Lecturing vs. skillful means

 

We learn as much from what doesn’t work as we do from what works.

When I saw the independent spiritual teacher in Oslo (Vigdis G.) a few years ago, there was a mismatch in several areas. One was that she seemed to lecture and tell me to change certain things, without any pointers for how to actually do so. And these were big issues I have been aware of since my teens and have worked on for years. She basically used the “stop it!” approach.

If I am going to be a bit brutal, that seems to be the approach of those who don’t have access to more skillful means.

It felt very unhelpful. I already knew about the issues. (I was the one telling her about them.) I already work on them. And I already am motivated to work on them. None of what she said seemed to help me other than as a reminder of how not to do it if someone comes for support or guidance.

What I find far more helpful is…. Holding space. Being there with the other. Presence. Listen. Asking simple questions that help the other find their own answers (and what they already know). And perhaps, if they ask, offer suggestions for concrete, doable, and practical things they can do to shift or work on something. (After getting a sense of where they are at and what they may be inclined to do.)

Misunderstanding “living in the moment”

 

There are several valid criticisms of mindfulness:

  • It’s a very broad term and it’s used in many different ways. That means that, in itself, it doesn’t mean much.
  • It’s only one element of any serious self-exploration. It needs to be combined with a range of other forms of exploration. For instance different forms of inquiry, heart-centered practices, body inclusive practices, attention to how we live our life, psychological healing, relationship work including our relationship to ourselves, others, society, our planet, and life, and a study of other people’s experiences.
  • It can open up a pandora’s box of unprocessed materials and disorienting transpersonal experiences, and not all mindfulness teachers are experienced enough to guide their students through whatever terrain is opened up.

One argument against mindfulness that I sometimes encounter, and most recently this morning, is a straw man argument and not valid. It’s when people say: “We can’t just live in the present. We need to plan ahead and learn from the past. That’s our strength as human beings.”

That’s all true. And mindfulness allows us to use that ability with more skill and avoid some of its inherent pitfalls.

Mindfulness helps us change our relationship to thoughts. It helps us see that our thoughts – including thoughts about the future, past, and present – happen here and now. They, in themselves, are not the future, past, or present. And mindfulness combined with a simple form of inquiry helps us see that thoughts are made up of imaginations (words, images) and sensations. They are not what they appear to represent.

And that, in turn, creates room for us to relate to these thoughts more intentionally. It helps us recognize thoughts as thoughts. It helps us be less caught up in them. It helps us avoid taking them as anything more than thoughts. It helps us hold them more lightly and recognize then for what they are….. questions about the world.

We not only are able to “live in the present” while using thoughts as tools. We do so all of the time. The only difference is whether we are caught up in our thoughts and take them as real and infallible assumptions about the world, or recognize them as thoughts and questions about the world.

In either case, thoughts help us learn from the past, explore possibilities about the future, and form working assumptions about the present. Without mindfulness, it’s easy for us to take thoughts to be more than they are. And with, we can use them more skillfully as very helpful and essential tools.

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Evil?

 

Some people like to use the word evil.

It’s easy to understand why.

It’s part of our culture. Christianity likes to do the same. (Even if it initially was to discredit competing religions.)

It makes it simple.

We don’t have to look for complex answers to why people behave the way they do.

We can use simplistic solutions. We can tell ourselves that everything will be good if we just get rid of the evil people.

We can put it on others and keep ourselves safely on the good side.

And yet, it is an overly simplistic term. It robs us of the opportunity to a more real understanding which can help us deal with it in a more constructive way.

And that too seems very obvious, but it apparently isn’t to everyone yet.

So what’s behind what looks like evil?

One answer is trauma. When we are traumatized – whether it’s from social conditions or personal interactions – one way to deal with it is to react to it through dehumanizing others and using verbal or physical violence. And that can certainly appear as “evil”.

So what’s the solution? In some ways, the solution is also simple. It is to create a society where people’s basic needs are taken care of. Where food, shelter, education, and health is taken care of. Where there is less inequality globally and within regions. Where people who suffer receive help to heal and get back on their feet.

This is already in place in some countries, mainly in Northern Europe, although there is always room for improvement. To have this happen globally is a taller order, partly because many are opposed to it.

Some are opposed to it since it benefits some to have a great deal of inequality. The current neoliberal ideology, adopted by many in industrialized countries, ensures continued and perhaps widening inequality.

And ironically, some who are traumatized adopt a strong us vs. them ideology which prevents them from supporting policies benefiting everyone – including themselves. (We see this in the US, including among many current Trump supporters.)

Note: I am not blind to the irony in calling “evil” an overly simple label and then proceed to give a relatively simple answer and solution…

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Not painful to think?

 

Arne Næss, one of my favorite philosophers and human beings, once said:

It’s not painful to think.

And yet, of course, it can be.

Thoughts come with a whole mess of things, including sometimes memories and associations that trigger uncomfortable emotions. It can certainly be very uncomfortable to think.

If we think seriously about something, we may….

See that we don’t know as much as we think, or with much certainty.

Notice discrepancies and inconsistencies in our worldview.

Be reminded of painful situations or aspects of ourselves.

Have to question our beliefs and identities.

And much more. All of which can be quite uncomfortable.

The puzzling thing isn’t that not more of us are thinking more thoroughly. It’s that some do. And why? Most likely because we realize that it’s actually more painful, especially in the long run, to not examine things thoroughly.

Reality is kind, and we are kind to ourselves when we align our views more closely with reality.

Note: I am sure Arne Næss knew this very well. He probably just wanted to make a point. Thinking itself is not painful. It’s what we do with it that sometimes is. It’s how we react to it that can create discomfort.

Note 2: There is a clear difference between examination/inquiry and thinking. I know that this post blurred that distinction a bit.

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Images of God

 

Most of what I write about here is very basic. I often feel it’s just Life 101.

And yet, I keep seeing people speaking and acting as if it’s not, so I am drawn to writing a bit.

When people reject God as depicted in religion, as I did in elementary school, we are often just rejecting certain images of God. They don’t make sense to us, so we – often understandably – reject them.

For instance, if we have an image of God as a man with a gray beard sitting on a cloud, it will be seen as quite childish and ripe for rejection. In modern society, even images of God as a separate entity that helps and/or judges us is often seen as relatively immature and something best rejected.

I have to admit, most of the images of God presented by theistic mainstream religions seem a bit childish. So no wonder many reject these images, and in the process reject religion, God in general, and perhaps even spirituality. (Although in Norway, it seems that most reject religion but are open to spirituality and some ideas of God.)

