I have written about this before, but it is still alive in my immediate awareness, and wants to be explored further…
There is a perfect (slightly asymmetrical) symmetry in how Existence is filtered through the head and belly centers.
Through the head center, it is awake emptiness and form. Crystal clear. Empty luminosity. Awake emptiness in the foreground, and form as nothing other than awake emptiness. It is transcendent. Detached. Free. Absent of any separate self. Full of the whole world. Masculine. Yang. Solar. The Ground of all form, and all form as no other than this Ground. Impersonal. It is the traditional enlightenment.
Through the belly center, it is luminous blackness. Velvety. Smooth. Fullness. A full void. Nurturing. Giving birth to and holding all form. That which all form arises within, as, and that which is in all form. Immanent. Absent of any separate self. Nurturing this individual, allowing it to deeply heal, mature, soften, be more rounded, become more deeply human. It is feminine. Yin. Lunar. The ground of all form and that which is the context for, is, and is within all form. Deeply personal. It is the endarkenment.
Difference in emphasis
The head center gives an emphasis on awakening as awake emptiness, and as form which is no other than this awake emptiness. It gives freedom. Transcendence from identification with any segment of Big Mind, including this human self. But alone, it is detached, aloof, impersonal.
The belly center gives an emphasis on the deep transformation of this individual. A deep healing, untying of knots, maturing, softening and rounding of the personality, deepening into the human.
The coolness and nurturing of the belly center balancing out the fire and the impersonal of the head center
Having been familiar with the head center awakening (spontaneously in my teens, and deepening over several years), I now deeply appreciate the belly awakening as well. It gives a new depth, richness, sense of peace, of being deeply nurtured, of a coolness to balance the heat of the head center awakening. In addition to what I have described in other posts on this topics, I have, over the last few weeks, also had glimpses of an amazing (to me) new depth and richness of being, far beyond anything I have experienced before.
New realms of being opening up through the belly center awakening
Through the head center, this whole universe is nothing other than God, an alive presence behind and as everything, and without any separate self anywhere. And through the belly center, there another facet of the void and selflessness, but also new realms of being – of this individual – revealing themselves and deepening. Even the few glimpses I have had so far, over maybe just minutes or hours, are far beyond anything I had ever imagined.
I should also mention a few words about the heart center. Existence filtered through the heart center seems to have two aspects: Big Heart and the indwelling God.
Big Heart is a love and compassion that is independent of any particulars of form. As Big Mind, it has no beginning, no end, no form, yet can take any form. It is both impersonal and personal, when expressed thorough an individual, but the impersonal tends to be in the foreground. It is the love and compassion that comes up spontaneously and naturally when Big Mind awakens to itself while still connected, and functioning through, a human being.
The indwelling God is an alive presence, located in the physical heart area. Infinitely loving, intelligent, receptive, and responsive. A most intimate guide. It is an aspect of God, placed in and for this particular individual.
While Big Heart is connected with Big Mind, universal and slightly impersonal (although can be made personal when expressed), the indwelling God is experienced as intimately personal, an alive presence in the heart area of this individual.
In both cases, it is universal, and this is in the foreground with Big Heart, and in the background – or as a context – for the indwelling God. And in both cases, it is personal, and this is in the foreground for the indwelling God, and a possibility – when made personal through a human self – for Big Heart.
Again, when the indwelling God became more alive in awareness around Christmas, it was something new opening up (yet also very familiar somehow.) An infinitely loving, intelligent, receptive and responsive alive presence, in the heart area. An aspect of God, for this individual. A most intimate guide.
Here is one way of slicing the cake of our being, into three realms…
First, the formless… Awake emptiness, capacity for the world. Selfless, timeless, spaceless.
Then, this awake emptiness as form, including innumerable individuals (selfless), unfolding in space and time.
And finally, not less important than the two other, me as this particular individual self, as an individual soul and human self alive here and now, in this little spot of the whole wide world of form. And this is where shadow work, healing, development, maturing, and unfolding as an individual takes place, deepening over time, endlessly (at least as long as this individual is around.)
This corresponds roughly to the three centers…
Spirit filtered through the head center reveals itself as the formless, as awake emptiness, as form as awake emptiness, as individuals inherently selfless.
Spirit filtered through the heart center reveals itself as formless love, and all forms as no other than formless love. It also reveals itself as love for all form, including all individuals, no matter their particulars, as Spirit.
