Welcome to Mystery of Existence

This is a personal exploration into the mystery of existence. Feel free to share your insights and comments or ask questions. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

DISTANCE HEALING & INDIVIDUAL SESSIONS

If you are interested in distance group healings, please contact me and I will send you information. Vortex Healing is a powerful form of energy healing where divine energy is guided by divine intelligence.

I also take some private clients. If you have questions about doing a session or would like to schedule, please contact me. Most sessions are over Skype or Zoom.

Through my work with individual clients and groups in a professional setting, I have helped many with anxiety, depression, and compulsions, and also in clarifying or stabilizing spiritual openings or awakenings.

Dream: Art exhibit and shamanic training

 

I have put together a large exhibit. It’s art created from all different materials and of all different sizes โ€“ made by an Asian female artist. The whole community is here admiring and interacting with the art and each other. It’s held in a large community space used for many different activities.

After this, I am with my partner Ale. There is a transparent torso filed with many different smaller and larger things – each one representing parts of us (all levels of our being). I rearrange sections of the pieces. It’s part of shamanic training and of the healing and awakening process.

The art pieces were largely made of wood and fabrics and threads of all colors, and the pieces in the torso were made of the same materials and had the same colors โ€“ only much smaller.

My dreams over the last few months have had a community feel to them. In the first part of this dream, the whole community was there to enjoy an exhibit I had put together. I enjoyed very much being part of the community and seeing all of them enjoying it and enjoying this aspect of the community.

I am not sure why the artist was a woman from Asia. Perhaps because I have โ€“ since my teens โ€“ felt a strong connection with different Asian cultures and forms of Asian spirituality (especially Taoism and the more shamanic Tibetan form of Buddhism). And I am drawn to the more feminine approach to spirituality to balance out the more mainstream traditional masculine approaches.

In the second part of the dream, I am with my partner. Inside a transparent torso is many different small things of all different colors and shapes. I rearrange sections and it’s part of my shamanic training and also the awakening and healing process. The different parts represent parts of our being at all levels โ€“ thoughts, emotions, energies, physical body and so on.

When I explore myself, this is the experience I have. I am exploring many different parts of myself and they all have different shapes and colors and go together in different ways. And I am exploring myself as all different levels. (Through informal and formal inquiry, energy healing, and more.)

In a way, the first dream was about an outer community and the second my inner community. The dream is a reminder that my outer community reflects my inner community, and how I relate to one reflects and influences how I relate to the other. This mirroring is highlighted by the art and the things in the torso being made by the same organic and natural materials and having similar colors.

In the dream, I was an active part of my outer community and I offered a community experience they very much appreciated and enjoyed. I then explored my inner community in the presence of my partner and in a sacred or shamanic context.

Out-of-body experience when I was a few months old

 

I see my parents and older brother walk on the sidewalk to the house I grew up in. I am in a stroller. It looks like spring. I see it all from 20-30 meters up in the air. We continue walking up the gravel road to the house. Something large, rectangular, and white is in front of the house. Inside the house, I see that the walls in the large bedroom has old dark wallpaper.

This is my earliest memory and seems to have happened when we moved into a new house in the same small town they lived in before I was born. Everything is in a birds-eye perspective, apart from when I was floating around in the house and checking it out.

This apparent memory was very vivid and I never really questioned it. It just seemed to be what happened. When I asked my parents about it in my mid-teens, they confirmed everything. They had walked from the old house to the new. I was in a stroller. It was an early spring day. The white rectangular thing in front of the house was the moving van. The old wallpaper was there and they painted over it almost immediately.

I don’t remember any other out-of-body experiences. It may not have happened at other times. Or this one may be the only one I remember since it was a big milestone in my young life. I may have been three or four months old when this happened.

Could it have been just a regular in-body memory? It’s possible but seem unlikely. Why would I convert a regular in-body memory to an out-of-body memory? The birds-eye perspective was unmistakable, and I did see the moving van from above.

Why do I remember it? Perhaps because it was an out-of-body experience? Perhaps that makes it more easy to remember?

Could I have imagined it all? Not likely since my parents confirmed everything.

Dreams reflecting our ecological crisis: Boiled pigs

 

I am in a restaurant with friends. They are boiling two live pigs in hot oil to be eaten by some of the guests. I am horrified and shocked but nobody else seems to understand what I am reacting to. They see it as completely normal to boil pigs alive and then eat them.

โ€“ from Alejita’s dream a couple of nights ago

Since this dream is not my own (it’s from my beloved), and most dreams have a personal and a collective aspect, I’ll focus on the collective side here.

When I was told the dream, my first thought was that many today probably have dreams like this, and perhaps especially young people.

It reflects a growing awareness of how we treat nature, how cruel and damaging it is, and how it impacts ourselves โ€“ psychologically and our ability to thrive and survive.

These dreams shake us. They help wake us up to how we treat and relate to nature and ourselves as nature. They help us recognize our cultural power-over attitude towards nature, women, children, animals, and our own bodies and ourselves as animals.

We are in the middle of a global ecological crisis. We have created it ourselves, mainly through a too-often unexamined power-over attitude. It shakes us, including through these types of dreams. And we need to be shaken. We need to examine ourselves and how we see ourselves in relation to nature. We need to transform how we see ourselves and nature and how we organize ourselves within the larger ecological systems and this living planet as a whole.

At a personal level, these dreams may cause us to be more conscious of our behaviors in general. They may also be a small piece in transforming our worldview. They may change how we vote and what policies we support. And collectively โ€“ if we are lucky โ€“ these type of dreams help move us towards a more ecologically sound and wise civilization.

I am very curious about how many have these types of dreams these days โ€“ of cruelty to animals and nature and of ecological devastation. I imagine they are more common than we realize. It would be very interesting to collect some of them to get a sense of how our minds are processing the situation we are in and also as a historical record.

One of my own ecological-crisis dreams is recorded in this article.

As an aside, how do I see the situation we are in and how it was created? An early significant shift was transition to agriculture and the possibility of accumulating wealth and creating social hierarchy. With it came a power-over attitude towards nature, other human beings (especially women and children and those lower on the hierarchy), and ourselves.

On top of that, we created our current economic and social system (in the 1700s and 1800s) at a time where we didn’t need to take ecological realities into account. We are still using and living within that outdated system even thought our situation now is very different โ€“ we are far more people and our technology is far more powerful.

And that โ€“ agriculture, power-over, and an outdated economic and social system โ€“ explains the crisis we currently find ourselves in. The crisis is feedback. And how we respond to that feedback determines our own future and fate and whether and how we will survive.

Read More

Dream: I am five years old, giving a message to people trying intimidate me

 

I am five years old and in our house with my parents. I know something that can be dangerous for some criminals. In the middle of the night, they come and pretend to be phantoms with lights and ghostly sounds. I shout at them and tell them I know who they are, what they try to do, and that it won’t work.

In my dream, I am myself at five years old. My parents are in the house and are the age they were when I was five. The house is different and is more spacious with a very tall ceiling. (The lights they use to scare me shine on the ceiling and on the top of the walls through windows up by the ceiling.)

While I dream this, I yell in my sleep, bark three times, and wake up my partner. (The barking may have been to scare off the bandits.)

This was the night after receiving a Vortex Healing session for my kidneys. They sometimes feel a bit cold, dry and shriveled up energetically, perhaps because of an Epstein-Barr infection (mono and then CFS) that lasted more than thirty years before I had the Vortex Healing tools to remove the virus. We both noticed that a lot of fear also seemed to release from the kidneys during and after the healing.

I slept very deeply and long, for almost twelve hours. I also slept restlessly with many dreams that all felt a bit foreign. It felt like my system was releasing a lot, probably from the kidney-healing just prior to falling asleep.

In the dream, I know what’s happening, is not very scared, and yell at the bandits that I know what they are doing and it won’t work. Also, my parents in the dream are whole and emotionally healthy. (In waking life, although they both are very kind and supportive they have some issues as we all do.)

It may be that fears that used to seem very real to me now don’t because I see through them. It may also be that I have healed โ€“ to some extent โ€“ my inner images of my parents. I have worked on parental issues in different ways, including through dialogue with them where I visualize all of us as whole, healthy, wise, and kind.

The dream of the divine

 

Sometimes, it can seem like the world is a dream and that may be more accurate than we realize.

Dreams at our personal level

At our local and personal level, we can explore how the world is as a dream in a specific way.

In dreams, all the content of our experience โ€“ all that happens in the dream โ€“ happens within and as consciousness. It can’t really be any other way. It makes logical sense. And we can notice it when we do lucid dreaming.

In our waking life, it’s the same. All content of our experience โ€“ including our human self and the wider world and anything else โ€“ happens within and as consciousness. We can notice this through different forms of inquiry. In my case, I have found the Headless experiments, the Big Mind process, and the Living Inquiries, to be especially good at revealing this.

From this, we see that what we are is consciousness, and what we often take ourselves to be โ€“ like this human self โ€“ happens within and as consciousness. In other words, who we are happens within and as what we are.

This can seem abstract at first, if it’s just an idea or something someone else points out. We can then get a taste of it for ourselves, perhaps through inquiry or spontaneous revelations. And we can then continue to explore it and get more familiar it and allow our life to be transformed within this noticing.

If the world sometimes seems like a dream to us, it may be because it’s more true than it first seems. Just as our dreams happen within and as consciousness, our waking life happens within and as consciousness.

The dream of the divine

Similarly, we can say that all of existence is the dream of the divine. It’s all consciousness and all of existence happens within and as consciousness. It happens within and as the divine. And this consciousness โ€“ right here and now โ€“ is no different from this consciousness. It’s the same consciousness.

These experiences โ€“ that we may take to be “ours” โ€“ are the experiences of the divine. These experiences of sights, sounds, sensations, taste, smell, movements, and thoughts are the experiences of the divine. These thoughts saying these experiences belong to “me” as this limited and local human self are the thoughts of the divine.

Alan Watts’ thought experiment

I love a thought experiment from Alan Watts.

Say you can decide what you’ll dream about. First, we may chose to dream very pleasant dreams. After a while, that may get boring and we throw in some challenges, and perhaps some that seem very serious and a matter of life-and-death. If we know we are dreaming while we dream, we won’t experience the full effect of it. So we may also decide to forget that we are dreaming while we are dreaming so the dream feels more real to us.

By following this process, we see that what we end up with is the life we have now. There are perhaps a lot of good and pleasant experiences. It’s mixed in with challenges โ€“ big and small โ€“ that makes it more rich, juicy, and interesting. And we โ€“ as the divine โ€“ have temporarily forgotten we are dreaming in order to make it seem more real and make us more invested in the dreams.

The play of the divine โ€“ lila

Why is this happening? Perhaps for the divine to express, explore, and experience itself. For the divine to explore and experience its own potential infinite richness made a little more manifest.

The world can be seen as the play of the divine. And this is not a new discovery or noticing or speculation. In the Indian traditions they call this lila.

The world is real… and a dream

Our world is real in a certain way and also a dream in a certain way. That’s why I said “a little more manifest” in the previous segment.

Although there is validity to all our conventional ideas about the world and our lives, it’s all happening within a larger context that changes how we see it when this context is more alive to us in our immediate noticing and experience.

Even what we tend to experience as most physical is still happening within and as consciousness. The physical is real in that we experience it as physical and this seems to be a shared collective experience. At the same time, it’s our own mind โ€“ through combining thoughts and sensations โ€“ that gives it a sense of solidity and physicality. (How the mind creates its own experience through combining sensations and thoughts can be explored through inquiry, for instance Buddhist inquiries or a modern version of these such as the Living Inquiries.)

