Leaving myself

 

I keep looking at this now…..

In my twenties, I found myself in a situation where I left myself. I got married (which was OK) and moved to Wisconsin (not OK). I left myself when I moved to Wisconsin. I left my guidance, my friends, the Zen center, a place I loved, a study I loved, and much more. I felt deeply off track, and continued to feel off track for years. And as time went on, without me choosing myself again, I lost more and more. (Friends, opportunities, passion, enthusiasm, health, etc. The same day I moved I went from being passionate about art, meditation and prayer and doing it daily for hours, to being unable to do it at all. It was too painful.)

I left myself. And I made myself small. And I did so because of shoulds and fears. I thought I should sacrifice myself for my wife. I thought I should make myself small for the sake of the marriage. I thought I couldn’t set myself first, and didn’t see – or at least feel – that this would be the best for both of us. I also acted from a fear of disappointing another, and of not being able to find someone else. (Is either of those true? And is it true it wouldn’t be OK if either happened?)

This was a quite hard lesson in what happens when I leave myself. And much of what comes up for me now is regret and grief over what I lost during this phase of my life (including the possibility for a relationship that felt more right, and children).

In a sense, we cannot leave ourselves. We are here. The divine is here. Whatever happens is love and God’s will. And yet, it’s also very possible for me to leave myself within that. I can follow my shoulds and fears instead of honoring my wisdom. I can scare myself with my shoulds and fears, and I can scare myself away from my shoulds and fears, instead of finding love for them and seeing through them.

Leaving my guidance

 

During the initial awakening phase, where the center of gravity was in Big Mind and Big Heart, and the wounds of the human self were mostly transcended, it was easy and natural for me to follow my inner guidance, partly because the guidance was clear and the consequences of not doing so were immediate and unpleasant.

Then, after several years, I left my guidance. I moved to another state because of a relationship, and I went against my guidance because of fears (of not finding anyone else) and shoulds (I should live with my wife, I should sacrifice myself for my partner). The fears operated at an emotional level, even if I knew consciously they were not true. And the shoulds were clearly inherited from my parents (ancestral) and partly my culture.

This led to several years of feeling increasingly off track in all areas of life. Where I had felt deeply on track and alive, I felt more and more off track, aimless and lost. I had left my friends, a state I loved (Utah), the Zen center, and much more. And more and more of what was important to me in life continued to fall away, including work and educational opportunities, friendships, health and more. Leaving my guidance, and still being too caught in fears and shoulds to not do what was required to follow it again, had quite severe consequences in my life in a conventional sense.

As usual, there are several ways of looking at this:

From the view of awareness and life, it’s neutral. This too is life expressing, exploring and experiencing itself. It’s lila, the play of life and the divine.

As any experience, it’s all happening within and as clear, awake presence and love. And the fear and shoulds I acted on came from confused love.

This is one way the dark night of the soul plays itself out. Sometimes, it’s relatively easy and quick. Other times, it’s harder, more severe, and longer. In my case, this is how life set circumstances up so remaining identifications would wear out.

It helped me learn, deepen and mature. It brought me face-to-face with some of my core fears and shoulds. It showed me what happens when we leave our guidance, and that it has real life consequences. It humbled me, and helped me see that I couldn’t raise above any situation as I earlier thought I could. It gave me a deeper understanding of and empathy with others who act on their fears and shoulds.

It was an unfortunate misstep in life. I could, in theory, have learned the essence of the dark night quicker and easier, if I had followed my guidance.

All of these have validity. For me, they all co-exist, they are all facets of this particular situation and phase of my life.

My sense is that the dark night of the soul may have been easier and quicker if I had followed and stayed with my guidance. And yet, I have certainly learned something from what happened that I wouldn’t have otherwise. And I also see that I would never recommend anyone to do what I did.

I would encourage anyone in a similar situation to…. (a) face and inquire into any of the ways they stop themselves from following their guidance, especially when it comes to major and lasting life decisions, and (b) follow their guidance – when it’s clear – even if it is scary. (The inner guidance is always kind and intelligent.)

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Tested

 

Adyashanti sometimes mentions how our realization or insights are tested following an awakening or opening.

Life gives us situations where we “have to” act from our new realization for it to be resolved.

That has been my experience, and I have floundered and lost my courage as often as I have acted from my realization. (That’s how it seems, at least.)

When I flounder and lose my courage, it’s an invitation to see what’s really going on. What fears are triggered in me? What deficient selves? What are my beliefs about the situation? How do I stop myself from acting from kindness and clarity, from my inner guidance, from a more mature place?

For instance, when I moved to Wisconsin, my inner guidance was very clear that it wasn’t the right move. It was clear that staying in Salt Lake City (at the Zen center), or going back to Oslo (to finish my graduate studies) was the solution that felt peaceful and quietly right. Why did I still do it?

It was because of a relationship, and fear of being alone and not finding anyone else. These were not rational fears, but fears from deep childhood wounds. It was completely innocent. I didn’t really have a choice. (Although it certainly seemed so at the time, and I did have a choice in a conventional sense.) And it did come from love, from love confused by this fear and the wound that was triggered.

So this is clearly one of my achilles heels. And as long as the wound is un-healed, and I haven’t thoroughly seen through my stories around it, I may again leave my guidance when this wound is triggered.

This is an example of something else Adya sometimes talks about. When we speak our truth, it has the quality of a confession. This certainly feels like a confession. And there is one person it’s really important for me to confess to, and that is myself.

Note: Another set of beliefs here was around marriage. I had recently gotten married, and felt obliged to sacrifice my own life so she could do what was important to her. These were beliefs I had inherited from my parents. And it took a while for me to work through them. (There is probably more left.) If I hadn’t been married, I doubt very much I would have left my guidance in this situation. Most of the unhealthy patterns I have worked on in myself seem to be ancestral – from my parents and culture. Even the more archetypical ones are filtered through and colored by the ancestral.

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A double dark night of the soul

 

As my posts here show, I have been exploring the dark night again recently, and especially the dark night of the soul.

I realize that my experience with the dark night of the soul can be seen as a quite long period with two distinct phases.

Dark night of the senses. Around noon the day after my first and last binge drinking, at age fifteen, the world seemed to “retreat” from me. It became very distant, and also seemed “unreal” as if I could put my hand right through it. I went to doctors and specialists, and had many neurological tests done, and they – not surprisingly in hindsight – found nothing. I had no idea what was happening, although I now see that this may well have been a dark night of the senses.

Opening & illumination. After the initial opening or awakening at age sixteen, there was a 10+ year long phase of what Evelyn Underhill calls illumination. I had a great deal of energy and passion, and there was a sense of my life being on track in a deep soul sense. I also engaged in spiritual practices for hours daily, including prayer (the Jesus/heart prayer mostly) and meditation (Tibetan and Zen). I was a student and then graduate student, I worked, I lived at a Zen center, I did art and photography, I spent time in nature, and had a very active and rich life. I followed my guidance and heart closely, in smaller and larger things (with a few smaller exceptions).

