What it comes down to: seeing what is already more true

 

So when we start letting go of some of the identities that I described in previous posts, what is left? What, if anything, is revealed?

For me, it has to with simply seeing what is already more true for me, in immediate experience, without knowing in advance what I will find or am looking for, and doing it for its own sake.

If I think I know what I’ll find, I am creating another box for myself. I have an agenda. Receptivity to what is really there goes out the window.

If I do it for some other motive, to find release, to get rid of discomfort, to get somewhere, then I am creating yet another box. Again, there is an agenda there. And again, receptivity – or even interest – in what is really there, goes out.

Thinking I know what to find, and doing it for a particular result, is just another way for me to limit myself, to box myself, life, existence, and even God, into a far smaller space than where it already is. It may look safe for a while, but is in the long run nothing but a dead end.

I think I’ll get something or somewhere by doing it, but all I am doing is boxing myself in. Staying put.

What it all comes back to, and down to, is doing it for its own sake. I engage in inquiry, for the sake of doing inquiry. I engage in headlessness, for the sake of headlessness. I am with experiences, for the sake of being with experiences.

And seeing all the parts of me that is not doing it just for its own sake, is part of it as well. Allowing even that. Being with even that. Seeing even that, as what is, right here and now. For its own sake.

Being with and seeing, for its own sake

 

My main practice is to simply be with what is… to fully allow it, as it is. This automatically shifts identification out of content and more into the field of awareness and its content.

Resistance = suffering, being with = Big Mind

As long as there is identification with content, there is also resistance to other parts of content, and not an allowing of all there is. I am and want this, so resist what does not fit. An allowing shifts the center of gravity more towards headlessness and Big Mind.

A release

When this happens, there is also a sense of release… a release of grasping, of contraction, of being blindly caught up in the drama of being an object in an immensely large world with lots of very unpredictable other objects (who I need, or can harm me, or sometimes both.) There is a new freedom in this. A freedom to allow content to be as it is. A freedom to allow God’s, or reality’s, or life’s will be done, as it unfolds here and now.

A secret hidden in plain sight

When we discover this, one of life’s secrets hidden in plain view, right in front of our nose, there is almost inevitably also a thought that ha! now I know how to release suffering! I’ll use this as my practice to avoid suffering and find happiness.

Wanting to change it

But what is happening there? Exactly what is creating suffering in the first place: an identification with content, seeing myself as an object here wanting this and to avoid that. I’ll engage in being with what is, so I can change what is.

The solution is to be with even this. The impulse to avoid suffering and seek happiness, or at least contentment, is something arising as content, and I can be with even that. And this in turn releases some of the identification with it. It arises, as anything else, coming and going on its own.

Self-inquiry too

All of this also goes for the practice of self-inquiry. I may discover that certain practices of self-inquiry releases, or at least lessens, stress and suffering, so I use it as a way to manipulate the content of my experiences. I inquire to be free from suffering and find happiness.

But again, this is a trap. In this case, it adds a motivation to the inquiry which makes it less sincere and open-ended. I think I know what will bring about a release, so I try to direct the inquiry in that direction. I have a goal, created from memories of past experiences, and try to recreate what brought me there in the past, or try to manufacture something that brings me there.

Being with, for its own sake

The only real solution to all of this is to be with what is happening, just to be with it, just to experience it fully, without getting caught up in resistance and holding onto parts of the content. To find myself as the ground of awareness, which already and always allows it all. Just for its own sake.

Inquiry, to see what is already more true for us

And with inquiries, to use them as a tool to see what is. To find what is already more true for me than what I believe. To dive down below beliefs, to what is alive in immediate awareness.

A discovery of what already is

In both cases, it is a discovery of what already is, without knowing in advance what we will find, apart from that it will be different from any memory or expectation. It is always fresh, new and different.

A note: allowing activity, even more of it

And just for the sake of making it a little more complete: allowing our experiences more fully does not mean being passive in the world. If anything, it frees this human self up to be more active and engaged, free from any holding back coming from self-consciousness. Free from the burden of being taken as an I, it can function more freely, richly and fully.

Shift from half-hearted to whole-hearted being with

 

I woke up in the middle of the night with a sense of panic around a particular issue. At first, there is a half-hearted being with it, and it is very uncomfortable. Then, a conscious shift into more fully being with it, and a sudden peace.

It was a clear reminder that being with an experience is incompatible with being caught up in the content of an experience. As long as there is an identification with beliefs (ideas, stories, identities), as long as we hold onto them as true, there is resistance, and it is impossible to fully be with an experience. This means that there is still struggle, drama and discomfort there.

To fully be with an experience, to allow it all, there has to be a surrender of identification with the content of the experience, a surrender of beliefs, of holding onto identities as absolutely true. There has to be a surrender of identifying with one realm of the content pitted against other realms, and – maybe most importantly – of wanting anything in the realm of content to be different.

A half-hearted being with resolves nothing, and there is as much discomfort there as before. Only a whole-hearted being with allows for a surrender and release of identifications with the content of experience, and for resting in and as peace – noticing, and finding ourselves as, the ground that already allows it all.

Fully allowing a sense of a separate self

 

Any sense of a separate self comes from resistance to experience.

Through resistance to experience, we identify with an aspect of the content of awareness, and we split the content into I and Other, which in turns creates a sense of struggle, drama, and wanting something else than what is.

When we realize this, it is easy to start resist the sense of a separate self, of wanting that one to go away, of hoping for something better just on the other side of this. And this is just another way to identify with an aspect of content of awareness and pitting it against other aspects of the content. There is an identification with wanting the content to be different from what it is.

