Hva er oppvåkning? Og litt om oppvåkningsprosessen

 

Jeg tenkte jeg skulle skrive noen få ord om oppvåkning og oppvåkningsprosessen, og på norsk for en gangs skyld.

Hvem jeg er

Da jeg var 16 skjedde det en oppvåkning her som endret livet mitt fullstendig. Det skjedde spontant, da jeg gikk på en kort grusvei om kvelden under stjernehimmelen. Fra å ha et normalt ateistisk verdensbilde uten interesse for disse tingene, så viste alt seg som Gud. Alt, uten unntak, var Gud – og det var klart at Gud hadde tatt seg selv som denne personen for å ha den opplevelsen for seg selv, og så hadde våknet opp fra det. Dette gikk aldri bort.

Etter dette fulgte noen år med svært sterke energier som gikk gjennom systemet. Jeg leste store mengder psykologi, buddhisme, taoism, kristen mystikk osv., studerte senere psykologi, og bodde et par tiår i USA hvor jeg studerte videre, bodde på et Zen senter i noen år (Kanzeon Zen Center under Genpo Roshi), og utforsket en lang rekke tilnærminger til psykologi og oppvåkning.

Det er mer om dette i en annen artikkel på norsk.

Hva er oppvåkning?

Det er mange myter og forestillinger om dette.

Kort sagt er det å finne vår sanne natur. Vi finner oss selv som kapasitet for våre opplevelser – tanker, følelser, fornemmelser, syn, smak osv. Eller vi kan si at vi finner oss selv som kapasitet for dette mennesket og den videre verden som vi opplever det. Alt skjer i og som hva vi er.

Dette høres kanskje litt mer kjedelig ut enn sånn det ofte er beskrevet, men det er essensen av det.

Siden alle våre opplevelser skjer i og som hva vi er, og vi kan – med fare for at det blir litt misforstått – kalle dette bevissthet, så vil vi oppleve alt som bevissthet. For oss, så er alt – bord, datamaskin, kropp, tanker, andre mennesker, gulv, trær, stjerner osv. – bevissthet.

Er dette den sanne naturen til alt som er? Ja, vi opplever det på den måten. Og det kan godt være sånn også. Da kan vi ta det ett skritt videre og si at alt er Gud eller bevissthet.

Siden alt skjer i og som hva vi er, så gir dette en enhetsopplevelse. For oss, så er alt ett.

Dette er ikke nødvendigvis noe som skjer en gang for alle. Det er noe vi ser og legger merke til her og nå. Det er også noe vi kan leve fra her og nå, og vi kan utforske hvordan det er å leve fra det i ulike situasjoner i livet.

Det er, som sagt, en del myter om oppvåkning. Det er ikke en tilstand, men det som alle tilstander skjer innenfor. Det løser ikke alle våre menneskelige utfordringer og problemer. Det gir ikke varig lykke, men det er det som alle følelser skjer innenfor. Det gir oss ikke nødvendigvis en lang rekke innsikter, bortsett fra en innsikt i vår sanne natur. Det er ikke nødvendigvis noe som gjør vårt liv i verden så veldig annerledes, selv om det – om vi vil og utforsker det – kan gjøre at vi lever fra mer klarhet og vennlighet.

Kan vi finne det for oss selv?

Ja, absolutt. En av mytene om oppvåkning er at det kun er for spesielt utvalgte eller at det krever tiår eller mange liv med åndelig praksis. Det er noe de aller fleste kan få en smak av relativt raskt, om de blir ledet gjennom noen enkle øvelser og via noen pekepinner.

Det vi finner kan virke litt skuffende først siden det virker litt for enkelt, åpenbart, og uten fyrverkeri. Men om vi blir vant med å legge merke til hva vi er og leve fra det, så vil det endre og transformere oss og livet vårt på et dypest mulig nivå.

Om å leve fra det

I en del tilfeller så er det relativt enkelt å finne hva vi er, men å leve fra det tar tid. Det tar hele livet, og selv da har vi sannsynligvis bare utforsket det på en overfladisk måte sett utifra alt det er å oppdage og utforske.

Hvorfor tar det så lang tid? Fordi selv om vi legger merke til hva vi er, så er det mange sider ved oss som mennesker som fortsatt lever fra vår gamle måte å oppleve verden og oss selv på. De lever utifra en opplevelse av separasjon.

Disse sidene av oss kommer til overflaten i ulike situasjoner i livet, og vi kan da risikere å leve fra våre gamle mønstre igjen. Det er ikke noe galt med dette. Det er en del av prosessen. Og når disse sidene av oss kommer til overflaten, så er det en gyllen mulighet for å invitere de til å transformere seg selv så de lever mer utifra en enhetsopplevelse.

Denne prosessen er som sagt langvarig og det er mange måter å utforske det på. Derfor vil jeg ikke si mer om det her. (Det er mange artikler her på engelsk om akkurat det.)

Støtte i prosessen

Det hjelper å ha noe støtte i denne prosessen. Jeg hadde det selv ikke, i de første årene, og det er egentlig sjelden jeg har møtt noen som virkelig forstår hva dette dreier seg om. På ressurssiden er det en del bøker jeg selv liker.

Og om du har lyst til å ta kontakt, så gjør gjerne det. Jeg vet selv hvor mye det kan bety å ta kontakt med noen som skjønner hva det dreier seg om. Jeg har også en del erfaring med hvordan vi kan finne vår sanne natur for oss selv, hvordan vi kan leve fra det og hjelpe deler av oss med transformasjonen, og fallgruver og utfordringer i prosessen – inkludert kundalini, mørke netter osv..

Adyashanti: Anything you avoid in life will come back, over and over again, until you’re willing to face it – to look deeply into its true nature

 

Anything you avoid in life will come back, over and over again, until you’re willing to face it – to look deeply into its true nature.

– Adyashanti, The End of Your World: Uncensored Straight Talk on the Nature of Enlightenment

Why would it come back?

What we want to avoid tend to visit us again for a few different reasons.

Life is rich and diverse and the same type of situations, thoughts, emotions, and experiences tend to visit again.

Anything we want to avoid or hold onto has a charge for us. Or, rather, the idea of it has a charge for us. The thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions we have about it, and the identities we associate with it. Anything that has a charge is something the mind’s attention is automatically drawn to.

Our system seems to have a natural tendency to bring what’s unhealed to the surface so it can be seen, felt, befriended, and healed. For that reason too, the parts of us we want to avoid tend to come up again. It’s an invitation for healing our relationship with it, and for it in itself to find healing.

We cannot escape it, so we may as well face it and get to know what it really is.

How can we find its true nature?

The easiest is to first find our own true nature. If I find myself as capacity for my world, as what my experiences happen within and as, then I can notice that any of my experiences has this same true nature.

An emotion comes up. I notice the physical sensations of it, and I can notice it’s true nature is the same as my true nature. And the same with thoughts, sights, sounds, and so on.

I can also ask it what’s your true nature? And notice. (The answer is in noticing, not what a thought says.)

Our true nature vs the true nature of our experiences

If we notice our own true nature, wouldn’t we also notice the true nature of all our experiences? After all, it’s the same thing. Our experiences happens within and as what we are.

Yes, in a very general sense. But many parts of our psyche likely still operate from separation consciousness, and when these come to the surface, we tend to see what’s triggered – and often what triggered it – from separation consciousness. We revert to a separation consciousness way of perceiving it and relating to it.

That’s why Adya’s second pointer in the quote – to look into its true nature – is important.

Getting to know it

Adya goes straight to the heart of the matter, to seeing the true nature of what we – our conditioning and habits – want to avoid.

There are other ways to know it, which can support this process and give us some insights.

We can inquire into the beliefs telling us to avoid it, saying something terrible will happen if we don’t, and any other belief related to the situation.

We can inquire into how our mind creates its experience of the situation – how certain thoughts and sensations combine to create the charge, associations, and our earliest memory of this wish to avoid it.

We can do a mental imaginary dialog with the part of us that want to avoid it and get to know it, its experience of the world, what it fears, what it wants to protect us from, and seeing that it comes from a wish to protect us and from love for us.

The importance of guidance

We need guidance and experience to do all of this, otherwise we can just create additional unfruitful discomfort for ourselves.

We may need to try out different guides and approaches and see what works for us.

For me, Headless experiments and the Big Mind process seem the simplest and most effective supports for helping us notice our own true nature, which then helps us notice the true nature of our experiences – including the ones our personality wants to avoid or hold onto.

