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Although the costs for this blog are relatively small, any donations are greatly appreciated and makes it possible for it to continue.
I don’t have much interest in reincarnation in a conventional sense. I see it as (a) so far unfounded in science, (b) a good projection object, and (c) equally well explained otherwise.
Going a bit further, here are some ways of looking at it:
There is the conventional view, where an entity of sorts (AKA soul) passes from one life to another. This is certainly (in theory) possible. And although this soul is “me” as this human self is it, neither is what I am (that which all happens within and as, including human self and a possible soul).
The information a real past life may be picked up in another way. For instance, some suggest elements from past lives are reorganized into current lives but not in a “one to one” fashion (Nic O’Keefe). Other suggest that souls mentor babies and pass on memories of their past lives that way (Lorna Byrne). It’s also possible that the information about real past lives are passed on in another way, either in a way well known or less known or understood by us today.
Whatever else is going on, there is an element of projection here. We imagine something in the past or future, and also imagine time and space that this takes place within, and take it as real or not. And all of those images are happening here and now. (We can also say that a form of “reincarnation” is happening over small time spans. Patterns are “reborn” anew here and now. And this too requires ideas of time and space etc.)
It’s a good topic for research and scientific studies. No matter what we find, it will help us learn more about the world. (Either what happens – if anything – after death, and also about culture and how we relate to our fears and hopes.)
I listened to a talk on limits to economic growth, suggesting that we need zero growth or “degrowth”. I know that these ideas were popular several decades ago, and am surprised to see it presented in that way today.
We have an economical system that’s not aligned with ecological realities, and is terrible – for people, the Earth and future generations – no matter what type of growth we have, whether it’s the usual growth, zero growth or degrowth.
We need an economical system that is aligned with ecological realities, where what’s easy and attractive to do – for individuals and corporations – is good for people, the Earth and future generations.
And that is very much possible. We created our current economical system. It made sense, to some extent, at the time it was initially developed. And we can develop a quite different system. A good question here is: if we were to create an economic system today, with our current knowledge and values, how would it look?
A few things are clear: We need strong institutions to regulate it so corporations don’t take over the policy process. And, for instance…….. Strong taxes on what we don’t want or want less of, such as use of fossil fuels and natural resources, and relatively useless activities such as trading stocks. And incentives for what we do want more of, such as renewable energy use, local trading, worker owned businesses, rengenerative design and more.
We can also say that we need an economical system that supports certain types of growth (quality of life, well being, knowledge), more – for a time – of other types of growth (renewable energy, sustainable technology, regenerative design), and far less of other types of “growth” (use of fossil fuel, release of harmful chemicals etc.).
We are trained to think that some things are mine, including emotions, discomfort, joy, insights, and – more basically – images, words, and sensations, and it may seem true. We may believe a thought saying that’s how it is. Sensations that appear “stuck” on the words and images making up the “mine” thought, making it appear solid and real, and also creates a sense of like or dislike, and a charge.
And yet, is it true? Can I know for sure? Can I find evidence for it, outside of words, images and sensations? What do I find when I examine the words, images and sensations associated with the “mine” experience? (It can be helpful to examine what appears the most obviously “mine” in immediate experience.)
If it isn’t mine, who or what does it belong to then? Perhaps life? Perhaps none? Perhaps I don’t really know?
How is it to live when the initial stories are thoroughly questioned, or the velcro (charge) has gone out of it? How is life the same? Different?
I started writing about being with what’s here, and realize that doesn’t work so well for me anymore, not even as a starting point to add to.
Being with what’s here – emotions, discomfort, pain, exhilaration or whatever it is – is difficult if not impossible if there are beliefs behind or about what’s here, or if there is a strong charge around it. The beliefs or charge (velcro) tend to distract too much. Attention goes to where it’s needed, and that’s the knots which ask for (not really)…… attention, care, love, being seen as is, being felt as is.
If that’s the case, inquiry and love seems more helpful. Inquiring into the beliefs behind or triggering discomfort, unease, emotions or whatever it is, and the beliefs about what’s here (The Work). Or…. inquiry into the words and images associated with it (looking at them, asking some simple questions about them), and the sensations (taking time to feel them, asking simple questions about them). This makes it possible to see the words as words and images as images, and feel the sensations as sensations.
