One does not need to seek out one’s demons in an endless pursuit of self-improvement. We simply need to face whatever arises with an honest, open, and inquiring mind and heart.– Adyashanti, from The Art of Meditation
Life brings up what needs to be healed in us. It brings up what wants to be seen, felt, loved, and recognized as the divine.
Sometimes, it’s perhaps not so much. Other times, it can be a lot.
And if we notice a compulsion to seek out our demons “in an endless pursuit of self-improvement”, it may be good to look at that demon. What’s the demon behind that compulsion?
I once listened to a podcast where one of the hosts – who is typically quite intellectual and takes pride in it – talked about his experience with mindfulness. He had taken a course and said he didn’t get much out of it. Why? Because the instructor said things he already knew and were obvious, for instance that “we are not our thoughts”.
Knowing about versus direct noticing
Yes, we all know we are not our thoughts, at least intellectually and from our own understanding of what it means. But that’s not what it’s about. It’s about exploring it for ourselves. When we look, what do we find? What do we find in our immediate experience, outside of thought? That’s very different from knowing something intellectually.
Memory versus direct noticing
At some point, we may have a direct experience of how we are not our thoughts. This may be reflected in our thoughts. (We think about it, talk about it with ourselves.) And after, we may know it through memory. And that too is very different from noticing it here and now. Whatever the memory points to will be new, fresh, and different as we explore it here and now.
We can discover more when we set aside the idea that “I know”
In this case, with the “we are not our thoughts” pointer, it may also be that he would discover something surprising had he only set aside his “knowing mind” and explored it for himself with some receptivity and curiosity.
Perhaps he thought he was this human self, and not his thoughts? Perhaps he would have found that he instead is capacity for the world as it appears to him, including this human self? Perhaps he would have discovered that what he is, is what all his experience – including this human self, thoughts, and the world as it appears to him – happens within and as?
Perhaps he would have discovered that when we are identified with something, for instance this human self, it’s actually an identification with or as the viewpoint of a thought? On the surface, it may seem silly to say “we are not our thoughts” if we think we are this human self. But, in reality, our identifications are with thoughts – including the thought of being this human self. We assume we are the the thoughts, although we may not always notice it.
Wherever we are in the process, and however much we have discovered, there is a world of difference between the memory and thought and the immediate noticing, and there is always more to discover. If we explore something with sincerity and receptivity, we may find that we surprise ourselves.
The terrain is different from the map
As many have pointed out, this is the difference between the map and the terrain. Or reading a menu and eating the food. Or hearing about a place and being there.
I may know a lot about a place through second hand information. I may be able to talk about it as if I have been there. But that’s very different from actually being there. And even if I am personally very familiar with a place, there is always more and new things to discover.
The terrain is always more than and different from any map. The maps are different in nature from the terrain. And even within their realm of ideas, the maps all come from a certain limited point of view, reflect a certain limited worldview, and highlight certain limited aspects of the terrain. No matter how familiar we are with the terrain, they also reflect a very limited experience.
In real life: often a combination
When I write here, I notice there is often a combination. I notice something in immediacy and I write partly from memory (phrases, points) and partly from immediate noticing. They go hand-in-hand.
And it’s good to set aside the pointers for a while, even if it’s just a little while, and be with the immediacy of what it points to. It will be fresh and new, and we may discover something we hadn’t discovered before.
I am headed somewhere with my partner and a group of friends. We meet two women and they talk with us and seem to want something from us. The others move on and I stay for a little longer. I soon realize something is off. It’s as if this world is created and they are unable to get all right. When something surprising happens, it takes a little while for the recreation to respond, and parts of the environment is created as I look at it. Even my body is part of this creation. The two women function as avatars for whomever has created this world, and they seem to want something from me. I am not sure what.
I had this dream after some old unprocessed materials had come up the night before. The dream may remind me that the world created by this “bubble” of separation consciousness is created and not real the way it may seem.
In general, we do create our own reality – to some extent – through our mental overlay in and its assumptions and interpretations. This dream reminds me of this.
One of the women in the dream looks like Jennifer Lawrence. I see her as friendly, charming, and disarming. Perhaps she was chosen as an avatar for that reason.
In the dream, someone was behind the whole false reality. In waking life, nobody is behind it. It’s an expression of life – in the form of our own mind.
Beyond that, I am not sure what this dream is about. Perhaps it was mainly to remind me of the created quality of my own world, and especially the stressful aspects of it.
To take full responsibility for your life (which is not judging yourself) is actually
a key to being free, because it means that no one, and no past experience, can control or determine your current state of being. The keys to your life, and your freedom, are in your hands.– Adyashanti, from Fierce Love
How can we do this?
A good start is to take responsibility for how I relate to this situation — to myself, others, what’s coming up in me, the situation I find myself in, life.
I cannot blame anything or anyone for how I relate to whatever is here.
I can ask myself: Do I take responsibility for how I relate to this situation? If not, how would it be to take responsibility for it?
And what in me urges me to blame someone or something else? What’s the belief? Identity? Emotional issue?
In this situation, what does it give me? What happens when I do it? How would it be to take responsibility for how I relate to it?
Going one step further, I can see that I am always my own final authority. Even if I tell myself I am not, I am still my own final authority. I cannot blame anyone or anything on my choices.
When I blame someone or something else, I give away my power. I overlook what I have control over and what’s my responsibility. I miss out on the life I can have when I take responsibility for how I relate to what’s here, and for my own choices now and in the past.
The essence of this is basic and simple, as so much here. And as so much here, it’s something I rediscover regularly, and I keep finding slightly new and different wrinkles to it.
When I fight my experience, it metaphorically fights back.
What specifically do I fight?
When I say “fight my experience” it usually means fighting sensations in my body and thoughts associated with it. These sensation-thoughts may be triggered by a situation, but what I react to is these sensations and the thoughts my mind associate them with.
How do I try to fight it?
I can use a range of different strategies to fight it, including wanting to push the sensation away, distract myself from it, go into compulsions (the fighting itself is a compulsion), deny it’s here, try to intellectualize it away, try to transcend it, try to fix it through healing, and so on.
What happens when I try to fight my experience?
I act on and reinforce the idea that the story behind the sensation is true. By fighting it, I tell myself the scary story behind it is true and needs to be taken seriously and fought.
I reinforce the belief in me that it is scary. I reinforce the belief that I cannot co-exist with it, and that it’s dangerous to get to know it, allow it to be here, and befriend it. I reinforce the view in me that it is “other” and I keep it other.
And it doesn’t go away. It’s still here no matter how much I try to distract myself from it or change it or transcend it.
In what way does it fight back?
It fights back by remaining here. When I fight something that doesn’t go away, it easily appears to me that it fights back.
