Increasingly alone at the surface, and at home in the depth

 

Writing the previous post, I realize that the process of loneliness and belonging happens on three levels…

First at our identity level, where we first move out of conventional identities and into more widely embracing ones, and then out of identities altogether. The identities are there, but not identified with. This can give a sense of social loneliness, of not being able to really believe in group or conventional identities anymore, because they are revealed as too narrow, and not being able to even believe in the solidity of the human drama… because we see through, and have found peace with, the drama in our own life.

Then, as human beings, where we deepen into more of who we are which is also our shared humanity. At this level, we find ourselves as part of the human community, recognizing in you what I find in me, and the other way around. This opens for a deepening recognition and empathy, which can be both painful and sweet. Here, there is deepening sense of belonging at our human level, below all the many surface manifestations and differences.

Finally, as Spirit, I find myself as awake emptiness and form absent of a separate self. There is only the Ground which already and always free to allow any and all surface manifestations. This is the final homecoming. The final release of any sense of I and Other.

Individuation and connections

 

As we mature and develop, we naturally grow beyond conventional identities, and eventually beyond identities themselves. First, we shed the conventional ones of gender, age, social norms, and so on. Eventually, our identification may go out of identities altogether, finding ourselves as awake emptiness allowing a fluidity of any and all identities.

Increasingly lonely

As this happens, we find ourselves increasingly alone, at least in a certain way…

  • We cannot find belonging or comfort through group identities or by blindly following social norms (nor in breaking them)
  • Our views and experiences are often not aligned with conventional views
  • We don’t play the game of narrow identification anymore
  • We don’t play the game of splits so much, seeing me as right and you as wrong
  • The typical human drama, with all its variations, has less and less charge for us (which sometimes makes us dull, although understanding, companions for those caught up in it)
  • We have to stand on our own feet

This process has many rewards, and we do find companions on the way. Freed from much of the drama, there is a new clarity and new aspects of existence and our human life opens up to us.

And deepening sense of belonging and connection

And although it may leave us lonely in some of these ways, not being able to believe in group identities and less caught up in the human drama, it also brings a deepening sense of belonging and connection.

As I learn about what I see in you in myself, as more and more of what I am is included in my conscious view on myself, I deepen into my own humanity, which is also our shared humanity. I find myself in you, and you in me. We are perfect mirrors for each other. There is a deepening into the sweetness, and sometimes pain, of our shared humanity.

And as identification goes out of identities altogether, finding myself as awake emptiness and form, and as emptiness as the Ground of it all, there is another deepening into intimacy. This one, as an intimacy with my life, with Existence itself. First, as a growing sense of no separation, as oneness. And then through the falling away of the core identity as a separate self, allowing wide open space for anything arising, without any sense of separation.

This is the deep homecoming. The final release of any sense of I and Other.

Increasingly lonely on the surface, and increasingly at home in the depth

So there is a process of being increasingly lonely on the surface of it, in society. Not being able to wholeheartedly play along with the games of separation anymore.

There is a process of a deepening and more intimate connection with oneself and others, through a widening embrace of who I am as a human being.

And a process of any sense of separation falling away, leaving only the wide open space for anything to arise, the void already and always allowing it all.

The Buddha growing up

 

Filtered through a relatively mature human being, an awakening to what we are (as Spirit, Big Mind, Brahman, headless, awake emptiness and form absent of separate I) can show up in some broad ways.

What we are as not awakened to itself, hidden by strong and narrow identifications

First, a noticing of what we are can be nonexistent. When there is a relatively complete and exclusive identification with our human self, there is not much room for noticing ourselves as Spirit. Spirit may break through occasionally, through drugs, sex, ritual, nature and so on, but these are interpreted as anomalities and usually as completely “other” (which is good, otherwise there would be inflation.)

What we are as other or “no separation”, within the context of a sense of separate self

Then, it can show up as other yet more present, and gradually as with “no separation.” Awareness is more present, but still slightly as other. Or I may find myself in periods as awareness, or awake space, or awake emptiness, with what arises as form as distant, or as arising within and to awareness, or as no other than awareness itself. There is still a sense of a separate I here, at least most of the time, although it may appear subtle, vague and transparent.

