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.

Dimensions of allowing

 

Allowing experience, shikantaza, headless experiments and the Big Mind/Heart process are all flavors of a similar shift.

And they can all fall a little differently on several dimensions, often depending on intention, experience and more.

The shift into allowing experience, into headlessness, Big Mind, realized selflessness, can be more or less partial, more or less clear.

It can be done with an emphasis on Big Mind, seeing all as awareness itself.

It can be done with an emphasis on the heart, on kindness, Big Heart.

It can be done with an emphasis on the felt sense of the shift, how it feels in the body.

It can be done with an emphasis on our human self, on who we are.

It can be done with an emphasis on what is here now, as it is, or on what is here now unfolding over time, revealing a process and a journey within content of experience.

And it can be done as a combination of any of these, simultaneously or shifting attention over time.

(more…)

Dream: needs to work itself through

 

I see what is left to be worked through, represented as a black rectangle with some substance and thickness.

This was a dream image that stayed with me after I woke up.

It has a sense of something that needed to be exhausted through practice and effort. And also that they exhausting itself is the point of it.

(more…)

Embodying turnarounds

 

I went to a Process Work class today with Arny Mindell, and noticed again how important it is to embody whatever insights come up, to feel it in the body, to act from it, to discover how it moves and talks, to become it with all of me.

And then realized that I can do this with the turnarounds in The Work too. I find a turnaround and take some time finding the truth in it (as usual). Then, I shift into and become the figure (voice, subpersonality) that has that turnaround story, the one who sees the world in that way, and feel how it is to be it, to move as it, to speak as it.

I can also explore what it has to say. How does the world look from that perspective? What insights does it have? How can it help this human self? Does the human self listen to what it has to say? How would it be if this human self lived from it? And finally, after going through all of the turnarounds, shift into the place (figure, voice) that holds all of them, and use each one freely. What does this one have to say?

It may be helpful to go through all of the turnarounds first, in the usual The Work way, and then take the most juicy ones and explore them in this way.

This is an interesting, and possibly useful (or not), way of combining The Work (the four questions and the turnarounds), Process Work (the embodiment, with movements, voice and more), and Voice Dialog/the Big Mind Process (speaking as it, explore questions as it.)

This combines some of the strengths of each: From The Work, its simplicity, its clear structure, and how easy it is to find stressful beliefs to work with. From Process Work, how deeply it is felt. From the Big Mind process, the refinement of the questions and the diverse and in-depth exploration that can take place.

Not stage specific

 

There are of course stage specific tools, both teachings and practices, and these have practical value.

But at the same time, I can’t help noticing that the tools I am currently using are not stage specific. They can be used by anyone, from novices to people familiar with the terrain, from those firmly in grips of a great deal of beliefs to those verging on the border of selfless realization.

The Big Mind process can be helpful at any stage of the path, inviting our human self to function better in the world, refining our insights into dynamics, finding ourselves as Big Mind/Heart, and bringing it more fully into the life of this human self.

The Work can be used by anyone, including children, those with few beliefs apart from a subtle one of being a separate I, and also those from whom awakeness is awake to itself, helping them gain a more detailed insight into the dynamics of stories and their effects.

Allowing experience can be used by anyone, at any time. Can I be with what I am experiencing right now? Can I fully allow it, wholeheartedly, in a heartfelt way, as if it would never go away? Can I allow it all, including resistance and what is resisted? This invites a release of identification with resistance, and a release of identification out of content of experience in general. It also helps us notice how content of experience appears one way when resisted, and often a quite different way when allowed.

Headless experiments can be used by anyone, and most of them can be used any time and any situation. We find ourselves as headless, as the no-thing that things arise within, to and as. And we explore how this is lived through our human self.

Exploring the sense fields can be done by anyone, at least after a short period of inviting in a more stable attention. It helps us explore impermanence, notice thoughts as just thoughts, noticing the difference between attention absorbed into the inside of thoughts and not, exploring how thoughts form gestalts with the other sense fields that may seem very substantial and real, and much more.

Each of these are tools available to anyone, with just some basic pointers. Most of them are largely self-regulating, having built-in feedback mechanisms to guide us. All of them can be used by novices and those more familiar with the terrain, up to selfless realization and beyond.

Attachments

 

Buddhism often talk about attachments to things in the world, and how this creates suffering.

But is that really what is going on? What is it an attachment really to? And what is an attachment?

When I explore this for myself, I find that what appears as an attachment to things in the world is something a little different.

Any attachment is to a story only. And this attachment is really an identification with a story.

The core story is that of an I with and Other, which is then fleshed out with other stories.

And I am identified with these, I take myself as these stories. I am this I with an Other, I am a living being, an object in the world, has a certain gender, age, from a specific ethnic background, has certain interests, skills, values, and so on.

I believe I am this human self, so am naturally attached to its well-being and aliveness. (Nothing wrong with that, although the added drama around it may be uncomfortable.) I believe people shouldn’t lie, so am attached to people speaking the truth. I believe a certain type of food will give me comfort, and that I need comfort, so appear attached to that food. I believe an intimate relationship will give me nurturing I cannot find any other way, and that I need that nurturing, so I am attached to having intimate relationships.

Our stories about what is and what should be often do not align, so attachments to stories create a sense of drama and discomfort. This is of course fine. But eventually, there may be an impulse to take a closer look at what is going on, and explore working with attachments.

One way of working with attachments is to explore impermanence.

Exploring impermanence has two effects. It invites in a disidentification with stories. And also a realignment of the stories we use in daily life, whether we are identified with them or not, to more closely reflect impermanence. In both cases, there is a release of attachment to having things a particular way. There is less of a war with what is, as Byron Katie says. (Although she uses a direct inquiry into the beliefs themselves, not this particular approach.)

We can explore it outside of stories, through directly see impermanence in the different sense fields. By getting familiar with impermanence in this way, we see that our stories are not true so there is a disidentification with them, and the stories we use realign as well. (This one is important for the disidentification part, less so for the realignment.)

We can also explore impermanence within stories, the impermanence of the universe, earth, humanity, civilizations, individuals, relationships and so on. This helps us realign our stories, and the larger perspective can also give a certain disidentification with stories. (This one is important for the realignment part, but maybe less effective for the disidentification.)

And we can investigate stories directly. We find a should which clashes with our stories of what is, and take it to inquiry. Is it true? What happens when I believe it? Who would I be without it? Can I find the truth in its turnarounds? This invites identification to be released out of the story.

A third way of releasing identification out of stories is to notice what we already are. We can use the sense fields to explore impermanence, see how all content of awareness comes and goes. But something does not come and go. What we really are does not seem to come and go. What is it? What is it that does not come and go? Or we can use the headless experiments to find ourselves as a no-thing full of whatever happens, or the Big Mind process to find ourselves as Big Mind.

