End or ongoing

 

Some say awakening is an “end”, and others say it’s ongoing.

Both may be correct, in their own way.

When awakeness awakens to itself, or emptiness awakens to itself, it can feel like an “end”. The apparent “bottom” of what we are notices and recognizes itself as all there is.

At the same time, the way this is expressed in and experienced as form continues and is ongoing. The way it’s lived in our life continues to mature, unfold and deepen. Our immediate experiences – in words, images, sensations, sight, taste, smell – continues and is ongoing (at least as long as this body is here). The way the universe and this Earth and humanity evolves is ongoing.

And it’s even possible that a deeper “bottom” will continues to reveal itself to itself, so that may be ongoing as well. Life may reveal itself to itself in its fullness, as all there is. Then as “emptiness” or capacity for all there is. Then as both. And also in its many facets, such as clarity, love, or the divine feminine (fertile darkness). And I am sure there is much more, either in layers or facets, that I am not yet familiar with.

So in one sense there is an “end”, and in another it’s ongoing.

Note: To me, it has always seemed ongoing, even when the fullness or emptiness reveals itself to itself. The form aspect of life is ongoing, while also happening within and as the timeless and “complete”.

Awake in two ways

 

Here is what is so obvious when it is realized, so utterly simple, and so almost completely impossible to get when it is not directly noticed:

Reality – what we are and everything is – is already awake. Inescapably. Already awake independent of whether it shows up as clarity or confusion, experiencer or experienced, awake to itself as what it really is or not. It is simply the everyday run-of-the mill awakeness we are all so intimately familiar with that we often don’t even notice it.

And when we do notice, it may appear as “other” if we are identified as something within content of this awakeness such as this human self, a doer, an observer. It may even appear to come and go if we tell ourselves stories that confusion = less awakeness (not true if we look), or that sleep/being unconscious means the awakeness goes away (not really true either).

The second form of being awake is already mentioned. Reality – what we really are – can be awake to itself as what it really is, or not.

So reality is already awake. Awake no thing appearing as something. Vast. Timeless. That which all content of experience – including extent, duration, a doer, an observer – happens within and as.

And also, it can be awake to itself as what it really is, or not. This shift is a blip and pales in comparison with the vast timelessness of the other, although it is usually experienced as quite significant, and does have a significant impact on the life of this human self. When reality is awake to itself, this human self is liberated from being identified with and is allowed to realign within this new context of reality awake to itself.

One is what is already here, inescapably. The other is noticing it, or not.

How can I notice and explore this, in a simple and practical way?

I can use headless experiments. The Big Mind process. Investigating sense fields. And many other forms of gently guided inquiry into what is already here now. Inquiries that sets aside our habitual assumptions (stories) for a while, and allows attention to go to what is already here.

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Freedom to be deluded

 

Say that reality awakens to itself, and there is identification as reality awake to itself….

Is that what I really am?

If reality is free to show up as delusion or awake to itself, is what I really am anything other (or less) than that freedom? What is already free to show up as either?

If delusion and reality awake to itself comes and goes, is what I really am either of those?

And when that freedom is lived through a human self, and it is lived in a sane, mature, wise and kind way, how does it look? Can I find what I really am as inherently free to show up as delusion and reality awake to itself, yet seeking clarity out of compassion?

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Soul level and Ground awakening

 

The difference between a soul level and Ground awakening seems subtle from within the soul level awakening, but obvious and significant from within the Ground awakening.

In both, there is a clear recognition that all is God/awareness. Ephemeral. Insubstantial. Awareness itself.

Within soul level awakening, there is still a vague sense of an “I” that is “one with” God/existence, sees that all is awakeness, and also that there is no “I” there. There is still an identification within form here, and it is as if content of awareness awakens to itself as one.

And within Ground awakening, that “I” falls away. The sense of center-periphery falls out. The Ground of all awakens to itself.

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Ordinary as who and what we are

 

We can experience ourselves as ordinary at the levels of who (this human self) and what (that which experience happens within, to and as) we are.

If what we are notices itself, we see all as the dance of Ground, the play of nothingness appearing as something. All becomes ordinary in that sense, of being the play of awareness itself.

If what we are does not notice itself, there is a sense of a separate I which then inevitably appear as special one way or another, better than some others in some ways, worse in other ways.

If who we are is split, divided against itself, this sense of being special is amplified. We cling to an identity which splits us, making some aspects of who we are OK and other aspects not OK.

If who we are is whole, there is a sense of everything happening here being universally human, shared, the wider world becomes a mirror for qualities and dynamics happening right here. There is a sense of this human self being ordinary in that everything here is also seen in the wider world, and the other way around. There is of course still distinctions and differences in a conventional sense, but within the context of shared life and the world as a mirror.

