Examining conglomerates

 

A conglomerate of thoughts anchored in sensations, and the accompanying emotional patterns, seems very real when not examined closely. There is obviously a separate I there.

But when examined, it falls apart.

Finite in time and space

I notice sights coming and going. Sounds coming and going. Smells and tastes coming and going. Sensations coming and going. Thoughts coming and going.

They are all finite in time and space.

Awareness… timeless and spaceless

Am I any of those? No. Something does not come and go. This awareness, that all of these happen within, does not come and go. If there is an “I” here, it is more this awareness than its content.

Content as awake emptiness itself

If so, where is the dividing line between I as awareness and this content, which somehow is less “I”? Can I find a dividing line anywhere?

Now, it seems that the content of awareness is no other than awareness itself.

There is this awake void, and forms happening within, to and as this awake void.

Sense of separate I as awake emptiness

And there is no separate I to be found anywhere. When I look for a separate I within form, I find thoughts associated with particular sensations, and a sense of a separate I in turn associated with those two. But in the very seeing of that, the whole sense of a separate I weakens. The air goes out of the balloon. It becomes transparent. That too is revealed as no other than awake emptiness.

Awake emptiness takes myriads of forms… all these sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations, thoughts. And yes, even a sense of a separate I placed on thoughts associated with particular sensations. That too, is no other than awake emptiness. It has no substance. That too, is awake emptiness.

Seeing this, over and over, there is more familiarity with it. It comes more into the foreground. the sense of a separate I has less and less hold. The identification with it has no substantial anchor anymore.

Innocent curiosity

Of course, writing this is mostly useless, other than as a report of what is alive in immediate awareness here and now. If I am looking for anything in particular, if I think I know what I am looking for and what I will find, it is boxed in.

To be free, receptive to what is really there, to really be a genuine exploration, there has to be an innocent curiosity…

What will i find? What is new this time? What surprises will there be? What is really alive, here and now?

Sensations as anchor for beliefs II

 

Before falling asleep last night, I explored further how sensations are used as anchors.

  • I noticed how a sense of searching and looking was associated with slight movements of the eyes (even when they are closed.) Combined with a sense of a separate self, it creates a sense of “I am searching” or “I am looking”. Belief in idea of separate self + searching/looking + slight eye movements = “I am searching.”
  • The same seems to happen with thoughts. Thoughts were associated with slight movements of the throat (as if speaking) and combined with a sense of a separate self it becomes “I am thinking”. Belief in the idea of a separate self + thoughts + sensations in throat area subtly mimicking speaking = “I am thinking.”
  • A sense of a sweet atmosphere was associated with the sensation of air coming in and passing over the roof of the mouth.
  • A sense of a separate self was placed on various sensations in the throat, neck and (inner) mouth area. Whenever I looked at the sensation it was currently placed on, the sense of a separate I was disengaged from that sensation, and automatically placed on another sensation in a slightly different area of space.

In all of these cases, the conglomerates seem very real and substantial when they are not explored. But as soon there is the noticing of them being simply sensations used as anchors for thoughts, searching, a particular atmosphere, or a sense of a separate I, the illusion falls away. It is similar to seeing how a magic trick is performed – the spell goes out of it.

The conglomerate, which looked so convincing as a whole, falls into its separate parts. They are recognized as distinct from each other.

Sometimes when I do this, the conglomerate creating the appearance of a separate self falls away. It pops, revealing Big Mind, headlessness, awake emptiness and form clearly absent of any separate self anywhere. Last night (and for the last few days) it remains, just shifting to similar sensations nearby. Both are of course fine – equally interesting to explore in their own way.

Filtering out awakeness, and leaving emptiness far in background

 

I have written several posts on this topic, as with so many other recurrent topics, but it still comes up for me…

Awake emptiness when identified with content: in the background

When I identify with the content of awareness, this sense of a separate self is usually placed on this human individual, and its thoughts, sensations, views of itself, tastes, and behaviors.

The ground of awake emptiness typically goes far in the background, if it is noticed at all. And its two aspects of awakeness and emptiness seems to be filtered in two different ways.

Awakeness, in its direct experience of it, is filtered to only belong to this individual. But even here, it is partly within and outside of the regions of the separate self, coming and going on its own. (I am this individual, this human being, and awareness comes and goes, sometimes stronger and sometimes less strong, sometimes here – when I am awake, and sometimes not – when I am asleep.)

And the emptiness aspect is usually not noticed at all. It is at most intuited, and then often associated with fear and discomfort. (If I am an object in the world, then emptiness – nonexistence – is not something I want to be connected with.)

Awake emptiness when absence of identification with content: in foreground

When the identification goes out of the content of awareness, and back into the ground of awake emptiness, the content of awareness – including this individual – arises as the awake emptiness itself.

The awake emptiness goes into the foreground, and form arises as nothing other than the awake emptiness itself. There is a field of awake emptiness arising as form, as this individual and the wider world, and there is no center and no separate self inherent anywhere.

The awakeness is no more or less associated with this individual than with the wider world. It belongs to the field of awake emptiness that everything – the thin surface of form – arises within, to and as.

And the emptiness is the void all forms arises from, as, and goes back into. Within the timeless present, all forms arises as the void. Within time, all forms comes out of and goes back into the void. It is a continuous stream of form emerging from and going into void, a stream with a hidden source and destination.

A lot of work

A lot of work goes into filtering all this through a sense of a separate self. The emptiness has to be ignored. The awakeness has to be placed on this individual human being. The world of form has to be split into I here and Other there, and from this split comes a great deal of struggle and friction (which is essential for exploring the world of form, but also takes a lot of work.)

No wonder it is experienced as such a relief when identification goes out of the content of awareness, and there is just the resting as the ground of awake emptiness – within, to and as all content and form arises. It is much easier.

It is what already and always is, even if it sometimes filters itself through a sense of a separate self and appears – to itself – differently.

Fully allowing a sense of a separate self

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 final leap

 

The final leap into realizing – or discovering, noticing – what we are is a momentous one. It is a shift more radical than anything that has gone before, or that is at least often the experience of it. Up until then, there has always been a sense of a separate I, however (apparently) subtle. And now, that one is gone. There is just the field of awareness and its content, where the content is revealed as nothing other than awareness itself, and with no sense of a center or a separate I anywhere.

The perceptual center, located in this human individual, is still there, but it is no longer a center for a sense of a separate I. The perceptual center just arises within the field of content, along with anything else coming and going.

So it is no wonder that most haven’t gone there yet, including most Jungians, or Process Workers, or even mystics. They may go to the threshold of it, where the sense of a separate I appears very transparent, subtle, vague, minuscule in the ocean of everything as God, Spirit, or awakeness and form.

But to take the final leap would mean to question our final and core identity, as an ultimately separate self, a separate I that may be “one with” everything and God, but is still a separate I. It means to question, and to thoroughly examine – leaving no stone unturned – the belief in the idea of a separate I.

Perceptual center as anchor for a sense of a separate self

 

I keep noticing how this perceptual center – this physical body and especially this head with its eyes, ears, nose and mouth – is made into a center for a sense of a separate I.

There is a sense of a separate I, as a belief in an idea of a separate self, almost as a weird cardboard cutout in the mind. Then there is a looking for a good place to put this sense of a separate I, a good anchor for it. And then the – very understandable – decision to place it on this body, especially this head, and in particular on sensations in the head area, and even more specifically on sensations of tension, contraction and density in the head area.

It is really quite funny… although it sometimes has quite tragic consequences.

And this process of making a perceptual center into a center for a separate-self sense is of course why the headless experiments can be so effective. They bring our attention directly to the physical center of a sense of I, and reveal that there is nothing there. No thing, allowing all the things of the world, including those sensations previously used as an anchor for a sense of a separate I.

Brilliantly awake emptiness, a spaceless, timeless, crystal clear void, allowing all the forms of the world (as perceived by this body) to arise within and to it, and as nothing other than awake emptiness itself.

Anchor for sense of separate I

 

This comes up daily for me…

I notice how a sense of a separate I is placed on sensations in the center of the lower head and upper neck area, serving almost as an anchor for this sense of separate I.

The experience of the rest of the body is of space, with just a few sensations here and there appearing in space, but these particular sensations appear as more dense, more substantial, as a tension, a contraction. It is almost as if there is a tensing there to allow for a better anchor for the sense of I.