Initial phase of the dark night of the soul. Then, I left my guidance (for a relationship), and that was the beginning of a gradual “decent” into the dark night. For the first several years, I was still very functional, much as before, although now there was a deep sense of being “off track”. I was also unable to do any spiritual practice. (Mainly, it seems, because it reminded me how off track I felt, and it was too painful.) After five or six years, after reading Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism, I realized that what I was going through fit the description of a dark night of the soul.

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Spiritually Transformative Experiences

 

I have been reading more about Spiritual Emergencies and Spiritually Transformative Experiences (STEs) again recently. (I was very much into it in my teens and early twenties). A couple of things stand out right now. One is the commonalities in what happens to people after an STE, whether it’s an opening or early awakening, a Near Death Experience (NDE), apparent alien abduction, loss, death of a loved one, child birth, travel, sex, or much more. For me, it was an opening or early awakening in my teens, and the way it changed me is very similar to how people who experienced other types of STEs report it changed them.

Watching a documentary about Near Death Experiences, I am also reminded of another commonality. As a child before school age, I had flashes of memories of how it was before incarnation: infinite love, infinite wisdom, all a radiant golden subtle light, infinite sense of being home, infinite sense of belonging. (All of these are crude descriptions.) People who have an NDE report something that’s quite similar. And there is also another parallel: a sense that this was in the past, and not here now. I perceived it that way too, for a while. Now, I see that what was then, is also here in immediacy. All the characteristics of what was “then” is here now. A simple and sincere inquiry helped me see that:

Is it true it’s not here now?

A thought may come in and say “it’s not the same, this is much less strong”. Which leads to another inquiry:

Is it true it needs to be strong? Is it true that strong is “better”? Is it any less real or significant if it’s not as strong?

Types of dark nights, in my own experience

 

There are many types of dark nights in a spiritual context, and I am only experienced with a couple.

There is the dark night of the senses, where identification with the body and as a human being is loosened.

And there is the dark night of the soul, where remaining identifications are triggered, wear out, and softened or fall away.

For me, the dark night of the senses lasted for about a year. When I was fifteen, I drank a large amount of alcohol for the first and last time, and the day after, January 1st, I felt the world becoming more (and eventually very) distant. I even remember the exact situation and moment it happened. This lasted for a year, and I thought something was seriously wrong and went to see several doctors and specialists, and had several neurological tests done. Not surprisingly, in hindsight, they didn’t find anything. Now, I see that I could call it an “absorption into the witness”. It was still very dualistic, but a very simple dualism between “I” here witnessing, and the world (including my body, emotions, thoughts) “out there” quite distant from me, and appearing quite unreal, like a dream, as if I could put my hand right through it. This seemed to be triggered by the alcohol, and I had been an atheist for several years by that time. This dark night of the senses, if that’s what it was, didn’t seem “spiritual” at all to me. Prior to this, I had some years where I felt very much an outsider and awkward socially, and also “frozen” in some ways. That too may be seen as part of this dark night, or at least leading up to it. (I sometimes hear “dark night” being referred to as “dry” and losing interest in the world. I wonder if this is not another form of a dark night of the senses.)

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Duration and intensity of a dark night

 

Some factors that may play a role in the duration and intensity of a dark night (and probably any spiritual emergency):

Struggle vs. welcoming. The more struggle with what’s happening, the more difficult the process may be experienced. It adds a layer of suffering, and it’s possible that it prolongs the process (I don’t really know if it does or not). This struggle comes from beliefs and identifications, and the release of these is one of the things that tends to happen in a dark night. So there is nothing wrong with struggle and resistance. It’s just a surfacing of what’s left, with an invitation for us to see through it. Conversely, the more genuine welcoming there is of the process, the more there is an aligning with it, the less struggle and suffering there tends to be. And we can support this welcoming through various forms of inquiry. For instance, what do I find when I look for my ideas of resistance or struggle? Is it really what it initially appears to be? Also, is there really a separation between a me or I and what’s happening? Is it true it’s too intense? Is it true that I know better than life how things should be?

Depth of process. It’s also possible that the “depth” of the process influences how the dark night is experienced. If it’s mainly about the head and/or heart center, it can be intense enough, but it seems that the belly center opening requires even more of us. That has certainly been the case for me. (The dark night preceding the head and heart center openings lasted a few years, with one year that was quite intense. The current dark night, which seems to have to do more with the belly center, has lasted much longer and is far more intense and demanding.) For each center, I assume there may also be several “dark nights” as there is a deepening. And speaking of “depth”, there is probably a lot here I am unaware of as well, including what’s ahead in the process.

Trauma and old patterns. The third factor seems to be the amount of trauma and old patterns we each bring with us, from this and possibly past lives. It seems that I am in the mid-range when it comes to trauma, and the amount that’s come up here has already been quite difficult and at times overwhelming. As someone said, “there is no easy trauma”. Again, the more we can align with and support the process, the easier we make it for ourselves.

Finally, we don’t know. These may all appear to play a role, and they may be helpful practical pointers. And they are really only an overlay of images and words, and assumptions and interpretations.

So how to we support and more consciously align with the process? What I have found helpful includes:

Taking care of myself through diet, moderate exercise, spending time in nature, seeking support from friends and family.

Doing various forms of inquiry to see through my stories of what’s going on.

Seeking support and guidance from people who have gone through it themselves.

Seeking healing for the trauma and wounds that are surfacing.

Staying with the sensations rather than going into the stories of what’s happening, with the support of inquiry (seeing through my stories). Noticing that the sensations are already allowed.

Meeting what’s here with love, with the support of ho’oponopono, tonglen, placing myself in the heart flame, meeting what’s here in satsang. Inquiry is also helpful here, recognizing what’s surfacing as already love.

Gaining just enough knowledge and understanding of the process for navigating it a bit more skillfully, and finding more peace with it.

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Barry: Things will continue to fall apart until the death is complete

 

Things will continue to fall apart until the death is complete.  All this is taking to you to a place where there is absolute freedom, where the personal self sense has dissolved.  That doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help to get the basic human needs met. That is all part of love and truth. [….]

When this happened to me all I could do was pray to God to receive the gifts of this pain and suffering and see it as God’s grace and path to Christ.  It is hard, but it is the truth and the way through…Surrender, surrender, surrender, throw yourself body, mind, soul, spirit into God’s hands.  Remember Christ’s last words on the cross..”Father, into your hands I commend my spirit!”  Love, Barry

– Barry, in an email to me.

I have gone through a period where things seem to fall apart, often in amazing ways and (largely) outside of my control. It’s happened especially strongly the last 2-3 years, although it started earlier. It’s part of the dark night of the soul that I seem to go through.

These days, I notice a deeper rage and anger towards life, God, and perhaps – from my younger self – towards my parents. It’s probably an anger that has accumulated over a long time, and it feels very much like the rebellious and desperate tantrum of a child. It seems to be a hopeless, desperate anger. There are also thoughts such as: I didn’t ask for this. I refuse to be “taught lessons” in this way. I refuse to mature and find clarity if it’s going to happen through these situations. 

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Differences in the ease of the path

 

Why does some paths to/in awakening seem easy and some hard, and some quick and some slow?

