Some things I may explore with the Unfindable Inquiry from the Living Inquiries:
Longing. The one who longs (for love, deep sense of rightness, home, alignment). Boomerang situation: Longing in early childhood. Remembering how it was before incarnation (infinite love, deep sense of home and rightness), and not receiving it from my parents.
Fear. The one who is afraid. Boomerang situation: Fear about the future. Seeing myself in the future, alone, on the streets (or in a small apartment), a wreck, on government support, miserable, in mental turmoil.
Doom. The one who is doomed. Boomerang situation: A sense of dread. Primal sense of dread.
Loss. The one who lost what was most important to him. The one who will lose what’s most important to him. Boomerang situation: Loss of relationships, loss of passion/clarity, loss of opportunities (education, living places that felt right, work).
Why was it helpful? If you showed unconditional love to a friend who showed up at your door, wouldn’t your attitude be, “Thank you for coming, I love you, you are welcome to stay?” Anything else is resistance. And what we resist, persists.
- Scott Kiloby from Contraction: Thank You For Arising, I love You, You are Welcome to Stay
There is a lot to say about this, although what’s important is to explore this in one’s own experience, in a very simple and straight forward way.
When I say “you are welcome here” and the rest (“I love you”, or also “thank you for protecting me”, “thank you for your love for me”)…….
I get to see what in me is afraid of this, and I can meet that part of me with welcome and love as well.
There is a more conscious alignment with what is. What’s here – any discomfort, pain, emotion, thought, experience – is already allowed. It’s already welcomed by life and presence.
Saying “thank you for protecting me”, “thank you for your love for me” comes from curiosity. Is it here to protect me? Does it come from love? (And I get to see that any reactions me – including discomfort, pain, sadness, anger, fatigue, brain fog etc. – is here to protect the image of me, the imagined me.)
As with any basic and perennial practice, it’s a stepping stone, an exploration, a curiosity. It’s a move in the direction of noticing and living what’s already here, and is very simple, ordinary and natural.
Do whatever makes you feel passionately alive.
Find a way, however much you have to struggle at first,
of making a living from truly living.
Honour your unique talents and abilities,
your God-given gifts and sensitivities.
Do what moves you and connects you
to the deepest truth of yourself and the universe.
Trust prosperity and passion over profit and comfort,
and do not seek primarily the approval of others,
because all the approval in the world is empty
if it’s for something your heart isn’t really in.
Risk everything for what you love,
for what makes you feel alive,
because life is short, and never serious,
and nothing of any true value can be destroyed.
- Jeff Foster
Equanimity is one of the words I very rarely use.
The reason is the same as for some of the other “spiritual” words I rarely use: It’s so often misunderstood. It often comes with unfortunate associations.
The “myth” of equanimity is that it’s a state free of sadness, anger, grief, joy, exhilaration and so on. It’s some sort of tranquil state, which – in a way - looks more like numbness. It’s one of the “dreams of the ego”, a dreamy wish to be free of the ups and downs of life. The ups & downs which are painful when they are seen as “other” and a problem. (And that wish comes from a wish to protect the imagined self, it comes from love.)
For me, equanimity is more of a sense of ease through these natural ups & downs inherent in life. It’s an allowing of the experience that’s here, as it is.
In a sense, it’s a shift of “center of gravity” from the parts of us that wants our experience to be a certain way, to the “part” of us that already allows it as is – welcomes it as is, is it as is. (Which is not really a part of us, it’s that which allows and is all parts.)
And more importantly, what’s alive here now? How is it to welcome and allow what’s here?
I was speaking to a young man who was dealing with severe anxiety. None of the ‘cures for anxiety’ he had been offered had worked for him. I asked him to stop trying to fix his anxiety, just for a moment. I invited him to stop imagining a future filled with anxiety or even free from anxiety, and to meet what was actually here, right now. I invited him to drop the label ‘anxiety’, to let go of that word, to come out of his story of past and future and look at his present experience with fresh eyes. What thoughts and sensations were appearing presently?