So the sense of ordinariness comes from what we are noticing itself, and more consciously embracing the wholeness of who we are. And a sense of being special comes from what we are not noticing itself, and our human self being split by a limited and rigid conscious identity.

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Human self as the finger pointing to the moon II

 

st-john.jpg

Buddhism and Christianity both use a “pointing beyond itself” analogy.

In Buddhism, it is the finger pointing to the moon. The teacher, teachings and practices point beyond themselves to what we really are, this awakeness with a content which is awakeness itself. Don’t mistake the finger for the moon.

In Christianity, it is the realization that it is all from God. Nothing happens here which is not from God.

This also shows where the traditional teachings sometimes don’t go quite as far as they can.

In Buddhism, it is not only the teacher/teachings that are the finger pointing to the moon. It is also this human self. When it points to itself as the final truth, it is deluded. When it notices that it is already and always pointing to awakeness as reality, it is awakened.

In Christianity, it is not only that I as a human being give all credit to God. It is also that God is all there is. It may appear that there is a human being here, with a separate I, but there is nothing but God. There is no separate I here, only God.

In both cases, this human self becomes a finger pointing beyond itself.

And this shift has to be thorough for it to be real. For this human self to really notice what is already and always is.

(Leonardo’s beautiful painting of St. John the Baptist shows him pointing up. He has to point somewhere, so it may as well be up. But it is really in all and no directions.)

Human self as the finger pointing to the moon

 

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Practice, at least the one aimed at seeing what we really are, is a strange process of the human self pulling the rug out from under itself. From taking itself as a doer, to see that there is only doing.

Or we can say that it is a process of shifting from the human self pointing to itself as the final truth of what it is, to pointing to awakeness/Ground as what it really is.

The human self notices that it always and already is a finger pointing to the moon.

What a strange thing.

What Ground awakening does and doesn’t do, and what practice does and doesn’t do

 

It can be helpful to be clear about what Ground awakening does and doesn’t do, and what practice does and doesn’t do.

To put it bluntly, all Ground awakening does is change who or what we take ourselves to be. We find ourselves as awakeness, the content of experience as awakeness, and already absent of any I with an Other.

And practice does two things: It invites what we are to notice itself. (Ground awakening.) And it helps this human self heal, mature and develop.

What Ground awakening doesn’t necessarily do is change how this human self shows up in the world. Although it may happen to some extent.

Our human self do tend to reorganize within this new context of Ground awake to itself, but it is almost side effect, it takes time, and may need guidance by intention and specific practices to be more thorough.

And what practice doesn’t do is to control anything. Practice invites change for this human self, and it may invite what we are to notice itself, but that is about it. Whatever shows up within form are guests living their own lives, on their own schedule. And what we are noticing itself is also a guest, living its own life, on its own schedule.

So when we see people functioning within a context of Ground awakening, and they seem relatively healthy and mature, what we see is probably a combination of practice and awakening. The practice – including ordinary psychology and relationship work – has invited the human self to heal and mature, and the awakening may have encouraged that further.

In a practical sense, it doesn’t really matter. Whether we are looking for a more healthy and mature human self, or to notice what we really are, practice is a way to invite it in.

The trigger for this post: Noticing how Joel sometimes talks and writes in a way that may give the impression that Ground awakening does more than it does. And how students at CSS sometimes talk as if a Ground awakening is responsible for what practice is actually responsible for.

Sense of center

 

I don’t write much about “paranormal” stuff, mainly because it is not very important, and because it can easily become entertainment and a distraction from what is more essential.

But I also realized that I have beliefs, identities and habitual patterns around not talking about it, so it may be useful to try something different in small doses, just to get it out of the way.

So here is one small dosage…

When we believe in stories, there is automatically a sense of I and Other, and a sense of a center, usually located in our human self, or sometimes in a sense of an “observer” or “witness” not so directly related to this human self.

And when Ground awakens to itself, it realizes that there is no I with an Other anywhere, and there is no longer any sense of a center.

This is actually reflected in the aura in a very direct way, and it is something that can have practical use too.

When there is a sense of a separate I, the aura tends to be more condensed, especially closer to the body, and there is a sense of everything converging on the human self. This is also the case when there is a soul level awakening, an awakening to the alive presence and all as God, yet with a subtle (or not so subtle) sense of a separate I remaining.

The aura is different in the two cases, with more confusion and less awakeness in the energies in the first case, and more order, flow, awakeness and receptivity outwards in the second, but the sense of a center is there in both cases along with it tapering off further away from the body.

This all changes when there is a Ground awakening. Here, there is no longer any sense of a center. The aura is clear, incredibly finely grained, awake, and uniform throughout space with no sense of it ending anywhere. (Although the portion of the aura immediately around the body may be stronger/brighter if they do body-centered practices.)

