Wondermenting: wasting time in an unprofitable manner

 

Word of the Day: WONDERMENTING (archaic) – wasting time in an unprofitable manner.

— QI on Facebook

There is a lot to explore here.

The definition itself is slightly comical today, and may reflect a more puritan view on activity and productivity. It also ties into capitalism that tends to value economic productivity over much else.

What does it mean to waste time? Do we waste time any time we are not productive in the sense of making money or in some other tangible way? If we are not working and playing hard, as some from the US like to say?

Is it really a waste of time to relax? To enjoy a quiet afternoon? To lie in the grass, wathing the clouds pass by? To sit and watch people doing whatever they are doing? To wonder about life? To chat about nonsense? To watch a silly movie or TV series? To read a book that’s not considered deep? To feed the ducks? Play with a dog? I have found all of these things very rewarding and not a waste of time at all.

And what’s profitable? Is it only what makes money? Or can profit also be measured in other ways? Can’t it be profitable to relax? Do simple nourishing activities? Do something enjoyable? Wonder?

Another side to this is to bring this wondermenting into our activities. When we connect with some curiosity and something childlike in ourselves, we can be wondermenting even as we are doing something.

To me, finding myself as capacity for the world as it appears to me – this human self, the wider world, any activities – is a form of wondermenting. It’s a wonder. It helps bring up receptivity, curiosity, awe, and a childlike orientation to the world.

It’s perhaps not profitable in the way many see it. But to me, it’s the most profitable of all.

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Pandemic dream: out among people as before and thinking I need to be more careful

 

I am out among people, talking with them, and being physically close to several. During these interactions, I keep thinking to myself: It’s a pandemic, I need to be more careful. How is it possible that I am so close to these people and none of us seem to remember the pandemic precautions?

I remember two or three of these types of dreams since the pandemic precautions started in Europe in March. I haven’t written them down here since they seem relatively self-explanatory.

In waking life, I am cautious about preventing spread of the infection, and the dream reflects some natural cautiousness and slight worry in me around it. It seems similar to the classic going-out-of-the-house-without-pants type of dreams.

Although the dream itself is perhaps not so interesting, I thought I would write it down here in case someone after the pandemic is curious about pandemic dreams. Or perhaps someone out there now or later is searching out pandemic dreams for some research purpose! It would be an interesting topic for research.

Adyashanti: our greatest emphasis should be on our actual spiritual practice

 

Far and away our greatest emphasis should be on our actual spiritual practice – committed time to abiding in the stillness and silence of our being. Nothing can take the place of this.

– Adyashanti

Dedicated time for basic meditation is a kind of laboratory. We get to explore notice and allow, and finding ourselves as capacity for our experiences.

We may notice how attention sometimes gets absorbed into thoughts with a charge on them, making them seem true and important. We may notice that any sense of an I or me or observer or doer happens within and as what we are, as any other experience.

We may notice that our experiences are already noticed by awakeness and what we are, even if our attention is somewhere else. We may notice that our experience is already allowed, even if our attention is caught in thoughts struggling with it.

And this noticing and laboratory work makes it easier to bring this noticing into daily life and daily life activities. It can become a noticing through our activities.

Sometimes, it will go more in the background, especially if our activities requires our attention. Sometimes, it may go more into the foreground. Sometimes, it may even be “forgotten” if our attention gets caught into the drama of our issues.

Through it all is the inherent noticing and allowing as what we are. And our laboratory work allows us to notice that consciously more often.

Any other forms of spiritual explorations are a support for this, whether it’s inquiry, heart-centered practices, body-inclusive practices, or anything else.

As Adyashanti suggests, the most important thing is to notice what we are and keep clarifying this and bringing the noticing into our daily life.

Charities show us where society has failed

 

Charities are mirrors. They shouldn’t exist in a healthy and functioning society.

The amount of charitable and non-profit organizations that are established to serve the underserved is a direct reflection on the brokenness of a society. […]

Find out what local and global legitimate charities exist, and we will know where the current system is failing us. There are other ways the system has to change but we can use charities as one index for what to get on the next ballot for change.

– my friend MB on social media

When I first came to the US, I was shocked to see that charities were trying to pick up the pieces of a failed society. They were doing a job, in a fragmented and piecemeal fashion, that wouldn’t be needed in a well functioning society. And they were trying to do a job that, if needed, should be done by us collectively, through governance and government.

And that’s what we see globally as well. Why do we have charities and NGOs working on poverty, clean water, hunger, basic medical care, animal rights, sustainability, and so on? Because we – collectively – through governance, have failed to take care of it.

Reducing the viral load

 

This is something I have written about since early in the pandemic as I feel it’s an often overlooked point.

When it comes to protecting ourselves against the C19 virus, an important factor is to reduce the viral load.

Sometimes, we may be able to avoid getting infected in the first place – through physical distancing, good hygiene, facemasks and so on.

And in case we do get infected, the same measures helps us reduce the viral load. The fewer viruses we get into our system, the better chance our system have to deal with it.

Conspiracy theorist don’t go far enough: they don’t question ALL authorities

 

….many who are into conspiracy theories do not go far enough in questioning authorities. If you want to question authorities, question ALL authorities, including the sources of conspiracy theories and – especially – your own thinking. Are you certain you know what you think you know? Explore critical thinking, media literacy, and how the human mind operates from biases, shortcuts, and logical fallacies.

– from a previous post

This is an important point about conspiracy theories. People who are into conspiracy theories often pride themselves on questioning authorities, and yet they tend to be selective in which authorities they question. They may not question all authorities, including the sources of conspiracy theories and their own thinking.

Do you know the source of the conspiracy theory? Can you verify who it is? Can you verify the conspiracy theory itself? Would the evidence hold up in a court of law? Would it be solid enough for a serious historian or investigative reporter?

Do you know the common biases of the human mind, and do you take them seriously when it comes to your own views? Are you familiar with common logical fallacies, and do you test your own thinking against them?

Victor Frankl: When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves

 

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

– Victor Frankl

When I was fourteen or fifteen, I wanted to learn about psychology. Through grace, the first books I found — on my mother’s bookshelf – was Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. I was very fortunate that he was my first formal introduction to psychology.

Noticing our issues as who and what we are, and a flavor of the divine

 

During the third phase of the awakening phase mention in the previous article, the parts of our human self still operating from separation consciousness come to the surface to join in with the awakening.

Said that way, it perhaps sounds gentle and simple, but it can experienced as anything but. These parts of us often have a lot of pain in them, and when they surface that pain can fill our consciousness for a while.

The essence is to notice, see, feel, listen to, get to know, befriend, and find love for these suffering parts of us. To notice them as part of who we are as a human being. To notice them as what we are – as happening within and as us along with any other experience.

To see that they were created to protect us, often early in life, and came from an impulse to take care of us. To see that they, in that sense, come from and are an expression of love.

One of the pointers I find especially helpful for me right now is to notice it as a flavor of the divine.

There are also many more structured approaches that can help us in this process. They function as training wheels until we get a better hang of it on our own, and they can also help us discover new things at any point in the process.

Tonglen, Ho’oponopono, metta and more help us reorient towards these bubbles of suffering in us.

Living Inquiry and The Work of Byron Katie can help us identify and question painful beliefs and identities, including the more basic ones we may not have been aware of.

The Big Mind process and Voice Dialog can help us dialog with these parts of us, see how they function in relation to us and other parts, and get to know them better.

Headless experiments and the Big Mind process can help us recognize that they too are what we are, and they happen within and as what we are – and even that they are love.

Energy work – like Vortex healing – can help heal our relationship with these parts of us, and invite these parts of us themselves to heal.

And so on.

In addition, it helps to nurture what’s nurturing in our life – a good diet, good sleep, good friendships, nature, being gentle and kind with ourselves and these parts of us, finding others in the same process, finding support from others who have gone through it themselves, and so on.

The phases of awakening: healing and embodiment

 

A very general map of the awakening process goes through four phases.

I’ll focus on the third one here – the healing and embodiment phase – since it’s the one most relevant to me and the one I find it most interesting these days.

ONE

First, we live and operate within and from separation consciousness. We take ourselves to be inherently separate and an individual, and may be curious about something more or have glimpses of it but that’s about it.

TWO

Then, there is a more clear noticing of what we are. What we are notices itself. We find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us, and what our experiences – all of them – happen within and as.

THREE

Within this awakening, parts of our human self still operating from separation consciousness come to the surface to join in with the awakening. They come with an invitation for us – the awakeness – to notice these too as awakeness and the divine.

I’ll say more about this below.

FOUR

This is a more stable awakening where issues surfacing are more readily notices as who and what we are, and a flavor of the divine.

We have a more intentional relationship with them, and have more skills and experience in how to create a fruitful relationship and invite them to notice themselves as the divine, wake up, and find healing.

PHASE THREE IN MORE DETAIL

I’ll write a few more words about phase three here since it’s the phase that currently interests me the most.

As usual, there is a lot to say about this.