There are of course lots of ways to explore attachments. These are just the ones I happen to be most familiar with right now.

So a quick summary:

  • Attachments to situations or things in the world creates drama and suffering, because everything is living its own life and is in flux. We get what we don’t want. We don’t get what we want. We don’t lose what we have but don’t want. We can’t hold onto what we want to keep.
  • This attachment is really an attachment to stories about what is and should be. And this attachment to stories is really an identification with them.
  • We can work with this in two ways. First, by realigning the stories we use, whether we are identified with them or not, with everything living its own life, on its own schedule, and being in flux. Then, by inviting identification to release out of these stories altogether. Realignment without disidentification only works up to a point since the world always will show up differently from our stories about it. There will be a certain amount of drama and discomfort left. Disidentification without realignment will release the drama out of it, but the stories our human self uses in its daily life will not be as closely aligned with the world as they can be. Both are important.
  • And there are several tools for working with attachments in these ways. One is The Work which directly addresses the beliefs, broadens the scope of stores we have available to us through the turnarounds, and invites in a release of identification with the stories. Another is exploring impermanence through the sense fields, which invites in a release of identification with stories, and some realignment of these stories. And we can also find ourselves as that which is already free from identification with stories, through headless experiments, the Big Mind process, or finding ourselves as that which does not come and go in the midst of all content of awareness coming and going.

(more…)

Looking at a thought from its outside and inside

 

There are two ways of releasing identification with a thought: By looking at it from the outside, recognizing it as just a thought. And by exploring it from the inside, finding the validity in its turnarounds, and releasing any sense of absolute truth in any of the versions.

In both cases, there may be clarity, nonreactivity, kindness, wisdom. In both cases, stories are seen as tools of practical value only.

At the same time, it is pretty easy to notice which teacher has worked with which approach.

The ones who clearly see a thought as just a thought, and have not explored the truths in turnarounds much, often stay with the tools of relatively conventional stories. Stories that are familiar to them, that have been passed on to them through whatever traditions they are familiar with. They may even be slightly shocked by folks who freely use the turnarounds of these stories as holding validity and useful truth.

Others, who also see thoughts as just thought, but have extensively explored the truth in reversals of common stories, have far more freedom in which and how they use stories. They are free to use the conventional ones, and also their reversals when that seems appropriate. They have a wider active repertoire of stories.

Although both come from clarity, there is a difference in flavor. The first one may seem a little safe and timid, while the second is more juicy and alive. (At least to me!)

And there is also a parallel to voice dialog and the Big Mind process here.

Just as we are more familiar with certain voices (subpersonalities), and can disown or own their polar opposites, we are more familiar with certain stories and can be familiar or not with the truths of their reversals.

And the more we own disowned voices, and find the truths in the reversals, the wider the active repertoire of our human self becomes.

Whether Big Mind is awake to itself or not, a wider active repertoire gives a richer set of options for our human self. A wider range of ways of functioning in the world. A wider embrace of the richness and fullness of the human self and how it lives in the world.

If Big Mind is not awake to itself, it at least makes for a more fun, juicy, fuller life.

And when Big Mind is awake to itself, this wider embrace translates to more fluidity and richness in skillful means.

One example that brought this home for me: Byron Katie said once that Hitler may have brought more people to God than Jesus, and I can easily find the validity in that story. (Which is a reversal of conventional stories in our culture.) When I mentioned that to a local teacher who has not worked much with turnarounds, he reacted with horror and did his best to banish any appearance of validity in that statement.

He of course saw it as just a story, as any other story, but had not explored the truth in that reversal, was not comfortable in using it, so then also missed out of any insights that may come from it. And his students then miss out of the same as well, and also any releases from beliefs that may result from it.

Fear, then love

 

It is always risky to generalize, but in some areas – when experience and insights find the same – it can also be helpful. In any case, whatever we come up with is always a question. Is it true?

So in terms of our motivations, it seems that whatever is behind them is first fear, and behind that, love.

As soon as we sense ourselves as an I with an Other, there is always fear. We are an object in the world, at the mercy of the larger world. We have needs, wants, desires. We get what we don’t want, don’t get what we want, lose what we don’t want to lose, don’t lose what we want to lose, or at least, we know it may – and will – happen. It is a drama of life and death, which flavors even the little things in our lives.

Whatever we do and experience in this situation is tinged with fear. Our likes and dislikes, our goals and motivations, they are all mixed in with at least some fear. Or, we can say that fear is behind it all. Fear of not getting what we want, getting what we don’t want, losing what we have and want, not losing what we have and don’t want. However innocent, however much it looks like love or joy or just enjoyment, there is always fear lurking in the background.

But there is something even behind that. Behind the fear that comes from a sense of a separate I is love.

And that is especially noticeable when we do practices such as the Big Mind process. Each voice at the human level, whatever it may be, is always there to help and protect our human self. It operates from love. Its whole reason for being is love.

So behind anything in our human life, behind any motivation, any emotion, any action in the world, is fear – coming from a sense of being a separate I, and then love.

And as with any statement, it is really a question. Is it true? Can I find it in my own experience? What do I find when I investigate it in my own experience, maybe even starting with that which seems the furthest removed from this on the surface? Is something else more true for me? Do I want this to be true? Or not true? What if I find something different?

OK. So I just got something to eat. What was behind that action? A sense of hunger. I wanted to satisfy that hunger. Ultimately, I wanted to keep this human self alive. If the hunger went far enough, there would be fear there about it dying. So I can find fear in the background, not at the surface in this situation, but I can easily see it surfacing if the situation was more extreme. And behind that is love. A love for this human self, a love for life, a love for being alive. Compassion. Kindness.

Earlier today, I went somewhat out of my way to do a favor for my partner. It just seemed the thing to do, not much going on at the surface of it. But there too, I can see that if I take the situation to an extreme, there is fear mixed in with it. A fear of not being liked, of losing her, of being alone. And there is also a love there. A love for her, wanting the best for her, wanting to help her. And a love for myself, doing what seems best for me as well.

Forms of inquiry

 

Initial draft…

Some forms of inquiry…

First we have the ones focusing on awakeness itself, on awakeness noticing itself, such as the Big Mind part of the Big Mind process, the headless experiments, other forms of pointing out instructions, and – to some extent – question number four in The Work. We can also explore the content of awareness, see that it is all content, coming and going on its own time, yet something is not coming and going? What is it?

Then, on explorations of the sense fields, differentiating sensations, sounds, smells, taste and thought, how thoughts combine with the other sense fields to create gestalts that in themselves may look very real and substantial, and seeing thoughts as just thoughts.

Then, all the ones that invite us to investigate the nature of thoughts, such as investigations of sense fields, headless experiments, the Big Mind process, and The Work. Through these, we get to see the nature of thoughts as mimicking the other sense fields, as ephemeral, insubstantial, as just tools of practical value for this human self. And we get to see what happens when these thoughts are taken as more than just thoughts, when they are believed in, forms unquestioned gestalts with the other sense fields, and their content appears substantial and real.