And when this sense of a separate I is anchored there, the sense of (separate) Other is placed at other locations in space… on certain sensations, thoughts, images, people, situations, land/cityscapes and so on.

It is very curious, and almost comical when it is noticed.

There is a contraction in some muscles in the upper neck/lower head area, making this area appear more dense than the rest of the body (which is just space). And these serve as an anchor for a sense of a separate I, allowing other things in the field to appear as Other.

And when this is noticed, and allowed fully, it all softens. The sensations become more transparent and as space. The sense of a separate I is not anchored anywhere in space and is relaxed, or falls away. And with it falls away the sense of a separate Other as well. Now, the field as it is, without any separate I or Other, arises more as it is. As a field without the sense of a center of a separate I (placed on sensations, tensions, somewhere in this physical body.)

The gifts of off-days

 

One of the things I appreciate, usually in hindsight, about off-days is how they help me notice things about myself I usually don’t notice, or don’t want to notice, or at least don’t want to explore in much detail.

These off-days are like the ghosts of Christmas showing Scrooge his life, and especially those parts he didn’t want to see. The parts he needed someone else to show him. It may not be comfortable to go through, but it can also lead to a shift, if we allow it to.

For me, seeing what I don’t want to see about myself especially happens when something is off physically. There is less energy to maintain a desired persona, and maybe even less energy to try to change it, mask it or disengage from it by using a technique or practice.

Yesterday

Yesterday, I certainly noticed some of these (often well hidden) patterns such as going into a state where everything feels utterly wrong (my life, my day, etc.), and some family patterns around a martyr role: the noble quiet suffering, silently blaming the world for my misery.

I guess that is very Norwegian…! The quiet noble suffering, bearing it without complaining too much, and then often not even consciously blaming the world for it being that way. Just bearing it… until it – and my life – is over(!). No wonder that is kept safely in my shadow.

Three effects of physical problems

I also see how physical problems usually have one of three effects for me…

With pain, or apparently heat exhaustion, I tend to find myself as awakeness, as crystal clear awareness. Not by trying, it just happens on its own. I guess the misery is too intense and sharp, so there is a shift out of (exclusive) identification with it and into awakeness, the crystal clear witness of whatever is happening.

Physical reactions to certain foods (food intolerance) or exertion brings out the shadow, in the ways described above. They tend to lead to contractions and reinforce a separate-self sense.

And sometimes, when I am in a phase where headlessness or Big Mind is more strongly in the foreground, then whatever happens to this body-mind just happens, as Big Mind.

A spectrum of what we can find ourselves as

Writing it up this way, I see how these three reflect the span of what or who we can find ourselves as.

At one end of the scale is pure awareness, awake emptiness, crystal clear awake space. The crystal clear awake space is in the foreground, and when form arises (as it often does), it arises within and as this awake space, but as distant, just a small speck within the vastness of awake space.

Then, we can find ourselves as Big Mind, as awake emptiness and form, the awake emptiness arising as form. Here, awake emptiness and form are equally pronounced. Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.

And at the other end of the spectrum, form is in the foreground, and the awake emptiness is in the background, sometimes so far distant that it is not even noticed. There is usually an exclusive identification with our human self here, a forgetting of everything else that we also are. It can be great – fun, ecstatic, an adventure, but it is also where we can feel trapped, confined, helpless, without control, in misery. We are at the mercy of an exclusively finite existence.

Cycling through, inviting greater familiarity

And for me, at least now, there is a cycling through of each of these. One after another, presenting themselves, inviting me to find myself as each of them, to become more familiar with each, more intimate, to know each of their landscapes in more detail.

Layers of identity

 

Our layers of identity goes all the way down, revealing nothingness, just like the layers of an onion.

The outermost layers are the lightly held preferences, the ones we are typically not much identified with, such as which sweater to wear today, which flavor ice cream, which movie to watch, and so on. There is an identity around these things, but it is not so tightly held. It is our superficial preferences about things not that important.

The roles we play in our life are a little more real and important to us, although there is usually some fluidity here: child, father, mother, husband, wife, lover, teacher, student, profession, and so on. It is possible to be strongly identified with some of these roles, but they are most of the time relatively fluid. We feel at home in several of them, and can shift among them as our situation changes.

We also have preferences that seem more real and more important than the flavor of our ice cream, such as ethics, norms, value systems, all our shoulds about people’s relations.

And our psychological identities, such as feminine or masculine, strong or weak, healthy or sick, outgoing or introvert, active or passive, and so on.

There are the identities we are born into, such as our culture, ethnic group, sometimes religion.

We are also (most often) born into our biological roles, such as sex and (visible) genetic ethnicity.

And then the identities that goes along with being a biological organism, such as mammal, human, wanting to avoid pain, wanting shelter, food and water, seeking safety and procreation, and so on. The basic survival identifications and preferences.

There are also many others, such as a sense of belonging… to a species, family, subculture, culture, bioregion, nation, continent, Earth, universe.

And then the core one: an identification with a sense of a separate self, of an I that has an Other.

More or less identification with the identities

Each of these are identities, the biological and psychosocial ones, the small scale ones and the larger scale ones. And there is more or less identification with each of these identities at any one point in time.

Exploring identities

As we start exploring these, for instance through a form of self-inquiry, we may see that the ones that were tightly held, that seemed so real, so beyond anything that could be questioned, even those are just identities.

They can be identified with to a greater or lesser extent, and when they are more lightly held, it tends to give a sense of more freedom. More possibilities open up. We don’t box ourselves in so much when they are more loosely held, when we release some of our identification with them.

A sudden shift (and convincing demonstration)

I remember one of my first mediation retreats where the pain in my legs grew more and more intense (and I stubbornly refused to get a chair.) At one point, the pain grew so unbearable that a sudden shift happened…

The pain was still there, as much as before, but there was no identification with that pain anymore. It just happened in space as anything else, and there was no identification with is so also no resistance to it. It happened in space, just as the clouds moving through the sky or the sounds of the cars swooshing by the center.

It was a dramatic demonstration of the struggle and drama that is experienced when we closely identify with something (I was this body trying to push away this pain) to the sense of ease and clarity when there is a disidentification with is (the pain and this body just arising in space as anything else.)

Even the identities that seem most real are just identities

It was also a demonstration of how even the identities that seems most real, most beyond anything that can be questioned, are also just identities that we can be more or less closely identified with.

Even my biological identities, or wanting (needing!) this and that, is an identity. Even the core sense of a separate self is an identity. And they can be more or less tightly held, more or less identified with, taken as real, substantial, as defining who or what I really am.

What we really are

As we continue to explore this, we may find ourselves as what is without any center or separate self. Just what is, the seeing and the seen here and now, as a field, inherently centerless and selfless.

Not bound by any fixed identities, any beliefs, any mind-made boxes defining who or what we really are. Just this field, arising as it does right now, inherently free from any identifications, and also beyond and embracing them all. Inherently free from, so allowing, any identities to arise.

No identity, allowing the fluidity of any identities

We are this field of seeing and seen, of awake emptiness and form, centerless and selfless, functionally connected with a particular individual human self. Our real identity is no identity, allowing any identity to come and go, fluidly, as it does anyway.

All the usual identities of our individual self is still there, all our preferences and the way our passport define us, but they are not taken as what we really are. They are identities used for purely functional and practical reason, for getting around and operating in the world, but they are not identified with.

We can say that in our deep, there is no identity. And this absence of identity allows any identity to arise, and it allows a fluidity of identities to come and go.

There is no core identity anymore telling us what other identities to allow or not. Nothing is excluded. Nothing is walled off. There is just the fluidity of what arises. And this is what always has been, we just didn’t see it when we were busy holding onto certain identities and fighting off other identities.

It is the freedom of the ocean which is formless in its depth, and manifests as form (waves) on its surface. From the formlessness of the depth, any form is allowed on the surface.

Felt sense of all as one.. or as (the transcendent) I?

 

Hm… When I look at the title of the previous post, I see that there is quite a difference between all as one, and all as (the transcendent) I. What I wanted to convey is all as the transcendent I, but I wrote “one” instead to avoid the misunderstanding of all as the ego-I, which of course is quite different.