Spirit filtered through the belly center reveals itself as a felt sense of all as Spirit, and as the luminous blackness which, among other things, gives a deep sense of nurturing, fullness and healing for this particular human self.
Each of the three centers include the formless, form and selflessness, although the head center reveals the formless in the foreground, the heart center form – including individuals – in the foreground, and the belly center this particular individual in the foreground.
When I see and feel into whatever arises, the heart seems to follow.
Seeing, feeling and loving
The seeing is the witnessing of whatever is, it is free from what is seen, and can even be a recognition of what is seen as no other than awake emptiness itself. The feeling into it is a felt sense of what arises, it is the body joining in feeling what arises. And the heart is a receptivity and love for what arises.
The head and the belly sees and feels what arises. There is a being with what arises as seeing and feeling, and really as seeing-feeling since when both are there, they are just two aspects of being with whatever is, with the experiences as they are here now, with the content as it unfolds. And this seems to invite and allow the heart to join, to soften, open up for whatever is, here now (with the sweetness and pain, rawness and tenderness, a sense of the universal and personal, that often seems to come with that for me, at least right now.)
The process reflected in stories
Last night, after having seeing these dynamics throughout the day, I wondered how this would be represented in stories and mythology, and if I could find any stories that reflects this process?
The view, seeing, witnessing, is from the head center, and is yang, masculine, transcendent, free from what is seen. The feeling into, the felt sense, is from the belly center and is yin, feminine, embodied, engaged with what is felt. And the heart is the receptivity, openness, love, with equal amounts of yin and yang aspects (which is probably why the Bodhisattva of compassion – Avalokitesvara, Kwan Yin, Kanzenon, Chenrezig – is depicted as sometimes male and sometimes female, and always quite androgynous).
Our lives mirroring the dynamics of head and belly coming together, awakening the heart
So of course, the natural way to depict this process of the head and belly coming together, inviting the heart to follow, is of a man and woman coming together, awakening love. And not only is there no lack of those stories, it is at the core of our existence as humans. Our very lives are metaphors, or mirror, this process.
Also mirrored as Spirit, human and soul
At another level, the seeing is Spirit, the felt sense is the human self, and the love is the soul. So here, we can say that when Spirit and human comes together, love awakens. And this is the typical process of a Buddhist practice where there is an emphasis on Big Mind and the human self, which allows the love (and the soul) to unfold.
Parallels with Breema and Gurdjieff
In Breema, they say that when mind and body comes together, the feelings join. When attention is brought to the body (the movements of the body, posture, tone of voice, weight), the feelings join – as a sense of nurturing fullness. From the little I know of Gurdjieff, it seems that these are the three centers as he described them: head is in this case attention, belly is body, and feelings are heart.
(This is quite different from how I experience the three centers: The head center filters Spirit in its aspect of pure seeing, awake emptiness, seeing all as Spirit. The belly center as feeling, form, feeling all as Spirit. And the heart center as love, loving it all as Spirit. The centers and the dynamics between the centers as described here seems to be similar, but the descriptions – and experience – of them, apparently quite different.)
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.
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.
From an email I sent to Barry and Karen following the diksha Sunday:
Lots of things happened for me during and after the diksha and codes for the three centers.
The main one happened the same evening, after I went to bed: An alive, infinitely intelligent and loving, receptive, responsive light everywhere, including streaming in, through and around the body. It is an infinitely alive luminosity I can communicate with, and I offered my intention to it for having many issues resolve in my life (reactiveness, relationships, clinging to identities, health issues.)
From my initial awakening, and since then, I have been familiar with empty luminosity, and everything as awake emptiness and form, in an impersonal form. Its intelligence and love was there but more in the background.
This time, there are the same elements, but as immensely alive. Its aliveness, responsiveness, intelligence and love is in the foreground, to be touched. It is infinite, yet also immensely personal.
I also notice a double thing happening since Sunday: asking the light for it to be resolved, and also giving it to the fertile darkness for composting. Something comes up (a contraction, identity, fear, resistance), and I ask the alive light for it to resolve, and give it to the darkness for composting.
I wonder if the impersonal empty luminosity, and the impersonal awake emptiness and form, has to do with the head awakening (enlightenment), while the personal infinitely alive luminosity has to do with the belly awakening (endarkenment).
It is almost as if they are two aspects of the same empty light, one revealed through enlightenment and revealing mostly its empty and impersonal nature (and the awake empty nature of all form), where this one is revealed through endarkenment and reveals its intimate, personal, alive, receptive, responsive, intelligent and loving nature.