More importantly, when I struggle with it – and tell myself it’s strong and important and true and real and worth struggling with – it’s reinforced. and by being reinforced through my own struggle with it. The scary stories behind it and about it are reinforced.
What’s the alternative?
The alternative is to befriend my experience, whatever it is – even the impulse to fight it.
How can I learn to do this? It can help to use pointers and a more structured approach to get into it, at least until it becomes more familiar and second nature. And even when it is more familiar, a more structureed approach is sometimes helpful, especially when we get caught up in something strong.
Basic meditation is a way to get familiar with noticing and allowing what’s here, whatever it is. Doing this in the “labarotory” of meditation sessions makes it a little easier to do the same – notice and allow – when uncomfortable things come up in us in daily life situations.
Natural Rest is a variation of this basic meditation, and it has some pointers that helps bring it into daily life situations.
We can also dialog with whatever comes up, listen to what it has to tell us, get to know it, and find some empathy with it. This helps befriending it and shifting out of the struggle.
Heart-centered approaches like tonglen and ho’oponopono helps us reoritent towards our experiences in general, and we can also use them specifically with our own discomfort and ourselves in that situation.
We can identify and examine the stressful and scary thoughts behind the uncomfortable sensations, the situation triggering it, and about it all. (The Work of Byron Katie.)
It’s especially helpful to look at the fear of befriending our experience as it is. What do I fear would happen? What’s the worst that can happen?
We can examine how our mind creates its experience of the disocmfort, of it as scary and something we need to struggle with, the struggle itself, and any fears, compulsions, and identities connected with it. (Living Inquiries.)
We can find what we are – that which this and any experience happens within and as – which, in turn, helps notice and allow it all. (Headless experiments, Big Mind process.)
For me, it also really helps to have “wastness buddies” as a friend of mine calls it. Someone we can call when something strong comes up in us, and who can help us shift out of the struggle and into br
What’s the benefit of befriending our experience?
When we fight our experience, it ties up a lot of energy and attention, and it also tends to lead us to make life decisions out of reacivity rather than a more open receptivity. It’s uncomfortable and tiring to chronically struggle.
When we shift out of the struggle, we shift out of the battle and can find a different peace. A peace that allows what’s here, in my experience, to be here. It’s a sense of coming home. It opens for love for what’s here, as it is. It opens for a whole new way – one that’s fuller, rof being in the world.
What’s this not about?
It’s not about not fighting in life. Sometimes, it’s appropriate to fight – or fight for – things in life. It’s appropriate to fight for what’s kind and benefits life. (As we see it, from our limited perspective.)
Why do I write about this now?
The virus behind the chronic fatigue seems to get activated through physical exertion and/or stress, and that happened a few days ago. When it happens, it creates a toxic and very uncomfortable feeling through my whole system, and it also impacts my emotions. And I sometimes struggle with it and try to fight it. When I notice what’s happening, an I have struggled enough, there is a shift into allowing what’s here. And that changes everything. It’s like returning to my home and lover after an absence.
Universal themes: finding a better way, and learning to love
As I wrote this article, there were a couple of minor song-synchronicites. When I wrote about the alternative, the song said “You can learn to love me, given time”. (Sting, A Practical Arrangement.) And when I wrote about the benefits of befriending our experience, “While fighting was useful…. there has to be a better way than this.” (Sting, The Pugalist.)
I don’t really take these as a synchronicities, more a reminder that this – the dynamic of learning to love and finding a better way than fighting – are universal themes.
And, of course, that I gravitate to musicians and song writers who have a general similar orientation to life as me.
When you walk in a dream and you know it’s a dream, that’s love.– Byron Katie
Just like a dream, our waking world is happening within and as consciousness. And to ourselves, we are that consciousness.
Also like a dream, if we believe our mental images and words about the waking world, the way it appears to us seems real and true.
Any lack of love comes from what we believe about our world. We take our mental images and words as true, that creates stress and struggle, and it covers up the love that’s here.
To the extent we recognize our world as a dream – as happening within and as consciousness, and our images and thoughts about it as not inherently or absolutely true – there is a release of the stress and struggle.
And what’s here is love. A love for our world as it is. A love for our world as one. A love for our world as what we are.
There are many ideas about spirituality in our culture. Some see it as a refuge or something that will save them. Some see it as escapism, fantasies, and avoidance. Some see reaching the “goals” of spirituality as only for special people. In some situations, and in some ways, there is some truth to each of these.
And yet, the core of spirituality is pragmatic and secular. We don’t need to take anyones word for it. We don’t need to assume anything about the nature of existence. We don’t need to leave it to someone else. We can try it out for ourselves.
So what is this secular and pragmatic core of spirituality?
It takes two forms. One is the many effects of spiritual practices on our human life. The other is finding what we already are.
I have written articles about both so I’ll just give a brief summary here.
Finding what we are
This isn’t dependent on any philosophy or particular worldview. It’s just dependent on noticing what we already are to ourselves.
Even logically, we see that – to ourselves – we must be consciousness.
Consciousness is what’s aware of any experience at all, so that’s what we are to ourselves. Any sense of being something happens within and as this consciousness, any experience of anything at all happens within and as this consciousness. Even the idea of consciousness, the mental images and associations we have about it, happens within and as consciousness.
And we can find this for ourselves. Consciousness can notice itself as, to itself, all there is. We can find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us. We can find ourselves as what the world, as it appears to us, happens within and as.
Our habitual identification is typically with this human self which appears within and as what we are. This is a kind of “trance” as many have pointed out, and is self-perpetuating unless something comes in to help us notice what we already are, or – more accurately – help what we are notice itself.
The most effective approach to notice what we are may be inquiry (headless experiments, Big Mind process). The most effective approach to stabilize this may be a combination of inquiry and basic meditation (notice + allow). The most effective approach to live from this includes heart-centered practices (tonglen, ho’oponopno) and regular emotional healing work. And training a more stable attention helps all of this and our life in general.
Is this the awakening spiritual traditions talks about? Yes, as far as I can tell it is. It’s what we are noticing itself, and noticing itself as all its experiences. It’s oneness. It’s a waking up from the trance of being this one separate self happening within and as what we are. It’s a noticing that what we are is love. After all, oneness noticing itself is expressed as love.
Helping who we are
Traditional spiritual practices, and modern versions of these, can also help us at a human level.
Training a more stable attention supports just about any activity in our life and our general well-being.
Basic meditation – notice and allow what’s here, and notice it’s already noticed and allowed – helps us release out of struggling with what’s here, our experience as it is.
Basic inquiry – finding ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us – also helps release us out of struggling with what is. It brings a lighter touch. It creates a space for us to act a little more from clarity and kindness.
Heart-centered practices helps us reorient in how we relate to ourselves, others, situations, and life in general. It helps shift us out of a struggle orientation to befriending what’s here. And this, in turn, helps our well being and allows us to act more from clarity.
