The richness of this moment

 

When someone asks me how I am doing, it’s not always easy to give a simple answer.

The reality is that any moment is very rich.

What’s here now. Right now, I notice…. quiet joy, enjoyment, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, sadness, fear, dread, love, discomfort, contractions, a sense of boundlessness, and much more. It’s a bitter-sweet experience, where both ends of many polarities are included.

And when I think about any situation, it’s similar. For instance, when I think of my ex-wife, there is love there, a wish for her to do well, some regret, a twinge when I think of her with someone else, a knowing I wouldn’t want to share my life with her now, sweet memories, slightly uncomfortable memories, and much more.

Richness of views. There is also a richness of views that all co-exist. When I look at my situation now, and my history, there is a wide range of views that all have some validity. I can find tragedy in missed opportunities. I can find privilege. I can find adventure. I can find mistakes and poor judgment. I can see it through a “spiritual” story of opening, initial awakening, dark nights, and situations perfectly set up to further the deepening. I can see it as a moving story of the hopes, failures, achievements, and losses of a typical human being. And again much more.

There is always one more facet of my experience here and now I can notice. There is always one more view that makes sense and has some validity.

Happening within what I am, and reflecting who I am. Taking a slightly different angle, I see that my field of experience – as it is now – is what I am. It’s all happening within and as what I am. It’s the richness of what I am now. And from yet another angle, I see that any quality or characteristics I see “out there” in others or the wider world, is something I can find in myself. I wouldn’t recognize it “out there” unless I already knew it from my own experience and who I am. In that sense, there is an immense – and very real – richness to who I am, if I only look and see.

Awareness, love, ground. It’s equally true that I can find where everything is awareness, love, form, and ground.

The awareness, love, intelligence is here, and it seems I can find it whenever I look. Whatever happens, this field of experience, is awareness, love, intelligence. Or, at least, those are the words that seem to fit the best.

The content of experience is here, as described above, including quiet joy, sadness, satisfaction, slight discomfort and more. And I can find a similar content of experience whenever I look. This happens within and as awareness.

At the same time, there seems to be a “ground” (void) here that awareness and its content happens within and as. And that too seems to be here whenever I look. This is perhaps what it’s most difficult to find an appropriate word for. It’s a  nothingness that allows for awareness and the content of awareness. And it seems surprisingly tangible?

When I say that “everything” happens within this, that “everything” includes any sense of a me or I. That too happens within what a thought may call awareness, love, form, ground. It happens within what “I” really am. In a sense, there is one “I” that all this happens within and as, and another “I” or “me” that happens within this (the human self, sometimes an apparent doer, observer etc.). And really, all of these – awareness, love, intelligence, form, ground – seem all facets of the same.

Two forms of peace

 

I have received a few biodynamic craniosacral sessions lately, and notice that they seem to put me in some form of trance for about three days. It’s peaceful, and yet something feels a little strange about it. I realize it’s because it’s a peaceful state, one that keeps me from going “down” into shadow material and personal material, and also from going “up”. It feels a bit artificial, almost like, from what I hear, a tranquilizer or drug aimed at stabilizing the emotions. I am not sure if this is typical for bcs or is more from the therapist. (Whom I like and respect very much.)

It’s also a reminder that one form of peace is a state, which I appreciate when it’s here. And another is the peace of finding that which already allows what’s here, that which allows any and all states. Finding it, noticing it, and perhaps finding myself as that – and the deep rest that comes with it.

As I have noticed after these sessions, the first form of peace allows less activity. And the second allows any and all activities.

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Losing and finding ground

 

It’s part of life to lose and find ground in different ways.

And that is no different when we are on the love/truth path.

I may make changes in my life to live more in alignment with my truth and heart, and this is an ongoing process. I may chose to leave the familiar and (apparently) comfortable.

I discover more sides of myself and embrace more of my wholeness as a human being in the world. My identities expand and become more inclusive.

There is a loss of identification with stories, images and identities, including the me (human self) and eventually I (doer, observer).

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He who made the inside

 

Do you not realize that he who made the inside is the same one who made the outside?
– Gospel of Thomas, verse 89.

The inside and outside of anything all happens within and as what we are.

Boundaries with insides and outsides are only found as an imagined overlay, and this too happens within and as what we are.

It all has the same creator, which is what we are. No thing appearing as something.

Nowhere to lay his head

 

Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” – Luke 9:58

Again, this can be understood in several ways.

It can be taken literally. Jesus was a wanderer with no home to call his own. He gave up his family, career, house and everything else to give his life to God and teaching.

Also, as human beings none of us have a place to lay our head. All is in flux. There is no solid ground anywhere. Everything is a guest – this body, the house we live in, this planet, this universe.

Finally, when we recognize the emptiness of everything, there is clearly nowhere to lay ones head. All is awareness itself. All is ephemeral. Insubstantial. Similar to a holograph where there is form but no substance. There is quite literally nowhere to lay ones head, and there is no head to lay anywhere.