In any case, it is yet another whole new dimension opening up for me.
After having been in the enlightenment for several years, I remember feeling a little “bored” by it, there was not much surprise there, and I felt that there had to be something more to it. Something was missing, and it had to do with embodiment and aliveness. The endarkenment, and the alive light, have these qualities. And it seems that it will only keep unfolding, revealing itself (to itself) in always new ways.
There was also a synchronicity (one of many): I read the first chapter of Facets of Unity by A. H. Almaas on Saturday, and was intrigued by the titles of another chapter: Living Daylight. After the experience of the alive luminosity, I skimmed through this chapter, and his description of living daylight is a very close match to how I experience the alive luminosity, including its personal, loving, wise, receptive and responsive aspects. He even mentions the three soul centers (head, heart and belly), and describes them in very much the same way I as experience them, and as you describe them as well. A nice support for me.
Some other things:
Sunday night, as the alive luminosity cursed through me, there was so much bliss that at some point some fear came up, and the bliss reduced in intensity – although has remained very much alive since then. I slept for twelve hours in the two following nights, and could have slept much longer (lots of processing and reorganizing needed).
I can’t remember if I mentioned this in a previous email, but here is how I experience the three centers for now (using some of your terminology):
Enlightenment. Awake emptiness and form. Seeing all as Spirit. Reorganizing view (nondual context). Yang. Male, masculine. Light. Heaven. Transcendent. Impersonal
Endarkenment. Feeling all as spirit. Reorganizing body/emotions (Less reactive. Sense of fullness, nurturing, being held. Composting anything arising, any resistance, anything coming from a sense of separation, anything at a body/feeling level not coming from all as felt Spirit.) Yin. Female. Feminine. Dark. Earth. Immanent. Personal.
Enlovenment. Loving all as spirit. Reorganizing the heart (open to all form). Embracing, allowing, holding Yang and Yin. Male and female. Masculine and feminine. Impersonal and personal. Heaven and Earth.
As with the other forms of One Taste, this one seems to have three centers: seeing, feeling and loving. There is a seeing of it all as Spirit, centered in the head, a feeling of it all as Spirit, centered in the belly, and a loving of it all as Spirit, centered in the heart.
The seeing allows the view and cognition of our human self to reorganize to all as Spirit, the feeling allows its emotions to reorganize to all as Spirit, the loving allows the heart to reorganize to all as Spirit. It is Spirit seeing itself, feeling itself, and loving itself.
As I tried to describe in the previous post, this also happens in terms of the world as a mirror for our human self.
I see, feel and love what I see in the outer world as also right here, in this human self.
And there is a deepening into it, in both cases.
A deepening into Spirit seeing, feeling and loving all as itself, allowing the view, emotions and heart of the human self to reorganize to all as Spirit.
And a deepening into seeing, feeling and loving the world as a mirror for my human self, allowing the view, emotions and heart of the human self to reorganize to the world as a mirror, in a very detailed and specific way.
The first One Taste is that of emptiness and form. Of all as awake emptiness and form.
The second One Taste is that within form. If the wider world of form as a mirror for this human self.
So in summary…
There is the One Taste of emptiness and form, of all as awake emptiness and form.
There is the One Taste within form, of the wider world of form as a mirror for my human self.
There is the seeing, feeling and loving of it all as Spirit, and of the wider world of form as a mirror for my human self.
The two main aspects of One Taste, and the three centers…
Awake emptiness and form
The ultimate one is Spirit awakening to itself. The field of awake emptiness and form, awakening to itself as a field, absent of I anywhere, with a center nowhere and everywhere. Everything arises as Spirit, as awake emptiness and form, as Big Mind, Brahman, The One.
There is typically an intuition of this, maybe a taste or a glimpse, a deepening intuition and sense of it, more tastes and glimpses, all of it allowing our human self to reorganize to this new context, and then it eventually pops and stabilizes.
And as with the other forms of One Taste, described below, this one too seems to have three centers: seeing, feeling and heart. There is a seeing of it all as Spirit, centered in the head, a feeling of it all as Spirit, centered in the belly, and a loving of it all as Spirit, centered in the heart.
The seeing allows the view and cognition of our human self to reorganize to all as Spirit, the feeling allows its emotions to reorganize to all as Spirit, the loving allows the heart to reorganize to all as Spirit. It is Spirit seeing itself, feeling itself, and loving itself.
