Welcome to Mystery of Existence

This is a personal exploration into the mystery of existence. Feel free to share your insights and comments or ask questions. Enjoy 🙂

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I take private clients. If you have questions about doing a session, or would like to schedule, please contact me. Most sessions are over Skype or Zoom.

Through my work with individual clients and groups in a professional setting, I have helped many with anxiety, depression, and compulsions, and also in clarifying or stabilizing spiritual openings or awakenings.

It’s not who you are

 

And remember, it’s not who you are.

When I worked at a clinic a little while back, one of my co-workers would say this to clients after they did the enneagram test. (We used the test so we wouldn’t overlook some possible core issues for the clients.) He would say it mostly to pique their curiosity, to counter their tendency to take the results as who they are, and also because it’s accurate.

When I find my enneagram types according to an online test, in what way is it who I am? The results do hint at how I cope with core issues from my childhood.

And in what way is it not who I am?

It’s not who I am because the test may give different results depending on when I do it and which situation(s) I have in mind when I answer the questions. So in a limited enneagram context, the results may not be who I (always) am.

It’s not who I am because I am a whole human being and the enneagram types only touch upon aspects of who I am and how I am in the world. (What it does address is partly how I typically cope with core wounds from childhood.)

I am not destined by what the test points to. Yes, I may have those dynamics in me and tend to use those coping mechanisms, but when I become aware of it, and when I find more healing for the core issues behind it, I can relate to these dynamics in me more consciously. I may find myself living differently.

Beyond the human, there is what I am. That which any experience, including what the enneagram types point to, happens within and as. In this context, I am also not limited to any enneagram type or any label at all.

And this goes for any personality test, any label, any role we have in society. It’s not who we are. It may or may not be accurate in a conventional sense. And as who (human self) and what (Big Mind) we are, we are far more, different, and not defined by it.

So what enneagram types am I? When I do the tests, my most prominent ones tend to be 9 and 1. Peacemaker and perfectionist. When I grew up, I was taught to avoid conflict (peacemaker) and that doing things well was safe (perfectionist). So by seeking peace and perfection, I can avoid conflict (which I am scared of) and also failing or being disapproved of (which I am also scared of). These types suggest that if I want to work on core emotional issues, I may do well to address conflict avoidance and fear of being unloved or disapproved of, and the early childhood situations where I learned this.

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What is the present?

 

I saw a couple of videos about what the present is. Is it what happens right this millisecond? Or these few seconds? Or even minutes?

When I look at my experience of time, I find an overlay of thoughts (images and words about what happens in time) on top of another overlay of thoughts (an image of a timeline), on top of what’s happening in the other sense fields.

For past and future, it’s a series of images and words on top of the timeline either stretching back in time or forward in time, with sensations lending it a sense of substance, solidity, and reality.

For the present, it’s images and words on top of the “present” part of the timeline (the middle), and if the present is what’s happening in my immediate surroundings, then these are on top of what’s happening in sight, sound, taste, smell, and sensations. And, again, sensations lend these thoughts about the present as sense of solidity, reality, and truth.

So it doesn’t really matter how “long” the present is. It’s created in thought, as is past and future. In a sense, it’s imagined. And at the same time, our ability to imagine the past, future, and present is vital for us functioning in the world. We need it to orient, learn from the past, imagine different futures, and relate to what’s happening here and now.

And it does help to recognize that this is what’s happening, as it’s happening. It helps us hold it all more lightly.

The Living Inquiries is what I have found most helpful for exploring this in detail. And when I have found it, in depth, one or more times, it’s easier to notice it as it happens, in daily life.

When people say “be present” or “stay in the present”, what do they mean? It may mean to stay with what’s happening here and now, and that’s often helpful. But really, it means to notice that my mind creates an idea of a timeline, and then places other thoughts on top of it to populate my past, future, and present. I notice how my mind creates its idea of time and what happens in time, and that it’s all happening in immediacy.

Even if I am absorbed into thoughts about past, future, or present, one little noticing is all that’s needed for me to see that it’s all happening in immediacy, here now. My attention can be absorbed into thoughts about past, future, and present, and I can notice that’s what’s happening. And that helps me hold it all with a lighter touch.

One thing I like about this approach is that it’s pragmatic. It’s relatively easy to notice, especially through some guided inquiry. And it fits the understanding of modern psychology (although it’s still in its infancy) and even common sense.

At the same time, my impression is that many people tend to see past, future, and (their ideas of the) present as real, solid, and true. There is a past, future, and present, as it seems to us, and it’s populated with, more or less, what we think it’s populated with. That’s an understandable assumption, and it’s one that can only survive as long as we don’t take a closer look.

I also find the idea of time travel interesting. As a story device or a thought experiment, it can be very entertaining and even illuminating. If we take it as anything more than that, it means we assume there is an actual, real and solid past and future as a “thing”, that it’s somehow stored somewhere, and that we can conceivably visit it. That’s an example of taking our mental timeline of past, future, and present, investing it with a sense of solidity (through associating it with sensations), and taking that sense of a solid and real timeline as actually true and real “out there” somewhere, as a place we can visit. Again, this impression can only survive for as long as we don’t take a closer look.

A common-sense approach to awakening

 

Here is what I see as a common-sense approach to awakening. One that may even work for people who have a relatively conventional wordview but also curiosity and an interest in what’s true in their immediate experience.

In our immediate experience, we are consciousness and any experience we have happens within and as this consciousness.