As we explore all of this, we may find that the world is simultaneously kind of real and kind of a dream.

Warrior and CFS

 

This is something I am in the middle of exploring so my insights around it are not so clear right now. (Of course, it’s a pitfall to assume that our understanding about anything in life is ever very clear!)

There is definitely a biological component to CFS (Epstein-Barr infection prior to onset of CFS etc.) but that may not be the whole picture.

I have long suspected there is a connection between suppressed warrior archetype / energy and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), at least in my case. Part of this suppressed warrior archetype is suppressed anger. And it has been suppressed because of adopted family and cultural norms and patterns, and more specifically through people-pleasing and sacrificing my own needs and passions in order to please others.

When I am intentionally in contact with my inner warrior and anger, I feel stronger, more solid, more authentic, more real, more grounded, and I have more energy. I seem to be able to do more without crashing.

I should say that the energy behind anger is, in itself, a more neutral energy. It can be expressed in many ways, including as determination, focus, and authenticity. It doesn’t have to be expressed in what most people think of as anger, although that can be appropriate as well. And if it’s expressed as anger, then the more we are free from beliefs and emotional hangups around anger, the more we can express it in a healthy and constructive way.

I should also mention that several people (senior Vortex Healers and teachers) have said that I seem to have had several lives as a warrior and that the trauma from these lives is still with me. It seems that this has especially surfaced the last few years in order to find healing. I don’t know, but I can easily see myself as having had several warrior lives in the past. And some of the trauma I have explored in myself definitely fits war trauma. Whether it’s literally true or not, the image definitely highlights something in me that needs attention.

In German New Medicine, they see feeling off track as connected with CFS. That also fits my experience. When I first got CFS, I was fifteen and felt lost and off track in life. The CFS symptoms subsided in my 20s and 30s, perhaps because I felt on track and had a strong sense of purpose in life. After several years in a marriage where I felt I couldn’t be myself I similarly felt off track and the CFS returned, and this time stronger.

Why did I feel off track? A major reason was people-pleasing and that I set aside โ€“ and didn’t embody or make use of โ€“ the warrior archetype in my life. If I had, I would have made very different choices and I would โ€“ very likely โ€“ have felt much more solid, authentic, and on track in life.

Of course, I don’t know if this had anything to do with the onset of CFS, or the maintenance of it, or what role it will play in healing from it. But I will certainly continue to explore it and do my best to bring the warrior back into my life.

What does the warrior archetype mean to me? It means being more real, authentic, honest, determined, passionate, and being a good steward of my life and โ€“ as best I can โ€“ the world. It means to stand up for myself as needed, and for others and the world. It means to use the energy behind anger and channel into all of this โ€“ authenticity, realness, honesty, determination, passion, and anything else.

How do I work with it? I can easily access the energy of the warrior and just being in contact with it โ€“ and use it for daily life activities โ€“ helps a lot. I am also actively working on any issues holding me back from living more from the warrior, and this mostly means fears and beliefs that it’s dangerous. (Which it is but that’s OK, that’s part of the game.)

In terms of approaches, work with it using inquiry, dialog, and Vortex Healing (especially choice points has been helpful) and so on.

Why do I say “the energy behind the anger”? Because what’s experienced and expressed as anger is something else before it takes that particular form. It comes from a more neutral and primal energy. And this energy can be channeled in different directions. It can be suppressed. It can be expressed as healthy or unhealthy anger. It can be expressed as clarity, determination, authenticity, honesty, groundedness, fearlessness (not allowing fear to stop me), and action.

Why do I chose to work on it? Because it can’t hurt. At least, it can give me a better quality of life. And it may even free up resources in my body so it can more easily heal itself.

If there is a connection between the warrior archetype of CFS, what may it be? It may be that suppressing the warrior (through people pleasing etc.) somehow sets up the system to be more susceptible for CFS. For many, a mononucleosis infection (Epstein-Barr) lasts a few days, is over, and has no long-term consequence. For some, it precedes CFS. The difference may be a combination of genetics, personality / emotional issues, ongoing and acute stress, and perhaps more. And in the personality / emotional issues category, we may find suppressing the warrior and anger. Who knows. At the very least, it’s worth exploring and see what happens when I free the warrior. (As I did in my late teens and twenties when my health was much better even though I still had CFS.)

Updates a few days later…..

Family background. I thought I would add a few words about how this pattern was created in my life. My father is a warrior by nature and has used that energy in his work and life outside of the family. But in the family, he suppresses his anger, emotions, and warrior. His motto is: Don’t speak up about anything. Don’t rock the boat. And especially when it comes to my mother. I was distressed by this dynamic even as a very little child and spoke up about it, but was told โ€“ as I was in many other situations โ€“ to be quiet and pretend nothing is going on. I adopted this pattern, by necessity, and unfortunately learned to not speak up, not stand up for myself, and instead be a people-pleaser. (Enneagram nine.)

The regrets I have in my life come from times when I didn’t speak up and didn’t stand up for myself when I needed to and it was appropriate. In other words, I learned to hide my inner warrior. I learned to hide my warrior nature. And โ€“ as mentioned above โ€“ this may be connected with the CFS. At the very least, going out of this pattern and standing up for myself more regularly will help me a lot in my life and improve my quality of life. And, who knows, maybe it even will help bring me back to a more robust health.

Spiritual dark nights and warrior. When I went to Nepal and India in my twenties, I wished for some kind of spiritual transformation. Instead, what I got was learning to stand up for myself. And that is a spiritual transformation. It’s part of embodiment.

When I occasionally mention the dark night I have been going through for a few years, most people think the transformation has to do with learning about or discovering interconnectedness, compassion, empathy, living for the larger whole, and so on. But for me, it’s the reverse. I did all of that in my teens, twenties and thirties. What I didn’t learn was to stand up for myself consistently and when it was needed in life. (Of course, I need to deepen in the oneness side too, but for now, what seems more important is to learn to take care of my human life with more consistency.)

The dark night obviously has had to do with healing old traumas and emotional issues, and seeing and questioning remaining identities and beliefs. But a big part of it is exactly this: learning to stand up for myself. Learning to be a good steward of my own life. Learning to take care of the individual side of the individual vs. collective/oneness side of the equation.

Read More

Owl synchronicity

 

I lived in the countryside outside of Madison, Wisconsin, in the late 90s. At the time, my then-wife and I went to the Unitarian Society in Madison on Sundays. (This is the Unitarian building designed by Frank Loyd-Wright.)

One winter Sunday, the minister talked about Grey Owl, the British man taking on a Native American persona in Canada and giving talks and writing as if he was a born Native American. (If I remember correctly, the talk was about how he was authentic in feeling and living like a Native American although others saw him as a fraud when his English background was publicly revealed.)

The talk impacted me deeply since I have always had a deep admiration for and resonance with the Native American cultures. On the way home, driving along a silent winter road in Mount Horeb, we saw a large Snowy Owl sitting on a branch over the road. It seemed like a scene in a movie with the beautiful freshly snow-covered winter landscape and the owl sitting right over the road in front of us. We stopped the car and watched the owl for a while in awe. The owl then silently and majestically dropped off the branch and glided along the road and out of sight.

It was a powerful synchronicity and the talk and Snowy Owl experience made a deep impression on me. It started a phase in my life where I delved more deeply into Native American literature and the Native American world. (I had always been drawn to it, since early childhood, but this gave me an opportunity to go a bit more deeply into it.) I watched the movie about Grey Owl. I read his books. I read any other books I could find written by Native Americans. I read Native American stories and mythology. I took part in sweat lodges led by a Sioux holy man. And it generally deepened my earth-centered spirituality and appreciation for the Native American cultures.

Canada goose, death and synchronicity

 

I thought I would share more stories from my past, including this one of my many synchronicity stories.

The summer 2018, I was at our family cabin in the mountains of Norway with my then-partner from Canada. One night, she received a message that her uncle โ€“ whom she was very close to and was like a father to her โ€“ had suddenly become ill and was in a hospital back in Canada.

The following day, I was outside of the cabin. I heard honking over me and looked up. There was a Canada goose, circling the cabin several times while continuing to honk. It then flew off towards the east. It was very much out of the ordinary and felt like a sign. I suspected that her uncle had just died and I also felt his presence.

Not long later, we learned that he had died about that time.

I should mention that her uncle (and her) had Native American ancestry and strong connection to nature and the mountains.

The photo is from the cabin and that trip.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and movement, surfacing emotions, crashing, food, and anger

 

I decided to write a post on some possible connection between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and respectively movement, surfacing emotions, crashing, food, and anger. These are just my own observations and speculations so explore it for yourself (if you have CFS) and take it with a big grain of salt.

Chronic fatigue and conscious movement. One thing I have learned through living with Chronic Fatigue (CFS) is to be extra conscious of how I physically move. If I move too fast โ€“ and frantically โ€“ it’s clearly not good for my health. I need to find a comfortable way to move, and that usually means to slow down. Beyond that, if I can find a nurturing way to move, that’s even better.

When I see others moving in a fast or frantic way, it’s a reminder to me to slow down. I am usually pretty good at it, but I too notice the temptation to speed up and try to do a lot quickly. It’s also helped me to look at why I am tempted to do this. Mainly, when I have some “extra” energy โ€“ beyond just being able to lie in bed do close to nothing โ€“ there is a temptation to do as much as I can โ€“ and perhaps to do this relatively fast โ€“ since I don’t know how long it will last.

I have done a lot of conscious movement work in my previous life so this is relatively natural for me (tai chi, chigong, yoga, Feldenkrais, Breema). For others with CFS but without this previous experience, I imagine that very gentle conscious-movement explorations can be helpful if it’s adapted to what they are able to do without worsening too dramatically or crashing.

Chronic fatigue and surfacing emotions. We are a seamless system so emotions play a role in any aspect of our life, and so also in chronic illness. For instance, chronic illness may lead to โ€“ at different times โ€“ anger, frustration, sadness, grief, anxiety, and so on, and it’s good to address this to improve quality of life and give the system a better chance to heal itself. It’s also possible that certain personality traits โ€“ like perfectionism and people-pleasing โ€“ is connected with CFS although research has not shown this (yet).

In general, why not address emotional issues? It can certainly improve our quality of life no matter our situation, and it can also free up resources allowing our system to better heal itself.

There are many possible connections between CFS and emotions. Here, I want to highlight just one. When my energy level is good, my old emotional issues are mostly “hidden” and not very obvious. I have the resources to deal with life without having too many issues triggered.

When my energy levels go down, these old issues tend to surface more easily. Even smaller challenges in life can trigger my old hangups since I don’t have the resources to deal with life’s challenges as I normally would.

The gift in this is that I get to see these old hangups, make a note of them, and perhaps โ€“ if I have energy! โ€“ address them.

Chronic fatigue & crashing. When my system crashes, it’s typically when I am out of bed and in some activity, and when I do too much and haven’t had food and water frequently enough. The recipe for avoiding crashing is the reverse: do less, rest more, and eat small meals and drink (water, herbal teas) more frequently.

When my system crashes, it feels like a whole-systems crash. My physical body begins to shut down. My mind goes into survival mode with a single-minded focus on food and water. And if I perceive that someone or something is in the way of me getting food and water quickly, I may also get frustrated, angry, and/or grumpy. (The focus is often on chocolate and sodas since that gives me quick energy, even if I rarely if ever eat and drink it otherwise.)

Chronic fatigue & food. I know I do better when I avoid some foods (wheat, dairy, sugar, refined foods) and eat more of other foods (vegetables, some fruits, some less typical grains). In periods where I eat more indiscriminately, my system is eventually impacted and I need to switch back to a more intentional diet. Similarly, if I eat strictly for too long, I eventually need to broaden my diet.

