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
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, the 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.
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.
yūgen – a profound, mysterious sense of the beauty of the universeWikipedia article on Japanese Aesthetics
I don’t speak Japanese so I know I am bound to get this slightly wrong. It seems that yūgen often refers to something evoked in us related to our own past (as most poetry does), although perhaps also something evoked in us about nature itself?
Here, I’ll be selective and use it in the sense of something evoked in us about nature itself.
If we talk about that, and a feeling or sense of nature as sacred, then we have nature mysticism.
Nature mysticism can refer to this feeling or sense of the sacred in nature and the universe. It can refer to a deep sense of belonging to nature and the universe. And it can refer to a sense of oneness with it all, that we are all one and the same and part of a seamless reality. (Which is obviously true even from a modern science perspective, and this sense of oneness happens when we realize it, take it in, and perhaps live more from it.) Either of these can come over us, often when we are in nature. Or it’s more stable and with us most or all of the time.
Is this just something that happens on its own or can we invite it in and deepen in it? For me, both seem true.
Yes, it can certainly happen on its own. (For me, all three happened from early childhood on and later became more stabilized in the oneness. The mysterious feeling was stronger earlier on and now is rarer, but that’s natural since the oneness is independent of any feelings.)
And yes, we can invite it in – through being in nature, poetry, deep ecology readings and practices (Practices to Reconnect), eco-psychology and eco-spirituality readings and practices, inquiry to help us remove mind-barrier to a sense of oneness with it all, and so on. (I have been deeply involved in this too over the last three decades.)
And we can go beyond nature mysticism. It can become much more clear and – in a sense – simple.
We can taste and stabilize in oneness. In noticing, realizing, and living from all content of experience happening within and as what we are. (Whether we chose to interpret this in a big or small way, or a spiritual or psychological way, as I have written about in other articles.)
Here, any sense of being a separate self is left behind.
This too can happen spontaneously or through practices and exploration. Usually, it’s a combination of both. (The practices are the usual spiritual ones like meditation, prayer, heart-centered practices, inquiry, energy- and body-centered practices and so on.)
There are a few things it’s good to clarify.
Nature mysticism does often refer to a feeling. A feeling of nature and the universe as sacred, and perhaps even a feeling or sense of oneness with all of existence. Here, there is usually still a sense of being a separate self. (Which is fine and natural, it’s the mind creating this experience for itself.)
Even when oneness is more clear and stabilized, this feeling can come and go. As mentioned above, for me the feeling was much stronger earlier in my process although it still comes very occasionally. Now, there is usually just the noticing of oneness.
And all of this, whether it’s a variety of nature mysticism or some level of oneness, is typically translated into profound shifts in our worldview and – yes – in our life and how we live in the world.
That’s why I write about it. It can be cool and help us as (individual) human beings in the world. And yet, what it can do for the world is equally or more important. The world today needs this. It needs more people experiencing it, being transformed by it, sharing it with others, and – in turn – transforming humanity (even if it’s just a tiny bit) and how we are in the world.
Image: Hiroshige, View of a Long Bridge Across a Lake
Professor Broom: In medieval stories, there is often a young knight who is inexperienced, but pure of heart.– from Hellboy (2004), quoted in Wikipedia
John Myers: Oh, come on. I am not pure of heart.
Abe Sapien: (who’s psychic) Yes, you are.
Professor Broom: Rasputin is back for him. What I’m asking of you is to have the courage to stand by him when I am gone. He was born a demon; we can’t change that. But you will help him, in essence, to become a man.
One of the most valuable qualities on a healing and spiritual path is sincerity, a pure heart. As Broom says, this is a recurrent theme in some of the traditional legends and perhaps most famously the grail legend (Perceval).
Sincerity allows us to be more honest with ourselves, and that’s essential for emotional healing, awakening, and embodiment.
Is also essential for having a meaningful and juicy relationship with ourselves and others, one that allows for authenticity, growth, and surprises.
If we have some sincerity, it doesn’t matter so much if we are young or inexperienced on the path we are on. Sincerity is gold, and we can always learn tools and we will gain experience.
Is sincerity something we can learn or develop? Perhaps not. But I can notice when I am not sincere and I can then shift into sincerity.
Sometimes, it’s not so easy. We may be caught in fear of a situation or something coming up in us and retreat into defensiveness to try to stay safe. That’s OK. Again, it helps to notice. I can be honest with myself about what happened. And that, in itself, is sincerity.
It also helps to notice what in me takes me away from sincerity. What is the fear about? What is the fearful story? What beliefs do I find? Identifications? And then explore it further, befriend it (find healing for my relationship to it), and perhaps find healing for the issue itself.
As I wrote the second paragraph (“Sincerity allows us….”), I noticed a synchronicity in the lyrics of the song I was listening to:
There are times when a man needs to brave his reflection,– Sting and Rob Mathes, I love her but she loves someone else
And face what he sees without fear,
It takes a man to accept his mortality,
Or be surprised by the presence of a tear.