The essence of spirituality doesn’t require anything esoteric
To me, this is the essence of spirituality, and it doesn’t require anything esoteric. It doesn’t require us to believe anything or go outside of our own experience. On the contrary, if we want to take it as far as it goes, it requires us to be ruthlessly honest about our own experience and find what’s already here.Read More
I saw an article about the benefits of thinking of the climate crisis as an forever emergency.
In a sense, life itself is a forever emergency. Humanity as a whole experiences a continuous series of smaller and larger crises and emergencies, as do we as individuals.
It’s very helpful to realize that this is part of the human condition, and that this is how it is for all fellow Earth beings.
If we live in the hope that this will change, we’ll be forever disappointed, and we’ll struggle with what is because it destroys our dream. As soon as we adopt a forever view on crises and emergencies, we can find more peace with it.
A forever view may help us in several ways. It may help us be better mentally prepared and better prepared in general. More able to enjoy the calm periods. Prioritize. Appreciating the small things in life. Looking for ways to learn and grow through the emergencies. And have more empathy with others since we are all in the same boat here.
I am with my partner in Kristiansand, a coastal town further south in Norway. We are there for a workshop. We get separated briefly and I find an amazing bookstore for graphic novels, on par with anything I have found in the US. Walking down the main street, I start having recollections. I know this place. I then remember that I was born in this town and lived here until I was one. Behind some white arches, I remember there was a toy store I loved and was inside of a few times. I find my partner again and excitedly tell her that I remember living my first year in this town.
In waking life, I was born in Oslo, not Kristiansand. The workshop may have been a distance Vortex Healing class, with people from Norway gathered in the same place for the sake of community. The night before this dream, I looked at art made by a friend (FB) who grew up in this town, and I also passed by the town earlier this summer. The graphic novel store and toy store has to do with childhood and youth. My friend was someone I met as I transitioned to (some kind of) adulthood and he always had a youthful enthusiasm tempered with knowing what it takes to get things done.
The theme of this dream was healing (the class) and remembering early life. There was an excitement and sense of youthfulness in the dream.
When I explore my early life, one aspect is looking at situations that created emotional issues, and the other is reconnecting with youthful enthusiasm and the sense that the world is a wide open place.
Note: When I say “created emotional issues”, it’s more accurate to say “situations where my mind responded, in order to protect this human self, with creating what we call emotional issues”.
This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.
AN ALIEN INTELLIGENCE WILL BE ALIEN TO US
I saw someone commenting that he doesn’t like the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey much because he doesn’t understand the alien aspect of the story. For me, that’s one of the brilliant things about the movie. The story is shrouded in mystery.
An alien intelligence will be alien to us. It will be mysterious. We won’t be able to make sense of it based on our own experiences, and our own experiences is all we have. It’s easy to imagine an initial alien encounter that’s a complete mystery and completely baffling to us. And even if we gather more information and think we understand more, we may discover we don’t understand it as well as we thought.
In most sci-fi, the aliens are us in another form. They have human drives and motivations, and they represent sides of us and are mirrors for us. Since that’s the explicit intention of most sci-fi, that’s completely appropriate.
If we want more realistic sci-fi stories, then we have movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Arrival. The alien intelligence here is alien to us. It’s mysterious, baffling, and confusing. It doesn’t quite make sense to us.
This is also one of the problems I have with some of the traditional alien-encounter stories. The aliens are too often just us in another disguise. They are scientists traveling through space to probe and examine us and tell us we need to take better care of Earth. In other stories, and especially the more shamanic or fairy-tale like ones, the encounters are truly mysterious and inexplicable, as I imagine is closer to how it may be in reality.
Click READ MORE to see more posts on these topics.Read More
I assume that in each of us, there is a wish to belong. Something in us desire to belong to our family and our community, and also to the Earth and ultimately existence as a whole.
The good news is that we already belong. Although sometimes, we don’t notice because of our wounds, traumas, beliefs, and identifications.
Everything belongs. Everything belongs where and as it is.
Discovering this is an essential part of healing and also awakening.
In a conventional sense, we can find a community and a place where we feel we belong, and we can actively cultivate this sense of belonging.
Beyond this, we can find that we we belong to humanity, Earth and the universe since we grew out of it and are intrinsic parts of it. We are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We belong to existence. (Deep ecology, ecopsychology, Practices to Reconnect, Epic of Evolution, the Universe Story, Big History etc.)
We can find that all the parts of our human self belong to us. What we see in others and the world is also here. And we can get to know and create a partnership with these parts of us. (Parts work, Big Mind process, voice dialog etc.)
And we can find that everything that happens belongs. It’s all happening within and as what we are. (Headless experiments, Big Mind process, Living Inquiry etc.) Another angle is to say it’s all Spirit, or flavors of the divine, and expressions of the divine.
So how do we go about finding that it all belongs? In general, it’s a process of actively noticing and cultivating the belonging that’s already here, and seeing through and unraveling beliefs, emotional issues, and traumas telling us we don’t.
And, yes, even a feeling that we don’t belong belongs.
You are going to lose your spiritual world if you take this far enough.– Adyashanti
Any ideas we have related to spirituality are ideas. Reality is different from and both less and more than these ideas. When we see through this, we lose our spiritual world. The spiritual ideas we have, and may have leaned on for a sense of guidance and safety, lose their sense of reality.
This also goes for the word spirituality. Spirituality is about noticing what we are, and when we do we notice that all our experiences happen within and as what we are. It includes all so although the word may still be useful in some situations, it also loses its meaning.
When we take it far enough, we lose our spiritual world. And we can support that process through inquiry into our ideas about spirituality and any ideas we find within spirituality.
Do I know for certain it’s true? What happens when I believe the thought? What’s the validity in the reversals of the initial thought? (The Work of Byron Katie.)
How does my mind create its experience of any particular spiritual concept? How does sensations and mental images and words combine to create this experience? What happens when I rest with the sensations on their own, and examine the thoughts? (Living Inquiries.)
When you wake up from your story, guess what you realize about everybody else? They are not their story. They are spirit, too. And that spirit is totally independent of their story and your story about them. So you not only lose your center, you lose their center, that box you would put them in. You see they are the same. This is why it is said that enlightenment is never a personal matter. You can’t realize you are enlightened and still believe that others aren’t. You can’t see your true nature without seeing the true nature of everything. It is literally impossible. This is a tremendous act of compassion, an act of love.– Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing
Yes, that’s true. And there is a slight nuance or wrinkle to it.
To us, it appears that everybody and everything has the same nature as us.
Everything happens within and as what we are, so naturally it appears that their true nature is the same as “my” true nature.
