John Lloyd: Oneness, consciousness, void

 

I am a fan of the TV and radio shows John Lloyd has produced, and also enjoyed this interview with him. He has a lot of good points.

For instance, consciousness does seem to be what everything happens within and as. Obviously, that’s how it is in my own experience – and I assume in everyone’s experience. There is no actual content of anyone’s experience apart from consciousness appearing to itself as whatever content is here. And beyond that, it does seem that the whole world is consciousness. Science suggests that. And mystical experiences suggest that.

When it comes to the void, again that’s how it appears. It seems that the void, nothingness, is what allows awareness, consciousness, and all the appearances within consciousness, any content of consciousness. It’s what the Christian mystics called the Godhead. And it does seem to be at the center, or heart, of my own experience of consciousness and what I am. It’s not always in the foreground (although it has been at times, which allows it to be recognized more easily when it goes more quiet and in the background), and it’s not always consciously noticed since attention is elsewhere, but it’s always quietly here.

And then there is oneness. Any content of experience happens within the same presence, awakeness, or consciousness. Any boundary is at most an image connected with sensations, and those too happen within this presence. It’s all a seamless whole.

I should also say that I used the word “I” or “me” here, because that makes it easier to write and talk about this. Any sense of I or me is also created by sensations combined with imagination, and it happens within and as presence, and within and as void. There is no final or ultimate truth to it, as there isn’t any final or ultimate truth to any appearances. They are all ultimately this presence and void. They are the play – lila – of presence and void. Or love. Or Spirit. Or whatever we prefer to call it.

It’s all very simple. And it can all be a direct and immediate experience. It’s all already here.

If it’s an intellectual understanding, it can be fun and entertaining and even helpful to some extent. And it’s also something we can explore and find in immediate experience and not just through words and images.

I also like that he is a professor of ignorance. It would be great if that topic is offered as a course and is included in each topic taught at all levels. Each field has it’s own history of ignorance, of accepted views and theories which later are seen as somewhat or completely ignorant. What we don’t know is infinitely more than the little we do know. And what we think we know – all our current views and theories – will at some point in the future be seen as outdated.

Bonnie Greenwell: Awakening Energy & Consciousness

 

Spiritual awakening involves shifts in both energy and consciousness. If you think about this you can see that is the essence of our existence. We are a molecular structure moving and acting through the flow of energy, and aware because of consciousness. Our brains function like receiving stations and organizing systems where we receive and store information that determine our thoughts and behaviors. So the energy in our bodies makes adjustments to release old wiring and patterns whenever a major shift in consciousness takes place, and spiritual awakening is a major shift in the recognition of who and what we are.

– Bonnie Grenwell, from Awakening Energy & Consciousness on the Awakened Living blog

Consciousness in two ways

 

Two general ways the word consciousness can be used…

First, as awareness and its content, recognized as no other than awareness itself. This awake void arises as form, it allows yet is inherently free from any and all forms. It is also inherently and already free from any sense of I and Other, which only comes through making stories something more than just thoughts. This is Big Mind, Spirit, Brahman, whether it is awake to itself or not.

Then, filtered through beliefs in different ways.

For instance, we can filter out pure awareness from its content, and call this pure awareness consciousness. Seeing is consciousness, but not the seen.

Or we can use consciousness to refer to awareness and its content, but just a region of its content. For instance, it can mean a combination of awareness and what is inside the boundary of the psyche, such as thoughts, feelings and so on.

This last version is also the most common one. After all, it reflects how it appears when we believe in the story of a separate self. Interestingly, it is also the one that is most contrived, forced and arbitrary, since it is filtered through the most layers of stories.

Energy/consciousness & self/other grid

 

In talking with someone local who has done Buddhist meditation for a couple of decades, and is also a diksha giver, I was reminded of the energy/consciousness and self/other grid, and also how much I appreciate being free to move among and include each of the quadrants.

In the awakening process, we can work from the energy side or consciousness side, each supporting and in mutual influence with the other. And we can also do our own work, or have it done for us (shocking, for many in a Buddhist world view.)

Diksha, and any other form of shaktipat, is an example of work on the energy side influencing the consciousness side, and also an example of the “other” quadrant. It is something that is given to us from outside of this human self, without much or any effort on our own part.

Regular meditation and inquiry is an example of self-initiated work on the consciousness side, which inevitably influences the energy side.

Different forms of yoga is an example of self-initiated work on the energy side.

And in terms of other-initiated work on the consciousness side, I am not sure. Maybe different forms of pointing-out instructions, such as the Big Mind process, could fall into this quadrant, although these are more of a other-self partnership.

We can of course also include other levels here, such as the physical. Self-initiated work here include exercise and yoga, and other-initiated work includes massage and other forms of bodywork.