This is the case whether we notice it or not. (If we don’t notice it, we tend to take ourselves to be this human being that happens within our content of experience, but that’s only until we have investigated it.)

And this is the case independent of what wordview we tell ourselves we have, whether it’s a religious or spiritual one, or atheist, or materialistic, or whatever it may be.

When we notice this, we have a choice. Should I still keep it uninvestigated and take myself to primarily be this human self that happens within my experience, or do I want to investigate it and see what happens? Do I want to see for myself what I find, and what transformations it may bring?

Either choice is perfectly OK. The second option is – at least so far in our culture – mostly just for especially interested people. Those who have an inexplicable draw or calling to investigate it.

If we wish to explore it, we again have a choice. Do I want to follow a more traditional spiritual path and take it as a spiritual adventure, or do I wish to explore it more as a scientist without the extras (the spiritual add-ons)?

Again, either one is perfectly OK. And we can also combine both, as I have. Use insights, pointers, and practices from a range of spiritual traditions, and approaching it more as a scientist.

When we chose to explore it, it’s all about what we find in our own immediate experience, what’s true for us in our immediate experience. It’s typically a process of….

  • Noticing what we are. (Aka consciousness.)
  • Notice that any content of experience happens within and as what we are.
  • Inviting our “center of gravity” to shift (a) out of taking ourselves to primarily be something within content of experience and (b) into that which allows and is all of it. (This tends to happen in glimpses at first, and then gradually more stably over time.)
  • Inviting all our human parts to align with this new context. This typically involves healing of these parts of us and how we relate to them. (Healing, maturing, embodiment.)
  • Live from this new context. (Embodiment.)

All of this is a process. It’s an ongoing exploration, clarification, healing, maturing, and embodiment.

I won’t go into how we can do this since most of my articles are on aspects of that topic.

But I will say that there are two ways of seeing this process.

The essence is the same in either case: Notice what we already are, notice all experience happens within and as this, invite the center of gravity of what we take ourselves to be to shift into this, invite our human parts to realign with this new context, and bring it into daily life and explore how to live from it.

We can stay close to our experience and leave it at that. In immediacy, I am what all my experience happens within and as. I am capacity for it all. Since this is what I can call consciousness, it seems that all – the whole world, all beings, the universe – is consciousness. I can even call it love, or bliss, since that’s as true as the word consciousness. (A quiet love and bliss – through and as all of what we are – is a natural side-effect of noticing what we are.)

And yet, if I am honest I know it seems that way because of what I am. I am what we can call consciousness, so everything seems like consciousness to me. That’s about all I can say. And, of course, any ideas of an I in a world, and projections and anything else, happens within and as what I am.

If we are so inclined, we can take it one step further and say that all of existence IS consciousness (and love, bliss, Spirit, the divine). This is the more poetic approach and the approach of most traditional mystics. The benefit is that it has a rich tradition, and it does fit our immediate experience. The drawback may be that it can seem less attractive to many in the modern world.

Personally, I switch between these two since both have value and richness to them. The first is a little more honest. The second a bit more juicy.

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The man behind the image

 

I see that Tim Freke has a series of videos called The man behind the image. These are videos of a more personal and intimate nature and shows him more as a real human being. As you and me.

I really like that. He knows that as a public figure, author, and spiritual guide, he is prone to be seen as a two-dimensional figure, perhaps even as a guru or somehow perfect. So to counter that, he has a video series where chooses to be more raw, personal, and vulnerable.

It doesn’t prevent projections, of course. People will still project and invest some energy into their projections. That’s both natural and serves several functions. But it does take air out of the projection game. He makes himself less of a good projection object, and especially for people wanting to see him as perfect or special.

I imagine it helps him in at least two ways. It makes him more human to others, so they’ll treat him more as just a fellow human being. And it helps him deflate any tendency in himself to want to be seen as special or a guru.

It’s perhaps telling that Tim Freke, who is so personable and genuine in general, does this. And spiritual guides who like to see themselves as teachers and gurus and allow or even encourage their students to play that game, don’t. I personally prefer the first approach a lot more. It feels more appropriate to our culture and time. And yet, I know both approaches have benefits. Including that the guru game tends to lead to disappointment which helps the students to examine their projections and find what they saw and see in the guru in themselves.

Own inquiry: The Universe doesn’t love me

 

These are brief notes from a three+ hour juicy, rich, and powerful inquiry session.

The situation was Monday when I “crashed” (due to CFS) after shoveling snow in the morning, and also was disappointed because a humidifier I had bought didn’t work. As I did the work, I noticed the original situation was from when I was a baby so I included that as a second situation.

I realize these notes will mostly make sense for those who are familiar with The Work of Byron Katie. And inquiry is only juicy and rich if you do it yourself, ideally with an experienced and skilled facilitator. You can do it for free on the The Work Helpline with experienced facilitators.

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Summary of Main Insights / Living Turnarounds

There are a lot of notes here so I’ll summarize some of the main insights and guidelines I am bringing into daily life. These are turnarounds to the initial stressful thoughts that especially hit home and felt juicy to me, and that I am bringing into daily life as reminders and guidelines.