When we check with others, their reports seem to confirm that their true nature – to them – is the same as my true nature to me.
But is it true for everything? Yes, it appears that way. There may be hints, and sometimes a lot of hints, that the true nature of existence is the same as the true nature I find here. But if I am completely honest with myself, can I know for certain? For me, I find it helpful to have the flexibility to acknowledge the validity in both.
Is this important? Yes and no. It doesn’t really matter in a practical sense. But it’s good to be honest about these things. It helps us clarify and differentiate.
What do we mean when we ask the divine to take the steering wheel of our life?
It can mean that we commit to listen to our inner guidance – the quiet voice, our heart, and follow it unless we find a good reason not to. We may do this in small everyday situations at first, and notice what happens when we follow our guidance.
Also, what prevents us from listening to this quiet voice? And what holds us back from following it? What fears come up? What do I find when I investigate these fears and find what’s more true? What happens when I try following my inner voice in small things, see what happens, and perhaps gain some confidence in it?
It can also mean finding ourselves as capacity for our human life and the world as it appears to us. When this shift happens, we notice all content of experience – including this human self and its thoughts, feelings, choices, and actions – happens on its own. It all lives its own life.
God – or life – is already at the steering wheel.
These two – listening to the inner voice and finding ourselves as capacity – go hand in hand. They complement each other. And they are two beautiful ways to metaphorically hand over the steering wheel to the divine.
Note: When I practice following my guidance, I often do it with food, checking in with my inner guidance about when to eat and what, and sometimes also when to do something that has a flexible schedule, or what to do if it’s relatively open. And saying that God is already at the steering while of our life, which is true in a very real sense, is no excuse to be a jerk, act on our reactivity, make poor decisions, and so on. If anything, noticing that God is at the steering wheel can help us be a better steward of our life.
I am in the basement of an old church with a group of friends. It’s open to the outside and a river runs by it. We are solving a mystery through what we find there, including some bones (not human) in the ground.
After this, I am driving an old truck with my friend Nick R. We see signs of a flood that has now receded.
Closer to center of town, I am with my partner in a room. She is trying out different outfits for a costume party: Rachel from Bladerunner, hippie, and she settles for a classic look.
The church is the oldest building in the area. We are in the basement, looking around, digging and finding things in the soil. And we are solving some mysteries. This may reflect me exploring and learning more about my own old issues from early in life.
I was with my partner and a group of good friends. It may reflect that I am in a kind of community when it comes to this type of explorations – with my partner and friends. And it may also reflect that an inner community is part of these explorations.
Nick R. is a friend I met through permaculture and was there in the two first segments of the dream. He is warm, earthy, spiritual, wise, and I consider him a good friend.
This is after a flood. Two days ago, I had a controlled meltdown where I allowed myself to be flooded – to some extent – with whatever emotions came up (hopelessness, anger etc.). Sometimes, it’s important to have these controlled meltdowns and I have felt more clear after.
My partner is trying on outfits and settles on something classic. This happened the day before when she looked at different dresses online and she / we settled on a classic one.
I have decided to stop being self-aware…. what I do is none of my business– I’m baby on social media
Although this can seem like a joke, there is more to it. I’ll look at each of the two main parts of the quote.
What I do is none of my business
When we find ourselves as capacity for all content of experience – the world as it appears to us and everything to do with this human self – we also see that it all lives its own life. The world and this human self doesn’t need an additional layer of “I am this human”, “I am doing this”, “I chose to do that” to function. It already functions well independent of it.
In a very real sense, what I do is none of my business.
Of course, as a human being in the world, I am responsible for my actions and how I chose to relate to my thoughts, emotions, and circumstances.
And as capacity for all of it, I find that it’s all living its own life.
The two complement each other and are two sides of the same coin.
I have decided to stop being self-aware
Mindfulness with “shoulds” added to it can become tight and stressful.
Find a lighter touch. See how it is to notice that allowing and noticing is already here. It’s inherent in what we are. No great extra effort is needed.
This easy noticing is, in a sense, the end of trying to be self-aware. It’s just a noticing that it’s already here and inherent in what we are.
Getting to that easy noticing sometimes does involve some effort and struggle. At first, the apparently unnecessary effort and struggle may be just what’s needed.
There are many aspects to what we are as Big Mind or whatever else we want to call it. And there are many aspects to who we are as this human self. So why not explore it?
Space may be the final frontier, but this is the ultimate frontier and it’s much closer to home. It’s something we can explore here and now, and it just requires some motivation and guidance.
Aspects of what I am
When I look, I find I am capacity for the world as it appears to me. I am capacity for any content of experience – this human self, the wider world, any sense of doer or observer, any insights, any noticing, even awareness. Capacity allows it all.
I am also awakeness. Not any special awakeness but this ordinary awakeness that’s here for all of us. The awakeness that’s inherent in awareness, consciousness, and noticing or experiencing anything at all.
As this oneness, what I am is also love. Not the love that is or is dependent on a feeling, but the love of the left hand removing a splinter from the right.
What I am is also all of it. Any content of experience happen within and as what I am. There is no inherent boundary. There is no inherent other.
What I am includes this human self and the wider world as it appears to me.
I can continue to find aspects or flavors of what I am, although this depends a bit on culture and orientation and what we look for. For instance, I can find (what we can call) feminine and masculine aspects, dark and light, and so on.
Aspects of who I am
As who I am, the world mirrors me. Whatever I see out there – in others and the world in general – reflects parts of who I am. My inner world is as rich as the outer.
Identities come in polarities and although we often identify more with one end of any one polarity than the other, we have both in us. Both are already here. And both are here as potentials that can unfold and be further embraced and brought into our life.
Unintentionally identifying with some aspects
We typically unintentionally identify with one or a set of aspects of what and who we are.
Many identify as a particular human being and overlook what they are (capacity, Big Mind) and also all the sides of themselves they see in others but not in themselves. This is the typical human condition and there is nothing wrong with it, but there is a lot more to who and what we are.
After having a glimpse of what we are, and early on in the process of getting to know what we are, some may identify more with some aspect of Big Mind – capacity, awakeness, or something similar. Or as it often is, we identify with some ideas about this. In Zen, they sometimes refer to this as being “stuck in the absolute”. It may feel safer than the scary messiness of being a traumatized human. And it’s also a way to become more familiar with what we are and get used to it. It’s a natural part of the process for many and perhaps most of us.
In the awakening process, there is usually still identifications of different types. We may be identified with ideas about what we are, as mentioned above, and also ideas about who we are as a human in the world. Noticing and exploring this, gradually include more of what and who we are, and find a bit more freedom around this, is an ongoing process. It is the exploration of a lifetime. (And if there are several, then several!)
Intentionally emphasizing aspects as medicine
This is all a part of our exploration of ourselves, or life or the divine exploring itself.
