Accelerated awakening?

 

If we seek awakening, we can take the traditional slow and steady approach, or we can try to accelerate it or take shortcuts. The slow approach may be “safer” than the apparent shortcuts although one is not inherently better than the other. And in either case, it’s good to look at our motivation.

Ways to accelerate awakening

We can have glimpses of what we are. Sometimes, this happens spontaneously without any apparent preparation, intention, or wish. We can also invite in these glimpses as a way to give us a taste of what awakening is. Some forms of inquiry, like the Big Mind process and the Headless Experiments, can give us a glimpse in a relatively short time and usually in a grounded way without the bells and whistles, and this can also give us more time to explore the different facets and dynamics around it.

Some also use psychoactive drugs, ideally under supervision of someone familiar with how to do it. Since this can come with side-effects, depending on the drug, I can’t recommend it and haven’t been drawn to try it for myself.

These glimpses can give us a taste of awakening and what we are, they can serve as a temporary guide (although can also be a bit misleading, especially as we add ideas to it), and they can – in that sense – accelerate awakening. As we dip into tastes of awakening through inquiry, we also get more familiar with what we are and it’s easier to notice it in daily life. And some forms of inquiry, like Living Inquiries, can help remove identifications and beliefs that typically prevent us from noticing what we are.

There is also the classic slow and steady approach to awakening. Here, we spend time with spiritual practices, with others on the path, and under guidance of someone familiar with the process. We spend time in prayer, meditation, body-centered practiced, and whatever other practices are available to us, and this provides a steady and gentle nurturing to the awakening process.

This more traditional approach is often seen as safer as it provides a lot of support and preparation work for the awakening which, in theory, makes it easier to function within the awakening if or when it happens. If done right, it also gives us a lot of benefits on the way in terms of grounding, healing, support, community, and so on. Of course, this all depends on the tradition, the community, the guide, and our fit with it and the fit with where we are in the process.

There is also the transmission or shaktipat approach. This may give a temporary spiritual opening or glimpse of awakening. Adyashanti describes this happening with retreat participants when he first started holding retreats (he stopped doing it since he found it less useful). This approach may also force the process and come with serious side-effects and challenges – sometimes because it happened a little too fast, and sometimes as the energy bangs up against blocks in our system. In some cases, energy transmissions may accelerate the process in a more balanced and integrated way.

And there is personal energy work, for instance through different forms of yoga. This can be a good way to nurture awakening, especially if combined with meditation and inquiry. As with the other approaches, it’s important to have good and experienced guidance.

These are all traditional approaches to awakening. Some cultures use psychoactive plants to offer glimpses or reality or shifts into it. Some traditions – especially in Asia but also other places – use shaktipat, inquiry, and/or personal energy work. And just about all traditions emphasize the more slow and steady approach, either on its own or in combination with the other approaches.

Personally, I have experience with all of these approaches with the exception of drugs. I have been mostly drawn to inquiry and the slow and steady classic approach. When it comes to energy transmissions, I have so far found only one that seems to be effective, predictable, and balanced, and that’s the awakening path built into being a Vortex Healing student.

Accelerated awakening and spiritual crises

An awakening process comes with different forms of challenges and sometimes spiritual crises. It’s tempting to say that the more accelerated paths come with more risk although I don’t really know. Challenges and spiritual crises seem to happen no matter which approach we take and whether our approach is slow and steady or more accelerated.

What I can say is that an accelerated path may also accelerate the crises (they may happen sooner rather than later). And a more slow and steady approach may allow us to prepare – in our mind, body, and energy system – for the different phases of the awakening process, which may make it a slightly smoother ride.

Mainly, there are no guarantees and we do what we are drawn to anyway.

Our motivation in wanting to accelerate awakening

Whether we seek awakening in the more traditional, slow, and steady way, or we seek a more accelerated path or shortcuts, it’s good to look at our motivation.

Typically, some of our motivations come from a sense of neediness, lack, and wanting to avoid suffering. There is nothing inherently wrong in this type of motivation. It can give us a drive that can be helpful for a while. At the same time, this type of motivation is inherently stressful and can drive us to make compulsive choices we otherwise wouldn’t have made.

Addressing the issues behind this slightly compulsive surface motivation – often some variation of neediness or lack – can reveal a deeper layer of motivation.

It may reveal a deeper, quiet and steady motivation that comes from – somewhere – knowing what we are.

Assumptions and context

I should mention that this view on awakening and ways to accelerate the process is based on an assumption that awakening is a natural, organic, and built-in process in all of us and – in the bigger picture – all beings. Everyone is on this path. For some, it may be far in the future and for others, it may happen now.

When it happens, there is a gradual preparation and build-up to it. It follows a similar process to a seed growing into a sapling, maturing into a tree, growing flowers, the flowers turn into a fruit, the fruit matures and eventually ripes and falls off the tree. In this analogy, the flowers may be early spiritual interests and perhaps practices, and the fruit is the awakening that ripes and matures over time.

We can support the ripening through practices and embodying it as best we can. As mentioned above, there are also other ways to accelerate this process. If we wish to accelerate this natural and organic process, it may be good to ask ourselves where that wish comes from and examine it. And it’s good to be aware that trying to accelerate, or even force, the process comes with some risks.

Finally, I want to mention that the awakening process tends to spontaneously accelerate at different parts of the process. It seems to have natural cycles of apparently slow phases and accelerated phases.

The bigger picture

Awakening is a natural and organic process. It’s what we are seeking itself, finding itself, noticing itself as all there is, and learning to live from and as it through this human being in the world.

What this looks like is a process of exploration or even a play, and many have called it the play of life, existence, or the divine – Lila.

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Projections in the context of awakening

 

How do projections look in the context of awakening?