I sometimes use it just for practical purposes, for instance to see where a teacher is. At the soul level? Ground awakening? Somewhere in between?

Of the ones I have met in person who have a very clear Ground awakening, are Adyashanti, Byron Katie, Joel at CSS, and a few others.

Relief of truth

 

I don’t seem to be finished with these nerdy sorting-outs, so here is one on the relief of truth…

There is a relief of truth in many different ways, including the ones we all know from daily life when we are honest with ourselves and others about things we hid in the past, or have impulses to hide even now.

In terms of practice, there are also different forms of relief of truth.

For instance, the relief of reversals, seeing the grain of truth in the reversals of any story, and especially the ones we believe in. This brings the relief of not having to defend a story as an absolute truth anymore, and also having to defend against the truth in its reversals. And it brings the relief of consciously exploring and acknowledging the truth that we already somewhere knew… the truth in reversals, and the inherent neutrality of the situation the story refers to.

And the relief of being with our experiences, fully allowing them, in a wholehearted and heartfelt way, as they are, as if they would never change. This is the relief of not having to push them away anymore, of not having to identify with resistance to them, of not experiencing them as a disturbance and intrusion.

Finally, the relief of noticing the truth of what we already are. Of awakeness noticing itself, and its content as itself too. This is the relief of not having to resist Ground, the relief of not having to overidentify with certain content of awareness (this human self) and underidentify with the rest (the wider world), the relief of not being caught up in the drama of beliefs, the relief of not having to defend against the truth of reversals, and the relief of not having to resist any experiences.

Void awakening to itself, and absence of identification

 

From the previous post:

There is an absence of identification with any stories, and so with any particular content, since the void is absence, and also since thoughts and everything else are recognized as nothing other than the void itself taking temporary forms.

It is interesting to explore how identifications falls away when the void awakens to, or rather just notices, itself.

First, as void there is absence of any content, including identifications. When void awakens to itself, it realizes that it is absence so no identifications.

Then, when void awakens to itself it recognizes all forms as itself, as void itself. So when thoughts and stories, they are recognized as void, as insubstantial. They are recognized as just thoughts, of only temporary, limited and practical value for this human self to navigate in the world.

Ground awakening – state or not?

 

It is often said that the Ground awakening, as opposed to everything else, is not a state.

And as usual, it seems to be a truth with modifications.

It is not a state as it is only the void awakening to itself, and then to itself as awake void and form, allowing any forms to come and go as they do anyway. The only difference is that now, as the void is awake to itself, any thought is seen as just a thought, and there is an absence of identification with any stories, including the one of a separate self, of an I with an Other, and any other identities used to elaborate this sense of a separate self.

(There is an absence of identification with any stories, and so with any particular content, since the void is absence, and also since thoughts and everything else are recognized as nothing other than the void itself taking temporary forms.)

It is the Ground awakening to itself, allowing any state, any form, any change in content of awareness, to come and go on their own, living their own life on their own schedule, as they already and always do.

Said another way, it is the bottom dropping out, leaving all form suspended in space with no identification. The bottom – the sense of I with an Other, falls out, leaving form – the content of awareness, absent of identification. No change in states, only a change from identification to a an absence of identification and a realization that there was never any I with an Other there in the first place.

Yet, it also is a state, in a couple of different ways.

First, it is the state of void awake to itself, and all forms as nothing other than void itself. This is not a conventional state in the sense of a change in content of awareness (bliss, absorption, clarity, oneness, etc.), but it can certainly be called a state.

Then, it can also appear as a state as seen from within time. When there is a story of time, it happens at a particular (often well defined) point in time, and it may even go away in a particular point in time (and then it is called kensho instead of daikensho).

It is really the timeless now awakening to itself, always fresh, new and fluid in its form aspect, and from here time is recognized as only coming from a story overlaid on what is. Past, future and continuity is recognized as only appearing when what is is filtered through stories.

Yet, when this gets clouded over, a sense of a separate self, an identification with content of awareness, and with this a sense of the reality of time and space, reappears. And from here, the Ground awakening appears as having happened within time and space, so also as a state.

Bottom falling out, and reorganization

 

A quick note on something I have written about many times before…

When there is a Ground awakening, we can say that content does not need to change. It is an awakening of the awake void to itself, and its form aspect can stay the same. It is as if the bottom falls out, with the content hanging there in mid-air without any identification anymore, without being taken as an I with an Other.

At the same time, changes in content do often go before such an awakening… there are changes there that invites the awake void to notice itself. So the initial statement, although correct in theory, is often not the whole story.

And also, although a Ground awakening does not require any change of content, the content does often change as a consequence of it. There is a reorganization of our human self at the three centers, in terms of view (reflecting a nondual realization), heart (open to all form aspects, all situations and beings), and belly (a felt-sense of all as God, and a reorganization of emotions from reactive patterns to a steady nurturing fullness).