Image: The Achievement of the Grail by British Artist Sir Edward Burn-Jones design, William Morris execution and John Henry Dearle flowers and decorations, from the Holy Grail tapestries 1891-94, Museum and Art Gallery of Birmingham, wool and silk on cotton warp.
Praised as “a spiritual treasure” by Huston Smith, The Way of Selflessness is an authoritative guide for anyone who wishes to walk a mystical path and discover directly the truth testified to by the mystics of the world’s spiritual traditions. Drawing from the universal teachings and essential practices of the mystics from all the world’s major religious traditions, distilled and presented in generic terms suitable for all seekers, The Way of Selflessness is appropriate for both those who belong to an established religion and those who do not.– The Way of Selflessness book description
If you are serious about awakening I can highly recommend Joel Morwood’s The Way of Selflessness: A Practical Guide to Enlightenment Based on the Teachings of the World’s Great Mystics. (I am linking to Lulu instead of Amazon since they have a better price.)
Joel was one of my teachers at the Center for Sacred Sciences in Eugene, Oregon, when I lived there. And his book shows a good and practical understanding of the awakening process, including different core practices from the main spiritual traditions in the world.
I want to add a couple of minor caveats: The book is perhaps slightly “heady”, and he doesn’t thoroughly address spiritual crises or dark nights as he may not have gone through it himself. Also, there are aspects of certain traditions and practices he doesn’t quite get (for instance koan study) since he never practiced within these traditions himself. That said, this is not a reason to not get his book. The book is an excellent overview and has many very valuable practical pointers.
For more about Joel, see his Buddha at the Gas Pump interview.
And if you are interested, Naked Through the Gate is a great read about his own life and awakening process. His process was somewhat unusual in that his main spiritual guide came to him in dreams and not waking life.
I want to end with a brief note about the title. Selflessness is conventionally understood as setting your own needs aside (for a while) to benefit others or the larger whole. In contrast, selflessness in the context of awakening refers to an absence of any separate self, and noticing and realizing it, reorienting within this new(ly discovered) context, and living from it in more and more situations.
Excuse me, I’m sorry to bother you but don’t I know you?
There’s just something about you. Haven’t we met before?
We’ve been in love forever.
When we got to the top of the hill we saw Rome burning.
I just let you walk away. I’ve never forgiven myself.
I saw you on the steps in Paris, you were with someone else.
Couldn’t you see that should’ve been me? I just walked on by.
Then we met in ’42 but we were on different sides.
I hid you under my bed but they took you away.
I lost you in a London smog as you crossed the lane.
I never know where you’re gonna be next but I know that you’ll surprise me.
Come with me, I’ll find some rope and I’ll tie us together.– Kate Bush, Snowed in at Wheeler Street
I’ve been waiting for you so long, I don’t want to lose you again.
Don’t walk into the crowd again. Don’t walk away again.
I don’t want to lose you.
I don’t want to lose you.
This is a beautiful and somewhat heart-wrenching song. And leave it to Kate Bush to create something as beautiful, sensual, unusual, and slightly bonkers in the best possible way.
This is one of the few love stories – in western pop-culture – that continues across lifetimes.
My best guess is that we live more than once. And if we do, it’s likely that we sometimes meet again, and some of us continue our love across lives – as lovers and through other kinds of relationships.
As I have written about before, there are a few aspects to the reincarnation or re-birth idea that is worth looking at.
First, whether it’s reality or not is a question best left to research. And at some universities, they do actually do research on this. (Only considering the importance of the topic, you would think most or all universities would have a research program on this topic. It may happen in the future as – or if – our collective world-view becomes less exclusively materialistic and the stigma goes out of this and related topics.)
At a psychological level, our ideas about our own past lives are very valuable since they mirror something in us here and now. For instance, although this song is beautiful, heartfelt, and very human, it also does reflect painful beliefs. And even if I didn’t write these lyrics, they still resonate and I can use them as a pointer and reminder to take a look at this in myself. It’s an invitation to find healing for emotional around aloneness, not being worthy of love, being unfortunate, things going wrong, loss, and so on. (These are quite universal and I have some of all of those, I am no exception.)
As anything found in a religion or spiritual tradition, ideas about reincarnation have also been used to regulate groups and society. This has been helpful in some ways, although it comes with a shadow side. For instance, it’s also used to control people and justify injustice – for instance, the caste system India.
Personally, I find the idea of innumerable lives very helpful, and not just as projection objects. When I notice something in me that’s not healed and/or not awake (which happens all the time), I see that there is no time like the present. Now, I have the tools and time to invite in healing and awakening. If I put it off, I’ll just have to do it later in this life, or in a future life where I may not have the same opportunity to work with it.
Finally, if there is reincarnation – and we have many lives – it’s really the divine taking on all these forms. What continues between the lives are subtle energy structures allowing the divine to temporarily express itself as a being and take itself to be a separate being. It’s all part of lila. It’s the play of the divine.
