Truth and love are the two most powerful embodiment tools you will ever have. They are the two tools you have to lead a benevolent, beautiful, and enlightened life.– Adyashanti, Commitment to Truth and Love
I think there is a relatively simple equation for whether we heal from emotional wounds or not.
The simple version is this:
Healing = willingness to heal > lack of willingness to heal.
When we want healing more than we fear the discomfort of the process, we tend to find healing. It may take time, but there is healing.
We can add a few more components to the equation:
Healing = willingness face discomfort + trust in the process + right tools & good guidance > fear of discomfort + lack of trust + not so good tools
We not only need to be willing to face the discomfort, we also need to trust in the process, and we need the right tools and guidance. We need to trust we can find healing, that the tools are right, and that we have good guidance. And the trust needs to be based on reality.
We can add even a few more things to the initially simple equation: sincerity, honesty (with oneself), receptivity, and doggedness, a willingness to stay with the process.
Of course, if there are no results after a few sessions, it may be good to re-evaluate the process and perhaps find another tool and/or guidance. In me experience, if it works, we notice it relatively quickly.
The issue may not clear right away, but we notice it shifts and perhaps lightens and opens up. Smaller and more isolated issues can be cleared relatively quickly, but it takes longer for the more core and interwoven issues, perhaps even a lifetime, even if these too can shift, lighten, and be much easier after some sessions.
I am talking from my own experience here so I am open for this changing as I discover new tools and approaches.
It’s a common stereotype that traditional Freudian analysis lines the pockets of the analyst while offering insights to the client and no real resolution. I suspect there is a lot of truth to this, with the caveat that I don’t have personal experience with Freudian analysis.
Analysis and insight at a story level is just the first step in resolving our issues. It gives us an idea of what to work on. For any real and more thorough resolution, we have to go further and typically use other approaches.
What are these other approaches? It can be a range of different things and depends on the person, the issue, and what’s available.
Here are some examples:
Act in spite of our fears. Act as we imagine we would act without the issue. Try it out. Make small steps. (I am sure this one often is part of psychoanalysis sessions.)
Engage in dialog with the different parts of us, and the different parts of the issue. Take the role of the different parts of our mind. (Voice Dialog, Big Mind process, Internal Family Systems).
Use heart-centered approaches like ho’oponopono or Tonglen. This can be deeply transformative and helps us transform our relationship to the issue, the person or situasjonen the issue seems to be about, ourselves, others, and the world, and it also transforms the issue itself.
Release tension and trauma out of the body through, for instance, therapeutic tremoring (TRE). Over time, this can take some or most of the charge out of the issue.
Go further in exploring how the mind creates its own experience of the issue. See how the mind associates sensations with thoughts to give the thoughts a charge and create the issue. See the associations the mind has around it, holding it in place. Find underlying beliefs and identifications, also holding it in place. This can be done with the Living Inquiries.
Identify and examine stressful and painful stories and beliefs holding the issue in place, for instance through The Work.
Use energy healing to bring awareness into the issue and releasing it from all the different parts of our being. (Energy bodies, pathways, chakras, energetic blueprints, physical organs, etc.) Vortex Healing is by far the most powerful and effective approach I have found for this. (In thirty years of exploring a range of approaches.)
These are just some of the approaches I have experience with and have found helpful. What’s common for all of them is that they go beyond just taking and having some understandings, and that’s essential for any real resolution. Whether that resultion is in our relationship to the issue (or what it appears to be about), or a resolution of the issue itself.
And for any of them to be effective, we need to do it with sincerity, receptivity, some doggedness, and with guidance. After a while, we may rely more or mostly on our own guidance, but it’s always good to have the perspective of someone else, especially when it comes to our more ingrained issues.
I should mention that I have a great deal of appreciation and respect for Freud. The essence is sounds and valuable (that much of what’s happening in our mind is outside of conscious awareness, projections, defense mechanisms etc). And yet, he was a pioneer and a child of his own time and culture, so much of the specifics are perhaps less helpful.
A friend of mine recently told me of a relative who is suicidal (and a psychiatrist) and goes to Freudian psychoanalysis three times a week without it appearing to do much good, or at least not enough good. That was the seed for this article.
I realize why I liked them so much in my childhood and early teens (and still enjoy much of what they made). They are questioning everything, or at least any conventional middle-class norms, expectations, unwritten rules, double standards, small mindedness, and irrational or misguided religious beliefs.
And I love questioning everything, even back then. It’s what led me to first informal and then guided inquiry.
What are the most basic assumptions or beliefs in society or a group? What are my most cherished and basic assumptions and beliefs? What are the effects of holding onto and living from them? In what way don’t they hold up? What are some other views that are equally or more valid? What’s the bigger picture?
Most people who have an awakening will interpret it in the usual spiritual way. I did too, and still mostly do.
But I realized quickly that if I am to be honest with myself, and that is part of living from the awakening, there is another interpretation that also is possible.
First, what is a spiritual awakening? The essence is that what we are – that which all our experience happens within and as – wakes to to itself. We can say that all our experience – of a me and a wider world – happens within and as awakeness, or consciousness, or perhaps awake space (although space also happens within and as it).
Identification is released out of the parts of the content of experience that we usually call me, or I, or the doer, observer or something else. It’s not that we are not that. It’s just that what we are is what all of it – this me and the wider world as it appears to me in a very ordinary sense – happens within and as.
The big or spiritual interpretation is that all of existence is Spirit or the divine or God, Brahman or whatever else we prefer to call it. That fits the immediate experience. It’s also this human self and locally, it took itself for a while to only be this human self and then woke up to itself as all of it without exception.
And yet, if I am honest, there is another interpretation, the small or psychological interpretation. Even within conventional psychology, they acknowledge that there is consciousness. And, logically and in direct experience, that is what we are. We just tell ourselves we are a human being, in the world, with a name and identity and so on.