The foods I get sick from if I eat them regularly become medicine in small amounts in periods where I eat more intentionally (for instance, cheese, cream, chocolate).

As mentioned above, if I am out of the house and notice I am about to crash, it can help to eat foods I usually completely avoid (AKA “junk” food) โ€“ simply because this food is full of quick energy.

Chronic fatigue & anger. I suspect that, for me, there is a connection between suppressed anger and fatigue. It may be one of several keys to healing. (It was obviously not the only or main factor in causing the illness, if it played a role at all.)

In my case, there is probably a connection between perfectionism and people-pleasing and suppressed anger (when we ignore our own needs in order to please others, we naturally get angry). And there are also beliefs and “shoulds” about anger from my family (where showing anger is not acceptable).

Anger is energy, and when it’s suppressed it means that the energy of the anger โ€“ in the moment โ€“ is not available. I also suspect that suppressed anger corresponds to chronic tension in the body (see other articles on how chronic tension is necessary for us us to hold a stance and believe anything at all), and that tension requires and “binds” energy that could have been used for the normal functioning of the body and for healing.

I notice that when I connect with the energy of anger, and perhaps use it when I speak and act (in a constructive way), I feel stronger and I feel I have more energy. And I don’t crash the way I normally do following exertion (PEM).

I thought this would be the end of this article but I’ll add a few more observations / questions….

Yawning as a signal. Over time, I have learned to notice signals that helps me avoid crashing. Yawning is one of those signals.

In my experience, when I yawn it means one of three things.

Most often, it means I need food โ€“ and that I need it right away. It’s already been a little too long since last meal or mini-meal.

If I have recently had food, it may mean that my system needs energization. Vortex Healing is the best way for me to do this.

And if I have had food and my system is relatively well energized, it may mean that I am ready for sleep.

All our thoughts: A human invention

 

This Christmas, a Norwegian author (Ari Behn) committed suicide. A close friend of him said he was tormented by feeling that his work was not good enough. I don’t know if that was the reason for his suicide, or how large part it played, but it was a reminder for me.

All our ideas are a human invention. All our shoulds. All our ideas about how our life should be. All our ideas of not living up to an ideal. All our “standards” that we live up to or not.

Why do we take it so seriously when it’s all a human invention?

These ideas and shoulds are not inherent in life. They are not prescribed by life or God or anything at all apart from the human mind. All our thoughts โ€“ all our words, ideas, world views, ideals, values and so on โ€“ were once created by an ordinary human being like you and me.

They are a human invention. Why take it so seriously? Why torment yourself with these human inventions?

Why take what thoughts say so seriously? They are just questions about the world. They are innocent. None of them reflect any absolute or final truth.

Of course, we are trained to believe our thoughts. For some reason, our society and culture encourages us to believe certain thoughts. I see how it’s a useful way to control people. But it also creates a lot of (unnecessary) suffering.

Why not instead teach people how to question their thoughts? Why not teach this as a Life 101 theme in school?

The most useful approach I have found to do this is inquiry. For instance, The Work of Byron Kate and the Living Inquiries.

Note: The family of Ari Behn were were open about it being suicide. The idea that it’s shameful or something to hide is another human invention, and a very old-fashioned one at that. It seems far better to be open about it. It reduces speculation. And it can generate very helpful conversations about suicide and how to support people who are going through difficult times.

Note 2: When I say that our thoughts are a human invention, it’s not entirely accurate. Yes, the content of our thoughts and what’s held as true and not was invented by someone, and reinvented each time someone decided to take it on for themselves. And yet, this is all the processes of life. Life came up with thoughts, and life came up with what thoughts to take as true and not. Ultimately, it’s all the play of life or the universe or the divine.

Read More

Billy Knapp: Uncertainty. That is appropriate for matters of this world

 

Alice Longbaugh: I never had his certainties. I suppose it is a defect.

Billy Knapp: I donโ€™t think itโ€™s a defect at all. Oh, no. Uncertainty. That is appropriate for matters of this world. Only regarding the next are we vouchsafed certainty.

Alice Longbaugh: Yes.

Billy Knapp: I believe certainty regarding that which we can see and touch, it is seldom justified, if ever. Down the ages, from our remote past, what certainties survive? And yet we hurry to fashion new ones. Wanting their comfort. Certainty, is the easy path. Just as you said.

โ€“ from Ballad of Buster Scruggs, the Cohen brothers

I found this exchange between Billy and Alice beautiful in its simplicity and honesty.

Uncertainty is appropriate for any idea we have. For anything we think we know, whether it’s the big picture questions or our everyday life. Any thought comes with a question mark, whether we notice or not.

Telling ourselves we have certainty about something is a way to seek comfort. In a sense, it’s the “easy” path since we can pretend to know and we don’t need to question it or explore it further. And yet, it’s not so easy because somewhere we know we are deceiving ourselves. And it’s out of alignment with reality and life may, at any moment, show that to us. Life may present us with a situation showing us that one of our most cherished ideas was not true, or not as true as we wanted it to be.

This is also why we get the preaching pattern (or lecturing or proselytizing pattern). We hold onto a thought or idea in order to find comfort or safety. Somewhere, we know we cannot know for certain if the thought or idea is true. And we probably know, somewhere that we hold onto it to find comfort. And we may, secretly, fear that life โ€“ at any time โ€“ will show us it’s not as true as we wanted it to be. If we are not honest with ourselves about this, then one way to deal with the inevitable tension inherent in these dynamics is to preach to others. We lecture and try to convince others the initial thought or idea is true so we can feel better about holding onto it for ourselves. At least, others are in the same boat. In an even more basic sense, we lecture others so we can hear it ourselves. We lecture ourselves about the importance of believing the initial thought or idea. We try to remove our own doubt, which is impossible. Doubt is sanity. Doubt is being aligned with reality. We can never completely deceive ourselves.

Uncertainty. That is appropriate for matters of this world. Only regarding the next are we vouchsafed certainty.

Uncertainty is appropriate for matters of this world. It’s appropriate for any thought and anything that has to do with the content of our experience. We cannot know or say anything for certain about this.

Only about the “next” world can we say anything for certain. Perhaps not the way Billy may have thought about it, but in another way. The only thing we know for certain is that we are โ€“ what the mind may label โ€“ consciousness.

We cannot say anything for certain about the content of consciousness. But we can say for certain that there is consciousness. That’s not only what we are but all we are, in our own immediate experience. The whole world, as it appears to us, and whatever we take ourselves to be as a human being, happens within and as consciousness.

It happens within and as what we are. And we can label that consciousness, awakeness, or whatever else we like. (Of course, the label and any ideas we have about it happens within and as content of consciousness!)

Down the ages, from our remote past, what certainties survive?

And that’s how it is today as well. The certainties we have today โ€“ collectively โ€“ will not survive. Future generations will have other certainties, and these also won’t survive.

Read More

En-light-enment

 

What does enlightenment refer to?

In spirituality, it’s often points to what we are โ€“ that which our experience happens within and as โ€“ waking up to itself. It also means waking up out of taking ourselves to be this human self.

When it’s more complete, it also means waking up out of taking ourselves as anything in particular within the content of our experience, or believing thoughts and any identifications that comes with taking thoughts as true.

Although the initial shift may happen suddenly, it’s an ongoing process in most (or all?) cases? It keeps deepening, clarifying, and become more thorough and lived.

En-light-enment as a metaphor

En-light-enment. It’s a metaphor that means light being shed on something. We see something more clearly that previously was hidden or โ€“ metaphorically โ€“ in the dark for us.

What is illuminated? As mentioned above, the essence is that what we are wakes up to itself and out of taking itself to (exclusively) be this human self or anything else within content of experience, including any thoughts or ideas.

Another thing that may be illuminated, especially if it’s more thorough, is the dynamics of the mind that creates the experience of (exclusively) being some part of the content of experience (e.g. this human self) and not the rest (e.g. the rest of the world as it appears to us).

En-light-enment in a more direct sense

There is also an en-light-enment in a more direct โ€“ and perhaps literal โ€“sense. In an awakening, we may experience ourselves (our human self) and the rest of the world as light. It’s all revealed as what our minds may label consciousness, love, quiet bliss, and light.

Going beyond ideas of light and dark

And there is also a shift into holding all words and ideas more lightly, and seeing that reality โ€“ and the divine โ€“ includes both what our minds can label light and dark. It’s all the play of what the mind may label consciousness or the divine. All content of experience โ€“ including ideas of light and dark and what these refer to โ€“ is the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself. Our ideas about light and dark, in whatever form they take for us, have no final or absolute truth to them, and all of them refer to the divine and the play of the divine.

Read More

Dream: Working with Trump

 

I am the educational minister for Trump. He likes me. And I have sympathy for him even as I disagree with much of what he says and does. I am free to do as little or as much as I want.

This dream went on for a while and continued even after I woke up briefly. I did have a genuine sympathy for him in the dream and I noticed it felt peaceful, even if my views on what he says and does is the same in the dream as it is in my waking life. When I briefly woke up, I was aware that this was โ€“ in a sense โ€“ a shadow dream. It is a dream about befriending the shadow.

Trump does โ€“ to some extent โ€“ represent shadow material for me. I sometimes see things in him I don’t admit to in myself, at least in the moment. And this dream was a reminder that getting to know someone is often to understand and find sympathy for them even if we still may not agree with much of what they say or do.

Why educational minister? Perhaps because it’s a little less contentious than some other positions so it allowed me to get to know him in a more peaceful setting. And perhaps because this dream is an education of myself.

How do we find peace?

 

There are many ways to find peace. Here are some approaches I have found helpful.

We can create a certain life. A life that feels right, nurturing, and meaningful. A life where we have nurturing relationships. Meaningful work and activities. A life aligned with our values and what’s important to us. A part of this is to heal and mend โ€“ as far as possible โ€“ any challenging relationships.

We can invite in healing. We can invite in healing for parts of us not in peace. We can invite in healing for trauma and emotional issues.

We can reorient. We can learn to befriend our experience as it is, including the experience of lack of peace (!). In this process, we also learn to befriend (more of) the world as it is.

We can find ourselves (more) as our human wholeness. As we find ourselves as the wholeness of who we are as a human being, there is a sense of groundedness and peace even as life and thoughts and emotions goes on. This is an ongoing process, perhaps including body-centered mindfulness and projection work, and the peace is of a different kind.

We can explore our need for peace. If we feel a neediness around peace, what’s going on? Do we have stressful beliefs about living without peace? Do we have identities rubbing up against the reality of sometimes lack of peace? Is there a trauma or emotional issue telling us we need peace? Examining this and find some resolution for whatever may be behind a need for peace can, in itself, help us find more peace.

It’s stressful to feel we need peace and fight with a world that doesn’t always give us the conditions we may think we need for peace. And it is, perhaps ironically, more peaceful to find peace with life as it is.

We can live with (more) integrity. Living with integrity gives us a sense of peace, even when life is challenging. Living with integrity means to clarify and follow what’s important to us, and to live with some sincerity and honesty โ€“ especially towards ourselves.

We can follow our own inner guidance. Following our inner guidance โ€“ in smaller and bigger things โ€“ connects us with an inner quiet and peace, even when life is stormy. We can learn to follow our inner guidance through experience. And it’s also helpful to notice when we connect with our inner guidance and don’t follow it, and examine what fears and stressful beliefs in us made it difficult for us to follow it.