It is correct in an idealized situation that the content does not (have to) change prior to or following a Ground awakening (of course, what awakens to itself is the timeless Now so there isn’t really a before or after, apart from what appears as a before and after in our stories about it), but that is only part of the picture.

Mainly, emphasizing that distinction of content and Ground may serve as a teaching tool to nudge people to look for what is there independent of content, and not get caught up in the merry-go-round of always trying to change and improve content (which does not lead to Ground awakening). And as a teaching tool, it can certainly be helpful.

But it is also true that a Ground awakening is often preceded and followed by a change in content, if we look at our stories (memories) about this before and after.

Torments of unitive life, and open mind

 

I am reading Bernadette Robert‘s Path to No-Self, which is a beautiful and clear description of her own path to selfless realization, described in a Christian context.

Two things have stayed with me from the final few chapters…

The first is the inherent torments of the unitive life, the state of oneness with God, yet with still a vague sense of I and Other there.

There are the torments of (a) not being able to express clearly the beauty, clarity, insights, wisdom and compassion here, in one’s own life or words, and also (b) it often not being appreciated, or understood, by others. For myself, I can also add the torments of the intensity of that phase, of extremes of energies going through and massive amounts of reorganization needed of the human self (probably not everybody goes through this).

The beauty of these torments, which Bernadette Roberts describe so clearly, is how it prepares for a final release of a sense of I with an Other.

The remaining sense of a separate I is what gives birth to the torments in the first place. The identification with the particular identities of this separate I gives resistance to what arises in different ways. It is a resistance to what is, which ultimately is the Ground of awake emptiness & form inherently free of an I with an Other. This resistance is what creates the torments, and also what helps burn through the resistance itself, the sense of an I with an Other.

The other thing I found interesting is Phase V, the Open Mind, a practice of going outside of ones habitual perspectives and views, of finding fluidity among a range of perspectives which then tends to reveal the inherent neutrality of any situation (my words).

This is very much similar to the turnaround part of The Work. And, as BR mentions, it seems to be an essential (?) part of the shift from the unitive life, where there is still a sense of a separate I with a particular perspective, to selfless realization which is free from any fixed identifications and perspectives (so also able to play freely with them and make use of them as the situation calls for).

As she also mentions, the fear before entered into is that it will make us into zombies, doormats or nihilists, but what is really happening is just this freedom to play with and explore a range of perspectives and viewpoints, seeing them all as stories of only practical and limited value (not absolute truths). And the whole process is infused with heart and compassion, which gives a practical direction that thoughts alone cannot provide (she doesn’t talk about this explicitly, but it is there between the lines).

The heart (love, compassion, empathy) gives the direction and is the main guide for actions in the world, it tells us what, and the head (stories, views, perspectives, frameworks) tells us how.

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Three centers and skillful means

 

One way of looking at the three centers, which fits nicely in with Buddhism and other traditions, is through Ground awakening and skillful means.

The head center awakening, when it is full, is Ground awakening. Awake void awaking to itself, as awake void and form, inherently absent of any I with an Other.

And the heart and belly awakenings, the loving and felt-sense of all as Spirit, is part of the skillful means, how this Ground awakening is expressed in the world through this particular human self.

Before head center awakening, the heart and belly awakenings makes the shift into Ground awakening a little more likely, and also makes it easier to be who we take ourselves to be. After a Ground awakening, they become part of the skillful means in how it is expressed in the world. In either case, it is part of the unfolding evolution of the form aspect of God.

Basics and elaboration

 

It seems that when void awakens to itself, allowing identifications to fall away, some things are obvious. First, that all content of awareness is this awake void itself. Then, that any identifications, any beliefs in thoughts, any absorption into the content of thoughts, clouds over this recognition of being awake void and form (and conversely, that void awakening to itself does away with those identifications).

And inherent in both of those, that there is no inherent center anywhere, no inherent I with an Other. It is just this awake void and any forms as the awake void itself… a field with no center, with no I and Other, and still, somehow, temporarily and functionally connected with this human self, who is able to work with any story appropriate to the situation… without taking it as anything more than a tool of temporary and purely practical function, without believing in it, taking it as more than a relative, limited and pragmatic truth, without being absorbed into its content.

This seems to be the basics of a Ground awakening, and from here, the possibilities of elaboration and differentiation in how it is reflected in stories is endless…

And this elaboration can be explored both before and after Ground awakening through different processes of inquiry, such as The Work and the Big Mind process… both of which allows for a much more finely tuned and differentiated expression of the basics insights. After the awakening, this differentiation can be done with great clarity and precision, to the (limited) benefit of others. And before, in a more approximate way, allowing mistaken identities (which they all are) to more easily fall away.

