt therapy in doing this therapy work (because I was familiar with that), but mostly the basis of his work with me was Buber's "I and Thou" model. I would come into his office every week, and share personal stories with Mits about how I was going around being "I and it" in my life. And he'd show me what "I and Thou" is. This was all in the language of being.

Off the campus, I hung out with and lived with a bunch of gestalt and primal psychotherapists. Among them were found an assortment of Buddhist, Christian, and Jewish personal practices, but it was an ecumenical environment, and we practiced an intendedly psychotherapeutic (i.e. healing) way of life together in the commune that we all shared.

Gestalt and Primal therapies--(you may remember about Primal Therapy from the album about it that John Lennon cut from first-hand experience, "Imagine.")--were very well known at that time. These approaches were among what was called at mid-Century, the Humanist School. They were characterized by the "encounter group," "experiential exercises," "processing feelings," and "the development of human potential" -- by "being aware of the here and now."

The roots of the Humanist Psychotherapies came out of the work of Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Fritz Perls, and a group of also excellent teachers, human potential pioneers, who sprang up in those times and flourished. This was the era of "pop psychology" and anybody could walk in and get in on the act. Here's Fritz (in "Gestalt Therapy, Verbatim"):

If you are in the now, you are creative, you are inventive. If you have your senses ready, if you have your eyes and ears open, like every small child, you find a solution.

. . . the meaning of life is that it is to be lived, and it is not to be traded and conceptualized and squeezed into a pattern of systems. We realize that manipulations and control are not the ultimate joy of life. . . . To be able to do this, there is only one way through: to become real, to learn to take a stand, to develop one's center, to understand the basis of existentialism: a rose is a rose is a rose.

I do my thing, and you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations. And you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you, and I am I. And if by chance, we find each other, it's beautiful. If not, it can't be helped. (This became known as The Gestalt Prayer.)

To suffer one's own death and be reborn is not easy.

These are excerpts from "Gestalt Therapy Verbatim," 1969. Over time, Gestalt and Primal therapies may seem to be diminishing in America. There are still a few gestaltists in Arizona left. I attended a group with a gestalt teacher in Phoenix some years ago that took me back to those times in Hawaii--and it was "deja vu all over again," being facilitated to be aware of my process, and learning how to take responsibility for what I choose. It's good stuff. They have carried the torch!

So I may have been one of the last of a still-surviving breed, when I retired from practicing gestalt therapy twelve years ago. The language of being is implicit in all gestalt therapy practices--yet even here, among some of those who wear this cap, this inner truth about "awareness" that Perls taught about seems to be fading out.

In recent times, a new breed of mindful psychotherapists has come forth--those in the very large movement called "Transpersonal Psychology." Many (but not all) of these, are awareness teachers at the same time that they practice psychotherapy. One of the most interesting proponents of this school is Charles T. Tart, whose book called "Living the Mindful Life -- a Handbook for Living in the Present Moment" (1995) is one of the modern classics in this field, a pioneering work, indeed.

Sogyal Rinpoche, writing the Foreward to Dr. Tart's book in April 1994, says:

I found to my surprise that many spiritual practitioners today lack the knowledge of how to integrate their meditation practice with everyday life. . . the true discipline of meditation is to maintain the thread of mindfulness throughout our everyday life. It is the continual application of that presence of mind that can bring about a deep change in a person's life, and become a source of real healing.
Tart learned how to practice psychotherapy with mindful awareness from studying the teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff. He is one of the clearest expressors about Gurdjieff's largely abstruse body of work in the world today. Gurdjieff, who was an Orthodox Christian priest as a young man, had a background in Hindu, Buddhist, and several other spiritual approaches, as well, and sometimes allowed that his teachings were, after all, "Christian."

Yet the heart of the "Whole" method that Gurdjieff constructed in order to share awareness with the students who came to him (in Russia, France, and later in America, too, during early years of this Century), was derived from the practices he did with dervishes. Muslims, of the Naqshibandi Sufi Order are generally credited as the source of Gurdjieff's principal teachings about "self-remembering" and "the Work." He wrote "Life Is Real Only Then, When 'I Am.'"

One of the things that we can see from all of this is that awareness is "transportable." It can be learned from many spiritual sources, (or other sources) and transported into the realms of psychotherapy and many other fields, as well.

By no means are all of the Transpersonalists of today "spiritual teachers." Some are, and some aren't. But the very field of Transpersonalism is so closely linked with the many fields of spiritual awareness, that the therapy results may turn out to be the same.

I have worked with both Humanist and Transpersonal colleagues in the years when I worked in a number of clinics before I retired. Each of those times, we all came up with a different "collective language" to use together, because we all were from such different modalities and study backgrounds.

And it has been my own experience that each of these clinic argots at every place I practiced, worked very smoothly for all of us, quickly cutting through to all of the understandings that we needed. This was in staff meetings, case supervision conferences, helping each other with problems in our cases. This worked because we all knew the language of being, and could make up our own metaphors there.

