Welcome to Mystery of Existence

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

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

Enjoy 🙂

Byron Katie: Life will bring us everything we need

 

Life will bring us everything we need, to show us what we haven’t undone yet.

– Byron Katie

What does Byron Katie mean by “what we haven’t undone yet”? I assume she specifically means stressful beliefs we haven’t examined and seen through. And indirectly, she means any unresolved emotional issues, traumas, wounds, and hangups.

How does this work? How does life brings us what we need to shows us what we haven’t undone yet?

I can find a few different ways.

We tend to perceive and act on what we haven’t undone, life responds and gives us feedback on this, and this is life’s invitation to us to notice what’s left in us and undo it.

Our mind tends to go to what’s not yet undone in us, and what’s not yet undone also tends to bubble up on its own. In a sense, our mind seeks to understand and resolve what’s not yet undone, and what’s not yet undone seeks to be met, understood, loved, and resolved.

And equally important, life is rich and brings us a lot of different things, and most of us have a lot we haven’t undone yet. So some of what life brings us will inevitably show us some of what we haven’t undone yet. If we pay attention, we may notice this daily and even in just about every situation we are in.

Is there something even beyond this? Yes, I am sure I can find more concrete examples. And I am sure there is more outside of what I am aware of.

My early longing: a longing to return home to the divine

 

As a child, and I remember this best at elementary school age, I had a longing. I would wake up in the morning, feel this longing, and not know what it was for. I had my favorite food – cornflakes or bread with strawberry jam, I read my favorite comics (Carl Barks’ Donald Duck stories), I read my favorite books (Jules Verne, Sherlock Holmes, Hardy Boys, Famous Five), I spent time with my parents, I played with friends, and nothing did it. Nothing helped alleviate the longing.

When the awakening happened age sixteen, I finally understood what the longing was for. The longing was for coming home – to all as the divine. To recognize all, without exception, as the divine and the play and unfolding and exploration of the divine.

I imagine the longing had a more human element as well. I longed for a deeper and more real relationship with my parents. But a large part of the longing, perhaps fueled by this more human longing, was for coming home.

This longing was fulfilled, and is being fulfilled. It’s a process. Returning home is something we don’t need to since we are always here. And it’s also an ongoing unfolding process and exploration.

There are two ways to talk about this. One is that the longing is to return home to what I am – as capacity for the world as it appears to me, as what all my experiences happen within and as. The other is that this is a longing for a return to the divine, a return to recognizing all – without exceptions – as the divine and the unfolding and play of the divine. The first is what I call the small or psychological interpretation of awakening, and the second the big or spiritual interpretation of awakening. The awakening itself is the same, it’s just how we talk about it that’s different.

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXVIII

 

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

WHY DO I CELEBRATE OUR NATIONAL DAY?

I have lived in Norway and the US, and on the respective national days, a question comes up for me.

What can I find that feels genuinely right to celebrate?

For me, it’s a mix of gratitude for what I have and have experienced in the country. An acknowledgment of the dark sides of the history and current affairs of the country. And the beauty of interdependence.

Why do I feel a need to examine this for myself? Because the usual reasons for celebrating the national day are not sufficient or don’t feel completely right to me. And I know there is something else there. If I look, I can find genuine reasons to celebrate, and that makes the celebration feel much better for me.

JULY 5, 2020

PANEDMIC AND CLIMATE CRISIS: WALKING INTO IT WITH OPEN EYES AND COMPLETELY UNPREPARED

We knew a pandemic would come. And yet, most countries were utterly unprepared for it. For instance, in Norway, the current conservative government had done away with extra ICUs and medical equipment that was needed to deal with a natural or man-made disaster that requires medical attention for a large number of people. Conservatism today means to be “efficient” and not to take care of people and the land.

This is the same with our current climate crisis. We know we are in the middle of it. We have known it for decades. And yet most countries do very little about it. We are walking with open eyes into a far larger disaster than what we are currently seeing.

Click READ MORE to see more brief posts on politics, society, and nature.

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Purgatory

 

No matter what happens after we die, the different ideas we have about it – including in religions or spiritual traditions – reflect what’s going on in this life.

Take purgatory. That’s what happens any time an old issue or emotion or discomfort comes up and we meet it in a way that allows it to release and heal. It’s uncomfortable. And it leads to release and healing.

We see our images

 

I imagine that famous people or people who are in the public eye are more aware of this than most of us.

Other people don’t see us. They see their images of us. And sometimes, they put a lot into that image that’s not exactly how we experience ourselves.

And that’s how it is from our end too. We put our own images on other people, and also on ourselves, situations, and the world.

We see our images, not the person in him or herself, not the situation in itself, and not the world in itself.

Outside of any labels and categories

 

Words divide the world, and the world is a seamless whole. So naturally, words leave a lot out and are also often a bit misleading.

That means that any real exploration or who and what we are will, invariably, happen somewhat free of any labels, categories, and what fits into any particular tradition or orientation.

Life is more than and different form any maps or ideas about it.

Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things XIV

 

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

THREE JEWELS

When we are uncomfortable or anything unpleasant happens, we look to take refuge in something. Usually, we turn to food, alcohol, sex, drugs, money, power, or relationships. But none of these things give us the lasting protection or satisfaction you’re looking for.

When you understand you can’t find lasting happiness in Samsara, then the desire to find true refuge becomes strong. In Buddhism, we take refuge in the three jewels—the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

The Buddha is like the doctor who understands your disease and knows how to treat it; the Dharma, his teachings, is the medicine he prescribes; and the Sangha is the spiritual community that helps you to take the medicine. To take refuge is to finally seek protection from suffering in a way that can really help you. When we think about the ultimate nature of reality and what causes us to suffer— this is the true meaning of refuge.

–  Keanu Reeves in Discovering Buddhism module 7, refuge in the three jewels, 2004

This is beautifully and clearly said, and it applies to awakening in general – not just Buddhism.

In a broader and more universal sense, the Buddha is any skilled and insightful coach who knows the terrain of who (human self) and what (Big Mind) we are. The Buddha is also what we are, Big Mind. The Dharma is any pointer that helps us navigate this terrain for ourselves and discover what we are. And the Sangha is any fellow explorers in this adventure.

Buddhism is one system aimed at helping us discover what we are and explore the terrain of who and what we are and how to live from and as it. There are many other systems. And there are many paths outside of any system. This noticing is not dependent on any system.

Click READ MORE to see more of these brief notes.

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things XIII

 

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

COMPLETE HEAVEN

I am at our family cabin by a lake in the forest east of Oslo. It’s sunny, warm, a light breeze, and I can shift between warming myself in the sun, sitting in the shade, laying down in a cool and dark room, and going for a swim in the lake (24 degrees celcius). It’s complete heaven for this physical being to be able to shift so easily between all these situations. I can very easily be comfortable.

And then there is the nature, the birds, insects, flowers, trees. The beautiful sky. The amazing evening and morning sky. The light at night. Feeling a deep sense of belonging to this Earth community with all the other beings and the rocks and lake and sky and sun. It feels deeply nurturing and healing.

I know it’s an amazing privilege. On the one hand, it’s the type of environment we are made for and our ancestors sought out and lived their lives in. On the other hand, and especially today, it’s not at all a given to have this opportunity. I know I am privileged. I know how much I have to be grateful for, even in a very conventional sense. (And in spite of challenges and a challenging life situations due to health problems.)

Click READ MORE to see more of these brief notes.

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Ho’oponopono: Healing how I relate & my world

 

Why do I do ho’oponopono? There are many answers. One is that I don’t really know. Another, that it feels right. And yet another is that I do it to heal how I relate to whatever I am doing it for, and to heal my world.

Healing how I relate

When I do ho’o, I do it to heal how I relate to whom or what I am doing it for. Whether it’s myself as a whole, a part of me or my my experience, someone else, a situation, the world or Earth as a whole, Life or God, or anything else.

In this sense, ho’o is similar to other forms of prayer or meditation. I do with the invitation for it to work on me and shift something in me.

I can still do whatever I can, in a conventional sense, to change situations that seem harmful or less than optimal.

Healing my world

There is another reason why I do ho’o, beyond that it helps me heal my relationships with myself, others, situations, and the world.

And that is that my world, the world as it appears to me, happens within and as me. Through ho’o, I help heal my world. I heal my images of myself, others, situations, Earth, and whatever else it may be.

I heal my mental field overlay of my world, and also whatever beliefs, identifications, emotional issues, hangups, and traumas are connected with it. It’s not necessarily a quick or easy process. But, if I am honest, ho’o is one of the quickest and easiest – and most effective.

