Peak or mundane?

 

Here is how Corey W. deVos describes these three perspectives on Integral Life:
• God in 1st-person refers to the actual phenomenological experience of God, in the form of satori, kensho, ecstatic reverie, and other sorts of “peak experiences” of the divine.
– from The Three Faces of God

Reality can and does of course “break through” the curtain of beliefs to reveal itself more clearly, giving a glimpse of what’s really here. And that may be described and interpreted as a “peak experience” in a conventional sense.

And yet, is it really a peak experience and is that the whole picture?

The label “peak experience”

It may be described as a “peak”, and yet it’s not really a “peak”. Peak is just the label thoughts may give it afterwards. And it can equally well be seen as a “bottom” since it may become something to chase. Or as neutral, since it’s just part of the play of life, it’s what’s here revealing itself to itself.

Nor is reality noticing itself more clearly really an “experience”, it’s more a shift of identification. And yet, when/if beliefs come in again, it may be interpreted as an experience within time and space, happening to an “I”.

Peak & mundane

To me, it seems equally or more interesting with the completely mundane and everyday recognition of reality as first or zero person. Reality can notice itself more free of the filters of beliefs within any experience, and independent of the particulars of experience. And it can do so through one of the many forms of inquiry inquiry, whether it’s headless experiments, the Big Mind process, sense field explorations, The Work, or simply just noticing what’s here.

The “peak” may be good bait at the beginning, and then gives way for reality noticing itself in the mundane and everyday, independent of particulars of experience.

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Differentiating 1st and 3rd person

 

Another topic I keep coming back to….

The whole process of Ground awakening to itself is very much a differentiation of 1st person experience and 3rd person identity.

In our first person experience, what is alive in immediate awareness, we are awareness and the content of awareness is awareness itself. It is beyond and includes all polarities, free from any center, absent of an I with an Other.

And in our third person identity, as a he/she/it, an object in the world, as others see us, we are a human self in the world with a particular age, gender, nationality, preferences, set of likes and dislikes and so on. This third person identity is crucial for the functioning of this human self in the world, and it arises in immediate awareness as anything else. When awareness awakens to itself, there is no more or less identification with this human self and its identity than anything else arising.

When these two are confused, there is an identification with our third person identity. This he/she/it in the world becomes an “I” and appears as a subject, and with this identification comes a life and death drama with all its many flavors. What is already alive in immediate awareness becomes filtered through this temporary identification, making this field of awareness and form, inherently absent of an I with an Other, appear as I and Other. Identifying as content of awareness, an object within form, tends to put awareness itself on the other side of the I-Other split, and this is one way this dynamic perpetuates itself.

Differentiating the two allows for a disidentification with our third person identity, which in turn allows awareness to notice itself as the field of awareness and form, already and always absent of I and Other.

Put another way, there is a differentiation of the absolute (awake void and form) and the relative (third person identity), allowing awareness to be awake to itself while this human self still functions with its usual identity in the world.

First person and death

 

When I do impermanence practices, visualizing everything and everyone in my life – including this human self and any state and experience – as already gone, it seems strangely familiar. And it is not only because I have done it before.

When I explore, I see that it is because it reflects my daily first person experience of the world.

Deepening into what we are is a process of differentiating 1st and 3rd person identities of ourselves.

My third person identity is the identity of this human self in the world, and it has a purely practical function. It is the identity of this he, she or it.

My first person identity is very different. When the third person identity is seen as third person identity, seen as he/it and not I, then my first person identity reveals itself more clearly. Now, I find myself as awake void and form, and that is it. There is no center there, no I with an Other, no exclusive identification with any content of awareness.

Together, there is freedom from identification, yet also the ability for this human self to function in the world. In first person experience, I am awake void and form, released from identification with any particular content. Yet, this human self has a third person identity (as an he) which helps it function in the world.