Then, the ones that focuses on the content of thought, such as The Work, investigating beliefs in detail.

And one that is involved in most forms in inquiry, and also in how these writings come about: Allowing a question to sink in, as a seed, and an answer to surface later on its own time. A question comes up, is allowed to sink in, and something then surfaces seconds, minutes, hours, days or weeks later.

Inquiries can be structured, such as the Big Mind process and The Work, and also the headless experiments and exploring the sense fields, where the outcome is – to some extent – known in advance, if not by us then by others who have done it for themselves.

Or they can be more open, where attention just follows what happens with quiet interest and curiosity, allowing it to unfold, reveal itself, lead us along its own path, to something different, new, unexpected. We can do this with whatever arises, either informally in this way, or using specific techniques such as in Process Work.

And then there are some general pointers and orientations that are shared by many of these forms of inquiry, such as interest, curiosity, sincerity, receptivity, a stable attention, willingness to discover something unexpected, taking time and allow the questions and what comes up to sink in, inviting in the heart and a felt-sense of what is happening, allowing our human self to reorganize within the process, and so on.

There are also a group of inquiries I am not sure where fit in, for instance asking ourselves Adyashanti’s question what do I hope to get out of this? and is it true that this is not already here? This is a structured investigation, helping us to see what is already here. (Which they all do, by the way.)

Anatomy of voices

 

We all shift into different views and identities throughout the day, fluidly, depending on the situation. We may not always like it, and sometimes we do, but it happens anyway.

We shift into different voices or subpersonalities, taking on their perspectives, seeing and feeling the world from their viewpoints, relating to the world from their place.

And that is why we can shift in this way on command (or invitation) as well, sometimes with surprising ease, for instance in the context of voice dialog or the Big Mind process.

But what are those voices? Are they little men, women, animals, creatures, living in us, pulling our strings?

Here is a quick summary of what comes up for me when I look…

  • Each voice (subpersonality) is created from a story or combination of stories.
    • The story of separation creates fear.
    • The story of need creates wants.
    • The story of an identity gives flavor to attractions and aversions.
    • The story of loss creates sadness.
    • The story of wrong creates anger.
    • The story of lack creates seeking.
    • The story of fullness creates non-seeking.
  • Each voice has its own perspective, viewpoint, and filters the world in a particular way.
  • There are story, emotional and action components to each voice, all following from the initial story.
  • Voices can be identified with, disowned, or owned, familiar and free to function yet not taken as an “I”.
    • When voices are closely identified with, there is a belief in the stories creating them. (This tends to lead to a disowning of the polar opposite voices, and the validity of the reversals of the story.)
    • When voices are disowned, the validity of the stories creating them is also disowned.
    • When voices and their polar opposites are all familiar and owned, there is a fluidity among them. Each one is free to function when needed, and none of them are taken as an “I”.
  • These voices and stories can be identified with or not.
    • We are identified with a voice when we disown its polar opposites, just as we believe in a story when we deny the validity of its reversals. The voices and stories are taken as an I, we get caught up in the drama of it, and it all seems very real.
    • Identification is released out of a voice when we embrace, own and become familiar with it and all of its opposites, just a belief is released when we find the validity of its reversals. In this case, there is a fluidity among them, each one available to come out when the situation calls for it. From a voice appearing as “I” and a story as the absolute truth, they are revealed as simply tools for this human self to operate in the world.

So in the Big Mind process, we explore all the different voices, the gestalts of stories, emotions and behaviors created from an initial, often quite simple, story. We gradually disidentify with those we are overly identified with. We become familiar with and own those that were previously disowned. We find a larger space holding voices at each end of the polarities and find a new fluidity among them. Our identity expands to hold and be comfortable with more and more voices.

In The Work, there is a quite similar process. We find a belief and question it, finding what is already more true for us. Our identification releases out of the initial story and expands to embrace the validity of all of its reversals as well. We find a new fluidity among and within this initial story and each of its reversals.

And each of those stories have its own gestalt. They each have associated emotions and behaviors. So we (are invited to) find a new familiarity and fluidity with these as well, in our daily life.

Each of these gestalts, these voices, are more familiar, owned, part of the active repertoire of our human self. There is more of a fluidity among them in daily life. And less identification with them.

They just happen. Living their own life, on their own schedule. There is no “I” there, anywhere.

(more…)

Mechanisms of samsara

 

Some of the ways to explore the mechanisms of samsara…

The main mechanism of samsara is a belief in thoughts. We take thoughts as somehow inherently true, or as reflecting something inherently true in the world. We put all or most truth into one story, and take out the truth of its reversals. In this way, a sense of I and Other is created, and this sense of a separate I is usually anchored in this human self (although it could also be this alive presence, the soul level, or witnessing itself, the causal level). And from here, the whole human drama we are so familiar with unfolds… with all its excitement and also sense of something being off.

Through The Work, we can explore these beliefs directly. We notice stress, find the belief behind it, investigate it, find the truth in its reversals, and through all this, the attachment to the story tends to release.

Through the Big Mind process, we explore each voice, and see that there is no separate I inherent in any of them. We release identification with those we have been identified with, and embrace those that have been disowned, excluded through the attachment to those same beliefs and identities. They are all there, each one with its own purpose and function for this human self and its life in the world, and yet, there is no “I” inherent in any of them.

We can shift into headlessness through the headless experiments, and see that all content of awareness is just that, content of awareness. Sounds, sights, thoughts, all just content of awareness. Trees, cars, people, sensations, thoughts, all content of awareness. They are all part of the same field. It is only thoughts that say that some are “I” and others are “Other”, and these thoughts are content of awareness as well. If “I” am anything, it is what this content arises within, to and as. All content comes and goes, but what they all arise within, to and as does not. It is what time & space and all content, including that which we previously identified with, arise within, to and as.

We can use labeling practice, temporarily differentiating the field of content into sensation, sound, smell/taste, sight, and thought, which helps us see thought as just thought, and how it combines with the other portions of the field to create gestalts that seem very real and substantial when taken only at the level of gestalts.

And lots more practices as well. These are just the ones I happen to be familiar with and use right now.

Psychology & spirituality intertwined

 

Looking at knots is one way to show how psychology and spirituality are intertwined.

A knot is any hangup we have, and is a belief and its corresponding emotions and behavioral patterns.

It is usually experienced as stressful, as something being off, and gives a sense of separation. And it gives a sense of I and Other (which is what gives rise to the stress and a sense of something being off and separation), and distracts us from seeing what we really are.

So from the context of taking ourselves as this human self, it is uncomfortable and disatisfactory. And from the context of Big Mind, it distracts Big Mind from noticing itself.

