Welcome to Mystery of Existence

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

DISTANCE HEALING & INDIVIDUAL SESSIONS

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

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

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

Mother Earth: not just a metaphor

 

When you hear the words Mother Earth, what does it mean to you? A poetic metaphor? A reminder to recycle? Something a tree-hugger would say?

Or does it mean something more? Perhaps it’s literally true?

We are born from Earth. We are sustained by Earth. All we know is Earth. We are, in a very real and literal sense, Earth. We are a local and temporary expression of this living system we call Earth – amazing and beautiful far beyond what we can even begin to understand.

Our human culture and everything part of it is Earth. That too is a local and temporary expression of Earth. We and all we know and all we are and all we have created grew out of and is part of this amazing, beautiful, living, evolving system we call Earth.

Earth is not other. It’s not something to take care of as we take care of a possession. It’s what we are. When we care for Earth we care of ourselves.

This is the most obvious thing in the world. And yet, it’s not. And the only reason it’s not is that we live within a culture, a mindset, and a worldview that says we are separate. Earth is a commodity. Earth provides resources for our civilization. Earth provides space for our waste. Earth can be owned and used for our pleasure.

And we forget that we are part of this amazing living system. We are part of the evolution of Earth. We are born from and sustained by Earth. We are the local expression of Earth. We are Earth. We are the ones who can speak for Earth. Protect Earth as ourselves. Cherish Earth as ourselves. Love Earth as ourselves.

We need a profound transformation into a more sustainable and life-centered culture, and this shift in perception is part of it. It’s a change in how we see ourselves and Earth. We never were separate individuals wandering around in an environment. We are local expressions of Earth.

Chronic fatigue & the flight/fight/freeze response

 

The fight/flight/freeze response seems connected with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). It may be chronically activated and connected with many of the typical symptoms of CFS.

Although this is well-known in the CFS world, we don’t many specifics or the why or how or what to do about it.

When the flight/fight/freeze (FFF) response is activated…..

The eyes dilate. Light sensitivity is typical for CFS.

The heart works harder. Faster, stronger, and sometimes irregular heartbeat is relatively common for CFS.

Digestion is inhibited. Many with CFS have digestive problems.

Sexual function is reduced. Again, common in CFS.

There is heightened sensitivity to any stimuli. Hypersensitivity to sound, movement (around us), and chemicals is typical for CFS.

Higher cognitive functions are reduced. The body’s resources are used for more immediate concerns. Reduced higher cognitive function (executive functions) is a core symptom of CFS.

Sleep has low priority and the FFF response counteracts sleep. Sleep problems of all sorts are common with CFS. (Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and don’t feel refreshed after sleep.)

Sweat secretion is activated. Increased sweating and cold sweat is common with CFS. As is temperature dysregulation.

There is less blood to the skin and kidneys. People with CFS often have white spots in the hands and fingers. I wonder if that’s connected to reduced blood flow? (Also, in Vortex Healing, weak and infected kidneys is one of the first things they work on.)

And finally, if the FFF response is chronically activated, you’d expect to see fatigue. And that’s another core symptom of CFS.

More in general, while the flight and fight response seems chronically active and may account for many of the symptoms, the condition also looks a lot like freeze (need for rest, isolation, etc.).

How can we make use of knowing about the FFF / CFS connection?

For me, it helps me feel less weird. I see that many of my symptoms make sense in the light of a chronically activated FFF response.

And anything that reduces the FFF response is helpful, like mindfulness, gentle yoga, and (skilled, gradual) work on stressful thoughts and underlying trauma.

This also explains why therapeutic tremoring has helped many with CFS. By releasing chronic tension and trauma out of the system, the chronic FFF response relaxes a bit and this helps the system recover and function more normally.

When it comes to the modality I currently find most helpful (Vortex Healing), I plan to focus more on my FFF response.

Why do we see a FFF / CFS connection? I am not sure. CFS often follows an infection like mononucleosis. I wonder if the body’s response to the infection somehow leads to a chronically active FFF response?

Note: I intentionally used the more broad FFF term as I didn’t want to focus too much on any single component of it. FFF involves more than any single system in our bodies and far more than what we currently are aware of. For instance, there is this recent article about the role of the bones in FFF: Bone, not adrenaline, drives fight or flight response.

Karma is instant, and other types of karma

 

Karma means action, work or deed; it also refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect). Good intent and good deeds contribute to good karma and happier rebirths, while bad intent and bad deeds contribute to bad karma and bad rebirths.

– Wikipedia article on Karma

The modern western understanding of karma is that we do something, and we reap the consequences in this life or the next.

This can happen in a few different ways.

There is a form of instant and inevitable karma. If I blindly fuel and act on anger, I inevitably suffer. If I am able to notice, allow, and rest with the anger, and perhaps notice the fear and the fearful thoughts it’s rooted in, there is more peace.

And the same goes for anything triggered in me. Any stressful thoughts. Any uncomfortable emotions or feelings. When I get caught in it and act on it, I suffer. When I am able to notice, allow, rest with it, and see what’s behind it (usually a wound, trauma, fear), there is more peace.

Whatever I do is strengthened as a pattern or habit. If there is reactivity in me, and I am able to notice, take a step back, allow, relate to it more consciously, and not act on it, that pattern is slightly strengthened. If I instead act on it blindly, that pattern is strengthened. This is one form of karma. And it applies to whatever I do in mind or action.

Along the same lines, there are the “inner” causes and consequences. If I am more authentic with myself and others, I am more likely to feel centered, grounded, and content. (Although it may also bring some temporary discomfort when I go against what others expect or want from me.) If I cultivate a habit of genuine gratitude, I am more likely to feel content, grateful, and at peace. If I cultivate a habit of complaining and blame, I am more likely to create an inner atmosphere of unease, restlessness, and discomfort.

There are causes and consequences for my life in the world. If I smile and am genuinely friendly to others, that’s what I am more likely to receive in return.

And then there is the idea of consequences for future lives. I don’t know if this is accurate or not. (I only know what some people say about it but don’t have personal experiences to support it.)

What I do know is that this idea has been used – by some cultures, traditions, and teachers – to guide people to more kind behavior. And it has also been used to justify unjust social structures and control people and keep them “in their place”. (The Indian caste system.)

I also know that if we have many lives, and there is this form of inter-life karma, we all have (just about) infinite amounts of all kinds of karma. We are all in, more or less, the same boat. Whatever happens to ripen right now is just the tiniest piece of it.

What’s common for all these forms of karma is feedback. Karma is another word for feedback. It’s an opportunity to notice and learn. It’s an opportunity to invite in healing. And ultimately, karma leads to awakening.

Science of the mind

 

Most of what I write about in this collection of articles is the science of mind. It’s pragmatic, grounded in experience, and testable by others. I usually use the “spirituality” tag, but “science of mind” may be more accurate. (Of course, some things do fall in under the wider label of spirituality, or just “life”.)

What are some examples of science of mind topics?

In general, it’s anything that’s testable by oneself and others. And mainly, on this blog, it’s the effect of different practices and approaches.

How does the mind create its own experience of the world? What do I find when I explore the different sense fields and how they combine to create this experience of the world? (The sense fields are usually sight, sensation, smell, taste, sound, and thoughts.)

How does the mind create a charged experience for itself? How does it create the experience of thoughts telling it something that’s true? What happens when a certain thought, or set of thoughts, combine (are associated with) certain sensations? (Does the sensations take on meaning? And the thoughts a sense of saying something true?) What happens when we explore and notice this, and rest and allow with the different components?

What happens when I do ho’oponopno towards/for someone I have a strained relationship with? Or parts of myself? Or the world as a whole? Or if I do tonglen?

What happens when I use the heart/Jesus prayer over time? Or the Christ Meditation?

What happens when I train attention to be more stable? What happens in how I feel in general? What happens with how I do everyday activities? Which areas of life do I notice a difference in?

What is awakening? What are some different ways we can understand awakening? How does it unfold for different people? What are some of the challenges and struggles people experience? How do we navigate these?

All of these are examples of what falls in under science of mind. In mainstream culture, it may be seen as spirituality and that’s not wrong. But it’s equally helpful to see it as a science. It’s something we can try out for ourselves and see what happens. It’s something we can research through formal science. It’s something others can test out for themselves. (Although the results will vary, of course, since we are different and do these things slightly differently, and that’s part of the exploration.)

Using reverse psychology with stress and discomfort

 

This is one of my favorite little “tricks”, and it helps me change how I relate to stressful thoughts, uncomfortable emotions, and some types of physical discomfort.

In a nutshell:

Notice what’s going on. Take a few seconds to make it as strong as you can. Let it go and rest for a few seconds. Repeat two or three times. Notice any changes.

And a few examples:

I notice frustration with my health. I take a few seconds to make it as strong as I can. I let it go and relax. After a few seconds, I repeat. I notice any changes or shifts. (The frustration doesn’t seem so much like a problem, there is more space and lightness.)

There is a slight headache at my temples. I intend to make it as strong as I can for two to five seconds. I release it and rest. After five to ten seconds, I repeat. (I notice my relationship to it has changed. It doesn’t seem as much as a problem and there is a sense of spaciousness.)

I notice some anger in the background. I intend to make it as strong as I can for a few seconds. Release. Repeat. (After, I notice spaciousness. A sense of freedom around it. A sense of befriending the anger more. And less anger.)

Why or how does this work? Any time I experience something that’s uncomfortable to me, my mind tends to be in a subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) struggle with it. There is a wish to escape from it or for it to go away. And this subtle struggle tends to hold it in place.

When I reverse this by intending to make it stronger, there is a 180-degree shift in how I relate to it. Instead of struggling with it, I join it. I support it in its effort. I consciously join its team. And this, at least temporarily, releases the struggle.

Doing this is a process of changing my relationship to it. Finding some curiosity about it. Befriending it. And this is not only a relief but can allow it to shift and move and find its freedom.

What’s uncomfortable is made uncomfortable because my mind fights it. It’s not uncomfortable in itself. It’s my relationship to it that makes it uncomfortable. So by shifting my relationship to it, it’s not experienced in the same way anymore.