I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.– Toni Morrison
Photo by Angela Radulescu – Toni_Morrison_2008.jpg, CC BY-SA 2.0,
Spirituality is simply a way of indicating that we’re plunging beyond the personal consciousness. The depth of our being is just astonishing.– Adyashanti, Silent Retreat Vol. 70
There are many definitions of spirituality, and the most basic one is perhaps Adya’s definition above. Spirituality suggests that we are going, or intend to go, beyond the personal human being and into something wider. Whether that is our human community, our Earth community (nature and Earth as a whole), the Universe as a whole, or Existence as a whole. And whether it is to connect with this larger whole, take it into account, live as if it matters, expand our sense of “us” to include all there is, or – ultimately – find ourselves as that, and this human being as an expression of it.
The answer is yes, and no, and it depends, and we don’t really know.
Yes, the simple essence is perhaps more or less timeless and universal. It’s all the divine. And the divine, locally as us, can discover that – and live now from it – through sincerity and basic practices and pointers.
No, a lot in spirituality (and especially religion) is not timeless. Religions come and go. Spiritual taurine come and go. Specific practices come and go. The specific context all of it is understood within comes and goes.
It depends on what we are taking about. As said before, some of the basics – in terms of understanding, practices, and pointer – seem more universal and timeless. And a lot is more specific to a time, culture, and tradition.
And more honestly, we don’t know any of this for certain. Even what seems more timeless and universal can and will change. It changes with the time we are in, our culture, and our general worldviews and understanding of really.
Is it likely that spirituality, and even more so religions, will be quite different in a distant future? Yes. Is it likely that if there is life other places in the universe, and interested in these things, they will have a different take on this? Yes. And is it still likely that the essence may be somewhat similar? I would say yes to that too.
What do I see as relatively timeless and universal?
The main is that all is the divine. Existence – including us and all our experience – is the divine exploring, expressing, and experiencing itself.
Spirituality, at least the typical human version, is about helping the divine – locally as us – rediscover this and live more from this in daily life. This too is part of Lila, the play of the divine.
And what about spiritual practices? These are a little more tied to a time, place, and tradition, but there are perhaps some universals here too.
Guidelines for our life. (For social and community reasons, but also to minimize distractions and help us mimicking view we naturally live when we are more clear and healed).
Devotional practices like song and chants, mantras, prayer, and some forms of meditation. (This includes all forms of mediation and other practices when done with devotion.)
Contemplation, inquiry and pointers.
Basic forms of mediation. For instance, notice and allow whatever is happening within content of experience. (And, with time, what it all happens within and as.)
Training a more stable attention, which helps us in spiritual practice and all areas of life.
Gratitude and forgiveness practices, and working with projections, like some forms of prayer (“thank you”), all-inclusive gratitude practice, Tonglen, and ho’oponopono.
Body-inclusive practices like dance, yoga, tai chi and chigong.
Subtle-energy practices through any form of inner yoga, and as found in traditional Indian yoga, tai chi, and chigong. (I would include Vortex Healing as an example.)
And (emotional) healing practices to remove blocks to noticing what we are and living from it.
Of course, I say these are more universal and timeless, but I am very aware that different traditions emphasize these differently, have different ways of doing each of them, and that this list reflects my own preferences, interests, and what I have found useful and helpful.
The mind wants this or that, but the heart just wants to go home.– Marianne Williamson
Yes, our mind tells itself it wants all sorts of things. And yet, it’s one thing we really want and that is to come home.
What does it mean to come home?
For me, it means befriending my experience as it is here and now. It means befriending previously disowned parts of me. It means becoming more comfortable with my experience in general. And it happens when I notice what I am, and everything is, and allow all parts of me and my experience to soak in it and realign within it.
I may generally notice and realize that all is the divine, and yet I sometimes exclude something from it.
That points to an unresolved issue in me, something in me that I can invite in healing and awakening for.
Not surprisingly, when it happens, it’s sometimes more visible to others than it is to myself. It sometimes takes someone to point it out to me before I take it seriously. (And I may, at first, feel a bit defensive when it’s pointed out to me. Although I secretly know it’s true and I am grateful.)
I exclude something from oneness in my view and in my behavior. I perceive or act as if something or someone is not part of oneness. As if it’s somehow excluded from the divine.
It’s very natural, it’s very ordinary, and it’s probably a part of any awakening process.
It reminds me to keep going with the awakening, healing, and embodiment. It’s a reminder to include more and more parts of me in the awakening and healing.
How does it look? Here are some examples:
I see someone inn the world my conditioning doesn’t like, reject and condemn them, and “forget” that this person is also an expression of the divine. (When I recognize the oneness also here, I can still condemn an behavior and take appropriate steps to prevent the person from harming others. But I don’t need to condemn or reject the person, and I don’t need to forget that this person too is the divine.)
I reject something in myself. I avoid feeling it. I may not (like to) acknowledge it’s here. I see it as a problem. I may ignore it or try to get rid of it. I ignore my knowing that this too is the divine, and (mostl likely) do so to avoid pain.