Ego-I and transcendent-I

The ego-I is the sense of a separate I, placed on this individual.

And the transcendent-I is the I of Big Mind, of awake emptiness and form, absent of any separate I anywhere.

All as ego-I is massive inflation… insanity. But all as the transcendent-I is the supreme sanity…

In the dream, what was – and is – alive is all as a felt-sense of the transcendent I.

All as one

All as one is the soft version of it, as it allows a sense of a separate I which somehow is not separate from anything else. It is all a seamless field, but there is still a vague sense of I here placed on this individual soul and human self.

This is the safe ground, where we get the best of both worlds. I get to feel not separate from anything else, which is good, and then I also get to maintain a sense of I here placed on this individual. It feels good, without rocking the boat too much. It is still relatively familiar, and my identity doesn’t change that much.

All as transcendent I

And all as the transcendent I is very different. it is far more radical. It does away with the separate self-sense all together. It completely eradicates any sense of a separate I placed on this individual self. It is the I that transcends the formless and all form, it is the one I everywhere and always.

It wipes out anything familiar, any identity at all. Nothing is left. Just this one I, everywhere and always, no more present in this individual than in any other (although it is functionally connected with this particular individual, for the time being).

This is the complete death of any individual self-sense, of any fixed identity. This is what differentiates sticking the toes in the water, and taking the plunge. It is what separates a dabbling in awakening as Big Mind, and taking the full consequence of it.

Why one, and not transcendent I?

So why did I write “all as one” and not “transcendent I”, although that is what was – and is – alive for me? Partly to not confuse it with the inflation of the ego-I, but also partly because the fear of taking the plunge is real… It is a real fear, a terror… It is the ultimate death of any sense of separate I, of any continuous identity. A plunge into something beyond all of this, something unknown, and also very familiar.

I know, at several levels, that taking the plunge only leaves behind what has always been an illusion anyway, and that what is plunged into will be strangely and intimately familiar… Yet, there is also a hesitation here, a holding back… Am I ready? Willing? Will it happen even if I make myself more consciously available to it?

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.

Gathering awareness

 

A friend of mine wrote me an email of a shift into all as alive awareness…

There was just this strong sense of awakeness, without any apparent location or identifiable characteristics. At the same time, there was a sense of this same awakeness being the forest and landscape I was walking through, being my body and its sensations, being […] with his thoughts, energies, and feelings, all the contents of experiencing.

And it reminded me of how we gather awareness into a bunch sometimes.

We are this awakeness, everywhere, in and as everything. Yet, when we believe that we are a separate I, and place it on this human self, then we have to work very hard to not notice that we already are this awareness, which is formless, timeless, spaceless, and also arises as form, time and space. We have to, figuratively speaking, pick up any trace of awake emptiness “out there”, in the wider world, and place it “in here” on our human self. We have to diligently gather it up, and pile it all up here in this poor self. It is hard work to filter existence in this way, to make it appear so different to ourselves than what it already and always is.

Which is why there is often such a sense of release, joy and even bliss, when this awakeness awakens to itself. When the filter of I and Other is released, and the awakeness again and consciously notices itself as selfless, formless, timeless and spaceless, and also as all the selves, all the forms, and time and space.

Free will

 

The question of free will, as explored in this article from the New York Times, only arises when there is a sense of I and Other, as all existential question do. When the sense of I and Other falls away, the question also falls away, at least as an existential question.

Falls away as an existential question, but the dynamics of choice can still be explored

The dynamics and mechanism of choice can be explored in the many ways it is explored today, through the inner (self-inquiry, phenomenology) and outer (cognitive and other forms of psychology, biology, evolution) and the one and the many.

But it is not an existential question anymore. It belongs to the realm of form and this human self as a part of this realm of form, but there is no separate I involved anymore. This human self, and anything else arising, is realized as inherently absent of any separate or individual I.

Infinite causes

Even a superficial exploration of choice shows that for any choice in our life, there are infinite causes. We can always find one more, and one more, until we see that the whole of the universe is involved in any choice we make, in the fullness of its extent and going back to the beginning of time itself.

Doing this, over and over, we see that there does not seem to be any need, nor much room, for “free” choice. Where would it come from? How would it slip in between these infinite causes? And, what would its purpose be? Why would there be a need for it?

Choice happening on its own

Similarly, when I explore choice as it happens right now, I see that it does exactly that: it happens. It happens on its own, arising out of emptiness, as anything else. Sounds, sights, thoughts, choices, actions, they all happen on their own.

There only appears to be an “I” there when a belief in a separate I is placed on top of these thoughts, choices and actions.

Arising within and as timelessness, and causality

In immediate experience, it all happens here now, fresh, new, arising out of emptiness. There is no past that it can be influenced by, nor any future it leads to.

Past, future, causality, all of those are just from ideas placed on top of what arises here now. And they are very useful ideas, helping this human self to orient and function in the world, but still just ideas. Abstractions placed on the timeless present as it arises here and now.

Field

There is this field of seeing and seen, of awake emptiness and form.

Within the world of form, everything has infinite causes and infinite effects. It is a seamless whole, moving as one whole.

Any change, including any thought, choice and action of a human being, is the whole acting locally.

There is no free will within the world of form, and no need for it.

There is no separate I anywhere, so no Other to be free from.

And awake emptiness is form, and always free from form.

Changing experience of free will

There are many ways the experience of choice and free will changes.

If unquestioned, there is certainly a sense of some degree of free will. This human self obviously makes choices and acts (or not) on them, and there is a sense of I there, so then also a sense that I choose and act.

Then, we may come to see how culture and even biology influences these choices, and we may strive to become more conscious of these influences, free ourselves from them, at least to some degree, and place ourselves under a different set of influences.

But even here, there are infinite causes to any thought, choice and action, even as it appears more free from the conventional causes and patterns. And this shift, as anything else, itself has infinite causes.

The question falls away, yet this human self continues to work with causality

Finally, when the field awakens to itself as a field, absent of I anywhere (and still connected with this human self), the whole question falls away. There is no I and Other anymore, so nothing to be free from.

At the same time, within the world of form there is still causality, so at a practical level, this human self still continues to work with causality in all the usual ways, including placing itself under certain influences to invite certain effects such as continued development, healing and maturation, and also acting to invite certain effects in the wider world.

And all of this is the whole acting locally, through and as this human self, and now awakened to itself as the whole acting locally.

(Two previous posts on this topic: 1 & 2)

The birth of identification with identities

 

How does the identification with these identities, of a separate I and the details of this I, come about? There are probably many answers to this, and one seems to be pure imitation.

The field finds itself functionally connected with a particular human self, and this human self lives with other human selves that the field takes itself to be. So it is just natural for it to similarly identify with this particular human self. It happens all around, so it must be the way to do it.

The necessity of identities

Identities is crucial for the functionality of this human self. It cannot function very well in the world without it. It has to be able to recognize itself as distinct from everything else, and as having a more fleshed out identity as well, including name, age, gender, and so on.

The optional sense of I

But the identification with these identities, the sense of I place on top of them, is not inevitable. The field of seeing and seen, of awake emptiness and form, can awaken to itself as a field, inherently absent of any I, and still be functionally connected with this human self. And the human self can still function with and from all these identities.

Growing up without a sense of I

Although the field almost automatically (it seems) nowadays identify with the identities of the human self it is connected with, it is probably not inevitable. The field can be awake to itself as a field, while functionally connected with a particular human self, that grows up, and develops and elaborates on various identities for itself, and the field does not need to be identified with these identities. They are a “me” and not an “I”.

Eros, Thanatos and identities

 

The most basic fears and wants have been coming up more vividly lately, during the waking hours and especially in dreams and just after waking up. They are there, as a layer, underlying everything in this life. And it seems that they were formed in early childhood, mimicking those around me who lived from a sense of I and Other, and separation.

Eros and Thanatos

It is a basic fear of existence itself, of life, of being alive, of what may happen, of suffering, loss, the unknown, death, nonexistence.

At the same time, its mirror image also comes up, the desire for life, for fullness, richness, intimacy, fertility, belonging.

And both comes up in very detailed and specific ways, attached to very specific situations in my particular life.

To borrow from Freud’s terminology, these are the basic principles of Eros, a desire for life, and Thantos, a fear of death.