So I have to acknowledge that there is a possibility that not only is the awakening local, but the consciousness that wakes up to itself is local too. It doesn’t exist as all of ecistence even if it appears that way in (naive) immediate experience. The world is as our materialistic worldview says, and what woke up to itself is the consciousness created by the brain in this one human being.
Both interpretations fit the basic data.
I have to be honest about that. And I can choose one or the other depending on what the situation calls for. For myself, I usually use the big interpretation. It’s more inspiring. When I talk with others, I sometimes use the small interpretation.
Although – I have to admit – there is a lot of data in my own experience that better fits the big interpretation. Mostly things like synchronicities, seeing energies, ESP and so on.
If you have no patience for mindfulness and you’re too fidgety to meditate, a new approach to tackling stress has just reached the UK’s most fashionable yoga mats — and it might be for you.The Times, Too fidgety to meditate? Try TRE — the new tension-release technique
The article makes a very good point. TRE can be very helpful for people who are fidgety and wish to release tension. And it is relatively new as a formalized approach.
At the same time, therapeutic tremoring is ancient. It’s built into us and all mammals through evolution. It allowed our ancestors to survive by giving them a way to naturally and effortlessly release tension and trauma. It goes back far beyond humanity and to our pre/non-human ancestors.
Basic meditation is ancient too. If we take it as noticing and allowing what’s happening in our sense fields, it may be a part of life for most beings and may have been for most of our human and pre/non-human ancestors. In a more formalized form, it’s found in many ancient cultures.
To a lesser degree, this is true for inquiry. At least for humans, and to some degree, it’s natural to notice what the mind does and notice some basic dynamics and patterns. And this too was developed and formalized in some ancient cultures.
The basic approaches for us to heal and discover who and what we are are ancient. They have ancient roots, sometimes stretching back to pre/non-human ancestors. They are, in their essence, simple. And they bring us back to simplicity, although it’s a more informed and mature simplicity.
To go back to the news article: presenting TRE as a relaxation technique for those who are unable or unwilling to sit still in conventional meditation practice is a good selling point. But it does misrepresent meditation and, to some extent, therapeutic tremoring.
Meditation isn’t really about relaxing. (The basic approache is designed to help us notice and discovering and finding ourselves as what we already are.) It may well bring up whatever we have put a lid on in ourselves, and it’s anything but relaxing when that comes up. And although TRE practitioners (like myself) are trained to go slow with clients, it can still bring up old buried emotional material. When it happens, it’s good since it’s part of a deeper healing process. But it’s not necessarily comfortable and it’s not relaxing.
When we embark on exploring meditation, therapeutic tremoring, or something similar, it’s good if we are aware of these possibilities, that we cannot really put the lid back on when it has gone off, and decide if we are committed to go through all of this. There may be no going back.
In the big picture, all of this is good. It’s part of our healing and awakening journey.
At the same time, if a meditation or TRE instructor wants to be responsible, they need to inform the students about this, and perhaps also do an evaluation for trauma and adapt their approach accordingly.
Of course, for some of us it doesn’t seem a choice. We just seem to know we have to do it. It calls us.
I wake up with a feeling. It’s hard to name but it’s slightly uncomfortable. It feels a bit stagnant, gritty, dense and dark, and there is a slight sense of fear or dread in it.
It’s not strong, and I know I can shake it off by getting up. Something in me would rather get to know it better.
I notice the sensations and the image of something dark. I feel the sensations. Notice the image. Rest with it.
I notice a slight reaction in me wanting it to go away. (Or for me to go away from it by distracting myself.) I notice it is fear and I feel it in the center of the belly.
I feel the fear. Allow it as it is. Notice it’s already allowed. I rest with it.
I also notice some thoughts connected with the fear: I will be engulfed by the (initial) feeling. It will take over my life. It will make me paralyzed. I will be overwhelmed if I allow myself to feel it or get to know it.
The sensations in the belly are stronger. I keep resting with it. It subsides.
I go back to the initial sensations. Notice it’s little different now. Feel the sensations. Rest with the sensations.
I notice the image of something uniform, stagnant, and somewhat dark associated with the sensations. I look at the image. Notice the lines, colors, texture.
I return to feeling and resting with the sensations.
I notice a small voice in me wanting this to make the initial feeling to away. I notice the sensations connected with it in the front of my upper body – especially chest and face. I feel and rest with the sensations.
After a while, I notice it’s connected with the fear in the belly and feel and rest with that too. It opens and subsides.
I return to the initial feeling. Rest with it.
I notice how the sensations are more easily recognized as physical sensations. Initially, they seemed to mean something (something vague, bad, undesirable), but now they are more clearly physical sensations without an inherent meaning.
After a while, I explore any emotional issues behind the feeling with Vortex Healing. I do some denetworking for any issues behind the initial feeling (this releases connections with related issues since this network helps hold it in place) , and then Angelic Heart for the same (helps open it up, align with reality).
And I make a mental note to continue to explore the rest – especially the wish to have it go away – later. (It’s an ongoing exploration.)
I thought I would share this snapshot here. It feels fresh and real, and it’s something I wish to share more of. Snapshots of daily and unremarkable noticings.Read More
Rewilding is a progressive approach to conservation. It’s about letting nature take care of itself, enabling natural processes to shape land and sea, repair damaged ecosystems and restore degraded landscapes. Through rewilding, wildlife’s natural rhythms create wilder, more biodiverse habitats.– Rewilding Europe
How do we rewild ourselves?
It’s another big topic that a short article can’t do justice, but I’ll mention a few things.
One is to recognize that we are nature, we are already wild. We are the local expression of earth, the universe, and reality. Recognize it, feel it more deeply, reorient within this realization.
Another is to look at what in us prevents is from realizing this and live from it. And also from living from a more natural expression of our kindness and wisdom. Often, and perhaps more often than we realize, our beliefs, identities, and emotional wounds keeps us within a narrow range when a far larger range could be available to us.
