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7: Practicing Love

I’m excited to present you with the outline for chapter 7 of Being & Death. Please read it over and let me know your thoughts! If you missed the opening post, you can read the outline comment guidelines and my overall purpose statement here.


I: The Respiratory Process

Chapter 1’s outline can be found here.

II: Queer Vision

Chapter 2’s outline can be found here.


III: Being

Chapter 3’s outline can be found here.

IV: Death

Chapter 4’s outline can be found here.


V: Both, and yet Neither

Chapter 5’s outline can be found here.

VI: The Hero’s Journey

Chapter 6’s outline can be found here.


VII: Practicing Love

Chapter purpose: To articulate some ways in which the theory of this book can and must be practiced. Stepping back from theory, this chapter pragmatically introduces various ways in which we can enact wholeness in our daily life. This is done personally through an executional look at individuation, and interpersonally through a survey of Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability and intimacy. Love is then examined as the battery that fuels this work. However, this chapter cannot be proscriptive since the work is only yours to do. Thus, the idea of action/value harmony is set down as the path towards finding your own work, and two of my valued actions are explored in detail as examples.

Main take-away: “The conceptual work of this book was merely preparation for the task; the real work of finding balance requires constant practice.”


1) “LIVE THE QUESTIONS” – Section purpose: to introduce the importance of practice, what it means and how we do it.

  • Practicing the not-known
    • Practicing the not-known.
    • Havel’s definition of “hope.” Intention w/o expectation.
    • Rilke, and what it means to “live the questions.”
  • All theory all practice
    • The relationship between theory and practice explored, re: all theories engender practice, even if implicitly. Here, we will articulate explicitly the practice of this theory: this is what it means to LTQs. Understanding “life” as “life yoga.”
    • The Void Mandala unfolded: the self/non-self schematic. This layout provides a map for the realms of practice needed, from individuation, to vulnerability and intimacy, to body work, and to spiritual work.
  • Why we practice
    • A quick intro to the term “practice.”
    • Discuss our incredible ability to forget and slip back to old habitual patterns. This work is the work of remembering and re-wiring the brain (training the elephant). Thus the need for “beginners mind.”
    • Discuss the impossibility to speak the unspeakable, but there is the ability to directly experience it. Understanding is just the prep work. Right practice is the key.
    • Intro/summary of the chapter to come, re: one cannot just “realize” the theory of this book (even I am just a beginner). We must work through ego and self via personal work (individuation, self-love) and intimate interpersonal work (shame work, vulnerability). We must work on our minds and spirits via our chiasmic bodies (art, meditation). Only via this journey can we return to life as Caretakers of its respiration.

2) “YOUR SELF IN RESPIRATION” – Section purpose: to look at individuation in a deeply personal and executional way, so that each of us might bring wholeness to ourselves.

  • The process of individuation
    • A re-cap of Jung’s process of individuation, focusing especially on persona/shadow harmony and the how-to’s.
    • No harmony can be brought to the world if the individual is at war with itself. The very first step in this entire process is the work of individuation. First, this means understanding your persona as a performance, second, it means integrating your shadow content, third, it means realizing (loving) a whole. “Becoming who you are” = persona/shadow (C/U) harmony.
  • Understanding your persona’s performance
    • Performing a “perfect” self keeps us from intimacy.
    • An exploration of “perfectionism as armor” as the performance of a persona par excellence. A look into the “productivity as self-worth” that follows from this.
    • How do you combat this performance? By actively loving your repressed shadow content.
  • Loving your shadow
    • An exploration of the process of: a) dreams, neurosis, and art as ruptures of shadow unconsciousness into consciousness as a hope to restore balance, b) introspection and discovering your shadow content (often with help of a therapist), and c) taking these messages from the U seriously and then integrating shadow content into your life.
    • The story of the blindfolded child, and self-love being the view of the Atman.
  • The freedom to be
    • A story of freedom: not becoming some freer version of yourself, but the freedom of letting yourself be exactly who you already are.
    • What it means to find worthiness and to feel like you are “enough.” Story from Brene about the beauty industry capitalizing on insecurity. There is an economic and political power in feeling like “enough.”
    • The importance of patience in this process: you finish with your desires at the rate at which you finish with your desires.
    • A look at the “Serenity Prayer” as an excellent map for the complicated line between self-improvement and self-love.
    • This entire process highlighted in the difference between “fitting in” vs. “belonging.” What it means to belong.

3) “FROM VULNERABILITY TO INTIMACY” – Section purpose: to survey the work of Brene Brown, and its importance on interpersonal practice.

  • Shame is a social disease
    • An intro into the work of Brene Brown via her definition of shame, how it works, and how we build shame-resilience.
  • Vulnerability = intimacy
    • A focused look at Brene’s work with vulnerability and its relationship to intimacy.
  • Becoming whole-hearted
    • A deeper dive into the work of Brene, re: what it means (and what it takes) to live “whole-heartedly”.
    • Individuation, shame resilience, and vulnerability are exhausting, and would be impossible if not for the infinite reservoir of energy that is love.