It seems that the better our lives are in a society, the more likely we are to reject old-fashioned theistic images of God. And in places where there is more inequality and larger portions of us live in poverty and under difficult situations, we are more likely to adopt these images. (And that’s fine. It helps us, and it’s very understandable.)

I have two favorite images of God, both of which seem to work a bit better in modern society, and both of which are non-theistic.

God = reality. God = what is, whatever that may be. This includes our physical universe as described by science and perhaps more. We know only parts of reality so we cannot assume we know God as a whole.

God = Big Mind. The consciousness that everything (universe+) happens within and as, and which makes up this consciousness here that my local experience happens within and as.

A benefit of these two is that we can equally well say it, she, or he about God. I tend to it or she since he has been used so much in our culture. Or I may choose one depending on which aspect of reality we talk about.

Another benefit is that we are free to find the validity, helpfulness, and potential shortcomings of any religion or spiritual tradition. They all have some validity to them. They all may be helpful for some people, in some situations, in some ways. And they all have shortcoming and pitfalls.

So if someone asks me if I believe in God, I may say “yes” or “no” depending on who I talk to. I may explain which images roughly apply in my case. I may mention that it’s not really a “belief” but more a pointer and something to explore. Or I may ask which image of God do you mean?

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Making use of how people already are

 

Human behavior is often irrational. We tend to focus on what’s immediate, dramatic, and emotional. We are drawn to what’s shocking and unusual rather than long-term trends. We are more interested in this morning’s dramatic death than the thousands dying of hunger each day. We are more interested in what Trump tweeted at 5am than increasing social inequality.

The media knows that and plays into it by making news into entertainment and drama. That’s how they get viewers and readers. That’s how they maximize profit. They too act in their short-term interest.

And all of it is from evolution. For our ancestors, it was important to pay attention to anything that stood out and anything dramatic, and they rarely needed to pay attention to the big picture or slow trends. It’s how we, as a species, survived.

In a democracy, we need to get people to pay more attention to the serious and slower trends, and less on shorter term drama and entertainment. And we can do just that by taking evolution and how people really function into account, instead of wishful thinking about how people “should” function.

If we have sufficiently informed political and business leaders, we can set up structures so that what’s easy and attractive is also good in the long term and in the big picture.

And we can speak to people in general in ways that work with the mechanisms put into us by evolution: Tell compelling stories. Make it simple, immediate, and personal. Show how it aligns with the values and identities they already have. Make it genuinely attractive.

There are two more facets to this. Some of us seem wired to look more at the big picture and think about things in a more dispassionate way. That too makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. As a species and community, we generally need many who are drawn to the immediate and a few drawn to the bigger picture.

And there is another reason why many tend to avoid thinking about the big picture: they feel they are unable to do anything about it. So we can add one more element to how to work with how people already function: Show that their actions do make a real difference. And make that too immediate, personal, and emotional.

In darkness we are revealed

 

In darkness we are revealed.

– The Doctor in Extremis, Dr. Who, aired May 2017

This can mean a few different things, and we all find our own meaning. The meaning that means something to us.

Character testing. It can be understood in an ordinary sense. In dark times, we are tested. Our character is revealed. And, as they say, it builds character. For me, this is an invitation for authenticity. For not beating around the bush. For not being dishonest with myself (and also others).

Dark night. I also have to see it in the context of the dark night of the soul. First, there is often a period of illumination, an initial awakening. All is revealed as Spirit and we live within that, buoyed by the initial excitement and revelation. This may last for a short or long time.

Then, there may be a dark night of the soul. What we earlier relied on – the light, guidance, enthusiasm, clarity, esteem, health, intellectual capacity, health, friends, family, money – may be taken away from us. This reveals the darkness in us.

It reveals the “dark” areas of ourselves, the unhealed, unloved, unquestioned. And it comes with an invitation for us to see and feel it, meet it with love (and see it’s already loved), question the beliefs and identities wrapped up in it, and find healing for it.

In this “darkness”, we are also invited to live more deeply the realization that all is Spirit, including that in us, others, and life that our personality and human self don’t like or want. We may have earlier seen that all is Spirit, here it’s put to the test.

In the absence of the obvious light, we are also invited to recognize more deeply that all is emptiness. All is void. Any content of experience happens within and as void.

Dr. Who. In the context of Dr. Who, and knowing that Steven Moffat is the current writer, I assume it means none of these things but something more surprising and appropriate to that universe.

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Finding meaning, and holding it lightly

 

We are conditioned to find meaning in the world, and especially in what happens in our own life. It’s put into us through evolution, and it just makes sense that we do so. It helps us survive and function in the world.

One special case is when something happens that we don’t particularly like. Often, it’s in the form of a loss. We lose someone or something, and the mind tries to find a meaning in it.

The meaning may be that we are a victim, or that we are not good enough, or something similar and painful. And in the best case, we find a meaning that help us learn, heal, mature, and find peace with what happened.

For instance, the meaning may be I have an opportunity to learn about impermanence. I can learn to relate to it in a more helpful way. It may invite me to more fully appreciate what’s here and make use of an opportunity while it’s still here. It may invite me to know it will go away, and find some peace with it even before it happens. It may help me mature as a human being and find and deepen my empathy with others who experience loss. That all makes loss meaningful.

I like to keep these meaning-stories as simple and real as possible. I could add to it. For instance, life “wants” me to learn this, or that the loss was a special set-up just for me. But that doesn’t really make sense. It just adds unnecessary complication and drama to it. Some meaning-stories are inherently stressful.

And, in reality, any and each meaning-story can be stressful if we hold it as too real and too… meaningful. If we take it as absolutely true and real, instead of just as a temporary guide, any story will eventually be stressful.

There is a way to do this that seems the most helpful to me.

Find a meaning that’s practical, simple, and real. A meaning that helps me heal, mature, and function well in the world. Hold it lightly, as you are able.

Leave the rest aside. The meanings that seem overly complicated or makes it into something special. The meanings that are clearly stressful or painful.

Take to inquiry any remaining meaning-stories that seem real and substantial, and especially the stressful ones. Examine them.

For instance, use The Work of Byron Katie to see the consequences of holding it as true, how it may be if you don’t, and the validity in the reversals.

Or use the Living Inquiries to see how the mind creates its own stressful experience, how it attaches sensations to stories to give them charge and a sense of reality and substance, and help the mind soften or release the association between the stories and the charge.

To find a constructive meaning, it can help to talk with someone we trust or use some guidelines or tools found in – for instance – the positive psychology world.

