A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.
– Jo Goodwin
Yes, that’s the function of a library, to represent a wide range of views including marginalized views and the ones that offend certain groups. Just like I want people I disagree with and whom offend me to have a voice in society, I want a library to have books that offend me. That’s the sign of a healthy society and a good library.
It’s not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers.
Praised as “a spiritual treasure” by Huston Smith, The Way of Selflessness is an authoritative guide for anyone who wishes to walk a mystical path and discover directly the truth testified to by the mystics of the world’s spiritual traditions. Drawing from the universal teachings and essential practices of the mystics from all the world’s major religious traditions, distilled and presented in generic terms suitable for all seekers, The Way of Selflessness is appropriate for both those who belong to an established religion and those who do not.
Joel was one of my teachers at the Center for Sacred Sciences in Eugene, Oregon, when I lived there. And his book shows a good and practical understanding of the awakening process, including different core practices from the main spiritual traditions in the world.
I want to add a couple of minor caveats: The book is perhaps slightly “heady”, and he doesn’t thoroughly address spiritual crises or dark nights as he may not have gone through it himself. Also, there are aspects of certain traditions and practices he doesn’t quite get (for instance koan study) since he never practiced within these traditions himself. That said, this is not a reason to not get his book. The book is an excellent overview and has many very valuable practical pointers.
And if you are interested, Naked Through the Gate is a great read about his own life and awakening process. His process was somewhat unusual in that his main spiritual guide came to him in dreams and not waking life.
I want to end with a brief note about the title. Selflessness is conventionally understood as setting your own needs aside (for a while) to benefit others or the larger whole. In contrast, selflessness in the context of awakening refers to an absence of any separate self, and noticing and realizing it, reorienting within this new(ly discovered) context, and living from it in more and more situations.
My friend Fiona Robertson wrote this wise, heartfelt, and insightful book that I am sure will be of help to many. It is specifically about the dark night of the soul that some of us go through at some point in our life. But the insights apply to all the many mini-dark nights of the soul that are part of our human experience.
When I read it, I was struck by the universality of the descriptions and insights from the different people interviewed for the book. It was as if I could have said just about all of them. I was interviewed for the book so some of them are actually my own, but when I read the others I actually didn’t know if they were mine or not until I read the attribution. (Of course, the people interviewed and the quotes were selected to fit into a narrative, but there is also something often surprisingly universal about the dark night of the soul.)
The book is a reminder of how the dark night of the soul is a deeply human and humanizing experience. And that it requires us to be real instead of holding onto identities, beliefs, and ideas about how things are or should be. It strips away layers of who and what we are not. It helps us find our wholeness in a far more gritty and real way.
I have enjoyed reading When Spirit Leaps by Bonnie Greenwell, published this summer. I have known her for a while, from when we were fellow Oregonians.
I can recommend this book for anyone who would like a general overview of the awakening process. The book is written in a deceptively simple style, and there is a lot of wisdom and experience reflected in each sentence. She goes through the different phases of the process, and I especially appreciate that she addresses some of the challenges in the awakening process and ways to navigate them.
I was taking a course with a spiritual teacher when, during a question and answer session, one of the students asked, ‘What do I do if an intense emotion comes up for me – how do I find the peace in that?’
She answered, ‘Just don’t move. Let yourself be completely present to the emotion. Welcome it. If a negative emotion arises, don’t run away from it; don’t run off to the refrigerator to eat some food to cover it up; don’t turn on the television to distract yourself from it; don’t call your friends to disperse its energy by gossiping about it. Just stop and feel it. Just let yourself be present to it. You’ll find if you don’t try to distract yourself from it, or push it away or, worse still, dump it on someone else; if you stay still, if you are really present to it – in the very core of the feeling you will find peace. So when you feel a powerful emotion, just let it be – DON’T MOVE. Welcome it. – from The Journey by Brandon Bays
I looked at this book yesterday as it is about one of many practical approaches to allow, welcome and be with what’s here.
She describes a process of meeting whatever painful emotions are here, staying with it, allow it to transform (new layers emerge), until it all drops into the void.