The experience of this may be of the bottom falling out of everything. The sense of “ground” that comes from taking stories are real and substantial, and what they refer to as real and substantial, falls away. What is left is all as awareness itself. No-thing appearing as something, yet without ever being anything but no-thing. A brilliant emptiness everything arises as. The ground falls away, revealing all as Ground. The Ground of awareness, of no-thing appearing as something.

It may sound strange and far removed from how most people experience existence. But it is really there in all of our experience all the time. It is just temporarily covered up by taking stories as substantial and real.

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Awakenings

 

Awakenings are funny things, and come in all different flavors and dynamics. Here are a few things I have noticed from my own – very limited – experience…

First, the difference between the awakeness that is always and already here, and the one that is awake to itself. Everyone -and everything – already is this awakeness, even if there is a “knot” there creating a sense of a separate I. The only difference is that when there is an awakening, this awakeness is awake to itself. It notices itself – and all of its content – as awakeness itself.

On the one hand, it is a pretty insignificant difference. It is all the play of awakeness anyway, whether it notices itself or not. Yet, on the other hand, it also makes a big difference. It is the difference between drama (being caught in it) and absence of drama.

Then, the difference between soul level awakenings and Ground awakening. At the soul level, all is revealed as God (consciousness, awareness, Big Mind, etc.), yet there is still a subtle sense of a center, a separate I, a vague sense of I-Other. There is an I here that is One with all, and that all is God. There is a sense of content of awareness – all content – awakening to itself as God.

A Ground awakening washes all of that out. The center falls out. There is not even a subtle sense of an I-Other, and what seemed like a subtle sense of a separate I at the soul level awakening does not appear very subtle anymore. This is the Ground of experience awakening to itself.

Then, the difference between tastes, glimpses and more stable awakenings.

It is quite possible, for just about anyone, to have a pretty good sense of what it is about – through for instance headless experiments, the Big Mind process, and other pointing out instructions and guided processes. It gives a taste of it, which can be extremely helpful in the process. It helps clarify what it is about. This happens in the midst of all sorts of beliefs in stories (many of them wordless, for instance in the form of images), so it is no more than an intuition or a somewhat fuzzy taste.

There can be a full blown awakening – at either soul or Ground levels, but it gets covered up again. I am quite familiar with this pattern, and it is an invitation to continue to clarify and invite knots to unravel. It is actually a very good place to be since we get to dip into the awakening now and then, and also work with the process from the other – less awakened – side. These awakenings are glimpses that can last for minutes, hours, days, months or years. And even when it is covered up, we still know very well that whatever beliefs, knots and hangups come up are really just mirages – insubstantial, creations of the mental field only.

The more stable awakenings are different only in that they seem to hang around. Since soul level awakenings have to do with content of awareness, and this content of awareness is always in flux, these come and go even if they seem to hang around for a long time. A Ground awakening is not dependent on content of awareness in the same way, so that one seems a little different.

And finally, how the awakening is expressed through this human self. Whatever awakening is there, or not, it is always expressed through this human self and the characteristics of this human self. And this human self can be more or less healed, mature and skillful.

Always only scratching the surface

 

One of the beautiful things about life is that I always only scratch the surface. The unfolding never ends.

This was clear to me even in the initial awakening. It was “complete” in the sense of a Ground awakening, with an absence of I-Other. And it was immensely full since it was combined with a soul level awakening. But there was also a clear recognition that there was infinitely further to go. Within Ground awake to itself, its play continues to unfold in always new ways.

And if the awakening to what we are is not as clear or stable as it can be, then that one too continues to unfold – until the center drops out, and there is not even a hint of a separate I here anymore, just this human self and everything else living its own life.

In terms of the unfolding of the content – of the play of form – there is always further to go in terms of healing and maturing of this human self, and skillful means in terms of how it lives in the world. And there is always further to go in terms of soul levels awakenings and how these allow the human self to reorganize and realign. (Just in my limited experience, there has been a great deal of facets here – yang luminosity, yin luminous darkness, alive infinitely loving and insightful presence, and much more.)

So even in the midst of an awakening – no matter how “complete” or “full” it seems – there is always further to go. It is always only scratching the surface. And it is a beautiful process.

Flavors of one and many

 

Some flavors of one and many…

All is one in a couple of different ways.

Within form, or content of experience, I find that all is one through the Universe Story, evolution, holarchies, systems views, and many other ways of looking at it, some – such as the ones mentioned above – aligned with contemporary science.

When I explore what I am in my own immediate experience, I find that all is one. Content of awareness is awareness itself, and inherently free from any of its content, including the mental field creation of an I with an Other.

And all is many in a few different ways.

All is many when filtered through the mental field, creating an overlay of imagined – and very useful – boundaries placed anywhere within form, depending on what is useful and customary.

Independent of what I appear as to myself, others see me as one among many, as a human and an object among many. And that too is very useful.

