Welcome to Mystery of Existence

This is an exploration into the mystery of existence with a focus on healing, awakening, culture change, and more. What I write here reflects my own process, although most is more universally applicable. There are many posts so follow the tags, do a search on a topic you are interested in, see essential articles (only recent ones), or use the article finder.

Feel free to leave comments or send me a private message. I’d love to hear from you.

Enjoy 🙂

Dream: Reborn as androgynous

 

I am reborn as androgynous and am surprised but also find it satisfying and interesting.

This is a dream fragment from a few days ago that came to mind. I am somehow reborn, find myself as androgynous, and am surprised although also enjoy it and want to explore it further. When I am reborn, I am already an adult.

This likely reflects a more conscious embrace of the feminine and masculine in myself, and being more comfortable with both.

Much of what we see as feminine and masculine qualities are, of course, culturally influenced or determined. And embracing both sides of us doesn’t mean a bland middle, it means being comfortable with both, embracing and being comfortable with both in ourselves, and live from and make use of either in our life as situations call for it.

Dreams: New levels in my house and selling land

 

My partner and I are at my parent’s house, which we are soon to take over. We have been cleaning and organizing, and I discover to levels to the house I had forgotten about. The top-level has a beautiful and charming room with Persian rugs, large pillows, and wall hangings. It also has a beautiful outside area with grass. I used to live here but had completely forgotten it existed. Outside, I find a leather backpack with some things in it from a period of my life I also had completely forgotten about. Someone has clearly been keeping up this top level of the house since all is clean and fresh. I also discover a basement level that I had forgotten about. It’s not dusty but it does have things in storage we need to sort through and we’ll get rid of several things.

This is the classic house dream where we discover new rooms and areas. In this case, a beautiful top level and a basement with some things to sort through. In both cases, I had known but completely forgotten about them, and then rediscovered them. These are “rooms” in me that I have forgotten about and now may be rediscovering.

In this case, what are these rooms? One is a beautiful and comfortable top-level that combines comfort and nature. The other, a basement to sort through. The first may be a sense of enjoyment of life and spaciousness. The second, things in my “basement” – emotional issues etc. – to sort through.

I should mention that in waking life, my partner and I have sorted through a lot in my parents house recently, both in the attic and the basement.

That was the second dream this morning. Here is my first dream.

I and my partner own farmland just down the street from my parent’s house in Norway. It’s neighboring farmland that a friend from school owns. We all want to sell the land. My friend wants to sell his quickly to developers to get the money. I talk with his partner about another possibility: If we sell the two pieces of land as one to someone who wants to do organic farming or permaculture, the land will be more valuable and he may get as much or more than if he sells it to developers. I suggest we all walk around all of the lands to see what’s there so we can use it when advertising the sale. I hope he will agree since it feels better to sell it to someone who will use it properly.

I am not exactly sure what this is about. My friend is a waking life friend and he does own that farmland which he is leasing to someone else. His farm is a five-minute walk from my parents’ house and where I grew up.

The dream does reflect my lifelong waking interest in sustainability, organic agriculture, permaculture, and so on. There is some negotiation going on. And I am holding the outcome lightly but hope to preserve the land for growing food in a sustainable way.

I am selling a piece of land close to where I grew up. I wonder if this is about “selling” something from my childhood connected to my parents and where I grew up. Perhaps my system is in the process of letting go of something.

“I am God”

 

When I lived in Oregon, a message from a member of the digital version of our local permaculture group said “I am God”. Someone had apparently had an awakening of sorts, or at least a glimpse, and interpreted it as “I am God”.

It’s not wrong. In a sense, it’s literally true.

And yet, to me, it seems far more accurate to say that everything and everyone is God and that what I am is God. We can also find other ways to talk about it, for instance – in the words of Carl Sagan – we are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe.

Why this distinction? Because saying “I am God” can easily be interpreted by the person saying it and others hearing it to mean “this sense of separate self is God”, and that is an unhealthy delusion (inflation).

Yes, this sense of a separate self is one of a myriad of manifestations of the divine. It’s the divine locally and temporarily taking itself to be a separate self. And yet, that’s it. Any sense of separate self comes from a temporary and local delusion. It’s very far from our true nature waking up to itself as what allows any and all experiences and is any and all experiences.

It’s safer and more accurate to say everyone and everything is God, and a temporary and local sense of being a separate self is the play of the divine.

So what if someone assumes that “I – as this separate self – is God”? Then that too is the play of the divine. It’s part of the process of that particular awakening. And it’s a reminder and reflection for all of us. Somewhere in our own process, and also right here and now, we can find it in ourselves.

Dream: Libertarian politician spreading Covid

 

I work at a university and work on a project with a group of people in a large shared space. We hear someone coughing and sneezing, and see a libertarian politician (Christian Tybring-Gjedde from FrP) at his desk. He is clearly very sick, and it turns out he has Covid. We talk to him, he stands up and approaches us, and sneezes just as someone passes him.

I tell him that he should be home and that it is irresponsible of him to come to work and risk others getting infected. He ignores it and shows no intention to stay at home. The others in my group choose to say nothing since he is a well known political figure in Norway. I let him know that if he does not leave and stay in quarantine, I’ll go to the police, media, and his superiors at the university.

This dream reflects several themes. One is that I see people from his party (FrP) as generally irresponsible, immature, and short-sighted. His behavior is not unexpected for someone from his party.

In terms of the pandemic, I see people who don’t pay attention to distance, wearing masks, and disinfecting their hands as irresponsible. We don’t know if we are infected or not (we may not have symptoms), and we don’t know who we will infect and how they will be impacted. By being careless, we may unwittingly infect someone who will die or have lasting health problems from the illness. And it’s impossible to predict who that will be. It’s a form of russian roulette.

Another theme is a pattern of speaking up about something, and others agreeing but not speaking up or supporting me.

And, as always, everything and everyone in the dream reflects me. I have this stubborn and careless side to me. (Especially when it comes to being a steward of my own life.) And I have the side of me that speaks up about it, even if it feels scary.

The dream reminds me of these sides of me, and that I can invite and explore a better dialog between them. What does the stubborn and careless part of me want me to know? How does it see the world? How can I help it feel more understood so it can relax and be a better team mate?

