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
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
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.)
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
I enjoy listening to Byron Katie because she so clearly comes from Big Mind, and at the same time meets people where they are. In that way, she serves as an interface between Big Mind and confused mind in a beautiful way.
Btw: This is one of the exchanges where she also addresses emotions, in addition to beliefs.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
This came up through the comments to a previous post, and I thought it was important enough to make into its own post.
>> â€œThe moment you â€˜identifyâ€™ with any quality or substance, good or bad, we then gotta say bye, bye to the nondualâ€
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 itselfâ€¦ 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 â€œidentifyâ€ 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.
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.
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.)
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.)
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?
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 Deidaâ€™s sexology is infuriatingly heteronormative and employs some of the worst gender stereotypes Iâ€™ve ever seen. His latest book, â€œThe Way of the Superior Manâ€, has a blurb from Ken Wilber saying something to the effect of how finally thereâ€™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 donâ€™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 Westâ€™s dichotomy of homosexuality versus heterosexuality boils down to gender politics at the end of the day. Kate Millett brilliantly puts it: â€œHomosexuality 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.â€
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.