Lots of thoughts buzzing around, he said. Lots of mental activity. What did he feel in his body? I invited him to contact the body directly. Intense fluttery sensations in the stomach and chest. I asked him if, just for a moment, he could allow all that activity – thoughts and sensations – to be there, something he had never tried before, because he had been too busy fighting his ‘anxiety’; a fight which, of course, had increased his anxiety. Instead of fighting the sensations in the stomach, could he drop all labels, all judgements, all descriptions, and recognize himself as the vast open space in which these sensations were allowed to come and go? Could he be friendly to these sensations, just for a moment?
He started to feel some space around what he had previously been calling ‘anxiety’. He was aware of the anxiety, he was conscious of it, so it couldn’t truly define who we was. He was no longer trapped in the feelings. He was bigger than anxiety. He could hold it, surround it, embrace it. And the thoughts too, he was bigger than those. He was not trapped inside them – he was the space for them.
He had been able to turn towards his anxiety, and had used it as a guru, to help him remember his true vastness. He had discover that, in truth, there was no ‘anxious person’, simply thoughts and sensations, arising in presence, that had been labelled as ‘anxiety’ and then rejected. He was not a victim of anxiety – he was its loving parent, able to hold it as it was born and died. His anxiety didn’t need to be ‘cured’ – it needed to be met.
Vastness in the midst of anxiety- the last place you’d ever think to look!
- Jeff Foster
Heaven is this moment.
Hell is the burning desire
for this moment to be different.
It’s that simple.
- Jeff Foster
Heaven is this moment, as it is. And when I (appear to) consciously allow it – when I sink into the experience, when I notice it’s already allowed – it’s revealed as that.
A part of me thinks and feels that this moment needs to change. It’s not good enough. It’s unpleasant. It may even appear unbearable. Another part knows that it’s OK, and that resting with it allows it to reveal more of itself. (In the softening, there is a quiet delight.)
I have chronic fatigue (whatever that is) and have been doing TRE (Tension & Trauma Release Exercises) for a while.
Many have reported good success in healing from fatigue using TRE, and it’s perhaps not so surprising.
Neurogenic tremors allow the body to release tension and trauma (physically and emotionally), and this – in turn – releases and makes available the energy and resources previously tied up in maintaining the tension and trauma.
I have found other things helpful too:
Inquiry into my thoughts about the symptoms (labels, what they mean) and any stressful stories, including the most basic ones.
Loving kindness. Meeting what’s here – including the symptoms and my reactions to it – with love.
Gratitude. All-inclusive gratitude practice. I am grateful for…… and include anything in your life, what’s easy to feel grateful for and what it’s more challenging to find gratitude for.
Natural rest. Allowing what’s here – this field of experience – as it is. Noticing it’s already allowed as it is. Spending time with this, now and then through the day.
Feeling sensations as sensations, especially any sensations associated with the fatigue. (The sensations interpreted as fatigue, brain fog, resistance, fear, sadness etc.) This can be made easier through inquiry into words and images associated with these sensations.
Following my guidance and my heart. Inquiring into the way my mind stops itself from living this. Following my guidance even if there is fear. (Feeling off track can be draining.)
A good – and not very strict – diet, consisting mainly of simple and ordinary foods, similar to that our ancestors would have eaten. (Not much processed food, or sugar, dairy or wheat.) Drinking plenty of water. (Mostly in the form of herbal and spice teas, enough to keep the urine light colored or clear.)
Spending time in nature. Find your spot. Go for walks. Sit and rest. Soak it in. Allow nature to gently work on you. Walk barefoot.
Strength training, although not in excess.
Herbs. (Eleuthero, rhodiola, chulen, Stangelands Urtete etc.)
Engaging in nourishing activities and relationships. Dropping, as far as possible, draining activities and social engagement.
Welcome to the movie of who you think you are. Pass the popcorn.
- Byron Katie
It’s a commonly used analogy: our life is like a movie.
It has a main character (me). It has drama. It has ups and downs. It has other characters that come and go, some more central than others. It has challenges. It has joys. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. The story has an arc. It’s messy at times. It’s at times fascinating, scary, amusing, funny, tragic, suspenseful, surprising, exciting, predictable, boring and more.