A transformative practice

So through ho’o, I heal my relationship to whatever I do it for, whether it’s myself, someone else, a situation, a part of me or my experience, Earth, Life, God or something else. And I also heal these as they appear in my world. I heal my images of them and whatever in me is connected to these images.

It’s a profound practice. I will certainly be different in my relationship with myself, others, situations and so on. And whether something else changes in consensus reality, I leave to God or life.

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things XII

 

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

OPINIONS & IDENTITY

Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge… is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding.

– Bill Bullard

This is expressed in a somewhat judgmental way but it does point to something important.

When I interact with others, what’s my main purpose for the interaction?

Is it to connect? If so, any topic is fine. I can set aside my opinions and focus on topics that help us connect. Perhaps about something shared or not so charged. Even better, I can ask questions about the other and get to know them. For instance, what does he or she love or love to do? What’s meaningful for them? What are they passionate about?

Is it to get to know the other? If so, questions are most helpful, and perhaps especially questions about what they love, find meaningful, is interested in, and so on. (My own opinions are not so relevant.)

Is it to explore a topic? If so, our experiences, orientations, and opinions may serve as a starting point and we can engage in an exploration that moves beyond our starting points. We may find a way to look at it that includes more experiences, orientations, and viewpoints.

Is it to display my identity and get a sense of the identity of the other? If so, then putting out our opinions is useful.

These questions can be very illuminating. After a conversation, we can ask ourselves these type of questions to see where we were coming from. And also where we would like to come from in future conversations. And what may derail us.

What derails us? Do we miss or lose sight of our deeper intention? Do we fall into a familiar pattern? Do we get caught in some insecurity, fear, and wanting to be liked?

Click READ MORE to see more brief notes.

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Not taking what a feeling tells us as true

 

Wil Wheaton has talked about his depression and how he went from believing what the depression told him to recognizing that it lies to him. For instance – and this is just my own imagination – he may feel depressed and assume the feeling is true and that his life is terrible and not worth living. Or he feels depressed, notices the feelings, and knows that his life is not terrible and may be wonderful in many ways and definitely worth living.

The stories we connect with feelings, and especially the stressful ones, are not always true. It’s good to take them with a big grain of salt. Examine them. Question them. Find what’s more true for us.

This is a very important insight. It’s very simple, not always easy, and it makes a big difference in our life whether we get this or not.

How can an unexamined feeling-thought connection show up in our life?

As Wil Wheaton wrote, we can feel depressed and assume our life is terrible and not worth living. (Even if our life may be wonderful and meaningful in many ways and definitely worth living). We may feel anxiety about a situation and assume it means it’s dangerous and we should avoid it. (Even if we really want to do it and it’s not really dangerous.) We may feel deeply hurt by what someone said or did and decide we need to avoid that person. (Even if he or she didn’t mean what we thought they meant and something entirely different was going on.)

How do we work with this?

The first step is to recognize that our bodily feelings and our stories about them are distinct and separate. And that our interpretations about what the feelings mean are not necessarily accurate.

We can explore this through examples in our own life and ideally what’s here and now. For instance, I notice a mild sense of dread in my body – in my belly, solar plexus, heart, and throat. I also notice a thought saying “something terrible is happening” or “something terrible will happen”.

If I take this thought as true, and the feeling as having this inherent meaning, I’ll terrify myself. I fuel the story and make it seem true for myself.

If I instead notice what’s really happening, it’s different. I notice the sensations in my body and can feel them and welcome them, and notice they are already allowed and welcomed (by life, consciousness). I can notice the thoughts about them. And that my mind has created those thoughts to interpret the sensations, or even that the sensations are created from the thoughts.

I see that these thoughts are coming from a fearful and wounded place in me. They come from something old in me. They don’t necessarily reflect how I see the world now. They don’t reflect my current situation.

I see that the reality is that I am sitting here in this chair, by this table, with music I love and delicious herbal tea, that the breeze is coming through the open window, and outside children are swimming in the lake. In reality, I am safe here and now. Nothing terrible is happening.

I can continue exploring this. I can explore the thoughts further. I can find underlying thoughts and assumptions. I can find my earlies memory of having that feeling and thoughts. (Living Inquiries.) I can also examine each thought more in-depth and find what’s more true for me. (The Work of Byron Katie.)

I can befriend this part of me feeling this and thinking this. I can listen to what it needs from me and how it experiences the world.

I can meet it with presence, patience, and love.

And so on.

In these and many other ways, I can learn to differentiate body sensations (feelings) and my thoughts about what they mean. I can learn to question these thoughts. And that makes a big difference in my life.

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Stockholm syndrome in ourselves

 

The Stockholm syndrome refers to a hostage sympathizing with the hostage holder and finding themselves defending them and taking their side.

This can happen with us when we get caught up in an issue. In a sense, the issue holds us hostage and we are at its mercy. We identify with the issue. Sympathize with it. Perceive through it. Act on it. And defend it and find reasons why its right.

This is the Stockholm syndrome in us. We are not only held hostage by an emotional issue but we also side with it and defend it.

When we release ourselves from this, it may go through three phases. First, we are held hostage and defend the issue. Then, we may still be held hostage but we don’t defend it. And finally, we are released from the issue.

Here is a couple of examples: I see Trump as a racist and bigot and get triggered by him. The issue is that I have that in myself, as we all do in our culture, but it doesn’t fit into my self-image. If I am in the first phase, I am blind to this. I justify seeing him as a terrible person and I may deny having what I see in him also in myself (even if how I relate to it is different). The second phase is recognizing it as an issue and refraining from defending it. I am still triggered by him but know it’s an issue in me and I don’t go into or fuel stories about how how I am different from him. There is some disidentification with the issue and I can see it a bit my from the outside, from a third person perspective. In the third phase, I have worked on the issue and find in myself what I see in him, the charge in the issue has lessened, and I relate to it differently. I don’t get caught in it as before. The issue has gone from being “I” to “it” for me.

A woman grew up with an alcoholic father who was unpredictable and cycled from being loving to abusive to absent. When she is in adult relationships and it gets intimate, her fear of intimacy and of being abused or abandoned is triggered. In the first phase, she is identified with this issue and acts on it and justifies it with a story about the other person. In the second phase, she recognizes the issue, relate to it more intentionally, and is able to not act on it so much and also not use stories about the other person to justify retreating or leaving the relationship. In the third phase, the issue is more healed and she can be in the relationship without having the issue triggered so strongly and when it is, she can relate to it in a more conscious way. She offers the issue the sanity the issue itself doesn’t yet have.

I won’t go into the healing process here since I have addressed it in other articles. I’ll just mention that this is an example of how the outer world mirror the inner and vice versa. If something draws our attention in the outer world, it can be interesting to see how it fits dynamics and patterns in ourselves and our own life.

Dialog with suffering

 

I play a vital role in his life. I can give him what he most wants. I can give him a more and more open heart and mind and a deep connection with himself, other beings, and the world.

I can help him deeply heal. I can help him deeply awaken. I can help him deeply embody whatever clarity, wisdom, and love is available to him.

A dialog with suffering.

Hello, am I speaking with suffering?

Yes, you are.

How do people treat you?

Most treat me as an outcast. As something to get rid of. They numb themselves from me. They distract themselves from me. They struggle with me. They try to get rid of me. They try to transcend me. They try to transform me. Some even try to define me out of existence.

How is that for you?

How would it be for you? I am not that different from you. It doesn’t feel good. I often feel unloved. Unappreciated. Misunderstood. Abandoned. Abused. Mistreated.

How does P. treat you? (P. is the person these voices are within.)

It’s mixed. He sometimes does all of the above. And sometimes he is much better with me and seeks to understand me and listen to me. I like that.

How can P. appreciate you more?

Thank you for asking. Not many ask that question.

He can listen to me. Hear what I have to say. Ask what I would like from him. And also feel the physical sensations of me. Allow them to be when they are here.

What would you like from him?

To take me seriously. Realize I am here to protect him. My purpose is to help him. He doesn’t have to run away. He doesn’t have to get rid of me or transcend or transform me. When he meets me, he may discover that I am not as scary as he sometimes assumes.

Let me be as I am. Listen to what I have to say. Feel my sensations. That’s really all I ask.

Do you suffer?

That’s a tricky question. No I don’t. I am suffering but I don’t suffer. But when P. ignores me and tries to make me go away, I do – in a sense – suffer. And that suffering gets his attention even more. That extra suffering his the sign for him to notice how he relates to me. That extra suffering comes from how he relates to me. It’s not inherent in who or how I am.

Do you need to go away?

No. I am here for him. I can help him in many ways. I have many gifts for him, if he just sees.

What gifts do you have for him?