This question sometimes comes to me since I know many who seem to have a relatively quick and easy path to what appears to be a stable awakening. And for me, it’s been long and – at least the last several years – painful and difficult.

Here are some things that come up for me:

For people with a lot of trauma in their system from this life, the process can be more painful and prolonged. As the wounds surface, the trauma can get retriggered, and we get into a cycle of surfacing wounds and reactivity. This makes it more difficult to see through it and allowing it to heal. It’s also possible that patterns from previous lives surface to be seen, felt and loved, and people may have more or less “baggage” here.

There are different “levels” or phases or awakening, or different “soul centers” that awaken. For me, the head and heart awakening happened relatively quickly and easily. And the belly awakening seems to be much more challenging. That’s where wounds surface to be seen, felt and loved, and that’s also where reactivity gets triggered on my part to what’s surfacing, which often makes a real resolution challenging and elusive. At the very least, the reactivity makes the process more painful and drawn out.

For me, there may also be some resistance to the process. I tell myself I didn’t ask for it. It just came out of the blue in my teens, uninvited. And I didn’t ask for life to give me “lessons” so I could “awaken” or “mature”. As I write this, I notice a deep resentment towards life for putting me in this situation. And all of this is good to take to inquiry.

A part of the invitation here is to question my ideas about it – my ideas of time, difficulty, ease, struggle, reactivity, delusion, awakening, an end point and so on. What do I find when I investigate my thoughts about it? (The Work.) Can I find any of these when I look? Can I find time? Struggle? Ease? Reactivity? Resistance? Awakening? An end point? Can I find the one who is having a difficult time? The one who is struggling? The one with reactivity? The one who is not clear enough? Another for whom it’s easier? (Living Inquiries.)

I see that it’s all lila. It’s part of life (Spirit, Buddha Mind, Brahman, God) exploring and experiencing itself in its richness, in always different and new ways.

And I see that I really don’t know. It’s a mystery. All of these thoughts, and any other I have about it, are just my own images and thoughts. It’s all created by my own mind, in an attempt to make sense of it and perhaps find a temporary sense of comfort and security. None of my images or thoughts about it are inherent in reality.

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Recognize nature of reality and illusion

 

Here are some phases I see in my own process:

First, recognizing the nature of reality. A though may say that Spirit recognized all as itself, or that consciousness and it’s content was recognized as the same. It was an awakening out of identification as a separate object. Out of identification as a part of content of experience. Out of identification with words and images which previously created the experience of separation. This happened uninvited and early in life, before the “ego” in a psychological sense had formed in a mature way. (Some would say a little too early, but life obviously didn’t see it that way.)

Then, recognizing the nature of illusion. I am still in this phase, and for me, this includes exploring the nature of illusion through different forms of inquiry. How is the experience of separation created? What happens when there is identification with and as certain words and images, certain viewpoints? What are the consequences? How is it experienced? (For many, this phase goes before recognizing the nature of reality, or the two go hand in hand.)

Along with this, there is a more stable meeting of what’s here. A more stable meeting of any experience, as it is. The two previous ones makes this a little easier. This is also a building of capacity in meeting what’s here. And inquiry can certainly help. Is it true it’s overwhelming? Is it true these words, these images, these sensation can harm me? What words and images are stuck to these sensations? How is it to examine these, so I can feel the sensations as they are, recognizing them as just sensations?

And through this meeting of what’s here, more and more of what’s previously unmet, unfelt, unloved and unexamined is met, felt, loved and examined. At some point, many of the largest chunks have been met, felt, loved and examined, although – I assume – there will always be more to met, feel, love and examine.

So there is a recognition of the nature of reality, a recognition of the nature of illusion, a more stable meeting of what’s here, and of more and more of what’s here being met, felt, loved and examined, and all of these go hand in hand. There is no end point for any of these. They happen here and now. It’s fresh. And a thought may say each of these keep opening up and reveals more of itself. A though may say that life (reality, Spirit) keeps revealing itself to itself.

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Scott Kiloby: Everything that is stored in the body will resurface and have its day

 

When I first began the process of awakening, of investigating reality to see whether separation is in fact real or just a belief, I had no idea where that would lead.

I thought it was just about the mind, that machine between the ears. The idea was “wake up out of the belief in my thoughts and live in the now.” Seemed cut and dry to me back then. I had no idea what was in store with regard to my body and the rich but unconscious stories and memories it had stored through the years.

I had those monumental shifts that people often talk about. And I thought I was done. These were, for the most part, head awakenings where beliefs were seen through and stories were dissolved. For a few years after those shifts, I felt a clear transparency where my once really-busy mind had been. And this, again, made me feel like I was done. I hear people all the time proclaiming in one way or another that they are awake simply because they have had a head awakening. I listen patiently, knowing that the other shoe is likely to drop, meaning that everything that was stored in the body will resurface and have its day, until it too is investigated.

You see after the head awakening, which is that awakening into the present moment where one begins to feel as if there is no self, the body awakening is only beginning. In my experience, the body has its own memories, its own shapes, colors, stories, contractions. The last few years have been a process of gradual unfolding in the body, openings one after the other. And the road was not always easy. In fact, at times it has been quite painful.

My chest area opened early on, right after the initial awakening experience. What do I mean by heart opening? Nothing really mystical. It’s just that my chest felt clear and open, warm and loving. For eight years now, I have not felt any emotion (negative or positive) in the chest area. Just a warm, clear, transparent peace there. It’s quite simple really. The heart area is open. Nothing much more to say about that.

But the pelvic area, stomach and throat didn’t clear that easily. It took time. In my pelvic area, I began to be acutely aware of the contraction there after the head awakening. This area was dense, contracted and tight. Sexual addiction was rampant during this time. I wasn’t always acting out on it, but the addictive thoughts were there. And they seemed tied to that pelvic contraction. It’s almost as if that area of the body was screaming madly for pleasure, for release. And nothing would satisfy it for long – no sex act, no pornography. I would indulge in these things and find a temporary release of that dense energy that would last just a few days. The contraction would return and the sex addiction would come with it.

With the Living Inquiries, I finally had a tool to investigate this contraction very deeply. It was often a painful and frustrating investigation. Resting, looking and feeling into that area. Seeing pictures, words come and go, all of which seemed to be connected to that area. The pelvic area seemed as if it had its own mind, its own movie, its own set of meanings. As the meanings were distilled out of the contraction, it began to release. Warmth and space was all that was left.

And when the pelvic area opened, the vast difference between the now-open chest and now-open pelvic made the stomach and throat contraction even more obvious. The stomach and throat were the holdouts. The stomach held all the power-seeking, the intense wanting. The throat area seemed stuck, unable to express itself freely. And these areas carried their own little addictions, pain, sadness, and tightness. These were deeply embedded contractions that were resistance to almost every spiritual investigation, except the inquiries. The inquiries were the only tool that helped me open the stomach and throat. But again, this wasn’t a walk in the park. Months and months of infinite patience, of resting and feeling into those areas gently. Months of mining out the words and pictures that were embedded into the sensations in those areas.

