Jim Burns

James J. Burns, III  (1931-2016)

Teacher, Mystic and Psychologist

device width goes here

Jim Burns at Richard Rose farm ashram

"Method" by Jim Burns

Chapter 5 of At Home with the Inner Self

Full text: Inner Self (all 8 chapters)

top of page


Free Association

We were talking about free association other night and someone brought a point up. This point has to be brought up. When I was doing this, I had no one to talk to. I had no one to turn to. I had no place to go to discuss things. So apparently, the forces that exist decided that they were going to give me the special gift of teaching me how to do my own learning, how to do my own teaching, how to do my own insighting. I learned how to free associate. I asked myself the questions that would take me out of the blind spots. Most people doing this get into a blind spot, get into a thought that becomes repetitive, and they're done. You don't know where to go with it.

People get into a blind spot and might stay there for the rest of their life. I didn't have that problem. I learned to ask myself the questions: What does it look like? What does it feel like? What does it seem like? What does it act like? – endlessly asking myself questions. Until suddenly there was one thought that was blank and would go no further. The free association word wouldn't yield anything like the release necessary. I would change just one little inflection in the words as I repeated them in my mind, just one little inflection. I'd ask myself: What does this mean? What does it suggest? What does that make me think of? I never found one of them that I didn't find my way out of whatever trap I got into by doing that. I don't know anybody else that knows how to guide themselves out of that hole. I can guide someone else out of a hole, but I can't seem to teach them how to do it themselves.

Everything you went through in your lifetime and haven't resolved is still sitting there waiting to be worked on. Either you get straight with some of this stuff, or you'll wish you had. It is a mountain of work. You don't deal with each individual circumstance but with the abstraction of the problem. You deal with the still existing patterns. You don't deal with the individual circumstances of things in your life. The singular psychological patterns that maintain presently held values and patterns of thinking are what you deal with. You don't deal with the individual circumstances that gradually imbued you with one particular aspect or complex. Even then it is a mountain of work.

The ability of getting a feeling to translate into words is a tricky business, but it is well worth the effort. When some insight comes up, you should stop everything you are doing, if at all possible, and pay attention to it. If a word associated with a current feeling comes up, it is often extremely important. Repeat the word until you get some sense of what it means. It is often a word at the crossroads of other concepts, and ties them together. Before you couldn't figure out how this tied into this or this tied into that. You begin to build a structure and develop comprehension.

If you hold center on a problem long enough, things will open up. It is difficult when you are first trying this. It takes awhile to develop the expertise. Sometimes the effort of trying to hold center and bring something up is so great that you simply can't do it. It takes practice. You are facing a void because you don't what you are looking for. If you keep mentally facing forward, it will eventually focus itself. You will focus what your inner nature is seeking. If there wasn't an unanswered and even misstated question you wouldn't be doing this. At this point the question isn't even formed. You just know that there has to be a better state than that which you are currently in. The unanswered is what you are seeking. It is difficult to stay on the point when thinking about something. It may be something is so painful to you that the mind will keep drifting to almost anything to get off the painful thought. When facing the unknown, the key is overcoming the fear. You must have faith that it will work. Fear is absolutely the hallmark that you are getting near something important. When you get to this fear you know something you are looking for will be found. You know that you've found a hot spot.

top of page


Consistency & Technique

You have to have consistency in doing this and facing it to produce results. You can't meditate this week, do it again next week, and then let it go. You'll wind up always going back to the beginning. On the other hand, don't expect too much of yourself. When it gets too hot, let it go for awhile. The next time around you'll be a little closer when you start and you'll go a little farther before uncomfortable again. If you're being bothered by something, I've found that if you let your body run the show, just laying horizontal, that all the things that wander around in your mind will drift off. You'll start getting a feeling that an important thought is coming. It's a physical feeling that a thought is coming up into your brain. As soon as this happens, you know you're on the road home. The pain diminishes and you start realizing what is disturbing you.

