Consciousness and energy

 

I am reminded of a great article Ken Wilber wrote on consciousness and energy: Towards a comprehensive theory of subtle energies.

It is a while since I read it now, but what I got from it was a clearer sense of how consciousness and energy interacts and support each other at each level of our being, and in the awakening as well.

If we see ourselves as body (physical, chi), mind (emotions, thoughts), soul (alive presence, luminosity), and spirit (awake emptiness and form, Big Mind, Brahman, Tao), then we can find a pairing of consciousness and energy running through all these levels.

The diksha, and similar energy transfers in the shaktipat family such as Ilahinoor and what happens in Waking Down, is working at awakening from the energy side, functioning as a catalyst for changes on the energetic side, which in turn invites corresponding changes on the consciousness side.

These changes seem to happen at all levels. At our mind level, there is less being caught up in knots. At the soul level, there is an immediate experience and perception of the alive presence filtered in different ways, including the fertile darkness, luminous blackness, and as the alive and infinitely loving and intelligent presence in the heart area – the indwelling god. And at the Spirit level, there is the growing noticing of all as awake emptiness and form, absent of any separate self.

Changes at the energy side supports changes at the consciousness side, and the other way around.

This also reminds me of the slightly expanded integral practice grid, where we have our levels of being on one dimension, and self/other on the second. Some of the practices we do on our own, we put our own work into it, such as yoga, meditation, inquiry and physical exercise. And others are given to us from somebody else, such as massage, Breema, and the various forms of energy transfers mentioned above.

Together, there is our own work, and the gifts of others. Which there always is, of course, only more noticed this way.

Big Mind resources

 

I see that Ken Wilber has posted a foreword to a new Big Mind manual on his blog. Worth reading.

And I also see that there is lots of material (including online videos of talks) on the new Big Mind website. A modest monthly contribution gives unlimited access to it all.

It is good to see many of my fellow students from when I was there either continuing to teach, or now starting to teach.

(I got sidetracked from that path some years ago (being physically away from the center was a contributing factor for going into the dark night), and that loss, among many others, has been part of the nigredo and albedo of the dark night, the misery and purification.)

Symptoms, roots and subtle reductionism

 

Beliefs as the root

Through the filter of certain forms of self-inquiry, such as The Work, it certainly appears as if beliefs are the roots of a whole cascade of effects, including emotions and behaviors.

I believe that I am not good enough, make myself depressed, and eat ice cream. I believe my co-worker should be more considerate, feel anger, and try to avoid that person. I believe my kids are at a wrong track because of something I did, feel guilt and regret, and get involved in their lives far more than they appreciate.

So, of course, the thing to do then is to inquire into those beliefs, to get at the root of what is going on.

Working with the effects

At the same time, there are many approaches that work with what appears to be the effects of beliefs, and not the beliefs themselves.

I may experience strong emotions, such as fear, sadness, grief, anger, resentment or panic, or a strong sensation such as pain.

And I can ask myself can I be with what I am experiencing right now?

I can sit with it in meditation, allow it to unfold and live its own life in awareness.

I can bring attention to my body, to the weight of the body, the movements of the body, the breath, the facial expression, the tone of voice.

In each of these ways, I shift the center of gravity out of the seen and into the seeing of it. So here, there is a very real release from the pain that comes from (blind) identification with the seen.

It works, as there is indeed a release from being blindly caught up in the seen, and it helps me find myself as the seeing itself, as the witness.

At the same time, it may only work temporarily. Sometimes, allowing the seen to unfold with less or no interference in this way, and allowing it into awareness, is enough for the patterns to erode and wear themselves out. But other times, they remain and come up again, and again, and again.

(Then there are all the other ways of working with these symptoms, such as therapy, yoga, visualizations and so on. Each of these seem to work in some cases, and maybe not fully in other cases.)

Working with the beliefs themselves

So then, and especially if there is a recurrent pattern, it may be very helpful to inquire into the underlying beliefs themselves.

Is it true? What happens when I hold onto that belief? Who would I be without it?

Allowing the underlying beliefs to unravel in this way, through examining them more thoroughly, also allows its symptoms to fall away. Without roots, no trunk or branches.