In some cases, it’s as if the “lid” is taken off our unresolved issues and trauma and a huge amount of them surface at once or in rapid succession. This can be experienced as a particular form of dark night. I tend to think of it as a dark night of trauma. 

If this happens, we can feel completely overwhelmed, desperate, and brought to our knees, and it really helps to have someone help us through this phase. Just knowing that others have gone through it can be of great help. For me, that’s what helped me more than any techniques or particular insights. 

Other times, the unresolved issues and traumas come up in a more “normal” fashion and more as a result of triggers in daily life. 

We are invited to shift our relationship to what surfaces. Our habitual response may be to avoid it one way or another – through distractions, pretending it’s not there, compulsively trying to fix it, attempting to transcend it, and so on. 

The invitation is to reorient to meet what comes up, get to know it, and listen to what it has to say and how it experiences me and the world. 

See it comes from an impulse to protect this separate self, and that it’s innocent and comes from love. Find love for it. 

See it’s part of me as a human being and it makes more sense to get to know it and embrace it than pretend it’s not here. Find the genuine gifts in partnering it with it. 

Recognize it as what I am. As happening within and as what I am. As – if I resonate with any of those labels – consciousness, or the divine, or a flavor of the divine. 

From here, these parts of us have a better chance to heal. They have better conditions for resolving themselves, healing, and aligning with oneness. 

Why does this “phase three” process happen? 

It’s part of the overall process of aligning more consciously with reality. We may notice generally how all happens within and as what we are, so the next step is to notice specifically that each of these parts of us – still operating from within separation consciousness – also are who and what we are, and expressions of love. They are, if we want to see it that way, a flavor of the divine. 

It’s an important part of the awakening itself. And it’s also an important part of embodiment, of living from the awakening. 

When we still have parts of us operating form separation consciousness, we tend to be hijacked by them when they are triggered and we – as a human being in the world – tend to operate from them, or perhaps in reaction to them. 

So reorienting towards them, and perhaps inviting in some healing for them, helps us live from the awakening in more situations in life. In the situations that previously would have triggered these issues and, to some extent, hijacked us, we can now relate to the situation and what they trigger in us, if anything, in a more conscious way. 

Why do we have these bubbles of separation consciousness in our system? 

They are emotional issues formed when we operated from separation consciousness, so they reflect and live within separation consciousness. 

Some or many of them are in our system even within a general awakening. 

One way to look at it is that these parts of us are beings. Suffering beings still caught in delusion, painful stories, and separation consciousness. They come up because they want to be liberated from their suffering. They come to us as devotees seeking a guru. 

And that’s our opportunity to support them, guide them, be a good friend or guru to them, and invite them to wake up and align more consciously with reality.

MORE MESSY THAN THIS

When it comes to these phases, reality is often more messy. It looks a little different for each of us, and sometimes a lot different. The phases get mixed up. The sequence may be a little different. We may not be distinguish the phases until we have been through it.

The idea of phases is just an overlay of thought over the complexity and mystery of life. It’s not by any means inherent in life or the processes we go through.

And what I call phase three here is equally an aspect or facet of the process and it’s a part of our process from the beginning of noticing what we are.

HOW WAS & IS ALL THIS FOR ME?

I won’t go through the whole story since I have written about it elsewhere. I am currently mostly in the third phase, and have been for a few years now, which is why this is the one most interesting to me.

In the beginning, I had the “lid taken off” experience which was the most difficult thing I have every experienced. I felt completely overwhelmed, desperate, could hardly sleep, and couldn’t find much solace or ability to deal with it in any constructive fashion.

I did know someone (BMS) who had gone through it himself, and talking to him gave me some comfort and sense that I could get through it. (Although it felt like it would go on forever and that there was no way out or through.) I also went for long walks in the forests, and listened to Adyashanti.

I am still mostly in phase three – with some elements of phase one and perhaps four – but it’s mostly more calm. Things come up in a slightly more normal way, although it’s still a parade of one thing after another coming up to be seen, felt, listened to, loved, and so on.

I am not always so good at it. But I do have the intention, and I ask for help with some of the more challenging bubbles of separation / old emotional issues.

I also find that it’s difficult to have a good sense of to what extent these bubbles are resolved. I can test it out through triggering myself, as far as that’s possible. And channeling Vortex Healing for it gives me a sense of what’s left.

And yet, I don’t know for certain and I don’t really need to know. Life will show me.

I mostly just need to pay attention to what life brings up for me.

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The banality of what we are

 

Awakening and enlightenment is sometimes seen as mysterious, from another time or culture, for special people, or a fantasy.

And yet, there is a banality to it.

It’s about what we already are noticing itself. Noticing that all content of experience happens within and as what we are. And living from it.

From a conventional view, we can say we are a body, a human being, and so on. And that’s valid enough.

And yet, what we are to ourselves is consciousness.

Consciousness is what experiences or is aware of anything. To consciousness, everything – all experiences – happens within and as itself. And that’s what we are.

What we are is what all our experiences happens within and as. Including our human self, any sense of a me or I or observer or doer, and any ideas about who and what we are – including any ideas about consciousness.

The world as it appears to us – with all its content – happens within and as what we are.

It’s logical. It’s inevitable. It’s something we can notice and explore for ourselves.

And it’s quite banal.

To ourselves, we are consciousness. The world as it appears to us happens within and as consciousness. All content of experience happens within and as what we are.

And it’s all about noticing what we already are and what’s already here.

It’s so ordinary that it’s sometimes easy to overlook.

On the one hand, I understand that we humans are used to taking ourselves to be this body, a human being, and so on.

And yet, it seems so obvious that to ourselves we are consciousness and all our experiences happen within and as what we are. It’s inevitable. It’s logical. It’s not something we can get around.

So why isn’t it acknowledged more often? Why isn’t it the basics of psychology 101? Why isn’t it something that more people – including people in research and academia – explore and study?

If we allow our civilization to continue, I imagine there will be a time when this is more commonly acknowledged and explored, including through research and in academia. It’s already happening, to some extent.

So why isn’t this more commonly noticed and acknowledged?

I assume it’s because our mind is typically conditioned to think of itself as an object in the world, as a human being, as someone with identities and roles, and so on. I

It tends to get fixated on its own content. As many say, it’s a kind of trance.

And as we can discover through inquiry, it’s because our mind associates certain sensations with certain thoughts, the thoughts give a sense of meaning to the sensations, and the sensations give a sense of solidity, reality, and truth to the thoughts.

That’s how the mind can tell itself that it fundamentally is an object in the world – a human, man, woman etc. – and overlook what it actually and more fundamentally is.

This is how what we are can overlook what it is. Capacity for the world. What all its experiences happen within and as.

What happens when this noticing happens? Does it have any practical value?

Yes and no. It doesn’t change the reality of our life – our circumstances and challenges.

But it does change how we see and understand it all. It changes the context for our life and experiences. And that, in a sense, changes everything.

Is this what the different spiritual traditions talk about?

I assume so.

For instance, we are capacity for the world as it appears to us, and this is the void that Buddhism talks about. We are nothing full of everything. And we can say that this is clarity, awakeness, consciousness.

It’s also oneness since all happens within and as what we are, and any ideas of an I or me happens within and as what we are – as anything else does. And it’s all love since oneness is also love. Not sentimental love, but the love that comes from oneness noticing itself as all there is.

If this is banal in some ways, is it also not banal?

Yes, it’s banal in that it’s what we already are noticing itself, and our life – in terms of its challenges and problems – doesn’t neccesarily change even if our conscious context for this life changes.

When this noticing is happening, our life goes on much as before. And as we mature in it, our life often tends to look very ordinary, and perhaps more and more ordinary, to others.

It’s also not banal. It’s the most dramatic change in our conscious context for our life possible. We go from taking ourselves to be an object in the world to that which the world, as it appears to us, happens within and as. We may experience it as magical, amazing, and even baffling.

And as we live from it, our life does transform. In a sense, we become more thoroughly and ordinarily human. We deepen into an ordinary humanness, kindness, and – perhaps – a bit of wisdom.

In another sense, living from this new noticing is extraordinary. It helps transform our human self. It helps the human parts of us still living within separation consciousness to join in with the oneness, and this gives a deep healing of old wounds and traumas. It’s not an easy process, it can be confusing and even overwhelming, and yet it’s more than worth it.

It’s also anything but banal to experience all of existence – as it appears to us – as consciousness, AKA love, AKA Spirit, AKA the divine.

Are there stages to this noticing?

Yes and no.

In one sense, the noticing itself is the same. It’s what we are noticing itself. We find ourselves as capacity for our world and all content of experience.

At the same time, there is a deepening of clarity, healing, maturity, and living from it.

Adyashanti: Whatever is happening is simply what’s happening

 

Whatever is happening is simply what’s happening. It’s not right, it’s not wrong, it’s not good, it’s not bad. All those are value judgments that we place on it, and then we pretend that our value judgment is what’s true. But our value judgment is just a value judgment, and all of our value judgments are conditioned.

