Module 3B

#3 WHAT ENDS IT? Propose a solution.

3B: Forget Who You Think You Are: Reversing the Momentum of Ambivalent Grasping

Pre-requisite 2C: The Corruption of the Momentum of Choice: Insatiability, Fragmentation, & Ambivalence


When the Body-Mind regenerates Body, it “remembers” to regenerate lasting physical scars. When the Mind-Body regenerates Mind, it “remembers” to regenerate lasting psychological scars as well—including addiction. The discontinuity of Factual Memory regenerates Craving Mind within the Factual Self; the continuity of Volitional Memory regenerates Grasping Mind within the Self-Image. By Passively Forgetting the Volitional Self and Actively Remembering the Factual Self, a whole and healthy State of Self—incapable of being addicted—is reconstructed.

“If you could get rid
Of yourself just once,
The secret of secrets
Would open to you.
The face of the unknown,
Hidden beyond the universe
Would appear on the
Mirror of your perception.”
—Jalaluddin Rumi


3A Beginning with the Solution 3B Forget Who You Think You Are 3C Remember Who You Really Are
A spiritual experience of sufficient power will temporarily break the mental obsession for the first drink. An end to the physical phenomenon of craving is currently unknown. The Passive Forgetting of Who We Think We Are requires the Knowledge of Seeing Simultaneously and the Power of Forgiveness. The Knowledge that results from Seeing Simultaneously keeps new Momentum from Ambivalent Grasping from arising; the Power that results from Forgiveness extinguishes previous Momentum from Ambivalent Grasping. The Active Remembering of Who We Are requires the Knowledge of Seeing Directly and Power of Repentance The Knowledge that results from Seeing Directly keeps new Momentum from Fragmented Craving from arising; the Power that results from Repentance extinguishes previous Momentum from Fragmented Craving.

We have already proposed one Strategy for mitigating the Momentum of Choice at the end of the Feeling → Craving → Grasping chain of causation: bringing our vision of who we think we are in line with our vision of who we actually are—our Factual Self & Self-Image. But the desire to resolve Factual Self & Self-Image would simply create another round of Feeling → Craving → Grasping and its attendant pair of Factual Self & Self-Image. We must use more indirect means.

In our quest for a solution, it seems logical that in order to vacate an addiction we must somehow slow the proliferating momentum of Feeling → Craving → Grasping that feeds our attachment to our Self-Image as an Addict. Such an expansive force cannot be reversed by the simple cause and effect mechanism of making choices, but must possess its own proliferating momentum. With the material developed thus far, our best attempts at drawing a pathway back to that liberation is to simply stop the Momentum of Choice at three chokepoints.

Each of the three strategies has a real life tactical approximation:
FIRST TACTIC: 3B Forget Who You Think You Are: Reversing the Momentum of Ambivalent Grasping

“A simple tactic crystallized: ignore all ambivalent feelings about alcohol and continue drinking. Make no direct effort to stop. A lifetime of indifference now became my stalwart ally, as I was willing to commit to this peculiar policy without expecting any specific or immediate results. I would not react to any deviation in plan, as there was no plan. Without intentionally moving towards a goal of sobriety or reacting against obstacles on the path towards that goal, I would no longer be feeding that part of my Self that was identifying with being “alcoholic.”The hungry ghost would die of starvation as I drank my way back to sobriety, and because it is impossible to drink your Self sober, the intention and reaction of ego would have no reason to enter the process and sabotage it.”


SECOND TACTIC: 3C Remember Who You Really Are: Reversing the Momentum of Fragmented Craving

“But in not-doing, I would leave nothing undone. Slowly, day by day, I made small changes in other areas of my life while continuing to drink, minimizing any harm that might come to others from that drinking. I kept the beer but give up the chicken and pizza. I exercised more and lost a little weight. I started showing more consideration for the people around me by eliminating unhealthy thoughts and behaviors from my repertoire. Darkness will not survive the light; disease cannot thrive in a healthy environment. I wanted to create a lifestyle that would choke alcoholism out of existence.


THIRD TACTIC: 4C Neutralizing the Power Source: Reversing the Momentum of Insatiable Feeling

“Instead, a volitional gap was opening up between the thought of drinking and the act of taking the first drink, a discontinuity that I had never observed during my first bout with alcohol; perhaps it had always been there, but I just didn’t see it. Within such a suspension of intent I did not feel under the grip of any compulsion, but instead felt as if offered a brief moment to decide whether or not to drink.”