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Dream: Saving a child

 

Some friends have a daughter who is likely to die unless she can receive medical help which involves a compatible donor. It turns out I am the only one who is compatible. As far as I understand, she will die if she catches the pandemic virus, and my immune system can help her be protected against all eight variations of the virus. I am more than happy to help, and the process also deepens the connection between us all.

These are people I don’t know in waking life. Being a “donor” here means sharing something about my immune system that protects against the pandemic virus, and I may be the only one who can. I am very happy to do it.

In general, she may represent a young and vulnerable inner part of me in need of help, and I am – obviously – the only one who can help.

I wonder if the immune system here means resilience. Supporting this young part of me to be more resilient. To feel more protected, safe, loved.

Danielle LaPorte: Right now there are Tibetan Buddhist monks in a temple in the Himalayas endlessly reciting mantras for the cessation of your suffering

 

Right now there are Tibetan Buddhist monks in a temple in the Himalayas endlessly reciting mantras for the cessation of your suffering and for the flourishing of your happiness.

Someone you haven’t met yet is already dreaming of adoring you.

Someone is writing a book that you will read in the next two years that will change how you look at life.

Nuns in the Alps are in endless vigil, praying for the Holy Spirit to alight the hearts of all of God’s children.

A farmer is looking at his organic crops and whispering, “nourish them.”Someone wants to kiss you, to hold you, to make tea for you.

Someone is willing to lend you money, wants to know what your favorite food is, and treat you to a movie.

Someone in your orbit has something immensely valuable to give you — for free.

Something is being invented this year that will change how your generation lives, communicates, heals and passes on.

The next great song is being rehearsed.

Thousands of people are in yoga classes right now intentionally sending light out from their heart chakras and wrapping it around the earth.

Millions of children are assuming that everything is amazing and will always be that way.

Someone is in profound pain, and a few months from now, they’ll be thriving like never before. From where they are, they just can’t see it.

Someone who is craving to be partnered, to be acknowledged, to arrive, will get precisely what they want — and even more. And because that gift will be so fantastical in its reach and sweetness, it will quite magically alter their memory of angsty longing and render it all “So worth the wait.”

Someone has recently cracked open their joyous, genuine nature because they did the hard work of hauling years of oppression off of their psyche — this luminous juju is floating in the ether and is accessible to you.

Someone, just this second wished for world peace, in earnest.

Some civil servant is making sure that you get your mail, and your garbage is picked up, that the trains are running on time, and that you are generally safe. Someone is dedicating their days to protecting your civil liberties and clean drinking water.

Someone is regaining their sanity.

Someone is coming back from the dead. Someone is genuinely forgiving the seemingly unforgivable.

Someone is curing the incurable.

You. Me. Some. One. Now.

— Danielle LaPorte, The Manifesto of Encouragement

Teresa of Avila: I just allow myself to be loved

 

When Teresa of Avila was asked what she did in prayer, she replied, “I just allow myself to be loved.”

– Anthony de Mello in Sadhana, a Way to God

This is the perfect answer. We allow our human self to be loved by Spirit, by Big Heart. And, in that, is a profound transformation.

When we open up for universal love, a love that loves all of us, we notice what in ourselves we feel is unlovable. I may feel unlovable. I may feel that parts of me are unlovable. And it can be uncomfortable at first to open to this universal love. And yet, to open to this universal love can be profoundly healing. It helps us find love for ourselves and all these parts of ourselves.

In a sense, it models the love we can find for ourselves. In another way, this universal love is what we already are. Allowing ourselves to be fully and deeply loved by the universal divine love is a step into discovering that we can love ourselves in the same way. And that’s a step into finding this same universal love for others and the world. And finding ourselves as that love.

There are many ways we can support this process. Allowing ourselves to be loved can help us see that we feel unlovable or that we feel some parts of us are unlovable. We can then get to know these parts of us. Listen to what they have to tell us. What they would like from us. How they experience us. We can identify beliefs and question them until we find what’s more true for us. We can invite in healing for the issues behind not feeling lovable, or not feeling that some parts of us are lovable. And so on.

This is an example of how a very simple practice – allowing ourselves to be loved by universal love – can be profoundly healing, can deeply shift our relationship with ourselves and others and the world, and can even invite us to notice what we are and what we are to notice itself as all there is.

I have only discovered a few simple practices that are so aligned with reality and can lead to such profound shifts: Allowing ourselves to be loved by universal love. Ho’oponopono. Tonglen. Heart Prayer. And basic meditation (notice + allow).

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXV

 

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

A CONSPIRACY TO USE CONSPIRACY THEORISTS

I love this, although I would rephrase it slightly: “Just wait till conspiracy theorists discover they’re part of a conspiracy to use conspiracy theories to spread disinformation.”

If there is a real conspiracy out there, it’s that some intentionally use conspiracy theories – and conspiracy theorists – to spread disinformation.

And through that, influence politics (e.g. QAnon with Trump support), sow confusion and doubt around certain topics (petroleum industry with climate change), and generally create chaos and polarization (Russia with the US and Europe).

Conspiracy theorists are being used, and they often don’t realize it.

I love this one too. It’s true we are all the universe and Earth and – if we see it that way – Spirit. Our experiences are the experiences Spirit wants to have through and as us. At the same time, if I lived in the US, I would do anything I could – through voting and getting out the votes – to prevent a second Trump presidency.

CLICK READ MORE TO SEE MORE POSTS LIKE THIS….

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Dream: Nazis baffled by kindness

 

It’s during the second world war in Europe. A group of Jews are in a secret workshop making something. (Forged money?) Nazis enter the room looking for Jews, and the Jews greet them with warm kindness. The Nazis seem baffled, assume these people are OK (not Jews), and leave.

This is one of the dreams which are more like a movie and I am an observer more than a participant. The essence of the dream was that the Nazis were looking for jews and other “criminals”, they assumed the group of Jews were OK since they greeted them with such warmth and kindness, so they left.

In my waking life, I am exploring a new layer of this in myself. Whenever something comes up in me that my habitual pattern is to avoid, I instead notice it’s a flavor of the divine and invite the divine – in that form – to notice itself as the divine. Where I previously would “dehumanize” and “criminalize” what came up, I instead greet it more warmly and recognize it as a flavor of the divine.

This has been a process, and when my habits reject an experience it’s typically not very strongly. But it’s something I keep exploring, and have explored in a slightly different way over the last few weeks, so perhaps the dream is reflecting this exploration. And perhaps it’s reminding me that the Nazi-Jew analogy is or was more fitting than I like to admit.

