Space exploration and the epic of evolution

 

And we who embody the local eyes and ears and thoughts and feelings of the cosmos we’ve begun, at last, to wonder about our origins. Star stuff, contemplating the stars, organized collections of 10 billion-billion-billion atoms contemplating the evolution of matter, tracing that long path by which it arrived at consciousness here on the planet Earth and perhaps, throughout the cosmos.

Carl Sagan, Cosmos, episode 13

When I was a child, I was strongly influenced by Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, and especially the quote above. It touched something in me. It resonated with a knowing in me.

Later, in my early twenties, I read The Overview Effect by Frank White, and that too resonated deeply with how I already experienced the world. In it, he describes how astronauts, when they see the Earth from space, often viscerally realize that the Earth is one seamless whole, fragile, with a thin layer of air supporting life. For some astronauts, and especially those who went further away from Earth, it was a deeply transformative experience.

All of us have access to it through photos, movies, and first-person accounts. And also through seeing the starry sky at night, and any time we are reminded of the Earth as one seamless whole. In my case, I had a profoundly transformative experience when I was 10 or 12 years old, in a sleeping bag under the vast starry sky on a mountain in Norway (Sølen) with an equally vast view of the landscape stretching our below me.

I see that Frank White has a new book coming out in a few weeks: The Cosma Hypothesis – Implications of the Overview Effect.

Following the pattern set in The Overview Effect, the book draws on interviews with astronauts about the ways in which spaceflight shifted their understanding of our relationship with the universe. The Cosma Hypothesis suggests that our purpose in exploring space should transcend focusing on how it will benefit humanity. We should ask how to create a symbiotic relationship with the universe giving back as much as we take, and spreading life, intelligence, and self-awareness throughout the solar system and beyond. 

From the Cosma Hypothesis book description.

I obviously haven’t read the book yet, but again it resonates with me.

As Carl Sagan said in the quote above, we are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We are the universe bringing itself into awareness. We do it in all the different ways we live our lives, individually and collectively, no matter how exciting and novel or mundane and familiar it seems to us. All beings are the local senses, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. All beings are the universe locally bringing itself into awareness.

And so it also is with space flight and space exploration. That too is the universe bringing itself into awareness. The universe exploring itself beyond this one living planet. It may even be how the universe spreads the life on this one living planet beyond this planet through colonization and terraforming. From the Earth’s perspective, we may well function as the reproductive organs of Earth.

The universe brought itself alive through this living planet and us, and it’s very natural for it to wish to explore itself beyond this one planet, and even to spread life beyond this one living planet, and to do so through us. We happen to be the social and physical organs of the Earth that are equipped to do just that, and the time for the first small steps happens to be now.

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Adyashanti: People suffer terribly when they lack a self-transcending orientation

 

People suffer terribly when they lack a self-transcending orientation

– Adyashanti

Yes, and that can be several forms of self-transcending.

It can be a genuine care for someone else – a partner, parents, children, friends. It can be a genuine care for the larger society, Earth as a whole, and future generations.

It can be a sense of belonging to a larger whole – whether it’s a family, group of friends, a larger society, the Earth, or even the Universe or existence as a whole.

It can be a sense of oneness with the larger whole or all of existence, or a realization that all of existence – as it appears to us – happens within and as what we are.

What are some of the benefits of a self-transcending orientation?

Most of us have a self-transcending orientation, at least sometimes and in some areas of life. It’s more a matter of what we give our attention to. I notice that when I give my attention to the larger whole in one of these ways, there is a sense of belonging, care, and gratitude. I know who I am in an important sense.

Also, a self-transcendent orientation tends to reward us back. We serve ourselves and the larger whole, and the larger whole responds.

ltimately, a self-transcendent orientation is aligned with reality and who and what we are. We are the universe locally bringing itself into awareness. We are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. And as what we are (aka consciousness), we are that which existence – as it appears to us – happens within and as.

And that also gives the answer to why a lack of a self-transcending orientation creates suffering. It’s out of alignment with who and what we are. It’s out of alignment with who we are as human beings, completely interdependent with all of life and as a local expression of society, Earth, and the universe. It’s out of alignment with what we are, as that which everything – ourselves and the whole world as it appears to us – happens within and as. And pragmatically, it’s very unwise and tends to create a miserable life.

In a sense, life rewards a grounded, sane, mature self-transcending orientation. And it discourages the opposite. Life can’t help it, because a self-transcending orientation is aligned with who and what we are, and a lack of a self-transcending orientation is out of alignment with who and what we are.

Let Your will be done

 

let not my will, but yours be done

Luke 22:43

Let Your will be done, not mine.

When I say this prayer, with some sincerity and wholeheartedness, what happens?

For me, there is a shift into that which already allows all that is. A shift into what I am. A shift into what we can call Big Mind / Big Heart.

There is a release out of my smaller views and concerns. A softening. A release out of being completely caught up in it.

And there is an opening for receptivity, gratitude, and recognizing all as already grace.

And what happens in a more specific sense?

My will is the will of the one taking itself to be a separate being. It’s what comes when I am caught up in my very human reactions. We can say it comes from (blind) identifications with thought, or when thoughts are believed, or from emotional issues and trauma, or reactivity to own experience. All those are ways of talking about what is, in essence, the same.

Your will is what is, what’s here, what happens. It’s how existence is both “inside” and “outside” of me as a human being. It’s all there is.

When I say this prayer, there is a shift in perspective, or a shift in context. There is an acknowledgment that this is already God’s will. There is a shift more into what I am, into Big Mind / Big Heart.

And within this new context, I am still responsible for my own actions as this human being. I am still responsible for being as good steward of my own life as I can. I am still responsible for my own life and my own choices and actions. Only the context has shifted.

So when I pray let your will be done….

It’s an invitation to notice that all already is God’s will.

It opens for receptivity, gratitude, and awe.

It moves my center out of this human being and more into Big Mind / Big Heart.

It helps me step back, shift out of small views, and look at the bigger picture and what is more kind and wise in the situation.

Sometimes, it requires a crisis before we do this. In our daily life, we may – without noticing – live from our will, and it works relatively well. Then a crisis comes, we notice that “our will” is no longer enough or what’s called for. So we pray let your will be done and invite in grace and everything that comes with it.

We remind ourselves of reality. All is God’s will. All is grace. And when I remind myself of this, it’s easier to shift out of my small concerns and find what’s kinder and wiser in the bigger picture.

What that is depends on the situation. Often, it involves forgiving myself. Finding gratitude for life itself. Finding some trust in life as it is. Stepping back from my small and very human concerns. Connect with my knowing and inner guidance. Perhaps find what seems the kindest and wisest for everyone involved, and in the longer run. (As far as I can tell.) And make a small step in that direction.

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Trancendence vs reorientation

 

The word awakening is used in different ways. 

Sometimes, it refers to a temporary release of identification as a whole. This is also called transcendence since our center of gravity temporarily shifts from human to Big Mind.

Sometimes, it refers to a stable release of identification as a whole. A more stable resting in and as Big Mind, and a fluid shifting between Big Mind and human perspectives. 