(In this case, an identification with wanting of this sense of a separate self to go away, an identification with the corresponding belief that it would be better if it wasn’t there, and an identification as someone who wants it to go away – all of which places our identification firmly within one part of the content of awareness, pitted against other parts of the content.)

The trick here is to allow it all: the sense of a separate self, any resistance to it, any wanting of it to be different, any strategies to change it, and anything else. To allow it, embrace, see it, feel it, and then to love it, as it is. This shifts the identification out of content and into its ground of awake emptiness.

In this, there is indeed a release from being caught up in any sense of a separate self – even when it is there.

We find ourselves as the ground allowing it all, as it already does.

As long as there is identification with particular content of awareness, there is a split and we don’t notice this ground, or ourselves as this ground. We find ourselves as a region of the content, pitted against other regions of the content, and in the ensuing drama the ground is not noticed. As soon as there is a being with what arises, a full allowing of it, identification goes out of content and we find this ground of awake emptiness allowing it all.

Purgatory

 

Purgatory is a fiery purification, and have elements of both heaven and hell.

And that is an accurate description, at least in my experience, of the practice of being with experiences, as we do in Shikantaza (sitting practice) or by asking ourselves in daily life can I be with what I am experiencing right now?

It is especially accurate when the content of our experiences are intense, such as strong pain or emotions. The content of our experiences, including any resistance to experiences, are allowed to arise as they are, without or with less identification, and this allows a habitual pattern of identification with them to burn through.

The fiery hellish elements is the fire of the intensity of the content, and the blissful heavenly elements is the bliss of fully allowing any experience, independent of its content. Together, there is the purification of purgatory.

Headless and fullness of being

 

I paid attention to the slight shifts between headlessness and being with experiences today. They are very similar, although in being with the form is slightly more in the foreground, and in headlessness the awake emptiness is slightly more in the foreground. And of course, within each, there are also shifts in which of the two are more in the foreground.

I also noticed a curiosity about how it is when both are more fully present, and had that answered a few minutes later when I walked into the public library and listened to a surprisingly good live performance of baroque chamber music (Bach, Corelli etc.). The sound, which was full, rich and clear as water, evoked a similar sense of fullness of being at human and soul levels, and also brought into the foreground the awake emptiness.

So at once, there was a deep and rich sense of fullness of being, as an individual, and also the awake emptiness within which and as all form arises. A fullness of being as individual, and also the field arising absent of a separate self.

The fluidity of being with

 

A rambling, unedited, stream-of-consciousness post (as most of these are), and a reminder to sometime organize this a little better, looking in more detail at some of these connections…

I talked with a friend of mine earlier today, and the conversation went into being with whatever we are experiencing.

Resistance to being with

For me, that is so much a part of my daily life that it was a good reminder of how it can be experienced in the beginning, if we are in the habit of (trying to) resisting experiences. There is often fear coming up around it, including for me with some experiences (if they are very intense, or it goes against a familiar pattern). It may seem scary, potentially overwhelming. What if it takes over? What if I loose control?

Everything included, including resistance

The beauty of just being with whatever I am experiencing, right now, is that everything is included. Whatever arises, whether fear or bliss or contractions of longing, I can simply be with it. Allow it, as it is, as it unfolds, in however way it naturally unfolds. It is very simple (which in my case is a good thing.)

Nothing is left out. Not even fear and resistance to the being with. That too is an experience I can be with.

Resistance in the form of identifications with identities

Resistance to experiences comes from identification with beliefs and identities, including the core one of a separate self. And this resistance to experiences, to what is, this sense of I and Other, creates suffering. We try to wall off experiences, wall of an aspect of what is, of existence itself, and this naturally is stressful, unpleasant, miserable. Ultimately, it is miserable because we wall off aspects of who (as individuals) and what (as Spirit) we already are. We are split against ourselves. And somewhere, we know this.

Who and what I am

There is this field of seeing and seen arising… This awake emptiness arising as form, as the landscape, the tree, sunlight, stove, lamp, sounds of the cars, sensations of the body, taste, words.

When I wall myself off from who I am, as an individual soul and human self, I may wall myself off from this alive presence, the luminous blackness, anger, fear, frustration, joy, or whatever else does not fit into the identities I identify with right now.

When I wall myself off from what I am, as Spirit (Big Mind, Brahman, Tao), I wall myself off from the rest of the field, the landscape, the trees, the awake emptiness, awake emptiness arising as form, absent of I anywhere.

Fullness, nurturing, and quiet bliss

When everything is allowed, these identifications naturally soften, become more transparent, are released, and may even completely fall away. And whatever is experienced, independent of its particular content (even great pain), gives a sense of fullness, a quiet joy and bliss, and of nourishment. Without resistance, there is rest, independent of what arises.

Relaxation and release from identifications

Identification with identities is creating walls, boxing ourselves in, putting ourselves in a cage. It is resistance to what is. So when it is all allowed, there is a relaxation and release of our basic identities, of being male or female, young or old, human, and so on. And there is also a relaxation and even release of our core identity as a separate self.

Fluidity of first person

And this allows for a fluidity of what is experienced as I and Other… What appeared as second or third person (you or it) may become first person. I may find myself as this pain, or as the alive presence, or as whatever else arises. Released from conventional identities, the sense of I can be placed on any aspect of the field arising, or as the field as a whole, without a center anywhere.