Freud’s Thanatos and the attraction and aversion that naturally comes up whenever there is a split

As a side note: Freud actually saw Thanatos as the death drive, a wish for death, but this drive is the natural companion to a fear of death and nonexistence.

Attraction and fascination is the inevitable mirror and companion to fear. That which I fear, is also that which I am fascinated by and drawn to.

In general, any split gives birth to attraction and aversion. Whenever there is a sense of I and Other, there is an inevitable attraction and aversion to Other.

Evolutionary, it helps this human self survive by being drawn to carefully explore and become more familiar with what appears dangerous. Psychologically, there is a drive to be whole, and to get to know, befriend and integrate the shadow.

All of these are aspects of the processes which give birth to a natural fascination and draw to exactly that which we fear.

Eros, Thanatos and identities

It is also very clear how Eros and Thanatos has to do with identities.

The basic identity is that of an I, separate from Other.

And this is fleshed out with identities of being a human being, of wanting to be alive, of not wanting to die, of wanting a full life, of wanting freedom from suffering, and so on. All of these are identities that support and prop of the initial identity of being a separate I, of being this human self, finite in space and time.

Surrendering the I placed on these identities

And I see how I am invited, over and over, to surrender any “I” placed on these identities. To allow them to be as they are, and see that there is no I inherent in them. They are just that, identities, ideas placed on top of what arises here now.

Any I placed on top of them, any identification with these identities, any being blindly caught up in them, is born from just a belief in an idea.

In themselves, they are just thoughts, innocent, nothing of consequence. But when a sense of “I” is placed on these identities, on the idea of separate I to all the elaborations of this I, it gives a sense of solidity and reality to a split world. And this inevitably brings suffering in its many variations.

Shakyamuni Buddha, and Mara’s daughters and army

This process of dis-identifying with these most basic identities, is beautifully illustrated in the story of Buddha Shakyamuni’s awakening, where Mara first sent his daughters to tempt him, and then his armies to frighten him.

Of course, there is more to this allegory than just facing our most basic fears and desires, the identities they are born from, and more to the point, our identification with these identities, but it seems to be one aspect of it.

At some point, each of us have to recognize these basic identities, and the story of “I” we place on top of them.

And as with anything in this process of exploration (and awakening), in its universality it is also very personal, it is about this life and here and now, in all its details and manifestations.

Examples

So how does it look right now in this life?

As for Thanatos, there is this layer of basic fear that comes into awareness, one that seems to have come very early in this life, and having been formed from a sense of I and Other, from a sense of separation. It is a fear of life itself, of the unknown, the unpredictable, suffering, death, nonexistence.

When there is a sense of I there, this I get blindly caught up in it, it seems too difficult to deal with, and there is resistance in different ways. When this fear just arises as part of the field, and the field notices itself as a field, it becomes just a part of the tapestry. It is still there, but not all that serious anymore.

Eros comes up in desire for a full, rich, fruitful life, and also regrets over (apparently) lost opportunities. Again, when there is a sense of I there, it is also a sense of being blindly caught up in it. All the stories around these themes seem very real, impactful and solid. When the field notices itself as a field, these stories become more transparent, just stories.

Spatiality of resistance

 

I notice a very tangible sense of spatiality of the resistance.

Resistance splits the field into I and Other in a spacial way, where the sense of I is usually somewhere in/around the human self making it into an experience of a center, and Other is somewhere out there in the periphery, in any direction (up, down, front, back, sides).

Noticing this sense of a split of space itself makes it easier to notice and recognize resistance, and is a reminder to allow even this resistance to be as it is, to simply and quietly be with the whole field as it is, as it arises, with resistance, a sense of split, and anything else.

Being with it in this way allows the field to recognize itself as a field, inherently absent of this split, this sense of I and Other, of any I in the resistance or anywhere else.

Identities with and without a sense of I

 

Identities arise in two different contexts: within a sense of I, or realized selflessness.

When they arise within a sense of I, they are used to guide how the field split itself up in its experience of itself. They flesh out, guide and support a sense of I and Other.

When they arise within the context of realized selflessness, they have a purely pragmatic function, as a guide for this human self in the world, where identities, this human self, and the wider world, are all revealed as awake emptiness and form, inherently absent of any separate I.

Identity and surrender

 

Identity keeps coming up for me. There is this unified field of what is happening, of the seeing and the seen, of awake emptiness and form, and any identities placed on top of it filters it into I and Other. And this identity is any sense of separate I, of I and Other, fleshed out with any sense of I am and I want, as opposed to I am not and I don’t want.

First, there is a blind identification with this sense of I and its identities. Then, they are seen as just an aspect of the field, threads in the tapestry, arising as anything else, no more a separate I than anything else.

Sense of I

 

Just some of the more obvious things about a sense of I, one that is separate, placed on an aspect of the field of the seeing and seen, creating a sense from I and Other.

It comes from, and perpetuates, a sense of I and Other, a split in the field.

It is usually placed on aspects of this human self.

It is fleshed out by various identities, of being this and not that, wanting this and not that.

It comes from a belief in the idea of a separate I, and the identities added onto it comes from beliefs in other thoughts (I am/want this and not that.)

It works in space and time, creates an I and Other within space and time, and a sense of being finite in space and time.

The finality of it brings up fears of nonexistence, and also of pain and suffering since I am to a large extent at the mercy of the whims of larger whole.

It is fluid, always changing moment from moment.

The sense of I is placed on the most likely candidate arising in the moment, often what is familiar as an I.

It is made up of conglomerates of sensations and identities.

Right now, I notice a sense of I floating around. It is placed on a set of sensations in the neck/head area, creating a sense of I here, as a center, and Other out there, in the periphery. It is associated with identities of wanting the current comfort to continue, of liking the music I am listening to (Salvatore), of enjoying the softness of my sitting surface and the warmth, of wanting to be clear and at least moderately perceptive, and so on. Infinite identities, filtering the field of what arises into I and Other, and splitting in my own experience.

Since what arises is mostly OK with the identities fleshing out this sense of I, the sense of I and Other is not so strong. But as soon as something happens to threaten these identities, a disruption to a quiet evening, then the sense of I and Other becomes stronger, and there is a desire to reinforce identities and change circumstances to not threaten identities, including all the wants embedded in them.

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.

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.

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.

Just one anchor

 

In exploring the sense of I, I notice how there is often just one little anchor there, one last refuge for the sense of I.

There may be a sense of all content as God’s will, as happening on its own. And at the same time, there is still a belief in the idea of I, now placed on an imaginary observer of this stream of form.

When I explore this, I notice that there this sense of I is often placed on some sensations in the head area, and that is all. As if these sensations were the subject…! They too arise among the forms, just as any other form, within time and space, coming and going.

So it gets multi layered. There is a genuine experience of the stream of form as God’s will and happening on its own, absent of I. At the same time, there is still an attachment to the idea of I as a segment of all of this, now placed on a very limited set of sensations in the head area.

Together, there is the familiar sense of Self, as the Ground of seeing-seen, and self, as an observer somehow set apart from this, hidden away, placed on some sensations as a last anchor.

All that is needed is to notice this, to allow it to be seen. And then there may be one other anchor, and maybe another, and maybe another, until it all unravels.

Headlessness and radical subjectivity

 

The focus of the upper left quadrant of the aqal model, the individual and inner, is on what is alive in immediate awareness.

And the various practices here, such as meditation, prayer and especially self-inquiry, are all about radical subjectivity: what is alive right here and now, outside of any filters of thoughts – such as ideas, expectations, memories?

Headlessness

Headlessness is one way to explore this radical subjectivity. Is there really a head here in immediate experience?

All I can find are some sensations arising in space, coming and going, and a fuzzy pink blob where others see my nose, but there is no head here. The idea of a head is just that, an idea superimposed on an area of space. There is just space here, allowing anything and everything to arise, to come and go on their own: sensations, sounds, sights, thoughts, this body, arms, hands, desk, screen, window, a dog barking. There is capacity for the world, and the world arising.

Deepening familiarity

And as there is a deepening into this exploration, through meditation, prayer or self-inquiry, there is a deepening familiarity with what we find:

The seen, including this human self, is within space and time, come and go on its own, and there is no I to be found anywhere. How can there be an I there, if it is seen? If there is an I anywhere, it must be in the seeing itself.