Awakening to what we are, and sense of I clearly seen as just an idea

Then, in a more full awakening to what we are, we find ourselves as awake emptiness, and whatever forms arising as no other than this awake emptiness. Any sense of a separate I is clearly seen as coming only from a belief in the idea of a separate I, often placed on the perceptual center (head area) of this human individual. Now, this idea of a separate I, along with the perceptual center and this human being, all arises within the field of awake emptiness and form, and as no other than awake emptiness itself. There is just a field inherently free from center and any separate I or self.

Expressed in the world as the Brilliant Sun of awakening

At first, although it can be a very clear awakening, it is also expressed in relatively immature ways through our human self. It is a baby Buddha which needs time to develop and mature in its expression. In Zen, this clear but also relatively immature expression of an awakening to what we are is called the Brilliant Sun of enlightenment. It is the child and youth stage of the Buddha and often shows up in the world in flashy ways.

Deepening into the Hazy Moon of awakening

As this awakening matures, as the Buddha grows up, this awakening to what we are also includes a more full awakening as who we are. It includes a deepening into who we are as an individual human being and soul (alive presence), expressed in the world as a maturing into the fullness and evolving wholeness of our human life. It is a deepening into who we are, into becoming more and more fully and deeply human, within the context of the awakening to what we are. This is the Hazy Moon of awakening, the awakening which comes through a deeply ordinary, mature and seasoned human being, a human being which appears in the world as (at first) nothing special, apart from being thoroughly and deeply human. Of course, over time, there is the realization in the wider world that this ordinariness, depth and maturity is indeed remarkable, maybe the most remarkable of any of the many ways an awakening can be expressed.

Deepening into who we are, before and after an awakening into what we are

In real life, the sequence is of course not always clearly laid out like this.

For instance, the deepening and maturing into who we are happens before and after an awakening into what we are. And to the extent it happens prior to a more full and clear awakening it allows for a more rapid shift into the hazy moon of awakening.

A gradual awakening to and exploring of who we are as human and soul helps with this maturing and seasoning. The more we know ourselves in the fullness of our evolving human self, and the more we allow our human self to be reorganized within the alive presence, the more it heals, develops, deepens and matures.

A deepening into who we are aiding the expression of an awakening as what we are

When an awakening into what we are is filtered through a relatively immature individual, it will appear in the world as immature. And when it is filtered through a more seasoned, mature and deeply human individual, it is expressed in a more seasoned, mature and deeply human way.

And this can only aid its expression in the world.

It allows for a more differentiated and fluid use of tools and approaches, and for a deeper and more real connection with others, and this is more potent in alleviating the suffering for others, and also help them awaken to what they are (or rather, for what is to awaken to itself through them.)

The impulse to help

After, and often long before, an awakening into what we are, there is a natural impulse to help others, a natural compassion expressed in various activities in the world.

It all arises as an inherently selfless field of wakeful emptiness and form, as inherently absent of any separate self. And since what arises are individuals where what is has not yet awakened to itself, there is a natural impulse to help alleviate the suffering experienced (the suffering is really nothing than awake emptiness but is taken and experienced as real so worth alleviating) and to aid in what is to awaken to itself through those individuals (as long as these individuals seek it out and are interested.)

So if there is any concern with helping others, there is also a concern with allowing our only tool for this – our individual human self – to deepen, heal, develop, differentiate, mature and season. And this happens through a deepening into who we are, as an individual human being and soul.

The more honed our tool is, the more effective it can be in the world.

Embracing both, before and after an awakening into what we are

For many reasons, it makes sense to emphasize both an awakening into who we are, as individual human and soul, and what we are, as Spirit.

A deepening into who we are is enjoyable in itself and it reduces suffering. It allows knots to untie, releasing identification, which reveals more of what we are. And it allows for a more mature and seasoned tool for a more full awakening of what we are. There are benefits all around.

An awakening into what we are is not only the final release from suffering, but also allows for a deepening into who we are. When there is less identifications and drama, who we are can unfold in a more free way, and deepen more easily into its evolving fullness as a human being and as a soul.

Mutual influence

Deepening into who we are reduces suffering, aids in an awakening to what we are, and allows an awakening to what we are to be expressed in a more mature and seasoned way. And awakening into what we are removes (identification with) suffering, and allows for a deepening into who we are.

Again, there is a beautiful symmetry here, of one aiding the other.

Alchemy: the metals of the world in the process of becoming gold

 

In an alchemical text (don’t remember which one), it apparently says that all metals in the world are in the process of becoming gold. Translated, it means that everything in us is already in a process of awakening, although it is a very slow process which can be speeded up by various alchemical processes – mainly by bringing the prima materia, the stuff of our lives, into awareness, and then explore, differentiate, and bring it into a more conscious wholeness.

