I had a process work session with Gary today, and I noticed how there was a sense of deep center and excitement.
The belly awakening, the endarkenment, gives a sense of a deep, rich, dark, silent earthiness and fullness everywhere, yet also centered in the belly.
And it allows whatever else to happen, including the more flighty and light excitement that comes when exploring some of these things in words and ideas, especially when talking with someone who shares the excitement about it.
In the past, there has always been the swing of a pendulum between excitement and “going up” and a sense “going down”. I went up, then down, as if to compensate for it, and the other way around.
This time, after the endarkenment and the dropping into alive luminosity, both are there simultaneously. Easily. Effortlessly.
There is the deep dark rich infinite ground. A womb holding it all. Deeply silent.
And there is the flights into excitement and ideas and conversation within this deep darkness and silence. The silent darkness is there as a context for it, and also there before and after.
A wonderful experience: finding that larger whole of light and dark, of head and belly, of ground of form and form, of yin and yang, feminine and masculine.
During the enlightenment, seeing all as Spirit, as awake emptiness and form, there was of course the seeing of forms as empty, of the ups and downs as empty luminosity. And there was a silence in the midst of it all. But this is different. This has a different depth and richness to it. It is a different dimension of being.
Since the endarkenment shift, and even more so since the dropping into alive luminosity this Sunday, the process of composting resistance has been doing itself in me.
Resistance comes up, and it composts itself within the fertile full darkness.
Resistance to what is, what is not, what may be, what was… In whatever form it comes up, as tension, fear, irritability, it gets composted. It crumbles in the dark soil. Becoming nutrients for something to flower.
The fertile blackness is infinite and everywhere, a ground of form, but it is also centered very much in the belly. There is a sense of fullness, richness, earthiness, allowing whatever arises to be composted within itself, as darkness. Becoming soil, nurturance.
As I described in a previous post, there has been yet another shift, this time into alive luminosity.
It happened during and after the diksha Sunday, and the codes for the three soul centers (visualizing and sounding Hebrew letters at the head, heart and belly, as well as above the head, much as they do it in Tibetan Buddhist practices with the form and sound of certain Tibetan letters.)
Right away, there was a sense of the alive luminosity, everywhere, infinite, and infinitely loving, intelligent, receptive, responsive and personal. It deepened somewhat during the evening, and when I went to bed, it came out more fully, very strongly present everywhere. There was an immense sense of bliss, and of gratitude.
I saw how this alive luminosity is here always and already, and can be communicated with. The words of Jesus, ask and you will be given, suddenly had a new meaning for me. I saw that this must be what I talked about, this immensely alive, loving, intelligent and receptive light, waiting for an invitation from us, a clear intention and a surrender, to transform us at any and all levels of our being.
The head awakening seems to open for seeing all as Spirit, as empty luminosity, as awake emptiness and form. And for me, this empty luminosity has always had a sense of intelligence, love and responsiveness to it, but it has been in the background.
The belly awakening seems to allow for a whole new dimension of this light to reveal itself. As immensely alive, loving, intelligent and responsive. Its emptiness is in the background and its aliveness in the foreground.
So it seems that two aspects of the one luminosity. When filtered through enlightenment, centered in the head, its empty aspect is in the foreground and its aliveness, love and intelligence in the background. When filtered through endarkenment, centered in the belly, its alive, loving, intelligent and responsive aspect is in the foreground, and its emptiness aspect in the background.
In both cases, it is infinite, and it is an aspect of the awake emptiness and form of everything.
I knew that there had to be something like this, even in the midst of the initial awakening, but had never dropped into it like this before. Whole new dimensions of being are opening up, and there is a deepening into it.
This is all written in a second person perspective, as I and Thou, because that is how it appears to me now. But it is of course all aspects of the One I, of Spirit absent of I anywhere and arising as all these forms of itself, exploring itself also through a sense of I and Thou.
During the end of the enlightenment phase, and the beginning of the dark night, we got a cat who was very open hearted. I called him Parzifal after the innocent young man who found the holy grail. Male. Seeking enlightenment. Transcendence.
A couple of years ago, at the end of the dark night and the beginning of the endarkenment phase (although I didn’t know that at the time), we got another cat. She is pitch black and very furry, and I named her Luna. The moon. Feminine. The fertile darkness.
Some of the things happening recently, especially the endarkenment, has brought me to revise my intention for this blog. It has always been mostly about my own process, and now more than ever it will be, it seems, at least for a while.
In the past, there has been some shoulds of wanting to include more integral contexts, linking to entries in other blogs, writing in a more coherent and clear way, writing in ways that may benefit others more – as that looks in my own ideas about it.
Now, I see that I have to abandon all of that. This is a journal of one little phase of one person/soul’s process, with all the quirks and uniqueness and universality of that. However it comes out is OK. I write for myself, as a record of what is happening. If it somehow benefits someone else, that is fine, if not, that is fine too.
Others do the integral blogging very well, far beyond what I can do (at least right now). Others do the linking to good entries very well, again far beyond what I can do right now.
I’ll just follow my own process, wherever it takes me, however quirky this blog becomes.
I am on a ferry crossing a large river in the mountains of Norway. The captain is the father of a Dutch friend of mine (Alexa) from the Zen center.
Michael J. Fox is there, and is a good friend of mine. He is very likable, friendly, just an ordinary down-to-earth guy. I ask him if he has always been that way, especially considering how well known and successful he is.
He laughs and says, no. Especially in the eighties, when he was very popular, he was more arrogant. Time has allowed his edges to be more rounded. Although he doesn’t say it in words, I also understand that his illness has allowed him to soften and become more ordinary.
I think the same has happened to me as to Michael Fox in the dream. I used to be far more arrogant, even as I saw it and tried to not express it. Now, there is more of a sense of roundedness, of just ordinariness. It is possible for unusual and even extraordinary things to happen, and still just be an ordinary friendly guy.
And difficult things in life, such as an illness or a dark night, invites this rounding and ordinariness to happen. They are not only a fall from grace, but also a fall into grace.
This dream happened in the morning following the dropping into alive luminosity. There is a sense of deepening into the ordinariness, through the endarkenment and alive luminosity.
A woman brings her dog to the veterinarian. Within a few minutes, it has become as intelligent as a human. It turns out that all animals, everywhere, are becoming as intelligent as humans, in a very short span of time, and in a very mature and healthy way.
This dream happened the same night as the dropping into alive luminosity. Since the endarkenment, there is a sense of emotions being reorganized within the context of everything as felt Spirit. And the alive luminosity seemed to allow this in an even deeper and more detailed way.
Animals, especially mammals, represent body and emotions, and the dream seems to tell me that these now become intelligent in a way they were not before, in a mature, balanced and healthy way.
This reflects my waking experience with the alive luminosity and endarkenment. It is almost as if the alive luminosity serves as a catalyst for the endarkenment, giving it an additional boost, specificity and aliveness.
Today was our second meeting for our diksha group this fall, and we did a diksha aimed at embracing polarities, and then a sounding and visualization of certain Hebrew letters at the center above the head, and in the three soul centers of head, heart and belly. The following posts describe some of what happened during and following this. (All written Tuesday, but this entry and the dreams dated to keep the chronology.)
I notice a contraction and a sense of I and Other, something to defend against or gain.
Then I ask what identity is coming up?
And how would it be without that identity?
This is of course a variation of (i) identifying the belief, (ii) noticing the effects of that belief, and (iii) exploring how it would be without the belief from The Work. It is a slightly different way of accessing the same.
Using it in real life
For instance, in the Breema class last night, I noticed a contraction while giving a sequence, and saw that the identity was of wanting to do “good Breema”. Without that identity, I was just there, allowing the movements to happen. No trying, no contraction.
And then the usual situation for me, sitting in a coffee shop before class reading, and noticing a tendency stirring of wanting it to be more quiet (espresso machines etc.) The identity there is of being someone who wants it to be quiet. Without that identity, there is just the field of everything happening. No resistance, no discomfort.
I mentioned this to Jen a couple of days ago, and she explored it with pain she experiences after having three wisdom teeth pulled. And the same thing. There is a contraction and sense of discomfort. The noticing of an identity of someone wanting to be free from pain. And the sense of ease and simplicity, and freedom from suffering, when that identity is relaxed and goes away.
Identity is resistance, which is discomfort
Identity is resistance is suffering. Noticing this identity allows it to relax. And the field to arise as it is, filtered less through a sense of a center, of I and Other, and the sense of resistance and discomfort that comes with it.
And yes, it can (will?) bring up fear and even terror. What is happening? How can I function without a sense of a center, sense of I and Other, and my familiar identity? What will happen? Who or what am I without this? I am nothing, and everything arising.