On a spiritual or awakening path, projections are important for awakening and healing in the usual way – with perhaps a couple of extra layers to them to explore.

Specific to the spiritual path may be projections onto spiritual teachers, teachings, and concepts related to awakening. The process of projecting itself is the usual one. We see something out there – in teachers, teachings, awakening, etc. – that’s already in here, in us. And it’s projected in two ways. One is that the qualities and dynamics we see out there is also in here. The other is that what we see out there is an overlay of imagination from our own mind. (What we see out there may fit consensus reality and what others agree is there, or not, that doesn’t matter so much here.)

So we see something that’s in ourselves – as a potential or already here more strongly – out in the world. We get familiar with it there. In the best case, that helps us find it in ourselves and what we are. And it’s the role of spiritual teachers and teachings to help us recognize what’s happening and find it in ourselves. (Of course, they don’t always do it for whatever reason – they may not recognize what’s happening or they have a vested interest in not helping students recognize and find in themselves what they project out.)

Layers of the projections

There are different aspects and layers of the projections.

We have what most people think of when they hear the word. We can call these “blind” projections. We see something in the world – in other people, situations, anything at all – that’s in ourselves, but we are mostly or only aware of it out there. These projections are mostly of qualities, characteristics, and dynamics. And the reason they are “blind” – that we only see it in others and not in ourselves, at least in the moment – has to do with emotional issues, beliefs, and identifications.

Then we have more conscious projections. We see something out in the world and are aware of it also in ourselves. This awareness can be a general awareness or more finely grained. We can always find more examples of what we see out there also in ourselves – in our own thoughts, actions, and how we live our life.

We can also be aware of the more basic dynamics and elements of the projections. We can notice the overlay of thought – of mental images and words – our mind puts on the world. With some experience, we can notice it as it happens. This helps us to recognize the projections, and it also helps us hold our mental overlay more lightly. (And not automatically assume it’s “true”.)

There is yet another layer. Projections – blind, conscious, and the mental overlay – happen within and as what we are. They are part of the creativity of the mind. If we are so inclined, we can even say it’s part of Lila, the play of life, the Universe, and the divine.

In general, projections can be a temporary apparent hindrance – or detour or distraction or pitfall – if they are blind. And they can be a great support for awakening and healing if we work with them more consciously and with some skills and sincerity. It’s helpful before awakening and within awakening.

Examples

This is all distilled and abstract so I’ll go into a few more details and give some examples.

A regular blind projection happens anytime I see something in someone else that I don’t acknowledge in myself. It’s often accompanied by emotional charge, defensiveness, righteousness, blame, and so on. And it can also be accompanied by admiration, longing, and a wish to have what we project it out onto in our life. Whether it’s one or the other or a mix depends on how our mind judges what we project.

Trump is an example for me. For a while after he was elected, my mind dehumanized him. I saw him as a liar, bigot, con man, and so on, and I felt upset and angry that people could elect someone like him. I was aware that this was a projection but I hadn’t taken the time to explore it as a projection. It functioned more like a “blind” projection, at least at an emotional level.

As I took time to explore it more, I could find the qualities I saw in him also in myself. I could – and can – find it in how I see him and his followers. (I am bigoted, a liar, a con man, etc. in how I see him and his followers, especially when I don’t acknowledge I have those qualities too.) And I can find examples in my life when I have done all of those things. I may not have done it in exactly the same way he does it, or to the same extent, but I can find examples – even if some are smaller and apparently more “innocent”.

Going through this process, I am more at peace with Trump and his followers. I see myself in them. We are in the same boat, in that sense. I don’t agree with most of his policies. I still think he operates mostly as a con man. I still see many of his followers as ill-informed and acting on misinformation. If I was in a position where it was reasonable for me to actively speak up about it and promote other solutions, I would do that. (Right now, I live in Europe and my energy goes to finding healing for myself.) And yet, the emotional charge around it for me is much less. I have more empathy and understanding. I am seeing the situation less as us vs. them and more as a larger us.

I have also experienced the other form of blind projections many times in my life. I admire and am fascinated by a woman (usually a partner). I see some people as awake – or perhaps unusually mature, insightful, and kind – and admire them and wish the same for myself. And so on. Again, it’s a process of allowing the projection, notice it, and find the qualities and characteristics I see in the other also in myself. Phrasing the projection and finding specific examples help a lot.

Conscious projections also happen all the time. I see someone as kind, and find it in myself. I see beautiful nature, and find that in myself. I see (imagine) the boundless nature of outer space and find that as what I am.

There is some fluidity between blind and conscious projections. It’s rare a projection is completely blind. And in daily life, we are often aware of a quality more in others or more in ourselves, depending on where our attention is. Bringing awareness to projections, and finding in ourselves what we see out in the world, is also an ongoing process. We can always find more examples. We can always expand our conscious identity to include more.

How do we get more aware of the basic dynamics and elements of projections? Working with projections in a conventional way brings some awareness into this. And we can also explore it more explicitly through some forms of inquiry, like traditional Buddhist inquiry or their modern versions. We typically need to explore this over and over – and bring it into daily life – before this noticing becomes a habit and second nature.

If I used Living Inquiries to explore how I see Trump (which I haven’t, at least not as a longer and formal inquiry), I would probably find some clues to why my relationship to him is charged (emotional issues) and how my mind creates its experience of him in general. I may find how my mind creates an image of Trump and this image is associated with sensations (tension) in my body. I may find that my mind has a lot of associations with this image and the connected sensations, going back to specific (traumatic) situations in my life and childhood. I may find how my mind creates beliefs and identifications in order to protect itself against him, people like him, and what he stands for. And so on. I get to see the emotional component and how it connects to my own experiences. I get to see how my mind creates blind projections in order to protect itself. I get to see how beliefs and identities are part of this projection. I get to meet and get to know the fears behind all of it.