I made a bad decision at a crossroads in life. I even went against my clear inner guidance. And I tell myself I went against what life or the divine wanted me to do. I am caught in regret and self-blame. And I am unable to see that this too was and is the divine. That this too was, in a sense, divine will. I may also overlook that this experience can helps me to go deeper – in healing, humanizing, maturing, awakening, and embodiment.
When I remind myself that “this too is the divine”, notice it, and allow it to sink in, it’s the context that changes. And this shift allows me to relate to it differently. Often with less reactivity and with a little more sanity and kindness.
Recognizing these people, parts of me, and situations as the divine doesn’t rule out sane and decisive action. On the contrary, it helps me be more clear and grounded in how I relate to it and in my actions.
All maps are projections.
They are projections in a few different ways.
First, they are projections of our ideas. They are an overlay of ideas and thoughts that the mind puts on (it’s images of) the world. This helps us orient and function in the world, and is essential for our survival.
Often, they are also projections of our own characteristics and qualities. We can find in ourselves the characteristics we see in the wider world. It may not be as strong or explicit, but it’s here if we look.
And sometimes, our maps are expressions of our unresolved emotional issues. They express our hopes and fears, how we would like the world and ourselves to be, and what we fear it may be.
We have many different maps of ourselves, the world, and our place in the world – whether they are formal or informal; explicit or implicit; about the world, ourselves, or our relationship with the world; and whether we recognize them as maps or not.
Some maps are explicit and what we typically call maps. For instance, political and geographical maps.
Some maps may not be what we think of as maps. For instance, some ways we categorize people (politically, social status, friends or not etc.); our mental timeline of past-present-future; and our general world-view (materialistic, heaven and hell, afterlife, reincarnation, planetary influences, gods, God, nondual), and so on.
Some maps are mostly outside of our conscious awareness – and may even be contrary to our conscious ideas about the world, although they still have a major impact on how we experience the world and ourselves. These are often (somewhat charged) ideas about other people, ourselves, and the world as a whole.
Most of our maps are shared with others in our family, subculture, and culture. Some may be shared with most of humanity. And even the ones that may seem unique to us are probably shared with many others.
It’s often useful to recognize our explicit and implicit maps as maps. It helps us hold them more lightly and not invest so much identity and fears and hopes into them. At least at a conscious level, we know they are used by our mind to make sense of the world. They are questions about the world, leave a lot out, and are not in any way the final word.
Also, recognizing our maps as projections can help us get to know and understand ourselves better. We can use them as pointers for healing for ourselves as individuals and even for us as a society.
Here are some examples.
I have a mental map of past-present-future. And yet, it’s created by my mind and is an idea, and it happens here and now. My map and what I place on the map all happens here and now. This helps me hold my ideas of past, future, and present – and what happened or may happen –more lightly.
I may have mental maps inherited from my culture that rank people based on (relatively superficial) characteristics like gender, ethnicity, politics, religion and so on. It’s helpful to recognize this, question its validity, and find all of it in myself.
I may have religious maps – of heaven and hell, afterlife, reincarnation, divine beings and so on, and myself in relation to it. Again, it helps to see that these are maps. They are projection of ideas into (my image of) the world. This helps me hold it all more lightly. And here too, I can use these maps to find it all already in me and my experience, and perhaps to point to some unresolved issues (fears, hopes) in me.
I may have esoteric maps of planetary influences, divine beings, energies, energy systems and so on. The same goes here for holding it more lightly and finding it all – the images and anything charged about it – in myself.
A map can even be of a situation. I may have a mental map of a situation where I see myself as wronged or a victim, and that map is part of what holds the pain or trauma in place. These are the types of maps is helpful to identify and investigate in a healing process.
I can still use all of these maps. We need maps to orient and function in the world. And yet, it’s helpful to recognize them as maps and sometimes explore them as projections. It helps us hold them more lightly. It helps us question their validity and perhaps replace them with other maps that are more helpful. It helps us find it all – what we see in the world – in ourselves. And it may point to something unresolved in us we can find healing for.
This is a common experience in the awakening process:
The world seems insubstantial. And this human self, that we perhaps previously took ourselves to exclusively be, seems insubstantial along with it.
It’s completely natural. It’s part of the process. It’s part of what we are waking up to itself.
Here is my experience with it and some ways of looking at it.
The world seems insubstantial. All matter seems insubstantial as if I could put my hand through it. It’s as if it’s in a dream.
Why is it that way? Because it’s all consciousness. It’s all happening within and as consciousness.
In a spiritual interpretation, I can say it’s all Spirit, it’s all the divine. In a smaller or psychological interpretation, I could say it’s all consciousness to me since I am – even if there is a separate being here – consciousness. To me, I am the consciousness it’s all happening within and as.
Why am I writing about this? Mostly to reassure others who may be on a spiritual path (with or without knowing it), experience this for themselves, and perhaps feel disturbed by it.
It’s normal. Nothing is wrong. It’s part of the process. It’s a part of waking up to reality, and reality waking up to itself.