The difference is in identification. Movies are entertaining because we are only mildly identified with the main characters. In contrast, our life can be experiences as a life-and-death matter, and hold onto very tightly, if we are strongly identified with the main character(s). And it can be entertaining and amusing if there is a softer identification.
Also, we can say that just like a movie is projected on a screen, our life – and it’s word – is “projected on awareness”. Or, rather, it happens within and as awareness itself. And just as a movie projected on the screen doesn’t impact the screen, the content of awareness doesn’t impact awareness itself. It doesn’t impact what we more basically are.
For me, the “dark night of the soul” has been a slow – and then faster – collapse.
It’s been a collapse of health, identities, relationships, courage, strength, mental clarity, hope, optimism, authenticity and more.
It was preceded by a life choice where I didn’t follow my guidance, and instead acted on shoulds and fears. I guess it’s possible to say that this triggered the collapse, which was slow at first. (The choice was to move to Wisconsin because of a relationship, even if moving there went against a very clear inner guidance.)
At the same time, a dark night of the soul seems to be a somewhat predictable phase in the process, following the initial awakening (illumination) and going before equanimity (ease through ups and downs). My process has happened to follow this pattern “by the book”, which I know is not always the case.
What is the function of this collapse?
It shows me how draining it is to go against my inner guidance (heart, integrity).
It shifted me out of my familiar roles (which were identified with) and into their reversals. This is an invitation to include a wider range of identities in my image of how I see myself, and for the identification with these identities to soften and even release.
It’s an invitation to inquire into my stories and assumptions about myself, my life, what is happening, and the world.
It’s an invitation to find love for what’s here (fatigue, brain fog, grief, despair, anger, fear, fearful thoughts etc.), and recognize these as love (here to protect the imagined me).
Its an invitation for life to recognize itself as this too. (For the divine, Spirit, love to recognize itself as this too, and not only bliss, mental clarity etc.)
It’s an invitation to find a deeper trust – in life, existence.
It’s an invitation to find myself as that which “is space for” what’s here, whatever it is. (That which allows and is the field of experience, as it is.)
It’s an invitation to find empathy and understanding for others in similar situation, through my own lived experience.
It’s an invitation to deepen and mature as a human being. And to deepen and mature in “spiritual” recognition and understanding.
This work was created as a way to relax and simply look at present experience as it arises moment by moment – not for the purpose of getting somewhere but rather for the purpose of examining all the assumptions behind the need to get somewhere. Even though I often talk publicly about this work as having the potential to relieve addiction, anxiety, depression, spiritual seeking and a host of other things, the process of this work itself – the actual looking – is about simply investigating in a very relaxed, present way what is already being believed, what is already here.
- from Will I get results with the inquiries? by Scott Kiloby
The mind may have all sorts of stories of how it will be when there is more clarity.
One is that there will be no consequences of our actions, and that we can do what we want without repercussions.
This is one of the “dreams of the ego”.
The reality of it is much simpler and more ordinary, at least in my experience.
There are, of course, still consequences – of our actions, choices, emotions, thoughts etc. Consequences happen in an ordinary way.
We may not believe our thoughts about it, so the coarse or gross (dis)stress may not be there. (Or it’s at least not resisted in the same way.) This makes it much easier.
And yet, when we go against our inner guidance, our heart, our authenticity, is still doesn’t feel right.
In fact, the more clear we are, and the more we recognize all as love, the more painful it is to go against our guidance, our heart, and our authenticity.
In that sense, there is less freedom in clarity. Or, more accurately, there is still freedom to go against guidance, heart and authenticity, yet the consequences are more clear and painful to us. And yet, that’s a small – or actually no – price to pay for living from clarity and love.
I still get caught in fear and beliefs, and sometimes go against my guidance and heart. When that happens, it’s helpful to feel the pain of doing so.
The dark night of the soul, as any dark night, is a period of reorganization.
There are several types of dark nights, and what I mostly write about here is the dark night of the soul. The phase that typically comes after the initial awakening (illumination) and before equanimity, an ease independent of content of experience.