At some point, we may discover that we can intentionally explore and emphasize aspects of who and what we are and this can support our healing, maturing, awakening, and embodiment. We can get more familiar with some aspects and bring them more into our life.
We can use them as medicine for specific conditions.
For instance, if we are used to identifying as this human self, why not exploring finding ourselves as Big Mind?
If we are one-sidedly identified with (ideas about) Big Mind, why not also embrace being a human being in the world?
If we are used identify with (ideas about) what’s closer to the “absolute” – capacity, awakeness, observer – why not also include all that’s happening within and as what we are? (The world as it appears to us.)
If we are used to identify with one particular human identity, why not explore the reverse? Why not find it in ourselves? Why not find how it’s already in our life? Why not embrace it more fully?
This helps us unstick from any particular identifications, and it also helps us explore and embrace more of who and what we are.
How can we intentionally explore aspects of who and what we are?
There are innumerable approaches. I like a combination of dialog and parts work (Big Mind process), inquiry (Headless experiments, Big Mind process, Living Inquiries, The Work), energy work (Vortex Healing), and I also love Process Work (Jungian and shamanic) for these type of explorations.
And, of course, the real work and exploration is in our life today and now.
Organic process and intentional exploration
These shifts into exploring different sides of who and what we are is an organic process. It happens naturally in our human life, and it also happens naturally in an awakening and embodiment process.
An intentional exploration of these sides of us complements this organic process. It can clarify it for us, help us explore things more in detail, and it can give us a map that helps us orient and understand the overall process a little better.Read More
I rarely use the term “true nature” since it suggests certain knowledge, although I also understand why they call it that in Buddhism.
My own apparent true nature
When I explore it for myself, I find I am capacity for the world as it appears to me. What I am is what my experience – of myself and the wider world – happen within and as.
One aspect of this is being capacity for the world as it appears to me. I can also say it’s no-thing full of everything. Or void allowing any experience. Or awakeness and all happening within and as awakeness. Or oneness since all is happening within and as what I am. Or love and all happening within and as love. (This is the love of the left hand removing a splinter of the right, not the type of love that is a feeling or dependent on a feeling.)
It can also be called Big Mind, Brahman, Spirit, the Divine, or any of the labels that points to roughly the same.
So I understand why they call it “true nature”. It’s difficult to imagine anything more fundamental than finding ourselves as capacity for all content of our experience, including awakeness, love, and whatever else it may be.
The true nature of existence
If my true nature is capacity, or capacity and awakeness, what about the true nature of the rest of existence?
The honest answer is that I don’t know.
Another answer is that, yes, it appears – to me – to be the true nature of all of existence. To me, the world happens within and as capacity and awakeness, so it naturally appears that way to me.
It makes logical sense that it’s the true nature of existence. After all, what’s more basic than capacity for anything and all? I am not so sure about the other qualities like awakeness. Is the universe and existence awake in itself? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Perhaps in part. I don’t know.
And yet another answer is that there are signs that suggests it’s the true nature of existence, for instance synchronicities, ESP, distance healing, and more. At the very least, this hints at the oneness of existence.
Exploring this for ourselves
As I often write about, there are ways to explore this for ourselves. Any words are pointers and questions, at most, and this only comes alive and has meaning as we discover it for ourselves.
Headless experiments is an excellent way to explore this, as is the Big Mind process and the Living Inquiries, and many other approaches out there.
I can say something about what appears to be my own true nature. I can say that existence itself appears to me to have the same true nature. It makes logical sense. There are some hints. And that’s about what I can say.
This is something we all can explore for ourselves. What do I find when I investigate for myself? Is it similar? Different? Would I talk about it differently?Read More
This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.
POST-COVID ILLNESS & CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME
Mainstream doctors and media seem to acknowledge occasional long term effects of C19 infection, including fatigue, brain fog, post-exertion malaise (PEM), and damage to lungs and other organs.
These core symptoms of fatigue, brain fog, and PEM are the usual symptoms of post-viral syndrome or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). The physical damage to lungs and other organs seem more specific to C19.
Since CFS is a marginalized and often misunderstood illness, the C19 pandemic has the potential of being a turning point for CFS patients. The patients may be taken more seriously. CFS may be recognized as a mainly physical illness. And there may be more research into what causes CFS, what prevents recovery, and possible treatments.
It all depends on how mainstream doctors and media present it. Will they see the post-C19 problems as a subcategory of post-viral syndrome and CFS? Or will they see the two as separate and attribute the post-C19 challenges to damage to lungs, heart, and so on?
To me, it’s seems most reasonable to put it in the general category of post-viral syndrome and CFS, with some possibly unique problems like damage to organs. That’s also what will help the CFS situation the most.
BREXIT WOULDN’T BE DIFFICULT?
In a Norwegian article about Brexit, one of the experts interviewed said: nobody knew it would be this difficult.
Nobody could have guessed the specifics of what happened, but one of the supporting arguments against Brexit was exactly that it would be immensely difficult.
The EU rules are deeply interwoven with the British rules and regulations at all levels of government. It will take a long time to disentangle it all and redo it as they wish it to be.
Negotiating separate deals with – in theory – just about every single country in the world will be difficult and time consuming and will take years. (And they will be in a much weaker negotiating position than they were as members of the EU.)
And finally, as they have discovered, EU protects its own interests and they are not interested in making leaving EU easy or attractive.
The problems we have seen with Brexit isn’t so much from incompetence or political squabbles. It’s inherent in Brexit itself.
So far, they have mostly dealt just with the third of these points. After that’s done, they’ll still have the first and second to deal with.Read More
When we do Breema bodywork or self-Breema exercises, this is one of the informal guidelines.
And what we discover in any laboratory – in this case Breema sessions – is meant to be used in life in general.
Most of us have our lives changed because of the pandemic. So instead of impatiently waiting for it to be over, why not find a way to make this new life comfortable and enjoyable? Why not find a way to do it so we would want to do it forever?
It’s an invitation. Can I find a way to do this so I am a little more comfortable? Can I find a way to make it a little more enjoyable?
It’s often a process of making small adjustments, discovering new things over time, and the question always applies. Circumstances change. I change. What I discover change. So it’s a question to keep alive.
Suffering is a part of the perfection of life.—Adyashanti in Unity and Uniqueness
In what way is suffering part of the perfection of life?
It’s part of perfection in the way anything is. It happens within and as what I am. It’s an expression of the play of consciousness, or existence, or – if we want to use that label – the divine.
It’s also part of the perfection in the sense that it has a vital function in our life, or perhaps several vital functions.
Suffering invites us to examine our life and situation and make changes. This can lead us to be a better steward of our life, and it can lead us to shift our relationship to ourselves, our experiences, and the world in a way that creates less suffering. Finding a more kind relationship reduces suffering.