Identities without identification

Identities are still there, arising when they need to, used for practical purposes in daily life, but there is no real identification with them anymore. They are just tools for this human self to function in the world. Who I am knows how to work with them, even when there is not an ultimate identification with them.

New aliveness

When there is resistance, there is also a deadening. A deadening of experience, of life, of who and what we already are, in our fullness.

In the relaxation of resistance, there is a new aliveness. We awaken to more of the fullness of who and what we are, to what is arising here and now. And we may even work with this in a more intentional way… Who am I in my fullness, as this individual soul, this alive presence, and as this human self, finding in myself any and every quality I see in the wider world? What am I in my fullness, as this awake emptiness and the world of form arising as this awake emptiness?

Forms of active and passive

The being with whatever arises is in a way the ultimate yin approach, just allowing what already is. It is a mimicking of Ground, which already allows anything (and which is part of what we already are.) Yet it is also active, it is an active being with. It includes awareness of what is happening, and an active being with of whatever arises – that which we habitually push away, the impulse to pushing away, the resistance… whatever arises.

So being with has a passive and active element to it, yet overall it is passive. It is simply being with what already is, as it is.

Yet there is another active element that complements it. The active exploration of who and what I am, the active living of who I am within the context of what I am, and the active placing of my human self under the influence of soul and Spirit.

Exploring who and what I am

Exploring who I am as an individual human being, I can use the wider world as a mirror. Whatever qualities I see out there, in other people, animals, fictional and dream characters, in the landscape, the universe, these are qualities I already know and am familiar with – to some extent – in myself. And I can become even more familiar with these, own them (in the sense of including them in my active identity as a human being), befriend them, embrace them, explore them in my life and relationships with others and the wider world.

Exploring who I am as an individual soul, I can find myself as this alive presence, as luminous blackness, as fertile nurturing darkness, as the indwelling God, and so on. I can explore how the human self transforms within this new context, placed under the influence of this soul. How it softens, deepens, matures, becomes more fully human. I can explore how it is when the soul level is present in several of us together, how it influences our relationships,how it learns to recognize itself through mirroring itself in others (just as we do on our human level), how it unfolds in presence and relationship with others where it is alive (as individual flames coming together creating a larger fire).

Exploring what I am as awake emptiness and form, I find myself as the field of wakeful form, as it arises here and now, centerless and selfless. The I without an Other. Arising, for right now, also as this particular human self.

The one taste of fully experiencing

 

My partner mentioned something earlier today which reminded me of the one taste of fully experiencing… It seems that whenever I fully experience something, there is a sense of fullness and expansiveness, and it is tinged with bliss. And this is there independent of what is fully experienced… pain, joy, sadness, longing, bliss, dullness, fear, anger, frustration, excitement…

What is experienced colors the overall experience, of course, but it is almost secondary to the fullness, expansiveness and quiet stream of bliss that is there when it is fully experienced…

It is another form of one taste.

One Taste of Buddhism

And it is not that different from the One Taste of Buddhism either, as fully experiencing allows Spirit to awaken to itself, to notice itself as the field of seeing & seen, inherently absent of boundaries, of I and Other, of any separate I. It releases attachment to resistance, and since resistance is what gives rise to the separate-self sense in the first place, the sense of a separate I falls away along with the attachment to resistance.

Real life

This doesn’t mean that just being with our experiences automatically pops us into full awakening. Mainly because it is very difficult (for me at least) to fully be with my experiences. There is usually some trace of resistance… of attachment to resistance… left.

But whenever I am with my experiences, quietly, without adding more stories to it, there is certainly a taste of it. A glimpse of how it is when the separate-self sense fades into the background, and the fullness of what is comes into the foreground.

It is a way to get more familiar with it, dip our toes in the water. Until there is a more clear and stable shift.

Two ways of being with: meditation and healing

 

There are (at least) two ways of being with experiences…

Atemporal being with

One is atemporal, here and now, just being with and allowing whatever is. This is also a being with whatever resistance arises, which allows a disidentification with this resistance, and this in turn allows for the sense of a separate I to erode and fade, possibly into the field noticing itself as a field, already absent of a separate I. There is an intentional activity here, which is the activity of being with what arises, and that is it.

Temporal being with

Then there is the temporal being with, which is a being with what unfolds over time… Seeing where it leads, what wants to come up, surface, be seen, felt and loved…

Allowing whatever comes up to soften, be held, unravel. Just by seeing, feeling into and love what comes up, there is a deep healing of it, and an unraveling of knots.

And in addition, almost as an afterthought, there is also an insight into patterns (although not always, and not always necessary), which can offer an additional level of healing and unraveling.

Two aspects of the same process

These two are aspects of the same process. The first one is more a meditation, the just sitting type of mediation known as shikantaza in Zen.

The second one is more of a healing process, similar to Process Work, Somatic Experiencing, shamanic work, and many other forms of healing and exploration forms.

And each one contains the other, more or less, depending on the situation and intention.

Within the unfolding of a process is the being with, just as in meditation. And within meditation can be a feeling into and possibly also a loving of whatever arises, depending on the circumstances and intention.

Both as inquiry

And both are inquiry.

Being with whatever arises is really an exploration of who or what am I? It leads to the field (of seeing and seen) to notice itself as a field, already absent of I and Other. Sooner or later, this will happen, and if it hasn’t been a conscious inquiry, it certainly becomes one at that point.

Allowing knots to surface and heal is also a form of inquiry. It is an inquiry into seeing, feeling and loving the knots surfacing, and also into the dynamics of the whole process… of knot-making, knot-unraveling, and what is revealed when knots dissolve… which is new layers of who and what we really are, until the same field awakens to itself also through this process.