We can connect with the larger whole. This larger whole comes in three related forms. One is the larger whole of who we are as a human being (mentioned above). Another is the larger whole of the Earth and the universe. We can connect with this through Earth-centered practices, the Universe Story, and more. The third is what we are.

We can explore and get to know what we are. What we are is what our experience happens within and as. As we learn to find ourselves as that, there is a different kind of peace. The peace of being like the sky that clouds, storms, clear weather and anything else passes through.

Each of these is an ongoing process and exploration. It’s not a place we arrive at for good and don’t have to pay attention to again.

The kind of peace we find in each of these ways is somewhat different. In a sense, they complement each other.

As for how to find these types of peace, there are many approaches and I’ll mention a few here.

To heal, I have found parts (subpersonality) work, inquiry, heart-centered practices, TRE, Vortex Healing and more to be helpful. To reorient, I have found ho’oponopno, tonglen, and all-inclusive gratitude practice to be helpful. To find myself as my human wholeness, I have found body-centered mindfulness (yoga, tai chi, chigong, Breema) and projection work (inquiry, shadow work) helpful. To explore any neediness around peace, I have found inquiry to be helpful. To live more with integrity, it’s helpful to explore what in me (usually a fear, stressful belief, trauma) takes me away from living with integrity in any specific situation. To follow my inner guidance, it’s helpful to practice in smaller situations and likewise explore what in me (fears etc.) takes me away from it. To connect with the larger whole of the Earth and Universe, it’s helpful to use the Practices to Reconnect (Joanna Macy), Universe Story, and similar approaches. To explore what we are, I have found Headless experiments, Living Inquiries, and the Big Mind process to be helpful.

Read More

Vortex healing experience: after a healing session

 

Each Vortex Healing (VH) session is different โ€“ depending on the VH tools we use, the focus and intention for the session, the recipient and what’s going on for them, and probably much more.

I thought I would share my experience yesterday with receiving a VH session. It’s not necessarily typical (this doesn’t happen following each session) and it’s also not atypical (nothing was really that surprising).

I received a VH session using Bioelectric Flow (a VH tool) with the intention to work on what will most effectively allow me to heal from the chronic fatigue (CFS). I felt the energy โ€“ the Bioelectric Flow has a distinct quality โ€“ working in my head, and especially in the center of my head and where the brain meets the spine. (This was also the experience of the healer.) It felt strong, as the previous two Bioelectric Flow sessions have been.

Following the session, I noticed the energy continuing working on my brain. I went to bed early (8pm), slept for a couple of hours, and woke up with a lot of anger in my system. This is, most likely, suppressed anger that the healing session allowed to come to the surface and be seen and felt. I had the intention to notice and allow the anger energy and also notice and allow the old suppressing pattern without engaging in it.

For the next one or two hours, I stayed in bed and noticed and allowed whatever was coming up, and also had periods of strong shaking, trembling, leg and arm movements (running and hitting), and vocalizations. All of this helped ground and release the energy coming up in my system.

In the beginning, I felt everything โ€“ myself, the world โ€“ as waves and energy. Then, I experience myself as an energy being without boundaries. And then, as boiling liquid without any boundaries. After a while, and especially after shaking and trembling a few times, the sense of my physical body returned more and the “boundary-less energy” feeling relaxed a bit.

After I sensed that this process was mostly over, I got up and had something to eat and drink, went back to bed, slept for about nine hours, and woke up feeling good.

This process was made easier โ€“ and especially being with and allowing what surfaced was made easier โ€“ by sharing bed with my partner, physical touch, and she understanding and supporting the process. We even got some good laughs from the intensity of the shaking and movements that sometimes happened for me.

From the beginning of the return of the CFS (about ten years ago), I have sensed that it had to do with my brain and nervous system and that my brain and nervous system needed healing. I have also sensed that the CFS has to do with feeling off track, people pleasing, me leaving my inner guidance on a major life decision some time earlier, and suppressed anger from the people-pleasing and leaving my own guidance. During the session, the energy worked on my brain and the brain/spine connection, and after suppressed anger surfaced, so it happened to fit two of the main things I sense needs to change for a real and deeper healing to take place.

I should mention that I am able to give myself VH sessions (I am at MG level), but it’s sometimes easier to receive from someone else, and โ€“ in this case โ€“ the specific VH tool I wanted to use is in a future class for me so I needed to receive it from someone else.

Kodo Sawaki: Sit immovably in the place where being superior or inferior to others doesnโ€™t matter

 

Sit immovably in the place where being superior or inferior to others doesnโ€™t matter.

โ€“ Kodo Sawaki in Zen Teaching of Homeless Kodo

The essence is clear and there are several more specific ways to understand it. Some of these have to do with who we are and require psychological insights and transformations, and some have to do with what we are and require “spiritual” insights and transformations.

In general with these pointers, they are not meant to point to what to do. If we try to use it as a guide for behavior, it easily becomes a “should” and something we impose on ourselves and try to live up to. We may put pressure on ourselves, it tends to feel inauthentic, and it can โ€“ ironically – become another way where we feel superior or inferior.

Instead, it’s more meant as an invitation to notice when we don’t do it and notice why. If this is how I would live if I am clear, awake, and healed, and I don’t do it, what’s going on? Where am I not clear? What in me needs to heal? It becomes a pointer for inquiry and healing.

In this case, if my system believes in ideas of superior and inferior, it’s partly from culture and if it’s important to me, it may also be connected to a sense (belief) that I am not enough, not good enough, not inherently valuable, not as good as others, unlovable, and so on. The idea of inferior and superior becomes a way to deal with an underlying sense of not being good enough. (I may tell myself I am superior so I temporarily feel a little better about myself. I may tell myself I am inferior which feeds and supports the initial belief of not being enough. And, often, there is a mix of the two.)

What are some of the specific ways to understand what the quote points to?

The basic one is that to the extent we have investigated the ideas of superior and inferior โ€“ and to the extent we have found what’s more real and true, to the extent we have found healing for our own emotional issues that may otherwise make us invested in the ideas of inferior and superior, and to the extent we have aligned with reality and brought awakeness into these ideas and issues โ€“ we naturally don’t invest energy in the ideas of superior and inferior. We recognize that we are different in skills, maturity and so on but we don’t use this to feed ideas of inferior or superior.

There is one important element to this, and that is to recognize that any idea of inferior or superior is just that โ€“ an idea. It’s not inherent in reality. It comes from an overlay of thought, and the content of that overlay โ€“ the ideas of superior and inferior and what fits into each category โ€“ comes from culture.

Another helpful element is recognizing what we are, or for what we are to recognize itself. We can discover this spontaneously, or apparently following spiritual practice, or through inquiry like the Big Mind process or the Headless experiments.

For instance, through the Big Mind process, we may discover โ€“ and taste โ€“ that we are Big Mind. And Big Mind explores, experiences, and expresses itself in all the different ways we see in the world โ€“ as you and me and everything else. The “essence” of all of it is the divine, Spirit, or God. Nothing is inherently superior or inferior to anything else. (While, at the same time, it’s all different and we obviously have different levels of maturity, skills, insights, areas of expertise, and so on.)

There are also some stepping stones or supports that can be helpful for a while. For instance, at an ordinary human level, we can say that we are all 100% valuable no matter our behavior or human qualities. The more we take this in, the easier it will be to recognize differences between us while still recognizing that we are all 100% valuable.

In my experience, it’s very freeing to investigate these ideas of superior and inferior. Finding what’s more real and true for me is a relief. It feels like returning home. I am more free from placing people โ€“ including myself โ€“ on an inferior-superior scale, and I am more free from worrying about others doing that to me since I know it’s human-created and not inherent in reality.

Read More

Carl Sagan: I like a universe where much is unknown

 

I like a universe where much is unknown and, at the same time, much is knowable. A universe in which everything is known would be static and dull.

โ€“ Carl Sagan

In a conventional sense, we know some things about the world and the universe and there is a lot we don’t know. We don’t even know how much we don’t know. There may even be many things we don’t know that would turn our whole worldview inside-out and upside-down if we knew them.

Looking a little closer, we see that we don’t know anything for certain. Our brain constructs our perception of the world from our senses and with an overlay of mental images and other thoughts to make sense of it. It’s all constructed. Our perceptions and ideas about the world are not the final word on anything. It’s all created to help us orient and navigate in the world. It has nothing to do with any final truth.

So in a conventional sense, we know a little and we know there is a lot we don’t know. And looking closer, we see that we cannot know anything for certain. Not even that which seems most basic, obvious, and what we take the most for granted.

Lucid dreaming and waking life: all happening within and as consciousness

 

A friend of mine (JL) mentioned that he wants to explore lucid dreaming. Although I understand it can be fun, I have to admit I don’t quite see the usefulness of it.

When I was little โ€“ perhaps 7-10 years old (?) โ€“ I decided to try lucid dreaming for myself. Before falling asleep, I set the intention to realize I was dreaming while dreaming. It happened and was mildly interesting (I became aware of it as a dream while being chased by peasants with pitchforks!), and I haven’t explored it since.

Of course, there is one side to lucid dreaming that is interesting and somewhat useful. Both in a dream and in waking life, all of our experiences happen within and as consciousness. Perhaps for some, it’s easier to first recognize this within a dream and then notice it in waking life.

For me, noticing all as consciousness happened spontaneously when I was sixteen so I haven’t felt the need to explore this through lucid dreaming. It may be a useful approach to some. Although it may also be a detour from the more direct approach of noticing it in waking life, for instance assisted by inquiry.

Note: I intentionally kept the language more conventional when I said “noticing all as consciousness”. It’s more accurate to say that consciousness notices all as itself. And even that is not so accurate since “consciousness” is a label and something the mind easily can understand as a thing or object, and it’s not a thing or object. The most accurate way I have found to talk about it is that what we are โ€“ that which all experience happens within and as โ€“ notices or wakes up to itself. And even that is just a pointer. A temporary guide or springboard to finding it for ourselves. The words themselves are not worth anything apart from as a pointer.

The difference between causes of illness and what helps it turn around

 

Words are important. And the words a therapist, doctor, or healer use with their clients or patients are especially important.

It seems obvious but most of us are sometimes sloppy, don’t think about how our words may be perceived, and we may even be โ€“ knowingly or unknowingly โ€“ intellectually dishonest.

This came up for me when I asked a top level energy healer about my chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and specifically a crash following over-exertion (PEM).

His reply was “the tiredness has emotional causes”.

I am very open to work on any emotional issues that may maintain the CFS and prevent healing. After all, the body is a seamless whole, CFS is a complex and chronic condition without a single known cause or remedy, and working on any part of my system and environment can support my body in healing. Emotional issues are already on top of my list of things to address, along with strengthening my energy system, diet, and aiming to live in a warmer and dryer climate.

And yet, his reply seems a bit careless.

First, CFS isn’t just or even primarily about “tiredness”. The symptoms are typically a combination of fatigue, brain fog, digestive problems, sleep problems, post-exertion worsening (PEM), temperature dysregulation, and much more. To reduce it to “tiredness” makes it sound like it’s just a worse or more lasting form of regular tiredness which is far from reality.

Second, CFS has several known non-emotional factors. For instance, it often follows an infection like mononucleosis (as in my case). The Epstein-Barr virus seems to play a role. The tendency to crash following exertion (PEM) is a core symptom and isn’t related to emotions in any obvious way. Diet is an important factor in stabilizing the condition and perhaps the healing. Nutrients the same. And climate often plays a big role for people with CFS. (I get worse in cold and wet climates and sometimes remarkably much better in warm and dry climates.)

Emotional issues definitely plays a role in well-being and in reducing stress (which can support the body in stabilizing and perhaps even healing itself). It may even be one of several factors in the onset and maintenance of the illness โ€“ although we don’t know enough about that yet.