Forget Who You Think You Are, Remember Who You Really Are, & Neutralizing the Power Source are, hopefully, reasonably user-friendly phrases. Notice that we are combining our nine pragmatic ideas—Perception, Factual Memory, Reactive Memory, Feeling, Craving, Grasping, Insatiability, Fragmentation, & Ambivalence—in some new couplings that will reinforce their meaning: Ambivalent Grasping, Fragmented Craving, and Insatiable Feeling.

Extreme Difficulty Alert
ABSTRACT: The Knowledge that results from Seeing Simultaneously and Seeing Directly keeps new Momentum from arising. The Power that results from Forgiveness & Repentance extinguishes previous Momentum. The Passive Forgetting of Who We Think We Are requires the Knowledge of Seeing Simultaneously and the Power of Forgiveness. The Active Remembering of Who We Are requires the Knowledge of Seeing Directly and Power of Repentance.

In order to strategically support any real-life tactics, we will have to Analyze and Synthesize several interlocking and overlapping terms. Criss-crossing Horizontal and Vertical relationships, similar to basic cogniventive method will make this a challenge:

The Knowledge that results from Seeing Simultaneously and Seeing Directly keeps new Momentum from arising
The Power that results from Forgiveness & Repentance extinguishes previous Momentum

The Passive Forgetting of Who We Think We Are requires the Knowledge of Seeing Simultaneously and the Power of Forgiveness
The Active Remembering of Who We Are requires the Knowledge of Seeing Directly and Power of Repentance

  • KNOWLEDGE & POWER: Each opportunity has a component of Knowledge & Power because Knowledge & Power is the first casualty of the War within Self: we are rendered too confused to see what is happening & too weak to begin making new choices should we actually see what is happening. Power here is the Power of Moral Authority, the ability of Body-Mind to consistently act with skillful means within the World in which it makes choices.
  • FORGIVENESS & REPENTANCE: In the ongoing dialogue between Body-Mind and World, Forgiveness addresses the wrongs done to us; Repentance addresses the wrongs we have done to others. It is within this ongoing dialogue that we close the gap between Factual Self and Self-Image. Note: This is only one way of looking at Moral Authority: if we were instead looking at the good that we have done others and the good that others have done to us, then our little 2 x 2 table would include the words “Humility” and “Gratitude” instead.
  • NEW & OLD MOMENTUM: Because choice is both cause and effect, the freedom to choose requires that we not only keep new momentum (that distorts our ability to choose) from arising, but that we extinguish the imprints/effects of previous momentum that resides within memory.
  • SEEING BOTH DIRECTLY & SIMULTANEOUSLY: Seeing directly is focused concentration that observes one phenomenon to the exclusion of others. Seeing simultaneously is unfocused awareness that observes all phenomena presented to it without favoring any. When we test concentration by trying to focus on one thing we find that our mind will, in very short order, wander on to something else. When we test unfocused awareness by letting it wander without a leash we find that our mind will, in very short order, start obsessing about a particular thing. One of the first questions that comes from testing concentration and awareness in this manner: Have we inadvertently trained our mind to do exactly the opposite of what we tell it to do? A good place to start answering this question: Turning the Mind Into an Ally by Sakyong Mipham.
  • PASSIVE FORGETTING & ACTIVE REMEMBERING: With memory as one of our unifying principles, we choose “remembering” and “forgetting” as a consistent terminology. We use “active” and “passive” to acknowledge that direct attempts to battle our compulsions often make the situation worse. Note: for the student requiring a religious interpretation, “remembering” in the cogniventive sense mirrors the Kabbalistic, Bhaki, and Sufi efforts to always “remember God.”
  • OPENING THE GAP: One of the first benefits of seeing simultaneously is a “slowing down” of the process of becoming until rapid, jittery, squirrel-like images transform themselves into slow, majestic, glacier-like observations. Another benefit: Eventually a “gap” that opens up just after the generation of a new State of Self and just before the process of feeling, craving, and grasping begin again.