And finally, through this gentle and thorough investigation, those areas began to open. I saw that what I had called a body through the years was actually a combination of words, pictures and energies that appeared on a screen right in front of me. For years, I thought that this play of words, pictures and energies was a body, a physical unit of sorts. Upon investigation, it all began to dissolve, slowly.

I don’t want to paint the picture of this unfolding as something that seems excruciatingly tiring or not worth the investigation. It’s been more than worth it to investigate these areas of the body. Rich, in fact. Very, very rich. Loving, compassionate and a lot of other adjectives I won’t bother adding into this post.

I had no idea in the beginning that awakening is not just about the mind. It is as much, or maybe more, about the body and the stories that are deeply engrained in it.

The body awakening has been the most eye-opening and rewarding part of this process of unfolding. I know now that one of the biggest traps is to proclaim that one is done. Yes, the seeking can end. Yes, one can have those shifts into what feels like non-dual space or oneness. But the unfolding continues to happen, with or without our consent. And it is largely an unfolding within the deepest caverns of our physical bodies.

If you are going through this embodiment, just know that there is support out there. There are many of us who can and will support you. You don’t have to buy into the religion of “I’m still seeking” nor do you have to buy into the religion of “I’m done.” You can watch the process unfolding naturally and organically with people who are also going through it with you or who have gone through it.

If you are interested in knowing more, join us in the Scott Kiloby Living Inquiries room. And if anything in this post is confusing or makes you feel defensive, that’s ok too. I’m merely sharing my experience. I’m not saying it is your experience. Only you can speak to that. I’m not trying to put any carrots out there to chase. I’m merely saying, in effect, “join me, because the pathless path to embodiment is painful yet extraordinarily wonderful and rich.” I feel so luck to have this human body, to watch it unfold and open in this way.

– Scott Kiloby on Facebook

Yes, yes, and yes. This fits my experience very closely.

In my teens, there was a clear head awakening followed by heart awakening. Then, after several years of “honeymoon”, there was the beginning of the dark night, which was also a deepening into a belly/body awakening. This has been a long and at times painful and difficult process, or – at least – that’s what a thought may call it. And it has been supported by several helpful tools such as Breema, The Work, and – more recently – the Living Inquiries.

Barry: All that is not who you are will die

 

In the end, all that is not who you are will die, because it is not real anyhow. You can assist this process by not feeding the negative thoughts and ego, but even if you do, sooner or later it will all run out of steam. It actually takes a lot more energy to keep it all going, though we are unware of it. One day you will burn through despondency, etc.

Yes, you have been dismantled down to the child level and are now slowly being put back together.  It is taking a long time because it is an organic process like growing a plant.  Only that which does not serve gets dimantled, ie that which you cling to as desirable as part of the self image that isn’t real.  I’m sure it goes back through many lifetimes because the pattern is so strong.  However long it takes.

What do you really know about what you life should look like etc?  What do you know about the future?  What is left but the emptiness of the mystery. All that is painful is the images that we cling to.  Everyone does it, so you are not doing it wrong.   As you let go of these pictures, images and identities you will find the peace you seek. Love, b

– Barry, in an email to me

Notes about the Dark Night

 

Some notes about the dark night:

If it appears dark, it’s because of beliefs about what’s happening. In my case, the dark night happened after about 10 years in an “illumination” phase. It took the form of reversals in almost all areas of life. And it triggered latent beliefs in me so I could see them and investigate their dynamics and what’s more aligned with clarity and love.

As long as thoughts such as “something went wrong” are held as true, the dark night will appear dark and as a dark night. It’s more true that the dark night is just a label, a thought, and cannot be found anywhere. And it’s also true that it can be called a brilliant day, an invitation to align more of me with clarity and love.

To take a concrete example: I often have an apparently unpleasant experience in my body. It feels heavy, yukky and unpleasant. When I look, I see I have images of this experience in my body. And I also see some beliefs. It’s wrong. It means I am doomed. It means something terrible happened. It means something terrible will happen. Through The Work, some of these are seen through. And through the Living Inquiries, the “velcro” between the words, images and sensations is loosened. And as the images and words associated with it fall away, it’s easier to sit in the sensations, to feel them and allow them their life. I am still not where I consistently am able to meet what’s here as a friend (and I obviously don’t need to since it’s not what’s happening), but it’s an interesting process.

For me, one of the lessons of the dark night is to question any beliefs I have about what’s here, including any life circumstances and what’s going on with my body and mind. Another is to recognize all as what is (what a thought may call awareness, Spirit, God, Buddha Mind), and that it’s all OK. It’s all (what a thought may call) God’s will. It’s all (what a thought may call) love. Any identification is innocence, is well intentioned, and although it is allowed and welcomed by reality, it is also – in another way – out of alignment with clarity and love.

Incarnation trauma

 

This keeps coming into focus:

As a kid, I had memories of how it was before this incarnation – all as a presence with infinite love and wisdom, an infinite sense of being home, timelessness. What’s closest in the physical world is perhaps an ocean – in this case of awakeness, love, presence, wisdom, beyond and including the impersonal and personal – and of myself and any other more personal presences as part of this ocean. Before this incarnation, there was a council of sorts and a knowing of all of us that it was time for me to incarnate again. It was good for me (especially the first half of my life?) and good for others and humanity (especially the last half of my life?). There was a match between what I – as a soul – could learn and contribute, and what humanity as a whole would be learning and shifting into in this phase of our history. At some point, resistance set it, pretending I didn’t want it and didn’t chose it, pretending I was a victim, had lost something of infinite value, that God had chosen it for me, that it was a terrible tragedy to incarnate (not so much because this life isn’t enjoyable and interesting, but because of what was lost).

So there was a knowing that it was all right, and a wanting of this incarnation. A pretending it was a terrible tragedy. And quite a split between the two.

Later on in my life, I see some of these themes play themselves out, especially not fully wanting to be here (with my whole being) and repeated stories of loss of what’s most valuable to me, especially people, places and opportunities.

I also see how I tend to make idealized images of the past, as I did very early in life with my images of how it was before incarnation. Compare them with the present. And get caught up in the suffering created that way.

And I see how I – for a while – imagined that what was then isn’t here now. By holding onto an idealized image of the past, comparing it with an image of the present, and telling myself I lost something of infinite value, mind distracted itself from noticing it here, noticing it didn’t go anywhere.

Right now, I am most drawn to letting the (soft, gentle, loving, infinitely wise) light of Christ shine on this, the wound, the part of me pretending I didn’t want this incarnation, pretending I lost something of infinite value. And in this, there is a very quiet, soft, wordless loving inquiry, or sometimes just a whisper.

Is it true? What’s more true? How is it to take it in? Feel it? Stay with it?

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Loss of heaven

 

As a child, I had memories of how it was before this incarnation – all as a golden divine presence with infinite love and wisdom, a sense of being deeply at home. Later on, I remembered – or at least had images of – a group (of 12 or so?) beings/presences, a knowing that it was time for me to incarnate again, and that the first half of my life would for mainly for my benefit (growing, maturing), and the second mainly for others (service, guidance). And at some level, although knowing it was the right time and for the good, I resisted. I pretended to resist.

