Pandemic dreams: mine follow a pattern

 

For a long while now, perhaps since almost a year ago when the global pandemic started, many or most of the dreams I remember follow a certain pattern.

I am in a place with a lot of people and interact with them and generally enjoy myself.

And, at some point, I am aware none of us wear masks or keep our distance.

It makes sense. For health reasons, I am generally much less social than I otherwise would be. And the pandemic has reduced social interactions to close family. We are social beings, and I imagine the “dream maker” in me wants to give me a sense of social interaction through the dreams since I don’t get much in waking life.

Towards the end of the dreams, I usually have a moment of “this is a pandemic and we are doing nothing to prevent transmission”. That probably reflects my concern and focus when I am out among people and some of the natural low-grade anxiety behind it.

Shams Tabrizi: A Sufi is thankful not only for what he has been given

 

A Sufi is thankful not only for what he has been given but also for all that he has been denied.

– Shams Tabrizi

How is it possible to be thankful for what we have been denied?

I am far from always and immediately grateful for what I have been denied, especially if I have – understandably and unwisely – invested an idea of future happiness in it and assumed it would happen.

When I look at it for myself, I find three angles into exploring this:

Aligning with reality, finding trust, and making it my own.

ALIGNING WITH REALITY

Do I know that what I want is what I need or what is good for me?

Not really. I cannot know anything for certain. I cannot know how my life would have been different.

I have several examples of where I got something I wanted, and it came with a big shadow side. And I also have several examples where I didn’t get what I wanted, and something else came in that perhaps was better.

This is what the story of the Chinese farmer points to. And it’s undeniably true, even if some parts of us don’t like to admit it.

Who decides what’s better or worse?

On the same topic, we see that our ideas of what’s better and worse are our ideas. It’s not something we can find outside of our ideas. It’s not inherent in reality.

Our ideas come from our conditioning – as a human being, as a child in a family, as a member of a culture, and so on. This conditioning is not the final word, and although it may reflect conventional wisdom, it does not reflect deeper wisdom.

Focus on what we have and not what we don’t have

If we are denied something we didn’t already have, it just means we are where we were. In reality, not much has happened.

In general, a part of good mental hygiene is to focus on what we have and not what we don’t have, and see that what we have – life, food, shelter, family, friends etc. – is a blessing and not a given.

What’s the upside of the loss?

This is partly dependent of the situation. In most or any situation, and with a more open mind and heart, we can find genuine examples of the upsides of what happened.

There is also something universal here. When we don’t get what we (thought we) wanted, we get to see what’s unhealed and unexamined in us. We get to see what emotional issues are triggered, what beliefs and identifications the loss rubs up against, and so on.

If we take it as an opportunity to befriend these parts of us, it’s an obvious blessing. We can listen to these parts of us. Be a good friend to them and ourselves. Examine the stressful stories behind them. Find love for them.

Finding what we are

When we find what we are, we see that all our experiences happen within and as what we are. Although we have our very human preferences, it all also has one taste. The more we recognize this, the more we’ll meet situations with some equanimity. And the more our center of gravity is in what we are, and not only who we are, we’ll easier find not only peace with what is but appreciation.

FINDING TRUST

Another side to this is trusting the divine or life.

How do we find this trust?

We can inquire generally into some of the topics mentioned here. Can I know anything for certain? Do I really know what’s best for me? Do I know that getting what I wanted would have been best for me?

We can inquire into our most fearful beliefs and identities, see what’s already more true for us, and support these in softening and healing.

We can befriend and find love for our fears and hangups.

We can reorient to life in general through heart-centered practices, and find love for life as it is and ourselves as we are.

We can find trust of the divine through devotional practices.

We can find a sense of centeredness, grounding, and trust through body-centered practices – tai chi, chigong, yoga, TRE, Breema, and so on.

It helps a lot to heal central emotional issues and traumas in our system. The fear that’s stored in our system makes it more difficult to trust life.

We can see perfection in all as it is through discovering and becoming more familiar with what we are.

Over time, we may also find trust in that life and the divine always gives us exactly what we need – to heal, grown, and continue exploring the divine.

MAKING IT MY OWN

It’s not enough to read about this or understand it in a conventional sense. And what I have written about here is very incomplete and from my own bias and limited experience.

We have to investigate it for ourselves. We have to test it out. See what we find. See what approaches work for us. See what’s honest for us, and have the courage to follow truth rather than our conditioning and unloved fears.

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William McNamara: every person is a special kind of mystic

 

The mystic is not a special kind of person; every person is a special kind of mystic.

Father William McNamara

I love this quote. It turns the “mystics are special” idea on its head, and there is a lot of truth to it.

Mystics are not a special kind of people. They are human beings like you and me, with all the universal human experiences and all the universal human psychological parts. The only difference is that they have had some opening to the divine, as many have, or they have an intuition about it and are drawn to it, as many are.

Every person is a special kind of mystic. Our relationship with the divine is colored by our personality, experiences, and culture. Our perception of the divine is colored by the same. As is how we live and express it. The universal is expressed in unique ways.

From a bigger perspective, we can say that mystics are the divine locally and in human form rediscovering itself and expressing and living it through and as that human form.

From this bigger perspective, what’s astonishing isn’t that humans discover the divine, although from a human perspective it can look that way. What’s astonishing is that the divine temporarily and locally has taken the form of a human being in the world, and then takes itself as just that and separated from the rest of existence.

The infinite wishes to experience itself as finite. The one as parts. Oneness as separation. Love as a lack of love or hatred. And so on.

Giving it all to the divine

 

Visualize you are giving everything – your body and mind, your life, the world – to the divine. Feel you are giving it all to the divine.

This is one of the very simple practices that can also be quite transformative.

It’s a practice that opens to surrender. And it’s a reminder that all already belongs to the divine.

In reality, there is nothing to give to the divine because it already belongs to and is the divine. But we don’t know that, or parts of us still in separation consciousness don’t know it, so it can be very helpful to do this practice. It helps us reorient to reality in yet another way.

It helps more of us to open to the divine, and reorient with reality.

An additional benefit: noticing what in me is not aligned with giving it all over to the divine

One of the benefits of most spiritual practices is that we get to see more clearly the parts of us not quite aligned with it. When I do this practice, is there something in me that’s uncomfortable with it? That wants to hold onto the illusion of separateness and control?

If so, that’s completely natural and understandable.

I can notice this part of me. The fear behind it. The wish for control in order to protect me and deal with the fear.

I can say: Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me. I love you.

I can relate to this part of me with some understanding, kindness, and even love. It comes from love, and seeing that makes it easier for me to find love for it. All of this helps it relax and feel safer.

I can also explore this scared protective part through dialog or inquiry, I can reorient to it through tonglen or ho’oponopno, and I can help heal what’s behind it through a variety of approaches – in my case and these days mostly Vortex Healing.

How can I support surrender?

 

Surrendering isn’t always my strong suit. There has been and still is a bit too much fear in my system for a peaceful surrender to what is when that fear has just been triggered.

Choosing to surrender and then make it happen doesn’t seem possible. But it may be possible to invite in surrender in different ways. For instance, we can mimic surrender and create a new habit for ourselves, and we can explore what blocks surrender in us.

First, what is surrender?

I am probably not the best one to write about it, but I’ll give it a go:

Surrender is when “my will” is God’s will. When I am open to what’s here. When I recognize it’s too late to do anything about it, and struggling with it only creates suffering and distracts from more clear, kind, and proactive ways of dealing with the situation.

What’s God’s will? It’s what’s here. We can call it life.

Why are we not already surrendered?

Because of a sense of separation, and identifying as an object in the world.

In reality, to ourselves, we are what our experiences happen within and as – all our senses and thoughts, including what we label as this human self and the wider world.

If this is clearly seen, and it has gone through our whole human being, there is nothing to struggle against since it’s all what we are. We may not like what’s happening, at a human level, but we also know what’s going on and that struggling is ultimately nonsensical and futile.

This is part of the play of life, or existence, or the universe, or the divine. It’s life etc. exploring itself as also this. It’s the infinite taking itself to be finite. Oneness taking itself to be separate.

How can I support surrender?

Through discovering and becoming more familiar with what I am. The more I get familiar with what I am and explore how to live from it, the more surrender tends to come in. They are two sides of the same coin. Headless experiments and the Big Mind process are approaches that can give us a taste of this relatively quickly.

