Only lovers left alive: a dialog with someone who has lived for centuries

 

I haven’t seen Only Lovers Left Alive yet, but read enough about it to know that the two main characters have lived for centuries and have amassed a huge amount of experience and perhaps some wisdom in the process.

So I thought it would be fun to try a dialog with someone who has lived for centuries.

When we use Voice Dialog / the Big Mind process, we typically dialog with parts of us that are obviously here like the voice of appreciation, the victim, or Big Mind / Heart.

There is no part of me that had lived for centuries. Or is there? I can easily enough imagine how it would be to have lived for generations, and access that voice or part of me.

And in a quite real sense, I have in me something that had lived for that long. Something that has, through culture, accumulated experience and wisdom over generations.

In another quite real sense, as part of this living Earth, and as part of this universe, I am billions of years old. Everything in me is the product of billions of years evolution of the universe and this living planet, millions of years of evolution of pre-human ancestors, and hundreds of thousands of years thousands of my human ancestors.

So, yes, I can probably dialog with a voice in me that has the experience and wisdom from having lived for generations.


Dialog with one who has lived for generations.

Can I speak with the voice that has lived for generations?

Yes.

How do you see the world?

Not so different from you. Just from more experience. I am much less caught up in the daily fluctuations compared with you and others who have only lived for a short time. I have seen it all. It all comes and goes. Disappointment. Elation. Health. Illness. Birth. Death. It’s all part of life, and I have seen all of it enough to not get caught up in it.

Does it mean you are detached?

For a while, I tried detachment and distance, but that’s deadly boring in the long run. It’s much more juicy to feel and be engaged and play the game, but I am not caught in it. I know it all, including my responses, comes and goes.

It sounds a bit like the wisdom of the Buddha?

Yes, I knew him. Good fella. (That’s a joke, by the way. I was somewhere else back then.)

But yes, it’s pretty similar. I think that anyone who lives for generations will develop that kind of wisdom or view on life. It’s almost inevitable.

Do you have any advice for P.? (This interviewer.)

Well, let’s see. I think he knows it already but hasn’t taken it in fully. He doesn’t completely trust it or allow himself to live from it. So if I can help, here it is.

He allows himself to worry about things that are regular parts of life, it’s the universal ups and downs. And he sometimes takes it more personally than he needs, and get more caught up in it than he would if he had longer experience. Life is not about him. Life just happens, as it does for everyone. Stay engaged, play the game, and know it’s not personal and most of the details are not even that important in the long run. Just do your best.

How do you see the world today?

Most if not all of the problems come from people being short-sighted. They think locally and act short-term, and although that worked in the past when humanity was smaller and had less powerful technology, it doesn’t work anyone. There are too many people, with too powerful tools, for that to work.

Humans need to imagine bigger, or at least enough need to, so they can create new systems that take deep time and global situations (like ecosystems) into consideration.

Human nature won’t change, but humans adapt their behavior to the system they are in.

(I should add: Human nature does change, but not very quickly. Not on the scale of centuries or decades.)

Is there a question you would like to be asked?

Hm. I like that question. Ask me what I enjoy the most.

What do you enjoy the most?

The changing seasons. The seasons of nature, of human life, of generations and human history.

The very small things, the ordinary. A cup of tea. Saying hello to a stranger. Waking a dog. Reading a book. Weathering an illness.

The new. A new dish. A new sunrise. A new here and now.

It’s there anything you are tired of?

Not really. Perhaps the predictable, or at least thinking something is predictable. I have seen enough to know it’s not. I guess that’s something I am still learning.

Is there anything else you are currently learning?

I am not sure. I think it’s mainly noticing how everything is fresh.

The mind sometimes tells me that this is something I have experienced more times than I can count, and although that’s true in a way, it’s not the whole picture. This experience is fresh.

I guess that’s another parallel to what Mr. Buddha and others have talked about. And it is the only way to stay fresh and keep enjoying – and not only enjoying but deeply enjoying — life when you live and live and live as I do.

What music, art, and books do you like?

Anything. Anything from any culture and period. What’s familiar and what’s new. High culture and trash. It’s all juicy.

Is it possible to make a mistake?

Well, it depends on what you mean. Of course, we sometimes make mistakes in a small perspective. We bungle things. Make poor decisions. Or make good decisions that turn out badly.

In a bigger perspective, those are not really mistakes. We do what we can based on who and how we are and the situation we are in. And we get feedback from life and have an opportunity to learn. So in that sense, nothing is really a mistake.

What do you think about conditioning?

That’s something I have a lot of experience with. Conditioning is the operating system of humans or at least a large part of it.

Patterns are passed on through the generations, with some variations. Patterns of what’s seen as good and bad, right and wrong; and patterns of likes and dislikes, cultural and family hangups and traumas; ideas about heaven and hell, gods and demons, how the world works, and just about anything else that’s part of how humans function.