The world as a mirror for our human self
The other aspect of One Taste is the world as a mirror for our human self.
Whatever I see in the wider world, is also here in this human self, and the other way around, whatever I see in this human self is also out there in the wider world, somewhere, at least as a potential. Any quality, any characteristic, any skills.
As with One Taste of all as Spirit, this one has three centers.
There is the seeing, feeling and loving of what is out there as also right here, and the other way around.
And this one too involves a deepening into it, an increased familiarity with it, an active engagement with it. Specifically, it involves making the qualities seen out there known, intimately familiar, as a lived reality in this human self. It is not only something seen out there and merely recognized in here, but it is a lived reality right here, something that is actively explored, known, lived, in always deeper and richer ways. It becomes part of the active repertoire of this human self.
Other aspects and examples of One Taste
Then there are some other aspects and examples of One Taste.
One, which is implicit in the two other ones, is the heart. The One Taste of the heart, open to all of the infinite forms of Spirit. It is a whole heart, wholeheartedly embracing whatever arises. It is all loved as Spirit, independent of its particular form. It is Spirit loving itself.
And then there are other ones, such as the ones found in Buddhism where we remind ourselves that all beings seek happiness and release from suffering. We are not different there. We are in the same boat. And the practice of refuge in Tibetan Buddhism, where we visualize all beings taking refuge in the Buddha Mind, as we ourselves do.
With enlightenment, even an early form of it, there is a seeing of everything as Spirit. This is not necessarily a literal seeing (although it can be that too, in seeing the energy and consciousness aspect of all physical forms), but more of an immediate recognition of everything as emptiness and luminosity. Something arises, and it arises as Spirit and to Spirit. It is Spirit arising to itself.
Endarkenment seems to allow for a feeling of everything as Spirit. I have noticed this over the last several days. In addition to seeing it all as Spirit, to various extents (through for instance shifting into Big Mind), there is a feeling of it all as Spirit as well. And it is most noticeable in situations where the feelings have not been aligned in this way in the past.
When everything is seen as Spirit, that of course also includes emotions. There may be a situation, say somebody being noisy (a good example for me!), an emotional reaction, and everything here is seen as Spirit, as emptiness, awakeness, luminosity and form. It doesn’t change the emotional reaction or the emotional patterns, and in a sense, it doesn’t have to. It is all Spirit anyway, so it is all OK.
But the endarkenment do seem to allow the emotional patterns to change. So for instance yesterday, when I was doing things in different parts of town, there were situations that triggered some emotional reactions now and then, probably especially since I was quite sleep deprived and “raw”. At the same time, there was a clear feeling of it all as Spirit. The situation, the people, their behavior, everything was felt as Spirit, deeply, fully, richly. In an earthy and nurturing way, with the same sense of smooth fullness. I noticed I could allow this feeling of all as Spirit to envelop everything more fully. The emotional reactions were still there, to some extent, but now arising more as echoes of old patterns. And all of this is of course a process, something that unfolds over time.
I informed on a central, powerful and influential man, with enough information to have him put away for life. His friends were after Jen and I, and we did our best not to be found.
We lived in a beautiful terrased apartment complex, and had moved from one top level apartment to another a few weeks before. His henchmen had broken into our old apartment around noon the same day, only hours after I had informed and the head crook put away. Unfortunately, our names and the number of our new apartment was listed at the ground level, and they had seen it and would come back.
The apartment or building (?) complex was up on a hillside, in Mediterranean style white-washed stucco, and had a beautiful and expansive view. Many interesting characters lived there, including the head teacher at the Breema Center and many artists and musicians.
A while before all this happened, we had invited friends and neighbors over to a party in our apartment that afternoon. They all arrived and enjoyed themselves, with much music, food and dancing. But Jen and I were concerned, planned what to do next, and we also informed our friends that they may be in danger just by knowing us. We knew our friends and family may be in danger, as harming them was one way the crooks could harm us.
Early in the evening, the party disbanded and Jen and I left the apartment, taking all our personal belongings with us – especially anything could give more information about us, our families or our friends.
There was a sense of nobody there who could substantially help us, not even the police. There was also a sense of foreboding, and of dread and terror. I said at one point “this is going to change our lives forever.”
There is a lot of things going on here, and I am not even sure where to start.