Learning this technique is like learning a new language. The first couple of times it is not going to be very effective. You just have to lay there and be quiet until the problem comes to the surface. You have to face forward into the void, as it were, a type of tunnel vision. Ideas will come to you and eventually one will come that really hits the gong about problems you are facing. Different ideas will come to fill that void. The thing that is hard about it, when you're first attempting it, is to realize that you're searching for something you presently have no answer to. It is hard to realize that you are putting effort into putting something where there is now nothing, as far as consciousness is concerned. I came upon this method instinctively. For the first year I wondered what the heck I was trying to do. Finally it started to work. This, meditation and dreams is where I've learned everything, I never learned anything from a book. You may unconsciously be chastising that inner work is not a good of time and energy. You may be prejudiced against your own thinking to what someone else says or you read in a book. You have to think as much of your own thoughts as do of somebody else's. In any effort you start out from zero. You may feel foolish about the things you are thinking about but you have to start somewhere. You have to realize that you are trying to be a student of yourself and that it is a good effort.

top of page



I was stumbling around with meditation and I discovered that if something was bothering me and an answer to the problem occurred to me, then it stopped bothering me. So when something started bothering me I knew I was looking for a specific answer, which was the golden key to the thing. Little did I realize how much work it would be. At first you don't know what you are seeking. Once you make the discovery of this inner satisfaction, then you know what you are seeking for. You're blind to it for quite awhile. You just know things aren't what you'd like, but you aren't able to be specific about it. Our major appetite is the need to comprehend. Comprehension is a specific appetite and even needs to understand itself. You need to know what the mind is trying to get done so you can be more effective at it. Your internal system is entirely capable, given the opportunity, to teach you what it is trying to teach you. Your inner being knows. Your outer being is always unknowing.

Your system is constantly trying to get some inner job done. It is constantly trying to get you conscious of what is distressing you. Secondly, it is trying to get you to comprehend what natural laws and patterns that distress is involved with. To know where the mistake is so you can evade making the mistake and start going with the natural flow. This is all built in by design. Try to place the problem mentally in front of you and let every tension go out of your body. Let the thing just hang in front of you. Gradually a word will come to mind that will begin to explain and alleviate the circumstances. The words form so long as you hold that center. It is uncomfortable, miserable, and the only thing that is worse is what you're trying to escape. If it is something superficial, you can deal with it superficially. If it is a deeper problem, you have to pinpoint what is bothering you. To find out what it is you have to stay on center on the problem and not slip off the point. Sometimes a flash of insight might come which lasts but milliseconds. If you miss it, you can only get back to that insight by plodding and working step by step.

You can bring on insight experiences if you learn how. You have to let go of the trivia. But you have to learn what the trivia is in reference to what you are seeking. It may not be trivia in all situations. Some insight might come up when you're at a business meeting. Now to me, for the time being, the meeting would be trivia because it is mere readily accessible, and I'd have to get away. Maybe excuse myself to go to the bathroom, to get at the source of what's coming up. You may have to try to get a handle on it by repeating the word or concept over and over to yourself. When you get a handle on it, you can keep it to get back to later. If you let it go, it may not come again. It is a way of life. You don't want to give your job away, but you have to do what is ever possible.

top of page



When you run the gamut of concentrating on something, you may want to take a break or forget it for awhile. Just when you take your mind off it, is when answers to you other problems will often come into view. This is a good thing to know from the methodological standpoint. The reason for it is very simple. When you are keyed up and putting a lot of energy into a problem, the minute you let go of the problem, all the energy has to go somewhere, and it goes to whatever the next problem is on your agenda in priority basis, even if you don't know consciously what your next priorities problem may be. The second you break off concentration, a slight dizziness sets in because of the change in concentration levels. That is when the answers will come in. The more you do this switching back and forth of levels, the more effective this process and information is. As soon as you take this high energy level off the problem you are focusing on, it will escape to the next energy level, like a spark crossing the gap in a sparkplug. Until you are good at it, you won't notice it. It will just go flashing by.