All is also many in that any experience is fresh, new different, within the context of time. God never repeats itself, even if a story may say that something is similar to – or same as – something that went before or may come in the future.

And all is many in the context of space. What fills awareness here through this human self, is different from over there in your human self, and over there in my cat. Content of awareness is different depending on the creature.

Said another way, Big Mind is always the same in that all appearances are the play of Ground. Yet the content of these appearances, the content of experience, is always fresh and different, over time and among different beings.

Initial draft…

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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.

Ground and buildups

 

A simple way of looking at how our world is built up…

First, the Ground of empty awareness, the no-thing that allows all things. The inherent absence of form which allows any form, the absence of color which allows any color, the absence of sound which allows any sound, and so on.

The, the world of form, which is no other than Ground itself. It happens within, to and as Ground. It is awakeness temporarily happening as form.

These are the sense fields… sight, sound, smell, taste, sensation, thought.

Then, or as part of this, the overlay of thought. Thoughts that interpret and ask questions about the world. Creating boundaries. Mimicking the other sense fields. Forming gestalts with the other sense fields. Helping our human self to orient, navigate and function in the world.

Then, the overlay of beliefs in thoughts. Thoughts telling us that certain thoughts and gestalts are true, substantial, real.

And finally, from beliefs, the overlay of drama. The drama of maintaining and protecting beliefs. The drama of an I with an Other. The drama of story management.

The ones up through thought are there as long as this human self are around, whether Ground is awake to itself or not.

And the two last ones – beliefs and the drama of beliefs – are there when Ground is not quite awake to itself, when Ground forms itself into the appearance and belief in a separate I.

This map is only helpful – at best – as a preliminary roadmap while exploring this for ourselves, suggesting what to look for on the way.

And for me, labeling practice and exploring the sense fields is the most direct and effective way to explore it, along with all the other practices such as the Big Mind process, headless experiments, The Work, and being with experiences.

No thing, allowing all things

 

When I explore the relationship between awakeness and its content, it is really an exploration of emptiness and form.

This awareness, this awake void, is inherently free from any characteristics. It is free from color, sound, shape, form, and I also cannot find any end, beginning, birth or death. It is timeless and spaceless.

And yet, it is full of content, of every changing colors, sounds, shapes, forms, beginning and ends, birth and deaths.

As Douglas Harding said, it is no thing allowing all things.

It is inherently free from any content, so it allows any and all content.

And when I look, I cannot find where this awakeness ends and its content begins. The content of awakeness is awakeness itself. It is awareness temporarily taking a particular form, as its own content.

So this relationship between awakeness and its content is a relationship, yet is also not a relationship since it is all awakeness.

Mimicking Ground

 

Waking up is a process of mimicking Ground, until Ground awakens more fully to itself.

Ground, this awake void, allows any and all forms. If there is an identification as anything less, it creates an I with an Other, and drama.

Or we can say that awareness naturally allows any content, doesn’t hold onto any of it, and is inherently free from all of it. So when awareness awakes to itself, and recognizes its own content as itself, that too is what awakens.

Or we can say that the whole world of form, as it is, is God’s will. As long as there are attachments to stories and identities, we make everything into an I here and Other out there, and this I in opposition to God’s will. By letting go of identification with these stories and identities, God’s will is revealed as God’s will, and any resistance to it is also let go of.

Struggling with guests: seeing them as stepping stones and tools only

 

To continue the guests analogy, and combine it with my experiences with the group yesterday…

We can see experiences as guests, coming and going on their own, living their own life.

And we can explore how we relate to these guests.

The ultimate hospitality is that of Ground, which already and always allows any experience. It is the nature of awareness to allow any content, and it already and always does that. There is no way for it to do anything else. Awareness inherently allows any guests, and their coming and going on their own time.

But when this host takes itself to be a guest, it forgets about itself as the ultimate host. There is now a sense of a separate I, an I with an Other, and there is inevitably a struggle with some or all of the guests, in different ways and with different intensities. We try to invite some and discourage others. When they arrive, we try to encourage some to stay and others to leave.

And we can also try to manipulate guests in different ways.

We can see them as stepping stones to something else, a tool for achieving a particular goal, something to transform into something else, something to transcend, something to dress up to make appear as different than what it is. In short, we don’t appreciate them for what they are, as they are. We want them to be different, or to be a tool for us to achieve something.

In our external life, manipulating guests this way seems cynical and even neurotic. And it is no less cynical and neurotic when we relate to our experiences this way.

It is all being caught up in manipulating what is, being caught up in the apparent solidity of I and Other, of seeing as solid the wanting of things to be different.

A simple example is suffering (life + a belief that it shouldn’t be that way). We can try to discourage it from entering. When it is there, we try to ignore it or make it go away. Or, if we see ourselves as a little more sophisticated (although we are not really), we can try to manipulate it in different ways. We can use it to develop compassion, to find peace with it, to allow beliefs and identities to fall away, to deepen into our humanity. We may not (overtly) try to make it go away, but we may also not be quite happy with it as it is. There is still a lack of appreciation for it as it is, for its own sake.