The seeing transcends yet embraces time, space and the seen. It is free from the seen, from space and time. It is free from this human self. At the same time, is there really a separation here? Where do I as seeing end and Other as the seen begin? I cannot find that line anywhere.

So there is an early noticing of the Oneness of seeing and seen. They distinct from each other, yet not quite two.

When the sense of I was placed on the seen, there was a sense of I and Other within the seen, within form. Now, when the sense of I is placed on the seeing, there is a sense of I and Other as seeing and seen. Yet, the boundary between the two is not to be found anywhere. Maybe the whole sense of I is superimposed on the seeing and seen? Maybe it comes from the belief in the idea of I, which then the seeing and the seen is filtered through in different ways?

As this is explored, and it becomes more clear how the mechanisms of samsara (a sense of I and Other, of duality) functions and that there is no I to be found anywhere in seeing or seen, it sets the stage for a Ground awakening.

The Ground awakens to itself, as the Ground of seeing and seen, as emptiness and form, as emptiness dancing, absent of I anywhere. The whole sense of an I and a center falls away, and there is only the totality – without center anywhere, so with a center everywhere.

Always already

The irony is that this is what was alive in immediate awareness all the time. It was never not alive to itself.

Yet, since it was not taken seriously, since what was alive in radical subjectivity was not trusted, it remained in the background, overshadowed and (apparently) blocked out by a sense of I and Other, created by the belief in the idea of I, formed by what was being taught by society and those around us.

What is always already here, in immediate awareness, in radical subjectivity, was not trusted, so could not emerge into the foreground. Until it had been explored so thoroughly that the sense and filter of I fell away.

Radical subjectivity

In this sense, spiritual practice is all about radical subjectivity.

What is alive in immediate awareness? What is already alive here now, free from expectations, beliefs, ideas, memories, stories? How does it look when I gradually learn to differentiate what already is from how it is colored by ideas? How does it look, when thoughts arise as just thoughts, along with everything else?

How to deal with thoughts?

 

Some of the ways we relate to thoughts…

Believing in or not

In general, we can believe in them or not.

As long as there is a belief in any thought, there is a belief in the basic thought of “I” and a corresponding identity. We believe in some thoughts and not others, and with different degrees of attachment.

This creates a sense of I and other, an identity that defines who I am and am not, a discrepancy between beliefs and the inner and outer world as it arises, and a sense of struggle and drama.

When there is realized selflessness, beliefs in thoughts fall away as well. Or we can say that when the belief in “I” as a segment of what is falls away, so does beliefs in other thoughts as well. Without a sense of I, no attachment to thoughts.

(I have to say that in some cases of alleged realized selflessness, it certainly appears – when looking at words and actions – that there is still a belief in certain thoughts. What the human self does seems remarkably limited and frozen if all beliefs indeed had dropped away.)

Awakening to thoughts as related to stress

We can awaken, in different ways, to thoughts as related to stress.

We notice that being absorbed in thoughts, or attaching to thoughts, or trying to push thoughts away, brings disassociation or stress.

And although this is true for all thoughts (at least all the ones I have explored so far), it may appear as if it is true for only some of them.

And although it is the belief in thoughts that brings stress, it may appear as if thoughts themselves are a problem.

:: See thoughts themselves as the source

If we see thoughts themselves as a problem, we set ourselves up for failure.

We may engage in strategies to pacify or remove thoughts, such as drugs, sleep, entertainment or other forms of distractions. If we are a little more sophisticated, we may engage in practices that manipulate attention (visualizations, “good thoughts”). Although these strategies may give short term relief, it is ultimately a recipe for failure as thoughts come and go on their own and live their own life.

:: See beliefs as the source

We can recognize beliefs as the source, and inquire into the beliefs – allowing the attachment to the thought to erode and eventually fall away.

:: See the sense of I as the source

We can recognize the belief in the thought “I” as the source, as that which all other beliefs hinges on.

So we may engage in practices that temporarily shift attention away from the sense of I, giving a taste of how it is to be free from the story of I and everything that comes with it. These practices include, again, drugs, sex and entertainment. And also being in nature, prayer, meditation, and Breema.

We can inquire into any stressful belief that comes up, allowing one thread of the tapestry of beliefs to unravel at a time, until it all falls away taking the belief in the idea of “I” with it.

Or we can go directly for the belief in the idea of I through other forms of inquiry, mainly various forms of Atma Vichara such as the Big Mind process, labeling, and noticing the seen and the seeing as inherently absent of I. (And allowing what is seen to seep through our whole being, allowing it all to reorganize around it, be affected by it.)

Wilber-Coombs Lattice: stages, states and self-line

 

There is much about Ken Wilber’s framework, or rather its content the way he presents it, that is sometimes fuzzy for me.

WC Lattice: Stages and states

One is the Wilber-Coombs lattice, with the stages vertical and states horizontal.

It is simple enough, and fits my own experience and what I see in other’s life as well. We all develop along the many lines and levels, and at any point have access to a range of states – including waking, dream and sleep, or nature mysticism, deity mysticism, causal (witness) and nondual. It is simple, common sense, nothing too controversial.

Stages and self-line

It seems that the confusion for me comes in because I have used a similar framework on my own, long before hearing about the WC Lattice, and it is relatively similar although also not the same. This one is the relationship between the stages of human development and the sense of self, or the self-line of development.

So the stages are still along one axis, but the sense of self is on the other.

Our human self develops along its lines and their levels.

And our sense of self develops from identification with the seen (our human self, gross physical, and individual soul, subtle) to the seeing itself (witness, causal), to realizing the absence of I in both seen and seeing. These are not merely states, but a relatively stable center of gravity. There is a stable experience of I as human self, as soul, as witness or absent.

And these two forms of development are relatively, although not completely, independent of each other.

My human self continues to develop, independent on where my sense of I is centered.

My sense of self can be in my physical human self, and this human self can continue to develop in all its lines of cognitive, relational, ethics and so on. And there can be realized selflessness, and my human self will still continue to develop along any and all of these lines. And anything in between, and any other combination, is also possible.

Resolution: state vs. stage along horizontal

So in the WC lattice, they have states along the horizontal axis, and in the model I made for myself, the self-line is along the horizontal axis.

Yet, the content of the two are in a way the same. It is gross physical, subtle soul, causal witness, and nondual in both cases.

In one, it is a temporary state, a glimpse, a peek (!) experience as they say. In the other, it is a more stable center of gravity, it is the stages of the sense of self, the self line.

The two versions of the horizontal lines are the same in content, different in that one is a state and the other a stage, and – in a way, we can say that one leads to the other.

The states leads to stages.

I am plunged repeatedly into the subtle state, and my sense of I gradually shifts into it. I am plunged repeatedly into the witness state, and my sense of I gradually shifts into that. I am plunged repeatedly into nondual states, and the center of gravity shifts into that.

When my sense of I shifts into the subtle state, I experience myself as soul, as energy, as bliss, as fullness. And this is a relatively stable experience. It is where I am most, if not almost all, of the time.

When my sense of I shifts into the causal witness, I find myself as seeing itself, and this is where I find myself most or almost all of the time.

When my sense of I falls away completely, the center of gravity is in the nondual, and that is where it is most or all of the time.

Summary

The WC lattice is in a way a cleaner model. It has stages along one axis and states along the other, and that is it.

The model I made up for myself a long time ago is not quite as clean. It has stages along one axis, and stages within one particular line along the other.

Yet, this horizontal line has the same referents: gross physical, subtle soul, causal witness and nondual. In one, as states, and in the other as where my sense of I is centered.

One leads to the other, over time.

Identification versus development

 

It is interesting (although pretty obvious I guess, to those exposed to KWs work and that of others) how identification and development can be seen as somewhat independent of each other.

Shifting identification and sense of self

In the previous post, I mentioned how identification – the center of gravity, the sense of self or I – shifts from unformed, via the seen – our human self, to the seeing itself, to nowhere to be found – realized selflessness.

And how one polar end is unformed and nonfunctional – as in a baby, where the other polar end – realized selflessness, can engage with and use everything explored through previous identifications.

In Spiral Dynamic terms, the identification moves up the spiral and explores a new way of functioning at each turn of the spiral, and all of these are available – and can continue to mature and develop, within realized selflessness.