It is a whole new territory. A whole new way of functioning. Yet also, strangely familiar. It is what already and always is. Nothing has really changed, apart from the relaxation of a sense of center and holding onto a particular identity.
I am in a different culture, and must have moved there since I have all my belongings with me. A kind of festival is coming up, and I am encouraged to contribute to a kind of display. I offer them all I have, including my most personal belongings such as letter, photos, journals, and so on.
To my astonishment, a horde of people show up and take everything. Nothing is left. I tell one of the people in charge that there is a mistake, I would never have contributed all I have, including my most personal belongings, if I had known they would all be lost to me.
She said I had to follow the rules of the game. It turned out later that the ceremony was a way for people to get rid of their excess belongings, to declutter. I felt a mix of terror of having lost everything, any anchor I ever had in the physical world, and also, more distant, a sense that it could be exiting and freeing when I got used to it. Everything would be open. No anchors.
The day residue is from an old Star Trek episode I watched last night, Amok Time (!), where Kirk makes a similar mistake by agreeing to take part in a ritual from a culture foreign to him, and finds that he is getting more than he thought he agreed to.
The experience in the dream is similar to two real-life situations for me.
Identities falling away
One is what happens when there is no identity, as I have explored more over the last few days. Our identity, or identities, is our most intimate and cherished belonging, in a certain way. There is a sense of I, and then all the ways we clothe it up and define it through a set of beliefs, through an identity.
Our identity, especially the most intimate parts of it, gives a sense of security, buffering, familiarity, a point of view, a particular perspective, an anchor. And when we start to explore this identity, and parts of it starts falling away, there is a point of no return.
There is a place where the process cannot be stopped, where it continues all the way, until the last element of an identity falls away and nothing is left, except wide open space. Just awake emptiness and form, allowing any and all perspectives to be taken and explored, fluidly, without getting stuck anywhere.
It looks fine for a while. I can get rid of the clutter in my identity, those parts I didn’t care much for anyway. The excess parts. It feels good. But then, there is a point where the more cherished parts of the identity is questioned, where they too are taken up in the process, where they too start to unravel. And that does not always feel so good. This is where terror comes in, a sense of a terrible mistake being made. But it is too late.
The other similarity is the dark night phase, where there was a similar experience of all my cherished belongings being taken away.
Of course, those two, the eroding of identity and a dark night, are not that different from each other. They are two ways of looking at the same process. One of letting go to how we see ourselves, how we define ourselves, our identity, all the way to the core of it.
I went to a coffee shop this morning for breakfast, and had lots of opportunity exploring the dynamics of the field, as I wrote about in the previous posts. I also see how the words are probably very similar to what I have written in the past, but as it arises in the present, the experience of it is of being completely fresh and new. (From the inside perspective, it is fresh and new, for others who may read it, just the same old 🙂 )
Another thing I explored…
The field (a) filters itself through a sense of I and Other, and with this, there is (b) a sense of something, more specifically an exclusive identity, to protect and defend. There is a belief in the idea of a separate I, and an elaborate and exclusive identity of this I. (c) When something arises that is outside of this identity, defense kicks in – either passively waiting to be engaged, or actively. (d) Along with the impulse to defend comes a set of sensations. (e) A story or set of stories are added to these sensations, interpreting them (as tension, contraction, anger, fear) and the wider situation (he is…). (f) These stories reinforce the sensations, make them seem more solid and stable, they reinforce the initial story of I and Other, and they reinforce the exclusive identity and of having to defend this identity against something else arising in the field.
So there are several reinforcing cycles here. The first between the sense of I and Other, and the trigger and reaction (the situation may be interpreted to justify the reaction, reinforcing the sense of I and Other, and of something to defend). And then also between the consequences of the reaction and the trigger (he did… so I get angry, uncomfortable, afraid), and the sense of I and Other (he did… so I…).
It is the job of the mind to make our beliefs seem real, and it does the job well. But it also means that when we see through it, even at one point of this chain of events, it all tends to unravel. And as we allow it to unravel, over and over, the habitual patterns gradually change.
It seems that practices do themselves in me, more than the other way around. Both are of course important and there is an interplay between the two, but now, the practices that do themselves in me are definitely in the foreground.
One of the practices that do themselves is an exploration of what is taken as an “I”. I notice sensations, thoughts, and so on, and then also the idea of “I” which is placed on a particular sensation, one that is more stable and typically in the neck/head area (which one seems to change over time.)
It is as if there is a cardboard cut-out there representing “I”, a subject, the seer and doer, and it is anchored onto a relatively stable sensation. Most of the time it is in the background, just giving a reassuring sense of having an anchor for a point of view, a perspective, and giving a familiar sense of “I” here.
When attention is brought to it, it is clearly revealed as just this cardboard cut-out placed on a sensation. And then I notice how another cardboard cutout is placed further up and back in space, creating the sense of an observer of this. Pretty interesting.
It seems that there wants to be a sense of “I” here, and even when it is noticed, it recreates itself in a slightly different form, placing itself even a little further into the background, hidden among the stage props further back on the stage.
So even when it seems obvious that there is no “I” here, when it is seen that the idea of I is just as a cardboard cutout placed on top of sensations, and these sensations are finite in time and space, arising within wakeful emptiness, even then, there is a vague sense of I here floating around. Seen, then recreating itself somewhere else. Anything for a sense of an anchor, stability, a point of view, a perspective, I guess, even if it is not really there.
The voice of embarrassment is often activated here, when I take time to write something down (in what is more an online journal than a blog.) It seems that it is the same themes and topics coming up, over and over, the rants of a monomaniac. (And often written in a fragmented way as well, without making many connections, without going much in depth.) But that is what wants to come out now. It is what comes up, is alive, where the interest is drawn.
The stream of form is always changing, and this is what the stream is made up of right now, for a while. In the past there has been an equal interest in art, photography, conventional psychology, Jung, systems theories, and much more. Whenever I feel like a rambling monomaniac, it helps to remember that it is always changing, this too will pass, so why not make the most out of it now.
Michael Palin and his crew have finished up the Sahara series for BBC. Everything is wrapped up, complete, resolved. I asked a question that probes a little deeper, and it is revealed that it is all made of rosewood: Michael Palin, the crew, Sahara, the TV series, everything. I remember that rosewood is considered among the best woods, highly priced for its fragrance, figures and hardness.
Well, this is one of those dreams that feel embarrassingly literal and simplistic. Maybe it is the only way the Dream maker can get things through to me…
I read Tao Te Ching the day before, where there is a segment on how everything is cut out of one block of wood, and the wise person knows how to work with anything that is cut out (the myriad forms) but never forgets the block (Tao, Big Mind). And I also watched the last episodes of Sahara just before going to bed. I guess the dream maker (the part of me, of Existence, that produces these dreams) thought it would be neat to put the two together to drive home the point.
The interesting parts of the dream are (a) that it is all wrapped up on a conventional, everyday level, (b) yet a deeper question reveals a whole new layer, a new dimension to it. It is not entirely as it appeared. And (c) that there seemed to be someone revealing that it is all made out of rosewood, some natives, people in touch with the simpler and more profound truths of life.
I am absorbed into the womb of a black woman, all of me. She is a cosmic woman, the dark ground of the universe with stars and galaxies swirling through her. She is a dark, immense, quiet, fertile ground. Then, a shift. I am again outside, every part of me cut up, over and over, and fed to her womb. I am sliced in every direction, and every piece is fed to her womb. Composting, crumbling, revealed as dark, fertile soil.
I woke up at 3am, and this dream came as I fell asleep again. I was awake, yet the dream happened on its own. A waking dream. The woman is the fertile darkness, ground of form, allowing everything in me to compost into dark, fertile soil After this dream, I stayed with it for a while allowing anything coming up to be composted in the darkness – sensations, memories.
It is difficult to find the right words to describe it, probably because it is still new for me, but something is definitely happening. There is a sense of lots of stuff coming up, parading through awareness, and embraced by the fertile darkness, and this happens both during the night in dreams and during the day. There is a sense of it being composted in a deepening way, made into a rich dark fertile soil. Sensations, memories, reactivity, fear, apprehension, sense of separation, sense of loss, failure, franticness, you name it. It all parades through, one after another, and there is a feeling into it, an welcoming from the fertile darkness, allowing it to compost into dark crumbly fertile soil.
I also notice how the “feeling into” can happen because there is a relatively open space for it, a degree of disidentification with whatever comes through, a being with it, a relative relaxation of the drama. (It seems that some of my practices has helped set the stage for this space.)