Deepening into who and what we are (clarified)

 

When I refer to deepening into who and what we are, what does that really mean?

Simply put, it is the individual at the human and soul levels that deepens into itself, as who it is. And it is Ground noticing itself, as what it is. And then, the individual reorganizing within the context of Ground awakening to itself.

And within that simplicity, there is a lot of wrinkles and complexity…

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Neutrality of path, ground and goal

 

The Ground of everything, the emptiness (void) it all happens within, to and as, is inherently neutral. We can taste this through the Big Mind process, headless experiments, The Work, and in many other different ways, right here now.

The goal, if we can call it that, of Ground awakening, is also inherently neutral. It is like the bottom drops out of everything, revealing it all as nothing other than the dance of emptiness, inherently free from any separate self anywhere. The content stays the same, but now suspended within and as the void.

And the path too, is inherently neutral. It is inherently neutral for the reasons above.

But it is also inherently neutral in itself… going from the most amazingly wonderful (especially in the releases, and the openings into the soul level) and the most amazingly awful (especially the dark nights of the senses and soul, and the wearing off of beliefs and identities).

Together, looking back at the path, the two cancel each other out leaving only an appreciation for the path (or the story about it at least, which is all that is left) and the inherent neutrality of it, also in terms of its content.

The path is like waves on an ocean, with their peaks and valleys, canceling each other out when we look back at it.

It doesn’t sound that great to the personality, but then, there is nothing for the personality there either. There is nothing to gain anywhere in all of this. Just the bottom falling out of it all.

The freedom to let go

 

In a Ground awakening, awakening to ourselves as emptiness, there is complete freedom to allow the play of any and all forms. And this also includes a complete freedom to temporarily misidentify with, and take itself as, one or some of these forms.

The irony is that when there is misidentification, there is also a desire to escape the suffering, which is ultimately a desire to wake up to what we already are. And when what we already are awakens to itself, there is a complete freedom to allow even misidentification, to allow the cycle to start all over again.

Inherent in the awakening is the allowing of misidentification over there, in other human selves and sentient beings. There is the allowing of the process of the world of form to take its course, wherever it may go, including misidentification here.

After all, it is all the play of emptiness.

That is how it looks from the emptiness side.

The form side: a natural impulse to relieve suffering, and also appreciating the gifts of suffering

From the form side, it is a little different. There is still the freedom from taking any story as absolute, as anything else as a relative truth with all its reversals having relative truths as well.

Yet, there is also compassion coming up when there is suffering, anywhere. And there is acting to relieve this suffering, either in a temporary way or in a more complete way through aiding awakening.

So within the context of a complete freedom to allow it all, there is also the natural and effortless impulse to relieve suffering. And within the context of wanting to relieve suffering, there is also the appreciation of the richness and explorations that happens in the midst of suffering and delusion.

There is nothing wrong with temporary misidentification, delusion, and even suffering. That too is the play of emptiness, or put in another way, it is God manifesting, exploring and experiencing itself.

The complete freedom of what is

 

When there is a Ground awakening, there is a complete freedom to allow what is.

Of course, Ground always allows what is. The only difference is that sometimes, it is identified with its content, and tries to resist other content, which creates a sense of struggle. When it awakens to itself, it sees that it always and already allows any and all content. It is effortless. It is what already is.

It is a no-thing allowing any thing. A void allowing any content. Space, not resisting anything happening within it.

Ultimately, it allows it all because “it all” is no other than itself. It is awake emptiness allowing content, because this content is no other than awake emptiness itself.

The simplicity of awakening

 

I am often struck by the simplicity of awakening. And if it is an awakening to what we already and always are, why shouldn’t it be simple? That doesn’t mean that it easy, though. Often, it seems impossible and confusing, until it happens and it is revealed as utterly simple. In some ways, it was the complexity we added to it that held the temporary misidentification in place.

There are many ways of talking about it, and none are really that accurate. As with anything put into words, it becomes a relative truth, limited and with all its reversals true as well.

One is to say that what is awakens to itself.

Another, as awake emptiness awakening to itself, and to form as no other than itself.

Or as awakeness awakening to itself, no longer identifying with any of its content… with sensations, thoughts, this human self, the soul level, or anything else that is content of awakeness. And then realizing that it is all one field, all awake emptiness and form inherently absent of any separate self anywhere.

Or as the void awakening to itself as void, absent of everything… of form, substance, human self, soul, luminosity, any thing-ness, any thing separate from any other thing. And then realizing that all content is no other than this void, emptiness dancing, still absent of any separate self.

Or as the Ground of awake emptiness awakening to itself. The no-thing which allows all things, already and always. The Ground which allows any and all content, utterly independent of its particulars.