And there are a couple of more wrinkles to this.

Our conscious center of gravity can be as Big Mind, but some of our human parts are not quite on board with this yet. They are still stuck in separation consciousness. (They were formed within separation consciousness so they are aligned with this experience of the world.) These parts may be transcended most of the time (inactive, dormant), and sometimes they are activated and take over so our center of gravity shifts back into separation consciousness. It may also be that we mostly operate from Big Mind but in areas of our life operate from some of these parts and their separation consciousness. 

Another way of talking about this is what Byron Katie says. We are awake to a thought or not. We can be awake to the thought that’s here, or not. If we are, we recognize it as a thought and are free to act in a more kind and wise way. If we are not, we are caught in the belief that the thought it true so we perceive and act as if it is.

Almost all of us are enlightened to some thoughts and not others, we are only aware of a fraction of the thoughts we are not awake to, and some of these are more or less permanently activated and partly run our lives. (Similar to Freud’s unconscious.) 

We can also talk about this in terms of wounds or trauma. The parts of us aligned with separation consciousness are, in a sense, wounded or traumatized. So we can invite in healing for these, one at a time, as they surface in daily life and we get to know them. 

And another aspect of this is how we relate to these parts of ourselves. To the extent we see them as a problem (or bad, embarrassing, wrong, not fitting our image), we’ll tend to get caught in identification as soon as they are activated. We’ll get caught in the view of these parts, or in the parts reacting to them.

To the extent we have befriended them and recognize them as innocent (and even beautiful, humanizing, and an invitation for continued healing, maturing, and clarification), we tend be less caught in identification when they are activated. 

This means that our awakening continues to stabilize, clarify, and deepen as more and more parts of us are aligned with Big Mind. It means that our healing and maturing as human beings is ongoing.

And it means that the mix that’s what (Big Mind/Heart) and who (our human self) we are as a whole is not only an ongoing and continues process of exploration, clarification, healing, and maturing. But also of failing and messing things up in a very human way and sometimes even learning from it. There is no end point. In a sense, the exploration itself is the point. 

A couple of quick notes: In this context, there isn’t any failure since it’s all part of the overall process. I am just using the word in an everyday conventional way. 

I also wanted to say a few words about these parts of us operating from separation consciousness. They are formed at a time when we operated from separation consciousness, typically in our childhood. They reflect this idea that we are (only) a separate being and view and act as if that’s the case. And they are formed from, and form, a wound or trauma, even if this wound or trauma is very gentle. These parts of us can also be called beliefs (in the The Work sense) or identification (with and as the viewpoint of a thought). 

Spiritual identification is a form of body identification

 

Even identification as “spiritual” things such as awareness, Spirit, oneness, Buddha Mind, Big Mind, Brahman etc. actually involve body identification. Any identification requires sensations associated with images and words, so it is a form of body identification. For instance, when I explore “awareness” or “I am awareness” I find an image of awareness connected with subtle sensations in my head, and also other imaginations and sensations making up my experience of awareness or being awareness. Any identification involves body identification, also when it’s a “spiritual” type identification.

– from a previous post

Kate Bush: Nocturn

 

Nocturn

[The chorus:]
Sweet dreams…On this Midsummer might
Everyone is sleeping
We go driving into the moonlightCould be in a dream
Our clothes are on the beach
These prints of our feet
Lead right up to the sea
No one, no one is here
No one, no one is here
We stand in the Atlantic
We become panoramic

We tire of the city
We tire of it all
We long for just that something more

Could be in a dream
Our clothes are on the beach
These prints of our feet
Lead right up to the sea
No one, no one is here
No one, no one is here
We stand in the Atlantic
We become panoramic

The stars are caught in our hair
The stars are on our fingers
A veil of diamond dust
Just reach up and touch it
The sky’s above our heads
The sea’s around our legs
In milky, silky water
We swim further and further
We dive down… We dive down

A diamond night, a diamond sea
And a diamond sky…

We dive deeper and deeper
We dive deeper and deeper
Could be we are here
Could be we are in a dream
It came up on the horizon
Rising and rising
In a sea of honey, a sky of honey
A sea of honey, a sky of honey

[The chorus:]
Look at the light, all the time it’s a changing
Look at the light, climbing up the aerial
Bright, white coming alive jumping off the aerial
All the time it’s a changing, like now…
All the time it’s a changing, like then again…
All the time it’s a changing
And all the dreamers are waking

The lyrics of Kate Bush are full of pointers, as a friend of mine also mentioned on Facebook this morning.

This song is especially direct. It’s a reflection of how an initial opening or awakening can be experienced.

It’s a shift into Big Mind recognizing itself as all there is.

We stand in the Atlantic
We become panoramic

The stars are caught in our hair
The stars are on our fingers
A veil of diamond dust
Just reach up and touch it

It’s also a reflection of the elation and awe that comes with this initial opening or awakening.

All the time it’s a changing
And all the dreamers are waking

And it does easily seem this way. Big Mind (Spirit, God, Brahman) notices itself as all there is. It does seem like everything and everyone is awakening, as if Big Mind is awakening to itself through everyone. In a sense, it’s true. That’s what’s happening here, in “my” world. This is what the historical Buddha experienced too. (And it doesn’t mean it’s happening “out there” in others, especially on a large scale.)

Open presence experiencing a me

 

First, there is apparently a me – a human self – experiencing presence.

Then, open presence is revealed as experiencing a me, a human self. (And experiencing the world through this human self, through its senses, emotions, thoughts and so on.)

This shift often happens first as one or more glimpses, and perhaps as a sense of “thinning of the veils”. Then, it may become more clear and stable, and there is an exploration of how this “new” realization is lived through our human self in the word.

During the transition, it may at times seem that the realization is “lost”. And here, there is an invitation to find here and now what was realized, independent of specific states and experiences. For instance, it may seem that “I am a me experiencing presence” but is that really so? Isn’t that too open presence experiencing a me?

It sounds simple when put this way, but the transition often involves time, maturing, a deep healing of the human self (bringing love and understanding to the wounds, pain and trauma), and life circumstances that require us to live with authenticity and from love and understanding.

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Jeff Foster on depression

 

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

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

Big Mind – how does depression look to you?

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

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Embracing what’s disowned in the field

 

Here is one of the explorations I am called to these days:

I notice the field of experience.

Is there anything there is resistance to?

Is there anything in the field of experience there is a slight “no” to?

How is it to consciously include this? Embrace it? Meet it with a yes?

How is it to open my heart to it?

What happens?

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A shift into being it

 

I felt completely stuck yesterday – caught up in dissatisfaction, internal complaining, unease and general discomfort. Nothing seemed to work, apart from lying down and intentionally open my heart to it, allowing it to be, and giving it all over to the divine. Later, as I went to bed for the night, I continued this, and there was an impulse to shift into being it. And that’s where it seemed to fall into place. Being it was the only resolution that felt complete and honest in the moment.