I am with Ken Wilber at his office, and he mentions that he has seen my blog and is going to write some responses to what I have written. He informs me, in a genuinely friendly way, that there is much he does not quite agree with. I can see clearly how what I have written is from confusion and lack of maturity, and how it may appear from his vantage point.
After a while, he detects some emotional patterns in me and breaks off from his writing to help me work through it. He asks me to look at things I have never looked at before, and in ways I have not even heard about, and even less considered or worked with.
He is coming from a whole other level or refinement, insight and maturity than what I am even aware of is possible.
Eventually, it is time for me to leave and he shows me out the door. It is up a steep staircase, and just an opening in the ceiling. He shows me how to get out the door, which requires much acrobatics and strengths, and has to be done in several phases. I follow after him, with much difficulty and work, but I do get out eventually.
Well, this is a wiser part of me showing that I need to deflate my inflation through seeing myself more accurately (just as what I wrote an entry about a couple of days ago.)
The whole dream was a very humbling experience, but it also felt good because I know it is true. I need to be cut down to size. I need to see myself more accurately, be more transparent with myself and others, more honest, more genuinely humble through more accurately seeing myself.
As I wrote up the dream, I also realized that my exit points to the possibility of this. The exit was at the top of a long and steep staircase, as an opening in the ceiling, and I could get through it with effort, stepwise, and guided by someone who has gone before me and intimately knows the path, having explored back and forth several times.
Here is a simple experiment that comes out of The Work and other similar forms of self-inquiry:
Whenever I notice a contraction, I ask myself who would I be without the story?
A few things that seem helpful…
Seeing it as an experiment, a game, or even role-playing
Allowing myself to do it for only a short period of time, maybe just a minute or two, and then go back to the familiar old patterns
Repeat now and then
Do it in daily situations, real-time
Allowing any longer-term shifts to happen on their own
Using a role-model, imagining somebody who function well and do not seem to have that particular story. How would it be if that was the case for me?
Seeing the familiar symptoms of attachment to a story as an invitation to experiment (the symptoms include a sense of contraction, a stuckness in a particular position, a sense of separation, a sense of I and Other, sense of being right, sense of urgency, a sense of conflict or drama.)
This is an experiment that comes directly out of The Work and other similar forms of self-inquiry:
Who am I without … the story, these judgments, reactions, positions?
Say I easily am bothered by noise (as is sometimes the case for me), then I can ask myself, who would I be if I couldn’t have that reaction? How would it be if I am not bothered by noise at all? If I actually enjoy it?
I can take it as an experiment, a game, an exploration, even as role playing. If I, just for a minute, was not at all bothered by noise, how would that be?
If I think I have to let go of it forever, I may hesitate even tasting it. But if I see it as a short-term experiment, as a game, I may try it more whole-heartedly, just for a minute or two. Just to taste it.
And in tasting it, I may find that it is actually enjoyable, freeing, and I can still function as well as before, if not better. I try it on for size, and may find that it fits me even better than the old outfit, the old identity, the old patterns.
This is another of the many practices that can be seamlessly applied throughout our daily life.
I notice a contraction come up. I notice what the contraction seem to be about. I play a game for a short while, trying out how it would be without the contraction, without the judgments, without the usual identity.
I may even imagine somebody I know who do not seem to have these patterns, and function very well without them, and see how that would be for me – right here and now.
For me, I see that if I aim at trying the experiment for just a minute or two, and (this seems important) give myself full and honest permission to go back to the old patterns, it seems to work quite well. In most cases, I am able to shift and have a taste of how it would be without the story. And so I don’t push it too far, or try to trick myself, I allow myself fully to go back into the familiar patterns, also so I can see the contrast more clearly.
Then I leave it, and may find that I naturally gravitate towards the more spacious and new way of being, without clinging so much to the old story. It is more pleasant, and nothing is really lost, so why not?
I am sometimes bothered by (what I perceive as) frantic behavior in others, especially when I can’t seem to easily get away from it. I know of course that it is a projection, that I am not fully comfortable with this frantic and fragmented quality in my own life, but this too is something that has to be known in more detail and felt more fully for it to resolve. Sometimes, especially with long standing patterns, it has to be explored over and over, in many different ways, until I can more fully own it, more fully see it as me, more fully find peace with it in myself and others.
This afternoon, I was exposed to this frantic, fragmented energy in somebody again, and decided to try a mini-Process Work session with it (on my own, alone). I went into the frantic quality, and allowed it into movement. My feet started running in place, my head went down and out leading the body, my arms went around in circles like crazy. It felt good to be the quality, although I could also see how it is very fragmented and divorced from any real body-connection and Being Participation (the whole being included).
What caught my interest was especially the frantic and small circling arm movements, almost as a parody of somebody running in a contracted way and very fast. I allowed myself to amplify that movement, and it quickly released into larger circling movements, until the movements became very large, open and inclusive. There was a sense of celebration instead of contraction, and of embracing the whole of heaven and earth.
So hidden within the frantic, contracted state is an impulse to open up, to relax, to bring in my whole being, to embrace heaven and earth.
From this new perspective, I could see how small I make myself when I go into the contracted state, and how unnecessary it seems. There is another way of relating with this frantic energy, and that is to bring in Being Participation (as they say in Breema), to embrace it all and not contract my identity down to the little frantic fragment.
I can see the frantic quality and the contraction in others and myself, and use it as a reminder to find Being Participation. To notice it is already here.
In exploring the sense of I, I notice how there is often just one little anchor there, one last refuge for the sense of I.
There may be a sense of all content as God’s will, as happening on its own. And at the same time, there is still a belief in the idea of I, now placed on an imaginary observer of this stream of form.
When I explore this, I notice that there this sense of I is often placed on some sensations in the head area, and that is all. As if these sensations were the subject…! They too arise among the forms, just as any other form, within time and space, coming and going.
So it gets multi layered. There is a genuine experience of the stream of form as God’s will and happening on its own, absent of I. At the same time, there is still an attachment to the idea of I as a segment of all of this, now placed on a very limited set of sensations in the head area.
Together, there is the familiar sense of Self, as the Ground of seeing-seen, and self, as an observer somehow set apart from this, hidden away, placed on some sensations as a last anchor.
All that is needed is to notice this, to allow it to be seen. And then there may be one other anchor, and maybe another, and maybe another, until it all unravels.
Here are the energy sketches I have posted in the past, each one reflecting either what is really going on energetically (don’t know since I don’t have anyone apart from myself to check it) or at least what is going on psychologically.
This one is from some years back, towards the end of the initial awakening (started in my teens and lasted for about ten years.) It reflects the intensity of that period, and the head centered awakening of emptiness and luminosity. Everything, including the physical body, was experienced as emptiness and luminosity during this phase. There is also a circle around the body (a mandorla), which may reflect the intensity of the reorganization of my human self that took place during that time. It may also reflect a remaining sense of I at some levels (not that mandorlas necessarily or even typically reflect that, that is just my sense in this particular case.)
What strikes me the most, looking at it now, is the burning intensity here. I was on fire during this period, in every way. Very ambitious, engaged in a large number of passions, even the nights were intense – with an experience of intense reorganization and work on my human self. I didn’t know how to turn it off (and then it happened on its own, during the following dark night phase.)
Here is another one from the same time. Notice how the above/below is relatively symmetrical and uniform, with with some indications of roots going down (but also up).
I didn’t do any drawings at all during the dark night phase, which happened a couple of years later. (Or any spiritual practices at all, apart from community engagement.)
This one is from six months ago, at the tail end of the dark night phase (which lasted for some years and is still not quite over), and a little more than half a year into the diksha process. There is still an above/below symmetry, reflecting a head centered awakening of emptiness and luminosity. There are also roots going down, but they seem a little precarious to me now.
This is from last week, after the enlovenment diksha and just before a conscious awareness of the shift into endarkenment and early belly awakening. There is much more above/below differentiation, and more fluid fullness and richness below. There is still the reflections of the head centered awakening above, emptiness and luminosity. And there is also a sphere over the head, which I remember from drawings I made while still in Norway which I don’t have here (some years before the initial one posted above). The sphere in this one is more expanded and alive compared to the small one six months earlier.
This is one or two days after the conscious shift into endarkenment, with above/below differentiation and more spheres above the head, probably representing chakras/energy centers outside of the physical body. (The yellow and red around the body is a little more muddy than seems right.)
And this one, one or two days after the colorful one. Simple, with clear above/below differentiation. Below, I see that in the drawing from six months ago, there are roots. The ones immediately after the endarkenment diksha have smooth flowing lines and roots. And this one has only the smooth flowing lines.