When it comes to noticing how all of this happens within and as what I am, there are some modern forms of inquiry that can give us a taste. Big Mind process and Headless experiments may be most direct, and Living Inquiries gives us a taste through most regular inquiries into more emotional issues.

As usual, each of these points can be elaborated almost endlessly so I have given just give a few pointers here based on my own experience.

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What is wholeness?

 

What is wholeness?

There are several forms of wholeness, all part of the main form of wholeness.

There is the wholeness of what we are. We are that which the content of our experience happens within and as, whether we call this awakeness, consciousness, or something else. This makes our experience into a seamless whole, whether we notice or not.

As soon as the mind believes its thoughts and latches onto the viewpoints of some of these thoughts, there is an experience of fragmentation and it’s more difficult to notice what we are.

The process of what we are noticing itself is called awakening. And the process of living from this in more situations in our life is called embodiment.

There is also a wholeness of who we are, as this human self. Again, the wholeness is already here. And yet, there is also a sense of fragmentation since we tend to identify with some of who we are and disown or ignore other parts of who we are. The process of finding our wholeness as who we are is what Jung called individuation.

There is also the wholeness of the world and the universe. The Earth is one seamless living and evolving system. The universe is also one seamless evolving system. And we – as human individuals and species with our culture – are an intrinsic part of those systems.

Finally, there is the wholeness of all of existence. Whether we use a small (psychological) or big (spiritual) interpretation of awakening, we can say that all of existence is one. We can also say that everything is existence exploring, expressing, and experiencing itself.

How do we explore these forms of wholeness? I have written many articles on each of them but I’ll say a few words here.

To explore the wholeness of what we are, we can use inquiry (Headless experiments, Big Mind Process, Living Inquiries, etc.), often combined with meditation (basic meditation, quiet prayer, training stable attention), and perhaps mindful movement (yoga, taichi, Breema, etc.).

To explore the wholeness of who we are, we can use psychology (parts work, shadow work, projection work), bodywork, relationship work, and more.

When we explore the wholeness of Earth and the universe, we can use systems views and integral (aqal) maps.

And what about the wholeness of all of existence? It includes all of the above, although we can most directly explore it as we explore what we are.

Note: The examples of approaches above are just the ones I have found useful. What works for you may be different, and what I use in the future will probably also change as I discover other approaches.

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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.

Hilma af Klint

 

Last fall, I went to see the Hilma af Klint exhibit at the Guggenheim in New York.

I don’t know if she did receive her paintings or information about how to paint from the spirit world. But I do know that thinking that’s the case would have freed her up to paint outside of the expectations she and others had about how paintings should look.

Of course, she was still bound by some basic expectations of her time and culture, but she was also able to take several steps beyond. This is similar to the Big Mind process. We shift into Big Mind, see our own ideas and our culture’s ideas from that vaster perspective (in this process, Big Mind is a kind of perspective and also not), and are able to – to some extent – step outside it.

I imagine that Hilma af Klint, at the very least, may have shifted into some transpersonal voice (in the Big Mind terminology) when she painted her paintings. It would have given her the freedom to go a few steps beyond the expectations and confines of her culture.

The photos above are from my visit.

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.

Where is the final “I”?

 

Where is the final or ultimate “I”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What do I do if I am interested in awakening but have had no success so far?

 
What do we do if we have an interested in spirituality and awakening but have had no success so far? Perhaps more to the point, what do we do if that weighs us down and we feel hopeless about it? Here are some possibilities:

Explore forms of inquiry that can give you an immediate taste of what it’s about. Some I have found effective are the Big Mind process, Headless experiments, and – to some extent – Living Inquiries. This taste can give you a pointer for what it’s about, it can help you see that what you are seeking is already here, and it can serve as a needed disillusionment for the ideas you may have about what awakening entails. (Sometimes, people get an actual taste but dismiss it since it seems too simple and ordinary, and they continue to seek something more highfalutin and with more bells and whistles, and the disillusionment comes later.)

Inquire into beliefs you have about awakening and what not having it says about you. For instance, fill out these sentences and inquiry into them using The Work: Awakening is…. If I awaken, it will… Not being awakening means…. What I fear the most about not being awakened is…. Or use Living Inquiries to see if you can find the one who is unawakened, or awakening itself, or the drive to awakening, or anything else related to awakening and you in relation to awakening.

Along the same lines, clarify your motivation for awakening. What do you hope to get out of it? And what do you hope to get out of that? Continue until you find something very basic – and typically, universal – that you hope to get out of it. This, in itself, can be helpful, and it can also help you find other strategies to meet that need. As with any inquiry, take time with the question. Stay with it. Let it percolate. Allow the answer to surface on its own time.

Often, parts of our motivation for awakening is really a wish for healing. Identify what in you need healing, and may drive the desire for awakening, and invite in healing for those parts of you. Use whatever approach you are drawn to and that works for you.

If you have engaged in a particular spiritual path and don’t notice much results, consider revising your approach. Look at revising both your orientation and the tools and approaches you use. (a) Clarify your motivation for awakening. Inquire into your beliefs and identities connected with awakening and spirituality. Find healing for the parts of you that need healing and (partly) drive your wish for awakening. All of this can help you find a more helpful orientation to spirituality and awakening. (b) And you may consider trying out approaches or tools that may be more effective for you. If something doesn’t work in other areas of life, wouldn’t you try a different approach? So why not also when it comes to spirituality?

Awakening has a consciousness side and an energy side, and – for me – Vortex Healing is the most effective way to work with the energy side of awakening. Energetic structures hold consciousness in certain patterns and progressively undoing these will open for awakening. This won’t be the bells and whistles type of awakening some look for, but it will open a window to authentic awakening.