But to say that “the tiredness has emotional causes” reveals a lack of understanding of CFS and a lack of humility when faces with a complex and relatively poorly understood illness.

Also, there is a difference between factors that cause, maintain, and support healing from an illness. Sometimes, these are different from each other. And especially when it comes to chronic, complex, and poorly understood conditions, some or all of the healing factors may be different from the initial causes and even the maintaining factors.

It may be the healer had a sense or intuition that it can help me to address some emotional issues and that’s my sense too. If he had that sense and still expressed it as “the tiredness has emotional causes”, then it seems he made a big, unnecessary, and potentially misleading assumption.

If I took what he said seriously and literally, as some would, it would close the door to other approaches. Including approaches that may be equally or more important in supporting my system in its healing process.

For several reasons, it would have been much better for him to say “it may help your system to work on emotional issues โ€“ try it and see what happens”. It would be closer to his reality. It would be more intellectually honest. It wouldn’t conflate causes, maintaining factors, and healing factors. And it would support the client โ€“ in this case me โ€“ to follow his pointer while also staying more open to other possibilities.

In summary: I see there is a grain of truth in what he said and working on emotional issues is already on top of my priorities. (I have been working on it for a while.) And yet, I see his response as careless, potentially misleading, and even intellectually dishonest.

In the worst case, it can close the door on addressing other factors that can support the healing as much or more.

Setting all of this aside, which emotional issues are on my to-do list? I am especially interested in working on any possible issues that may have stressed my system at the onset of the illness when I was fifteen, any fears of staying sick, and even any fears of being healthy and fully involved in the world again.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XVIII

 

Continued from previous posts…. These posts are collections of brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include a few short personal notes as well.

Greed? I keep seeing people talking about “greed” as the cause of the problems today. (I even heard it from a professor in biology with interest in sustainability!) I have never quite understood it because people act according to the system they are in, and our current system rewards behavior that’s unintentionally harmful for the Earth, humanity, and future generations.

Why does it reward that type of clearly harmful behavior? Not because the people who created it were “bad” people but because they lived in a world where they didn’t have to take ecological realities into account. They lived in a world with relatively few people and relatively simple technology, so limits โ€“ to natural resources and nature’s capacity to deal with vaste โ€“ was not an issue apart from in some cases and very locally.

What’s the solution? To create a system โ€“ in all areas of society and culture โ€“ that takes ecological realities into account. A system where what’s easy and attractive is also what benefits society, Earth, and future generations. It’s fully possible to create this type of system. It won’t be perfect, but it’s something we can work on and refine as our situation changes and as we better understand how to live with Earth with our populations numbers and more powerful technology.

How do we get there? Perhaps through a small group of people realizing what needs to change and how (already happening), implementing examples (as many do), and then larger numbers of people supporting implementing it at a larger scale. There will be a backlash from those immeshed in our current system, as we see today with Trump and others. And it may well be that it will get worse before it gets better. Many may need the crisis close enough to home before they support the change needed.

The US obsession with the individual. I just watched the new Terminator movie and enjoyed it a lot. It had a good story and I loved the characters and the self-referencing humor (mostly from Schwarzenegger).

There was one thing that slightly brought me out of the Terminator-world. Why is a single person so important for the resistance? Typically, when the leader of a resistance is removed other come in and takes their place. I understand that some are more skilled and/or charismatic than others, but it seems that there is always someone who steps in and fills the gap.

It’s part of the slightly weird US obsession with the individual. We see it in the superhero stories (although it’s more common for them to team up now which is a nice change). And more disturbingly, we see it in the idea that anyone can succeed in the US if they only work hard enough. Anyone can escape poverty if they only want and work for it. That’s obviously not true. The system tends to keep those born into wealth wealthy (just look at Trump) and those born into poverty poor. This “upward mobility” idea tends to keep people from looking at the system, wanting to change the system, and actively working for changing the system.

Also, why can’t the machines send a lot of terminators back to make sure the job is done? I guess there is an answer within the Terminator-world I don’t remember or was never aware of.

December 3, 2019

Power-over vs. power-with. In a conversation, someone said that many or most of the problems in the world today comes from patriarchy. I partly agree but for me it’s much broader. Many or most of the problems come from power-over rather than power with. Power over nature. Power over women. Power over non-whites. Power over the poor. Power over animals. Power over our own body. And so on. It’s all part of the same mindset and orientation towards ourselves and the world. And it doesn’t work anymore. The problems created by it are too big and too global.

We cannot anymore use a power-over mindset the way we have. It damages the Earth, society, and ourselves too much.

Read More

Vortex Healing experience: birds at night

 

Since Vortex Healing is the modality I explore the most these days, I thought I would share a few everyday snippets of experience related to Vortex Healing.

When I took the my first Vortex Healing class (Foundational) in April 2016, I was in Rancho Mirage in Southern California. The night before traveling to the class, a large flock of birds settled in a bush right outside my open French doors and โ€“ loudly and enthusiastically โ€“ sang and chirped in the middle of the night. It started perhaps at 2am and went on for a long time. It was very unusual โ€“ I have not experienced anything like it before or since โ€“ and it seemed like a kind of synchronicity.

Starting on the Vortex Healing path was a new chapter in my life and the remarkable experience with the singing and chirping birds in the night seemed to mark the beginning of this new chapter.

Since February that year, I received several VH sessions from a senior Vortex healer. And for about a month before this first class, I very clearly noticed the VH energy working on me. Mostly when I was already quiet and resting, mostly in my head, and especially in my temples and the third eye/sixth chakra area. It seemed that the divine energy worked on me in preparation for the class and this is a not uncommon experience for Vortex students.

We create our own reality?

 

Some folks in the New Age circles say we create our own reality.

Is that true?

As usual, to me the answer seems to be yes, no, it depends, and don’t know.

Yes, we do create our own reality in the conventional sense and in two distinct although related ways.

Our perception and interpretations determines how the world appears to us โ€“ from the most basic to the most elaborate. The mind creates sensory impressions based on input from the senses. And our mind makes sense of these impressions through an overlay of mental images and words. We โ€“ quite literally โ€“ construct our own reality.

Most of this is shared by most humans and are determined by biology and culture, and some of it is more culturally dependent and individual. We can explore and work with both categories to create other ways to perceive and interpret the world that works better for us. (The second category is more the realm of psychology and the first category involves deeper inquiry and even spirituality.)

Our perceptions and interpretations obviously influence and determine our choices, actions, and responses, and this shape the situations we find ourselves in.

In another way, we do not create our reality. Everything that happens is not a direct expression of our wishes, hangups, hidden desires, or whatever it may be.

What’s happening locally is an expression of the movements within existence as a whole. Everything has innumerable causes stretching back to beginning of time and out to the widest extent of space. It’s dependent on far more than just what’s going on in our own psyche.

At the same time, we can make use of whatever happens. We can use it to notice what’s triggered in us and befriend it and invite in healing for it. We can make use of what’s happening to heal, mature, wake up, and live more authentically and more aligned with our values.

We can even ask ourselves “what if I created this, what would be the reason and what would I like to learn from it?” and use that as a gentle exploration, hold the question very gently, and use the answers as a temporary guide.

As what we are โ€“ that which our experience happens within and as โ€“ it depends. We can answer the question in a few different ways.

We can say that everything โ€“ every experience and the whole world as it appears to us โ€“ happens within and as we are.

And from here we could say that “we” โ€“ as what our experience happens within and as โ€“ creates our experience. That’s true in the most basic sense that we construct our own experience of the world.

I am careful with saying that “we” create our own reality in this context. It makes more sense to say that it’s just happening and it is life or existence itself creating our world and reality and our experience of it.

As what we are, it’s most reasonable to say that everything happens. “We” โ€“ as this human self โ€“ do not create it.

And really, it’s a mystery. We don’t know anything for certain. We can have ideas about our experiences in the world โ€“ whether the ideas are about genetics, culture, psychology or anything else โ€“ and some of those ideas can be useful for a while. The only thing we know is that no ideas can capture reality. They are, at most, helpful as a temporary and pragmatic guideline to help us orient and function in the world.

So as who we are โ€“ as this human self โ€“ we create our reality in a conventional and well-known sense. We do not create our reality in the simplistic and naive sense that whatever happens is a direct reflection of our own desires or hangups. We can also say that our reality is created within and as what we are, although it happens more on its own. And ultimately it’s all โ€“ every single bit of it โ€“ a mystery that cannot be captured by our understanding and even less by our words.

Read More

Some ways to avoid burnout when working as a therapist

 

I’ll briefly mention a few different things that โ€“ in my experience โ€“ helps with avoiding burnout when working as a therapist.

The obvious one is to reduce the number of clients to a manageable level, and perhaps outsource the non-therapy parts of the process.

Another important factor is which modalities we use. Staying at the story-level tends to create burnout and may also not be the best approach for trauma clients. (I realize that, in some settings, the modalities we use is not a choice.)

It helps to keep the story-level interactions to a minimum and focus on approaches that work on other levels. For instance, dismantling how the mind creates its own experience of the trauma or emotional issue (inquiry, cognitive therapy), somatic work (releasing trauma from the body), energy work (Vortex Healing, Craniosacral etc.), or even heart-centered practices (ho’oponopno, tonglen). Forms of mindfulness can also be helpful if done in a trauma-informed way.

Burnout typically means we are burnt out from having our own emotional issues and struggles with the world (clients and their stories) triggered. This means it’s important for us to notice what’s triggered in us, take it seriously, and address it. Often, there are some recurrent issues which means that taking of these can help us a lot. And it often helps to have someone else facilitating us in identifying and working on these issues.

What type of issues may be triggered in us? It may be unresolved issues brought alive by similar issues in our clients, being overly invested with a helper role and wanting to “fix” the client, not feeling good enough or up to the task, having guilt, sadness, or anxiety come up, or feeling traumatized through exposure to the trauma of the clients (usually because it triggers existing issues in us).

In all of these cases, our own stressful beliefs and emotional issues are triggered by working with clients, the clients do us a favor by helping us see what’s left in us to work on, and the situation requires us to go deeper and address our own issues so we don’t burn out.

One recipe for burnout is to have way too many clients, do everything ourselves, stay at a (stressful) story level with the clients, and not address the issues triggered in ourselves. And a recipe for avoiding burnout is to do the reverse.

There is obviously something else that’s important when it comes to burnout, and that’s our work situation and social and economic factors. If we work for someone else, we may not be able to reduce the number of clients or schedule in enough breaks. We may also not be able to chose which modalities we use (which may mean we are stuck with talk therapy). And if we work independently, the way society is set up and functions may require us to have more clients than we feel is appropriate for financial reasons.

Read More

Almodรณvar’s Pain & Glory, and completing something unfinished

 

I watched Pain & Glory (Dolor y gloria) by Pedro Almodรณvar and found it beautiful, moving, and emotionally satisfying.

It’s semi-autobiographical, filmed in a replica of Almodรณvar’s own apartment, and Antonio Banderas โ€“ who played the slightly fictionalized Almodรณvar โ€“ apparently wore the director’s clothes (!).

According to interviews with Almodรณvar and Banderas, the fictional parts is mainly the reconciliation that happens in the movie. The director repairs three different relationships โ€“ with a former colleague, his mother, and a former lover.

Unable to mend these relationships in real life, he did it โ€“ in a beautiful way โ€“ in his imagination and through his art. And we can do that too.