Just so there is less room for misunderstanding: This is about my own internal process, and perhaps the internal process of all of us. It’s not about the waking world, although perhaps the “friendly” tactic could have worked in some situations. It’s not meant to generalize beyond my own inner processes or some rare waking-world situations.

In our waking world, it’s obviously not enough, and sometimes not so appropriate, to treat nazis with kindness. We can have empathy and understanding for anyone, but we also need to take action – and sometimes strong action – to prevent harm.

Dream: Surviving an airplane’s near-crash

 

I am on a large plane from Los Angeles to London and sit in the first row in the front section. The plane is having trouble during the second part of the trip, and I notice vibrations and see black smoke outside. We are able to land in London, although it was a rough landing. I depart with the others in my section, and we are all relieved.

After we are off the plane, we realize the situation was more serious than we had realized. The back section of the plane is a burnt-out wreck and everyone there had died.

A few minutes later, we are in a small café, watching the news reports on the plane and the dead. One of the people with us had been interviewed just a minute earlier, and they played that interview.

I am not exactly sure what this dream is about.

On the one hand, it feels like the world is a kind of plane crash this year – with the pandemic, the huge fires in Australia and the US west coast, Trump and the polarization in the US, and so on. Although I have my own challenges, mostly unrelated to all this, I also know I am very privileged and fortunate in the midst of all this. I am one of those who (so far) have survived the metaphorical plane crash.

At the same time, the dream is me. Everything represents parts of me. I have gone through a rocky phase of my life – in terms of health and other sides of life, and I feel I am about to safely “land” for now. Some parts of my system feel like a “burnt-out wreck” from a long illness, although as a whole I feel psychologically OK. Also, parts of us die all the time, in different ways (sometimes just through transformation), and we don’t always notice until after. Perhaps the dream is reflecting some of these things.

Healing from oneness

 

During the initial awakening in my teens, I discovered healing from oneness. I have done it off and on since when needed. And I have more recently started to explore and use it more intentionally and frequently.

How does oneness healing look?

It does require some noticing of oneness, of what we are. And the more clear, stable, and thorough this noticing is, the easier oneness healing may be.

One aspect is noticing that whatever I wish to invite in healing for is already Spirit or the divine. It’s a flavor of the divine. It’s the divine temporarily and locally taking that particular form. It’s already happening within and as what I am.

Another is to invite it to notice itself as the divine. This happens through gentle noticing and intention, and it’s an invitation for the divine to wake up to itself as that particular – temporary and local – form.

If it’s an emotional issue, then yet another aspect is to invite it to align with reality, to align with oneness. This also happens through noticing and intention, by noticing all as oneness, how it may not consciously be aligned with oneness, and inviting it to realign with reality and oneness.

What do I use oneness healing for?

I mostly use it for anything coming up in me that seems even slightly “other” or “I”. If it seems “other”, it’s because there is some separation consciousness there. And if it seems “I”, in the sense of separate me or identification as something within the content of consciousness (sensations, ideas), that too comes from separation consciousness.

I notice something come up and then notice it as the divine and invite it to align with oneness, or for Spirit to wake up to itself in the form of that identification, issue, or whatever it is.

For instance, I may lie bed before falling asleep or after waking up. I notice some discomfort in my body and invite Spirit to notice itself as that discomfort and any reaction to it. I may notice some sensations in my head area that there is a bit more identification with, and invite the divine – in the form of these sensations and the identifications – to notice itself as the divine.

I may notice some reactivity in me (reflecting an emotional issue), notice the sensations and thoughts making it up, and invite Spirit to wake up to itself as that.

I may have a physical issue, and invite Spirit to wake up to itself as that – as the sensations and thoughts making up that.

If I do healing for others, I notice it happens within and as oneness, and I usually take some time to invite the divine to wake up to itself as whatever the healing is for.

I have done this for physical objects and plants.

And I sometimes do this for situations as well, whether it’s my own, someone else’s, or something happening in the world.

What form does the healing take?

When it comes to healing for myself, the main healing is healing my relationship with my experiences. If something is uncomfortable to me, it’s easy to fall into an old habit of wanting to push it away or avoid it. It’s natural, but there is a discomfort inherent in this movement.

So when I notice the discomfort and my reaction to it as the divine, there is a healing. And when I invite Spirit to notice itself as that, in that form or discomfort and the reaction to it, there is also a healing.

Anything else is secondary. Emotional issues may soften and lighten. Physical issues may resolve. And so on. That’s the icing on the cake.

When it comes to healing for others, the main function is obviously healing in a more conventional sense, and my healing of my relationship to my experience is still there but secondary.

Oneness healing for self and others

There is an interesting distinction here.

If I do oneness healing for myself, whether it’s for something physical or emotional, then it can be understood from a small or psychological interpretation of awakening. To myself, I am consciousness and all my experiences – including of this human self and the wider world – happens within and as what I am.

It’s an awakening as my true nature – as what all content of my experience happens within and as, as emptiness full of my world, and oneness healing makes sense within this context without assuming anything about the true nature of the rest of the world or existence.

When I do oneness healing for others or for situations, and it works (it often does), then it does seem to require an assumption about the true nature of all of existence. It’s most easily explained by assuming that my true nature, as it appears to me, is the true nature of everyone and everything. It’s all consciousness, it’s all Spirit or the divine.

Direct noticing and how we may find it for ourselves

This all happens within direct and immediate noticing. Thoughts may guide attention but that’s about it. It’s not about thoughts or what happens within thoughts.

So how can we find this for ourselves, if we don’t already? The answer is the usual answers for what supports or invites awakening.

Training a stable attention helps for anything we wish to do, including this exploration of our true nature.

Basic meditation – notice and allow – is very helpful. It helps shift our center of gravity out of taking ourselves as limited content of experience (this human self) to the context for and all content of experience. (When I say “context” for our experience, I mean noticing ourselves as that which all our experiences already happen within and as.)

Heart-centered practices are helpful to shift how we relate to any content of experience. In some ways, it mimics what can happen naturally when what we are notices itself.

Inquiry helps us see through beliefs and identifications, and how our mind creates its own experience. It helps us see through what we are not, but sometimes perceive we are, and more easily notice what we are.

