Big Mind book

 

I received this via email, and since it seems to be an open invitation thought I would post it here. Seems like a great chance for those interested in supporting the publishing of this book, and the Big Mind process in general.

Dear Sangha and Supporters,

As you may already know, we’re offering a limited hardcover edition of my forthcoming book, Big Mind / Big Heart: Finding Your Way. These specially printed and bound books will be signed and numbered, and will only be available to those who order them before publication.

We are wishing to publish it ourselves, as the new Big Mind Publishing company. In this way, we will maintain full control of the editorial content and appearance of the book. My experience in having my work issued by other publishing companies has been that I have had to compromise my intent and style to please the publishers. In order to avoid this we are planning to raise enough capital for the printing, advertising and promotion, and other costs.

Our goal is to sell at least 300 copies to finance this project. As of right now we have sold just about 100 copies. So that we don’t have to go to an outside publisher, I would like to encourage you, if you haven’t already ordered one or more copies, to order now; or if you have already ordered a copy, to think about ordering additional copies as gifts.

The original deadline for ordering was the end of March, but since we haven’t yet raised enough to go to press, we are pushing the deadline forward to April 15th. We are only printing as many of these hardcover books as are pre-ordered. Afterwards it will not be possible to buy the book in hardcover; it will only be available in paperback. You can order by clicking the following link: Big Mind / Big Heart: Finding Your Way Special Edition

I am including here some short excerpts which will give you a taste of the book.

With thanks for your continued support,

Love,
Genpo Roshi

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relationships with the ultimate, and inflation

 

In terms of avoiding or minimizing inflation, it is safer to actively explore the 2nd, 3rd, and zero person relationships with Big Mind (see previous post), and then just allow the 1st person relation to come and go on its own.

Inflation inherent in a sense of a separate self

Although even here, as long as there is a sense of a separate self, there will be some inflation, and it is good to notice it and take it for what it is.

There is a sense that I, as a separate self, have a relationship with God, understand something about God, or am someone who has glimpses of the ground of all existence. So I am special, different, am in a special relationship with God or existence, and so on. All of this is inflation. We take something that is inherently neutral, place a value on it, and take it as happening to a separate self.

It is inevitable, and happens all the time anyway.

There is a sense of a separate self, and with it comes an automatic sense of superiority and inferiority, richly diverse and with many different flavors. This form of inflation is just one of those, although it can be an especially nasty one, and annoying to those around, if left unchecked.

So what can we do?

Working with inflation

Again, we can work with it from the form and the emptiness sides.

From the form side, one way is notice and work with projections, and especially shadow projections.

From the emptiness side, I can find myself as headless and see that all of this is (apparently) happening to an individual who is inherently free from a separate self, and more precisely that it is really happening as awake emptiness and form, inherently absent of a separate I.

In both cases, we come to see that it is all inherently neutral, and only takes on significance, meaning, and a sense of importance, through our stories about it, and through believing in those stories.

Being with and seeing, for its own sake

 

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

Resistance = suffering, being with = Big Mind

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

A release

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

A secret hidden in plain sight

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

Wanting to change it

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

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

Self-inquiry too

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

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

Being with, for its own sake

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

Inquiry, to see what is already more true for us

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

A discovery of what already is

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

A note: allowing activity, even more of it

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

Lebensborn

 

This is one of those heart wrenching stories that shows us what blindness to the shadow in ourselves, and not standing up against it when expressed in others, can bring about (there are of course many other aspects to this issue besides projections.)

Living hell of Norway’s ‘Nazi’ children (BBC)

We all have our ideas of what it would be good to teach and learn in schools, and a top candidate on my list – along with interpersonal skills and learning about group dynamics and facilitation – is projections. How do we recognize, and then work with, our projections, and in particular our shadow? And how do we deal with others, as individuals or groups, when they are in the grips of their shadow?

Some of the warning signs of being in the grips of the shadow are…

  • A strong sense of separation between I/us and you/them
  • Seeing us as good/right and them as wrong/evil/bad (or reversed, in unusual cases)
  • Strong emotions of fear or hatred, and variations of those (disgust, unease, etc.), and seeing “them” as triggering or even causing it
  • A certainty of being right
  • A dehumanization of the “other”
  • A lack of empathy with the “other”
  • An inability to recognize our common humanity, seeing in myself what I see in them, and the other way around
  • Reacting in a stronger way than what the situation seems to warrant (as seen by others who are not in the grips of a similar shadow)
  • Scapegoating
  • Overgeneralizing and broadening the group of “other” to include people who rationally do not have anything to do with what triggered our fear/hatred in the first place (such as the children of German soldiers in Norway)
  • A fear/hatred, combined with dehumanization, which – in its extreme expression – can go to the point of wanting to eliminate the “other”, or at least make their lives miserable

We all do this of course, although rarely in its extreme form. But the difference is (a) whether we recognize what is going on or not, (b) how we express it (we always do, even when we try not to), and (c) how we work with it if at all.