Most of the articles here are about healing and awakening through aligning with reality. Notice what’s already here. Notice what I am. Living more consciously as what I am.

This one is a little different since it’s more a “trick”. But it does get us to the same place of getting to know something previously exiled in us, and perhaps befriending it and changing our relationship to it.

Like so much in these articles, it’s a small piece of the puzzle.

Read More

The tree of knowledge of good and evil

 

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Genesis 2:16-17

Traditional myths tell us something about ourselves, and myths from religion are no different.

In a non-dual context, there is a pretty straightforward way of looking at this.

Before thought, and before taking thought as telling us something that’s fundamentally real and true, there is no knowledge of good and evil. Everything just is.

With thought, and specifically taking thought as telling us truth and reality, there is suddenly knowledge of good and evil. Thoughts tell us what’s good and evil. And what falls into each category depends on our culture, parents, subgroups, and to some extent personal history and preferences.

And that’s how we throw ourselves out from the garden of Eden. Suddenly, we are not innocent anymore. We know what’s good and evil, we judge others by it, and we judge ourselves by it.

Why a tree with fruit? Perhaps because beliefs, including beliefs about good and evil, are a bit like eating something juicy. And these thoughts do grow and branch out just like a tree. We may start with something simple, and from there comes a lot of complexity.

And how do we return to the Garden of Eden and our age of innocence? We cannot return to what was. But we can examine how our mind creates its own experience of good and evil, and there are ways to dismantle it. We can have the same thoughts without so much of a charge on them, and without them appearing to tell us something inherently real about the world. The thoughts can be allowed to be thoughts, and we can relate to them more consciously. We can be more discerning in how we relate to them.

That’s another form of Eden and one that’s a bit more mature.

Myths mirror ourselves, and in this case, they may mirror the shift to believing thoughts, and specifically thoughts about values and good and bad. It threw us out of Eden, but the good news is that we can dismantle the process and find a more mature Eden.

Cultural differences in taking about issues

 

After having lived for a while in Oregon and California, I notice cultural differences in how I and others sometimes talk about emotional issues.

For instance, if I share about something triggered in me, I often also share the triggering situation. My intention is to share, clarify it for myself, and sow a seed for continuing to explore and work on it. It’s a confession and it helps my process. (And it can also be a way of connecting with the other, letting that person know what’s going on in me.) Mostly, it’s understood and received that way, and perhaps especially by people from the US west coast since we share this language and orientation.

And sometimes, it’s misunderstood. Sometimes, the other person focuses on the triggering situation and issue and goes off debating it.

Yesterday is an example. I shared how I noticed something in me getting triggered when a Facebook friend posted a snarky (conspiracy-laden, anti-climate change) comments on one of my posts. Instead of listening and acknowledging it, as I hoped for or expected, she went into debating the content of the comment.

I felt hurt because I felt she didn’t see me, and also because the conversation went off in another direction than I wanted, and in a direction irrelevant to why I mentioned it in the first place.

So what to do? It’s good to anticipate that these misunderstandings can happen. And if I suspect there is a chance it may happen, preface my sharing and clarify my intention in sharing. For instance, I may say: I notice I got triggered earlier today. Can I share with you? The situation is not important in itself, but I would like to share so I can see it more clearly and work on it later.

As this keeps happening – and especially in Norway where people have a different way of talking about these things – I want to hone my skills in prefacing and clarifying.

I have written about this topic in earlier articles.

For instance, I sometimes use parts language and talk about subpersonalities, and say I notice a part of me [sees the world this way, feels this way] and assume the other will understand that this is just a part, it’s universal and something we all have in us, and it’s not my conscious view. Most people in my life understand this and we share this language.

And yet, people not familiar with parts language – including psychologists and spiritual teachers – sometimes misunderstand. They assume that what I shared about the part is something I am consciously identified with and how I, as a whole, see the world. And they sometimes appear shocked, start arguing with it, and take the conversation in a very different direction than intended.

I have experienced filling out psychological questionnaires that only ask about the presence of something (an emotion, a set of thoughts) and not the strength, and – being honest – I’ll answer yes to all of it since all of it is in me, even if it’s at a very small level and doesn’t impact my daily life. And it’s taken as if these are in me at a strong level. (I understand that for most people filling out those questionnaires, that’s the case. But I have to be honest and answer truthfully, and I notice these in me even if they are at a tiny level.)

And I have also noticed that some in Norway – including people who I had assumed would know better like psychologists and spiritual teachers – assume that knowing about or understanding an issue at a story level should be enough to resolve it. And they, again, seem shocked (shocked!) that I am aware of issues and dynamics in me that are not (yet) fully resolved.

To me, this is not surprising at all since knowing about something at a story level doesn’t resolve it. We need to go further and deeper for something to resolve more thoroughly.

The answer to all of this is anticipating when this may happen and nip it in the bud by prefacing what I am about to share. And if it’s misunderstood, notice as soon as possible (it sometimes takes a while for me to understand what’s happening), step back from where the other person is taking the conversation, and clarify.

Prayer to change my life vs change me

 

There are (at least!) two general forms of prayer.

One is prayer asking for my life to change.

The other is prayer inviting the divine to change me.

The first type of prayer is perhaps what many think of first. It’s the “dear God, please do this for me” type of prayer.

The second is a form of prayer that can be profoundly transformative. In its most explicit form, we find it in the Jesus or Heart Prayer, and also in the Christ meditation. Any form of spiritual practice, when done with heart and sincerity, is an invitation for the divine to work on and change us as a human and divine being. So any type of spiritual practice can become this prayer. (Including basic meditation.)

We can do it from the view of me as a human being inviting and allowing the divine to transform me – all of me, through and through. (Including what seems the most essential in me, and what “I” may hold onto and cherish the most.) And it can also, if it happens on its own, be a resting as the divine recognizing itself as all there is.

Note: I gave a couple of examples from the Christian tradition since that’s what I have the most experience with, but this goes for all traditions and non-traditions. If I use a more theistic language, I would say that there is one God and many religions and spiritual traditions, and all of them have some good pointers.

Trauma-informed daily life: not believing what the trauma tells me

 

There are many sides to living a more trauma-informed daily life.

A big one is to recognize when a traumatized part of me is triggered and comes alive, notice what it is telling me, and not (fully) be caught in it.

How do I recognize when trauma is triggered in me? For me, it’s often a combination of things. I may recognize that it’s the same trauma that has been triggered in the past, perhaps in similar situations. I may remember exploring and investigating it. I may see my reaction – defensiveness, hurt, anger, fear, reactivity – and recognize it as typical trauma-behavior. I may be told what’s going on by someone close to me.

The trauma always tells me something. It’s partly created and held in place by stressful stories that my mind and body, somewhere, holds as true. These stories are created as a way to protect this self, so there is inevitably rigidity, defensiveness, and a kind of obsession in these thoughts. And that’s how I recognize it when they are triggered. Do I feel, speak or act from reactivity or defensiveness? Do I hold onto a view as if my life depends on it? That’s a clear sign that this is the voice of trauma.

Sometimes, these are acute. When the trauma is triggered, its voice is different from my voice when I am more relaxed, balanced, and sane. I may say or do things that aren’t what I would say or do when the trauma is less or not activated. These are relatively easy to notice since I go a bit crazy. I am not quite myself.

Sometimes, they are more chronic. The trauma informs my long-lasting views, ways of speaking, and behavior. These are obviously harder for me to notice. Although they are often easy for others to spot, which is why it’s important to invite feedback from others and be open and receptive to it when it happens.

I noticed one of these in me earlier today. A Facebook friend wrote a dismissive post about people who want certain services to be public (transportation, kindergartens, nursing homes, etc.). I noticed I felt hurt and that my mind jumped into a metaphorical trench, ready to battle his position. I saw it as it happened, recognized it as trauma behavior (although it all happened internally in me), and allowed the internal storm to pass. I still don’t know exactly what trauma this is from but I plan to explore it in the next few days.

These traumas can be big or small, central or more peripheral to how we see ourselves and how we are in the world. Traumas are often developmental, formed over time as our response to an ongoing and difficult or overwhelming situation. Our system created the trauma to try to deal with it and in an attempt to protect us. Traumas are often inherited from our parents and sometimes the wider culture.

The more central the trauma, the more it colors our whole perception of ourselves and the world, our views, and our behavior and life. And the more difficult it may be to notice it since it’s the water we swim in and have swum in for a long time, often since childhood. And, as mentioned above, the more difficult it can be to recognize it.

Trauma also has a role in politics. Whenever we have rigid views on something, it’s often rooted in trauma. It’s the mind’s way to try to protect itself, based on something painful that happened in the past. I have an acquaintance who is deeply committed to holistic health and caring for nature, and yet is equally deeply against any ideas of climate change or ecological crisis, and she doesn’t miss any opportunity to let everyone know about it. To me, this looks like trauma behavior (it seems reactive, irrational, and almost a life-and-death matter). It’s not my place to mention it to her, but it’s my place to notice if and when I do something similar.

To end, here is a brief list of trauma-behavior signs I look for: Reactivity. Blame. Guilt. Defensiveness (defending a view or position). Dehumanizing others (or oneself). Inability to adapt views to new information. And sometimes acting out of character, or in ways that seem odd to others. (There may be other explanations for this.) Anger and sadness, if combined with the other signs, can also suggest trauma.

As always, this is all to be taken with a big grain of salt but it can be helpful as a general pointer or guideline.

What is oneness?

 

What is oneness?

The most basic oneness is what’s here now. In immediate experience, for all of us, all our experience happens within and as what we are. The content of our experience happens within and as what we are.

We can call this consciousness or love, or awakeness, or the void all happens within and as, but those are labels. The labels tempt the mind into thinking it has got it while it’s not anything that can be gotten conceptually. It’s what we are.

Awakening means that what we are wakes up to itself. Glimpses itself. Notices itself. Notices itself more and more clearly as what any experience happens within and as, including as that which this personality and this conditioning like the very least.