And even if it remains just a map, or a memory of a glimpse, or a vague intuition, this map can be helpful. It can help us see that content is not it, no matter how amazing and beautiful it is. Whatever changes, whatever comes and goes, is not it. What remains, is. The no-thing that remains, utterly free from yet allowing any thing, any content, any experience.

Forms of awakening: ordinary, amazing and neutral

 

Sometimes I wonder if these large-themed posts have much value. But then I notice that although these themes have to do with the big picture, they also reflect what is alive here now, in immediate awareness.

The human self, yes, right here, with its thoughts, sensations, emotions, actions in the world. The soul, yes, also right here, as the alive presence (more or less in the foreground, and filtered in different ways.) The spirit, yes, also right here, as the stainless awareness all of this is happening within and to, and even as. Even if it is temporarily identified with its content, forgetting about itself, the spirit level is still here. It is just spirit temporarily forgetting about itself.

One of the big picture themes is the different forms of awakenings… to our human self, to the soul, and to spirit.

An awakening to our human self is an awakening to the evolving whole of who we are as a human. This whole which is reflected in everything in the wider world. All I see out there, I can find in here.

An awakening to the soul is an awakening to the alive presence, filtered in innumerable ways, yet always with a sense of aliveness, vibrancy, timelessness, transparency into the void.

An awakening to the spirit is an awakening not only to, but as emptiness, as the void, the ground of all form. It is an awakening as the void, which is the same everywhere and always. To the awake void, which is timeless and spaceless, pure seeing. To the awake void which is no other than form, absent of a separate self anywhere.

The first type of awakening is a deepening into our humanity, a healing, development and maturing into becoming a more whole and mature human being. It is a deepening into our individual humanity, which is also a deepening into our shared humanity, opening for a real sense of intimacy, recognition, fellowship, empathy, compassion, and understanding. I recognize in myself what I see in you, and in you what I recognize in myself. In many ways, it is a deepening into ordinariness, becoming a more thoroughly ordinary human being, to whom nothing human is foreign.

The second form of awakening is an awakening into the extraordinary… into the alive presence, the luminous blackness, the fertile darkness, the indwelling god with is infinite love, intelligence, receptivity and its guidance, the alive luminosity, the brilliancy… all of this, which seems to extraordinary when we are used to identifying exclusively as a human being.

And the third form of awakening is a strange one. It is an awakening into and as void. As the void all form, all content of awareness, anything at the soul and human levels, arises within and as. In some ways, it is completely neutral. There is, literally, nothing there. No content needs to change for this awakening. Pain, fine. Bliss, fine. Even confusion, fine. It can all be there. The void can still awaken to itself, as void, and as emptiness dancing as all these temporary forms.

Together, there is the deepening into the fullness and ordinariness of a human life, the amazing qualities of the soul level, and the utter neutrality of the ground.

Amazingly wonderful, awful, and ground

 

In looking at my own path, I recognize a pattern (which is pretty obvious) that is similar to what I have heard from many others…

  • First, a normal life. I was an atheist and very science oriented. For me, this lasted until my mid-teens.
  • Then, an awakening. For me, it came out of the blue, and although intense also amazing and amazingly wonderful.
  • Then, a dark night, as awful and the previous period was wonderful,
  • And then, the Ground, finding oneself as the Ground of all of this, the play of form.

In this case, the awakening period, where everything was easy and I seemed to have a superhuman energy and clarity, lasted for almost exactly as long as the dark night has lasted, several years each. And I am still at the tail end of this dark night, there is still more to burn through… more beliefs, identifications, more boxes I have made for myself and existence that needs to go.

At times, it is a painful process. And at times, with a sense of ease and even bliss. But there is always the same ground, the same void it is all coming out of, the same void within it, the same void it is happening to.

And after having gone through the extremes of ups and downs, the amazingly wonderful and amazingly awful, I am ready for the Ground. The Ground allowing it all. The Ground of emptiness that cannot be reduced to anything else. The Ground which is the nothingness allowing all things.

Gratitude and stories we tell ourselves

 

The most profound truths are often the simplest ones as well, and sometimes the most difficult ones to realize (such as selflessness) and practice.

One of these simple truths is gratitude: practice gratitude, and you’ll be happy. Practice ingratitude, and you’ll make yourself miserable.

It is the power of the stories we tell ourselves.

Stories we tell ourselves, bringing misery or happiness

I can tell myself stories of how what I have is less good than how it used to be, how it can or could be, how it is for others, and so on. I can compare my intelligence to the most intelligent, my money to the most wealthy, my house to the most elegant homes, my education to the best education, my looks to the most beautiful, my skills to the most skillful, and I am bound to find myself lacking and make myself miserable.

Or I can reverse it by looking at what I can be grateful for. I can be grateful for health, friends, family, community, house, food, education, free time, access to nature, peace in my community, and so on.

