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Welcome to Mystery of Existence

Dear reader,

Welcome to Mystery of Existence.

These writings are a record of my own explorations, and will perhaps be of interest to you too.

Feel free to share your insights and comments, or ask questions.

Enjoy 🙂

June 2015 update: I am working on an eBook with a selection of posts from this blog. To help my selection, I have added a rating system. Feel free to rate. Thanks!

November 2015 update: I have the book idea(s) on the back burner for the time due to health and other life circumstances. 

Robert Masters: When we’re entrenched in spiritual bypassing


When we’re entrenched in spiritual bypassing, we tend to like our relationships sunnyside-up: no confrontation, no anger, no messy feelings, nothing that leaves any egg on our face. Smiles and relentless gentleness with everyone doing their best to make nice. There is not just denial here, there is also considerable dissociation, perhaps masquerading as spiritualized detachment and equanimity. Such relational disengagement maroons us from the vulnerability and depth needed for real intimacy, leaving us in psychoemotional flatlands.

– Robert Masters in Spiritual Bypassing

I usually don’t use the words bypassing or spiritual bypassing. It’s much simpler than that. It’s fear. We use an idea to avoid meeting unexamined and unloved fear in us, and we may even do it without noticing. In this case, the fear may be of confrontation, anger, rejection, being alone, and perhaps having a certain image of ourselves or someone else be shown to be incomplete. We have unexamined and unloved fear of what those things mean.

Distressed because we put the blame out there


When something happens and the mind sees as unfortunate, it tends to try to put the blame out there – onto others, God, life, or even being a victim. (The victim identity is “internal” to the self concept, but is still seen as “other” and “out there”.) What we blame depends on our worldview and background and can include childhood, parenting style, ancestors, karma, evolutionary traits, and any sub-personalities we see as screwing things up for us.

Putting blame “out there” is distressing since it’s not entirely true. There is a distressing battle between what we tell ourselves and others about the situation (the blame), and what we know about the situation if we take the time to look (our part in it).

The truth is a combination of our own responsibility and a set of circumstances, and the more we can own our own part of it, fully and honestly, the more there is a sense of quiet and peace around the situation. It settles for us.

For instance, my life derailed in several respects when I made a major life decision that went against my own inner voice and knowing. I can blame life, others, childhood trauma and more, and there may be some truth to all of it. And yet, I didn’t find peace with it until I could find and take a more full responsibility of my part. I was the one making that decision, and I was the one who stuck with it for far longer than was comfortable. I know some reasons why I did it (fears, trauma, cultural expectations), and they are part of the picture, but the real peace comes when I take a fuller responsibility for my part.

For me, it really helps to talk with good friends about this, as a confession. It helps “cement” my responsibility, and it helps the turmoil around it settle.

I was reminded of this when I saw a press conference with Therese Johaug, a Norwegian skier. She was caught using illegal medication (in this case, it seems to have been medication for sun burn), and she put all blame on her doctor. It’s very understandable since she needs to do what she can to avoid being excluded from future competitions. And it’s also understandable since many of us react and initially put the blame out there when something like this happens. At the same time, avoiding taking responsibility creates a great deal of distress. And it was her responsibility to look it up for herself and make sure it wasn’t on the list of banned medications.


Giving people what they want when they act from pain


When people act from unexamined and unloved pain, we can give them what they want in two ways.

We can give them what they want on a surface level, which is often drama, feeling hurt, messing up relationships, getting us off course, and more.

Or we can give them what they really want, which is to be seen, kindness, and cutting through the surface drama and nonsense – for instance by telling them what we see.

At a place I recently worked, clients would sometimes try to create drama and conflict, and when it happened, it was usually very obvious what was going on. At the same time, the superiors would sometimes completely buy into it and give them exactly the drama and conflict they were looking for. It’s still astonishing to me that they would swallow the hook, line, and sinker to such an extent. Of course, it happened because the clients knew how to trigger the two bosses, and they got triggered and acted on it.