This also helps me see that in my first person experience, the world steadily comes and goes, it dies and is reborn here/now and always. People vanish, places vanish, thoughts vanish, perceptions vanish, states vanish, content of awareness as a whole vanish.

When this human self leaves a room, the room vanishes. When someone is no longer around, they vanish. When it closes its eyes, the visual world vanishes. When it dreams, any familiar content sometimes vanish and a whole different world appears. When it goes into dreamless sleep, any content of awareness vanishes.

So death is intimately familiar to us, in our first person experience. It is what happens here now, always. The world dies, and is reborn, in innumerable shapes and combinations.

It is only in my third person identity that something appears to stay around, and then dies with a death certificate. In my first person experience, it is only in the realm of thoughts that someone is still alive, or something is still around, even if it is no longer here in perceptions.

And it is only in the realm of thoughts that there is a difference between someone or something gone in perception but most likely coming back (“alive”), or gone forever (“dead”).

In first person experience, it is really only in the realm of thoughts and stories that someone or something is alive or dead.

So death is intimately familiar. In my immediate experience, the world dies, and is reborn, here now and always.

And as usual, if this is taken as a belief, it looks weird… it can become a defense against grief, a denial of death, a resistance to fully experiencing and being with what comes up when someone close to us dies.

But if it is a living experience, a living realization, what we notice in immediate experience, it is a freedom… a freedom from identification, a freedom to experience grief fully when someone or something dies, and a freedom for gratitude to surface more easily… gratitude for it having lived and been in our life.

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Divine feminine

 

mellonmadonna.jpg

During the retreat, there was a shift into an immediate and very personal second person relationship with the divine feminine, one that reveals the divine feminine in its universal and intimately personal aspects.

In the past, second person practices has been more directed to the divine masculine, but now, probably from the shift and deepening into endarkenment, there is a deepening intimate second person relationship with the divine feminine.

None of this has been from choice, or from any conscious views, as I have for a long time been interested in and appreciated the divine feminine as well as the divine masculine. But the direct connection happens at a different level, outside of conscious views and choices.

So some of the second person relationships with the divine that are alive now are…

  • The divine masculine, with its sense of clarity, luminosity, and detachment, with void and luminosity in the foreground.
  • The divine feminine, with its velvety smooth, round, full, luminous blackness, and a sense of a gentle embrace and holding of all forms… including this individual and everything within this individual. Here, smooth fullness and gentle embrace is in the foreground.
  • The indwelling God, with its alive presence in the heart region, for this particular individual, with alive presence in the foreground.

The divine masculine is related to the head center, and filters Spirit (itself) through the head center as void, detachment and luminosity. The divine feminine is related to the belly center and filters Spirit as the smooth full luminous blackness. And the indwelling God is related to the heart center, and filters Spirit as alive and infinitely intelligent, loving, receptive and responsive presence. Each one is noticed through (even a partial) awakening of their respective centers, and each one filters Spirit in a particular way through this center.

All of these share the same qualities of infinite intelligence, love, receptivity and responsiveness, in their universal and personal flavors.

Each one is void, transparent to the void, a manifestation of the void, and also within and as all forms. For the Indwelling God, it is its quality of alive presence which appears within and as all forms, although now with a more universal quality.

Each one has universal and personal aspects. They are revealed as universal, as void, and within and as all forms. As impersonal, as void and a manifestation of the void. And also as uniquely and intimately personal in their immediate relationship with this particular individual.

Each one is explored through second, first and third person relationships… as a you, I and it. And also through a zero person “relationship” with an absence of I and Other.

(For me, each center, and the impersonal and personal aspects of what is filtered through each center, have been revealed at different times, which allows for a clearer differentiation within all of this… there is a benefit to resistance and blocks which reveals Spirit one piece at a time…! If it had all happened at the same time I may not have been able to differentiate it in this way, and that would have been OK as well.)

A few days before this shift, I bought a used book and found a picture of a beautiful icon of a Black Madonna with child stuck between its pages, and I put it up on the wall. It perfectly illustrates the experience of this immediate second person relationship with the divine feminine.