I have heard people talk about working with projections in general, including through processes such as The Work, as impractical – just an interesting philosophy. Fun to explore superficially, but nothing of real value. But if it is engaged with wholeheartedly and with sincerity, there are few things as practical and impactful in our lives, and for those we are in relationship with.

It goes to the core of what it means to be human and how we live our life. It can even prevent or soften the impact of the horrors the “Nazi children” in Norway, and in other European countries, went through… and others go through daily around the world.

When we sincerely work on our shadow, it is a practical act of compassion, not only for ourselves but for others as well. It helps us act on our own shadow less blindly, and deal with it more effectively – and with more clarity – when those around us are in the grips of their own shadow.

Big Mind process and Kensho

 

~C4Chaos has some good initial responses to Brad Warner’s post Big Mind is a Big Load of Horseshit! (Read the comments to his post for more useful insights.)

Below is my comment on this topic:

……………….

Thanks for posting this!

In my experience, the Big Mind process does give almost everyone a clear and immediate realization of what Big Mind is about (the general terrain), which is similar to the headless experiments (www.headless.org) and other forms of inquiry.

When I try it with people who have almost no experience with Zen, meditation or anything else in that area, I often see the same result as when Genpo Roshi and others facilitate: even novices sound like Zen masters, and speak from what is alive in their immediate awareness.

But it is maybe not exactly the same as kensho. Kensho seems to have many other aspects to it (stronger, the realizations are more unquestionable, there is an energetic component, and so on.)

What seems to come out of the Big Mind process, and headless experiments, is the realization component of kensho, although the “volume” and clarity of it may be a little less than a real, full blown, kensho.

At the same time, I personally find the Big Mind process immensely helpful.

It helps clarify the view before the “real thing”, which can only be of benefit.

Per

P.S. I guess Brad is not too familiar with shadow work…! “What we see is what we are.” So Brad is …? But then, of course, we all are.

Working at three levels of being, and their mutual influences

 

Working on our three levels of being, we notice that they influence each other in different ways. An opening or clarification at one level tends to invite an opening and clarification at the other two levels.

There is also an important shared pattern among all of the levels: releasing identification with form makes it easier to allow any content of awareness, which in turn allows for a deepening into the fullness of who we are as soul and human, and a noticing of what we are as Spirit – awake emptiness and form, inherently absent of a separate self.

Spirit level

Noticing ourselves as awake emptiness reduces (an exclusive) identification with form, which means a more full allowing of any content of awareness, which in turn means a deepening into who we are at soul and human levels.

When there is a reduced or no belief in a separate self, and all the identities that comes with it, there is an easier embrace of whatever emerges at our individual level.

Soul level

Finding ourselves as the alive presence, or fertile darkness, or luminous blackness, or even the indwelling God, gives a sense of coming home and of nurturing which also allows us to relax our grip on identities. This in turn makes it easier to find ourselves as awake emptiness, and also to deepen into who we are as a human being (and soul.)

Human level

At our human level, there is the same pattern of releasing identification with identities and beliefs. Our hangups, drama, struggle and reactiveness all comes from identification with form, including a belief in stories and ideas, taking what has only a relative and limited truth as an absolute truth, and living as if it was so.

Releasing our grip on these stories, and seeing the relative truth in a wide range of stories including the reversals of the initial one, is also a release of a blind identification with particular identities, and with form in general.

And this allows for a wider embrace of our fullness as a human being and as soul, and for noticing ourselves also as awake emptiness.

Each level contributing

Any system is a whole, and changes in a system can occur through many access points.

Working on ourselves exclusively at either one of our three levels may be sufficient to shift the whole system – allowing for an awakening to what we are (awake emptiness and form, with no separate self) and a deepening into the fullness of who we are, as soul and human beings.

But a more comprehensive approach is easier in many ways.

All (?) knots are at our human level, coming from an identification with form and a belief in stories and ideas. These are the ones that limit who we find ourselves as, on human and soul levels, and distracts us from noticing what we are at the Spirit level.

Some of these knots are more easily untied when we work with our human level, others by bringing in the soul level, and other again by noticing ourselves as awake emptiness.

Exploring a sense of a separate I in three general ways

 

When I explore this sense of a separate I, I notice that I tend to do it in three general ways.

The main one is to be with the experience of a separate I, to fully allow it – including any resistance to this sense of a separate I, any hopes for it to change, any struggles around it. Fully be with it, allow it, embrace it, as it is. To see it and feel it as it is, here and now (which allows loving it, as it is, to come in as well.)