    Opening the Gap

    Much nonsense has been perpetrated about that gap and if your guru talks about the “space between thoughts” then they are at best sloppy with their language and at worst clueless that the gap is one of time, not space. In the same manner, if your self-help hero talks about the present moment as being “timeless” instead of the more accurate “fleeting”, you might want to reconsider you allegiance. Although I am not qualified to teach anyone about meditation, I do know that precision in language leads to precision in thinking, and that if you want to find better answers, you need to ask better questions.

EXERCISE 3B: REACTING TO YOUR REACTIONS. It is often said that it is not what happens to you that matters most, it is how you react to what happens to you. This is a false teaching. What matters most is how you react to your reactions. This is not wordplay and understanding the difference can mean a life of freedom rather than a life of servitude. To understand the momentum of choice— contact – feeling ~ craving ~ grasping – becoming (suffering) – GAP – sensation –etc—we study in forward and reverse orders and this requires concentration and
choiceless awareness
). Contact always gives rise to feeling; grasping always gives rise to becoming. Craving needs ignorance as a cofactor to arise from feeling and subside into craving What does it feel like to resist an impulse? What does it feel like to give in to an impulse? Craving is reacting to Feeling; Grasping is reacting to Craving. With this exercise we understand the true purpose of prayer and meditation: to expose our intermittent self-awareness, our intermittent consciousness, our intermittent will. Enlightenment does not remove character defects—it exposes them.

To reverse the momentum of selfish desire, begin at our first point of attack:

Strategy 1

Before we introduce our first strategy, we examine “Grasping” a little bit further.


All Grasping is Irreversible

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

–Matthew 5: 27-28.

Reminder #1: Volitional Memory propels Craving into Grasping: making a decision to move towards what is pleasant, away from what is unpleasant, or deliberately ignore what is of no interest—signifying that we intend to in the future.

The presence of Craving does not mandate that we must act upon that Craving—only when Craving is elevated to Grasping is action—either physical or psychological—compelled (mental action); and this requires a Self-Image that makes a decision, as well as an identification with that Self-Image as an independent, unchanging “I.” (Our movement from a Substance-Causality explanation of Self to a Process-Creativity of Self has been designed to loosen this attachment to this “I”—the full development of this non-attachment will not be complete until (Module 4C)) At that moment the individual must react to the impulse in some manner, and any reaction—positive, negative, or indifferent—deposits an irreversible residue of psychophysical momentum on Body-Mind that distorts the next impulse and the next reaction. Grasping, not Craving, creates the Addict: mental action is the “instinct gone astray” that the 12 Step Tradition identifies as the cause of destructive drinking. Within the Momentum of Choice model, THE instinct gone astray is the instinct to preserve our Self-Image at all costs, even at the cost of our own lives.

The critical distinction between Craving and Grasping offers us a clue for why a person who gives up something because it has made their lives unmanageable never really gives up (Module 4A), and how alcoholism can appear to strengthen over time even when a person is not drinking. At the level of Grasping each time you actively engage a compulsion through any thought or action—even successfully resisting or ignoring—you do not weaken its grip, you strengthen it because you strengthen the Self-Image that serves as the repository of the momentum of all past choices. And the more you engage it the more you strengthen it. At the level of Craving this strengthening does not occur. Every explanation of addiction that I have encountered misses this by failing to distinguish between Craving and Grasping.

This unsettling paradox happens automatically during our simple struggle to survive in the world, because everything we do in that struggle gets filtered through the Self-Image and becomes part of proliferating Psycho-Physical Momentum—including any psychological movement to escape. Many of us can sense the reflexive nature of what we do. As we try harder and harder to shed our past, we can feel ourselves sinking deeper and deeper into our self-imposed prisons. Any direct attempt at Self-improvement is doomed to failure because it emphasizes the Self-Image, which doesn’t necessarily seek “improvement,” but instead, survival, continuance, and expansion—which we mistake for improvement. Even the most benign choice made out of self-interest—before one realizes how that Self is constructed through Feeling, Craving, and Grasping—enslaves us even more to the proliferating Self-Image, regardless of whether or not those choices are directed at Self-improvement. A most unfortunate and perplexing situation for a species to be in.