Why is this not always noticed? Because mind likes to identify as parts of the content of its experience. Mind likes to take itself as a me (this human self) and an I (the observer, doer, etc.). It’s not wrong but it’s incomplete. It creates an experience of duality, of I here and the wider world out there, and that’s all there is to it.

That duality is valid in a functional or pragmatic sense. It’s helpful to take this human self as what I am, in a pragmatic sense. But it’s not the whole picture.

In immediate experience, “I” am what my whole field of experience happens within and as. That is, in a sense, a more fundamental identity. Although it’s not an “identity”, it’s just what we are.

We can see this in a couple of different ways. One is that the fundamental reality of the world is of me as a human self in the physical world, and it’s only in my experience all appears as consciousness. All appears as consciousness because that’s how it has to be in my experience since I am consciousness. This is the small or psychological interpretation and it’s a possible and valid interpretation.

The other is that reality is more directly as it appears. All is actually consciousness, all of reality is and happens within and as consciousness. We can say all is the divine or whatever name(s) we have for the divine (Spirit, the One, Brahman, Allah, Big Mind etc.). This is the big or spiritual interpretation and is also valid.

There is another form of oneness, or another oneness within the first oneness: the oneness of this universe. It’s one seamless whole, one seamless system. This system is what has formed itself into stars and planets, this living planet, and everything that’s part of this living planet (including us humans and all our experience). As Carl Sagan said, we are the local eyes, ears, feelings, and thoughts of the universe. We are the universe bringing itself into awareness.

I should mention that within the small interpretation of awakening, the physical world – including our own physical body – appears as consciousness because it happens within and as consciousness. (Which is what we are.) In the big interpretation of awakening, the physical world actually is as it appears to us, it is consciousness.

In either case, we can investigate, with guidance, how our mind creates its own experience of the physical world, and perhaps of this physical world as real in itself, as solid, as dense and material. As we investigate this – and as we find ourselves as that which all our experience happens within and as – what we call the physical world will appear less and less solid to us and more as consciousness. In that sense, it will appear more and more as a dream (happening within and as consciousness).

How can we notice oneness and live more from it? This is, in a way, the main question of spiritual practice so it’s too big to address here. I’ll just mention that the easiest way to have a glimpse of oneness may be through inquiry (Big Mind process, Living Inquiries, Headless experiments, etc.). And Practices to Reconnect is an excellent way to deepen into the second form of oneness.

Dream: Planet Edible

 

I have my own publishing company and a series of books called Planet Edible. They are on a wide range of topics, and are a combination of written word and graphics, like a kind of graphic novels. The whole idea is to make important information “edible”. Ready to take in. Tasty. Digestible. Written and presented so people want to take it in, and so it becomes part of them. The books are especially aimed at younger people, but are for all ages. I have a great deal of energy, passion, and clarity, and the project is easy and moves fast. It’s successful and works as it says on the tin.

In the dream, I have a laser focus, confidence, passion, a knowing of what works, like I did before I got “off track” and also before the dark night. Although far richer and more earthy.

The depth of popular culture

 

Some folks see popular culture as inevitably shallow. But is that true? And is it true that shallow is bad?

First, is shallow bad? No. There is nothing inherent in life telling us what we should be into. There are no requirements.

Many have stressful and busy lives and need something undemanding to help them relax and switch gears. Nothing wrong in that. (Although we can question a society that sets us up for such busy and sometimes stressful lives.) At one time or another, easy pop culture serves a helpful function to us.

And for most of us, it’s just one part of a much more varied cultural diet.

Is it true that pop-culture is shallow?

Yes, it’s perhaps true in a conventional and limited sense. There may be less soul and more formulas in much of what we find in pop-culture.

It’s easy to find exceptions. There is often depth to aspects of what we find in pop-culture. Something surprising, moving, or something that gives us an insight into ourselves or the lives of others. And some of what we find in pop-culture obviously has more depth, richness, and complexity to it, for example, stories rich in archetypes like Star Wars (original trilogy) and Pan’s Labyrinth.

It also depends on what we define as popular culture. Bach is quite popular. Is that pop culture? Chopin was a pop-culture superstar in his time.

And it depends on how readily available something is to us. When we have to put more effort and intention into finding something, it can seem more sophisticated, for instance when we are into the pop-culture of another time or culture.

Finally, we bring the depth to it.

When I watch movies, including the most mainstream Hollywood movies, I often look for archetypes and archetypal dynamics.

I take it as I would a dream, see the different parts of the story as parts of me, and find it in me.

I notice what I react to and look for the beliefs or emotional issues it triggered in me.

I notice what I am fascinated by and find what the fascination is about and then see if I can find that in myself.

So when it comes down to it, if we see something as shallow, we can only blame ourselves. We take a shallow approach to it.

We bring the richness or the shallow to it.

A personal note: In my late teens and early twenties, I had judgments about pop culture and went deep into more “high” and “sophisticated” art, music, books and movies. There was nothing wrong with this, and it was very rewarding and I still enjoy that type of culture. But it also came from insecurity. I wanted to be “better” and more sophisticated. I didn’t feel good enough as I was. Now, fortunately, I feel more free to enjoy all of it.

If we have ideas about high or low culture, or one thing being better than the other, it’s a reminder to take a look at ourselves. Where in me does it come from? Do I try to create an identity for myself to feel better about myself? How would it be to enjoy it all independent of labels?

Not knowing which part of the field I am

 

Right now, as I am sitting here, I see two arms and hands, the screen on a phone, a table, a cup, flowers, a lake, and a few other things. And I notice a low-grade effort telling me that, for practical purposes, “I” am this body sitting here writing on the phone. (I am not all the other things in the sense fields.) It’s something that’s added to what’s happening and it helps me function in the world.

At times, this effort is even more obvious. For instance earlier today, there was a moment where “I” didn’t know which part of the sender fields I was supposed to be. The bucket of water? The cup? The arms moving? It lasted only a fraction of a second, but I could clearly see the mind working to place a pragmatic sense of I or me on something in the sense fields.

This is a common experience for me. There are things in my sense fields, it all happens within and as consciousness, and often there is no need to put the I or me labels on anything. It’s all just happening and functioning on its own.

“I” can pay attention to what this happens within and as, and notice that this never goes away. In that sense, it seems to be what “I” am. And for practical purposes, “I” sometimes places the I or me on this body and the one others see me as. In both cases. It’s clear that the I or me is just a label put on top of what’s here, in all the sense fields, which is living its own life.

I assume this is common in an awakening process. The mind has to work actively, for all of us, to create and assign and remember the I and me labels. And when there is more awakeness here, that process may become more transparent and visible. And sometimes, “we” notice the mind scrambling for å fraction of a second to assign the labels.

Reflections on society, politics and nature XV

 

Continued from previous posts…. These posts are collections of brief notes on society, politics, and nature.

Spending time nature. This is something many have written about so I’ll just say a few words. Since I was little, I have spent time at a family cabin on a lake in the forest outside of Oslo. (The area is on track to become a national park.)

The cabin is without running water and electricity (apart from a small solar panel to charge phones and iPads). We get the water from the lake, the firewood from the forest, cook food with gas we bring with us, and heat the cabin with one of two fireplaces.

When I go there, I notice it takes a few days to “land” and that continues to deepen the longer I stay. There is a sense of gradually becoming part of the place and nature.

When I am there, I inevitably become very aware of resource use. I need to plan what food to bring and for how many days. I tend to eat fresh foods first and then, after a week or so, have more of the lasting foods to eat. I notice the effects of the different foods on my body.

During the summer, even when the temperature gets over 30 degrees Celcius, there is never a problem with the heat. If I get hot in the sun or from physical activity, I cool off in the lake. And the cabin stays cool due to the breeze, open doors and windows, and the shade from the trees.

Early and late summer – when they days are warm and the nights cool – I warm the cabin during the day by opening doors and windows, and trap it during the night.

The rest of the year, when I need to heat the indoor space, I separate the cabin into heat zones. I mostly spend time in the new living room, and use the fireplace there since it’s a good heat sink (the stones and brick stores heat and gradually releases it even after the fire is out). I close off the room and allow the other parts of the cabin to stay cooler. The kitchen warms up from cooking. (On early cold mornings, I sometimes eat and read in the kitchen since it’s warmer.)

When I go to get firewood, I typically take the rowboat and go to one of the three or four places where I know there are beaver-houses. There, close to the lake, I find birch trees felled by the beavers. They do the initial work, eat the bark and leaves, and I take the trunks they are done with, bring them back to the cabin, and cut them up for firewood. It feels like a nice partnership with the beavers, although they don’t get that much out of it.

I also notice what they say about firewood warming three times: When I collect the wood. When I cut and split it. And when I burn it.

In early and late summer, I tend to go to bed when it gets dark and wake up when the sun comes up. This changes other times of year since the sun is up 18 hours a day during the summer and only six in the winter.

In the summer, I enjoy swimming in the lake. Sometimes, I put on snorkeling gear so I get to see what’s under the surface.

I notice the direction of the wind and the types of weather the wind brings from different directions. I notice how it’s often still in the morning and evening, and windier during the day. When I row across the lake and it’s windy, I often take the slightly longer path through a group of islands since its more sheltered.

I am grateful when I see butterflies, insects, birds, and other creatures. They and I share the space for a while. We are neighbors. (This awe, gratitude, and sense of fellowship is heightened by my awareness of the loss of insect, bird, and animal life in the area and the world in general.)

I wash from top to bottom each day, either in the lake or using hot water in the kitchen. After a few days without showering, I notice that my skin doesn’t feel dry anymore. It retains the natural oils.

By being there, I gradually and effortlessly feel more and more as part of nature. My days are simple and mostly focused on basics such as food, heat, water, and sleep. And I become very aware of resources in many different ways. All around, it’s healing and – to the extent I allow it to work on me – transformative.

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We are the divine digesting itself

 

When I notice and allow what’s here in experience – thoughts, feelings, etc. – it feels like it’s all being digested.

Since it’s all happening within and as consciousness, we can say that it’s consciousness digesting itself.