The reorganization of the dark night of the soul is largely hidden from our view and understanding, which is why it was initially called a dark night. It also involves many apparent losses. Old wounds and trauma may surface to be healed. And there is an invitation to wear out, soften and lose identifications. This reorganization is also similar to what a larvae goes through in the pupae stage. It’s unfamiliar, the old structures and patterns dissolve, and we are unable to see where it leads. The combination of all of this can be very challenging. For me, it’s been the most challenging thing I have experienced in this life, by far.
So what can we do? I have written about this before, so I’ll just mention a few things that come to mind now. And these really apply to any perceived challenges in our lives.
Find love for what’s here – for the inner and outer situation. Recognize that all the different parts of me – including the confusion, pain, anger, regret, sadness etc. – is love.
Inquire into my stories about what’s happening, the labels and what I take them to mean. And inquire into the stories triggering my responses, the sadness, grief, anger, despair, pain, hope, fear and more.
Feel sensations as sensations. Inquiry into the associated stories can make this easier.
Ask /pray for help. Ask for guidance. Support. Ease. Love. Conscious alignment with the reorganization.
Shake it out. Neurogenic tremors. Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE).
Spend time in nature, use your body and senses in nature.
Find mutual support. Find people who have gone through something similar, or are going through it.
Take care of your body. Eat well, get plenty of sleep. Use your body. Exercise.
Seek out some basic understanding of what’s happening. Read about the dark night (Adyashanti, Gerald May, Evelyn Underhill and others.)
After doing the Living Inquiries for about half a year, I notice some changes.
It’s easier to feel sensations as sensations, where I in the past may have tried to escape them.
My natural curiosity is more often expressed in questions such as “is that image afraid?” or “is that sensation tired?”.
There is a natural draw to seeing and feeling what’s here in a very simple way. To see images and words, and feel the sensations. (And less interest in fixing or changing it.)
It’s easier to shift into natural rest, allowing what’s here as it is, and notice it’s already allowed as it is. (Including discomfort, pain, joy, resistance, and more.)
As with many of the most valuable (for me) practices, the Living Inquiries may feel a bit artificial and clumsy at first, and then it leads into something that’s very simple and natural. It’s like training wheels. Helpful for a while, and eventually less or not neccesary.
Everything you wish to destroy in another,
everything you desire to delete in them,
is only a part of yourself
that you secretly want to love to death,
love it so hard and so deeply
that it can finally rest.
Even the most profound darkness
is a longing for light.
- Jeff Foster
A friend of mine pulled this card for me over Skype. I feel it’s very appropriate for me now.
During the “collapse” I have experienced over the last 4-5 years (aka the dark night of the soul, following illumination), there has also been a collapse of dignity.
It seems that the many strengths in me that mind identified with during the previous phase, went away or turned into their opposites.
Passion gave way to flatness. Energy to fatigue. Clarity to dullness. Confidence to its absence. A stable life to major transitions. And, yes, dignity went away too.
So dignity is one of the medicines that seem very appropriate for me now. It’s a way “back” to myself – as a human being, soul and Spirit.
I am not sure how much to go into details here. I can say that one way I wish to refind my dignity is through taking responsibility for my own life, and my own choices. (Instead of fueling the victim mode, hopelessness, blame etc.) Another is to honor and follow my guidance more consistently. And yet another is through living with dignity in how I relate to people in my life.
Note: The card is one of the Virtues Cards from the Virtues Project.
First, there is apparently a me – a human self – experiencing presence.
Then, open presence is revealed as experiencing a me, a human self. (And experiencing the world through this human self, through its senses, emotions, thoughts and so on.)
This shift often happens first as one or more glimpses, and perhaps as a sense of “thinning of the veils”. Then, it may become more clear and stable, and there is an exploration of how this “new” realization is lived through our human self in the word.
During the transition, it may at times seem that the realization is “lost”. And here, there is an invitation to find here and now what was realized, independent of specific states and experiences. For instance, it may seem that “I am a me experiencing presence” but is that really so? Isn’t that too open presence experiencing a me?
It sounds simple when put this way, but the transition often involves time, maturing, a deep healing of the human self (bringing love and understanding to the wounds, pain and trauma), and life circumstances that require us to live with authenticity and from love and understanding.