Suffering is also a sign that we believe a thought that’s not true. It’s an invitation to examine what we hold as true and find what’s more true for us. (No thought is true, and what’s more true is partly that the thought is not absolutely true, and that other stories about the same also have validity.) If we recognize it, suffering shows us the way to liberation.
Depending on how we relate to suffering, it can lead us to be a better steward of our life. It can help us shift our relationship to life from struggle to befriending. It can help us notice and examine our stressful beliefs. It can encourage us to find healing for emotional issues and trauma. It can humanize us and help us see we are all in it together – we are all in the same boat. It can help us mature. It can deepen our empathy with ourselves and others. It can motivate us to support life and be engaged in reducing the suffering in the world. It can be a motivation for exploring and finding what we are. (The deeper motivation is coming home, love and truth, and it’s ultimately a mystery.)
Even if we react to suffering in the reverse, in a way that deepens suffering and trauma for ourselves and others, that too is part of the perfection of life. It shows us what doesn’t work for us in the long term.
So, yes, suffering is part of the perfection of life – in more than one way.
I return home and see the door open and a group of Danes there. I realize they are robbing my place and talk to them and explain my situation. (My health situation, don’t have much income and only the most necessary belongings etc.) The ones I talk with seem to understand and they return some of what they have taken. After they leave, the neighbors over me say they recognized one of the men as a famous artist and the others as part of the community around him. I also talk to someone who recognized them because he has studied and written about their art. He tells me who they are but is not willing to testify. As he leaves, the art scholar points to a painting that hangs in a gallery across from my place. It’s large and is a kind of ice berg made up of colorful cubes.
Earlier in the dream, I live somewhere else than I do in waking life, perhaps somewhere in Europe. When I return home and find them in the process of robbing my place, it’s where I live in waking life. And when I talk with the neighbor and the art scholar and writer, it’s in Denmark, probably Copenhagen. The painting is good but not the type of art I resonate with them most.
My home is robbed by artists. They haven’t taken much, and they return some before they leave. They seem reasonable and friendly enough. I get the impression they have some anger against the ones they perceive as bourgeoisie. When I talk with them, they realize I don’t really fit into that category as they see it, so they soften a bit.
Also, it’s interesting that artists rob me since I was an artist in my late teen and early twenties, thought that would be my life path, and have some moments of slight discomfort when I remember and what may have been.
As I am about to wake out of the dream, I sense that it’s the artist parts of me that are resentful because they are rarely in use in my life now. They rob me to get attention. I didn’t get the sense that they robbed me because they needed to. It was more out of resentment of the person they thought I was – more bourgeoisie.
I wish to bring the artist parts of me more out and in use. And I am aware that I appear more bourgeoisie – in clothing and otherwise – than I am.
When we are authentic, we natural straddle the conventional and the more unconventional and even radical.
To ourselves, we are consciousness. And the world, as it appears to us, happens within and is consciousness. (When we look, we can find this independent of whatever worldview we have or philosophy we subscribe to.)
At the same time, we undeniably experience matter, and we may even experience it as solid and substantial.
So how does our mind create its experience of matter?
We can explore this through some forms of inquiry, for instance traditional Buddhist inquiry (exploring what’s happening in each sense field and how they combine to create an experience) and modern variations like Living Inquiries.
What do we find through these inquiries?
In general, we find that our mind makes sense of the world through an overlay of mental images and words, and it also associates sensations with some of these images and words. The sensations lend a sense of solidity and even truth to the thoughts, and the thoughts give meaning to the sensations.
I feel that something is true because of the sensations associated with the thoughts, and the sensations means something to me because of the thoughts associated with the sensations.
And that’s how our experience of matter is created as well. As I type of this computer, I see the screen and the keyboard, I heard the sound of the keys, and I feel the sensations of my fingers touching the keys. There is a mental overlay that makes sense of it all – screen, keys, hands, words, meaning. And one of the thoughts – and underlying assumptions – is of matter. The computer is matter, my fingers and hands are matter.
When I examine this specific experience of matter – for instance the sight and feel of the computer, I find sight, sound, sensations, and mental images and words making sense of it. That’s all I can find. I cannot find something called matter outside of this, or a computer, or hands, or anything else. It’s all made of up of these components in my mind.
My mind is creating its experience out of these very simple components.
I may also notice that all of this – sights, sounds, sensations, mental images and words – happen within and as consciousness. My experience of matter is made up of these components, and it all happens within and as what I am. I find myself as capacity for all of it.
This examination – especially when done over time and from different angles – changes our experience of…. our experience. Yes, matter is matter as it’s conventionally seen. And yet, it’s also not. It’s all made up of these components and it’s all happening within and as consciousness. It’s not as real or substantial as I initially assumed.
After we see through this, how do we experience matter?
I take it as we all do in a conventional sense. I walk, pick up things, my toe hurts when I stub it. But I also notice it’s happening within and as what I am, or within and as consciousness. One does not preclude the other.
Why is it useful to explore this?
This, in itself, is perhaps not directly useful. It’s interesting to see how our mind creates its own reality. And it is useful in exploring anything stressful in this way, whether it’s a thought or belief, an identity, a compulsion, or something else.
As we keep exploring it, we see that these stressful surface thoughts and identities rest on underlying assumptions, so it’s useful to examine these too. And one of these underlying assumptions is matter. (Along with body, doer, observer, consciousness, capacity, and so on, and taking ourselves as any of these.)
How can I explore this for myself?
What I wrote here is just a description of what I have found, and it’s similar to what other report finding. It’s a kind of very general travel description in case you’d like to visit or explore this for yourself. It gives you a starting point.
To actually explore it for yourself, traditional Buddhist inquiry can be helpful, and I have found Living Inquiries to be the most effective. You can ask a trained facilitator to facilitate you through this, and over time you can learn to do it for yourself.
God is a black lesbian woman.
European Christianity depicted God as an older white man. Older white men were typically in the most privileged position. So for a church led by white older men, and where hierarchy and power was more important than supporting the marginalized, it made sense to make God an older white man. It gave legitimacy to the current hierarchy and power structure, and it gave legitimacy to racism, sexism, colonialism, witch-hunts, and systematic abuse of women, non-whites, and children.
In contrast, the Jesus of the New Testament was on the side of the marginalized. So why not depict God as a black lesbian woman? Or whomever is marginalized where we are?
If we see God as all there is, or if we see a spark of the divine in each of us, then God is also literally a black lesbian woman.
Image: Painting by the amazing artist Harmonia Rosales. (Who paints as I had planned to paint before I switched path.)
All thoughts are recycled.– Byron Katie
Our stressful thoughts are recycled. They may seem very personal as long as we hold them as true. But they are variations of very old and familiar stressful thoughts for humanity. They are variations on universally stressful thoughts.