Through healing as a human being. Unhealed parts of me are by definition caught up in separation consciousness and unexamined and unloved fear. As these heal, it feels more safe to surrender.

Through dialog with surrender, I can get to know (how I imagine) surrender. I can dialog with surrender, hear how it sees this human self, and ask for advice. The Big Mind process is one way to do this.

Through inquiry, I can identify and explore what in me resists surrender. There will be a lot of identities and beliefs here. And at the bottom, unexamined and unloved fear.

Through devotional practices, I open myself up to what’s larger than this separate self. I open myself up to all of existence, to the divine.

Through prayer, I can align myself with surrender. I can sow the seeds of surrender, for instance with the prayer “let Your will be done”.

Through gratitude, I open to the obvious or potential blessing in whatever is here in my life. This can be supported by a conventional gratitude practice or an all-inclusive one. An all-inclusive practice helps open the mind for the unknown and the potential gifts in what’s happening that I don’t like.

Through a more open heart, invited by different heart-centered practices, including tonglen, ho’oponopono, metta, prayer, devotional practices, and so on.

Through giving it all to the divine. Visualize you are giving everything – your body and mind, your life, the world – to the divine. Feel you are giving it all to the divine. (This is a form of surrender and a reminder that it all already belongs to the divine.)

Through asking for surrender. Ask the divine for surrender, for being surrendered.

Through being honest with ourselves. As Adya says, real honesty feels like a confession. It’s humbling. It opens to surrender.

Through service. To the extent this is done sincerely, we will have to gradually surrender more.

Through following ethical guidelines. We are surrendering to how we (likely, roughly) would act if we were more clear.

Dialog with surrender

Can I speak to surrender?

Yes. I am here.

Who or what are you?

I am something some humans aspire to, and they can open to me and bring me more into their life. Everybody has me in them since surrender is their nature. But I am usually covered up by fear, identifications, beliefs, and so on.

How does P. relate to you?

He knows I am good for him, and he wants to bring me into his life, but he is struggling. A big part of it is some deep fear and trauma in his system, including survival fear. It makes it difficult for him to trust. He feels he needs to be in charge to stay safe, and he sometimes feels he needs to struggle to stay safe.

What advice do you have for him?

See if you can find a way to relax and be less hard on yourself. You are doing well. You have gone through a lot over the last few years. Also, see if you can find more trust in life. Bring attention to all the things you have and what is going well. Surrender is a process.

Thank you. Can I speak with Big Mind?

Yes.

What is surrender to you?

I am surrender. There is nothing outside of me. The more I recognize myself, and do so locally as you, the less struggle seems useful and the more surrender happens naturally.

Postscript

There are many sides to surrender, as hinted at above. Some practices mimic surrender and helps us find it in ourselves. Other practices helps identify and remove blocks to surrender.

Some, like prayer, are a more second-person form of surrender. While others, like Headless experiments, are more of a first-person form of surrender.

They all support each other and the process.

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Is amplify/release a trick?

 

Most of the approaches I write about here fall into two general categories.

One is noticing what’s already here, for instance through inquiry. (Headless experiments, the Big Mind process, The Work, Living Inquiries.)

And the other is approaches that mimic how we function when we are more clear, for instance, heart-centered practices. (Tonglen, Ho’oponopono, Heart Prayer.)

So what about the amplify / release technique? I have often thought of it as a trick, but that may not be entirely fair.

Notice something uncomfortable in your experience. Take a few seconds to make it as strong as possible. (Intend to make it stronger if that’s all you can do.) Then release and relax for a few seconds… breathe. Repeat a few times.

I sometimes use this approach with uncomfortable sensations and the fearful thoughts creating or responding to the sensations. When I do it, something shifts – what I do it for may seem less as a problem and its intensity often lessen.

It’s easy to think of it as a neat trick. But what’s really going on?

When we experience something uncomfortable, there is often a tendency to see it as a problem and wanting it to go away. We push against it, and that’s partly or largely what gives it a charge and holds it in place.

So when we use the amplify/release approach, we go against our old habitual tendency. We instead meet and join with it. The pushing goes away, at least for a moment, so there is more peace with what’s here and its charge lessens.

There is also more going on, which I have written about in other articles.

This may look like a trick, but it’s actually mimicking how our mind functions when it’s more clear. We join with the experience rather than moving away from it.

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An elegant order in the way everything fits and unfolds

 

There is something about the universe — an elegant order in the way everything fits and unfolds

– Tom Atlee in his recent newsletter

I agree. Seen from the view of parts, this is how it appears.

There is also the view from the whole, and we can look at it in two different ways.

One is that existence is one. The universe is one seamless system. Everything happens within and as this one system. If we want, we can say that it’s all lila. It’s all the play of the universe, life, or the divine.

Another is that the world as it appears to us happens within and as what we are. If we want to put a label on it, we can say that it all happens within and as this consciousness that we are. To us, it all fits in an elegant way because it all happens within us and this oneness. And also because it’s all interpreted by our own mental field.

So it’s all oneness and dynamics and movements within the whole. The parts fit because they are part of a whole. An animal or plant or geological element fits into an ecosystem precisely because it’s a system, it’s a seamless whole. An eddy in a stream fits into the stream because the stream is a seamless whole. Any part of Earth fits because it’s a part of the living system of Earth.

And it all fits because, to us, it’s all happening within and as what we are. We are the oneness it’s all happening within and as. And we provide the mental overlay that makes sense of it all. This mental overlay makes the parts fit because of the stories we have about it.

How I *relate* to what’s here vs what’s here

 

If we exclusively focus on healing our own emotional issues, it’s an endless process. There is always more.

That’s why I like to give equal, and sometimes more, attention to how I relate to my issues and the sensations, thoughts, or whatever is here.

How I relate to what’s here is, in a sense, one. And what I relate to is innumerable. So it makes sense to focus more on the former without ignoring the latter.

What type of shift am I referring to?

For me, the shift is from seeing what’s here as a problem or an enemy to befriending it. And befriending it has many sides, including the ones I mention below.

How can we invite in this shift?

I have found heart-centered practices very helpful. For instance, doing tonglen for whatever I subtly or not-so-subtly see as a problem – whether it’s a person, situation, myself, a part of me, or an experience. I can also use ho’oponopono or metta here.

It also helps to identify beliefs behind any slight enemy-image and explore these, for instance through The Work or Living Inquiries.

I can dialog with what’s coming up. Ask it questions. Listen to what it has to say to me. Get to know it. Perhaps understand it a little better. Find a new partnership with it. If it’s an emotional issue, I can see how it’s here to protect me and it’s coming from (slightly misguided) love and is an expression of love.

I can identify any emotional issues in me behind and fueling enemy-images, and explore and invite in healing for these issues. For instance, through inquiry, heart-centered practices, dialog, energy healing, or more.

I can find myself as capacity for the world as it appears to me, and whatever I see as a (subtle) problem, and see it’s all happening within and as what I am. It’s not inherently “other” and cannot be.

A version of this is that what’s here is a flavor of the divine. It’s the divine having this experience for itself.

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Time is love

 

I have received several mini-healings (and some not so mini) from people in the Vortex Healing community when I have needed and asked for it. They freely give their time to help someone else, sometimes even someone they haven’t met.

It reminds me that time is love. When people freely give their time to help someone else, it’s love. When we exchange our time for money, it’s also love – for ourselves and our family. When we do something in our spare time, even if it’s something as simple as watching a movie or walking in nature, it’s how we best know to use our time in that moment and an expression of love.

In the bigger picture, time is love since it allows things to happen. This universe, planet, and our own lives would exist without time. Time is life’s gift to itself, or existence’s gift to itself, or the divine’s gift to itself.

Time is also love in that our mind creates its experience of time so it can place things in an imagined past and future, and even present. Our mind imagines a timeline and places images at different points in the timeline. It’s a crucial element for this human self to operate and function in the world, and – in that sense – an expression of love.

As I wrote this, I imagined a couple of questions:

If we waste our time, is that an expression of love? “Waste” is an idea we place on it and not inherent in the situation itself. Also, we may need to relax and that’s how we decide to do it there and then. And we may be caught up in emotional issues or habits, and whatever we do is the best we know how to do at that moment.