On making a mistake, how quickly we reach for excuses, justifications or try to blame others, as if the worse thing imaginable would be to admit we got it wrong. But who we really are has no self-image to uphold. What if it’s ok to make the most spectacular cock-up, to openly admit our mistake, to take full responsibility and apologise? What liberation! Then the fear of failure need no longer dictate our actions and we’re free to follow our bliss.
- James Eaton
Heartache and loneliness has come up for me, off and on, over the last few years.
My sense is that it’s from early in life, perhaps even infancy or before. I have an image of my mother seeming preoccupied and absent, and longing for love and a deeper connection. I also have an image of before incarnation where it’s been conveyed to me that it’s time to incarnate, not really wanting to, not speaking up for that part of me, and feeling deeply wounded in the incarnation. A deep sense of loss, loneliness, and heartache, of having (apparently) “lost” the heavenly realm, the divine, and God.
Anything in us that’s not met with love, or recognized as love, will surface at some point in the process of reality waking up to itself. Much of it comes up during the dark nights, and perhaps especially the dark night of the soul. (Following illumination.) What’s surfacing are typically emotions and parts of ourselves we are trained to think of as undesirable, or perhaps even signifying that something is wrong. And it’s not surprising that among these are loneliness, heartache and longing.
These may also be triggered by things happening during a dark night of the soul. We may lose friends. (Who are afraid of what they see happening for us, or try to fix and then give up and retreat, or we “push them away” through our own reactiveness to our pain.) We may lose other things too, such as identities, capabilities and health, and even our earlier and apparently solid and easy connection with the divine. If there is fatigue, we may not be drawn or able to socialize as much as before. And our old ways of socializing may not feel as meaningful as they used to.
Whatever is happening, the “solution” is very simple although not always so easy:
Find love for what’s here, and recognize it as love. (Emotional pain, physical pain, grief, loneliness, heartache, hope, fear and more.)
Notice the stories (a) about what’s happening, and (b) triggering it, and explore these with curiosity. (Inquiry.)
Feel sensations as sensations. Inquire into stories about them (labels, what they mean), and other stories associated with them.
Release tension through shaking. (Neurogenic tremors, TRE etc.)
Find support by others who have gone through it, and other like minded people.
Spend time in nature, and doing simple physical activities.
Also, practically, what was my part in the situations that trigger grief, loneliness and heartache?
For instance, with my first girlfriend, we had a deep soul connection and amazing alignment at all levels. I was deeply committed to the relationship, and saw us getting married and having children together. She already had a son, and understandably wanted us to get married as quickly as possible. I was young and wanted to slow it down, and – perhaps more importantly – I felt paralyzed when she gave me an ultimatum, unable to do or say what I really wanted. So it fell apart. Similar things has happened many times in my life, and much of it is because of getting paralyzed at important moments.
Meditation is not something restricted to times of formal seated meditation; it is most fundamentally an attitude of being—a resting in and as being. Once you get the feel of it, you will be able to tune into it more and more often during your daily life. Eventually, in the state of liberation, meditation will simply become your natural condition.
Yes, and the same with prayer, and gratitude, and service. And natural curiosity about how my world is created (inquiry). And also things like natural shaking/trembling. They are all a bridge into living in a very natural and simple way, as who and what we already are.
There is a cost to not following my guidance, my heart, and what feels right.
And that cost is quite high. When I really see the cost, and take it in, I see it’s too high. And when I meet my fears of following my guidance with love and curiosity, it’s even possible that I may be able to follow my guidance more often and more consistently.
It’s easiest to look at the cost of a specific action where I went against my guidance. For me, the clearest one was moving to Wisconsin. I left a community I felt deeply connected with, I left a graduate program, I left a place where I felt deeply at home. The cost was partly losing what I left, but I also lost my passion, engagement, enthusiasm, and eventually my health. And I also lost opportunities to live a life from my guidance, a life that would have felt more deeply right, during this time. The cost was also how this impacted those around me, both family and friends. The cost was very high.