For me, this shift happened when I was fifteen and found myself shifted into or as the “observer”. I found myself as what observes the world, including this human self. At the time, it was disturbing and I thought something was wrong. (It happened after the onset of CFS although I didn’t know about CFS either at the time.) A year later, this opened up into a more full-blown opening or early awakening. Here, everything without exception was revealed as the divine. Any sense of being a separate being was revealed as the divine temporarily and locally experiencing itself that way, as part of the play of the divine. The world still seemed insubstantial but it wasn’t disturbing anymore. And it’s still that way.
This experience of the world as insubstantial can happen spontaneously and out of the blue (as it did for me), it can happen from certain drugs or plants (I don’t recommend it), and it can (seem to) happen from spiritual practice. It can also happen suddenly (as in my case) or more gradually over time.
The easiest way of having a direct experience of it may be through inquiry, for instance, Living Inquiries, the Big Mind process, or Headless experiments. The Living Inquiries gives us the most detailed look of what’s happening “behind the curtain”, and we get to see how the mind creates its own experience of a substantial material world.
I’ll say a few words about what’s going on behind the curtains:
The mind creates its experience of the world through a mental overlay on the other sense fields. And this is enhanced when mental images and words are associated with sensations in the body. The sensations lend a sense of substance and reality to the thoughts, and the thoughts give a sense of meaning to the sensations. When this happens “behind the curtain”, it all seems real, solid, and self-evidently so. When we take a closer look, it all starts to appear more as it is – and this includes experiencing the world, as it appears to us, as insubstantial. As consciousness. As awakeness.
For it to sink in, we typically need to discover it for ourselves, over and over again.
So, does this mean that nothing is “real”? Not really. In a sense, the world is real as it appears to us conventionally (with individuals, food to eat, bills to pay, people to treat with respect and so on), and the sane and kind approach is to live and function as if it’s real.
On the other hand, the word does appear a certain way to us because of this mental overlay, and we do well to investigate this overlay and how it creates a certain world for us.
When we see through it, it doesn’t mean that the conventional world goes away. We still operate and function within it. We just hold it all more lightly. We (more) know what we are.
In the words of a man who (possibly) lived a long time ago:
We are in the world but not of it.
This is a follow-up to Ale’s pink-glove dream the other night.
Since then, she has noticed a shift in confidence which is reflected in another dream I’ll include at the end of this post.
In the pink-glove dream, Madonna shows her that Ale’s pink dishwashing gloves clogged up the sink. What she used for cleaning the dishes was what clogged up the sink and made it overflow. In other words, her approach to working on her emotional issues was what made the emotions “clog up” and threaten to flood her.
This morning, with the aid of another dream, she realized more about this. Over the last couple of years, she has gone through a “dark night” and became afraid of her own emotions. They were too strong and overwhelming. (I can relate based on what I went through in my own dark night phase.)
Avoiding our own emotions – or wearing metaphorical gloves when we approach them – is an issue in itself that can cause our emotional life to clog up and threaten to flood us.
Now, with the aid of Madonna (her inner empowered woman, and the divine feminine), she is regaining her confidence and feels she can again work on her emotional issues as she did before the dark night. More fearlessly. Without gloves. Daily.
It’s a beautiful process and the dream(s) helped her recognize more clearly what’s happening and join in with it more consciously.
Here is the dream she had this morning:
I have a nice and comfortable dress and am in an open place in nature with many women friends. I feel beautiful, free, comfortable. They admire and love me. We are talking about various things, how to make certain recipes, to enjoy life. They were trying to meet before that day but it had not been possible.
We finally made it, we met. We talked about what they couldn’t do because they had things to do. One of them told me: “What happens is that you always can do”. They all affirmed this, and I said, I can’t always. Tomorrow, for example, I am very busy working.
At one point, I had the feeling of being one of them when she was little. I looked at her, she danced and felt that I was her. We laughed out loud.
Then my uncle, the dancer, plays music and invites us to dance. We dance and it seems to be the beginning of a program of activities together. I wake up.
When she woke up, she felt that she has more confidence now that life (again) can be good to her. And that she again can work on her emotional issues more directly and fearlessly.
Photo: Alejita with her actual pink dishwashing gloves!
I am doing the dishes and cooking in the kitchen. The water starts rising in the sink, and I realize it’s clogged. I stick my hand down and find a deep hole and many things floating around. Madonna appears, gives me a pink dishwashing glove, and says that this is what blocked the sink. Then the sink drains.
Alejita, my partner’s, dream this morning
In the dream, she could clearly see and sense what was floating in the water. Water often represents emotions, and it threatened to overflow and flood the kitchen. What was floating in the water can be seen as emotional issues, clogging up the sink and causing the water to rise. (Because of unresolved emotional issues, the emotions increase in strength and threaten to flood the personality and/or mind.)
Madonna, a beautiful empowered and strong woman, comes to the rescue. She has removed what clogged the sink. Madonna is also the mother of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and represents the divine feminine. To unclog the emotions, Alejita needs a combination of her strength and power as a woman and the aid of the divine feminine.