When in a funk, careful about drawing big conclusions


A funk or any strong emotional state tends to color our experience of everything. And that goes for our thoughts as well. Our thoughts tend to reflect whatever emotional state we are in. It’s as if our mind wants to be helpful, so it creates or brings up thoughts aligned with the emotional state.

It’s good to notice this pattern.

I notice I am in a funk or an emotional state. I notice my mind creating certain stories that goes with that funk or emotion. And I notice that as the funk or emotional state passes, as it does, then those thoughts pass as well. They were linked to the emotional state. They were not as true as they seemed when they were supported by the emotional state.

As I notice this pattern over time, a part of me also recognizes and knows what’s happening and not to believe those thoughts. A part of me knows they are fueled by the funk or the emotions, and as the funk or emotions pass, the thoughts will not seem as true or real.

And that helps me avoid fueling the thoughts further, draw big conclusions (about life, others myself, situations) based on them, and especially to act on those conclusions.

This is kindness towards myself.


Mona W: when I started my practice of intentionally finding things to LIKE


Years ago when I started my practice of intentionally finding things to LIKE no matter where I was, who I was with, or what I was doing, the unexpected benefit was that my anxiety decreased. I felt safer and calmer because I realized I was surrounded by wonderful things that I liked and there was nothing to be afraid of or worry about.

– Mona W. on Facebook

It’s often the simplest intentional noticing and activities that helps the most. They may seem so simple that the thoughts says it’s too simple, it’s what a child may do, and that’s a good reminder to give it a go.

CG Jung: Evil is – psychologically speaking – terribly real


Evil is – psychologically speaking – terribly real. It is a fatal mistake to diminish its power and reality even merely metaphysically.

– Carl Jung, Letters Vol. I, Pages 539-541.

Evil is real, psychologically speaking. It’s what happens when we react to our own pain by lashing out instead of meeting it with kindness, patience, and curiosity. That lashing out can be very damaging to ourselves and those around us. And when it’s acted on by political leaders, it can harm a whole society. Trump is an unfortunate current example of this. I assume he is reacting to his own pain in the way he behaves, and those who enthusiastically support him do the same. Adyashanti talks about this in the discussion on Judas in Resurrecting Jesus.

Note: I am not sure why three pages are listed in the Jung reference, and the second part of the quote does seem a bit mangled.

Norway’s decades long fascination with oil


I read a story about possible large untapped oil reserves in the Barents sea outside of Norway. The implication is that Norway’s economy can continue to float on pumping and selling oil to the world. This is obviously a naive assumption. As someone said, the stone age didn’t end because of lack of oil, and the fossil fuel age will not end due to lack of fossil fuel. It will end because a better technology comes along, and that technology is already here and is continually being developed.

We have known that for decades, and we have also known that Norway needs to channel oil money into developing renewable technologies. With the wealth currently generated by oil money, Norway is in a unique position to be on the forefront of this field, and continue to be on the forefront of the global shift into renewable energy. And yet, that’s not what they do. Politicians, media, and people in general, still seem transfixed by a path that’s already outdated. And there is still time to make this shift.


Adyashanti: The greatest solvent for ego is found within our lives


In my case, which I think is similar for many, many people, the greatest solvent for ego is found within our lives, the fabric of our existence, the grit of what’s actually happening in our everyday experience. I find that this is often overlooked within the context of spirituality. Many of us are using our spirituality as a way to avoid life, to avoid seeing things we really need to see, to avoid being confronted with our own misunderstandings and illusions. It is very important to know that life itself is often our greatest teacher. Life is full of grace, sometimes it’s wonderful grace, beautiful grace, moments of bliss and happiness and joy, and sometimes it’s fierce grace, like illness, losing a job, losing someone we love, or a divorce. Some people make the greatest leaps in their consciousness when addiction has them on their knees, for example, and they find themselves reaching out for a different way of being. Life itself has a tremendous capacity to show us truth, to wake us up. And yet, many of us avoid this thing called life, even as it is attempting to wake us up. The divine itself is life in motion. The divine is using the situations of our lives to accomplish its own awakening, and many times it takes the difficult situations to wake us up.