The onion is peeled until the empty center is reached, and everything is revealed as always and already awake emptiness and form, absent of a separate I.

Both leading to the field awakening to itself

The atemporal being with leads to the field noticing itself as a field, here and now, independent of content.

And the temporal being with leads to an unraveling of knots which leads to the same place: the field awakening to itself as a field, again independent of the particulars of the content.

The individual as a filter for Big Mind, and more or less healed and mature

The individual is a vehicle for Big Mind in the world of form, and also a filter for Big Mind. No matter how awake Big Mind is to itself, it will still be filtered through the particular individual it functions through… its flavors, and its level of healing and maturity.

The atemporal being with is the classic spiritual path, leading to Big Mind awakening to itself. In the process, there is often a healing of the human self, both before and after this awakening. But there is no guarantee that there is a healing of the human self, of how thorough it is, or that this healing and maturing continues.

And if Big Mind functions thorough a distorted human self, with lots of knots and hangups, it will function in the world in a distorted way as well. The output is no better than the filter. (Instead of garbage in, garbage out as they say in science, is is Gold in, garbage out, if filtered through the garbage of the individual…!)

The temporal being with is a healing and maturing of the individual, and this goes on before and after Big Mind awakening to itself. It allows more and more areas of the individual to heal, reorganize and mature, in always new ways. There is no end to the process. The human individual can become a fuller, richer, more and more fine-tuned instrument for Big Mind in the world. More and more deeply human. More and more deeply Spirit awakened to itself, functioning through and as a human self.

Both needed

As with so much else, it seems that both are needed, and that they are two ends of the same polarity.

The atemporal form is very helpful in clarifying the awakening, for Big Mind to recognize and become more intimately familiar with itself.

And the temporal form is essential for a deeper and more thorough healing and maturing of the individual, which is a vehicle and filter for Big Mind in the world of form.

Death and rebirth

 

The world is a process of death and rebirth on a wide range of scales, from everything dying as what it was and being reborn as something else, continuously, to the death and rebirth within each of our lives, the death and rebirth of stars and solar systems, and possibly of the universe as a whole.

Since going into the diksha process 1.5 years ago, this death and rebirth process within my life has come to the foreground again… The death of old patterns and identities, and something else emerging in its place. It has not always been a pleasant process (it has been miserable at times), and I see that the misery comes from resistance. Whenever there is resistance to experiencing something that needs to be seen, felt, loved, there is drama and stress. And whenever there is resistance to letting a particular identity go, there is the same drama and suffering… proportional to the resistance.

Journeying I: impoverished skeleton, then infusion of alive, intelligent light

Sunday, during the journeying process of allowing knots to emerge, be felt into, and dissolve or morph into something else, two main themes emerged. One was seeing my spine, especially from the tailbone and up to solar plexus, being in deep need of healing, and then my whole skeleton being in deep need of healing, impoverished and having been devoid of life for a long time, going back to childhood.

After being with this for a while, and also being with the deep sadness coming up over this, there was an infusion of golden alive liquid light into the skeleton, first in the lower half of the spine, then throughout the skeleton. An infusion of alive, infinitely intelligent light, as innumerable particles of golden light around the skeleton flowing into the skeleton, gradually filling it up, bringing a deeply needed nourishment and life to the skeleton.

After a while, there was a very strong sense of a physical change in my body as well, corresponding to the infusion of liquid golden healing light into the skeleton.

The alive, infinitely intelligent, loving, receptive and active (when invited) light, is the same as awakened in the heart area a couple of weeks ago, the indwelling God.

And the liquidy softness of it is the fertile softness of the belly center.

Journeying II: being a decomposing body

Later in the process, I found myself as a decomposing body, as the body, slowly decomposing, into dark fertile soil. The volume of sensory input was turned down during this phase, and there was a deep silence and quietness. My physical body stopped breathing for long periods of time, then took a deep breath on its own occasionally (to stay alive), and then going back into not breathing for a while. It was a beautiful process, being the deep silent blackness.

Dream: body stopping to function

This morning, there was a dream of my body stopping to function, first in the legs and then throughout the body, leading into death and decomposing. Again with a sense of it being completely OK, held in deep silence.

Form, emptiness and unraveling knots

 

Yesterday during the meeting of our diksha group, we held space for each other in dyads, allowing knots to be seen and unravel for our partner. It is a very simple process of (a) having an intention of allowing the next step in the resolution of a particular issue, (b) allowing any experience as it is, just quietly being with it, and (c) following the process as it unfolds on its own, living its own life, allowing one knot to unravel after another.

My partner started out with a physical pain she has had for several years, and being with the experience of the pain, it quickly shifted into an experience of the body as space, and of being space. After staying with that for a while, other issues unfolded such as a belief that it couldn’t be healed, memories from childhood, and so on.

It was a beautiful example of what is alive in my own experience… Form is space (more precisely, emptiness), and one is in the foreground, then the other. Seeing, and feeling, form as space allows for a release from being caught up in the particulars of form, such as pain. And at the same time, by being with experiences, there is a shift into a sense of fullness, space and sweetness, and it also allows a process to unfold leading to insights and quite often a shift or even release (or one step in that direction).

Vulcans, and walling and allowing experience

 

In watching movies, I cannot help being curious about what processes they may reflect, both within each of us and among us. Often, it is quite simple and basic such as with the Vulcans in Star Trek (I have been watching some of the original episodes for the first time).