Spending time in nature is helpful for rewilding ourselves. As is becoming comfortable with silence and listening. (Inner and outer silence, and listening to the inner and outer.) And befriending ourselves as we are, including our emotions, feelings, and body. And learning to appreciate and enjoy who and what we are.
Rewilding ourselves is a process of recognizing and taking in what we are. (A local expression of nature, Earth, the universe.) Listening. Befriending ourselves and reality. Venturing outside of artificial boundaries we put on ourselves. (Aka stressful, limiting beliefs and identities, fear rooted in emotional wounds and trauma.) Respect. Patience. Recognizing all as part of the same whole.
Befriending the wild in ourselves is very similar to befriending a wild animal.
Rewilding ourselves helps us find a deeper and more stable and universal identity (and perhaps freedom from identities). It helps us feel that we belong to nature, earth, the universe, and existence (as we do). It can help us find a deeper relaxion and ease, and comfort with ourselves and reality.
And it helps Earth. We realize we are the earth, and this naturally leads to changes in our life. We reprioritize. We live differently. We may become activists in our own way.
We realize that, by doing so, we are nature taking care of itself. We are nature protecting and defending itself.
Awake people don’t hurt life.Said to me a few days ago
Is it true that awake people don’t hurt life?
Not really. It’s more complex than that.
We still have hangups, wounds, trauma, and sometimes act on it like anyone else.
We still live in a social and economic system that’s deeply harmful to life and Earth, so our everyday life is harmful for life, Earth, and future generations.
At our human level, we are still a living organism that needs to eat other living organisms to survive. Even if we eat only fruits, nuts and vegetables, we still hurt life. (Just the production of these is often harmful because of modern agriculture.)
We are still a human being who makes mistakes, and who don’t know or cannot predict the consequences of our actions. We cannot really predict the local or short term consequences, and we certainly cannot predict the far reaching and long term consequences.
There is another side to this, of course.
It’s probably true that we generally harm life less the more embodied awakening there is, especially if it’s combined with healing of emotional issues.
And in the bigger picture, it’s perhaps all lila, the play of the divine, and nobody to get hurt and not really any hurt.
And yet, that’s no excuse to not live as well as we can, and minimize harm and support life as well as we can.
And there is yet another aspect to this. If we are very concerned about not hurting life (which is impossible although we can do or best to minimize it and make up for it), it may point to an emotional issue or a belief that’s not quite aligned with reality.
It’s natural and healthy to have it as a guide and orientation, but if it gets stressful and bordering on an obsession, it may be worth looking at a little more closely.
There’s this whole other side of awakening which isn’t just waking up from form, waking up from the body, waking up from the identifications of the mind, but it’s getting that awakening down in through all of that, and that’s like a clearinghouse. That’s the difference between someone who’s had an awakening and ultimately someone who has discovered their divine individuality.
– Adyshanti in The Divine Individual
A dialog with my inner beast.
I would like to get to know you better. Is that OK? Can I ask you a few questions?
What food would you like to eat?
B: Not so different from what P already eats. But more strict more of the time. More strict in following what’s good for the body and mind. More hardcore. And enjoying it. Finding the fun in it. (As P did in his 20s and 30s.)
What music do you enjoy?
B: Again, not so different. But more free in the choice, and more extremes — weird music from around the world, more intense music. Again, as P did in his teens, 20s, 30s.
How do you see P?
B: He is scared, timid. He got scared from what has happened the last ten years. He is afraid of everything right now, including me and living from me more again as he used to. He is afraid to get burnt.
Do you have advice for him?
B: Yes. Quit being so timid. Enjoy life again. Dive into it again. You may get burnt again, and so what? You’ll survive. It’s part of life. Choosing timidity is no life.
How can he do that?
B: Start in daily life. Do things that you used to enjoy a lot but set aside because you are scared and afraid to trigger the buried pain in yourself. Watch challenging movies. Read about what you are passionate about. Listen to deeply moving and spiritual music. Connect with the people you really want to connect with, and not just the “easy” ones. Be more open about your passions instead of pretending to be “normal” and inoffensive.
I get the sense that you, as the beast, cover the whole range of human experiences?
B: Yes, sure. I am part of him and he does, as all humans do. I just want him to be honest, direct, authentic, follow his passions. Whether it’s listening to Rammstein or Arvo Pärt. Or eating organic local vegetarian food or the occasional juicy beef. Or reading graphic novels about ghosts or Adyshanti, Jes Bertelsen, or Christian mysticism. Or enjoying sensuality and passionate sex or prayer and meditation. It’s all part of his life. He knows he deeply enjoys all of it.
Do you have advice for him when it comes to his health?
B: Keep doing what you are doing when it comes to taking care of your health (diet, sleep, fresh air), doing healing work (Vortex Healing, parts work, prayer, inquiry), and planning to spend more time in better climates (warmer, drier, fresh organic food). Also, bring more of me into your life again. Find the joy again of living more from me. Allow yourself to risk getting hurt again. (I promise you you will, and that’s competely ok, it’s part of the game). Follow your actual interests and what makes you be who you want to be. Don’t sell yourself short. (By spending time with the “easy” people instead of the interesting ones, by watching easy things on internet instead of the juicy things that deeply feed you, by avoiding reading what’s deeply interesting to you, by not doing art and making music.)
He is scared of doing art and making music, yes?
B: Yes, he feels it puts him in touch with the deep passion in him and the pain he experienced when he left his inner guidance on the big life decision many years ago. He is afraid of the pain that’s there from leaving his guidance in the past. So now he lives a timid life. One where he doesn’t follow his deep passion and the deep passion he experiences when he does art and composes music.
What advice do you have for him on that topic?
B: Dive into the pain. That’s the only way to do it. You created the pain so you get to experience it. It’s actually not that bad, when you dive into it. I’ll be there with you. It’s the only way for you to come alive again. It’s your path to life and living again, and in a much better way than before. You have grown a lot.
He left you?