That appreciation for it as it is, for its own sake, comes when Ground notices itself as Ground. There is a recognition that this appreciation for any guest, for any content of experience independent of its particulars, is already and always there. It is only clouded up by the surface drama sometimes, created by a mistaken identification and a sense of I and Other.

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Experiences as guests, living their own life

 

Seeing experiences as guest can be a useful (and rich) analogy.

Any experience is a guest, which lives its own life and comes and goes on its own.

We can of course invite certain guests, and discourage others, but that only works to a limited extent. We can invite happiness, through gratitude inventories, rejoicing in other’s happiness, acts of kindness and so on, but happiness still lives its own life… it comes and goes on its own, on its own time. No guest stays around permanently. We can discourage pain, yet pain also lives its own life, coming and going on its own and on its own time.

When guests are around, we can also be different types of hosts. We can cling to some guests, trying to convince them to stay around longer. We can be nasty to other guests, trying to get them to leave. But again, that has only limited effect, and is also quite stressful. As before, the guests live their own life, they come and go on their own time.

We can also be a courteous host, allowing the guests to come and go on their own, as they do anyway. We can find peace with them arriving, hanging around, and leaving, on their own time. We can even find appreciation for them, and their coming and going.

The ultimate hospitality is that of Ground which inherently allows any and all experiences to live their own life and come and go on their own. Mimicking this hospitality, we may even eventually discover ourselves to (already and always) be that Ground… this awake void allowing any forms which are not other than the awake emptiness itself.

In a relative sense, it is stressful and creates a lot of drama when we act as less than hospital hosts… it goes for our external life in the world, and also for our experiences. When we act with more hospitality, allowing the presence of the guests and recognizing that they live their own life, there is more peace and even appreciation for them. And it may even invite Ground to notice itself as Ground, as ultimate hospitality.

Journey: rocks

 

I did a process work session earlier today, and started a process, which I continued on my way home, and then now. (In Process Work, the unfolding can be similar to what is described here, but they also include a more active exploration of the meaning of the process and how to bring it into daily life. When I do it on my own, it tends to unfold easily, but the meaning of it may not surface until much later if at all. Somehow, it still allows for a shift that is sometimes profound.)
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Resistance to Ground, etc.

 

Just a quick summary of what I am exploring these days, as it happens in immediate awareness. What came out below is not very well organized…

  • The Ground, here now, is the field of awakeness, of awake emptiness and whatever arises. It is inherently free from any center and any separate self. It is just one field, beyond and embracing seeing and seen, awareness and its content, this human self and the wider world of form.
  • This Ground is is what is here now, for each of us, only absent of a sense of I and Other. Imagine the content of your awareness, and the awareness itself, as it is, only with a sense of I and Other subtracted from it.
  • When there is resistance to Ground as this field, there is an appearance of I and Other.
  • This happens when there is a belief in a story, when thoughts are taken as anything more than innocent questions, when they are seen as absolutely true.
  • A story becomes a belief when another story is added to it, saying it is true.
  • A story becomes a belief, also when it combines with a sensation. Sensation+story=belief.
  • When a sensation is combined with a story, it gives a sense of a center located at a particular place in space, specifically at the sensation, somewhere within the physical boundary of this human self.
  • This center also allows for a split of space, and a sense of I here and Other out there.
  • This split allows for placing one end of any polarity here, somewhere in this physical body, and the other end somewhere out there in the wider world.
  • This placing of ends of a polarity here and out there, is also how projections work. If, according to how I place a polarity (which in turn is decided by beliefs and identities), one end of a polarity should be out there, then when it arises, it is interpreted as out there. For instance, if I believe I shouldn’t be angry, and have an identity as someone who is not angry, then when anger arises, I have now choice but to filter it so it appears out there in the wider world, placed on appropriate targets (the ones I place it on may indeed experience and act from anger, which only makes them better projection objects).
  • Any belief automatically creates resistance… to the truths in its reversals, and what doesn’t fit the identity that goes with it.
  • The split of space allows for resistance to what is. It filters the appearance of what is allowed and not allowed into different locations of space… what is allowed appears to be in the region where there is a sense of I, and what is not allowed appears as if in another region of space. (What is allowed/not allowed is determined by beliefs.)
  • The sensation a story is combined with serves as a base for a split of space into I and Other (providing a fixed point in space to define the boundary), and also for resistance to parts of what is arising.
  • The sense of density, substance and reality of a sensation provides a sense of the same, of density, substance and reality, to the story it is associated with.
  • If a belief needs to be amplified, it can be amplified in two ways. One is to amplify the sensation it is placed on, which in turn allows for a stronger belief, a sense of more substance to the belief, and a stronger sense of split between I here and Other out there. Another is to engage in and develop supporting beliefs.
  • If a story needs to be combined with a sensation (to create a belief and a split in space), and an appropriate sensation is not available, muscles tense up to create appropriate sensations.
  • A belief also amplifies tension, because it creates a sense of I and Other, and something to protect (a truth or an identity), which in turn creates mental and physical tension.
  • Any belief creates a split in space, of something that is true here and false somewhere else, so also a sense of I and Other.