  • If the universe is neutral, I am the one who has to give me what I want – safety, love, support.
  • I am cruel and unloving. Any time I believe stressful thoughts, I am cruel and unloving to myself. I can stop the reactivity and the pain.
  • I need me to allow things to fall into place for me. To not hinder it, as I have done many times in life, because of my own scary thoughts about it.
  • The universe gives me what I want. I notice that often, it does eventually. And it gives me what I want deeper down, which is to be shown reality so I can align with it more consciously.
  • The universe shouldn’t love me – more than it already does. It’s already giving me a lot. Family, friends, partners, shelter, food, travels, the opportunity to explore myself and life, living in a wealthy country, delicious food, nourishing cups of herbal and spice teas, and much more.
  • The Universe shouldn’t give me what I feel I need. Because I don’t need it. It shows me I don’t need it. And it invites me to explore my beliefs about needing it, and – if it still seems like something I would like – any beliefs that may stop me from having it in my life.

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Until the mind is completely satisfied

 

When it comes to aligning the mind more consciously with reality, the mind won’t rest until it’s completely satisfied.

Why would we want to align the mind more consciously with reality? Aligning our mind more consciously with reality is the essence of emotional healing, and it’s the essence of befriending life (aka awakening). It’s what we are drawn to beneath all our surface desires, wants, and perceived needs.

What does it mean that the mind is not completely satisfied? As long as we are consciously out of alignment with reality, in one or more areas of life, or parts of our human psyche is out of alignment with reality, our mind will be dissatisfied. It will be restless, uneasy, caught up in perceived neediness, and more.

It will keep showing itself what’s left, what’s still unaligned.

It seems like an impossibly tall order to have our conscious view and the orientation of all parts of our human psychology aligned with reality. And, yes, it is. It’s a direction more than a goal. It’s a journey that’s endlessly fascinating (at least for me), challenging, and rewarding.

When I do The Work of Byron Katie, I notice this in miniature. If there is something important I haven’t discovered yet in the inquiry session, I feel it. My mind and body is still tense. There is unease. There is a sense of missing something. So I keep going until I find it, often with the help of an experienced, skilled, and patient facilitator.

How does our mind, in general, show itself what’s left? It does so any time anything is triggered in us, any time we are reactive, any time there is a sense of stress, unease, and discomfort.

Note: I noticed I wrote “my mind and body is” even though I know it’s grammatically incorrect. I decided to keep it. It’s accurate in that the mind and body are just labels of aspects of the same seamless system. It’s singular and not really plural. Of course, all of existence is singular in that sense.

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Readiness

 

When I worked with addiction clients (at the Kiloby Center), I noticed that it was relatively easy to see how willing, ready, and wholehearted the clients were about being sober, and that the more willing, sincere, wholehearted, and receptive they were, the more likely they were to succeed.

That’s how it is for any of us in any area of life, including healing emotional issues and changing our orientation to life (befriending).

So how do we arrive at this readiness? It seems that the main factor is recognizing – deeply, viscerally, through experience – that the pain of changing (and there is often some pain involved) is less than the pain of staying in the old pattern.

Is there a way to prepare the ground for readiness? As with so much, it comes through grace and on its own time. At the same time, there may be some ways to invite it in. Inquiry is one. Heart-centered practices is another. Being really vulnerable and honest with ourselves and (a trusted) other is yet another way, and a vital component.

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The benefits of knowing it’s all selfish

 

There are many benefits to knowing that what I am doing is selfish, even when it also seems kind.

It aligns me with reality and truth and I avoid the stress of pretending something else.

It’s easier for me to take care of my own needs so I am in a better position to live the life I want.

I am less prone to burnout. I am less likely to tell me I am doing it for someone else so there is less chance of resentment.

It’s easier for me to stay in my own business. I am less likely to go into blame, victimhood and so on.

There is less sense of self-importance. I know I am doing it for myself so I can’t so easily use it to boost a false sense of self-importance or tell myself I am better than others. 

If I don’t immediately see how what I am doing is selfish, how can I explore or find it? Here are a couple of suggestions.

If I tell myself I am doing something because I need to, I can write down the “need” statement first (“I need to drive the kids to school bc there are no busses”) and then change it to a “want” statement (“I want to drive the kids to school because I want them to have a good education, and I enjoy spending the extra time with them”).

If I tell myself I am doing something noble or altruistic or for someone else, I can ask myself what I get out of it. Here is an example: I moved to Wisconsin to support my wife in her education. What did I get out of it? In what ways did I do it for myself, for my own reasons? It made me feel good to support her. I wanted the best for her. I got to be with her. I got to apply for US residency which I wanted. I got to be a good husband and see myself that way. All of that was selfish, and some of it selfish in the best way.

The Work of Byron Katie is also a great way to explore if what I am doing is selfish, and to find that it is, in the best way, and that it’s completely innocent. (At least, that’s what I have found so far. I am open to discover something else.)

I’ll add a few examples I have found for myself. When I do something that seems kind, for someone else, and in the interest of the larger whole, I do it because it feels good. I am aligned with my guidance. I know all is interconnected so I am really doing it for myself, for the whole I am intrinsic part of. I notice it’s all happening within and as what I am, so it is – as they say in Zen – like the left hand removing a splinter from the right.

Sometimes, I may do something because it makes me look good. It feeds into a desired self-image or how I want others and myself to see me. It can make someone like me. All of that is also selfish and when I look I find it’s innocent. It’s what we humans do when we are caught up in stressful thoughts and neediness.

So yes, when I have looked, I have found that what I do – even when my mind tells me I need to do it or what I do out of kindness – is selfish. It’s often selfish in the best way. It’s innocent. And it’s a huge relief to admit to myself it’s selfish and it comes with many benefits to see it.

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Serving oneself

 

I watched the 2017 documentary about Spielberg, and one of the many things that struck me was when someone said he is totally unselfconscious and it’s almost as if he is an employee of Spielberg.