The second one is to amplify the experience of a separate self. How can I make the sense of a separate self stronger? I find that I do it by tensing up muscles, by strengthening an image of a split between me here and the rest of the world out there, and also by emotions such as anger, fear, desire, and so on. This helps me see how the sense of a separate self is created, and how I do it in my daily life.

The third is to inquire into what is already more true in immediate experience, such as exploring if I am content of awareness, if I am awareness itself, and if the content is anything else than awareness. (Am I any of this content? These sounds? Sights? Sensations? Thoughts? They all come and go, but something does not come and go. What is it that does not come and go? It is awareness itself. Am I this awareness? If I find myself as awareness, I notice that its content arises as a seamless field. What appeared as inside and outside, when I took myself to be a part of the content, is now all a seamless field of no real inside or outside. Where is the boundary between awareness and its content? Does the content appear as anything else than this awareness? The content of this awake emptiness arises as nothing other than awake emptiness itself.)

Together, there is the full allowing of a sense of a separate self, including any associated resistance. There is an active exploration of how the sense of a separate I is created. And there is an exploration of what is already more true in immediate awareness.

The path of untying knots

 

Broadly speaking, there seems to be two paths of awakening to who (individual) and what (Spirit) we are. One is of focusing on – and noticing or invoking – what we are seeking, the other is of focusing – and working – on what is blocking what we are seeking. And most paths of course include both, in different ways, and with different emphasis.

Only noticing or invoking who and what we are

If we only do the first – going for noticing or invoking what we are seeking – the pitfalls seems to include missing out of, or ignoring, some knots that needs to be untied and some healing that needs to occur. It can for instance lead to a (partial or more full) awakening to what we are (awake emptiness and form absent of a separate I), functioning through an individual that still has a lot to work through, and who may not be aware of everything that needs to be worked through.

Some forms of self-inquiry fall into this category, such as noticing that we are not the content of awareness but awareness itself (and that the content is no other than awareness), and also the headless experiments.

Only untying knots

If we only do the second – untying knots – we may miss out of noticing who we are at a soul level, and what we are at a Spirit level. We may pass right through it, because we don’t know what we are looking for.

Together

Using both together, we reap the benefits of working through knots and stuck places, which naturally reveal who and what we are, and also noticing who and what we are when it is revealed, and then deepening into it.

The Work is a great example of an approach that includes both the untying of knots (the whole process), and noticing who and what we are behind the clouds created by the knots (question #4 and turnarounds.) And the same is the case with the Big Mind process, allowing knots to unravel at our human level, revealing what we are as Spirit (Big Mind.)

Untying knots works at all levels

One of the great benefits of the second approach, of working with knots, is that it helps us at all levels. It unties knots at our individual human level, allowing for a healing and maturing there, and for less stress and discomfort. And it reveals (more of) who we are, in our evolving wholeness as a human individual, who we are as soul (alive presence), and what we are as Spirit (this field of awake emptiness and form absent of center.)

We don’t have to choose among developing as individuals or awakening as Spirit, and we don’t need to deny the importance or validity of either. Both are an integral part of the process, and the path benefits and works on both areas equally.

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.)

Practices surfacing

 

It seems that many practices surface on their own these days…

This morning, I noticed lots of hangups coming up…. over someone delivering soggy firewood to us, careless housemates, the infernal rain… And then, a very tangible sense of this all coming from the soft little animal. This little vulnerable animal, which has been hurt, scared, confused, lost, so many times over its life (especially early on, when everything was new and utterly confusing.)

So instead of going into the contractions and stories coming up, there was space around it, and also a deep compassion for their source – which is this vulnerable, scared, hurt, confused little animal. This human self, as an animal, trying to find its way in this world, and sometimes being quite reactive and contracted. There was deep compassion for this little animal, and a seeing, feeling into, and loving of it. Holding it in gentle love, allowing it to relax, unwind, maybe even heal a little.

This is what many intentional processes do, such as Process Work, Voice Dialog and other ones, but it is nice when it surfaces on its own, as a spontaneous practice. A practiceless practice.

Another one that has come up for me over the last few days is the question is this worth getting contacted over? So far, the answer has always been no, and a release of the contraction.

Fully allowing leads to Big Mind

 

This is another of those secrets hidden in plain view..

Whenever we fully experience something, anything, it leads into Big Mind.

Resistance to experience is what gives rise to a sense of a separate I. And this sense of separate I provides an ongoing propping-up for resistance. They are two aspects of the same system, operating in a positive feedback loop. Their strength is linked. One increases or decreases, and the other does the same.

So whenever experiences are fully allowed, when even resistance is allowed, the charge goes out of resistance, and the sense of a separate I diminishes… all the way, until Big Mind notices itself, free from a sense of a separate I.