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 human self not trusting it can function well without being identified with

 

When the Ground of emptiness awakens to itself, it can be very odd for our human self. It is used to being identified with, and no it is suddenly not identified with anymore.

It realizes that it is just happening, just as everything else is just happening.

There are still sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations, thoughts, choices, actions, relationships and everything else, but it is just happening on its own. It is all living its own life. There is lots of doing, but no doer anywhere. There is just a field of what is happening… this room, the sound of the dehumidifier, the cat walking up to connect, the chill on the fingers, tapping of the keys, thoughts arising reflected in words on the screen, getting up to get a glass of water… one field, with no part being more or less identified than anything else.

It can be disconcerting for the human self at first. Will it get by without being identified with? Isn’t being identified with, taken as an I, necessary for it to function in the world?

The rug is pulled out from under its feet, the bottom fell out, it is suspended in thin air…

But if it stays with this, it sees that not only can the human self function well without being identified with, it can even function better in relative terms. There is an absence of drama, so just clarity and simplicity… even the most engaged activities happens within a context of utter clarity and simplicity.

In a way, it is a matter of trust. Of the human self trusting it can function OK without being taken as a separate I. Sometimes, emptiness awakens to itself so clearly that all questions are blown away and the awakening is stable. Other times, and maybe more commonly, emptiness awakens to itself many times, each time followed by the human self not quite trusting the shift and going back into safe and familiar ground, and each time becoming a little more familiar with living without being identified with. Each time trusting a little more, until the shift happens in a more stable way.

There never was a separate self in the first place… only awakeness, emptiness and whatever is happening in form… the only difference is that now, this awake emptiness notices itself… and when it does, any exclusive identification with any part of this field goes out the window.

It is seen as simply a belief in the idea of a separate self, as placing a sense of I within a segment of this field and making the rest into Other. Emptiness awakening to itself cleans it all out.

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.

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.

A tough one III: the dark nights of the soul and senses

 

There are many forms of dark nights… In a more technical sense, there are two of them, and in a loose – daily – sense, lots of them.

The two formal ones are…

  • The dark night of the senses, which is an initial stripping away of beliefs and identities, enough to notice all as God, to notice that everything is a field of awakeness, of consciousness, even of awake emptiness. It can be painful, maybe an experience of being pulled apart, dismembered, even of dying. What dies is really only beliefs and identities, but when we are identified with these, when we take ourselves as that, the experience is of being dismembered and dying. For me, this was a very intense time, but there were lots of rewards in the middle of it as well. It was painful, but also immensely blissful.
  • The dark night of the soul, which is similar but goes more to our core beliefs and identities, and specifically the one of a separate self, of someone that this is all happening to. Here, any and all beliefs are stripped away, and it often happens through a profound disillusionment. Everything that we found comfort in is stripped away, taken away from us, and none of our practices have meaning or even work anymore. Nothing is left. God is gone. Any sense of accomplishment is gone. Any ideas of being special, or chosen, are gone. There is no place to anchor any of those beliefs anymore. They get stripped away, whether we want or not, and most often we desperately cling to them as long as we can, making the torment even stronger for ourselves.

Having cleared out some space through the dark night of the senses, the soul realm is revealed. Bliss, clarity, alive presence, all as God, inspiration, luminosity, and so on.

And having cleared out even more, including the sense of a separate self, through the dark night of the soul, the emptiness is revealed in its completeness. When I am gone, emptiness is revealed, as the Ground of it all… of awakeness itself, of the soul level, of mind, of form. It is all emptiness dancing, already and always absent of any trace of any separate self anywhere.

Our core belief, and core identity, of a separate self is greatly diminished through the dark night of the senses, and that is exactly what allows the soul realm to be noticed and come more into the foreground. Here, there can be a sense of no separation, of all – absolutely all – as God, as divine, as consciousness, as the divine mind, there can even be a sense of oneness, but there is still a trace of a sense of a separate self here. And this serves as an anchor for a sense of being special, privileged, of having accomplished something, of being chosen.

The dark night of the soul takes care of that. Every reason for feeling special, privileged, of having accomplished something, of being chosen, is taken away. And none of the practices or tools that at one point work so easily and so well, have any use anymore. They are all broken.

Where the dark night of the senses is more of a dismemberment and a sense of dying as a human being, the dark night of the soul is a deep existential falling away… my most core identity of being something at all, separate from anything else, is wrestled away… leaving just emptiness. No angels. No luminosity. No bliss. Nothing special. Just emptiness. The emptiness that allows, and is, the dance of everything.

The dark night of the senses leads into an amazing awakening, with lots of bells and whistles… God in all its glory. Alive luminosity. Guidance. Inner God, and all as God. Amazing insights. Amazing abilities to do things in the world. Amazing energies.