What we want to avoid

What do we want to avoid? We may want to avoid certain situations as much as we can if we wish to be a good steward of our life, and that’s a very good thing. It makes sense to avoid being hit by a train, or getting sick if we can avoid it, or going hungry for too long.

What Adya talks about is wanting to avoid certain experiences – emotional pain, physical pain, distress, discomfort, and so on. One purpose of basic meditation – notice & allow – is for these to surface, for us to see how we habitually relate to them, and for us to shift how we relate to them (befriending them) and notice and get familiar with their true nature.

May still visit

If we see its true nature, does it mean it won’t come back?

No, it may still visit again and likely will. It’s just that seeing its true nature helps us relate to it differently.

It tends to undercut the struggle we habitually have had with it, and that’s where most or nearly all of the discomfort and unpleasantness is.

This noticing happens here and now. Having noticed in the past can help as a reminder and pointer, but the noticing happens here in immediacy.

Rewilding ourselves

 

Rewilding prioritizes untamed ecological processes, in which species may be reintroduced, but where human interference is kept to a minimum.

– Phoebe Hamilton-Jones in On the Literature of Rewilding… and the Need to Rewild Literature

How can we rewild ourselves?

Finding ourselves as capacity for the world

The best approach is to get out of the way.

We can do so through finding ourselves as capacity for the world – including this human self with its thoughts, emotions, choices, actions, and so on.

Here, we notice that this human self lives its own life, as does everything else. The whole world, including this human self, lives its own life. Life lives itself.

Releasing beliefs and emotional issues

We can also get out of the way in another sense, which is by gradually freeing our human self from the impact of beliefs, identifications, and separation consciousness. These are the product of culture and history, and they limit our perception, choices, and life in the world.

Even if we notice what we are, parts of our human self still operate from separation consciousness, so we can investigate the beliefs behind this and find what’s more true for us, we can invite healing for our emotional issues, and we can shift our relationship to these bubbles of separation consciousness through dialoguing with them and heart-centered practices.

Finding ourselves as nature

There is another aspect to rewilding ourselves, which is to find ourselves as nature. We are part of the seamless whole of this living planet, and part of the seamless whole of the universe. We are a product of the evolution of the universe as a whole and the Earth. As Carl Sagan said, we are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We are the universe locally bringing itself into consciousness.

We can deepen into this, and into our connection with past and future generations, through the Practices to Reconnect. And we can also deepen into our connection with this human body through body-centered practices like yoga, tai chi, chigong, Breema, TRE, dance and a myriad of other approaches.

Trusting the process

It takes time to rewild ourselves. Our whole life, we have been civilizing ourselves. We have taken on the beliefs and identifications of our culture and civilization. We may even believe that this is necessary for us to not descend into savagery.

As we notice what we are, and become more familiar with it and living from it, we get to see that it’s OK. We may notice that our human self and the world as a whole lives its own life, but it always did. And it’s going as well as when we thought an imagined separate I was in charge. It may even go a bit better with a bit more flow.

As we question our beliefs and identities and find what’s more true for us, we learn to trust this process as well. We get to see it is safe. What we find that’s more true is a gentle and kind truth, even if it can be sobering as well. And living from it is also more kind.

As we find ourselves as nature, we see that this too is safe. We find a deeper belonging with all of existence. We connect more deeply with this human body of flesh and blood. We find the softness and home in it, even if it’s a temporary home.

What’s the difference between mysticism and insanity?

 

Mystics typically report experiences and insights that are well outside of consensus reality and what’s considered normal. So why are they not considered insane? What’s the difference between mysticism and insanity?

There may be several reasons.

Although mysticism is fringe, it’s often culturally accepted. There is a tradition for it in most cultures.

Mystics talk about God and Spirit, and our culture gives us a larger leeway when we talk about that topic.

Mystics often report similar experiences and insights to each other. In the essence, there is a universality.

Mystics are usually well-functioning people. They typically manage their life and relate to other people in a way that’s not a problem for others or society.

To the extent mystics are empathic, kind, and perhaps have some wisdom, they are given some leeway if what they talk about sometimes sounds odd.

And perhaps most importantly, it depends on how we relate to our experiences and insights and what stories we tell about it.

To the extent mystics are intellectually honest, they appear more sane and ordinary even if what they report is out of the ordinary.

In my case, I emphasize the pragmatics of it – practices and what they can do for us at a very human level.

On the rare occasions I talk about my own out-of-the-ordinary experiences, I have evaluated my audience and wouldn’t talk about it unless I know they understand or have a genuine personal interest. I also often preface by saying I know it sounds weird, I am clear that I hold my stories and interpretations about it very lightly, and I find ways to talk about it that are as down-to-earth as possible.

How we interpret the behavior of others

 

I have a covid patient in my life, and a nurse told her: “you may be OK now but you can get worse and die at any moment”. In that vulnerable situation, this was understandably experienced as unnecessary and frightening by the patient.

How do we interpret the nurse’s behavior? Do we assume the nurse scared the patient intentionally? And if so, that she is cruel, sadistic, stupid, or something else?

Or do we acknowledge that we don’t know? We don’t know much about her or her intention. Nor do we know much about her life or the situation she is in. She may have had the best of intentions and not realized how it could be received. It may be that she is frightened and stressed, and said it in a way she wouldn’t if she was in a different situation and state. Even if this is a pattern for her behavior, it’s very likely a response to her own fear, stress, frightening stories, and perhaps trauma.

Whenever we are drawn to judging someone, it’s good to remember that we know very little about the person and their situation and history. It’s good to remember that situations often play a bigger role in people’s behavior than “who they are” as a person. (If we broaden the definition of “situation” to their history, culture, biology, evolution, and so on, it explains most or all of our behavior.) And it’s good to remember that even what many would judge as heartless or cruel is people’s reaction to their own pain, fear, and trauma.

The more we get to know ourselves and how we respond to our pain fear, stress, and trauma, the more we find empathy and understanding for others and how they behave. We relate to others as we relate to ourselves.

Of course, none of this is an excuse for inappropriate, unprofessional, or unkind behavior. It’s important to point it out when this behavior happens and take steps to make it less likely to happen in the future. But if we keep this in mind, we can do it with a little more kindness and perhaps wisdom.

And if we can’t find that empathy and understanding in the moment, that’s a reason for finding empathy with ourselves. We may be caught up in our reactions to our own fear and pain.

Shifting our relationship with ourselves

 

What does it mean to shift our relationship with ourselves?

At first, it can seem it has to do with shifting our relationship with ourselves as a whole and the different parts and subpersonalities in us. But it goes beyond that. It includes all our experiences, as they are, and that includes the whole world.

Ways to shift our relationship with ourselves / our experience / existence

How do we shift our relationship with our experience, as it is?

At the risk of repeating myself to a ridiculous degree, for me, the most effective approaches have been…

Curiosity and sincerity in the exploration. Our orientation to the exploration is essential and includes honesty with ourselves.

Inquiry into beliefs and identifications (The Work of Byron Katie, Living Inquiries). Beliefs and identifications are innocent and natural, and they also split our world and split what’s inherently whole.

Imagined dialog with subpersonalities, experiences, and so on.

Working with projections, using the world as a mirror. For me, inquiry is one of the most effective ways to work on projections.

Body-centered approaches (tai chi, chigong, yoga, etc.). This helps me get a visceral experience of the wholeness of who I am as a human being, including body and psyche.

Heart-centered approaches (tonglen, ho’o). This helps me befriend myself, the different parts of me, others, and the world as it is.

Inquiry to notice what I am (Headless experiments, Big Mind process). Here, my relationship to all my experiences naturally shifts. I notice all my experiences happen within and as what I am.

Basic meditation – notice and allow what’s here. This too helps soften identification with the content of experience (really, the viewpoint of thoughts saying I am this or that, or the world is this or that), and it makes it easier to find myself as what my experiences happen within and as.

When we notice what we are, there are also some variations of this. For instance, when an experience comes up and I notice my personality reacts to it and wants it to go away, I can ask… Is this too the divine/ What is the true nature of this experience? Is its true nature the same as what I find for myself? I can also ask it, what is your true nature?

Adyashanti: Because of an innocent misunderstanding, you think that you are a human being in the relative world seeking the experience of oneness

 

Because of an innocent misunderstanding, you think that you are a human being in the relative world seeking the experience of oneness, but actually, you are the One expressing itself as the experience of being a human being.

– Adyashanti

This can sound mysterious but it’s not really.