And when it comes to holding any meaning lightly and set the stressful ones aside, some form of inquiry can be very helpful.

Note: When I say “I like to keep these meaning-stories as simple and real as possible” I don’t mean that I hold the meaning itself as real. It just means that I try to find a meaning that makes sense to me. A meaning that’s “real” in the sense of authentic.

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If you see life as a laboratory of your own spiritual evolution

 

If you think life is about getting what you want, then life will seem to be against you.

But if you see life as a laboratory of your own spiritual evolution, then all of creation becomes the supporting cast, and you will always, always feel supported.

Because the Universe just has this uncanny knack for sending us the perfect experiences to “build character”.

– Nathan W. on Facebook

Life is set up that way. We operate on beliefs and identifications, these are out of alignment with reality, and we will inevitably find ourselves in situations where life makes this misalignment very obvious to us.

We experience this misalignment as discomfort and even suffering. Blaming the world for the discomfort tends to amplify it. If we instead use it as a reminder to look at our own beliefs and identifications, it can be a support in our own healing, maturing, and even awakening.

Most of us use a combination of these two approaches, and the more aware we become the pattern of each, the more we tend to naturally use the second.

Born into a religion

 

Many people adopt whatever religion (or lack thereof) they are born into. It’s very understandable and natural. We adopt the religion we are born into because it’s familiar, because there is something of value in it (as there is in just about all of them), and for social reasons (to have a community, to fit in, for support).

And yet, if we say that the religion we happen to be born into is the “only true religion”, then there is some lack of intellectual honesty. How can we know? How can we know unless we seriously explore and experience all of them? How can we know even then?

Of course, if we say it’s the only true one, that’s OK as well. It comes from conditioning. That too is natural and understandable. I do the same in many areas of life, including in ways I am not aware of (yet). And it does come with some inherent discomfort and suffering. It can create discomfort for ourselves since we know – somewhere – we can’t know for sure, and when we see things of value in other traditions. And it can create discomfort and suffering for those around us who do not belong to our particular religion.

I became an atheist in elementary school on my own accord, partly for this reason. It didn’t make any sense to me that people happened to be born into this traditionally Christian culture, adopted that religion without questioning it much, and then saw it as the only true religion and the only path to salvation. To me, even at that age, it smacked of intellectual dishonesty.

I am still an atheist in a conventional sense. I don’t “believe” in any religion, and I don’t “believe in God” in a usual sense.

For me, “God” is a name for reality, life, existence. I don’t pretend I know exactly what that is. I have my own experience, and I am familiar with maps and frameworks that make sense to me based on my own experience and intellectually. And I know very well that those maps are just maps. They are questions about life, myself, and reality. And as maps, they are very much provisional.

I also appreciate the wisdom and guidance offered by the major religions. They often start from real insights and realizations, and individuals through the ages infuse the religions with fresh impulses from their own insights and awakenings.

At the same time, I know that religions…..

  • Are structures that at best initially came from real insights. Have other functions than guiding people to spiritual insights and realizations, and that these are often more important. These may include social regulation, comfort, and a sense of community and fellowship.
  • Have as their main purpose to perpetuate themselves. Although individuals within the traditions may have other priorities, including functioning as experienced spiritual guides for those interested in that approach.
  • Use a “lowest common denominator” approach and at best recommend what tends to work for most people. The suggested practices and paths are often not so much tailored to the individual unless you find a more flexible and experienced guide.

The reality is that few people are interested in a spiritual path, and that’s fine. And that’s also reflected in how most or all religions are set up and function, including Buddhism. There is nothing at all wrong with this.

But it does mean that if we are seriously interested in a spiritual path, we may need to find free spirits within the traditions, or guides who function outside of them.

That’s why I – from the start in my teens – have sought out people like Jes Bertelsen (Danish spiritual teacher), Ken Wilber (for the framework), and later Adyashanti (who does have a solid grounding in one of the traditions).

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Adyashanti: One of the most beautiful things about spiritual maturity

 

One of the most beautiful things about spiritual maturity is that you see the divine in all its guises and you stop arguing about which ones are right.

– Adyashanti, 2017 Mount Madonna Retreat

In a narrow sense, we can take this as Spirit revealing itself to itself as love, wisdom, any and all content of experience, the void everything happens within and as, and so on.

In a slightly wider sense, we see that those expressing awakening realize, notice, and emphasize different aspects of the divine, and use whatever language is available to them through their culture and traditions.

And in an even wider sense, this stopping to arguing which one is right applies to any aspect of life, and is a feature of both spiritual maturity and the ordinary garden variety human maturity.

We get to see that it’s all life playing itself out.

Here are some examples:

Spirit may awaken to itself through some remaining filters of duality, so spirit seems different from (most) content of experience, and the world in general. This is a stepping stone, and with some maturity, we recognize that this is a stepping stone.

Any realization, revelation, and insight is a stepping stone. Awakening continues to open up, clarify, deepen, and find new ways to be expressed through this human life.

Genuine awakenings and revelations may be expressed through a variety of traditions, terminology, and images. Of course, it tends to get mixed up in fantasies and imaginations, and that’s OK too. That’s part of the play.

Any experience is Spirit itself, including those our human self does not like. For me, what I sometimes call the “dark night of the soul” has shown me where I still don’t get this in a more embodied and visceral way.

In short, nothing is wrong. It’s all life living itself out. It’s the play of Spirit. As we continue to realize this, our argument with reality lessens. And life continues to find ways to help us see where we still argue. It’s an ongoing process.

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Talking about the healing modalities I use

 

It can be challenging to talk about healing modalities that are quite different from what most people are familiar with.

Most of the approaches I use fall into this category:

Breema bodywork looks similar to Thai massage or partner yoga, but the experience of and intention behind is markedly different. It’s deeply nourishing and helps us find ourselves as the fullness and wholeness that’s always here and always healthy, even as our body and mind may have ailments.

Inquiry can look similar to cognitive therapy, but it goes far deeper is far more all-inclusive than typical cognitive therapy. Living Inquiries is an exploration of how our mind creates its own experiences, including the stressful and painful ones. We get to explore the basic building blocks (images, words, sensations), and through separating and spending time with each one, it’s difficult for the mind to put it together again in a believable way. We also go back in time to the origins and roots of the issue, and we look at the different branches holding it in place.

Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE) involves trembling and shaking, rocking and stretching, and sometimes also sounds. This is something we are all familiar with, but in TRE these all happen spontaneously and are initiated and guided by the body. We are just along for the ride. (Although we can stop it at any time, if we wish.) There is also a deepening, and a deep relaxation and sense of nourishment that happens as we do TRE regularly over time.