The dark night of the soul leads into nothing at all. At the threshold of it, it appears thoroughly boring, neutral, like nothing. And inside of it, there is the Ground of all, that which allows the dance of everything. It is nothing special. Just what is, here and now, always.

The void that never changes, and allows all change. The no-thing that allows all things. The absence of everything which allows the fullness of everything. The groundless ground, which already and always allows every fruit.

The bottom falls out of everything. Leaving only the dance of emptiness, with no separate I anywhere.

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.

Freefall

 

Two nights ago, there was another “journey” that happened on its own as I was about to fall asleep…

I am falling, a free fall – with no end, just the falling. Then, it shifts into an experience of weightlessness. I am reminded that free fall is really just weightlessness (and the other way around.)

When there is a release of identification with form, it is experienced as a free fall. There are no beliefs anymore, and no anchors for these beliefs in sensations. Beliefs in ideas as absolutely true go, including the sense of a separate self, and with them any sense of a fixed point of reference.

Right away, it can be experienced as falling – as having the ground pulled out from under ones feet. It can be disorienting and bring up fear.

But after a while, when we get more used to it, there is more of a sense of weightlessness. Of no ground, and being OK with no ground, even enjoying the freedom it gives.

Now, any view and perspective is OK. There is a fluidity among them. A receptivity to and curiosity about each of them. What is the grain of truth in each? How do they fit together in a bigger picture? They are each revealed as just containing relative truth, so none are held onto as a fixed point of reference.

This goes for any abstractions – any ideas, stories and identities – including the core one of a separate self, as well as identities as a human being, male or female, being of a certain age, and so on.

These identities are all useful and even true in terms of describing this human individual, and essential for navigating in the world. They hold a relative truth. But they do not have any absolute truth. They do not describe what I am – or what is – absolutely, which is this ground of awake emptiness, and form arising within, to and as this awake emptiness, with no separate self anywhere.

As they say in the headless world, right here – at zero distance – I am awake void full of the world, no thing for all things, no color allowing any color, no identity allowing any identity. Here, in my first person identity, I am awake void and the world happening within and as this awake void – including all my third person identities: a human being seen at a few feet away, molecules much closer in, the earth farther out, and the whole of the universe even farther out.

Fully allowing a sense of a separate self

 

Any sense of a separate self comes from resistance to experience.

Through resistance to experience, we identify with an aspect of the content of awareness, and we split the content into I and Other, which in turns creates a sense of struggle, drama, and wanting something else than what is.

When we realize this, it is easy to start resist the sense of a separate self, of wanting that one to go away, of hoping for something better just on the other side of this. And this is just another way to identify with an aspect of content of awareness and pitting it against other aspects of the content. There is an identification with wanting the content to be different from what it is.

(In this case, an identification with wanting of this sense of a separate self to go away, an identification with the corresponding belief that it would be better if it wasn’t there, and an identification as someone who wants it to go away – all of which places our identification firmly within one part of the content of awareness, pitted against other parts of the content.)

The trick here is to allow it all: the sense of a separate self, any resistance to it, any wanting of it to be different, any strategies to change it, and anything else. To allow it, embrace, see it, feel it, and then to love it, as it is. This shifts the identification out of content and into its ground of awake emptiness.

In this, there is indeed a release from being caught up in any sense of a separate self – even when it is there.

We find ourselves as the ground allowing it all, as it already does.

As long as there is identification with particular content of awareness, there is a split and we don’t notice this ground, or ourselves as this ground. We find ourselves as a region of the content, pitted against other regions of the content, and in the ensuing drama the ground is not noticed. As soon as there is a being with what arises, a full allowing of it, identification goes out of content and we find this ground of awake emptiness allowing it all.

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.

Time out of the timeless, space out of the spaceless

 

I noticed the DVD set of Cosmos at the library a few days ago, and thought it would be fun to watch one or two episodes again (it made a big impact on me when I watched it as a kid.)

The episode I watched was The Edge of Forever where Carl Sagan explores some of the most basic and universal questions about our existence, such as where does the universe come from? When did it start, or did it have a beginning? How will it end, or will it end? Does it have an edge or boundary? What happens if we continue infinitely in one direction? Will we end up where we started?

He spends a great deal of time on the Vedic cosmology, which in many ways parallels modern scientific cosmology.

So how did the universe, or space and time, begin?

Emptiness, awakeness and form

When I look at it for myself, right here now, I find that space and time arise within and as the timeless.

There is empty awakeness here, which time and space and all forms arise within, to and as. And this empty awakeness has a definite sense of timelessness and spacelessness. It is distinct from time and space, not touched by time and space, which is why it can allow time and space and any forms to arise within, to and as itself.

It is very simple, and (most likely) alive in the immediate awareness of all of us, yet we typically don’t notice it, or we only notice it as a glimpse, which is then covered up by attachment to the many different stories about who we are and how the world is.