top of page


Like a Scanner

There is a free association part of the mind that is like a citizen's band scanner, constantly going up and down the channels. Your inner mind is constantly trying to get your outer self aware of what's going on within yourself until you've answered to that need. It keeps throwing balls over the fence. As you drive down the road your mind will constantly pick out this fence or that tree, or this sign. You' re accustomed to it and assume that everyone else's mind does the same thing. If you analyzed why you pick this or that to see out of everything that is available, there is a definite reason and pattern to it. It follows very closely the things that come in ordinary dreaming (which is another method of throwing balls over the fence.) The dream-maker uses these things in waking life. They are attempts to guide you to what in you is unfulfilled.

top of page



When I was young I learned that dreams were the source of all necessary information. It's good to go to sleep slowly and to wake up slowly. If you have a nagging dream, just lie in bed and be quiet. Try and be conscious of no-thing, which is different than nothing. Just let it come to you. All the pictography of the dream is an attempt by the inner stage master to throw things over the fence to key you in to what is happening in your insides. Through dreams you can repair the bridge to the inner self and again become a whole person. Realizing something in a dream isn't enough; you have to become aware of it in the waking state.

When I was good at dreams, several times I was able to go deep inside myself and hear the dream and actually be able to see it, and get a person to repeat what they said time after time until I was able to re-experience the dream. In interpreting my dreams, what I would do when I woke up was to go all the way back to the crossover state. The feelings that the dreams elicit are the things that tell you what the dream means, so you have to be able to go right back into it. Whatever the same feelings are that would occur to you when you are awake, is what the dream is trying to get to. The real point in dreams is to get it to come back so clearly that you get all the feelings as they went by.

top of page


Seeing Yourself

Your inner mind is using all opportunities at all times to get you to look at something about yourself. When I had my mind and could use it, every time I found somebody I didn't like, invariably I would discover that they had something that I didn't think I could ever have. But the process of going from the initial dislike to the discovery of the secret jealousy took me months every time to work my way through it. As I'd go through the process of discovering specifically what characteristics I was so jealous about, I'd find out that the person really didn't even possess the characteristics.

My mind was just using the characteristic to bait me, to bring into my awareness something about my own values. That there is something that I consider to be important inside that I'm not consciously aware of. Your mind only uses these circumstances to bring your attention to something. When the washout was over with, what I would find out about the situation was that there was something that I valued that I never realized that I valued. My mind was just using the opportunity to bring it into view. You can't know what your real attitudes are until you get good at inner work. It's the only way you can find out.

Use your mind to see what are the implications of everything. It is an offense against a very offensive reality. You can do something about it. The people who can't do anything about it are the 99% of the population that don't know what hit them. The minute you see you can do something about it, you cease to be one of those people, although it may take awhile before it dawns on you.

top of page


What Brought You?

The classic idea about going to a psychiatrist is that they set you down and want to know about your past. I don't want to know anything about the past, but about what brought the person in today. It is like a person looking for their glasses, and where are they? – right on their head. If I had been an analyst, a lot of the type of material I'd have written is in D.W. Winnicott's book, The Maturational Process. [1] You couldn't spend enough time on it.

[1. PDF: 182 pages, 760 KB: doctorabedin.org ]

You don't have to remember anything, traumas and the like. You are never dealing with anything except what is right here. How long it has been there is another aspect. The Freudian notion that you can go into your past and set yourself free is totally false. They only achieve remembering things. That has nothing to do with it. You have to deal with the weird things you are doing now, that you started doing back then. You don't have to remember anything.

top of page


Deepest Past as the Real Now

When you find the deepest past as the real now... In other words, when you find that deep past, the real now will never be the same again. When you realize that something you started nearly from the moment you were born is something you are doing right now, it instantaneously changes and will never be the same again. You don't go back. You go along the surface until you find the past in it. You don't go anywhere. It's all right here. It never really went anyplace. It' s still here.

top of page


Freedom and Will

"The Truth will set you free." There are times you are set free and you don't even know what the truth was that did it. You have to search for the concept that expresses it. It is important to search for the concept. When you find the concept that sets you free from something, and you understand how it explains a natural process that was aborted and then brought back on track, you experience a shift of realities that will take you away from the mundane for all time, the first time it happens. It can happen in a repetitive stream for half a lifetime. You are never again caught in the surface of things. You can withdraw from the surface of things and see the overriding influence that causes situations. The first time you escape the surface of things, you are relieved of it and never caught or bound in it again.