When you take a generational view, you see how it’s not personal. It’s all passed on. And then we make it personal, and we have a chance to not take it as personal if we realize what’s going on.

Even how we function as a body is conditioning, passed on with some variations through all our ancestors back to that first single-celled organism.

And how this universe works is conditioning.

Some talk about conditioning as if it’s bad or something we need to get rid of, but that’s a superficial view. We are made up of conditioning. Our bodies wouldn’t function without it. Our society wouldn’t function without it. We would have no chance to function, or survive, or exist, without it. It’s the fabric of what we are.

The only conditioning we need to be concerned about is the one of wounds and hangups, and even here how we relate to it is more vital than getting rid of it. Of course, we can do some of both.

And a part of this conditioning is the beliefs and ideas passed on through the generations that creates pain for us, and an unnecessarily limited life when we hold them as true.

How do you see non-dual spirituality?

I hoped you wouldn’t ask. Yes, it’s pretty close to reality. And in the modern western version, it’s often taken as a belief, something to hold onto to feel secure and try to stay safe. For many who are into it, it’s a security blanket. They just exchanged traditional religion for neo-Advaita. That’s fine but if they are not honest about it, they are deluding themselves.

If I am honest, and I know I sound like an old curmudgeon, many would do better to heal their emotional issues. They would find more ease and real contentment that way.

That sounds a bit harsh?

Well, yes. It’s just that I have seen versions of it so many times, in so many periods and cultures. People are in pain. And they seek and latch onto a belief – a religion or philosophy or political system – that promises to give them relief. And the real relief is in healing the pain, not getting obsessed about a system or philosophy.

To be continued…

A note: When I wrote this, I imagined dialoguing with a relatively average person who has lived for centuries. My partner dialogued with the version of herself that has lived for eons. And it can be fun to explore even more versions: the mystic, the poet, the wise man/woman, the scientist, the warrior, the one who loves earth, the one who loves humans, the one who loves life, the one who has lived innumerable lives in places around the whole Cosmos.

Dialogue with Big Mind / Big Heart

 

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

What does P. need the most to know now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s the purpose of his health challenges?

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

Didn’t he already know all this?

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

It sounds like surrendering to the divine?

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

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 –

Read More

Advice from Big Mind on inquiry

 

Big Mind, do you have advice for P. when it comes to inquiry?

Use inquiry as meditation. Allow yourself to be surprised.

You may also ask yourself a few questions.

Knowing conclusions in advance. Notice your tendency to know the conclusion in advance.

What happens when you go directly to a conclusion you already know? What happens when you allow yourself to use the questions as meditation, and be surprised by what comes?

What’s your fear about using inquiry as meditation, and be surprised by what comes up? What do you fear may happen? Make a list, take these to inquiry.

Read More

Beliefs vs reality: Advice from Big Mind

 

Just to keep noticing. Notice how you close yourself off from love, trust, gratitude and compassion. You are the one doing it. [….]

It’s really simple. The only reason it seems difficult is that your culture has told you otherwise. Keep noticing, and it will become second nature to you. First nature, actually, since this is who and what you are. You are love, only taking certain stories as true prevents that from being obvious to you. You already know this. You notice it each time you shift into Big Mind/Heart. You notice it each time you inquire into a thought you take as true, and find what’s on the other side.

I’ll tell you one secret: When you *try* to believe this, it doesn’t work. You already know. All that’s needed is to look at your own experience. Trying to believe it is trying to trick yourself, and that’s not going to work. You know when you try to trick yourself too. By trying to trick yourself, you start distrusting what’s already true for you.

Just notice that too. What happens when you try to believe? What happens if you instead look at experience? At simple, honest, clear examples?

Read More

Jeff Foster on depression

 

I see that nonduality and depression is the topic of Jeff Foster’s new podcast.

Before listening to it, I thought I would see what comes up for me around it.

Big Mind – how does depression look to you?

About depression. He tells himself the world is against him, he tells himself he is a victim, so the mind and feelings respond with creating an experience of depression. It has to, because it’s job is to make his beliefs appear true to him. He then takes that experience of depression as yet another proof his initial belief is true.

Read More

Not only see Reality but *be* real

 

“Thou hast been a child at the breast, a spoiled child,” said the Eternal Wisdom to Suso. “Now I will withdraw all this.” In the resulting darkness and confusion, when the old and known supports are thus withdrawn, the self can do little but surrender itself to the inevitable process of things: to the operation of that unresting Spirit of Life which is pressing it on towards a new and higher state, in which it shall not only see Reality but be real.
– Evelyn Underhill, from the Dark Night chapter in Mysticism.

Big Mind, what can you say about this?

Read More