The big picture: awakening to who and what we are

This journey which each part goes through is an aspect of the overall process from unconscious and undifferentiated wholeness, through a split and partial consciousness, through active work and exploration of each aspect and their relationships, to a conscious and differentiated whole.

There is always and already the whole of what we are, and this is eventually noticed in awakening to ourselves as Big Mind. And then there is a conscious and differentiated whole of who we are, as individual human beings and soul, which only comes about through active exploration, by digging into it, living it, working through it, engaging actively in it – gradually healing, developing and maturing as individuals.

Awakening as what we are can happen at any point, and is independent of content, including of how or who we are. But awakening as who we are is a long, gradual process.

At our human level, it is one of individualization, of differentiating and exploring each pole in each polarity, and then the polarity as a whole, of developing and maturing as a human being. At our soul level, it is a process of becoming familiar with ourselves as soul, as alive presence, in all its many facets, and how this influences and transforms who we are as human beings.

Impulses for awakening to who and what we are

It seems that for those who actively explore this process, there is an experience – or realization? – of everything inside and outside of us being an invitation, or an impulse, to awaken more to who and what we are.

Some simple examples of this is active imagination, where any dream or fantasy is a path to bringing aspects of us into awareness, and becoming more familiar with and embracing a polarity in ourselves and our life and not only its separate poles. The same is the case with Process Work, although in a more comprehensive and extended way, where we find that anything in our life, no matter how apparently insignificant, is an impulse towards awakening more to who and what we are. And the same is the case with The Work, where any stress in our life is an invitation to awaken to who (whole process) and what (question #4) we are.

I also notice this when I am just curious about what arises in me, and explore it – allowing it to unfold a little bit.

Example: impulse to death and rebirth

For instance, if this personality has a great deal of resistance to being with a particular experience, I notice an impulse towards death (sounds more dramatic than it necessarily is.) And this impulse can of course be interpreted in different ways by the personality, for instance of wanting the situation (the trigger) to change or go away, or of me to change or go away, or of how I relate to it to change or go away. I want to remove the trigger (by doing something in the world), myself (for instance by distracting myself or going unconscious), or how I relate to it (through working on myself.)

The basic impulse is an impulse towards death, and it can be interpreted in all of these forms, some of which works better than other, and some effects which are more superficial and temporary than others. In this context of anything being an invitation to awakening more to who and what we are, the essence of the impulse is an invitation to allow our limited, and limiting, beliefs and identifications to die.

The stress comes from a discrepancy between our stories of what is and how it should be (all coming from beliefs and identities), so the stress is an invitation to notice this, actively explore our beliefs and identities – through the many ways available – until they soften or fall away on their own.

Of course, this impulse can equally well be seen as an impulse towards life. Any fixed belief and identity limits a sense of aliveness, and when it falls away, there is a sense of liberation and more life.

For me, if there is a great deal of resistance and I get caught up in it, it seems – initially, before working on it, as an impulse to death. And as there is more space and clarity around it, or if there is this space and clarity around it from the beginning, it seems more an impulse to life. They are two aspects of the same process of death (of beliefs and identities) and rebirth (more free from these beliefs and identities.)

The path of untying knots

 

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

Only noticing or invoking who and what we are

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

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

Only untying knots

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

Together

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

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

Untying knots works at all levels

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

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

Shifting of who and what in foreground

 

I am noticing how who and what I am shift in being in the foreground.

When who I am (individual) is in the foreground, the what (Spirit/Ground) is either less noticed, or comes up as a context, a sense of time/spacelessness. The personal arises within and as the universal.

When what I am is in the foreground, the individual arises within the field, as a grain of sand in the Sahara, or one thread in a vast tapestry. There is a sense of the impersonal and universal even in the individual.

The shifts are usually quite gentle and happen throughout the day, especially if I sometimes remind myself of headlessness – as capacity for the world. Then the personal is in the foreground as I am engaged in different tasks, shifting into the impersonal in the foreground as I notice my headlessness.

Deepening into the ordinariness of what and who I am

 

Our path is in many ways one of continuously discovering more of what and who we are, which can seem remarkable at first, and then deepening into the ordinariness of it.

Discovering, and then deepening into the ordinariness, of what we are, as the field of seeing and seen, of awake emptiness and form, centerless and selfless… allowing our individual self to reorganize, mature and develop within this context.