Walls

The Vulcans have learned to suppress and control feelings and emotions, and rely on cool intelligence. And this reflects the common view in our culture, at least in the 60s: we either have to act on our feelings and emotions, or we have to suppress them.

Either way, we do battle with them. They are an Other that either controls or is controlled by us. There is a space where I am here and emotions there, and when they get strong, they either flood and overpower me, or I am able to erect and maintain a wall that keeps them in check.

The skill of the Vulcans is to be able to very effectively erect and maintain these walls, although they do break down sometimes (sometimes with scary results, and other times to the glee of Kirk and Bones.)

Trapped in this mode, the sense is that if I allow myself to fully experience something, it will take over, it will overpower me, I will loose control. And this fear is the motivation to keep holding it at bay, whatever it is – grief, sadness, anger, rage, pain, joy, pleasure, love, bliss.

Space

But this is only one option. The other is to allow ourselves to fully experience whatever we experience, to be with it, to allow resistance to the content of our experience to fall away.

Here, there is a sense of spaciousness, of holding and allowing any content. And there is a sense of release, and we realize that the pressure that we thought we were erecting a wall and fighting against, was created by the wall and the fighting itself. Without the wall and the resistance, there is no pressure. There is just whatever is experiences, unfolding within and as awareness and space, and that is it.

There is no sense of being overpowered, because the whole sense of I and Other becomes more transparent and spacious. They are revealed as part of the same space.

Intense experiences may be unfolding, but unfolding within a much larger (actually infinite) space. There is only pressure when the space is walled in. Without walls, no pressure.

And without pressure, any experience is revealed as bliss itself. For me right now, giving a sense of blissful smooth expansive quiet fullness,.

Clarifying the dimensions of being with whatever comes up

 

I realize that when I am with whatever comes up, in a simple, quiet way, there is more going on than what initially came to mind.

Awake emptiness

There is the awake emptiness aspect, allowing whatever comes up to unfold within and as awake emptiness, revealing themselves as nothing other than awake emptiness.

Form

And then there is the form aspect, the dynamic unfolding within form, which in itself has several dimensions.

Being with experiences in itself tends to allow knots to unravel, and this is the simplest one.

Then, there are the insights into the dynamics of form, or more accurately the mind, similar to what happens in insight meditation.

And then there are several variations of following the process unfolding, from traditional Process Work and active imagination, to following the dynamics of the essence, of the soul, of the subtle energies.

Allowing each other

And one allows the other.

Seeing form as nothing other than awake emptiness takes the charge out of it, allowing for a deeper exploration of the form aspect itself.

And gaining insight into the processes of the mind also takes some of the charge and drama out of it, allowing for an easier recognition of whatever arises as nothing other than awake emptiness.

The emptiness and form dimensions of being with whatever comes up

 

Writing the previous post, I was reminded of the two aspects of being with whatever unfolds.

Whatever arises as awake emptiness

There is the emptiness aspect of being with it, of allowing it all to be as it is, including any resistance and stories about it, allowing it to arise and unfold within and as awake emptiness, revealing themselves as nothing other than awake emptiness.

Insight into the dynamics within form

And then there is the form aspect of the process, the content itself, morphing, unfolding, revealing connections, allowing for insights into the dynamics within the form. This can be similar to insight meditation, allowing for insights into the dynamics of the mind, seeing how identities are used to guide resistance, how resistance splits the field in its own experience of itself, and so on. And it can also be similar to Process Work, or active imagination, allowing sequences unfold as a story, allowing insights into more specific dynamics, such as seeing how a sense of separation in childhood brought about the impulse to develop specific identities, and how they were used to give a sense of limited safety. Or it can be more like a dream, unfolding through symbolic images. Or it can function on a subtle energy level, following the same or similar processes unfold there.

Both there at the same time

And both can be there at the same time. They are two aspects of the same process, seeing whatever arises as nothing other than awake emptiness, and also allow the processes unfold allowing for insights into the dynamics within the world of form, maybe specifically the mind.

Sometimes, awake emptiness may be more in the foreground. Other times, the insights into the dynamics of form can be more in the foreground. But they are both there, as two faces of the same coin.

Mutuality

There is also a nice mutuality between the two.

Seeing whatever arises as awake emptiness takes some of the sting out of it, making it easier to simply be with it and also explore its dynamics within form. And exploring the dynamics within form allows knots to untie, which take some of the drama and charge out of it that way, making it easier to also recognize it as awake emptiness.

Both seem necessary, inform each other, invite each other, and allow for a continued deepening into the other.

Sleepless hours as practice

 

Last night, I found a great deal of things surfacing for me before falling asleep, possibly since it was the night of January 1st and the typical time for reviews of the past and projections for the future.

Sometimes, I decide to listen to BBC World Service until I fall asleep, get up and have a cup of hot apple cider, or read something, or even do some self-Breemas.

Other times, including last night, I decide to just be with whatever comes up, to be with what comes up and any resistance that may come up along with it, simply, quietly, without adding any stories to it, a soft docking, and it becomes a powerful spontaneous practice. Shikantaza in bed, just allowing everything surfacing to be, to unfold within and as the seeing of it, allowing knots to untie on their own, contractions to be seen, soften, dissolve, one after another, a string of contractions and knots surfacing, unfolding, morph, unravel, within and as awake emptiness, revealing themselves as nothing other than awake emptiness.

The simplicity of being with and being

 

There is a simplicity in being with, and then just being, whatever arises.