I did another endarkenment session, this time with Karen. Here are her notes from the session:
Coming into the session with:
1) Regrets about the past phase of the dark night
2) desire to receive an endarkenment deeksha
Seeing the polarity between the way I used to function and how the Endarkenment (hereafter ED) invites me to function. The old way is from the head; the new is from the belly.
(( ED deeksha ))
I’m seeing that shadow work opened the door to this place. (We discuss the way shadow work is a part of this space, but not the whole story.)
In the session with Barry, I went into deep space, a black hole. Since then, the energy is moving from the belly down into the hips — they have begun to feel really big.
There’s a hardness in the chest and head — like metal. It’s softening into the black space now. It drifted into a star and got absorbed. The star is coming into the belly; now it’s moving down into the legs and feet. Now I’m inside the star, changing sizes.
The neck area feels narrow and stringy, not full and moist. The blackness and the sun are working together there. The sun is opening up areas; then the blackness fills them. Now it’s doing something in the ears, head and brain, and the nervous system. The sun is more liquid now, going down into the feet and legs and back up again, into the arms, like a river. Now it’s softening all through the body, that field of blackness and light, all together.
In the belly area, a door is opening, inviting in and absorbing the darkness into the body. There’s room for a lot more.
My skin is expanding like a balloon. It popped in that field of darkness.
Where it started with that hardness re: the housemate, it’s very different now, more spacious. The way through will emerge out of the darkness.
As I walked around in the ED Friday and Saturday, I found there is nothing it cannot embrace.
Now I’m aware of the throat and voice — metallic tubes are there. As I felt into it, the tubes expanded and softened. Images come — a long tube going down into the earth, and dark matter coming up through it into the throat.
(Karen mentions that the metal element in Chinese medicine might be interesting to investigate, and that excess metal is often characterized by perfectionism. Per reveals that his constitutional element is fire, with metal second, and that many practitioners first assume he is a metal type. )
A discomfort comes up around metal. I like to read about the other types, but don’t want to read about metal.
My whole body became a metal robot, but still within the darkness. Moving around is very difficult as a robot.
Now all the metal fell to the ground. A part wants to make the metal into soil but can’t. The sun came back and melted the metal back into liquid.
The sun is encompassing the whole body now, and allowing all the metal to melt. It’s a stream of liquid metal now, in the nervous system, going through the darkness.
Amazing — three years ago, in a dream, I could see this on the outside, not knowing what it was about, yet knowing it could happen for me on the inside — and now it is!
I got into Breema around then, and that set the stage for this. Breema is all about the hara center, the belly, the body. Breema has been about experiencing light in the belly; now that is there with this liquid light. Amazing how different the two are.
The darkness is really filling up the legs now.
Now the old experience of the light is shrinking into a golden ball in the belly and melted into the stream of liquid light. The rest of it went into the heart and did the same thing there. The old light is floating around outside my body, and doesn’t know what to do.
Most of it went into my hands now. Into the belly, heart, and hands.
I’m experiencing the fullness. The whole body now is rich, dark, and loamy with that liquid metal light. The light is earthy now.
(Karen mentions that Barry has experienced the “dark light”)
(Per relates that when he was a kid, he had a velvet painting of a black panther on the wall above his bed.) Around age 8 or 10, I had a dream, and in the dream, the black panther was the best friend, the deepest connection with any being I’ve ever experienced. The eyes in the painting were very bright.
All the light areas in the painting went into the light, and all the dark areas went into the dark.
Everything wants to get integrated now.
As a kid, I had memories of what it was like before I was born. The emotions are now overwhelming. Such light and fullness, an incredible sense of belonging. It comes into the body through the feet — oh, that’s beautiful!
At the time of my initial awakening, there was a huge amount of intensity, and it was traumatic and difficult because it was so intense. That wants to be integrated, too.
Oh, wow — that whole time in my life all went into the belly and was embraced by the darkness, along with a whole bunch of other things from childhood.
Something in the chest wants to be included.
My whole life is embraced now. The whole timeline from before birth up until that dark night during the time I lived at the Zen Center in SLC.
Now it’s back to my birth. I don’t think I wanted to be born, especially after that pre-birth experience.
The point of conception is included also, now — a golden point popped, then golden rains fell down.
White pearls are on top of the head, coated with darkness. There’s a golden sun in the belly, inside the dark. The pearl is being stretched, and becomes a stream of white light going down the legs, out through the feet, then envelops me. Wow — it turned into a big lotus blossom atop the head, as in the Tibetan practices I used to do.
A dark blue Buddha appeared there — similar in color to the Medicine Buddha, like the one in the picture Jen put on the altar.
That lotus is very vivid, strong, and clear, like I could touch it. The moon is inside the lotus. I guess it just wants to hang around the rest of the day.
The Buddha is smiling form ear to ear — it’s one big smile!
There was a little thought that something else needs to happen. The Buddha took it and ate it. He’s telling me that anything that’s difficult for me, he can take it and eat it. His hands are out. He’s gobbling down the question about what to do next in my life, then the troubles of everybody in the world, the whole universe.
Now I want to do more Tibetan practices. (Karen: it seems they are doing themselves in you…) Before, I went too far into light and emptiness and stopped.
(Karen: You can go into the ED and allow whatever practices to take place there…)
The Buddha is becoming darker — becoming that rich soil. In Tibetan practice, Buddhas become light and are absorbed into the heart. Now he’s becoming soil and being absorbed into my body.
Worry came up that I can’t do this without Barry or Karen, on my own, and the buddha grabbed it and ate it.
Some additional things about the fertile darkness…
I have been looking some for (written) sources on this fertile darkness, but haven’t found much yet.
The 5th century mystic that goes by the name of Dionysius the Areopagite writes about Divine Darkness, for instance in the first chapter of his Mystical Theology, and explains that this divine darkness is an Unknowing. But from what I have read from him so far, it is difficult to say whether he talks about the yang or the yin ground…
Yang and yin grounds?
In the yang form of emptiness, emptiness and luminosity, there is an unknowing. And it is possible to metaphorically call this a “darkness” since the “light of cognition” does not touch it. It is the absence of knowing in any conventional form – as ideas, thoughts and so on, that we find when we notice pure awareness (pure witness consciousness) or the emptiness that all form and content unfolds within and as. It is the Unknowing in pure seeing, or as the Ground of seeing and seen – that which ideas and any other forms arise within and as.
At the same time, in the yin form of emptiness, the fertile darkness, there is also an unknowing. This too is a ground distinct from any conventional knowing. There is the fertile darkness, empty of form (apart from its blackness), pure potentiality, allowing anything to emerge in form. It is quite distinct from the yang emptiness, yet also empty in a very similar way. And it is directly experienced as full blackness, no clever metaphors there.
Where the yang ground seems to be empty fullness, full of the world of form as emptiness, this yin ground seems to be full emptiness, with an emphasis on its richness and fertility. In the yang version, emptiness is in the foreground, in the yin version, fullness is in the foreground. In the yang version, there is a definite sense of empty luminosity, in the yin version, a definite sense of full blackness.
They are both present, including right now, and seem to be mirror images of each other.
All this is of course from my very limited experience and is completely up for revision. I haven’t found much about this anywhere, and the little I have found, such as in the writings of Dionysius, leaves it open whether he is talking about the yang or the yin ground, whether the term darkness is used more as an intellectual metaphor (yang ground) or comes from an immediate experience of blackness (yin ground).
Adyashanti and the three centers
When I went to an afternoon workshop with Adyashanti a couple of weeks ago, he mentioned briefly the three centers of awakening, in his own experience: belly, heart and head. He didn’t say much about it, but I was intrigued as I have a taste of the head and heart awakenings, but did not know from personal experience (at least not that I know of) what the belly awakening is about. But now it seems that I do, from this taste of endarkenment, clearly centered in the belly, and appearing as fertile blackness, as a full emptiness, enveloping (and ground of?) all form.
Enveloping whatever arises and a jump start
As the other days (and nights) since this shift, I saw again today how something arises, and is then enveloped by and melts into the fertile darkness. A judgment arises, the fertile darkness envelops it, and it softens, melts and unravels. A contraction arises, this too melting into and enveloped by the fertile darkness. A little invitation is all that is needed for this fertile darkness to envelop whatever arises.
Towards the end of the day, I spent some time at Powell’s bookstore in Portland and read in some books on Christian mysticism. I noticed how I got into the yang mode, and the still new yin mode fell into the background and appeared lost for a while. As I have noticed earlier, this fertile darkness cannot be directed, and I was not able to nudge it back either. I asked Jen for help, and as she is in contact with this fertile darkness in herself, she allowed it to expand and envelop me, which actually did bring it back for me (to my surprise.)