(When I just now looked up icons of Black Madonnas, I found it as the Russian 18th century Fedorovo icon. The picture above is a different one.)

From I to me, mine and it: a gentle disidentification

 

As Ken Wilber explains so clearly (and others do as well), a natural part of our development process is a shift in identity… that used to be an I, first person, perceived as the subject, becomes me, it and an object, and then something else is an I and a subject… generally moving through the bodies as described in different traditions… physical, emotional, mental, soul, causal (witness) and then finally nondual when the perceived I -Other falls away.

One way of working more consciously with this is to explore what happens when what we habitually take as an I is labeled me or it. So at the different levels, we can talk about what is happening as me, mine or it:

  • The physical, our body: This is sometimes a little bit of a stretch, depending on what is going on, but not too much. My body is in pain. My body is hungry. My arm itches. It is breathing. My brain doesn’t remember so well right now.
  • The emotional: There is often more identification here, so a little more of a stretch. There is anger. Sadness is coming up. There is joy and excitement.
  • The mental, our thoughts and stories: Even more identification here, so sometimes also a stretch. There is thinking. A story is coming up saying that people shouldn’t lie. My story is telling me that I need to protect people from feeling hurt.
  • The soul level: This is an area many are not so familiar with, so it is often more easy to see as it: There is alive presence, luminous blackness, empty luminosity, a smooth full velvety blackness.
  • The causal level, the witness: Again, often even more identification here. There is awareness. There is awareness of music, a sense of chill on the toes.
  • Nondual: There is a field of awake void and form, and form as the awake void itself.

We can also lump some of these together: My personality doesn’t like noisy people. My belief system is telling me that people in power should be transparent. That situation triggered a contraction in me.

A formal labeling practice can be very helpful with this, seeing whatever rising as an it, allowing for a gentle disidentification with whatever arises, so also allowing more space around it. The final disidentification is with awareness itself, seeing that too as an it.

We can also do it in our daily life, in how we talk with ourself, our self-talk. And we can even find ways to bring it out in how we talk with others, in ways that creates some distance to it and space around it, while also not sounding too weird (although that would be fine too).

Here are some examples of ways to talk about what arises that, for the most part, does not sound too unusual: My brain doesn’t remember so well right now. My arm hurts. There is a lot of anger coming up right now. My personality doesn’t like him very much. What she said triggered a contraction in me. There is awareness of this room and body. I have a big story about how she should be more respectful. My belief system tells me that corporations should be held more accountable.

Talking about what arises in third person creates a gentle disidentification with it, some space around it, and also creates a familiarity with the terrain of seeing whatever arises in third person. It also helps bring more awareness to our habitual patterns of talking about situations, seeing how we tend to place an I on some things that arises and not other things, and that the boundary is somewhat arbitrary. Why is it that my arm hurts, but I am angry? Why is it a story telling me that this body should be healthy, while I am aware of sensations arising?

Exploring and deepening into who and what we are is of course not all about disidentification, that is just one aspect of it. It is equally important and helpful to explore whatever comes up in other ways. For instance, by fully allowing whatever experiences come up, seeing and feeling into it, allowing any sense of I and Other to become more transparent or fall away. And also to explore what comes up through first and second person relationships using for instance Voice Dialogue or the Big Mind process.

Existence allows for it all… first, second and third person relationships, and even zero person “relationship”… it is what we are, so it is helpful to explore all of these and become more familiar with how the terrain appears through each of them.

Relationships with the ultimate, and inflation

 

In terms of avoiding or minimizing inflation, it is safer to actively explore the 2nd, 3rd, and zero person relationships with Big Mind (see previous post), and then just allow the 1st person relation to come and go on its own.

Inflation inherent in a sense of a separate self

Although even here, as long as there is a sense of a separate self, there will be some inflation, and it is good to notice it and take it for what it is.