– Adyashanti, Caring for the World

Chronic fatigue (CFS) and imposter syndrome

 

In a social media group for people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), someone mentioned that she sometimes feels like an imposter since she has days where she feels more normal and can do more.

As with so much of the odd and not-so-odd things related to CFS, this is something I recognzie for myself.

One of the typical things with CFS is that we have good and bad days and even weeks and months where we either have more energy or feel worse than usual.

Because of this typical feature of CFS, I also sometimes feel like an imposter. At the very least, I notice a concern that others will think I am just making it up. After all, on some days, I can go out and do things almost like I could before I got sick.

Why is that? After all, I have all the main and core symptoms of CFS, including the typical viral-infection starting point, and also an official diagnosis. And the swings is a common feature of CFS. It’s to be expected.

The main reason is probably that we still don’t have a good medical understanding of CFS. Although we know a lot about it, and know it’s a physical illness, the specific mechanisms are still a mystery.

As soon as we have a better understanding of the mechanisms, a lot will shift.

We may be on our way to good medical treatment.

Doctors, governments, and people in general will take it far more seriously and recognize it as an illness on line with any other physical illness.

And a lot of the extra stress and worry that people with CFS live with because it is, to some extent, a mystery illness, will drop away.

Say the fear instead of acting on it

 

This is very basic but makes a crucial difference in our life.

When I am with someone else and something is triggered in me, how do I relate to it? Do I react to it and act on that reaction? Or do I notice the fear and discomfort in me and acknowledge it to myself and perhaps the other person?

This is especially important in our close and intimate relationships. And this is also, hopefully, where we can feel more safe to practice acknowledging what’s going on.

My partner says something. It triggers a reaction in me. I notice what’s happening and perhaps the temptation to go into reactivity and defensiveness. Instead, I can find and acknowledge the fear behind what was triggered in me. And if I feel ready and safe enough, I can say it to my partner.

When you say that – when you give an ultimatum, when you make things black and white like that, when you blame me – I notice I feel scared.

The honesty of it is often enough to diffuse a situation that otherwise could be tense and go into reactivity-dynamics on both sides.

At first, it can feel less safe. But is it really? Is it safer to go into defensiveness and reactivity? Is it unsafe to be completely honest and vulnerable?

If it feels unsafe, we can examine it for ourselves in this way. And we can also talk with our partner – or another close person in our life – about it in advance. We can set the stage for trying this out in future situation. We can even support each other in this.

It can be a beautiful shift in how we relate to ourselves, the other, and perhaps each other.

When we please others, we also please (appease) our own emotional issues

 

When we are in the habit of pleasing others, a lot happens.

We set our own honesty and needs aside and may get disappointed, bitter, and secretly angry at ourselves, others, and life.

We may expect others to please us in turn, and get upset when it doesn’t happen.

By pleasing others, we act on our own issues telling us it’s more safe to please others, so we please – and appease – these issues in ourselves.

Beyond that, we may also get into the pattern of pleasing our own hangups and issues in general. We appease them instead of being real with them – questioning them, exposing them to the truth, and sometimes using tough love and cutting through them.

Pleasing others tends to be a pervasive pattern with a lot of – as we see when we look a bit closer – undesirable consequences.

Why do we please others?

Perhaps we want to be loved and safe. Perhaps we learned it was a strategy that worked for us when we were little. Perhaps we – somewhere in us – feel it’s unsafe to be honest and risk upsetting the other person.

What do we lose when we please others?

We lose our authenticity and honesty. We lose asking for what we really want. We lose being real. We often lose getting what we want. We lose, to some extent, our inner peace and contentment. We risk losing having the life we want.

What do we get from pleasing others?

We may superficially get what we want. We may get an easier interaction in the moment.

And we may also get quiet resentment, anger, and bitterness from having abandoned our authenticity, let go of asking or going for what we really want, prioritized others over our selves, and for what we have lost in the process.

What do we secretly wish for when we please others?

Apart from wishing for an easy interaction in the moment, we may wish or expect the other person to please us. I let go of my authenticity to please you, and you’ll do the same for me.

And when they don’t, for instance if they chose to be authentic and say “no”, we may get upset.

What’s the alternative to pleasing others?

It’s to be authentic, real, and being on our own side. We can do this with kindness and consideration, and we can seek solutions so that we both or all get what we really want. And we can do it with authenticity. We can speak with kindness and realness about what we really want, how we see the situation, and that we wish to find a strategy so we all can get our needs met. (Non-Violent Communication.)

When we please others, we inherently please our own issues

When we are in the habit of pleasing others, we do so because of our own emotional issues. We feel more safe by pleasing others, even if it is at our own cost.

In the moment we please others, we please our own issues telling us its safer to please others. We perceive and act as if these issues are true. We are no longer real with ourselves, and we are not real with our issues. We don’t expose these issues to the truth.

This may also get us into the general pattern of pleasing our issues. We perceive and act as if they are true instead of being real with them and questioning them.

What do you mean by pleasing our issues?

When we have hangups, emotional issues, and stressful beliefs come up, we can relate to them in different ways.

And when we are in a general pleasing mode and are used to pleasing, we may treat these issues in the same way. We please them. We appease them. We allow them to be as they are and run and color our lives.

The alternative is gentle tough love, truth, and cutting through the issues.

How can we be real with our issues?

It’s mainly about our orientation. Do we automatically believe what our fears tells us and act on them? Or do we notice what’s going on and question them?

It’s typically a process of noticing the fear.

Notice where we feel the fear in the body. Notice and allow the sensations, and notice they are simply physical sensations – and that the mind associates them with certain scary stories.

Listen to the fearful story behind it. See that it’s there to protect us. (It was often formed in our childhood and may no longer be as useful or appropriate for us as it was then.)

Question the stories and find what’s more true for us.

And act on what’s more true for us – with some discernment and kindness – and see what happens, while acknowledging that it can feel scary and we may be clumsy at first.

And then repeat as needed. It’s often helpful to find an ally in this and someone who can guide us through this process of being more real with ourselves, others, and our own issues.

How common is the general pleasing pattern?

I am not sure. I assume it’s relatively common. It seems to be a big part of our culture, for whatever reason. It’s probably a common strategy for getting along in a community, and it may be that Christianity – with its emphasis on martyrdom – has amplified it.

Thanks to my partner for the seed insight and reminder for this article <3

Why do some get into conspiracy theories, and why do we see a blossoming of it?

 

Why do some people get into conspiracy theories, almost as a lifestyle?

One answer is lack of critical thinking, media literacy, and willingness to check the sources and facts. This has partly to do with our educational system. 

Some may want to feel important, that they know something others don’t, that they can “stick it to the man”, and so on. 

It may come out of a general distrust in authorities. (Which is healthy, to some extent, but can also go too far if it’s compulsive.)

It may come out of general frustration and sense of powerlessness. It may be tied to lack of opportunities in life and reflect a structural social problem.

As anything else, it’s a projection. We see in others and the world what’s in ourselves. Whatever we see out there and can set word on, we can turn it around to ourselves and find examples of it in ourselves and our own behavior as well. This, in itself, doesn’t mean it’s not also out there in the world. It’s certainly here and can also be out there. “Blind” projections – where we don’t recognize it as a projection and take care of it – can make conspiracy theories into a compulsion.

Getting into conspiracy theories can, paradoxically, be a way to feel more safe. It can feel safer if there is one simple answer to a lot of the problems we see in society today. Instead of the randomness of life and systemic problems in society, it can feel somewhat comforting if one small group of people are behind it.

It may be rooted in fear. A way for people to deal with their own unmet, unloved, and unexamined fear. It’s a way for them to try to exorcise their own demons.

I also suspect it can be rooted in trauma. It’s a way for some people to deal with the pain of their own trauma. Instead of meeting that pain and the fear behind it, it seems easier to get upset about something in the world and blame someone for it. It’s a distraction and a coping mechanism.

Why is it difficult to have a rational and grounded conversation with people who are into conspiracy theories?

It may be because nothing we can say can disprove – in their mind – their views. What we say is just evidence that we are brainwashed or are actively in on the conspiracy.

Conspiracy theories tie into identies and most people want to hold onto their identities. In the case of conspiracy theories, some of these identities may be as a rebel, someone who knows what others don’t, someone who is willing to question authorities, someone who is independent, and so on. (Although none of those may be true – they may not actually know anything real, they may not question the authority of the source of the conspiracy theories and their own thinking, they may just follow along with others who are into conspiracy theories.)

Getting into conspiracy theories may give some a sense of community. Perhaps they already feel like an outsider, so they find a community of others who feel like outsiders – and that community happens to be a mostly online conspirary theory community.

Conspiracy theories may be a way to deal with discomfort. It may be easier to indulge in ideas about a few people out there being responsible for many of the problems in the world instead of facing our own life, life challenges, discomfort, fear, trauma, and sense of lack and not being enough.