Symptoms, roots and subtle reductionism

So working with the symptoms may work for a while. And it can also have other benefits such as finding myself as the seeing, and noticing the shift of center of gravity from the seen and into the seeing, and the effects of that shift.

Yet working with the roots – the beliefs themselves, is is far more effective. It gets to the root cause of it.

Or so it seems, through this filter of inquiry.

I also see that there is a subtle reductionism here, assuming beliefs as the cause and anything else as the effect, in any and all circumstances. Isn’t there also an effect the other way around? If I work with emotions, can’t that influence, and maybe even release, the belief, at least in some cases? And if I work directly with emotions, won’t that support the effects of the inquiry?

And there is also a, maybe less subtle, absolutism here. First, if we see beliefs as the only cause of stress and suffering. And maybe especially if we see the relationship between beliefs and emotions (etc.) as a one-way-street.

Supplement and inquire

In practical terms, it may make our repertoire limited to inquiry only, and we may miss out on some of the insights and transformations that can come from other practices which appear to deal more with the symptoms.

As Ken Wilber says, there is nothing wrong with the practice we are already doing, but supplement. Try some other things as well, and see what happens.

And it may also be helpful to notice this tendency to subtle reductionism and absolutism, and bring even that into inquiry. Is it true that beliefs are always the cause of stress? Is it true that I won’t benefit from working with other approaches besides self-inquiry?

Self/Other Grid II

 

The Self/Other practice or modality grid mentioned in an earlier post left out the body level.

With it, the rough outline could look like this:

Self/Body

Various forms of exercise, including aerobic and strength, and diet, sleep and self-massage.

Other/Body

Forms of bodywork, such as massage, other-assisted stretching, medicines, surgery.

Self/Energy

Forms of yoga, including indian yoga, tai chi, chi gong, and related practices such as Breema.

Other/Energy

Forms of healing and energy transmissions such as reiki and diksha.

Self/Consciousness

Forms of inquiry and meditation, such as The Work, headlessness experiments and shikataza.

Other/Consciousness

Changes in content or context of consciousness catalyzed by an apparent Other, by a teacher, Christ and God.

Interactions

This grid overlays Ground and its many manifestations, so it is one fluid whole before and after we put on this grid. This also means that through the filter of this grid, we will see interactions between each of the areas.

When I or somebody else works on my body, it has effects on energy and consciousness levels. Energy may start flowing more freely, I may feel more relaxed and/or alert, and so on.

When I or somebody else works on my energy aspect, it has effects on my physical body, maybe healing of or relief from physical problems, and my consciousness aspect, maybe an experience of bliss or clarity, maybe even glimpses of Big Mind or selflessness.

When I or somebody else influences my consciousness, it also affects on the two other levels. My body may change, maybe it relaxes and tension melts away, and my energy system may change, maybe knots unravel and energy flows more freely again.

Integral Life Practice

The Other portion of this grid is often left out of integral practice discussions and frameworks, but it seems that for it to be more inclusive, and more aligned with the what is out there and available to us in terms of practices and tools for healing and awakening, both the Self and Other sections must be included.

Deeksha & Subtle Energies

 

We went to the final deeksha weekend of our seven-month deeksha process (monthly gatherings), and it was quite amazing – as it usually seems to be.

Integral view on subtle energies

A couple of days ago, I also read the draft of the chapter on subtle energies from Ken Wilber’s upcoming book Integral Spirituality. He clarifies many things there that I have either picked up other places and/or had a sense of from own experience. Mainly that there is an energy component to each level from matter through to the causal, F1 through F9 in Wilber’s model.

At each level, there is an energy and a consciousness element or aspect, and they are mutually supportive and changes in one influences the other.

Through various forms of energy work – such as Indian and Chinese yoga and similar practices, we can change our consciousness at various levels. And through changing our consciousness – through for instance meditation and inquiry, their energetic components change at various levels.