And finding love for what’s here. You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me. What would satisfy you forever? What are you really?
Inquiry makes it easier and more natural to find love for what’s here. We see its innocence, and that it is here to protect (the imagined) me. It comes from love. It is love.
Anything that’s here, and have been ignored or rejected (neither is really possible, but it may seem like it), wishes to be seen, felt, cared for, understood, loved. It’s just like an afraid child.
It’s very simple. It’s what we all wishes for, and long for. And these parts of us – and the world – are no different.
I have familiarized myself somewhat with neo-advaita approaches, and see what many point out: it’s easy to get hung up on ideas and concepts, and invest these with a sense of reality – perhaps in an attempt to find a sense of safety and security. (And avoiding feelings that appear uncomfortable.)
For instance, some folks – both teachers and students – talk about no self and emptiness as if these are real and somehow inherent in life. There is identification with these ideas. Sensations are velcroed to words and images, giving them a sense of reality, solidity, meaning, and a charge.
If I look for no self, or emptiness, or awareness, what do I find? Can I find it outside of words, images and associated sensations? (And what do I find if I look for their companion ideas…. Can I find a self outside of words, images and sensations? What about reality? Solidity? Matter?)
Also…. can I find a self that sees through this? A self that “gets” it? Someone else who don’t?
Where do I “land” to find a sense of solidity or security?
Whatever I “land” on, can I find it? What do I find in words, images and sensations? Can I find it outside of these?
The current fascination with the internet is very understandable, from a couple of different perspectives.
From an evolutionary perspective, a curiosity and fascination with what’s new and information is valuable for survival. It helps us familiarize ourselves with what’s new, and we gain information about the world. (The newness factor is rapidly falling away, but the info factor is still there and will continue to be there.)
From a larger perspective, it’s life (Earth, the Universe) familiarizing itself with itself, through us… it’s local eyes, ears, feelings and intellect. We are the universe experiencing and exploring itself, and bringing itself into awareness. (As it does through any sentient beings, part of this living planet and – most likely – other places in the universe.)
It’s common for the older generations to frown upon the “fads” of the younger generations, and that has happened with the internet too. But those days are already almost over, as those who grew up with the internet now are having their own children, and the internet has become an ordinary part of daily life for even the older ones. What’s new becomes ordinary, and we find a more balanced relationship with it. And it is quite amazing, this tool that connects people around the world (at least those more affluent…..) and allows us access to a great deal of information created by people around the world and throughout history.
Some traditional spiritual teachings and practices emphasize going and being somewhere else. They can be a bit pushy and striving, and rest on assumptions that what’s here is not “good enough”. Even when love, body and Earth is included, this too is sometimes done in a slightly pushy and striving way. Without inclusion of it’s counterpart, allowing, this can lead to burnout.
So it can be helpful to balance it with a more allowing approach. One that includes love for what’s here, caring for all our experiences and parts, gentleness, nourishment, receptivity, connection with the soil and the Earth, and a gentle inclusion of the body.
And we see this transition in our culture today. There is a growing emphasis on finding love for what is. Notice it’s already allowed and welcome. Notice that what we may see as troublesome aspects of ourselves are here to protect us, are well intentioned, and come from love. Notice – and enjoy – the relief in this approach.
The two approaches complement and support each other. Allowing gives a more true and restful context for striving. Striving happens within and as allowing. And allowing striving makes the allowing more alive, dynamic and aligned with reality. Striving is allowed, along with whatever else is here.
Both are here anyway. There is a dynamic impulse, and it’s all already allowed. So why not consciously include both?
And are they really here as they initially appear? What do I find when I look for striving or allowing? Can I find either, outside of words, images and sensations?
Stephan Bodian’s new book is called Beyond Mindfulness: The Direct Approach to Lasting Peace, Happiness, and Love.
I haven’t read it yet, but judging from the description – and his previous books, which all were excellent – I assume this one is well worth reading, and applying.
It also highlights what “we all” know: Although mindfulness, in its conventional form, can be helpful, there is benefit to a more direct approach as well. Especially in the form of certain types of inquiry.
Mindfulness alone can reinforce the appearance of a subject-object duality, it can reinforce chasing certain states, and it can leave some basic assumptions unquestioned. It’s an unbalanced diet.