Some form of inquiry helps us notice what we are more directly, and explore and get familiar with it. (Headless experiments, Big Mind process.)

There are also many other helpful practices and explorations. In this context of oneness healing, the Big Mind / Big Heart process may be especially helpful. We can explore particular issues through dialog, and we can get a better sense of anything – including that which we have a strained relationship with – as the divine.

What’s the bigger picture of oneness healing?

From a big or spiritual understanding of awakening, it’s all happening within and as Spirit. The issue focused on, the person receiving healing, the one channeling, the healing itself, and all of it are local and temporary expressions of Spirit. It’s all part of Lila, of the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new and different ways.

From a small or psychological interpretation of awakening, it’s all happening within what we are – which a thought can label consciousness. It’s all happening within the play of consciousness.

In either case, it’s an opportunity to deepen, clarify, and live from the awakening.

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I will disappoint you

 

If we idealize, we’ll sooner or later be disappointed. It’s built into the process.

We may idealize a person, a situation, the past, the future, ourselves in the past or future, God, or something or someone else. It’s often an attempt to find safety somewhere, often outside of ourselves, and to fill a perceived hole in ourselves.

Reality doesn’t live up to our idealizations. And that’s a good thing since disappointment – used wisely – brings us back to ourselves. It helps us notice and take in that we are our own final authority. There is wisdom built into the disappointment, and it’s up to us to notice and make use of it.

Idealization-related disappointment and disillusionment is an invitation for us to notice several things. It’s an invitation to notice that we idealize. When we idealize. That the idealization comes from us and is not inherent in reality. That reality is more messy than the ideas we have about it. That we idealize for a reason, perhaps to find a sense of safety in relying on something outside of ourselves. And that we already are our own final authority, no matter how much we would like to tell ourselves otherwise.

Conversely, if others idealize us, we’ll likely eventually disappoint them. In some situations, it may be good to point that out, especially if this other person is a student or client. We can mention this dynamic before the disappointment happens, and bring attention to how it can be used in a constructive way.

Dream: Looking for my partner, staying underwater for as long as I want

 

My partner has fallen out of a boat and is drowning. I dive into the water to find her. At first, it’s difficult to hold the breath and see underwater, but then I find I can stay underwater for as long as I want, go as deep as I want, and I can see through the water clearly. I find her, bring her to the surface, and at first think she is dead. But it turns out she is alive. I am deeply grateful.

In the dream, I am not the one I am in waking life, and my partner is also not the one I have in waking life. Our genders are not one or the other. It seems that both of us are man and woman. Shortly after diving into the water, I find I can easily and fast move through it, I can stay as long as I want, and I can easily see through the water as if it was completely transparent.

We are more fundamentally human (and Spirit) than we are men and women, and we all have what we call feminine and masculine qualities. As soon as we see beyond our surface gender identities, we find ourselves as whole human beings.

I am able to be underwater for as long I want, I can swim easily, and I can easily see through the water. This may reflect that I am more comfortable dive into my sensations and emotions, it’s easier for me to stay with (in) them indefinitely, they are transparent to me and I can metaphorically see through them. I have had other dreams of being able to be underwater indefinitely.

My waking-life partner did a one-day Vortex Healing class yesterday and felt a bit disintegrated and flooded with old things surfacing after class. Perhaps that’s what I picked up when I dreamt she was drowning.

Update: The same morning I had this dream, my partner dreamt she was swimming underwater in the deep ocean at night.

I have lunch in a restaurant or café. Trump sits in a corner with his meal. He seems completely deflated and almost not alive. I sit at a table close to him but don’t feel I need to acknowledge him. The others there also know he is there but don’t acknowledge him.

It may be that Trump will lose the election and feel deflated like this. This is also how I see him beneath his reactivity and bluster: empty and deflated.

It’s also how I feel if I try to make myself something I am not, if I try to make myself important, if I try to inflate myself. Behind the inflation is deflation.

Dark night of trauma

 

As Adyashanti says, when the mind and heart open, they also open to what’s unprocessed in us. When the mind and heart open during an awakening process, they also open to trauma and any emotional issues that are here.

Sometimes, this is a trickle. Other times, it’s as if the flood gates have opened. This can be called a dark night of the soul, although that expression can refer to many different things. I think of it as a dark night of trauma.

It’s not a bug in the system, it’s a feature.

The awakening requires that all parts of our human self awaken. And that means that the unawake parts – the trauma and emotional issues – come to the surface to be seen, felt, recognized as the divine, and align with reality and oneness. These parts of us also want to join in with the awakening.

This is also essential for embodiment, for living from the awakening more consistently in daily life. When a particular trauma or emotional issue is resolved in us, the situations that previously triggered this issue – this bubble of separation consciousness in us – are situations we now can respond to with more clarity and kindness, and from oneness.

Since most of us have innumerable bubbles of separation consciousness in us, I suspect this is an ongoing process.

We may arrive at a place where our new habit is to relate to these bubbles in us with more intention, kindness, and clarity, and invite them to unwind and join with the awakening. But bubbles may continue to come up.

One purpose of talk therapy: to help us feel what we are feeling

 

What’s the purpose of talk therapy?

There are many answers to this question, and the answer depends on many things, including the therapist, client, issue, and approach.

Here are a few possibilities: to feel understood and respected, so we can more easily understand and respect themselves. To come to terms with past, present, and possible futures. To recognize, see through, and release stressful beliefs and assumptions. To learn to play well with the cards we are given in life or a situation. And to befriend ourselves,

There is another important element: To help ourselves feel what we are feeling. This one is not always made explicit although it’s an important part of the process.

Why is this important?

Avoding what we feel reinforces the scary thoughts we have about what we feel, it creates additional stress, and it can lead to a wide range of possible avoidance behaviors – including blame, judgment, compulsions, addictions, bigotry, and so on.

Moving towards allowing our experience comes with a lot of possible benefits. It can help us recognize and examine our scary thoughts about our experience and what it means (and see that these thoughts are not necessarily true). It helps us befriend ourselves and our experiences. It helps us relate to what’s coming up in us in a more conscious way. It creates some space to what’s coming up in us and our reaction to it. And it gives us space to relate to all of this more intentionally.

How can talk therapy help us feel our feelings?

In the best case, talk therapy can help us reframe and have some understanding of the triggering situation, what’s triggered in us, and how we relate to what’s triggered in us.