If that’s true, and it seems there is a good amount of truth in it, it’s one piece of the explanation for how he has been able to so wholeheartedly do what he loves and be so productive, make movies across many different genres, with such skill, and for so long. He has been getting out of his own way.

So the question for me is, if I am an employee of Per (this human being here), how can I best serve him? How can I be a really great employee? What would I do in this situation? How would I approach this task if I was an employee of Per?

Again, this is a very simple pointer or inquiry, and if we apply and follow it, it can be life transforming.

Reactivity isn’t realness

 

Some people (and movies!) seem to think that reactivity is the same as being real and authentic. In a way, it is since it’s part of human life. And in another way, it’s not.

When we are reactive, we react to our own uncomfortable feelings and associated thoughts. We react to them as a way to avoid them, and the way we avoid them may be through blame, complaints, anger, sadness, victimhood, going into and recycling stressful thoughts, and more.

So what’s more real? To me, it’s to notice I go into reactivity (the symptoms are not hard to recognize), stop, take a breath and a step back, and notice what I am really feeling. Often, it’s fear. And then feel it, give it space to be here, admit to it to myself, and perhaps – if the situation is right – admit to it to someone else. And that someone else may be the person who initially triggered the reactivity in me.

As Adya says, when I find and admit to myself or someone else what’s more real and true for me, it feels like a confession. It’s vulnerable. And the reactivity is not needed anymore.

Say I am reactive when I am visiting my parents and have the thought that my mother nags my father. I notice my mind goes into complaints and blame. My muscles tense up. I see images of her nagging my father in the past and future. My breath is more tense and shallow. I get shorter with them. I want to be somewhere else. I am starting to fantasize about leaving and being away from the situation. I leave sooner than I normally would. All of that is reactivity.

So I can notice. Get closer to what’s really going on and notice what I am really feeling. And I notice fear. I am afraid of what the nagging does to both of them. (And my father not speaking up about it.) I am afraid of what it does to their health. I am afraid of what it does to me. I am afraid it’s harming my relationship with my parents. (Which it doesn’t, only my reactive thoughts about it does.) I am afraid I’ll have been and will play out similar underlying dynamics in my own relationships.

And when I notice that, something falls into place in me. I am more authentic and real with myself. I am in touch with the underlying feelings and thoughts, the ones my mind initially reacted to in order to avoid. And there is a relief here. A sense of coming home. Knowing that while I can’t do anything about their relationship (it’s not my business and it’s futile even trying), I can address this in myself.

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Own Dream: Finding new spaces

 

I am visiting a family in Australia (?) and am given the only room on the top floor, which is nice although small. As I spend time there, I keep finding new and interesting additions to the room and it’s much larger and better than I initially thought.

These days, slightly rootless dreams are common for me. In this case, I am visiting another continent and staying in the house of someone I know (although not in waking life). The room seems small although I am happy to be able to stay there. And as I get more familiar with the place, I keep finding new spaces, additions, and rooms, and it’s much larger and more beautiful than I thought.

The rootlessness is what I feel to some extent in waking life, although don’t pay attention to as much as it perhaps asks me to. I do have a place to live, and I feel at home here, but it doesn’t feel like a real or lasting home.

There is a deeper root to this rootlessness. Several years back, I left my guidance in one major aspect of my life (where to live) and that led to me gradually feeling more and more off track and lost in life. It may even be what led to the chronic fatigue returning much stronger than it did in my teens. I left much of what was most important to me in life and I left my guidance which quietly and persistently told me to stay on the path I previously was on. (I got married and left my friends and community, my studies and career, a place I deeply loved, and more in order to support my wife in her studies.)

Ultimately, the rootedness I am asked to find is a rootedness in myself, and especially through consistently and faithfully following my guidance in smaller and larger things. As I did in my twenties before I left it as described above.

Finding new spaces is what happens through the healing and inquiry work I do. I keep finding new, beautiful, larger, and interesting spaces – in myself and life.

That I live in the top level of the house may suggest that I still tend to be a little intellectual and live in my head. Although I am quite aware of my body and bodily sensations, it’s not the center of who I take myself to be as a human being.

The Australia part of the dream may have come from listening to a podcast with two Australians before falling asleep. (The Unmade Podcast.)

Does The Work only work at the thought level?

 

Does The Work of Byron Katie only work at the thought level?

That’s one of the concerns I have heard from people new to The Work, and it was one of my initial concerns as well.

In my experience, The Work can go very deep and can be life-changing. Especially when I follow the simple instructions and I am facilitated by someone trained in and experienced with The Work. When I stay with the situation, get close, use some of the subquestions (for number 3), feel what’s happening in my body, go back in time to my earliest experiences with the stressful thought, and also look at my scary images of the future. When I am still, get close, and take time to find genuine examples for each turnaround. And when I select a juicy living turnaround and bring it into and apply it in my daily life.

In addition to the obvious cognitive shifts, I often feel energetic and emotional shifts when I do The Work, and I do notice how my life changes when I bring the living turnarounds into my daily life.

The Work can be “just” a cognitive exercise if we take it that way, and it often stays at that level if we don’t follow the simple instructions or don’t have a skilled and experienced facilitator. And it can be profoundly life transforming if we do.