The approaches and tools I mention here are particular to me and what I am familiar with and have found especially helpful. As with anything I write here, this list is mostly meant as inspiration and to give some ideas for how to approach it. You’ll have to find what works for you. You have to make it your own. Read More

A simple logic

 

The world exists in and as time & space.

Something time- & spaceless must allow for it.

Both make up reality.

And that’s what we are.

It’s a simple logic. It has a mathematical simplicity.

And it’s also something we can explore for ourselves – in immediacy.

The easiest way I have found is through the Headless experiments and the Big Mind Process.

Note: When it’s said so simply, I see that calling it “spirituality” is too much. It’s much simpler than that. Much more immediate. Much more fundamental. And there is also a risk in making it so simple and so logical. The mind can tell itself that since it’s simple and logical, it gets it. But that’s not really getting it. Getting it is to find ourselves as the time- and spaceless that’s full of the world, and is the world. To find it in immediacy.

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Walking through myself

 

I am walking through myself.

Whether there is a spiritual opening, or a more stable shift in identity, or a taste through explorations such as the Big Mind process or Headless experiments, that’s a common noticing.

I – as a human self, am walking through myself – as the One (aka Big Mind, Spirit, Buddha Mind etc.). When I walk, I walk through myself. When I drive a car, I drive through myself.

I move through myself as this space I am moving through. This room. This landscape.

And as mentioned above, we can notice this through a spiritual opening where our identity is temporarily shifted out of our human self and more into what we are. Through explorations inviting in a similar temporary shift. Or through a more stable shift of identity out of identification as a separate self allowing our more real identity as the One to shine through or come more to the forefront.

And, for some reason, even if this can be noticed anywhere in any setting, it seems easier to notice when we are in a car and the landscape moves past us a bit faster than usual.

We can also experience being still and the landscape moving through us. That’s another aspect of this noticing. We are that which this human self moves through, and what the landscape moves through. We are all of it – the human self moving, the landscape moving, and what it all moves through.

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Why do these approaches work on so many issues?

 

When I talk about the approaches I use to healing and awakening, I am often aware that it sometimes can sound too good to be true. They seem to work on a wide range of issues and work pretty well – at least if used with skill and over some time.

So why do they work on such a wide range of issues? The simple answer is that they tend to address underlying issues and dynamics. They go below the surface, so they work on a wide range of surface manifestations.

And are they too good to be true? Yes and no. As mentioned above, they tend to work well if used with skill and over time. But it does take work. And if an issue is entrenched, it can take time to clear it.

Here are some examples:

TRE – Tension & Trauma Release Exercises. Therapeutic trembling releases tension out of the body and mind, and that has a wide range of effects. It tends to reduce anxiety, depression, and compulsions. It improves sleep. It can give us a different and more healthy experience of ourselves and the world, and improve our relationship to ourselves, others, and the world.

Inquiry. In inquiry, we examine our beliefs and identifications. Since we often have a layer of beliefs and identifications on top of how we perceive ourselves, others, and life, we can address just about any issue with inquiry. Inquiry can help us release whatever charge is there in our experience of anything. And that means that this too can reduce anxiety, depression, compulsions, and more, especially in relation to something specific.

Vortex Healing. Any issue has a consciousness and energy side. Inquiry tends to approach something from the consciousness side and has an effect on the energy side. Vortex Healing approaches it from the energy side and has an effect on the consciousness side. Vortex Healing can work on emotional or physical issues, relationships, and situations. The deeper reason is that Vortex Healing is divine energy guided by divine consciousness, and since everything is already the divine, only the divine can allow for a deep and thorough healing and clearing of something.

Heart approaches. Ho’oponopono, tonglen, heart prayer, and all-inclusive gratitude practices tend to change our relationship with ourselves, others, and the world. This can be deeply healing and also aligns us with awakening.

My inclination is to seek out approaches that are effective and multi-purpose. Approaches that can be used to work on a wide range of issues, and also invite in healing, awakening, and embodiment. The ones I have mentioned above are among the most powerful I have found so far. (TRE tends to work mostly on healing, although it’s an excellent way to support embodiment of whatever awakening is here.)

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Notes about meditation

 

It looks like I’ll teach (show, guide) meditation for a group of teenagers, so I thought I would go over the basics again here, as a reminder for myself.

There are three basic forms of meditation: Stable attention, rest, and inquiry.

Stable attention / samatha. Attention can be trained. Untrained, it may easily be scattered and unruly. Trained, it can become stable and pliable, and a stable attention is helpful for almost any activity in our lives – from relationships to sports to learning and working. One way to train it is to bring attention to the breath, for instance the sensations at the nostrils as the breath naturally goes in and out. Attention may wander, and when that’s noticed, bring attention back to the breath. The noticing happens as grace.

Rest / shikantaza. Allow everything to be as it is. Notice it’s already allowed to be as it is. Notice what’s here – the sensations, sights, sounds, smell, taste, words and images. It all comes and goes. It lives it’s own life. Rest and notice what’s here. Even notice any resistance or trying. It’s all happening within and as the field of what’s here. There is nowhere to go and nothing to do. Just notice what’s already here.

Inquiry / vipassana. Insights into what the mind is, and how it works. These happen, to some extent, through the two previous ones. And they also happen through guided inquiry or exploration. such as sense field explorations, the Living Inquiries, The Work, the Big Mind process, and also holding satsang with what’s here.

Mutual support. Each of these support the others. A stable attention makes it easier to rest and do inquiry. Familiarity with rest makes it easier to explore a stable attention and inquiry from rest. And inquiry gives insights – and a release of identification with words and images – that supports a stable attention and rest.