It’s what I find happens naturally during meditation, and it’s also something I explore in everyday life through different forms of inquiry.
Skimming through her book, I noticed – or imagine – a few beliefs she may have: If I live a healthy life, I won’t get sick. People will judge me as a failure if use conventional medicine.Illness means something is wrong. Disease is terrible. Older people won’t get it. British people are reserved. (Age/nationality stereotypes.) And even if I don’t recognize these beliefs in an obvious way in myself, it can still be helpful to inquire into these and see what I find.
I also noticed a few beliefs for myself: She thinks her insights are special. It’s an universal insight. It’s too simple (to talk about). It’s too obvious (to make a big deal out of).
Why is it a good thing it’s presented in this way? Why is it a good thing a very helpful process is presented in this packaging? She may reach a different audience than others presenting similar pointers. Some may share her beliefs (about health etc.), feel a kinship and see her as one of them, and be attracted to explore something they otherwise wouldn’t. For instance, Christians or non-Buddhists may not be exposed/attracted to Buddhist teachers pointing to the same.
But whereas in years past, it’s been weather that has caused a spike in commodities prices, now it’s trends on both sides of the food supply/demand equation that are driving up prices. On the demand side, the culprits are population growth, rising affluence, and the use of grain to fuel cars. On the supply side: soil erosion, aquifer depletion, the loss of cropland to nonfarm uses, the diversion of irrigation water to cities, the plateauing of crop yields in agriculturally advanced countries, and—due to climate change —crop-withering heat waves and melting mountain glaciers and ice sheets. These climate-related trends seem destined to take a far greater toll in the future.
Branded by Spirit is an online book by El Collie on the awakening process as it unfolded for her. Since that’s where I am myself, I especially find chapter 14 – Darkness before dawn – interesting and helpful. It’s a huge relief to know that others have and do go through a similar process and she writes about it with a great deal of wisdom and insight.
Update: I have now read all the chapters, and it’s been very helpful to me. She writes with a great deal of wisdom and insight, and it’s all from her own experience, informed by informed extensive reading on the subject. I have to admit I am familiar with most of what she writes about from own experience (including much unmentioned in this blog), so although I have never thought of my own process as a kundalini process, that may be one way to describe it.
In this time of radically accelerated evolution, the disparity between the conflict and chaos of the egoic state and the stillness of the soul has never been more apparent, both within and without. Has it ever been more important to be in touch with and live from our true, essential Self? Conscious communion with the soul is the foundation of all else in the journey of awakening.
Only the soul can:
Provide the limitless love, wisdom, and power to guide us through our challenges into freer, happier ways of being.
Embrace, heal, and re-absorb distorted ego-personality aspects.
Fulfill our destiny and purpose for incarnating at this pivotal time.
For two decades we have facilitated direct experiences of the soul realms. Soul Awakening relates the archetypal passages and initiations that brought us into that capacity and deepened us in the soul. Because we have lived into everything we share here, Soul Awakening offers a living transmission that inducts readers into greater soul-awareness.
It outlines a simple practice: Write a daily gratitude list which includes situations, experiences and emotions you have the most difficulty finding gratitude for. And if you want, find a partner to share this with.
The format is Today, I am grateful for…. which is really a question. How would it be to be thankful for….?
This is a variation of the traditional practice found in many traditions of thankfulness for everything that happens, whether we judge it as good or bad. What this variation highlights, and what I find especially helpful, is specificity. When I write the list, I find specific examples of what to be thankful for, including that which I don’t (yet) feel thankful for.
Gratitude and appreciation is a practice, and it is also a natural expression of who we are when less clouded over by beliefs.
It’s rewarding and helpful to find gratitude for what’s obviously good in my life. It helps me shift attention from my complaints to what is pretty good in life.
And it is even more powerful to include all without exception, including and especially that which I at first don’t appreciate. This helps me find the ground below likes and dislikes, and a softening of identification with my own familiar beliefs about what’s good and bad.
The simplest form of gratitude practice is to repeat thank you – to life, God, the Universe.
Adyashanti has a new book out, this time an introductory one. It is available only through his website until April or so.
What would it be like if you didn’t need to struggle, if you didn’t need to make an effort to find peace and happiness? What would that feel like now?