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Parliament: Testify

 

Once I was a hollow man
In which a lonely heart did dwell
You know love came creeping upon me
Bringing life to an empty shell

Now I heard so many times before
That your love could be so bad
I just want to tell you people
It’s the best love I ever had

Don’t you know that 
I just want to testify
What your love has done for me
I just want to testify
What your love has done for me

Ooh, ooh luscious
Sure been delicious to me
Ooh, ooh luscious
Sure been delicious to me

I just want to testify
What your love has done for me
I just want to testify
What your love has done for me

Parliament, Deron Taylor / George S Clinton, Testify

I listened to this song by Parliament and realized it falls into place more for me when I turn it around to myself. (When I hear songs or watch movies or read stories or look at the world, I find it interesting to explore it as I would a dream, as if all aspects are in myself.)

I can understand the lyrics of Testify in a conventional sense, as someone who comes alive through the love of someone else. I allow myself to come alive because I tell myself I am loved and lovable.

And when I see that, I also realize I can give myself that love.

How can I give myself that love?

I can do loving things for myself (take a bath, make a good meal etc.).

More importantly, I can find love for whatever parts of myself come up, and especially those parts I previously have shunned and pushed away. I can find love for my experience as it is here and now, even if it’s uncomfortable and something I previously have shunned.

To get started, I can do this with the help of a structure. It can be a basic meditation such as natural rest. When I notice and allow my experience, as it is here and now, it’s a deep expression of love. It can also be a heart-centered practice such as ho’oponopno, tonglen, or metta. Or I can do it through a simple inquiry such as the Headless experiments or the Big Mind / Big Heart process.

If I want to be more thorough, I can also find and investigate any beliefs that prevent me from finding a deep and lasting love for myself. I can do this, for instance, through The Work or Living Inquiries. A common thought is that I am not worthy of love or I am unlovable. One of my thoughts is that the love of someone else (preferably a woman beautiful inside and out) is more important or worth more than my own love.

These are all very natural and understandable thoughts, and it can be a great relief and open up a whole new dimension of the world when the charge goes out of them (Living Inquiries) or we find what’s more true for us (The Work).

The voice of God

 

Misophonia, literally “hatred of sound”, was proposed in 2000 as a condition in which negative emotions, thoughts, and physical reactions are triggered by specific sounds.

Wikipedia entry for misophonia

I have a history of misophonia. Predictably, it’s stronger when I am very tired or stressed, and less so when my energy reservoirs are fuller and I am more content. And I have found it very helpful to explore stressful beliefs around it (The Work), stressful sensation-thought connections in my mind (Living Inquiries), enemy images (inquiry, heart-centered practices), and undoing the energy and consciousness components creating it (Vortex Healing). Reducing the overall stress level of my nervous system with therapeutic tremoring (TRE) also helps.

Perhaps because of this work, there is now space for making use of a simple pointer or shortcut.

I hear the neighbor making noise (using bandsaw and chain saw to cut wood). And I either remind myself this is the voice of God and then take time to notice. Or I ask myself is this the voice of God? which also helps me notice.

What does it help me notice? It has to happen here and now, for myself, and it’s always new, so putting it into words can be a sidetrack. And it can also be a pointer for own exploration. Right now, what I notice is that the noise happens within and as consciousness. It happens within and as this awake, alive space. In a sense, it happens within and as what’s capacity for any content of experience, including this alive consciousness. To me, the noise and everything else that happens in my sense fields happens within and as awake consciousness. Even the “me” happens within the sense fields and within and as this consciousness.

That’s really all I can say about it. Although if I take it one step further, which many spiritual traditions do, I can say that everything is the divine, Spirit or God. It gives it a little extra oomph.

So when I ask myself is that sound also the divine? I notice that the sound too happens within and as awake and alive consciousness. As a side-effect, it helps me notice that any reactions in me to the sound – thoughts combined with sensations – also happens within and as the same consciousness. So my “center of gravity” shifts out of this a bit and a little more into what I already am, which is this consciousness all happens within and as.

Aside from that, I get to notice that the noise helps me see what’s left in me of beliefs, identifications, and emotional issues. (This is endless but at least it shows me what to explore next.) And it’s a reminder for myself that all is God’s will. Everything that happens are movements within the whole and has infinite causes stretching back to beginningless time and out into endless space. And, in yet another way, it’s all life expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself. When I am distressed by the noise, the noise, the distress, and the idea of it happening to someone separate, is all part of this exploration (Lila).

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What would a sane person do?

 

Sometimes, when I am faced with a decision in daily life, I ask myself:

What would a sane person do?

I imagine someone normally sane, grounded, kind, and reasonable. And ask myself, what would that person do?

Yesterday, I bought a humidifier from someone online, and I had the choice of going to Oslo to pick it up or pick it up at my local train station. I was drawn to travel to Oslo since it would give me an excuse to go there and see an exhibit before picking it up.

I noticed a slight confusion in me, and asked myself what would a sane person do? It was pretty clear that a sane person would chose to pick it up at their local train station, and go to Oslo another day to see the exhibit, free from having the additional obligation of picking up the humidifier.

It’s a simple and perhaps silly example. And yet, it shows that taking a third person perspective sometimes can help us clarify what to do. It also shows that very simple pointers or inquiries can be helpful in daily life.

Faking that it is a problem

 

I have noticed a low-grade fear that others will think I am faking illness (CFS). Since it’s a stressor in my life, I wanted to explore it through inquiry, and in this case The Work. Even before getting into the more structured inquiry, my facilitator suggested a perspective that made something fall into place for me.

I am faking that it’s a problem.

It is true that I am faking it. I am faking that it’s a problem.