Is it true that what I am seeking is not already here? What do I find when I explore my beliefs around it? What do I find when I explore the velcro around it, the sensations that appear stuck to certain images and words? The states that I am seeking, can I find them as something real and solid? The subject and object, can I find them apart from in words, images and sensations?
Having lived in the US (small town in Oregon) and Norway, I notice a difference in how cats relate to strangers.
In the US, cats tend to be very friendly with strangers, to the point of coming up to greet me when I go for walks in neighborhoods I am not familiar with. In Norway, cats tend to be skeptical to strangers, and avoid me when I see them coming through the yard or when I am out on a walk.
In both cases, their behavior seem to reflect the human culture. In the US, people tend to be very friendly towards strangers. And in Norway, people tend to be polite and distant with strangers, and reserve the warmth to family and friends. This pattern seem quite consistent and obvious in my experience, and others – who have lived both places – report noticing it too.
I wonder if cats pick this up from humans around them, just as we humans do as a child?
I have had a dark night of the soul phase that’s lasted for 17+ years now. I see that Adya suggests that this phase typically lasts from five to twenty years, although there are of course exceptions in either direction.
Some possible reasons for a long dark night of the soul (in my case):
It started when I went against my guidance on a major life decision, and I stayed in this life situation even if it felt fundamentally wrong. I stayed due to unquestioned/unloved shoulds and fears in me, inherited from my family and culture. (I have since left that particular situation.)
Going against my guidance on new life decisions. Often due to wanting to follow “expert” advice, even if my own common sense and guidance says otherwise. (And in hindsight, I see that it probably would have been better to follow my own knowning.)
Not meeting certain parts of me with love. (Wounds, identities around being unlovable and unloved, missing out and more.)
Not finding love/peace with certain aspects of my life and life situation. (Regrets about missed opportunities, fear about the future.)
A collapse of body and mind, perhaps partly due to the above. This made the resources I used to have available less available, and it’s been easier to fall into victim identification and hopelessness.
Here are some approaches to exploring the mind:
Content of thought, stories (i) – through talk therapy of various kinds.
Content of thought, stories (ii) – through subpersonalities and parts.
Relationships and groups – exploring ourselves in relationships and groups and through relationship and group dynamics.
Body connections – exploring the connections between body and mind, through movement, shaking and more.
Earth connections – exploring our connections to the Earth (worldviews, experiential).
The dynamics of thought itself – through cognitive therapy or inquiry (leaving no stone unturned, questioning even the most basic assumptions).
Love – finding love for what’s here…. emotions, thoughts, subpersonalities, emotional and physical pain, and more.
Awareness – recognizing the content of awareness, including thoughts, emotions and subpersonalities, as awareness itself.
Each of these has their place and role. I may be more interested in the inquiry and love approaches right now, since they are helpful for me in the phase I am now, and I may write about them more than the other approaches, but that doesn’t mean they are more important than any of the other approaches. And although most of us tend to focus on one or a few of these at a time, it doesn’t mean that our approach is linear. I explored awareness first, then content of thought, love, and Earth connections, then group dynamics, and then inquiry and body connections. Also, these approaches tend to be complementary and mutually supportive. One informs and supports another.
In our western culture, we have tended to see parts of our world as inferior – nature, animals, our bodies, women, children, future generations – and treated it accordingly. We split the world in our minds, take this imagined split as reality, see one part as less valuable than the other, and then take this imagination as true as well.
There are historical, cultural, philosophical and religious reasons for this.
More immediately, it’s about the images we have in our own minds. Images transmitted from our culture, and that are there whether we consciously agree with them or not.
So it can be very helpful – and illuminating – to explore these images, for instance through the Living Inquiries.
When I bring my body to mind, what images do I see? What words? What sensations are connected to these images and words?
What do I find when I bring animals to mind? Animals vs. humans? Women? Women vs. men? Children? Children vs. adults? Future generations? Future generations vs. our current generation?
I see this as an important part of illuminating the stereotypes we all carry with us, and – at least somewhat – live our lives from, whether we are aware of it or not.