Being with experiences, then just being

Something comes up, I notice a resistance to it, and can then just be with it all – the experience and the resistance to it. It is simple, quiet, without drama or stories. And there is a sense of an energetic shift from confusion to something that is more organized and has an almost crystalline structure, which I also notice when I do sitting meditation.

In just being with experiences, as they are, there is also the being with any resistance coming up. The resistance becomes part of the field. And eventually, the resistance to the field itself is included, allowing the field to arise to itself as it is, as a field with no center, inherently absent of I and Other. There is just being, the same field but now revealed as already absent of I and Other, of someone being with something else.

From second to 1st or zero person

It is a process from a 2nd person relationship, of a sense of I being with experiences, of the seeing being with the seen, to a 1st or zero person relationship, to just the field absent of I and Other, which is no relationship at all of course. It is just the field being with itself, as seeing and seen as one.

It is first person, in that the field as a whole is an I to itself, and it is zero person in that there is an inherent absence of I as any part of the field.

Habit of identifying with resistance

It is so simple. So available. Yet also so difficult sometimes. The habit of identifying with resistance is so ingrained. Resistance arises, there is an identification with it, a sense of I is placed on it, a sensation is associated with this resistance and serves as an anchor in space for this sense of I, what is resisted is made into Other and at another location in space, and from here it is fleshed out with all sorts of additional stories. The stage is set for drama, and it plays itself out very well.

Soft docking, and everything the same yet different

At the same time, just being with it all, simply, quietly, meeting it as and where it is, as a soft docking, changes it all. Everything is the same, as it is, yet also completely different. From a sense of drama and confusion, and the sense of reality of I and Other, the field arises to meet itself as a field, already and inherently absent of I and Other, with its crystalline structure and clarity.

Even the discouragement of seeing habitual patterns coming up, over and over, can be included. That too is OK when it is revealed as just a part of the field, already and always absent of I, just the field of awake emptiness and forms unfolding.

Simple Feedback & The Cycle of Double Avoidance

 

I, as most of us, sometimes eat things that are not good for me. I guess I am fortunate in that my body does not hesitate to make it very clear to me, in the form of spaciness (sugar), fatigue (sugar), sluggishness (dairy), feeling weird – out of touch with the world, unreality (anything refined or artificial, wheat, alcohol), and in other ways.

Being with the experiences, allowing for feedback

I notice that if I take time to be with the symptoms of eating something my body has a reaction to, then that provides valuable feedback and something shifts. If I am with my experiences, simply, clearly, allowing them to unfold on their own, without adding drama to it, the feedback allows something to shift and I find myself less likely to want to eat that food again – or I eat it less frequently and in a lesser amount.

Cycle of double avoidance

I also see that the reason I eat these things is often that I want to avoid another experience.

Something comes up that my personality finds uncomfortable, and instead of taking the time of being with these experiences, I eat ice cream, cheese or something else. Then, I have the reactions from eating dairy and/or sugar, and avoid experiencing these as well by distracting myself in another way.

So there is an initial avoidance, leading to behavior that creates other unpleasant experiences, and there is an avoidance of these experiences as well. This allows the cycle to continue as before, in spite of whatever self-talk I may engage in.

Being with

The solution is to be with my experiences, both the initial ones that may trigger distraction and the symptoms of the food I eat. To be with them, as they are, without adding drama. And if drama is added to it, then just be with that as well.

It is simple. Clear. Peaceful (even if what I am being with may be turmoil).

Being with experiences in this way seems to invite something to shift, in its own time and in its own way. It seems to provide just the right food for the inherent intelligence and wisdom of the mind.

My business is to be with my experiences. That is all. The shift happens on its own.

Two Aspects of Pain *

 

I find physical pain to be one of the most pure things to work with. It is a clean laboratory for exploring how the mind works.

Sensation without story

Byron Katie says that pain is always a story about the past.

Thoughts are always about the past or future, even as they appear to be about the present. They can never catch the Present. Whatever happens is gone before it can be reflected in a thought.

From being a sensation with a story, there is now – in seeing this – just a sensation. This sensation may be the same as before, but without the drama that comes with a story about it.

Sensation changing

In addition to this, I also notice that whenever I am with the experience of the pain – without the drama, the sensation itself tends to change. It takes on a different appearance. It moves from being – yes, painful, to something else.

Two levels

So there seems to be two distinct things happening.

First, the sensation is freed from the story about it, allowing the drama and struggle to fall away leaving the sensation as it is. Far more simple and harmless than the story about it.

Then, there is also the changing appearance of the sensation itself, when it is no longer resisted. It changes into something that – even if I wanted to – cannot really be labeled pain anymore.

Process

Both of these may sometimes happen instantaneously as soon as there is recognition of pain. Especially if we are already familiar with these dynamics, if we are more initimate with this terrain.

If this is a new territory for us, it may take a little longer, and the ride may be more bumpy.

And if the pain is strong, or the belief in the story about the pain is strong, the ride may also be bumpy – even for those somewhat familiar with these dynamics. There is an invitation here to see the dynamics of it even more clearly, to be even more intimate with the terrain. To question and go beyond what we think we know.

Breaking Open vs. Down

 

Another simple little guideline…

If I resist experiences, it creates suffering. And if the experience and resistance both are strong, it may lead to a breakdown of one sort or another.

If I allow whatever is experienced – including any resistance to it, then the intensity leads to a breaking open rather than breaking down. I move to and beyond the current edge. There is a new territory explored. And eventually, it can lead to the breaking open into a realization of no I anywhere.

This is of course a very rough way of talking about it.