Again, there is the fertile darkness, clearly centered in the belly region, clearly more in the form of consciousness than energy, and enveloping anything arising, allowing it to soften and melt, and knots to unravel.
This is an early awakening of it, one that will most likely unfold, mature, deepen and integrate over time.
Anything arising enveloped by the fertile darkness
The fertile darkness allows whatever arises to be enveloped, held, embraced by itself, the full, soft, velvety darkness.
Anything can be enveloped, including any thoughts, judgments, emotions, fears, sense of contraction, any outer and inner situations. It is all held within and as the velvety blackness.
A contraction comes up, embraced by the blackness, and there is just a sense of soft rich fullness allowing the contraction to soften and unravel as well. I notice my voice being a little stringy, allow it to be enveloped by the darkness, and it deepens and softens.
Changing perception of the physical belly and hip area
I walked around downtown today, and noticed how I perceived my belly and hip area differently – as much larger and somewhat unfamiliar. It took a while to realize that it is connected with the belly awakening and the fertile darkness.
Not directing but allowing to envelop
I gave Jen an Endarkenment diksha this afternoon, to become more familiar with it. It is clear that while the clear light and luminosity can be directed through in healing and energy transfers, the fertile blackness cannot in any way be directed. All I could do was just notice it in myself, especially in the belly area, and allowing it to envelop myself and her. She said she noticed a clear shift, and also a bubbling sensation in her abdomen rising up the body.
Consciousness realm, not energies
It also seems that the Endarkenment, the fertile blackness, is different from the energy system and the chakras.
In hara work (martial arts, Breema, Zen) the second and third chakras are activated, and there is often a sense of warmth, heat, tingling and so on. And it is certainly possible to work with and direct this energy.
The fertile darkness belly awakening seems very different. It is much more in the consciousness realm than the energy realm. It is probably connected with the energetics of the hara (in my case, my hara has been radiant with energy since the fertile darkness awakening), but it is quite different as well.
Fertile blackness as an immediate experience
The fertile blackness is not a clever metaphor, it is a direct experience of a full, velvety blackness as ground, a womb, enveloping and being source of the body and form in general.
As Jen said after receiving the Endarkenment diksha this afternoon, it is smooth, full, rich and black, almost like a rich dark creamy chocolate, and no less delicious.
In that sense, it is related to an energetic fullness of the hara, which also tends to be experienced as a rich, delicious fullness (as in Breema), but it is still very different.
Coexisting with luminosity
This rich, smooth fertile blackness coexists with luminosity, with the empty golden light. It is almost as if they are the yin and yang grounds. There is the luminous yang Ground of form, and the dark rich black yin ground of form. The yin and yang of a fertile void, the deeply silent potentiality that form arises from, within and as.
(That is just how it seems for now.)
From noticing fullness to void?
There may also be a shift here from noticing the fullness of the fertile blackness, to noticing the empty void of the blackness.
This is what came out after the endarkenment shift…
In these drawings, there used to be a circle around the body. The diagonal lines above continued below, creating a symmetry above and below. And the colors were mostly golden and light. All reflecting more of the head/enlightenment awakening. Of the circles above the head, only the first were strongly there, and the others absent or smaller.
Now, there is no circle around the body. There is clearly more differentiation above and below. The colors are more differentiated and stronger. And the circles above the head more emphasized and full.
Here is what Barry wrote about the session, with comments from me in brackets.
P came for a session feeling there was more to what he was doing with feelings which was witnessing them and watching them pass from the enlightened or emptiness state. He also was still feeling some remorse from his “fall from grace” or descent back into more normal consciousness after his enlightenment experience.
[I have been sensing that there was a need for a shift in how I relate to what comes up and wants to be seen, beyond just witnessing. What I realized was missing was to feel into it (which I have in the past, but I got more stuck in just the witnessing lately. And although the despair about the fall from grace has been resolved quite a bit, there is still something left. There was a sense of not seeing something important about it.]
We went into a feeling within, and a black hole opened up within him.
[I saw my life before the fall from grace as golden, and the fall from grace period as blackness. I felt into the blackness, and was surprised that it was a comforting, velvety blackness, peaceful, and full. At some point, an image of a black hole (the astronomy type) came up, and also of being drawn into it – first my feet and legs and then the rest of me, being spaghettified as they say in astronomy circles.]
He was both drawn to and afraid of the black hole and the dark light. It feel very peaceful and soft and velvety, and he was very drawn to this. As he went toward the black hole he came into a large knot of fear. A fear of dissolving and becoming nothing.
[My body was slowly being absorbed into the black hole, and there was no way to resist it. At the same time, there was a fear of letting go – especially of allowing the chest and head area to be drawn into the black hole. There was a fear of disintegration, of not having any identity, and of becoming nothing.]
I asked him to simply be with the fear and thoughts and simply hold them in the inner space. As he held the fear it began to dissolve and he continued closer into the black hole. More fear arose and passed and as it did, he began to experience ripples of joy which became more and more intense. It got so intense he didn’t know if he could take it.
[There was so much joy coming up that I felt I couldn’t stand it…!]
Then more fear arose. He went halfway into the black hole, so that part of his body was in and part of it was out. More fear of dissolution, then full surrender and he was in the black hole. Then he had a major realization that his body was one with everything, that at a manifest level he was one with all that is.
[With Barry’s encouragement, I was able to allow the velvety blackness to hold the fear, which made it OK and I was able to fully go into the black hole.]
Sitting in the black hole little knots began to pop up. Consciousness would travel around the body, embracing each knot in the blackness. As this occurred the knot would dissolve. He saw that each of the knots was a knot of judgment or separation, hardness.
[I saw how the hardness of judgment and a sense of separation was not compatible with the velvety blackness. It was too hard. To contracted. And I also saw how my voice had some of this hardness in it, and would have to change within the velvety blackness.]
Then the knots began to unfold into golden light. He was all golden light from the heart up and black light from the heart down. Then it reversed, and he was all golden light in the lower part of the body, and black light in the upper. Then his right arm turned gold and the rest of his body black, then this too reversed.
[I had held my abdomen area with my left hand up until this point, and then shifted to using my right hand. That is when I noticed how the velvety blackness was in my whole body except my right arm, which was golden light. After a little while, the blackness went into the right arm, and the golden light streamed through the arm and then out through the rest of the body.]
He then remembered an image that his wife Jennifer put up on the refrigerator of a blackness void and the sun rising above it.
[I looked up and saw this Rumi card, black with streams of golden light swirling through it and a golden sunrise. I realized that it was the perfect image of what was going on for me right then, and that Jen had put it up and that she was my teacher in all of this. It was amazing.]
He was blown away, as he realized she got it also. She too was at the enlovenment diksha.
[Jen got the Enlovenment diksha right away, more than I did. I was puzzled by it, she just dropped into it. The night before this phone session, I had asked her to give me an Enlovenment diksha so I could experience it more fully and learn more about it. She did, holding my heart area, and we both experienced it strongly.]
He became aware that he had been reading about the darkness and knew mystics talked about it, but now he was beginning to understand. I found myself saying he had experienced the enlightenment and now he was becoming endarkened. He broke into joyous laughter of acknowledgment. He realized that Jennifer had been in the endarkenment all along and began to again laugh with joy and gratitude.
[It was pretty funny to go from the Enlightenment to the Endarkenment, and seeing that there is a larger whole holding and embracing the two. Even in the midst of the Enlightenment, I knew there was more. I somehow knew there was this too, but didn’t know what it was at the time. Only that it had to do with far deeper, fuller and richer maturing and embodiment.]
There was a discussion about the three soul centers and how enlightenment is the head, enlovenment in the heart, and endarkenment in the hara. He could see he was moving into totally new territory, more than a new dimension of experience. A whole new dimension of being.
[This is a whole new territory for me, although there was a small intuition about it much earlier – without knowing what it was. Everything has to change now, within this velvety darkness. Everything changes.]
P was very grateful and commented on how he felt Karen and Barry were different than other teachers he had in the past. He saw that they were him, one the same. I told him that was the most joyful thing I had heard recently, and thanked him very much.
[I realize that with any teacher I have had, no matter how much I appreciate them and love them, they have still remained just teachers and/or friends, there has always been a sense of distance. In Barry and Karen, I see Source. I see right into Source and back to myself.]
P went off in the experience on his own, knowing it went on and on into a whole new dimension of being. I commented that he should take J out to dinner and to thank here for being his endarkenment master for so long, and what a tough job it was, just like it was for Karen with me.