– Adyashanti, The End of Your World

Ego here means identifications, holding stories as true, finding ourselves as what a story tells us we are, and taking it as the final or absolute truth. More intimately, it’s fear that’s met with lack of love and that’s unexamined, and the mind reacts to that fear by holding onto stories and viewpoints as true and solid. It takes refuge in these stories, and tries to find safety that way. It’s innocent and natural, and creates suffering as well.

The remedy is often, as Adyashanti says, life. Life rubbing up against these viewpoints and identities the mind holds onto to find safety, and which instead creates suffering. Often combined with the most simple and natural approaches, such as resting with the discomfort and any other experience that’s triggered, meeting it with gentleness and kindness, asking or praying for support (guidance, resolution, peace), giving it over the the divine.

Giving it over to God


For the first several years after the initial opening, my practices were simple and heartfelt. They consisted of resting with what’s here, notice all as awakeness (Spirit, the divine, intelligence, love), gratitude for whatever happened, prayer, Heart/Jesus prayer, Christ meditation, tonglen, and giving it all over to Spirit. All of these happened very naturally.

Then, I got “sidetracked” by traditions and teachers with ideas of how things should be done.

And now, I am hoping to find back to a more natural and simple approach. For instance, giving it all over to the divine.

Notice. Notice what’s here – emotions, stories, the fear or wounds behind them.

Rest with what’s here. Take time resting with and as it.

Give it all over to Spirit. To the divine.

There is a beautiful simplicity in this. It’s a reminder that all is Spirit. And it doesn’t exclude any other approach or exploration.


Adyashanti: You are a vehicle for what wants to happen, not for what you want to happen

You are a vehicle for what wants to happen, not for what you want to happen.
–  Adyashanti
That’s true even from a (more considered) conventional view. Whatever happens has innumerable causes. It’s an expression of the whole, of movements going back to beginning of time (if there is any) and the widest extent of space (if it has any end). And that goes for what happens in the wider world as well as what happens in our minds and lives. Even wanting something to happen is included. That too is what “wants to happen”. That too is an expression of the whole, and movements within the whole. And the same for any experience of a separate self wanting, doing, living etc.

The Hum


BBC has a pretty good story about the hum.

I agree that it’s probably from a variety of sources, many industrial, and that the experience of the hum can come about or be amplified by stress and heightened sensitivity. In many cases, it may be from a combination of a very real industrial hum (machines, cars, low frequency radio waves?) and heightened sensitivity.

In my case, I started hearing the/a hum a few years ago when I lived in Norway. It seemed to happen or be stronger most nights and on weekends and holidays. It kept me awake and added to the stress I already was experiencing during that time. As with the people in the BBC story, I didn’t hear it anywhere else.

Fortunately, I was able to track it down. It came from a nearby school, and specifically from their ventilation system. Repeated visits showed me that they turned up the ventilation system after school hours and until the start to school the next day, and that it was on during school holidays. It was a very loud sound from an old and rattly ventilation system.

I contacted the principal, and she was fortunately friendly and receptive and had the janitor turn down the intensity of the ventilation system. Since then, my sleep there was not disturbed by this hum.

Taking responsibility for what shows up in my life


In the ho’oponopno world, they talk about taking complete responsibility for what shows up in our life.

It seems radical and perhaps nonsensical or even ill advised or dangerous. And yet, when we take full responsibility – for instance through ho’oponopono or tonglen – we may discover something else. We may find that it’s deeply healing and frees us up to engage in life with more clarity and heart.

Whatever is here that’s stressful, painful, or uncomfortable, it’s something I can do ho’oponopono or tonglen with.

I am sorry.

Please forgive me.

I love you.

Thank you.

Say this to the person, situation, or part of yourself you experience as troubling. Repeat over and over until something shifts, and do it some more. Notice any fears that come up, and say the words to these fears before returning to the initial object. I sometimes stay with one sentence for a while and then move on to another. They don’t have to be in sequence.