It’s a beautiful dream and one that applies to all of us, men and women.
There is also something about the pink dishwashing glove, something which helps us do the dishes, which clogs the sink. Our approach to dealing with emotions and emotional issues is what sometimes clogs it all up. I may write more about this in another post.
Update: I did write a follow-up to this dream.
Some connections to daily life: We mentioned Madonna the night before (Ale saw an album on my computer with music from Monteverdi with Madonna in the title and made a joke about it), Ale is using gloves when she does the dishes, she and Madonna both have Italian ancestors, and Ale and I are both very aware that one of our tasks in this life is to resolve emotional issues (for ourselves and helping others with the same) and that we need the aid and support from the divine, including the feminine aspect of the divine, to do it effectively.
Ale and I were at Vangen near our cabin and a group of handicapped people had lunch at another table. After a while, I went outside, saw them leaving, and decided to use Vortex Healing to fix their divine lines.
I should mention that divine lines go through the spine and through each of the major chakras, and they feed the chakras and the energy system. They can weaken or “break” through physical or emotional trauma or stress, and if they do it has a big impact on the system. With Vortex Healing, it’s relatively easy and fast to fix them.
When I intended to have the divine fix their divine lines, I noticed that the energy didn’t run and their lines seemed bright and shiny. I realized that Ale must have worked on them during lunch, and when I asked she confirmed it.
This is just one of many daily examples that shows me, and other Vortex healers, that it works. I may write more everyday examples here in future posts.
Photo: From a brief hike to Tonekollen in Østmarka, Norway
Cannabis isn’t a gateway drug.
Alcohol isn’t a gateway drug.
Nicotine isn’t a gateway drug.
Caffeine isn’t a gateway drug.
Trauma is the gateway.
Childhood abuse is the gateway.
Molestation is the gateway.
Neglect is the gateway.
Drug abuse, violent behavior, hypersexuality, and self-harm are often symptoms (not the cause) of much bigger issues.
And it almost always stems from a childhood filled with trauma, absent parents, and an abusive family.
But most people are too busy laughing at the homeless and drug addicts to realize your own children could be in their shoes in 15 years.
Communicate.— Russell Brand
This reflects the current understanding of addiction and compulsions and happens to be something I completely agree with. People with interest in the field know it but it has yet to fully filter into mainstream culture.
I’ll add a few words about trauma and addiction.
Trauma can be created from either ongoing situations (often family situations in childhood) or sudden events (accident, fire, war). Trauma can be serious or mild, and all-encompassing (engulfing our whole experience and life) or more isolated (triggered only in very specific situations). And trauma is something we all have. It’s part of the human experience.
When unhealed trauma is triggered, we may respond to the pain in it in a range of ways. We do something try to avoid the pain – or just the unpleasant feelings and thoughts – inherent in the trauma.
Trying to avoid the pain of trauma often becomes a habit. And that’s how compulsions and addictions are created. These compulsions and addictions can be what we conventionally view as serious or mild. And they come in the form of “inner” compulsions (reactivity, anger, depression, etc.) or “outer” compulsions (food, internet, sex, drugs, alcohol, etc.).
As I see it, these dynamics are variously called trauma, emotional wounds and issues, hangups, beliefs (The Work, inquiry), and identifications (spirituality). They are all created by the mind to keep us safe. They all come from the inherent care and love in how our minds function. They all made sense when they were created. And we can find healing for them.
How do we recognize trauma in ourselves or others? As I mentioned, it can take many forms. Generally, it’s a combination of seeking refuge in something and feeling we have to defend it. And it reflects past experiences more than the current situation.
Sometimes, we seek refuge in anger, grief, guilt, overactivity, or hopelessness. Sometimes in blame, judgment, dehumanization of oneself or others, polarized thinking, or finding safety in ideologies, religion, or spirituality. Sometimes, we seeking refuge in food, internet, TV, sex, drugs, or alcohol. And none of these are, in a real sense, a refuge.
Our only refuge is finding healing in how we relate to the trauma and perhaps healing and resolution for the trauma itself.
Everything you define yourself as is an image. Behind that is not a better version of yourself.– Adyashanti
I couldn’t help laughing out loud when I read this. As so often, it’s funny because it’s true.
Everything I define myself as is an image. Everything I define anyone or anything as is an image.
And behind that image isn’t a better version of me or any version of me. Behind it is the silent awake mystery that everything – all my experience of myself, others, the world – happens within and as.
There is always a lot more to say about this.
My mind creates an overlay of images and words on my sensory experiences to make sense of it all. These images and words sort the world into me (this human self) and the wider world, and then continues sorting and creating labels and identifications on just about everything. This is essential for us to be able to orient and function in the world. We wouldn’t be here as individuals or a species unless the mind did this.
And yet, these images and words are questions about the world. Suggestions. If we take them as anything more, we misguide and mislead ourselves and create stress and suffering for ourselves and others (we serve as triggers for this in others). They are not complete since what they refer to are different from, more (far more qualities, characteristics, and fluidity), and less (silent mystery) than our words and images.