A knot comes from an identification with a story, so we can work with it through releasing identification.

For instance, we can be with the experience of it, allowing it fully, in a wholehearted way. We allow whatever content of awareness, including the resistance to whatever comes up, so there is a release from identification with content in general.

We can explore the different voices or subpersonalities involved, and see that there is no “I” in any of them.

Or we can inquire into the belief itself and find the truth in each of its reversals, which released exclusive identification with any of them – the initial story and its reversals.

Disidentification with the knot complex allows us to find more peace with it at our human level, through seeing it more clearly – finding what is more true for us than our initial belief, and fully feeling whatever comes up in our experiences without getting caught up in resistance. And it also makes it easier for Big Mind to notice itself.

We can also work more actively with owning, at our human level, what is left out from the initial belief and identity.

Through Voice Dialog, or the Big Mind process, we can shift into whatever voices are disowned by the initial belief and identity. We can try it on, see how the world looks from that perspective, explore what the voice offers to our human self, how it would be to bring it into our life more, and so on. We can also explore our human self’s relationship to the voice, and how that relationship can shift to allow the voice in more.

And the same can happen through Process Work, and by bringing the turnarounds of The Work into our daily life.

Owning disowned parts of our human self makes it easier, and more fun, to be who we take ourselves to be. And when what we are awakens to itself, it allows this awakening to be expressed through our human self in a richer and more fluid way. In either case, there is a new richness and fluidity there, a wider terrain that is expressed fluidly in the daily life of this human self. It is more fully and richly human.

Actively owning disowned parts also allows for a shift of identification out of our human self. On the one hand, we are more free to shift into the different voices and actively use them in our daily life. And on the other hand, it releases identification out of our human self in general. Which, as before, makes it easier for Big Mind to notice itself.

These are just a couple of ways working on who and what we are are intertwined, and one invites and encourages the other, using just a few approaches as examples.

We can also bring in the soul level, this alive presence which is timeless yet also within time, spaceless yet also within space, impersonal yet also personal, rich and substantial yet also simple and emptiness itself. When we shift into, become more familiar with, and find ourselves as this alive presence, it allows our human self to reorganize within itself. Our human self heals, matures, finds itself more in the fullness of itself. And it shifts identification out of our human self, which makes it easier for Big Mind to notice itself.

Shifting into our soul level brings a sense of richness, fullness, nurturing, trust, and of being home, which helps our human self to relax, and again shift identification out of it. We are less caught up in the usual beliefs, identities, fears, hopes and so on of our human self.

(more…)

Fundamentalism

 

In writing the previous post, I was reminded of how we are all fundamentalists.

What we usually recognize as fundamentalism is the crude form of taking certain religious or political views as absolutely true and beyond what can be questioned.

But fundamentalism happens in other contexts too. Whenever we take something as absolutely true and beyond what can be questioned, it is fundamentalism. In those cases, we become the bearded fundamentalist guy ready to do just about anything to protect our belief, or rather what we know to be true.

It can take many forms. I may believe in aliens and UFOs, rigidly hold onto it and interpret lots of different things within that context. I may take as absolutely true the official view produced by science today, and that anything that doesn’t fit doesn’t exist. Or that the democrats have it right, and the republicans wrong. Or that nothing Israel does should be questioned. Or that getting the US out of Iraq justifies any means. Or that my kids should do their homework. Or my partner shouldn’t cheat. Or that the tea I bought should have been warm. That my computer shouldn’t break down in the middle of this important work project. That my idea of how to do this particular task is the best one. That I shouldn’t have stubbed my toe. That I am an I with an Other.

Any idea, no matter how apparently small or mundane, can become the seed of fundamentalism. If we take it as absolutely true, as something not to question for whatever reason, we have the dynamics of fundamentalism right away. There is the perception of right and wrong, true and false, of ideas being somehow solid and substantial and reflecting something inherent in the world, and of being justified in acting to protect our ideas and making the world conform to the shoulds in our ideas. We are typically willing to break quite a few eggs to make that particular omelet.

Most of us see this to a certain extent. There is nothing new here. In fact, it is a pretty banal insight.

But what is not banal is where it stops for us. What am I willing to question, and what am I not willing to question? Where is that boundary? What ideas do I use to justify not questioning certain areas of life? What do I fear would happen if I did sincerely question it? What is more likely to happen?

We could sit down and make a list of what we typically see as outside of what can be questioned. Or we could just let life bring it up for us. Whenever there is a sense of something being off, there is a pointer right there to a belief we have not yet sincerely and thoroughly investigated.

We can also explore the dynamics of fundamentalism through voice dialog or the Big Mind process. What function does it serve? How does it help the self? What does it ask of the self? How does the self relate to it? Does the self sometimes become blindly identified with it? What happens then? What would be more helpful? How can the self recognize it more easily when it happens?

(more…)

Ragged guests

 

Sometimes the guests that come through are pretty ragged… (Guests here meaning any content of experience, including emotions, reactivity, wounds, etc.) And if we try to push them away, ignore them, call the police, pretend they are not there, or end up wailing or running frantically around with them, they stay ragged.

The other option is to be with them in an heartfelt way, to allow whatever comes up from them, listen to it, feel into it, and even love it. That is how people in our life often can heal, and that is often how these guests can heal as well.

Again, nothing new here. We know it from our own life… seeing it in the world of humans and other beings, and the inner world of emotions, reactivity, wounds, and so on. At our human level, the outer and the inner mirror each other.

We can explore it quite simply in this way… just being with what comes up, in an heartfelt way. And we can also explore it more in detail through for instance voice dialog or the Big Mind process. Listening to disowned voices, the ones that are hurt in different ways, allowing them as they are, not needing them to change, not using them as something to manipulate or as a gateway into something else. Being interested in who they are, their history, being receptive to them, respecting them as they are, seeing and allowing them, feeling into what they say, and even loving them as they are. Even shifting into Big Heart and embracing them from Big Heart.

In terms of the three centers, there is receptivity at the head center (seeing), belly center (feeling, felt-sense), and heart center (love)… in short, a heartfelt seeing.

When we resist them (identify with the resistance), we not only rehearse the (apparent) split between I and Other but the guests also stay as they are, in misery, coming back later wanting to be let in.

Compassion includes guests in any form and shape, whether they show up in flesh and blood or in the form of emotions, reactivity, frustration, grief, sadness, anger, irritability, restlessness, wanting to be somewhere else.

The gifts of shared inquiry

 

There are some great gifts in public, or shared, inquiry, as is often done with The Work and the Big Mind process.

We learn about the process itself from watching, and then doing it on our own.

We get to see that whatever comes up in someone else is also right here in me. I can find what comes up over there also right here. It is a perfect mirror.

And we see, over and over, the pure gold available to any and all of us… the profound wisdom available in each of us, surfacing when attention is skilfully brought to it through simple questions.