Alternately, visualize the person you experience as troubling sitting in front of you. When you breathe in, visualize their pain and suffering as dark smoke and breathe it in. When you breathe out, visualize clarity, peace, and love coming out of you and entering the person. (I like to imagine the pain transforming into clarity and love in me, moving over and entering the other person, and filling the other person completely and so it pours and radiates out of the person.) Repeat many times.

In both cases, say it until you feel it more deeply and it gradually becomes a sweet experience. Eventually, it will feel sweet and natural. There will be ease. (When there is a deeply ingrained pattern of seeing someone or something as an enemy, this may take time but it does eventually happen.)

My world is my world. My world is happening within and as this mind, within and as this presence. My world is my images of the world. It’s created by this mind. My experience of my relationship to anyone (including myself) and anything is happening within and created by my mind. My experience of anyone and anything is happening within and is created by my mind.

So using ho’o or tonglen is taking responsibility for how my mind creates its experience of the world. And it’s a healing of my own images and experiences of the world. It’s a deep healing. A deep reconciliation. A deep release of stressful and painful images and stories. A deep alignment with my heart, presence, and reality.

Sometimes, it’s easy to do this. Sometimes, it takes time to get to the point when I am ready to do it. And sometimes, I do it even when something in me fears it – and first with this very natural and understandable fear.


Three ways of relating to emotions


We have three ways of relating to emotions. Often, there is a combination, and we may cycle through them as well.

Two of them is reacting to emotions and their associated stories. We can act on them, or we can suppress them. When we act on them, we act on the anger, sadness, fear, or whatever it is, as if the stories behind the emotions are solid and real and not to be questioned. When we suppress the emotions, we may pretend they are not there, or choose to avoid them, and we do that too because we see the stories behind them as real, solid, and scary.

The third is to relate to the emotions more intentionally. We recognize the emotions. We may be aware of the stories triggering the emotions, and our stories about the emotions. We may intentionally allow ourselves to feel the sensations. We may speak about what’s happening and share it with someone else. We may meet and explore the sensations and the stories with curiosity, to see what’s really there.



Magic tricks


Off and on since childhood, I have been fascinated by magic tricks and how they are done.

First, there is the enjoyment of being baffled. Then, of learning how it’s done. And with the best performances, the enjoyment of recognizing the skill with which it is done.

In addition to this, magic tricks tells us something about the mind.

Good magicians are experts on certain ways the mind works and they use this to entertain and fool us. And when the secrets behind the tricks are revealed, we also get some insights into how the mind works. (See, for instance, Teller’s Seven Ways to Fool the Brain.)

Mainly, the world of magic tricks shows us how our minds operates on expectations and assumptions about the world, and that these are not always accurate. Most of the time, they are accurate enough and very helpful to us, but sometimes these assumptions break down. Assumptions won’t always be accurate, and magicians take advantage of this and – if we allow it – reminds us the fallibility of our assumptions.

Some even think that magic tricks are “real” magic, and that too shows us something about the mind. It shows us how our hopes and fears can hijack a more rational and down-to-earth view, and what happens when we don’t do sufficient research and lack knowledge about a topic.

A few sources I have enjoyed:

Hiding the Elephant by Jim Stenmeyer.

Penn and Teller: Fool Us – in addition to some googling.

A range of YouTube videos explaining certain tricks.

And there is also an increase in psychology articles on the topic these days.

Anthony de Mello: Don’t change


Don’t change. Change is impossible, and even if it were possible, it is undesirable. Stay as you are. Love yourself as you are. And change, if it is at all possible, will take place by itself when and if it wants. Leave yourself alone. The only growth-promoting change is that which comes from self-acceptance.

– Anthony de Mello

Adyashanti: Stop avoiding things


Stop avoiding things. If there is anything that is unresolved in yourself, turn toward it. Face it. Look at it. Stop avoiding it. Stop moving the other way. Stop using a moment of awakening as a means to not deal with something that may be less than awake within you.