Conspiracy theories often give a simple and clear cut answer to very complex real-life issues. It gives us scapegoats while the real culprit may be the randomness of nature (natural disasters), systemic problems (our current economic system), and the cumulative effects of humans functioning within this system. It may feel comforting to have clear-cut scapegoats.

Sometimes, conspiracty theories become a kind of religon. It can’t be disproven. It’s woven into people’s identity. It is a source of (stressful) comfort.

What’s the best way to communicate with people into conspiracy theories?

It’s always good to keep an open mind. Be willing to look at the sources. Examine the evidence. See if you can verify it. If the source and evidence seems questionable, it may be good to just leave the conversation.

If we want to engage in a conversation, a couple of things may be helpful.

It may be an innocent mistake, for instance, someone may have reposted something they saw and resonated with on social media. In this case, it may be enough to find and present more accurate information.

If it’s more ingrained, it may be helpful to ask some questions.

For instance, what’s the source? Do you know who they are? Can the source be verified? Is it possible they have a particular motivation?

Is there verifiable evidence? Would the evidence hold up in a court? Would it be sufficient for a serious historian or investigative reporter?

Isn’t it possible that what we see in society comes from known structural problems, and sometimes predictably unpredictable random events, instead of a small group of people pulling the threads?

Why shouldn’t we automatically believe conspiracy theories?

What we know is going on in the world is often far worse than any conspiracy theory. Giant corporations owning a large number of other organizations and media outlet. Big money influencing elections, politicians, and policies. Huge gaps between the few very wealthy and everyone else. Large numbers of people around the world living in poverty. Destructions of ecosystems. Minorities marginalized around the world. Widespread animal abuse. An economic system that does not take ecological realities into account. Poor preparedness for large-scale disasters. And so on.

Often, harebrained conspiracy theories serve to distract us from serious issues we know are real – in our own lives and the world – and need to address.

Also, many who are into conspiracy theories do not go far enough in questioning authorities. If you want to question authorities, question ALL authorities, including the sources of conspiracy theories and – especially – your own thinking. Are you certain you know what you think you know? Explore critical thinking, media literacy, and how the human mind operates from biases, shortcuts, and logical fallacies.

Why do we see a blossoming of it now?

I imagine conspiracy theories have been with humantiy since beginning of civilization and perhaps before.

And yet, there seems to be an upswing of conspiracy theories now. Why is that?

One answer is internet echo chambers and the ease of finding information and people on the internet that will support and endorse just about any view.

Before internet, most of us got our news and information from mostly or partly the same sources. We had a shared understanding of the world although our ideas about what to do with it differed. Now, we disagree on basic facts.

Some individuals actively create and spread disinformation for whatever personal reason, including entertainment and – in some cases – profit.

More seriously, some groups and organizations – including some governments like Russia through their state-sponsored troll farms – actively create and spread disinformation for political purposes. Often to sow confusion and weaken rival countries and alliances, and it’s a new version of the old divide-and-conquer strategy.

The problem with conspiracy theories seems obvious. It distracts people from actual and more serious problems in the world most of us agree are real. (Unraveling ecosystems, hunger, lack of clean water, lack of education, huge gap between a few super wealthy and the rest, poverty, Big Money influence on policies, and so on.)

And it’s a problem for our democracy and public discourse when we cannot agree on basic facts and some get fixated on things that are not grounded in critical thinking and solid evidence.

Isn’t it possible that some conspiracy theories are true?

Yes, of course. I am all for serious investigation into possible conspiracies, if it’s rooted in critical thinking, examination of the sources, and solid and verifiable information.

Most conspiracy theories seem clearly false and are perpetuated through lack of critical thinking, lack of media literacy, lack of knowledge of history and science, and a willingness to jump on an idea without first checking the sources and facts.

One thing to remember is that historically, the uncovering of actual conspiracies was done through investigation from historians, journalists, or official investigators. Not cooks people on YouTube and the internet.

Is this only about others?

No, this is about me and each of us. We all go into our own version of conspiracy theories, at least sometimes. I could as well written this as us instead of they, and that would have been more accurate and inclusive.

I sometimes take an idea as true just because others do. To some extent, that’s what makes up a culture and shared worldview.

I sometimes latch onto some information without checking it just because it fits into my worldview and what I want to be true.

I sometimes hold an idea as true – even a scary one – just because I want to and it feels good in the moment. Perhaps it’s a momentary distraction from my own fear or discomfort.

Have shared things on social media because it happened to fit into my worldview or how I want things to be and without fact checking it first.

I sometimes want to find a scapegoat even if systems, circumstances, or conditioning plays more of a role.

I sometimes want to blame someone else instead of looking at my own role in a situation.

I sometimes irrationally hold onto an idea even if a more grounded take on it would show me that something else is more true.

I sometimes tell myself I know something even if I actually don’t know or don’t know for certain.

In these and more ways, I am the conspiracy theorist. I am just like the conspiracy theorists I see out there, although the outward form it takes may be a little different.

It’s about us, not them.

Relax, nothing is under control

 

Relax, nothing is under control.

– unknown origin (to me)

A lot of our stress comes from wanting or trying to be in control of what we are not in control of.

In a conventional sense, we are in control of how we relate to a situation. We can do what we can to deal with it the best we can. But we are not in control over the situation itself, or other people, or the world.

The quote reminds us of this. I can take care of what I am in control of and do the best I can there. And reminding myself that I am not in control of the rest allows me to sit back a bit and relax.

I do my job, see what happens, and then I can respond to that if I need to.

I don’t know what will happen, but I can trust that I can deal with it as best I can when it does.

That’s really all that’s needed in daily life.

And yet, if we are drawn to it, we can look a little closer.

We may find that we are not in control of anything. An impulse comes up in me to act, but I am not in control of that impulse coming up or not. Nothing that happens in this human self is under “my control”. It lives its own life.

And that may show me something else. If what happens lives its own life, is there really any “I” here that has or has not control?

Adyashanti: Every story… is a painful story

 

Every story, in relation to pain, is a painful story.
~ Adyashanti, Silent Retreat Vol. 57 ~ Q&A

I don’t know the context of this quote, but I have found the same.

Any story – when it’s held as true – is a painful story.

Why is it painful? Because holding it as true means to identify with it and the viewpoint created by the story, and it’s just one of many viewpoints all with some validity and none with any absolute truth. Holding onto a story – any story – creates discomfort and pain because it’s out of alignment with reality. Somewhere in us, we know that. And life will remind us.

Life will create situations that rub up against the story so we feel we need to defend it (it seems like defending ourselves since we identify with it) and that, in itself, is stressful. Life will also remind us that the story is just one of many that are valid about the same topic and none hold any absolute or final truth, and we may not want to see it since holding onto the story can feel safe.

When we hold any story as true – no matter how innocent or apparently helpful and beautiful – we create stress for ourselves. We create struggle within ourselves. And that’s the inherent mechanism in that dynamic that invites and motivate us to examine what’s going on.

It invites us to examine the particular stressful story we have, see what happens when we hold it as true, find the validity in the other stories about the same topic, and hold it a little lighter. And it invites us to recognize this dynamic in all stories, no matter what they are about.

This doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to hold stories as true. We all do, to different extent, and often without even knowing it. It’s often first when life rubs up against one that we notice it. It’s natural and innocent, although it also creates stress and pain for us, and may lead us to act in ways that creates more stress and pain.

It also doesn’t mean that we need to somehow drop all beliefs in all stories at once. We can’t even if we wanted.

It’s more a process of examining the currently stressful story and find what’s more true for us, and then examine the next. It’s a gradual process, it goes over time, and it’s ongoing. There is no particular endpoint – at least not in this life – and doesn’t have to be.

Spirituality labels

 

Life is always more than and different from our ideas about it. That means that any spiritual tradition or practice can help us explore some facets of reality, but we may need to go beyond it – through other approaches or in other ways – to explore more of the fullness of who and what we are.

That also goes for any identities we have for ourselves. We are more than and different from any of these identities.

That’s why I have generally avoided using spirituality labels for myself, along with many other forms of labels.

Some of them can be useful in a specific situation as a short-hand to convey something. But beyond that, they are perhaps not so useful.

I am not a Buddhist since I am interested in many other traditions and don’t practice within buddhism. During the time I did, I said: I do Buddhist practice but am not a Buddhist since I knew that what it’s about goes far beyond any one — or all – traditions.

I am not really a Christian mystic, although I have a (sometimes) strong connection to Christ and resonate a lot with several Christian mystics. I don’t belong to Christianity as they did.

I am not religious since I don’t belong to any one religion, although I am interested in the history of religons and the gems of insights and pointers in all of them. And I also know that the main purpose or religons is to maintain themselves and often power and social hierarchy, and life and reality can’t be captured by any one religion or all of them combined.

I can’t call myself a light-worker since I am equally interested in different forms of metaphorical darkness – the divine feminine, my own shadow, not-knowing, and so on. (Also, it sounds silly.)