I get that the past and future is imagined, but is the present imagined too? Yes, we place an overlay of mental images on what’s here and now, and what we imagine is not-here and now. We place mental images on what we can see, what we know – or assume we know – is behind us, or nearby, and also anything else we imagine in the world. When I see the candle in front of me, there is a mental image of a candle on top of it so I know what it is, how it works, and what I can do with it. When I imagine the house I am in, I imagine rooms and features I cannot see right now. When I imagine the town and country and the rest of the world and people I know who are not here, that’s also clearly an imagination.

When you say “imagined” does it mean that it doesn’t exist? Not necessarily. Imagined just means that we have a mental image of it that we use to label, understand, and navigate. If I imagine a friend in another town, and I call that person, it’s likely that the person will answer if he or she can. The person is there even if I rely on my images of that person to know they exist, who they are, and so on.

Of course, there is a component of this that is imagination or fantasy in the sense that we typically use those words. We assume things about something or someone, and although there may be some validity to it, it’s also assumptions. In a conventional sense, it may be more or less accurate. And in a more fundamental sense, what these images refer to are fundamentally different from the images and what we think we know about it.

Can I find peace with what’s here?

 

Can I find peace with what’s here, as it is right now?

Any pointer is medicine for a certain condition, and this pointer is helpful for me right now. It helps me shift my relationship with what’s here, as it is, including the way I respond to something based on my conditioning.

Something in me knows how to find peace with what’s here, and something in me already is at peace with what’s here. This question opens up for receptivity to these parts. Something shifts on its own.

When I say “what’s here” – it means anything and all of what’s here. What’s going on in my body, emotions, and thoughts. What’s happening in my life situation. And how I respond to it all, out of habitual patterns.

How we see ourselves in relation to the rest of nature

 

This is a big topic, and yet also very simple.

We are – in a very literal sense – part of nature. We are a local and temporary expression of the processes of this living planet. We are local and temporary expressions of the dynamics of this universe.

We are, equally obviously, animals. We share ancestors with all other animals and everything living. We are relatives, and if we look at it from the bigger picture, we are close relatives.

When we look at specifics, we also find how we are animals and share a huge amount with other animals and living beings. Other animals, and especially those closer to us, obviously have emotions much as we do. They even have cognitive processes not dissimilar to our own. They have personalities. They suffer. They want to stay alive. They have culture.

There is an immense beauty in this. To the extent we take this in, it can bring a profound sense of belonging. It can even give a deep sense of meaning and encourage us to live in a way that takes all life into account.

After all, we are part of the same living systems and processes. Our own health and well-being, as individuals and civilization, is intimately connected with and dependent on the health and well-being of this larger living whole.

I find it slightly bizarre that some still insist that we are categorically different from other animals, and perceive and live as if we are somehow separate from Earth.

I understand that it comes from a wish to see humans as special and different, maybe so we can feel better about ourselves, or from a wish to use this fantasy as an excuse to exploit nature and other species.

It’s also possible that just like a teenager often will distance themselves from their parents so they can gain some autonomy and discover who they are as individuals, humanity has needed to distance themselves from nature for the same reason.

And yet, the effect of the view of separation is terrible. It gives us a sense of disconnection, separation, and existential loneliness. The power-over orientation embedded in it causes a huge amount of suffering for the other species and destruction of the ecosystems we depend on for our own life.

Equally seriously, we treat ourselves as we treat other species and the Earth. We are often disconnected from our bodies, sensuality, instincts, and anything we consider “animal” – and that leads us to either deny it or over-indulge in it, and inevitably both.

The benefits from this fantasy of separation are hollow victories. And the damage to ourselves, other species, and Earth is severe.

Of course, I understand why some consciously hold a view of separation, and many – perhaps all of us – hold it somewhere in our system. It comes from centuries and millennia of views of separation in western society. It has a long tradition. It’s held deeply in our systems, and it takes some effort to make it conscious, shift into a more realistic view, and allow this conditioning to soften and perhaps fall away.

How can we support this shift in ourselves?

We can expose ourselves to the insights of others who have explored this, for instance through deep ecology, ecopsychology, ecospirituality, big history, the Universe Story, or similar approaches.

We can identify views of separation in ourselves and examine each one. Is it true? What happens when I perceive and live as if it’s true? What do I get out of holding onto it? What am I afraid would happen if I didn’t operate from it? What’s more true for me? (The Work of Byron Katie.)

We can explore how our mind creates the experience of separation, how sensations and thoughts combine to create this fantasy of separation, and what’s associated with it. (Living Inquiries.)

We can explore how we imagine we – as individuals and humanity – may look to other species, ecosystems, and Earth as a whole, and imagine what advice they may have for us. (For instance, Big Mind process.)

We can engage in the Practices to Reconnect developed by Joanna Macy and others.

We can engage in Earth-centered rituals and spiritual practices.

We can discover what we really are – capacity for the world as it appears to us – and find the oneness of the world as it appears to us.

Another important shift is to recognize that all of this is part of the processes of Earth and the universe. We are the universe and Earth locally and temporarily taking itself as separate from itself. This sense of separation is not inherently wrong, it’s part of life exploring itself.

I usually start out with this as the context, and this time chose to start from a more conventional or human view and include this at the end.

Energy healing, identity, and science

 

I discovered healing abilities in my mid-teens, used it occasionally with people close to me, and mainly kept it to myself. More recently, through Vortex Healing, I have done this type of healing more openly.

And although I know it works, and sometimes works well, it does rub up against some desired identities I have. I want to be seen as someone rooted in science, and I have often gone out of the way to explain what I am doing and interested in – meditation, inquiry, heart-centered practices, therapeutic tremoring etc. – in ways that are grounded, logcial, and fits with current science.

Energy healing, often done at a distance, cannot so easily be explained so it makes sense from a current mainstream view. To explain it, we have to bring in non-local connections, and perhaps all as essentially consciousness, or the divine.

Although this moderate identity crisis is a bit uncomfortable, I also know it’s good for me. It helps me see some identities I am still identified with and wish to hold onto. It helps me see where I limit myself, and where I hold onto unexamined beliefs.

Another side to this is that our mainstream worldview, and the content of our science, changes over time. In fifty or a hundred years, perhaps energy healing at a distance fits in with the current worldview and science. I wouldn’t be surprised, although I have no idea about the timeline. These shifts tend to happen when people cannot any longer deny the validity of what doesn’t fit the existing worldview, and that typically requires the accumulation of solid research over time.

Recognizing others as capacity for their world

 

Even if I notice myself as capacity for my world, do I actively recognize others as capacity for their world? And what happens when I do? What shifts do I notice?

To me, it seems that this is an important and helpful practice. It helps me shift out of my ancient habitual – and often less conscious – conditioning of taking others as exclusively local beings operating in time and space.

This practice is mostly for myself. It helps me consciously align more closely with reality. It helps shift some conditioning in me. It opens my heart a bit more to others. And it also helps me notice my old conditioning so I can relate to it more consciously.

As a side-effect, it’s also for others since it tends to shift how I relate to them. It can make me a little less annoying.


That’s the short version. There is a lot more to it.

When I look, I find I am capacity for my world. And that seems to be the same for others when they look, they find themselves as capacity for their world.

One thing is to generally know this, but how is it to actively remind myself of this in daily life? How is it if I make it into a daily life exploration?

When I remind myself of this, I notice a shift that’s small yet significant.

The main shift is that I experience others more clearly and vividly as awake capacity taking the form of that human being, just as I am that over here.

And why stop with humans? Humans are the only ones who, so far, have reported finding themselves as awake capacity for their world. But it’s more than reasonable to assume this is the case for all animals. To themselves, they are likely capacity for their world, just as I am and we are.

When I make a point out of perceiving others in this way, I relate to them differently. Over time, all of this – the noticing and the shift in how I relate to others – becomes a new habit and normal.

I can take this one step further, as another experiment. What happens if I perceive everything, including inanimate objects, as awake capacity taking a particular form over there – as a chair, a rock, the stars, this computer?

There are a few layers here.

When I find myself as capacity for my world, I also notice that this human self, others, and the wider world all happen within and as what I am. To me, it’s all happening within and as awake space. (Of course, space happens within and as this capacity, but “awake space” is as good a way of talking about it as any.) So to me, others already happen within awake space. They are awake space taking that human form over there.