He wrote about it in the previous article. He already knows the essence. He just needs to allow it to sink in and live more from it.

I help him take a closer look at the situation he is in and how he relates to his own thoughts and fears.

And if he is receptive, I help him…. become more deeply human. Find deeper empathy with himself and others and the world. Find deeper understanding with others. See that all beings are in the same boat. Motivate him to change the situation he is in. Motivate him to change the situation others are in. Motivate him for deep personal transformation. Motivate him for being a part of deep social and cultural transformation.

I play a vital role in his life. I can give him what he most wants. I can give him a more and more open heart and mind and a deep connection with himself, other beings, and the world.

I can help him deeply heal. I can help him deeply awaken. I can help him deeply embody whatever clarity, wisdom, and love is here for him.

That sounds amazing. I notice I love you now. Why don’t more people see this?

I don’t know. I suspect it’s part of the culture. People tell themselves and others that I am terrible. They tell themselves and others I need to be avoided or gotten rid of. They hypnotize themselves with these stories.

A few do understand some or all of this. Often people who have suffered a lot and used it to grow, heal, mature, and perhaps used me for creating beautiful art or as an engine for social change.

Thank you for being here. Thank you for being part of humans’ lives. Thank you for being part of P.’s life. I love you. And I am sorry for how you have been treated by so many.

Thank you. That means a lot to me. I love you too. I have always loved you and all beings. I am here because of that love.

I love you.

I love you too. Always have. Always will. Whether you see it or not.


When I initially wrote this dialog, I focused on the human side of suffering. That’s fine. But I did leave out something in the bigger picture. And although I have written about it in other articles, I thought I would include it here too.

For all its value, suffering has an exit door. And suffering functions as an exit door for us taking ourselves to be a separate self or something particular within our content of experience.


Can I speak with Big Mind?

Yes, I am here.

How do you see suffering?

What suffering said is accurate although a bit limited. Yes, suffering can help humans in many ways. It’s often a part of being human and if they have a somewhat open heart and mind, it can help them deepen into their humanity and their compassion for all life.

And yet, there is another crucial way suffering can help humans.

Suffering shows them their struggle. Suffering comes when the mind struggles with what is. When it is caught up in a ”should“ saying what is should be different than it is.

Suffering shows them that they struggle and where they struggle, and motivates them to examine this struggle.

It shows them where their mind is still caught in beliefs and identifications, and where they are blind to a thought being a thought.

Suffering invites them to recognize and get to know this dynamic, and question their thoughts and find what’s already more true for them.

It invites them to awaken out of the trance of holding thoughts as true and for what they are – me – to awaken to itself.

I said this from the perspective of humans being somewhat distinct from me, since that’s how most humans perceive it and may help them understand it a little better. But it’s not completely accurate.

Said more accurately, I temporarily and locally take myself to be a human being and holding thoughts as true. This creates suffering. The suffering invites me – while taking myself to be a suffering separate self – to examine suffering and the causes of suffering. And this helps me wake up out of the temporary trance of taking thoughts as true and to myself as what I am.

Getting to know suffering

 

I feel a bit sorry for suffering. Most people want to get rid of it. A lot of healing work is about getting rid of suffering. A lot of people into awakening want to get rid of suffering. Even a whole religion, Buddhism, implies it’s about getting rid of suffering. 

Suffering is an experience. Suffering is a part of our experience that wants our attention, understanding, and love, as any other part. 

And as with any other part, if we reject it or abandon it or even meet it with the intention of “transforming” it, we create another layer of distress for ourselves. What suffering wants and what we want – when we look a little closer – is to get to know it. To change our relationship with it. Be present with it, listen to what it has to say, ask it what it wants from us, understand it, find genuine love for it, and also recognize it as not “other” – it’s part of who we are as this human self, and it’s part of what we are. 

Suffering comes with many gifts. Depending on how we relate to it… it can help us deepen our empathy with ourselves and others. It can help us see that we are all in the same boat. Our own suffering helps us recognize the suffering in others and can motivate us to help them. 

Suffering can bring us to our knees and humble us in the best possible way. Suffering can help us become more deeply and fully human in the best sense. 

Suffering can motivate us to change how we relate to ourselves and others. 

Suffering can motivate us to change the situation we are in. Suffering can be a driver for deep personal and social change. Suffering can motivate us to explore and better understand the situation triggering suffering in ourselves or others. Suffering can motivate us to explore and understand the dynamics of suffering in ourselves and how our mind creates that experience for ourselves. 

Without suffering, it may be that none of us would be here today. It has most likely played a vital role in the evolution of humanity, as it can play a vital role in our own healing, maturing, and even awakening if we allow it to. 

I said, “depending on how we relate to it” earlier. Of course, depending on how we relate to it, suffering can also trigger the exact opposite of what I described. It can lead to bitterness, hardness, hatred, violence, and much more. And it can open us up and open our heart and minds to ourselves and others and all life and all of existence. 

Most of us allow it to do one and then the other depending on the situation, and it also changes over time.

There is another side to this, and that is that suffering has an exit door. And suffering itself, when examined, can show us this exit.

How do we explore this exit?

We can do it through finding how our mind creates its experience of suffering. We can do it through examining stressful beliefs. We can do it through healing our relationship with ourselves, others, and the world. And we can do it through noticing what we are, learning to notice this through more states and situations in life, and learning to live from this and allow our human self to transform within this context.

Suffering invites us to examine the dynamics of suffering and what creates suffering. We may find that suffering comes from our mental – and consequently whole being – struggle with what is. That struggle comes from beliefs, identifications, and mental positions rubbing up against reality. It comes from taking ourselves as content of experience and other content as “other”. So the solution is to explore and get to know these dynamics, befriend our experiences as they are, and notice what we are – as capacity for all of this.

As we come to understand and even appreciate suffering better, find healing for our relationship to suffering, examine the thoughts creating suffering , and find a different context for our experience of suffering, we may find that our experience of suffering is different. It may not be something “other” or something we need to struggle with or avoid. It can be a guide and reminder for us. The charge in it may be less. And it appears quite different to us since it happens in a different context.

Adyashanti: emptiness is… the bottom of separateness falling out

 

The funny thing about emptiness is that it’s not about an inner experience of being nothing, but it’s the bottom of separateness falling out. When you investigate one thing, you find everything else.

— Adyashanti

This is a very beautiful way to express it, and it clearly comes from lived experience.

As with some other words, I hardly ever use the word “emptiness” unless I am talking about specifically that words.

There are a few things in awakening that the word emptiness can be used to refer to.

One is capacity. We are capacity for the world as it appears to us. For this human self, the wider world, and any content of experience. Said another way, we are emptiness full of the world as it appears to us.

It’s not abstract or a metaphor. It does seem like capacity, or void, or “emptiness” that’s full of all content of experience. All experience happens within and as this capacity or void.

Another is empty of substance. When all is recognized as this awakeness or capacity, it all seems empty of substance. Since the world as it appears to us happens within and as consciousness, it doesn’t have more substance than consciousness. Even the most physical is substanceless although it still behaves as matter the way we conventionally see it. If I stub my toe, it still hurts, even if the toe, what I stubbed it against, and the pain all happens within and as consciousness.

And yet another is empty of separateness. This is what Adya refers to. All content of experience happens within and as what we are. It happens as a seamless whole that’s empty of separateness and any final I anywhere.

There may be the appearance of things and beings having an I but that’s a provisional I and is created from a mental field overlay. It’s all happening within and as what we are. It’s all happening within and as capacity for it all. It’s all empty of separateness and any real I.

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Gandalf: A wizard is never late

 

A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins, nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.

Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings

How is that possible? Is it because he knows in advance when we will arrive? Is it because his schedule is never upset by unpredictable events? Is it because he will never admit to being late even if he is? Is it because he wants to mess with Frodo’s mind?

Or is it something else?

Perhaps a wizard trusts life and the divine and knows that no matter when he arrives, it’s exactly when it should be?

Perhaps a wizard knows that ideas of early and late only exist in our mind. And that we miss a great deal when we get caught up in shoulds?

Perhaps he wants what’s here? Perhaps he has discovered that nothing constructive comes out of struggling with what’s here, that it makes more sense to want what’s already here, and that this does not preclude decisive action when needed.

My bet is on something like the last three.

Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things XI

 

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

THE HIGHEST ACHIEVEMENT: TO BE AN ORDINARY HUMAN BEING

I wrote an imagined dialog with someone who has lived for eons, and one of the things that came up – from all those lifetimes of experience – is that the highest achievement is to be an ordinary human being.