Through The Work and the Big Mind process, I have seen people with little or no background in any spiritual practice find a clarity and wisdom in themselves, expressed clearly and simply, that matches that of any master psychologist or spiritual teacher. It is available right here, in any of us.

As Byron Katie says, there is no more or less wisdom in any of us.

It may not be noticed right away, but simple questions invites it to surface.

Byron Katie working with a group in prison… more at YouTube

Genpo Roshi facilitating One-Heart-Mind & Integrated Free Functioning Self… more at YouTube

Big Mind book

 

I received this via email, and since it seems to be an open invitation thought I would post it here. Seems like a great chance for those interested in supporting the publishing of this book, and the Big Mind process in general.

Dear Sangha and Supporters,

As you may already know, we’re offering a limited hardcover edition of my forthcoming book, Big Mind / Big Heart: Finding Your Way. These specially printed and bound books will be signed and numbered, and will only be available to those who order them before publication.

We are wishing to publish it ourselves, as the new Big Mind Publishing company. In this way, we will maintain full control of the editorial content and appearance of the book. My experience in having my work issued by other publishing companies has been that I have had to compromise my intent and style to please the publishers. In order to avoid this we are planning to raise enough capital for the printing, advertising and promotion, and other costs.

Our goal is to sell at least 300 copies to finance this project. As of right now we have sold just about 100 copies. So that we don’t have to go to an outside publisher, I would like to encourage you, if you haven’t already ordered one or more copies, to order now; or if you have already ordered a copy, to think about ordering additional copies as gifts.

The original deadline for ordering was the end of March, but since we haven’t yet raised enough to go to press, we are pushing the deadline forward to April 15th. We are only printing as many of these hardcover books as are pre-ordered. Afterwards it will not be possible to buy the book in hardcover; it will only be available in paperback. You can order by clicking the following link: Big Mind / Big Heart: Finding Your Way Special Edition

I am including here some short excerpts which will give you a taste of the book.

With thanks for your continued support,

Love,
Genpo Roshi

Vulnerable animal and the Big Mind process

 

The Big Mind process is an excellent way of exploring the vulnerable little animal, or at least to get familiar with the landscape enough so the different parts of the process comes up spontaneously in daily life.

  • It allows all the different voices to be heard
  • It allows the personality to see and appreciate the essential function they each have
  • It allows them to see their own function and role more clearly
  • It allows the personality and the voices to recognize how they function now, how it serves the personality, how it does not serve the personality so well, and how the voices can serve the personality a little better
  • It allows the different voices to realign and work more as a team, knowing that they all have the same role of serving the human self
  • It allows for a clear seeing of how there is no separate self anywhere in all of this, not in each of the voices, and not in how they function as a whole
  • It allows for each of the voices to reorganize within the context of Big Mind
  • And finally, it allows for each of the voices to be loved and appreciated as they are, including to soak deeply in the love of Big Heart

All in all, a pretty good deal for this vulnerable little animal, which can get quite hurt, contracted and wretched in the process of living… for all of us, no matter how good our lives are on the surface.

Big Mind process and Kensho

 

~C4Chaos has some good initial responses to Brad Warner’s post Big Mind is a Big Load of Horseshit! (Read the comments to his post for more useful insights.)

Below is my comment on this topic:

……………….

Thanks for posting this!

In my experience, the Big Mind process does give almost everyone a clear and immediate realization of what Big Mind is about (the general terrain), which is similar to the headless experiments (www.headless.org) and other forms of inquiry.

When I try it with people who have almost no experience with Zen, meditation or anything else in that area, I often see the same result as when Genpo Roshi and others facilitate: even novices sound like Zen masters, and speak from what is alive in their immediate awareness.

But it is maybe not exactly the same as kensho. Kensho seems to have many other aspects to it (stronger, the realizations are more unquestionable, there is an energetic component, and so on.)

What seems to come out of the Big Mind process, and headless experiments, is the realization component of kensho, although the “volume” and clarity of it may be a little less than a real, full blown, kensho.

At the same time, I personally find the Big Mind process immensely helpful.

It helps clarify the view before the “real thing”, which can only be of benefit.

Per

P.S. I guess Brad is not too familiar with shadow work…! “What we see is what we are.” So Brad is …? But then, of course, we all are.

The path of untying knots

 

Broadly speaking, there seems to be two paths of awakening to who (individual) and what (Spirit) we are. One is of focusing on – and noticing or invoking – what we are seeking, the other is of focusing – and working – on what is blocking what we are seeking. And most paths of course include both, in different ways, and with different emphasis.

Only noticing or invoking who and what we are

If we only do the first – going for noticing or invoking what we are seeking – the pitfalls seems to include missing out of, or ignoring, some knots that needs to be untied and some healing that needs to occur. It can for instance lead to a (partial or more full) awakening to what we are (awake emptiness and form absent of a separate I), functioning through an individual that still has a lot to work through, and who may not be aware of everything that needs to be worked through.

Some forms of self-inquiry fall into this category, such as noticing that we are not the content of awareness but awareness itself (and that the content is no other than awareness), and also the headless experiments.

Only untying knots

If we only do the second – untying knots – we may miss out of noticing who we are at a soul level, and what we are at a Spirit level. We may pass right through it, because we don’t know what we are looking for.

Together

Using both together, we reap the benefits of working through knots and stuck places, which naturally reveal who and what we are, and also noticing who and what we are when it is revealed, and then deepening into it.

The Work is a great example of an approach that includes both the untying of knots (the whole process), and noticing who and what we are behind the clouds created by the knots (question #4 and turnarounds.) And the same is the case with the Big Mind process, allowing knots to unravel at our human level, revealing what we are as Spirit (Big Mind.)

Untying knots works at all levels

One of the great benefits of the second approach, of working with knots, is that it helps us at all levels. It unties knots at our individual human level, allowing for a healing and maturing there, and for less stress and discomfort. And it reveals (more of) who we are, in our evolving wholeness as a human individual, who we are as soul (alive presence), and what we are as Spirit (this field of awake emptiness and form absent of center.)

We don’t have to choose among developing as individuals or awakening as Spirit, and we don’t need to deny the importance or validity of either. Both are an integral part of the process, and the path benefits and works on both areas equally.

Big Mind resources

 

I see that Ken Wilber has posted a foreword to a new Big Mind manual on his blog. Worth reading.

And I also see that there is lots of material (including online videos of talks) on the new Big Mind website. A modest monthly contribution gives unlimited access to it all.

It is good to see many of my fellow students from when I was there either continuing to teach, or now starting to teach.

(I got sidetracked from that path some years ago (being physically away from the center was a contributing factor for going into the dark night), and that loss, among many others, has been part of the nigredo and albedo of the dark night, the misery and purification.)