Nobody knows this when they are studying themselves. They stumble along and fall into it and get set loose from the whole thing. Sometimes they think they've lost all their sense of reality, because reality is never perceived again as the same thing from that time on. Reality is a matter of concepts. Up until this point, the most real thing in life is a hammer. After you've crossed this invisible line, the concept of "hammer" is much more real that the hammer itself. Without the concept, you could not have the hammer, but up until this point you couldn't appreciate the importance of that thought.

The usual meaning of choice, the usual meaning of will, the usual meaning of self-determination are linguistic concepts that are darn near necessary. I accept the unfoldment of me before the only audience that matters – me. I long ago came to the realization that it has been completely out of my hands from the beginning. I know I've had nothing to do with what I've gone through. I've been the little character that sits at the crossroads. Nothing more, nothing less.

I have not had the opportunity that most people have had of being in the ordinary sense self-determining. They determine what they want to do, go out and do it, and have a reasonable amount of success. They pay their own bills and are able to do what they call "stand on their own feet." They have the ego support involved in it and it becomes a large part of their view of themselves. You must remember that I have had none of this. The body is built to answer to the first necessity. Get the bills paid. Get the food on. Get the house in shape. My hunch is that the only reason I can still put up with life is because of the experiences I've had. For me to continue life makes no sense.

top of page



A friend was talking last night about the fact that he gets so despondent. He'll get a rush of insight about something, and it will trigger a flood of insights that will come. He'll be uplifted by the passing flood of insights, even about minute things but mostly the seeing into important things he's been blind to. Then he'll go to bed one night and wake up completely in a hole and not know how he got there. The insight is gone. He looses all the insights. He can't remember anything that he's gained. He feels completely dissipated and spent and doesn't know what hit him.

I really raised his eyebrows when I told him that the whole point of the conscious effort, the whole thing you want about insight, is the insight to insight. You want to be able to get to the point where you can see how to bring insight into the hole, to keep it from crushing all the progress. That's the only impediment to an endless, continual consciousness of insight, which is what I finally got to. The key was to seek and pray, literally pray, for the insight to see what causes the depressions, because the depressions are what destroy everything.

Every time you have a specific fall into a depression, some one, specific emotional experience is involved in it, and only one. There can be a string of depressions caused by different emotions. When you resolve and dispel one big depression through conscious effort and insight – if you ever accomplish this once, you've learned the root to dispelling all depression. Free association is the biggest key. Also, you conquer the hopelessness by facing it.

The minute you can generate a goal, depression dies. The thing about depression is that you can't generate a goal. A negative long-span thinking situation is always a case of the dog chasing his tail. To be genuinely clear, which doesn't have anything to do with Scientology's "clear," is to have answered every question you have had to date, and I've been there on a regular basis. If that isn't paradise, I don't know what is. It is to have taken every feeling that ever came into your comprehension and to have traced it all the way back to its roots.

A funny thing about depression is that it takes just as much effort as it does to be positive, but you end up with totally different results. The activity itself is not so much the key as what it produces. Being positive about things is equally as real as being negative. You have the same input, different outlook and results. The only way you can determine better or not between them is by what they produce. Between them they both suffice. If you let negativity get hold of you, it becomes consuming and you are negative about everything. There is nothing worse and more draining than having to hate. About the only way you can correct it is to be positive about little things at a time.

[ end chapter 5 ]

Full book: Inner Self (all 8 chapters)


top of page