4) “LOVE IS THE BATTERY” – Section purpose: to attempt to define what ‘love’ is, and what doing the work of love means.

  • What is love?
    • An exploration of “love” and how we practice it.
    • A look at the question “does love conquer all?” to explore the way love is “outside” the conquering model. Love as non-dualism; love as the ocean; love as hope. Love is the battery that powers our work.
    • The difference b/w the “feeling of love” and the “work of love”. Love is the opposite of laziness and entropy.
  • The work of love
    • A dive into the work of Scott Peck, re: “love is the work of attending to your own or another’s spiritual growth.”
    • Specifically looking at: attention and communication, the respiration of togetherness and separateness, the expansion of our self-model through “cathexis,” and what he means (and how I interpret) “the work of spiritual growth.”
    • Peck+Brene = holding space for the other. You cannot do another’s work for them. Holding space is key.
  • Our ever-changing maps of reality
    • What it means to be “dedicated to the truth.”
    • “Religion” and “science” must be also constantly revised.
    • Our “map of reality” and the need to constantly update it. A look at “transference” to highlight this importance.
    • Our “map of reality” = our values.

5) “HARMONIZING VALUES WITH ACTIONS” – Section purpose: to explore the attempt to harmonize values with actions in a personal way, and map out what such harmony can mean for the individual.

  • Writing this book
    • A contextual look at my life and how I came to write this book you’re reading. This is my attempt to align my actions “what I do” with my values “what I believe is true.”
    • Love is the battery, but action/value harmony is the motor.
  • Action / value harmony
    • A deep dive into the process of “action/value harmony” taken mainly from this previous post.
  • My personal values, and how I enact them
    • I cannot proscribe any actions for you to take; you must find your own. Your journey is your own and your practices must also be your own (forged in the fire of your own personal experience). I will, however, lead by example and tell you my values and some ways I’m enacting them.
    • A list of my 14 core values, what I mean by each, and how I attempt to practice them in the world.

6) “A CLOSER LOOK AT TWO ACTIONS” – Section purpose: to provide two illustrative examples of value/action harmony through exploring two of my practices, and how I feel they resonate with my values.

  • Two of my practices
    • I would like to dive deeper into two practices (closely related) that have become central to my process of action/value harmony: making art and meditation.
    • I want to share these because they are important to me. This is not meant to be proscriptive. This is just me sharing what I’ve found.
  • Art practice
    • Art as inward/outward respiratory process: spiritual introspection + creative communication (teaching). Art is my practice of the Void Mandala. Art is a way of seeing and practicing the world, not just ‘fine art’. The way I see it, everything can be art with the right mindset.
    • Art as access to the unconscious/CU/Self
    • Art as the threshold of awareness, and what it means to see the world w/ new eyes (seeing as a child / beginners mind). Art as a model for mindfulness.
  • Meditation practice
    • Meditation as the act of being: sitting and breathing. The act of being present in the flow of life.
    • Meditation as the act of compassionately returning to the present. The meta-awareness that comes from observing your own mental process, and the non-attachment to passing states that follows suit. Brene and feeling w/o over identifying. The practice of “noting.”
    • Meditation and other “neuroplastic practices for a happier life.” “Attentional training” in a culture designed to attack this capacity. Ideology awareness and the merry-go-round culture.
    • Meditation as the Void Mandala in action. The anatomy of AUM. Emptiness and interdependence.

7) “THE DANCE OF SPIRIT” – Section purpose: to conclude and summarize this chapter by combining a map of our practices with the map of our previous theories. Doing this opens a door to the final chapter.

  • Learning to dance
    • Further unfolding our schematic to get the “dance of spirit” schematic, which gives us a layout of all the ideas in this book, plus spaces left open for your additions.
    • Explore and describe this schematic.
  • Doing the work
    • A look at the crashing return of the ego when ego is escaped without doing the work. The point is to get to the Self through the self.
    • That being said, just as sex is an important step in the process of falling in love, so too are the non-self moments of death important “tastes” of what’s to come with authentic awareness via return as the Caretaker.
  • The upward spiral
    • Conclusion: The hero’s journey is difficult, but we have love as our battery and action/value harmony as our motor. Completing this journey is not theoretical, but rather a real path that must be walked. What you do, your practice, are the steps you take on this walk. Individuation brings your self into harmony. This process is impossible without vulnerability and intimacy. These steps are powered by love, which is a focus on spiritual growth. Growing requires the constant update of your values, and the work of aligning your practices with said values. Art and meditation are two important ones of mine. What are yours?
    • Scott Peck, re: “interdependence + individuation = Caretaker.”
    • Returning full circle brings you back but not the same; you are changed, elevated. You return as the hero, which I will be calling the “Caretaker.” A self in harmony brings the Self in harmony. The healed individual is to the world what the healed ego is to the individual = a caretaker.


  1. Pingback: 8: The Caretaker | Live The Questions

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