To ourselves, what we are is capacity for our world. All our experiences happen within and as what we are. And we can notice this through inquiry.

Here, we find that what we are is capacity for the world. It may take itself to be something within the content of its experience, which for us is this human self. It does so through taking thoughts – of being this human self with roles and so on – as true. When that happens, it seems that we are this human self seeking oneness (or not!). It can also seem that this human self is having glimpses of oneness and so on. While, in reality, it’s all always happening within and as what we are. It’s the dance of the mind or life. It’s lila.

Words can only point to this and we can explore it for ourselves through inquiry and basic mediation. When we find it for ourselves, its very simple. It can seem very obvious and it seems almost inconceivable that we didn’t notice it before.

At the same time, putting it into words is not easy since this is about oneness and the function of words is to split the world in our imagination. And when we put it into words, it’s obvious to those who notice and may seem complicated and mysterious if we haven’t noticed yet.

I have here chosen to write from the small interpretation of awakening, the true nature of what we are to ourselves. It may make it more relatable, less mysterious, and something we may be able to notice for ourselves. Of course, our own true nature – as capacity for the world – may well be the true nature of existence as a whole. (The details about this is another discussion.)

What does the Buddhist emptiness mean?

 

When they talk about emptiness in Buddhism, what do they refer to?

I am not really sure, but here is what comes for me:

In my immediate experience, it’s as if all experiences are “empty” like a dream. It’s all happening within and as consciousness. There is the appearance of substantiality, and this is created by the mind (by combining thoughts with sensations).

Since everything to me happens within and as what I am, everything – including this human self – is empty of any separate self. There is no real separation anywhere, and no separate selves.

I also find that any thought is empty of any final or absolute truth. Thoughts have validity in different ways, some are more useful than others in certain situations, and some may even be closer to reality in a certain way, but they cannot reflect any final truth.

What’s the meaning of this situation?

 

When things are difficult, we deal with it in different ways including by trying to find meaning in it.

Is there a meaning inherent in anything? If there is, I cannot find it or know for certain what it is. Any idea of meaning comes from my mind trying to make sense of things, and reality itself seems free of it.

So I chose to give it a meaning that makes sense to me, which is to heal, mature, and find more clarity. I can use the situation to identify emotional issues and invite in healing for them. I can identify stressful beliefs and identities and inquire into them and find what’s more true for me. I can shift how I relate to the situation, myself, and life through heart-centered practices (ho’o, tonglen). I can notice it’s all happening within and as what I am (Headless experiments, Big Mind process). And so on, in whatever way makes sense to me.

Made in the image of God

 

In the Abrahamic religions, we find the idea that we are made in the image of God.

What does it mean?

It can mean that…. To ourselves, we are awake emptiness full of the world. Our true nature is this awake no-thing full of our experiences, and that may well be the true nature of existence as a whole. If so, we are made in the image of God. We are what God is. We are made of the same.

We can also look at it from the other side: we make God in our own image.

If we take ourselves as ultimately an object in the world, then we tend to imagine God as the same. God is a being as we are a being, just a different kind of being. And if we find ourselves as capacity, as awake no-thing full of the world, then it’s easy to imagine God – existence as a whole – as that.

Magic tricks & Awakening

 

I have written about this a few times before, but wanted to revisit it briefly.

Magic tricks take advantage of the mind’s ability to take shortcuts. We don’t process everything from scratch, and it wouldn’t even be possible. We operate from our biology and assumptions based on experience and what we learn from others.

Most of the time, this works very well. We see a head sticking out from behind a tree and legs poking out on the other side, assume there is a person behind the tree that the head and legs belong to, and it’s usually correct. We drop something, assume it will fall, and it almost always does.

And it’s what magicians take advantage of. They set up a situation that’s familiar to us, our mind automatically makes assumptions and takes shortcuts, and that’s how we are tricked. We imagine something happening that isn’t. We experience the dissonance between what we think happened, based on our assumptions, and knowing it couldn’t have possibly happened that way.

We see a woman in a box with the head and feet sticking out. The box is sawed in two. And we imagine there is half of a woman in each part of the box while knowing that’s impossible. (In reality, there is either one real woman in one section and artificial feet in the other, or one real woman in each part and half of their bodies hidden from view.)

Assumptions & shortcuts

How does this relate to awakening?

The same principles are what prevent us from noticing what we are. Life is the magician and tricks us into thinking that what we fundamentally are is this human being, and the way it happens is the same. Our mind operates from assumptions and shortcuts.

A central assumption is that we most fundamentally are this human being, so that’s how we perceive and live. We make it come true for ourselves, in our own experience. And we have many other assumptions that branch out from and support this assumption and make it seem even more solid and real.

Misdirection

Another central principle of magic tricks is misdirection. Our attention is led away from where the magic is happening. A magician holds a ball in one hand, appears to put it in the other, holds up the closed hand we now think is holding the ball to bring our attention there, while the first hand – which is still holding the ball – drops it in the pocket.

How does misdirection play a role in the context of awakening?

Our mind is fascinated by stories it holds as true. That’s the misdirection. This distracts us from the actual magic, which is how our mind creates its perception of reality. And it distracts us from what we really are, which is capacity for our world.

Learning how the magic tricks are done

For me, there is a double enjoyment of good magic tricks. First, from the initial and often baffling performance, and then from learning how it’s done.

Sometimes, the effect may be good while the method – if based in gimmicks more than skill – is a bit disappointing. Other times, the method makes me appreciate, admire, and enjoy the trick even more.

When we examine and see how our mind performs its magic tricks, both apply. In one sense, it’s almost laughably simple and it seems baffling that we are able to trick ourselves that way. In another sense, it’s very impressive.

How can we see through the main magic trick of the mind?

The main magic trick of the mind is to create a sense of us, most fundamentally, as this human being.

So how can we see through it?

To notice what we are, our assumptions need to be set aside for a moment.

This can happen through a long practice and investigation process. We can do basic meditation and notice and allow what’s here, which allows our identification with our thoughts to soften so it’s easier to notice what we are. We can also chip away at one assumption and belief at a time, through inquiry. (The Work of Byron Katie, Living Inquiry.)

And we can notice what we are relatively quickly through guided inquiry. (Headless experiments and the Big Mind process.) We can find ourselves as Big Mind, or as capacity for our world.

In most cases, these slow and fast approaches work very well together. The slow can create a more solid basis, and the fast gives us an immediate taste of what it’s about.

The real magician & lila

So who is really the magician? We can say it’s life, Spirit, or our mind.

And who is the audience that’s temporarily tricked? Again, it’s life, Spirit, or our mind.

Another word for these magic tricks is lila – the play of Spirit, existence, or our mind. It’s how this awake capacity can experience time, space, multitudes, taking itself as ultimately a being, and everything that comes from all of this.

It’s how…. the timeless can take itself as time and being within time, the spaceless as space and happening within space, the no-thing can appear as a thing, the one as many, the seamless whole as separate, the void as substantial, and so on.

A few more details

I’ll add a few things for clarification.

When I say “capacity for our world”, it means capacity for all the content of our experiences – thoughts, feelings, sensations, sights, sounds, smell, and so on. We are capacity for this human self and the wider world. It’s all happening within and as what we are. To ourselves, this is our fundamental nature.

When our mental field (mental images and words) combines with sensations, it’s because our mind associated certain thoughts with certain bodily sensations, and these thoughts give meaning to the sensations and the sensations give a sense of solidity and substance (reality, truth) to the thoughts. This is how a thought or assumption appears true to us. And when we explore this, the “glue” or associations tend to weaken and we may even recognize what’s happening as it’s happening.

Hvilken side av fortau og stier skal vi gå på?

 

Det finnes ingen offisielle regler eller retningslinjer på dette i norge, så det er naturlig at det er ulike oppfatninger.

Etter å ha sett litt på noen diskusjoner om dette så har jeg sett to mønstre.

Det ene er en forskjell mellom by og land. I og nær byene er det flere på fortau og stier, så det er viktigere med retningslinjer, mens på landet er det færre så det blir mindre viktig.

Det andre er at vi skal gå på venstre side av bilveier uten fortau. Enkelte overfører dette til andre steder hvor man går, som fortau og stier, mens andre vet at i de fleste land i europa (de med høyrekjøring) så går man til høyre på fortau og på stier.

Det jeg lærte som barn var at jeg går til venstre på bilveier uten fortau, i høyre skispor, og til høyre på fortau og stier. Det første er en regel, det andre en uoffisiell retningslinje, og det siste kanskje mest en sedvane.