I also remembered what Evelyn Underhill writes in Mysticism. The dark night is a preparation for, and shifts into, being whatever is.

It’s not new to me, but when it happens in this way, it feels new. Surprising. A fresh discovery.

Misery. Resistance. More misery. Allowing. Opening my heart to it. Then, a shift into being the field of experience.

I also see that being it can have two or three flavors.

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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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Facets of reality

 

Not only are there different forms of awakenings, but there are also different facets revealed within each one.

For instance, within an awakening of what we are to itself, there are facets of emptiness and fullness.

When this awakening is lived through human form, love comes in.

At the soul level, there seems to be innumerable facets, including luminosity, alive presence and fertile darkness.

Independent of – or coexisting with – any of these, is the experience of oneness. All form is one. All is God.

And when any of these are lived through our human self, insights can also come in – which is another facet.

There must be many more, but these are the ones I am most familiar with from (very limited) own experience.

I also notice how there seems to be a natural shift among any and all of these. Any one of them is sometimes in the foreground and sometimes in the background. Said another way, the volume of each is sometimes turned way up, sometimes moderate, and sometimes turned way down.

Another aspect of this, which Adyashanti pointed out at his most recent radio broadcast, is that each of these are revealed as complete and omnipresent – because they are.

So it is understandable how some, at least in the very early phases of their awakening, take whatever one is alive for them in the present as all there is. (And sometimes get into slightly comical debates with others around it.)

I must be lucky here. Even in the midst of my initial awakening, it was clear to me that in spite of how amazing and complete it seemed (in that case a mix of Big Mind, Big Heart, alive presence, luminosity), it was only a small aspect of what God is. And whenever there is a shift into any one of these, or one new to me, and even if the volume is turned quite a bit up, it is still clear that it is only a small facet of God.

The lesson in all of this, including for me, is to not limit God.

Whatever experiences and insights I have is always very limited. And whatever story I have about reality or God, God is untouched by it and goes far beyond. If I attach to any of those stories as true, I only create struggle when experience moves on… which it will.

Beliefs taking Big Mind into its service

 

Anything can be used to make a story seem true, and anything can become a tool in the service of a belief.

So also with what we are – Big Mind, awakeness, the infinite or whatever we like to call it. (And this can happen whether Big Mind remains an idea or there is a genuine glimpse.)

I notice this especially well with stories that keep my personality within its comfort zone. I may know that it is appropriate to take a certain action, yet it is somewhat outside of what the personality is comfortable with, so I can shift into Big Mind, see that all is perfect as it is (which is true), and use that as a reason for not acting.

It is not a big problem, and it is perfectly natural at certain phases of the process. It is innocent.

And it is also relatively easy to notice. When I am caught up in this, there is still stress here. And this stress points to a belief which I can then inquire into.

What is more true for me than the belief that stops me from acting in ways that my heart or intuition tells me to, and seems most appropriate in the situation?

A felt sense of all as God

 

To shift into a seeing of all as God is not difficult. Especially not a partial seeing of it through the Big Mind process, headless experiments or choiceless awareness practice.

But how is to to feel all as God? To bring it into the body, allowing the body and emotions to reorganize within this new context?

I find it helpful to first shift into seeing all as God, through one of the pointers above. And then bring attention to the felt sense. How does it feel in the body when there is a seeing of all as awareness? (God, Big Mind.) What happens with the body and emotions? What is different? How would it be to live from this felt sense? Can I invite my body and emotions to reorganize within this new context of all felt as God?

When I do this, I notice a few things…

There is a deepening and felt-sense trust. In nothing in particular, or in life/existence independent of how it shows up. There is a deep relaxation and sense of being home. There is a sense of nurturing fullness. (Which seems to replace the tendency of emotional reactivity.) Emotional attachments releases. In general, there is less drama, distractions, and kicking up dust, and a relaxed trust and clarity.

All of this makes it easier for what I am to notice itself.

And it also invites who I am, as this human self, to heal and mature. Before awakening, this healing and maturing makes it easier to be who I take myself to be. After awakening, it allows the awakening to be expressed in a more healthy and mature way.

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Feel awareness

 

Some teachers emphasize to feel awareness. It may sound funny, but there is a deep wisdom behind it.

When I shift into Big Mind, finding myself as what I am, feeling awareness is an invitation to bring attention to what is happening to my body. I bring attention to the felt-sense, to what is happening with my felt-sense when what I am notices itself.

(I can invite this shift in through the Big Mind process, headless experiments, exploring the sense fields, allowing experience/choiceless awareness, or by following a number of other pointers. And the noticing of what I am can be more or less clear. But the felt-sense will still shift along with it.)

What I notice is a deep relaxation of the body. When it is no longer taken as an I with an Other, it is free to release the tension that comes from being taken for an I with an Other.

Bringing attention to the body, in the context of what we are noticing itself, is also an invitation to the body to reorganize within this new context. It is an invitation to deepen into the felt sense of what we are noticing itself, and to allow the body – and our human self as a whole – to reorganize within it.

And if the heart is brought in, there is a whole new flavor to it, and the relaxation and reorganization goes even deeper.

I shift into Big Mind, invite in Big Heart, a kindness and well-wishing towards anything within form, bring attention to the body and embrace the body, and allow the body – and my human self as a whole – to deeply relax and reorganize within that awareness and love.

Free from the tension and stress of being taken for an I with an Other, and within being seen, felt and loved as it is, here and now.

Anatomy of meaning

 

A rambling post that gets a little clearer in the summary… 

It is the perennial question for any kid and curious adult: What is the meaning of life? What is the meaning of my life?

It may be a little different for each of us, but most of us experience meaning around the same things. Survival. Relationships. Providing for ourselves and our family. Offspring. A sense of connection with others, ourselves, life, the universe. A sense of belonging. Making use of our potentials and opportunities. Being of service to those within our circle of us. Being remembered by others. Exploring the evolving fullness of who we are. Exploring what we really are.

In short, it all tends to revolve around two things: Taking care and enhancing the life of this human self and its circle of us. And finding a sense of connection with ourselves and the larger whole.

It is of course important to explore this for ourselves. Where do I experience a sense of meaning? How can I align my life a little closer with it? How can I bring it into my life a little more?

But the question we don’t so often ask ourselves is, what is meaning? How does this sense of meaning come about? What are the dynamics and mechanics behind it? What is the anatomy of meaning?

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O’Brien’s turnaround

 

I still enjoy finding lessons in science fiction movies, and the simpler the stories are, the clearer the lessons, which makes Star Trek great material.

For instance, the episode of Star Trek Deep Space Nine called whispers is a great example of reversals. O’Brien returns from a mission, notices that everyone treats him with a great deal of suspicion, and is eventually cornered by his former friends. The story is told from O’Brien’s perspective until we in the last minute of the episode realize, along with him, that the O’Brien we have followed is a replica so perfect that he himself thinks he is the real O’Brien.

For him, and us, everything is turned around. The one we took as O’Brien is not O’Brien. The one we took as our hero is really an assassin. His former friends, who turned against him and became the bad guys, were the good guys all along.