Many of us try to be someone special, to set ourselves apart – at least in our minds, and live up to a certain image of ourselves. All that is ordinary, of course. But to intentionally be an ordinary human being is different. This means to see through all these shoulds we put on ourselves, and allow them to wear off. And then discover who we are when we are a little more free from them.

It’s not so easy. It can take a long time to discover and see through these images and shoulds and allow them to wear off.

Click READ MORE to see more of these brief notes.

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Ho’oponopono

 

What is ho’oponopono?

Ho’oponopno comes from an ancient healing practice from Hawaii and other south Pacific islands. It’s a powerful practice that can transform and heal our relationship with ourselves, others, and the world.

In its modern version, it consists of four sentences:

I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.

How can I explore it for myself?

Say the four sentences to anything or anyone you wish to heal your relationship with. Visualize them in front of you. Say it out loud or silently.

(This practice is for yourself so if you are doing it for someone in your life, you don’t need to mention to them that you are doing this.)

You can say it during a time set aside for this, before falling asleep or after waking up, or any time during the day. Repeat several times.

Over time, it can become a continuous and mostly wordless prayer.

You can do it for people in your life, both the ones you like and dislike. For yourself as a whole. For parts of you like physical issues, your body, emotions, emotional issues, or a repeating behavior. For challenging situations, whether they are personal or in the wider world. For Earth as a whole and all life. And for anyone suffering.

It may be easier to first do it for someone in your life you easily like and love, and when you are familiar with the process do it for yourself and anything and anyone else. It can be especially powerful and transformative to do it for anyone suffering and for whatever in your world you dislike or have trouble with.

If you wish, take it as an experiment. Try it and see what happens.

What do I do if I notice resistance?

We may notice some resistance when we do this for someone or something we have a troubled relationship with. It’s natural and part of the process. It shows us that healing is needed and – likely – happening as part of doing ho’o for it.

If the resistance is strong, you can shift and do ho’o for this resistance. When you notice your relationship to the resistance has healed a bit and feels softer, you can go back to what you initially did ho’o for.

What’s the effect?

In my experience, it helps me heal my relationship with whatever I do it for. It feels right. There is a sense of peace. It’s easier to have some understanding for myself and/or the other.

I can still take action when and as needed. I can still act to prevent harm. We don’t need to condone any harmful behavior. It’s about me finding more peace with what is and this helps me take more clear and decisive actions.

It helps me, and it also helps the world. I become less of a nuisance. I may show that there is another way of being. I may act in ways helpful to others.

Ho’o is something I do for myself and the world.

How does ho’oponopno work?

It’s mainly about trying it for ourselves and see what happens. So the question of how it works is perhaps less important but I’ll mention a few things.

It helps me shift into forgiveness and love. It opens that possibility. And that, in itself, is healing.

It helps me heal my relationship with whatever I do it for, and that feels right and healing.

As a human being, the world as it appears to me is a mirror of me. So it makes sense to take responsibility for it all and find healing in how I relate to it.

If I find healing for my relationship to someone or something in the wider world, it tends to heal my relationship to whatever is similar in myself. And the other way around.

As capacity for the world, the world – as it appears to me – happens within and as what I am. So it makes sense to ask for forgiveness when I see suffering and let these parts of my world know I love them.

How do you see ho’oponopno in relation to other practices?

Ho’oponopono is one of several heart-practices – similar to tonglen, metta, heart prayer, and more.

For me, these heart practices are central. They can be profoundly transforming, and they support healing, awakening, embodiment, and being a slightly more helpful part of the world.

How do you use it?

I have gone through periods where I use it a lot through the day and other periods where I use it now and then. When I use it a lot, it tends to become an ongoing and often silent prayer. These days, I tend to use it when I notice I have an unease relationship with someone or something.

It doesn’t mean all my relationships are healed. There is always more. And it certainly doesn’t mean I am perfect, whatever that means. But it does mean that I have a tool that can be very helpful in challenging situations. And it means I am working on a lot of what’s coming up in my life.

Dialog with someone who has lived innumerable lives in many places in the cosmos

 

Living for as many lives as I have, I have over time arrived at many of the same insights that many spiritual teachers and traditions talk about. For me, it’s through experience and living ordinary lives. I haven’t been terribly interested in spirituality in itself, except for at rare occasions. But I realize that a lot of what I know – in my fibers and bones and through my being – fits much of what spiritual traditions talk about.

– a quote from this dialog

This is one in a series of imagined dialogs with people who have lived for eons. This dialog is with someone who has lived innumerable lives in many places in the cosmos and – through a glitch? – happens to remember it all.

THE DIALOG

First, I am curious about the several lives. Does it mean you remember the life between lives?

Yes, although it doesn’t matter so much here. If you don’t remember it yourself, what I say will just become ideas. And if you do, I don’t need to say much about it.

Okay. How is it to have lived many lives in many different places of the cosmos?

I am very grateful for having that experience. It’s enormously enriching to live lives through the filters of different beings – and their senses, bodies, perceptions, culture and more – and their world.

What have you learned that many with one life haven’t?

Mostly, to know that we all live from our own conditioning. Everything about us makes sense in the light of our conditioning – from our bodies, environment, culture, and individual experiences.

Because of all the lives I have had, I am less inclined to judge. The tendency to judge has worn off in me over time. I know how it is to live in so many different circumstances, and I know how so much in us flows from our conditioning.

I have a deep empathy with different beings. I know we all just want to live and be free from suffering – and love and be loved. There is something very beautiful in this. It’s also heartbreaking because I know how universal suffering is and how common it is for beings to not feel fully loved and to not fully love themselves.

These sounds like insights from spirituality?

Living for as many lives as I have, I have over time arrived at many of the same insights that many spiritual teachers and traditions talk about. For me, it’s through experience and living ordinary lives. I haven’t been terribly interested in spirituality in itself, except for at rare occasions. But I realize that a lot of what I know – in my fibers and bones and through my being – fits much of what spiritual traditions talk about.

You mentioned empathy with others. What about awakening?

Well, that’s a big word. For me, it’s more simple and down-to-earth.

Through having lived as many lives I have, I notice that all sorts of experiences and states come and go. I have experienced millennia of mostly “ordinary” states with times of profound despair, mind-shattering pain, and amazing bliss. I have noticed that what I am is that which all this happens within and as. Experiences come and go and what I am doesn’t come and go. Of course, I am whatever state is here but it doesn’t last. Only being capacity for all of it runs through it all.

If you want to call that awakening, be my guest. But it’s really very simple. It doesn’t require fancy words, or rituals, or mythology, or even labels.

What do most people not get?

Hm, from my perspective, many things.

They don’t get how precious and amazing life is. Even a troubled life, even a mundane life, is amazing and precious beyond words.

They don’t get that the way they treat others is the way they treat themselves. Love your neighbor for your own sake. It’s good for everyone.

They don’t get the importance of a long and big perspective. Of course, most people get by with a more narrow and shorter perspective. But a long and big perspective enriches life enormously. And for you folks today, it’s essential for your survival. It’s the only way humans can and will survive. And life is showing you just that.

They don’t get that all experiences enrich life. They are not your enemies. Trying to run away from your experiences only creates an added layer of suffering. In reality, it’s the only real suffering.

Of course, most don’t get that what we are is capacity for all and any of our experiences. We are the experiences which come and go. And we are capacity for all of it.

How can we mimic your process and discover this for ourselves?

Well, that’s not my speciality. But it does seem that some things helps people to find this for themselves. It’s definitely possible to people to find this for themselves, and many do – to some extent.

The main thing is curiosity and sincerity. Explore and see what you find. Don’t take your own or others assumptions for granted. Be willing to leave your most basic assumptions about yourself and life. Get close to your experience.

I feel like this is a trick question since a lot of what you write about on this website does exactly that! Is that what you want me to say? I see through you. And of course, yes, the tools you write about here can be very helpful for people, especially if used with curiosity and sincerity.

Yes, I guess that’s why I asked the question. Although I write about these things exactly because these tools can help us find what someone like you have discovered. It helps us discover what someone who has lived for eons tends to naturally discover through lived experience.

Yes, I agree. For me, it comes through lived experience and mostly free form ideology or pointers or shoulds or trying to live up to anything. And for many humans, it’s often more of a mix of genuine lived experience and insights – and some ideologies and shoulds.

What can we do to make it more from lived experience?

You are asking difficult questions. As I said, this is not my speciality.

Get close to your own experience. Be curious about it. Take it seriously. Make use of pointers and use them to discover for yourself. Set aside shoulds and how people say something is. Live your life and pay attention to what’s happening.

Do you have any advice for P. (this interviewer)?