~ Adyashanti, Falling into Grace
In the same way that we fall into the arms of a loved one or drop our heads on the pillow at night, we can surrender into the beauty and truth of who and what we really are. In his first introductory book, Falling into Grace, Adyashanti invites us to let go of our struggles with life and open to the full promise of spiritual awakening: the end of delusion and the discovery of our essential being. Adyashanti has found that the simpler the teaching, the greater its power to change our lives. In this book he shares what he considers fundamental insights that will “spark a revolution in the way we perceive life.”
Abba Lot went to Abba Joseph and said to him, “Abba, as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace, and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?” Then the old man stood up and stretched his hands toward heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, “If you will, you can become all flame.”
One key, I think — coming again from the monastic tradition — is the idea of joyful repentance, which suggests that even the purgative way can be a source of delight in God. Granted, surrendering sin and opening ourselves up to transformational healing can be hard, ego-threatening work, but I see no reason why it must be miserable work. It’s like the question of purgatory: I think Protestants rejected purgatory because it was seen so much as a hellish place. But many Catholics regard purgatory as a place of great wonder and excitement, a room in heaven rather than in hell. Once you enter purgatory, the exit door leads to the great banquet hall. You are there simply to get a manicure and take a lovely bubble bath before your intimate date with your beloved. I for one cannot think of anything more delightful than taking the extra effort to clean myself up before a special evening with my wife. S0 — even for Protestants who reject the idea of purgatory — I think we can all agree that the hard work of holiness and penitence in this life ought to be an occasion for joy, if entered into in the right spirit — a spirit of trust and hope and confidence in God’s love for us, and humble recognition that everything we do to improve ourselves is ultimately a gift of grace to begin with.
– from Mapping the Journey, a post on Anamchara: The Website of Unknowing
I rarely read blogs these days, but happened to find Anamchara: The Website of Unknowing. It is the blog of Carl McColman, and every post is a gem – insightful, informed, well-written, and practical.
The years from 1957 to 1962 were a golden age of science fiction, as well as paranoia and exhilaration on a cosmic scale. The future was still the future back then, some of us could dream of farms on the moon and heroically finned rockets blasting off from alien landscapes. Others worried about Russian moon bases.
No one knows what’s good and what’s bad. No one knows what death is. Maybe it’s not a something; maybe it’s not even a nothing. It’s the pure unknown, and I love that. We imagine that death is a state of being or a state of nothingness, and we frighten ourselves with our own concepts. I’m a lover of what is: I love sickness and health, coming and going, life and death. I see life and death as equal. Reality is good; so death must be good, whatever it is, if it’s anything at all.
– from chapter 33 of A Thousand Names for Joy
We can only be afraid of what we believe we are-whatever there is in ourselves that we haven’t met with understanding. If I thought you might see me as boring, for example, it would frighten me, because I haven’t questioned that thought. So it’s not people who frighten me, it’s me that frightens me. That’s my job, to frighten me, until I investigate this fear for myself. The worst that can happen is that I think you think about me what I think about myself. So I am sitting in a pool of me.
– from chapter 46 of A Thousand Names for Joy
Two excerpts from Byron Katie’s this modern-day commentary on Tao Te Ching. Highly recommended, especially as inspiration for own inquiry.
I am reading The How of Happiness, and it seems to be an excellent book. Practical, simple, science-based and effective. I especially appreciate the emphasis on finding practices that fits ones own circumstances and interests (chapter 3), and the pointers on why the preactices work and advice on how to go about the practices (chapter 10).
This is a great overview of The Work. Katie talks about her own story, the ins and outs of the process, how it may look when applied to the main areas of our lives, and with examples of Katie leading people through investigations of our universal stories such as I need more money. Always withan invitation to the listener to find their own answers and get a taste of the process that way.
Written by Joel Morwood, the spiritual director of the Center for Sacred Sciences in Oregon, it is the product of 20 years of working with students and studying the mystical core of the different traditions, all from within a clear and genuine awakening. It is practical, span the traditions, and gives pointers for what you may encounter at different points on the path.
