by Stephanie Curnoe 
 
One of my most profound lessons from Suryacitta’s teachings is: understanding the true value of direct experience…. 
 
As a traditional acupuncturist, steeped in Daoist theory (Yin/Yang, the Law of the Five Elements, the Eight Principles etc.), my critical thinking often prompts me to challenge new teachings to see how they fit into the law models that are familiar to me. 
Mindfulness and the Truth of my Be-ing
“What about the Soul?” I asked, at a recent workshop. “Ah,” Suryacitta replied, “I had a feeling you were going to ask me that” – accustomed as he is to my modus operandi. 
 
Rather than launch into a theoretical debate and challenge my concepts, he very wisely by-passed my thinking brain and spoke directly to my awareness using an exercise which he levelled at each one of the participants in turn. It was hugely powerful. I had a new and fresh direct experience of that aspect of me without putting any kind of label on it. 
 
Let me tell you, it was a very blissful place to be…wordless, peaceful, infinite. And the amazing thing about having experienced it is that I can, with practice, access that space within myself again because I now know that place intimately. 
 
More recently Suryacitta emailed me and asked if I would like to write a blog for his website. Why not, I thought – I’ll give it a go. 
 
I started off writing, as above, recounting my direct experience in the Kuti then veered off into an explanation about the functions of the left and the right sides of the brain and how they impact of our consciousness according to Jill Bolte Taylor (a neuroanatomist who had a stroke aged 37). 
 
Master that he is, Surya was quick to spot this. He very gently pointed out that I have a lot of experience and it might be more interesting to hear how my practice has impacted on my life. 
 
Then it dawned on me, those words I had written had been Jill’s, not mine. It had been her experience, not mine. Seems that my learning about direct experience was only skin deep. 
 
How interesting… why had I not stayed present? Why disappear and substitute someone else’s experience for my own? When I reflected I could see how easily I had turned into Mr Benn and assumed a completely new identity, today the Neuro-anatomist, tomorrow the Magician [substitute, as required]! Rather than being present to my own experience I had disappeared and assumed another’s form. What a realisation! 
 
When I observe myself, I become curious about this pattern of mine. 
 
The first thing I noticed is that I didn’t have my normal emotional reaction to the feedback on my writing. This might not seem significant to you but it is highly significant to me. I remember when I embarked on a novel writing course, I received some critical feedback and I had a meltdown. Clearly, mindfulness has worked its magic at that level. From a trusted teacher, it felt constructive so I was able to take it in without my habitual defensive reaction. Quite the reverse, I felt open to the possibility of learning more about myself. Small victories. 
 
What is it about the pressure of performance that makes me abandon myself? Clearly my ego steps in, I escape into my intellect and overreach. And that appears to cause me to disconnect and jump out of my centre. What prevents me from staying connected and digging deeper into myself instead of outsourcing? 
 
I sit with these questions and watch to see what arises. This is my practice. Then I catch myself. I drop the questions and connect into that wordless place – the peaceful place that I’ve come to know. 
 
The guidance of a good teacher cannot be underestimated for we have many blind spots and cannot see ourselves…until we can. 
 
 
 
The truth of my be-ing was Written by Stephanie Curnoe 
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