[I am amazed that Jen has put up with me for so long. I can also see that I have helped her along towards Enlightenment. There has been some huge shifts for her there over the last couple of years. And how she has helped me along towards Endarkenment. There is a beautiful and amazing symmetry there. Perfection.]
I went out in the living room and thanked Karen again and acknowledged her realization of a Master of Endarkenment, realizing how this may very well be the essential new frontier of awakening on this planet.
[It is certainly a new frontier for me, in this lifetime. Although somehow, it seems familiar at a deeper level. And it may well be a part of shifts in the collective as well. I don’t know.]
[Notes later in the day: Having been with this for a few more hours, it still seems to be a significant shift – along with many other previous ones. And as the empty light dropping into the body, this one of black fullness dropping into the body seems stable. I also see that this is most likely a taste of what mystics from many traditions talk about. There may not be anything new here, although the way it is expressed and unfolds is always new, it is individual and colored by the times and culture it happens within. I also realize that this process is pretty slow for me compared to how it is for many others. I have heard and read about this for a while, but not even tasted it until now. Which is OK of course. It all runs its own course, in its own way, at its own pace.]
Jen and I went to our diksha group last Sunday, the one that started last fall and has met monthly since. Barry and Karen mentioned how it has shifted for them, and it is more an Enlovenment process now rather than Enlightenment. Enlovenment, centered in the heart, connected with the Christ energy/consciousness, and embracing the Enlightenment centered in the head and the Endarkenment centered in the belly.
Initial diksha: empty light
After my first diksha last July, there was a sense of empty light falling into my body, followed by a shift into the pure Witness consciousness, a strong and shifting headache for several days, and then a shift into realized selflessness, Ground awakening, which lasted for a couple of months. After this, and as part of the process with our monthly diksha group, there was several months of processing things coming up – mostly just witnessing, feeling into and allowing it to unfold. And then some months where everything was experienced as space, all dials went to zero, and everything went to neutral.
Enlovenment and phone session
During the Enlovenment gathering this weekend, a very similar headache came up, and came and went for a few days. There was also a sense of dark fullness in the chest area, a very unfamiliar sense while knowing it was part of the next phase for me.
This morning, I did a session with Barry over the phone, and it was amazing.
I wanted to work with my dark night phase which has lasted for several years now. I had a spontaneous awakening in my teens, awakening into Witness consciousness for about a year when I was 15, and then into Big Mind when I was sixteen. This deepened and unfolded over many years, including when I lived at the Zen Center in Salt Lake City for three full years and then sporadically for the next couple of years.
Then, I got married, we moved to another state, and I moved to another state as well…! For a few years, I woke up with nightmares almost every morning, dreading a sense of the awakening and its clarity, insights, wisdom, passion and sense of guidance slipping away. And it did slip away. Everything that had given meaning to my life slipped away, and depression came up in its place. It was awful, and although I knew I could probably reverse it by moving back to the Zen Center, I couldn’t. There was a sense of being chained to the ground, and also of this being a hugely important part of my overall process, in spite of it nightmarishness.
Gradual shift out of dark night
After some years, we moved again to another state, and I shifted into another state again as well. There was a sense of everything opening up again, and of the moist earthiness of the Pacific Northwest being part of my next phase – one of deepening into earthiness and spirit simultaneously, as part of the same process. I found Breema and Waking Down in Mutuality, going fully into Breema and staying at the periphery of Waking Down.
And then I found the diksha, first going to John’s diksha gathering in the Bay Area in July of last year (after a Breema intensive), and then joining the monthly diksha group here in Oregon led by Barry and Karen. There was a deep knowing that this was a part of my next phase, the next deepening.
Phone session on the dark night
So this morning, working with Barry over the phone, we started working on what is left of my despair over the dark night phase, of losing just about everything that was important to me – the awakening, the clarity, the insights, the passion, the worldly education process and career.
A black, velvety, peaceful, silent fullness
I saw my early awakened life as golden light, and the fall from grace as darkness, so I went into the darkness, feeling into it. And it revealed itself as a black fullness. A velvety full silent alive darkness that held everything that come up – any experience, any emotion, any feeling, any thought, any memory. Holding it, allowing it all to unfold. It was there when I stayed with a sense of a dark point in my hear, a ball in my throat, a sense of fogginess in my head, allowing each of them to unfold.
Golden light streaming through
The dark fullness then fell into my body, into the lower body from my heart down, and the head was golden light. Then, they shifted and the golden light went down into my feet and the dark fullness into my head. Then, the darkness fell into the whole body – through, within, around, as a ground of the body and every cell. My right arm left as golden light, then darkness fell into the arm as well, with streams of golden light through it, and then streams of golden light through the whole body and the full darkness.
I realized that this must be full darkness the mystics talk about, and which I had never understood before.
I looked up, and saw a card my wife had put up on our altar in our bedroom. A card of blackness with streams of golden light through it, and one I had not paid much attention to before now. I realized how my whole fall from grace was about this, deepening into the full darkness, being embraced by it, embracing it, maturing within it (this is the card with the Rumi quote shown above: Though we seem to be sleeping, there is an inner wakefulness that directs the dream, and that will eventually take us back to the truth of who we are.)
I then saw another card she had put up on the altar, again darkness with streams of golden light going through it. This one from Bodha in Nepal, where the two of us met. And I also saw how, when we sat on that balcony at the Zen Center in Salt Lake City, wondering if we should get married or not, I saw a meteorite flashing through the black desert sky as a stream of golden light, the first meteorite I had seen that went at an angle upward. I took that as a sign, yes, and it was what brought the fall (by us moving), the dark night, and the now still very early awakening into the black fullness, the Endarkenment. The whole dark night was now revealed as the greatest gift, in spite of its horrors as it was happening.
Barry said that this shift is as significant as the initial awakening, and I see that as well. I also see how a dream I had a couple of years ago, where my physical flesh-and-blood body was deepening and maturing into a fuller and fuller awakening, was about this.
And I see how everything changes within this Endarkenment, within this full blackness. Everything changes – my life, my body, my identity, how I am in the world, my relationships, my focus, what I do, my posture, my voice. It all has to change within this. It all changes.
Throughout the session, I saw the shift between seeing something (visually) and feeling it, and how following the feelings, within Witness Consciousness, brought me into the full darkness.
I also noticed that empty light fell into my body during and after the initial diksha, and this time, full blackness fell into my body…! Both times, with headaches (brain reorganizing) and a sense of reorganization of all levels of being, including the physical body. The empty light stayed and is still there, and this black fullness seems to stay in the same way.
An actor has been retired for a while, and is now offered to get back into the game. He tries on his old acting shirt, and it fits perfectly. His wife is there too, very happy on his behalf and for the two of them.
The actor is similar to Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart, solid, very experienced, deeply human in many ways. This is another dream where there is no “I” anywhere, just the images arising as a movie screen arising in awareness.
It seems to fit with what is happening these days. I have been “out of the game” for a while, during the dark night phase. It is now shifting, and the old acting shirt still fits…! My anima, or soul, is enjoying it as well, fully supporting and participating.
There is no “I” here, and this can be discovered in several different ways.
Ways of noticing
One is to notice that everything just happens: sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations, thoughts, decisions, behavior, it all just happens on its own. It lives its own life. There may be a sense of an I there, and that too just happens on its own.
Another is to explore the infinite causes to anything happening with this human self: it is all the activity of the whole of Existence, the whole beyond and including all polarities. How can it be any different? The more we inquire into this, the more alive this noticing becomes.
There is doing, but no doer.
In the beginning, there may be a sense of an I there, somewhere in or around the human self, and it is taken for granted.
Then, as it is examined more, it appears more illusive and may even be recognized – to some extent – as illusory, created by a belief in the idea of I.
And from here on, life helps in wearing out this sense of I.
Any time life shows up differently than how our beliefs tells us it should, it is an invitation for the “I” to wear out.
At some point there may be the intermediate sense that I am not in charge here. There is a vague sense of I, there is everything happening, and the realization that this “I” has nothing to do with what is happening. There are thoughts, decisions and behavior, but the “I” is not involved.
This is what is happening for me right now. “I” am so clearly not in charge, not even in the most mundane and everyday behaviors.
This human self is living its own life, as a local manifestation of the larger whole. Even if there is a vague sense of an “I”, it is so clearly not in charge.
In noticing this, there is also a slight sense of unease. The familiar identity of a “doer” is outdated and cannot be taken for granted anymore. Can this human self function without the sense of “I” added to it? How does it look if there is no doer and no I there anymore?