There is a shift from this to reminding myself that to them, they too are capacity for their world. They too are awake space that their world happens within and as. All conscious beings are capacity for their world, just as I am.

The true nature of all conscious beings, to themselves, is this capacity. We are capacity for our own world. The content of our experiences – this self and the world as it appears to us – happens within and as the awake space we find ourselves as.

Is that also the true nature of all of existence? Is the true nature of everything capacity? Yes, that seems inevitable. Without nothing, there isn’t something. But is it awake? To me, it seems awake but that awakeness may just be the awakeness here – the one it’s happening within and as. If I am honest, I cannot know if the true nature of everything is consciousness, even if it appears that way to me, and there are several clues pointing to it.

What I can do is to experiment. How is it to remind myself that other beings are capacity for their world? That to them, their world happens within and as awake space? How is it if I extend that to everything? If I perceive everything as awake space taking that particular form over there?

My own process has gone through a few different phases with this.

During the initial awakening, in my teens, I experienced all of existence as the divine or God taking all the different forms in the world, including as human beings and temporarily and locally identifying as these human beings. At the same time, there was and is conditioning here in me that takes human beings as human beings and the divine aspect goes a bit in the background.

I have also explored differentiating between my true nature over here, the true nature of others, and the true nature of all of existence, although I know that the two first ones very likely are the same, and the third likely is too.

I see that actively reminding myself of the awake space others are to themselves is helpful to me. It helps me shift out of the old – ancient – conditioning of taking others as exclusively human beings.

Note: When I say “capacity”, that’s terminology from Douglas Harding and the Headless Way. I like it since it’s simple and to the point. “Capacity” refers to finding myself as capacity for my world – for this human self, others, the wider world, and any content of my experience. To me, all of my experiences happen within and as what I am. And we can, inevitably imperfectly, call this awake space, consciousness, or something else. It’s what we all are to ourselves, whether it’s noticed or not.

Higher consciousness?

 

Some folks talk about “higher consciousness”. I understand that it can be seen that way. But to me, there is another way to look at it that feels more comfortable and is, in many ways, as or more accurate.

Awakening is about finding what’s already here. It’s about finding ourselves as what we already are. It’s about finding ourselves as what’s at the “bottom” of everything. As awake capacity for the world as it appears to us. As what everything in our experience happens within and as.

Yes, we can call it higher consciousness, for whatever reason. Perhaps because it seems to come after conventional views, or it allows for a more kind way to live.

And we can also call it lower consciousness. It’s at the metaphorical bottom of everything. It’s what’s always here. It’s what’s untouched by any of its content, including any human cleverness or stupidity.

It’s what all already share. It’s what, most likely, all of existence share.

If I am capacity for the world and this human self, does that mean that this awake capacity is here after this human self is gone?

 

If I am capacity for the world and this human self, does that mean that when this human self dies, this awake space is still there, perhaps filled with something else?

The short answer is, I don’t know.

It’s true that to me, I am awake capacity for all my experiences – this human self, the wider world, change, birth and death, and so on. It’s all happening within and as what I am.

But from that doesn’t follow that this awake space will still be here after this human self dies. I cannot say. Maybe it will go away. (The capacity will still be here, but maybe the awakeness will be gone with the human self.) Maybe this awake capacity will continue, filled with different experiences. (Experiencing a life between lives etc.) I don’t know.

I personally have images that seem to be from before this human life, and I have images that seem to be from particular past lives. They feel like memories, but I don’t know if that’s what they are. People and traditions may talk about reincarnation or heaven, but I cannot know if that’s true or not. There is research into reincarnation, and they seem to find data that fits the idea of reincarnation, but I cannot know that for certain either.

And that’s a very good place to be. It’s freeing. It’s honest.

All that matter is that right now, I find myself as capacity for it all – this human self, the wider world, these ideas, and anything else happening.

From doubt to finding it in ourselves

 

Someone in my life shared that a part of her doubts a lot of things – angels, avatars, transmissions, energy healing, and so on, even if she also has direct experiences of much of this.

It’s very good to have doubt and healthy skepticism. It’s a part of us that, in its healthy expression, takes care of us. It prevents us from being too gullible.

At the same time, it can be connected with emotional issues and trauma. If that’s the case, it’s good to address this and find some resolution for it.

And finally, the doubt is an expression of separation. It’s an invitation to find in ourselves what we see or imagine out there – in angels, avatars, or whatever it may be. What are the qualities of what I see or imagine out there? Can I find that in myself? Can I get to know it in myself? Can I find where it’s already in my life? If it’s desirable, can I bring it more into my life?

Also, can I find myself as capacity for it all? Can I find how it all – whether it’s in the wider world or in this human self or just imagination – happens within and as what I am?

How do we work on this? For healing, any of the usual healing approaches can be helpful. For projection work, inquiry (The Work, Living Inquiries) and parts work (dialog with the parts) can be helpful. And for finding ourselves as capacity for it all, Headless experiments, the Big Mind process, and Living Inquiries can be helpful.

So if we doubt something, that’s to be embraced. It’s good to have healthy skepticism and question anything. In some cases, it can point to some emotional issues or trauma we can get to know and find healing for. And it’s an expression of taking things too literally and a sense of separation. At a human level, we can find in ourselves what we see out there, whatever it is. And we can also find ourselves as capacity for it all, that which it all happens within and as.

Dream: The alchemy box

 

I am in Oslo, at some gathering. One of the people I talk with is a woman who has a holistic health practice called the Alchemy Box.

The gathering reminds me of the tea and conversations we would have after the tai chi classes I did when I lived in Oslo in my late teens and early twenties. The woman is clearly interested in me. Her holistic practice is called Alkemikassen, or the Alchemy Box – or the Alchemy Toolbox – in English. It’s a pretty good name.

Since everything in the dream are part of me, the woman represents something in me – feminine, intuitive, a holistic healer. This part of me is interested in me. She has a great name for her business. One that reflects an eclectic approach using a range of different tools.

And, of course, I am the alchemy toolbox. We all are. We are our own toolbox for healing and awakening, whether we have developed these tools or not. And it’s especially noticeable if we have explored these things for a while and have a range of tools for working with healing and awakening.

How does God speak to us through nature?

 

I love to think of nature as unlimited broadcasting stations, through which God speaks to us every day, every hour.

— George Washington Carver, Tuskegee University, 1930

I love this quote and it fits my experience.

Although the quote speaks for itself, we can also explore it further.

First, what do we mean by nature?

We obviously mean nature in an ordinary sense, as ecosystems, landscapes, oceans, air, water, plants, animals, and so on. And we cannot exclude ourselves from it. We, as human beings, belong to nature. And even our culture belongs to nature. It has grown out of and is part of Earth as a living and evolving system, although I doubt that was what Carver had in mind.

And what do we mean by God?

For me, God is the word for all of existence and what existence happens within and as (awake emptiness). God speaks to us through nature as nature.

So the question is, how does God speak to us through nature?

Nature, through its existence and as it is, speaks to us. There is a huge amount of information there for us, which helps us understand nature, ourselves, and how to better live our lives. Most humans through history have learned from nature in this way. Sometimes, it’s just insights we pick up from living our daily lives. Other times, it’s information systematically sought out. I imagine people through all time and in all cultures have systematically learned from nature, and we do it today as well – including through formal science.

There is another way God speaks to us through nature.

If God is all there is, then we can also find God in nature. Some do it through nature mysticism. They may sense or perceive the divine in or as nature.

There is also a simpler way to find God as nature – as all there is, and there are two ways to talk about this.

We can notice ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us. We can find ourselves as that which all our experiences – of ourselves and the wider world – happen within and as, and we can call that capacity, awake nothing full of everything, awakeness or consciousness, or Big Mind.

We can also call this the divine. If this awake nothing full of everything is not only our own “true nature” but the true nature of existence itself, then this is the divine, it’s Allah or Brahman or God. God speaks to us through nature AS nature.

The true nature of nature, existence, others, and ourselves is right there on display and not hidden at all. It’s just up to us to notice it.

If the true nature of everything is on display, why don’t more people notice? And how can we find it for ourselves?

Why don’t more people notice? Mainly, because we identify with and as this human being, and we are fascinated with these stories of ourselves as this human being with all sorts of identities and roles and activities in the world. There is nothing wrong with this, although it’s inherently a bit uncomfortable since it’s not completely aligned with reality.