Note: In our western culture, influenced by a certain version of Christianity, we tend to split the world into good and bad, less valuable and more valuable. And the dividing line has been drawn between body and mind, women and men, children and adults, nature and humans, future generations and the current generation, with the former of each of these pairs seen as less valuable, less important, less respectable. And that’s behind many of the troubles we see today. For instance, we couldn’t have developed such a deeply unsustainable way of doing business, economics and production if it wasn’t for images in our minds telling us that (a) there is a split between humans and nature, and (b) humans are more important than nature. This is what has allowed us to pretend, for a while, that we operate separate from (the rest of) nature, and that we can mistreat nature without mistreating ourselves in the same way.
I know several – myself included – who seem to not be able to do much these days other than meeting what’s here with love. Meeting what’s here with love, whether it’s fear, emotional pain, physical pain, anger, frustration, wounds, hurt, and more.
And that does seem like the most important job right now. These parts have been neglected for so long. Collectively, they have been neglected or vilified for generations. And in my life, for years or decades. And all they want is love.
They are innocent. And their intention is to help me and protect me. They come from love for me.
So why not meet them with love?
I can hold satsang with it.
You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me.
What would satisfy you forever? (What do you really want?)
What are you really?
I can meet it in a very simple way.
I wish you ease. I wish you love.
I can do ho’oponopono.
I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you.
And it’s all very simple. It’s quiet. Simple. Love.
What’s here doesn’t need to change. It’s already innocent. Love. Awareness. And it does change, when met with simple love.
Meeting these neglected parts with love helps them, it helps me, and it helps the world. It’s what they need, I need, and it’s what the world sorely needs right now.
What is reality?
There is probably no end to how far we can go in exploring this in immediate experience and through (other forms of) science. It seems that it keeps opening up and revealing itself in new ways, sometimes within our existing framework and sometimes in ways that challenges and changes – if we allow it – our most basic views and assumptions. I assume that both of these will continue for us as individuals and collectively, as long as we are around, are curious, and – at least somewhat – honest.
For me, the practical basics seem quite simple:
In immediate experience, all is consciousness (AKA awareness, awakeness). All happens within and as awareness. When I have inquired into what seems the most solid, I have found that too to be awareness. It’s a form within awareness. All the forms of I and me, others, the wider world, emotions, thoughts, identifications, situations…. it’s all happening within and as awareness.
The story of a “physical” reality is helpful and has practical use. As I inquire into this story, I find it allows me to hold it more lightly. (Including the story of a me/I in the world, living in the world, inquiring into or holding a story.)
As a practical guideline, this seems to work for me now…..
Inquiry into my immediate experience to see what’s really there, and how the world (including what appears as a me and I and mine) appears in immediacy. I can do this through the Big Mind process, the Living Inquiry, headless experiments or other forms of inquiry.
In daily life, and for practical reasons, live as if there is a world more or less as it appears to me, explore how it appears to me, and use practical wisdom to discern how to live and which guidelines to use in different situations and for different purposes. Through questioning these too, I hold them more lightly. And still use whatever stories and imagined boundaries that seem most helpful and kind in the situation I am in.
In psychology, body image is typically studied as if seen from the “outside”, through questionnaires, interviews and similar.
And it’s also quite interesting to explore it in immediate experience. What words, images and sensations are here, connected with how I see my body (as I think it is, would like it to be, and perhaps fear or hope it may be in the future)? What do I find when I look at each of these, feel the sensations, and see if I can find what I initially experience is there? (Threat, a threatened one, a body as I think it is, a body as I fear or hope it may be.)
It will have most meaning for me, as it helps me see what’s here, and perhaps allow sensations to “unstick” from the words and images. And it can also be studied on a larger scale, looking at commonalities and differences between people. What dynamics do we find? What’s shared? What’s the cultural component? What’s the differences and similarities between cultures?
I assume this approach will be included in mainstream academic and therapeutic psychology, perhaps within the next few decades. It seems inevitable that it will, since it’s so useful, and since other types of Buddhist-type practices have already entered mainstream. Mindfulness was first, and inquiry may be next.
It seems that the Living Inquiries can be a good tool in this process, this more phenomenological and first person exploration of body image.
This is again an old topic, but it keeps coming up for me when I read or hear certain folks in the media.
To blindly accept and blindly reject, are both forms of blindness.