First Strategy: 3B Forget Who You Think You Are: Reversing the Momentum of Ambivalent Grasping

“Forget who we think we are” sounds simple enough. Admittedly, “Passively Forget the Volitional Self” seems to complicate the issue. Because the force behind Volitional Memory is not compartmentalized into liking, not liking, and not caring, we can easily see how the proliferating the Momentum of Choice can bundle around a single factual memory with disproportionate power—in a “love-hate” relationship both love and hate contribute to the power of the attachment. For example, when someone hurts you the way they have done before you not only remember that they have hurt you before, but you now have the capacity to feel your reaction to every string of hurts together in one moment of remembering.

“The mind creates the “self” through the consolidation of “memories”
and reinforces them by mobilizing behind each the cumulative strength of all.”
—Dhopeshwarker, p. 23.

In a similar manner,

The Self creates the “addict” through the consolidation of “graspings”
and reinforces them by mobilizing behind each the cumulative strength of all.

(Note: we will see this powerful strategy of substituting terms that describe addiction into terms that describe human suffering throughout the cogniventive matrix)

Years of riding the volitional train of Feeling → Craving → Grasping to the final, integrated destination of “becoming” give you the capacity to remember every Grasping together in one momentary impulse. No wonder addiction as mental obsession is so overwhelming! Seen in this manner, the “uncontrollable urge” to drink is psychologically no different than the “uncontrollable urge” to punch your idiot co-worker in the face.

If Volitional Memory does not give continuity to Grasping,
then Craving arises, abides, and subside in the moment.
No mental obsession could arise.

If we do not react to our reaction by saying, “I should not be angry,” or “I should not want to drink,” then our present emotion will not carry the cumulative effect of past emotions and will not provoke a disproportionate reaction on our part in the present. Many of us realize that we must find a different way to relate to our emotions than just expressing or repressing them. Now we can understand why and how.

Now turning towards the complementary aspects of Forgetting the Self-Image—The Power of Forgiveness and the Knowledge of Seeing Simultaneously—we will see that they are both negative strategies in that we cannot actively pursue them without creating more Psycho-Physical Momentum; we must use indirect means:

Extinguish Previous Momentum: The Power of Forgiveness
To forgive sin is to forget self.

We come to the table with years and years of accumulated grievances. We convince ourselves that it will take years to break up those encrusted patterns. If the Momentum of Choice strengthens through time, does that mean that we must take time to slowly peel away layer after layer of resentment, or can we immediately and directly explode the Volitional Self from the center outwards? To answer this question, we must first understand that “time” is the Cause and Condition in which the distortion of memory takes place, and recall that any Effort on a Path of Personal Transformation that takes time—before we understand the nature of the Self—is still part of the Causes and Conditions we are trying to escape. Are we then at the mercy of a Spontaneous Event that immediately surrenders our resentment, or are we condemned to spend the rest of our lives gritting our teeth as we smile at our enemies?

There is a single action that explodes the Self-Center from within and immediately clears and resets the psychological table: Forgiveness. By invoking Forgiveness we are not pandering to sentimentality or some egotistical notion of becoming a better person. Forgiveness is an act of extreme power devoid of any self-serving agenda. Forgiveness cannot be cultivated by reducing it to a stereotyped behavior such as praying for the person for whom you hold resentment (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 552)—that is just another mask of the Self-Image. Such trickery may work temporarily, as spiritually directed thought often does, but clearing away the surface anger does not cut at the root: the Previous Momentum of Resentment—anger carried over time—left by the Momentum of our Choices will always reassert itself somewhere else when the proper set of Causes and Conditions arise to activate the imprinted momentum—causes and conditions that we do not control. Complete and total Forgiveness without reference to past, present, or future, completely and totally consumes any resentment—now.

But how does one forgive?

Passively Forgetting the Self-Image by Forgiveness is a negative teaching in that we cannot extinguish resentment by trying to forgive. Because all intent contributes to the Momentum of Choice, we cannot decide to forgive, nor can we conjure up forgiveness though an act of “will.” First we must understand why we—the Self—cannot forgive. We do not hold up a standard of Forgiveness in an attempt to bridge the gap between who we are and who we want to be. We acknowledge the reality of our pettiness, that we are small, envious, duplicitous creatures who carry around so much weight from our past that it cripples us. We recognize that even when we enter a spiritual pathway we turn Forgiveness into a moral merit badge with which to bludgeon our fellow man with our goodness. Without a true understanding of the reality of our non-forgiveness, any attempt to forgive just serves the Self-Image and contributes to the Momentum of Choice.