B: Yes, he left me partially and enough to extinguish his inner fire. He left me when the pain of leaving his inner guidance was too much for him.
It’s that part of his illness? (CFS)
B: I don’t know but I think so. I give him strenght, passion, and what he needs to be authentic and follow his guidance. I give him the strength to follow his inner guidance. All of that will help him get back on his feet again, and more than that live a full, fiery and deeply meaningful life. One that has an impact on others too and helps them live a fuller, meaningful and juicy life, and the life that happens when you follow your inner guidance.
Should he post this?
B: He has to decide. Yes, because he wants to be more authentic in his writing and what he posts. No if it makes him feel he did too much and feels too scared and vulnerable. (It won’t but it’s good for him to embrace me more while also taking care of himself and follow his guidance.)
Anything else you would like him to know?
B: I am here for him. I won’t go away. He just needs to access me and live more from me. I have no interest in being the only part of him he lives from, but I am essential for him to live a more real, fierce, and alive life. I am essential for him to live as he wants to live. To live aligned with his knowing, truth, and authenticity.
You seem to be assigned with truth?
B: I don’t know. I want him to be aligned with his truth, and I am essential for him to live from it. He can’t be timid and still live from truth. He has to be able to access fierceness when that’s needed.Read More
Back in the 90s, I was a student (aka apprentice) of Odd Nerdrum and also modeled for this painting.
I knew he saw me, but I was also embarrassed to admit it. I was embarrassed by the knives and that aspect of me.
If people asked me what the knives represented, I would innocently say “I don’t know”.
So here it is, all laid out.
This painting is of a saint and a beast.
The face is that of a saint, and I have that side of my personality.
The arms and knives are those of the beast.
What is the saint-beast dynamic? And what is the beast? It can be seen in several ways.
The first is one I don’t like to admit to so much. I have a tendency to people-please and set aside my own needs, and that comes with suppressed anger, feeling like a victim, reactivity and so on. The face is the people-pleasing, and the knife is the suppressed anger. (This also reflects a family and cultural pattern.)
More generally, any identity comes with a shadow side, and if I identify as good and “spiritual”, what in me doesn’t fit goes into darkness. It’s more hidden. Not acknowledged. And I have spent a lot of time exploring and owning – or owning up to – those sides of me, even from before this painting was made.
The beast also mirrors a ruthless side of me. If something is important to me (awakening but sometimes other things), I can be ruthless going after it.
And that’s related to another way to look at the knives. Swords and knives can represent cutting through the bullshit. Going for the truth and reality, even if it’s uncomfortable (see Manjushri). (This is best applied to oneself.)
I think this dynamic in me is also why I resonate with characters like Hellboy (especially as depicted in the del Toro films). He is born a beast (demon) but has a pure heart.
Why the twins? I am not sure. If this image was in a dream of mine, I would wonder if it represents a division or kind of a split. The saint on one side and the knives and beast on the other. Something that’s not (yet) brought into or recognized as part of a whole. That was more true of me then although it’s still part of me. I am still working on it.
And the primal clothing and setting? It’s typical for Nerdrum (and one of the reasons I resonate with and love his art). And the theme is primal too, whatever the theme is. That too is typical for Nerdrum.
Most of the subjects have a mythic or archetypal feel to them, and we can have a sense of it, but the exact meaning is hard to pin down. My sense is that by trying to pin it down, we miss the point and the power of the paintings. They are meant to work on us at a more primal level.
Here are some comments about the painting from Alejita, my partner.
The painting: They are two. Two parts of you. Although the clothes and the hair are of a mystic, the look of him (especially in the man behind) is bestial. And with the knife, he is opening the left side of your body, your heart. One of them covers the heart of the other. One, the one behind is more beastly than the one in the front. However, the most beastly is the one who opens the heart. The force with which he is taking the knife is abysmal. And the horizon is at neck height, splitting your body from your head.
And what she wrote after reading this post:
I feel that the two of you are both a beast, both have a knife, both are ready to kill the “things” are not any more “useful”. I don’t see the two characters as a separation, rather they are the complete image of you. It looks like the two coexist with the beast, there is no separation. The double image is more the feminine and masculine together, living with the beast that is not a third party. It is completeness, union.
I resonate with that way of looking at it. The one on “stage right” is more masculine (this is the original) and the one stage left is more feminine (he copied this based on the first). And both have the saint and beast together. It’s all one – feminine and masculine, saint and beast.
As our eco-systems keep unraveling, ecological grief will only go more into the mainstream as an experience and topic.
How do we deal with our ecological grief?
Here are some things I have found helpful for me:
Recognize it’s natural and even healthy. My ecological grief – for what I see happening locally and globally – is natural, understandable, and even healthy. It’s an expression of recognizing what’s happening. It comes from caring for myself, those close to me, humanity, future generations, non-human beings, species, ecosystems, and Earth a beautiful and amazing-beyond-comprehension living whole.
Share with likeminded people. Share as a confession.
Deep Ecology practices – like the Practices to Reconnect. These help us befriend our grief, find nourishment from our deep connection with all of life and past and future generations, and renew our hope and motivation for action. They can be done with a small group of friends or larger and more organized groups. I have led them myself with one or two other people and up to groups of ten or more.
Channeling the grief into action. This is not only how we transform society into a more Earth-centered one, but it also helps our own mental health. Even small actions are valuable, especially when I do it with others. (A while back, I helped start up neighborhood eco-teams and NWEI groups and these transformed people’s lives at many levels.)
I can support politicians and policies that help us transform into a more life-centered society. I can donate to organizations. I can make changes in my own life. I can join a local organization. I can communicate with politicians, businesses, and corporations. I can inform myself about what’s happening and win-win-win solutions. I can choose to focus on the solutions. I can envision the world I want to live with and share my vision.
I can choose to focus on systemic solutions because that’s where the problems are (not in individuals or “human nature”) and that’s also the best strategy for getting others on board (avoiding blaming individuals or particular groups of people).