Vortex Healing may look similar to energy healing modalities such as Reiki, acupuncture, or chigong. It’s true it’s an energy healing modality, and yet it’s different to most other approaches in that it uses divine energy guided by divine intelligence. This is the intelligence of life or Spirit itself, so it already knows the problems and the way out of them. As a practitioner, I use my intention to support the healing, I partially guide and partially am guided through the healing session, and I allow my system to be used as a channel for the energy needed for the healing. Where other modalities often work more in a general way, Vortex Healing is especially effective when we work on very specific issues – sometimes the more specific and detailed the better. As a practitioner, Vortex Healing also speeds up and guides my own awakening and embodiment process. It’s very much an intimate partnership with the divine.

And, of course, most people are interested in if and how they can be helped, not the specific modalities. The modalities are just tools. While it’s easy to become fascinated with the tools as a practitioner, clients have a different priority. And rightly so. They are interested in what can be done for them. Can you help me with what I need help with?

In my experience, any issue can be helped by using these tools: Physical and mental health. Psychological and behavioral issues. Relationships. Awakening and embodiment. If there is a problem, there is a way out of it. And as usual, the degree we can be helped depends on many factors, mainly the willingness for change and the energy and time put into it.

Initial I Ching experience

 

I was introduced to I Ching by my first mentor (Aake Y.) when I was 17 or 18 years old. It was the Richard Wilhelm translation. My mentor threw the coins when we were on the phone, asking about me in general, and got Chien (Heaven / The Creative) transforming to Wu (The Wanderer). Within a day or two, I got the same book, asked the same question, and got the same two hexagrams in the same sequence.

During this time of my life – in the years following the initial opening or awakening – my life was full of amazing synchronicities, and this was just one of many. I probably needed it to learn to trust, and trust more deeply. It seems that the chances of this happening – both of us getting the same two hexagrams on the same question – is about 8,192 (64 x 64 x 2) to one.

I seem to need “big” experiences, for instance with the initial awakening, the synchronicities, some dreams, and my first experience with Breema and Vortex Healing. Perhaps it’s because I am a bit stubborn.

Besides using I Ching for synchronicity type guidance, I found the content fascinating and read it repeatedly for the following months and years. It reflected what had been revealed in the initial opening or awakening, and the “download” that followed.

I am visiting my parents right now, and they still live where I was born and grew up, so some of these memories come back to me and I may write a few more here.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

 

Luke: What do you see?

Rey: Light…. darkness….. the balance….?

Luke: It’s so much bigger.

This seems to be the mainstream interpretation, and although I try to avoid topics that are covered in the mainstream, this one is too good to pass up.

In many spiritual traditions, and in our own ordinary maturing as human beings, we tend to initially split between good and bad, light and darkness. We seek the light and avoid the darkness. That’s the safer approach, initially, until we gain some more experience and reach a certain level of maturity.

And then, we realize we need to outgrow it. We see the pitfalls in splitting life in that way. We realize that we all have both in us, and if we identify with one we have to suppress the other which doesn’t work in the long run. At a social level, we end up demonizing groups, which is not good for any of us.

So we need to find both sides in us. Find a larger whole that already embraces and includes both. Find ways to live with and from both. And in that process, we find some maturity and a different and more real type of kindness. We don’t have to demonize anything in ourselves or others. We recognize ourselves in the whole world, as it is. There is a deeper and more genuine empathy.

Is that why it’s time for the Jedi to end? If the Jedi only know and use the light side, they are out of touch with life and reality. A new approach is needed. And Rey may be one of the first ones to be trained in this new approach.

Embracing both sides we find something so much bigger than either one. So much richer, fuller, more mature, and – if done with some skill – more kind in a real way.

It can also be a dangerous transition. We go from a safer and more immature identification with the good, to getting to know and embracing both sides. We often make mistakes in this transition, and that’s how we learn and mature. That’s how we find the deeper form of kindness that can come from embracing and befriending both.

There is nothing new here. This is part of any relatively mature spiritual tradition, and it’s what we realize growing up – at least most of us. It’s also not new in literature, mythology, or even movies. But if this is the theme of the new Star Wars movie, it’s certainly good that it comes into mainstream culture in this way. It is a message that can be helpful to many, especially younger ones, and especially in the US.

It may not be popular, but I still have to say that the US culture tends to be more obsessed with the good/bad split than many other cultures and has a more immature take on it. Evangelical Christians, and any form of Christian or religious fundamentalism, is an example of that more immature view. Other examples are, unfortunatly, how the US media tends to frame issues, and aspects of US foreign policy.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this approach although it does create some suffering and is dangerous if taken too far. And it’s also a stepping stone. One of an infinite number of stepping stones. Each one with its own drawbacks that we eventually discover, take to heart, and partially resolve with the next more inclusive approach.

And the Last Jedi movie poster is awesome. A great take on classic 50s sci-fi art.

Note: When Rey says “light” there is an image of Leia and a rebellion control room (I assume), when she says “darkness” we see Kylo Ren’s charred helmet (I assume), and when she says “the balance?” we see some books perhaps symbolizing wisdom and maturity.

Note II: I see that people talk about “grey Jedi” as a term for those who embrace the larger and more inclusive wholeness of the light and the dark. I don’t like the term since it sounds bland and as if the light and dark blend together. It’s much more about including both, the full spectrum. Maybe “full spectrum Jedi” is more accurate but obviously less catchy.

Note III: As mentioned above, there is an apparently safe simplicity in dividing the world into good and bad, and identifying with the good. It seems safe, and it’s also a bit naive since that’s not how the world works. We all have both in us, and identifying with parts within that split leads to scapegoating, dehumanization, us-them attitudes, and struggles with others and oneself. So eventually we realize we need to include both. We need to find both in ourselves, and learn to befriend both and live with and from both. And in that, there is a deeper and more mature kindness and compassion towards ourselves and others.

The simple dualism is a stepping stone. And the exploration of a more inclusive wholeness is also a series of stepping stones.

There is a slight risk here: the initial exploration of wholeness can be used to justify living from parts of ourselves in an unkind and less wise way. We can tell ourselves that “it’s good to embrace all of me, and that means it’s OK to be mean” or greedy, or hateful, or whatever it may be. I certainly saw that with some of the senior students at K. Zen Center. They used the wholeness principle to justify being jerks.

That too, of course, comes with consequences, and those consequences invite us to find a kinder and more mature path.

A real life ghost story: repeating sounds

 

In November last year, I was house- and dog-sitting in a nice new apartment in Hayes Valley in San Francisco.