There is a sense that I, as a separate self, have a relationship with God, understand something about God, or am someone who has glimpses of the ground of all existence. So I am special, different, am in a special relationship with God or existence, and so on. All of this is inflation. We take something that is inherently neutral, place a value on it, and take it as happening to a separate self.

It is inevitable, and happens all the time anyway.

There is a sense of a separate self, and with it comes an automatic sense of superiority and inferiority, richly diverse and with many different flavors. This form of inflation is just one of those, although it can be an especially nasty one, and annoying to those around, if left unchecked.

So what can we do?

Working with inflation

Again, we can work with it from the form and the emptiness sides.

From the form side, one way is notice and work with projections, and especially shadow projections.

From the emptiness side, I can find myself as headless and see that all of this is (apparently) happening to an individual who is inherently free from a separate self, and more precisely that it is really happening as awake emptiness and form, inherently absent of a separate I.

In both cases, we come to see that it is all inherently neutral, and only takes on significance, meaning, and a sense of importance, through our stories about it, and through believing in those stories.

Relationships with the ultimate, and identities

 

There are many ways to relate to and explore Existence as a whole, as God, Big Mind, Brahman, Tao.

One is with a second person relationship, as a you, through prayer, gratitude, meditation, contemplation, noticing an influx of grace and energy, and so on.

Another is through a third person relationship, as an it, something to explore, inquire into, study and talk about.

Yet another is through a zero person relationship, through headlessness experiments, finding ourselves as awake emptiness and form absent of a separate I, and so on.

And finally through a first person relationship, as the one transcendent I without an Other.

And through all of them together, fluidly shifting from one to another, there is a far richer exploration going on.

Center of gravity shifting

Another way of talking about this is that our center of gravity, who or what we temporarily take ourselves to be, shifts.

In the second person relationship, we explore ourselves as an object in the world and God as the whole. This one is most readily available to anyone.

In the third person relationship, we set a part of ourselves as if outside of the whole, exploring God as an it.

In the zero person relationship, we see that there is no separate I anywhere, not even in this human self. When I am not, God is, as Meister Eckhart said.

And the flip side of a zero person relationship is a first person relationship, seeing that there is only the one transcendent I without an Other.

Freedom to explore

All these relationships happen on their own, over time, but we can also consciously give ourselves the freedom to actively explore any and all of them, when they arise on their own, or through various practices.

If we make up an identity for ourselves which leaves one or more relationship out, there is less freedom in the exploration, and there is also stress. Life will inevitably bring up what is left outside of the box we put ourselves or existence in, and when it comes knocking, we try to hold it at bay, which brings stress and discomfort.

I tell myself that the only ultimately real relationship is the zero person one (which is true), and that I shouldn’t go into any other relationships (which is not true), so there is a constant fight holding them at a distance.

I tell myself that I am an object in the world (true) but not the ground of it all (not true), so I put down any mentioning of a zero or first person relationship, and get very confused if they happen on their own.

I emphasize a third person relationship, knowing a lot about it, but don’t actively explore it in my own life. The wisdom, love and freedom inherent in it does not work on my life, so continuing in old patterns there is stress.

Identities as either/or, both/and, and none

 

Here is another way of talking about what I explored in the previous post:

Our three forms of identities are either/or, both/and, and none.

Our either/or identity: as we appear in the world to others

Our 3rd person daily identity, as we appear in the world to others, is generally an either/or identity. We are either male or female, 25 years old or not, Asian or not, Japanese or not, have black hair or not, is a computer programmer or not, and so on.

This is the identity which allows us to function in the world as a human being, differentiated from and identifiable among others.

Our both/and identity: our experience of our own wholeness

Our third person identity as we appear to ourselves, is an both/and identity, embracing the wholeness of who we are as a human being, recognizing any quality I see in the wider world also in myself. I am kind and cruel, honest and dishonest, masculine and feminine, industrious and lazy, and so on. No human quality is foreign to me. I contain multitudes.