There is no need to wait for the right moment for this, to wait for the stars to align, for the perfect teacher to come along, for the blissful experiences, for Christ to appear in a vision. What is here, right now, is perfect. That is all that is needed.

Just allow what is right here now to be, as it is, including resistance and anything else. Allow it all to be, to unfold and live its own life. Be with it, without having to change anything. And the field of awakeness and its forms (content) will notice itself as a field, inherently free from any separate I. And that is what we already are.

Mirror practice

 

I notice that I am used to feeling this body (and human self) as Spirit, and seeing others as Spirit, but I am not used to seeing myself as Spirit. So sometimes when I am in a bathroom, I take a few seconds to gaze into my own eyes, seeing, feeling and loving even that strange person as Spirit…

The emptiness and form dimensions of being with whatever comes up

 

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

Whatever arises as awake emptiness

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

Insight into the dynamics within form

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

Both there at the same time

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

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

Mutuality

There is also a nice mutuality between the two.

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

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

Sleepless hours as practice

 

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

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

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

The simplicity of being with and being

 

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

Being with experiences, then just being

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

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

From second to 1st or zero person

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

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

Habit of identifying with resistance

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

Soft docking, and everything the same yet different

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

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

Big Mind process and the belly center

 

The head and heart centers in the Big Mind process

The Big Mind process is in a way a simulation of an awakening of the head and heart centers. We get to taste, to dip our toes into, how Spirit reveals itself through the head center (Big Mind) and the heart center (Big Heart). We get to taste how it is to see and love all as Spirit.

The belly center in the Big Mind process

In the process, there is the inevitable taste of feeling all as Spirit as well, of Spirit filtered through the belly center, although this one is almost an accidental side-effect.

To amplify this taste of Spirit filtered through the belly center, we can allow the human self to feel how it is to see and love all as Spirit, to feel into it, sink into it, marinade within it, allowing the body and emotions to reorganize within this context of all as Spirit.

How does it feel in this human self, in the body, when all is seen and loved as Spirit?

How does the body change? Does it relax? Soften? Does it melt away rigidity?

How do the emotions change? Do they relax? Soften? Go from reactive and fearful to giving a sense of nurturing fullness?

Big Mind, Big Heart, and Big Belly

In addition to Big Mind and Big Heart, there is now also Big Belly (!) It is the feeling, the sensed feeling, of all as Spirit. Of all of Existence as a Big Belly, soft, warm, nurturing. A cosmic womb, dark and fertile, allowing the body and the emotions of this human self to reorganize within all as Spirit.

Dipping the toes, diving into, and deepening within

The Big Mind process itself, of course, only gives us a taste of Spirit filtered through these three centers. We are just dipping our toes in the waters.

And becoming familiar with it in this way, simulating an awakening of these three centers, and allowing our view, heart and feelings to begin to reorganize within this new context, sets the stage for a larger shift, for a more full-bodied diving into the water, and then for deepening within it.

Christ meditation

 

I did the Christ meditation last night, and noticed a new shift and a few familiar things as well.

In the Christ meditation, I visualize Christ in my heart, and in front and behind, on the left and right, and above and below, about 5-8 feet out. Christ can be visualized as a presence, a light, or even in the physical form of Jesus, depending of what resonates the most and gives the strongest sense of presence. For me, a combination of presence and golden light seems to work best.

Soft alive loving intelligent receptive luminosity

The difference this time was the quality of the light. This time, it had a soft rounded quality, as a soft luminous deep infinitely loving, intelligent and receptive luminosity, with an alive presence. It has the deep velvety quality of the fertile darkness, and the aliveness and love, intelligence and receptivity of the alive luminosity.

In my dream that morning, the fertile blackness took on the qualities of the alive luminosity, revealing itself as luminous blackness. And during this meditation, the luminosity took on the deep soft quiet qualities of the fertile darkness. They seem to be revealing themselves as just two facets of the same, in different ways, with one in the foreground, then the other.

Directions

I also noticed the experience of the directions again, as I often do.

The front seems to have to do with my conscious daily life and interactions.

The back with my individual shadows, maybe shared with people in my groups such as culture and nationality, and in general what I tend to be unaware of in my daily life.

The sides with community and relationships with humanity, animals, plants and the Earth.

Above with traditional yang spirituality, such as transcendence and ascension.

And below with deep feminine spirituality, and also deeper collective shadows.

Placing, or noticing, the Christ there allows the light of awareness into these realms, allowing them to reorganize within the light of consciousness.

Unique quality

I also notice the unique Christ quality. It involves the heart center, but so do anything else related to Big Heart, such as Avalokiteshwara (Chenrezig, Kanzeon, Quan Yin). It involves the head center as well, especially the crown. But it also has a very distinct quality, a fiery alive presence that I have not experienced with anything else.