And we can say that it happens all the time, just by living our life, whether we notice and allow, or are distracted and fight.

We can even say that all of existence is existence digesting itself.

Or that all of life and existence is the divine digesting itself.

The divine, or existence, or the universe, creates itself into complexity and digests itself.

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Changing our relationship to our thoughts

 

It’s very important for me to “not think.” I do enough thinking. You can just “be.”

Ringo Starr in Parade Magazine

I am surprised a long-time mediator talks about it this way. If course, he can be misquoted and it may be taken out of context, and he may have more to say about it if asked.

Basic meditation and mindfulness is not about not thinking or getting rid of thoughts, at least not as we conventionally understand it.

In one sense, it’s about noticing thoughts and anything else here, anything happening in our sense fields. Notice and allow. (And to be fair to Ringo Starr, that may be just what he means which means the wording in the interview is misleading.)

In another sense, it’s about thoughts – usually gradually and over time – losing their charge. When they have a charge, they seem true, important, and something we need to pay attention to (i.e. go into as if they are true and keep spinning and elaborating the story). As they lose the charge, it’s easier to notice they are thoughts – perhaps with a charge — passing through. We don’t need to pay much attention to them or elaborate or act on them unless they inform us about something practical we need to take care of.

This tends to happen over time with regular mindfulness practice. And it can be greatly helped and speeded up through inquiry, for instance, traditional Buddhist inquiry, its modern variety Living Inquiries, or even The Work of Byron Katie or some forms of cognitive therapy.

So basic meditation is about changing our relationship to our thoughts and not getting rid of them. As someone said, the mind creates thoughts just like a flower creates smells. It’s the natural function of the mind, and essential for our survival and functioning in the world.

Over time, we may find we appreciate our thoughts as we appreciate the smell of flowers. We may even find we appreciate the apparently stressful ones, at least sometimes and perhaps more often.

What’s the worst that can happen if I don’t suffer?

 

Most of us have a complicated relationship with suffering. It’s terrible and familiar. It’s something we want to avoid, and it seems unavoidable. If we don’t already live with it, even if it’s very low grade, then something can happen at any time that triggers it in us.

If we are on a path of healing, or awakening, or embodiment, we need to explore our relationship with suffering.

The obvious relationship is our fear of suffering and wanting to avoid it. I can befriend this great and explore this through inquiry, Natural Rest, and so on.

And yet, there is another side that’s equally important. Or more important since it’s more likely to be overlooked. And that’s our attachment to suffering and fear of what it means if we don’t suffer.

What’s the worst that can happen if I don’t suffer? What do I fear may happen if I don’t suffer?

Here are some stressful stories I find for myself. Most of them don’t have much charge and none of them match my conscious view, but they may still operate in me low-grade and influence my perception and life.

I need to suffer to heal, mature, awaken and embody. It gives me material to awaken etc. It’s required to awaken etc.

It’s noble to suffer. It’s heroic when it’s in the service of a bigger cause. (Healing etc.)

Others who have been on a deep spiritual path have suffered. (Buddha, Jesus, St. Theresa, etc.) If they suffered, I need to too.

If I don’t already suffer, I’ll be taken by surprise when suffering comes and it will be doubly painful. It’s better to brace for it.

If I don’t suffer in a situation people expect me to, they will judge me.

If I don’t suffer, the divine won’t see me as worthy of a good life and awakening. By suffering, I show the divine I need it and deserve it.

After finding these, I can explore them in any way that works for me. In my case, I’ll use inquiry (e.g The Work, Living Inquiries) to find underlying stories and help release the charge out of them, change my relationship with it through heart-centered practices, and/or identify the emotional issue(s) behind the strongest one(s) and work on it with Vortex Healing.

I wanted this article to be simple and a starting point. The topic is much more complex. For instance, what is suffering? How do I go about exploring my relationship to it? How can I befriend and find more peace with it? How can I release the charge in suffering? I have written about that in other articles.

Lila as a (kind of) projection

 

Lila (Sanscrit) or Leela can be loosely translated as the “divine play”.

Wikipedia article on Lila

I like the word Lila, the play of the divine. Traditionally, it’s seen as the One (the divine) expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself as the universe in its always changing richness, including as us and our life and experience.

A slight variation of this is to see Lila as a projection. Lila reflects what’s here, in immediacy. The play of this consciousness. The creativity of this consciousness.

All my experience is not only an expression of this consciousness, it is this consciousness. It’s this consciousness expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself. Right now, it takes the form of this experience as it is, here and now.

I am calling this a kind of projection since it’s only a projection if we see Lila as “out there”. Even in the traditional sense, Lila is also – and obviously – what we take ourselves to be, our lives, and all our experience. Including this one, as it is, here and now.

Why is this important? The traditional view can be dismissed as a fantasy. (See footnote.) But it seems undeniable that our experience is an expression of the creativity and play of consciousness. All of our experience is this consciousness expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself.

And why is that important? For me, it helps me hold my experience more lightly. It helps me see it as a little less important. A little less solid. A little less final.

What I am experiencing is the creativity of consciousness. It’s the play of consciousness. And somehow, that makes it more interesting. I find curiosity for it. Receptivity.

A footnote to “The traditional view can be dismissed as a fantasy.”. This depends on the words we use and how closely we look at it. It’s undeniable that we and our life and experience is part of reality or existence or the universe. From here, we can say that we and our life and experience is reality or the universe expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself. And we can say that we and our life and experience is the play and creativity of the universe.

Of course, reality and the universe is not a human being like you and me, so the words (express, explore, experience, creativity, play) are metaphors or analogies more than meant to be taken literally as we use the words when we talk about humans.

And we can also say that our familiar human creativity is an expression or part of this larger creativity of existence or the universe.

Additional footnotes:

This article relates to the big (spiritual) and small (psychological) interpretations of awakening. I took the big and applied it to the small. Although when it comes to Lila, the small is really built into the big.

We sometimes unthinkingly say “my consciousness”. I avoid that since who I take as I or me happens within consciousness. If anything, I and me belong to consciousness, not the other way around.

I should also mention that for a long time, I didn’t know there was a word for what was alive for me in immediate experience. I was happy when I found the word Lila, also because it meant someone else experienced it as I do. (Or, at least, similar enough.)

Alan Alda: I applied my curiosity to it

 

My life hasn’t changed much, I just applied my curiosity to it. I’m constantly reading and trying to figure out the best approaches. So far it’s really interesting. I think it’s helped me understand a little better that everybody has something they’re coping with.

– Alan Alda about being diagnosed with Parkinsons, in People Magazine

This quote is beautiful in two ways. First, by applying curiosity about a life challenge. (Instead of going into despair and victim identity.) And then by using it to find empathy with others and knowing we are all in the same boat. (Instead of resenting others and going into “poor me” mode.)

I am sure he has moments of frustration and fears about the future. But he consciously chooses to feed another approach.

Diálogo con la Alejandra que ha vivido por eones (Alejandra’s dialog with one who has lived eons)

 

Here is my partner Alejandra’s dialog with the version of herself that has lived eons.

Este es un ejercicio de diálogo con la Alejandra que ha vivido por eones, esto es lo que ella puede responder a mis propias preguntas:

(Este ejercicio se lo propuso a sí mismo mi compañero de vida y sentí un gran deseo de llevarlo a cabo también).

¿Cómo ves el mundo?

Como una hoja que es movida por el viento, o un vórtice infinito de estrellas que aparecen cuando las miro y desaparecen cuando me ausento. Como una lágrima humana, fractal que sabe a artemisa y que huele lluvia.

Veo al mundo como una olla de barro gigante y en su interior se cuecen libros llenos de hechizos, espadas, rocas y dinosaurios. El mundo es un beso largo y es la caricia del asesino, la última exhalación. La cabeza cayendo y La corona erguida en el aire. El mundo es trémulo y consistente, es el gato, la fuente y el laberinto. ¿Qué no es el mundo si no todo lo que el espejo de la conciencia experimenta? Lo que se olvida, lo que se anida y se pudre. La incertidumbre, el corazón de las galaxias que es el mismo mío y el mismo tuyo. La gota, el trino, el agujero, la piel del amado y sus zapatos debajo de la cama.

¿Tienes un consejo para Alejandra? (Esta entrevistadora)

Permite aún más intensamente que tu colchón de flores se hunda en el universo. Que se desvanezca en tu corazón el aliento Divino. Camina como si volaras y atraviesa lenta y profundamente las cúpulas que te limitan. Pon un rezo en los ríos de tu sangre para que desemboquen en lo desconocido. Cree que infinitas son las direcciones y que de una pizca de arena el universo está hecho. Besa las rejas que a la bestia haz puesto para que se transformen en aire. Escúchame y olvídame.

¿Hay alguna pregunta que te gustaría que te hiciera?

No hay una sola pregunta y una sola respuesta que no las contenga a todas.

¿Qué es lo que más disfrutas?

La ausencia de ausencias. Las tres monedas del I ching girando en el aire, el espasmo del péndulo, la visión completa del reencuentro y la partida. La mano De Dios dibujando una historia. Cuando las palabras explotan mucho más allá de su significado. El juego, la paradoja, la ceremonia del instante. Disfruto profundamente lo que más detesto.

¿Hay algo de lo que estás cansada?

Nada dura lo suficiente para cansarnos. Todo renuncia a su forma incluso antes de tenerla. Infinitas son las líneas e infinito su vacío.

¿Hay algo más que estés aprendiendo actualmente?

El misterio. La indescifrable, eterna y misteriosa danza de la vida y la muerte. Este espasmo que se provoca porque no hay línea divisoria entre la una y la otra. Aprendo lo que ya aprendí una y mil veces. Los caminos aunque ya recorridos siempre están lustrosos, llenos de todo lo que antes experimenté y que no puedo recordar.

¿Cuáles libros y música te gustan?

La música que hace el fuego del universo cuando crepita y los libros que contienen las plantas que hay en las selvas. Ellos están juntos y han sido creados y son creadores. Estamos escuchándolo todo y leyéndolo todo al mismo tiempo. La semilla recién sembrada en la tierra ya está floreciendo en una galaxia lejana y alguien con ocho ojos se está masticando la fruta.