There are other images, including of a profound sense of loss when I incarnated, and of deep disappointment in my mother, my father, life, the world and God.

How could they do this to me? Why can’t my parents live up to or match the infinite love and wisdom from before incarnation, or at least show they know? I’ll show God he (she, it) made a mistake by having me incarnate. I’ll show my parents my pain and disappointment they couldn’t match what I had. I lost something of infinite value to me. I am unfairly treated. I am a victim.

And I notice that loss is a theme in my life. The pain of losing what I tell myself is most important to me, whether it’s people, places, situations or opportunities, and the expectation of future and continued loss and pain.

This all happens within my own images now, of course.

Inquiring into this, I have found that I did agree and want the incarnation, and that what I remember from before incarnation is something I can find here now. (It’s happening here, it’s reflected in a thought, another thought says it happened in the past, and noticing that I can find it here again.) And I notice there is something still left around loss, something left to feel and see, and find as love and find love for.

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Welcome the numbness

 

The dark night of the soul started when I moved to Wisconsin (for relationship reasons), and I stayed there even if my inner voice and guidance clearly told me to leave. After a while, my inner guidance shut down and my heart did as well. Now, there is a sense of numbness there, a numbness in my heart area. How is it to welcome it?

You are welcome here. You are already allowed, and I wish to intentionally welcome you as well.

I am sorry for having pushed you away. I am sorry for having made you into an enemy in my mind.

Please forgive me.

Thank you for being there for me. Thank you for your devotion for me. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love.

I love you. I love you as you are. I love you for being love. I love you for your devotion to me.

Also, how is it to meet it, welcome it, feel it? Where in my body is the numbness the densest? What happens when I meet it, stay with it, welcome it? Does it stay? Change into something else? Where does the trail of breadcrumbs lead me?

Dissolving

 

Last night, I felt and stayed with what’s here, gave it all over to God, and also checked in around health, the future etc. (visualizing, getting a sense of where it’s moving). What was clear was a sense of brilliance and a strong presence of Christ, of no feedback whatsoever about the future or health, and also of everything dissolving (mind, body, life). The image of a larvae dissolving in a chrysalis came up. And I also saw some fear and thoughts about it.

Here are some of my fearful thoughts, ready for inquiry:

I don’t know what is happening. I need to know what’s happening.

I won’t be able to function. My health won’t improve. I need my health to improve.

I won’t be able to allow it, welcome it, go into it. The process will stagnate because I am not able to welcome it.

My life will continue to fall apart, dissolve, because I am not able to welcome it. I am stopping the process.

I am not allowing the process to resolve itself, come to fruition. I am too caught up in fear. I am stopping myself by holding onto beliefs.

I am not sincere enough. My intention is not clear enough. I am not committed enough. I am too wounded.

I am not clear enough. I don’t get it. I don’t get that resistance is more painful than allowing it. I am too caught up in confusion.

Coming full circle

 

I went to a session with Adyashanti at the Science and Nonduality Conference tonight, and he talked – among other things – about coming full circle.

First, we start out in the ordinary dream state, believing most of our thoughts without question, or even noticing what we are doing.

Then, there may be a shift out of this, a transcendent state where what we are – being, Spirit, awareness – recognizes itself. This can happen any time, and – as Adya pointed out – is free, it doesn’t cost anything. For me, it happened out of the blue a winter night when I was sixteen, walking along a gravel road under the stars. This is the honeymoon, and it often leaves a lot untouched and unresolved at our human level, although we may not notice it at first.

Following this, there is a return, the process comes full circle. There is a return to our human self, so this can be more fully included and aligned with all as Spirit. Our wounds surface to be resolved. The parts of us still aligned with a confused worldview surface to align more closely with reality. And this process, as Adya says, costs everything. It costs us all of our identification, all of our habitual ways of living in the world. This is how Spirit recognizing itself can life more fully through this human self. It’s a clearing out of our human self, a reorganization at all levels, a realignment in the different corners and hideaways left untouched during the initial transcendent phase.

In the words of Evelyn Underhill, the first transcendent phase may be called illumination, and the second may be experienced as a dark night of the soul.

And, as Adya also mentioned, it doesn’t have to happen this way. There are always exceptions. It’s what seems to happen for many – including me, which is why I write about it here! – and it’s impossible to say how it will unfold in any particular case.

Statements for inquiry: I am unlovable

 

This is one of the thoughts that is clearly not true at a conscious level. And yet, at times, it feels true. It seems to be held as true at an emotional level, and I also see how this belief sometimes plays itself out in my life. Life is kind, so this confusion sometimes bubbles to the surface to be felt and seen, including right now. If I am very still, and very honest, what beliefs do I find here? What beliefs support or underpin the thought that I am unlovable? What images do I see?

I am unlovable.

Nobody likes me. Situation: Early school days.

Nobody likes me because…. They think I am weird. They see me as not good enough. Nobody likes me and that means…. I will be alone forever. I will suffer. I will die.

Nobody loves me. Situation: Two or three times when my parent’s were angry at me when I was very little.

My parents don’t love me because…. They got angry at me. They left me in the crib alone at night. My parents don’t love me and that means…. I will be alone. I will suffer. I will die.

She chose someone else. Situation: In my late teens/early twenties, with M, B, and E.

She chose someone else because…. She saw me as not good enough. I didn’t tell her how much she meant to me. I let a wonderful opportunity pass. She chose someone else, and that means…. I am unlovable. I won’t find anyone else. I lost my soul mate. I missed out of a wonderful life.

I let the opportunity for a relationship pass, and that means….. I made a huge mistake. My life got off track. I missed out of a wonderful life. I won’t find anything like that again.

I let the opportunity for a relationship pass, and that means….. I went away from God’s plan with me. I left God’s plan with my life. I won’t be able to get back on track. God has given up on me. My life is ruined.

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Three centers

 

I was looking at the last couple of chapters in Agents of Grace by Barry Martin Snyder and Karen Anderson, and am very impressed with their description of the three soul centers. Partly because it fits my experience very closely!

Here is how I would describe it, based on my own experience.

An awakening of the head center allows a seeing or recognition of all as God. This is enlightenment and the emphasis of Buddhism, although it’s also found and described by folks in other traditions, including Christianity and Sufism.

An awakening of the heart center opens for a love of all as God, and a recognition of all as God’s love. This is – in Barry and Karen’s terminology – enlovenment, and it’s the emphasis of Christianity and Sufism, although it’s also obviously found in other traditions such as Buddhism.

An awakening of the belly center opens for feeling all as God, for a body-feeling of all as God just as it is. This is, again in Barry and Karen’s terminology, enlivenment, and emphasized in Taoism and shamanic traditions, although it’s sometimes found and described in other traditions.

For me, it started with a head center awakening in my mid-teens, a brilliantly clear recognition of absolutely everything – without exceptions and just as it is – as God, as Spirit, as awareness. After some time, perhaps some months and years, this led into an opening of the heart center, a love of everything – as it is, without exception – as God, and a recognition that it’s all already God’s love.