Start to face it. Start to see it. In the simple willingness to see yourself, in simple sincerity, the truth starts to reveal itself to itself. It’s not necessarily a technique-oriented endeavor here. The technique is sincerity; we need to really want the truth. We need to want the truth even more than we want to experience the truth. This sincerity isn’t something we can impose; it’s inherent within reality itself.

– Adyashanti

Is there a meaning to everything?


Any belief can be helpful for a while and in some ways, and they also come with drawbacks. Eventually, the drawbacks of a belief tend to outweigh the benefits.

I use “belief” here to mean any story we – at any level – hold as true.

One of these stories is that there is a purpose or meaning to anything that’s happening. It’s somehow orchestrated for our purpose, to help us learn, grow, heal, and awaken.

It’s a belief that can have several benefits. It can help us look for gifts in what’s happening. It can help us look for ways to learn from it, grown, heal, and mature. We can even use it as a support in awakening. (Finding ourselves as the presence the experience happens within and as, and also the identifications making this difficult to notice.)

Eventually, this belief may be less needed. We may have created a new habit of learning, healing, growing etc. from what happens in life. We may see that we don’t need that belief as a support since relating to life in this way has its own rewards.

The belief may even be less helpful, depending on how we take it and where we are in our life. It can lead to a more fatalistic attitude, and it can lead to passivity rather than being an engaged and good steward of our life.

I am not addressing whether there is purpose or meaning to what happens in life. That’s a complex question, and it doesn’t really matter that much. What matters is how we see it, and whether how we see it is helpful or less helpful for us.

That said, here are a couple of thoughts on the topic:

Meaning and purpose is created by our mind. It’s not inherent in life.

Also, whenever we have hangups, trauma, or blind spots, our perceptions and actions are colored by it. And that tends to give us experiences that shows us these hangups, traumas, and blind spots. Our colored perception itself reflects these hangups, and our actions creates situations for us reflecting them back to us as well.

It’s a cause and effect dynamic that shows us what’s left, and what needs healing, maturing, and to be perceived in the context of awakening. In that sense, there is a meaning to everything. Life does invite us to heal, mature, and wake up in any situation and always. It’s built into life.


Paradoxical intention


[…] when insomniacs tried to force themselves to stay awake, they were able to fall asleep.

– How to fall sleep by not trying

Paradoxical intention can work in several areas of life. One is falling asleep. If we try to fall asleep, and stress out about not falling asleep, we may be less likely to fall asleep. So if we instead lie in bed, with eyes open, and try to stay awake, we may more easily fall asleep. It’s tiring, and it reduces the stress of trying to fall asleep and not being able to.

Another is when we have an uncomfortable experience. Usually, we try to avoid or escape it, and that tends to maintain it or even make it stronger. So instead, we can welcome it and even amplify it, intend for it to be stronger. We change our relationship to it, and it tends to soften and appear different to us. It seems less threatening, and the charge may even go out of it.


Frognerparken, Oslo

How my dark night started


I have written about this before.  And it’s sometimes helpful to revisit the topic since my perspective on it inevitably changes.

What is a dark night of the soul? A dark night of the soul – in a technical sense – comes after an opening or awakening phase and is life showing us what’s left to see, feel, heal, awaken to, and awaken. It’s a phase, and by no means the end of the process. People typically report several dark nights following a classic dark night of the soul. And the naming is perhaps a bit arbitrary as well.

How my dark night of the soul started. For me, it’s pretty clear how it started. I had an opening at 16 which lasted and clarified for several years. I lived from a clear and strong sense of guidance in smaller and larger life decisions. And when I got married about ten years later, I moved to another state in the US against a strong and clear guidance.

Going against my clear guidance, and continuing to do so for the next several years, was the beginning of the dark night of the soul for me. I know that for others, it’s often different. It seems that dark nights can be triggered by a wide range of circumstances and situations.