Matt Licata: The kindest thing we can offer our suffering friend is to sit in the darkness with them 10Jul14 | 0
In speaking with a friend this morning, I was reminded of the great bias in our culture toward the light and away from the darkness. When we meet with a friend who is sad, feeling hopeless, shut down, or otherwise not beaming and joyful, we can become convinced, quite quickly, that something has gone wrong, that some mistake has been made which needs fixing. We scramble to put them back together, to remind them of all the gifts in their life, to let them know everything will be better soon, and that it will all turn out okay.It is so natural to want to help another and to lessen their suffering and their pain. There is nothing wrong with this intention and with using whatever skillful means we have to help. But we can also start to see that much of this fixing activity arises out of the abandonment of our own relationship with the darkness within. Perhaps as little ones it was not safe to embrace sadness, rage, despair, or hopelessness. If our early environment was one in which love, affection, and connection was withdrawn as a result of our confrontation with these and other ‘non-happy’ states of consciousness, we learned (very intelligently) to disavow their messages, truths, and potential gifts.
It is possible the kindest thing we can offer our suffering friend is to sit in the darkness with them, removing the burden that they change, transform, feel better, or heal in order for us to love, accept, or simply be with them. And to hold them closely as we wade into the icky, messy, yucky areas of the body and the psyche, vowing with our sweet friend to not turn away from their precious heart and the reality of their immediate subjective experience, *exactly* as it is. As we turn to embrace own unmet sadness, grief, and despair, we can begin to resist the temptation to project our unlived life upon others and the world.
As we come to rest in the wholeness of our immediate, embodied reality, we can start to see that love is a movement of the totality. It is whole, never partial, and is raging and alive even in the darkness, shining brightly in its own way. And that you will never, ever be satisfied with a partial life, with a partial love, or a partial heart. In the core of the darkness, the sadness, the grief, and the aloneness is something very real, breaking through the dream of partiality. But what this is may never support conventional egoic process or our cultural and spiritual fantasies of a life of invulnerability. To embrace this may always feel groundless as you fall off the cliff of the known and into the mandala of presence.
In the wholeness of what you are, everything is alive in its own way, everything is path, and everything is the integrative activity of the beloved. She is not only the joy and the sweetness, but at times will arrive as the darkness itself to reorder your world. She will shape-shift using both sweet *and* fierce grace, including both peaceful *and* wrathful manifestation, in order to reveal the primordial integration of her movement in the world of time and space.
Let us stay close to our own suffering and the suffering of others, careful not to cut it too quickly. Let us turn toward the darkness before we discard it, and finally see what it has to say. For we may discover a light shining there that is heralding a new world.- Matt Licata
I have images of an incarnation trauma, and the feelings to go with it. I am in a heavenly realm. A group of beings convey to me that I am about to incarnate, for the benefit of Earth and myself. I agree. I don’t speak for the part of me that deeply loves the heavenly realm, and doesn’t want to incarnate. And it’s quite traumatic. There is a loss of what’s most important for me, and a deep pain from this loss.
It seems that I have repeated this incarnation trauma several times in my life, especially around intimate relationships and also in other situations. I lose what’s most important to me (a relationship, a person, a place, an opportunity) right at the threshold of it happening, or shortly before or after it happens. The feeling, images and experience of it is very similar to the incarnation trauma. There is a deep sense of love, connection being home, rightness. And it’s lost.
A part of me also experience that a woman (relationship) will either save me or destroy me. And this too mirrors the incarnation trauma. God/the divine saved me, destroyed me (by sending me here), and may save me again. A woman will save me (if it is a deep soul connection, deep soul love, aliveness), or destroy me (if she has blind hangups, anger, and I feel trapped in it). Both the incarnation and some relationships (the ones with a deep soul connection) become a big thing, a life and death situation, in my mind.
Of course, I see that what was there before incarnation isn’t really lost. It’s here now. And it’s all God / the divine, whether it’s a heavenly realm or this life with all the usual human experiences. And still, the pain is here, and it’s worth meeting with love and curiosity. It’s worth allowing the pain to come home.
It’s possible to be caught in drama, and still think “I am feeling the feelings”.