After some years, the dark night of the soul set in with it’s purging of emotional layers, a cleaning out and healing of wounds and primal fears. This allows for a recognition of all as God and God’s love to be lived more fully and clearly through this human life.  So far, there are moments of a shift into a much more clear felt recognition of all as God, and it may lead to a more obvious opening of the belly center (or not). For me, having quite a bit to “purge” at the emotional and primal fear levels, this has been by far the most difficult and challenging part of the process up to now.

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St. Catherine: Though she perceives that I have withdrawn Myself

 

“In order to raise the soul from imperfection,” said the Voice of God to St. Catherine in her Dialogue, “I withdraw Myself from her sentiment, depriving her of former consolations . . . Though she perceives that I have withdrawn Myself, she does not, on that account, look back; but perseveres with humility in her exercises, remaining barred in the house of self-knowledge, and, continuing to dwell therein, awaits with lively faith the coming of the Holy Spirit, that is of Me, who am the Fire of Love.

– St. Catherine in her Dialogue, quoted in the Dark Night of the Soul in Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill

St. Catherine writes about finding a sense of stability or trust through potentially shaky or tumultuous experiences, what English speaking Buddhists like to call equanimity. I rarely use that word myself, although I often write about what it refers to.

In this case, St. Catherine experienced a removal of the presence of God, as I did some years back. When we tell ourselves we have lost something important to us, whatever it is, it shows us what’s left. It tends to trigger thoughts, with an invitation to question if these are true.

In the case of the dark night of the soul, following a period of illumination, some very specific thoughts are brought to the surface. These may be…. God’s presence was here, and now is gone. What’s here is not God / God’s will / God’s love / God’s presence. What happened wasn’t God’s will / God’s love. Something went wrong. I did something wrong. God has abandoned me. This is not God’s presence.

It seems that St. Catherine has enough trust or clarity to find a sense of stability through the apparent loss of God’s presence. She may have trusted what happened as God’s will or as God’s love. She may have recognized God’s presence even in it’s apparent absence, or even recognized what’s here – including what thoughts would label an absence of God’s presence – as God itself.

She may have trusted that even if she – at a psychological and human level – would prefer something else, what’s here doesn’t need to change. It’s already God’s will. It’s already God’s love. It’s already God’s presence. It’s already God.

Even if I (thought I) clearly saw all of this before my own “dark night of the soul”, when it happened, it was far more challenging than I could have imagined. All the very human parts of me that didn’t trust that all is God’s will came to the surface. Remaining wounds, all the thoughts about very specific things still taken as true – often at an emotional or physical level, surfaced and came up, often quite strongly. My capacity for equanimity seemed to go out the window, and challenging states and situations piled up, which made for a thoroughly humbling mix. And that’s one of the ways this process cleans out what’s left.

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Humbling process

 

Life is a humbling process in many ways, and the path of a more sincere exploration especially so.

For many years, I used to think I could meet any situation in a sane and productive way. I could open to it, allow it, meet it with love, recognize it as love. And I mostly did, so there was a reason for that thought. I would tell people that whatever happens is a gift, and it’s all about how we relate to it. Although it was a lived reality for me, it also became a belief and an identity, a way to feel  safe, to feel better about myself, worth something and so on.

Then, predictably, there was a reversal. My capacity to meet what’s here with an open heart and love, and recognize it as God and love, went out the window. And the intensity of what came up had it’s volume turned up higher than what I could have imagined. So I ended up trying to escape, avoid, distract myself, pray for deliverance. I got to see that what I had told myself and others in the previous phase of my life, wasn’t always so easy to do. I had known that, of course, and through this I got to know it in a different way, a lived way.

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Session with Barry – feeling confusion, fear, anger as love, something working itself out in the lower belly area

 

Notes from a session with Barry this evening:

B: It’s about giving up all hope. It’s a radical place. There are no marker for it in the known world. When the psychic death occurs, it’s a progression, years after that it goes even deeper. When the self that strives to retain identity finally gave up, that’s when I went up to the lookout, the world has no attraction for me anymore. Even beyond that, when spirit descended further, a continual breaking down even the physical ego, intense pain, crucifixion, heart stopped, breathing stopped. That’s how radical it is, wholly beyond this world, nothing is left. When there is no identification left, it doesn’t matter. Can die any moment. You are burning through deeper and deeper layers of unconscious identity inherent in this collective mind-field. Have you read The Mother’s work? She worked on going into the programmed unconscious, the physical organic matter, to enlighten the body. Some of us are on that frontier. It’s really difficult to leave behind even what we think is good about human life. Even what we think is good about human life goes. What’s left is long period of existential emptiness, flatness, flat as cardboard. What’s the purpose of being in this body? If there is no juice, what’s the point? But slowly out of that has emerged an embodied state of being that transcends, all of the human juice is dualistic when you look at it, the moments of enthusiasm, highs, but when you look you see that the opposites are always there. And in the end, you realize it’s all a projection of the absolute state on the screen of matter. Everything that people experience experience, those highs, ecstatic moments, still nothing more a projection of what we are. You’ll find nobody there. I have not met anybody. Babaji was there. Maybe Adyashanti. I have met saints in India who were at that state. They aren’t usually speaking, or front and center of any movements. They don’t have anything to say.

 P: These things were revealed to me during the initial opening, very strong, clear, and knew it would be a process to embody it.
B: Little did you know how long it would take.
P: Yes, I thought maybe ten years.
B: Very few have written about it. It’s the shadow of new age spirituality in particular. It propagates a shared illusion that everyone hopes is true, says its true, becomes a shared agreement, go into the light, be in extacy, be joyful, happy. for the rest of our lives. But doesn’t happen. None of it doesn’t matter when you wake up, when you are there.
One of the things you see eventually is that a sense of separation to God is an illusion, it’s an impossibility. Some part of us recoiled from it.

Reversals and the Dark Night

 

I keep revisiting this topic – the dark night of the soul and reversals of states and life situations.

For me, the dark night of the soul followed a phase of initial opening or awakening. Evelyn Underhill called this illumination in her overview of this process.

During this early phase of awakening, Spirit recognized itself as all there is. And yet, it’s a honeymoon phase, or similar to early childhood. It shifts into something more mature, something similar to young adulthood. There were still beliefs there, often held at an emotional level, and these included some of our most basic and primal beliefs and fears.

During the following dark night of the soul, a good portion of these beliefs come to the surface with an invitation to be seen, felt, and loved, and find liberation from being taken as true.

And this dark night of the soul phase involves reversals in states and life situations.

What was most on the surface during the initial awakening phase, and what I was most identified with and took pride in, was reversed. For me, these included energy, passion, commitment, ambition, clarity, intellectual capacity, things falling into place in amazing ways, health, money and so on. And for each of these, there was a sense of reversal. Instead of energy, fatigue. Instead of clarity, fog. Instead of things falling into place, things falling apart. Instead of health, illness. Instead of a generous amount of money, scarcity. And where I used to find ambition and passion, there was nothing to be found. Even when there was (is) a desire or wish at a surface mind level, there is sometimes nothing to back it up or make it happen.

Life shows me what’s left. It shifts circumstances so they are exactly right to trigger what’s left to see of my beliefs, identifications and fears.