For the first few years, I was moved along by the momentum from before I went against my guidance. And then I started feeling more and more off track, and more deeply off track. I lost momentum, passion, engagement, direction, and joy in life. I also lost education and work opportunities and friends, and eventually, I lost my health (CFS crash and PTSD), marriage, house and more. There was an almost complete collapse in all areas of my life.

Now, there is a process of gradually getting back on my feet, and that’s a slow process that has included setbacks and also gifts and serendipities.

The label and phases. I don’t need to call this a dark night of the soul, although it does fit the outline and stages described by – among others – Evelyn Underhill in her book Mysticism. There was an initial opening and awakening and a honeymoon period over several years. (The initial phase included a dark night of the senses.) The dark night of the soul had a gradual onset and deepened over time. The darkest phase so far was 4-6 years ago, and it has gradually lightened.

Why did I go against the inner voice? Why didn’t I follow my guidance after I got married? I don’t know the full answer, but I know some pieces. I had strong beliefs about marriage, inherited from my family and culture, and although I consciously didn’t believe them I did at a deeper and more emotional or energetic level.

I felt I had to support my wife in doing her graduate studies in Wisconsin, and that I had to go with her even if it meant that I left my own education (graduate studies in clinical psychology), my friends and community, and the Zen center where I lived and felt more home than I had anywhere else. I felt that since we were married, I couldn’t ethically live apart from her. It wouldn’t be right. It wouldn’t look right. So I sacrificed following my guidance, and many of the things most important to me in life.

Not following my guidance also meant I became unable to do activities that meant connecting with my inner life in a more contemplative way. For ten years or more, I had a daily meditation and prayer practice (1-3 hours a day on my own, 7-9 hours when I was at the Zen center) and also a daily drawing and painting practice. Almost immediately after moving, I was unable to continue with this. It was too painful since I tapped into my heart, and my heart told me very clearly I had to get out of Wisconsin and back to my previous path.

The simplest way of looking at this is that I went against my guidance and my life went off track and eventually collapsed. That in itself is a sufficient explanation.

Meeting more of the shadow. In the bigger picture, I can also see that the dark night helped me meet and face a great deal in me I previously was unable to connect with. Since the more complete collapse with CFS and PTSD, a great deal of shadow material has surfaced. A lot of it has been from early adulthood (missing out of relationships due to shyness), teenage years (social anxiety, awkwardness, aloneness), and early childhood (left alone in a crib in a dark room, abandonment, aloneness). Some has been from apparently before this life. (Being shown my next incarnation, being asked if I wanted it, and saying “yes” even if a part of me definitely didn’t want to.) And it has also included a deep and overwhelming survival fear (to the point of sleeping maximum 1-2 hours a night for several months), and a consistent and immensely uncomfortable feeling in my heart.

There has also been a strong fear of losing my mind. For months, I felt I lost all anchor points as soon as I closed my eyes and laid down on my bed.

And at a very human level, there has been strong regrets over lost opportunities, and fear about the future (being alone, sick, poor, homeless). Of course, all of this is very human.

The dark night is very human. The initial honey moon phase was a course in being what I am. Whether we call it presence, love, consciousness, or something else. It was a course in finding myself as that which is always here and not human. And the dark night was and is a crash course in being human.

I see there are many gifts in it. And there is also still a lot of regret, fear, anger, and disappointment. And both are OK. Both are part of being a human and living a very human and flawed life, and a life that also is complete as it is.

Taking comfort in the idea of a dark night. For a while, I took some comfort in the dark night idea. I would walk in the forest listening to the audio version of the dark night chapter in Underhill’s book, or Adyashanti talk about the dark night. It gave me a sense that there was a larger meaning to what was happening, and some hope that it would eventually be over. (A bit part of the dark night for me, and others it seems, is a deeply felt conviction that it will never end.)

Now, the dark night is more of a convenient shorthand. It points to something. It can be useful in communication. And at the same time, I don’t know if this is really a dark night as people talk about it (although it fits all the criteria), and it doesn’t matter so much.