It’s a first step in befriending ourselves and our experiences, and relate to it all with a little more clarity and kindness. It can help make the feelings and the thoughts we associate with them seem less scary, and this is an important initial piece in healing.

Going beyond conventional talk therapy

For me, talk therapy is – at most – a first step.

There are many ways to go further, including subpersonality or parts work (dialog, acting out internal relationships), heart-centered practices (tonglen, ho’oponopno, metta), inquiry (The Work, Living Inquiries), Basic Meditation and noticing + allowing (Natural Rest), energy work (Vortex Healing), somatic work (Trauma & Tension Release Exercises, Somatic Experiencing), and much more.

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXIV

 

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

WHAT DO CONSERVATIVES CONSERVE?

Politics doesn’t interest you because you have no interest in changing a world that suits you so well

– Edith to Sherlock Holmes in Enola Holmes

A question I often ask myself is: what do conservatives want to conserve?

It’s of course many things depending on the person and the brand of conservatism.

Some of which I personally wholeheartedly agree with: Conserving nature and God’s creation. Conserving our world so future generations can have a good life. Conserving some traditional elements of our culture. (Which doesn’t mean to exclude anything else.) Conserving freedom of speech and religion. Conserving – and ideally improving – our democracy. And so on.

And some of which I don’t at all support. Mainly, anything that has to do with conserving privilege for the few at the cost of other groups.

This includes different variations of overt or subtle racism, bigotry, and prejudice, and also preserving unjust economic, political, and social structures.

And it includes preserving the privilege of humans at the cost of ecosystems and other species, and preserving the privilege of the current generation at the cost of future generations.

From my perspective, policies that don’t take the big picture into account – and the interests of all life – seem profoundly and inherently flawed.

THE 2016 US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION FORECAST WAS WRONG?

I have written about this in 2016 and earlier this year, but it feels worth mentioning again: Some folks still say that the polling or forecast for the 2016 US presidential election was wrong.

I mostly listened to the 538 podcast in the lead-up to that election, and I usually avoid US mainstream media, so I don’t know what they all wrote and said.

But when it comes to what I have seen, it seems that the problem has to do with people not understanding even the basics of statistics more than the polling itself.

538 said (as far as I remember) that there was a 1 to 4 or 1 to 5 chance of Trump winning the election (25-20 percent). Those are not bad odds at all. It means that 1 out of 4 or 5 times the polling numbers looks like this, Trump will win. Nobody should be surprised that he won the presidency.

This year, most – two weeks before the election – say there is a 90% chance Biden will win, which means there is a 1 to 10 chance Trump will win. Out of ten times the polling looks like this, Trump will win once. Even that’s not terrible odds. (Nate Silver at 538 says Trump has between 1 to 5 and 1 to 20 chance.)

How can you be surprised when Trump’s odds are in a reasonably good range? Again, I assume it has to do with reporters and other people not understanding even the most basic statistics – the type of thing everyone should have learned the first few years in school.

And that, in turn, may say something about the US education system.

There is also an over-arching question here: Why are polls important? Why not wait and see the result after the election. I understand polls are important for the candidates to target their campaigns, but why is it important for regular folks? To me, it seems more like entertainment than anything very useful.

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Helpful and not so helpful ways of living in the present

 

Living in the present can refer to a few different things.

It can mean noticing that all we have is what’s here now and that the idea of a past and future is imagined, as is the idea of a present, and anything we imagine in the past, future, and even present is imagined. It’s all happening within our thought field, within and as mental images and words. It’s all – all our experiences including of the three times and what happens within them – happens within and as what we are.

A less helpful way is to take the idea of living in the present to mean ignoring past and future, or at least making an effort to ignore it. The idea of past, future, present, and what happens in those three times, is essential for us to function and navigate in the world. (It just helps to notice that that’s what they are – ideas.) There is no need to try to ignore these or anything else.

Another less helpful way, which tends to come from an emotional issue and believing certain thoughts, is to take what’s happening here and now – and especially feelings and thoughts – and projecting them into the future, as if they mean something about the future or that it will always be this way, and also projecting them onto the past and present and ourselves as if they mean or can say something real about the past, present, or ourselves.

The first is the cure for the second and third.

If you compare, you lose

 

Thoughts compare. It’s one of the things this tool is built to do.

Comparing is essential. It helps us differentiate. Find better solutions. See ourselves in perspective. Identify areas where we can develop and learn more. And so on. It’s necessary for us to function and thrive in the world.

And yet, if we assume this says something about our inherent value as a human being, we lead ourselves astray. We create stress and anguish for ourselves, and also participate in a culture where this is seen as normal and creates widespread – and unnecessary – stress and anguish for a lot of people.

In the moment, we may tell ourselves it feels good when we compare ourselves to others and come out favorably. We tell ourselves we are better than someone else in a particular area of life, that this means we are inherently better or valuable, and that we can then allow ourselves to feel good about ourselves.

But it’s not that simple. When we get into the habit of this dynamic, we inevitably find someone to compare ourselves with who – in our mind – is better than us, and assume this means our inherent value is diminished or threatened, which means we feel not very good about ourselves.

We can’t have one without the other.

This means it’s a losing game. It’s rigged for us to lose. And that’s a very good thing.

Why is it a losing game?

It’s because this extra assumption has no real value. It’s a way for us to torture ourselves and others. And it’s not based in reality.

The ideas we have about better and worse are cultural. And the idea that this means something about our inherent value is cultural. They are not inherent in existence.

At some point, we may realize that this dynamic is not only painful, but it’s also not inevitable. There is another way.

How can we find another way?

The answer is through becoming aware of this dynamic of comparing ourselves to others and assuming it says something about our inherent value. The most direct and effective way may be through inquiry (The Work of Byron Katie, Living Inquiries, etc.). And inquiry can also help release our fascination with this type of comparing.

What’s the bigger perspective on this?

We can say that this whole dynamic is cultural. The ideas of better and worse, and what is better and worse, is cultural. And the idea that this says something about our inherent value is cultural.

We can say it’s as a(n unfortunate) side-effect of the differentiating function of thought.

And we can also say it’s part of lila. It’s one of the myriads of ways what we are explores and experiences itself – whether we call this consciousness, existence, or even the divine.