Although I always seek to discover more and continue healing, maturing, and embodying, I am not really a seeker. Mainly, I am exploring what’s here and I can equally well call myself a finder, although I don’t really resonate with either label. (Both sound too clear-cut and the reality is something in between and different from either and both.)

Am I an explorer? I have loved stories of exploration since I was a little kid, and it is a label that resonates with me. It points to an orientation and a process and is a little more open-ended than many of the other labels in spirituality. And yet, this one too is too narrow and a little misleading. For one, it’s a word and thought and what it points to is different.

Although I am interested in some New Age stuff, it’s not really my main focus. If astrology or past lives catches my interest, it’s mostly to explore it as a mirror for myself here and now.

I am into spirituality, but for me, it’s more about exploring who and what I am and reality – to the best of my ability. Spirituality hints at a certain orientation and interest, but it’s really just an exploration of what’s here and reality. It’s simpler than the label spirituality hints at, and it also goes far beyond the label.

I am an instant student of different teachers when I hear or read their words and follow their pointers. But I know that I am my own final authority, I am the one who have to explore it for myself, and what I see in them is what I have in myself. So, yes, I am always a student of some teachers, and it’s also is both simpler and not that simple.

We are all teachers for each other. When someone reads these words, they may get something out of it one way or another (it may resonate with their own experience, it may encourage their own exploration, or it may not fit their experience), and in that sense I am a temporary teacher. In another sense, I am not since I don’t particularly seek or feel I am qualified for that role – beyond being a temporary teacher as we all are teachers for each other.

When I facilitate others or do distance healing (prayer) for them, am I a healer? Perhaps yes, right there and then and in that role. But not really since I just facilitate healing. I am not doing the healing. Their own system does the healing. Life does the healing. At most, I facilitate the healing. I help set the stage for the healing. (And that too is Life’s doing, Life sets the stage for it’s own local healing.) In general, I am a lot more – and less – than that label suggests.

Awakening can point to some things in my process, but it also doesn’t quite fit. It comes with a lot of typical associations that are misconceptions. There is plenty in me – at a human level – that still lives in separation consciousness. Awakening is ongoing and can always clarify further and be more fully embodied.

I also don’t avoid spirituality labels in all situations. Sometimes, they are useful. They can create a connection. They can give a rough pointer about something. They can ease or start communication. They can be useful there and then, and that’s about it.

Do I intentionally avoid being pinned down by others? Most of the time, I am OK if people want to put a label on me. Although I sometimes mention how it also doesn’t fit if that seems useuful.

Art and match with the person experiencing it

 

There are many ways to evaluate art: skills, technique, heart, humanity, psychology, sociology, symbolism, politics, reflection of society, impact on society, and so on.

In daily life, people often generalize based on how they experience music, paintings, writing, movies or whatever it may be, and say “this is good” or “that’s terrible”, or “these people have good taste” and “those people have terrible taste”.

For me, art is largely about match. How does someone experience and receive it? Do they get something out of it? Does it resonate with something in them? Does it help them get in touch with someting in themselves? Does it add to their life?

I love some music that few others seem to like, and that’s fine. The music means a lot to me, and that’s enough.

Similarly, I sometimes don’t like what some others like, and that’s good to. If they get something out of it, that’s very good for them and it makes the existence of that piece of art even more meaningful (beyond what it means to the one creating it).

This is very simple, and yet I am surprised by how often people seem to generalize based on how they personally perceive a piece of art, as if their individual experience says something inherently about the piece of art, and about the people who either resonate with it or not.

I assume it’s partly because we have trouble differentiating our perception from what it’s about (which we cannot say anything final or absolute about).

We may have trouble deeply realizing that we all have our own biases and backgrounds and so perceive the world differently and uniquely.

We may have trouble feeling relaxed about our own likes and dislikes, and enjoying the enjoyment of others even if it’s about somehting we personally don’t like.

It may also have to do with our identity. We often use our likes and dislikes to create an identity for ourselves, and to filter people into us and them.

The photo is of Huun-Huur-Tu from Tuva, which is one of my favorite bands and the one I have seen most often in concert. It also happens to be music many or most from the western world wouldn’t easily resonate with or like. And that’s understandable and completely OK.

Merlina the cat moves to release tension

 

This beatiful cat feels some stress when her person breathes as she does in this video, and Merlina moves to release tension.

She reacts to her distress through wriggling and stretching, and it also helps her release some of the tension she creates in herself when she hears the breathing sound. Based on experience, the next step for her is to either leave or bite her person.

There are many ways we can release tension. We can cry, scream, tremble, shake, sing, and move and stretch as in the video. For us humans, even talking about it can help.

Exploring this is a part of TRE — Tension & Trauma Release Exercises, which uses the natural trembling mechanism in it body to release tension.

Until the lion tells the story, the hunter will always be the hero

 

Until the lion tells the story, the hunter will always be the hero.

– proverb from somewhere in Africa

This is an interesting proverb in several ways.

It reminds us to listen to the story of the ones who haven’t yet told their story. If that’s not possible, for whatever reason, we can at least acknowledge there are other – perhaps equally valid – stories to be told about any situation. And sometimes, we can do our best to imagine what those stories may be.

The proverb also reminds us of our anthropocentrism. We see the world through human eyes, and sometimes ignore the viewpoint of non-human species. We – explicitly or implicitly – assume and live as if the world was created for us, and chose to ignore the myriad of other beings who want the same as us. They want to live. They, in their own way, want to be respected. If they could speak, they would tell us to take their needs into consideration as well.

In a similar way, we tend to prioritize our own needs and wishes over the needs of future generations. We are unable to listen to the voices of future generations since they are not here yet. But we can give them a voice. We can include someone who speaks for them in the decisions we collectively make. We can imagine their needs and wishes. And we can probably imagine these needs and wishes pretty well since they are the universally human ones.

The lion also represents the lion in each of us. The primal power. In our western culture, we have ignored this voice as we have ignored the metaphorical voice and viewpoints of flesh and blood lions and animals in general.

Listening to the voice and viewpoint of lions and animals, future generations, and our inner lions and voices, all go hand in hand.

How would an imagined dialog with the lion go?

Hello.

Hi.

What’s your view on humans?

They are not someone we would normally care much about. But they keep taking our land, and they hunt us for no reason that we can understand. We hunt because we have to eat to survive. They don’t seem to hunt for food. What else than eating can justify killing us?

It seems they brag about killing us. We don’t understand. We hunt because we have to. It’s nothing to brag about.

And they have a way to kill us at a distance. We don’t have a chance. We need to get close to kill, and they won’t allow us to get close. If we got close, and they hadn’t their way of killing us, they wouldn’t stand a chance.

And what about a dialog with the inner lion?

How does P. relate to you?

He likes the rawness and power I have and makes use of it sometimes, but otherwise tends to ignore me. He is cautious about me and has learned, from culture and family, to be cautious and often ignore me.

How do you help him?

I help him feel stronger and more in charge of how he deals with situations. I help him feel more whole. I help him get things done. He feels more whole, embodied, and alive when he taps into me.

What advice do you have for him?

You don’t need to be so cautious with me. Tap into me and bring me into your daily life more often. I can be with you more constantly, and you’ll feel stronger, grounded, and alive, and it will help you be more real with yourself, others, and life.

Footnote: It seems that giving children and students the task of writing stories from the normally voiceless – animals, plants, future generations, ecosystems, Gaia and so on – would be very interesting. It helps us imagine the world from another perspective than our own, including as human beings. I am sure some teachers and schools do this, and I would certainly have loved it.

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXX

 

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.

The only white people in the Bible are the ones who executed Jesus.

John Fuglesang

For Christians who hold racist views, there must be some cognitive dissonance. And perhaps especially for white Christians, as John Fuglesang points out in that quote.

One dissonance comes from the content of the teachings of Jesus where he – in words and actions – clearly spoke about love for everyone and actively supported the minorities, outcasts, and oppressed.

The other is that Jesus was obviously a dark skinned Jew, and the only Europeans in the Bible are the ones who executed Jesus, in addition to oppressing the Jews and other people in the area, stealing their resources, and occupying their land.

As usual, the question is how this applies to me. Where in me do I find this type of cognitive dissonance? Where do I generalize to whole groups of people and subtly – or overtly – dehumanize them?

Perhaps I am doing it towards the ones I see as racists and bigots? Perhaps I am overlooking the trauma it may come from? That their views may be a way for them to cope with their own pain? Or that they just adopted views from those around them without questioning these views or having life experiences that helped them question these views?

None of that justifies racism and bigotry. None of it makes the harm from it any less real. But it helps me see them as humans as you and me. It helps me see how we are all in the same boat.

AUGUST 22, 2020

IDEALISTIC VS PRAGMATIC IN US VOTING

One of the oldest polarities in politics is probably pragmatism versus idealism. And this is heightened in an odd way in the US with its two-party system. Instead of voting for the Democratic candidate, some progressives chose to not vote or vote for a third-party candidate.