When the wave subsides the water becomes a crystal mirror. In its fullest expression Forgiveness must precede that which we would presume to forgive: we do not need to forgive if we have not felt the injury. But for that we must stop the latent seeds of new resentment from being planted in the present moment. For that, we need to be attentive to what we are experiencing:

Stop New Momentum from Arising: The Knowledge of Seeing Simultaneously

“So I am watching inattention…that is, I am watching that I am not attentive…attention implies a mind that is completely awake, which means it doesn’t demand challenge. It is only when we have images that challenges come and you respond to that challenge inadequately. Therefore, there is a constant battle between challenge and response, which means the increase of images; and the more it increases the more challenges come, and so there is always the strengthening of the images…So by being completely attentive there is no image formation, which means conditioning disappears.”

–J. Krishnamurti

This is the Attention that allows us to recognize that we are not Grasping the object of perception; but instead, we are Grasping at the Craving that we are having towards that object of perception. This is the Attention that allows us to recognize that we are not Craving the object of perception, we are Craving the Feeling that we are having towards that object of perception. This is the Attention that first allows us to see that desire arises from the movement of thought, and then lets Feeling and Craving live and die in the moment—which means no new Momentum of Choice arises.

At this point we must be clear about our terminology: “Attention” as used in the above quote is seeing simultaneously—not seeing directly. “Attention” as used in the above quote is unfocused awareness not focused concentration. If undertaken before one understands the insubstantiality of the Self-Image, mantras and breathing techniques that emphasize concentration will dull the mind into a peaceful torpor rather than allow it to operate clearly and effectively. Meditation then becomes a pacifier for the spiritual infant who is afraid of the immensity of his world, and once the toy is taken away, the meditator become restless and agitated, yearning to return to his dojo, incense, and lotus position. Without insight into the insubstantiality of Self-Image we cannot be mindful or aware as is so often the ruse offered to us by meditation gurus, we can only watch the inattention—the lack of mindfulness or awareness—that gives rise to the Grasping Self, and the addictive impulse give us perfect psychological markers:

I could finally admit to myself how important alcohol was in my life, how much I valued the sensation of getting drunk over any of the consequences that followed. Paradoxically, once that admission was made a veil of ignorance dropped and I saw how oblivious I was to the psychological movements underpinning my compulsive drinking. The “alcoholic Michael” was continuously being reconstructed from thoughts of drinking—he apparently had no real existence apart from those thoughts. Within this observational mode I was soon able to watch the phenomenon of craving arise, abide, and then subside after taking the first drink—as long as I did not identify with that craving as being “mine.”


Passively Forgetting the Volitional Self / Self-Image through Attention is a negative teaching in that we cannot detach ourselves from our Self-Image by trying to be choicelessly aware. We cannot decide to be attentive; we must first understand why we—the Self—cannot be aware without the Volitional Image that creates momentum that distorts our ability to choose. We acknowledge the reality of our inattention—that we are confused, careless creatures who spend so much of our day in a daze of past regrets and future dreams that we have no idea what we are doing from one moment to the next. We recognize that even when we enter a spiritual pathway we turn meditation and prayer into deadly toys with which to bludgeon our fellow man with our spiritual skill. Without a true understanding of the reality of our inattention, any attempt to be aware just enhances our attachment to the Self-Image by increasing Volitional Momentum.

Unfocused Awareness, therefore, is awareness that the Self-Image—which includes our identification as an Addict—is created by inattention, and this inattention allows both the Fragmentation of Factual Memory and the Ambivalence of Psycho-Physical Momentum. Because Unfocused Awareness takes no position and favors no image it weakens the momentum of choice and eats away at the Ambivalence of our Volitional Selves. But it also has another benefit: it suppresses the buffering processes of justification, condemnation, and identification that would split the Factual Self into fragments.

For that fragmented Factual Self to unify, however, we must be able to face what we are in totality: for that we need to actively remember who we really are: Module 3C Remember Who You Really Are: Reversing the Momentum of Fragmented Craving.

To get an idea of how we implement passive forgetting in elementary form, we go to Module 4B Transmuting Emotions into Usable Power.


MOVE TO LEVEL C: 3. Is There A Way Out?

MOVE TO STAGE 4: 4. Design, Develop, & Execute A Means To Implement The Solution

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