Dette er skrevet under koronakrisen hvor det er flere ute i naturen så dette spørsmålet har blitt mer aktuelt. Og jeg har også lagt merke til at kjøpesentre – i hvertfall de jeg har vært i – nå har oppmerking på gulvet som oppfordrer folk til å gå til høyre.

Dream: Lost cat

 

I am with my partner in Oslo, and our beloved cat is lost. We look for her everywhere, but cannot find her.

I experienced this dream quite strongly, as a kind of restless nightmare.

I’ll explore the specifics later. For now, I see that the main theme is loss, and I know that’s a central theme in my life as well. So when I woke up, I started to work on the issue of loss by taking it through the Vortex Healing protocol. It’s something I have wanted to work on anyway, so this seems as good a time as any.

When we distill a dream down to its essence, it’s easier to get a sense of the main theme. In this case, it’s loss, so I work on loss. As a first step, it doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.

Thomas Berry: The universe is composed of subjects to be communed with

 

The universe is composed of subjects to be communed with, not objects to be exploited. Everything has its own voice. Thunder and lightning and stars and planets, flowers, birds, animals, trees, – all these have voices, and they constitute a community of existence that is profoundly related.

– Thomas Berry in Evening Thoughts: Reflections on Earth as a Living Community

This beautiful quote stands well on its own, and invites us to explore this for ourselves.

What I find is…. In a conventional sense, based on the universe story from our modern science, we are all parts of the seamless whole of this universe and existence taking the form of everything we see in and around us and in the universe. We are all parts of the same seamless whole. We and everything are local expressions of the universe evolving and exploring itself in always new ways.

As capacity for my world, I also find a seamless whole. All of this – my human self, stars, flowers, birds, animals, the world as it appears to me – happens within and as what I am, within and as this awake space. Here too, it’s all one.

In both cases, the universe is composed of subjects to be communed with, and everything constitutes a community of existence that is profoundly related.

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXX

 

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

SPACE BUGS?

I am rewatching the Andromeda Strain where a crashed satellite (!) infects humanity with a space bug. And I am also familiar with how NASA took precautions to prevent possible moon bugs from infecting humanity after the Apollo astronauts returned from the moon, and how they are doing their best to prevent Earth bugs from contaminating mars when they send landers there.

One thing that’s often left out when this is discussed is perhaps the most obvious question: If there are space bugs, why would they be adapted to human and Earth biology? How could they possibly infect us if they evolved from a different origin and in a different environment?

The answer is that they almost certainly can’t if they evolved from a different origin and a different environment. There is a small chance they did evolve from the same origin – if there is something to the panspermia idea, although it’s difficult to see that they would be able to infect us since they most likely co-evolved with a very different environment from ours and with very different organisms to us. Another possibility is that Earth bugs got flung into space when a meteor hit, and miraculously survived, reproduced (without host organisms?), changed, and are still able to infect humans or Earth organisms.

There are a lot of ifs here, and it seems unlikely bordering on impossible that it could happen. Of course, NASA wants to take precautions, and they wanted to be seen as taking it seriously, which is why they quarantined the Apollo astronauts.

It makes more sense to decontaminate Earth crafts before they land on Mars and other planets. If there is native life on Mars, we don’t want it mixed in with Earth bugs and we don’t want to have Earth bugs take over the environment – even if that too is very unlikely. There is also a very small chance that Earth bugs arrived on Mars due to a meteor impact, or the other way around, and Mars bugs are still similar to Earth bugs, so it’s good to not have them mixed up.

Read More

I never remember anything

 

I never remember anything. I have images and tell myself they are from the past and call them memories.

Memories are created here and now.

When I see this, I hold them lighter and more as questions.

I have images, tell myself they reflect something from the past, and I am aware they are images and different from what actually happened. Someone else may and will have different images about the same situations. I may adjust and change these images if I explore them further, and if I am reminded of something through what others say, photos, written notes, or something else.

If I am not aware of this, I may tell myself that my images about a past situation are the real thing. They accurately reflect what happened. They are like a kind of camera faithfully recording the past situation. (Not that cameras record something accurately in its entirety.) I may get upset by any suggestion that my memories are not accurate.

I imagine the past, as I imagine the future.

When I look, I also find I imagine the present. I imagine a world beyond what’s here in my immediate sense perception, and I also put an overlay of mental images and stories on top of what’s here in my sight, hearing, sensations, smell, taste, and so on.

Projections are how I (imagine I) know others & the world

 

We know others through projections. Or, rather, we imagine the other through our projections.

There is nothing wrong in this. On the contrary, it’s how we are able to function in the world.

This projection can be blind or conscious.

Imagining other people

Say I imagine someone is angry. I project that onto them in my own imagination. And several things may be going on here. She may actually be angry, in her own experience, in which case the projection is relatively accurate and helpful. She may not experience anger, and if she tells me I can revise my imagination of what’s going. I may or may not be aware of anger in myself. Perhaps I too experience anger in that situation?

I may or may not be aware of this as a projection or imagination. If I am aware of it as a projection, I hold it lighter and as a question. I am more receptive and able to change or refine it in the light of new information. I am also more open to see the same in myself as I imagine in the other person.

If I am not aware of it as a projection, I tend to hold it more firmly. I may not be receptive to adjust how I imagine the other person, and I may not be open to seeing in myself what I imagine in the other.

Imagining the world

We project not just on other people but on the whole world. I imagine the world as it is outside of what’s here in my sense fields, and I also put an imagination overlay on what’s here in what I see, hear, feel, smell, taste, and so on.

The same goes here. If I am aware of these projections and that I imagine it, I hold it more lightly, I am more receptive to adjust it, and I can more easily find in myself what I project out.

For instance, I have an image of New York and I project it out onto the world – I imagine it a third around the world and to the west. I am not in New York so it’s clearly an imagination and a projection. Along with this basic image of the city, I have many other images and stories that tell me how (I imagine) New York is and was and may be and my personal experiences with it through being there, talking with people about it, and seeing it in movies.

If I am aware of this as images and projections, I see these as just my current imagination and questions about the city and I am receptive to other information about it. I can also find in myself the qualities and dynamics I imagine in New York. Perhaps I see it as tough, busy, driven, art-oriented, and so on, and I can find all of that in myself.

If I am not aware of this as my imagination and projections, I may be less receptive to information that doesn’t fit my current images, and I may not see in myself what I see in the city.

Tao Te Ching: Stay at the center of the circle and let all things take their course

 

Stay at the center of the circle and let all things take their course.

– Tao Te Ching

This is the center Douglas Harding when he says that at the center, at zero distance, we are capacity for the world. Here, we all things happen within and as what we are. They live their own life. They take their course. And they do so whether we notice or not.

When we find ourselves as capacity for our world, we find ourselves as capacity for thoughts, feelings, reactions, choices, the activities of this human self in the world, and the wider world. It all happens within and as what we are. It all already lives its own life.

This is not “let all things take their course” in the sense of passively sitting back and not do anything at a human level. That’s a misunderstanding and comes from taking ourselves as fundamentally and ultimately this human being. The quote points to finding ourselves as what all happens within and as, and notice that all things already take their course and live their life, including this human self and its thoughts, emotions, choices, and activities in the world.

Are we in a simulation?

 

Some ask this question. As so often, the answer for me is yes, no, and don’t know.

In a conventional sense, the answer is: I don’t know. And that’s fine, I don’t really need to know.

When I look more closely, I also find that I can know something about it, and the answer is yes and no.

The world as it appears to me, happens within and as what I am. I am capacity for it. It happens within and as what a thought may label consciousness. And I perceive it through an overlay of thoughts that labels, interprets, and creates stories and generally makes sense of it. In that sense, it’s a kind of simulation. It’s like a dream to me since it happens within and as consciousness, and it’s filtered and interpreted by my mental images and stories.

At the same time, there is consensus reality. It seems that I perceive the world more or less as others, at least in a basic and everyday sense. I see a blue sky, walk on the ground, open doors, eat, talk, and so on. In the consensus reality and pragmatic sense, I live and function as if it’s not a simulation. For all practical purposes, it’s not a simulation.

So I cannot know if we are in a simulation, in the way most people talk about it. It’s a kind of simulation since my world happens within and as what I am and is interpreted and made sense of by a mental field overlay. And for all practical purposes, in consensus reality, it’s not a simulation.

Be in control of the mind?