At night, there would sometimes be a strong presence in the kitchen area, and when I was in bed before falling asleep, there would sometimes be sounds from the kitchen area. These sounds seem to repeat sounds from earlier in the day: water running from the faucet, the dog’s rubber ball bouncing on the floor, the dog lapping up water. A few times, I would hear the drinking and ball bouncing and think the dog was out there, and then realized she was lying right next to me. The dog would typically sit up and bark loudly at the kitchen when she heard these sounds.

I should say that the sense of presence itself is something I normally would discount as imagination, or at least not evidence of anything. The sounds definitely came from the kitchen and not a neighbor, and they were too loud and clear to be imagined. The dog hardly ever barks at anything so her barking at the kitchen was very unusual.

I asked Vortex Healing colleagues if anyone had experiences with clearing spaces, got some assistance, and the place quieted down. Since then, it’s been quiet here, both in terms of sensing a presence and in terms of sounds, and the dog has not sat up and barked at anything invisible. (I have been house/dog-sitting here off and on since.)

I thought I would mention it here since it was a bit unusual and I still don’t quite know what it was. It seemed playful more than anything. I did read up on the history of the block and it turns out there was a large orphanage here in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I don’t know if there is a connection.

I titled this post “real life ghost story” but don’t really know if this is connected to any forms of ghosts. Ghost typically seem more like imprints from someone’s life a long time ago – either visual or auditory. In this case, it was different. It did seem that the sounds from earlier of the day were repeated.

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Awakening is multi-faceted

 

Awakening is multi-faceted.

What we are awakening to itself. One aspect is what we are awakening to itself as all there is, and out of identification with thoughts – and taking itself as a separate being in a wider world.  This can happen as an opening – as a preview or a temporary transcendence – or in a more stable way.

When it’s more stable, this awakening continues to open, clarify, and deepen over time.

Who we are realigning. Another aspect is how our human self operates within this new context. All the many parts of our human self is invited to realign within this new context. (The context itself is not new but the remembered and conscious recognition of it is.) This realigning is an ongoing process and takes the form of healing, maturing, and embodiment.

Sudden and process. The ripening leading to an awakening is a process that may have occurred over many lifetimes. Awakenings or openings are often sudden, although they sometimes occur gradually and almost imperceptibly. The continuing opening, clarifying and deepening is a process, as it the ongoing realignment – the healing and maturing of our human self, and the exploration of how to consciously and intentionally living from the awakening.

Consciousness, energetic, and lived. We can look at or describe the awakening process in different ways. We can describe it from the consciousness side, and this is most common in – for instance – the public face of Buddhism, Sufism, Christian Mysticism, and Advaita. We can also understand and describe it from the energetic side, which we see in Vortex Healing (see Awakening Through the Veils) and yogic traditions. And we can look at and describe it through how it’s lived and embodies. Each of these are equally valid and together paint a fuller picture.

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Blog update

 

Dear reader

Just a brief update to say I am still here. I seem to go through cycles of posting, and find myself in a more quiet phase where most of my time is spent on Vortex Healing for myself and others. I do have topics and ideas for several new posts and they will come up in the next few days and weeks. Also, if you have feedback or ideas for topics, send me a message.

Trump Reflections VII

 

Continued from previous posts….

April 6, 2017

Using their values. As is obvious today, arguing using facts generally won’t change people’s minds. If anything, it often makes people’s opinions even more entrenched. That’s yet another reason why it’s important to argue a point using the values of the recipient.

(a) What are their values? Listen to them. Ask.

(b) How do these values fit with X? (Where X is a strategy that’s inclusive and supports life at all levels and in the short and long term, for instance universal health care, free quality education at all levels, sustainability etc.)

(c) How do I tell an engaging and compelling story that shows how their values match these solutions and policies? How do I make it personal to them?

For instance, why are many conservatives in the US skeptical to climate change and creating a more sustainable society? It seems to make no rational sense. Somehow, their values have been hijacked to support policies that often are against their interests – and often their values. (Policies that are in the interest of only small segments of the population, and at the expense of society as a whole, ecosystems, and future generations.)

Say their values are….. creating a good world for their children and decendants, valuing God’s creation, maintaining healthy and supportive communities. I imagine these are values among many conservatives in the US. And it’s pretty easy to show that solutions such as universal health care, free quality education at all levels, and sustainability are aligned with those values, and good strategies to achieve goals aligned with their values.

Of course, it has to be genuine. We have to find these values in ourselves and find genuine connections between these values and the world we would like to see. And it will only resonate with some conservatives. But that’s a good start.

Post-modern nightmare. Trump’s way of dealing with “facts” is nightmare taken right out of post-modernism. In post-modernism, we realize that everything is a story, including data and facts. Taken to a naive extreme, they are all equal and equally valid. And from a more grounded and mature perspective, we know that some fit our experience better and that it’s important to have a consensus reality to work with. We can know it’s a fabrication, and we can still mostly agree on it and use it in everyday life. That’s how modern democratic societies mostly work.

Trump, Fox News, Breitbart and others take the post-modern insight to an extreme. They know very well what they are doing, and they do it to confuse, mislead, and – ultimately – for profit. Of course, authoritarian rules throughout history have done this. It doesn’t require postmodernism. Just a willingness to manipulate and mislead.

And it requires people willing to be manipulated and misled. Willing because it may give them temporary satisfaction.

May 18, 2017

Update. I don’t have much more to say here. What’s unfolding is all quite predictable, at least in the big lines. Trump is reckless with information and military actions. His unpredictability makes it hard for allies and security services to trust him, and it can easily trigger a serious military conflict somewhere in the world. He doesn’t know how the government works. He repeatedly creates reasons for impeachment, and it may go that way should the Republicans decide he is too much of a liability. His supporters still support him, largely because they receive their information from him or his media allies.

And it’s hard to say exactly where it will go from here. He may decide to resign, either from frustrations with the check and balances of democracy or because he is at risk of impeachment, and then blame his “enemies” for making his job impossible. He may create a war which may give him more support due to some misguided attitude Americans have to support their leader in times of war no matter what (or he may be impeached because he is too reckless). And it’s possible he will last four years and get re-elected. It’s hard to see that he can last that long with the amount of frustration he must be experiencing, but I guess he is used to – and may even enjoy – that level of drama and frustration.

My guess is that he will resign and blame his “enemies” so he can save face and still be a “winner” in his own view.