As some say, this is a way to display ones privilege and disregard for the most vulnerable in society. People who vote this way, in reality, says that they would rather have a Republican president than have to vote for a less-than-ideal Democratic candidate, and they don’t care much for the people who will be impacted by the policies of a Republican president. (With Trump, the deaths and cruelty coming from his presidency is very real – through putting immigrants in cages, separating children from their families, mishandling the pandemic, attempting to do away with social safety nets etc.)

Another way to talk about this is to say that voting is less like a marriage and more like taking the bus. You can vote for someone without loving that person or their policies. As long as you go in a better direction than where you are, or a better direction than the alternative, that’s good enough. That is, in fact, very good.

The main problem here is the weird and less-than-democratic two-party system in the US. In most other democracies, we have the choice among a wide rang of political parties. There is always one or a few that fit our own views and values relatively closely, and these – most often – have a very real possibility of being included in a coalition government.

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Reactivity makes us more stupid than we are

 

Reactivity makes us more stupid than we are.

When we are more receptive, curious, and have an open mind and heart, we learn, explore, see a situation from several angels, and we are less invested in a partcular view or in defending something or an identity. This means our natural intelligence can be put to work and yield some fruits.

When we are more reactive and want to uphold or defend an idea or identity, it tends to cloud over our natural curiosity, receptivity, and intelligence. In other words, we make ourselves more stupid than we are.

In general, receptivity and curiosity allows for our natural intelligence to function more fully, and reactivity and defensiveness clouds this over and we become a slave to our reactivity and its agenda.

When I notice I get caught in my own reactivity, this is one of the reminders that is helpful for me. Do I want to go down the reactivity path, make myself more stupid than I am, and perhaps say or do things I’ll later regret? Or do I want to give my natural intelligence a chance, be courageous and break with the reactivity pattern, and be more as I really want to be – for my own sake and the sake of the world?

This is also a reminder for me to connect with the fear behind the reactivity impulse. I notice reactivity in me and the temptation to join with it and follow it. Instead, I can connect with the fear behind the reactivity. I can find the fear. Acknowledge it’s there. Take some time – even just a few seconds – to feel it and notice where it is in my body. I can notice any fearful images or stories connected with it.

Breathe. Notice the space it all happens within, and the space within it.

And I can admit all of this to myself. Yes, I notice reactivity in myself. I notice the temptation to go with it. And I notice the fear it comes from. If it’s the right time and situation, I can even mention it to the other person if someone else is involved.

This helps me take a step back and give my receptivity and natural intelligence a chance.

Taking responsibility for our life and knowing the real author of our life

 

I touched on this in the previous article.

It’s good for us to take responsibility for our own actions and life in a conventional sense. It’s honest, healing, and allows us to be more in charge of our life – again, in a conventional sense.

At the same time, it’s good to know the real author of our life. To notice that everything in our life – our abilities, skills, interests, opportunities, choices, hangups, limitations, emotional issues, traumas, belongings, and so on – is given to us. Our life as a whole is given to us. 

Anything in our life has innumerable causes stretching back to beginning of time and out to the widest extent of the universe. We can always find one more cause, and one more. 

It’s all happening within and as what we are. We are capacity for our life and the world as it appears to us. There is no final identity within any of it. It’s all happening on its own. 

Taking responsibility for our life and knowing the real author are not mutually exclusive. They are two sides of the same coin. One helps us in a conventional sense. The other helps us in a more existential sense.

God: An author using pen names (and we are the pen names)

 

I had a conversation with my partner this morning and it got into how life – or the divine – is the author of our lives, and yet we often think we are the author. (Of course, we are responsible for our own actions and need to be good stewards of our own life, but Life is the real author of our lives.)

In a sense, God is the author of our lives and everything else. And when it comes to us as individual beings, she is an author using our names and individuality as a pen name. She is an author with innumerable pen names, and we – as human beings or any type of being – are pen names in flesh and blood. 

We sometimes exclusively identify with or as God’s pen name – as this human being, and that’s natural, understandable, and innocent. And yet, the real author is God – or life, the universe, existence, Spirit, or the divne. 

Said from another perspective, Life is the author of everything, and locally and temporarily takes itself to be this local expression of itself – this local and temporary pen name or imagined author.

It’s beautiful and a part of Life exploring and expressing itself in always new ways. And, as this local pen name, it can also create suffering and a longing for noticing the real author, and for the real author to notice itself as all there is and as this local pen name and imagined author. 

Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things XVIII

 

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

USING INSIGHTS TO FEEL SAFE

Someone on the periphery of my life came to my mind, and I thought: She is using her insights to feel safe.

She is someone who does have some insights, and her job is to consult and give advice to others.

At the same time, I have noticed that she latches onto a small piece of information and jumps to one her insights as a remedy, without having a fuller sense of the situation. She tends to insist that the other adopts her particular solution. And she does this uninvited.

So although I don’t know the full picture (!), I imagine she is using her insights to feel safe. She may latch onto them to feel safe, and she tries to get other to agree and adopt them so she feels it’s supported by others.

And, of course, this is me. I do this too. It’s a different and perhaps slightly amplified version of how I am.

I sometimes latch onto insights – aka ideas – to feel more safe. I am happy when I find others who agree and – sometimes unwittingly – support me in latching onto these ideas for safety. And I sometimes give unsolicited advice, perhaps not so often in real life but certainly in my mind.

Click READ MORE for more of these brief notes.

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Dream: adventures with my partner

 

Gailynn is teaching a two or three day language class. It’s in Oslo and I am attending it with Ale – my partner – and a small group of others. At some point, Gailynn sits down with me to show me something.

During a break, Ale takes me on a tour of Oslo. It’s amazing and we have a very beautiful time together. She takes me to small interesting markets and stores, and then two rides that go high up and then down again, one inside of a beautiful library.

Although I thought we were just on a long lunch break, Ale informs me with a smile that the class has ended.

I thank her for taking me to do things I would never have done on my own.

At some point, I realize I have lost my messenger bag and wallet, and have trouble remembering when I last had it and where I have been.

My partner sits down and makes me several small drawings. They are amazingly beautiful and I am very touched.

Then I realize I somehow have my bag and wallet. I am not sure if I lost them and they came back to me, or if I never had lost them.

Gailynn is a Vortex Healing teacher and my partner and I did take a class with her a couple of weeks ago. This class is a language class, but it’s not a regular human language. It’s a class about learning a different way to communicate.

For some reason, Ale seems far more familiar with Oslo and its hidden gems than I am, even if I have lived there for a while and she has not. She takes me on an amazing tour.

In waking life, I have some fear of heights. Ale takes me on two rides – kind of elevators – that go high up and then down again, one inside of a beautiful library. We go up in a small cabin with a few other people, it goes up perhaps 10-20 meters inside the large main space of the building, and as we go down my sight shimmer and shift. I realize that although I have some fear of heights, I enjoyed the ride immensely. I am grateful for my partner for taking me on these rides I would have done on my own.

My bag is missing, and then refound – or perhaps it never went missing. She makes a series of small drawings for me, and I am amazed how quickly she did it and how beautiful they are.

Some of themes here are: learning a new way to communicate, being taken on new adventures, shared and beautiful experiences, refinding something valuable to me I thought was lost, and being given a very beautiful, personal, and soulful gift.

Dream: A spiritual guide and joining the inner and outer

 

A spiritual guide is with my partner and I. He or she shows us what’s in us that we see in ourselves, what’s in us that we see in the world, and how we can see all of it in ourselves. We see a symbol with an outline of us, and two circles in each of us, one representing what we already see in ourselves and the other what’s in us that we see in the world.

This is one of the dreams that spells things out quite clearly. We each have two circles in us, one representing what we see in ourselves and “own” as our own, and the other representing what we see in the world that’s also in us but we may not be aware (yet) as being in. The guide helped us see both in ourselves.

Why would I have this dream? At a conscious level, I know it’s this way. And yet, last night I got caught up in some inner drama where I “forgot” it. The situation I had a struggle with mirrors something in me.

Why is the dream about me and my partner? Perhaps because the situation that triggered me last night also triggered her in a similar way, and it’s a shared situation for us. In a sense, the dream is for us both.

The stories I have about this outer situation also fit and describe me, and it helps me to examine it more in detail and find specific examples of how it’s true. I can use the outer situation to find in myself what I see there.

In my dream, the spiritual guide was a large figure without any clear features, and it was neither female or male and also had characteristics of both.

I should also mention that this is an example of the more explicit dreams I have written about before. During the first few years when I was really into Jung (in my teens and early twenties), I would have typical Jungian dreams. Then, I asked the dream-maker in me to sometimes skip the symbolism and make the dreams more explicit, and that’s what largely happened.

The upside of being average

 

In our culture, there is an idealization of the special or extraordinary person. At a personal level, many experience a sense of lack so we latch onto this idea of being or becoming someone special in an attempt to compensate for it. This also drives consumption since advertisers promise specialness through clothes, cars, and things in general, and special experiences like certain vacations, restaurants and so on.