If others are similar to me, it’s a way of dealing with fear, of avoiding feeling the fear. It comes from hope, again as a way to avoid feeling fear and discomfort. It comes from identification with a certain identity, which appears solid and real as “me”. It comes from beliefs, from taking certain thoughts as true and reflecting a reality “out there”. It comes from velcro, from sensations attached to words and images, creating an sense of reality, solidity, charge and likes and dislikes. It’s a way of reinforcing belonging to certain groups, for instance hard nosed skeptics, or those who have “seen behind the veil” (new age etc.). Each of these are slightly different ways of pointing to the same.
This came up for me again when I saw that NRK (the Norwegian broadcasting company) has another TV series where the host clearly sets out to dismiss certain things, rather than seriously investigate to find what’s really there. Of course, others do the same only in reverse – accepting certain things without really looking into to to see what’s there. And many do look into it seriously and in a more sober way, to find what’s really there.
One of the topics of the TV series was sensitivity to electromagnetic radiation. It’s an interesting topic because the nocebo effect most likely plays a role for many. And it is true that research into possible mechanisms, and connections between radiation and health, haven’t come up with anything conclusive. Still, that doesn’t mean something more may be going on that it’s worth exploring further.
I have written about this a few times but wanted to revisit it, mostly as a way to explore it again for myself.
A dark night of the soul, in a technical sense, is what typically happens after an initial awakening (AKA illumination) and before finding a deeper ease with what’s here, independent of what is is (AKA equanimity). (See Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism, or Adyashanti’s Resurrecting Jesus, for more on this.)
The term itself – dark night of the soul – can be understood in a few different ways.
Life is working on us in a way that’s hidden from us. (As it really always does.) It’s hidden and unknown, as in a dark night. This is the original meaning of the word, as far as I know.
What happens may be seen as “dark” in a more modern sense. It’s a challenging phase, dark psychological material may surface, things seem to go wrong, and (apparently) desired things fall away. The word “dark” is here used in the sense of hidden, or what’s conventionally seen as undesirable.
A dark night implies rest, and rest seems to be an important part of the dark night of the soul, at least at times and for some of us.
Why does a dark night of the soul happen?
It may be due to a burn-out from the initial awakening phase, with strong kundalini energies running through the system.
It’s a natural reversal from going “up” in the initial awakening, and now “down” so both can be met, included and loved.
It may come from an inability to repress material anymore, sometimes due to the opening of the initial awakening. Whatever is unmet and unloved in us (wounds, traumas) come to the surface to be met, loved, included and seen through.
What’s left of identifications (beliefs, velcro) surfaces, so this can be met and loved, and perhaps seen through. (A variation of the one above.) With this comes an invitation to mature as a human being, and deepen in our familiarity with the terrain – human and consciousness.
We may have said a “dangerous prayer”, asking for full awakening no matter the cost, or to be shown “what’s left”. (I did both, at different times. The dark night of the soul started a year-and-a-half after the first prayer, and the darkest phase of the dark night came a couple of weeks after the second.)
We don’t know. Even if the stories above may be helpful, we don’t know.
For me, there may also have been a couple of more specific reasons:
I went into a life situation that felt wrong and went against my guidance, and that’s when the dark night started for me. I stayed because of fears and shoulds, and a hope that it would get better, and it was very draining, which is perhaps what led to the darkest phase of the dark night (with health problems, inability to suppress, and more).
I received some diksha sessions a few years into the dark night. These led to what seemed like a nondual awakening, which lasted for about six months. This, in turn, was followed by a collapse of my whole system (fatigue, brain fog, inability to suppress etc.). I wonder if the diksha forced what otherwise would have been a more gradual, slow and more natural process, which led to a backlash. The diksha energy may also have changed something in me (the brain?) which my system reacted to.
I have done some reading on what I can do to take care of my gums and teeth, and here are some brief pointers:
Brushing etc. (nothing here is very unusual).
Brush well. (I sometimes use a Sonicare brush which is good for gums and teeth.)
Use remineralizing toothpaste (calcium bentonite clay can be used).
Floss + clean the tongue.
Rinse with salt water after meals.
Diet and supplements.
Eat well and enough to get the metabolism up. (Butter, coconut oil and more is good here.)
Get enough vitamin A, D3 and K2. (Helps gum and teeth health and recovery.)
Bone broth, gelatin etc.
And possibly… oil swishing (ayruvedic).
I have found Joey Lott’s book How I Healed My Teeth Eating Sugar very helpful.