If you take the main practices and teachings of mystics from the main traditions and boil it down, as you would if you boil an ox down to a bullion cube, you will get something like this.
For all its strengths, it may have a few drawbacks as well.
I am reading Adyashanti’s new book, The End of Your World and find it very helpful. It is clear. Practical. And an invitation to allow our human self to live within awakening with integrity, in an always more healthy and mature way.
Since I have recently read Wake Up Now by Stephan Bodian, and they both take a similar approach, I am struck by how well the two books complement each other. Wake up Now is for anyone anywhere on the path, and The End of Your World is specifically for those where there has been an awakening, whether it is non-abiding or abiding. Read More
Stephen Bodian has been a student of Buddhism (Zen and Tibetan) and Advaita for decades, is a psychotherapist, and is coming from a clear awakening, and all of that is reflected in his most recent book Wake Up Now.
It is clear. Practical. And when I read it, I am struck by how a lifetime of experience is beautifully condenced into each paragraph and sometimes each sentence.
And while Meditation for Dummies – appropriately enough – emphasize making our human experience a little easier, Wake Up Now is all about inviting what we are to notice itself and living from within that context.
I can’t think of many other books that I can recommend more warmly for both newbies and more experienced folks.
I thought you did an excellent job of encapsulating the book. However, as you may have noticed, it is no longer available on amazon.com, as it is Out of Print. The good news is that I am offering History of Mysticism (with some additional text in the Chapter on Gnosticism) as a FREE Ebook in PDF format on my website at: www.themysticsvision.com. Check it out. And, if possible, please publicise its availability.
Swami Abhayananda (Stan Trout)
As before, I can highly recommend this book. It is among the clearest and most inspiring books on the history of mysticism I have read, and I am looking forward to reading the new sections on Gnosticism.
And what an honor to receive a comment from the author!
If you would like a copy of the free ebook, send an email with “History of Mysticism” in the subject line to abhayanand [at] aol [dot] com
Whenever I listen to music, read a book, watch a movie, or similar, I notice the difference between a resistance within and to experience.
When there is a resistance within experience, it usually makes it interesting to me. I am attracted to the experience, and there is some friction there. It feels meaty, substantial, challenging, nurturing.
This is how it is for me with music such as Jaga Jazzist, Meredith Monk, Bulgarian folks songs, and even – for instance – lounge music. Anything that is a little outside of the familiar for me (Meredith Monk), outside of my expectations (Bulgarian folk songs) or shoulds (metal!), or outside of my familiar identity (lounge).
When there is not much resistance within experience, which I experience with Mozart and some writings and movies, there is either not much interest there, or it becomes more of a – sometimes welcomed – relaxation and a vacation.
And when there is resistance to experience, it is quite different. This is when it becomes uncomfortable, and there is a sense of separation and of a separate I disliking an experience.
I just started looking at Buddhism for Dummies, and it seems to be an excellent book, written in a way that honors and is faithful to the traditions, yet in a very simple and ordinary language, and always very practical.
If anyone asks me for a good book about Buddhism, I am going to recommend this one. And I am going to read it myself as I have benefited a great deal from the brief sections I have read so far.
When the tagline says “a reference for the rest of us”, I read that as “a reference for all of us”.
Tim Freke used the book analogy in the longer video below.
Characters in a book don’t exist as separate entities, but only in the mind of the author. And in the same way, we only exist in the mind of the author of this story, in the Divine Mind, in God. This human self does not have any separate I associated with it, but happens within the Divine Mind, as all the other characters and all the different settings and the big stage of the universe itself.
If we look, we find that what we really are is this Divine Mind, this awakeness that this human self and anything else happens within and as.
This reminds me of what came up for me when I read Sophie’s World a while back. The book is a walk-through of western philosophy, woven into a more ordinary narrative story following a young woman and her philosophy teacher.
For the first third or so of the story, they appear like ordinary and real people, to themselves and the reader.
Then odd things start happening, they encounter fairy tale characters, the weather changes to fit their conversations, a dog speaks in human language. Gradually, it dawns on them that they are characters in a story and don’t have any separate existence.