¿Es posible cometer errores?

¿Acaso existen los errores? ¿Acaso hay algo que sea correcto y algo que no lo sea? Aún en el profundo sentir de la imperfección la semilla está sembrada, la creación no está dotada de separación, el error no es más que una interpretación.

¿Qué piensas acerca del condicionamiento?

Más que pensarlo lo siento, lo siento a veces como una ola gigante que me tumba en la interpretación, en la comparación, en la dualidad. Me hunde en las aguas de La Luz, me destierra, me abandona, me danza, me trastorna. El acondicionamiento es la misma llave de la liberación de él mismo. Lo he atesorado y lustrado, lo he cubierto, lo he mecido y arrullado y también lo he despertado.

¿Cómo ves la espiritualidad no dual?

No existe una espiritualidad que pueda ser dual. No existe nada que pueda ser dual. Las palabras siempre serán reducidas, cortas cuando el espíritu quiere expresarse. No hay un lugar ni un tiempo específicos en el que esté ocurriendo esto. No hay una realidad y otra y otra, sólo hay espíritu, absoluto, indivisible. Es el condicionamiento, la interpretación quienes pueden hacer ver la inexistente y muy real posibilidad de que estamos separados. Todo existe al mismo tiempo, todo se desvanece al mismo tiempo. Cuando ya no haya que nombrar la espiritualidad, ni la dualidad, ni la vida, ni la muerte, ni a Dios; cuando ya dos ojos sean uno, todo desaparecerá. Y no podremos reconocer a un entrevistador y a un entrevistado y como dije antes, todas las preguntas serán las mismas respuestas. O simplemente no habrá preguntas ni habrá respuestas.

Only lovers left alive: a dialog with someone who has lived for centuries

 

I haven’t seen Only Lovers Left Alive yet, but read enough about it to know that the two main characters have lived for centuries and have amassed a huge amount of experience and perhaps some wisdom in the process.

So I thought it would be fun to try a dialog with someone who has lived for centuries.

When we use Voice Dialog / the Big Mind process, we typically dialog with parts of us that are obviously here like the voice of appreciation, the victim, or Big Mind / Heart.

There is no part of me that had lived for centuries. Or is there? I can easily enough imagine how it would be to have lived for generations, and access that voice or part of me.

And in a quite real sense, I have in me something that had lived for that long. Something that has, through culture, accumulated experience and wisdom over generations.

In another quite real sense, as part of this living Earth, and as part of this universe, I am billions of years old. Everything in me is the product of billions of years evolution of the universe and this living planet, millions of years of evolution of pre-human ancestors, and hundreds of thousands of years thousands of my human ancestors.

So, yes, I can probably dialog with a voice in me that has the experience and wisdom from having lived for generations.


Dialog with one who has lived for generations.

Can I speak with the voice that has lived for generations?

Yes.

How do you see the world?

Not so different from you. Just from more experience. I am much less caught up in the daily fluctuations compared with you and others who have only lived for a short time. I have seen it all. It all comes and goes. Disappointment. Elation. Health. Illness. Birth. Death. It’s all part of life, and I have seen all of it enough to not get caught up in it.

Does it mean you are detached?

For a while, I tried detachment and distance, but that’s deadly boring in the long run. It’s much more juicy to feel and be engaged and play the game, but I am not caught in it. I know it all, including my responses, comes and goes.

It sounds a bit like the wisdom of the Buddha?

Yes, I knew him. Good fella. (That’s a joke, by the way. I was somewhere else back then.)

But yes, it’s pretty similar. I think that anyone who lives for generations will develop that kind of wisdom or view on life. It’s almost inevitable.

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

Well, let’s see. I think he knows it already but hasn’t taken it in fully. He doesn’t completely trust it or allow himself to live from it. So if I can help, here it is.

He allows himself to worry about things that are regular parts of life, it’s the universal ups and downs. And he sometimes takes it more personally than he needs, and get more caught up in it than he would if he had longer experience. Life is not about him. Life just happens, as it does for everyone. Stay engaged, play the game, and know it’s not personal and most of the details are not even that important in the long run. Just do your best.

How do you see the world today?

Most if not all of the problems come from people being short-sighted. They think locally and act short-term, and although that worked in the past when humanity was smaller and had less powerful technology, it doesn’t work anyone. There are too many people, with too powerful tools, for that to work.

Humans need to imagine bigger, or at least enough need to, so they can create new systems that take deep time and global situations (like ecosystems) into consideration.

Human nature won’t change, but humans adapt their behavior to the system they are in.

(I should add: Human nature does change, but not very quickly. Not on the scale of centuries or decades.)

Is there a question you would like to be asked?

Hm. I like that question. Ask me what I enjoy the most.

What do you enjoy the most?

The changing seasons. The seasons of nature, of human life, of generations and human history.

The very small things, the ordinary. A cup of tea. Saying hello to a stranger. Waking a dog. Reading a book. Weathering an illness.

The new. A new dish. A new sunrise. A new here and now.

It’s there anything you are tired of?

Not really. Perhaps the predictable, or at least thinking something is predictable. I have seen enough to know it’s not. I guess that’s something I am still learning.

Is there anything else you are currently learning?

I am not sure. I think it’s mainly noticing how everything is fresh.

The mind sometimes tells me that this is something I have experienced more times than I can count, and although that’s true in a way, it’s not the whole picture. This experience is fresh.

I guess that’s another parallel to what Mr. Buddha and others have talked about. And it is the only way to stay fresh and keep enjoying – and not only enjoying but deeply enjoying — life when you live and live and live as I do.

What music, art, and books do you like?

Anything. Anything from any culture and period. What’s familiar and what’s new. High culture and trash. It’s all juicy.

Is it possible to make a mistake?

Well, it depends on what you mean. Of course, we sometimes make mistakes in a small perspective. We bungle things. Make poor decisions. Or make good decisions that turn out badly.

In a bigger perspective, those are not really mistakes. We do what we can based on who and how we are and the situation we are in. And we get feedback from life and have an opportunity to learn. So in that sense, nothing is really a mistake.

What do you think about conditioning?

That’s something I have a lot of experience with. Conditioning is the operating system of humans or at least a large part of it.

Patterns are passed on through the generations, with some variations. Patterns of what’s seen as good and bad, right and wrong; and patterns of likes and dislikes, cultural and family hangups and traumas; ideas about heaven and hell, gods and demons, how the world works, and just about anything else that’s part of how humans function.

When you take a generational view, you see how it’s not personal. It’s all passed on. And then we make it personal, and we have a chance to not take it as personal if we realize what’s going on.

Even how we function as a body is conditioning, passed on with some variations through all our ancestors back to that first single-celled organism.

And how this universe works is conditioning.

Some talk about conditioning as if it’s bad or something we need to get rid of, but that’s a superficial view. We are made up of conditioning. Our bodies wouldn’t function without it. Our society wouldn’t function without it. We would have no chance to function, or survive, or exist, without it. It’s the fabric of what we are.

The only conditioning we need to be concerned about is the one of wounds and hangups, and even here how we relate to it is more vital than getting rid of it. Of course, we can do some of both.

And a part of this conditioning is the beliefs and ideas passed on through the generations that creates pain for us, and an unnecessarily limited life when we hold them as true.

How do you see non-dual spirituality?

I hoped you wouldn’t ask. Yes, it’s pretty close to reality. And in the modern western version, it’s often taken as a belief, something to hold onto to feel secure and try to stay safe. For many who are into it, it’s a security blanket. They just exchanged traditional religion for neo-Advaita. That’s fine but if they are not honest about it, they are deluding themselves.

If I am honest, and I know I sound like an old curmudgeon, many would do better to heal their emotional issues. They would find more ease and real contentment that way.

That sounds a bit harsh?

Well, yes. It’s just that I have seen versions of it so many times, in so many periods and cultures. People are in pain. And they seek and latch onto a belief – a religion or philosophy or political system – that promises to give them relief. And the real relief is in healing the pain, not getting obsessed about a system or philosophy.

To be continued…

A note: When I wrote this, I imagined dialoguing with a relatively average person who has lived for centuries. My partner dialogued with the version of herself that has lived for eons. And it can be fun to explore even more versions: the mystic, the poet, the wise man/woman, the scientist, the warrior, the one who loves earth, the one who loves humans, the one who loves life, the one who has lived innumerable lives in places around the whole Cosmos.

Triggered issues bring us to the past

 

Emotional issues are like bubbles that preserve the past on the inside.

They were created in a specific situation in the past, often in our childhood, and often as a reaction to an ongoing situation.

When they are not triggered, or not triggered strongly, our center of gravity is outside of the bubble. We function more or less as if it’s not there, although the issue will inevitably color our perceptions and life.

When they are triggered, we may find ourself inside of the bubble. The past comes alive for us, we feel we are back in the same situation, it colors our experience of our current situation and the world, and we may even react as if we are back in the original situation.

To others, it may seem we are overreacting, misperceive the current situation, and behave irrationally. To us, we are back in the past. We behave in a way that makes sense for the younger person we were, and in the original situation. The situation we were in that felt scary and overwhelming, and we created the issue in response to, in our innocence and in order to protect ourself.

As we explore the issue and invite the charge to go out of the issue (in my case, through inquiry, Vortex Healing, etc.), the bubble is less strong, we are more aware of what’s happening, and we are less likely to be absorbed into the bubble.

Here is a common progression of what may happen when a strong and deep-seated issue is triggered, and we continue to work on it.

At first, we may still be fully absorbed into it although we recognize what happened after it subsides. We may then recognize it as it’s triggered and we go inside the bubble. We may be able to openly acknowledge it as it happens. We may then find that we have one foot inside and one outside of the issue. And when it’s more released, the issue may be more gently triggered and we recognize it without needing to go inside the bubble.

For issues that are less strong, we may start somewhere closer to the middle of that progression.

As we continue to work on the issue and our relationship to it, strength and charge of the issue lessen, we relate to it more consciously, and the bubble is recognized more for what it is.