The new world. We are invited to create and support a new world, one that’s life centered and supports life at all levels – from ecosystems to individuals of all species. We have all the solutions to have a very good start if we decide to go in that direction and support and implement these solutions on a larger scale. We have the opportunity to create a new economy that’s as innovative and successful – and creates as many jobs – as any we have seen before. We have a very attractive possibility in front of us, and the alternatives are equally unattractive. (The main alternative is to continue on the same course and keep creating a great deal of ecological problems, which then – inevitably – become social and human problems.)

I guess what’s happening now is quite predictable as well. We have the old world order, especially clearly represented by Trump and the US Republicans, which desperately try to hold onto a world that has no future. We have some that try to maintain a middle ground, represented by the US Democrats and many traditional political parties in Europe, and are only moderately successful. And we have those who envision and partly live this new approach. These are still mainly overlooked by mainstream media so they are less visible.

How will this unfold? My guess is that since most countries and political leaders still hold on to many outdated approaches, we will have to live through more of the consequences of social inequality (unrest, wars, uprisings) and ecological destruction (lack of basic resources, diseases, unrest, wars). This may go on for a few decades.

And yet, we do have the solutions. We know what to do. One approach to this change is to make this information widely available, show that the alternatives can be very attractive, elect the right leaders, and restructure many aspects of our society so that what’s right (socially and ecologically) is also the easy and attractive options for governments, corporations, and individuals. More likely, some enlightened corporations (Tesla etc.) will lead the way and show that more life-centered solutions are more attractive all around, and people and elected officials will follow. In some regions of the world, we may also have political leaders who will restructure society in a more deep and thorough way.

Social inequality. To many of us, Trump and his supporters seem unhinged. Unhinged from reality. They appear reactive, unconcerned with reality, uncaring, irrational, acting from short-term perspectives, acting from narrow self-interest, and acting so they directly or indirectly harm themselves and others.

They don’t act like children. Children are usually far more mature and healthy, and far more caring. They act like emotionally damaged children. And, in a sense, they are since they live in a society of significant inequality that does not take care of everyone. This is how people who are harmed – through social inequality – act. Of course, that’s not new. We have seen this throughout history. It seems to be part of human life.

The best remedy may be to create a society that works for as many people as possible (the post-WW2 northern European societies may, so far, be the best examples of this). People living in a society where they feel included and cared for, where they receive good and free education, where the basics of life is taken care of, tend to know how rare and precious it is and want to maintain it, they tend to want to extend it to others, and they tend to – in general – appear a bit more mature (and less damaged).

Irrational. Human behavior is often irrational. We tend to focus on what’s immediate, dramatic, and emotional. The media knows that and plays into it by making news into entertainment and drama. That’s how they get viewers or readers.

And all of it is from evolution. For our ancestors, it was important to pay attention to anything that stood out and anything dramatic, and they rarely needed to pay attention to the big picture or slow trends. In a democracy, we need to get people to pay more attention to the serious and slower trends, and less on shorter term drama and entertainment. And we can do just that by taking evolution and how people really function into account, instead of wishful thinking about how people “should” function.

If we have sufficiently informed political and business leaders, we can set up structures so that what’s easy and attractive is also good in the long term and in the big picture.

And we can speak to people in general in ways that works with the mechanism put into us by evolution: Tell compelling stories. Make it simple, immediate, and personal. Show how it aligns with the values and identities they already have. Make it genuinely attractive.

May 25, 2017

Abusive father. From the little I know about Trump’s father, he seems to have been quite abusive to his children. I haven’t written about it here, and it doesn’t come up so often in the media, but Trump’s behavior is typical of a defiant teenager trying to stand up to his father. Why does he do it?, a Salon article by Lucian Truscott, describes the dynamics well.

It’s a reminder that how we all operate has infinite causes. Understanding gives empathy. And that understanding and empathy are independent of standing up to ignorance, abuse, and – in this case – dangerous policies. We can easily do both.

What helps my physical energy

 

Here are some things I have found helps my physical energy.

Herbs. Adaptogens can be very helpful, along with more targeted herbs. I have been greatly helped by taking certain herbs under the guidance of an experienced herbalist. (Right now, I take eleuthero, echinacea, and kapikachu.)

Bone broth. This also helps my deep physical energy. Here is the recipe I use:

Roast bones, 375 degrees, 25-30 min.

Cover with water, add 2 table spoons of apple cider vinegar. Use a slow cooker if you can.

Simmer on low heat, cover with water. (Leave the foam bc of nutrients).

Replenish water as needed.

Simmer for 48 hours.

Cool rapidly, freeze in small(ish) portions – for instance in small containers or ice cube trays. Use in meals or take as broth daily, especially during fall and winter.

Nature. Rest. Food. Spending time in nature. Get plenty or rest and sleep. (Live well within my means when it comes to energy.) Eat low on the food chain. Eat mostly unprocessed foods. Chose foods that work for my system. (In my case, mostly avoid sugars, dairy, and wheat. Eat cooked food during cold months, and more raw foods when it’s warm. Since I have dampness in my system, foods with heat help my energy.)

Vortex Healing. Vortex Healing has helped me greatly over the last year or so. My digestion is much better than it was, as is my general energy level. And it continues to improve.

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Taking the lid off

 

Having a profound awakening can be like taking the lid off of a jar. All the karma that has been repressed, all the karma at the bottom of our misery that we aren’t conscious of, comes flying out because there is finally space in which it can emerge.

When it hits you in the face, you wonder where your freedom went and what went wrong. But understand that this is a consequence of the freedom; it is not a mistake.

Everything wants to come up into and be transformed by the freedom. If you let it come up into this aware space, which is love, it will reharmonize. This space that you are is unconditional love. 

Unconditional means just that: everything is welcome, nothing is cast away or set apart from it.

– Adyashanti from The Impact of Awakening

This is what happened to me after a six months non-dual transcendence/opening some years ago. I have written about it before so won’t go into much detail here. But I do want to say that this process seems to have a few different sides.

Ride it out. One is that it lives its own life, and we have to ride it out. We have to learn to live with it as it is because it often seems we cannot do much about it. I have written about practical ways to learn to ride it out, and these may include spending time in nature, finding support from others who have gone through it, having the right diet for us, rest, bringing attention to the sensations, and more.

Relate to it consciously. Another is that we can – and are invited to – relate to what’s surfacing consciously. To heal our relationship to it, and invite the unprocessed material itself to heal. To learn to meet the pain and fear with kindness. To recognize what’s surfacing as an expression of caring and love at a human level (fear, pain, anger, discomfort etc. are all here to help the human self and is an expression of caring and love), and as Spirit itself. To heal the material itself through any way that works for us.