A daily practice

Just as I can easily find a million reasons to make myself miserable, I can find infinite reasons for gratitude. There is always one more, and one more.

Making ingratitude into a practice, I find contraction, anger, resentment, guilt, shame, fear, depression, fatigue, holding on, and misery.

Making gratitude into a practice, I find receptivity, joy, peace, appreciation, well-being, passion, letting go, and happiness.

It is as easy as taking time to look for what I can be thankful for, throughout my day, and it is easy to find.

Why stories work: because I believe in them

Whether I tell myself stories of ingratitude or gratitude, one is as true or untrue as the other. The reason they impact me as they do, is that I believe in them to a certain extent, and I believe in stories about what they mean.

I have money, and that means that …, and that is good. I have less money than many others, and that means that …, and that is not good.

The core belief: the idea of I

Ultimately, the stories have power because of the core belief in each of our lives: the belief in the idea of I, as separate from others, as a unit in space and time, subject to birth and death, joy and happiness, health and disease, fortune and misfortune.

What is already alive in our immediate awareness is simply the field of seeing and seen, inherently absent of any I anywhere, yet also with an overlay of a sense of I placed on this human self.

And this overlay, this belief in the idea of I placed on just a segment of this field, is the root of the misery, and it is the reason why stories of ingratitude create misery and stories of gratitude create happiness.

When Ground awakens to itself, the belief in the idea of I falls away

When this field awakens to itself as a field, absent of I anywhere, with no center, with no subject and no object, with everything as subject and object, then these stories are seen as what they are – just stories, with no substance, absent of any absolute truth in them.

It is all Spirit, in all its many forms, and Spirit is in the foreground independent of what particular form it takes. It is Spirit experiencing Spirit. There is only a quiet joy, along with whatever else arises.

There is natural gratitude, independent of stories.

Just one anchor

 

In exploring the sense of I, I notice how there is often just one little anchor there, one last refuge for the sense of I.

There may be a sense of all content as God’s will, as happening on its own. And at the same time, there is still a belief in the idea of I, now placed on an imaginary observer of this stream of form.

When I explore this, I notice that there this sense of I is often placed on some sensations in the head area, and that is all. As if these sensations were the subject…! They too arise among the forms, just as any other form, within time and space, coming and going.

So it gets multi layered. There is a genuine experience of the stream of form as God’s will and happening on its own, absent of I. At the same time, there is still an attachment to the idea of I as a segment of all of this, now placed on a very limited set of sensations in the head area.

Together, there is the familiar sense of Self, as the Ground of seeing-seen, and self, as an observer somehow set apart from this, hidden away, placed on some sensations as a last anchor.

All that is needed is to notice this, to allow it to be seen. And then there may be one other anchor, and maybe another, and maybe another, until it all unravels.

Planting seeds in the world of form

 

Seeds are planted in the world of form, and as form, allowing the field of seeing and seen to awaken to its own nature, inherently absent of I anywhere.

And seeds are planted in the world of form inviting the human self to continue to actively heal, mature and develop, before and after this awakening.

The field remains the same in its formless aspect, as emptiness and awareness. It is timeless, untouched by form. Yet, as form, it is not only never the same, it evolves.

And planting a seed in the human self, inviting it to continue to develop even after it is released from any sense of I, allows it to more consciously take part in this evolution. It allows it to continue to play the game, even after the field of seeing and seen has awakened to its absence of I anywhere.

It allows it to be more actively engaged in its own unfolding as an infinitely small aspect of the evolution of the world of form as a whole.

One Taste and an infinite variety of tastes

 

When Ground awakens to itself – as the Ground of seeing and seen, absent of I anywhere – it comes into the foreground to itself.

Ground in the foreground: One Taste

Whatever arises in form is then recognized primarily as Ground itself, as emptiness and awareness, so have One Taste. There is an infinite variety of form, of content of experience, yet always primarily as Ground itself, as Spirit, as the Divine Mind.

Form in the foreground: many tastes

Prior to this, when there is identification with aspects of the seamless field of seeing and seen, it is different.

If there is identification with an aspect of form, then form is is the foreground and the Ground (emptiness and awareness) is in the background. The many tastes of the infinite variety of form is in the foreground, and the Ground remains in the background, maybe not even noticed apart from in glimpses, and even then often not taken very seriously. It is always there, so taken for granted. It is so inconspicuous, so not paid attention to. It is in the background, so its potential for transformation – when allowed into the foreground, is not known. It is Other, so not explored as a possible I.

Seeing in the foreground: a taste of One Taste

If there is identification with the seeing itself, then the content of experience, the world of form, is revealed as a seamless whole, as one field, so this is the first taste of One Taste, it is the beginnings of One Taste. And as the world of form is recognized as no other than Ground itself, the Ground of seeing and seen, there is a deepening into this One Taste.