Tongues of fire

I also took the opportunity to look at the tongue of fire in the mirror afterwards (I know this is weird! I am definitely pushing my comfort zone by writing about this.) It looks like a cylinder of very clear light attached to the crown, maybe about 1.5-2 inches wide and 5-6 inches tall. When I move my head around, it follows exactly, as if solidly attached to the crown.

So it doesn’t really look like a tongue of fire, but it is very understandable why it may be described – and depicted – that way. It is of clear brilliant light, attached to the top as a flame to a candle (!), and it also has the fiery quality of the Christ presence itself.

Resistance, dark night and purgatory

 

Over the last few days, the birth of the seed resistance, the effects of identities, and the difference between resisting and fully experiencing these effects have been even more acutely up for me. I also see how resisting the effects of a sense of I and identities is a dark night, while allowing myself to fully experiencing these effects is purgatory. It allows the sense of I and its identities to gradually burn away.

Seed resistance, giving rise to a sense of I and its identities

First, there is the resistance to what is as inherently absent of I. This resistance gives rise to a sense of I, and of I and Other.

This sense of I is fleshed out through various identities. I am this, not that. I want this, not that. And this gives rise to resistance to various aspects within form.

Resistance to the effects of the sense of I and identities

Then, there is resistance to the effects of the sense of I and the various identities. There is resistance to the experiences of loneliness, fear, anger, attraction, aversion, confusion, and so on.

When there is this resistance to the effects, the sense of I and its identities tend to seem very real and substantial. We act as if they are real, so they tend to appear as real.

When the resistance to the effects is dropped, when we allow ourselves to fully experience the effects of a sense of I and various identities, they tend to appear less substantial. They may even erode over time and fall away.

Resisting experiences vs. fully experiencing

In practical terms, it means that when we resist experiences, the sense of I and its identities appears as more real to us. They become solidified.

Many of these experiences arise when the world is filtered through a sense of I and its identities, such as fear, anger, loneliness, and so on. And resisting these experiences only makes them proliferate. We pour gasoline on the already existing fire.

When we allow ourselves to fully experience, the sense of I and its identities appear as less substantial and real. Eventually, they can burn out completely.

Fully experiencing allows us a glimpse into what we really are, awake emptiness and form absent of I, and this gives a sense of coming home, and even of bliss.

Resisting experience is hell. Allowing the resistance to experience to fall away is bliss.

Dark night and purgatory

I notice for myself that this is also the difference between an experience of dark night and purgatory.

When I resist experiencing the results of a sense of I and various identities, it is hell and an experience of a dark night.

When I allow myself to fully experience the results of a sense of I and the various identities, there is a sense of fullness, being held, coming home, and even bliss. There is also an experience of the sense of I and its identities burning away, of purgatory.

Put another way, resisting God’s will is hell and a dark night. Surrendering to God’s will is heaven and purgatory.

Feeling all arising as Spirit and me

 

Throughout the day, and especially when lying in bed before falling asleep or waking up, the practice of feeling all as Spirit and me comes up.

Whatever arises is felt as Spirit and as me. It is awake emptiness and form, and it is me or a mirror for me as a human self.

I especially do this with anything arising that is outside of my habitual identities, such as fear, people I am attracted to or feel aversion towards, fatigue, pain, even countries and the Earth as a whole.

I feel into it as Spirit and me, and along with this is the seeing of it as Spirit and me, which in turn awakens the loving of it as Spirit and me.

Reorganizing the three centers, and allowing anything human to be experienced as me

This helps reorganize the three centers of view, emotions and heart within the context of all as Spirit.

And it helps transform my identity as a human being to be more inclusive of anything human. To feel, see and love anything human as not only it, over there, but also me, right here.

Seed resistance and flowering tree of resistance, and composting it all

 

Resistance comes in many forms…

The seed resistance is the field resisting itself as a field. There is the field of awake emptiness and form, inherently absent of I, yet resisting noticing itself as this field absent of I. So then, there is the sense of I and Other.

And from this seed resistance, a whole flowering tree of resistance emerges.

There is resistance to what is, to what is not, to what may be, to what was. There is fear, aversion, attraction, anger, resentment, a sense of identity, wanting something else, and much more. All the fruits of a sense of separation.

And in the endarkenment, it can all be composted within and as the fertile full darkness. Resistance arises, and composts itself in and as fertile loamy darkness.

They become nutrients for different plants and flowers. Plants and flowers coming from a felt sense of all as Spirit.

Composting resistance

 

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.

Ways of working with identity in real time

 

Another practice coming up these days…

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.

Fear

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.

The quest for immortality

 

I read about the new movie The Fountain, which has the quest for immortality as one of its themes. This has also come up recently for me in reading about alchemy.