Some things that comes up for now:
Making beliefs into crooks
There was a clear sense of the head crook as representing beliefs, especially as I have worked on exploring beliefs so much lately through various forms of self-inquiry. The dream reminds me of something I am already aware of (although obviously not enough): I am making beliefs into criminals…! In my own mind, I make beliefs into criminals, someone to be locked away for good. And the chief criminal is of course the belief in the idea of I.
Seeking realization very easily makes anything apparently hindering realization into an Other, and even into an enemy or a crook. And this of course is just another way to create and reinforce a split, a duality, an I and Other.
The dream is reminding me of this. If I am too attached to the light, the dark will not go away, and it may even take a sinister appearance and go after me – to the point of killing me, as representing the dualistic attitude.
(Less importantly, the dream says that the head crook has been informed on and put away for good. What I have made into the chief crook here is the sense of I, the belief in the idea of I, and I have certainly spent a good deal of time informing on him, doing my best to put him away for life…!)
Embracing the light and the dark
I did a quick Process Work explorations of this, using vector work.
The two main elements in the dream is the criminals and our beautiful life in the apartment building.
The line of the criminals is dark, has a heavy and ominous feeling, and goes to the north-northwest (sunset).
The line of our life in the apartment building, with the nice expansive view and artists and the head Breema teacher, is light and luminous, and goes to the east-northeast (sunrise).
And the line that combines them both, embraces the dark and the light, the shadow and the conscious identity, heaven and earth, crooks and saints, the endarkenment and the enlightenment.
Getting the general idea is one thing, and working on the specifics of it, over and over, in always new ways as it shows up in life, is another.
Fear when shifting (or letting go of) identities
Another aspect of all of this may be the fear that comes up when we shift, or let go of, identities. Who am I if I am not … (a belief in an idea)?How will my life look without it? Will I be able to function? It is only natural that fear comes up as we reach this threshold, and that some terror may come up immediately after it has been crossed.
I let go of this identity. Won’t something terrible happen? Isn’t the sky going to fall? Am I not going to be struck by a thunderbolt?
Invitation to a deeper shift
The dynamics of this whole process, played out in the dream, is very typical. It is the experienced struggle of light and dark, and the process of integrating them both in our lives, in always deeper ways.
It is a process that leads up to realized selflessness, and one that – if we are open to it – is ongoing even after realized selflessness.
It can always deepen and be more inclusive. It can always be lived more fully. There is always more “its” in this human self that can be made into a “me” and “mine”. And there are always me and mines that can be deepened, explored in new ways, lived in more full and inclusive ways.
Before and after realized selflessness, our human self can continue to heal, mature, develop, and continue to own and embrace “its” and made them more fully and deeply into “mine”.
It is just part of the game, part of the infinite creativity of Spirit, part of the unfolding and evolution of Spirit in its form aspect.
In a post yesterday, I wrote that enlightenment is to the mind what endarkenment is to the emotions.
This is still too new to me, and I don’t have many to compare notes with, but it certainly seems true in my own experience, at least right now.
Enlightenment: emptiness and luminosity, realigning the mind
Enlightenment, even in an early form, realigns the mind in the new context of all as Spirit. It realigns it from duality to nonduality and transduality. Our view changes, and our way of interpreting and talking about the world changes as well.
Everything arising is seen as Spirit itself, as emptiness, wakefulness and form, including emotions of course. The old emotional patterns seem to continue, at least in my experience, yet now revealed as nothing other than Spirit itself.
Enlightenment reveals all form as emptiness and luminosity. The emptiness and luminosity is in the foreground in all form.
Endarkenment: fertile darkness, realigning the emotions
Endarkenment, even in an early form, seems to allow emotions themselves to realign to this new context of all as Spirit. It envelops anything arising including emotions, and there is a deep sense of OKness of it all, allowing it in the longer term to realign and reorganize.
Endarkenment reveals the dark fertile ground of all form. Fullness and blackness is in the foreground.
Revealing what is not aligned
It also seems that both reveals what is not aligned with itself. Enlightenment reveals what in our views and behaviors are not aligned with all as Spirit. Endarkenment reveals what in our emotions and behaviors are not aligned with the dark fertile ground. (This is coming up for me continuously now, seeing emotional and behavioral patterns not aligned with this fertile darkness which came into the foreground less than two weeks ago.)
Aspects of enlightenment
Emptiness and luminosity. Ground of seeing and seen. Reveals all form as emptiness and luminosity. Yang. Detached. Insight and wisdom. Centered in the head. Realigns the conscious view and mind.