My partner and I am moving into a new house. It is in a Frank Lloyd-Wright style, beautiful and high quality all around, and situated in a beautiful high desert in the Four Corners area (Utah or New Mexico). A company is approaching us to take care of all our needs: tickets to concerts, walking our dog, paying bills and doing the taxes, cleaning, groceries, and anything else practical. (I notice I need film for my camera, and they have the correct film right there.) The house and the service is affordable and well within our range.
There is also a slight sense of uneasiness, of shifting out of an old identity and into a new one. Now, there is a flash-back into my old life. It is a Chicago in the 1930s setting, with poverty and crime all around. We witness a crime. The gangsters and corrupt police kill any witnesses, so we flee and hide. There is a sense of the possibility of shifting back into this life, but only if we are not able to let the old identity and life go. And we are already living the new life.
Another dream where the message seems close to the surface. We are moving into a new life, a new identity, a new house, slightly beyond the horizon of our old life and identity. And there is a slight uneasiness there. Isn’t this abundance outside of what we can afford? Yet, it is really well within what is possible and affordable to us, in fact – we are already living it. There is just some time needed to get familiar and comfortable with it. And the alternative is to shrink back into the old identity and life, which does not seem all that attractive in comparison (the only thing it has going for it is familiarity).
This is of course what happens any time we shift out of our old identity: a slight uneasiness by finding ourselves outside of the bubble we had made up for ourselves, yet also an excitement of the new possibilities, and the comparison with how it used to be.
Integral Spirituality, Ken Wilber’s latest book, landed in my mailbox on Friday, and I have enjoyed reading the first couple of chapters and browsing later chapters as well. As always from KW, it is very well written, simple, clear, to the point, with just enough to chew on to keep my interest for a while.
I am moderately familiar with the AQAL model and the modern/postmodern/premodern dynamics he writes about, from his earlier books.
Many contemporary approaches: missing exterior views on interior territories
It seems that this time, what will give me something to chew on is how the postmodern insights are left out of many contemporary approaches to spirituality, and especially zones #2 and #4, exterior views on interior territories, such as models of individual psychological/spiritual development, and an understanding of the many filters of experience, interpretation and expression.
Development and cultural filters
On the one hand, both seem to be a given in today’s world.
We know that humans develop, that we do so in many areas (lines), that this development goes through predictable stages, and that there are that there are many overlapping/complementary models of this development.
And we know that our experiences (in any quadrant) and the way we interpret, talk about and model our experiences are filtered through – among other things – our biology as human beings, our level of individual development, and our culture, traditions and worldviews.
At the same time, these two are indeed left out of many of the approaches to spirituality today, amazingly enough. And that is exactly what KW points out, if I understand it correctly.
Need to acknowledge to be taken seriously
For any contemporary approach to spirituality to be taken seriously by those familiar with post-modern insights, and just about anyone with a college degree or less are, they need to take these two into account.
At the very least, they need to show that they know about, acknowledge and are compatible with insights from studies of human development and filtering of experiences, interpretations and expressions of these. And even better: explicitly show how these fit into the (rest) of their approach.
Ten books and the myth of the given
I enjoyed reading his integral review of ten different books and movies in appendix iii, and find that what he says about these are similar to my initial impressions of them, although with more detail and precision.
For most (all?) of these, he points out that they reflects a lack of understanding of the myth of the given, or, as I read it, zones #2 and #4 are left out.
I am not sure if I understand the myth of the given completely, although it seems to refer to an impression that whatever arises in our experience, how it is interpreted, and how we finally express it, somehow reflects some absolute and universal truth, not filtered through innumerable filters including our culture and, in this context, our spiritual tradition.
Don’t understand, or just leave out?
In today’s world, that seems an impossibly naive view, and it is difficult for me to imagine that the writers of these books are not aware of it. Their main crime may be one of omission, rather than ignorance.
And as KW points out, only a small adjustment is needed for these approaches to align themselves consciously with the basic contemporary insights from zones #2 and #4. It doesn’t take much.
Some are more limited in focus
It also strikes me that some of the books and approaches he mentions have a more narrow focus, they do not attempt to be comprehensive in the AQAL way.
This may be the case for Loving What Is by Byron Katie, which outlines what BK calls The Work, one of my favorite ways to work with projections and the shadow.
The Work aims at unraveling beliefs, working with projections, integrating the shadow, revealing the Ground under and within all of the possible relative truths.
It is not a worldview. It is not a framework for anything besides a specific practice of examining beliefs. It is not comprehensive in an AQAL way, and does not aspire to be so either.
To the contrary, it aims at unravelling attachments to any particular relative truth, and allow us to see that any belief, any idea, any model, any framework, is only a relative truth. Useful, practical, invaluable for functioning in the world of phenomena, yet still only relative truths.
So to say that it accepts the myth of the given seems a little weird to me right now, although that may change as I digest it some more. The Work really does not accept anything as given. It doesn’t accept any experience, interpretation, or wording as more than a relative truth. They are stories, and each of the turnarounds of these stories also have some relative truth to them.
It is obviously correct to say that The Work leaves out zones #2 and #4, yet it also seems to miss the point to some extent. The Work is a very specific approach to working with projections and beliefs. It is targeted specifically at zone #1. That’s it.
What seems true is that The Work – along with many other approaches – may be even more useful if it is integrally informed, if it explicitly acknowledges the AQAL model and where it fits in. It will make it more easily accepted by those already aware of either the AQAL model, or the current insights into zones #2 and #4. It will remain the same tool, yet reach a wider audience.
The myth of the given, relative truths and postmodern insights
I am also not sure if the myth of the given is really believed in, in the way and to the extent he presents it as. In most – or at least the seasoned and mature, spiritual traditions, it is a given that any experience, interpretation, and expression is in the realm of the relative, it is relative truth.
Any experience, any interpretation of this experience, and any expression of this interpretation is by necessity only a relative truth. There is nothing absolute or final in it. It can be helpful, it can be an invaluable pointer, but still only a relative truth.
There may not be an explicit acknowledgement or awareness of the specific filters, such as culture and the levels of human development. The postmodern contributions are partly in describing more in detail the specific filters and their effects on experience, interpretation and expression.
But there is at least an explicit acknowledgment that whatever is perceived or spoken is not any final, or absolute, or absolutely universal, truth.
My own naive assumptions
As I write this, I see that I need to work more with KW’s writings.
Also, I see that assuming that most folks today are aware of (a) the levels and lines of human development, and (b) our many filters of experience, interpretation and expression, is a little naive.
I grew up in Norway, where most people indeed seem to understand this, at least the people I know. I went to the university, where these are seen as a given. And even now, I am almost exclusively exposed to and know people for whom these are a given.
Yet, I know that most people in the world have not gone to a university. Most people are not very much interested in these things (they have more urgent issues to take care of). Many people are at developmental levels where such a fluidity is still in the future.
And there may even be people writing and teaching about these things who are not much aware of it. That is a little harder for me to swallow, although I certainly have seen some examples of it.
Please post comments
If anyone happens to stray into this blog and is more familiar with KW’s work than I am, or have any insights on any of this, please comment here. I hope to gain some more clarity on it after a while.
I received diksha for the first time in Oakland, CA, in July last year. Here is a brief summary of apparently diksha related events since then…
During initial diksha
While receiving the first diksha, I experienced empty light. As I stood up afterwards, there was an experience of this empty light dropping into the body, into every cell.
The days after: absorbed into and as witness
The day after, on my way back to Oregon, I found myself absorbed into witness, into pure seeing. There was little or no identification with this human self, although it functioned well and as before.
A few days later, there was a very strong headache, lasting for three or four days.
Shift from head to body
Initially, it seemed that the diksha energy worked mainly in and around the head. After some weeks, it shifted to work more throughout the body, initially with a focus on the heart area.
Glimpses of space as crystal clear
In the weeks following the initial diksha, there were several moments of a sense of space itself revealing itself as crystal clear.
Shift into realized selflessness
After several weeks, in September (?) 2005, there was a shift into realized selflessness, Ground awakening, of doing but no doer, of absence of identification with either seen or seeing, of Ground coming into the foreground.
This lasted for a couple of months, until a faint sense of I gradually returned. (This happened in a situation where my human self typically becomes very self-conscious, where there was still a belief, an attachment to a thought.)
Following this, there is a vague sense of I if no attention is brought to it, although clearly not there if looked for.
Processing of old stuff
For several months over the winter, there was a very intense processing of old patterns, old beliefs that brought stress into my life. It would especially come up in dreams (for a month, I woke up nearly every morning at 4am from the same type of intense dreams), but also in waking life.