Yes. You already know all this. You even trust it. But there is some hesitation in you. You can trust it even more. You can sink into it. Lean into it. Rest into and as it. It’s what you are. Live it. It can help you to remember me and lean into what I am.

Thank you! I appreciate this interview and especially your advice at the end.

Thank you. I enjoyed this conversation. I don’t think about these things so often so it was fun. And I wish you all the best in your life. As I said, you already know and are all of this. Lean into it a bit more and it will help you a lot. (And if you don’t, that’s completely fine too.)

Story: The cracked pot

 

An elderly Chinese man had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which he carried across his neck.

One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the man bringing home only one and a half pots of water.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do. After 2 years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the man one day by the stream.

“I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.”

The old man smiled, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side?”

“That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them.”

“For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”

– source unknown (to me)

Recovering from Covid 19: post-viral fatigue pointers from someone with CFS

 

It can sometimes take months to recover from a Covid-19 infection, judging from what I hear from friends and read in the news. And although I haven’t had C19 myself, I do have experience with living with post-viral fatigue (AKA Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / CFS) and a friend of mine suggested I would share some of what has helped me. Perhaps it can help someone recovering from C19.

The general situation

Living with CFS is unpredictable, and it seems that’s the same for many recovering from C19. Our energy levels change over time and cannot easily be predicted. One day, I may be able to do a few things, other days I need to rest the whole time. I may have some energy in the morning and need to rest the rest of the day, or more in the evening and less earlier in the day. And I sometimes have more physical energy and less mental energy, or the reverse.

I am unable to live as I did, and it can be baffling, puzzling, and scary to see that both body and mind function differently from before. Even something as simple as watching a movie from beginning to end or doing mindfulness practice may be difficult if not impossible.

We react to this in different ways and it changes over time. We may experience fear for the future. Grief over the loss. Frustration over not being able to do the same as before. Anger that this happened to us. Sadness. Vulnerability. People around us may but understand and we may go through a range of reactions for that reason.

Over time, we learn to adapt to the new situation. We find practical strategies that makes our daily life easier and more enjoyable. We may even find genuine meaning in our new life.

Pratical pointers

Here are some practical pointers I have found helpful for myself. They are not in any particular order. You may want to pick just one that resonates with you and apply it to your day. And then perhaps another on another day. Over time, these may become new habits and feel easy and natural.

Most importantly, follow the advice of your doctor and specialists. If you feel your doctor is not taking your condition seriously enough, find someone else. Seek out the best medical support you can for your rehabilitation.

The essence

You may not be able to do what you did before, whether it’s physical or mental activities. And that’s OK. Your body needs rest to stabilize and recover.

Your main job is to rest. Anything else is just a bonus.

Do half of what you feel you can do. Save energy so you don’t crash and your body can heal.

Social life

It’s completely OK to say “no” to invitations. Tell them you would love to go, but are unable to because of your health. Perhaps connect in written form or on the phone or virtually instead.

In a conversation, it’s completely OK to say “I notice I am getting tired and need to rest”. When you notice you have limited energy at the start of a conversation, you can let them know and that the conversation may need to be short.

If you schedule something with someone, consider letting them know in advance that you may have to cancel and why. Canceling is completely OK. Your main priority is rest and your health.

Sometimes it’s worth spending energy on something even if you may need to rest extra later. Avoid crashes since it takes longer for your system to recover from this.

Communication

Educate those around you about your situation. Share sources with them. Or, if you are unable to, ask them to find good information and educate themselves.

Communicate. Ask for what you need. People are not mind-readers. Most people have limited personal experience with this type of fatigue. They may not know or understand what you need unless you let them know.

Tasks

Make a “hidden” to-do list with everything you need or want to do. Out of this, pick one or two and put them on your to-do list for the next day. If you do these and find you have energy to do more, you can always go back to the longer list and pick something. If you can’t do the one or two things, that’s OK too. Your main job is to rest and support your body in recovering.

See if you can find an easier way to do what you need to do. Maybe you can do tasks more slowly and with time for rest. Break a project into smaller parts and do one at a time with rest in between.

Ask for help with practical activities. If you can, pay someone to do housework or practical projects. Ask friends and family. Tell them your situation and let them know how much it would mean to you. (And also that “no” is a perfectly good answer.)

Activity window

In periods where we have more energy, it can be tempting to speed up to do as much as possible. See how it is to slow down instead and give yourself time for rest.

See if you can stay within the activity “window” where you are not doing so much that you feel worse after, and where you don’t do so little that you become more inactive than you need.

Rest

Your main job is to rest and allow your body to recover.

Rest before, during, and after activities. And rest extra to give your body a better opportunity to recover.

Find what’s quality rest for you. Set aside time for this.

Learning to receive help & changing identities

It can be challenging to learn to receive help, especially if we are used to be more self-reliant. An honest conversation around this can help. You can tell those around you that this is difficult for you and hear how it is for them.

Also, trust that people say an honest “yes” when they are helping you. And remember that helping you can give others an opportunity to feel useful and it can give them a sense of meaning.

Learning to live with fatigue and other health challenges involves a change in identities and roles. We are often identified with the roles we have, especially when these roles are seen as desirable by society, so it can be challenging to lose these identities and roles. Remember that who you are doesn’t change and you are 100% valuable independent of your roles and identities.

Social support

Find others in your situation. Find support groups on social media and elsewhere. Connect with people who understand.

Change your doctor if you are not satisfied with him or her, and if you don’t feel understood and supported.

Follow the body

Learn the signals from your body. What are the early signals of having done too much? What are the early signals of crashing. Take these serious and rest when you notice them. These signals vary but for CFS can include nausea, headache, and a “wired” feeling in the body.

Learn to be flexible and adapt to what your body asks of you. You may have planned something and it’s completely fine to cancel, postpone, or just do one part if you notice you need rest.

If you have a yes/no decision to make, for instance about an invitation, you can do a quick test. Say to yourself “I can do [the activity] if I want to, and I want to” and notice how your body responds. Does it tense? Does it relax? Then say to yourself “I can do [the activity] if I want, and I don’t want to” and notice how your body responds. Tension is a “no” and relaxation and a sense of relief is a “yes”.

Self-worth & emotions

You are 100% valuable even if you can’t do all you want to do. (Any ideas of worth tied up with our activities come from culture and are especially not useful when we find ourselves in a situation where we are required to rest and reduce our activity level.)

Whatever you feel is completely OK. It’s not wrong.

Support your body

Do simple things to support your body.

Gentle movements. Nature. Drink plenty of water. Eat mostly unprocessed foods and fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat regularly.

Be mindful of, reduce, or avoid stimulants. These can give “false energy” and make you feel you can do more than you actually can.

Get massage, acupuncture or whatever else helps your system.

Adjust recreational activities

Any activity takes energy, even just talking or watching a movie. It’s OK to take a rest from even apparently simple activities.

Allow yourself to read, watch, or listen to something simple and enjoyable. You may not have the energy for something long or very meaningful or deep, and that’s completely OK.

Find easier way of doing what you like to do. For instance, instead of reading you can listen to audio books. Instead of going for long walks, you can go for shorter walks or just sit outside.

Identify energy thieves

Identify what drains your energy and find ways to eliminate or reduce it in your life. For instance, it’s completely fine to avoid news if it increases your stress level. Your main job is to rest and recover.

Mental stress

If you struggle with your situation, it can be helpful to talk to a therapist.

It can also be helpful to learn simple and practical tools from cognitive therapy.

It’s not helpful to compare yourself to others or how you were before. Your standards are now different. Your priority is to rest and recover.

Enjoyment & Nature

Find simple things that give you enjoyment in daily life.

Nature is healing. If you can, sit outside. Enjoy the wind and the sun. Even a few minutes can be refreshing and rejuvenating.

And remember…

Your main job is to rest. Anything else is just a bonus.

Your life is not over. It’s just different. And it can still be meaningful.

Finding meaning

When we are unable to do as much as before, we can experience a loss of meaning. We may have invested meaning in activities in our previous life, so when these are gone so is that particular meaning. The good news is that we can find meaning somewhere else.

The invitation is to find meaning in our life as it is, however it is.

It can be just in watching the sky out the window and listening to the birds. Or having a cup of coffee or tea. Talking with friends and family. Engaging in a simple spiritual practice. Or perhaps offering some of our gifts to others in whatever way we are able to. It doesn’t have to be big. It’s possible to find meaning even in the small and ordinary things.

The upside

There are some upsides to the limits life puts on us, even if they can be difficult to notice at first.

What these are is unique to us.

We may have more time for something enjoyable or meaningful – perhaps time with family, friends, reading, or something else.

We may find our value independent of our activities. Discover the value and beauty in slowing down. Find genuine enjoyment in the simple things in life.