 

I just wish I could be in control of my mind when I die.

– Ann McNeil in The Roaring Silence, about 13 minutes in

I am not sure exactly what she means by it, but here are some things that come up for me.

When I find myself as capacity for my world, all my experiences happen within and as what I am. It’s all revealed as the play of life, or the play of the divine. To me, that’s the most important, and there isn’t really any “control” here.

At a more human level, we can tame the mind. We can train the mind in stable attention. We can shift how we relate to others, ourselves, and all of life. We can train ourselves to notice what we are, and for what we are to notice itself.

The glib response is that we cannot control anything and there is no one here to control anything. Although that has some truth to it, it’s not nearly the whole picture. In real life, there is a lot we can do to train the mind – to notice its true nature, to have more stable attention, to relate to experiences with kindness, and so on. I assume that’s what she referred to when she said: “in control of my mind”.

To me, it’s not really “control”. It’s more that we have trained our mind to work in different patterns.

Or that life has trained itself, locally and as this mind, to work in different patterns.

WOW! experiences & other myths about awakening

 

Headless experiments and the Big Mind process can lead us to notice what we are, and can do so relatively easily and quickly.

Some may find what they are, and yet dismiss or not follow up on it. Why is that?

Reasons we dismiss it when we (genuinely) have a taste of what we are

There may be several reasons we dismiss it even if we genuinely notice what we are.

We may think that what we are looking for has more bells and whistles. We may confuse awakening with the occasional side-effects of awakening. Sometimes, glimpses of what we are come with a lot of bells and whistles – peak experiences, ecstasy, visions, seeing energies, and so on. Those are side-effects and can distract us, whether we have them or hear about them, from what it’s really about.

We may think it’s too easy. Again, stories from others may mislead us. We think it requires several lifetimes of work, and having it pointed out and finding it in a few minutes seems too easy. The reality is that noticing it can be easy while living from it takes a lifetime of work.

We may think it’s only for special people, and we are not a special person.

It may not come from a trusted source. We think that if it doesn’t come through specific practices, teachers, and traditions, it’s not the real thing.

We may notice what they are, and not see the use of it. We choose to not keep exploring it, how it is to live from it, and what happens when they do.

Mislead by myths about awakening

There are several myths about awakening: It will solve all our problems. Our human life will be free of challenges. It’s a state of bliss. It’s a state of something. It doesn’t exist.

And… It’s only for special people. It requires lifetimes of work. It must come through very specific practices, teachers, and traditions. It’s a big WOW experience.

Believing the last category of myths makes it difficult to take it seriously when we notice what we are guided by headless experiments, the Big Mind process, or similar forms of pointers and inquiry.

My experience

How has this been in my process?

For me, it did start with a lot of bells and whistles. The awakening came out of the blue when I was sixteen, and it came with an explosion of bliss, insights, seeing energies, and so on.

At a more conscious level, I was aware of the distinction between what the awakening is about and the side effects. But something in me wanted more of the side-effects and I was secretly chasing them for years.

I have been very fond of the Big Mind process and the Headless experiments from the beginning. They help me notice and clarify what I am and explore living from it. I was at Kanzeon Zen center when Genpo Roshi started developing it, and some years later, a friend recommended On Having No Head which led me to the Headless experiments.

The part of me chasing the side-effects seems to have quieted down, although it’s a fair guess it’s still there to some extent. That’s completely natural and not inherently a problem. It points to something in me at a human level that’s not quite healed, including a (near universal) sense of lack.

Rumi: Do not feel lonely, the entire universe is inside you

 

Do not feel lonely, the entire universe is inside you

– attributed to Rumi, although I can’t find the exact source

Some folks (drama queens like Ken Wilber) say awakening is lonely because there is no “other”.

I have never quite understood it, perhaps because it hasn’t really been my experience.

What I have experienced is loneliness in a very ordinary human sense. I have experienced loneliness because the awakening happened when I was sixteen and, at a human level, there were nobody in my life who understood or could relate to it. And I have experienced loneliness from a belief and emotional issue, rooted in childhood.

But the “lonely because there is no other” doesn’t quite fit my experience. When I notice what I am, and the center of gravity shifts more into that, there is no other and also no I here. It’s all just happening. That’s not lonely.

And what the quote points to is equally valid. When I find myself as capacity for the world, the world happens within me. Whatever is here – people, animals, plants, things – happen within me. And any ideas about the world as a whole and the universe as a whole (which are ideas since they are not here in immediate experience) happens within me. That’s not lonely.

So, yes, I sometimes have a feeling of loneliness – in a very ordinary human sense and for ordinary human reasons. As what I am, it’s really neither lonely or not. And any sense of loneliness happens within and as what I am, just like anything else.

Headless experiment: Finding ourselves as empty & full of the world (the card)

 

I mention the Headless Way often here, so I thought I would share one of the experiments.

This one is called the card experiment. The full description is on the Headless Way website, so I’ll just give a brief version of it here.

The experiment

Get a letter-sized piece of paper or a similarly sized piece of cardboard, and cut a relatively large hole in the middle (large enough for your face).

Hold it up in front of you and look through it. Notice all the things you can see inside of the hole – a chair, table, other people, trees, or whatever it may be. Notice these are all objects with shape, color, and so on.

Then bring your attention to the hole itself. Notice it’s empty. Empty space.

Notice that the hole is both. It’s full of the world. And it’s empty space.

It’s empty space full of the world.

Then bring the paper closer to where you are looking from. As you bring it closer, the hole becomes larger and the edges eventually disappear.

What are YOU now?

Are YOU this empty space full of the world?

The headless experiments

I love this experiment. For me, it’s an immediate and clear reminder of what I am.

At the same time, I know it’s not that way for everyone.

It may take a little time and several tries before we “get” it.

There are several experiments, and some may resonate more with you than others.

And if we are looking for a “big” experience, we may be disappointed. When we get it through these experiments, it’s often a small aha experience, and although it shifts what we find ourselves as it can also be experienced as quite ordinary.

Even if we get it, we may not immediately resonate with it or get what it does.

In any case, it’s something we can come back to again and again. It’s not something we get once and for all. It’s an ongoing exploration and discovery, as is exploring how to live from it.

An even simpler version

I thought I would add an even simpler version of this card experiment, which I sometimes use when I want to show it to someone and we don’t have a piece of paper nearby.

Make a hole with your hands, as large as you can. I bring the first two fingers of each of my hands together and my thumbs together so my hands form a kind of diamond shape. This is then the hole for the experiment.

Own inquiry: I think

 

I am revisiting this classic topic.

Thoughts appear out of nowhere. They come and go and live their own life. And we are trained to take ownership over them and say to ourselves “I am thinking” and “I thought that”.

One way to explore this is to notice it as it happens. A thought comes out of nowhere. I cannot find any origin. And then there is a thought saying “I thought that” even if it’s not based in reality or my own experience. Basic meditation – allow & notice – is one way to notice this.

We can also explore this in the context of noticing what we are, and through more structured inquiries like the Living Inquiries and The Work.

In the context of what we are

When I find myself as capacity for my world, I also find myself as capacity for the thoughts that are here.

I notice thoughts come and go within what I am, and come and go out of nothing.

This, in itself, releases some or most or all of the identification with the thoughts, at least while I notice what I am.

And this also happens generally over time the more I get used to and familiar with finding myself as capacity for thoughts and my world in general.

The Work on the thought “I think”

Statement: I think.

Q1: Is it true? Yes, sometimes it seems true.

Q2: Can you know for certain it’s true? No, I cannot know for certain.

Q3: What happens when you believe “I think”?

I take my thoughts personally. I feel responsible for them. I tell myself I create them and they reflect who and what I am. I am more cautious about my thoughts. I try to control them and shepherd them in a direction I prefer and think is better. I sometimes get slightly paranoid about my thoughts. I relate to them with some tension. They feel close. I feel I need to protect them if someone threatens them and what they tell me. I more easily get absorbed into them. I tend to take myself as the thoughts. I become the viewpoint of the thoughts. It becomes an identity for me, and one I feel I need to uphold and protect.

Q4: Who would you be without the belief “I think”?

I see thoughts come and go. They live their own life. There is space around them. They happen within and as space. I am more curious about them. I observe them. I take them more as innocent questions. I am less or not identified with them. If someone or something doesn’t agree with them, I observe the two viewpoints and can explore the dynamic between them more openly. I am open to what’s valid in thoughts and how they are not valid. I am open to how they may be useful and when and how they are not.