At times, this surfacing of old patterns seemed to be at the limits of what I could take. I found that my only option seemed to just be with them, to allow them to come and go on their own, live their own life.
All dials going to neutral, everything arising as space
Then late winter and early spring, there were several months where all dials went to neutral, and literally everything was experienced as space. There was also some fatigue along with all this.
Over the last few months the energy and focus has gradually returned, and there is also a sense of the diksha working in the lower half of my body, from my hara down.
During this whole process, there has been a sense of preparing the ground for something, through the work of the diksha energy on the body and also through the emotional/mental processing.
Just about any form of self-inquiry, and many forms of mediation, gives a taste of it: this human self lives its own life.
In shikantaza meditation, I allow anything arising to live its own life. Thoughts come and go. Sensations come and go. Sights come and go. Tastes and smells come and go. Movements come and go.
In headlessness, I find myself as capacity for the world, as that which allows anything to arise, to come and go, to live its own life.
As Big Mind, I am that which is beyond and includes all polarities.
In the self-inquiry of differentiating that which comes and goes from that which does not, I first see that I am not that which comes and goes, then that I am that which does not come and go, and finally that the two are not separate.
Each of these allows for a taste of all phenomena as coming and going, living their own life. And the world of phenomena is a field with no boundaries anywhere, it is a seamless whole. There is no inside nor outside in this field of phenomena. This human self is just part of the landscape.
This human self living its own life
Each of these practices also allows for a taste of this human self as living its own life. There is doing there, but no doer. The thoughts, sensations, sights, tastes, smells and movements of this human self comes and goes as anything else. They live their own life, as anything else.
There is a thought, then a movement. It may appear as if the thought somehow initiated the movement, but that too is just another thought, a story about a connection not directly experienced (as Hume and others have noted).
Taste of selflessness
In finding ourselves as either (a) the witness of the world of phenomena, the seeing, pure awareness, or (b) as the Ground of anything happening, there is a taste of selflessness.
In the first case, finding myself as the seeing, there is a taste of selflessness in the world of phenomena. This human self is not separate from anything else, and there is no doer in or as that human self.
In the second case, finding ourselves as Ground, it becomes clear that there is no I even as the seeing. Even that is a superimposed story. The seen and the seeing is revealed as inseparable, as somehow differentiable but not two.
Transcend and include
So first, there is a transcending of the world of phenomena, tasting and then realizing that there is no I anywhere there. It all comes and goes, so I cannot be any of those things coming and going.
Then, I find myself as that which does not come and go. As awareness, consciousness, as room for and awareness of everything coming and going.
Then, there is an inclusion of that which comes and goes. That which arises as a particular form within awareness is awareness itself. The two are not separate, and not two. The seen and the seeing is not two.
There has been many tastes of this lately, including many times today (more as a thread throughout the day). This human self is doing something, and there is just the seeing of it and realization of it happening on its own.
Thoughts come and go. Sensations come and go. Sounds come and go. Tastes and smells come and go. Movements come and go. And it is all living its own life.
Maybe more remarkably: it is all perfectly capable of living its own life. It does anyway. It always has lived its own life.
And it is perfectly capable of doing so, even without the appearance of an I or a doer there.
There are many forms of liberation here. First, it is the liberation of anything arising from a superimposed I, a doer. In Zen language, we can say that the head on top of the head falls away. Thoughts are liberated from a sense of I. Sensations are liberated from a sense of I. The movements are liberated from a sense of I. The doing is liberated from a sense of a doer.
Then, there is the liberation of differentiating the seen from the seeing, that which changes from that which does not change. Each fall into place in awareness and realization of this difference.
And finally, not so different, Ground awakens to its own nature as having no I anywhere. It is liberated from being temporarily deluded about its own nature.
It puts our contemporary western society into perspective, and is a reminder that what we see today in countries with unrest, corruption and barely functioning legal system is what was here not too long ago (and still is, to some extent, especially in the US).
It is also a reminder that Spiral Dynamicsred (red in tooth and claw, power, late egocentric, here seen in gangs and organized and unorganized crime) eats Green (egalitarian, nonviolence, worldcentric, seen among sustainability folks, hippies, and political greens) for lunch, as Michael Dowd likes to point out.
Green is typically not the right tool to deal with red, and orange is barely so. As the story of New York shows, it took strong blue (law and order) to tame red. And then it can move on.
A. H. Almaas
The Void, Essence. The beauty of acknowledging and working with the seamlessness of human, soul and nondual levels, and of following one’s own process while being aware of parallels in many traditions.
Joel Morwood Talks. The beauty of clarity and finding parallels in many mystical traditions.
of Byron Katie, over phone and on my own. Unraveling beliefs, undoing the knots.
Big Mind process
Exploring the ways the mind works at personal and transpersonal levels, and seeing that there is no I anywhere in all of this.
Instructor training. Deepening and exploring being/soul level connection.
Catalyst for awakening. (Amazingly effective, in my limited experience.)
Facilitating myself and others, and taking classes/workshops at the PW Center in Portland. Unfolding the process behind, and finding the gifts in, symptoms (anything coming up as a disturbance or anything interest goes to).
Just some random recent things, for the record. Or, really, just for my own sake right now – allowing it to pass through by writing it down.
Recently, there has been many periods of experiencing having a new body, or even a new human self. After my acupuncture treatment Monday, I certainly felt that my whole human self was new and different. And it also happened again last night while watching the Papaji movie, and many other times. All of these have been pleasant experiences, so not anything to resist.
It reminds me that I also have other phases where it feels like a different human self, and not so comfortable – if I am seriously sleep deprived, stressed out, have eaten something my body reacts towards and so on. At these times, there is often some resistance – unless I consciously allow the resistance to fall away, consciously stay with and fully experience whatever is going on.
These are of course just more noticeable variations of what is happening all the time. This human self and everything else is always new and different. Everything dies as it is and is reborn as something else, continuously. The stream of content is continuous death and rebirth.
Seeing and seen
There are also times when the whole seer-seen dynamic switches. From having a sense of seer in/around my human self, it shifts to whatever this human self is looking at. I see myself from the eyes of the person this human self is talking with. I see myself from the plant this human self is looking at. I see myself from whatever this human self is looking at. And that is not even quite accurate. There is just what is, the usual content, although now clearly beyond and including seeing and seen, or distinct and free from seeing and seen – and free enough to allow even that overlay sometimes.
In looking at the energy drawings from some years back and yesterday, I see that the main difference is in the absence of an oval around the body in the current one.
The earlier ones all did, as far as I can remember, and they were made before the dark night of the soul phase. The few I have doodled more recently are oval-free, and are post (or at the tail end of) the dark night phase.
I wonder if the oval somehow represented a subtle sense of I. There was a sense of accomplishment and arrogance that went with that awakening phase, although I could see it clearly and that it came from delusion. There was also an attachment to phenomena in the form of a certain magical atmosphere and bliss.
Then, there was an invitation to radically let go of any attachments to these ideas – to the remaining idea of I, to any atmosphere, to bliss or absence of bliss. And this invitation took the form of a long dark night of the soul, where all this was – apparently – taken away from me. Where I was plunged into the absence of all this. Where there was no material for any sense of accomplishment or arrogance. Where there was no magical atmosphere and no bliss.
Now, at the tail end of this phase, the oval does not show up – at least not in the few doodles so far. There is the physical body, the energies of grounding, the clear energies going through the heart area, the mental aura, a vortex some feet above the head, and that is about it. There is just clarity and an absence of any borders outside of the human self.
(Maybe the earlier drawings reflect an F6-F9 awakening – centaur, nature mysticism, deity mysticism and witness awakening. They were all definetely strongly present, and with a relatively clear seeing into the nondual. And the newer doodles reflect more of a nondual awakening, although it is definetely not quite emerged and popped yet.)
Who knows. These are all just stories anyway. The drawing are energy stories. These interpretations are also just stories. Just abstractions added to the simplicity and clarity of what is.
I used to do doodles like these (usually in color) to get a sense of what is going on in the moment. It may or may not be an accurate representation of what is really going on energetically, but in any case says something about what is going on (as much as any dream, any set of current stories about anything, any story coming up while watching clouds or inkblots, and so on). This one happened while I facilitated someone over phone earlier today(!).
What comes up when I look at the drawing: I find an attraction to the solid and fluid lines flowing up/down through the ground (would have continued down if it wasn’t for the writing right there), the lines – similar to wings – spreading out along the surface of the ground, the line coming up from the center with the vortex 7-8 (?) feet over the head, the fluid lines coming in/out from infinity and going through the heart area.
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