A quest for what we already are

In alchemy, the quest for immortality has to do with finding ourselves as (a) awake emptiness, timeless, that which time and space unfolds within, and (b) as Spirit, awake emptiness and form, absent of I anywhere, beyond and including all polarities.

This is what we already are, this field of awake emptiness and form, so even if there is an attachment to an idea of “I” as a segment of this field, there will be an intuition about already being timeless. Timelessness is here, but since the “I” is placed on form, and on just the small part of form that makes up this human self, timelessness takes the appearance of “Other”.

The field of awake emptiness and form experiences itself through the filter of I and Other, making this human self into I and awake emptiness, or timelessness, into Other.

And this is where the quest for immortality begins. It is a quest for what we already are, in our awake emptiness aspect.

An escape from what we take ourselves to be

The other side of this is that the quest for immortality is an escape from what we take ourselves to be. This side of the coin is more closely aligned with conventional views.

We take ourselves to be a human being, exclusively, find ourselves as finite in time and space, vulnerable to the wider world and the passage of time, so naturally want to escape this – and one way to escape it is immortality.

In theistic (Christian, Jewish, Islamic) cultures, immortality comes in the form of a soul. Our human shell falls away, yet our soul continues on. It is immortal. And the transition is still in the future, so the quest for immortality sometimes becomes a quest to be worthy enough for this immortal life, some time in the future.

In our more recent materialistic culture, the soul is a more questionable idea, so a quest for immortality then takes the form of medical advances, cryogenics and so on.

Right here now

In either case, whether we seek what we already are, or an escape from what we take ourselves to be, or both, we can find immortality right here now, closer than our own breath.

It is this awake emptiness within, to and as all this arises – the words, sensations, thoughts, sounds. This timeless, spaceless emptiness, allowing time and space to unfold within, to and as itself.

Appearance of a chooser

 

It is pretty simple, but easily overlooked if we don’t explore it for ourselves:

There is a thought, a decision, and an action.

And when a belief in the idea of “I” is placed on top of it, it appears that “I think”, “I decided”, “I acted”. It all seems very logical and neat.

(Of course, if the identity built up around this idea of “I” does not fit with the thought, the decision or the action, then we say “it wasn’t me, it just happened”, or “I don’t know where that came from”.)

When this field of awake emptiness and form awakens to itself, it looks different. Now, there is just a thought, a decision, and an action, revealed as inherently absent of any I. There is doing, but no doer.

This is an immediate and very clear realization. No thinking or analysis is needed.

But it is also possible to taste this before such a clear awakening. For instance, for any thought, decision, or behavior, explore the many causes of it. You can always find one more, and one more. And then discover, bit by bit, how everything happening in the world of form, including anything associated with this particular human self, has literally infinite causes. It is the whole field acting locally.

It is the local manifestations of the whole field of form, always in flux, and the causes go all the way back to beginning of time, and all the way out to the extent of the universe.

The field first filtering itself through I and Other, then awakening to itself

There is always this field of awake emptiness and form, now reading this and also manifesting as the words themselves on the screen (and anything else).

First, it identifies with a segment of itself, for instance this human self, and there is a sense of I placed on this human self, a sense of I and Other, subject and object, of being finite in time and space, of a doer. And this sense of I is placed on anything this human self does, at least if it fits with the more elaborate identity made up for this human self.

Then, the field of awake emptiness and form awakens to itself, as this field, inherently absent of I anywhere, or as a whole as an I. And it realizes, immediately and very clearly, that there never was an I in this human self. There was the sense of an “I” placed on top of it, making the impression that “I think, decide and do”, but even then, there was never any inherent I in it. It was just a part of the field, just the local manifestations of the movements of the whole field of form. There was doing, but no doer.

Finding it here now

The nice thing is that we can taste this right now, just by looking. Just by exploring. Noticing what is happening, right here now.

There is a thought, but did “I” think it? It certainly arouse, but where is the “doer” in it? There is a decision, but did “I” decide? Didn’t it just happen on its own, just as the thought? There is an action, but did “I” act? Did that too just happen on its own? There is an apparent causality between all of these, a logical sequence, but is there an “I” there?

And we can also look for an “I” in the world of form in general. There are sensations, sounds, sights, tastes, smells, thoughts and so on, but is there an “I” there? They all come and go, while something does not seem to come and go. How can there be an I there, in the seen, when it all comes and goes?

What is it that does not change, that does not come and go? It is this awakeness that it all happens within and to. In this awakeness, there is a sense of timelessness. Of always presence. Yet, is this “I”?

If the awakeness is “I” then the changing forms must be “other”. But where is the boundary between the two? Where does the awakeness end and the forms begin?