We may find that we don’t need to live up to the images we previously tried to live up to, and this is a huge relief. We may be more genuine and vulnerable with those around us and connect at a deeper level.

Spiritual practices

This won’t apply for everyone but I’ll mention it as an example of how we can adapt to a life with less energy and/or brain fog.

Spiritual practice has been important for me most of my adult life. And this period of fatigue has been a kind of retreat. I haven’t been able to continue doing some of my previous practices the way I did them, but I have found other practices and different ways of doing some of my previous practices. Mainly, I have learned to do spiritual practices in a more relaxed way and with more ease, and to weave them more seamlessly into daily life.

In that way, this period of fatigue has been a blessing.

Contact

If you have questions or comments about any of this, feel free to leave a comment or contact me.

The divine inside the contraction

 

Sometimes when I do healing, I notice what seems like a “shell” in the energy system. Something is inside of a protective layer. If I do this healing from the “outside” of the shell, it can take a long time for it to soften and open up.

But if I remind myself that what’s inside the shell, and the shell itself, is the divine, it can open up quickly. Then, it’s the divine itself – as the shell and what’s inside the shell – opening up and healing and waking itself up.

This is when I do energy healing, aka divine energy healing, aka Vortex Healing. (For me, my “old” way of doing this healing and what’s come through Vortex Healing seems to have all all melded into one. It’s all the divine healing itself anyway.)

Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things X

 

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

THE EGO TOO IS THE DIVINE

The ego is a name for what comes from holding a thought as true. It’s the perceptions, thoughts, emotions, and actions that come when a thought is held as true.

Some talk about the “ego” as opposed to the divine. Some see it as something standing in way of finding or meeting the divine or awakening. Some even use a war metaphor for talking about the “ego”: it needs to be conquered and so on.

I understand where it comes from. Taking thoughts as true is what brings identification with particular content of experience and makes it difficult for us to notice what we are. It makes it more difficult to find ourselves as capacity for this human self and the wider world and all our experience.

At the same time, seeing it as a problem or even something that needs to be changed is part of that dynamic. It sets up the perception of a duality that’s not so helpful. These are ideas that come from separation consciousness and although they may be useful at a certain phase of the process, they also tend to reinforce separation consciousness.

We can say that they are half-true so they are half-useful. At most, they are useful as a stepping stone early on in the process. (And not really necessary even then.)

So what’s a more helpful way of looking at it?

Why not look at it more from within a oneness context? Or the context of all as the divine and the play of the divine? Or just in a more finely-grained way?

First, it’s helpful to drop the idea of “ego”. It’s much more dynamic and less of a thing than that.

Then, why not meet the parts of us that operate from separation consciousness? Why not get to know them? Explore? Listen to what they have to say? Thank them for protecting us? Find a genuine love for them?

Finally, through different forms of noticing and explorations, we may discover more about these dynamics that happen when the mind holds a thought as true. We may discover they come from innocence. They come from a wish to protect our human self. They and understandable and natural. They are universal. They happen within and as what we are. 

At a human level, they come from love. They are a way for our mind to protect our human self. And as what we are, they are what we are. They are love. 

They are not an obstacle. They are not a problem. Yes, they create suffering. And yet, it’s innocent. From the context of what we are, it looks different. There is a natural forgiveness. A natural relaxation. 

A natural welcoming of whatever parts of us still live in suffering and operate from within separation consciousness. A natural welcoming of them as always having been what we are – as human beings and capacity for the world. 

Click READ MORE to see more of these brief notes.

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Awakening and healing is a blessing for the “ego”

 

I usually don’t use the word “ego”.

What it points to are the dynamics from holding a thought as true. The perceptions, thoughts, choices, and actions that flow from the mind identifying with the viewpoint of a thought. In this context, the word “ego” sounds too static and too much like a thing.

Also, the word “ego” can refer to two different things. In a spiritual context, it means beliefs or identifying with the viewpoint of a thought. In a psychological context, it refers to the “operating system” of our human self, and we want that to be healthy and strong – even in an awakening context.

I see that some talk about the “ego” not “wanting” healing and awakening.

I understand that they may mean the inherent fear in releasing beliefs and wounds. These beliefs and wounds are familiar. They were created to protect us. So there will be some fear of allowing them to release. It’s natural and even healthy.

For me, it helps to see these parts as scared and suffering children and see what they want from me. Often, what they want is to be seen, understood, respected, and treated with patience and kindness. Ultimately, what they want is to heal and awaken and be freed from their suffering.

So, on the surface, it may look like the ego is a “thing” and that it doesn’t want change. And yet, it’s more true that the apparent resistance is fear. This fear is natural and from a desire to protect this human self. And what these parts of us want more than anything is to heal and awaken. They want liberation from their own suffering.

Is awakening and healing a threat to the “ego”? It may seem that way, at first glance. But we may soon discover that awakening and healing is a blessing for these parts of us. It’s what they deepest desire. It’s what allows them freedom from their own suffering.

It’s what allows them to function with more clearly and in a more healthy way as part of us as human beings. The more they are healed and awake, the more they come into their full and beautiful natural expression.

Wanting what’s here

 

I just (re)listened to the audiobook version of On Having No Head by Douglas Harding, mostly because it’s a relief to listen to someone taking such a simple, grounded, sane, and pragmatic approach to awakening (!)

Towards the end, he talks about actively wanting what’s here.

Why would we want what’s here?

We are capacity for what’s here – our human self and the wider world as it appears to us. It happens within and as what we are. It’s us in whatever form it happens to take here and now. So why not welcome it?

What’s here is here. It’s too late to do something about it. So why struggle with it? Struggle only creates suffering. It makes more sense to actively want what’s here. This also frees us up to be engaged and work on changing situations as needed.

The wanting-what’s-here pointer is a touchstone. It shows us how we relate to what’s coming up in us. Is it easy for us to genuinely welcome it? Or is there an impulse in us to avoid it or make it go away? And do we join in with that impulse or do we notice that it too happens within what we are capacity for? Having the pointer in the back of our mind can help us notice when suffering – unawake and unhealed – parts of us are triggered, and also whether we join in with it or notice ourselves as what it happens within and as – just like anything else.

How does it look in practice?

It’s a welcoming of what’s already here because we can’t do anything about it and struggling with it doesn’t help or make any sense. What’s coming up for our human self is already here. The situation our human self is in is already here. So why not join in with it and actively want it? Also, it’s what we already are so why not welcome it as another expression of the creativity of what we are?

It does not mean to be passive or resigned. We can still actively work to change the situation and circumstances we are in – or someone else is in. Often, wanting what’s here frees up our response. Instead of reacting we can respond a little more intentionally. There is access to more kindness, clarity, wisdom, and creativity.

How can we find this active welcoming?

When we notice ourselves as capacity for what’s here, including anything coming up in our human self, it’s easier to notice it all as happening within and as what we are and find a genuine and active welcoming and wanting of what’s here.

Said another way, the welcoming and actively wanting it is already here. It’s what we already are. So when we find ourselves as capacity for what’s here, we also find this welcoming and wanting.

Why don’t we always notice what we are?

Perhaps we haven’t noticed. Or we have noticed but don’t take it seriously. Or we don’t see any practical use of it.

Or we do notice and we take it seriously, and yet sometimes get pulled into old beliefs, emotional issues, and traumas, and “forget” for a while.

How can we notice what we are?

To have an initial glimpse of what we are, and to keep noticing in daily life, it helps to have some pointers. For me, the most effective one has been the Headless Way, Big Mind process (based on Voice Dialog and Zen), and Living Inquiries (a modern version of traditional Buddhist inquiry).

How can we train this noticing even when emotional issues come up?

There are two elements that stands out to me.

One is how we relate to what’s coming up in this human self. Do we get caught in it or do we notice it as happening within and as what we are?

The other is inviting in healing and awakening for any suffering parts of us surfacing, the one still operating from separation consciousness.

These two mutually support each other.

Noticing what we are while bringing presence into the suffering parts helps them relax and feel seen and loved. They receive what they need and want.

And inviting these suffering parts of us to heal and awaken makes it easier to notice what we are even when they are triggered. Some or most of the charge goes out of them.

I have written a lot about this in other articles so won’t go into it here.

What if we notice the shift is close?

If we are in a situation where we notice that the shift into actively welcoming what’s here is close, then a small pointer or question may be helpful. For instance:

How would it be to want what’s here?

Even if there are things coming up in my human self, I can often find this shift. And I can still notice what’s coming up in me and later get to know it better and invite in healing and awakening for it.

How does the overall process look?