Changing how I see it. I am not (only) an individual stressed out or in grief from witnessing the destruction of nature. I am nature reacting to its own destruction. And when I channel it into action, I am – quite literally – nature protecting itself. (Deep Ecology, ecopsychology, eco-spirituality, Deep Time, Big History, Universe Story etc.)
Clear up stressful beliefs and identifications, and find healing for triggered emotional issues. When we respond to ecological destruction – whether it’s local or global – it inevitably ties into our own personal wounds and hangups. I can use my reaction to what’s going on in the world as a pointer to my own personal issues and I can explore and find healing for these. That not only improves my quality of life, it also makes me a more effective agent for change in the world. I act more from clarity and kindness and less from reactivity and wounds.
I am at a busy gathering of some sort. I lost my sleeping space to someone else and a young woman invites me to cuddle and sleep next to her. We have a very good connection and she is clearly interested in me. Early dawn, we get up and I talk with someone else for a while. I see her and she pretends to not see me. Someone says she decided I am not committed enough. I try to catch up with her but she disappears. (Literally, right in front of me, into some rocks and plants where there was no space for a human to disappear.)
She had a pixie character. She looked and felt like a pixie, and maybe she was, at least partly. Very close to nature and plants and flowers. A little skittish. Impulsive.
We slept on the side of a charming neighborhood street, on some flat rocks overgrown with plants. It’s the public side of a beautiful and very well kept garden. It has the feeling of wild nature but is also clearly planted and cared for. I understand it belongs to her or her family, and that she has been one of the ones taking care of it.
When we get up, there is still a gathering or festival and I talk with a random passers-by. I lose track of the young woman, and when she appears in the crowd again she pretends to not see or know me.
She had chosen me and wanted to connect with me, but left because I didn’t show enough interest. I was fascinated and committed, and I thought we had time. I hadn’t meant to act as if I took her for granted, but I understood she took it that way.
Towards the end of the dream, I realized the location is Eugene, Oregon, where I lived for about ten years. It all – the place, people – had a permaculture and community-oriented feel to it. In the dream, it all also had a very magical and nature-oriented feel to it.
I had read VH notes about the sister realm (nature, fairies, etc.) the night before, and I also started re-watching Hellboy 2.
What is the dream about? It may reflect a longing to some of the nature- and community-oriented atmosphere I experienced in Eugene. It was likely seeded by what I had read and watched the night before. And the theme – a woman interested in me who then decides I am not interested even if I am – is one that has happened in my own life more than once.
The main atmosphere in the dream was a beautiful sense of the magic of nature, and the young woman was perhaps half a pixie (or elf, fairy), or a nature spirit, or at least one very close to and intimate with nature. This is a part of me I would like to connect with more, and one that is perhaps a little skittish. She requires more steady attention and demonstrated commitment than I gave her.
yūgen – a profound, mysterious sense of the beauty of the universeWikipedia article on Japanese Aesthetics
I don’t speak Japanese so I know I am bound to get this slightly wrong. It seems that yūgen often refers to something evoked in us related to our own past (as most poetry does), although perhaps also something evoked in us about nature itself?
Here, I’ll be selective and use it in the sense of something evoked in us about nature itself.
If we talk about that, and a feeling or sense of nature as sacred, then we have nature mysticism.
Nature mysticism can refer to this feeling or sense of the sacred in nature and the universe. It can refer to a deep sense of belonging to nature and the universe. And it can refer to a sense of oneness with it all, that we are all one and the same and part of a seamless reality. (Which is obviously true even from a modern science perspective, and this sense of oneness happens when we realize it, take it in, and perhaps live more from it.) Either of these can come over us, often when we are in nature. Or it’s more stable and with us most or all of the time.
Is this just something that happens on its own or can we invite it in and deepen in it? For me, both seem true.
Yes, it can certainly happen on its own. (For me, all three happened from early childhood on and later became more stabilized in the oneness. The mysterious feeling was stronger earlier on and now is rarer, but that’s natural since the oneness is independent of any feelings.)
And yes, we can invite it in – through being in nature, poetry, deep ecology readings and practices (Practices to Reconnect), eco-psychology and eco-spirituality readings and practices, inquiry to help us remove mind-barrier to a sense of oneness with it all, and so on. (I have been deeply involved in this too over the last three decades.)
And we can go beyond nature mysticism. It can become much more clear and – in a sense – simple.
We can taste and stabilize in oneness. In noticing, realizing, and living from all content of experience happening within and as what we are. (Whether we chose to interpret this in a big or small way, or a spiritual or psychological way, as I have written about in other articles.)
Here, any sense of being a separate self is left behind.
This too can happen spontaneously or through practices and exploration. Usually, it’s a combination of both. (The practices are the usual spiritual ones like meditation, prayer, heart-centered practices, inquiry, energy- and body-centered practices and so on.)
There are a few things it’s good to clarify.
Nature mysticism does often refer to a feeling. A feeling of nature and the universe as sacred, and perhaps even a feeling or sense of oneness with all of existence. Here, there is usually still a sense of being a separate self. (Which is fine and natural, it’s the mind creating this experience for itself.)
Even when oneness is more clear and stabilized, this feeling can come and go. As mentioned above, for me the feeling was much stronger earlier in my process although it still comes very occasionally. Now, there is usually just the noticing of oneness.
And all of this, whether it’s a variety of nature mysticism or some level of oneness, is typically translated into profound shifts in our worldview and – yes – in our life and how we live in the world.
That’s why I write about it. It can be cool and help us as (individual) human beings in the world. And yet, what it can do for the world is equally or more important. The world today needs this. It needs more people experiencing it, being transformed by it, sharing it with others, and – in turn – transforming humanity (even if it’s just a tiny bit) and how we are in the world.
Image: Hiroshige, View of a Long Bridge Across a Lake
Professor Broom: In medieval stories, there is often a young knight who is inexperienced, but pure of heart.– from Hellboy (2004), quoted in Wikipedia
John Myers: Oh, come on. I am not pure of heart.