So where do we find this in our own lives?

Well, it happens all the time when our stories encounter reality and we realize our stories were way off. Sometimes, our new stories may even be reversals of our old ones.

It happens when we do The Work and find the validity in the turnarounds of our initial story. We explore the reversals of our habitual perspective, and find the genuine truths in it, which may make everything look very different.

From being identified with one particular story, denying the truth in its reversals, we find ourselves as that which holds the validity of stories and each of their turnarounds, releasing identification with any one of them.

It happens when there are glimpses of soul level or nondual awakenings.

We took ourselves to be an object in the world with solid boundaries, and now we find that we are one with God, Spirit, the Universe, Life. It is all made up of God.

We took ourselves to be an I with an Other, and now we realize that what we are is already free from both of those.

Discovering what we really are is the most radical turnaround possible, and one that has many different aspects to it.

From being a thing to finding ourselves as a no-thing. From being an object in awareness, we are awakeness with objects in it. From having a beginning and end, a birth and death, a boundary and lifespan, an inside and outside, a life in the world, we are that which all of those happen within. From it all appearing as a life-and-death matter, we realize we were never harmed by any of it.

She is me, I am them

 

In what ways is it true that she is me, and I am them…?

It is true at the level of our human self. Whatever I see in others is what I know from myself. Any quality, characteristic, dynamic, behavior that I see in someone else, is something I recognize from myself. And not just from the past, but right here now. It is something that is shared human. And beyond that, I wouldn’t recognize it in them if I didn’t know it from myself.

We are in the same boat.

And it is true at the level of what we are, as awakeness. When awakeness notices itself, it also recognizes everything arising as itself. Those people over there, and this human self right here, and everything else, is awakeness itself. Awakeness recognizes itself showing up as those humans and this human and whatever else is happening.

Both of these are at play simultaneously.

Whatever I see in others is something I can find, if I look, in this human self. And if I take the time to become familiar with it here, it can become a part of the active repertoire of this human self. It can live more actively from the fullness and richness of who it already is, and is becoming.

And if I find myself as awakeness, then everything arising – including those human selves over there and this one right here – is awakeness itself. Already, inherently, absent of an I with an Other.

Likes and dislikes

 

There are many aspects to the likes & dislikes of this personality…

When there are beliefs around it, and we are identified with these likes & dislikes, there is often a sense of reactivity and compulsiveness around it. I either resist acting on them, or act on them compulsively. And it is generally quite unpleasant.

Free from beliefs, there is more clarity and also more kindness to myself and others. The kindness to myself includes taking the preferences of this personality more seriously. And this clarity and kindness to myself and others influences when I act and don’t act on these preferences, and how I do it.

When there is a baseline of clarity and kindness to myself and others, and a release of identification with the preferences of the personality, there is freedom to take these preferences seriously, to act on them when it seems appropriate, and to not act on them when that seems appropriate. It all depends on the situation, and is guided by whatever kindness, clarity and experience is available to us.

In this context, the preferences of this personality flavors the more impersonal clarity and kindness. It makes it personal, human, gives it a unique quality that only this human self can bring to it.

Said another way… the preferences of this personality flavors how Big Mind/Heart expresses and experiences itself in the world, whether awake to itself or not.

And that is one of the reasons why there is more than one of us 😉

As so many have said before, each human being, each living creature, every phenomenon, is the mask of God. It is God expressing and exploring itself as everything we see in the universe and the world, as everything we know from our selves.

And God never repeats itself. Each being and phenomenon is a unique expression, a unique flavor. One that has never been before, and will never be again, in that exact way.

So why not embrace who we are, this particular human self, with all its flaws and strangeness? It is one of the flavors of God. And the only way to taste the fullness of life.

Meaning

 

Rambling post…

I watched a conversation on meaning on a talk show on Swedish TV last night, including philosophers and others. (Which in itself says something about why it is more meaningful for me to be here in Scandinavia than in the US, at least in terms of the general culture!)

The conversation mostly stayed at the conventional level, but it made me curios about meaning. Specifically, what is meaning? (Strangely, not addressed in the program.)

To me right now, it seems that meaning is experienced when there is an alignment of our stories of what is and should be, or seeking a closer alignment of the two.

I want a nurturing intimate relationship, so see it as meaningful when I find it or work towards it. I want more money, so find it meaningful when I find or work towards that.

And within a should is an attraction and an aversion, or a seeking of freedom and fullness. Seeking freedom from something and experiencing the fullness of something else.

To take some examples: I experience money as meaningful, so I want the fullness of money and what it gets me. I see relationships as meaningful, so I want the fullness and intimacy of a good relationship. I want to find meaning in life, so I want the fullness of a sense of meaning. Similarly, I experience it as meaningful to find freedom from limitations, suffering, stuckness, certain situations, and so on. (The fullness may be in the forefront unless there is a critical need for freedom.)

(We can explore this for ourselves by taking any desire or wish, the more petty the better, and then see what we hope to get from it. What is the freedom I am looking for? What is the fullness I hope to find?)

This freedom and fullness shows up in different ways at different areas and levels.

As a human self, it has to do with freedom and fullness in our relationship with the world and ourselves, with the outer and inner. This can take many different forms, from an exclusive pursuit of money and status (which works to only a limited extent) to a wider embrace that also includes finding our own wholeness as a human being (which can be with us always).

And as Big Mind, it has to do with noticing the freedom from beliefs and identifications, and the fullness of the whole world of form, that already and always is here. Finding ourselves as Big Mind is the ultimate freedom and fullness, free from identification with any and all beliefs and identities, and full of whatever arises.

There are also widening circles of what is experienced as meaningful.

At the level of the (raw) personality, things has to line up a certain way to be meaningful. It has to fit the attractions and aversions of the personality. Then, as we work on noticing and living our evolving wholeness as a human being, most or all situations are fuel and material for this shift. And finally, as Big Mind awakens to itself, it is free from all views on meaning, so the human self functioning within this context is free to use, engage and play with any of them.

We can also say that meaning is God seeking to know itself as it already and always is.

Or rather, a sense of meaning comes when God is identified as a human being (or any other being for that matter), has an intuition and knowing of what it already and always is, and seeks to notice and live this more consciously.

Meaning arises in the tension between what God temporarily takes itself to be, and what it knows it already and always is, and in the closing of this gap through seeking to notice what it is and living it through a human life.

And this shows up in all the different ways we know from a human life: seeking money, status, relationships, health, joy, wholeness as a human being, God, awakening. It is all God seeking the freedom and fullness that it already knows it is.

It is seeking its freedom and fullness as Big Mind, or Buddha Mind, or Brahman, or the Divine Mind. This field of awakeness and form inherently absent of an I with an Other, yet still functionally connected with a human being.

And it is seeking freedom and fullness at all levels. As a human being living in the world, healing, maturing, developing, interacting, relating, engaging. Through to Big Mind noticing itself as what it already and always is, this field of awakeness and content, inherently absent of an I with an Other.