Douglas Harding talks about seven stages or phases. I’ll just mention a very simplified version here.

First, there is an initial glimpse or noticing. This is always spontaneous although it can come without any apparent preparation or through inquiry or other spiritual practices.

Then, there is taking this seriously and wishing to continue exploring it and how to live from it in our daily life.

A part of this exploration is to investigate what happens when the mind gets pulled into old separation consciousness. We get more experience in noticing ourselves as capacity through more and more experiences, states, and life situations. And we invite in healing and awakening for the parts of us still stuck in suffering and separation consciousness.

As we keep doing this, the noticing becomes more stable and continues more often even when emotional issues surface.

Is Douglas Harding the only one talking about this?

Not at all, it’s common for mystics from all times and traditions to talk about it. Christian mystics may talk about God’s and my will becoming one. Byron Katie talks about loving what is. And so on.

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Reflections on society, politics and nature XXVII

 

Continued from previous posts…. These posts are collections of brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

THE UPSIDE OF TRUMP

When Trump was elected, there were demonstrations in many cities in the US.

I never saw Trump’s election as “wrong”. How could it be? He was nominated through the usual process. He was elected in the usual way. It’s a democracy. Enough people wanted him as their president to get him elected.

He is a symptom as well as a problem. On one level, he is a symptom of racism, bigotry, people who feel their white privilege is threatened, and so on. On another level, he is a symptom of much deeper systemic problems.

He is a symptom of fear and despair among people who feel powerless because they feel their voice is not heard. He is a symptom of the fear and despair of people who don’t have the basics in life to help them feel more secure and safe, including universal healthcare and good social safety nets. He is a symptom of collective trauma created by a system that prioritizes profit – often for the few – over the well-being of the many. He is a symptom of news media that prioritizes profit and entertainment over social responsibility (most mainstream media). He is a symptom of news media that prioritizes political agenda and polarization over reality and what’s good for the country as a whole (Fox News). He is a symptom of a political system that allows the interest of big money take priority over the interest of the people. He is a symptom of a system where many are kept in ignorance of what’s really going on. He is a symptom of a system where kids don’t learn (enough) media literacy, critical thinking, and how to identify and address the deeper systemic problems. He is a symptom of a system where those in power are not interested in or able to address the deeper systemic problems.

Even more than this, he is a symptom of collective cultural trauma. He is a symptom of a culture that lives from power-over rather than power-with.

The upside of the Trump presidency – for all its horrors and damage – is that it highlights these deeper and more systemic problems. These were there before he was elected and will be there after he was gone.

With a more “normal” president, many can pretend that these deeper problems are not there. But we can’t do that so easily with Trump.

Cornell West recently described the US a failed social experiment. Trump is a symptom of this failed social experiment.

JUNE 6, 2020

POLICE BRUTALITY

In response to the demonstrations in the US these days against systemic racism and police brutality, the police has often responded with more racism and senseless brutality. It only shows how common it is and how certain the police officers are that there will not be consequences.

This Twitter feed has – as of this writing – more than 260 examples of police brutality and violence, mostly against peaceful protesters.

This is not only a serious problem within the police culture in the US. It’s a problem coming from militarization of the police. It’s a problem with the higher-ups in the system allowing this to happen. It’s a problem with politicians allowing it to happen. It’s a problem with voters electing politicians allowing it to happen. It’s a problem with the media allowing it to happen. It’s a problem that comes from centuries of racism and structural racism. It’s a problem that comes from a country built on colonization, theft, genocide, and slavery. It’s a problem that comes from a country that continues what it was built on and never really acknowledged it or deal with it.

Most of all, it’s a problem that comes from collective trauma. Abuse leads to abuse. Abused people abuse. Hurt people hurt.

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Adyashanti: I don’t want to imply that the totality of what we are is awareness

 

I don’t want to imply that the totality of what we are is awareness. Don’t stop at the doorway.

– Adyashanti, Silent Retreat vol. 59 Q&A

As someone said, first there is the journey to God and then the journey within God. The journey within God is as rich and full of discoveries as the journey to God, if not even more.

When we discover ourselves as capacity for the world as it appear to us, that’s the beginning of a new phase of discovery. There are always new facets of Spirit to discover. Healing of our human self. Exploring how to live from within this new – to us – context. And so on. It’s an ongoing process of clarification, healing, embodiment and much more.

Rumi: I belong to the beloved

 

Not Christian or Jew or Muslim,
not Hindu, Buddhist, sufi, or zen.
Not any religion or cultural system.

I am not from the East or the West,
not out of the ocean or up from the ground,
not natural or ethereal,
not composed of elements at all.

I do not exist, am not an entity
in this world or the next,
did not descend from Adam
or Eve or any origin story.

My place is placeless,
a trace of the traceless.

Neither body or soul.

I belong to the beloved,
have seen the two worlds as one
and that one call to and know,
first, last, outer, inner,
only that breath breathing human being.

– Coleman Barks, The Essential Rumi

When something uncomfortable comes up, it helps to acknowledge any fear about it and wanting it to be different

 

When something uncomfortable is coming up – a suffering bubble, an emotional issue, a sensation that seems to mean something, fearful thoughts – it helps to acknowledge any fear it brings up in us and any impulse in us wanting it to be different.

This fear is often there, and it’s completely natural and understandable. A part of us is suffering and caught in separation consciousness. Another part is afraid of that first part. And there is often a wanting of one or both to be different.

Where do I feel it in the body? Notice and allow those sensations. Rest with them. Notice the space they happen within. (It may be good to explore the fear first, and then the impulse for it to be different since the two are often in different locations in the body and take different forms.)

See what happens if you let it know one or more of these…

You are welcome here. I love you. Thank you for protecting me.

Stay for as long as you want. Get as big as you want. Spread out as much as you want.

I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you. (Ho’oponopno.)

If it could speak, what would it say? Listen to it. Examine the stories. See they come from a fearful part of us. For each story, ask is it true?

Perhaps remind yourself that none of this is what we are. All of this is coming from the same place. It’s more layers of the mind.

After this, and when it feels right, we can go back to the initial issue.

Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things IX

 

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

AN EXERCISE TO DEAL WITH REGRETS AND NOSTALGIA

Sometimes, we get a bit stuck in longing for the past or what could have been. There is one simple exercise that can be helpful in these situations.

Make a list of all the genuine not-so-good things about the situation or what could have been.

For instance, say a relationship ended and we long for what was. It’s easy for the mind to paint a rosy picture of what was to support this longing – and torture itself more effectively. Was it really so rosy? Make a list of genuine examples of what you didn’t like. What were the things that were not so easy? What did you wish was different? What was the reverse side of the rosy image?

Do it honestly and sincerely. Take time with it. Take it in. Be gently brutally honest with yourself.

We can’t trick our own mind so find genuine examples. You can also ask someone else to help you find things you missed.

Click READ MORE to see more of these brief notes.

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Adyashanti: To be bestows infinite worth upon you

 

You don’t have to be someone to be of infinite worth. To be bestows infinite worth upon you.

– Adyashanti, The Inherent Meaning in Being

This can sound like a well-meaning platitude, but it’s far more than that.

One the one hand, the idea of value comes from culture and what’s seen as having value varies between culture and over time. Assigning value to something has a function, and it can be helpful to examine how we assign value and if there is another way of doing it that makes more sense.

At an ordinary human level, we all agree that babies have infinite worth. Growing up, many of us are taught that our value comes through our actions and that erodes our sense of having infinite value just by being. This is a means of control and it creates a lot of suffering and judgment of ourselves and others.

So why not recover the sense of infinite value of each human being? This can easily co-exist with accountability, responsibility for our own life and so on. Seeing the infinite value in each of us, independent of personal characteristics and roles, provides a sense of basic worth that allows for a more healthy life and a more healthy society.

In our western culture, we see nature as a commodity and having value from the value it has to us – and this is often limited to short-term commercial value. This leads to destruction of ecosystems, eradication of whole species, and systematic abuse of non-human beings. Not valuing all life threatens all life, including our own.

Why wouldn’t all life have infinite value? Why not see all life as having infinite value? This would lead to a more careful approach in how we relate to and make use of nature and non-human beings. We would be far more concerned about their welfare. It doesn’t mean we can’t eat or live or grow food but we would do it with more concern for the lives we are impacting and we would look for ways to make up for it and support a more thriving Earth.

When we take a big picture and deep time view, we see that the universe has unfolded from energy to matter to suns to solar systems to this living planet and all that’s currently part of this living planet. We are all expressions of the universe exploring itself and bringing itself into consciousness. We are all expressions of this living planet and ways for it to bring itself into consciousness. As this, we and all life has infinite worth just by being as we are.