Aspects of endarkenment
Fertile darkness. Ground of form. Reveals all form as from and as this empty, fertile, full darkness. Yin. Intimate and engaged. Wisdom and nurturing. Centered in the belly and hip area. Realigns emotions. It is earthy, smooth, rich, full, loamy, black.
I read lots of books of that nature in my early twenties – Jungian views of the goddess, ecopsychology, ecospirituality, deep ecology, and so on, and found a deep resonance even then. It made sense on all the usual levels, and it was an experiential reality as well in different ways.
Yet, what strikes me now after the early endarkenment awakening is the difference between metaphor and direct experience of this fertile darkness.
Fertile darkness as metaphor
At the one hand, the dark goddess and the fertile darkness is a metaphor that works well at many levels. It is the yin, the earth connection, the body connection, lived and experienced. It is yin complementing the yang: the fertile darkness complementing the luminosity, the earth complementing the heaven, the relatedness complementing the detachment, love complementing wisdom.
And there are so many ways of working with this, including shadow work, body work and rituals, each one allowing us to deepen into it, allowing it to be more alive in us.
Direct experience of fertile darkness through endarkenment and belly awakening
The endarkenment awakening is certainly related to all of this, and what I have done in these areas have probably helped set the stage for this belly awakening, for this new shift.
At the same time, the endarkenment awakening is also very different, at least in my experience. It is an awakening clearly centered in the belly, and in the consciousness realm rather than the energy realm. It is an awakening where there is a direct and immediate experience of this fertile darkness, of the velvety blackness, empty and full at the same time, a ground of form.
The darkness is no longer just a useful metaphor, but a lived experience.
And this darkness can envelop anything arising, including anything arising in this personality. It makes it all OK, and seems to over time allowing it to heal and knots to unravel.
Enlightenment and mind, endarkenment and emotions
In a way, the endarkenment seems to do for emotions what enlightenment does for the mind.
Enlightenment clarifies the mind, allowing it to reorganize to the new awakening of everything as Spirit.
Endarkenment soothes the emotions, allowing them to reorganize to the new awakening to the fertile dark ground of form, to everything as the goddess and Spirit as well.
All as empty luminosity, and dark fullness
Also, in the initial awakening in my teens, everything was experienced as empty luminocity, including this physical body. Every cell in this body, and all form, was empty luminosity, golden, as a hologram with form and no substance.
Through the endarkenment awakening, there is a sense of the dark fullness of everything, a fertile loamy fullness of all form. There is a sinking into and as form in a very different way.
And this is, of course, just another form of transcendence and immanence, ascension and embodiment.
My sense of the (early) endarkenment awakening is that much of what I have done up until now helped set the stage for it, yet is not directly connected with it either. It cleared the path, and that was about it.
Clearing the path for endarkenment awakening
Some of the things that helped clear the path seem to include…
Breema, with its emphasis on being participation (the whole of our being participating), the hara, and natural ways of being in the world. I did a lot of Tai Chi some year back, and that probably helped as well.
Projection and shadow work, including The Work. This reduces the internal compartmentalization and the energy that goes into this compartmentalization, allowing this particular ground to be revealed and noticed.
The dikshas, in particular the endarkenment diksha, initiating energetic shifts which in turn function as a catalyst for shifts in consciousness.
Meditation, allowing what is to be as it is, to live its own life, which again makes it easier to notice the ground that is always there (in this case, the ground of fertile darkness, the ground of form).
Clearing the path for enlightenment awakening
This seems similar to the enlightenment type awakening, where certain practices can clear the path for it, but where the shift still seem to happen more on its own. It happens on its own time.
The practices that can clear this path includes the ones above, and maybe in particular meditation and self-inquiry. Shadow work can also be very helpful here, reducing the inner struggle, drama and compartmentalization coming from aspects of our being pitted against each other.
And clearing the path for a heart awakening includes any number of second person practices, such as bhakti yoga, devotion, prayer, service, projection work, and so on.
A summary of some of the things I notice about the yang and yin grounds, all provisional and subject to revision (as anything else.)
The yang ground is the Ground of seeing and seen, of perceiving and perceived, of pure witness consciousness and the world of form, arising as consciousness itself. It is the crystal clear awake space that all forms arise within, to and as.
The yin ground is the fertile ground of form.
Empty and full
Both the yang and yin grounds are empty and full.
The yang ground is empty, like a crystal clear space, yet full of the world. It is form as emptiness, as crystal clear space and awareness. It is empty fullness.
The yin ground is full emptiness, fertile potentiality.