One is a freedom and fullness within the world of form. The other is noticing the freedom and fullness of what we already are, independent of what happens within the world of form.

Why leave one of them out?

So to summarize…

  • A sense of meaning comes when we find or seek a closer alignment of our stories about what is and should be. Reality, as we see it, is – or is about to be – closer to our shoulds.
  • Within any should is aversion and attraction, seeking freedom from something and the fullness of something else.
  • As a human being, we work on finding this freedom and fullness in relationship to the wider world and ourselves, and we do this in many different areas and forms.
  • The final freedom and fullness comes when what we already are notices itself, when Big Mind awakens to itself.
  • There are widening circles of what is experienced as meaningful, until Big Mind awakens to itself and is free from any ideas of what is meaningful, so also free to engage and play with any of them. (The human self functionally connected with Big Mind awake to itself is free to engage and play with any and all ideas of meaning.)
  • All of this can be seen as God seeking its own freedom and fullness. It temporarily identifies with a tiny part of its own content (this human self), knows intuitively what it already and always is, and seeks to notice and more consciously live the freedom and fullness of what it already and always is.

Disidentification and identification

 

This came up through the comments to a previous post, and I thought it was important enough to make into its own post.

>> “The moment you ‘identify’ with any quality or substance, good or bad, we then gotta say bye, bye to the nondual”

Sounds good to me. There is a release of exclusive identification with anything within form, which allows Big Mind or whatever we want to call it to notice itself… as this field of awakeness and form inherently absent of I and Other.

Just an additional point: At our human level, we still may have disowned aspects. There are some qualities we are familiar with and know how to shift into a live from in our daily life, yet other qualities that are more foreign to us in terms of living them.

As awakeness itself, there is no separation to any of these qualities. Yet this human self is more familiar with some than others.

So here, it can be helpful to “identify” with some, to shift into them, bring them to life through this human self, to expand the repertoire of this human self. This is of course a quite different form of identification, one that is more of a shifting into it, and is more fluid and temporary.

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.

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Death and what continues

 

A quick look at death and what continues…

First the obvious one: Our human self, with its personality and quirks, dies. It is gone forever. At most, some of its influences on others and society continues for a while, but then that is gone too.

And another one, which takes a bit of looking: What we are, this awakeness that all form unfolds within, to and as, is free from form, space & time. It is that which form, time and space unfolds within and as. It is always and already here, whether it notices itself or not (temporarily taking itself to be a portion of its own content). This one is not “personal”, it does not seem dependent on this human self. It is existence itself, temporarily functionally connected to a particular human self.

As Big Mind, that which goes beyond and embraces all polarities, it continues on independent of any individual self. Or rather, it continues to allow form to unfold within and as itself.

Finally, maybe the least obvious one: Our soul self. This alive presence. This one that is not quite personal and not quite impersonal. Not quite in time and not quite outside of time. Not quite located in space, and not quite outside of space. This too is content of awareness, so it is possible to either identify with it and make it into an “I”, or see and appreciate it as just content, similar to the human self. If something continues on an “individual” level, and if there is a vehicle for – for instance – rebirth, it seems that this could be it.

(And finding myself as awakeness, it doesn’t quite matter. Continuing or not are just two different flavors of awakeness itself, two flavors of experience.)

Difficult to talk about, but not because it is an unusual experience

 

I am reading Alberto Villoldo’s book The Four Winds, and was surprised to see this in the preface:

Every mystic tradition, from the Jewish cabala to the Upanishads of the Hindus, recognizes the existence of things that can be known but not told. There are certain qualities of sense experience that seem to defy description.

There are of course experiences it is difficult for us to describe, but that has little to do with what the mystics talk about. To make that connection is misleading.

What the mystics talk about is not within the realm of content of experience, it is simply a realization that there is no I with an Other. And this realization is independent of the content of experience. The content can be mundane, everyday experiences. It can be pain. Joy. Bliss. Dullness. Extraordinary visions. It doesn’t matter.

And that is exactly why it is difficult, not to say impossible, to talk about. Not because it is an unusual or ephemeral or fuzzy experience. But because it is free from any particular content of experience, so also free from what words can describe. Words differentiate and split the world, and this realization is all of it awakening to itself, free from all differentiation yet also containing all differentiation.

(The realization itself may be independent, in certain ways, of the content of experiences. At the same time, the content of experience can appear to lead up to a shift into this realization. And the realization is also reflected in the content of experience: the thoughts creating a sense of I and Other are seen as just thoughts, and there is a reorganization of the human self that typically follows such a realization, even if it is just a taste or glimpse.)

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?

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Gender and fluidity

 

An uninformed post on something (see last paragraph) I want to inquire into:

Here’s a great, although brief, post on gender, filtered through the aqal framework, in a way that allows for a wide embrace of and fluidity among many different expressions and experiences of gender.

For me, gender is deeply interesting when there is a wide terrain and fluidity there. And it is difficult for me to be exited about it if the landscape is narrow, the dynamics rigid, and it is made into ideology one way or another. (Exited in terms of the map, and also in terms of how it is experienced and expressed in myself and others.)

This is one of the many ways to use the Big Mind process: Shift into the various expressions and experiences of gender, along different dimensions. Explore how each one contributes to the life of the small self, and to the expressions of Big Mind and Big Heart. See how the small self relates to each of them. Are there some that are disowned? Others that are rigidly identified with? How would it be if each of them are included in a more conscious way? How can there be more of a flow among them, a shifting into one and then another? What does the wider landscape look like?

The Work is also useful here, helping us to investigate our beliefs and identities around gender. Do I think I have to be one way or another? Do I see some modes as safe and other ones as unsafe? What do I think would happen if I brought out modes outside of my usual identities and habits?

For instance, the macho modes that Ken Wilber and some of his followers like to adopt is beautiful if part of a much wider landscape of available expressions and experiences of gender, and happens within a flow among them. And as with anything else, if it becomes an ideology, more rigid, and something to defend, it can quickly look a little weird.

Statement for inquiry: Ken Wilber shouldn’t be stuck in his macho attitudes.

Here is an interesting comment on Deida’s take on the topic:

So for instance David Deida’s sexology is infuriatingly heteronormative and employs some of the worst gender stereotypes I’ve ever seen. His latest book, “The Way of the Superior Man”, has a blurb from Ken Wilber saying something to the effect of how finally there’s a book for the non-castrated male. This is the kind of nonsense that is sure to attract the little-girl types in need of a father figure (cue: I gag), but I just don’t see what any of this has to do with the spiritual path, which requires incredible courage.

Another interesting point from the same comment:

As Adrienne Rich, Kate Millett and others have pointed out in their deconstruction of compulsory heterosexuality, the West’s dichotomy of homosexuality versus heterosexuality boils down to gender politics at the end of the day. Kate Millett brilliantly puts it: “Homosexuality was invented by a straight world dealing with its own bisexuality. But finding this difficult, and preferring not to admit it, it invented a pariah state, a leper colony for the incorrigible whose very existence, when tolerated openly, was admonition to all. We queers keep everyone straight as whores keep matrons virtuous.”