At this point, I thought the story would end with the book/Divine Mind analogy mentioned above, illustrating the view of the mystics – and opening the minds of the readers to some radical reversals of who and what we take ourselves to be – at least as just a thought experiment.
Unfortunately, or not, the actual ending of the book went in a different, more conventional/fantasy, direction. A little anticlimactic considering the promise it had about 80% into the story.
But I did get to write my own ending in my own mind, illustrating the book/Divine Mind analogy, so in that sense I got double benefit.
I am sure a book like that must have been written. If it hasn’t, it is out there waiting for the right person to make it come alive.
I am spending a good deal of time buying book treasures from used book stores, mostly on Buddhist and art subjects. I also belong to a Buddhist group and discover, to my horror, that they are selling these books to the public at give-away prices. I had intended only some books to be sold on, and the rest to be kept. Some of the books are rare finds, and may not even be appreciated by those buying them. Even as I try to explain the situation to the people selling them, more are sold.
This dream had a nightmarish quality… spending all that time identifying and buying book treasures, and then having them all sold off to the general public for next to nothing…!
The dream parallels two things in my life:
First, the giving away of my insights and skills freely, without asking for anything in return (including having volunteered a large number of hours for NWEI, and giving away a large number of Breema sessions for free).
The other, more specific to this retreat, a surrendering of conceptualized insights… seeing them for what they are, only thoughts. Only images and sounds created by the mind, arising and dissolving from and into nothingness.
Surrendering is inherent in the process of just seeing thoughts as thoughts, arising from and dissolving into nothingness.
There are many stories of obsessiveness, apparent disasters and waking up, mirroring (one version of) the awakening process.
Moby Dick is about one man’s obsessiveness with the white whale (God) which eventually drags him and his ship under (the death of a sense of separate I along with any other belief and identity), leaving only the ocean, the nondual awakening.
The Truman Show is about a man gradually intuiting that his life is a fabrication, the apparent disasters that happens when he attempts to break out (loss of identities and beliefs), and his final breaking out.
The Matrix trilogy is about a man first waking out of the conventional dream, and then through a great deal of struggle finding an awakening that goes beyond and embraces all polarities… Neo and Agent Smith (good and evil, persona and shadow), the machine world and Zion (mind and matter, also in its version of empty luminosity and form), the Matrix and the real world (deluded and awake).
The richest stories have many layers of meaning and can be interpreted in a wide range of ways… which is also why there is often a shared fascination with them.
Moby Dick is one of those stories, and the story can be filtered in many different ways, yielding many different meanings and insights.
Later, more mature worldcentric
From a later wordcentric view, we hold both the whales and the animals inside of our circle of care, concern and compassion. We see the struggle between animals and humans as an inevitable outcome of both trying to survive, a story they are both caught up in without much (apparent) choice, almost as a Greek tragedy.
Early, less mature worldcentric
From an early worldcentric view where our circle of care beings to include all of Earth, we may easily side with and have mainly compassion for the whale. The whale is innocent and only tries to protect itself, the humans evil (or at least blind) killing other species without respect and concern for their life and well-being. (Animal rights perspective.)
Humans vs nature
Humans try to put themselves above nature and to subdue nature. Since nature always has the last word (it is, after all, the larger holon), this is only successful to a limited degree, and it may have dire consequences for humans. We are part of a larger living system, so when we reduce the health and well-being of the larger system, it impacts us as well. Climate change is one of many examples of this.
Beliefs perspective Captain Ahab is caught up in blind beliefs, making it appear to himself that he needs revenge and to settle the score with Moby Dick. It not only creates a split between the two and a great deal of drama and suffering for both, but it also brings the whole ship down.
Then there is the awakening perspective. Moby Dick is God (“if God wanted to be a fish, he would be a whale”, “that is no whale, it is a white god”), and Ahab is single-mindedly pursuing God, relentlessly, at any cost, obsessively (which often goes before an awakening). Captain Ahab and the ship is the small self, or more precisely the appearance of a separate self placed on this human self, and that is what is drawn under in the struggle with God. What is left is just the ocean, nondual awakening.