The yang ground is experienced (to me at least) as luminous, as empty light. And if there is any color, then as golden.
The yin ground is experienced as dark, as smooth fertile blackness.
Direct experience, not intellectual metaphors
As with emptiness, the luminosity and darkness are not thought-out metaphors, but how it appears in immediate experience.
There is a clear sense of what can only be described as emptiness of all form, and of luminosity and blackness.
Consciousness and energies
The yang and yin ground awakenings seem clearly to be in the consciousness realm, although they do seem to have energetic components and correlates as well.
Energetic components: location and quality
It seems that the awakening to yang ground is centered in the head, while the awakening to yin ground is centered in the belly.
For me, I have noticed a good deal of energetic activity in my head during yang ground awakenings and activity, and now with the yin awakening, there is similarly a great deal of energetic activity in the belly – going down into the hips and top parts of the legs.
The energetic component of the yang awakening seem more fizzy, while the energetic component of the yin awakening seem round and full.
(The grounds themselves are of course not centered anywhere. They are free from space and time, which allows them to be everywhere and nowhere in space/time. Everything arises within and as these grounds, they have centers everywhere and nowhere.)
Early awakenings unfolding over time
With both awakenings, it seems that they can emerge gradually, unfolding, maturing and integrating over time. The yang awakening can certainly also come very suddenly, out of the blue, and I don’t know if the yin awakening can do the same. (I am familiar with both the sudden and gradual yang awakening, but only the gradual yin awakening.)
The two grounds and emotions
In my experience, the yang awakening does not necessarily touch the emotions. Emotions may continue much as before, in the same patterns, maybe even still operating as if the world is to be feared, although they do arise as absent of I and identification, and as emptiness, as Spirit, so there is a release from them in that way.
The yin awakening do seem to touch the emotions. The Smooth blackness envelops the emotions as anything else, and makes it OK as it is. It also allows contractions to soften, melt, contractions to release, and patterns to reform and realign to this new context of no separation.
So in both cases, emotional patterns were formed while there was still a sense of I there, and these may (or are likely to) continue into the awakening, whether it is an early awakening or even more full blown. In the yang awakening, they continue, yet are revealed as inherently absent of I, and as emptiness and Spirit, so there is a release from them. In the yin awakening, they are enveloped in the darkness and soften, melt, release and reform within this darkness.
Heaven and earth
The image of heaven and earth, or male and female, is of course often used to express the formless and form aspect of Spirit. Emptiness is heaven and male, clear, brilliant, detached, free. Form is earth and female, and engaged and full.
And with this yang and yin ground, or head and belly awakening, the metaphor (in this case it is more of a regular metaphor) seem even more appropriate.
The head awakening is centered higher in the body, closer to the heavens, and is crystal clear, luminous as the sun, detached as the sky is detached from whatever happens on earth.
The belly awakening is centered lower in the body, closer to the earth, and is fertile, rich and black, engaged as the earth is engaged in whatever happens here.
Both the sky and the earth are grounds allowing anything to come and go. The sky as emptiness, and the earth in its fullness – as neutral, moist, dark fertile soil, pure potential for a rich and infinite variety of forms and phenomena to grow from it.
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.
If Enlightenment is Ground awakening or Big Mind awakening to its nature of emptiness and form absent of I anywhere, then Self-Realization can be seen as the continuing unfolding of the world of form, specifically as an individual Being of soul and human self.
It is Big Mind awakened to itself, functioning through an individual and evolving soul and developing human self, in the context of an evolving universe.
And while the awakening to realized selflessness has a sense of finality, the unfolding of the world of form continues. It is Spirit manifesting, exploring and experiencing itself in always new ways, including as evolution and development. (Evolution and development is one of the ways that Spirit prevents itself from repeating itself. Not that it could anyway.)
Here are some of the possible aspects of this Self-Realization…
Part of evolution of form
Independent of anything else, any human self is inherently a part of the evolution of form in general. Whatever happens with and in this human self has infinite causes, and these causes go back to the beginning of time and extend out to the limits (if any) of this universe.
This human self is the local manifestation of the world of form as a whole, and of the totality embracing emptiness and all of form. It is inherently part of the evolution of form, no matter how that shows up.
Skillful means in general
There can be a continuing development of skillful means, exploring how to live from realized selflessness in a particular culture and circumstances.