Difference between allowing and actively embrace

 

To continue the exploration of the difference between allowing and actively embrace…

When there is a disidentification with stories and identities, there is also an allowing of what is, as it is. So if there is a disidentification with all stories and identities, there is also a full allowing of anything happening here and now, including this human self and the wider world. It is all recognized as awakeness manifesting as form. And this is the traditional awakening, it is Big Mind awakening to itself.

Beyond this, it is possible for this human self to actively explore itself and embrace itself in its evolving fullness. It can actively explore and own its different voices and subpersonalities, become familiar with and live from a wider repertoire of qualities and ways of being in the world, and find a new fluidity among a wide and unlimited range of identities and roles in the world. All of this allows this human self to heal, mature and develop in a more active way, beyond what it would do (or not) if there was not this active exploration and familiarization.

It is a different way of participating in the development of this human self, and through this and in a small way to actively participate in the evolution of our culture and the even wider whole.

And it is also a way to develop skillful means. If Big Mind is awake to itself, then the human self it functions through is its main – and really only – skillful means. So actively engage in its healing, maturing and development only makes sense.

hdr as an anology

 

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photo by Automatt

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photo by John in Japan

High Dynamic Range imaging is a way of extending the tonal range of a photo, or said another way, to include details in both the highlights and the shadows. It has been used in film for a while, and is now also increasingly used among digital photographers, where three or five or more photos of the same scene, each exposed differently, are combined into a single image with an extended tonal range.

A HDR image itself has a tonal range far beyond what any screen or any paper can represent, so it needs to be compressed and processed down into something that can be represented in these forms. It is similar to a “digital negative” that needs to be developed, and there an infinite number of ways of doing this, and no one set way that works in all situations. The processing is different each time, and tailored for the specific image and its purpose.

This is a good analogy for talking about Big Mind, about finding ourselves as this awakeness and its content, inherently absent of an I with an Other.

Big Mind is beyond what can be touched by words, as a HDR image is far beyond what can be accurately represented on screen or in print. And in each case, there is an infinite number of ways to translate it down to something that can be expressed. There is an infinite number of ways to process a HDR negative, and an infinite number of ways to put an immediate experience of/in Big Mind into words. And in each case, how we do it depends on what we want to express – a particular image, an aspect of Big Mind, and the circumstances – what it is going to be used for and what purpose it is intended to serve.

Any analogy breaks down somewhere, which is why it is only an analogy. And this one breaks most clearly down in that a HDR negative and finished processed image are not different in type, only in tonal range, and that Big Mind is inherently free from anything that can be expressed in words, even as it is (attempted) expressed in words. Big Mind is beyond and includes any polarities, and words only works within polarities.

In the case of HDRs, it is a difference in degree, and in the case of Big Mind and words, a difference in type.

Psychology, spirituality, and the final story

 

Draft: 

In terms of exploring ourselves as Big Mind, there is a nice alignment of psychology and spirituality.

We find ourselves as awareness, and any content of awareness as awareness itself. (Content of awareness includes this human self and anything associated with it.)

Even in conventional psychology, that is how it is already seen. We find ourselves as awareness, and whatever is the content of awareness (perceptions, thoughts) is also awareness. It can be no other way. That is how it is, in our own immediate experience. We can explore how sensory inputs are processed and channeled to the brain, and then arises in awareness, but that does not touch how it is in our own immediate experience: it all as awareness and awareness taking always fluid forms as its own content.

So even if we have strong beliefs in the views of conventional psychology, and a separate I as this human self, we can still find and explore ourselves as Big Mind. We can allow ourselves to explore what is alive in immediate awareness, and be naive as a very young child. What remains, is an idea of this human self experiencing itself as awareness, and the whole world as awareness and the content of awareness.

From here, there is a small step into noticing that this too is a story. This whole sense of a separate self too is content of awareness, and comes only from a story. When this is seen, there is an inevitable slipping more fully into ourselves as Big Mind, as this awakeness inherently absent of I and Other, arising as whatever is arising to this human self.

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Deep time & Big Mind

 

I have been reminded of deep time this last week, from attending the archeology film festival, reading an article about the life and death of the solar system, to watching some snippets from Cosmos online. It is a revisiting of an interest I have had since childhood in these themes which are, in some ways, next door to Big Mind.

Deep time, the long now, infinite causes and effects, evolutionary spirituality, the universe story, the epic of evolution, the great story… all of these are in many ways one step away from Big Mind, they can lead us into it from the form and emptiness sides.

From the form side, contemplating the evolution of the universe and our place in it, almost requires shifting into Big Mind to hold it all… And from the emptiness side, realizing the utter impermanence of it all is an invitation to a shift into emptiness, the void, which is what is left when everything else is gone.

To really grasp for instance the universe story requires a shift into Big Mind, and to really grasp the impermanence of it all requires finding ourselves as the void. At least to some extent. It requires dipping into it, tasting it. And is an invitation to explore it further.

I am actually surprised not more Buddhist teachers use the universe story (and deep time, the long now, etc.) in that way… as a nudge, an invitation into Big Mind and finding ourselves as the void. It seems like a perfect teaching vehicle.

I would have jumped on it right away if I was in their position, and I guess many will in the future… maybe through a combination of multimedia and experiential activities such as the practices to reconnect and the Big Mind process.

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Being on the inside of stories and this human self

 

When I believe a story, taking it as an absolute truth, my world is narrowed in as defined by the story. In a sense, I find myself on the inside of the story. Similarly, any belief creates an identity which defines who I take myself to be. And any belief also creates a sense of a separate self, which needs to be anchored somewhere – usually in this human self. So I also find myself on the inside of this human self. So there is a sense of a separate I, existing on the inside of this human self, inside of a particular identity, and inside of a belief in a particular belief about life.

As soon as I start exploring this, I find myself also outside of all of this. I am outside, looking in. So right there is some distance, some release.

And if there is a thorough and sincere exploration of what is already more true for me than the belief, it falls away… The belief in the story falls away. The identification with the identity it creates falls away. And the sense of a separate I defined by and existing on the inside of the story, identity and this human self falls away.

There is a taste of spaciousness, and even of Big Mind.

Now, I am that which all of this… stories, identities, this human self… arises within, to and as. This awakeness it arises within, to and as. This awake nothingness all things happen within, to and as.

More on transition experiences

 

I wrote a long post on transition experiences, but decided to make it short and simple. Some details goes out, but the essence is maybe more clear.

Here are a couple of points from the longer post that may be interesting…

  • What we are, is a field of awake emptiness and form, absent of a separate I. This means that what is alive in each of ours awareness here and now, is realized to be nothing other than awake emptiness itself. This room, the cat, the sound of the cars, the lamp, computer, thoughts, sensations, it is all awake emptiness. An awake void, temporarily taking these forms. And it is all without a center, without any trace of a separate self.
  • When we take ourselves to be an object in the world, we filter awareness so it appears to be only here, associated with this human self, and not out there, in the wider world… with the exception of being there, in theory, in other people. We don’t notice emptiness much, everything seems quite substantial and real. And there is certainly a sense of a separate self here, in this human self.
  • So in the transition between the two, what we are breaks through within the context of what we take ourselves to be. There is a growing sense of no separation, glimpses of the wider world as somehow inherently alive and awake, a diminishing sense of the solidity of the boundary between I here and the rest of the world out there, and so on.