How can we examine this wish to be special, famous, or extraordinary?

Examining the average and special

One way is to look at the the upside of being mediocre and in the average range, and perhaps – to the extent we have experience with it – the downsides of being special.

What’s the upside of being not famous, not extraordinary, and in the average range?

It makes it easier for me to see that we are all in the same boat. It makes it easier to connect with and understand others, and have genuine empathy.

Others are more likely to see me as their equal and it’s more of a meeting between equals. Any difference in staus or role in soceity doesn’t come between us.

I don’t have to live up to a certain image or role in order to maintain some special status. I can live more anonymously and without being scrutinized in public.

Perhaps most important, being within the average range does not preclude what’s most important for me. It does not preclude a deeply meaningful life, love, insights. It doesn’t precule being of assistance and helping others and supporting life.

And what’s the downsides of being special or extraordinary?

I’ll go back to the few instances I have experienced this, and also what I saw when I was the student of a famous artist and later the student of a wannabe rock-star type Zen master, and what I have heard and seen from others and in the media.

If you are extraordinary or famous, people tend to put you up on a pedestal. They make you special in their minds. They experience a separation from you. They see you as an image more than a real person. They idealize you or demonize you. They want something from you just because you are seen as special.

If they seek you out and want to be your friend, you cannot be certain about their motivation. Some may want to get to know you just because you are special or famous.

If you are famous, you’ll be scrutinized. The media will write about you, and often any little thing, and sometimes things that are not true. They will try to find scandals. They will interview people around you about you, whether you want or not. I imagine you’ll wake up in the morning wondering if or what someone has written about you.

If you are famous, you can’t be out in public as yourself. You always have to think of your image and how people see you.

Being extraordinary or famous does not take care of our troubles or insecurities, as innumerable stories in the media shows us. Extraordinary and famous people have their troubles, as we all do.

These examples are a little simplistic and general. It helps to find examples to a specific situation, and you may find some that are more true for you. But it’s a start of seeing through the illusion of worshipping the special, extraordinary, and famous.

Also, is it true we are not already special?

As any good mum will tell us, we are all special. It’s not just a platitute. It’s true. We – and all beings – are a unique way for the universe and life to experience itself.

Examine the lack in us

Another approach is to see where the worship of the extraordinary in us comes from. (Most likely, there is some worship of the extraordinary and of fame in ourselves since we live in this culture.)

Often, it comes from a sense of lack in ourselves, and we hope that this will somehow compensate for this. And there is a fear behind all of this.

So we can meet this sense of lack on us and the fear that comes with it. Feel the sensations. Listen to its stories. Get to know it. See what it really wants. Give it what it really wants. (Often love, respect, patience, understanding.) And see through the stories it has when they come up and not let them take us over.

If we seek to be special, extraordinary, or famous, it’s often because we hope it will make us feel OK, loved, and admired. Through this, we can take a short-cut and give that to ourselves – and the parts of us that need it – here and now.

At first, it may seem a bit disappointing since we thought we wanted or needed it from others, and perhaps a large number of others. When we explore this, we may find that there is only one who can give us this so it feels deeply satisfying, and that’s ourselves.

In summary…

I can have the most important in life while being average – friendship, family, love, meaning, contentment, contributing to society and nature.

Being extraordinary doesn’t fix most of our human challenges and problems.

And it’s easier and more direct to address any lack in me that fuels a desire to be extraordinary than to try to be extraordinary.

That identity, that’s not who you are

 

All those identities you have, that’s not who or what you are

– paraphrased from a friend of mine (PG)

What he actually said was, and that’s not who you are in response to someone mentioning an identity they had for themselves.

In what way is our identities not who or what we are?

It’s not who we are, as a human being, because we are so much more than that. Any identity is very small compared to the richness and fullness of who we are. Even all our identities combined are small compared with the richness and fullness of who we are.

As what we are, we are capacity for the world as it appears to us. Any identity and what it refers to happens within and as what we are. They can, at most point to something. We are not the identity or any or all of the associations we have around that identity.

As respectively who and what we are, we are different from, more than, and less than, any identity.

We are different from any identity. Any identity comes from an overlay of thought. It can be wrong in a conventional sense. It’s certainly incomplete. And no matter how accurate it may seem, what it is meant to point to is different by nature from any thought.

The fullness and richness of who and what we are is far beyond any identity and all identities. What we are aware of or can name is a drop in the ocean of who and what we are.

We are also less than any identity since any identity comes from the addition layer of thoughts. It comes from an overlay of thoughts. It’s extra.

The more we explore this for ourselves and take in what we find, the more we tend to hold any identity we have – applied to ourselves or others or anything – more lightly. They are already questions, and we get to recognize them as questions and not anything final or complete.

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Center of gravity shifts into Big Mind & fear comes up

 

I talked with someone whose center of gravity spontaneously shifted into Big Mind yesterday, and she noticed how something in her human self was terrified of it.

Both are natural and the fear is not so unusual in a certain phase of the process.

How can we best relate to this fear?

Notice that it’s just a part of our human self that’s afraid of it. It’s not all of us and it’s something we can relate to more intentionally.

Notice that this fearful part of us already is what it’s afraid of. It is Big Mind. It is what we are. It’s afraid of its own nature, and there is a sweet innocence in that.

Listen to what this fearful part of us has to say. What is it afraid of? What is its story? What happens when we believe this? What’s more true?

Notice the sensation aspect of the fear. Notice the body sensations. Allow them to be as they are. Rest with them. Set aside any thoughts for a little while.

Identify and examine any beliefs (as mentioned above) and emotional issues behind this fear. Use whatever approach works for you.

Dialog with this fearful part and Big Mind, and perhaps even allow the two to dialog together.

Find more structured and intentional ways to shift into and explore Big Mind. This can give a sense of predictability and control – in a limited but important sense, and it can help us explore the terrain in a way that feels more safe.

For examining beliefs, I often use The Work of Byron Katie. For exploring emotional issues, Living Inquiries and Vortex Healing are both great. For dialog, Voice Dialog or the Big Mind process works well. And for shifting into Big Mind in a more intentional way, Headless experiments and the Big Mind process are both relatively simple and often effective.

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No buttons pushed in a monastic setting?

 

In an online Vortex Healing class yesterday, the teacher mentioned that monastic living does not trigger us as much as secular life. Someone else called it a pristine setting.

I have heard this from others and always wonder: where did you experience this type of monastic living? (Probably nowhere!)

In my experience, monastic living trigger us as much as any a regular secular life. We live with the same people 24/7 and can’t so easily escape. People are as annoying in a monastic setting as any other. We bring with us our own issues. And spiritual practice in general tends to bring up whatever is unprocessed in us.

Even solitary life brings up a lot of issues as I notice when I am on my own at the cabin. I cannot escape myself so easily.

Whether we live in a monastic, secular, or solitary setting, we bring with us our own issues and these bubble up no matter what.

So the notion of monastic living somehow being pristine or peaceful or free of triggers is misguided and, most likely, perpetuated by people who have never experienced it. If monastic living was like their fantasy, it would be far more popular!

The difference between a monastic and secular setting is that the monastic setting is (ideally) designed to encourage spiritual practice. The difference is not in what or how much is triggered in us and comes to the surface.

The Dark Night of the Soul and influx of light

 

There are many types of dark nights. One is where the awakening process brings up what in us is still stuck in separation consciousness so this can heal, be more aligned with reality, and wake up. It’s an essential part of the awakening and embodiment process.

During this phase, we can feel overwhelmed, confused, and swamped by all that’s surfacing. To us, it usually feels very dark and it may be difficult to imagine it will ever end.

In the Dark Night of the Soul chapter from Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism, she suggests through quotes what’s actually happening: there is a large influx of light into our system, this pushes the metaphorical darkness in us to the surface, and that’s what naturally catches our attention.

In this situation, it can be difficult or impossible to notice or be aware of the light in our system. The lack of comfort is almost an inbuilt part of the process.

In my case, since I can see energies, I did notice a clear and strong light around my body even during the darkest parts of this process, and I have seen the same in others. Still, that was a meager comfort at the time.

What we look at looks back at us

 

I experienced that what I looked at looked back at me.

I have heard this from a few people on the awakening path.

Most likely, it’s a middle stage between identifying as a separate being in a world of objects and all of it waking up to itself as consciousness.

Somewhere in that middle ground, we look at something, and experience that it’s looking back at us. We intuit consciousness over there, even in inanimate objects.

In reality, we are consciousness and the world as it appears to us happens within and as this consciousness. What we look at is consciousness, and if we don’t notice this clearly but intuit or sense it, it may seem as if the object is conscious and looking back at us.

I don’t think this is an inevitable phase in the awakening process, but it seems it may happen if the awakening is more gradual and happens over time. I imagine it’s intriguing and can be one of the carrots on the path.

God is primary

 

As Ken Wilber points out, it’s helpful for us to be able to shift between zero-, first-, second-, and third-person relationships with the divine. (I think I probably added the zero one since it acknowledges no-self more explicitly.)