And I also notice that the world of form is in flux. Nothing stays the same. It is always fresh, new and different, and that is especially alive when the empty awakeness is aware of itself. When timelessness comes more to the foreground, the transient nature of forms similarly comes to the foreground.

So in a sense, the universe is born right here now. It continuously dies as it was, and is reborn in a fresh and different way. (There is obviously enough continuity in the processes of the world of form so we can use ideas to orient, make models, predict and analyze what is going on.)

If we assume that the universe as a whole, as it unfolds in space and time, follows a similar process, then there are two pretty obvious options for how form relates to the formless.

Existence “started” with this timeless empty awakeness as a “ground” state. Then, the form aspect emerged from it and the universe was born. At the large scale, form was birthed from the formless, as it is right here now in immediate awareness. Here, there was of course not any “before” because form (and space and time) did not exist then.

Or, emptiness, awakeness and form have always been. The timeless and time, the spaceless and space, the changeless and changing, the formless and form, the empty awakeness arising as the world of phenomena, always are, as two aspects of the same whole, beyond and including all polarities.

Both of these versions are independent on any specifics about how the form aspect unfolds. Today, the Big Bang (or inflation) models are most frequently used, and these easily fits into both of the views mentioned above.

In both versions, we account for the empty and awake and the form aspects of Existence, which is beyond and includes any and all polarities.

And in both versions, we extrapolate from what is alive in immediate awareness to the larger scale, here the birth and cycles of the universe as a whole. (This is of course what many of the spiritual and mystical traditions do, in many more areas than just cosmology.)

Spirit pretending twice: first to be a segment of itself, then imitating what is really is

 

Another symmetry, this one of Spirit pretending in two different ways.

Spirit pretending to believe in ideas

Spirit, as emptiness, awakeness and form, pretends to believe in ideas and makes a limited identity for itself. The field of seeing and seen makes itself appear as a segment of itself, it makes itself appear as I and Other. Its true nature, as the Ground of seeing and seen absent of I anywhere, is still alive in immediate awareness, but ignored due to the beliefs. And it is really just pretending to believe, although it makes it seem very real to itself.

The core belief is in the idea of I as a segment of the field of seeing and seen, and the peripheral beliefs are all the ones that makes up identity: human being, Asian, five foot six, libertarian, heterosexual, likes to drink beer, roots for the Wildcats, a computer programmer, and so on. (That is not me, by the way…!)

Spirit pretending to be what it really is

Through this first level of pretending, Spirit makes itself appear as a segment of itself, in our case, as a human being. I am this human self, and Other is the rest of the world, other people, nature, awareness, God, Spirit, and so on.

As there is still the immediate awareness of being the Ground of seeing and seen, absent of I anywhere, there is a longing for coming home – for this “unity” absent of the boundaries of I and Other. And this plays itself out in innumerable ways, in any of the ways we see in human seeking for approval, money, status, relationships, happiness, freedom from suffering, and so on.

One of the ways it plays itself out is in longing for God, for Spirit, for truly coming Home.

And at some point, this longing takes the form of practice, spiritual practice: prayer, meditation, compassion, ethical behavior.

And the funny thing is, each of these practices is just another form of pretending. It is Spirit pretending to be who it really is…!

Or more precisely, it is Spirit imitating what comes naturally when it lives through a human life and has awakened to itself. And through this imitation, it allows its human self to reorganize so the real shift can happen spontaneously, in its own time.

Through prayer, we seek to dissolve the separation of I and Other, or to allow (the sense of) I to dissolve so God can be. We taste, over and over, how it is when God is and “I” am not. When Spirit has awakened to itself, and there is no sense of I and Other anymore.

Through meditation, we seek to allow anything to come and go on its own, as Ground already does. We try to imitate Ground.

Through ethical behavior, we seek to mimic how Spirit lives through a human live when it has awakened to itself. By effort and imitation, we seek to find what is effortless and spontaneous when Spirit has awakened to itself.

All of this imitation and mimicking is essential. As silly as it is from one perspective, it is also essential in another way. It does prepare the ground for a more real awakening. It does allow our human self to reorganize and realign so Spirit can more easily awaken to itself, and more easily live from that awakening through this one particular human life.

:: Pretending, yet experienced as very real

There is a pretending involved. First in Spirit pretending to be just a segment of itself, and then imitating itself as it functions through a human life when it has awakened to itself. Yet, it all also becomes very real in immediate experience.

The identification as a human self appears very real, and gives birth of the whole sense of drama in our lives – in longing, seeking, avoiding, surviving, finding joy, avoiding suffering.

And the seeking of God appears just as real, because it is a part of the same drama. It is the final phase of the drama, and involves the drama of the spiritual seeker and its adventures, misadventures and final release from the drama.

