Becoming Mindset vs Accepting Mindset

For this stress comes into play

in dependence on every acquisition.

With the ending of every clinging/sustenance,

there’s no stress coming into play.

Look at this world:

Beings, afflicted with thick ignorance,

are unreleased

from passion for what has come to be.

All levels of becoming,


in any way,

are inconstant, stressful, subject to change.

Seeing this–as it’s come to be–

with right discernment,

one abandons craving for becoming

and doesn’t delight in non-becoming.3

From the total ending of craving

comes fading & cessation without remainder:


For the monk unbound

through lack of clinging/sustenance,

there’s no further becoming.

He has conquered Māra,

won the battle,

having gone beyond becomings


Ud 3:10 (

There is a paradox in the spiritual path, in the adult development path, in the life path.

We move from dependence on our caretakers to a social identity based on peers to individualization of one’s values and beliefs.

It’s a pretty huge step going independent from one’s culture, one’s family, one’s expected path.

A lot of people who come to therapy, to meditation retreats, to circling immersions, to coaching, and self-help books are trying to become better. Trying to become my ideal self.

There’s always some wound that needs healing. Some skill I need to master. Some future becoming that promises fulfillment and wholeness.

And on one hand, it is kind of true. One can and does and ought to learn more skills. To receive the needed care and nourishment they missed out on. Development is a real thing.

But, then, a decade can go by. Two decades. And it seems that this pursuit of Becoming Better is its own form of delusion and suffering.

We replaced the masters of society or family or religion or work and instead made our cravings and passions into our master.

When we see the futility of this never-ending pursuit, we drop hope/fear (longing/dejection) for the world, for a future self, for anything and instead attend to what is here right now. Rather than pursuing some ideal Becoming, we utilize a skillful form of Becoming to pay attention to our Being. This is how we enter jhana. This is how you enter presence.

This is the path of say (good) therapy, circling, meditation. Martial arts. Yoga. Qigoing. It is the opposite of say Facebook, YouTube, advertising, and most prevalent forms of entertainment, comfort, and pleasure.

Because maybe this constant pursuit for Becoming is based on something we absolutely do not want to feel. Based on some addiction or passion we are not conscious of. And if that’s the case then the root of the problem is not on achieving the object of our passions but rather looking at the passion itself.

How to move towards a total acceptance of what is? Of who I am? Of the multitude of what I experience and what’s happening. This itself is a type of Becoming Work to become aware and accepting enough to notice experience without getting hooked.

In meditation, the question might be, “What if this breathe however it shows up is the perfect breathe? This very breathe right now.”

In circling, the question might be, “What if the way things are right now is actually perfect?”

And in life, the question might be, “What if this was exactly what is suppose to happen?”

Some may worry that this is justifying all types of terrible things. War. Violence. Abuse.

But the point is not to become a passive witness to life. Rather, it is to stop fighting existence and instead collaborate with Life towards truth, beauty, love. If we are actually rejecting some part of what already is existence then we are already in conflict with truth. And truth always win.

Then the Buddhist form of karma where on one hand, we take full acceptance for what is AND simultaneously we take full responsibility of our response towards what will be. We are both a product of our past actions and our current response.

I see this paradox and addiction showing up for me often. I constantly am trying to make sense of what am I to become now? What is my role in this life? Seeking an identity, a location, a network to Become and thereby feel whole again. But this is a fool’s errand if I cannot first stay at the level of Being. I am not a problem to be fixed or healed or solved. Rather, this life is an unfolding in partnership with Life itself.

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I don’t express anger because I don’t want to feel disappointed.

I’ve been working on how to hold intensity in my experience, particularly in my body.

If I had to bet, I believe this is a key component across many fields:

Sexual orgasmic pleasure.
Holding anger at others.
Ability to access jhana states in meditation.

Whatever experience we cannot consciously experience gets repressed, diffused, or managed somehow. As Shinzen says, meditation is all about having a complete experience. A lot of trauma work, meditation challenges, and so on is around fully experiencing what we could not hold before and how to more fully live now. We could also say being mindful, conscious, aware, present.

Children don’t have the neurology or skills yet to process traumatic experiences which leads to all kinds of consequences. For example, my parents fighting was so intense for my child mind and also didn’t have resources or people to process with afterwards that as an adult, I’ve become a peace keeper. So much of my habits and perception and behavior is around dissipating, avoiding, de-escalating conflict. This has benefits and also obvious downsides.

Recently, I was doing a session with a friend. And I have this static image of my parents fighting. It’s behind a glass screen. I try to enter the scene. To make it live. To make it 3D and with color. I haven’t fully processed these experiences.

I do a side move. What is it about anger and fighting that’s so overwhelming? And it’s not really anger. It’s really about disagreeing with anyone on something that feels fraught or potentially a deep values or perception difference. I’m scared of being abandoned? Of the other person leaving me because we disagree on such a fundamental axiom?

But as I peer even deeper. Something bubbles up that really I’m scared of feeling disappointed. I’m scared the other person won’t see me, won’t feel me, won’t understand me and then will leave. Losing a person is terrible. But what I really don’t want to feel is the disappointment of losing faith in someone. In a relationship.

And I think back to my family and see that disagreements lead to fights which lead to unresolved scars. If there was no way to fight and heal then the best thing is to nip the root. The root of disagreeing in the first place.

Of course, disagreement is a fact of life. Relationships have to learn how to fight well. And perhaps most importantly, to not be able to share disagreements means not being fully in.