And of who we are and can be, as individual souls and human selves, embracing the whole of it right now, and as it unfolds and develops over time. At our human level, it means deepening into the ordinariness of being human, embracing and owning more of what we are, which is not so different from what we all are.

Together, there is the ordinariness of Big Mind awake to itself, functioning through an individual soul and human self. And the ordinariness of this human self, as increasingly more mature, rounded and deeply human.

Wings of Desire

 

I finally watched Wings of Desire tonight, and besides being a beautifully filmed, poetic and deeply human story, it also has some parallels to some of the things I have written about here recently.

The angels in the movie bear witness to human lives, and also consoles, they provide a gentle and quiet presence. And this reflects the wakeful aspect of Spirit, as pure awareness, and also how (it seems) we experience the soul, or essence, as an alive presence, tangible, quiet, supporting, nourishing.

At the same time, there is nothing more (some of) these angels wants than to fully experience an embodied human life, and many of them do as Peter Falk mentions. And we also see one of the main characters choose a human life.

There is a desire for Spirit and soul (essence) to fuse into human life, for all three to be alive as one, in this individual life. For it to awaken to what it is (Spirit), and who it is (individual soul and human), alive, fused, deepening and maturing into and as this human life.

Food and digestion

 

My partner is watching a movie for a language class she is taking, and the movie – with its violence and sense of impending doom – does not sit so well with her. And at the same time, she is smart enough to see that it is less about the movie itself, and more about how she receives it.

The analogy with food and digestion seems quite close…

Any experience is food, and how we relate to the experiences is how this food is digested.

So if our coping mechanisms are not so well developed, then many types of experiences will be difficult for us, even traumatic. And the more developed they are, the more types of food are OK, or even nourishing.

Ultimately, any type of experience can be deeply nourishing, although this requires not only that we awaken to what we are (realized selflessness) but also a great deal of maturity in who we are, as an individual.

If there is only an awakening to what we are, then the experience just sails through us with few or no hooks. It is teflon land. But it does not mean that it is deeply nourishing on a human level.

For it to be deeply nourishing, we need to digest it also as who we are, as an individual. Use it to mature as a soul and human being, to become more deeply human.

Insatiable as who and what I am

 

Both as what (Spirit) and who (individual soul/human) we are, we seem to be insatiable…

I notice this most recently in exploring music (through Last.fm, online radio, and other sources).

There is a deep and quiet exitment and satisfaction in exploring all this music from all over the world, having it at my fingertips, in my living room, being able to share it with others who have similar taste (or not.)

As who I am

As who I am, part of the satisfaction is to explore different parts of myself through this music, especially that of other cultures. I experience myself differently through this music, as I experience myself differently through the larger world in general… any situation, any relationship, any interaction, any engagement, any music, literature, theater, movie… all of these allows me to experience myself and the world differently… bringing new aspects and qualities out.

As what I am

And as what I am, it is the same. The infinite variety of the world of form allows me, as awake emptiness and form, to experience myself in, through and as this infinite variety. Why would awake emptiness arise as form, if not to experience itself as form…?

Awakening to what I am, while embracing who I am

By the way, this is where many approaches to spirituality seem to be a little one-sided. It is true that to awaken as what we (already) are, we need to disidentify with all our (fixed, limited) identities, to die to what we have taken ourselves as, to let go of beliefs in thoughts and ideas.

But this does not exclude living a full life. On the contrary, it allows us to live a far more full life, as who and what we are, in and through this human life. It is fully possible to disidentify from fixed identities, and let go of beliefs, in the midst of a full life.

Awakening to what I am, and experiencing without holding on

What they got right is that to explore life only as who we are does not give any lasting or complete satisfaction. Something will always seem to be missing, and that is awakening to what we are. And in awakening to what we are, we allow anything… There is an absence of holding on, no pushing away, of anything in the world of form.

We can be insatiable, just allowing what arises to arise, without holding on, without pushing away. Just experiencing (and enjoying) our form aspect, as this individual and the wider world, independent of its particulars.

Insatiable?

The word insatiable has connotations of craving, desiring, clinging. When these are blind, it means that we have not yet awakened to what we are.

Here, I am using insatiable in a more free and loose sense, to include Spirit arising as, and experiencing and exploring itself as form. Spirit is “insatiable” only in that it arises as and in innumerable forms, always as new. But since there is no Other here, there is also no clinging.