The nice thing about these pointers is that they are simple, they align with the “official” advice, they fit with our evolutionary history (often a good check), and they help improve health in general. And they may not only help maintain and improve gum and teeth health, but can possibly also help “repair” existing problems.
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God.
Justin Welby tells BBC radio interviewer there are moments when he doubts – but he is certain about the existence of Jesus.
– from a The Guardian article
I am sometimes puzzled that people who make God their business sometimes seem to have a quite naive and immature way of looking at it. (Of course, there are many exceptions.)
In this case, as I have mentioned before, it’s all about our image of God. If I see God as equal to reality, what is as it is, then the whole question of belief falls away. God equals reality and is something I can explore through science, and also in immediate experience. Also, if I see God as consciousness itself, then I can find it through a simple inquiry here and now – for instance through the Big Mind process, the headless experiments, or the Living Inquiries.
Similarly with Jesus. It’s all about how I see Jesus and/or Christ.
If I see the Jesus story as a teaching story, it doesn’t matter whether Jesus – as a historical person – lived or not. The Jesus story reflects me and my own process.
And if I see Christ as a particular flavor of Big Mind/Heart, then again it doesn’t matter whether Jesus lived or not. It’s something I can access here and now, allow work on me, and live from.
It allows me to be more honest about the historical question of Jesus, and admit that there is hardly any convincing data suggesting that he did live as a historical person. It doesn’t matter because the Jesus story is still a very important teaching story, and Christ is alive here and now.
Note: See Resurrecting Jesus by Adyashanti, and The Jesus Mysteries by Tim Freke and Peter Gandy, among other books, on this topic. Also, when it comes to our views of the divine, I am aware that these tend to reflect phases of adult development, as outlined by f.ex. Fowler.
Earlier today, I mentioned to an inquiry friend that I see a belief in me that I need to be saved by a woman. She asked from what? and I realize I didn’t quite know.
Here are some things I find. I need to be saved from…..
This feeling of unease or discomfort.
Feeling unloved and unlovable.
Feeling not enough.
This is a reminder that first I find, then I can unfind.
First, I find what appears to be here…. a real threat, a real deficient self, or anything else.
Then, I can see what’s really here. What do I find? Can I find it outside of words, images and sensations?
Note: The beliefs I write about here have a few things in common. They are often a variation of an universal theme. They are not necessarily very strong. And they are not always noticeable. They come up now and then, in varying degrees of intensity, and most of us know them from our own life.
All loneliness is loneliness from ourselves. Most of what we do to feel better takes us further away from that which we are aching for.. intimacy with the self.. and still we need to take breaks and let it happen in it’s own time.. we cannot force ourselves open, just like a child has it’s own way of being, opening and closing…
– my friend AH on FB
Here’s my challenge for you: If you want to find your passion, know your life’s purpose, meet your soulmate, or feel intensely alive, don’t look toward the fun things that fit logically into the flow of an easy life. Ask yourself, “What am I running away from?” Whatever that thing is, turn around. Walk toward it. Face it and conquer it, or die trying.
– Martha Beck
What I am running away from is what’s right under my nose. I can be sleeplessness, physical pain, emotional pain, fears about the future, regrets. Whatever is here in my experience that I wish wasn’t here, and try to make go away, or try to ignore or flee from. Whatever appears as an enemy to me, and not a friend.
My answer to her was this: There is ultimately nothing wrong with experiencing all of these things. They are merely words, pictures and emotions. But when we have a belief that we are broken and that we need to be fixed, we are always looking for an end point, instead of really “being with” whatever is arising in the present moment.
Once we clear away the belief that we are broken and need to be fixed, a change of perception can start to happen. We move beyond this limited way of experiencing ourselves and into a direct and immediate allowing of everything as it is, without resistance. This change of perception has the power to profoundly relieve suffering in a way that is different from being “fixed.” The relief of suffering comes from welcoming the suffering, from moving through it, instead of trying to reach the end of something.
Get radical: question the notion that you are broken and that you need fixing. Throw away the conditioning that your culture has given you, and replace it with a loving investigation of thoughts, emotions and sensations as they come and go. Notice that, as thoughts, emotions and sensations come and go, there is an awareness that remains unchanged by all that. It remains stably present regardless of the coming and going of all these things. In this, there is a deep acceptance of life, no matter how it shows up.