How can we find it for ourselves? The most effective approaches I have found are the Big Mind process, Headless experiments (Douglas Harding, Richard Lang), and Living Inquiries. Through these, we can relatively easily get a taste of what it’s about, learn how to re-notice in daily life, and – if we are interested – learn how to bring this noticing more regularly into daily life and explore how to live from it.

Wait a minute… if God is all there is, what does that make us?

Yes, good question. In this context, we are the divine locally and temporarily taking itself to be something physical and separate, and then –sometimes – (re)discovering its true nature. This is the play of the divine, lila. As Alan Watts said, it’s the divine, or nature, playing hide and seek with itself.

Documentary: The rights of nature – a global movement

 

Description from the creators:

Western views and the legal system tend to view nature as property, and as a resource from which wealth is extracted, a commodity whose only value is to provide for human needs. But for millennia indigenous communities have viewed themselves as part of nature.

As pressures on ecosystems mount and as conventional laws seem increasingly inadequate to address environmental degradation, communities, cities, regions and countries around the world are turning to a new legal strategy known as The Rights of Nature.

This film takes viewers on a journey that explores the more recent origins of this legal concept, and its application and implementation in Ecuador, New Zealand, and the United States. Learn how constitutional reforms adopted in Ecuador have helped recognize nature as a legal entity, and how partnerships between the M?ori and the government of New Zealand have led to personhood status for rivers, lakes and forests, and a renewed sense of balance between people and nature. See how the Rights of Nature function in the urban setting of Santa Monica, California.

The film explores the successes and challenges inherent in creating new legal structures that have the potential to maintain and restore ecosystems while achieving a balance between humans and nature.

Intellectual honesty in spirituality: Zen and not dead yet

 

The Emperor asked Master Gudo, “What happens to a man of enlightenment after death?”

“How should I know?” replied Gudo.

“Because you are a master,” answered the Emperor.

“Yes sir,” said Gudo, “but not a dead one.”

– I heard this story almost 30 years ago but can’t find an original source right now. It seems to be quoted a lot without a source.

This is honesty. There is a huge amount of bs in spirituality, and it consists mostly of people pretending that stories are reality.

Do we know that reincarnation exists? Or the soul? Or any afterlife? Or karma? Isn’t this just what someone else has told us?

Is it something we can check for ourselves? And if not, why repeat it or pretend we know it’s true?

Why not instead be honest? Why not admit we don’t know?

There are other ways to use these concepts and ideas that seem more helpful. For instance, why not explore these concepts and ideas as projections? Why not use them as something we can explore here and now? How can I find where they fit my experience?

For instance, I can find a kind of reincarnation here and now. I notice that each moment is fresh and new and something is kind of recreated. I notice that any ideas I have of a me or I are recreated here and now. In that way, “I” am reborn. (Any ideas of continuity are just that, ideas. I cannot find it outside of my ideas. This means that reborn even in this sense is also based on an idea on not something actual I can put my finger on.)

I can find karma in that something that happens has consequences. Actions has consequences. Through how I think, feel, and act, I create habits and grooves that it’s easier to follow in the future. When I act in the world, the world responds. This is the karma I can find in my own life and check out for myself. Beyond that, I don’t really know. (Even here, I cannot really find karma, cause and effect, and so on outside of my ideas.)

What about the afterlife? I can find it in my ideas, but not outside of my ideas. I can find timelessness here, and that all my experiences happen within and as this timelessness. I notice that this human self – and the idea of time itself – happens within and as that timelessness. But I still don’t know if there is anything after this human self dies.

Of course, I know that not everyone are interested in or inclined to explore in this way. For many, holding onto ideas is comforting and sufficient. It’s that way for me too, sometimes and in some areas of life, and probably in ways I am not even aware of. That’s completely fine. But I prefer to be honest about it, at least as much as I can.

Awakening makes the separation consciousness left in us more painful

 

Separation consciousness is inherently painful.

And when there is some awakening in our system, it becomes even more painful. The gap and contrast seem to bring the pain up and make us more acutely aware of it.

Why do many struggle during parts of the awakening process? One reason is probably just this, that what’s left of the separation consciousness comes up and we feel the pain of it more acutely.

As I have written about elsewhere, this is part of the embodiment process. What we are may notice itself in a general sense. And yet, there are many parts of us at a human level – many subpersonalities and so on – that are still operating from separation consciousness. They were formed within separation consciousness and still live within it, and now they surface so they can join in with the awakening. They surface to be seen, felt, examined, and loved, and so they can reorganize within this new context and find healing within it.

Listen to the body – important although there are caveats

 

Some talk about “listening to the body” in a general sense, without caveats.

But there are caveats to listening to the body.

Mainly because we never listen to the body. We listen to our thoughts about what the body says. And these thoughts are interpretations and guesses, and may be misleading. They may be influenced by emotional issues and our (unexamined) hopes and fears.

That said, I listen to my body. I check in to see if I need to put on or take off clothes, or change the indoor temperature. When and what to eat. If I have the energy to do something or need to rest. And so on. (I may even check in with my body to see if there is a yes / relief or no / tension to do a particular thing.)

I also check in to see if this is influenced by issues, hopes, fears, and so on.

It takes time to learn to recognize a more neutral interpretation from one influenced by my own issues. And although I often listen to my body in daily life, and find it helpful and important, I am also aware that when I listen to my body, I am actually listening to my own thoughts and interpretations.

Projections – explained simply and in a bigger picture

 

The usual way to talk about projections is that we are mirrors for each other. What I see in you is something I recognize from myself, whether I am aware of it – and want to admit to it – or not.

And yet, there are a few more sides to this and it’s helpful to be aware of them.

Projections come from an overlay of our mental field on the world.

Our thoughts consist of mental images and words. We can call this our “mental field”, along with the other sense fields of sight, sound, sensations, taste, body movement, and so on.

This mental field creates a kind of overlay on the world as it appears to us, and it’s how we divide, label and interpret the world, and give meaning to anything. It’s essential for us to orient and function in the world, and it’s inherently flawed and is ultimately made up of questions – or guesses – about the world.

Any ideas I have about you and the world happen within my own mental field. It’s not inherent in you or the world, and it doesn’t necessarily reflect anything inherent in you or the world. Although these ideas just happen and live their own life, they are also mine. And to the extent I recognize that, I can take responsibility for them and how I relate to them.

When we close our eyes, it’s easier for us to notice this mental overlay. Close your eyes. Imagine the room you are sitting in. Your body. The neighborhood. The world. People you know. This imagination all happens was mental images, and this imagination is there also with the eyes open.

At a human level, what we see in the world is also in us.

People and the world is a mirror for me. When I describe anyone or anything, I describe myself.

I can find the same in myself, in the moment I put it on someone else and also in other situations in my life.

It may differ in degree and in how it looks, but the essence is here as much or than it is in others or the wider world.

Also, how I relate to it in others is how I relate to it in myself. Do I want to be more connected with it? Do I have aversion to it? Have I found peace with it? (In the latter case, it’s usually because I have actively explored and found it in myself.)

All of this happens within and as what we are.

My experiences – of anything, of myself, of the wider world – happens within and as what I am. I am capacity for the world as it appears to me.

I can say that to myself, I am consciousness, and all my experiences – including of this human being, others, the world – happens within and as consciousness. It cannot be any other way, whether we notice or not.

From here, it’s clear that any idea of “me” versus you and the wider world comes from the mental overlay. It’s a boundary created by mental images, and it seems real and inherent in the world to the extent our system takes it as real.

To me, you and the world happen within me.

Each one of these can be recognized or not, to varying degrees.

When I see something – a characteristic – in the wider world, I can see it also in myself or not. And if I see it in myself, I can recognize it while still struggling with it, or I can find more peace with it.

I can also be more or less aware of my own mental field overlay on the world. I may think – and perceive and live – as if it’s somehow inherent in the world itself. Or I can recognize that all my labels, interpretations, and stories are created right here.

And I can be more or less aware of how all of this – all of my experiences of this human self and the wider world – happens within and as what I am. I am capacity for all of it.

How does this look in daily life?

I can only write from my own experience, as it is now.

Most of the time, I don’t actively think of any of this.