Deeksha and energies

So with transmissions such as deeksha, it seems quite clear – as the people transmitting it say themselves – that the transmission work through the energy components at the various levels. It helps reorganize and restructure the energy field, possibly at levels F1 through F9, and this in turn impacts both our biological organization (at F1) and our consciousness. (It also seems that it functions as a seed, planted from even one deeksha and then unfolding on its own over time – according to the needs and circumstances of the person.)

This makes good sense when looking at the various typical effects of the deeksha transmission.

The general and typical (?) process seems to be…

  1. Growing sense of declutching (release from old stressful patterns)
  2. Deepening sense of intimacy with and no separation from the world
  3. Awakening to and as the witness. Shifting the sense of I from our human self to pure awareness, in which the world of phenomena arises including our human self. A sense of just watching our human self functioning as before, but not seeing any of it as personal or I.
  4. Shifting into a deepening nondual realization. Realizing that nothing has an inherent I in it, not our human self, not any other phenomena, and not even the Witness or the seer. This is an awakening to/as ground, appearing as all the forms in the world. Everything is revealed as God, as consciousness, as emptiness dancing.

My experiences

I received my first deeksha in the Bay area in June of last year, and experienced not much while receiving – but then empty light dropping into my body. The following day, I was absorbed into the Witness (F9). I found myself as pure awareness in which the whole world of form arouse – my human self and everything else. There was no identification with my human self, but still an identification as the seer of it all. This lasted for several days.

Some weeks later, it slipped into an early nondual realization. There was no I anywhere, not even as the witness or seer – just the ground in all its myriad forms, just emptiness dancing. And it was completely simple and ordinary. Nothing to write home about. It is an early nondual realization as it did not go through the sleep cycle.

This lasted for some weeks, and then shifted back to a vague/transparent sense of self. There is probably (obviously) more work to do there before the nondual realization can be more stable.

Throughout this process, there has also been periods of declutching, and also periods where quite a lot of previously unprocessed material has come up – in the form of illness (fatigue), vivid dreams, old stressful patterns and so on. It has been a good lesson in see, feel, and allow it to come and go on its own without getting too caught up in it, although that has happened as well.

The week after the initial deeksha, there were quite strong muscle contractions in the head and neck area. Each time I received distance deekshas in the following weeks (once a week), the same tension and pain came up, and then dissipated after the deeksha.

Initially, the deeksha energy seemed centered in and around the head. After some weeks, it droppen into the body. Also, at the beginning there was a sense of it coming from the “outside”. Then, again after some weeks, there was a sense of it just coming from space – from every point of space, pouring out from the ground everywhere – including within and from every cell in the body.

These are all relatively typical effects of the deeksha, although somewhat at the dramatic end of the spectrum.

Transmissions and integral practice

Here are some of the typical categories for an integral practice…

  • Physical (diet, activity)
  • Energy work (yoga, tai chi, chi gong, sat nam rasayan, etc.)
  • Shadow work (3-2-1, Byron Katie inquiry, etc.)
  • Relationship work
  • Meditation
  • Inquiry (Big Mind, Byron Katie, Diamond Path, Headlessness, etc.)
  • Engagement in the world (paid work, social & ecological engagement)

One that I sense may become more important and common in the future, obviously biased by my own experiences, is transmission – for instance in the form of Waking Down and deekshas.

Everything else on the list tends to be self-power type activities, and a more integral practice would also include other-power type activities, for instance in the energy realm through Waking Down and deekshas.

Integral Practice

 

Current practice…

  • Breema (bodywork, self-breemas, principles)
  • Being with what is (asking myself Can I be with what I am experiencing right now? – from Rapahel Kushnir)
  • Inquiry 1 (nature of mind)
  • Inquiry 2 (Byron Katie)
  • Relationships (friends + intimate)
  • Shamata/Vipassana
  • Deekshas (just started)
  • Work (engagement in the world)
  • Social change work (NWEI courses at workplaces)
  • Nature (hiking, backpacking, some deep ecology group activities)
  • journaling (here and in physical journal)
  • Framework (AQAL model, integral framework)
  • Visualizations (health, well-being, view)
  • Exercise (walking, biking, hiking, backpacking, some strength)
  • Nutrition (whole simple foods, listening to the body)
  • Just breathing, walking, standing, sitting, talking – being and living and experiencing