Skillful means in teaching
And there can be a continuing development of skillful means in teaching, in exploring how to express and convey the awakening in ways that helps Big Mind (when functionally connected with other human selves) awaken to its own nature.
Then there is the healing of the human self: working through wounds so that this realized selflessness can be expressed and live through a more (conventionally) healthy human self.
Realized selflessness is realized selflessness independent of the state of the human self it functions through, but why not allow this vehicle to continue to heal in conventional terms as well? That only adds to the richness of it, and can also make the wisdom and compassion to come through in a clearer way.
The state of the human self filters the stainless clarity of awakening, so why not allow this filter to be more healthy in a relative sense.
Allowing it and its to become me and mine
An aspect of all of the above, from Spirit exploring itself to skillful means to health, is allowing it and its to become me and mine. (As Freud and his successors, including Ken Wilber, point out.)
Within realized selflessness, any quality and characteristic arise freely, as emptiness dancing. At the same time, they can be disowned by and foreign to our human self, or familiar and used in daily life.
If disowned, they cannot very easily become a part of the repertoire of our human self. It does not know how to use them in daily life in any effective, skillful or elegant way. They become holes in the ways this human self can function and relate to others. They are tools that could be available and useful to our human self, but are not since it is not familiar with how to use them.
Even as they arise as Spirit, and recognized by Spirit as Spirit, they also appear as third or second person, as an it or at best an you. There is little or no familiarity with it as an I, me or mine, with how to live it or live from it, how to use it – effortlessly, seamlessly, effectively and with elegance, in daily life and interactions.
By becoming familiar with these qualities on a human level, they gradually become more me and mine, more of a useful and available tool. And this helps Spirit to experience itself in a different, and maybe fuller and richer way. It becomes included in our available skillful means. And it helps our human self to heal.
Maturing and developing
And then there is the conventional (and less conventional) forms of maturing and developing.
Maturing, for me, means to become more fully human, to mature into what it means to be human as well as Big Mind. Or as they say in Breema: being participation, allowing more of all of us to participate – which influences our human self to mature and deepen over time.
In addition, there are innumerable areas we can develop in as human beings: cognitive (what we are aware of), emotional, relational, aesthetical (our appreciation of beauty), and more specific areas such as skills and insights into music, writing, teaching, kayaking, photography, science, engineering, romance, coziness, yogas, group dynamics, cooking, energy work, medicine, bodywork, mind-body connections, and so on. There is no lack of areas where we can develop and hone our skills and understanding.
An aspect of human development is, as Ken Wilber points out, catching up with evolution in general. How far has human evolution currently gone in any of these areas? Where is the leading edge? And how can I allow this human self to catch up with it, and then be part of the leading edge of this wave of evolution – at least in one or some areas?
Combinations and degrees
These are just a few of the many ways Self-Realization can unfold.
For any given individual at any given time, each of these is emphasized to different degrees.
In some cases, the human self may be happy to just passively take part in the general evolution of the world of form, to go along for the ride.
In other cases, there may be more of a conscious emphasis in some or all of these areas. An active and engaged exploration of what Self-Realization means, in the areas of teaching, skillful means, healing, bringing its into mine, maturing, and/or developing along specific lines.
And our culture and time seems to be one where a more actively engaged Self-Realization is emphasized. A Ground awakening itself is of course fine, but it gets fuller and richer in a different way when these forms of Self-Realization are actively brought alive and explored.
I my slow enjoyment of Integral Spirituality, I have come to chapter six, The Shadow and the Disovned Self. In general, I find IS even more clear and to the point than previous books by Ken Wilber, and this chapter in particular is amazingly so. It seems that his writings has benefited from his more active engagement with a range of people through the Integral Institute, and he clarifies several points that used to be more fuzzy to me.
On pages 129 and 130, he writes about the difference between Enlightenment and Self-Realization.
Enlightenment means to be one with the stages and states at any one time. Or we could say it is a Ground awakening, Big Mind awakening to its own nature, or realized selflessness. Enlightenment is independent of however the world of form arises in the present, it is independent of any particulars in content.
In an a complementary fashion, Self-Realization has everything to do with the particulars of the content, of how the evolution of the world of form shows up right now. It has to do with the healing, maturing and development of our human self, until we catch up to the leading edge of current human evolution, and continue to develop (more or less) along that edge.
This is a beautiful way to put it, and one that very much makes sense to me. On the one hand, we have the impersonal awakening which is available at any time and any place. On the other hand, we have the personal expression of this awakening, riding the crest of evolution and our individual development.