This is the identity which gives us a sense of wholeness, richness, fullness, and connection, intimacy and recognition in relationship with others. There is no identity to defend here, because nothing is left out.

Our absence of identity: in our 1st (or zero) person immediate experience

In our immediate experience of ourselves, differentiated (and sorted out) from our 3rd person identity, we are a void… an awake void… an awake void full of content – and where the content itself is this awake emptiness. And this awake emptiness has no identity, it is free from any identity, and it allows any and all identities to arise as nothing other than awake emptiness itself.

This is the identity which gives a freedom from any identity, and also allows a fluidity among any of the 3rd person identities.

Together: either/or, both/and, and none

So together, there is our 3rd person either/or identity, which allows us to function as an identifiable individual in the world. There is the both/and identity, which allows us to find any quality we see in the world also in ourselves as an individual. And there is the absence of identity, which allows us to find ourselves as awake emptiness and form, inherently absent of any separate self.

Our either/or identity is given, or developed early on in life. Our both/and identity is discovered and explored as we mature into who we are, as an individual human being. And our absence of identity is discovered and noticed as we separate out our 3rd person identity (as a he/she/it) from our 1st (zero) person identity – what we are in immediate awareness.

Simplicity of connection, and cycles

 

I notice that there is an immediacy, simplicity and sense of deep quietness in the connection (and communication) with the alive presence, which is everywhere yet also centered right here in the heart. And also how there are the usual shifts between 2nd, 3rd and 1st person relationships with it, from You to describing it to I. Often nowadays, there is the sense of doubleness, of being both the familiar personality and this alive presence, of both as 1st person (and 2nd, and 3rd) at the same time.

I assume this doubleness is characteristic of one phase of the process. First, there is a center of gravity in our familiar identity, usually connected with the personality, and the alive presence is experienced as You. Then, the doubleness, being both at once. Then, the alive presence comes into the foreground, as a new sense of identity, and the personality goes into the background and is transmuted in this process, becoming more and more in service to the presence.

Throughout this overall process, there is also the shifts between 2nd, 3rd and 1st person relationships with the presence, as cycles within cycles.

Cycling through 2nd, 3rd and 1st person

 

In the shifts into endarkenment and then the alive luminosity, I notice what seems to be a natural cycling through 2nd, 3rd and 1st person relationships with it.

I initially explored the fertile darkness through a 2nd person relationship, as a You, then a 3rd person relationship, as an it, exploring and mapping it through images and words, then a 1st person relationship, as part of the field absent of I, then back to a 3rd person relationship, and so on. Naturally cycling through the three ways of exploring it. And the same seems to happen with the alive luminosity.

The second person relationship takes the form of seeing, feeling and loving it as You, and also prayer and intention. The first person relationship is not a relationship, but the field awake to itself – including the fertile darkness and alive luminosity – as absent of I. And the third person relationship is one of mental exploration, of mapping, writing, reading and talking about it.

Spirit as You and you, specifically YOU

 

At the end of the chapter on We in Integral Spirituality, Ken Wilber talks about how contemporary western spirituality tends to be very comfortable with Spirit as I and it, and less comfortable with it as You, or even you.

This goes at least for Buddhist and Adveita circles. I suspect those practicing within traditionally theist traditions, such as Sufism, Christianity, Sikhism and Hinduism, have more of a familiarity with the You and you of Spirit.

And there are of course several aspects to Spirit as You, and you.

Spirit as You

One is the traditional one of prayer and devotional practice, of praying to Spirit as You, of submitting to Spirit as You. To place myself, as a human being, under and at the mercy of Spirit as You. This itself can be very enriching and speed up the process of awakening and of maturing and deepening as a human being.

Spirit as you, yes you

The other is maybe less familiar from Western traditions, although it seems more common in some Eastern traditions. This is spirit as you, yes you – as a human being, as my partner, my children, my parents, my neighbors, my co-workers, homeless, politicians, those living half-way around the world. This too is Spirit, in all its richness and fullness, the current manifestation of Spirit as form and evolution.