And then, when you are ready, question the notion of awareness itself. Notice that it too is not something findable. It is not something you have to hold onto in any way. At that point, you have lost your ground in a good way. You are not merely watching the river of experience coming and going. You are the river itself. You have jumped in and lost that sense of self that wants to change the river. You have lost the belief in being broken and needing to be fixed. You are living and enjoying life, the good, the bad, the ugly and the neutral. It’s all here for you in the moment. Live it, love it, be it. Notice that the river never ends and that you aren’t looking for its end anymore anyway.
– Scott Kiloby in Beyond Our Culture of Fixing
A few very basic things about mind and body:
Life is one whole. And sometimes, for practical reasons, we divide it into (a) individual and the wider world, and (b) the individual into mind and body. These boundaries are created through overlays of thought, – of words and images – and are not inherent in reality.
That means that when it comes to any aspect of our health, what we call mind and body both are at play, as is the wider (social and ecological) whole.
For instance, with physical pain, there is the physical pain (body) and there is our response to it (mind), both influence each other, and our cultural expectations and norms, social support (wider world) and more also play into it. If there are fearful beliefs about the pain, the pain may intensify. If we see the words and images, and feel the sensations, making up the pain and our responses to it, there may be more ease and ability to experience the sensations as sensations. There may still be “pain” but less suffering.
More in general, the processes of the mind influences the body – weakening or strengthening it which in turn influences health, illness and recovery. (We are so far just scratching the surface of this in terms of research.)
Also, from the view of physical science, mind appears connected with the body and is a mystery. (“What is it? What is it’s relationship to the body?”.) From our own immediate experience, all is mind. The body – and the wider world, and any other content of the mind – happens within and as mind. And both views are valid in their own way. Each have their value and function. They are two facets of how we can perceive the world.
P.S. These are things that seem very basic and obvious, but I still notice some confusion about this in the media and other places.
For a while, it feels good to be “illusioned”…. to imagine – and believe – that something will save me. With this comes the accompanying illusion is that something will destroy me.
It may even be true, to some extent and in some ways. Some things do lift me up, especially when I believe it will. And some things do appear to break me down, when I believe it will.
Then life shows me otherwise, sometimes in combination with inquiry. I see that words, images and sensations – which is my whole experience – cannot really save me, or destroy me. And the me that looks like it can be saved or destroyed is also made up of words, images and sensations. I cannot find a me apart from or “outside” of that.
This is disillusionment, and although it is sobering and a relief, it can also include disappointment, sadness, grief, even what appears as depression. So much of what drove me – the hopes and fears – fall away.
The parts of me reacting to this process can also be met with curiosity. When I explore the words, images and sensations making up the apparent resistance, sadness, grief, neutrality and disillusionment, what do I find? Can I find these things apart from or outside of the words, images and sensations making them up? Is it as solid as it initially seemed? Is it as real? Is it real in the way I thought it was?
Many maps or outlines of the process show a dark night preceding a phase of more ease with what’s here (AKA equanimity). And with disillusionment – seen, felt and loved – does come a sense of ease with what’s here, independent of what it is. A sense of ease with life as it shows up, as it is.
It’s not nearly as glamorous as it may seem when hearing stories about it, or reading the maps. And yet, it is sobering. And it is a relief.
I have followed the Scottish independence debate a bit, and a few things stand out.
The English seem to want union for two main reasons: to benefit from Scottish oil money, and to maintain their British identity and what little grandeur is left after their empire crumbled.
The English attitude seems patronizing, and their arguments intentionally fear based. Both suggest that they don’t have many real or solid arguments in their favor.
If the situation was the reverse – if Scotland was independent and considered union with England – how many would vote for union? Probably not many.
The yes and no sides are about equal right now. I assume many will vote “no” to independence out of a (understandable, if misguided) fear of change.
If they do vote “yes” to independence, the process will happen gradually and over time. It won’t happen overnight. There will be time to work out practical and good solutions.
If they vote “yes”, it will encourage others in Europe to seek independence, which is what England, Spain and others fear.
As of now, a few days before the vote, the two sides are about equal with a slight advantage to the “no” side. Unfortunately (?), that means the “no” side will probably get the majority of votes since many will go for what they perceive as the “safe” choice, which is status quo.
Some seem surprised that spiritual teachers get sick.
Why would they get sick?
They are human, and humans get sick.
