FIML practice first generates and then depends upon clear communication between partners.
When clear communication is established, FIML increases mental clarity and positive feelings. Another way of saying this is FIML practice reduces both mental confusion and neurotic feelings.
Thus, FIML can be fairly easily explained or understood by referring to these three basic outcomes:
- clear communication
- elevated or enhanced mental clarity
- increased positive feelings
Stated in the negative, these same three basic outcomes of FIML practice are:
- elimination of communication blockages
- reduction or elimination of metal confusion
- reduction or elimination of neurotic feelings
FIML practice does not emphasize a difference between private confusion (neurosis) and public confusion (irrational semiotics of a culture or society). We do recognize that there is a difference between the public and the private, but this difference lies on a continuum: a private neurosis is often shaped by cultural semiotics while cultural semiotics are often grounded in the neurotic feelings of many individuals. A good deal of psychological reasoning today is based on what is “normal”, what “most people feel”, and/or what deviates from that or interferes with an individual’s ability to function within “normal” ranges. FIML recognizes social norms, but partners are not asked to judge themselves on that basis. Nor are partners encouraged to label themselves with psychological terms. Rather, partners are encouraged (and shown how) to discover for themselves how to understand themselves based the three outcomes described above. We are confident that the high ethical standards required to do FIML successfully will show partners with great clarity that sound ethics are essential to human fulfillment.
FIML is a liberative practice because it frees partners from mental confusion, emotional suffering, and the hardships of unsatisfying communication. Since FIML works with real data agreed upon by both partners it avoids idealism and wishful-thinking.
FIML enhances traditional Buddhist practices because it allows partners to share their introspections while checking each others’ work. When we speak an inner truth to someone who we know will understand and who cares about us, that inner truth will deepen and benefit both partners. Based on the three outcomes described above, FIML partners will be able to create a sort of subculture of their own founded on standards that they both (all) find fulfilling and right.
In most of our descriptions of FIML, we have tried to use ordinary words while providing clear definitions of them if they have a special meaning in the context of FIML. One word that is especially important is neurosis. By this term, we mean “mistaken interpretation” or “ongoing mistaken interpretation.” We use the word this way because it is a basic tenet of FIML that most, if not all, mental and emotional suffering is generated by communication errors. We proudly use the words error, mistake, wrong, erroneous, incorrect and so on when describing communication problems because communication problems almost always are grounded in mistakes: someone heard wrong, interpreted wrongly, spoke wrongly, and so on. FIML practice shows partners how to identify and correct these mistakes the moment they appear, thus forestalling the generation or perdurance of full-blown neurosis.
FIML is much less concerned with long explanations about the past and much more concerned with the dynamic moment during which partners communicate and react to each other based on real data that can be retrieved and agreed upon by both of them. The mental and emotional clarity that results from this practice is highly rewarding and within the reach of most people with the basic necessary conditions–a trusted partner, enough time to do the practice, mutual caring.