The three centers in the Big Mind process

 

The three centers can be included in two different ways in the Big Mind process:as voices to explore, and maybe even more importantly, as alive throughout the process (as a meta-skill as they call it in Process Work.)

As voices to explore

As voices to dialog with, they are the familiar Big Mind and Big Heart, and also the new (for the Big Mind process) Big Belly.

It is the seeing, loving, and feeling of all as Spirit, allowing our individual view, heart and emotions to reorganize within this new context.

As meta-skills

When they are alive throughout the process, they allow us to see, love and feel each voice… as they are right now, and as Spirit.

There is a felt-sense of each voice, in our bodies. There is the allowing and loving of each voice, as serving the self (although sometimes a little misguided) and as Spirit. And there is the seeing of each voice, as they are right now, serving the self, and as Spirit.

Bringing all three into the process – the felt-sense, the allowing and loving, and the clear seeing – seems to allow for a deeper connection and unfolding… Each voice feels acknowledged in a more real way, allowing them to soften and reorganize to serve the self in a more fine-tuned way.

It creates a more full-bodied container for this to happen, for the vulnerable animal and all its voices to relax, feel safe, heard, understood, acknowledged, appreciated, honored, owned. Which in turn invites and allows them to reorganize to serve the self in a more finely tuned way.

Voices disowned in the self-inquiry process

 

The voice of resistance is one of the voices battered by my approach to self-inquiry… Put down, tried set aside, ignored, not wanted, resisted, disowned, placed in the shadow.

It is a subtle disowning compared to what is possible when there is a strong sense of a separate I and a particular identity, but also a crass disowning compared to how it can be when all is allowed.

Other voices pushed away in this process may be the sense of I, hangups, contractions, and duality. And the voices identified with when these are pushed away, are the voice of self-inquiry, of seeking (seeking to realize selflessness.), and maybe even the voice of seeing selflessness.

The irony is of course that in the process of attempting to allow all, some are pushed away and resisted.

Compassion for what is disowned

As I write this, I notice a good deal of compassion coming up for these disowned voices.

And this compassion is similar to the compassion that has come up lately for the vulnerable animal, this human self as a vulnerable animal, sometimes confused, scared, contracted, reactive, blindly wanting, trying to protect a particular identity, loving and hating, trying to survive, find its way in the world for the short time it is around. This vulnerable animal is a voice in itself, and it is also the reason all the personal voices are around, it is what the personal voices serve, guide and protect.

Voices to dialog with

So some voices to explore for me right now may be…

Voice of resistance – voice of allowing, sense of I – Big Mind, contractions, hangups, duality – nonduality, self-inquiry, seeking mind – nonseeking mind, seeing selflessness, the vulnerable animal, and maybe even Big Belly (the voice of endarkenment.)

How do they each serve the self? How do they function right now? Are they appreciated? How are they treated? How can they serve the self better? How can the self serve them better?

What is alive in pushing away

As I write this, the quality that comes up when certain things are pushed away, such as resistance, is very much alive.

The hardness of it. The sense of pushing away. Of a split. The aggression of it. A sense of something to protect and defend. A sense of the possibility of the wall breaking down and being invaded by what I am trying to push away and defend against. The precariousness of the situation. The paranoia that comes with it.

Always looking for signs of the wall breaking down. The ambivalence towards life and other people, not knowing what they may say or do that can threaten the identity built up around this. The energy that goes into building up a particular identity, and holding what is on the other side of the wall at bay… at all cost, in any situation. It is terrible, but also seems so desperately necessary.

Until it isn’t. When the wall falls, it is OK. But that is certainly not how it seems when the wall is up, when all energy is used to keep it up, to defend against what is on the other side… whether it is certain experiences, disowned voices, human qualities not included in our self-identity.

Dream: Informing and a backlash

 

I inform on somebody in my own circle, and end up spending a good deal of energy hiding from them.

I don’t remember many of the details of this dream, but this seems to be the essence. I was part of a larger social group, and some were involved in very questionable behavior (organized crime of some sort.) They had initially invited me to join, I said no, and then later decided that it was in the public interest to inform on them. In this case, the public interest was clearly more important than (misguided) loyalty. They heard about it, there were quite a few of them (5 or 8), they were ruthless, and they were looking for me, so I went into improvised hiding. First, part way down a convoluted streambed leading down a hillside to the ocean, then up on a loft, and some other places. The others wanted to help me, but didn’t quite know how.

This dream is very similar to one I had in November, and also to some previous ones.

Staying with the dream after waking up, it seems to have a connection with self-inquiry. When I do self-inquiry, discover that the whole sense of I seems to be a fabrication, and also is the immediate cause of any dissatisfaction in my life, it is, in a way, a betrayal of who I have taken myself to be.

I take myself to be this person, yet through examination find that not to be so, and betray my old identity, what I have spent a (short) lifetime to build up, what I am most familiar with.

In voice dialog terms, the voices (subpersonalities) that were often taken as an I, closely identified with, placed on the king’s throne, are revealed to have no inherent I, become less closely identified with, and do not get access to the throne very frequently. If it is done skillfully, they will find their new role and be happy with that. But if it is done hastily and with less respect for these voices, they may certainly become upset, want revenge and try to sabotage the new order, and for good reason.

I haven’t done voice dialog/Big Mind process on myself for a while, so this dream is an invitation to do that again. To see how the voices are doing, who are disgruntled (always for a good reason) and how things can be set more right.

One issue I see, and have seen for a while, is that when I do self-inquiry, there is a slight element of pushing there… of “knowing” what to look for, a slight impatience to “get there”, and of revealing the selflessness of what I often take for I. There is a disrespect inherent in this, a forcefulness, a resistance to what is and how the voices currently show up, that does nobody any favors (not what I then take as myself, which is the voice of self-inquiry, nor any of the other voices.)

There is probably more to this dream as well, maybe other areas where this pattern comes up.

Big Mind, Big Heart, Big Belly

 

If we map the three centers onto the Big Mind framework, we get Big Mind, Big Heart, and then also Big Belly.

The head awakening gives serenity and wisdom, as shown in many traditional Buddha depictions. It is the seeing of all as Spirit.

The heart awakening gives love and compassion for all beings, independent on who they are or what they do, and is reflected in depictions of Avalokitesvara, Kuan Yin, Chenrezig, Kanzeon. It is the loving of all as Spirit.

The belly awakening gives a deep sense of all as Spirit at a physical level, with the whole body and emotions, a deep sense of safety, nurturing and comfort. This profund sense of physical well-being (in the midst of whatever else may be going on) is reflected in Hotei, the big bellied laughing Buddha. It is the feeling of all as Spirit.

In each case, Big refers to that which leaves nothing out. The nondual view embraces and goes beyond all polarities. The open heart is open to all beings without exception, and to all forms no matter their specifics. The belly awakening is an awakening into the fertile darkness that is the ground of all form, the womb of all form in its infinite richness.