It’s a huge relief to admit to the truth. Yes, I am faking it. Not that it’s an illness. (I know it is from the history, symptoms etc.). But that it’s a problem.

How am I faking it’s a problem? As soon as I believe thoughts saying it’s a problem, I am faking it. I pretend to believe stressful thoughts before even investigating them. And when I do investigate them, I – at least so far – find something peaceful that’s as or more true for me than the initial stressful thought.

I also notice an additional benefit. From that more peaceful place, I am more able to take kind actions to help my life and situation.

And how can I use this as a guideline or reminder for my daily life? A living turnaround? Whenever I notice a thought that my health is a problem, I can notice it’s my mind making it into a problem, I can identify the thought, and then explore it through inquiry. That’s the kind and sane approach, and what I want for myself.

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What I eat

 

I thought I would briefly mention the guidelines I use for food.

Eat lower on the food chain. More vegetables, fruits, nuts, and berries. Less fish and meat.

Eat less processed foods. More whole foods. I tend to get the raw ingredients and make my own meals.

Eat local and organic when possible. When I am in California, that’s easy. When I am in Norway, a little more challenging.

Eat closer to how my ancestors ate. My more immediate ancestors lived in Northern Europe and ate grains (oats, barley), vegetables, berries in season, fish, and a little meat. In general, they ate with the seasons, and – obviously – local and organic food, and mostly lower on the food chain.

Follow my body. This is one of my main guidelines. Notice what happens when I eat certain foods, and when I leave certain foods out for a day or a few. Personally, I have discovered I do much better – physically and mentally – with less or no sugar and less or no dairy. I also seem to do much better with less or no yeast products, and less or no wheat and rice. So I mostly leave out all of these and only have a little now and then. I also seem to do much better on cooked food in the winter and fresh and raw food in the summer.

Good for the Earth. I keep this in the back of my mind as well and check my other guidelines against it. I already know that eating lower on the food chain, and local, organic, and with the seasons, is what’s generally best for the Earth and future generations. It’s best for me and my well beings, and generally best for the Earth as well.

Leave fads alone. There are all sorts of fads when it comes to food, both in popular culture and among nutritionists. These come and go. What’s left for me are the guidelines above – eat lower on the food chain, less processed food, and when possible local, organic, and with the seasons, and listen to my body.

Don’t be too strict with any of it. There is no need to take this too seriously or be too strict. I’ll have just about anything now and then, especially if it’s offered to me. The guidelines above are just that, guidelines, and probably influence about 80-90 percent of what I eat. At least when I make my own food.

In general these days, I eat mostly fruits, vegetables, nuts, and berries, with some occasional meat and fish, some occasional grain (the less common ones seem to work best for me), very rarely dairy, and rarely refined sugar. I tend to have a light breakfast (depending on my day), the main meal early afternoon, and I often don’t eat (or only have some fruit) in the evening. Most days, I do a mini-fast through the evening and night and until late morning or early afternoon. It would probably be good for me to do some intermittent fasting as well, for one or two days a week. I drink a lot of herbal and spice teas through the day, so my urine is pale or sometimes even clear. I also find that if I am in the high-healthy range for my BMI, I feel healthier. And I do enjoy food, and especially recipes that are simple, nourishing, and tasty. (One of my favorites is roasting vegetables in the oven, perhaps with a small amount of gourmet sausage – if possible local, organic, and free range.)

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Article: Ric Weinman on Merlin

 

You say that VortexHealing® is the Merlin lineage. Who is Merlin?

Merlin is what we call an avatar, which is what you have when Divinity incarnates directly into human form.

All such Divine Expressions, or avatars, embody a unique quality. Merlin embodies Transformational Magic — not the stage kind of magic, of course, but the kind that is filled with wonder and grace, the kind you believed in as a child. Merlin incarnated some 5600 years ago in Northern India, but was known there as Mehindra. The name Merlin is the closest name vibrationally, in English, to the Transformational Magic that was brought in by Mehindra.

Read more in The Magic of Merlin, an Interview with Ric Weinman by More to Life Magazine, UK, edition 43, August 1, 2018

A brief and good interview with Ric Weinman about Merlin in the Vortex Healing lineage.

Dialogue with Big Mind / Big Heart

 

The Big Mind process is a way to shift into the perspective of different sub-personalities (at the human level) and aspects of what we are beyond the human. Big Mind / Big Heart is the whole of existence, and that which is capacity for all of existence, and one aspect of what we are. I thought I would share this brief dialogue with Big Mind / Big Heart.

What does P. need the most to know now?

That he is me, and I am everything. When he gets caught up in worries, struggle, hopelessness, frustration, it helps him to remember I am all. What he is (BM), and what he is part of (as a human), is all. The struggle comes from him forgetting this. And that’s OK. That is still me.

What is something simple and specific he can do in everyday life that will help him?

He already knows. Whenever he notices he goes into stressful stories, notice the sensations of the body, and especially the sensations fueling the stories, and notice it’s all already allowed. That’s how is mind can disengage from being caught up in the stories. That’s how he comes home. (He is, of course, always at home anyway, but when he does this he notices again.) He has noticed this because life brings him back to this, again and again.

Yes, that is true. He has long known the difference between being engaged in something in order to create something in the future, and what you mentioned.

Yes, and he keeps rediscovering it. If he is mainly caught up in creating something in the future – either through healing or awakening practices – he will always feel he is incomplete and not at home. What he is seeking always seems to be somewhere else. He doesn’t notice what he really is and is seeking is always here and always has been here.