Abe Sapien: (who’s psychic) Yes, you are.
Professor Broom: Rasputin is back for him. What I’m asking of you is to have the courage to stand by him when I am gone. He was born a demon; we can’t change that. But you will help him, in essence, to become a man.
One of the most valuable qualities on a healing and spiritual path is sincerity, a pure heart. As Broom says, this is a recurrent theme in some of the traditional legends and perhaps most famously the grail legend (Perceval).
Sincerity allows us to be more honest with ourselves, and that’s essential for emotional healing, awakening, and embodiment.
Is also essential for having a meaningful and juicy relationship with ourselves and others, one that allows for authenticity, growth, and surprises.
If we have some sincerity, it doesn’t matter so much if we are young or inexperienced on the path we are on. Sincerity is gold, and we can always learn tools and we will gain experience.
Is sincerity something we can learn or develop? Perhaps not. But I can notice when I am not sincere and I can then shift into sincerity.
Sometimes, it’s not so easy. We may be caught in fear of a situation or something coming up in us and retreat into defensiveness to try to stay safe. That’s OK. Again, it helps to notice. I can be honest with myself about what happened. And that, in itself, is sincerity.
It also helps to notice what in me takes me away from sincerity. What is the fear about? What is the fearful story? What beliefs do I find? Identifications? And then explore it further, befriend it (find healing for my relationship to it), and perhaps find healing for the issue itself.
As I wrote the second paragraph (“Sincerity allows us….”), I noticed a synchronicity in the lyrics of the song I was listening to:
There are times when a man needs to brave his reflection,– Sting and Rob Mathes, I love her but she loves someone else
And face what he sees without fear,
It takes a man to accept his mortality,
Or be surprised by the presence of a tear.
Image: The Achievement of the Grail by British Artist Sir Edward Burn-Jones design, William Morris execution and John Henry Dearle flowers and decorations, from the Holy Grail tapestries 1891-94, Museum and Art Gallery of Birmingham, wool and silk on cotton warp.
Praised as “a spiritual treasure” by Huston Smith, The Way of Selflessness is an authoritative guide for anyone who wishes to walk a mystical path and discover directly the truth testified to by the mystics of the world’s spiritual traditions. Drawing from the universal teachings and essential practices of the mystics from all the world’s major religious traditions, distilled and presented in generic terms suitable for all seekers, The Way of Selflessness is appropriate for both those who belong to an established religion and those who do not.– The Way of Selflessness book description
If you are serious about awakening I can highly recommend Joel Morwood’s The Way of Selflessness: A Practical Guide to Enlightenment Based on the Teachings of the World’s Great Mystics. (I am linking to Lulu instead of Amazon since they have a better price.)
Joel was one of my teachers at the Center for Sacred Sciences in Eugene, Oregon, when I lived there. And his book shows a good and practical understanding of the awakening process, including different core practices from the main spiritual traditions in the world.
I want to add a couple of minor caveats: The book is perhaps slightly “heady”, and he doesn’t thoroughly address spiritual crises or dark nights as he may not have gone through it himself. Also, there are aspects of certain traditions and practices he doesn’t quite get (for instance koan study) since he never practiced within these traditions himself. That said, this is not a reason to not get his book. The book is an excellent overview and has many very valuable practical pointers.
For more about Joel, see his Buddha at the Gas Pump interview.
And if you are interested, Naked Through the Gate is a great read about his own life and awakening process. His process was somewhat unusual in that his main spiritual guide came to him in dreams and not waking life.
I want to end with a brief note about the title. Selflessness is conventionally understood as setting your own needs aside (for a while) to benefit others or the larger whole. In contrast, selflessness in the context of awakening refers to an absence of any separate self, and noticing and realizing it, reorienting within this new(ly discovered) context, and living from it in more and more situations.
Excuse me, I’m sorry to bother you but don’t I know you?
There’s just something about you. Haven’t we met before?
We’ve been in love forever.
When we got to the top of the hill we saw Rome burning.
I just let you walk away. I’ve never forgiven myself.
I saw you on the steps in Paris, you were with someone else.
Couldn’t you see that should’ve been me? I just walked on by.
Then we met in ’42 but we were on different sides.
I hid you under my bed but they took you away.
I lost you in a London smog as you crossed the lane.
I never know where you’re gonna be next but I know that you’ll surprise me.
Come with me, I’ll find some rope and I’ll tie us together.– Kate Bush, Snowed in at Wheeler Street
I’ve been waiting for you so long, I don’t want to lose you again.
Don’t walk into the crowd again. Don’t walk away again.
I don’t want to lose you.
I don’t want to lose you.
This is a beautiful and somewhat heart-wrenching song. And leave it to Kate Bush to create something as beautiful, sensual, unusual, and slightly bonkers in the best possible way.
This is one of the few love stories – in western pop-culture – that continues across lifetimes.
My best guess is that we live more than once. And if we do, it’s likely that we sometimes meet again, and some of us continue our love across lives – as lovers and through other kinds of relationships.
As I have written about before, there are a few aspects to the reincarnation or re-birth idea that is worth looking at.
First, whether it’s reality or not is a question best left to research. And at some universities, they do actually do research on this. (Only considering the importance of the topic, you would think most or all universities would have a research program on this topic. It may happen in the future as – or if – our collective world-view becomes less exclusively materialistic and the stigma goes out of this and related topics.)
At a psychological level, our ideas about our own past lives are very valuable since they mirror something in us here and now. For instance, although this song is beautiful, heartfelt, and very human, it also does reflect painful beliefs. And even if I didn’t write these lyrics, they still resonate and I can use them as a pointer and reminder to take a look at this in myself. It’s an invitation to find healing for emotional around aloneness, not being worthy of love, being unfortunate, things going wrong, loss, and so on. (These are quite universal and I have some of all of those, I am no exception.)