We are invited to examine the unexamined thoughts and beliefs creating the suffering. To love the unloved. To experience the unexperienced. And it seems that we don’t really have much choice. Anything else is too painful. Although we can certainly drag our feet and prolong the struggle. And that too is perfectly understandable. That too is, in a certain way, an expression of caring and love, although slightly unenlightened and misguided.

Very human process. It’s a very human process. It’s very human material that surfaces to be loved, examined, and experienced. It’s very humbling. It’s very humanizing, especially if we let it be. Through befriending the wounds and traumas surfacing, we become more fully human.

Prerequisite for embodiment. This process, however it happens, is also a prerequisite for embodiment. What we are awakens to itself, and then needs to clear out our human self so it can be more clearly and fully expressed through this life. Our human self needs to realign to this “new” reality, and that involves a great deal of deep healing. We need to heal the wounds of, it seems, lifetimes. We are invited to mature within this process. And we are invited to embody whatever awakening is here.

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Awakening in Vortex Healing and in other contexts

 

Vortex Healing is a path of healing and awakening.

When I first encountered Vortex Healing (VH), I was curious about how awakening within the Vortex Healing context is similar to and differs from other traditions I am more familiar with. I still have that curiosity, and here is some of how it looks to me now.

Similarities 

Same awakening. What’s described as awakening in the VH context is the same as how it’s described in the many spiritual traditions of the world. It’s Spirit awakening to itself and out of its temporary identification as a separate being. (Spirit = consciousness, awakeness, empty awakeness etc.)

Gradual. Awakening is a gradual path. There is a continuing clarifying and deepening. There is an awakening out of identifications, and as the fullness of existence beyond and including all polarities.

Sudden. Basic awakening is sometimes sudden. It can happens in a flash.

Embodiment. Awakening requires embodiment. It requires our human self to realign with this new reality. It requires healing, maturing, and realignment.

Ripening. Awakening requires a readiness and ripening. And we can set the stage for and support this readiness and ripening. There are certain things we can do to invite it in.

Work. Awakening requires work. Ripening, clarfying, and embodiment requires attention, sincerity, and work. That’s the same for all paths I am aware of. (The type of work can be somewhat different, although much is similar.)

Differences

Reliable and consistent ripening. Ripening happens in a relatively predictable way through any serious path, but it does seem to happen in a more reliable and consistent way through VH than what I have seen from other paths.

In VH, the ripening happens thorugh the courses we take as VH students, and it happens in a predictable way so all have basic awakening after a certain number of courses. I am very aware that this sounds like a naive assumption, and I was extremely skeptical for a while. Now, I have seen and experienced enough to say that it seems accurate.

Basic awakening happens at a certain predictable phase of the process, and it happens for everyone who makes it that far. (And it’s not even that far into the process. It can easily happen within two years.)

Unique paths. Each unique path brings something unique. The practices we engage in builds a certain set of skills, insights, and experiences. And we bring those with us into and within the awakening. For instance, in VH, we practice attention, intention, sensing, surrender, being guided, and transformative magic. (I know the word “magic” can be off putting. It was for me in the beginning, and I still rarely use the word. I guess I am getting somewhat used to it, and I also see that it’s a pretty accurate way of describing what’s happening.)

I should also say that in VH, the basic awakening is very precise and limited to releasing the core sense of self or an I. In other traditions, a sudden awakening may clear out a good deal more in the process. In VH, that clearing tends to happen more gradually through taking the courses and receiving healing sessions from oneself and others.

One of the things I find very helpful about VH is the gradual ripening and healing. It’s a gentle process, for the most part. I feel in safe hands. And it’s helped me heal things that went a bit haywire from earlier openings and awakenings.

I know that this can be a bit upsetting to some who have invested a great deal of time in traditional spiritual practices. There is another path where they can have basic awakening within two years? And it’s easy to dismiss it, as I did at first. It seems to easy. And yet, it’s not really. To be attracted to the VH path, we have to be pretty ripe already. Other traditions have a great deal of gifts in them. And it’s not one or the other. Most people combine other paths and practices with VH in their lives.

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Waiting for perfection

 

Some of us wait for perfection. We want to be X before we can do Y.

We want to be completely awake and healed before sharing our insights with others. We want to have our life in perfect order before having children. We want to heal completely after an long lasting illness before going back to work.

I see this for myself, and those examples are from my own life right now.

We can tell ourselves it’s noble to wait for perfection. But it can also be a very long wait. And it’s very often an excuse. Something we can hide behind.

As someone said, perfection is the enemy of the good.

A wish for perfection is a way for us to try to compensate for feeling not enough – not good enough, not lovable enough, or whatever else it may be. And it’s a way to not fully engage in life. It’s a way to let our fears – the unexamined and unloved ones – stop us.

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Core, ground, periphery

 

Here is one way to map out the discomfort/suffering dynamic.

Core. The core is identifications and beliefs. It’s holding stories as true and real, and this has energetic, emotional, mental, perceptual, and lived components. It’s reflected in all our human levels of being, in how we perceive, and how we live.

Periphery. These are the consequences of the identifications and beliefs. They include additional beliefs that support the initial ones, reactions towards the pain created by the initial beliefs, reactions towards the life situations the initial beliefs brings us into, and more. There is sometimes a great deal of these more peripheral beliefs, and they in themselves can become core beliefs for additional ones.

Ground. The ground is what we are and everything are, aka consciousness and love.

Identification means identification with or as the viewpoint of a thought. We hold it as real, and perceive and live as if it’s real. This creates a sense of separation. It also creates discomfort and even suffering since it’s out of alignment with reality. Life and reality rubs up against our beliefs and identifications, and this is uncomfortable.

Say there is a belief that there is a separate self. This can have a more peripheral belief that this separate self is unlovable. And this in itself becomes a core belief for a constellation of other beliefs, for instance that I need to seek love by doing what I think other people want me to do, and that her look means she doesn’t like me and that is terrible. All of this creates discomfort and suffering.

And that discomfort is an invitation to – eventually – examine more closely what’s happening and find more clarity and release from it. And that will eventually lead Spirit to recognize itself – and all there is – as consciousness and love.

Why is all this happening? We can see it from a few different perspectives.

At a human level, we can see the formation of the initial beliefs and identification as mimicking the adults in our life. We take on what we see our parents and others doing. It’s a form of love. It’s a form of taking care of ourselves. It’s innocence.

At a multiple-life perspective, we can see it as a habit that is passed on over lifetimes.

At a Spirit perspective, we can see it as Lila, the play of the divine. The universe – and our experience – is the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways. And this includes temporarily experiencing itself as separate, as a separate being. It’s part of the play.