Healing = willingness to heal > lack of willingness to heal

 

I think there is a relatively simple equation for whether we heal from emotional wounds or not.

The simple version is this:

Healing = willingness to heal > lack of willingness to heal.

When we want to heal more than we fear the discomfort of the process, we tend to find healing. It may take time, but there is healing.

We can add a few more components to the equation:

Healing = willingness face discomfort + trust in the process + right tools & good guidance > fear of discomfort + lack of trust + not so good tools

We not only need to be willing to face the discomfort, we also need to trust in the process, and we need the right tools and guidance. We need to trust we can find healing, that the tools are right, and that we have good guidance. And the trust needs to be based on reality.

We can add even a few more things to the initially simple equation: sincerity, honesty (with oneself), receptivity, and doggedness, a willingness to stay with the process.

Of course, if there are no results after a few sessions, it may be good to re-evaluate the process and perhaps find another tool and/or guidance. In my experience, if it works, we notice it relatively quickly.

The issue may not clear right away, but we notice it shifts and perhaps lightens and opens up. Smaller and more isolated issues can be cleared relatively quickly, but it takes longer for the more core and interwoven issues, perhaps even a lifetime, even if these too can shift, lighten, and be much easier after some sessions.

I am talking from my own experience here so I am open for this changing as I discover new tools and approaches.

Analyzing vs resolving our issues

 

It’s a common stereotype that traditional Freudian analysis lines the pockets of the analyst while offering insights to the client and no real resolution. I suspect there is a lot of truth to this, with the caveat that I don’t have personal experience with Freudian analysis.

Analysis and insight at a story level is just the first step in resolving our issues. It gives us an idea of what to work on. For any real and more thorough resolution, we have to go further and typically use other approaches.

What are these other approaches? It can be a range of different things and depends on the person, the issue, and what’s available.

Here are some examples:

Act in spite of our fears. Act as we imagine we would act without the issue. Try it out. Make small steps. (I am sure this one often is part of psychoanalysis sessions.)

Engage in dialog with the different parts of us, and the different parts of the issue. Take the role of the different parts of our mind. (Voice Dialog, Big Mind process, Internal Family Systems).

Use heart-centered approaches like ho’oponopono or Tonglen. This can be deeply transformative and helps us transform our relationship to the issue, the person or situation the issue seems to be about, ourselves, others, and the world, and it also transforms the issue itself.

Release tension and trauma out of the body through, for instance, therapeutic tremoring (TRE). Over time, this can take some or most of the charge out of the issue.

Go further in exploring how the mind creates its own experience of the issue. See how the mind associates sensations with thoughts to give the thoughts a charge and create the issue. See the associations the mind has around it, holding it in place. Find underlying beliefs and identifications, also holding it in place. This can be done with the Living Inquiries.

Identify and examine stressful and painful stories and beliefs holding the issue in place, for instance through The Work.

Use energy healing to bring awareness into the issue and releasing it from all the different parts of our being. (Energy bodies, pathways, chakras, energetic blueprints, physical organs, etc.) Vortex Healing is by far the most powerful and effective approach I have found for this. (In thirty years of exploring a range of approaches.)

These are just some of the approaches I have experience with and have found helpful. What’s common for all of them is that they go beyond just taking and having some understandings, and that’s essential for any real resolution. Whether that resolution is in our relationship to the issue (or what it appears to be about), or a resolution of the issue itself.

And for any of them to be effective, we need to do it with sincerity, receptivity, some doggedness, and with guidance. After a while, we may rely more or mostly on our own guidance, but it’s always good to have the perspective of someone else, especially when it comes to our more ingrained issues.

I should mention that I have a great deal of appreciation and respect for Freud. The essence is sounds and valuable (that much of what’s happening in our mind is outside of conscious awareness, projections, defense mechanisms, etc). And yet, he was a pioneer and a child of his own time and culture, so much of the specifics are perhaps less helpful.

A friend of mine recently told me of a relative who is suicidal (and a psychiatrist) and goes to Freudian psychoanalysis three times a week without it appearing to do much good, or at least not enough good. That was the seed for this article.

Monty Python and questioning everything

 
Every Sperm is Sacred from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life

I am listening to Halfway to Hollywood: dairies 1980-1988 by Michael Palin and mentioned Monty Python to my partner who was unfamiliar with them.

I realize why I liked them so much in my childhood and early teens (and still enjoy much of what they made). They are questioning everything, or at least any conventional middle-class norms, expectations, unwritten rules, double standards, small-mindedness, and irrational or misguided religious beliefs.

And I love questioning everything, even back then. It’s what led me to first informal and then guided inquiry.

What are the most basic assumptions or beliefs in society or a group? What are my most cherished and basic assumptions and beliefs? What are the effects of holding onto and living from them? In what way don’t they hold up? What are some other views that are equally or more valid? What’s the bigger picture?

Intellectual honesty and big & small interpretations of awakening

 

Most people who have an awakening will interpret it in the usual spiritual way. I did too, and still mostly do.

But I realized quickly that if I am to be honest with myself, and that is part of living from the awakening, there is another interpretation that also is possible.

First, what is a spiritual awakening? The essence is that what we are – that which all our experience happens within and as – wakes to itself. We can say that all our experience – of a me and a wider world – happens within and as awakeness, or consciousness, or perhaps awake space (although space also happens within and as it).

Identification is released out of the parts of the content of experience that we usually call me, or I, or the doer, observer or something else. It’s not that we are not that. It’s just that what we are is what all of it – this me and the wider world as it appears to me in a very ordinary sense – happens within and as.

The big or spiritual interpretation is that all of existence is Spirit or the divine or God, Brahman or whatever else we prefer to call it. That fits the immediate experience. It’s also this human self and locally, it took itself for a while to only be this human self and then woke up to itself as all of it without exception.

And yet, if I am honest, there is another interpretation, the small or psychological interpretation. Even within conventional psychology, they acknowledge that there is consciousness. And, logically and in direct experience, that is what we are. We just tell ourselves we are a human being, in the world, with a name and identity and so on.

So I have to acknowledge that there is a possibility that not only is the awakening local, but the consciousness that wakes up to itself is local too. It doesn’t exist as all of existence even if it appears that way in (naive) immediate experience. The world is as our materialistic worldview says, and what woke up to itself is the consciousness created by the brain in this one human being.

Both interpretations fit the basic data.

I have to be honest about that. And I can choose one or the other depending on what the situation calls for. For myself, I usually use the big interpretation. It’s more inspiring. When I talk with others, I sometimes use the small interpretation.

Although – I have to admit – there is a lot of data in my own experience that better fits the big interpretation. Mostly things like synchronicities, seeing energies, ESP and so on.

The ancient roots of meditation, inquiry, and therapeutic tremoring

 

If you have no patience for mindfulness and you’re too fidgety to meditate, a new approach to tackling stress has just reached the UK’s most fashionable yoga mats — and it might be for you.

The Times, Too fidgety to meditate? Try TRE — the new tension-release technique

The article makes a very good point. TRE can be very helpful for people who are fidgety and wish to release tension. And it is relatively new as a formalized approach.

At the same time, therapeutic tremoring is ancient. It’s built into us and all mammals through evolution. It allowed our ancestors to survive by giving them a way to naturally and effortlessly release tension and trauma. It goes back far beyond humanity and to our pre/non-human ancestors.

Basic meditation is ancient too. If we take it as noticing and allowing what’s happening in our sense fields, it may be a part of life for most beings and may have been for most of our human and pre/non-human ancestors. In a more formalized form, it’s found in many ancient cultures.

To a lesser degree, this is true for inquiry. At least for humans, and to some degree, it’s natural to notice what the mind does and notice some basic dynamics and patterns. And this too was developed and formalized in some ancient cultures.

The basic approaches for us to heal and discover who and what we are ancient. They have ancient roots, sometimes stretching back to pre/non-human ancestors. They are, in their essence, simple. And they bring us back to simplicity, although it’s a more informed and mature simplicity.

To go back to the news article: presenting TRE as a relaxation technique for those who are unable or unwilling to sit still in conventional meditation practice is a good selling point. But it does misrepresent meditation and, to some extent, therapeutic tremoring.

Meditation isn’t really about relaxing. (The basic approach is designed to help us notice and discovering and finding ourselves as what we already are.) It may well bring up whatever we have put a lid on in ourselves, and it’s anything but relaxing when that comes up. And although TRE practitioners (like myself) are trained to go slow with clients, it can still bring up old buried emotional material. When it happens, it’s good since it’s part of a deeper healing process. But it’s not necessarily comfortable and it’s not relaxing.

When we embark on exploring meditation, therapeutic tremoring, or something similar, it’s good if we are aware of these possibilities, that we cannot really put the lid back on when it has gone off, and decide if we are committed to going through all of this. There may be no going back.

In the big picture, all of this is good. It’s part of our healing and awakening journey.

At the same time, if a meditation- or TRE-instructor wants to be responsible, they need to inform the students about this, and perhaps also do an evaluation for trauma and adapt their approach accordingly.

Of course, for some of us, it doesn’t seem a choice. We just seem to know we have to do it. It calls us.

Waking up with a feeling

 

I wake up with a feeling. It’s hard to name but it’s slightly uncomfortable. It feels a bit stagnant, gritty, dense and dark, and there is a slight sense of fear or dread in it.

It’s not strong, and I know I can shake it off by getting up. Something in me would rather get to know it better. 

I notice the sensations and the image of something dark. I feel the sensations. Notice the image. Rest with it.

I notice a slight reaction in me wanting it to go away. (Or for me to go away from it by distracting myself.) I notice it is fear and I feel it in the center of the belly. 

I feel the fear. Allow it as it is. Notice it’s already allowed. I rest with it. 

I also notice some thoughts connected with the fear: I will be engulfed by the (initial) feeling. It will take over my life. It will make me paralyzed. I will be overwhelmed if I allow myself to feel it or get to know it

The sensations in the belly are stronger. I keep resting with it. It subsides.

I go back to the initial sensations. Notice it’s little different now. Feel the sensations. Rest with the sensations.