Now, it appears as if the awakeness and the forms are made up of the same. It is as if the forms arise within, to and as this awakeness.

Now, the field of awake emptiness and form starts to get a sense of itself, without the overlay of a sense of I as only a segment of this field. It has a taste of itself as a field, without being filtered through the sense of I and Other. As a field with no center, with no I inherent anywhere.

A free fall

It can be dizzying at first, as a free fall. There is nothing to hold onto anymore. No fixed position. And also the realization that this is what allows all positions, what allows all forms, what allows anything and everything to be.

And that is what this field is, always and already.

It just didn’t notice before. It had temporary and partial amnesia. It was just a case of temporary and mistaken identity.

The complementarity of Atman and Anatman

 

I just finished up The Supreme Self by Stan Trout, which is one third autobiography, one third history of mysticism, and one third how different universal questions appears when Spirit awakens to itself.

As it is written by somebody who is intimately familiar with Big Mind, the essence of the various traditions is brought to the foreground and presented in a very clear and simple way. (Which by necessity means that the diversity and difference in flavor goes into the background, leaving out some of the richness.)

One thing that came up for me is the complementarity of Atman and Anatman, of Self and no-self, and the traditions emphasizing one or the other.

There is the Self, aka Buddha Mind, Big Mind, Brahman, and so on. The field of seeing and seen, of awake emptiness and form, as that beyond and including all polarities. It is “I” as awake emptiness and form, as the field as a whole, as Big Mind.

And there is the no-self, the field of seeing and seen absent of I anywhere. It is the field of awake emptiness and form awakening to itself as a field with no center anywhere, with no I as any segment of itself. There is doing, but no doer.

There is a beautiful complementarity of Self and no-self, and this is expressed within each of the traditions talking about Atman or Anatman, whether they emphasize one or the other in how they talk about it, or as a path into this realization.

The Big Mind process strikes me as a practice that especially well includes both. We get to explore ourselves as Big Mind, as Atman, as awake emptiness and form, as the whole beyond and including all polarities. And we get to explore the no-self, the absence of I anywhere in this field of awake emptiness and form, including in all the different personal and transpersonal voices. They are all there, available, yet each one of them inherently absent of an I.

Update March 2010: Stan Trout’s new website is The Mystic Vision.

The One Taste of public and private situations

 

A while back, I used this practice more regularly, and still find it useful.

How would it be if there is One Taste of public and private situations? If I act in public as if I was on my own, and when I am on my own as if everybody could see me?

Acting in public as if I am on my own helps me with finding ease, comfort, allowing pretense to fall away.

Acting on my own as if everybody could see helps me find a sense of transparency, nothing to hide or protect, allowing the light of awareness into (more of) all I am and do.

Together, it helps me find ease and comfort with myself, as I am, accepting it as it is, be OK with all of what I am. It helps me find a sense of wholeness, of transparency, of receptivity, of nothing to hide, noting to protect or defend.

This is one of the many forms of One Taste, one that plays itself out on our human level.

Free Will II – a difference between realizing and believing in ideas

 

There is of course a big difference between realizing and believing in the complementarity of the freedom of awake emptiness, and the absence of I and free will in the world of form – in our case, as a human being.

Realizing absence of freedom

Realizing it is Spirit awakening to itself as awake emptiness and form, inherently absent of I anywhere – and as a whole as an I. This is liberation. It is a liberation from an exclusive identity as a segment of this field, it is a liberation from seeing this human self and its actions as an I, it is a liberation for this human self from having a sense of I placed on top of it.

Believing in absence of freedom

Believing in it, just attaching to ideas about it, is quite different. This happens when there is still very much a sense of I there, placed on the local causality of this human self such as thoughts, decisions and actions. It is still taken and experienced as an I, yet there is a belief in infinite causes, in an absence of free will in this human self, maybe in an absence of I.

And this can take different forms.

Believing, yet still acting as if there is free will

One, and the more healthy variation, is to take it as a spur to practice, to explore this, is it really true? Can I find it in my own experience? Are there really infinite causes to anything I think, do, and experience? Is there an absence of I in this human self?

In exploring this, we take our experience seriously in two ways.

First, we take our findings seriously. We explore seriously, in detail, over and over, and take what we find seriously. We explore the implications of what we find, we feel into what it would mean to live more fully from it.

And, equally important, we take our current experience seriously in the context of our daily life. If there is still a sense of an I here in daily life, then I live from that as before. I take responsibility for my actions. I sincerely try to make the most informed and compassionate choices. I live as if I have a free will, because it seems I do.

Even if we don’t explore it further, it is a good thing to act as if we have free will. It does help in making our lives easier on us and others.