When I am caught in the drama, I am caught in stories (triggering the emotions, and about what it means), and fuel the drama. There is a turmoil here, which a thought may say is “feeling the feelings”. And yet, being caught in the stories draws attention away from noticing the images as images and words as words, and feeling the sensations as sensations. This tends to fuel the drama, and keeps it going.
The other approach is to look at the images as images, words as words, and feeling the sensations as sensations. (One at a time, taking time with each.) This has a much more neutral and sober quality, and there is a gentle curiosity there. This tends to defuse the drama, removes the “fuel” for the drama, and reveals what’s really here.
The only way I know the world is through my sense fields – sight and mental images, sounds and imagined sound, sensations and imagined sensations, and words which are images and sounds.
This means that the only world I know is my own world, as it is here and now.
I can examine this. How is my perception of time created? Or space? Or myself as a human being? Or a particular future, a particular past, a particular deficient self? What happens as I see more clearly what’s here?
I thought I would share this video on the dark night of the soul since much of it resonates with me, and it’s a slightly different tone than what I usually seek out.
Her time frames seem a bit on the short side. For me, the initial opening / kundalini awakening / blissful state lasted about ten years, and the dark night fifteen years or more, and both have been quite intense. Although 10-20 years for each of these phases is towards the longer end on the scale, it’s not uncommon.
Here is a second video of hers on the topic:
Here is a related video on tiredness, which is a common symptom of the dark night.
Angelica King’s website is called Angel Star Therapies.
I see a whole set of hopes, fears, deficiency stories and more connected to relationships, and especially intimate relationships.
Here are some of them:
A dream of a future. A sense of how it feels when I am with a soul mate. (A deep soul and heart connection, deep sense of rightness and alignment.)
A woman/relationship that will save me. (Complete me, enliven me.) A woman/relationship that will destroy me. (Of being stuck in a relationship that doesn’t feel right.)
A fear of missing out. An identity of being unlovable, unloved, only half filled-up with love.
Feeling frozen on the threshold of something more than friendship. Fear. (Concern about how I am seen.)
Missed relationships. Lost relationships.
There is also a recurrent childhood dream of falling through blackness into a cauldron stirred by a witch, looking up at me and grinning. (Representing knotted emotions in women, and myself?)
I can explore these through Living Inquiry, for instance can I find the future or this particular dream of the future? Does it exist outside of images, words and sensations? Can I find a real threat there somewhere? Can I find a command to live that dream, or “see through” the dream? How is the soul-mate feeling created? What’s there in images, words and sensations? (And so on.)
Normally, what we mean by saying that one is spiritually awake is that such a person no longer identifies in some sort of exclusive manner with any particular form. Instead, such a person knows herself or himself to be unbounded. Which is fine. This is a perfectly sane discovery, in my opinion.
And, I might add, it’s nothing special. In fact, although I cannot know this for certain, I highly suspect that this is the effortless, natural experience of all wild living beings. Frogs. Rivers. Trees. Mountains. The reason I suspect this is that it seems to me that these beings have no reason to suspect otherwise. Without the stories and concepts that we believe then it seems to me that the unbounded connectedness of all apparent forms, the timeless nature of all that is, is perfectly self-evident.
I see no reason to call this “spiritual”. Because to call it spiritual suggests that it is somehow special or apart from something else. But by nature of the unbounded nature of what is there is no possibility of special. There is only what is.
- from Spiritual Specisim by Joey Lott (it’s worth reading the full article)
What he says resonates with me. Living within nonidentification is natural. It’s what plants and animals – and the rest of life – does effortlessly.
And yet, humans are unique, just as any other species is. Our strength is a certain form of cognitive ability, where other species have other strengths. And none is inherently any “better” or “worse” than those of any other species. They are just different.
We humans are very young in learning how to use our cognitive abilities, which is why we tend to create a lot of problems for ourselves at individual (suffering, confusion, beliefs) and collective (wars, injustice, ecological harm) levels. Our cognitive abilities are themselves very young, and our familiarity with it – and attempts to learn how to live with and from it with more wisdom – is also very young.