I notice the image of something uniform, stagnant, and somewhat dark associated with the sensations. I look at the image. Notice the lines, colors, texture.

I return to feeling and resting with the sensations.

I notice a small voice in me wanting this to make the initial feeling to away. I notice the sensations connected with it in the front of my upper body – especially chest and face. I feel and rest with the sensations.

After a while, I notice it’s connected with the fear in the belly and feel and rest with that too. It opens and subsides.

I return to the initial feeling. Rest with it.

I notice how the sensations are more easily recognized as physical sensations. Initially, they seemed to mean something (something vague, bad, undesirable), but now they are more clearly physical sensations without inherent meaning.

After a while, I explore any emotional issues behind the feeling with Vortex Healing. I do some de-networking for any issues behind the initial feeling (this releases connections with related issues since this network helps hold it in place), and then Angelic Heart for the same (helps open it up, align with reality).

And I make a mental note to continue to explore the rest – especially the wish to have it go away – later. (It’s an ongoing exploration.) 

I thought I would share this snapshot here. It feels fresh and real, and it’s something I wish to share more of. Snapshots of daily and unremarkable noticings.

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Magical realism in real life

 

Magical realism, magic realism, or marvelous realism is a style of fiction that paints a realistic view of the modern world while also adding magical elements.

– Wikipedia article on magical realism

This aspect of magical realism describes the world as it has been for most humans who have ever lived: an ordinary mundane life intermixed with magical and fantastic elements.

The exception is our modern western society. We have a largely materialistic scientific worldview, and most of us are understandably wary of mentioning any experiences that don’t fit this worldview.

I love modern science. A great deal of good has come out of it. And even more, I love the scientific methodology. It is essential that we stay sober about our experience and our view of the world, apply grounded critical thinking and verify any claims about reality. Collectively, we need to stay sober.

At the same time, we know that the way we individually and collectively see the world is inherently limited. Reality is always more than and different from our view of it.

Different parts of our current scientific worldview are always updated and replaced. And eventually, it’s inevitable that even its basic assumptions about reality are recognized as outdated and replaced with something that better fits the data we have collected.

So why are most of us wary of talking about any unusual experiences we may have? It doesn’t fit our current collective worldview. Often, it cannot easily be verified by others. And we may even be seen as weird, naive, or delusional.

I am talking about myself too. I usually don’t mention these things unless I talk with someone I know or suspect are receptive or understand.

So what types of experiences have I had?

I have seen energies since I was fifteen, around people, animals, plants, and objects. Mostly, with people, I see how awake the field is (or not).

There was a spiritual opening when I was sixteen where everything – without exception – was revealed as consciousness or the divine. (Of course, this can be interpreted in a small or psychological way (to me, the world happens within and as the consciousness I am and any ideas of being a separate being is added to that), or a big or spiritual way (everything, all of existence, is the divine, and it temporarily and locally takes itself to be a separate being until it no longer does).)

I have had periods with frequent and astonishing synchronicities, far beyond regular coincidences.

I experienced a ghost in an apartment in San Francisco that repeated the sounds from the day before. (Running water, the dog’s ball bouncing on the floor, the dog licking water.) This was verified by another and the dog.

I have an old friend who always seems to know what’s going on for me and in my life, and what will happen in very specific detail. And it’s been accurate so far.

Now, with Vortex Healing, I daily experience sensing at a distance, and often sensing that’s verified (by the client and/or another Vortex healer).

Again, what’s typical for all of these experiences is that they are unverifiable for others who were not there or don’t share them in another way. And they don’t fit in with our mainstream worldview. That’s why I rarely mention any of this unless I talk with others who I know or suspect will understand.

I also do my best to relate to and talk about these experiences in a relatively sane and grounded way, and to hold my stories about them lightly.

My stories about them are questions rather than statements.

Note: Magical realism typically refers to post-colonial critical literature speaking up for marginalized groups of people. I love that aspect of it but left it out of the article above. It was too tempting to use the short Wikipedia definition, and the one aspect of magical realism it talks about, as a starting point. But I realize that what I left out is very interesting too.

Magic and the supernatural is an ordinary part of most traditional cultures but is excluded or treated as superstition by western colonial and imperial powers. Simply including magical elements in literature or other art, and treating it as ordinary and unremarkable, is, in a way, a subversive act.

This helps me to see that when I choose to not speak about it, I allow myself to be colonialized by the modem western mindset, and speaking about it is a subversive and revolutionary act, for me too.

Image: The magic carpet (1880), Viktor Vasnetsov.

Rewilding ourselves

 

Rewilding is a progressive approach to conservation. It’s about letting nature take care of itself, enabling natural processes to shape land and sea, repair damaged ecosystems and restore degraded landscapes. Through rewilding, wildlife’s natural rhythms create wilder, more biodiverse habitats.

Rewilding Europe

How do we rewild ourselves?

It’s another big topic that a short article can’t do justice, but I’ll mention a few things.

One is to recognize that we are nature, we are already wild. We are the local expression of earth, the universe, and reality. Recognize it, feel it more deeply, reorient within this realization.

Another is to look at what in us prevents is from realizing this and live from it. And also from living from a more natural expression of our kindness and wisdom. Often, and perhaps more often than we realize, our beliefs, identities, and emotional wounds keeps us within a narrow range when a far larger range could be available to us.

Spending time in nature is helpful for rewilding ourselves. As is becoming comfortable with silence and listening. (Inner and outer silence, and listening to the inner and outer.) And befriending ourselves as we are, including our emotions, feelings, and body. And learning to appreciate and enjoy who and what we are.

Rewilding ourselves is a process of recognizing and taking in what we are. (A local expression of nature, Earth, the universe.) Listening. Befriending ourselves and reality. Venturing outside of artificial boundaries we put on ourselves. (Aka stressful, limiting beliefs and identities, fear rooted in emotional wounds and trauma.) Respect. Patience. Recognizing all as part of the same whole.

Befriending the wild in ourselves is very similar to befriending a wild animal.

Rewilding ourselves helps us find a deeper and more stable and universal identity (and perhaps freedom from identities). It helps us feel that we belong to nature, earth, the universe, and existence (as we do). It can help us find a deeper relaxion and ease, and comfort with ourselves and reality.

And it helps Earth. We realize we are the earth, and this naturally leads to changes in our life. We reprioritize. We live differently. We may become activists in our own way.

We realize that, by doing so, we are nature taking care of itself. We are nature protecting and defending itself.

Awake people don’t hurt life?

 

Awake people don’t hurt life.

Said to me a few days ago

Is it true that awake people don’t hurt life?

Not really. It’s more complex than that.

We still have hangups, wounds, trauma, and sometimes act on it like anyone else.

We still live in a social and economic system that’s deeply harmful to life and Earth, so our everyday life is harmful to life, Earth, and future generations.

At our human level, we are still a living organism that needs to eat other living organisms to survive. Even if we eat only fruits, nuts and vegetables, we still hurt life. (Just the production of these is often harmful because of modern agriculture.)

We are still a human being who makes mistakes, and who don’t know or cannot predict the consequences of our actions. We cannot really predict the local or short term consequences, and we certainly cannot predict the far-reaching and long term consequences.

There is another side to this, of course.

It’s probably true that we generally harm life less the more embodied awakening there is, especially if it’s combined with healing of emotional issues.

And in the bigger picture, it’s perhaps all Lila, the play of the divine, and nobody to get hurt and not really any hurt.

And yet, that’s no excuse to not live as well as we can, and minimize harm and support life as well as we can.

And there is yet another aspect to this. If we are very concerned about not hurting life (which is impossible although we can do or best to minimize it and make up for it), it may point to an emotional issue or a belief that’s not quite aligned with reality.

It’s natural and healthy to have it as a guide and orientation, but if it gets stressful and bordering on an obsession, it may be worth looking at a little more closely.

Adyashanti: There’s this whole other side of awakening

 

There’s this whole other side of awakening which isn’t just waking up from form, waking up from the body, waking up from the identifications of the mind, but it’s getting that awakening down in through all of that, and that’s like a clearinghouse. That’s the difference between someone who’s had an awakening and ultimately someone who has discovered their divine individuality.

– Adyshanti in The Divine Individual

Dialog with the beast

 

A dialog with my inner beast.

I would like to get to know you better. Is that OK? Can I ask you a few questions?

B: sure

What food would you like to eat?

B: Not so different from what P already eats. But more strict more of the time. More strict in following what’s good for the body and mind. More hardcore. And enjoying it. Finding the fun in it. (As P did in his 20s and 30s.)

What music do you enjoy?

B: Again, not so different. But more free in the choice, and more extremes — weird music from around the world, more intense music. Again, as P did in his teens, 20s, 30s.

How do you see P?

B: He is scared, timid. He got scared from what happened in the last ten years. He is afraid of everything right now, including me and living from me more again as he used to. He is afraid to get burnt.

Do you have advice for him?

B: Yes. Quit being so timid. Enjoy life again. Dive into it again. You may get burnt again, and so what? You’ll survive. It’s part of life. Choosing timidity is no life.

How can he do that?

B: Start in daily life. Do things that you used to enjoy a lot but set aside because you are scared and afraid to trigger the buried pain in yourself. Watch challenging movies. Read about what you are passionate about. Listen to deeply moving and spiritual music. Connect with the people you really want to connect with, and not just the “easy” ones. Be more open about your passions instead of pretending to be “normal” and inoffensive.

I get the sense that you, as the beast, cover the whole range of human experiences?

B: Yes, sure. I am part of him and he does, as all humans do. I just want him to be honest, direct, authentic, follow his passions. Whether it’s listening to Rammstein or Arvo Pärt. Or eating organic local vegetarian food or the occasional juicy beef. Or reading graphic novels about ghosts or Adyshanti, Jes Bertelsen, or Christian mysticism. Or enjoying sensuality and passionate sex or prayer and meditation. It’s all part of his life. He knows he deeply enjoys all of it.

Do you have advice for him when it comes to his health?