If I notice that I have judgments of others with energy attached to it –whether it’s aversion or attraction, I know it’s a blind projection. I am seeing something in the other I don’t fully see in myself and haven’t found peace with. This creates some space in my relationship to the blind projection, I make a mental note of it, and may – and mostly do – explore it later.

I am often aware of the mental overlay on my world – made up of mental images and words. When I look at the world, I also see the images and know these are my images. They are not inherent in the world. Often, this goes more in the background. And sometimes, when it seems more needed, this noticing is more active and goes more into the foreground.

It’s similar with noticing experiences happening within and as what I am. It’s always there, although sometimes at a low level and more in the background. Other times, it’s a more active noticing and it comes more into the foreground.

Why is this important?

I find it fascinating in itself, whether or not is has any use or function. That said, there are some practical reasons to explore this.

If I am blind to the mirror-projections, I act from distorted perception. I see myself as fundamentally different from the other person and may use it as a reason to treat the other differently from how I myself would like to be treated.

If I am more conscious about these projections, I can actively explore in myself what I see in the other. I can find how we are in the same boat and find more empathy for both of us. I can find more peace with what I am seeing in myself and the other. I can expand my repertoire of what qualities I can live from in myself.

Noticing the mental field overlay, and how it all happens within and as what I am, supports working with conventional projections. And these two also come with their own benefits, which I have written about in other articles.

Omniscience? Omnipresence? Yes and no

 

There are many myths and misconceptions about awakening. One of the more outlandish ones is that it involves omniscience and/or omnipresence.

Does it? In a conventional sense, no. We still have access to the same information as others – our eyes, ears, skin and so on take in the same type of information. We don’t necessarily know what’s happening somewhere else or what someone is thinking or feeling. (Although we can develop sensing into these areas.) We don’t know anything for certain, no more than anyone else. And we are not everywhere at once, no more than anyone else.

In another way, there is a type of omniscience and omnipresence. The omniscience consists of knowing – of directly perceiving what everything is to us. Everything happens within and as what I am. To me, it’s what I am. I can also label it consciousness or presence. And omnipresence consists of oneness. To me, all happens within and as what I am. What I am – capacity, awakeness – is everywhere since everything to me happens within and as it.

So in a conventional sense, omniscience and omnipresence is a misguided fantasy spun out of ideas and imagination. If we look a little closer, we can find the grain of truth in it.

Omniscience is to notice and know what everything is to me, and omnipresence is to notice it all happening within and as what I am.

Energy healing as an addiction

 

I recently wrote a post on energy healing as an addition. It’s an addition to other approaches, including conventional ones. Glancing over past posts, I misread the title as “energy healing as an addiction”.

That’s also true. Energy healing can be an addiction. Anything can become an addiction or a compulsion for us. It can be something we use to feel better, to avoid uncomfortable sensations and identifications, and to give us a sense of safety and hope.

As usual, it’s good to notice. What’s behind this particular addiction? What sensations do I try to escape or make go away? What’s the perceived hole in me I try to fill? What are the painful identities and beliefs in me creating this sense of lack? What do I fear most would happen if I don’t engage in it? What’s the best that can happen if I do it?

I notice this particular addiction in myself. Vortex Healing works and often works well. It’s pretty easy for me to sense that it’s working and there is often a shift after using it. It gives me some hope for dealing with my health problems. So for me, it’s a good object to become a bit compulsive about.

How does this compulsion show up in my life? It shows up in wanting to take the next class as soon as I can. In sometimes overdoing the healing for myself which leads to overload and a fried energy system. And in being partly driven by an image of my health problems resolving.

It’s natural and not inherently wrong. But it’s good to notice and it’s good to address the issue(s) behind this compulsion.

Some of the questions for myself about this compulsion are:

What do I not do because I have Vortex Healing? Would I live my life differently without it? Can I bring some of that into my life now?

Can I find more peace with my health situation? Can I find more peace with not being “perfect” and having hangups and emotional issues?

What’s the worst that can happen if my health doesn’t change, and can I find peace with that?

What’s the best possible outcome, and can I find or bring some elements of that into my life now?

What will happen if I find healing and resolution for the issues in me driving my moderate Vortex Healing addiction? Will I stop using Vortex Healing? Probably not. Most likely, I continue using it when it seems appropriate and helpful, although with more peace and less of the compulsive component.

Dream: Taking care of a girl

 

I am taking care of a friend’s daughter. She is maybe ten years old, and I think she is newly adopted.

My friend is away most of the time on business and is very happy for me to take care of her since he is mostly unable to. We live in a very large upscale house, and I am welcome to stay as long as I want.

He would like her to be like him (vegan, serious), and I encourage her to be fully herself. I want to support her in discovering herself and be comfortable with herself as she is. I feel protective of her and want to support her in having a good life.

She has a lot of character, zest, and personality, and we get along very well and have a good connection. I have a feeling I’ll be a kind of father to her long-term.

Some new guests arrive, related to a movie business deal my friend is facilitating. I realize a lot of people may come and go, and it seems OK.

I feel a strong connection with this girl, almost as if I am her father, and I take on a father role for her which we both are happy about.

I saw News of the World a couple of days ago, so it’s possible the seed for this dream is from that movie. In it, the Tom Hanks character takes care of a young twice-orphaned girl and ends up adopting her.

It’s interesting that the house is not my own, although I am free to stay there as long as I wish. Also, the girl is not my daughter, but I am in the role of a father to her. I have a house and a daughter without formally having a house and daughter. Also, the house is shared with friends and business associates of my friend who come to stay for a few days at a time.

My main orientation is to create a safe place for the girl so she can discover herself, be fully comfortable with herself, and live her own life.

The lack of ownership may reflect that I feel a bit rootless in life right now, mainly due to health challenges. I am somewhat rootless in terms of where I live, how my future may look, and so on. Not owning the house, and not being the actual father of the child, may reflect this sense of rootlessness.

Dreams reflect us, and I can see how that also fits with this dream. I don’t feel I “own” this body or human self. It’s here. It’s always changing. At the same time, I am focused on protecting and creating a safe place for the different parts of me, including the young feminine in me.

Update: Dreams can be understood at different levels, for instance reflecting something in our waking life and also reflecting dynamics within us. Some days after this dream, and through a conversation with a friend, I realized how this dream reflects a few things in my waking life.

My partner is actively getting in contact with her more vulnerable side, with her inner child and girl. And I may soon move to her country. My friend in the dream may reflect her father, the girl her vulnerable side, and living in a house that’s not mine may reflect living in a country that’s not (yet) mine. It fits and makes sense. And it doesn’t exclude an exploration of this dream where it all reflects sides of me.


Healing experience: awake and not healed

 

I have a decades-long friend who is on an awakening path, mostly within the Christian tradition, and she is reasonably awake and mature. More than most that I know or have met.

She has cancer, and I did some healing for her a couple of days ago.

What I noticed was that the cancer and most of her system seemed awake. It was clear, light, and conscious.

When I explored what I could do for it, it seemed that I could invite the divine to support the awakening of her system, while moving in the direction of more traditional healing seemed difficult. One path was wide open, and the other was not.

I got the sense that when she works on herself, she prioritizes awakening over healing, and that also fits how she recently has talked about her situation. My question is whether her orientation makes it difficult for a more traditional healing to take place, or whether there is something larger going on here. The answer is probably both. In either case, it seems that life there – locally and temporarily as her and the cancer – is on a deepening awakening path more than a healing path.

It possible that with more time from my side, things could shift more in the direction of traditional healing. I am not sure. And I am also unsure if that’s appropriate in this situation.

This is a reminder of a few different things:

Things can be awake and not healed. A cancer can be awake. The divine can be awake to itself as cancer. And it doesn’t mean it shifts and heals.

Sometimes, awakening takes priority to healing, for whatever reason. Sometimes, it’s the reverse.

And sometimes, awakening and healing go hand-in-hand. They support each other.

On a surface level, it depends on the person and their orientation – which often is influenced by culture and whatever tradition they are in.

Ultimately, it comes down to what life – and the divine – wants to experience locally and temporarily, through and as that person.

And even if there seems to be mostly one or the other, we can usually invite in the other as well. If that happens, then that’s what life and the divine locally and temporarily want to experience.

Mostly, this is a reminder of the mystery of it all. I don’t know any of this for certain.

Storror: Be accepting of going in

 

Be accepting of going in, and then you’ll stick it.