Support of life. All these forms of meditation are in support of life. And there are, of course, many things that supports both life and meditation. Physical exercise is one, including forms of yoga (tai chi, chi gong, Breema), endurance and strength. Precepts is another, guidelines for how to live our lives. These give a preview of how it is to live from more clarity, they shows us what’s left (fears and beliefs that prevents us from living from clarity and love), and they support an easier and more stable relationship with others and ourselves. Different forms of therapies can also be very helpful in allowing our human self to align with clarity and love.

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Big Mind vs Satsang

 

I have been curious about the similarities and differences between the Big Mind process and holding satsang with what’s here.

Both are quite similar in that they involve a dialogue and interaction with aspects of the psyche, with subpersonalities or voices.

And there are some differences too, in my experience:

In the Big Mind process, there is an emphasis on view (head center) and love (heart center). Subpersonalities are recognized as divine from the “outside” by Big Mind/Heart. The Big Mind process is often, although not necessarily, quite verbal.

In holding satsang with subpersonalities, there is an emphasis on view (head center) and love (heart center), and also a felt sense of the divine and taking time to let this sink in (belly center). Subpersonalities are invited to recognize themselves as divine from the “inside”. Holding satsang is often wordless, quiet and felt. It’s often slower, allowing insight and love to sink in, which in turn provides fertile ground for emotional patterns and the body to reorganize.

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Satsang with what’s here

 

I mentioned holding satsang with parts of me to a friend familiar with the Big Mind process, and it reminded me of some of the slight differences between the two.

When I hold satsang with parts of me, it’s with what’s already alive here, for instance fear, frustration, pain, joy and so on. And it’s largely nonverbal (felt, visual). In contrast, the Big Mind process is often done with what’s not immediately alive here and possibly more abstract, and it emphasizes the verbal more.

In a way, it’s the difference between an approach that’s more masculine (the Big Mind process) and one that’s more feminine (holding satsang).

No wonder I am drawn to the more feminine approach right now. The one that’s more nonverbal and felt.

It relates more to the belly center, and it’s also the one that connects more easily with the infant and and small child in me.

Confusion, fear, anger as love

 

In what way is confusion, fear, anger etc. love?

(a) It’s a sign that a thought is taken as true. It’s an invitation to look again, to find what’s more true than the initial thought. This sign is love.

(b) It’s confused love. Believing the thought creating confusion, fear, anger etc. is confused love. It’s an attempt to find what we (think we) want or need – security, love etc.

(c) It’s made up of love. It’s the substance of love. (i) When I look, I see it’s all happening within and as awareness (love). (ii) Through the Big Mind process, I find it’s all Big Heart. (iii) If all is God/love, then isn’t this too – confusion, fear, anger – love?

And as usual, the really helpful explorations are detailed and on what’s here now, or – in the case of The Work – on a specific thought in a specific situation. That’s where this comes alive, where it sinks in. Where it’s seen in some detail, with real, simple, and specific examples, inviting in feeling it as love, love for it as love, and living it as love.

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This is not God, is it true?

 

The truth is that until we love cancer, we can’t love God. It doesn’t matter what symbols we use—poverty, loneliness, loss—it’s the concepts of good and bad that we attach to them that make us suffer.
– Byron Katie

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
– Matthew 5:43-44

Anything thoughts tell me is wrong, bad, not God, becomes an enemy for me, in my mind, when those thoughts are taken as true.

It’s uncomfortable, painful, it’s how I create suffering for myself.

So what can I do? Here are a few approaches I find interesting and helpful: Prayer for he/she/it, ho’o, tonglen, The Work, sense field explorations, the Big Mind Process, Headless experiments, and more. And all are supported by inviting in a more stable attention, perhaps by bringing attention to the breath, or through body-centered practices such as yoga, tai chi, chi gong, or Breema.

All of this helps me shift into finding genuine love for he/she/it, and it may even help me notice it’s already love. It never was anything but love.

And I do it for my own sake. It’s a relief. I function from more clarity. I function from more kindness. There is a sense of coming home.

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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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My life from different perspectives

 

One form of inquiry is to explore something – anything – from a variety of different perspectives.

And one of the simplest ways of doing this may be through the Big Mind process.

For instance, as a facilitator I ask the client (which may be me) to shift into different perspectives, and see what comes up when the clients life is explored from that perspective.

How is the story of my life – or a specific time or situation in my life – from the view of the victim, the hero, the learner, the ordinary human being, Big Mind, Big Heart?

Which perspectives are most familiar to me? Which are less familiar? How is it to spend more time with the less familiar perspectives?

This shows me how my more familiar perspectives are just that, more familiar. They are some of many, and each one has some validity.

Some may even show me something I hadn’t seen, or valued, before.

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Anxiety and love

 

The basic connections between anxiety, beliefs and love seem quite simple and reveal themselves through inquiry and many other approaches.

Anxiety comes from beliefs, some basic ones and some specific to specific forms of inquiry. The general beliefs may be: Something terrible will happen. It’s possible for something terrible to happen. And some specific ones to specific forms of anxiety: (a) People will judge me. I am not good enough. I need their love, acceptance and appreciation. (b) I will die. It’s terrible to die. I will die and that means…. (c) Snakes are…. I will be bitten by a snake. I will be bitten by a snake and that means….

And these beliefs block awareness of love. They block awareness that it’s all love (people, experiences, situations), and they block awareness of love for oneself, others and whatever we may be afraid of.

The Work may be a good way to identify and inquire into these beliefs, and many other approaches may be helpful as well, including TRE to release the tension and trauma around and fueling the anxiety, tonglen, The Big Mind/Heart process or Voice Dialog, and ho’oponopono on oneself (in past, present and future anxiety triggering situations), others, and situations and objects triggering anxiety.

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Big Mind Process

 

I just read a fb-thread on the Big Mind process, and it seems that some folks who haven’t tried it have a few misconceptions.

In short, it’s not therapy, it’s not meant to get you enlightened (!), and it’s not about states.