One Taste and an infinite variety of tastes

Since the Ground awakening includes form – the content of experience, and the formless – emptiness and awareness, it is more accurate to say that there is One Taste, and within this, an infinite variety of tastes.

Nothing is lost, apart from the not noticing of Ground. And much is gained, as everything is now recognized as primarily Spirit, yet retaining its infinite variety of tastes.

Meditation: Ground revealed to itself

 

I notice that a part of me wants to sensor much of this, because it either seems to simple and obvious, or too confused. But I know of course that all this are relative and provisional truths at most, as anything expressed in words or any other way. Relative truths, in this case coming from a not clear awakening, and written down so they can be let go of more easily.

Allowing content to come and go on its own

So in basic meditation, such as Shikantaza, everything is allowed to be as it is. Sights, sounds, tastes, smells, sensations, thoughts arise. They come and go on their own. They live their own life. If there is an impulse to change any of it, then that is included as well. That too is just noticed. It is all fed to awareness, simply, with ease.

Initial mimicking of Ground

In this, there is initially a conscious mimicking of what Ground already does: allowing all content to come and go on its own, freely. It is the seeing (or more accurately emptiness) inherently free from the always changing content, and naturally and effortlessly allowing the seen to live its own life.

Ground shifts into foreground

After a while, Ground tends to shift into the foreground. It notices itself, becomes aware of itself, brings itself into the foreground of awareness. The shifting content falls into the background, and may be recognized as no different and no other than Ground itself.

There is just the Ground of seeing and seen, inherently absent of I anywhere.

Ground recognizing itself

So by mimicking Ground, allowing content to come and go on its own, Ground is allowed to more easily recognize itself, to bring itself into awareness, as the Ground of seeing and seen inherently absent of I anywhere.

Headlessness and radical subjectivity

 

The focus of the upper left quadrant of the aqal model, the individual and inner, is on what is alive in immediate awareness.

And the various practices here, such as meditation, prayer and especially self-inquiry, are all about radical subjectivity: what is alive right here and now, outside of any filters of thoughts – such as ideas, expectations, memories?

Headlessness

Headlessness is one way to explore this radical subjectivity. Is there really a head here in immediate experience?

All I can find are some sensations arising in space, coming and going, and a fuzzy pink blob where others see my nose, but there is no head here. The idea of a head is just that, an idea superimposed on an area of space. There is just space here, allowing anything and everything to arise, to come and go on their own: sensations, sounds, sights, thoughts, this body, arms, hands, desk, screen, window, a dog barking. There is capacity for the world, and the world arising.

Deepening familiarity

And as there is a deepening into this exploration, through meditation, prayer or self-inquiry, there is a deepening familiarity with what we find:

The seen, including this human self, is within space and time, come and go on its own, and there is no I to be found anywhere. How can there be an I there, if it is seen? If there is an I anywhere, it must be in the seeing itself.

The seeing transcends yet embraces time, space and the seen. It is free from the seen, from space and time. It is free from this human self. At the same time, is there really a separation here? Where do I as seeing end and Other as the seen begin? I cannot find that line anywhere.

So there is an early noticing of the Oneness of seeing and seen. They distinct from each other, yet not quite two.

When the sense of I was placed on the seen, there was a sense of I and Other within the seen, within form. Now, when the sense of I is placed on the seeing, there is a sense of I and Other as seeing and seen. Yet, the boundary between the two is not to be found anywhere. Maybe the whole sense of I is superimposed on the seeing and seen? Maybe it comes from the belief in the idea of I, which then the seeing and the seen is filtered through in different ways?

As this is explored, and it becomes more clear how the mechanisms of samsara (a sense of I and Other, of duality) functions and that there is no I to be found anywhere in seeing or seen, it sets the stage for a Ground awakening.

The Ground awakens to itself, as the Ground of seeing and seen, as emptiness and form, as emptiness dancing, absent of I anywhere. The whole sense of an I and a center falls away, and there is only the totality – without center anywhere, so with a center everywhere.

Always already

The irony is that this is what was alive in immediate awareness all the time. It was never not alive to itself.

Yet, since it was not taken seriously, since what was alive in radical subjectivity was not trusted, it remained in the background, overshadowed and (apparently) blocked out by a sense of I and Other, created by the belief in the idea of I, formed by what was being taught by society and those around us.

What is always already here, in immediate awareness, in radical subjectivity, was not trusted, so could not emerge into the foreground. Until it had been explored so thoroughly that the sense and filter of I fell away.

Radical subjectivity

In this sense, spiritual practice is all about radical subjectivity.

What is alive in immediate awareness? What is already alive here now, free from expectations, beliefs, ideas, memories, stories? How does it look when I gradually learn to differentiate what already is from how it is colored by ideas? How does it look, when thoughts arise as just thoughts, along with everything else?