Turnaround 1: I don’t think.

Well, they come and go on their own. “I” don’t create them or determine what they say.

The idea “I think” is a thought. I don’t know for certain if or how it’s true. Thoughts may not be what I think they are. (They probably are not.)

TA 2: Thoughts “I”.

This is a weird turnaround. If I think, then perhaps it’s also true that thoughts create the “I”? Can I find “I” outside of thoughts? Not really. It seems that a sense of “I” is created by thoughts – saying “I” did this and that, “I” exist, “I” am this human self, and so on. Without it, there is just what’s here without that particular overlay of thought. There is still what thoughts may label this human being doing things in the world and with the experiences that are here.

TA 3: You think.

If I think I think, then I think you think as well. I see you as I see me. I see your thoughts as personal to you. I see your thoughts as reflecting who and what you are. I take your thoughts about me, or your thoughts either agreeing or disagreeing with mine, personally. I create a tense relationship between your thoughts and mine, and am ready to agree or defend according to what you say or write. My world revolves around my and your thoughts and their relationship and what I feel I have to do about it.

The primary here, in this and most types of inquiry, is the noticing and resting with the noticing, and the secondary is putting it into words.

Living Inquiries

I will also explore this using Living Inquiries, and may write some notes here when I do.

Exaggerating the distinction between what and who we are

 

The nature and purpose of words is to make distinctions where there, in reality, is none. All is a seamless whole, and when we use words, we create imagined separation lines in the world to help us communicate and function in the world.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this. It’s how we function, and it’s what allows us to function as human beings in the world.

The distinction between who and what we are

One of the distinctions many, including myself – guilty as charged – make, is between what and who we are. Between our true nature as capacity for our world and the world. Between what all our experiences happen within and as, and all the changing experiences.

This can be a helpful distinction since we typically identify with the content of our experience and overlook what it happens within. It can help us notice our true nature.

And it’s not such a helpful distinction if we come to think and believe that this distinction is, in any way, real and somehow inherent in reality.

The reality is that both are aspects of a seamless whole, and even highlighting them as aspects is taking it a bit too far. Still, that’s what we have to do if we are to talk about it, and it can be helpful. It’s just good to notice that we are placing imagined dividing or distinction lines on this seamless whole.

Trying to talk about it in a way that highlights the seamless whole

If I am to talk about it with these distinction lines while trying to point out the seamless nature of it, it can be said simply but it will seem opaque and confusing unless we notice it for ourselves. For instance, our true nature takes the form of all our experiences.

It can also be said in a more detailed and convoluted way…. What we are is awake capacity for our world, it’s what our experiences happen within and as. This awake capacity takes the form of the content of experience, and the true nature of the content of our experience is this awake capacity.

What happens if we take the distinction too seriously?

What can happen if we take the separation line too seriously? If we hold onto the words more than we notice what they point to, and take the words as pointing to a division inherent in reality?

We can tell ourselves that the world is somehow less important or an illusion, perhaps in order to distance ourselves from it and the pain inherent in it (instead of embracing and befriending that pain), and we can live as if this is how it is. This can lead to all sorts of misguided adventures, which then become a valuable part of our awakening path and is not inherently wrong.

In a general sense, we may overlook that our true nature takes the form of all our experiences, and overlook the true nature of each of our experiences.

Byron Katie: Every concept that has ever existed is inside you

 

Every concept that has ever existed is inside of you.

– Byron Katie

I assume she doesn’t talk about concepts like E=MC2.

She is talking about universal and potentially stressful thoughts. I am not good enough. I am unlovable. She doesn’t like me. Something terrible will happen. And so on.

As thoughts, they are neutral and more a question. When we take them on as beliefs, they become stressful for us.

These thoughts and beliefs have been passed on through generations. We learned them from parents, friends, teachers, media, art, entertainment, religion, and mythology.

And we can examine them, find what’s more true for us, and find freedom from them. We can turn a stressful and limiting belief back into a more neutral thought and an innocent question.

There is a gift in the universality of these thoughts and beliefs. It means others remind us of our own, so we can take them to inquiry. And it means that when we turn beliefs into neutral thoughts, we become an example to others that it’s possible. It may be the start of them questioning their own beliefs and recognizing them as innocent questions.

Byron Katie: Make friends with mediocrity, it’s the place of balance

 

Make friends with mediocrity. It’s the place of balance.

– Byron Katie

If we are sincere and honest with ourselves, we see that we are mediocre. Even if the world tells us we are excellent at something, we know that we really are somewhere in the middle. The scale stretches infinitely in both directions.

There are many upsides to seeing ourselves as mediocre. It leaves infinite room for continuing to explore, discover, and develop. There is no particular special identity to defend or uphold or live up to. It opens for a more real connection with others. It opens for receptivity and learning. Ultimately, it’s more real and aligned with reality.

There is a lot more to this. We cannot really take credit for anything since it’s all given to us – our talent, resources, skills, passion, interests, opportunities, and so on. It all comes from somewhere else. Even our choices come from somewhere else. It’s all given to us from life and the universe. From genetics, upbringing, society, culture, and the evolution of our species, this living planet, and the universe as a whole. And all of this is is really the expression of life, the universe, and existence. All that’s expressed through and as this human being is the local and temporary expression of life, the universe, and existence as a whole.

The idea of time travel says more about our mind than reality

 

I have written about this too, several times, but thought I would briefly revisit it.

The idea of time travel says more about our mind than it does about reality.

In our mind, we can easily visit the past and future. Present, past, and future all co-exist. So it’s an apparently small leap to assume we can do the same in reality.

While in reality, we only have what’s here and now and our ideas about the past and future are all created here and now. For time travel to be possible, the past and future would have to be stored somewhere, and that’s very likely not how it is.

So the idea of time travel says something about how our mind works. It reminds us that we can easily visit some version of the past, present, and future in our mind, that we cannot find the past and future anywhere else, and that we sometimes mistake what’s going on in our mind for reality outside of the mind.

It also reminds us that all we have is what’s here and now. As far as we know, the past and future are not magically stored anywhere outside of our mind.

Of course, the idea of time travel in fiction is something else. It can create fascinating and fun stories, and those too can be used to explore and say something about us here and now.

Pandemic irrationality: not trusting experts, and opposing rules because they are unfamiliar

 

In these pandemic days, some oppose the government rules and guidelines put in place to control the pandemic. (Fortunately, less in Norway than in some other countries.)

There are several things about that opposition that puzzles me.

Trusting experts

For instance, most of those opposed to these rules and guidelines are not epidemiologists. Why wouldn’t you trust someone who has spent their life studying what works in a pandemic? Why would you instead trust some random people on the internet?

If I have a health problem, I’ll trust a specialist in the medical profession, not some random person on the street. If I want a haircut, I’ll go to a hairdresser and not a fisherman. If I have trouble with my car, I’ll go to a mechanic and not a manicurist. If I want to build a bridge, I’ll go to an engineer and not a surgeon.

If I want to know what to do in a pandemic, I’ll go to an epidemiologist and not some random people on the internet.

These people who are so opposed to the pandemic rules and guidelines, do they go to a mechanic when they want a haircut? Do they go to a gardener when they have a serious health problem? Do they ask a nurse to fix the mechanical problem with their car? Do they go to a doctor to design a bridge?

If they don’t, why don’t they trust epidemiologists in a pandemic?

Opposing the guidelines because they are new and unfamiliar?

I also wonder if some of those who oppose the pandemic guidelines do so because the guidelines are unfamiliar to them. After all, these people likely follow a large number of other rules and guidelines put in place to protect us all and benefit society.

Most of them are probably happy to use a seat belt. Follow traffic rules. Pay their taxes. Avoid killing someone. Pay for the products they want in stores. And so on.

Society has a huge number of written and unwritten rules in place, and most are happy to follow them either because these rules are familiar, or also because they know these rules are in place to benefit all of us and so we can have a well-functioning society.

If this is so obvious, why do they still oppose the guidelines?

Both of these seem completely obvious. We go to experts to get something done, and we generally trust them. And we already follow a huge number of rules in society, so what do these temporary ones matter? After all, it’s only for a short period of time and they are put in place to protect us all.

I am not sure. Perhaps it’s because people are not used to thinking logically about things? Or that they prefer to engage in their reactivity rather than what’s more reasoned?

Real-life test cases

We also have real-life test cases, both from history and in the current epidemic.

From history, we know that masks, quarantine, lock-downs, and so on work.