From the perspective of a separate human being, it’s unfortunate. From the perspective of existence itself, it’s part of its exploration of itself.

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Dream: Young inventor

 

I am with and observe a young boy who creates simple and creative inventions out of wood. I know he will invent a large number of other things later in life, and that he is young Benjamin Franklin.

Why this dream? Perhaps it’s a reminder to myself of my own creativity and ability to invent, and that this is an ability that can grow and flourish.

More accurately, when it comes to the areas I am interested in – healing, awakening, and to some extent art – I find that following my own path and following where my internal processes lead, inevitably takes me somewhat off the beaten track. It takes me into uncharted territory. So perhaps the dream is really an encouragement for me to trust this process, even if it takes me into uncharted territory.

It’s a territory that may be uncharted for me in a conventional sense. That’s certainly uncharted for me since here and now it’s fresh and the past only lives in my imagination (and the traces found here and now). That may be more or less uncharted by mainstream society. And that may also be more or less uncharted by others in general. (Although probably not, the general insights are often discovered by many people with some inevitable unique flavors.)

A part of me wants to join the mainstream. Whenever my process takes me somewhere, this part wants to compare it with what others have reported. There is some hesitation to fully follow my own process without being so concerned about how it matches or doesn’t match what others have found. So the dream may encourage me to be more like this little boy inventing and following his own path, wherever it leads him.

Own dream, and my partner and I sometimes have very similar dreams at the same time

 

I am in an outdoor shopping area in Southern California – a place like Palm Springs or Santa Monica. I try to find the parked car and the person I came with, and cannot remember either. I meet a teenage boy saying he is having a difficult time, and I tell him fifteen was my most difficult year. I then sit down and listen to a phone message – someone from South Africa wants to sell diamonds (scam). As I sit there, a young man with very characteristic face comes up to me, is annoying, and refuses to leave. I push him away with my foot.

I kick something over by the side of the bed which wakes me and my partner up. I tell her my dream, she tells me her dream, and it turns out we had very similar dreams at the same time. She too dreamt she was out shopping with a friend, she finds her car but it has not keys (and starts anyway), and she is similarly bothered by a young man who fits the description of the young man in my dream.

This has happened several times before. We seem to have similar dreams at the same time.

The dream itself seems a bit disjointed. I cannot remember where the car is parked or who I am with. The teenager probably reflects me working on issues from my teens the day before. I am not sure about the scam phone message, although it may partly reflect unease about the information situation in the world today (all the conspiracy theories, misinformation etc.). The young man with the unusual face (smooth, triangular) was a bit weird and insistent, both in my dream and my partners.

Of course, it’s all me. The distressed teenage boy is the unhealed parts of me from that time in my life. The scam attempt reflects how I sometimes scam myself – when I lead myself astray by believing my thoughts. The bothersome young man is also me, perhaps a part of me that reacted to pain and trauma by being a bit weird and insistent.

I can find where I am like that young man. And I also see it in my own life when I was in my early twenties – I was very driven and caught up in certain ideas.

Awakening is more fundamental than spirituality

 

From a conventional view, it’s easy to think that awakening has to do with spirituality. After all, that’s the context we most often hear about it.

It’s not wrong. But it’s also not entirely right.

Awakening means to awaken out of the trance of taking thoughts and mental images as true. It means to notice that what we are is what all our experiences happen within and as. It means for what we are to notice itself and wake up out of the trance.

And that’s not exclusive to any spiritual tradition or spirituality in general. It belongs to life. It’s more fundamental than any tradition or anything humans do or talk about.

We can wake out of the trance of specific thoughts in many ways: Through life experiences showing us another side of reality. Through conversations with someone who has seen through it for themselves. And through our own explorations.

We can glimpse what we are in many ways as well. We can experience is in nature, through drugs, out of the blue, or through being guided to notice.

I imagine a place where awakening is part of our culture, and where it’s not tied to any particular human tradition. It’s understood to be more fundamental than that. It’s studied and researched through science. And the different traditions are valued because they each have some valuable insights, pointers, and practices.

This is already happening. I suspect it’s a natural approach in a culture that’s largely secular, values pragmatism and science (although that’s eroding), and a culture where a wide range of traditional approaches are available.

The only physical place I know of like this is perhaps the Bay Area in California. And, who knows, maybe this more pragmatic approach will continue to gain momentum.

Adyashanti: Enlightenment is when everything within us…

 

Enlightenment is when everything within us is in cooperation with the flow of life itself, with the inevitable.

– Adyashanti

When I post quotes, it’s usually because they reflect what I have discovered for myself. I can vouch for it from own experience. (Which doesn’t mean it isn’t more to discover or other equally valid ways to express it.)

This quote is different. I have not experienced this for myself.

Phases of awakening

This may be because the awakening process goes through phases.

The awakening process may start with an interest or intuition. Then, there may be glimpses. Then, a more stable noticing. Then a reorientation of the human parts of us to align with reality (oneness). And after that, people seem to report what Adya describes in the quote.

Awakening versus enlightenment

There is a difference between awakening and enlightenment. Awakening is really a process, and it includes glimpsing what we are, what we are noticing itself, stabilizing that noticing, and allowing the different parts of our psyche to align within this new conscious context of oneness.

Adya seems to reserve the word “enlightenment” for when that last process is relatively complete. I hardly ever use the word “enlightenment”, perhaps because my process is not there yet.

The alignment process

For most of us, our human self was formed within separation consciousness. It developed in a family and culture operating from separation consciousness, and it itself likely operated from separation consciousness.

This means we have a great deal of “bubbles” of separation consciousness in us, even if there is a general awakening. These take the form of old habits, unquestioned beliefs, emotional issues, and traumas.

So when there is a general awakening here, and these bubbles come to the surface, they come with an invitation for us to see, feel, and find love for them, to recognize these bubbles as the divine, and provide an opportunity for them to align with reality – with oneness.

That’s how healing happen. That’s how the awakening can be more stable through situations. And that’s how we can live from the awakening in more situations. (Embodiment.)

In a sense, we are the guru for these still suffering parts of us. They come to us as devotees seeking our assistance to liberate.

They seek to join in with the awakening, and through that heal.

Sometimes, life can be “impatient” and bring up a lot of these bubbles at once and for a while. This can be what I think of as a “dark night of trauma” where a lot of old – including partly ancestral and cultural – trauma comes up to join in with the awakening.