These cognitive abilities flavor the expression of life in a unique way. A way that sometimes includes identification, and sometimes nonidentification. And all species, and all individuals, gives their unique flavor to life’s expression. It’s all life exploring, expressing and experiencing itself in a myriad of ways. None inherently any better or worse than any other.
In general, I really like what Joey Lott writes. And I also see that I feel more comfortable adding a few things, making it a slightly “more complex simplicity” as he calls is.
Fisher also emphasizes two categories that may cause dark nights to surface. The first results from “incorrect or misguided practice that could be avoided,” while the second includes “those [experiences] which were necessary and expected stages of practices.” In other words, while meditators can better avoid difficult experiences under the guidance of seasoned teachers, there are cases where such experiences are useful signs of progress in contemplative development. Distinguishing between the two, however, remains a challenge.
- from The Dark Knight (sic) of the Soul in The Atlantic
The Atlantic published an article on the dark night of the soul, which must be one of the few articles on this topic in a mainstream magazine. It’s quite good, although they do seem to conflate spiritual emergencies (which can take many forms) with a dark night of a soul (which is one particular form of spiritual emergency). Also, I suspect an editor mistyped the title and wrote “knight” instead of “night”. (Of course, going through a dark night is a form of a hero’s journey, so the accidental? knight metaphor is not completely inappropriate.)
The paragraph above is especially interesting to me, and seems to refer more to spiritual emergencies than a dark night of the soul. Spiritual emergencies may be triggered, or seem to be triggered, by pushing or seeking to “raise” the energy etc. (Less skillful ways of practicing.) A dark night of the soul, in contrast, is a phase many go through, and seems to be a natural phase of the process. I agree that it’s wise to practice under guidance to someone sober and familiar with the terrain, to minimize unpleasant spiritual emergencies. Although when they happen, there is often a gift there too. Spiritual emergencies have their own gifts, and become part of our journey. read on…
I find two main forms of rest.
One is the conventional one, a resting and relaxation of body and mind. This is a relaxation of the human self, a relaxation within content of experience.
Another is the rest that’s already here, life (mind, awareness) already allowing what’s here. It is a rest since all is allowed. Any content of experience is allowed, including stress, tension, drama, relaxation, and more.
The first form of rest may make it easier for the second form of rest to be noticed, especially at first, although it’s certainly not required.
The second form of rest, or rather the noticing of this second form of rest, may allow the first form of rest, although that’s just a side-effect and not really the point.
And this second form of rest can be noticed and recognized and even realized to different extent. In the beginning, it may be more of a noticing. Then, the “center of gravity” may shift into this allowing and this natural rest, more and more. Until this rest awakens to itself, as what’s already here, independent of any content of experience.
At first, it may seem like a “practice”, sometimes we do at special times, and when it’s remembered. And after a while, it’s just a recognizing – and perhaps realization – of what’s already here, and there is more of a living from this in daily life.
Inquiry comes in here too, apart from just the noticing. What is it that seems to prevent this allowing of what’s here, as it is? What seems to prevent this noticing? What do I find when I look at it? What do I find when I explore the images, words and sensations that appear to prevent this allowing or noticing? This may also seem like a practice at first, something done at special occasions, and then it’s revealed as a more natural curiosity, and a natural and simple looking and feeling in daily life.
Over the last few days, I have experienced a sense of flatness and dullness, and also a sense of emptiness and nothingness. There has also been a relatively quiet mix of a wide range of feelings and emotions experienced all at once.
I notice how a part of me sees this flatness and dullness as a threat. It feels wrong, unfortunate, even a hindrance. And a thought says it’s always going to be that way.
It may also be that I have set aside and pushed away this feeling of flatness and dullness most of my life, and it’s now surfacing to be included, befriended, and met with love and understanding.
This flatness and dullness is also an experience, as any other experience. Why not befriend it? Meet it with curiosity? Find love for it? How is it also to befriend my fear of befriending it, and any shoulds behind befriending it?
What’s the worst that can happen if I befriend it? What actually happens?
How does this experience appear in images, words and sensations? Looking at the images, one at a time, is it flat or dull? Are the sensations actually flat or dull? What’s actually there?