The view, love and fertile darkness is the seeing, loving and feeling all as Spirit, as awake emptiness and form, beyond and embracing all polarities.

The three centers and the Big Mind process

 

A few more notes about exploring the three centers through the Big Mind process.

First…

Different forms of embodiment

We can see the three centers as different forms of embodiment.

The head center is seeing it all as Spirit, as awake emptiness and form, absent of I. This human self is just part of that, and Big Mind does not require a functional connection with a human self. Big Mind is grounded in emptiness, seeing all forms as no other than emptiness, and the awakening of the head center allows our view to reorganize within a nondual realization.

The embodiment of Big Mind is to live from seeing all as Spirit.

In the heart center, we move slightly into the realm of I and Other, still within the context of all as Spirit. From here, compassion naturally comes up. Big Heart is about compassion, gratitude, pain, joy, bliss – all of which require a sense of I and Other. These are grounded in subtle energies, and the awakening of the heart center allows our heart to reorganize to all as Spirit, to stay open to all forms Spirit takes.

The embodiment of Big Heart is to live from loving all as Spirit.

The belly center has everything to do with the physical body, of sensing and feeling all as Spirit on a physical and emotional level. It is grounded in the physical body of this human self, allowing every cell of the body and the emotional level to reorganize to all as Spirit.

The awakening of the belly center is to live from feeling all as Spirit.

Exploring the three centers through the Big Mind Process

In the standard version of the BM process, the head and heart centers are explored thorough Big Mind and Big Heart, but the belly center is included only implicitly, if at all.

For each of the centers, we can explore its (a) aspects, flavors and characteristics, (b) how existence appears when filtered through the center, and (c) how to live from it.

Big Mind (a) has formless and form aspects, (b) existence appears as awake emptiness and form, absent of any I, when filtered through the head center, and (c) we live from the head center with detachment, transcending any identification with any particular aspects of Big Mind.

Big Heat (a) has active engaged yang and receptive holding yin aspects, (b) we love all forms as Spirit, and (c) we live from this love of all forms, independent of their particular expressions.

Existence through the belly center (a) is dark, fertile and a ground of form, (b) we feel, in every cell of our body, all as Spirit, and (c) we live from this sense of quiet, deep nurturing blackness, with less or no emotional reactiveness.

We can also explore the difference between how these centers operate within the context of a sense of separation, and within an awakening to all as Spirit.

The view goes from fragmented and dualistic to being informed by a nondual realization. Our heart goes from being partially open and partially closed to being open to all form aspects of Spirit, independent of their characteristics. Our body goes from being tense and rigid to being more relaxed and supple, and our emotions goes from being reactive and fearful to giving a sense of nurturing fullness.

The Big Mind process is already well developed for exploring the two first centers, and it does not seem too difficult to expand it to include more explicitly the belly center.

What happens the body of this human self when all is felt as Spirit? What happens with the emotions? How is it to live from feeling all as Spirit? How is it right now? Allow this human self to marinade within seeing, loving and feeling all as Spirit, and notice what happens to it.

Big Mind process and the belly center

 

The head and heart centers in the Big Mind process

The Big Mind process is in a way a simulation of an awakening of the head and heart centers. We get to taste, to dip our toes into, how Spirit reveals itself through the head center (Big Mind) and the heart center (Big Heart). We get to taste how it is to see and love all as Spirit.

The belly center in the Big Mind process

In the process, there is the inevitable taste of feeling all as Spirit as well, of Spirit filtered through the belly center, although this one is almost an accidental side-effect.

To amplify this taste of Spirit filtered through the belly center, we can allow the human self to feel how it is to see and love all as Spirit, to feel into it, sink into it, marinade within it, allowing the body and emotions to reorganize within this context of all as Spirit.

How does it feel in this human self, in the body, when all is seen and loved as Spirit?

How does the body change? Does it relax? Soften? Does it melt away rigidity?

How do the emotions change? Do they relax? Soften? Go from reactive and fearful to giving a sense of nurturing fullness?

Big Mind, Big Heart, and Big Belly

In addition to Big Mind and Big Heart, there is now also Big Belly (!) It is the feeling, the sensed feeling, of all as Spirit. Of all of Existence as a Big Belly, soft, warm, nurturing. A cosmic womb, dark and fertile, allowing the body and the emotions of this human self to reorganize within all as Spirit.

Dipping the toes, diving into, and deepening within

The Big Mind process itself, of course, only gives us a taste of Spirit filtered through these three centers. We are just dipping our toes in the waters.

And becoming familiar with it in this way, simulating an awakening of these three centers, and allowing our view, heart and feelings to begin to reorganize within this new context, sets the stage for a larger shift, for a more full-bodied diving into the water, and then for deepening within it.

The complementarity of Atman and Anatman

 

I just finished up The Supreme Self by Stan Trout, which is one third autobiography, one third history of mysticism, and one third how different universal questions appears when Spirit awakens to itself.

As it is written by somebody who is intimately familiar with Big Mind, the essence of the various traditions is brought to the foreground and presented in a very clear and simple way. (Which by necessity means that the diversity and difference in flavor goes into the background, leaving out some of the richness.)

One thing that came up for me is the complementarity of Atman and Anatman, of Self and no-self, and the traditions emphasizing one or the other.

There is the Self, aka Buddha Mind, Big Mind, Brahman, and so on. The field of seeing and seen, of awake emptiness and form, as that beyond and including all polarities. It is “I” as awake emptiness and form, as the field as a whole, as Big Mind.

And there is the no-self, the field of seeing and seen absent of I anywhere. It is the field of awake emptiness and form awakening to itself as a field with no center anywhere, with no I as any segment of itself. There is doing, but no doer.

There is a beautiful complementarity of Self and no-self, and this is expressed within each of the traditions talking about Atman or Anatman, whether they emphasize one or the other in how they talk about it, or as a path into this realization.

The Big Mind process strikes me as a practice that especially well includes both. We get to explore ourselves as Big Mind, as Atman, as awake emptiness and form, as the whole beyond and including all polarities. And we get to explore the no-self, the absence of I anywhere in this field of awake emptiness and form, including in all the different personal and transpersonal voices. They are all there, available, yet each one of them inherently absent of an I.

Update March 2010: Stan Trout’s new website is The Mystic Vision.

Spirit as 1st and then 3rd person

 

This is something I have been curious about for a while…

I have seen, and hear about, settings where somebody talks about Spirit as 1st person, the listeners get confused, and then they continue to just talk about it – only making people even more confused and up in their heads.

Jen is taking the foundations course at Center for Sacred Sciences, and last time, they talked about the First Fundamental:

  1. Consciousness alone is absolutely real
    The appearance of an objective world distinguishable from a subjective self is but the imaginary form in which Consciousness Perfectly Realizes Itself.