And we see the same in the world today. The countries with leaders who largely minimized and ignored the advice from epidemiologists, like the US (Trump) and Brazil (Bolsonaro), have not fared well. While the countries that did follow the advice have largely done much better.

Reasonable discussion

Of course, there is a reasonable discussion to be had on these topics. For instance, I often think that the Norwegian government is strangely behind the science. They didn’t recommend masks until many months into the pandemic, and they still assume that young people are not very affected by the virus (in spite of a great deal of evidence to the contrary). It’s also clear that masks need to be close-fitting and high-quality to function properly, and that’s often left out in the discussion about masks.

There are many things open to reasonable discussion, although these tend to revolve around the details and the specifics, not the general benefit of masks, temporary lock-downs, and so on.

Epidemiologists know what works, and they agree on what works. So why not follow their recommendations? Why not follow the government recommendations when these largely follow the recommendations of epidemiologists?

Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner: Heresy makes for progress!

 

Heresy makes for progress!

Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner

This is pretty obvious: if we want progress, we need heresy. We need to question accepted truths. We need to go outside of how we and others think things are and should be.

One way to do this is to identify and question beliefs and underlying assumptions in society, and then see what opens up without these imagined boundaries.

And also to do the same with ourselves. What stressful or limiting beliefs and assumptions do I have? What do I hold as most obvious and given? What do I find when I question these? What’s possible for me when I see that these limits were imagined? What happens when I live from a place that’s free from them?

The other side of this is that the heresy, to be useful, needs to be grounded in reality, what works, kindness, and some wisdom.

Nostalgia & the healing impulse within our fascinations

 

Nostalgia, once thought of as a brain disease, is actually a healing neurological mechanism elicited in times of distress.

– description of The benefits of being nostalgic, a BBC mini-documentary

My assumption is that when our mind is fascinated by something that may seem meaningless, frivolous, or frustrating, there is a healing impulse within it.

The healing impulse within nostalgia

Nostalgia can help us digest and come to terms with the past, learn about ourselves (what we enjoy), and make changes in our life now – either to bring in more of what we enjoy or let go of something that doesn’t serve us.

It all depends on how we relate to it. Do we get bogged down by the nostalgia? Stuck in longing for what was and no longer is? Unhappy about our current life? Caught up in remorse? If so, and if we don’t allow the process to continue and find healing, it’s not so helpful. (I assume that’s why John Hodgman likes to call nostalgia a “toxic impulse”.)

We can also support the healing impulse within nostalgia. We can use it to come to terms with the past. Identify what we enjoy and what makes us come alive, and find ways to bring it into our life now. We can identify what’s in our current life that’s not aligned with what’s important to us and find ways to reduce or eliminate it.

I am sometimes nostalgic about my time at Kanzeon Zen Center in Salt Lake City. What about that time did I enjoy? It was the climate, nature, daily meditation, and an international community of people with similar interests and orientations as me. How can I bring more of that into my life? I am out in nature when I can. I do spiritual practices, although not communally. I have an international community of like-minded friends, although it’s mostly virtual. And the climate where I am is not so good for me. I am planning to move to a warmer, sunnier, and drier climate, which I know is what helps my health the most. In this place, it’s possible I’ll be able to bring in more of nature, communal practice, and an international community.

What’s the healing impulse in other – sometimes unwanted – fascinations?

What else is our mind fascinated by that may, on the surface, not seem so helpful?

We can be worried about the future. Annoyed by something in the present. Reliving past traumatic experiences. Obsessed by something we would rather not be so focused on. And so on.

In these cases, the mind is drawn to a place where it’s stuck. It’s caught up in stressful beliefs and unhealed emotional issues.

As with nostalgia, if the process stops there, it’s not necessarily so helpful. Then we just get the unpleasantness of it without the resolution and healing.

So how can we support the healing process?

In general, by asking: What needs healing? And how can we support that healing?

And if it’s me…. Identify the stressful beliefs and assumptions behind it and question these. Identify any emotional issue behind it and invite in healing for it. Shift in how I relate to the trigger and what’s triggered in us, for instance through dialog (parts work, subpersonalities) or heart-centered practices.

If I am annoyed by noise from my neighbor, it points to something unhealed and examined in me. I can find thoughts like: He should be more considerate. He shouldn’t use noisy machines. He should have a wild garden instead of a sterile manicured one. I cannot find peace. I can then examine each of these, for instance using The Work of Byron Katie. I can also identify triggered identities – perhaps “sensitive” and “considerate” – and examine these, for instance using Living Inquiries.

If my mind goes to worries about the future or stressful events in the past, I can identify beliefs and identities and inquire into them. I can identify emotional issues and invite in healing for them in whatever way works for me. I can find the parts of me that are triggered and dialog with these. I can use heart-centered practices to shift my relationship with the trigger (now, in the past, or in the imagined future) and what’s triggered in me.

Why is the mind drawn by what needs resolution or healing?

I suspect this is a built-in mechanism that came through evolution. The ones whose mind was drawn to what needed resolution were more likely to find this resolution, and they functioned better as human beings and were more likely to successfully bring up children, grandchildren, and children in the larger family – all of whom may have shared this trait. They were also more likely to contribute to the success of the tribe or community which included people who shared this trait.

At a micro-level, the mind is drawn to what needs resolution through creating a charge. The mind associates certain thoughts (connected with what’s unresolved) with certain sensations, and the thoughts give meaning to the sensations and the sensations give a sense of charge, substance, and reality to the thoughts.

The gifts in frustrating fascinations

So there is a gift in apparently meaningless, frivolous, or frustrating fascinations.

On the surface, they can seem useless or uncomfortable, and if the mind gets stuck in them, it can be unhealthy or unhelpful.

And yet, if we join in with the impulse and examine it, we may find something of great value.

We may find healing, clarity, insights, and an opportunity to mature.

Life is intelligent

 

You are very intelligent.

Thank you. Although it’s life that’s very intelligent.

There are always someone more or less intelligent than us, there are as many types of intelligence as there are areas of life to use our intelligence for, and what we call intelligence is often better called insights or experience.

In any case, it’s really life that’s intelligent.

Our human intelligence is the product of evolution, going back to the first single-celled organisms billions of years ago. It’s the product of this living planet’s evolution as a whole. It’s the product of the evolution of the universe, from the big bang via matter and solar systems to the universe evolving as this living planet.

Life created this intelligence. This intelligence is the Earth being intelligent, locally and temporarily here. It’s the universe and existence being intelligent (or not), here and now.

We cannot take credit for this intelligence, no more than we take credit for anything else.

It’s all given. It all has innumerable causes going back to the beginning of time and out to the widest extent of existence… and it may well be beginningless and endless.

It’s all grace.

Nature as a guide

 

This is one of the oldest themes of poetry and wisdom….

Use nature as a guide. Learn from nature. Take your cues from nature.

This seems to happen daily for me.

I have the thought I should make something more out of my life. My old dreams and plans were dashed for different reasons, including my health. I see the tendency of my mind to go into disappointment, sadness, hopelessness, envy, and so on. It’s natural and I know it does so to protect me, although it’s not so helpful.

And then I remember nature. A tree doesn’t think or feel it should live another life, that it should be taller or straighter or a different kind of tree. A fish is happy to live its life as a fish. A stream doesn’t feel it should be larger or in a different place. A cat may lose a leg and still lives its life as best it can as if it hadn’t.

So how would it be for me to do the same? I can find it in me. Nature helps me connect with this side of me.

I am nature. I have this in me too. And nature reminds me.

Projections and the larger context

 

I have written about this before, starting from my old paper journals in my teens. And, for whatever reason, I am drawn to revisit it.

There are several layers to projections.

The world is my mirror

The world is my mirror. What I see out there is something I know from myself, whether I acknowledge it or not.

Whatever story I have about someone or something, I can turn it around to myself and find concrete examples of how it’s true.

Through working on this, I get to see something in myself wherever I look in the world. The fundamental separation of “you are that and I am not” or “I am this and you are not” goes away.

This reduces the reactivity that comes from the “you are that, I am not” perception, and we are more free to act from whatever clarity and kindness is here.

It helps me discover a far richer sense of myself, less constrained by ideas of what I am not.

It makes it more difficult to dehumanize others, no matter the species.

The world becomes a rich mirror and it’s an endless adventure to explore and actively make use of this mirror.

We can have blind or conscious projections. If they are blind, it means I see something out there and not in myself or the reverse. If it’s conscious, I am still projecting – I am seeing something out there that I know from myself – but I recognize it’s a projection.