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Side effects

 

I usually don’t talk about the bells and whistles that may go along with a process of Spirit noticing itself through a human life. And I also notice it doesn’t feel right to always leave it out, especially since someone may go through those things, happen upon this blog, and benefit from knowing it’s not uncommon at all.

So I’ll say a few things about my experiences here.

Initial opening/awakening phase. During this phase, several things happened. First, for about a year, there was a sense of being absorbed into the witness. The center of gravity shifted into the witness and (seemingly) away from what was witnessed, the content of awareness. This was quite disturbing in a sense, since I had no idea what was going on. I was a die-hard atheist at the time with no interest in Spirituality or God. I even went to the doctor to have tests to see if we could figure out what was going on. (I was 15 at the time.)

Then, there was a shift into Spirit recognizing itself as everything there is, with no exception. Some time into this, I remember sitting in the garden reading a book, looking up at the sky and the trees, and noticing a shine around the leaves on the tree above me. For a while, I thought it was some sort of optical illusion, until I – reluctantly (!) – realized it must be the energy field or aura of the tree. I then saw it in and around everything – inanimate objects (a simple aura at the global level), plants (an aura reflecting the aliveness of the plants), animals (more alive/complex aura) and humans (again more complex). Seeing this energy field in and around everything was yet another reminded that all is Spirit, all is God, all is awareness/awakeness. Along with this came what I later heard was called medical intuition, and the possibility of inviting in healing (getting a sense of what was going on, where it wanted to move to find healing, and inviting in changes at the “blueprint” level of the organism or being.)

Seeing auras has been helpful in seeing where spiritual teachers are at, how and in what way Spirit is awake to itself there. And I haven’t done much with the medical intuition/healing bit, mostly because I rarely talked about it so few asked for it, and also because it was clear that the cause/origin of illness or discomfort is at the level of how we relate to thought, so my interest instead went to different forms of meditation and inquiry.

During this phase, there were also a constant stream of synchronicities, often so others notice as well, and again as another reminder that all is Spirit. It’s a seamless whole, and movements within this whole appears as synchronicities. This too continues.

Diksha. I’ll mention another episode here that may be of interest. Some years back, I explored diksha. My memory of this is a bit fuzzy, so I’ll just mention a few things here. As I stood up after the initial session, there was a sense of something trickling from my head down the body, and of the body becoming translucent. This was followed by some days of a splitting and intense headache. A few days later, I walked in a forest (I was on a sustainability retreat) at night in the pitch dark, seeing the vegetation lit up and the path dark so it was easy to find my way (seeing all as energy was amplified). My companion could see anything and was surprised I could find my way.

A few days later, I was on my bed listening to the radio (Car Talk!) and my body started moving, twisting and shaking. The mechanism that connects intention and movement seemed disconnected, so there was just an observing of what was happening. This went on for 20 minutes or so. Again a few days later, “I” woke up in the middle of the night during a thunder storm, and there was just awareness and what was happening, with no awareness of anybody that this experience belonged to. After a few minutes, there was awareness of a body in the bed, and slowly and gradually, a thought that this awareness somehow was connected to this body, and then gradually a remembering that this was a human and more specific information.

During this time, attention became very stable during meditation. For instance, I would have on music to explore how thoughts tie together images of past, future and present, and it all fell apart. There was just sound, and not even that label, and nothing to tie images/memories of past, present and future sound into what could be called “music”. When I tried the indestructible crash helmet headless experiment, any sense of “I” fell away – apart from as an image not identified with anymore – and this lasted for about six months. My daily life went on as before, just without any possibility of identifying as an I. And this was followed by health problems and a quite dark dark night, showing me what was left at the human level.

Notes. These types of things seem quite ordinary and common in such a process. For some, it happens to a great extent. For others, almost not at all. And for most, it happens  during certain phases and less at other times. I suspect it’s just part of the mechanics of the process. Some of it – auras, synchronicities – is a reminder that all is Spirit. And some of it shows me what’s left. It brings up thoughts and beliefs, I get to see them, and can take them to inquiry. I may think it’s special, or that “I” am special, or it means something special. I may think that others will see me as weird, that it’s better to not say anything about it. I may think it means something is going right, or that something is wrong. And I am invited to question those thoughts, and find what’s more true for me.

Second vs first dark night

 

St John of the Cross talked about two dark nights, the dark night of the senses, and the dark night of the soul, and that’s also how Evelyn Underhill sets it up in her Mysticism book.

It’s also how it’s been for me.

Initial dark night of the senses

The first dark night, the dark night of the senses, happened in my mid-teens. First, there was a year of being absorbed into the witness (as I understood it later, looking back at it), and of the world “retreating” in a way. I had been a quite hard-core atheist since elementary school, and had no interest in spirituality or religion whatsoever (I didn’t have a very high opinion of people interested in those things).

Initial opening, illumination, and continued dark night of the senses

Then, there was the initial opening or awakening, everything – without exception – revealing itself as Spirit, as God, as awareness. Within this, there were several years of a deep and often quite intense reorganization of the human self, often especially intense during the night. It felt like being pulled apart and put together in a different way, more aligned with Spirit awake to itself, more aligned with reality. During this time, I also did a lot of prayer (Heart Prayer, visualizing Christ in the six directions and the heart), meditation (stability practice, just sitting), some Buddhist practices (Ngondro), tai chi and chi gong, and some quite focused shadow and projection work. In some ways, the dark night of the senses continues for several years, especially in terms of the experience of being pulled apart and put together differently. There was also a clear sense of “higher beings” working on me during the night. During this time, there was also quite dramatic swings from “up” into bliss and “down” into shadow materials, all clearly happening within and as Spirit awake to itself, within and as Love. During this time, there was also a huge inflow of insights and inspiration which translated into music, art, writing, studies and more. Along with this came the ability to see auras, see what’s going on with people medically and their path to healing, invite in healing, and so on. This lasted for several years, although it did mellow a bit with time. The more intense phase of the dark night of the senses lasted for perhaps the first 3-4 years, and the illumination for about ten years altogether.

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Big Mind process on the Dark Night

 

Moving to Wisconsin.

Moving to Wisconsin – initiating the dark night – explored through the Big Mind process.

– 0 –

Dark Night

Can I speak with Dark Night of the Soul? 

Yes.

Who are you?

Dark Night of the Soul.

What function do you have?

I show P. what’s left. I bring it up for him. I bring him face-to-face with it. I make it so he can’t escape.

Does he appreciate it?

No. He often fights it tooth and claw.

How is that for him?

It’s quite overwhelming. He makes himself overwhelmed that way. He exhausts himself.

Do you have any advice for him?

Keep going. He already knows much of what helps. It will resolve with time.

Hang in there.

How do you see his move to Wisconsin?

Well, it was what got the Dark Night started. I got into his life then.

It was the beginning, and then I got into his life even more.

Do you see it as something he should regret?

Well, he does if he does.

For me, there is nothing to regret. It happened. I came into his life.

I brought much of what’s left up in him.

I brought up fear, hopelessness, loss, lostness, beliefs and identifications.