And when he does, engaging in practices to shift something can still be very helpful but they happen within and as me. Within and as all there is, and a noticing of this and that what he really seeks is already here. It makes a big difference for him.

When he forgets me, it seems that what he is and seeks is somewhere else. When he remembers and notices, he can engage in activities to create a change and he sees it’s all happening within and as me. It makes it much easier for him. Much more comfortable. As he likes to say, he holds it all much more lightly.

What’s the purpose of his health challenges?

There is no purpose. It’s all happening within and as me. If there is a purpose, it’s just me exploring and experiencing myself as that too and what it brings up in him and others. Or, the purpose is for him to notice me and what he is as me. Or, even more gritty, it’s for him to notice all it brings up in him – struggle, frustration, insecurities, hope, fear, joy, – as already me. It just depends on how you see it.

Didn’t he already know all this?

Yes, he did in some ways. But this is an invitation for him to go deeper. To notice all of it, including that which he doesn’t like, as me. To live as if it’s all me.

It sounds like surrendering to the divine?

Yes, some call it that. In one way, everything and everyone is already surrendered to the divine since it all is the divine (me). In another way, he is sometimes struggling and trying to get things to conform to his ideas of how his life should be. He sometimes deals with his fear by wanting to make his life fit his ideas of how it should be. And that doesn’t work. One easy way for him to shift into noticing me and finding himself as me is to notice sensations, and especially those fueling stressful beliefs and identities, and notice they are already allowed. There are many ways to shift into me, which is what surrender refers to, and that’s one that he has easy access to now.

Life 101: Notice + allow

 

I sometimes write about a basic form of mindfulness which can be translated into notice + allow.

Notice what’s here in the sense fields, allow it to be, and perhaps notice it’s already allowed to be here.

In daily life, there is an additional emphasis I find very helpful. And that is to notice sensations, and especially those sensations that fuel and give substance to stressful thoughts and identities.

When these sensations happen outside of conscious awareness, the thoughts they lend their apparent solidity to tend to seem real, solid, and true. And when they are brought into conscious awareness, and the way they combine with certain thoughts and identities to lend them a sense of solidity is brought into conscious awareness, it’s as if we peek behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz and the illusion falls apart.

It’s easiest to discover this through inquiry, and especially the Living Inquiries. And then notice it while taking some time out and having space and time to notice. And then, after a while, we can bring it into daily life.

For me, this is one of my favorite explorations these days. I notice my mind is caught up in stressful thoughts or identities. (I notice the typical symptoms like stress, tension, blame, mental complaining, feeling like a victim, feeling I need to protect something, a compulsion etc.) I bring attention to the sensations in the body and allow them to be as they are. And I specifically look for and give attention to the sensations giving the stressful thoughts a sense of solidity, reality, and truth.

And that tends to break the spell. It creates space to notice and allow it all, and not be so caught up in it. It shifts the mind out of identifying with the stressful thoughts and identities, and into that which allows and is it all.

And that gives space for relating to what comes up in me more intentionally, and the triggering situation in life more intentionally. It opens for a slightly more mature and kind way of being.

It is fascinating how such as simple mechanism creates our stressful beliefs and hangups. We have thoughts which, in themselves, are innocent questions about the world. The mind then associates these with certain sensations in the body, and may even tense up muscles to create sensations it can associate the thoughts with. The sensations then gives a sense of solidity, reality, and truth to the thoughts. And the thoughts give a sense of meaning to the sensations.

As long as this happens outside of our conscious awareness, the thoughts seem solid and true, and we perceive, act, and live in the world as if they are true. As soon as we “peek behind the curtain”, the illusion falls apart, it loses it’s grip, and we can relate to it more intentionally.

In my imagination, in a future society that’s a little more mature, this is Life 101. This is what children learn along with riding a bike, reading, writing, and singing songs.

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Tara Brach: In the groundless openness of sorrow, there is a wholeness of presence

 

In the Lakota/Sioux tradition, a person who is grieving is considered most waken, most holy.

There’s a sense that when someone is struck by the sudden lightning of loss, he or she stands on the threshold of the spirit world. The prayers of those who grieve are considered especially strong, and it is proper to ask them for their help.

You might recall what it’s like to be with someone who has grieved deeply. The person has no layer of protection, nothing left to defend. The mystery is looking out through that person’s eyes. For the time being, he or she has accepted the reality of loss and has stopped clinging to the past or grasping at the future.

In the groundless openness of sorrow, there is a wholeness of presence and a deep natural wisdom.

Tara Brach, True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart

Mary Oliver: You do not have to be good

 

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body 
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver: I worried

 

“I Worried”

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

Mary Oliver, Swan: Poems and Prose Poems

Defeated by life vs actual surrender

 

There is a difference between being defeated by life or a particular situation, and being surrendered to it. And we can also think we are surrendered when there is more left.

Say I have an ongoing health issue (as I do).

I can be defeated by it. Feel hopeless. Sad. Hopelessly angry. Give up. At the surface, this can look like surrender but it’s really just being defeated by the situation. I still see it as terrible, I still fight it in my mind, but I have given up doing something about it.

I may think I have surrendered. I may also think I have surrendered because I hope for it and it looks like it has happened, while the surrender is temporary or one of several layers. I can also fake surrender. I can pretend I have surrendered. I may have all the right words. I may see the benefit of surrender. I may wish for surrender. But I am still secretly fighting life. I still secretly see my situation as terrible.