The richness of Spirit as you

This is Spirit as you.

As confused, living from mistaken identity, with its inherent love and wisdom shining through the cracks. As awakened to its own nature.

This is Spirit as you, mirroring exactly myself.

This is Spirit showing me myself, in all my richness, as you. As my partner, my family, my friends, my neighbors, everyone.

This is Spirit as you. As lovable, annoying, as a helper, as a problem, as intimate, as a stranger, as infuriating, as inspiring, as one I want to spend more time with, as one I can’t stand, as one I experience magic with, as one I am bored with.

As one bringing me face-to-face with myself, nudging me along in my own deepening as a human being.

The me and mine, and the you and it, within transcend and include

 

In his chapter on the shadow in Integral Spirituality, Ken Wilber writes about the me and mine, and the you and it, within transcend and include as it shows up in spiritual practice.

Arising as 1st, 2nd and 3rd person

Anything arising can be seen as 1st, 2nd or 3rd person: as I, me or mine, as you, we or ours, or as it, other or theirs’s.

Trancend and include

And anything arising can be transcendet and included through various forms of spiritual practice such as meditation and self-inquiry. It arises within the field of everything arising in the present. And it arises as awareness, consciousness, Spirit, Buddha Mind, Brahman, God. This is of course wonderful in itself. It is reality waking up to itself.

From a blind identification with content, with the seen such as our human self or our soul, the center of gravity and identity shifts into the seeing itself, as the witness the seen arises within and to and as. And from here it shifts into realizing that there is no I anywhere in all of this: here is no I in the seen and no I in the seeing. The center falls away. The self-contraction falls away. There is just a field of what is, of the seen and the seeing, absent of I anywhere.

And there is the realization that this is how it always already is, even in the midst of the temporary misidentification with a portion of the seen or with the seeing itself.

Yet, as KW points out, there is a very important differentiation here. There are two flavors possible for what has been transcendet and included.

The me, you and it of that which is transcendent and included

If it is recognized and known as I, it becomes me and mine. It is arises as you or yours, or it or theirs, then it remains so even after the transcending and including of it.

In the first case, it remains 1st person. In the second case, it remains 2nd or 3rd person. Even as it arises as Buddha Mind, Spirit, emptiness dancing.

Example: anger remains an it

This is something I saw clearly in my initial awakening in my teens, and one of the reasons I worked so much (and still do) on recognizing and integrating projections: making the it into I and mine. It is a long process, one that lasts as long as there is a functional connection with a human self, so it is a good thing to find peace with – and find the enjoyment in.

For me, anger was definitely an it, an yours and theirs, probably due to the long list of typical suspects such as upbringing, family and cultural patterns, my young age (not ready to wake up from this aspect of the family and cultural trance), and so on.

So even in the midst of the awakening, where everything is revealed as consciousness, as Spirit, as God, it remained an it. Anger arises as Buddha Mind, with no separation and even with no I anywhere. Yet also firmly as an it to this human self, within all of that.

As Spirit, there is of course no need to integrate it. It already naturally is, arising within and as Ground and Spirit.

Yet on a human level, for this human self, it was very different. This human self had no idea of to integrate it, how to include it in its repertoire, how to use it, how to live it, how to use its energy in daily life and interactions with others, how to effectively relate to it when it comes up in in oneself or others. Anger remained an it. Something slightly foreign to this human self.

If anger is an I or mine previous to the awakening, it looks quite different. Of course, it still arises as Spirit and Buddha Mind. But it is now me and mine when it arises. It is not foreign to this human self, but something familiar, something that is included in the repertoire, something that can be lived and used in daily life, something that this human self knows how to relate to in itself and others in daily life – in a more effective and effortless way.

The absolute and relative of me and yours and it

At the absolute level, there is no difference. It arises as Buddha Mind and that’s it.