We can know this to some extent and understand it intellectually. And any time something in us is triggered – any time there is a charged reaction to something – it shows us that something in us doesn’t quite get it yet. That’s OK. It’s natural. It’s the human condition. And it’s good to be aware of.
And if we are so inclined, we can explore what’s happening through inquiry, parts work, energy healing, or any other approach we have access to and find helpful. For me, Living Inquiries (based on Buddhist inquiry), parts work (Voice Dialog, Big Mind process) and Vortex Healing, are the approaches I use most right now.Read More
I have always loved outer space, astronomy, space exploration, and science fiction. I don’t know why exactly, but I’ll write a few words about it at the end.
The moon landing happened 50 years ago on July 20. So here are some ways the moon landing and space exploration, in general, is important from the view of humans, Gaia, and the Universe, and also in the context of Spirit.
At the time, the moon landing was important for US politicians to show the superiority of their own technology over the Soviets. And, by extension, the superiority of their political and economic system. (The Soviets had reached earlier space-exploration milestones before the US.)
The space program was and is important in order to develop technology and understand our near neighborhood in space, and it was a good way of employing a large number of people (some say 400,000).
The moon landing inspired many young people and brought some of them into science and technology. It showed that technology and science can be cool and glamorous.
Space exploration is an expression of our need for adventure and exploration, built into us through our evolution.
The space program allowed us to, for the first time, see photos of the Earth as a whole and from the outside. This, along with testimonials from astronauts, helped us get a more visceral sense of the Earth as a seamless whole and a fragile living system we need to take care of. (This is part of the Overview Effect.)
As Carl Sagan and others said, the moon landing and early space exploration is a necessary step in humanity becoming a multi-planetary species. And this is essential for our long term survival. (Elon Musk is talking about this today as a motivation for his space technology business.)
The view from Gaia – Earth as a seamless living system – gives space exploration a different context.
Human space exploration is Earth’s space exploration. Earth has developed itself into ecosystems, the human species, human technology and science, and human sense of adventure. And it has done so over time, within itself, and as part of itself. It’s all part of the evolution of Earth.
Space exploration is the living Earth exploring beyond its borders. It’s beginning to explore its neighborhood.
Through space exploration, Earth is seeing itself from the outside and as a whole for the first time.
And through humans, Earth may eventually reproduce. Humans may terraform planets, making them into Earth’s offspring. They won’t be identical to Earth, but they come from the living Earth. (In this sense, humans may function as the reproductive organs of Earth.)
Gaia means Earth as a seamless living system. It doesn’t mean that Earth is conscious in the way we think of it. And it doesn’t mean that space exploration or anything else was intentionally planned at the level of Earth as a whole. It’s more something that naturally and organically grew and continue to grow out of Earth as a living system.
As Carl Sagan said, we are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the Universe. We are the Universe bringing itself into consciousness.
All of this is Spirit – the divine, God, Brahman – expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways.
The evolving Earth. Ecosystem evolution. Species evolution. Human evolution. Cultural evolution. Development of science and technology. Human sense of adventure (and wanting to be better than the other tribe). Human space exploration. It’s all part of Spirit and Spirit exploring and experiencing itself in always new ways.
I’ll add a few words about my own interest in this.
Early on in my childhood, I had a deep love for exploration and adventure, anything having to do with the future, and anything to do with deep space and deep time.
I also had an early sense of belonging to all of existence including the universe as a whole. I remember going out into the yard after watching Cosmos by Carl Sagan when I was about ten. Looking up at the infinite space and the stars. And experiencing profound awe, gratitude, and sense of not only belonging to the universe but being the universe in awe of itself.
Later, through the spiritual opening or early awakening when I was sixteen, it became clear that all of it happens within and as consciousness. It all happens within and what I am, and everything is. It all happens within and as Spirit.
And in my mid-to-late teens and early twenties, this evolved into a deep interest in systems views (Fritjof Capra), Deep Ecology (Arne Næss), the Gaia view (James Lovelock), the Overview Effect (Frank White), ecospirituality, ecopsychology, the Universe Story, and similar approaches.Read More
Welcome! We will work on deeply cleaning, energizing and harmonizing our third chakra. We will also work on bringing up the constitutional energy of the kidneys which is the most important constitutional energy of the energy system and the physical body. Having this energy at a high level is fundamental for the prevention of many diseases.
In addition to channeling divine consciousness and intelligence to clear, energize and harmonize the third chakra, we will also: Release karma knots – energetic structures carrying core emotional issues across incarnations – that are ready to go. Use protocols from the highest levels of Vortex Healing. Channel energies from avatars, Christ, and the angels, and channel blessings for each of you.