This is of course an experiential truth, not a literal one. The experience is of a disaster, of dying, of a calamity as U. G. Krishnamurti liked to call it with his flair for the dramatic. It is really just the belief in a separate self that dies, but since that is taken as an “I” the experience is of I dying. The human self goes on just fine, although now without being taken as an I.
I initially heard about Moby Dick as an analogy to awakening from a friend of mine at the Zen center a while ago, and know that it has been used by others as well. It is an interpretation that comes relatively easily to mind when we are aware of the characteristics of the awakening process.
Then there are the reflections of a nondual awakening in the text itself (which doesn’t mean the author needed to have awakened, only intuited it), such as… Is it I, God, or who, that lifts this arm? But if the great sun move not of himself; but is as an errand-boy in heaven; nor one single star can revolve, but by some invisible power; how then can this one small heart beat; this one small brain think thoughts; unless God does that beating, does that thinking, does that living, and not I. (Ahab)
It is a description, in words and drawings, of an amazing inner transformation of a woman who grew up in war-ravaged Eastern Europe and had a very strong inner connection to what Jung called the Self, the organizing principle that leads us towards greater wholeness, and healing, as a human being. The book is an account of a series of dreams and active imaginations over several decades, and the images are powerful for anyone on a similar journey. At least they are for me.
It is an example of the process of exploring and awakening to who we are, as an evolving individual human being. It is a tremendously rich, fertile, deep, embracing and rewarding journey. It brings deep healing, a deep sense of our shared humanity and how it shows up in this particular life, a deep sense of connection with all of humanity, a deep recognition of what I see in you as familiar here too…
It leads right up to the edge of a sense of a separate self, but not (in itself) beyond. There is still that core belief there of being a separate self, and that journey – of discovering what we ultimately are – is one that other traditions can help us with. Maybe especially Buddhism and Adveita, and the mystics of any tradition who realized selflessness… those in whom the Ground of emptiness noticed itself, and lived itself out through these human lives.
I received this via email, and since it seems to be an open invitation I thought I would post it here. Seems like a great chance for those interested in supporting the publishing of this book, and the Big Mind process in general.
Dear Sangha and Supporters,
As you may already know, we’re offering a limited hardcover edition of my forthcoming book, Big Mind / Big Heart: Finding Your Way. These specially printed and bound books will be signed and numbered, and will only be available to those who order them before publication.
We are wishing to publish it ourselves, as the new Big Mind Publishing company. In this way, we will maintain full control of the editorial content and appearance of the book. My experience in having my work issued by other publishing companies has been that I have had to compromise my intent and style to please the publishers. In order to avoid this we are planning to raise enough capital for the printing, advertising and promotion, and other costs.
Our goal is to sell at least 300 copies to finance this project. As of right now we have sold just about 100 copies. So that we don’t have to go to an outside publisher, I would like to encourage you, if you haven’t already ordered one or more copies, to order now; or if you have already ordered a copy, to think about ordering additional copies as gifts.
The original deadline for ordering was the end of March, but since we haven’t yet raised enough to go to press, we are pushing the deadline forward to April 15th. We are only printing as many of these hardcover books as are pre-ordered. Afterwards it will not be possible to buy the book in hardcover; it will only be available in paperback. You can order by clicking the following link: Big Mind / Big Heart: Finding Your Way Special Edition
I am including here some short excerpts which will give you a taste of the book.
Strictly scholarly works on mysticism are of course necessary and useful, but it is still a relief to come upon a history of mysticism written by someone where Spirit has awakened to itself. It gives it a freshness, immediacy and clarity that is often lost in the more dry and exclusively scholarly works.
In going through the history of mysticism, from prehistoric to more recent times, he touches upon some of the highlights from many traditions, showing how they all describe the same realization of Spirit as emptiness and form.
(Brahman and Maya, Purusha and Prakrti, Shiva and Shakti, Sat and Asat, Vishnu and Lakshmi, Theos and Logos, Tathata and Samsara, Tao and Teh, the unspeakable Tao and the speakable Tao, El and Elat, Baal and Asherah, Yahweh and Chokmah, Haqq and Khalq, yang and yin, masculine and feminine, and so on.)