What matters is that I recognize what seemed to trigger it (going against my heart, the quiet voice, my knowing, and continuing to do so), and that it has helped me face a great deal of shadow material (there is, of course, much left, and I don’t know and don’t need to know how much). And in facing shadow material, there is also a weakening and softening of many identities and identifications.

Is it “my” dark night? I cringe a bit when I write “my” dark night, since it isn’t really. It’s a good way to phrase it since it seems more ordinary and relatable, and it’s true in the sense that it’s happening to this human self right here. It’s also not so accurate since it’s life being and experiencing all of this. It’s life appearing as a human being. It’s life being and experiencing the opening, the honey moon phase, the dark night, the presence it’s all happening within and as, and this very human life.


Falling in and out of love – intentionally


I saw recent research where they found that people can intentionally fall in or out of love depending on what they focus on in the other person.

It’s seems pretty intuitive, and something we all (?) use more or less intentionally. When we focus on lovable aspects, we fall more in love. And when we focus on unlovable aspects, we fall more out of love.

This has several practical applications.

One is when we lose someone we love. If we idealize the person and only focus on the lovable and amazing aspects, we amplify the pain of the loss. And if we intentionally identify and include the unlovable, troublesome, and annoying aspects of the person, we get a more realistic picture and it can lessen the pain. It can help to make a list and do it somewhat regularly over time.

Conversely, if we are in a relationship and find ourselves falling out of love, we can rekindle the love by intentionally remind ourselves of the lovable aspects of the other person.

Another is self-love. Self-love can be allowing our current experience and meet it with some kindness. And it can also be finding and remind ourselves about lovable aspects of ourselves. The first focuses on the presence aspect of what we are (context), and the second our human self (content).

This also goes for life. If we focus on the less desirable aspects of our life and life in general, we tend to fall out of love with life. And if we focus on the lovable aspects of life, we tend to fall more in love with life.


Trump and dominance rituals


“In many ways the performances of Donald Trump remind me of male chimpanzees and their dominance rituals,” Jane Goodall, the anthropologist, told me shortly before Trump won the GOP nomination. “In order to impress rivals, males seeking to rise in the dominance hierarchy perform spectacular displays: stamping, slapping the ground, dragging branches, throwing rocks. The more vigorous and imaginative the display, the faster the individual is likely to rise in the hierarchy, and the longer he is likely to maintain that position.”

In her book My Life With the Chimpanzees, Goodall told the story of “Mike,” a chimp who maintained his dominance by kicking a series of kerosene cans ahead of him as he moved down a road, creating confusion and noise that made his rivals flee and cower. She told me she would be thinking of Mike as she watched the upcoming debates.

– from When Donald Meets Hillary in The Atlantic

That’s one reason why rationally “winning” the debate (Clinton) may not translate directly into votes. And why telling the most lies and interrupting the most may even be to Trump’s advantage. History has shown that before. Trump is tapping into the anger and frustration of many in the US, and although his solutions are either nonexistent or terrible, these emotions bypass rationality for some voters.

Kindness to all life


A saw a new Shambala book called A Plea for the Animals.

It looks interesting, and I am sure it can help shifting something for many who reads it.

Here are a few things that come to me on this topic:

As Buddhism reminds us, all beings wish to be alive, happiness and avoid suffering. They are just like us. We are all alike in this.

When we treat other beings with kindness, we live from kindness and that benefits us and our well-being immediately.

When we consider the far reaching and long term effects of our actions, for all beings and future generations, it’s a practice that benefits us now. The solutions that benefit life overall are most likely the best for us right now as well. (Myoptic solutions often come with serious and unexpected drawbacks.)

If we have human rights, why not extend similar rights to all beings? They too feel, bleed, hunger, wish to stay alive, wish to avoid suffering, and wish for a good life.

It may take some effort to live like this, and most of us won’t do it consistently, but I find it helpful to keep this in mind and use these as guidelines for myself. At the very least, it helps me stay honest. And it may also guide me in my decisions and life.