The Big Mind part of the process is inquiry. It brings attention to what’s already here, throughout and independent of experiences and states. Just like many other forms of inquiry.

And the rest is more to get familiar with the terrain, with all the different voices, how they serve us, and how they relate to each other. This can help them reorganize so they pull more together and in the same direction.

Closing off love

 

Big Mind (Big Mind/Heart/Belly), what happens when P. doesn’t experience love?

He closes himself off from love, from the experience of love. He tells himself something happened, that it means a certain thing, and that he must close off the experience of love. For instance, he tells himself she doesn’t love me, that means I don’t have love in my life. Or that she doesn’t love me, so I am not lovable. Or I need her love, and she is not in my life. In each case, he takes certain stories as true, and is unable to notice – receive, experience and soak in – the love that’s already here.

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Dialog with a part that wishes the best for me, and has used the strategy of taking stories as true

 

When I ask myself what do I hope to get out of taking this story as true?  what’s the innocent wish behind it? I often find it’s a wish for safety.

A part of me take stories as true with the hope that it will keep me safe.

The result is of course the exact opposite. Taking stories as true creates tension, trauma, a sense of precariousness, a viewpoint to defend and so on. It even creates identification as something or someone that can be hurt and die.

It’s helpful to see and get a feel of this process. I get more attuned to the symptoms – some of which are mentioned above. I know it’s all innocent and it’s from a genuine wish for for keeping me safe and for my well being. I see and get a feel for how the consequences are often the reverse of this sincere wish. And there is another way.

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Happening inside

 

Here are some simple questions:

Where do I find a sense of me as this human self? Where are it’s boundaries? Are they fuzzy? Clear? Do they change? What’s inside? What’s outside?

Do these boundaries happen within me? Do they happen within this field of awareness?

Is it true that what’s outside of these boundaries is not inside of me? Is it true it’s not happening within this field of awareness?

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A visualization from Anthony de Mello

 

Suppose I return to a scene that causes me much distress. An event that brought me humiliation, like a public rebuke, or one that brought me great pain, like the death of a friend. I relive the whole event, in all its painful detail. I feel once more the pain, the loss, the humiliation, the bitterness. This time, however, Jesus is there. What role is he playing? Is he a comforter and strengthener? Is he the one who is causing me this pain and loss? I interact with him, just as I did with the other persons in that event. I seek strength from him, an explanation of what I don’t understand; I seek a meaning to the whole event.

What is the purpose of this exercise? It is what some people call the healing of memories. There are memories that keep rankling within us — situations in our past life that have remained unresolved and continue to stir within us. This constitutes a perpetual wound that in some ways hampers us from plunging more fully into life, that sometimes seriously handicaps us in our ability to cope with life. [….]

It is important for our personal growth, both spiritual and emotional, that we resolve these unresolved situations that keep rankling within us. When we relive them in the company of Christ, again and again, if need be, we will notice that a new meaning comes into them, that the sting goes out of them, that we can now return to them without any emotional upset; in fact, that we can even return to them now with a sense of gratitude to God, who planned these events for some purpose that will rebound to our benefit and to his glory. This form of prayer is good therapy and good spirituality.

An excerpt from Contact with God by Anthony de Mello.

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Healing it here

 

A draft…..

There are many approaches to healing here what I see in the world. It may not “need” healing in an ultimate sense, but wishing for healing is a natural impulse. It feels good and right, and may even reduce suffering for myself and others, and make it a little easier for us to make more wise choices.

I have recently explored ho’oponopono, a new and revised version of an ancient shamanic practice from Hawaii and other pacific islands. I see something in the world that needs healing – coming out of suffering and confusion. I find in myself what creates this, connect with it, and forgive myself for it. I forgive myself for having created the causes that brought this about. One way of doing this is to say I am sorry, I love you, thank you. Or simply, I forgive myself for having created this. Ho’o may sound odd, but it makes immediate intuitive sense to me.

The essence is (a) to take complete responsibility, and (b) invite clearing of what creates suffering and confusion. This is similar to other approaches such as The Work, the Big Mind Process, tonglen, bearing witness, and perhaps even techniques such as TRE if done with the same intention.

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Knot of loneliness

 

I woke up at 3am last night noticing a bottomless sense of loneliness. It was quite faint, but very clear. And in my imagination, it was very small, almost like a pin head, and infinite in its loneliness.

I brought attention to this sense of loneliness and stayed with it for a while. Being with it, with kindness.

It felt primeval. It seemed to go back to my earliest days, fueled by a basic sense of separation, of never quite connecting with myself, others, life as fully as what I sense is possible. Sometimes deepened by times in my life I experienced loss – of people, situations, or dreams and hopes. It felt like a point where all experience of loneliness is stored.

This primeval sense of loneliness comes from the equally primeval sense of separation, created when the story of I is identified with. Recognizing this is healing in itself, especially as the sense of separation softens and dissolves. And yet, it is good to explore this further. For instance through voice dialog.

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Big Mind, Heart, Belly, Integrity

 

I guess Big Integrity comes naturally from Big Mind, Big Heart and Big Belly.

Big Mind is what we are – that which everything happens within and as, including the images of a separate self – a human, a doer, an observer – that we sometimes identify with.

Big Heart is what happens when our human self functions within the context of what we are awake to itself. It is love lived through this human self, whether there is a feeling of love or not there.

Big Belly is the felt sense of all of this. It is the human self feeling all as Big Mind and Big Heart. A reorganization of the emotional level of the human self.

And Big Integrity is to live from all of this, in daily life.

Of course, it’s not this simple. It can feel temporarily satisfying to say or read something that’s relatively simple, clear, and resonates to some extent. It can be inspiring. It can even be something we wish to bring more into our lives. And yet, in practical terms, there is a little tweak we can do so it’s makes more sense and is more useful. And that tweak is to pay attention to where we fall short.