There is nothing to regret there. It’s just what happened.

How can he relate to you better?

Any way he relates to me is OK.

However he relates to me either reflects confusion and what’s left, it helps him see what’s left.

Or it reflects more clarity.

Either way, it’s OK.

Do you have any practical advice for him?

Be gentle with yourself. Take care of yourself.

Go for walks. Spend time with friends.

See how it is to meet what’s here, what comes up, as a friend.

It is a friend, so see how it is to meet it as a friend.

Try it out. And be gentle with yourself.

Anything else you would like to say?

Remember it’s all part of your process.

Many have gone through it before, you are not alone.

– 0 –

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Resistance to incarnation

 

As a child, I had “flashbacks” from before incarnation. I would be out in the sunshine, see the sun filtered through leaves, a remember how it was before I was incarnated. Infinite love, complete sense of being home, a presence of and communication with other “beings”, and all formless golden light.

I write “beings” in quotation marks since it’s all a seamless field of love, and yet with individual presences within it. And when I write love it’s the same as awareness, God, Brahman, Buddha Mind, Big Mind/Heart etc.

Another image – or memory? – is of a presence of eight-twelve infinitely wise and loving beings, a knowing that it’s time for me to incarnate, and not wanting to at all. I knew it was the right time to incarnate, right for me and the world, and yet there was a deep resistance to it. It triggered deep fears and beliefs, and a sense of being a victim of circumstances.

Here are some of my beliefs, uncensored:

God is pushing me into something that will be my ruin. God is pushing me. It will be my ruin.

God is making me a victim. I am a victim.

God is heartless, crazy, misguided, mistaken, hateful.

God should help me remember. God shouldn’t allow me to forget.

I also find situations in early childhood where I have these thoughts about one or both of my parents. It’s doesn’t really matter if these thoughts first came up with my parents, and then got put on God, or the other way around. I can still do inquiry on these type of thoughts in both types of situations.

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Eating like my ancestors

 

I like to find very simple guides for exploration, and in terms of food, one simple guideline is an evolutionary perspective.

What did my ancestors eat? Since my ancestors were adapted to their diet, my body may be as well. So how does it work for me if I try something similar?

The fun thing about this approach is that it covers some very different time periods, so I can find some common guidelines that runs through most of them, and some that are specific to different phases of human evolution and history.

When I look at what may be a common theme across the different phases, I see that all of them includes locally grown food, seasonal foods, an emphasis on vegetarian foods with occasional fish or meat, and food made “from scratch” (unprocessed). Since that’s what I find I am attracted to, and what works best for me anyway, it’s a good match.

Diving it up slightly further, I see that for some tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands of years, my ancestors ate partly raw and partly cooked food. It’s a good bet that the same is good for me as well, and that too is what I find from own experience. During the summer, I naturally eat more raw foods, and in the winter more cooked foods, and at any time there is a mix.

And going into the specific time periods, I know that my immediate ancestors are mostly from Northern Europe (with a few from central Europe), which means a diet of vegetables, fruit, berries, grain, fish, and some occasional meat. Again, I know this works well for me, especially if I go back to a diet free from processed sugars, if I exclude dairy, and if my main grains are the non-wheat ones (oats, barley etc.). I also find that fermented foods works very well for me.

My pre-civilization ancestors probably ate similar foods as gatherer-hunters to today, which means fruits, berries, roots, and – again – occasional fish and meat. This too works well for me, although I must say I appreciate some grains as well.

Even further back, my ancestors ate raw foods and – most likely – mostly vegetarian foods. I include raw foods in my diet, and haven’t tried it as an exclusive diet. Although it’s not a conclusive argument, I suspect that my ancestors adapted well to cooked food (since so many generations lived on it), and our bodies and bellies have changed somewhat since our exclusive raw-food days (and I know that an exclusive raw foods diet works well for many).

Mainly, this is about experimenting and trying out what works. And what works well for me now may be different from what used to work well, or works well in the future. And it’s also, to some extent, different for each of us. We have different ancestors, are of different age and health, live in different climates, have different inclinations and preferences, so it’s not surprising that what works best for our bodies differ as well.

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Aura

 

A friend of mine recently asked about seeing auras, and I mentioned a few things about it.

There is a lot that can be said about it, as with any topic. And although it’s part of my everyday life, I usually don’t mention it in conversations or here. It’s more in the background, part of everyday experience. So to go contrary to my tendency, I can share a few things I notice.

For me, it’s mainly a reminded that all beings and things are Spirit. Form is Spirit. If the tip of the iceberg is the individual variations in the energy field, the main part of the iceberg is this reminder that everyone and everything already is Spirit.

It seems that different facets of the energy field is apparent to different people, and it may change over time. For me, it’s how aware the field is of itself that’s most obvious. It may be awake to itself throughout from the body and out through infinity, and I have noticed this with some folks like Adyashanti and Byron Katie. It may be relatively unawake to itself, almost asleep or dreaming (most folks). Or somewhere in between (most folks on a spiritual path). Again, this facet of the individual aura belongs to the tip of the iceberg, while the main part is shared and a reminder that everyone and everything is Spirit.

Both beings – animals, humans, plants – and inanimate objects have auras. All, without exception, are Spirit. It’s all awareness, whether it’s awake to itself or not. And it all appears as a form of light. I know this may sound a bit new agey, and it’s also the best way I can describe an immediate experience, how it appears in immediacy. Matter is Spirit is awareness is (a form of) light.

All auras stretch out infinitely, whether it’s awake to itself or not. This is perhaps not surprising since it’s all Spirit. It’s quite dense close to the body, especially for people who do body-centered activities such as yoga or tai chi, and some forms of sensation-oriented meditation. Then, there is a layer reflecting more emotional and mental activity. And beyond that is what’s often called spirit, what awakens to itself when we find ourselves as that which all happens within and as (awareness, capacity). (For me, it’s all Spirit.)

I notice – from myself and others – that during the initial awakening phase, illumination, the aura is often quite bright and luminous. For me, the energy field and my body was golden light during this phase. There may also be an inflow from above through the top of the head. And there is a sense that the energy field has more substance. I assume this helps the human self reorganize. And it reflects an early honeymoon phase. As this matures, sometimes following a dark night, this light becomes more clear, almost as clear air or water.

What’s the purpose of seeing auras for me? As I mentioned, it’s mainly an immediate and direct reminder that all is Spirit. I sometimes use it to check a teacher, to get a sense of where he or she is at. And I sometimes do the same for myself, to get a sense of what’s going on for me. (Using it this way, there is usually no surprise.) It can also be fun to notice the effects of different practices as reflected in changes in the aura. It may get brighter, or more awake to itself, or stabilize or reorganize itself a bit. In my late teens, the biggest surprise for me was seeing the effect of the Heart Prayer on the aura. After even just a brief period of heart prayer, looking at myself in the mirror, I saw a bright “flame” on the top of my head, similar to what’s depicted in some paintings of the disciples after the Holy Spirit descended. It’s perhaps not so surprising since it goes along with a noticeable activity/sensations on the top of the head, and also in the heart area.

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