An additional thought:

It’s important to give a real voice to the voiceless. In this case, non-human beings and future generations. They need someone to speak for them in politics, our legal system, and through our society. They also need real leverage to influence politics and regulations. This will be an important correction to often short-sighted policies and actions, and bring in a bigger-picture thinking that benefits all of us. Big picture thinking often creates better solutions in the long run, and also in the short run (more elegant, efficient, and comprehensive solutions).

Hafiz: Everyone you see, you say to them, “Love me.”


Admit something: Everyone you see,

You say to them, “Love me.”

Of course you do not do this out loud,

Otherwise someone would call the cops.


Still though, think about this,

This great pull in us to connect.


Why not become the one who lives

With a full moon in each eye that is always saying,

With that sweet moon language,

What every other eye in this world is dying to hear?


– Hafiz & Daniel Ladinsky

Yes. That is the deepest longing in us, and it’s the deepest longing for all parts of us as well. Everyone and everything in us wish to be met in love. In a very real way, any experience is asking for love. And any action that comes from hurt or a sense of lack is asking for love.

Adyashanti: Life will be as hard or soft as it needs to be


Life will be about as hard or as soft it needs to be. It doesn’t care what it takes for you to wake up. Suffering is just a way that life registers that you are holding on to your position.

– Adyashanti

Some may hear this as some entity “life” intentionally deciding to give us a soft or hard life.

In reality, this is just built into life. Holding onto positions is inherently painful because life and reality will rub up against it. And the stronger we hold onto positions, the more painful it will be and life will be experienced as hard.

We don’t really have a choice in how we hold onto positions. Something in us holds onto positions out of a desire to protect us, and out of unquestioned and unloved fear. It’s innocent. It’s automatic. It’s often inherited from our ancestors through biology and culture. And it can soften through meeting that fear, and the innocent wish for protection, in presence, kindness, patience, and gentle curiosity.

Here, waking up may mean a few different things. (a) Waking up to the positions we hold onto. (b) Waking up to how holding onto positions creates suffering, and comes from innocence. (c) Waking up to what we are – the presence it’s all happening within and as – when these positions soften and there is more space for presence to notice itself.

All made up


Sometimes, I hear someone say it’s a made up word. What they mean, of course, is that someone recently made up the word. And really, it’s just a reminder that all words are made up. And that all ideas are made up as well. Anything imagined – including all words and images and all abstractions and ideas – are made up.

All religions, philosophy, science, worldviews, self-images, stories about anything and anyone, are made up. It doesn’t mean they may not be meaningful, or useful, or work well to help us orient and function in the world. Many of them do some or all of those things for us.

But it does mean they are made up. They don’t reflect any absolute or final truth about the world or ourselves or anything else. And they are passed on through generations making up culture, religion, and worldviews that is shared by most or many in a society, and are then made to look final and absolute since so many take them for granted.

Through inquiry, we can begin to undo this sense that these ideas are final or absolute. We get to see how our mind creates and recreates them for itself here and now. We may get to see how imaginations combine with sensations where imagination gives a sense of meaning to sensations, and sensations give charge and a sense of solidity to the imaginations. We get to see how they must have been initially imagined by someone, perhaps a long time ago. We get to see how they are passed on from parents to child, and society to individual. We get to see how they can seem real and absolute just because they are shared by many in a society. We may find that we can relate to them more intentionally and use them more as seems appropriate. The charge in them may even lessen or fall away.

Barry McDonagh: How to stop panic attacks


A good summary of some of the tools I also have found helpful.

(a) Remind yourself it’s there to help. It will pass. You will survive, and have before.

(b) Get excited about it. Amplify and make it stronger. Ride it out

(c) Shake it out. (Including TRE.)

These are helpful in relating to any strong and uncomfortable experiences.


Rock, roll, and crawl like a baby


– See also Sitting Wrecks Your Body from Outdoor Magazine.

I like approaches to health and well-being that are simple, fun, and intuitive (since they are aligned with our evolution and development). In this case, rolling, rocking, and crawling like a baby. It’s also very similar to what’s found in many traditional approaches, including different forms of yoga, and also Breema.