What shoulds or ideals do I try to live up to? What do I hope to get out of it? What thoughts come up when I fall short of my own expectations or ideals? If not falling short seemed within reach, what fears – if any – held me back? What do I find when I explore this further? For instance with heart practices, inquiry, or parts work?

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Big Mind process as inquiry and pointing out instructions

 

I have seen a couple of teachers who have less than favorable things to say about the Big Mind process. One sees it as a scam, promising instant enlightenment. Another, as aiming at “integration” when all is already the play of emptiness.

But really, it seems quite simple…

The Big Mind process can be seen as just another flavor of two time-honored traditions.

It is a form of inquiry. An especially thorough and flexible form of inquiry.

And it is a form of pointing out instructions. Of inviting us all to notice here & now what we already are.

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Flavors of allowing

 

I find it fascinating to explore the different flavors of allowing experience: Shifting into Big Mind or headlessness. Choiceless awareness. Asking myself can I be with what I am experiencing right now? Shifting into gently and quietly meeting experience as it is. Bringing in a sense of kindness and the heart. And so on.

When I shift into allowing experience, I see, feel and love it as it is, for its sake. And the emphasis on each shifts between and within each form of allowing.

In Big Mind, headlessness and choiceless awareness, it seems that the seeing of experience is in the foreground, with feeling it anywhere between background to foreground, and the possibility of loving it is there are well – coming and going.

When I intentionally bring in the heart, the love for experience as it is comes into the foreground.

And there is also a way of being with experience where the felt sense is in the foreground. The sensations are invited in center stage, and welcomed there as they are.

Each one has its own flavor, and each one can be a helpful and valuable exploration. What happens when experience is resisted? What happens when it is allowed and welcomed? What happens when the seeing of it is in the foreground? The felt sense? Love and kindness?

In each case, a shift from (being caught up in) resistance to allowing is a shift from a sense of separation to that field which holds it all. When the felt sense is brought in, I “get it” with the body. I feel the difference. When love comes in, there is a sense of appreciation and gratitude for experience, as it is and for its sake.

And in terms of healing and maturing as who I am, this human self, that seems to be invited in when the felt sense and kindness is in the foreground.

What am I koan & tools for exploration

 

When I was at the zen center, my teacher gave me the “what am I” koan. I worked on it the usual Rinzai way, repeating it to myself with great intensity and otherwise not knowing what to do with it. It does fuel motivation and intention, which is very helpful, but it was also an exercise in spinning my wheels.

Along with giving someone the “what am I” koan, it is helpful to offer a few tools and pointers on how to use them…! After all, that is how we do it in any other area of life.

If I ask someone to dig a ditch, I show him or her the tool shed and where the shovels are, I’ll point out where the ditch is going, and if needed, I’ll give enough instructions to get the person started.

In the case of the “what am I” koan, there are – at least – two focal points for inquiry.

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Exploring a sense of doer

 

One of my practices lately has been to explore the sense of doer.

How does it appear when I shift into Big Mind or headlessness? I find that even the sense of doer happens within and as what I am. There is a release of an exclusive identification with a sense of doer and into the field that allows and is whatever is happening.

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Reincarnation – all happening here now

 

Reincarnation holds a particular fascination for many. After all, if I am someone, then what will happen to this someone after death, and what – if anything – was it up to before this birth?

And as usual, it can be very helpful to see what is going on here now.

What I find is that any fantasies I may have about these things (have to create them intentionally since I am not very interested in it!), mirror something here now. That is the case whether someone else tells me about past/future lives, or it comes up for myself in dreams, regression therapy or some other way.

The characteristics and dynamics of those stories mirror something here now. And also, when I take stories about past and future lives as real, I take stories alive here now and tell myself they are (a) about the past or future, and (b) are about something substantial and real. I project characteristics and dynamics out into those stories, and I project a mental field activity out in the past/future and as substantial and real.

In general, stories about reincarnation mirrors how we – and content of experience in general – continually dies as what it was and is reborn as something else. In that sense, the process of reincarnation is happening here now, always.

And more in particular, whatever I imagine into past or future lives – who I was, what life I lived and so on – also mirrors something here now. Typically, it mirrors my fears (shadow) or my hopes. Qualities and characteristics present here now, which I am not completely aware of so can more easily see out there in someone else, in the past or future. (Usually things that are here, but do not fit my conscious self-image, who I am in the world.)

So it can be very useful to work with imaginations around reincarnation, and I find that I can do it in any of the ways I work with anything else.

I can dialog with figures – who I was or others in that life. Who are they? What do they want? What do they need? What do they want to tell me? How can I help them? How can they help me? What can I learn from them? How do I relate to them? How can I relate to them in a more skillful way? How can I notice them more in my own life, or bring them more out? What is a healthy expression of the qualities I see in them?

I can do tong-len with these figures, especially the ones that suffer.

I can find the figures that appear as demons to me (troublesome) and go through the feeding the demons process.

I can allow the experience that comes up, as it is, including any resistance to it. I can find myself as that which already holds and allows all of it. And I can do it with kindness and compassion for my human self who may have trouble dealing with it.

I can find any beliefs I have around particular stories about past lives, and inquire into them. What happens when I hold onto those beliefs? Who am I without them? What is the grain of truth in their reversals?

I can explore it through the sense fields. When I activate stories about past or future lives, what do I find in the different sense fields? What do I find in the mental field? Can I see it all happening within and as this timeless present, as activities in the mental field – sometimes combining with sensations and other sense fields?

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Thoughts as an interface

 

As with just about everything here, this too is just life 101. But there is still a draw to write it down to clarify it a little for myself, and also so I can move on and don’t feel I have to remember it.