Any thought is stressful when it is believed. No thought is absolutely true and life will remind us of that, as will our mind which already knows. Believing a thought creates a position that’s not completely aligned with reality, and that’s inherently stressful.
I should also mention that, in a strict and literal sense, it’s not true that all thoughts are recycled. There are some new thoughts within science, philosophy, and art, although these too are usually variations on familiar themes. From what I know about Byron Katie, this is not what she refers to in her quote.
We all know about the hero’s journey.
What about the monster’s journey? Isn’t that as important, and perhaps more interesting since it has traditionally been ignored?
The monster is created in our childhood, when we learn that something in our experience – our emotions, reactions, thoughts – is wrong. We learn to hide it. Push it away. We make it into a monster in our own mind.
Then, we learn to see it in others. We learn to tell ourselves that they are like that, not me.
Later in life, and through grace, we may re-find the monster in ourselves. We get to know it. Listen to its story. Befriend it. See its value and contribution. And we can create a more mutually supportive relationship with it.
After a while, it may no longer look like a monster. It has returned more to what it was before it was made into a monster, although with the benefit of the experience of its journey.
How does this look from the perspective of the monster? It depends on the monster, of course. In each of us, there are several and also several combination monsters. I’ll interview one in a later post.
Seed: Seeing there is a new book with this name. (I haven’t read it.)Read More
Why do we see a backlash against vaccines these days?
I wonder if it’s partly connected with the way governments and doctors have communicated vaccine information. They tend to strongly push it and focus on the very real benefits of vaccines, while ignoring or glossing over the equally real complexity and occasional downsides.
Why would officials and authorities push vaccines in a one-sided way? It may come from thinking they obviously are needed and should be used so they don’t see the need to include the other side of the argument. They may want to avoid muddling the water or give ammunition to anti-vaxxers. Another factor may be lobbying from the powerful pharmaceutical industry since they obviously benefit from mass-scale vaccination projects.
As anyone who has ever been a child or teenager knows, one-sided persuasive communication creates a backlash. We know reality is not that simple. We know they are leaving something out. If we are a bit informed, we know what they leave out. So there will obviously be a backlash.
With a more balanced and grounded communication, it’s likely that the response also would be more balanced and grounded. Yes, vaccines are amazing and often a very good way to go. And yet, there are complexities and possible downsides that need to be addressed. Both are part of the picture.
We are used to accept risk. Cars help us get around but they also kill people. Pesticides may allow for an easier larger yield, but these too kill people. Medicines helps people stay healthy and alive, and they have side-effects and kill people in the wrong dosage. Hospitals help people stay alive, and hospitals also kill people – through mistakes, antibiotic-resistant infections, and so on.
We know about these risks, and most of us accept them.
And so also with vaccines. Yes, they often have some risks. And yet, their benefits often outweigh these risks. Most people are willing to accept the risk of some vaccines, especially if they are informed about these risks and feel the authorities are honest and open about it. In other cases, vaccines may seem less needed or the risks may be too high.
Through a more informed discussion, we could collectively be more discerning about when, how, and for whom any one vaccine is helpful.
This is an example of how conspiracy theories often have some basis in reality, although usually not in a literal sense. Yes, the issue of vaccines is more complex than authorities tend to acknowledge. And no, there is most likely no vast conspiracy behind it apart from the usual pressure and influence from those who benefit from it financially.
The real end has no beginning– Byron Katie
I don’t know how Byron Katie sees this. For me, the real end means to come home to what I am here now. And that has no beginning since its always here. It’s always what I am.
Byron Katie speaks here from a conscious noticing of what she is. What she is notices itself as all there is. If the recipient is not in this place, Katie’s words may be impossible to understand or require a lot of mental gymnastics to begin making intellectual sense. If the recipient is in a similar place as Katie, then the words make immediate sense and points to what’s here. They are simple and straight forward.
A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.– Jo Goodwin
Yes, that’s the function of a library, to represent a wide range of views including marginalized views and the ones that offend certain groups. Just like I want people I disagree with and whom offend me to have a voice in society, I want a library to have books that offend me. That’s the sign of a healthy society and a good library.
It’s not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers.– Judy Blume
These quotes are from A Mighty Girl on Facebook.
For me, intellectual honesty seems an intrinsic part of spirituality. After all, spirituality is an exploration of reality, and intellectual honesty guides and supports that process.
This is another large topic perhaps better suited for a book, but I’ll say a few words about it.
Intellectual honesty is intellectual honesty no matter what the topic is. In general, there seems to be some universals to it and some universal findings. And there may also be some universal findings when it comes to spirituality.
How does intellectual honesty look for me in general?
I don’t know anything for certain.
Thoughts are questions about reality.
Thoughts help me orient and function in the world. They can be more or less valid in a conventional sense, and it’s not their function to give any final or absolute truth.
Life is ultimately a mystery, including what we think we understand or know something about.
How does intellectual honesty look for me when applied to psychology?
The world is my mirror.
(a) My mental overlay of the world creates all the maps, separation lines, labels, interpretations and so on that I operate from as a human being in the world. Anything I can put into words or images is just that, my own words and images. It’s not inherent in the world.
(b) Also, what I see “out there” reflects dynamics and characteristics in myself. Whatever I can put into words about someone or something else also applies to me. When I look, I can find specific examples of how it applies to me.
I am my own final authority. I cannot give it away, no matter how much I try.
I operate from a wide range of underlying assumptions. It’s good to bring these to awareness, as far as I can, and question them.
How does intellectual honesty look for me when applied to spirituality?
Awakening can be understood in a small and psychological or big and spiritual way. In both cases, it’s about what we are noticing itself and then living this human life in that context. We are capacity for the world as it appears to us. Any content of experience happens within and as what we are.
In the small interpretation, we say that this is MY or perhaps OUR nature. In the big interpretation, we go one step further and say it’s the nature of EVERYTHING.
What we can say for certain is that it seems to be our nature. And although saying it’s the nature of everything is a leap, there are some hints that this may be the case. (I have written more about this in other articles.)
What are the benefits of intellectual honesty?
It helps us stay honest, on track, and grounded. And it helps us avoid detours created by wishful or fearful thinking. (Although these detours become part of our path and have their own function.) It helps us – individually and collectively – to make better decisions.
Why is intellectual honesty important in spirituality?
I have mentioned a few things about this above.
Spirituality is about reality. It’s about noticing what we already are and living from it. It’s about seeing through our assumptions about ourselves and the world. And in that process, intellectual honesty is invaluable and essential. It keeps us on track. It helps us see through what’s not aligned with reality.
Can intellectual honesty be learned or trained?