As anything found in a religion or spiritual tradition, ideas about reincarnation have also been used to regulate groups and society. This has been helpful in some ways, although it comes with a shadow side. For instance, it’s also used to control people and justify injustice – for instance, the caste system India.
Personally, I find the idea of innumerable lives very helpful, and not just as projection objects. When I notice something in me that’s not healed and/or not awake (which happens all the time), I see that there is no time like the present. Now, I have the tools and time to invite in healing and awakening. If I put it off, I’ll just have to do it later in this life, or in a future life where I may not have the same opportunity to work with it.
Finally, if there is reincarnation – and we have many lives – it’s really the divine taking on all these forms. What continues between the lives are subtle energy structures allowing the divine to temporarily express itself as a being and take itself to be a separate being. It’s all part of lila. It’s the play of the divine.
I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.– Toni Morrison
Photo by Angela Radulescu – Toni_Morrison_2008.jpg, CC BY-SA 2.0,
Spirituality is simply a way of indicating that we’re plunging beyond the personal consciousness. The depth of our being is just astonishing.– Adyashanti, Silent Retreat Vol. 70
There are many definitions of spirituality, and the most basic one is perhaps Adya’s definition above. Spirituality suggests that we are going, or intend to go, beyond the personal human being and into something wider. Whether that is our human community, our Earth community (nature and Earth as a whole), the Universe as a whole, or Existence as a whole. And whether it is to connect with this larger whole, take it into account, live as if it matters, expand our sense of “us” to include all there is, or – ultimately – find ourselves as that, and this human being as an expression of it.
What does cosmic consciousness refer to?
I don’t really know. I assume people use it to mean slightly different things, and perhaps some use it without having a good sense of what it refers to.
When I was sixteen, what I am (and what everyone and everything is) woke up to itself locally and through this human being. It wasn’t as thorough as it can be, and certainly not as embodied as it can be. But it was a start, or at least a kind of milestone in the process.
The way it happened could be called cosmic consciousness. There was a very clear and strong sense – or realization – of the whole universe being one. It was the one waking up to itself as all of it. There was a very strong cosmic sense or flavor to it.
There was no omni-anything. No omniscience. No omnipresence. Just the one waking up to itself as it all, locally, through and as this human self, with the same sensory input and the same thoughts and conventional information as before.
Later, and after several more shifts and movements, this oneness became much more simple, quiet, and ordinary. There is still oneness but without the fireworks and the bells and whistles.
I am wondering if what we sometimes call cosmic consciousness refers to this early form of awakening, the one with fireworks and bells and whistles. The one that hasn’t yet settled and become more ordinary and unremarkable. (Although it is also completely remarkable.)
What were some of the bells and whistles in my case? Mainly, the intensity of it. It was very intense, and the cosmic feeling was very strong and in the forefront. There was also an experience of very strong energies going through my body. (I remember describing it as high voltage going through regular housing wires.) I could see energies around people, animals, plants, and inanimate objects. (The “inanimate” objects were also revealed as the divine or consciousness so not really inanimate.) And I also discovered I could do (sometimes surprisingly effective) distance or energy healing.
There was also an experience of a constant “download” of insights and information, mostly of the perennial philosophy and psychology variety, but also art. I had little to no exposure to spirituality or what I later understood was called the perennial philosophy back then. And I was passionate about drawing and painting at the time.
These are what Adyashanti calls side-effects of awakening. They vary a bit from person to person, and some experience them more than others. They are not really important in themselves.
It’s natural for the mind to be fascinated by them, but that eventually — and sometimes with a bit of struggle – wears out.
The answer is yes, and no, and it depends, and we don’t really know.
Yes, the simple essence is perhaps more or less timeless and universal. It’s all the divine. And the divine, locally as us, can discover that – and live now from it – through sincerity and basic practices and pointers.
No, a lot in spirituality (and especially religion) is not timeless. Religions come and go. Spiritual taurine come and go. Specific practices come and go. The specific context all of it is understood within comes and goes.
It depends on what we are taking about. As said before, some of the basics – in terms of understanding, practices, and pointer – seem more universal and timeless. And a lot is more specific to a time, culture, and tradition.
And more honestly, we don’t know any of this for certain. Even what seems more timeless and universal can and will change. It changes with the time we are in, our culture, and our general worldviews and understanding of really.
Is it likely that spirituality, and even more so religions, will be quite different in a distant future? Yes. Is it likely that if there is life other places in the universe, and interested in these things, they will have a different take on this? Yes. And is it still likely that the essence may be somewhat similar? I would say yes to that too.
What do I see as relatively timeless and universal?
The main is that all is the divine. Existence – including us and all our experience – is the divine exploring, expressing, and experiencing itself.
Spirituality, at least the typical human version, is about helping the divine – locally as us – rediscover this and live more from this in daily life. This too is part of Lila, the play of the divine.
And what about spiritual practices? These are a little more tied to a time, place, and tradition, but there are perhaps some universals here too.
Guidelines for our life. (For social and community reasons, but also to minimize distractions and help us mimicking view we naturally live when we are more clear and healed).
Devotional practices like song and chants, mantras, prayer, and some forms of meditation. (This includes all forms of mediation and other practices when done with devotion.)
Contemplation, inquiry and pointers.
Basic forms of mediation. For instance, notice and allow whatever is happening within content of experience. (And, with time, what it all happens within and as.)
Training a more stable attention, which helps us in spiritual practice and all areas of life.
Gratitude and forgiveness practices, and working with projections, like some forms of prayer (“thank you”), all-inclusive gratitude practice, Tonglen, and ho’oponopono.
Body-inclusive practices like dance, yoga, tai chi and chigong.
Subtle-energy practices through any form of inner yoga, and as found in traditional Indian yoga, tai chi, and chigong. (I would include Vortex Healing as an example.)
And (emotional) healing practices to remove blocks to noticing what we are and living from it.