Secular Approaches

I suppose we could call philosophical, scientific, medical, and healing approaches that rely on the use of mindful awareness "secular," but I am addressing secularists here, as a group, in the personal disposition of who they may be.

The awareness game that you will find here in the kindergarten is a secular approach. It doesn't require adherence to any particular spiritual, psychological, philosophical, or other kind of path. Yet I am trying to link it, in this paper, with the heart of these teachings, as well.

In all approaches, mindful awareness is studied on a foundation of learning how to love. This does not have to be looked at religiously, however. Anyone of any persuasion who is interested in a more peaceful and harmonious life, an awakened life, may feel at home with some of the approaches that are described here.

I include this "secular" category for those of you who come along and wish for this awareness work to be purely secular--those who--for whatever your valid reasons--would prefer to not "get involved in spiritual pursuits." That is perfectly all right! Awareness can be looked at as spiritual. Awareness can be looked at as secular. Awareness is simply a natural human experience (that few people have discovered), that is universally applicable spiritually, and without reference to spirituality at all.

I say this to you, if you may be concerned along these lines, so you'll feel *welcome* as you browse through pages here. The coaching found at Teaching Tools for Mindfulness Training is not designed to "turn you into a 'spiritual' person." It is for facilitating you to find this experience of awareness, if you'd like to, and see if you like it, or not. Those who would use it for "spiritual" or "secular" aims, are free to do so as they will.

There is one special secular example I would like to give here, and that is in the field of sports. (I am a fan.) To all students here who are sports fans, I highly recommend "Sacred Hoops--Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior" by Phil Jackson. He is, of course, Coach of the many-time-champion Chicago Bulls.

You can find here how a man from a conservative Christian background that is close to his heart, with Zen Buddhist studies thrown in, has learned how to use the practice of mindfulness to coach two of the best all-star players in all basketball, the best rebounder over the years, and the best three-point shooter (Steve Kerr from the University of Arizona Wildcats! Yeah!).

You can see how he has been able to coach all these many remarkably diverse personalities on this team to play so well together that way! Their "triangle offense" is based on transcendental experiences. Yes, "Sacred Hoops" is full of the language of being, too, of course. Here, he credits a coach in his own early years:

New York's Red Holzman also gave me a favorable report, and, after I made the All-American team again as a senior, the Knicks drafted me in the second round. . . . As we were driving along the expressway into Manhatten, a teenager threw a rock at the car from an overpass and smashed the windshield. . . . Thus began my course in the Holzman school of management. Lesson one: Don't let anger--or heavy objects thrown from overpasses--cloud the mind. . . . Lesson two: Awareness is everything.

I don't know if Coach Holzman understood awareness the way Coach Jackson does. But I know the Bulls have a mindfulness teacher, because he says so.

Ultimately the key would be to increase my level of awareness. My teacher was Bill Bradley. . . .I turned to Joel Goldsmith's "Practicing the Presence," a book that attempts to bridge the gap bestween East and West by using Christian maxims as guidelines for meditation. . . . Then I turned to Zen. . . The point of Zen practice is to make you aware of the thoughts that run your life and diminish their power over you. . . . Being aware is more important than being smart.

Scientific Approaches

There are a variety of scientific approaches to looking into the meaning of human consciousness. The ongoing conferences at the University of Arizona, "Towards a Science of Consciousness," are a special example. On the one side, at "Tucson III," are scientists of thinking. On the other, a minority, are scientists who are discovering the language of being--which is not a language of thinking, but a language of pure experiencing, instead.

A very interesting phenomenon in the realm of science has been the group of nuclear physicists and people with highly advanced understandings of physics, who have been emulating the transcendental experiences of scientist David Bohm. These entail the private contemplations of Einstein's famous theories, Heisenberg's "Uncertainty Principle," and such formulae as these.

In epiphanous papers, some of these scientists have been writing about their realizations of "the awakened state," and seeing a world in which things are not really things, but only energy enfolding back and forth. (This is the contemplation of the explicate and implicate orders.) It sounds rather like the peak experiences of mystics and yogis, too. And Bohm, apparently a very dear and loving man, has been referred to very often as "a secular saint." He died in 1992.

So, yes, if you were wondering--in these epiphanous papers of theirs, these brains, these infinite-numbers crushers, are speaking the language of being, too. These quotes are from the Mystic Fire web site, the first from an unsigned paper:

Bohm redefined physics. To him . . . physics is about nature and our understanding of nature. . . . He saw an undivided wholeness enfolded into an infinite background source that unfolds into the visible, material, and temporal world of our everyday lives. He said that thought can grasp the unfolded, but only something beyond thought--intuition, unmediated insight, intelligence, can *experience* the enfolded.

(Emphasis by the writer.)

The mystical connotations of Bohm's ideas are underlined by his remark that the implicate domain "could equally well be called Idealism, Spirit, Consciousness. . . . The separation of the two -- matter and spirit -- is an abstraction. The ground is always one."

(This quote is from Michael Talbot, "The Holographic Universe," 1991 -- article by David Pratt, in Sunrise magazine, Theosophical University Press.)

-- by John Bilby
Easter Sunday, April 12th, 1998

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