Thoughts function as an interface, and so also in a spiritual or practice context.

They serve as a pointer for attention, such as bringing attention to the breath, the different sense fields, what comes up when I ask a question of myself (The Work), and so on.

They serve as an invitation for a shift, for instance into allowing experience and into one of the voices in the Big Mind process.

And they serve as a guide for exploration, when I explore sense fields, they dynamics around a belief, or what happens when an experience is resisted or allowed.

In these ways, thoughts serve as a pointer beyond themselves. They initiate something that goes far beyond thoughts, the cognitive or any mental field activity.

Thoughts also serve as an interface in the other direction. The mental field filters, interprets and put words (or images) on what happens outside of the mental field.

So while The Work, the Big Mind process or headless experiments from the outside may appear to happen mainly within the mental field, as soon as we actually try either of them, we find that their effects go far beyond the mental field, and also that the mental field reports what occurs far beyond itself.

One obvious example is how The Work sometimes brings energetic shifts, and also an experience of not recognizing oneself afterwards. It is as if the whole human self has shifted and is different, in a very direct and immediate way. Another example is how what we are notices itself in a direct way through shifting into Big Mind and headlessness. And how we can shift into Big Heart, and hold our human self and any other beings within Big Heart, through the Big Mind process and other practices and explorations.

Trigger: A few instances where someone describes The Work as mainly a cognitive process. I tend to be surprised by this since the main shifts in The Work happens outside of the mental field, but I can also understand how it may appear mainly cognitive when seen from from the outside.

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Love filtered

 

This is a parallel to the previous post on what everyone and nobody wants, and clarifying intention.

When I look, I find that everything that comes up in me – every desire, story, emotion, behavior – is love. And most of the time, it is love filtered through stories taken as true, so it doesn’t always appear as love in its expression.

It is love filtered through a sense of a separate I, since a sense of I-Other is the first that happens when a story is taken as true. (There is an I here associated with the true story, and Other over there associated with its reversals which I need to defend against.) This filtered love appears as love for this separate I and its circle of us.

And this love for a separate I and its circle of us is expressed through whatever other beliefs are around. It shows up as any emotion, including fear (which is there to keep this separate I safe), as any story (again there to protect and take care of this separate I), and any action in the world. And the stronger the beliefs, the less it tends to look like love when it comes out.

So here too, it can be very helpful to clarify what is behind emotions, stories and behaviors. When I peel back the layers, what do I find? (The Big Mind process is an excellent tool for this, revealing how each voice at the personal level is there to take care of the human self, and are really expressions of love.)

When I have not clarified this, I am at war with myself. There is struggle, drama and a sense of split. I am caught up in the midst of it. I work and struggle against what is.

And when I clarify it, I am not split against myself anymore. The drama goes out of it and there is more clarity, sense of ease, and of a workable situation.

Offering tools for working with beliefs directly

 

Vince has a good post on ways teachers and traditions sometimes speak about enlightenment, and what types of dynamics it may set up in the group.

The verbal level is of course important, partly because it sets up maps people use to navigate by.

Yet, something else is as important: The tools we are given. First, to have an immediate taste of what we are. Then, to work with beliefs and stories directly, no matter what they are about.

The tools I am familiar with here are the ones I have written about many times before.

Some tools for inviting in a taste of enlightenment include headless experiments and the Big Mind process. These give a taste of what we are and ways to explore it for ourselves, although obviously not with the same clarity as a full blown awakening. Doing this can be helpful in letting go of some of the more exotic ideas about enlightenment. What we are is something that is quite simple, available to be noticed here now, and not really out there in others or the future.

And there are also good tools available to help us unravel beliefs and stories about enlightenment, teachers or anything else. The Work helps us explore the effects of beliefs, and find what is already more true for us. And exploring the sense fields helps us see thought as thought, and how an overlay of thought on each of the sense fields create gestalts. It also helps us find ourselves as what we are, outside of what any story tells us.

At least for me, having and using these tools – with some sincerity – is far more important than any models, mainly because they first help me explore the terrain for myself, and then because they help me unravel beliefs and attachments to any story and identity.

Also, any model can become a belief, an identification with a story. So it is helpful to work with any model we are presented with – or come up with on our own – in this way, no matter how accurate it appears to be. In a conventional sense, some models are more accurate, meaning they have more practical value. But really, all models are equally far away from what they appear to be about.

I also see that I personally prefer practices aligned with awakening, but with an emphasis on the practical and day to day aspects of it. So in that sense, I would be more in the “no need to talk about it too much” camp. (Although I obviously explore it quite a bit here, but that is on my own.)

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Two masters

 

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Matthew 6:22-24

This whole passage is interesting. From a conventional point of view, the two first paragraphs don’t make much sense, and the third is taken literally and maybe seen as overly harsh.

Yet when there is a shift into headlessness or Big Mind/Heart, it becomes clear and is revealed as a beautiful and true passage.

The single eye is awareness itself, that which all happens within, to and as. When it notices itself, all is revealed as luminous both metaphorically (clear insight into what we are) and literally (sense of luminosity in all there is).

If it doesn’t notice itself, there is darkness. We are confused about who and what we are, and also don’t notice the luminosity inherent in all form and experience. This confusion is the root of all that is conventionally seen as evil, including all suffering and unease.

We cannot serve two masters. We cannot be confused and identify with content of awareness, and at the same time notice what we are.

Or more accurately, we can – and inevitably do – for a large stretch of the awakening process. Both may be present simultaneously to some degree, with one shifting into the foreground and then the other. But there comes a time when we have to make a clear decision.

Am I going to continue to indulge in whatever comes out of this mistaken identity, even as I know it is a mistaken identity, or am I going to wholehearted give myself to what I already am?

And this shift may involve strong resolve which is reflected in the somewhat harsh language of the passage above.