It can be difficult to understand or define what we mean by direct insight. In one sense, we mean insight about our own nature. In another sense, we mean insight into relative situations.
For example, a woman was having trouble with clutter and old possessions filling up her apartment. She’d been meaning to deal with it for a while now, as it was affecting her life in several negative ways. So she did what every experienced therapy patient or self-reflective person has learned to do. She asked herself “What am I holding onto?”
Wrong question. We’re so often led to believe that asking this kind of thing will help. The right question is not even a question. It is more so a statement: “I’m refusing to get rid of these things.”
Sure, a related question is why am I not taking the action I need to take — but asking this question is unnecessary and would only further delay action.
Coming up with answers like, “I’m not getting rid of things because I’m afraid of living the life I want” delivers us no real wisdom. In fact we’re really just making these reasons up. Any number of plausible yet phony reasons can be constructed to sustain an illusory sense of pathology and brokenness. Even when they contain some truth, they are not necessarily that useful. At some point we have a basic understanding of our patterns, and the only healing left for us is to take action.
So the direct approach to this problem is only to note exactly what it is — “I need to take this action” — and doing it.
Now there are two objections people will raise, depending on their school of thought. The first is that we need to find the right explanation for why we are blocked so that we will feel different and become unblocked. This assumes that our negative feelings mean there really is something wrong somewhere inside us. We’ve covered why this is a trap. It’s looking for new answers and new feelings as if taking the right action is not possible without them.
The second, related objection is that we can’t just choose to act; that we can only observe the situation and let the action come, or not, since we have no control or free will.
Nonsense. The solution to not doing something we know we need to do, is to do it. Too simple? You’re free to believe that, and you’re free to keep suffering. You’re also free to just do what you know you need to do.
Once you start living this way, it will become unthinkable to spend even one minute thinking about why you’ve left a pile of old unused things in the bedroom, haven’t taken out the trash, haven’t called a friend you miss, or haven’t meditated in months.
When you notice the action needed, you either do it in that moment or you don’t. This direct insight and spontaneous action puts you in the flow of life, so that you increasingly realize your own mind and self as nothing other than Life or Consciousness expressing itself. When you’re no longer using the normal difficulties of life to narrate a story of your brokenness, the sense of separation and smallness cannot survive.