Development of this human self

There is somewhat of a dependence between the development of this human self and where on the spiral the sense of identity is, and there is also somewhat of an independence between the two.

The separation of the two is most clear when there is a realized selflessness, and this human self still continues to heal, mature and develop indefinitely – as long as it is around. The sense of self remains the same, absent (!), yet the me – as this human self, continues to develop, and develop, and develop, as part of the general evolution of the world of form.

I guess this is why the sense of self is a separate line of development.

A belief means identity with content

 

They decided to divide the stone into pieces.
Of course then the Priceless became lost.

Most everyone is lousy at math
And does that to God –

Dissects the Indivisible One,

By thinking, saying,
“This is my Beloved, he looks like this
And acts like that,

How could that moron over there
Really
Be
God.”

– from The Gift

In an earlier post, I mentioned the shifts from (a) a sense of I as seen, as content of awareness, as this human self, to (b) I as seeing, as pure awareness, as Witness, as that which content arises to and within, to (c) a realization of absence of I in seeing and seen, and Ground as seeing and seen.

Whenever there is a belief in a thought, in any thought, there is automatically an identification with content.

An idea is attached to, it is believed in, it is taken as true. Right there, the world is split.

It is split into I and Other. I is placed one segment of the world, leaving the rest to Other.

It is split into I as having a particular identity and Other as outside of this identity. I am those segments that fit into this network of ideas making up an identity, and whatever is left is Other.

Right away, there is an identification with content. I am this, not that.

Right there, the center of gravity is in content.

Right there, comes a sense of drama and struggle.

Right there, forgetfulness comes in.

Forgetting myself as the seeing, as pure awareness.

Forgetting myself as Ground, as seeing and seen, absent of I anywhere.

I as seen, seeing and absent

 

There seems to be a simple progression from I as seen, then as seeing, and then absent.

I as seen

First, there is a belief in the idea of I and it is placed on content of awareness. More specifically, it is placed on this human self or aspects of this human self, those aspects that fit our identity, our beliefs of what or who we are as a human being.

This human self and the rest of the world arises in awareness, and this is filtered so that this human self appears as I and the rest of the world appears as Other.

In this process, awareness itself may appear as Other, as something that comes and goes, that there is more or less of, that can be distracted. I am this human self, an object in the world of phenomena, arising within space and time, subject to birth and death, and awareness is somehow an appendix to this human self, a property of this human self, and it can be more or less present.

The center of gravity is mainly in the seen, in our human self.

I as seeing

Then, the sense of I shifts to awareness itself, to pure seeing, to witness, to this clear awakeness.

I am awareness, and the whole world of phenomena arises within me. I am timeless and spaceless, and time and space arises within me. I am without form, and form arises to and within me. I am seeing, and Other is the seen.

There is a tremendous sense of liberation in this. There is a disidentification with the human self, with its reactivity, limited identity, precariousness and mortality. The world of form, the world of phenomena, is revealed as a seamless whole. There is no inside and outside anymore.

The center of gravity is mainly in the seeing itself.

Finally, there is the dawning realization that here too, there is a sense of I and Other, and where is really the dividing line? What is more true in immediate awareness? Is there an I and Other? How can there really be an I and Other here?

I as absent: Spirit as seeing and seen

As this is explored, there is the realization that any sense of I and Other comes from the belief in the idea of I, placed on the seen – this human self, or the seeing itself.

Now, seeing and seen is revealed as inherently and always absent of any I. It is all Ground in its many appearances. It is all Spirit. It is emptiness dancing. It is the Divine Mind, revealed as seeing and seen. The seen is no different from the seeing.

The center of gravity is now in Ground, appearing as seeing and seen.

Clear shifts

Each of these shifts are clear and significantly different from each other. Yet, there is also often a gradual shift in each case. There may be glimpses of the next phase, temporary shifts into it, intuitions about how it is, a sense of how it is. Then, there is a more clear shift into it.

For instance, when there is still a sense of I placed on the seeing itself, there may be a very clear sense of it all being one, that the seeing and seen is Spirit, that I and Other is no different. But this is still merely a sense of it. It has not yet shifted into a clear, obvious, indisputable realization that seeing and seen is inherently absent of any I whatsoever. The center of gravity is still mainly in the seeing and has not yet shifted into Ground.

And when this shift occurs, it is seen how filtered the previous realization was, how much there was still a sense of I there, even if it appeared quite transparent at the time.

Consciousness – personal or spirit?

 

The whole world gets filtered through any of the beliefs we have, including the belief in the idea of I.

Consciousness filtered through belief in I

So when there is this belief in the idea of I, usually placed on our human self or parts of it, this also filters how we interpret – and perceive and experience – consciousness.

If I see I as this human self, separate from the rest of the world, then consciousness appears to be a property of this human self. It is a human consciousness, and it is my consciousness. It is unique, and is born and dies with this body.

This is a natural view when there is an (exclusive) identification with our human self.

Consciousness filtered through I as awareness

When the sense of I shifts to awareness or consciousness itself, the experience of consciousness also shifts. Now that is who I am. It is not a property of this human self, rather, it seems that this human self is a property of consciousness.

Before, this consciousness was interpreted as arising from this human self. Now, this human self – and the rest of the world of phenomena – clearly arises within consciousness.

I am the seeing, I am pure awareness, timeless, spaceless, formless, and the world of phenomena, time, space and form is Other, it is the seen.

At some point, there is the dawning realization that here too is there a polarity of I and Other, now placed on seeing and seen. Where is the boundary, really? What is the difference between the two? Maybe the experience of this form of I and Other also comes from an overlay of ideas, maybe this too is filtered through a belief? What is already more true in immediate awareness?

Consciousness absent of I

This exploration allows the final belief in the idea of I to be seen and fall away. Now, consciousness arises without the filter of I and Other, and seeing and seen is seen as consciousness itself. The content of awareness is awareness itself. It is all form and emptiness, Ground as seeing and seen, and there is no I inherent anywhere – not in the seen and not in the seeing.

The same consciousness appearing in different disguises

The very consciousness that initially appeared as my human consciousness, as a property of this human self, and then as seeing as opposed to the seen, is now revealed as Spirit, as Ground, as Buddha Mind, Divine Mind, as seeing and seen, and inherently absent of I anywhere.

It is all revealed as the very same consciousness having appeared in different disguises. And the disguises were only created by beliefs, by attachment to ideas, filtering how it all appeared to itself.

Radical Impartiality

 

As with tastes of Big Mind in general, radical impartiality can show up in two ways.

Within belief in I

One is while there is still a belief in the idea of I. Here, we can have a taste of it through just noticing that this awareness – here now – is already radically impartial.

It already allows any experience to come and go, to live its own life. It allows any experience, any content, including resistance to certain experiences and content! It inherently allows all of this, and it is untouched by all of this. The particular content leaves no trace in pure awareness, it only leaves apparent trace in other content.

This space and awareness, here now, allows any content to come and go, including resistance to any content, which itself is content.

Within the context of a belief in I, this appears as an individual awareness. But even this apparently individual awareness is already radically impartial.

Within realized selflessness

When there is an awakening to selflessness, to what is with no I anywhere, to content staying the same but context shifting to realized selflessness, this radical impartiality takes a slightly different form.

This space and awareness that initially appeared as individual, as somehow a property of this human self, is now revealed to be radically non-individual. It is really the Ground of all phenomena, including any and all beings (although it is also – mysteriously and temporarily – functionally connected with this particular human self).

This Ground of radical impartiality is this physical space which everything arises within. Trees, butterflies, galxies, oceans, culture, cities, emotions, thoughts, sensations, cars, an eagle, a cloud, delusion, awakening, Buddha, Pol Pot, nebulae, solar systems, universes. It all arises within and as Ground, within and as Spirit, within and as Big Mind, Buddha Mind.

And when it is functionally connected with a particular being, for instance a human self, then it often (mistakenly) exclusively identifies with this self, and awareness is taken as individual, as a property of the human self.

Always available

The beauty of radical impartiality is that it is available in either case. It is available within a context of a sense of I, now taken as a characteristic of personal and individual awareness. And it is available in realized selflessness, now revealed as a characteristic of Ground, Spirit, Buddha Mind, Brahman.