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Samuel Bercholz: A guided tour of hell

 

I went to an excellent talk with Samuel Bercholz and Pema Namdol Thaye at the Asian Art Museum earlier today. They are the author and artist of A Guided Tour of Hell: A Graphic Memoir. I can highly recommend the book. (Samuel Bercholz also happens to be the founder of the Shambala publishing company. I must have read hundreds of their books.)

A few things about hell. It’s created by our own mind, and more specifically by our beliefs and identifications. Beliefs and identifications are at odds with reality, and create unease and sometimes suffering. This hell is with us as long as we have these beliefs and identifications, whether in this human life or between incarnations. We create our own hell.

What’s the remedy? It’s partly to heal our very human trauma and wounds. And more to the point, to heal our relationship with our experience. To befriend our experience, independent of it’s content. To find kindness and even love for it. And to recognize our experience as awakeness and even love. And this goes for all of our experience, including other people, the world, ourselves, different parts of ourselves, and our own discomfort, pain, and suffering.

My own experience with hellish states. It’s a good reminder for myself. As I have written about before, I have gone through a difficult few years. Following a nondual opening that lasted a few months, I was plunged into chronic fatigue (CFS) and later PTSD. Adyashanti talks about how an awakening or opening can “take the lid” off anything suppressed or avoided in our mind, and that’s what happened to me. There was no chance of holding it back or pushing it away.

A huge amount of unprocessed material surfaced over the following months and years, and it led to PTSD and several months where I hardly slept and all I could do was walk in the woods in Ski, Norway. (While listening to the audio version of the dark night chapter of Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill and Adyashanti talking about the dark night and other topics.) Fortunately, I had some guidance by someone who had gone through it himself and understood (Barry Snyder) and I also did The Work and found TRE, both of which helped me tremendously.

And still, a great part of this process was something I just had to ride out. Practices and healings helped in taking the edge off some of it, but the vast bulk of it just had to live its own life and was something I had to find a way to live with, even if it often felt indescribably unbearable and overwhelming.

As so many describe, it has gradually tapered off although I still feel I am in it to some extent. I am very grateful for having found Vortex Healing which has been and is a great support for me in the healing and continued awakening process.

Note: As I wrote the section above, I was aware that this is a good example of hellish states but not a good example of how we can work with it. The unprocessed material that surfaces is something I have worked with extensively and continue to work on healing and clearing – mainly through inquiry (Living Inquiries, The Work), TRE, resting with it, and – these days – Vortex Healing. As the intensity has gradually decreased, it’s easier for me to work on it.

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Influenced by circumstances

 

I am very strongly influenced by circumstances – by place, housing, and people around me. Right now, I am in San Francisco which is in a region where I feel very much at home, and I am near San Francisco Zen Center and the Breema Center. Here, I feel alive, clear, engaged, and passionate about life. In other locations, it can be the reverse. And for me, the difference is not subtle. It’s like night and day.

Some say we are the same person no matter what, so circumstances doesn’t matter. That’s true in one sense. We are the same person and we have the same potentials and characteristics in us. But it’s very much not true in a practical sense since different circumstances bring out different parts of us. And for some, this is stronger than for others.

Note: For me, the land has the largest influence. The spirit of the land. It’s very tangible, and it can bring about clarity and aliveness, or dullness and a sense of drudgery. I can quite easily tune into the quality of the land at a distance, so the quality of the land is rarely surprising to me when I actually arrive there.

Climate does play some role, the geology and ecology do as well, and the duration and extent of human settlement play a significant role. If a large number of people have lived somewhere for centuries or millennia, the land feels saturated with the energies of all these people. I think that’s why I like places like the North American west coast, the Rocky Mountain region, Iceland, and the wilderness and sparsely populated areas in Norway so much.

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The world as a dream

 

I recently answered a set of questionnaires connected with a course using tools from different spiritual and psychological traditions.

One of the questions was (paraphrased): do you experience the world as unreal, as a dream?

Do you experience the world as unreal, as a dream?

In a psychological context, I would answer no since a “yes” could be taken as a symptom of schizophrenia. I don’t experience the world as unreal in that way.

In a spiritual context, or in the context of a spiritual emergence or emergency, the answer would be “yes”. The world is revealed as consciousness (Spirit, love), as insubstantial, as a dream. The world and dreams both happen as and within consciousness.

Although the questionnaire was presented as part of a course using spiritual tools, I did answer “no” since the questionnaire itself was clearly a standard psychological one.

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Home

 

Everyone on a spiritual path has a slightly different essential motivation or carrot. It can be love, or truth, or something else. (Wanting to escape suffering is a surface motivation, and there is a more real and essential motivation there as well.)

For me, it’s coming home.

In childhood, before school age, I had flashbacks and memories of how it was before incarnation. An infinite golden translucent light. Infinite love. Profound sense of being home. All as Spirit, wisdom, and love. All beings as formless. Formless beings as guides and expressions of this infinite wisdom and love. (And for me, some slight identification which was recognized as an artifact and not having any absolute or final reality or truth.)

In my childhood, I had a deep sense of longing. I would often wake up feeling it very strongly, and nothing seemed to satisfy it. I would go to my parents, play with friends, have strawberry jam sandwich with hot cocoa (my favorite thing), read Carl Barks stories, and nothing even touched it. I couldn’t figure out what it was about.

During elementary school, I became a die-hard atheist on my own accord. Christianity made absolutely no sense to me and seemed a crock, or a crutch for weak minded people. I did have an interest in parapsychology and read quite a bit about it.

When I was 15, the world withdrew and appeared very distant and as a dream. Much later, I realize that identification was most likely drawn into the “witness”. This lasted for about a year.

And when I was 16, everything without exception was revealed as Spirit (consciousness, love, intelligence). It was Spirit awakening to itself as everything, as the whole universe, and expressed through this tiny and young human form. Here too, there was some slight remaining identification, which was clearly an artifact and without any final or absolute reality. This was very strong for several years, and never went away. I couldn’t find many who seemed to

I couldn’t find many who seemed to live or talk from this. The closest I eventually found, after many years, was Adyashanti and Ramana Maharshi. They both live(d) and speak/spoke from this. Meister Eckhart did too, although intentionally clothed by necessity in Christian language.

At some point in this opening or awakening, I realized that this is what the earlier longing was about. I had longed for home, and this was home. Of course, this home was and is always here. We can never get away from it. But we don’t always notice it. In this opening or initial awakening, home was revealed as always here and what I am and everything is.

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