In a more immediate sense, independent of assigning value to anything, we are capacity for the world as it appears to us. This human self, all other beings, and everything happens within and as what I am. In this oneness, ideas of value is not needed in order to live with reverence for life.

How can we explore this in our own life? How can we deepen into this and live more from it? In a sense, this whole website is about just this. We can identify and examine beliefs. We can explore how our minds creates its experience of value and lack of it, and see through it. We can engage in Practices to Reconnect. We can use heart-centered practices to find a more loving relationship with ourselves, others, and all life. We can find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us. We can discover that this human self, others, and the world happen within and as what we are. And we can explore how to live from that in our life.

Fixing vs allowing orientation

 

When we meet a human being in distress (friend, family, client) or a part of ourselves in distress, how do we respond?

Do we want to fix it? Change it? Make it better? Find a solution? Make it go away?

Or do we meet it with a more gentle curiosity? Allow it to be as it is? Listen? Be present with it? See what the person or part wants? Ask what they most need here and now?

The first can feel invasive and frustrating for one or both parts. The second can feel like a relief and what we need.

Of course, it depends on the situation. Sometimes, there is something very specific that needs to be done and we can help with that. But most of the time, taking time and be present with a gentle curiosity is what’s more needed.

If we feel compelled to fix, it can be good to explore where it comes from. Have we made a fixer identity for ourselves? Do we automatically assume that’s our role in the situation? Do we assume that’s what the other wants from us? Have we made fixing a way avoid our own discomfort with the situation? Do we assume we’ll be loved and accepted if we can fix the other? Is there a fear behind it all? A fear that hasn’t been met, listened to, loved?

I notice a voice in me saying: “Make a connection between this and the power-over and power-with orientations. Write that the first approach is more connected with a power-over orientation and the second is more power-with”. It’s not wrong. But it’s perhaps also not so helpful since it can come with some judgment and shoulds. I prefer to leave it out, or include it in this way (!)

Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things VIII

 

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

POWER-OVER VS POWER-WITH IN HEALING AND AWAKENING

A power-over orientation is one of domination, use, discarding, and valuing oneself over whatever it may be – nature, women, children, other ethnic groups, or our body.

It seems that pre-agricultural societies had a more power-with orientation. They lived with nature and in a more egalitarian way. The power-over orientation may have come to prominence with agriculture, accumulation, and a more hierarchical society.

This means it’s a part of most cultures around the world today, although it’s perhaps most obvious in the European culture. It influences most or all areas of society. It’s something we absorb just by being part of this culture. We perceive through it and sometimes act on it. And since it’s so old and all-pervasive, it’s often invisible to us.

All of this means it’s an important factor in our own healing and awakening process. It’s important to be aware of it. Notice how it influences us. And see through the beliefs behind it and the beliefs upholding it.

The most obvious may be how we relate to ourselves.

Do we try to push and manipulate ourselves in a certain way? Do we try to manipulate the experience we have here and now? Do we try to avoid it, make it go away, “transform” it, pretend it’s not here? All of that may reflect beliefs that what’s here is not OK, that our experience is wrong or bad, that it’s dangerous, that “we” – as our global whole – know better, and ultimately a power-over orientation.

So how does a power-with orientation with ourselves look?

To me, it has to do with a gentle curiosity and befriending parts of me. Meet them. Allow them as they are. Be present with them. Listen to them. Dialog with them. Get to know them. Listen to what they need. Give them space to heal if they want to.

If they suffer, recognize the suffering. If they are caught up in stressful beliefs, perhaps these beliefs were formed as a way to protect us? Perhaps it’s innocent? Perhaps it comes from love?

Do these parts of us as happen within and as who we are as a human being? Do they happen within and as what we are as capacity for the world as it appears to us?

Power-with means a real partnership with ourselves and the different parts of us. They are all already included so why not consciously include them?

They wish to be met, heard, and understood so why not met, listen to, and find understanding for them? They are already allowed so why not consciously allow them? They come from love so why not explore if and how they come from love?

This orientation is a way into allowing and supporting a vibrant inner community. One that includes more and more parts. One where each one has a voice. One where each one can be met with presence and love.

Click READ MORE to see more of these brief notes.

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Ursula Le Guin: You must go somewhere else, you must have another goal

 

To oppose something is to maintain it. … You must go somewhere else; you must have another goal; then you walk a different road

– Ursula Le Guin

This is true in ourselves and in the world.

Sometimes, it is important to oppose something in order to avoid harm. These are what Joanna Macy call holding actions. But in general, if all we do is opposing something, it tends to be maintained and even grow stronger.

It’s important to create, envision, and live what we want to see more of – in our own life and in the world.

And it’s also important to question our more deeply held assumptions and find another way of looking at ourselves and the world that’s more aligned with reality and more life centered.

It also helps to understand where the problems come from and how they are created. In our world, it’s often systemic problems, world views, and trauma. And behind that, fear. In ourselves, it’s often the same.

Byron Katie: Happiness may look entirely different from the way you imagine it

 

Happiness may look entirely different from the way you imagine it.

– Byron Katie

We have ideas of how a happy life looks. We have ideas about what life situations we need to be happy. Perhaps it’s health, money, a loving relationship or something else.

And yet, life may surprise us.

We may find ourselves in a very different situation than we imagined and find happiness there. We may live in a different place than we imagined. Do different type of work. Be in a relationship with someone we didn’t imagine. And find that we are very happy in that situation.

We may also find that happiness is less dependent on specific circumstances than we thoughts. We may find ourselves with an illness and perhaps without money or a partner. And still find happiness. We may find happiness in situations we imagined would be terrible and didn’t want at all, and perhaps still wish were different.

How is that possible? It’s possible through questioning our stressful beliefs about what is and what should be. Through questioning our stressful beliefs about anything in our life. And through questioning our most basic assumptions about ourselves and life.

Sometimes, this questioning is a natural and organic process and happens as part of our life. Sometimes, we can fuel it a bit through more structured inquiry and perhaps with the assistance of others who know the process.

The Work of Byron Katie is one way to do this.

Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things VII

 

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

DOES AWAKENING HAVE TO TAKE A LONG TIME?

Yes and no.

The taste or glimpse of what awakening is about can happen within minutes, for instance through the Big Mind process and Headless experiments. Most people can find it pretty quickly and many can even learn to notice it in daily life.

And the process of clarifying, learning to notice in more and more situations in daily life, and exploring how to live from or within it takes time. It takes (at the very least) a lifetime and is ongoing.

Is a glimpse of what we are – through inquiry or something else – really awakening?

Again, the answer is yes and no and it’s a bit more complex.

The noticing is often real. And there may be more to clarify and notice and certainly more to stabilize and living within it to do. Although that’s how it often is for any awakening.

The image many have about awakening is something that comes suddenly and perhaps without much forewarning. Those certainly happen and they tend to be more dramatic and often with bells and whistles. The drama and bells and whistles are side-effects. They not essential for the awakening and can even be distracting.

So a more apparently mundane noticing – with the help of inquiry – has some upsides. It’s less dramatic and that is, in a way, its advantage. It helps us notice what it really is about and that special or unusual states are not a requirement at all. We can notice it in daily life, in our most mundane states. We are less distracted by drama and states and bells and whistles.

DRAMATIC AND QUIET AWAKENINGS

To continue a theme from the previous post: Awakenings can be dramatic or more quiet, and we often go through both types at different phases in the awakening process.

Each one comes with upsides and downsides.

What’s the upside of the more dramatic awakenings? They certainly get our attention. And they can create lasting and big shifts in how we perceive ourselves and the world. (As can any other form of noticing.)

What’s the downside of the dramatic awakenings? They come with side-effects, including the intensity, strong awe, bliss, and so on. And it’s easy to be fascinated with these side-effects and states and seek to experience them again. We can even take the awakening to be about these side-effects.

What’s the upside of the quiet noticing and awakenings? It’s easier to notice that what it is about is what’s here independent of states and experiences. It’s a simple noticing of ourselves as capacity for ourselves and the wider world. Our ordinary mundane experience is perfect for us to notice what we are.

And what’s the downside of the more quiet noticing? It can be almost too ordinary and quiet, especially if we have an image in our mind of it needing to be more dramatic to be a “real” noticing and awakening. If we have this conditioning, it can seem too simple, ordinary, and unremarkable and we may dismiss it or see it as not it. (This comes from a lack of maturity and may fall away with time.)

One is not “better” than the other. The dramatic ones can get our attention and may be just what we need in some parts of our process. The quiet ones helps us notice what we are through any states and experiences, including the apparently very ordinary and mundane ones, and is exactly what we need in other phases of our process.

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