– Storror parkour team in Parkour Water Challenge, 18 minutes in

This is an example of how dedication to excellence in any area of life tends to lead us to similar insights. In this case, the insight is that if you accept failure, you are more likely to succeed. The fear of failure is often what leads to failure, so when we accept the possibility of failure and find some peace with it, we are more able to focus on the task and do our job well.

The Storror guys continue to push the boundaries of what they are able to do in parkeour, and in the process discover universal insights that people through history have discovered.

Standing on a ledge, about to jump onto a beam in the water, it’s easier to focus on the task and do the job well if we accept and find peace with falling into the water. If we are afraid of falling into the water, the fear will distract us and make hesitation and a mistake more likely.

This is what any good psychologist or coach will help us with. And this is also a common thread in Asian philosophy. For instance, the samurai practices finding peace and coming to terms with death (they practiced imagining already being dead) so they wouldn’t be distracted by fear of death at a crucial moment.

Do we know it’s related to kundalini?

 

It’s clear that a lot of things can happen in an awakening process – weird sensations, a sense of overwhelm, disorientation, lack of grounding, feeling you are losing your mind, surfacing of old emotional issues and traumas, outside-of-the-mainstream abilities and sensing, and so on.

Some people like to call some of this “kundalini”. But do we really know that’s what it is? And is it a helpful label?

The upside of the “kundalini” label is that it’s a shorthand for certain experiences people may have in an awakening process, and I assume that’s why some like to use it. The downside is that this label may make us think we understand what’s happening more than we do, and it can come with assumptions that make us overlook other and more mundane causes and remedies. Equally important, if we use the label as if we know for certain, we train ourselves to be intellectually dishonest.

I wouldn’t be able to call any of it “kundalini” or related to kundalini. I don’t have that type of access to the energy system and what’s happening. I wouldn’t know for certain that’s what it is, even if several people have agreed to call it just that.

What I do know is that a lot of different things can happen in an awakening process. I know a range of specific things that can happen and have experienced a bunch of it for myself. I know approaches that can help people in these situations, depending on the person and what’s happening. And that seems sufficient. I don’t need to put a possibly misleading label on it.

Personally, I find it helpful to be honest about these things. To be honest about what I can know and cannot know. To take a pragmatic approach without being too concerned about labels.

And, yes, I too do what I write about here. I sometimes put a label on something without knowing whether it’s true or accurate, and in a way that can be misleading. And if I look a little more closely, I see that no matter how accurate a label is in a conventional sense, it’s ultimately and inherently misleading. Reality is different from and more than our ideas about and our labels for it.

And it’s perhaps not such a big deal. A lot of the people using the “kundalini” label probably do it as a shorthand, knowing it’s a guess and that they don’t know for certain.

Energy healing is an addition – it doesn’t replace anything (unless it actually does)

 

Energy healing is an addition. It doesn’t replace anything, unless it does.

For instance, Vortex Healing can be amazingly effective in dealing with infections, including viral infections. When I got the flu or similar infections in my pre-Vortex life, I would often get severely sick for several days. Now, with the help of a senior Vortex Healing practitioner, it’s often gone in a matter of hours.

That doesn’t mean I do anything different than I otherwise would do when it comes to the current pandemic. I still avoid contact with others outside of my household, wear mask, clean my hands, and so on. But if I get infected, I know I have a powerful tool in dealing with it. There are no guarantees, but if it works as it has in the past, it helps a lot. And if it doesn’t, nothing is lost by trying.

That’s how I use energy healing in general. It can be a powerful and helpful addition to what I normally would do, and it doesn’t replace anything. Unless it’s so effective that it does.

Energy healing doesn’t replace any of my usual strategies for dealing with things – infections, emotional issues, physical or energy system issues, situations, and so on. But sometimes, it turns out to be so effective that it actually does. It may take care of the problem so I don’t have to use additional strategies.

This is how I use energy healing, and it’s also what I tell someone if I give them a Vortex Healing session. Do everything you normally would do – see a doctor, take care of your health through diet and physical activity, and so on. Don’t do anything differently just because you are receiving energy healing sessions. And then see what happens after the session or sessions. If there is a change for the better, or a symptom or issue clears up, that’s wonderful.

Byron Katie: As you lose identity, you discover yourself

 

As you lose identity, you discover yourself.

– Byron Katie

Yes, this is true in two general ways.

I assume Byron Katie talks about losing our identification with identities. We can use and relate to identities without being identified with them.

When we lose an identity – any identity – we find more freedom, fluidity, and flexibility as a human being in the world. We are more free to bring out sides of ourselves that didn’t fit our previous identity. We have a larger repertoire in how we live our lives and respond to situations. We discover more of who we are as a human being in the world.

As our identifications in general thin out, we may also more easily discover what we are. If we have many and strong identifications, the mind tends to be fascinated by and transfixed by identities and taking itself to be these, and that leaves less room for the mind to notice what it already is. It takes itself to be something within the content of its experience (usually this human self), and overlooks what it already is: that which all experiences happen within and as. We discover what we already are.

How do we lose identification with identities?

It can happen to some extent, and over time, through….

Noticing and becoming more familiar with what we are, for instance through forms of inquiry like the Big Mind process and Headless experiments. As we become more familiar with ourselves that which our experience happens within and as, identification as something within this content tends to soften.

Basic meditation, through noticing and allowing whatever happens in our experience here and now, and notice it’s already allowed (by mind, life). Again, we find ourselves as that which our experience happens within and as, and we notice that all content of experience comes and goes – including that which we habitually identify as. This allows identifications as something particular within content of experience to soften.

Heart-centered and projection-related practices like tonglen, ho’oponopono, metta, and heart prayer. This too helps to soften our identification with our habitual identities.

We can also identify and investigate particular identifications, and especially our most central and habitual ones, through…..

The Work of Byron Katie. Here, we identify and examine beliefs to find what’s more true for us, and this helps identifications to soften.

Living Inquiries, where we examine how the mind creates its experience of identifications, compulsions, and fear. This is based on traditional Buddhist inquiry and similarly allows the glue of identifications to soften.

Vortex Healing where we invite in deep healing and unraveling of emotional issues and identifications.

These are obviously just a few of the approaches I personally find useful. There are many others out there.

Here are a few more notes on this topic:

We can’t choose to “drop” identifications. They soften and perhaps fall away through investigation and healing.

Identification means identification with or as a thought. The mind believes a thought, which means it identifies with the viewpoint of the thought, and makes it appear true for itself. This is also how emotional issues are created, so working on and finding healing for emotional issues helps soften identifications.

There is no “should” in any of this. We are free to explore this or not, and one is not inherently better than the other. It’s just that identifications – and beliefs and emotional issues – tend to be stressful and uncomfortable, so it’s more comfortable to invite identifications to soften.

There is no quick fix. This is a lifelong exploration and process. Even with the most effective tools and most helpful orientations, it takes time. And that’s completely OK. It’s a fascinating process.

There is not finishing line or endpoint. It’s an ongoing investigation. At least, that’s how it looks to me now, and I find it easier to have this as a general guideline for myself.

There are some orientations that support this process. For instance curiosity and sincerity, and a wish to befriend ourselves and our experience and the world as it appears to us.

Jeanette Armstrong: Before anything else, we are the living, dreaming Earth pieces

 

The way we talk about ourselves as Okanagan people is difficult to replicate in English. When we say the Okanagan word for ourselves, we are actually saying “the ones who are dream and land together.” That is our original identity. Before anything else, we are the living, dreaming Earth pieces. Dream is the closest word that approximates the Okanagan. But our word doesn’t precisely mean dream. It actually means “the unseen part of our existence as human beings.” It may be the mind or the spirit or the intellect. We are mind as well as matter. We are dream, memory, and imagination.

– Jeanette Armstrong

We are, in a very real sense, the universe and life dreaming itself into existence.

The universe doesn’t care?

 

It’s common in our modern world, and with our modern world view, to think and assume that the universe doesn’t care. It doesn’t care about my life or humanity or Earth or anything in particular.

Yes, it may be true in a certain sense.

What’s also true is that….

We don’t know. We dont know anything for certain. Our assumptions are just that, assumptions, guesses. We don’t know the big picture.

The universe does care. It cares locally. It cares right here, as me, as you, as this life right here.