As Ken Wilber and others have pointed out, this transition mirrors what we find in nature mysticism (nature, all objects, as alive), deity mysticism (all as God), and finally realized selflessness (one field, absent of center and separate self.)

All of these transition experiences can be experienced and interpreted in different ways. I am sure there are many more than I wrote down here, and each of them will take on different flavors for different people at different times.

One experience I have heard recently, from a friend, is an experience of walking in nature, and everything suddenly appearing aware… the trees, stones, ground, landscape. Another, is of objects smiling back at you (having awareness, being somehow alive, able to make a connection.)

Of course, these are all just experiences and states. Nothing to be too caught up in. Just carrots, and sometimes distractions (!), within our process of exploring what we really are – in our own immediate awareness.

And that is the ground of awake void, and forms as no other than this awake void, all absent of a center and separate self. It is all emptiness dancing. A depth of awake emptiness with a thin surface of form.

Briefly: transition experiences

 

What are some common transition experiences during awakening?

Here are some I have noticed for myself, and also heard from others:

Within form…

  • A sense of no separation between “I” here and the rest of the world out there
  • A sense of oneness with all of Existence. I am here, yet one with all.
  • A sense of the world of form as a seamless whole, with no separation between this human individual and the wider world
  • Noticing synchronicities – the outer world mirroring the inner, as if one seamless field.

Within awareness…

  • A sense of “I” as awakeness, as witness, pure awareness, pure seeing.
  • A sense of awakeness out there, in the wider world… in plants, trees, objects, the universe. it all seems mysteriously and inherently awake somehow.

Within emptiness…

  • A sense of awareness itself as a void, as empty, insubstantial.
  • A sense of all forms being insubstantial, transparent. Almost like a dream.

With the sense of a separate I…

  • The sense of a separate I weakens, becomes more transparent. There is just what is, content of experience staying much the same, yet with an absence of a separate I. And this becomes gradually more clear.

And it makes sense.

If what we are is awake emptiness and form, inherently absent of a separate I, then that is what comes through, in different ways, during the awakening process. We may take ourselves as an object in the world, but what we really are breaks through… as an intuition, a sense, a glimpse.

It is Big Mind gradually becoming more familiar with itself, as it already and always is. Only temporarily filtered through taking itself as an object within form.

The field filtered through the head and belly centers

 

I have written about this before, but it is still alive in my immediate awareness, and wants to be explored further…

There is a perfect (slightly asymmetrical) symmetry in how Existence is filtered through the head and belly centers.

Head center

Through the head center, it is awake emptiness and form. Crystal clear. Empty luminosity. Awake emptiness in the foreground, and form as nothing other than awake emptiness. It is transcendent. Detached. Free. Absent of any separate self. Full of the whole world. Masculine. Yang. Solar. The Ground of all form, and all form as no other than this Ground. Impersonal. It is the traditional enlightenment.

Belly center

Through the belly center, it is luminous blackness. Velvety. Smooth. Fullness. A full void. Nurturing. Giving birth to and holding all form. That which all form arises within, as, and that which is in all form. Immanent. Absent of any separate self. Nurturing this individual, allowing it to deeply heal, mature, soften, be more rounded, become more deeply human. It is feminine. Yin. Lunar. The ground of all form and that which is the context for, is, and is within all form. Deeply personal. It is the endarkenment.

Difference in emphasis

The head center gives an emphasis on awakening as awake emptiness, and as form which is no other than this awake emptiness. It gives freedom. Transcendence from identification with any segment of Big Mind, including this human self. But alone, it is detached, aloof, impersonal.

The belly center gives an emphasis on the deep transformation of this individual. A deep healing, untying of knots, maturing, softening and rounding of the personality, deepening into the human.

The coolness and nurturing of the belly center balancing out the fire and the impersonal of the head center

Having been familiar with the head center awakening (spontaneously in my teens, and deepening over several years), I now deeply appreciate the belly awakening as well. It gives a new depth, richness, sense of peace, of being deeply nurtured, of a coolness to balance the heat of the head center awakening. In addition to what I have described in other posts on this topics, I have, over the last few weeks, also had glimpses of an amazing (to me) new depth and richness of being, far beyond anything I have experienced before.

New realms of being opening up through the belly center awakening

Through the head center, this whole universe is nothing other than God, an alive presence behind and as everything, and without any separate self anywhere. And through the belly center, there another facet of the void and selflessness, but also new realms of being – of this individual – revealing themselves and deepening. Even the few glimpses I have had so far, over maybe just minutes or hours, are far beyond anything I had ever imagined.

Heart center

I should also mention a few words about the heart center. Existence filtered through the heart center seems to have two aspects: Big Heart and the indwelling God.

Big Heart is a love and compassion that is independent of any particulars of form. As Big Mind, it has no beginning, no end, no form, yet can take any form. It is both impersonal and personal, when expressed thorough an individual, but the impersonal tends to be in the foreground. It is the love and compassion that comes up spontaneously and naturally when Big Mind awakens to itself while still connected, and functioning through, a human being.

The indwelling God is an alive presence, located in the physical heart area. Infinitely loving, intelligent, receptive, and responsive. A most intimate guide. It is an aspect of God, placed in and for this particular individual.

While Big Heart is connected with Big Mind, universal and slightly impersonal (although can be made personal when expressed), the indwelling God is experienced as intimately personal, an alive presence in the heart area of this individual.

In both cases, it is universal, and this is in the foreground with Big Heart, and in the background – or as a context – for the indwelling God. And in both cases, it is personal, and this is in the foreground for the indwelling God, and a possibility – when made personal through a human self – for Big Heart.

Again, when the indwelling God became more alive in awareness around Christmas, it was something new opening up (yet also very familiar somehow.) An infinitely loving, intelligent, receptive and responsive alive presence, in the heart area. An aspect of God, for this individual. A most intimate guide.

Source of tension and how we deal with it

 

I went to our local The Work group Monday evening, for the first time for several weeks, and was reminded of the tension that arises when we hold onto stories of how it should be, how it is, and how they two should align. (Of course, without the third it would be fine, but the third is there as long as the first is there, and even as long as the second is there.)

It is the basic tension in our life, showing up as physical and psychological tension, and also as tension between ourselves and others and the wider world.

Ways of dealing with the tension of what is and what should be

In general, there seems to be four broad ways we deal with the tension.

The first is by trying to not notice, by ignoring it, denying it, distracting ourselves.

The second is by changing our stories, or adding stories that modify the initial ones. We can change our stories about what is, about how it should be, and about the meaning of what is.

The third is to change the situation. (This is also another strategy for changing our story of what is, by changing the situation, we then can tell ourselves a story about it that conforms more with the story of how it should be.)