Worded too strongly?

When Adyashanti says “everything in us”, I can’t help wondering if it’s worded too strongly. How can I know that it’s everything? How can I know that something won’t be triggered that I didn’t know was there?

Important distinctions

There are a couple of important distinctions here.

One is realignment of these parts of us versus how we relate to them when they come up. I suspect it may not be possible to allow all these human parts of us to realign fully with conscious oneness. There are just too many of them, and many of them are hidden from our view.

But we can get into the habit of relating to them more intentionally when they come up. We can recognize them for what they are, meet them, and invite them to realign with oneness. It can become our new habit, but even then, something may be triggered that catches us for a while.

Another distinction is transcending versus realigning. During the awakening process, there has been phases – both early on and later – where there is a strong oneness and no separation consciousness bubbles seem to come up. They are temporarily transcended. For whatever reason, they are not triggered. But they are still there, and they surface later on in another phase of the process and when triggered by something in life.

I assume that what Adya is talking about is when these bubbles have surfaced and – through how we relate to them – been allowed to realign with oneness (healed, awakened).

Byron Katie: Since the past is unreal and the future is unreal, all your thoughts are about nothing

 

Since the past is unreal and the future is unreal, all your thoughts are about nothing.

– Byron Katie

For us, the past is imagined. The future is imagined. And what we call the present is our ideas about something already gone.

Since all our thoughts are about the past and future, they are about nothing.

Byron Katie: When you fall in love with the unknown

 

When you fall in love with the unknown, you are free.

– Byron Katie

This is not the unknown that’s outside of what we think we know. This is the unknown within what we think we know. The receptivity that comes from knowing we cannot know anything for certain. And that this applies to everything, including our own personal life and who and what we take ourselves to be.

The Matrix and our world

 

The Matrix – with its real and virtual worlds – is explicitly an allegory for our world.

In what way is our world like The Matrix?

In a literal sense, it’s theoretically possible – although probably unlikely – that this world is created by some beings like in The Matrix. And in a metaphorical sense, we all believe things others may want us to believe and we can wake up from those illusions.

There is also another way, and one I find equally or more interesting.

Our world is created through an overlay of thoughts, of mental images and words. This overlay is what makes sense of this world and also helps us visualize a past and future and a wider world beyond what’s here and now. It’s where all labels, assumptions, values, and so on come from.

This overlay is virtual. It’s imagined. It’s created from thoughts to help us orient and function in the world. It’s completely essential for our survival.

And it makes our world quite a bit like The Matrix.

How can we take the red pill?

The safest and most lasting and effective way may be through inquiry, and especially sincere inquiry over time.

Through headless inquiry, we may discover that we are capacity for our world. The world, as it appears to us, happens within and as what we are.

Through traditional Buddhist inquiry, and modern variations like the Living Inquiries, we may discover how our mind creates its own reality. How it associates sensations with thoughts… so the sensations lend a sense of solidity and truth to the thoughts, and the thoughts give meaning to the sensations.

Through The Work of Byron Katie, we may discover that the thoughts and assumptions we held as true are not as true as we thought, and not true in the way we thought.

Through basic meditation – notice and allow what’s here – we may come to hold our thoughts a little more lightly which supports these forms of inquiry.

And so on. There are innumerable forms of inquiry and supporting practices that can be helpful here.

I am personally not interested in the path of psychoactive drugs. Although they can give us a glimpse of this, it’s dependent on chemical, it’s often transient, it may come with side-effects, and there are other approaches that are more reliable and thorough.

Why would we want to take the red pill?

There is some inherent suffering, discomfort, and struggle in taking our virtual world as inherently true and real.

Taking the red pill may not remove the suffering, discomfort, and struggle, but it can make it much easier. It can help us not struggle with it, and that – in itself – is a big relief.

Also, some of us seem drawn to truth, or love, or returning home, no matter what the cost may be. In that case, it seems we don’t have that much choice.

A motivation for spiritual practice: avoiding discomfort

 

For many, one of the surface motivations behind spiritual practice and wanting to awaken is avoidance. We want to avoid our discomfort.

Depending on our approach, we seek to transcend this discomfort, hope it will go away through an imagined future awakening, pretend through nondual ideology it’s not there or doesn’t impact us, try to make it go away through healing, try to make it easier for us through befriending it, and so on.

This is natural and understandable and there is nothing inherently wrong with it. But it is good to be honest about what’s going on. This honesty can help guide our approach.

How can we explore this?

One approach is, perhaps ironically, the most basic of all forms of meditation. Notice what’s here. Allow it. Notice it’s already allowed, whatever it is. (Basic meditation, Natural Rest.)

Feel the sensations as they are. Notice and allow.

We examine the scary thoughts associated with these sensations (The Work of Byron Katie), and how sensations and thoughts come together to create a sense of reality to these scary thoughts (Living Inquiries).

Another variation is to befriend these aspects of us as if they were beings. The discomfort. The subpersonalities. Get to know them. Listen to what they want us to know. Find some understanding for them. Respect. Perhaps even love for them, as they are.

And we can also use heart-centered practices towards the discomfort in ourselves and what triggers it in the world. (Ho’oponopno, tonglen, metta etc.)

What happens when we explore our discomfort?

We may find more comfort with it, as it is. It may take away some of the drive behind our compulsions, including for spiritual awakening. And that, in turn, is very good news. We get to see if there is still a draw towards spiritual practice and/or awakening, and we can then engage in it in a more grounded way.

Isn’t this just another way to try to avoid our discomfort?

Yes, in a sense it is. It’s a way to find comfort with the discomfort.

The difference is that we are facing it head-on instead of in a more roundabout way. And we seek to see and feel what’s already here, and befriend what’s already here, as it is.

Are there not other motivations for spiritual practice and seeking awakening?

Yes, definitely. The most basic motivation is for what we already are to seek itself, to seek to notice itself as it is.

This may take the form of yearning for truth, love, home, or something similar. This is truth wishing for itself, love wishing for itself, and home wishing for itself. It seeks to bring itself into consciousness.

We may also recognize that our life as it is doesn’t work – for ourselves, others, and the world. And seek to find a way that feels more right.

And we may have glimpses of what we are, or intuit it, and seek it. Or it may be relatively clear and we wish to clarify it and learn to live more fully from it.

How do compulsions come into the picture?