I have gone back to my childhood in my imagination and replayed situations with some changes. I imagine myself and the other people โ€“ who I felt hurt by at the time โ€“ as the most sane, wise, kind, and humane versions of ourselves, replay the scenes and how they would be different, and dialog with them and ask why they acted the way they did (and imagine their answers).

Imagining them โ€“ and me โ€“ as whole is fictional in one sense, but real in another since we all have the capacity to live from the most mature, wise, and kind versions of ourselves. And when I feel hurt, it usually comes from a combination of the actions of others (often coming from their hurt and reactive parts) and the hurt and reactive parts of me interpreting what happened.

There are many other ways to do this. For instance any form of parts work (Voice Dialog, Big Mind process, Internal Family Systems) or a form of inquiry (The Work of Byron Katie, Living Inquiries).

Some may say that it’s not really mended if it’s just in our imagination. It’s true that the reconciliation may be deeper and more embodied when it happens in real life with the people involved. And yet, it’s real enough even if it happens “just” in our imagination. It’s real for us. It’s real for our mind and our system. It’s real for us to the extent it’s wholehearted, genuine, sincere, visceral, and lived.

And doing it within ourselves can be a good stepping-stone for doing it in life, when and if that’s possible.

Read More

The role of states in the awakening process

 

Awakening means what we are noticing itself as that which our content of experience happens within and as. And a more stable awakening happens when this noticing goes through changing states and is independent of any particular state. (Although we can say that this noticing is a state of noticing.)

So what is the role of states in the awakening process?

Some states may function as a preview of awakening โ€“ as a taste, or a guide. There can be a taste of oneness, or all as the divine or God, and this can function as a preview or direction for us for a while until the awakening is more clear, stable, deep, and mature.

These preview states can also function as a carrot, as can any state we see as spiritual (bliss etc.). They can keep us going. In an awakening process, it’s common to have previews and then chase these previews or states, and although it’s ultimately misguided it can serve an important function of keeping us interested, fascinated, motivated, and consciously on the path. (Although we are on the path no matter what.)

Some states highlight aspects of what we are โ€“ it can be Big Mind, Big Heart, the divine feminine, bliss and so on. These then become an invitation for us to keep noticing this aspect of what we are through the changing states, including when these more dialed-up states are gone.

And in general, changing states โ€“ which we experience all the time โ€“ is an invitation to notice what we are. It’s an invitation for what we are โ€“ that which all our experiences happens within and as โ€“ to notice itself. This invitation is always here.

So although awakening is not ultimately about any particular state (apart from the state of noticing), states of all types can serve an important role in the awakening process. Some function as pointers and guides. Some as carrots. Some as an invitation to notice aspects of what we are through changing states. And all of them โ€“ spiritual or not โ€“ function as an invitation for us to notice what we are.

What’s my experience with this? The initial awakening was a oneness awakening with a lot of side-effects (bliss, stable focus and so on). And I did chase some of these states for a while. It was one of the motivations for doing hours of prayer, meditation, and body-centered practices each day for several years. It felt really good to do it because it amplified the oneness and these blissful states. It functioned as a carrot for me, and although I could see what was going on, I was also compelled to dial up some of these states. (Probably to fill a hole in me, to try to make up for a sense of lack.)

It took some years with little or no spiritual practice and a dark night of the soul for a shift to happen out of the slightly obsessive chasing of states. I am still doing it to some extent as most of us do โ€“ even if it’s just in very ordinary everyday ways โ€“ but it feels more relaxed and less essential.

Why did I leave my spiritual practice? And what was the dark night of the soul? It’s a story better suited for a longer article. In short, I made a major life decision against my inner knowing, and this made it hard for me to continue my spiritual practice.

Each time I sat down for meditation or prayer, I was connected with the still inner voice guiding me to something that was very difficult for me, which was painful, so I ended up avoiding it. This lead to several years where I was more engaged in the world and didn’t do much spiritual practice. It was also the beginning of a dark night of the soul that has gone through several phases. It was mild for several years and took the form of feeling deeply off track, and then got much stronger and brought up a lot of old trauma.

Somehow, in the process, the state-chasing got softer and less relevant.

The prayer I mentioned was Christ meditation (visualize Christ in front, back, on each side, over the head, under me, and in the heart), and heart prayer (Jesus prayer). The meditation was basic meditation for training a more stable attention, and basic meditation for noticing and allowing whatever is here. And the body-centered practices were tai chi, chi gong, inner Taoist practices (Mantak Chia and similar), and some yoga.

Read More

Adyashanti: Our minds aren’t conditioned to recognize the clearly obvious

 

Our minds aren’t conditioned to recognize the clearly obvious.

โ€“ Adyashanti

What are some of the obvious things Adya may refer to?

One is what we are. We are that which our experience happens within and as. It’s obvious. It can’t be any other way. It’s part of our daily experience. And yet, for most of us, our mind doesn’t recognize it. Or if it does, it dismisses it as not important โ€“ as something weird, outside of how society tells us it is, and perhaps not practical. (It may be a bit weird and outside of how others tells us it is, but recognizing it and taking it seriously can profoundly transform our perception, life, and how we relate to ourselves and the world.)

Another obvious thing is that our thoughts don’t tell us the truth. They are questions about the world. They may be practically useful as a guide. And yet, they do not hold any final or absolute or complete truth. Reality is always different from and more than our thoughts about it. And that goes for our “big” thoughts about who we are and how the world is (“I am ultimately a human being in the world”), and the “smaller” thoughts in daily life (“she doesn’t like me”, “he shouldn’t have cut me off in traffic”).

Accelerated awakening?

 

If we seek awakening, we can take the traditional slow and steady approach, or we can try to accelerate it or take shortcuts. The slow approach may be “safer” than the apparent shortcuts although one is not inherently better than the other. And in either case, it’s good to look at our motivation.

Ways to accelerate awakening

We can have glimpses of what we are. Sometimes, this happens spontaneously without any apparent preparation, intention, or wish. We can also invite in these glimpses as a way to give us a taste of what awakening is. Some forms of inquiry, like the Big Mind process and the Headless Experiments, can give us a glimpse in a relatively short time and usually in a grounded way without the bells and whistles, and this can also give us more time to explore the different facets and dynamics around it.

Some also use psychoactive drugs, ideally under supervision of someone familiar with how to do it. Since this can come with side-effects, depending on the drug, I can’t recommend it and haven’t been drawn to try it for myself.

These glimpses can give us a taste of awakening and what we are, they can serve as a temporary guide (although can also be a bit misleading, especially as we add ideas to it), and they can โ€“ in that sense โ€“ accelerate awakening. As we dip into tastes of awakening through inquiry, we also get more familiar with what we are and it’s easier to notice it in daily life. And some forms of inquiry, like Living Inquiries, can help remove identifications and beliefs that typically prevent us from noticing what we are.

There is also the classic slow and steady approach to awakening. Here, we spend time with spiritual practices, with others on the path, and under guidance of someone familiar with the process. We spend time in prayer, meditation, body-centered practiced, and whatever other practices are available to us, and this provides a steady and gentle nurturing to the awakening process.

This more traditional approach is often seen as safer as it provides a lot of support and preparation work for the awakening which, in theory, makes it easier to function within the awakening if or when it happens. If done right, it also gives us a lot of benefits on the way in terms of grounding, healing, support, community, and so on. Of course, this all depends on the tradition, the community, the guide, and our fit with it and the fit with where we are in the process.

There is also the transmission or shaktipat approach. This may give a temporary spiritual opening or glimpse of awakening. Adyashanti describes this happening with retreat participants when he first started holding retreats (he stopped doing it since he found it less useful). This approach may also force the process and come with serious side-effects and challenges โ€“ sometimes because it happened a little too fast, and sometimes as the energy bangs up against blocks in our system. In some cases, energy transmissions may accelerate the process in a more balanced and integrated way.

And there is personal energy work, for instance through different forms of yoga. This can be a good way to nurture awakening, especially if combined with meditation and inquiry. As with the other approaches, it’s important to have good and experienced guidance.

These are all traditional approaches to awakening. Some cultures use psychoactive plants to offer glimpses or reality or shifts into it. Some traditions โ€“ especially in Asia but also other places โ€“ use shaktipat, inquiry, and/or personal energy work. And just about all traditions emphasize the more slow and steady approach, either on its own or in combination with the other approaches.

Personally, I have experience with all of these approaches with the exception of drugs. I have been mostly drawn to inquiry and the slow and steady classic approach. When it comes to energy transmissions, I have so far found only one that seems to be effective, predictable, and balanced, and that’s the awakening path built into being a Vortex Healing student.

Accelerated awakening and spiritual crises

An awakening process comes with different forms of challenges and sometimes spiritual crises. It’s tempting to say that the more accelerated paths come with more risk although I don’t really know. Challenges and spiritual crises seem to happen no matter which approach we take and whether our approach is slow and steady or more accelerated.

What I can say is that an accelerated path may also accelerate the crises (they may happen sooner rather than later). And a more slow and steady approach may allow us to prepare โ€“ in our mind, body, and energy system โ€“ for the different phases of the awakening process, which may make it a slightly smoother ride.

Mainly, there are no guarantees and we do what we are drawn to anyway.

Our motivation in wanting to accelerate awakening

Whether we seek awakening in the more traditional, slow, and steady way, or we seek a more accelerated path or shortcuts, it’s good to look at our motivation.

Typically, some of our motivations come from a sense of neediness, lack, and wanting to avoid suffering. There is nothing inherently wrong in this type of motivation. It can give us a drive that can be helpful for a while. At the same time, this type of motivation is inherently stressful and can drive us to make compulsive choices we otherwise wouldn’t have made.

Addressing the issues behind this slightly compulsive surface motivation โ€“ often some variation of neediness or lack โ€“ can reveal a deeper layer of motivation.

It may reveal a deeper, quiet and steady motivation that comes from โ€“ somewhere โ€“ knowing what we are.

Assumptions and context

I should mention that this view on awakening and ways to accelerate the process is based on an assumption that awakening is a natural, organic, and built-in process in all of us and โ€“ in the bigger picture โ€“ all beings. Everyone is on this path. For some, it may be far in the future and for others, it may happen now.

When it happens, there is a gradual preparation and build-up to it. It follows a similar process to a seed growing into a sapling, maturing into a tree, growing flowers, the flowers turn into a fruit, the fruit matures and eventually ripes and falls off the tree. In this analogy, the flowers may be early spiritual interests and perhaps practices, and the fruit is the awakening that ripes and matures over time.

We can support the ripening through practices and embodying it as best we can. As mentioned above, there are also other ways to accelerate this process. If we wish to accelerate this natural and organic process, it may be good to ask ourselves where that wish comes from and examine it. And it’s good to be aware that trying to accelerate, or even force, the process comes with some risks.

Finally, I want to mention that the awakening process tends to spontaneously accelerate at different parts of the process. It seems to have natural cycles of apparently slow phases and accelerated phases.

The bigger picture

Awakening is a natural and organic process. It’s what we are seeking itself, finding itself, noticing itself as all there is, and learning to live from and as it through this human being in the world.

What this looks like is a process of exploration or even a play, and many have called it the play of life, existence, or the divine โ€“ Lila.

Read More

Hercule Poirot: There is nothing in the world so damaged

 

There is nothing in the world so damaged that it cannot be repaired by the hand of the almighty God.

โ€“ Agatha Christie, spoken by Hercule Poirot in Appointment with Death

This is a beautiful and unusually personal and heartfelt statement from Poirot. It’s not beautiful primarily because it’s hopeful. It’s beautiful because there is a lot of truth to it.