Trust in this Human Self Functioning Without a Doer

 

In writing the previous post, I see more clearly that there is a fear around retracting a sense of a doer from this human self. Can it function without it? Will it be OK?

This is of course only a temporary concern. Even in the midst of it, there is the realization that this human self has done very well without a doer, all the way back to its conception. There has never been a doer there in the first place. It has always lived its own life. There has only been the sense of a doer there, superimposed onto it. The does was manufactured in the first place. A figment of nobodys(!) imagination.

And after a while, there is a familiarity with this terrain in the context of selflessness. There is no doer there, yet it does function much as before. There is no I there, yet it still moves, talks, interacts, gets out of bed, brushes its teeth, functions in the world.

So gradually, there is a growing trust. A growing willingness to let the idea of doer go. To allow this human self to function on its own, with no doer, with no I, as it has functioned from the beginning.

Cravings, Addictions & The Hole

 

I talked with a friend yesterday about cravings and addictions, and what we are trying to get out of those addictions.

Working within the relative

On a relative level, and when there is a sense of I, addictions can be seen as a strategy to meet a need, and if that need is clarified, it may be possible to find other strategies that can meet it in a more effective and fulfilling way.

Process Work is one way to explore this. Sometimes, what is uncovered makes good sense. Other times, it may not make much sense but still work. For instance, I explored my sugar craving a while back, ended up with a movement that filled the same need as the sugar, and the sugar craving fell away (mostly). The movement is a jump up and down, similar to the dance of the Masai warriors. On the surface, there seems to be no connection to eating sugar. But from the inside, in my experience, it gives the same effects as eating sugar does, in an even more fulfilling way.

Working within the relative can be very helpful. Yet, we are still only shuffling around the content. Moving the pieces so they find a relationship to each other that seems to work a little better. It is a temporary and incomplete fix, at best.

Selflessness

From a more ultimate view, it seems that any craving, any addiction, any sense of need, any sense of lack, comes from a mistaken identity. And it will not be resolved until what is awakens to its own nature, with no I anywhere.

What is is the context and content of awareness here now. And the context can be a sense of I, placed on something in the content, or it can be realized selflessness.

When there is a sense of I, placed on a segment of the content, there is immediately a sense of I and Other, of lack, of needs, of something missing. And we try to fill this hole through rearranging the content to the best of our ability, through partners, food, substances, music, entertainment, status, money. Or, if we are more sophisticated, through working on ourselves, our human self, but still just rearranging content.

It may work to some extent, it may work for a while. But ultimately, it does not resolve the sense of lack, of something missing, of something not being complete.

The only release from this discontent is through awakening. Through what is awakening to its own nature, of no I anywhere.

Needs as an attempt to find home

From this perspective, any sense of need is an attempt to find home. Any craving, addiction, need, want, is a sincere attempt to escape the confines of seeing oneself as separate, and find home in realized selflessness. It is a sincere and innocent attempt, although ultimately futile.

The only way to find home is for what is to realize that there is no I anywhere, and the way for this to happen is to set the stage for it to happen, to prepare the ground, for instance through meditation, prayer and inquiry.

Floating at the Edge

 

Another rambling post…

For a while now, there has been a floating at the edge of I-Other and absence of I-Other. It is quite interesting to explore this area.

I see that some times, there is an identification with parts of my human self – sensations, emotions, thoughts, and an appearance of an “I” being located somewhere in/around this human self. There is a sense of a center here, of a seer and seen, of I and Other. Of this human self being qualitatively different from any other part of what is happening.

Other times, everything becomes a seamless field – this human self, trees, desk, cat, the wind, sounds, sensations, emotions, thoughts, other people, and there is a disidentification with any part of it. It all just happens, seemingly on its own. No aspect of this field has an “I” in it. No aspect is particularly identified with to the exclusion of anything else. It is beyond intimate. There is “I” anywhere and nowhere in particular. Just one seamless field. Everything just happening within this field, including anything there was previously an exclusive identification with – any aspect of this human self.

Movie screen

It is really quite similar to a movie screen: a radical equality and neutrality to each aspect of the image. Every aspect is projected equally onto the screen, independent of what label we may put on it. It is a seamless image, independent and distinct from any labels put on any parts of it.

Every aspect of the image is distinct, there is differentiation, yet just one seamless image.

The whole field is there, the content is just as before. Yet everything is just happening as part of this field. There is a radical equality and neutrality to it all. This human self is no different from any other part of the field. It just happens, as the clouds happen, the trees, the cat, the computer, the sounds of a fan, people walking by and talking. It is all just Ground manifesting in all these forms.

A seamless field of radical equality and neutrality, of no identification with any part to the exclusion of anything else, of no “I” inherent anywhere. Of it all just happening within this field. Of everything just happening on its own. Of everything living its own life: this human self, sensations, emotions, thoughts, behavior, the clouds, trees, cats, computers, sounds, people.

Everything is just happening on its own, living its own life, within this seamless field.

Resistance

Any resistance arises within this field, harmless, just happening along with anything else.

If there is an identification with resistance, then the sense of I and Other arise immediately. And with it, the sense of drama and struggle, of rather of being caught up in the sense of drama and struggle. There is a sense of I being somewhere within the content of what is happening, and other content becomes Other.

And if any resistance is recognized as simply arising within the field, along with everything else, then it is revealed as innocent and harmless. It arises within the radical equality and neutrality of everything else. The I is everywhere and nowhere in context and content.

Not yet popped

And there is also the recognition that this has not yet “popped” completely. It is almost there. It is swimming at the edge of recognizing radical selflessness, of no I anywhere. Although still with a vague sense of “I” there, even as the field goes towards noticing itself as radical equality and neutrality.

There is a transparency of I towards the Ground, yet not Ground coming into the foreground.

And the trick is of course to see that this sense of I too is just part of this seamless field. It arises within the radical equality of anything else.

Field of radical equality

This comes up quite frequently now, for instance on a walk Sunday, and also as Jen and I watched a video with Papaji last night. We both noticed how we went into a very silent space while watching, just from his presence even as conveyed through a movie. The diksha energy went wild. And I went into the field of radical equality noticing, beneath the layer of I and Other.

I & Identity

 

The sense of I seems to come from a belief in the idea of I.

And our sense of identity comes from all our other beliefs.

Belief in the idea of I

First, there is the simple belief in the idea of I – creating a sense of I and Other, of subject and object, of seer and seen. And as on of the job of thoughts and emotions is to make beliefs appear true, it takes on a very convincing appearance.

Without beliefs, thoughts are revealed as completely innocent – just an aid to explore and navigate in the world of phenomena. When a thought is believed in, it becomes the source of drama and struggle. And when a thought is believed in, it becomes the job of many of the other thoughts to make the belief appear real.

Identity

Our sense of identity, used to fill in and flesh out the initial simple sense of I and Other, comes from all our other beliefs.

From the simple I, there is the more refined and complex I am (…), I believe (…) and so on. We split existence into I and Other, I am this and not that. I am a human. I am alive. I am white. I am male. I am liberal. I like fish’n chips. I don’t like conservatives. I believe democracy is good. I believe people shouldn’t talk during a movie. Ad infinitum.

Unraveling beliefs

There are many ways to unravel beliefs. The Work seems to be one of the most straightforward and direct ways, and there are also many other forms of inquiry which does the job. Sitting practice is another, repeatedly getting dipped into something which does not match our initial and conventional beliefs, and gradually allows them to erode and fall away.

In the absence of beliefs, there is only Ground manifesting as the myriad phenomena, emptiness dancing. It is just what is – often the same content as before – although absent of any inherent I and Other, subject and object, seer and seen.

Piece of Hot Coal

 

In Buddhism (and probably other traditions) they sometimes use the analogy of hot coal.

Believing in the idea of I is similar to holding a piece of hot coal. Both bring suffering. And seeing through the belief, noticing what is really true for us in our immediate experience, is similar to noticing that we are holding the piece of hot coal. In both cases, it is dropped – naturally, immediately, without any trying.

Analogies break down at some point, but it may still be interesting to explore this one a little further. What approaches make sense through this analogy?

Say someone is holding a piece of hot coal. They are not noticing it, or at least not realizing that it brings pain. And in the struggle to get rid of the pain, there may be additional suffering as well.