Yes, absolutely, although it does require readiness and willingness. We can learn about cognitive bias, logical fallacies, and so on, and learn to recognize them in our own thinking. There is always more work to do in these areas for all of us, and especially in recognizing it in ourselves.
Does intellectual honesty preclude trust, devotion, or poetic expression?
Not at all.
I can trust an approach or a guide, at least for a while and to some extent.
I can engage in devotion and devotional practices towards the divine.
I can enjoy poetic expressions and even engage in my own.
Are the examples above all there is to it?
No, these are just some examples that come to mind. There are a lot more out there and variations and clarifications of these. And probably a lot I am not aware of and won’t be aware of in this lifetime.
Are the examples above examples universal?
They do not represent any final or absolute truth, although it seems that many of these are relatively universal. And it’s always possible to go further with each one of these and other insights and pointers.
The examples I gave above apply to the part of the terrain of reality I am exploring. If we explore other parts of the terrain, there will be some other ones that applies specifically to that terrain. For instance, if we see ourselves as a more conventional Christian, we may chose to “believe” something while also admitting we don’t know.Read More
As a pointer, some non-dual teachers say: you are not a separate being.
That simple statement points to two distinct things.
I am not a being. To myself, I am capacity for the world as it appears to me, and this includes this human self and anything connected to it. It all happens within and as me. To others and in the world, I am this human being. To myself, I am capacity for this one and the rest of the world as it appears to me now.
I am not separate. Similarly, since the content of my experience happens within and as what I am, there is no real separation between anything. When I find myself as capacity for the world as it appears to me, it’s oneness noticing itself as all there is. We can make distinctions through a mental field overlay of images and thoughts, but these are no real distinctions.
So when I hear that I am not a separate being, it’s really two things. I am not a being. And what I am does not have any real separation in it.
Of course, this doesn’t negate our ordinary human and conventional experience of the world. In the world, I am this human being. And in the world, I am somewhat separate from others and can experience myself as separate and even alone and experiencing loneliness.
You meet your destiny on the road you take to avoid it– Jean de La Fontaine in Fables
There are several ways to understand this.
If we want to avoid something in ourselves, we take actions to avoid it, and we may meet it anyway. Life has a tendency to bring it up for us no matter which path we take.
What’s hidden in us is always here. Any number of life situations can trigger it and bring it to the surface. And there is also an inherent dynamic in us that brings what’s hidden to the surface. (Of course, we may resist and struggle with it.)
Also, sometimes, by actively trying to avoid something, we make decisions that causes us to meet just what we wanted to avoid.
For instance, if I try to avoid confrontation, I may avoid revealing important information to someone, and that omission may be the cause of a future confrontation.
The quote is sometimes misattributed to Jung, which is understandable. I imagine he could have said something like it in a specific context.
I had a long meditation practice before the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome got significantly worse some years ago. I found I couldn’t continue my practice as before, and struggled with it for a while, until I started to find my way.
So how does it look now?
I do a very simple basic meditation of noticing and allowing. Notice what’s here. Allow it as it is. Notice it’s already allowed as it is. Adyashanti has some very good guided meditations on this, and Natural Rest is another way into it that works well. It’s also the basic meditation found in Buddhism.
I find heart-centered practices very helpful, including tonglen and ho’oponopno. This helps shift how I relate to myself, others, situations, parts of myself, and existence in general.
Pointers for noticing what I am are helpful, especially Headless experiments and (a simple version of) the Big Mind process.
Sometimes, I also do some inquiry, especially simple pointers like the ones from Adyashanti. How would I treat myself right now if I was someone I deeply care about? How would truth and love view this situation? And so on.
Beyond this, I sometimes do more in-depth inquiry, for instance through The Work of Byron Katie and Living Inquiries. And I do some somatic work, especially Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) and Breema.
In general, I have found a more relaxed way of doing these practices. And it’s more about noticing what’s already here than creating anything or going somewhere.
Almost always, the most important element in overcoming a regressive life pattern is starting to focus more on the heart center than on the head. Allowing your heart to be vulnerable, open, and connected, even if it feels scary, is an unavoidable step. Start by opening to sensing the presence in your heart center. Hold whatever arises in the presence of the heart. And from the heart center, inquire into the underlying nature of patterns of resistance and avoidance. But do it from the sense of presence in the heart. That will make all the difference.– Adyashanti in A Revolution of Being: Embracing the Challenge of Awakened Living, 2018 Online Retreat
I am currently reorganizing and cleaning in the basement, and the process has predictably gone through a phase where it looked far more messy than it did when I started.
Although it’s an obvious analogy, it does highlight a few things about our inner cleaning and reorganizing process.
When I clean and reorganize physically, I take things out of boxes, bags, and storage to see what’s there, sort, throw out some things, and organize all in a better way.
That’s the same that tends to happen in our inner cleaning and reorganization process. Old issues and hangups are brought out so they can be seen. It can look far more messy during the process than it did before we started. It can feel a bit overwhelming and confusing. We may, at times, feel a bit lost. We may need to take one small step at a time and focus less on the process as a whole. We may need to ask for help. And in the end, it’s all more clean, we have gotten rid of some old and no longer needed things, and it’s organized in a way that serves us better now.
This applies to healing of emotional issues, and it also applies to the awakening process. When we heal emotional issues, we typically need to see, feel, find a different relationship with, and find love for anything making up or holding in place the issue.
And it also applies to the awakening process. The awakening and clarification itself brings up things and can feel messy at times. And the awakening process also brings up old emotional issues so they can be loved and – at least to some extent – healed, so the embodiment of the awakening can go further into our human life.
The most dramatic example of this messiness may happen during a dark night. When I went through the darkest phase of the dark night, my inner and outer life were both messy, to put it mildly.
Most of us probably know this from our own life and history.
Suddenly, the impossible is here, and then it is normal.
When I notice the thought that something is impossible or unlikely, I remind myself I cannot know for certain, and that the seemingly impossible has happened many times in my own life, in society during my lifetime, and throughout human history.
When I grew up, I never thought I would ever live in the US. Before I got a more severe version of CFS, it seemed impossible that I would have an illness I wouldn’t be able to heal from and function well with.
In the ’30s and ’40s, going to the moon belonged to science fiction and fantasy. For many in Germany in the ’20s, Hitler and a fascist regime supported by a large portion of the German population seemed very unlikely or impossible. Even just a few years ago, a president like Trump was unthinkable. For many in 2019, the pandemic of 2020 would have seemed like it belonged to a TV series more than reality. In the 1800s, most of the technology of the 1900s wasn’t even dreamt of. For many today, the likely massive near-future effects of ecological unravelling seems unreal and like a fantasy.
A lot of things seems impossible, or difficult to imagine as real, until it’s here. And then it becomes the new normal.
Our life today, as individuals and society, is made up of what once seemed impossible and now is normal.