At a personal level, there is nothing in our world that’s so damaged it cannot be repaired by the almighty hand of God. When oneness โ€“ AKA God โ€“ finds itself, that in itself is profound. We realize that what we are was never harmed. It was never damaged. No matter how damaged our human self is, what we are โ€“ that which our experience and the apparent damage happens within and as โ€“ is never damaged.

There is another side to this. When what we are notices itself โ€“ and especially when it happens more clearly and through situations and experiences โ€“ it provides a new context for who we are which allows this to reorient and heal within oneness. Some of this can happen in the initial awakening process, and much of it happens over time, gradually, and through intentional explorations and work.

From a larger view, and using a Spiritual interpretation of awakening, we can say that everything โ€“ all of existence โ€“ happens within and as the divine, Spirit, God. No matter how much destruction and apparent damage happens within the world or the universe, it all happens within and as Oneness.

Although we as humans may be called to do what we can to prevent and repair damage to people and the world โ€“ and this is vitally important โ€“ nothing is fundamentally in need of repair because it’s all already the divine.

Adyashanti: Enlightenment is being able to simultaneously experience unity and individuality

 

Enlightenment is being able to simultaneously experience unity and individuality without experiencing any conflict.

โ€“ Adyashanti, Mt. Madonna Silent Retreat February 2019

Yes, this fits my experience as well. I notice I balk a bit at the word enlightenment because of it’s baggage and the associations some have about it. But it is appropriate in some situations and it’s also appropriate in that there is a sense of illumination โ€“ metaphorically because reality is illuminated and literally since the energy system tends to light up within an awakening and experiencing light may be a side-effect of the initial awakening.

And there are many ways to talk about the unity and individuality. When oneness notices itself, it also notices itself as this unique individual human being functioning in the world. It notices this human self as local and temporary part of itself.

When there is no experience of conflict between oneness and who we are, it’s because there are โ€“ generally speaking โ€“ no identifications as one or the other preventing the mind from fluidly noticing itself as both and both as one. It may be that there actually are identifications here but they are more in the background or dormant, or it may be that they have been seen through or have worn out.

I suspect I know why Adya felt he needed to address this topic. Sometimes, we can experience a conflict between the two, between who and what we are. And that always comes from identifications as one or the other, and ideas that they are somehow separate or in conflict with each other. That too can be part of the process. The wrestling helps us get more familiar with the dynamics of being both oneness and a human being in the world.

Although I have rarely experienced a conflict between what and who I am, I have gone through a few phases in this dynamic of being oneness and a human being in the world.

In the initial awakening phase โ€“ which didn’t feel like an awakening at all โ€“ “I” was absorbed into a witness. I was fifteen and what I experienced myself to be was absorbed into witnessing โ€“ witnessing all content of experience equally, whether it was the outer world or this human self or what happened within this human self. This happened without any forewarning and felt like something had gone terribly wrong. I visited several doctors and specialists to try to figure out what was going on. The whole world, including this human self, felt very far away.

After a year in this weird state, a more full blown oneness revealed itself. Again, it happened suddenly and without any forewarning. All without exception was revealed as God. This human self was revealed as a local part of God and any identification as this human self was revealed as the play of God. The ultimate and real identity of everything, including this guy here, was the divine. Everything is part of the oneness.

There was a long honeymoon phase, followed by a phase where my attention went mostly to sustainability and social justice work (informed by oneness), and the last several years have been a process of deeper work for aligning more parts of my human self more consciously with the oneness. Parts of me that were still living in separation consciousness have come to the surface so they can realign, wake up in their own way, and be included in my human self and the oneness more consciously.

When I look back, I see that each of these phases have lasted about a decade. I sometimes feel my process is very slow, but it’s all not only guided by the divine, but it is part of the divine, and it is the divine.

Note: It’s sometimes fun to write about something from different angles. When I say “it’s guided by the divine” it’s the divine as second or third person. When I say it’s “part of the divine” it’s closer to oneness and it highlights that the divine is far more than this speck of a human self. And when I say it IS the divine, that’s accurate as well. Each one gives a slightly different angle to it and together they create a more rich and full image.

Self-improvement and what to take care of first(ish)

 

I have noticed that self-improvement sometimes gets a bad name, perhaps especially from nondualists and some psychologists.

To me, self-improvement is โ€“ in its essence โ€“ a healthy impulse. It’s a wish to better one’s own world and the world in general, and that’s far more constructive than a lot of other activities and projects we sometimes put our time and energy into.

Where does the impulse come from?

It’s good to see where the self-improvement impulse comes from and look at that early on in the self-improvement process. Does it come from neediness? Wanting to fill a hole? Wanting to escape something? Not feeling good enough? Not feeling loved or lovable? A sense of lack? If so, it’s a good idea to put those on or near the top of issues to take care of as part of the self-improvement process.

Similarly, if I notice I am engaging in self-improvement in order to please others (be acceptable to others), that too is good to put near the top of the list of what to take care of.

The impulse can also come from a wish to be more comfortable in one’s own skin, more authentic, more alive, less restricted by painful beliefs and identities, and live a life better for oneself and those around us. These are deeper and more relaxed motivations.

When we take care of the neediness behind the self-improvement impulse, we can hold it all more lightly, and we can come more from the deeper and more relaxed impulses in us for self-exploration, self-befriending, and self-improvement.

Small and big self

Self can mean little self โ€“ our human self, who we are, and it can mean big Self โ€“ Big Mind or what we are. And it’s also helpful if we can notice that the little-self improvement happens within the big Self. That too helps us hold it all more lightly and see it more as a play and exploration.

What do we mean by self-improvement?

Last but not least, it’s good to look at what we mean by self-improvement. Do I have a constructive idea of what it means? Can I adjust it a bit so it’s more helpful? When I hear the word, I tend to think of learning communication skills, relationship skills, living a life that’s meaningful to me, living more from authenticity, finding receptivity, befriending more of the world and myself, and sometimes resolving emotional issues that prevent me from living a healthy and meaningful life in the world.

This comes last in this list but first if we want to explore self-improvement.

Note: I don’t think I have used the term self-improvement here before. It’s not a term I find terribly useful or necessary but some people use it so I thought I would say a few words about it.

Read More

The backward step x2

 

In Zen, the backward step is a shift from being caught up in the content of our experience to that which it all happens within and as.

For me, there are two backward steps. And often, it can be helpful to first take one, and then the other.

The first backward step is from being caught up in reactivity to notice and feel into what’s behind it.

The reactivity is to an uncomfortable experience we have in the moment, and we go into the reactivity to distract from this uncomfortable experience. In my case, and perhaps for others, this underlying experience is often fear. The reactivity itself can take the form of justification, blame, guilt, defense, and even sadness or depression, and it goes along with a contraction of both the mind (defensive etc.) and body (physical tension).

So I notice the symptoms of reactivity, step back from engaging actively in it, find curiosity to what in me โ€“ here and now โ€“ the reactivity is a response to, and feel into it. Often, I take a shortcut and look for underlying fear.

As long as I am caught in the reactivity, it’s stressful, tense, and a struggle. And as soon as I take this backward step and rest with the underlying fear, there is a relief, softening, and receptivity.

The second backward step is โ€“ as described above โ€“ from being caught up in the content of our experience to notice what it happens within and as. And when I say “caught up in the content of our experience” it really means caught up in our thoughts.

When I take my thoughts as true, and get caught up in them and engage in them, my attention is automatically caught up in the content of my experience and I experience myself as something or someone within this content of experience. My world becomes small and I become an object in the world.

Taking this backward step is similar. I notice the symptoms of what’s happening, step back from actively engaging in it, and notice what my experience happens within and as.

A verbal pointer may be to notice the field of experience or consciousness or the space it all happens within and as. And โ€“ especially in the beginning โ€“ we can explore this more effectively through a form of inquiry like the Big Mind process, Headless experiments, or exploring the sense fields through traditional Buddhist inquiry or modern varieties like Living Inquiries.

Eventually, we notice that what we are is what all our experience happens within and as, and this is what notices itself. It temporarily took itself to be something or someone within its own content, and it woke up from that little excursion or dream.

As mentioned earlier, these two backward steps are similar. Before the step, there is contraction and struggle. In the step, there is a release, relief, softening, receptivity, and a sense of returning home. And when we live more from it, we live more from noticing, allowing, receptivity, and from a kind of groundedness.

For most of us, we have an opportunity to take these steps many times throughout the day. We notice we are caught up in something, step back, find the fear behind it, rest with it for a while, and take the other step back and rest with and as that for a while.

In the beginning, it can be easier to take some time out of the situation we are in to take these steps. And as we get more used to it, we can do it more seamlessly in the situation we are in. If I am on my own, I’ll take a few seconds or minutes to do it. And if I am with someone, I’ll do the same โ€“ perhaps while the other person is talking.

It’s very simple. It’s not always easy, at least not in the moment. It’s always new and fresh. (It really feels new and fresh each time.) And it’s more rewarding than just about anything else. It’s a very useful life skill. And it helps us return home โ€“ in an emotional sense and as what we are.

Read More

Pamela Wilson: When you see your body and thought as your devotees, you have a completely different relationship with them

 

Ramana used to say, “I would follow a devotee into hell if need be.” So when hell or agitation arises in the body, it’s luring the satguru out of the heart. Everything is an invitation for the Buddha to awaken and bring peace, even to the body. It calls for the laying on of hands, the welcoming and soothing. Even doubt is asking for your love. Doubt is talking to you, saying, “Master, is this true?”

When you see your body and thought as your devotees, you have a completely different relationship with them. Where else are they going to go for truth?

โ€“ Pamela Wilson

What’s surfacing in me of old wounds, traumas, and emotional issues are surfacing to be seen, felt, understood, loved, and met with kindness. As Pamela says, they are like devotees seeking the guru, and the guru is me and the kindness, understanding, and awakening that is here.

These parts of me were created from separation consciousness, and they seek a consciousness that’s a little less separate so they can be welcomed, included, and perhaps join in this less-separate consciousness.

It may not be “perfect”. I may know of others who can do this from more kindness, wisdom, understanding, insight, and awakening. And yet, whatever is here is enough. It’s enough for these parts that were created, mostly, a long time ago and from a much stronger and denser separation-consciousness. They live in a stronger contraction than my current global consciousness.

As long as I meet them with some receptivity, curiosity, and wish to relate to them as devotees โ€“ or perhaps scared children or animals โ€“ that’s more than enough. That, in itself, is healing. That, in itself, is transforming.

This is the beginning of self-compassion, and it’s a beautiful and transformative journey. And I am doing it not only for myself but also for my ancestors (who may not have been able to do it for the patterns that were passed down through the generations), for future generations, and for humanity and Earth. Even a little drop has ripples that may go out further than I know.

This not only transforms our relationship to ourselves and the pained parts of us โ€“ it also changes our relationship to our body, animals, nature, and other people. We also transform our culture, even if it’s only the culture we carry with us, and that tends to ripple out too.

UFO reflections IV

 

Documentary: Witness of Another World

My interest is more: what happens to these witnesses? How can we help them? The witnesses, when they grow up, will integrate their experience within their life, as Juan has done. That process is very interesting, and these people have something to teach us.

โ€“ Jacques Valleรฉ in Witness of Another World, 59:04 – 59:24

I enjoyed Witness of Another World very much and also listening to some interviews with the director Alan Stivelman (Podcast UFO, Open Minds, Richard Dolan). It’s a deeply moving story of a young boy experiencing something inexplicable, being traumatized by some of the consequences (people not believing him, precognitive dreams), and finding some healing through the process of participating in this documentary and meeting shamans from his ancestral tribe.