At the relative level, there is a huge difference. In the one case, where it remains an it, it is left out of the repertoire of this human self. It is foreign to this human self. And in the other case, it is included in the repertoire, it is familiar, it is a tool that this human self knows how to relate to and use.

Never too late…!

Of course, it is never too late to make the it into a mine, to own that which was disowned, to become more familiar with it at a human level, to include it into the realm of the familiar and the daily repertoire of this human self.

Gradations along the scale of 1st, 2nd and 3rd person

And there are also, of course, gradations of this, all the way from extreme disowning of the quality at a human level, to a deep familiarity and comfort with it. It can be something that this human self never touches, even after awakening. Or it can be something it is very familiar with as mine and knows how to use with elegance and effectivity.

These qualities are not only a component of our human makeup, allowing us to be fuller, richer and more complete and mature human beings. They are also skillful means, and the more of them that go from yours and it into me and mine, the larger the repertoire of skillful means available to us.

Deepening in familiarity, fullness and richness

There are always more of the yours and it that can be made into me and mine. And there is always further to go in allowing this human self to become familiar with it, exploring how to use it, how to live it, how to bring it seamlessly into daily life.

It can deepen in richness and fullness, as a me and mine.

How to work with this

In terms of the techniques for working with this that I am familiar with, the Big Mind process and The Work both seem excellent.

Through both, we become familiar with the its as me and mine. We learn to own that which was previously disowned. To include in our conscious repertoire at our human level that which previously was left out.

Inviting Deities

 

During the deeksha event yesterday, we spent some time exploring inviting deities in – and seeing which ones come in for us.

Deities

The deities can be from any tradition, or even nameless, and each embody a particular way the self-realized divine mind can manifest. Emphasizing compassion, wisdom, selflessness, engagement in the world, art, music, bodywork, speech and so on. There is a wide spectrum, and each one is always evolving as well.

First and second person relationships

It brought up – for me and others – the 1st and 2nd person relationship dynamics with God and the various deities. In a 1st person relationship, we realize (a) that this is I or (b) that there is no I anywhere, everything just is – beyond and including one and many (this one is more of a zero person relationship).

In a second person relationship, it becomes an I-Other dynamic which can be very helpful in contacting and getting to know a particular realization or set of qualities.

And a fluidity between the two seem especially helpful.

Inviting in and familiarizing myself with

So with these deities, it can be very helpful to invite in and contact particular ones – especially the ones we have an affinity for. In my case, Christ, St. Francis and others. It allows me to contact those qualities, first as Other, and familiarize myself with them. Bringing them into my life and activities. And then, with the boundary of I and Other dissolving.

Tibetan Buddhism

As so often, Tibetan Buddhism not only inlcudes this in their practices but have refined it to a high degree. In deity practices for instance, we invite a particular deity as Other and connect with, explore and familiarize ourself with it in that way. Then at the end, we visualize this deity dissolving into light and merging with our human form. There is no separation.

Helpful approach

Coming from a habitual identification with form and something finite (our human self), it can be very helpful to contact these realizations and qualities as Other initially. It is closer to where we are at, and is a way to ease us into it. It is an application of skillful means.

Then, we realize there was never any separation from the beginning.

Fluidity

And we are free to continue exploring these realizations and qualities and how they manifest in our human life, in the fluidity of moving between first and second person relationships with them.

Mutual influence

From a second person view, we can see how these deities and qualities evolve and mature with humanity. Our embodiment of them allow them to evolve further. And our embodiment of them allows us to evolve further.

And from a first – or rather zero – person view, we see there is not really any difference between those two.

Deities out there?

Another question that came up for people yesterday is if these deities are really out there? Or are they just aspects of our own minds, projections which help us to connect with them?

It is an interesting question, but for all practical purposes maybe not so relevant. The answer may be both, or neither, or both and neither, or that it doesn’t matter, or that whatever works for you is good, or that it is an topic for inquiry and exploration.