This lens gives the book a clear focus and message: there is one theme with minor variations from culture, tradition and personal flavor. It takes some of the many flavors of ice cream and shows that it is all ice cream. (If there is a minor drawback with the book, it is that it becomes somewhat predictable after a while, and that some of the interesting variations are downplayed.)
Still, highly recommended for its clarity, for its excellent overview of the history of mysticism, for its clear theme, and for its ability to inspire.
Say there is a fictional character, and you want to make the stories about him or her more engrossing for yourself. What do you do?
Pretending a fictional character is real
One way is to pretend the person really exists, to take the stories seriously and as reality. That way, you can allow yourself to go into it more fully, to put more energy, attention and interest into it than you otherwise would.
And that is exactly what many Sherlock Holmes scholars and fans do. They play what some refer to as The Game: studying Sherlock Holmes as if he was a real flesh-and-blood person, Dr. Watson his biographer, Conan Doyle his literary agent, and the stories themselves histocial documents.
Playing the game to bring out the richness of the stories
It’s a game. And it’s a game we play to enhance our appreciation of the story. When we treat them as real, we can justify spending a great deal more effort in researching the background of the stories and in working up explanations for the stories in a way that brings out their richness.
And so it is with our lives as well, according to many mystics and spiritual traditions.
This human self that there is so close an identification with, that seem as an I, that is taken so seriously, that appear so real, so solid, so true. This human self has no I in it anywhere. There is no I in the seeing of it, in the awake space it arises within and as. There is no I in the seen, in this human self and all its aspects: its sensations, feelings, emotions, thoughts, behaviors.
There is no I anywhere in the seeing or the seen. There is only the Ground of empty awakeness the seeing and the seen arises within and as, with no I anywhere. There is doing, yet no doer anywhere. There is choosing, yet no chooser anywhere. This human self just happens, absent of any I. It lives its own life, as anything else in the world of phenomena lives its own life.
This self, as an I, as a separate entity, as a chooser, as a doer, is fictional.
And what makes it a more interesting and engrossing character? To pretend it is real. To take it as I. To have a close identification with it. To live as if it is separate from anything else. To see myself as it, and subject to birth and death, joy and suffering, health and happiness, gain and loss, and all the other ingredients of the human drama.
There is no drama without identification with this human self. And the drama is what makes it engrossing. It is what makes it interesting, at least for a while.
A new flavor of the game: seeking awakening
And then there is a weariness of this drama. A growing readiness to move on. For Ground to awaken to its own nature as awake space, as seeing and seen, absent of I.
There is a new flavor of the game, not much different from all the other flavors, and this one is called spiritual seeking and practice.
This and the other ones are all games where human self is taken as an I, and the new flavor is to try to have this I awaken. Which of course is impossible. This human self can never awaken, and there is no I anywhere anyway – only a temporary and mistaken identification as an I and this human self, but it makes for another interesting chapter of the drama.
A new game: this human self functioning in the context of realized selflessness
And then there is a significantly new game: Ground awakens to – or rather remembers – its own nature, and now the game becomes to allow this human self to live from this awakening, to mature, evolve, interact, experience, explore within this new context of realized selflessness.
It is a whole new section of the story, yet one that is no less juicy. And one that has no end, at least as long as there is a functional connection to human self.
I recently came across LibraryThing, an online service that allows you to enter books from your library, tag them, find similar lists from others, put a list up on your blog, and so on.
I found that it was very easy and surprisingly quick to enter books, and it is quite interesting to look at similar and overlapping book lists out there. It can also be helpful if I sometime in the future would want to replace lost books.
It puts our contemporary western society into perspective, and is a reminder that what we see today in countries with unrest, corruption and barely functioning legal system is what was here not too long ago (and still is, to some extent, especially in the US).
It is also a reminder that Spiral Dynamicsred (red in tooth and claw, power, late egocentric, here seen in gangs and organized and unorganized crime) eats Green (egalitarian, nonviolence, worldcentric, seen among sustainability folks, hippies, and political greens) for lunch, as Michael Dowd likes to point out.
Green is typically not the right tool to deal with red, and orange is barely so. As the story of New York shows, it took strong blue (law and order) to tame red. And then it can move on.
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