The split covering up the ground

 

From the previous post:

………………

If the world of form is split into good and bad, and the division is seen as real and important, the drama will hinder us in recognizing the ground that is always there. The fascination with the drama itself distracts us from noticing the ground. The dust kicked up in the drama of pushing some aspects of form away and holding onto other aspects, covers up the ground.

It covers up the Ground of seeing and seen, it covers up the fertile dark ground of form, and it covers up the inherent absence of an I anywhere in these grounds and all form.

………………

Or put another way…

When there is a belief in the idea of I, the world is split into I and Other. And in the ensuing drama, we just don’t notice what is always already here: the Ground of seeing and seen, and the fertile ground of form, and the inherent absence of I anywhere in all of this.

The field of seeing-seen temporarily identifies with just an aspect of itself, creates a drama for itself, and temporarily forgets that it is the Ground of seeing and seen, absent of I anywhere.

The drama draws our attention to it, not leaving much space for noticing the ground. And even if the Ground is noticed, it is not taken seriously. It does not fit our conscious view, our beliefs, our worldview. It just cannot be, according to our stories about it. There has to be an I here, as an aspect of what is. There has to be some anchor point in the world of form.

But there isn’t, and the world of form is a stream in flux, so the drama goes on.

A sequence of forgetting

Here is one take on the sequence of forgetting….

There is the Ground of seeing-seen, a seamless field of seeing and seen absent of I anywhere. Spirit arising as emptiness, wakefulness and always changing forms.

Then, two things seems to happen:

It somehow forgets about its own nature, absent of I anywhere. It creates a sense of I and places it on something in the world of form. The seamless field of seeing-seen, absent of I anywhere, filters itself through a sense of I and Other, and identifies as a segment of the field.

And somehow, even more mysteriously, it gets functionally connected with a human self (or any other being arising as part of this field).

So there is a sense of I, and this human self seems the best candidate to place this sense of I on.

Or there is this human self, which the field is clearly functionally connected with, so then a sense of I is created and placed on it.

Or maybe it is both.

A sequence of awakening

First, the field is completely absorbed in the drama and it seems very real. It may also have glimpses of itself as a field, absent of I anywhere, maybe filtered and interpreted as a taste of no separation.

Then, the sense of I may weaken and be gradually placed on fewer and fewer phenomena in the world of form. Here, there is simultaneously an experience of the seamless field of seeing-seen, yet also with a vague sense of I floating around. There is I and Other, and no separation between the two. There is a sense, intuition, or even direct experience of all as Spirit, an early taste of One Taste.

Finally, the Ground of seeing-seen awakens to its own nature, absent of I anywhere. Even the sense of I is revealed as always already being absent of any I.

And the funny thing is that there seems to be changes within what the sense of I is placed, on within this human self, that sets the stage for Ground to awaken to itself. Changes within the world of form, pointing Ground back to itself, allowing it to notice itself, to awaken to its nature as Ground of seeing and seen, inherently absent of I.

Micro and macro: forgetting and awakening, involution and evolution

This is of course the process of forgetting and awakening occurring at an (apparent) individual level, that so many have talked about. And it also seem to parallel a larger scale involution and evolution which seems to be happening through the evolution of this universe, the earth and humanity. The small mirrors the large.

And while the big picture evolution may remain more theoretical, the process of forgetting and awakening, paralleling involution and evolution, happens right here now in immediate awareness:

The Ground of emptiness and awakeness allows form to arise here now, within and as itself. It believes in the idea of I, and places it on a segment of this form, on this human self. This is the forgetting, and parallels involution.

And the Ground may have glimpses of itself, intuitions about itself, tastes of itself, as the Ground of seeing and seen, absent of I. Eventually, it awakens in a stable way to its own nature. This is the remembering, and parallels evolution.

(It is Ground awakening to itself, so no evolution is really necessary – or possible – there. In its emptiness and wakefulness aspect, the field is timeless and stays the same.

At the same time, this awakening appears to be dependent on a certain level of evolution in the vehicle the field is functionally connected with, at the very least for consciously working towards awakening, and for a conscious reflection on and exploration of living from awakening. Ground may awaken to itself, accidentally, while functionally connected with a mouse. But, as far as we know, only humans can systematically work towards setting the stage for awakening, and consciously explore how and what it means to live from this awakening.)

Field of seeing-seen

 

The Ground of seeing and seen is of course really one field.

It is the field of seeing-seen, or even the field of Ground-seeing-seen…!

It is seamless. It is absent of I anywhere. It is simultaneously, and as a whole, subject and object.

And yet, it can be talked about in all of these ways – and many more – when a layer of abstraction in placed on top of it. When various aspects of this field is filtered out and the relationships between these are explored. But this is merely a way of talking about it. As anything expressed, it immediately goes into the realm of the relative, and has no absolute truth to it. It is merely a finger pointing.

The funny thing is that all of this is alive in immediate awareness to all of us. It is only the filter of the temporary belief in the idea of I which (again temporarily) makes it appear differently. The field of seeing-seen temporarily splits itself into I and Other, and our human self then acts as if it is true.