When we pray or open to the divine in a second person relationship, we can do it through aspects of the divine or intermediaries – avatars, Buddha aspects, saints, angels and so on, or we can connect with God as a whole. These two approaches complement each other and give us a taste of different flavors of the divine.

God – Brahman, Big Mind, Oneness, Spirit – is primary, and all the other ones secondary. They may be entry points to the divine, but God as a whole is always the context and source. For me, it’s important to have my relationship with God as the primary and the other ones secondary.

There are several reasons for this. It reflects reality. It helps me connect with my own wholeness and what I am. In my experience, it brings in the aspects and intermediaries anyway. To put it simply, the one to trust in is God.

And I have personal reasons as well. In the initial awakening, it was the divine that woke up to itself as everything without exception. Everything was revealed as God. It was a kind of cosmic awakening. So it’s natural for me to primarily relate to God as a whole, and I notice it does myself good as well since it helps me to connect with what I am, Big Mind.

The seed of this article was a Vortex Healing teacher (RW) talking about how he prefers relationships with the aspects of the divine over a relationship to God as a whole. Perhaps it’s because his conscious connection with the divine first was through gurus and avatars? For me, it’s the reverse. Both are equally valid and different flavors of how the divine explores and experiences itself.

Dream: Taming a tiger

 

I am supposed to tame a huge tiger roaming around in the corridors of a hotel. It’s being filmed for a TV show and I am one in a series of people tasked to tame it. When I see the regular hotel guests going about their business and not worrying about the tiger, I start to wonder if it’s not as dangerous as I initially thought.

I have had several strong dreams over the last few days, perhaps because I have been in Vortex Healing classes, although I only remember fragments.

In this dream, I am supposed to tame and capture a huge tiger roaming around in a hotel, and then realize the guests are not worried about it so perhaps I also don’t need to worry too much. The tiger may represent something primal, vital, and powerful in me, which I am scared of and then realize I don’t need to be.

Update

Later in the day, my partner sent me this without realizing it was connected to my dream:

The beast is instinct. Nothing more than that. To let the beast act is to let instinct work. What relationship do you have with your instinct, how do you relate to your instinct, what does your instinct ask of you? Our instinct is Divinity itself.

In the dream, the tiger represents my animal side and instinct, and it showed me that there is nothing to fear there. It’s powerful, beautiful, and easily co-exists with people.

One of the last dream images is of a small woman needing to enter a door, the tiger was inadvertently blocking the door, so she unceremoniously pushed it away and went through the door. She was obviously not concerned, so why should I?

I was much more connected with my instinct in my late teens and early twenties, and when I got married there was less place for it. I abandoned it, which was traumatic for me. And now, it’s time to connect more wholeheartedly with it again.

Iceberg of thought

 

Most of us are aware of our conscious verbal self-talk. Many of us are also aware that we have other thoughts and assumptions that are less conscious, and for the most part, we only have a rough idea of what they are. For instance, we may have been in a situation that showed us that our assumptions about someone or something was wrong, and we were initially not even aware of having and operating from those assumptions.

The iceberg analogy works well for thoughts. We are aware of our conscious self-talk, which is the tip of the iceberg. And we also have and operate from a large number of other thoughts that influence – and to a large extent determine – how we experience life and what choices we make.

They form our most basic assumptions about ourselves, others, and life. They color our perceptions and choices. And they color our life as a whole.

Knowing this, it makes sense to explore and make some of these conscious, especially if they don’t serve our life as we would like it to be.

What does this iceberg look like?

As mentioned above, the tip of the iceberg is our conscious self-talk.

The part of the iceberg that’s under the metaphorical water consist of verbal self-talk and visualizations, words and images.

Some of these are about more peripheral things in our daily life and the world.

And some make up our most basic assumptions – about ourselves, others, the world, and life in general.

What are some examples of the below-the-water thoughts?

The particular combination of thoughts are individual. But there are more universal themes – especially for people within the same culture and subcultures.

I have images and stories about specific people in my life. She is my partner and have these qualities and relationships with me. This is my father and he is a certain way. And so on.

I have images and stories about countries and groups of people – including cultural and political groups. My images and stories determine what I think about them, how I see myself in relation to them, and who I like and don’t like so much.

I have images and stories about who and how I am. I have these qualities, roles, and identities, and not so much these others ones. I like these and don’t like those, and wish I had more of these.

I have images and stories about situations, how I am in relation to them, and what they mean about me and for me. One I am exploring right now is noise (the closest neighbor building is going to be torn down and rebuilt), and I see stories in me about being a victim, not being in control, and somehow being damaged by noise. Behind these are some early childhood memories.

Then we have our most basic assumptions about ourselves, others, and the world. These are, at least in my experience, mostly in the form of images, although it’s usually easy enough to set words to and elaborate on these images.

For instance, I find I have images of time – in the form of a timeline separated into present, future, and past. And I fit specific images (aka memories, scenarios) into each of these categories. I also have an image of me as a human being, a man, and so on. And of the world – the universe, planet, humanity, myself – both as separate objects (from my culture) and as a seamless whole (from my own conscious explorations).

How can we make these thoughts and assumptions more conscious?

The best way I have found is through different forms of inquiry, for instance The Work of Byron Katie and Living Inquiries which is a modern version of Buddhist inquiry.

The Work helps us be more conscious about our verbal thoughts, and – depending on the skill of the facilitator – can helps us go very deep in exploring both verbal and visual thoughts.

Living Inquiries more explicitly helps us explore both images and words, and also how they combine with sensations. We get to see how sensations lend a sense of substance, solidity, and truth to the thoughts, and how thoughts give a sense of meaning to their associated sensations.

Some additional reflections

I have seen people saying “I am not a racist” as a response to the recent focus on racism in the US and around the world. For me, this is an example of not being aware of what’s below the water. Just by living in our culture, we adopt racist thoughts – and for most of us, these are below the water. Even black people have these racist stereotypes, and probably reverse ones to compensate, just from living in this culture.

The One experiencing itself as many

 

Through noticing what’s here in immediacy, we can find a few things….

We may notice that the One experiences itself as many.

No-thing experiences itself as something.

Consciousness experiences itself as matter.

And sometimes….

The One experiences itself as separation.

Love as not-love.

Clarity as confusion.

It can help to use a more structured form of inquiry to notice this, for instance Headless experiments, the Big Mind process, Living Inquiries, or The Work of Byron Katie.

This is all what we can notice for ourselves here and now.

COSMOLOGY

And we can also see it in the universe as a whole. We can make it into a cosmology. (After all, any cosmology mirror us here and now.)

Existence is oneness experiencing itself as many. No-thing as something. Consciousness as matter.

And sometimes – locally and through us and other beings – oneness experiencing itself as separation, love as not-love, clarity as confusion.

MORE DETAIL

There is easily one or several books worth of material here if we want to go into more detail. I’ll just say a few words.

I find that I am capacity for the world as it appears to me – including this human self and any me or I or observer or doer. That’s the oneness. It all happens within and as what the mind may label consciousness. Within this oneness is immense diversity. The world is many. (It’s an overlay of thought that divides the world up in this way, and it’s a very useful function of thought.)

I find that no-thing experiences itself as something. What I am is no-thing full of the world as it appears to me. No-thing full of somethings. (Again, the somethings are separated from each other through an overlay of thought.)

Similarly, consciousness experiences itself as matter. What I am – and I assume what you are to yourself – can be labeled consciousness. The world as it appears to me happens within and as consciousness. And when thoughts label some things in the world matter, and sensations come in to lend a sense of substance to those thoughts, then consciousness experiences itself as matter.

Also, when these dividing lines created by thoughts – often in the form of mental images – are held as true, there is an experience of separation. So the One experiences itself as separate, as an I here and others out there.

When thoughts are held as true, the mind can tell itself that this human has been wronged, is a victim, and so on. And then love – which is another word for oneness – experiences itself as not-love.

And when the mind takes thoughts as true, clarity – which is yet another word for oneness – can experience itself as confusion.

STRUCTURED FORMS OF INQUIRY

We can all (?) find this for ourselves, and structured forms of noticing – AKA inquiry – can help here.

Headless experiments can help us find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us – including anything connected with this human self and any I or me or observer or doer.

The Big Mind process can help us find ourselves as Big Mind (AKA capacity full of the world), Big Heart, and a variety of other aspects of what and who we are.

Living Inquiry – which is based on traditional Buddhist inquiry – can help us explore in detail how thoughts (words and mental images) combine with sensations to create our experience. Specifically, it’s helpful to notice how the mind associates certain sensations with certain thoughts, and these thoughts lend a sense of meaning to the sensations, and the sensation give the thoughts a sense of substance, reality, and even truth.

The Work of Byron Katie is a great help in exploring thoughts we take as true, and in finding what’s more true for us in our own direct experience.

There are many other forms of inquiry out there as well, which may work as well or better for you. These are just the ones I happen to be familiar with.

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