And there can be a more real surrender. My resistance to the situation has worn off over time, perhaps through a lot of struggle. And sometimes it’s supported by inquiry, whether the natural inquiry we all engage in through living our lives, pondering our situation, and talking with others about it or a more structured inquiry. I may have seen through my stressful beliefs about the situation and find what’s genuinely more true for me. I may have identified and seen through my cherished identities that don’t fit my health situation, and again found what’s more genuinely true for me. I may have found the genuine gifts in the situation for me and genuine gratitude. I may have found that what I really value in life, myself, my relationships, and my role in life, genuinely isn’t what this illness impacts. I may have come to a place where I openly allow my grief, anger, sadness, gratitude, joy, and anything else that sometimes come up in me around it.

Often, there is a mix. Some parts of us struggle with it, and we struggle with these parts of ourselves, so we don’t fully allow them. We may think we have surrendered (perhaps in a particular way or area of life) and there is still something left which surfaces later and in another situation. And sometimes, in some areas of us and our life, there is a more genuine surrender through clarity, allowing, and an open heart.

How can we invite in a more genuine surrender? Mainly, it comes in its own time. We cannot decide for it to happen or will it to happen. If it happens, it’s often because our resistance wears out through (futile) struggle. What we can do is prepare the ground. For instance through basic meditation (noticing, allowing), heart-centered practices (prayer, ho’oponopno, tonglen, metta), inquiry (The Work, Living Inquiries, Big Mind process, headless experiments), therapy with a wise, skilled, and heart-centered therapist, and most of all receptivity, sincerity, and authenticity.

I notice I rarely write about surrender although it is an important topic. It’s not something we can choose or will to happen – it comes through grace. There is a difference between surrender as a temporary state and a more genuine and complete surrender, and it’s not always so easy to tell the difference (unless we wait to see). And there are always more layers. Surrender is a not something we achieve, it’s at most something we can invite in. And it’s an ongoing process.

There is also a bigger picture here. A lack of surrender is life resisting itself. It’s life locally and temporarily taking itself to be separate from everything else and engaging in an ongoing struggle with itself. Surrender then is life recognizing itself as all of it and giving up the (identification) with the struggle. The struggle may still happen because that’s conditioning. But life recognizes itself as all of it – this human self, the wider world, the situation, the struggle – and identification goes out of it. All of it is recognized as the play of and within life and not something that happens to an actual separate self.

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Where is the final “I”?

 

Where is the final or ultimate “I”?

Where do I think it is? Where have I glimpsed it is? And where is it, in my immediate experience?

Is it in this human self? Is this apparently separate self the final word on what I really am?

Or is it in life itself? As this Earth? As the universe? As all of existence? As all as consciousness? As that which is capacity for it all?

There are several layers to this as well as ways of noticing.

I can have an intellectual understanding, either through western science and philosophy (Universe Story, Epic of Evolution, Ecospirituality) or from mysticism and maps from different spiritual traditions.

I can have glimpses, either without anything apparently bringing it about or through certain practices (inquiry, Big Mind process, basic meditation, practices to reconnect etc.).

And my center of gravity can shift. Perhaps it’s first as this human being in the world. Then, as the wholeness of what I am as human and soul. Or as the wholeness of existence. Or as consciousness somehow separate from the content of existence. Or as consciousness that all experience happens within and as. Or as that which is capacity for it all. Or as this capacity and all it is capacity for (consciousness and all content of experience happens within and as consciousness).

This is one aspect of what spirituality is about. Being curious about where the final “I” is. Exploring it. Noticing new layers of “I” in glimpses. And gradually, and sometimes suddenly, having shifts in the center of gravity of what I experience as “I”.

And really, it’s life exploring itself. It’s life temporarily and locally taking itself as a local “I” and not questioning whether this is the final or most basic “I”. And then being curious about it, either through spontaneous glimpses opening up to something more, or through intuition or a knowing, or perhaps through a crisis that makes it question basic assumptions. It’s life gradually gaining an intellectual understanding and seeing that it must be life itself not this apparently separate self. And it’s life gradually inviting the center of gravity of what it takes itself to be out from the local and to the whole, to all as consciousness, and to what’s capacity for it all.

I want to add a few words about using (structured) inquiry to explore what we are. We can use forms of inquiry that explicitly helps us shift into what we already are, like the Big Mind process and the headless experiments. And we can use inquiry that helps us see what we are not, and helps us see how our mind creates a certain experience for itself of what it is (through images, words, and sensations), and how it holds onto it as true in order to find a sense of safety. Both are equally helpful and they feed into each other.

Shifting into what we are highlights our old (an incomplete and ultimately false) ideas of who or what we are. And shifting out of our old ideas of who or what we are invites in a noticing of (more of) what we really are. And it’s good, and eventually essential, to question absolutely all our experiences or ideas of who or what we are, even the most “spiritual” or “enlightened” ones, and perhaps especially those. They may still be roughly accurate and serve as helpful pointers, but if we hold onto those ideas as true and our identity, we’ll eventually need to question and see through them.

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When with others, as if alone

 

When I am alone, I can imagine I am with others and see if that changes anything. Would I behave differently? And when I am with others, I can imagine I am alone and see if that changes anything. Would I behave differently? Would I be more authentic? More free?

This helps even it out, and although we obviously still would behave a little differently just because the setting is different, it helps us find a more even keel and a more authentic way of being in both settings.

This is a little practice I remember Jes Bertelsen suggested in a book I read in my teens or early twenties, and it’s been in the back of my mind since.