So how would we help this person recognize that he or she is holding a piece of hot coal?

Ways to help people notice

We can give long talks about how he is holding a piece of hot coal, and how this brings the pain he is experiencing. But the listeners are more likely to listen to the words and try to figure it out than really look – going to their own immediate present experience.

We can use force, beating them up in various ways to make them realize it – or even to make them drop it (as if anyone can without the prior realization of holding it). Again, this would only bring their attention to the beating and the consequences of the beating, not the coal. Also, it is likely to bring up a good deal of (healthy and natural) resistance to the process. And it may just add guilt and shame to the situation.

We can help them with affirmations: I am not holding a piece of hot coal. I am not holding a piece of hot coal. Hot coal is cool and soothing. Hot coal is cool and soothing. These may appear to work for a while, but not for very long. And it is also too transparent: we know there is something there – temporarily covered up by the affirmations – which brings pain.

We may help them explore their past. When did you first experience the pain? When did you pick it up? And so on. It may be helpful, but it is also not as direct as it can be.

We may bring people to exhaustion, so – we hope – they cannot help but dropping the piece of coal. This may work, although the process itself is quite painful.

We can have people regularly sit silently and quietly, bringing their attention to what is already happening – allowing what is into awareness. This may work. It may very well help them notice the hot coal in their hand. But in itself, it may be a long and slow process.

We can have them inquire into their experiences. Where is the pain? What may be the source of it? What happens if you imagine not holding a piece of hot coal?

What works for each person is of course different, but for me – sitting practice combined with various forms of inquiry are most attractive right now.

Inquiries

The Big Mind process, headlessness and the Byron Katie inquiries are some of the many ways to explore how it is to hold a piece of coal, and also have a taste of not holding it.

For instance, in the Byron Katie process…

  • Questions 1 and 2 – is it true, can you really know it is true – asks us if we really do need to hold onto the coal, whether the coal is the belief in the idea of I or any other abstraction. The questions open for the possibility of not holding onto it.
  • Question number 3 – what happens when you hold onto that belief – gets at our experience of holding onto the piece of hot coal. We see the suffering we create for ourselves by holding onto it and how it plays itself out in our life, in detail.
  • Question number 4 – who or what are you without that belief – gives a taste of not holding onto the coal. We see the liberation and freedom in it. The possibility of not holding onto it becomes more real. We see that the consequences of not holding onto it are attractive. And we see beyond holding onto it, and that there is nothing to fear there.
  • The turnarounds helps us see that I am the one holding it. It is not making me hold it. Somebody else is not making me hold it. I am the one holding it.

The Problems of Separation

 

As long as I believe in the idea of I – creating an appearance of I and Other – there is suffering. And this suffering take many forms, all the ones I recognize in my own life, see in the lives of others, and I am sure many more.

A particular subset of how this is played out is feeling that others impinge on me, for instance through their ideas, behaviors, energy, or just by their plain existence – displaying some qualities that bug me.

I talked with my acupuncturist last week, and she mentioned a healer in town who specialize in separating out other’s energies from one’s own. As any other approach to healing, I am sure it is useful and has its place. At the same time, it clearly comes from duality and also from a place of believing in stories (those two are obviously the same).

If I don’t believe in stories, then there is no problem there. There is only clarity.

Anything that could be labeled “bad energy” or “disturbed” or “confused” or “unhealthy” all comes from stories, in two different ways. First, it is obviously labeled based on a story. And more importantly, when these things come up they seem to do so due to somebody’s belief in a story.

I may believe in several mutually contradictory stories, and experience confusion. I may tell myself a story about somebody – including myself – which brings up contraction and hatred. I may believe I am not worthy and act in a way that is not good for my health. And so on.

When we see through these stories for ourselves – when we find what is more true for us in our own experience, the stories are harmless. They may come and go, in ourselves and/or others around us, and they have lost their charge. They come and go with the same innocence as as clouds.

The “bad energies” and “unhealthy tendencies” apparently from others are (a) recognized in ourselves and (b) the thoughts behind them are seen through and revealed as harmless.

When I can see through my own stories, and how patterns unravel when these stories are seen through, I can also see through the stories when they appear in others. They are harmless, either way.

I see the complete innocence in myself and others.

Self-Centered

 

Some of the many layers of self-centeredness…

First, it is unavoidable as long as there is a belief in the idea of I. When there is such as belief – experienced as a sense of I – everything is filtered through it.

Then there is the beauty of it. There is a belief in the idea of I, and at the same time a knowing – at some level – that this is not quite true, so there is naturally a focus on it. As there is any time something is real for us, yet not quite noticed or brought into awareness. Our attention is brought to it so we can become more familiar with it, bring it into awareness, and bring what is real for us into awareness. In this case, what is real for us – although not noticed, is selflessness and that the sense of I only comes from a belief in the idea of I.

And in a similar way, what may appear as an individual self-centeredness is really universal and shared. We are really all just exploring what happens when there is a belief in the idea of I, and many other ideas as well. We are each exploring the same territory, yet in each case also with individual flavors.

Another layer is the consequences of living from a belief in the idea of I. This is something we all (with some exceptions) are quite familiar with, although also something we have not yet explore in real detail and with sincerity. When this happens, the belief starts to unravel – leaving only the ground, realizing itself as selfless – with no I anywhere, yet still functioning through and as a human being.

So we have…

  • Filter
    Self-centeredness functioning as a filter. The belief in the idea of I filters all our experiences and our whole life.

  • Discrepancy
    The discrepancy between knowing what is real for us – selflessness, yet believing in the idea of I. This brings a sense of uneasiness and suffering, and also an attention to this discrepancy, which invites us to become more familiar with it and bring it all more into awareness. It invites us to explore what is real for us more in detail, which in turn – eventually – leads to a realization of selflessness.

  • Consequences
    Explorations into how it is to live from the belief in I, and many other beliefs. This is an exploration into a shared territory, universal and really quite impersonal, yet also with individual flavors.

And of course, it is all completely innocent.

There is the Ground forming itself into all there is, everything inherently empty of any I. There is the belief in the idea of I. There are the consequences of this belief. And among these consequences are the impulses to bring what is real for us around it more into awareness, which in turn leads to a realization of selflessness.

The final layer is the ultimate self-centeredness: realizing selflessness – and discovering the divine or Big mind. It is all God, all Spirit, all emptiness dancing. If an I is placed on this (as Eckhard said, only God can say “I”), then it is all I. Although since there is no Other, there is not really any I there either.

Kaleidoscope of Stories

 

Earlier today, Jen and I walked around the Saturday & Farmer’s market downtown, in the beautiful spring weather. We waited for green light at an intersection, and a man came walking down a sidewalk with his dog.

During the few seconds we waited and I watched him and his dog, I saw again how stories play themselves out.

Two stories…

First, there was the story of him being either mentally ill and/or a drug addict, yanking the leash of his beautiful and patient golden retriever. I felt a great deal of sadness for this dog, and also for him for the misery of his life.

Then, it shifted fluidly into another story. This one of the beauty of their relationship, how nurturing it is for them both, and how lucky they are to have each other.

and none

Then, a shift into an absence of any (obvious) story. And here, there is just a man and a dog walking down the sidewalk in the spring sun. Without even this overlay of stories, there is just life happening – in a particular form.

Fluidity

There was a clear sense of how each of these stories functioned as an overlay to the situation, as colored glass I saw it through. And also of how fluid they are when they are not believed in. As Byron Katie says, they function more as innocent questions than as any solid statement about the situation. And then noticing the clarity and presence when the stories are allowed to drop.

There is a beautiful fluidity here between the various stories functioning as questions, and then also coming to what is without the overlay of stories.

Deepening into absence of stories

There is also a deepening into the absence of stories.

At one level, there may not be a belief in any particular story about the man and the dog, but still a belief in the story of there being a man and dog – with all the associations I have around those ideas.

There may also be the belief in the story of I and Other, of me as an I – placed on my human self or the seeing, and of Other placed on everything else.

Without a belief in even these more fundamental stories – of the ideas of man, dog, spring and sun, and of I and Other, something else is revealed. And this is Spirit forming itself into all these temporary forms, the ground appearing as these forms, God’s play, emptiness dancing.

As the belief in stories fall away, everything is revealed as God.