When there is an experience, and an identification with a resistance to that experience, it leads to suffering. And this identification to the resistance usually comes when the initial experience is outside of my conscious identity – my view of who I am or at least should be. So when both the initial experience and the resistance are strong, it can lead to some sort of breakdown – form exhaustion to something more dramatic.

When there is an experience, and no or less identification with any resistance to it, then it just unfolds in space as anything else. There is less or no suffering. It is just living its own life. And I find myself as the space holding it all. Any intensity of the content now only serves to help me notice the inherent and natural space and clarity of mind. Intensity now helps me notice the nature of mind more clearly, that which is there independent of any changing content. The Ground and clarity.

When there is an identification with resistance, what is resisted appears as a disturbance and an Other. When there is less or no identification with this resistance, what is resisted just happens – along with everything else. It is just a part of what is passing through.

Befriending

 

The world is my mirror – whether I find myself as human beings and/or as Big Mind.

As a human being, whatever I see out there reflect myself in here.

And as Big Mind, everything arising is me.

Resistance to what is

When I resist this, there is pain. It is the signal that I am excluding in my mind something that is inherently a part of what is and myself.

And resistance comes up when I attach to a thought, as any thought by necessity is different from and more limited than what is.

In other words, when I attach to a thought, I immediately create an exclusive identity, which has to be painful as it conflicts with my nature which is beyond and including any and all polarities.

What is – free from descriptions

What is is – and I am – inherently beyond and including existence and nonexistence, spirit and matter, formless and form, seer and seen, awakened and deluded, living and nonliving, life and death, culture and nature, mind and body, right and wrong, and so on.

What is is – and I am – inherently free from all this. Any name describe me, yet I am free from any name.

Mechanisms of pain

As a human being, the pain comes in many ways.

It comes from a limited repertoire. I am invited to bring out more of my qualities, yet don’t because I am not familiar with them yet or exclude them through holding onto a limited identity.

The pain is also there due to a sense of separation. I see qualities out there and not in here, and the other way around. I see myself as a separate entity. I see myself as variously better and/or worse than what I see out there. I get caught up in seeking something and avoiding other things, in my internal and external life. I get caught up in blind identifications. I get caught up in struggle.

Not seeing in myself what I see out there gives rise to pain in innumerable ways.

At the level of Big Mind, the pain simply comes from separation – from the appearance of I and Other in the field of what is, inherently absent of any I or Other.

Befriending

So no wonder we have found many ways to help ourselves heal this split in our experience of what is, this fictional life bringing about pain.

  • Being with
    The simplest approach is to just be with whatever is happening. I just ask myself Can I be with what I am experiencing right now? I am with whatever is happening, including the impulse to resist and push something away. And in that way, I befriend whatever is happening. The ficitional boundary between this particular form of I and Other dissolve.

  • Welcoming in
    Going a little furhter, I can actively embrace and welcome in whatever is arising. I see them as lost children wanting attention and warmth, and provide it for them.

  • Inquiry
    Then there are the many forms of inquiry, including The Work. Here, I examine attachments to thoughts and allow them to unravel – and the resistance with them. What appeared as an Other and a disturbance (or worse) is now revealed as a friend. What arises may be the same (or not) but the charge went out of it.

  • Process Work
    In Process Work, I unravel the process behind whatever is happening in the external or internal world. I follow the bread crumbs, and find the gift behind it. In this way too, anything happening becomes a friend – an invitation into exploring aspects of the world and myself that is new to me, and allowing boundaries to dissolve.

  • Giving it over to the divine
    And I can give it over to the divine. That is where it is anyway, so I am really just giving over my experience of myself as an individual separate doer. Everything is living its own life anyway, and this is another reminder.

  • Asking for it to resolve
    As a more active version of the previous one, I can ask for resolution in whatever way it needs to resolve.

    I may also ask to see whatever I need to see for it to resolve. I may ask for whatever in me that needs to unravel to unravel. I may ask for harvesting of whatever gifts and nutrients are in it.

    I see that holding an intention in this way – precise and open ended at the same time – creates a sense of a field within which this unraveling can take place.

Spaciness

 

On my way to the dreamwork course with Arny Mindell today, I noticed spaciness. I had a story about it – that it came from a combination of being sleep deprived and eating certain foods. And I also noticed that if I resisted it, if I saw it as an Other, it became a disturbance. It brought about a sense of discomfort, self-consciousness, rigidity, wanting to be on my own, concern about interacting with people, and so on.

If the resistance went away and I welcomed the spaciness as a friend, it took a very different form. Now, it became an invitation to be more free, receptive, flowing, comfortable, dissolving the sense of separate self, and seeing the magic in the world.

During the class, I had an opportunity to work on this further, and saw how it connected with my amnesia dream some weeks back, and many other things that has been coming up for me over the last few weeks and months – both in dreams and waking life.

It is just another reminder of how our lives is one single process (as apparent individuals, and also collectively and as the world of form as a whole). In this case, unfolding the process behind the spaciness touched upon a wide range of “symptoms” from recent months.

It all seems to have to do with (a) generally the difference between resistance (creating an Other and the appearance of a disturbance) and befriending (allowing it to share its gifts), and (b) specifically the gifts in spaciness – the space, freedom, flow, fluidity and nonlinearity of it.

Not surprisingly, working on this symptom of spaciness, my sense of being tired went away and alertness came in instead – still within the spaciness. There can be precision, functionality and linearity alongside with space, fluidity, flow, receptivity and nonlinearity. Right now, it seems that I am invited into bringing both more fully into my life – to explore how it is to live from the larger whole which holds both.