Yet, this too, this acting as if we have free will, is the local expressions of the movements of the whole. This too has infinite causes. This too is inherently absent of an I and free will. It may be good to realize that, but also keep it in the background. Acting as if there is free will is in the foreground, realizing that this too is absent of free will, that this too is grace, can go in the background.

Believing, and making wrong conclusions

The other, less healthy, way, is to take a nihilistic approach and abandon any sense of responsibility. Of course, what we are really doing here is to first attach to a belief of an absence of free will, and then attach to an idea that this means nihilism and abandoning responsibility. This is miles away from what happens in a real awakening, when there is a real realization.

How it unfolds when realized

In a real realization, this human self continues to operate much as before. It still explores options and alternatives. It still tries to make informed and compassionate decisions. It is still very much active and engaged in the world. If anything, there is more of an incentive to making informed decisions, to live from compassion, and to be engaged in the world.

The only difference is that now, there is no sense of an I there anymore. There are thoughts, choices and actions, yet no I there anywhere. It is just an expression of awake emptiness and form, as anything else happening.

There is very much doing, but no doer anymore.

Grace, and also planting seeds

All of this, believing naively there is free will, taking on a nihilistic attitude, Spirit awakening to itself, all of this is also absent of any I or free will. It is the local expressions of the movements of the whole, it is Spirit expressing, exploring and experiencing itself in various ways. It is all God’s will. It is all Grace.

At the same time, there is a planting of seeds in the world of form that allows these things to happen and unfold. There is a planting of a seed that spurs someone to explore for themselves, and some guidelines for how to do it. There is a set-up that brings someone into cynicism and nihilism when they read something like this. There is the infinite causes coming together so that someone still acts as if there is free will, even if he realizes, to some extent, that it cannot be.

Anything happening in and through us has infinite causes, and we can plant seeds for ourselves and others. We can plant seeds for happiness, release from suffering and awakening. And we can plant seeds for misery. We do both.

And both are themselves the fruits of infinite causes.

But here too, it is a good idea to act as if there is free will.

And around and around it goes, until Spirit awakens to itself.

Experiment: who am I without the story?

 

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.)

………………….

[Initial write-up]

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?

Gratitude and stories we tell ourselves

 

The most profound truths are often the simplest ones as well, and sometimes the most difficult ones to realize (such as selflessness) and practice.

One of these simple truths is gratitude: practice gratitude, and you’ll be happy. Practice ingratitude, and you’ll make yourself miserable.

It is the power of the stories we tell ourselves.

Stories we tell ourselves, bringing misery or happiness

I can tell myself stories of how what I have is less good than how it used to be, how it can or could be, how it is for others, and so on. I can compare my intelligence to the most intelligent, my money to the most wealthy, my house to the most elegant homes, my education to the best education, my looks to the most beautiful, my skills to the most skillful, and I am bound to find myself lacking and make myself miserable.

Or I can reverse it by looking at what I can be grateful for. I can be grateful for health, friends, family, community, house, food, education, free time, access to nature, peace in my community, and so on.

A daily practice

Just as I can easily find a million reasons to make myself miserable, I can find infinite reasons for gratitude. There is always one more, and one more.

Making ingratitude into a practice, I find contraction, anger, resentment, guilt, shame, fear, depression, fatigue, holding on, and misery.

Making gratitude into a practice, I find receptivity, joy, peace, appreciation, well-being, passion, letting go, and happiness.

It is as easy as taking time to look for what I can be thankful for, throughout my day, and it is easy to find.

Why stories work: because I believe in them

Whether I tell myself stories of ingratitude or gratitude, one is as true or untrue as the other. The reason they impact me as they do, is that I believe in them to a certain extent, and I believe in stories about what they mean.

I have money, and that means that …, and that is good. I have less money than many others, and that means that …, and that is not good.

The core belief: the idea of I

Ultimately, the stories have power because of the core belief in each of our lives: the belief in the idea of I, as separate from others, as a unit in space and time, subject to birth and death, joy and happiness, health and disease, fortune and misfortune.

What is already alive in our immediate awareness is simply the field of seeing and seen, inherently absent of any I anywhere, yet also with an overlay of a sense of I placed on this human self.

And this overlay, this belief in the idea of I placed on just a segment of this field, is the root of the misery, and it is the reason why stories of ingratitude create misery and stories of gratitude create happiness.

When Ground awakens to itself, the belief in the idea of I falls away

When this field awakens to itself as a field, absent of I anywhere, with no center, with no subject and no object, with everything as subject and object, then these stories are seen as what they are – just stories, with no substance, absent of any absolute truth in them.

It is all Spirit, in all its many forms, and Spirit is in the foreground independent of what particular form it takes. It is Spirit experiencing Spirit. There is only a quiet joy, along with whatever else arises.

There is natural gratitude, independent of stories.