And there are upsides to a universe that “doesn’t care”. It gives us a great freedom. It leaves it up to us how we live our lives.

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXVIII

 

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

VALUES, STRATEGIES, AND POLITICS

Most humans have shared values, at least when we drill down to find the most basic expression of our values. The conflicts are often more rooted in how inclusive or exclusive our sense of “we” is and differences in strategies.

So in politics, as in the rest of life, it’s often helpful to differentiate values and strategies. We can identify our respective values. See how similar or different they are, and they tend to be more similar the more we drill down to find their essence. And then explore collective strategies that fit those values.

It’s of course not quite that simple. Sometimes, we may be too invested in a particular strategy to be open to this type of exploration. And it may be difficult to get people on board with this exploration on a larger scale. But it’s a good starting point and general guideline for ourselves and we can bring it into whatever groups we are part of.

If we find ourselves invested in a particular strategy, it helps to take a step back and identify our values and the essence of these values. This, in turn, may help us be more flexible and explore a range of possible strategies that all fit the deeper values.

As mentioned above, there is also the question of how wide our circle of “us” is. Does it include all of life, future generations, and non-human species? Or is it more exclusive? Whether it’s wide or narrow, the deeper values may be the same, for instance, to support life. A more narrow circle of “us” may reflect cognitive limitations, seeing a wider circle as unfeasible, or investment in a view of life as a zero-sum game. Differentiating values and strategies may also here help us open our minds to find win-win strategies, at least sometimes.

This topic came to mind since it seems that some who get into conspiracy theories – like QAnon – seem to share values with people outside of the conspiracy world. They just have (very) different strategies, based on a very different set of information and ideas about how the world works. Although the values may be shared, it doesn’t mean the info and ideas about how the world works are equal. One is based on verifiable information and the other on flimsy disinformation. But identifying and emphasizing the shared values may be a starting point for dialogue.

Thanks to Marshall Rosenberg and Non-Violent Communication for pointing out the difference in needs and strategies, or – as I wrote about it here – values and strategies.

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Byron Katie: Whatever you’re experiencing, it has a right to live

 

Whatever you’re experiencing, it has a right to live

– Byron Katie

This is a simple and beautiful pointer.

When I fight with my experience, I create discomfort and drama for myself, and I tend to get caught up in reactivity to the experience and sometimes acting on it even if I wouldn’t if I was more clear and kind.

When I give it its right to live, I make it much easier for myself. There is more space to relate to it intentionally. There is space for me to respond more consciously to it.

Whatever I am experiencing is not “mine”. It belongs to life. In one sense, it reflects the whole evolution of the universe, this solar system, this living planet, all living ancestors going back to the first cell, and all my human ancestors and how they were formed by life. In another sense, it just happens – out of the blue. Who am I to say it doesn’t have a right to live?

If I try to change or eliminate my experience, it’s an exercise in futility. I cannot. It’s too late. The experience that’s here is already gone.

How I respond to my experience is also part of my experience, and that too has a right to live. I can find some understanding and compassion for myself when I respond to my experience in ways I perhaps wouldn’t if I acted from more kindness, clarity, and wisdom. That understanding and compassion creates some space for doing it differently.

So it makes a lot more sense to give it its right to live. It already has that right, so I am just aligning with reality. It reduces a lot of the drama and discomfort in my life. And it makes it easier to relate to my experience more consciously, and respond to it with a bit more clarity, maturity, and kindness.

Why connect with the divine if we are the divine?

 

I heard someone ask this question, and it’s an understandable question if we are coming from a place where we mainly have heard others tell stories about the divine and spirituality.

There is a short and simple answer:

Yes, all is already the divine and nothing is inherently wrong or missing.

At the same time, the divine here –locally and temporarily as us – may not recognize that.

There is another way to say this:

We are capacity for the world. All our experiences happen within and as what we are. That’s what we are whether we notice or not. We cannot change it. But we can be fascinated by perceptions of being a human being, one particular content of our experience, and we can perceive, feel, think, and live as if this is the case. (Most do.) So why not check it out for ourselves? Why not see what we find? Why not try out pointers others have developed (e.g. Headless experiments, Big Mind process, Living Inquiries) and see what we discover for ourselves? And if we find we are capacity for the world, why not see how it is to live from this?

There is also the question of connecting with vs finding ourselves as it.

At the one end of the spectrum, life – locally and temporarily as us – takes itself to be this human self. It doesn’t notice itself as capacity for all its local experiences. At the other end of the spectrum, life notices itself as this capacity and the local human life is lived within this noticing.

Between those two, there may be stepping stones. It depends on our personal process – the processes of life as us. It also depends on what approaches we use, what pointers we follow, and to some extent what tradition and worldview we are familiar with and operate within.

And one of those stepping stones may be to connect with the divine, for instance through devotional practices. Even within a more non-dual approach, it can be helpful to engage in this type of practice.

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Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXVII

 

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

SOME LAYERS I USE WHEN I LOOK AT SOCIETY

When I write posts here, I write from one or a few perspectives.

These perspectives reflect my biases and conditioning as a male from a northern European country, university educated, and so on. And they reflect my own hangups, wounds, emotional issues, beliefs, identifications, and perceived lack.

There are many perspectives out there that are equally valid and important, and I leave them out to make it simpler (and easier for myself), and also because I am aware of only a small subset of all the existing and possible perspectives.

So what’s the bigger and more general picture for social issues?

My world – the world as it appears to me – happens within and as what I am. All my experiences happen within and as what I am.

The world appears the way it does to me because of my own mental overlay. This overlay consists of mental images and words, and it puts labels, meaning, and stories on my world. I am responsible for my own stories about the world, including the most basic assumptions about the world, others, and myself.

The stories I have about the world reflect me as a human being. Whatever stories I have about the world or others also fit me, and I can find very specific examples of how each one fits me.

Each person perceives and acts from their own filters and biases, including me. We cannot escape this but we can be a little more aware of this happening and some of the specific filters and biases.

Each person has valuable perspectives and views, especially when we drill down to the essence of what these are about.

Everything is a whole and part. What we see happening here and now are expressions of movements within the whole – going back to beginning of time and stretching out to the widest extent of existence.

It’s all lila. The world as it appears to me is the play of this consciousness. Or, we can say it’s the play of life – or the divine. It’s consciousness, life, or the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways.

I cannot know anything for certain. I am operating from a huge number of questioned and unquestioned assumptions.

When I write, I typically highlight one or a few of these even if all of them are there in the background.

A SAD IRONY OF CONSPIRACY THEORIES

There is a sad irony in the conspiracy theory world.

I suspect some – or many? – who get into conspiracy theories do partly to feel they know something others don’t and to feel special, smart, and perhaps even powerful. They may try to compensate for feeling like an outsider, a failure, rejected, and powerless.

Although they may find a sense of belonging in the conspiracy subculture, they may also separate themselves from friends and relatives. To the extent they get identified with the conspiracy world, they may isolate themselves from those who are not into it. In that way, they create for themselves even more of what they try to escape.

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Dorothea Williams: I heard this story about a fish

 

I heard this story about a fish, he swims up to an older fish and says: “I’m trying to find this thing they call the ocean.” “The ocean?” the older fish says, “that’s what you’re in right now.” “This”, says the young fish, “this is water. What I want is the ocean!”

– Dorothea Williams in Soul

This anecdote also fits discovering what we are.

When we notice what we are, it’s often like water. It’s the ocean but it may seem too simple and ordinary to us. We may have the idea that it should be something grand, majestic, extraordinary, and with fireworks.

Sometimes, it is. But most of the time, it’s just ordinary. It’s water.

And if we look, we’ll find all the other qualities there as well, just not with the volume turned up as much.

I have seen this when people notice what they are through the Big Mind process or Headless experiments. The noticing is real. What we notice itself as all there is. But it’s without the bells and whistles. It’s low key. So the mind may tell itself: “This can’t be it. It’s supposed to be amazing and big and with all sorts of fireworks”.

We have bought into one of the myths about awakening.

So we may leave it and keep seeking for something grand and amazing, and miss the real thing, at least for a while. Or we may continue to explore what they noticed and continue to notice, clarify, deepen, and live from it.

If we go off on an adventure to find the fireworks, there is nothing wrong with it. But eventually, we realize what the older fish did: the water is the ocean.