And the fourth is to inquire into the stories themselves. Are they true? Can I know for sure they are true? What are the consequences of holding onto these stories? Who or what would I be, in the same situation, without them? What are the grain of truth in the reversals of the stories?

When we act in the world, and are still caught up in our stories about how it is and should be and the tension between the two, we often act from reactivity and lack of clarity. When we bring the stories into awareness and inquire into them, finding what is already more true for us, there is naturally access to more clarity, receptivity and responsiveness, which comes out in our actions.

The tension between what already is more true and the beliefs

This reminds of another level of tension, besides the one between stories of how it is and should be: the tension between what is already more true for us, and what we tell ourselves through the stories.

The simplest aspect of what is already more true for us, is the grain of truth in all the reverse stories. (To believe the initial stories we deny the truth in the reverse stories, so the reversal truths naturally tends to be obscured. There is a sense of rigidity, of a fixed view and identity, and of tension between “my” position and the other positions, and between what is already more true for me and the story I hold onto as the one truth. When these other truths are brought into awareness, there is a sense of more fluidity and release of tension.)

Another aspect of what is already more true for me, is the difference between the contracted state of believing in stories (or working hard at believing them), and of who/what I am without those beliefs.

When this is clear, and without the stories, I find myself as Big Mind awakened to itself. And when it is somewhat clear, I find in myself, or myself as, some of the qualities of Big Mind awakened to itself, such as peace, ease, clarity, receptiveness, being home, sense of less or no separation. It is a foretaste of a more clear awakening, a whisper of something still slightly over the horizon. Just enough of a carrot to keep me going.

Corrections: desire, fusion and shadows

 

Some of the recent posts have been more than a little approximate…!

Big Mind does not desire, but is desire (when it arises)

For instance, in the posts on desire and insatiability, the distinction between Big Mind and desire is not quite clear. To put it simply, Big Mind does not desire (there is no Other to desire, and in its formless aspect it is free from form). Yet it also is desire, when desire arises in an individual. At that moment, Big Mind arises as desire.

So when desire arises in an individual for a full human life and awakening arises, which seems to be our deepest desire (at least for me), then Big Mind is free from it, yet also arises as the desire.

We can say that Big Mind is the desire for it to experience itself through and as a full human life, and also as Big Mind awake to itself.

In a very approximate (and anthropomorphizing) way, we can say that Big Mind (or God) desires to experience and explore itself as finite, through and as an individual human life. And not only that, but as finite in the form of this universe, as galaxies, solar systems, planets, planets becoming alive, ecosystems, social systems, cultures, industry, subcultures, neighborhoods, families, couples, and so on.

The formless desires to experience itself as form, and form desires the formless. The infinite desires to experience itself as finite, and the finite desires the infinite.

It is a catchy and poetic way of putting it. It sounds good at that level. But it is also very imprecise. It gives the impression that God (or Big Mind) desires, yet when there is only the I without the Other, there is no desire. Only rest. Peace (even in the midst of the worst storms and the strongest desires).

Fusion

In the same post on desire, the word fusion is used, and this fusion is just one of the relationships between Spirit, soul and human self. Ultimately, it is all Spirit, all God, the centerless and selfless field of seeing and seen.

But within this, there is a fusion of the three, an infusion of Spirit awake to itself into the individual, and an infusion of soul into the human self. The previous post is on this topic.

Collective shadows

And then the post on a journey into collective shadows. Collective shadows? No. Again that is just a poetic, a little more catchy, and very approximate way of talking about it.

My journey was very much through my own individual shadow, of the many and varied dark characters that puts a face on what is there.

But this individual shadow is formed within a culture where most people put many of the same things into their shadow. Even if there is individual variations, there are also many commonalities, and that is where the idea of a collective shadow comes from. Even for humanity as a whole, across cultures, many of the same things are put in our individual shadows.

And the faces put on what is in my individual shadow is of course influenced by everything I have experienced, including dark and shadowy characters from my own culture and many other cultures.

So the immediate experience of the journey is one of journeying through our collective shadow, the shadow of humanity. But, realistically, it is of course just this individual one reflecting what is out there, in our world culture.

It doesn’t really matter for the impact the experience has on me. What was important was the experiencing of each of these dark creatures from the inside, living and breathing their life, and at the same time seeing that it is the one transcendent I which is the I of all of these.

But it is still good to make the distinction.

Distinct, fused and not two

 

We can split what and who we are into two, and then three.

Spirit, then individual

First, what we are as Spirit, the field of awake emptiness and form absent of center and separate I. This is what is absent of I, or the I without an Other.

Then, who we are as an individual, which in turn is an individual soul and human self. This is the individual self that is inherently selfless, as the rest of the world of form is inherently selfless. It is that little speck within the form aspect of Spirit that it, somehow, mysteriously, is functionally connected with, its vehicle in the world of form.

In other words, we can say that what and who we are is Big Mind (Buddha Mind, Brahman, Tao), soul (alive presence) and human self (personality). And all of it is inherently selfless.

In my own experience of this, I am struck by how these three are simultaneously distinct, fused, and also not two.

Distinct

Each of these three are distinct.

Spirit is this field of clear awake emptiness and form, with no center, no separate self. It is a what. Impersonal. Universal. The I without an Other. The field of seeing and seen, as a field, without any center.

Then there is the individual soul, which is experience as an alive presence and can be filtered in many ways. As infinitely loving and intelligent. Infinitely receptive and responsive. As luminous blackness. As the indwelling God, an alive presence in the heart region. As the alive full presence around and in this physical body. And so on.

And then this human self. This body-mind, functioning within the world of physical form, and with a particular personality. This brings the joys and stress of being physical, including the longing, seeking, wanting, fear, happiness, sensual pleasures, contractions, hangups, and much more. It is the little vulnerable animal trying to make its way in the world.

Fused

In addition to being experienced as distinct, they are also fused.

Spirit infuses the individual soul and human self, especially as it awakens to itself as Spirit. It realizes that all form, including the individual, is no other than itself. The blind identification is taken out of the individual, allowing the individual to reorganize free from the burden of being identified with and in the context of all as Spirit.

The soul, the alive presence, infuses the human self, allowing it to untie knots, heal, mature, and develop in a far deeper way, into a more mature, whole and rounded human being. Ironically, the soul presence, brought into the human self, allows the human self to become more deeply and thoroughly human. It gives the safety and sense of nurturing which allows the human self to relax, to give up some or all of its struggle with itself, and to become more familiar with all of what it is, and embrace and own it all.

And the human self is infused with Spirit awake to itself, and with soul, working on and within it.

Not two

At the same time, there is no I and Other here. These are not two, nor three.

They are all just Spirit, the field of awake emptiness and form, arising as Spirit awake to itself, and functionally connected with this individual soul and human self. Already and always centerless and selfless.

Trinity

These three are a trinity, such as the trikaya of Buddhism. One yet distinct.

And with the potential of being more deeply fused, placing our individual soul and human self under the influence of Spirit, and our human self under the influence of the soul.