B: Keep doing what you are doing when it comes to taking care of your health (diet, sleep, fresh air), doing healing work (Vortex Healing, parts work, prayer, inquiry), and planning to spend more time in better climates (warmer, drier, fresh organic food). Also, bring more of me into your life again. Find the joy again of living more from me. Allow yourself to risk getting hurt again. (I promise you you will, and that’s completely ok, it’s part of the game). Follow your actual interests and what makes you be who you want to be. Don’t sell yourself short. (By spending time with the “easy” people instead of the interesting ones, by watching easy things on internet instead of the juicy things that deeply feed you, by avoiding reading what’s deeply interesting to you, by not doing art and making music.)

He is scared of doing art and making music, yes?

B: Yes, he feels it puts him in touch with the deep passion in him and the pain he experienced when he left his inner guidance on the big life decision many years ago. He is afraid of the pain that’s there from leaving his guidance in the past. So now he lives a timid life. One where he doesn’t follow his deep passion and the deep passion he experiences when he does art and composes music.

What advice do you have for him on that topic?

B: Dive into the pain. That’s the only way to do it. You created the pain so you get to experience it. It’s actually not that bad when you dive into it. I’ll be there with you. It’s the only way for you to come alive again. It’s your path to life and living again, and in a much better way than before. You have grown a lot.

He left you?

B: Yes, he left me partially and enough to extinguish his inner fire. He left me when the pain of leaving his inner guidance was too much for him.

It’s that part of his illness? (CFS)

B: I don’t know but I think so. I give him strength, passion, and what he needs to be authentic and follow his guidance. I give him the strength to follow his inner guidance. All of that will help him get back on his feet again, and more than that live a full, fiery and deeply meaningful life. One that has an impact on others too and helps them live a fuller, meaningful and juicy life, and the life that happens when you follow your inner guidance.

Should he post this?

B: He has to decide. Yes, because he wants to be more authentic in his writing and what he posts. No, if it makes him feel he did too much and feels too scared and vulnerable. (It won’t but it’s good for him to embrace me more while also taking care of himself and follow his guidance.)

Anything else you would like him to know?

B: I am here for him. I won’t go away. He just needs to access me and live more from me. I have no interest in being the only part of him he lives from, but I am essential for him to live a more real, fierce, and alive life. I am essential for him to live as he wants to live. To live aligned with his knowing, truth, and authenticity.

You seem to be aligned with truth?

B: I don’t know. I want him to be aligned with his truth, and I am essential for him to live from it. He can’t be timid and still live from truth. He has to be able to access fierceness when that’s needed.

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The saint and the beast: when I modeled for a painting

 
Twins with knives, Odd Nerdrum

Back in the 90s, I was a student (aka apprentice) of Odd Nerdrum and also modeled for this painting.

I knew he saw me, but I was also embarrassed to admit it. I was embarrassed by the knives and that aspect of me.

If people asked me what the knives represented, I would innocently say “I don’t know”.

So here it is, all laid out.

This painting is of a saint and a beast.

The face is that of a saint, and I have that side of my personality.

The arms and knives are those of the beast.

What is the saint-beast dynamic? And what is the beast? It can be seen in several ways.

The first is one I don’t like to admit to so much. I have a tendency to people-please and set aside my own needs, and that comes with suppressed anger, feeling like a victim, reactivity and so on. The face is the people-pleasing, and the knife is the suppressed anger. (This also reflects a family and cultural pattern.)

More generally, any identity comes with a shadow side, and if I identify as good and “spiritual”, what in me doesn’t fit goes into darkness. It’s more hidden. Not acknowledged. And I have spent a lot of time exploring and owning – or owning up to – those sides of me, even from before this painting was made.

The beast also mirrors a ruthless side of me. If something is important to me (awakening but sometimes other things), I can be ruthless going after it.

And that’s related to another way to look at the knives. Swords and knives can represent cutting through the bullshit. Going for the truth and reality, even if it’s uncomfortable (see Manjushri). (This is best applied to oneself.)

I think this dynamic in me is also why I resonate with characters like Hellboy (especially as depicted in the del Toro films). He is born a beast (demon) but has a pure heart.

Why the twins? I am not sure. If this image was in a dream of mine, I would wonder if it represents a division or kind of a split. The saint on one side and the knives and beast on the other. Something that’s not (yet) brought into or recognized as part of a whole. That was more true of me then although it’s still part of me. I am still working on it.

And the primal clothing and setting? It’s typical for Nerdrum (and one of the reasons I resonate with and love his art). And the theme is primal too, whatever the theme is. That too is typical for Nerdrum.

Most of the subjects have a mythic or archetypal feel to them, and we can have a sense of it, but the exact meaning is hard to pin down. My sense is that by trying to pin it down, we miss the point and the power of the paintings. They are meant to work on us at a more primal level.

Here are some comments about the painting from Alejita, my partner.

The painting: They are two. Two parts of you. Although the clothes and the hair are of a mystic, the look of him (especially in the man behind) is bestial. And with the knife, he is opening the left side of your body, your heart. One of them covers the heart of the other. One, the one behind is more beastly than the one in the front. However, most beastly is the one who opens the heart. The force with which he is taking the knife is abysmal. And the horizon is at neck height, splitting your body from your head.

And what she wrote after reading this post:

I feel that the two of you are both a beast, both have a knife, both are ready to kill the “things” are not any more “useful”. I don’t see the two characters as a separation, rather they are the complete image of you. It looks like the two coexist with the beast, there is no separation. The double image is more the feminine and masculine together, living with the beast that is not a third party. It is completeness, union.

I resonate with that way of looking at it. The one on “stage right” is more masculine (this is the original) and the one stage-left is more feminine (he copied this based on the first). And both have the saint and beast together. It’s all one – feminine and masculine, saint and beast.

How to deal with ecological grief

 
Joanna Macy: Befriending our Despair

As our eco-systems keep unraveling, ecological grief will only go more into the mainstream as an experience and topic.

How do we deal with our ecological grief?

Here are some things I have found helpful for me:

Recognize it’s natural and even healthy. My ecological grief – for what I see happening locally and globally – is natural, understandable, and even healthy. It’s an expression of recognizing what’s happening. It comes from caring for myself, those close to me, humanity, future generations, non-human beings, species, ecosystems, and Earth a beautiful and amazing-beyond-comprehension living whole.

Share with likeminded people. Share as a confession.

Deep Ecology practices – like the Practices to Reconnect. These help us befriend our grief, find nourishment from our deep connection with all of life and past and future generations, and renew our hope and motivation for action. They can be done with a small group of friends or larger and more organized groups. I have led them myself with one or two other people and up to groups of ten or more.

Channeling the grief into action. This is not only how we transform society into a more Earth-centered one, but it also helps our own mental health. Even small actions are valuable, especially when I do it with others. (A while back, I helped start up neighborhood eco-teams and NWEI groups and these transformed people’s lives at many levels.)

I can support politicians and policies that help us transform into a more life-centered society. I can donate to organizations. I can make changes in my own life. I can join a local organization. I can communicate with politicians, businesses, and corporations. I can inform myself about what’s happening and win-win-win solutions. I can choose to focus on the solutions. I can envision the world I want to live with and share my vision.

I can choose to focus on systemic solutions because that’s where the problems are (not in individuals or “human nature”) and that’s also the best strategy for getting others on board (avoiding blaming individuals or particular groups of people).

Changing how I see it. I am not (only) an individual stressed out or in grief from witnessing the destruction of nature. I am nature reacting to its own destruction. And when I channel it into action, I am – quite literally – nature protecting itself. (Deep Ecology, ecopsychology, eco-spirituality, Deep Time, Big History, Universe Story, etc.)

Clear up stressful beliefs and identifications, and find healing for triggered emotional issues. When we respond to ecological destruction – whether it’s local or global – it inevitably ties into our own personal wounds and hangups. I can use my reaction to what’s going on in the world as a pointer to my own personal issues and I can explore and find healing for these. That not only improves my quality of life, it also makes me a more effective agent for change in the world. I act more from clarity and kindness and less from reactivity and wounds.

Dream: a female pixie

 

I am at a busy gathering of some sort. I lost my sleeping space to someone else and a young woman invites me to cuddle and sleep next to her. We have a very good connection and she is clearly interested in me. Early dawn, we get up and I talk with someone else for a while. I see her and she pretends to not see me. Someone says she decided I am not committed enough. I try to catch up with her but she disappears. (Literally, right in front of me, into some rocks and plants where there was no space for a human to disappear.)

She had a pixie character. She looked and felt like a pixie, and maybe she was, at least partly. Very close to nature and plants and flowers. A little skittish. Impulsive.

We slept on the side of a charming neighborhood street, on some flat rocks overgrown with plants. It’s the public side of a beautiful and very well kept garden. It has the feeling of wild nature but is also clearly planted and cared for. I understand it belongs to her or her family, and that she has been one of the ones taking care of it.

When we get up, there is still a gathering or festival and I talk with a random passers-by. I lose track of the young woman, and when she appears in the crowd again she pretends to not see or know me.

She had chosen me and wanted to connect with me, but left because I didn’t show enough interest. I was fascinated and committed, and I thought we had time. I hadn’t meant to act as if I took her for granted, but I understood she took it that way.

Towards the end of the dream, I realized the location is Eugene, Oregon, where I lived for about ten years. It all – the place, people – had a permaculture and community-oriented feel to it. In the dream, it all also had a very magical and nature-oriented feel to it.

I had read VH notes about the sister realm (nature, fairies, etc.) the night before, and I also started re-watching Hellboy 2.

What is the dream about? It may reflect a longing to some of the nature- and community-oriented atmosphere I experienced in Eugene. It was likely seeded by what I had read and watched the night before. And the theme – a woman interested in me who then decides I am not interested even if I am – is one that has happened in my own life more than once.

The main atmosphere in the dream was a beautiful sense of the magic of nature, and the young woman was perhaps half a pixie (or elf, fairy), or a nature spirit, or at least one very close to and intimate with nature. This is a part of me I would like to connect with more, and one that is perhaps a little skittish. She requires more steady attention and demonstrated commitment than I gave her.