When we try to avoid our discomfort, we go into compulsions. We can say that the basic compulsion is to avoid our discomfort, and that takes the form of all the different compulsions we may have in our life: Seeking awakening, food, sex, distractions, entertainment, career, being seen a certain way by others, and so on.

Why isn’t this a more explicit part of the conversation around spirituality and awakening?

It is, more and more.

And it is part of many of the teachings of the past as well. This is not a new insight by any means.

In the past, it seems that this was often addressed indirectly through different practices. They may have trusted that people would discover it for themselves at some point. And teachers may have spoken with students more directly about this when they felt they were ready for it.

It may also be that spiritual teachers and traditions found it useful for people to operate from this compulsion for a while. It kept them in the practice, even if their practice inevitably was colored by it and for that reason slightly misguided.

In what way is our practice colored and misguided by this compulsion?

When we are caught in a compulsion (which is always to avoid discomfort), it colors our perception, choices, and life. And it also colors our spiritual practice.

We tend to get caught up in an idea of a future goal (desirable) versus what’s here (undesirable), and miss that all of it is already happening here and now.

We tend to go into effort and pushing when all that’s needed is noticing what’s already here.

We may get disillusioned since our efforts may not give us what we want, or if it apparently does then it goes away again. Our efforts cannot give us what we want since what we want is already here, and finding it depends on noticing and not effort.

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXIII

 

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

DISREGARDING SOCIAL ISSUES

I am watching Enola Holmes and enjoy it very much.

I especially enjoy that they are highlighting an inherent problem with Sherlock Holmes: He investigated individual crimes, was on the side of the establishment, and never questioned the crimes inherent in the social structures at the time.

These are not crimes according to the law and the courts, but they are crimes against humanity. Crimes of – at the time – not allowing large portions of the population to vote, keeping large portions in poverty, structural racism, and much more.

Of course, it’s much easier to see these problems with the benefit of a hundred years of hindsight and changes in social norms and values.

At the same time, this is happening today. We know of a large number of injustices and crimes against humanity – and life – and we don’t do nearly enough about it. What are some of these crimes? As I see it, it’s in an economic system that is not aligned with ecological realities. It’s in allowing the massive destruction of nature to continue. It’s in creating huge problems for future generations. It’s in ignoring the right to life of all species. It’s in supporting policies that allows huge gaps between the few wealth and the many poor. It’s in systemic racism. And much more.

Click READ MORE for more brief posts.

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things XIX

 

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be a little rantish. And some may be made into a regular article in time.

AWAKENING MAKES (OUR OWN) SEPARATION CONSCIOUSNESS MORE PAINFUL

Separation consciousness is inherently painful.

And when there is some awakening in our system, it becomes even more painful. The gap and contrast seems to bring the pain up and make us more acutely aware of it.

Why do many struggle during parts of the awakening process? One reason is that what’s left of the separation consciousness comes up, and that we feel the pain of it more acutely.

BEING NATURE

In our western culture, we often have the idea that there is nature and us, and animals and us. We see ourselves apart from nature.

The obvious reality is that we are nature. Everything we are – as individuals and collectively – is a product of the evolution of this universe and this planet. It’s all, including our cities and civilization, emerging from the universe and this planet. As Carl Sagan said, we are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We are the universe locally bringing itself into consciousness.

Why is this important? Seeing ourselves as separate from nature allows for mindless destruction of nature, and it also alienates us from the parts of us we see as more nature – our body, feelings, instincts, sensuality, sexuality, and so on.

To the extent we see ourselves as nature, feel ourselves as nature, and live as part of nature, we are more likely to care for the Earth, future generations, and embrace and find comfort with the more primal parts of ourselves. It also opens for a deep sense of belonging – to all life, to this Earth, to the Universe, to Existence as a whole.

There is nothing new here. Many have pointed this out for a long time. And there is perhaps some general social movement in this direction, but it’s a good reminder.

Click READ MORE for more of these brief(er) posts.

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The simplicity of awakening

 

Separation consciousness is often complex and convoluted because it’s created by belief in any number of different thoughts. It’s a rich fantasy world.

Awakening is simple because it’s what we are noticing itself, and thoughts are recognized as practical tools for navigating the world and not reflecting any final truth. And there is an immense richness in this simplicity.

Of course, in reality, there is often a mix of the two. Even when there is a general awakening, we still have bubbles of separation consciousness in us – and these color our perception and life even when they are in the background, and they sometimes come to the foreground.

Tolstoy was onto this dynamic when he said: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Healthy dynamics are often quite similar, and the unhealthy ones comes in many varieties.

My relationship with religions

 

Someone asked me if I consider myself Christian. When the question comes from a more conventional view, it’s difficult to answer since it’s not a yes or no answer.

What I said was: No, I don’t identify myself as Christian. And, yes, I find value in the Jesus story.

How do I see religions in general?

Religions are organizations. Their main purpose is to maintain themselves and that often takes priority over truth or anything else. There is also all the human dynamics that come with organizations, hierarchy, and power. And if there is doctrine, then it tends to stifle curiosity, honesty, and sincere exploration.

Most of them have elements of real insights. I can find valuable pointers in any religion. I can find valuable spiritual practices in each of them. I can use the mythology within each religion as a mirror for myself and way for me to find it in myself. At a social level, I know religions serve an important function and can be very helpful at individual and social levels (while they also have their downsides).

So when it comes to religions as organizations, I don’t personally feel I need to get involved. At the same time, I appreciate those who do since they allow the traditions to go on and future generations to benefit from them.

As a repository of explicit and implicit (through the mythology) pointers, I find a lot of value in each of them.

Tom Compton: Notice your presence when you are open to complete helplessness

 

Helplessness is one of those things most of us are trained to avoid. We don’t allow ourselves to open to helplessness. We struggle and wrestle with it.

So when we allow ourselves to open to it, what happens?

What happens if you open to your helplessness now?

I notice it opens to spaciousness and a sense of wholeness. It’s a relief. A certain pressure – the one that came from seing helplessness as “other” – is gone.

The reality is that we are completely helpless. We are completely dependent on the universe, Earth, the Earth community, the human community, and the kindness of strangers and friends and family. It’s a relief to open to this. (At the same time, we are not completely helpless. We can act. We can be good stewards of our own life. We can relate more consciously to our inner and outer world. And so on.)

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