When: Sunday July 14 2019
Time: 10am San Francisco, 1pm New York and Miami, 6pm London, 7pm Oslo
Where: In the comfort of your own home (this is distance healing)
Healers: Alejandra Lobelo (highest level Vortex healer) & Per KL (senior-level Vortex Healer)
Cost: $25 for a one-hour session with additional distance work before and after
To sign up, contact Alejandra Lobelo at email@example.com
More information about the third chakra:
The third chakra is located in the solar plexus and is associated with personal power, self-esteem, confidence, and responsibility. It’s the chakra of the spiritual warrior.
A weak, blocked or unbalanced third chakra can manifest as reactivity, emotional outbursts, and inactivity in life. You may also see the future as threatening, and view yourself and others through the filter of power.
A strong, open and balanced third chakra allows you to move forward in life, make conscious choices, and use your personal power in a balanced manner. You trust your ability to meet future challenges and make sound choices and actions.Read More
When it comes to healing and awakening, I’ll try anything and use whatever works. I have never felt bound by any tradition, and instead used whatever seems useful from each one. I know there is a great value to immerse yourself in one for a lifetime, but that has not been my path this time. And there is equal value to taking what works from wherever you can find it.
I even value the lighter new age approaches. They can be very helpful stepping stones. And calling them stepping stones is not a put-down. Everything, even the most profound, deep, and powerful approaches, are stepping stones. They allow us to take a step in the direction of healing and/or awakening. They put us in a certain direction. They open up something in us.
I was reminded of this when I told my partner about some of the early influences in my own conscious spiritual path. In my mid-to-late teens, I found great value in Shirley MacLaine’s writings (Out on a Limb), Richard Bach, and others. They opened up something in me. I saw that a different way of living was possible. They inspired me. It was just the right medicine for me at the time.
Of course, I was also – and mainly – immersed in more “serious” approaches like Christian mysticism, Taoism, Tibetan Buddhism, depth psychology (Jung), and systems views. I read a lot of C.G. Jung, Jes Bertelsen, Fritjof Capra, and anything I could find on Christian mysticism, Taoism and Tibetan Buddhism (Trungpa, Chöki Nyima etc.). And I practiced prayer, Christ meditation, tai chi and chigong, and tonglen and the basic and preliminary Tibetan Buddhist practices.
Why did I feel a need to add the previous paragraph? I could say it’s because I wanted to make the picture more complete. But more honestly, it’s because a part of me still wants to keep up a certain image. While I was mostly into “serious” and traditional mystical and spiritual practices, it wasn’t so important. But I notice that with Vortex Healing, which some may view with more suspicion (since it’s divine energy healing often done at a distance), I want to be seen as grounded, serious, and using approaches I have thoroughly tested out and know works. (Which is all true.)
I am at a royal country home or retreat. A group of family and friends are there, and the British queen comes by. We are waiting for a Tibetan man, and he arrives after having been on a long journey abroad. He continues on his journey almost immediately, and there is a choice for me to come with him or not. I run after him, and when I catch up with him, he sits down and says thank God you decided to come, I had to kill four [?] people in order to get here. He shows me the bloody remains of two he had to kill. He is going on the final leg of a journey to find something that will change everything. Something that will transform my life and give deep healing, awakening, and embodiment.
This is similar to the dream I had earlier this morning. I am going with a Tibetan to find something, a kind of treasure that will change everything. I sense or know it will bring a profound transformation, healing, and awakening. A lot of sacrifices would have been in vain unless I decided to come with him on the last leg of the journey.
The place we are in is a smaller and quite old home or retreat for the royal family, somewhere in the countryside in the UK. The Tibetan is someone who knows esoteric secrets and is also a man of action. He had to kill four (or a similar number) of people to finish the journey up until coming to this place. I got the impression they were (like?) WW2 Nazis. Everything had the feeling of an Indiana Jones movie, or one of the older fantastic tales about Tibet (Tintin in Tibet, Lobsang Rampa).
There has been a lot of losses, challenges, and sacrifices in my life, and – in a sense – it has been “wasted” unless I use it all for healing, awakening, and transformation. (Although nothing is “wasted”.) In both dreams this morning, I am slightly outside the center of actions which reflects a pattern in me of feeling others have “got it” and not me. And in both dreams, I am at the same time engaged and doing what’s required to get the treasure.
I am one of four (?) people in a contest to win a treasure. After a while, it’s only me and a Swedish man left. He gives it all and is a good way ahead of me but fumbles at the end. We are done almost at the same time, and he gives me the win since – as he says – he doesn’t need the treasure.
I don’t know what the treasure is, but I know it is very valuable and will make me wealthy. The contest was partly physical and I was surprised I could keep up as well as I did. It consists of making good choices and then put in a lot of physical effort (mainly running through alleys and fields and moving through obstacle courses).
This dream follows a day where I worked with Vortex Healing clients with my partner. My partner – and our partnership in healing, awakening and other aspects of lives – is an amazing treasure for me. As is the awakening and healing that comes through Vortex Healing. Just as in the dream, I have put in a lot of effort and knew it could happen but didn’t quite expect it.
The dream is a reminder that this is a treasure and not something to take for granted.