The benefit of limiting oneself to one quadrant or side of the grid is that we get to explore that one in depth. We get intimately familiar with that part of the terrain. The drawback may be slight one-sidedness, both in view and practice. We may end up discounting the other side of the grid. And we may end up being overly self-reliant, reinforcing a sense of a separate self and a “doer” that way. Or we may end up being overly other-reliant, not trusting what can be initiated from this – the human self – side.

So with all of this available to us, why limit ourselves to any one quadrant, or even any one side of the grid? In my experience, it all goes hand in hand, seamlessly, with activities in each quadrant shedding some light on the other quadrants. Each one contributing to exploring the terrain in slightly new ways.

As with any map, this grid is false and also potentially useful in a practical way.

Even if we focus on one quadrant, each of the other ones are included. I may focus on self-initiated meditation and inquiry, which in turn influences the energy, and also invites Ground as “other” to notice itself. I initiate prayer, and “other” comes in and shifts both energy and consciousness. I receive diksha, and lots of old patterns come up to be seen, and I actively stay with it and may even work with beliefs around it. Or I receive diksha, and go into samadhi, which helps me inquire into what is here now in more detail.

And without the boundaries created by this map, we see that it is all a seamless whole of awake void and form, only with appearances of I and Other, consciousness and energy. It is all the play of God, it is all Lila.

Consciousness… one or many? (and the answer is maybe yes, and neither)

 

I have had the pleasure of spending some time with Deep Surface lately, including at the Center for Sacred Sciences this morning, and he asked Joel a really good question.. one that I am sure comes up for most of us sooner or later, and probably over and over in slightly new ways.

(Paraphrased:) There is an apparently separate consciousness here, and there also seems to be apparently separate consciousnesses out there, in other people and animals. What is the relationship between all of these? Is it one, many? If it is one, why does it appear as many?

Joel asked us how many consciousnesses we each have direct experience with, and the answer for all of us was one. He then also helped clarify the difference between awareness itself and its content, the seeing and the seen… the content is many and always changing… different sights, sensations, thoughts, subpersonalities and so on. But the seeing is always one, always the same.

This helped clarify it for me as well, and here is one way to talk about it:

A field of awake emptiness

The Ground of all form is awake emptiness, appearing as a field of awake emptiness throughout space.

Over here, the content of this awake emptiness is from this individual. Over there, from that individual. Over there again, from another individual.

Emptiness is always the same. Simply emptiness. Yet its content is always different. It is different here, over time. And it is different at different points in space, with content arising from different individuals (including all sentient beings.)

So the awake emptiness is one, yet its content is many. And this is also why it can be awake to itself over there, in that individual, and not here, in this individual, and so on. In one individual, it takes itself to be that content, that individual. In another, it has awakened to itself as awake emptiness, recognizing the whole field as nothing other than the same awake emptiness.

One, and many (and neither)

So is it one or many? As usual for me, the answer seems to be “yes.”

It is one, in that in our own experience, there is only one. And it is one in that it is the same awake emptiness everywhere (emptiness is emptiness.)

Yet, its contents is of course many, and it appears separate until it awakens to itself as awake emptiness, recognizing the whole field as nothing other than this awake emptiness.

And also, it is such an unusual situation, at least for our minds to grasp, so we cannot really say it is one or many. It is somewhere in between, something a little different, not quite either.

Consciousness and energy

 

I am reminded of a great article Ken Wilber wrote on consciousness and energy: Towards a comprehensive theory of subtle energies.

It is a while since I read it now, but what I got from it was a clearer sense of how consciousness and energy interacts and support each other at each level of our being, and in the awakening as well.

If we see ourselves as body (physical, chi), mind (emotions, thoughts), soul (alive presence, luminosity), and spirit (awake emptiness and form, Big Mind, Brahman, Tao), then we can find a pairing of consciousness and energy running through all these levels.

The diksha, and similar energy transfers in the shaktipat family such as Ilahinoor and what happens in Waking Down, is working at awakening from the energy side, functioning as a catalyst for changes on the energetic side, which in turn invites corresponding changes on the consciousness side.

These changes seem to happen at all levels. At our mind level, there is less being caught up in knots. At the soul level, there is an immediate experience and perception of the alive presence filtered in different ways, including the fertile darkness, luminous blackness, and as the alive and infinitely loving and intelligent presence in the heart area – the indwelling god. And at the Spirit level, there is the growing noticing of all as awake emptiness and form, absent of any separate self.

Changes at the energy side supports changes at the consciousness side, and the other way around.

This also reminds me of the slightly expanded integral practice grid, where we have our levels of being on one dimension, and self/other on the second. Some of the practices we do on our own, we put our own work into it, such as yoga, meditation, inquiry and physical exercise. And others are given to us from somebody else, such as massage, Breema, and the various forms of energy transfers mentioned above.

Together, there is our own work, and the gifts of others. Which there always is, of course, only more noticed this way.