Their bodies may get worn out through high levels of energies running through (aka kundalini).
They may have asked to be shown what’s left, and to find peace/ease with what’s here (whatever it is), and life gives them an opportunity to find just that.
We can get sick even if we do everything “right”, and teachers – as anyone else – don’t even do everything “right” (in terms of health). It’s a matter of genetics, environment, lifestyle and more.
All of these fit my own experience. My system certainly got burnt through high levels of energies running through it for several years (with a following “collapse”). I did ask for “full awakening” no matter the cost (a year or two before the dark night) and to be shown what’s left (a couple of weeks before the darkest period of the dark night). And there are weaknesses in my genetics (although pretty good overall), toxins in my environment, lack of nutrients in much of my food (due to modern agricultural (mis)practices), and sometimes poor food and health choices on my part.
The question “why do spiritual teachers get sick” may also come from a confusion between two different things. One is a a health and fitness focus as who we are, at the the human and energetic levels. This can include a focus on diet, exercise, breath, chi, “inner work”, and so on. The other is finding ease with – or as – what is, as it is. A shift in what we take ourselves to be. This one is independent of the health focus. It may include it or not, but doesn’t depend on it. And spirituality, at least as I use the term, is about the second one. The emphasis is on finding ease with what is, through inquiry and seeing what’s really here, and less – or secondarily if at all – on health. (Of course, a wise approach is to include both, with an emphasis on consciously recognizing the “true nature” of ourselves and what’s here.)
There is another aspect to this. When spiritual teachers get sick, it’s an opportunity for them to explore how to relate to it which in turn may benefit others. It may help them mature and deepen as human beings, and clarify what’s really there – in contrast to what at first appears to be there (which may include recognizing it as love, and finding genuine love for it). That’s not “why” they get sick, but it’s a possible outcome.
In discussions, some people argue for or against a particular image of God, without acknowledging that it’s one of many possible – and existing – images of God. I especially notice this among some atheists, such as Richard Dawkins. It’s unfortunate since it tends to distract from the intended focus of the discussion, and it can also come across as (a) intellectually dishonest, (b) myopic, (c) valuing shock value over accuracy, and (d) lack of interest in sincerely exploring the topic.
For instance, Richard Dawkins often argue against a Christian image of God, and even one particular image of God found among some Christians. (I am not even sure if they would agree with how he represents their views.) Other Christians have other images, as do other religions and spiritual traditions. And some of these are quite compatible with science.
For instance, Daoism and Buddhism, when approached with curiosity and a scientific approach, are very much compatible with science. And if reality – as it is – is called God, then science is one of the ways we can explore God.
This seems very obvious, which is why I usually don’t write about these topics, but I thought I would mention it this time.
I started a more intentional dental care last week, which included using my Sonicare brush again (after some months off), and experimenting with oil swishing (“oil pulling”), in addition to the usual flossing and rinsing with salt water, and also being more intentional about the diet (for good oral health). I found this video and Joey Lott’s book helpful.
After a couple of days, I noticed my gums felt a bit sore, and this changed into stronger pain (tooth ache?) the last few days. I initially thought it was related to using the Sonicare again, or perhaps the oil swishing, and then wondered if it was a regular tooth ache (signalling I need to visit the dentist soon) that just happened to coincide with slightly changing how I take care of my gums and teeth.
In any case, it’s been quite painful and it gave me an opportunity to explore pain.
I reminded myself that pain is essential for our survival. It shows us that something is wrong, and needs to be taken care of. And it’s occasional intensity reminds us of how stubborn and dense we can be.
I spent some time with it. You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me. I love you. (This brought up some resistance and fear, which I also welcomed.)
I explored it using the Living Inquiries. Look at the word “pain”, is that word in pain? Look at the images of the pain, are those images in pain. Feel the sensations, are those sensations in pain? This helped me see that I cannot find pain, as it initially appeared. It’s made up for words, images and sensations, and each of these are fine.
And…. I have taken some pain killers (I figured out which one worked the best), got the name of a good (?) holistic dentist in Oslo (which is good to know in any case), figured out that sitting up slightly while sleeping reduced the pain (reduced the blood pressure in the mouth), and I plan to go to the dentist soon if the pain continues. This is a reminder that inquiry and “inner work” goes hand in hand with, and even supports, practical and good common-sense action.