Of course, I say these are more universal and timeless, but I am very aware that different traditions emphasize these differently, have different ways of doing each of them, and that this list reflects my own preferences, interests, and what I have found useful and helpful.
The mind wants this or that, but the heart just wants to go home.– Marianne Williamson
Yes, our mind tells itself it wants all sorts of things. And yet, it’s one thing we really want and that is to come home.
What does it mean to come home?
For me, it means befriending my experience as it is here and now. It means befriending previously disowned parts of me. It means becoming more comfortable with my experience in general. And it happens when I notice what I am, and everything is, and allow all parts of me and my experience to soak in it and realign within it.
I may generally notice and realize that all is the divine, and yet I sometimes exclude something from it.
That points to an unresolved issue in me, something in me that I can invite in healing and awakening for.
Not surprisingly, when it happens, it’s sometimes more visible to others than it is to myself. It sometimes takes someone to point it out to me before I take it seriously. (And I may, at first, feel a bit defensive when it’s pointed out to me. Although I secretly know it’s true and I am grateful.)
I exclude something from oneness in my view and in my behavior. I perceive or act as if something or someone is not part of oneness. As if it’s somehow excluded from the divine.
It’s very natural, it’s very ordinary, and it’s probably a part of any awakening process.
It reminds me to keep going with the awakening, healing, and embodiment. It’s a reminder to include more and more parts of me in the awakening and healing.
How does it look? Here are some examples:
I see someone inn the world my conditioning doesn’t like, reject and condemn them, and “forget” that this person is also an expression of the divine. (When I recognize the oneness also here, I can still condemn an behavior and take appropriate steps to prevent the person from harming others. But I don’t need to condemn or reject the person, and I don’t need to forget that this person too is the divine.)
I reject something in myself. I avoid feeling it. I may not (like to) acknowledge it’s here. I see it as a problem. I may ignore it or try to get rid of it. I ignore my knowing that this too is the divine, and (mostl likely) do so to avoid pain.
I made a bad decision at a crossroads in life. I even went against my clear inner guidance. And I tell myself I went against what life or the divine wanted me to do. I am caught in regret and self-blame. And I am unable to see that this too was and is the divine. That this too was, in a sense, divine will. I may also overlook that this experience can helps me to go deeper – in healing, humanizing, maturing, awakening, and embodiment.
When I remind myself that “this too is the divine”, notice it, and allow it to sink in, it’s the context that changes. And this shift allows me to relate to it differently. Often with less reactivity and with a little more sanity and kindness.
Recognizing these people, parts of me, and situations as the divine doesn’t rule out sane and decisive action. On the contrary, it helps me be more clear and grounded in how I relate to it and in my actions.
All maps are projections.
They are projections in a few different ways.
First, they are projections of our ideas. They are an overlay of ideas and thoughts that the mind puts on (it’s images of) the world. This helps us orient and function in the world, and is essential for our survival.
Often, they are also projections of our own characteristics and qualities. We can find in ourselves the characteristics we see in the wider world. It may not be as strong or explicit, but it’s here if we look.
And sometimes, our maps are expressions of our unresolved emotional issues. They express our hopes and fears, how we would like the world and ourselves to be, and what we fear it may be.
We have many different maps of ourselves, the world, and our place in the world – whether they are formal or informal; explicit or implicit; about the world, ourselves, or our relationship with the world; and whether we recognize them as maps or not.
Some maps are explicit and what we typically call maps. For instance, political and geographical maps.
Some maps may not be what we think of as maps. For instance, some ways we categorize people (politically, social status, friends or not etc.); our mental timeline of past-present-future; and our general world-view (materialistic, heaven and hell, afterlife, reincarnation, planetary influences, gods, God, nondual), and so on.
Some maps are mostly outside of our conscious awareness – and may even be contrary to our conscious ideas about the world, although they still have a major impact on how we experience the world and ourselves. These are often (somewhat charged) ideas about other people, ourselves, and the world as a whole.
Most of our maps are shared with others in our family, subculture, and culture. Some may be shared with most of humanity. And even the ones that may seem unique to us are probably shared with many others.
It’s often useful to recognize our explicit and implicit maps as maps. It helps us hold them more lightly and not invest so much identity and fears and hopes into them. At least at a conscious level, we know they are used by our mind to make sense of the world. They are questions about the world, leave a lot out, and are not in any way the final word.
Also, recognizing our maps as projections can help us get to know and understand ourselves better. We can use them as pointers for healing for ourselves as individuals and even for us as a society.
Here are some examples.
I have a mental map of past-present-future. And yet, it’s created by my mind and is an idea, and it happens here and now. My map and what I place on the map all happens here and now. This helps me hold my ideas of past, future, and present – and what happened or may happen –more lightly.
I may have mental maps inherited from my culture that rank people based on (relatively superficial) characteristics like gender, ethnicity, politics, religion and so on. It’s helpful to recognize this, question its validity, and find all of it in myself.
I may have religious maps – of heaven and hell, afterlife, reincarnation, divine beings and so on, and myself in relation to it. Again, it helps to see that these are maps. They are projection of ideas into (my image of) the world. This helps me hold it all more lightly. And here too, I can use these maps to find it all already in me and my experience, and perhaps to point to some unresolved issues (fears, hopes) in me.
I may have esoteric maps of planetary influences, divine beings, energies, energy systems and so on. The same goes here for holding it more lightly and finding it all – the images and anything charged about it – in myself.
A map can even be of a situation. I may have a mental map of a situation where I see myself as wronged or a victim, and that map is part of what holds the pain or trauma in place. These are the types of maps is helpful to identify and investigate in a healing process.
I can still use all of these maps. We need maps to orient and function in the world. And yet, it’s helpful to recognize them as maps and sometimes explore them as projections. It helps us hold them more lightly. It helps us question their validity and perhaps replace them with other maps that are more helpful. It helps us find it all – what we see in the world – in ourselves. And it may point to something unresolved in us we can find healing for.