If we don’t have an immediate taste of it, it won’t make sense. And then it just goes into the realm of ideas and spins around and around, as it apparently did in the discussion about this principle.

And something similar is happening at the Breema Center. The head teacher talks about the Ocean (Spirit, Big Mind) while people sit and listen. But it is difficult to see that it does much for the listeners. I know it does just about nothing for me, because it is just somebody talking about it, and in a relatively abstract and removed way, using words that does not invite it to come alive in immediate awareness.

So why not use one of the many ways to help people find it for themselves, to notice that it is already alive in immediate awareness? There is no shortage of methods that really work out there, and also anyone for whom it is alive can without too much trouble find words that are fresh, alive, immediate, and invite a fresh, alive and immediate realization in the listener.

There are pointing out instructions in many traditions. And maybe even more helpful, there are many forms of inquiry which, in a step-by-step fashion, allows people to discover it for themselves right there and then.

We can ask when you close your eyes and try to find yourself, here in this moment, who or what do you discover yourself to be?

Or we can guide through an exploration of the seen, the seeing, and then both absent of any I. (Notice sights, sounds, tastes, sensations, thoughts. Notice how they all come and go. Can you find an “I” anywhere in this changing world of form? What is it that does not change? What is this awareness that all of this unfolds within and to? Is this awareness within time or is time within it? Is it within space, or is space within it? Can you find any color, form, extent, beginning, end to this awareness? Where does the seen end and the seeing begin? Can you find a boundary between the seen and the seeing? Can you find an I anywhere in all of this?)

Another, very similar and more systematized approach, is the Big Mind process which also allows it to come to the foreground of awareness within just a few minutes.

Instead of talking about it first, and then expect people to find it, why not allow people to have a taste first, and then explore it through language. First, going to Spirit as 1st person, then include Spirit as third person.

If we want people to know about apples, it makes sense to first allow them to have a taste, and then we can explore it through language as much as we want – exploring its texture, sweetness, crunchiness, biology, how to grow them, the history of apples in the human civilization, and so on.

To be fair, both CSS and the Breema Center do allow people the taste as well, in other settings. And that is actually their focus. But it just seems odd to me in the particular situations where it all goes to the head, and stays there, going around and around in the realm of ideas, when it could be grounded in a real taste right there and then.

Unraveling knots: processing at all levels of our being

 

Whenever there is a realization, there is also the invitation of allowing it to be processed at all levels of our being: physical body, energies, emotions, cognitive and soul, or at each of the chakras, or at all the levels or whatever other model we use.

This is true when it comes to the unraveling of any of our knots and hangups, whether at our human level or in the awakening to realized selflessness. (The two are not that different, just two aspects of the same process.)

There is a belief in the world as a dangerous place, and our whole being organizes around that belief – at all levels. This knot can be unraveled starting at any level, and allowing each of the other levels to be included as well.

In The Work, we use the cognitive level as a starting point, inviting all the other ones to join through sitting with whatever insights come up, allowing them to penetrate, allowing our being to steep in them. In Breema, we use the body as a starting point, allowing our whole being to participate. In diksha, the energy body is the starting point, allowing each of the other levels of our being to reorganize.

There is the core belief in the idea of I, and our whole being organizes around it. Our whole being reflects this belief, as it does with any other belief. It is organized as if it is true, to the extent it is able to.

And as with any other knot, the starting point for unraveling it can be at any level: It can be cognitive, as in the many forms of self-inquiry. It can be the body, as in Breema. It can be energetically, as in diksha. And from there, all the other levels of our being can be invited to reorganize as well. What starts in one place seeps through our whole being, inviting it to reorganize.

Example

I see how this played itself out in the initial awakening in my teens. Spirit awakened to itself as Ground, seeing and seen, as everything and everyone. Spirit awakened to itself as beyond and including any and all polarities.

Yet, at the emotional level (and maybe energetic and physical levels) of this human self, the previous organization – coming from a sense of separation – remained to some extent. The emotional level behaved as if there was indeed separation and something to fear.

There was certainly some healing and reorganizing of these emotional patterns, but the old patterns – organized around the knot of separation and fear – were ingrained, and I didn’t quite know how to work with it effectively, so they did not reorganize and heal completely.

The clear realization at the levels of Spirit, soul/heart, and cognition did not completely extend into the emotional. There was a pocket there at the emotional level where the realization of all as Spirit did not reach.

So although there was a very clear realization of all as Spirit – including others and any emotion – the emotions of fear still came up in social situations.

How to

It is OK, of course, but for the human self to be a more effective and clear vehicle for Spirit, all levels need to reorganize, heal and mature.

It is a process, and one that can be helped along with some conscious work.

In of the ways to do this through the versatile Big Mind process where any of the voices can explore their relationship with each other and Big Mind/Big Heart, and can be explored from Big Mind/Big Heart. This allows them to reorganize to this new context of realized selflessness (even before it is fully realized!) .

Seeking and nonseeking

 

Adyashanti likes to talk about what happens when wanting falls away: We want something, get it, and experience the fullness and contentment that is there when the wanting goes into the background for a while.

Of course, his point is that the absence of wanting is what gives this sense of fullness and contentment, not getting what we (think we) want. What we think we want may be an object, but what we really want is to experience the fullness and contentment always here, and coming into the foreground when the wanting is in the background.

What do I really want?

One way to explore what we really want behind our surface wants is to make a list, and then for each want ask what do I hope to get out of this? And then the same question, until we arrive at something that is not reducible to something else.

A simple sequence may look something like this: I want money >> security, safety, freedom >> happiness, freedom from suffering, freedom from and not victim of circumstances.

Is it true it is not already here?

Having found this, we can ask ourselves is it true that what I seek is not already here?

Happiness: yes, I can find that right here. When there is a simple quiet being with whatever is experienced, there is a quiet happiness and bliss here, independent of whatever else is experienced. Freedom from suffering: yes, I can find that too here. There is something here always free from suffering and any other content. Something not touched by content. A wakefulness, clarity, capacity for everything to arise within. Seeing free from any of the particulars of the seen. Freedom from circumstances: yes, that too is right here, in the same stainless wakefulness and seeing.

Big Mind process

Through the Big Mind process, we discover the same but with more differentiation.

We see how seeking mind is immensely useful in many ways, including on a purely practical human everyday level. Yet, if seeking mind is typically in the foreground, there will be a chronic sense of dissatisfaction. There is always something to seek that is just around the corner, just over the next hill, just into the future or over there.

When nonseeking mind comes into the foreground, there is a sense of fullness, quiet, contentment. Here, we notice that what we seek is already here.

They both have their functions: Seeking mind on a practical relative level, and nonseeking mind as a reminder of the absolute.

In the relative, there may indeed be lack and something to gain. In the absolute, there is nothing missing. Both are needed.