Paradoxically, the more willing and able to feel disappointment, the more deeper a relationship can be then.

CircleAnywhere LevelUP Local Immersion @ Monastic Academy February 2022 Reflections

Recently, I participated in a four day immersion of the CircleAnywhere LevelUP Local taught by Mike Blas & Jordan Myska Allen. The Monastic Academy hosted the event.
I loved it. I felt the ground shifting under me each day. I saw small insights about my personality and behavior. The tensions in leadership of caring for others versus owning my desire. My love of circling and its potentials as a journey towards truth and being. I can’t put a pin quite on it, but it felt rich.
The most important aspect was that I felt excitement about my future rather than confusion and self-doubt. I came to terms with my future changes and voiced to Blas and Jordan wanting support in it. That felt good.
This weekend was also rare in that everyone participating were already experienced and advanced circlers. On the very first day, we dropped in deep and didn’t have the usual anxiety/having to teach circling/working through projections and defenses of those projections about patriarchy and colonialism and parents and shit. I mean that stuff still happens. But, each of us had enough trust and experience with the practice that we could use that all as fodder to move forward rather than get bogged down. The depths and momentum that we could go through with our group was much deeper and faster than any other circling group I’ve been a part of.
As I am writing, I remember several moments.
I remember connecting with Jordan and felt more like old time friends. We freestyled sang a song. And I felt a kinship around each of us wanting to support each other. We share this aspiration to ethically bring truth and love to the world at a mass level. It’s rare I meet others who are so committed to the path of truth and also willing and able to get messy with the practical aspects. ie. leadership, projects, and community and shit.
I remember we did an informal circle after-hours and the rest of the MAPLE community were invited to join, a few did. I felt a mix of pride and defensiveness initially. I wanted to show that MAPLE knows how to circle. And I also felt protective of the existing momentum the LevelUP group had already accrued and didn’t want to slow down. So, I held a much higher razor’s edge standard of presence and truth. It got edgy. And one point, one of the MAPLE folks asked me, “how come we don’t always circle like this?” I took it as an attack on me rather than an exciting call to action. Because deep down, I’m not sure it’s always possible. Isn’t this the human constant struggle? How much can life energy express without getting stepped on and hurt? How much can we let our inner light shine with others before it’s not okay? That’s the edge. Likewise, I felt a tinge of rejection that night in circling and spent the night crying and grieving deeply over my shadows and wounds. Of my childhood neglect. Of feelings of unlovability. Of inadequacy. It was painful but revelatory. It feels like I cleaned out some shadow memory of not being enough, of not feeling cared for enough in my childhood.
I also remember one of the exercises we did was new. It was around how we’re always setting context. Or our actions matter. Or karma is real.
It had three steps.
1) Noticing what is happening. (ex. I am anxious)
2) Noticing how I’m holding it (ex. I don’t like it, this isn’t okay.)
3) From that place, coaching myself to the next step. But expressing the coaching as if I was coaching the group. (ex. Sometimes, things are hard, that’s okay. Let yourself feel it.)
After several shares, I noticed I was anxious and scared and my shares were coming out aggressive and sharp. I also noticed my holdings were reactive and negative.
Another prompt for the second step was, “how would God hold me or relate to me right now?”.
So, I shifted taking a moment to move between Noticing to Holding. I could differentiate “How I was Automatically Holding” to the next step towards “How Would God (or any benevolent loving, wise figure)” hold me. And then take that on instead.
So for example, before I was saying, “I’m noticing I’m anxious and tense. I’m holding that with I fucking hate this. Stop being a wimp and surrender already.”
Now, I could go to “I’m noticing I’m anxious and tense. I don’t like it. (How would God treat me in this?) It’s okay to be tense sometimes. Allow yourself to move at the speed you need.”
It’s funny because it’s such a basic mindfulness 101 exercise. But it was so helpful to do it with another partner and felt a trippy, loving state.
Another moment, I was in a feedback circle. The person receiving feedback was transforming. A metamorphosis from a caterpillar to butterfly. I could see it in front of me. And I could witness that liminal space where all the mental models and defenses have to drop and enter the complete unknown. Shed all the old bones and skin. Become that transformative goo. And it finally dawned on me witnessing this person be so scared and fearful and nervous moving through this. Of course! I’ve been in that stage so many times and I always had this subtle judgment that I shouldn’t feel scared. One day I won’t face change and growth with so much life threatening fear. But seeing this person going through this, I instead felt compassion such that it reoriented my own beliefs. It felt like I gave myself permission to have a messy transformation because I felt compassion for my friend going through it. Of course it’d be scary. It’s healthy and normal to feel scared. The only question is completing it.
There were so many moments.
It was so amazing that six years ago I meet Blas and Jordan. And now I got to invite them to MAPLE. The different worlds of my life are cross pollinating and each world is getting stronger for it.
I first did circling back in 2015 in NYC, a weekend immersion with John, Sean, and Jordan. It was life changing for me. I started leading informal circles with friends back home. It helped me get over my self-doubts and apply to join MAPLE. Later, I started teaching it at MAPLE; it has become the most popular aspect of MAPLE, second only to the meditation interviews. I’ve spent more money invested in circling training than anything else. It’s changed my relationships, my leadership, my life in general.
In about two weeks, I’ll be co-leading a circling week-long retreat at MAPLE. My 9th? or something at this point.
Hope to see you at a Circle in the future.