That also means that I hold my projections more lightly since I am more aware of it as a projection. I know it’s here, and I know it may or may not be out there as I see it.

Mental field overlay

Another kind of projection is our mental field overlay.

Our mental images and words create an overlay on the other sense fields and make sense of these. They provide labels, interpretations, stories, interpretations, and so, and this helps us function in the world. I see a candle, and instantly have associations to flickering light, winter evenings, past experiences here and other places, the label “candle”, the thought that it will burn out within a few hours, images of more candles in the corner closet, and so on. My senses take in their impressions, and my mental field makes sense of it and helps me orient and navigate.

This mental field maintains our world even in the absence of the other senses. Right now, I can easily imagine the rest of the house I am in, the other people here, the outside, town, country, world, and so on. This is the exact same mental field as the one I described in the previous paragraph, it’s just that now it functions in the absence of other sense impressions. We can notice this mental field activity by closing our eyes and imagine what’s around us, this body, and so on.

Why do I include this in this description of projections?

Because we can say this mental field is an overlay on the world. We project it out onto the world to make sense of the world.

Here too, it can be blind or conscious. We can project out this mental field overlay and take what it tells us as true and how the world “in itself” is. Or we can be conscious of what’s happening as it happens, which allows us to hold what this mental field tells much more lightly.

The first tends to create struggle and discomfort. The second gives us more flexibility and receptivity, and can help us navigate the world with a little more ease.

While the “overlay” description works well and isn’t completely wrong, it may be more accurate to say that this mental field is what creates our world in the sense of anything we imagine and have thoughts and stories about. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to make any sense of the impressions from our senses, and we wouldn’t have any notion of a world beyond what’s here in immediacy.

All happening within and as what I am

These types of projections, and all my other experiences, happen within and as what I am.

I am capacity for my world. I am what my world happens within and as.

And this is the context for both of the previous types of projections.

To the extent I notice what I am, it’s easier to notice the two types of projections and hold it all more lightly.

How can we explore this for ourselves?

This can sound abstract and esoteric until we start exploring it for ourselves, in our immediate experience.

So how can we explore this for ourselves?

For the first type of projections, The Work of Byron Katie is excellent.

For the second type of projections, traditional Buddhist sense-field exploration is helpful, as is the modern version of Living Inquiries.

For discovering what we are, Headless experiments and the Big Mind process often work well.

Why would we explore this?

For me, this is fascinating, it enriches my life immensely, and to the extent I live from it I find it brings a bit of ease into my life.

We can say it’s up to each one of us if we want to explore this, although, in reality, it’s not really up to us. It’s something we are drawn to or not.

And although it can be helpful to share some experiences of what happens when we explore these things, these descriptions can also become a kind of goal and a distraction. It’s more interesting if we discover it for ourselves and allow ourselves to be surprised.

Adyashanti: whatever you resist disturbs you, and whatever you accept cannot disturb you

 

Meditation shows you, again and again, a very simple yet powerful reality, that whatever you resist disturbs you, and whatever you accept cannot disturb you.

– Adyashanti from The Art of Meditation

Meditation is a laboratory. We get to see the patterns of how our minds work.

One of the things we notice early is that when we fight with an experience, we add to the discomfort and what we mentally battle is not going away through battling it.

And if we, through grace, find peace with what’s here, even if it’s exactly the same as what we previously fought, then we have peace with it.

The experience we either fight or find peace with can be an uncomfortable feeling, an unpleasant or disturbing memory, physical pain or discomfort, our reaction to a sound, or anything else.

We may notice this early on. We may notice that it’s grace when we find peace with what’s here, it’s not something we can decide or make happen on command. A key is to notice, allow, and accept the part of us wanting to fight with what’s here. There is always more to discover around this process. And if others are like me, then any shifts around this, in meditation and daily life, tend to happen over time and is an ongoing process. It’s not something that happens once and for all, even if some part of us wish it was that way.

We can support this process through more active inquiry, through working on related emotional issues, through noticing what we are, and through heart-centered practices.

The same remedies for everything?

 

Why do I tend to suggest the same tools for a variety of hangups, issues, and identifications?

It’s because what I write about is a limited range of topics – mainly emotional healing and awakening.

It’s because I have limited experience and knowledge, from just a few decades of exploration.

It’s because the tools I write about tend to work universally within a certain category of things we may want to work on.

Also, it’s because the tools I write about tend to be helpful from the beginning to wherever we are on the path, whether we (in our own experience) move to or within Spirit.

Some of my favorite tools

The Work of Byron Katie can be very effective for working on beliefs, identifications, and all the issues that come from these – emotional issues, trauma, stress, and so on.

Living Inquiries can be used for the same, and also to get a better insight into how the mind creates its experience of anything. Living Inquiries is a modernized form of traditional Buddhist practice for noticing how the sense fields come together to create our experience of the world.

Headless experiments and the Big Mind process is an effective way for us to notice what we are.

Heart-centered practices (ho’o, tonglen, metta) are amazing for shifting how we relate to the world – to specific people, situations, and ourselves.

Practices to Reconnect work very well for deepening our connection with Earth and past and future generations.

Vortex Healing works better than just about anything I have found for physical and emotional issues, and also for supporting awakening and embodiment. (Although I would still use it with inquiry.)

Heart/Jesus prayer and Christ meditation help us open up to Spirit as everything, they tend to help us shift our relationship with the world and ourselves, they help us notice what we already are, and they help support embodiment.

Practicing a more stable attention (samatha) helps us in just about any area of life.

Noticing and allowing what’s here, and notice it’s already allowed, helps us notice what we are and soften identification with thoughts (shikantaza, basic meditation).

Remedies for certain conditions

The approaches mentioned above can be seen as tools for certain types of tasks, or remedies for certain conditions. If applied when appropriate, and with a bit of experience and skill, they work well.

We all have limited experience, insights, and knowledge. I am sure there are tools out there I would love if I only knew about them. And there is an infinite potential for developing new and equally or more effective tools than we humans currently know about.

Within my limited experience and knowledge, the tools above are the best ones I have found, and I am very open for finding new ones that are as or more effective.

Rupi Kaur: I will never have this version of me again

 

I will never have this version of me again. Let me slow down and be with her.

Rupi Kaur

This is very beautiful because it’s true. I will never have this version of me again, so let me slow down and be with her/him.

I will never have this version of life or the world again, so let me slow down and be with it.

Let me savor it.

Here, I also notice that whether my personality likes what’s here or not becomes peripheral. That too is part of the version of me I will never have again. I can slow down and be with it.

The mystery in what we think we know

 

I saw someone talk about the mysteries around us, and he implicitly made a distinction between what’s not a mystery (what we apparently know) and what’s a mystery (what we don’t know).

That’s not wrong, but it’s also a somewhat false distinction.

The mystery is equally much in what we think we know as what we don’t know.

We never know anything for certain. There is always more to discover about anything – new views, information, underlying assumptions, contexts, and so on.

Reality is infinitely rich and will always surprise us.

When we discover that, there is a sense of mystery, awe, and sense of adventure here in anything and everything.

And really, it’s something we admit to ourselves. We always knew. The child in us always knew that we don’t know anything for certain and there is always more to discover.

Transubstantiation

 

Transubstantiation is, according to the teaching of the Catholic Church, “the change of the whole substance of bread into the substance of the Body of Christ and of the whole substance of wine into the substance of the Blood of Christ.

Wikipedia

As far as I remember, Douglas Harding (Headless Way), mentioned transubstantiation. I hold bread or a glass of wine, I move it into my mouth, and it disappears. It becomes what I am, which is awake capacity for it all. It becomes Spirit.

It’s perhaps more accurate to say it never was not Spirit. To me, the bread and wine always is what I am, it’s awake capacity temporarily taking the form of bread and wine. It happens within and as what I am.

So the real transubstantiation happens within us. It’s the shift from taking bread and wine as only bread and wine, to recognize we are capacity for it, and they happen within and as what we are.

There is ultimately no real transubstantiation since it never was not that. It never did not happen within and as what we are. It never did not happen within and as Spirit.

Bread and wine here stand is for all of existence, they are metaphors for all there is as content of our experience. And Christ here stands for what we are, for our true nature and possibly the true nature of all existence. (There is also a unique quality or characteristic of the Christ energy/consciousness, which we can get to know through Christ-centered practices like the Heart/Christ Prayer and Christ meditation.)