Harvesting the Nutrients

 

In any stressful experience, there is a gift – there are nutrients there, ready to nurture our life if we are available to them.

In my experience, if I just use a regular mindfulness practice – coming to my breath or the movements of the body when I notice getting caught up in a hangup – it works in the short term, giving me some relief and reminding me of who I would be without the story. But it also seems to miss something in the longer run. Until the nutrients are harvested, until the gift is received, it seems to just come up again – over and over. Something wants to be seen, and until it is – it will return.

I am sure there are innumerable very effective ways of harvesting these nutrients. Some that work for me are…

  • The Big Mind process
    Exploring in detail the dynamic behind what is happening, including the polarities (complementary/opposite) voices at a personal level and the transcendent voices.

  • Byron Katie’s inquiries
    Exploring in detail what the belief is behind the stress, what happens when I believe that thought, who I would be without it, and integrating projections and loosening up the belief through exploring the various turnarounds.

  • Process Work
    Allowing the process behind the symptom (in this case stress) to unfold, revealing its message and gift, and absorbing this.

  • Shikantaza (sitting practice)
    Allowing it all to unfold within awareness, living its own life as it does anyway. Allowing resistance to even resistance to fall away. Allowing even the fueling of thoughts to unfold within space as everything else.

  • Can I be with what I am experiencing? (daily life)
    Again, allowing it all to unfold within awareness, living its own life.

Psychology & Spirituality

 

No new insights here either, but it is interesting to see the natural convergence of psychology and spirituality. Of course, in Buddhism and other traditions there was never any split. But there has been a split in the western culture, for the last couple of hundred years, and this is now seen as not needed anymore.

One way of integrating is to acknowledge both realms as legitimate and using different techniques for each. Another is to use approaches which in themselves span both the realm of traditional psychology (the psyche, the body/psyche whole, the human self) and spirituality (transcendent).

The Big Mind process is a good example, allowing for untying knots on a personal level and becoming more familiar with the transcendent realm, all in one process. The Byron Katie inquiries is another, again untying knots at the personal realm, allowing the nature of mind to gradually be unveiled. And then there are forms of contemplative psychotherapy, and for instance the Raphael Cushnir approach of being with what is – getting out of the way for the knots to naturally untie themselves and reveal the nature of mind.

Ways of Being With Experiences

 

One of the common features of most (?) spiritual traditions is guidelines for how to be with experiences. Here are some I am aware of…

Zen

Allow experiences to come and go as guests. This shifts the center of gravity to the witness, and allows for deepening detachment and insight into the general processes and patterns of the content of mind.

Breema

See, accept and move on.

This allows for shifting the center of gravity to the witness, and release clutching of content.

Can I be with it?

A particularly elegant approach is that of Raphael Cushnir. Whenever there are strong experiences coming up, or any other time, ask yourself – can I be with what I am experiencing right now?

This also shifts the center of gravity to the witness (or at least expands it to include the witness), and it allows the processes of the content to unfold and unwind on their own.

Recognition yoga

This is from Waking Down and I don’t remember the steps here… But it is something along the lines of see it, feel it, become it, and live it (and something more I am sure).

Release to the divine

In our deeksha group, we use a process which is very similar to what came up spontaneously for me during the initial awakening. Fully feel it, and fully release it to the divine.

The difference between this approach and many others is the intention. In Zen, they rarely speak about intention. But here, intention is included to offer it to the divine, and allow the divine to take care of and resolve it.

My experience is that this is a remarkably effective process, and one that deepens with time.

Unfolding the process

Yet another approach is that of Process Work. Here, the immense wisdom in every process is acknowledged, and the profound gifts behind any experience – including or maybe especially the difficult ones, are recognized. Through following the bread crumbs, the process behind the symptom (which could be anything within the field of experience, including disturbing and difficult ones) is unraveled, leading to often surprising insights and gifts.

Dimensions

I am not familiar enough with all of these to say much of the various dimensions, or to compare the various approaches in terms of their strengths and weaknesses. Each of them seem to have its place, its own valuable contributions.

Some dimensions which come to mind…

  • Shifting center of gravity to the witness, or expanding it to include the witness.

    There is a subtle difference here, yet maybe important. The first encourages a slightly stronger sense of separation than the second.

  • Emphasizing the release from content, insight into the processes, and/or digging into the content.

    All of these emphasize a certain release from content – either in the present (most of them) or after a certain process (Waking Down, Process Work). Some emphasize insight into the processes and others don’t. Among those focusing on insight, some emphasize a more general insights into the patterns of the content (Zen), and others emphasize insight into the particular process arising in the present (Process Work).

  • No intention apart from the seeing of it, or intention of offering it (back) to the divine and have it more actively resolved.

    Zen is a good example of a tradition where the active use of intention is not much emphasized. The other end of the spectrum is the way we do it in our deeksha group, actively offering the processes to the divine – with the intention of allowing the divine to work on it, allowing it to unravel and find a resolution. Most are somewhere in between these two.

Breaking Down vs. Breaking Open

 

Whenever there is a strong experience, I have two (broad) choices.

I can choose to resist. Or I can be with it – or rather be it.

When I resist, there is suffering. If it goes on for too long, and/or is too strong, I can “break down”.

When I am the experience, there is a current of bliss. And I can allow the experience to open my heart and mind. I can break open. The separations between me and others break down – it opens my heart/mind for the experiences of others, and I see that we are all in the same boat. My own pain is a reminder of the pain that all humans experience. It opens for compassion through seeing myself in the other and the other in myself.