I share Jacques Valleรฉs interest in the witnesses and how the experience โ€“ close encounters with something or someone alien โ€“ transforms them. It’s similar to the transformations people often go through following space travel (overview effect), shamanic journeys, using some psychoactive drugs, near-death experiences, spiritual openings or awakenings, and so on. I would love to see a more systematic study done on this, and the similarities and differences between people and between the categories of experiences.

January 2020

A oneness view on UFOs, synchronicities, and psychic sensing

I am listening to Mike Clelland’s Stories from the Stories from the Messengers: Owl’s, UFOs, and a Deeper Reality. I like it very much as it explores the connections between UFOs, alien encounters, synchronicities, shamanism, spirituality, and the personal transformation that often takes place following UFO and alien encounters. (This is a follow-up to The Messengers: Owls, Synchronicity and the UFO Abductee which I equally enjoyed.)

One thing I notice is how puzzling these connection are to many people. Of course, there is something inherently puzzling and baffling in many of these stories. They definitely elude conventional explanations. They make sense more the way mythology and dreams make sense. And we don’t know much about what UFOs and the reports of alien encounters actually are about.

And yet, from a oneness view, these stories do make sense in a certain way.

Synchronicities are movements within oneness and within the seamless system of the universe that we are inherent parts of. The different parts of the synchronicities only appear to be separate because thoughts can make it look that way to us.

It’s the same with psychic sensing. We are part of the oneness of all of existence so, naturally, we’ll sometimes pick up information outside of our physical senses. I suspect we all do it, now and then, and some of us may be more tuned into it than others for whatever reason.

From a conventional science view, it’s very unlikely that this planet is the only living one in our galaxy or the universe. More likely, the universe has developed itself into life many place, including what we see as intelligent life. And if so, some of these civilizations will likely be far more advanced than ours and possibly able to travel across or even between galaxies. (Using an understanding of physics and technology that is beyond what we can currently imagine.)

And from a oneness view, these civilizations and galaxies happen within and as the same oneness as we do. They too are expressions of the same oneness. They too are expressions of Spirit. They too are Spirit exploring, expressing, and experiencing itself in always new and different ways.

If some humans encounter some of these aliens, and if or when we officially and collective encounter an alien civilization, that too will happen within and as this oneness. And that too will be Spirit exploring, expressing, and experiencing itself in that particular way.

Note: In his two books on owls, UFOs, and synchronicities, Mike Clelland wonders about the connection between synchronicities and aliens. Perhaps the aliens somehow create the synchronicities? This is, in some ways, a natural question if we live within a mostly materialistic worldview.

But when we begin to notice that all is Spirit, or the divine, or consciousness, and that it’s all One, then it looks a bit different. Then synchronicities becomes a natural expression and consequence of oneness.

It’s a bit like watching seaweed moving with the waves along the shore. If we are unaware of the water, we may wonder what makes the seaweed move in synchrony. It may seem very puzzling and we cannot find a reasonable mechanism. When we notice the water it’s all moving within, it makes more sense to us.

Adyashanti: As soon as you move out of truth

 

As soon as you move out of truth, you feel it, kinesthetically; you feel it in your body when you’ve disconnected.

โ€“ Adyashanti, Resurrecting Jesus: Embodying the Spirit of a Revolutionary Mystic, chapter 6

One of my current favorite ways of exploring this is the “I can if I want” test.

I can […] if I want, and I want. I can […[ if I want, and I don’t want.

Say each one to yourself and see how your body responds. Does it tense? Does it relax? (Tension is a “no”, relaxation and relief is a “yes”.)

In the last few days, I have had a slight dilemma on whether to use antibiotics or not. I try to avoid it as much as possible, but I have had an infection over several days that didn’t get better. So I said to myself I can take antibiotics if I want, and I want and noticed how my body responded, and then checked I can take antibiotics if I want, and I don’t want. The first one felt like a relief in my body, and the second tension and stress. So I went with my body, got the antibiotics, took it and it felt like a relief. (Of course, my doctor’s advice is primary in this case, but he had left it open for me to decide so I did.)

This is obviously a much bigger topic. It’s not just about everyday or life decisions. It’s also โ€“ and perhaps mainly โ€“ about the stories we tell ourselves and how we take them. Whenever we tell ourselves an untrue story โ€“ a stressful or painful story โ€“ our body tenses up. And when we find what’s truer for us, our body relaxes and it’s a relief.

And yes, I know that can sound a bit naive. Most of us would say that some true stories are stressful. And yet, this is what I have found over and over through โ€“ for instance โ€“ inquiry. The more true stories and interpretations feel like a relief. Something falls into place. My body can relax.

I have written a lot about this in other articles so I won’t go into it much here. But I’ll say that one relief-giving insight is that no story reflects an absolute or final truth. I can hold all of them lightly, as a question. And there is always some validity in the reversals of any story, and seeing that is also a relief. And we have to discover this for ourselves, by examining one specific stressful story at a time.

Why does the body respond in this way? My take on it is that somewhere, we always know when we tell ourselves something not (entirely) true, and when we take it as more true and final than it is, and that is reflected in the body. Our mind tenses up, and so does the body.

We know what we tell ourselves is not true in the way we tell it to ourselves, the seamless whole of our mind-body tenses up, and that’s a sign we are telling an untruth to ourselves and an invitation to find what’s genuinely more true for us.

Projections in the context of awakening

 

How do projections look in the context of awakening?

On a spiritual or awakening path, projections are important for awakening and healing in the usual way โ€“ with perhaps a couple of extra layers to them to explore.

Specific to the spiritual path may be projections onto spiritual teachers, teachings, and concepts related to awakening. The process of projecting itself is the usual one. We see something out there โ€“ in teachers, teachings, awakening, etc. โ€“ that’s already in here, in us. And it’s projected in two ways. One is that the qualities and dynamics we see out there is also in here. The other is that what we see out there is an overlay of imagination from our own mind. (What we see out there may fit consensus reality and what others agree is there, or not, that doesn’t matter so much here.)

So we see something that’s in ourselves โ€“ as a potential or already here more strongly โ€“ out in the world. We get familiar with it there. In the best case, that helps us find it in ourselves and what we are. And it’s the role of spiritual teachers and teachings to help us recognize what’s happening and find it in ourselves. (Of course, they don’t always do it for whatever reason โ€“ they may not recognize what’s happening or they have a vested interest in not helping students recognize and find in themselves what they project out.)

Layers of the projections

There are different aspects and layers of the projections.

We have what most people think of when they hear the word. We can call these “blind” projections. We see something in the world โ€“ in other people, situations, anything at all โ€“ that’s in ourselves, but we are mostly or only aware of it out there. These projections are mostly of qualities, characteristics, and dynamics. And the reason they are “blind” โ€“ that we only see it in others and not in ourselves, at least in the moment โ€“ has to do with emotional issues, beliefs, and identifications.

Then we have more conscious projections. We see something out in the world and are aware of it also in ourselves. This awareness can be a general awareness or more finely grained. We can always find more examples of what we see out there also in ourselves โ€“ in our own thoughts, actions, and how we live our life.

We can also be aware of the more basic dynamics and elements of the projections. We can notice the overlay of thought โ€“ of mental images and words โ€“ our mind puts on the world. With some experience, we can notice it as it happens. This helps us to recognize the projections, and it also helps us hold our mental overlay more lightly. (And not automatically assume it’s “true”.)

There is yet another layer. Projections โ€“ blind, conscious, and the mental overlay โ€“ happen within and as what we are. They are part of the creativity of the mind. If we are so inclined, we can even say it’s part of Lila, the play of life, the Universe, and the divine.

In general, projections can be a temporary apparent hindrance โ€“ or detour or distraction or pitfall โ€“ if they are blind. And they can be a great support for awakening and healing if we work with them more consciously and with some skills and sincerity. It’s helpful before awakening and within awakening.

Examples

This is all distilled and abstract so I’ll go into a few more details and give some examples.

A regular blind projection happens anytime I see something in someone else that I don’t acknowledge in myself. It’s often accompanied by emotional charge, defensiveness, righteousness, blame, and so on. And it can also be accompanied by admiration, longing, and a wish to have what we project it out onto in our life. Whether it’s one or the other or a mix depends on how our mind judges what we project.

Trump is an example for me. For a while after he was elected, my mind dehumanized him. I saw him as a liar, bigot, con man, and so on, and I felt upset and angry that people could elect someone like him. I was aware that this was a projection but I hadn’t taken the time to explore it as a projection. It functioned more like a “blind” projection, at least at an emotional level.

As I took time to explore it more, I could find the qualities I saw in him also in myself. I could โ€“ and can โ€“ find it in how I see him and his followers. (I am bigoted, a liar, a con man, etc. in how I see him and his followers, especially when I don’t acknowledge I have those qualities too.) And I can find examples in my life when I have done all of those things. I may not have done it in exactly the same way he does it, or to the same extent, but I can find examples โ€“ even if some are smaller and apparently more “innocent”.

Going through this process, I am more at peace with Trump and his followers. I see myself in them. We are in the same boat, in that sense. I don’t agree with most of his policies. I still think he operates mostly as a con man. I still see many of his followers as ill-informed and acting on misinformation. If I was in a position where it was reasonable for me to actively speak up about it and promote other solutions, I would do that. (Right now, I live in Europe and my energy goes to finding healing for myself.) And yet, the emotional charge around it for me is much less. I have more empathy and understanding. I am seeing the situation less as us vs. them and more as a larger us.

I have also experienced the other form of blind projections many times in my life. I admire and am fascinated by a woman (usually a partner). I see some people as awake โ€“ or perhaps unusually mature, insightful, and kind โ€“ and admire them and wish the same for myself. And so on. Again, it’s a process of allowing the projection, notice it, and find the qualities and characteristics I see in the other also in myself. Phrasing the projection and finding specific examples help a lot.

Conscious projections also happen all the time. I see someone as kind, and find it in myself. I see beautiful nature, and find that in myself. I see (imagine) the boundless nature of outer space and find that as what I am.

There is some fluidity between blind and conscious projections. It’s rare a projection is completely blind. And in daily life, we are often aware of a quality more in others or more in ourselves, depending on where our attention is. Bringing awareness to projections, and finding in ourselves what we see out in the world, is also an ongoing process. We can always find more examples. We can always expand our conscious identity to include more.

How do we get more aware of the basic dynamics and elements of projections? Working with projections in a conventional way brings some awareness into this. And we can also explore it more explicitly through some forms of inquiry, like traditional Buddhist inquiry or their modern versions. We typically need to explore this over and over โ€“ and bring it into daily life โ€“ before this noticing becomes a habit and second nature.

If I used Living Inquiries to explore how I see Trump (which I haven’t, at least not as a longer and formal inquiry), I would probably find some clues to why my relationship to him is charged (emotional issues) and how my mind creates its experience of him in general. I may find how my mind creates an image of Trump and this image is associated with sensations (tension) in my body. I may find that my mind has a lot of associations with this image and the connected sensations, going back to specific (traumatic) situations in my life and childhood. I may find how my mind creates beliefs and identifications in order to protect itself against him, people like him, and what he stands for. And so on. I get to see the emotional component and how it connects to my own experiences. I get to see how my mind creates blind projections in order to protect itself. I get to see how beliefs and identities are part of this projection. I get to meet and get to know the fears behind all of it.

When it comes to noticing how all of this happens within and as what I am, there are some modern forms of inquiry that can give us a taste. Big Mind process and Headless experiments may be most direct, and Living Inquiries gives us a taste through most regular inquiries into more emotional issues.

As usual, each of these points can be elaborated almost endlessly so I have given just give a few pointers here based on my own experience.

Read More