Mind and body

 

Here are some ways to talk about mind & body, each with some truth to them.

In immediate experience, the body happens within mind. The body is an experience happening within and as awareness. It’s a set of sensory input and associated imaginations (mental images and words) combining to create the experience of this body, and all of that happens within and as awareness. As somebody said, the body is the part of the mind visible to the senses.

Health wise, body and mind are one seamless system. If we decide to imagine them as two, we can say that each influences the other. (And the brain and body is one seamless system as well, obviously, with extensive two-way communication.)

In terms of ecology and cosmology, the body is a seamless part of larger social, ecological, and cosmological systems. It’s a holon (part) within a holarchy (system of parts). Again, any separation and even any distinctions are imagined. (And that imagination is essential for helping us orient, navigate and function in the world.) Our wider social, ecological, and cosmological systems are – in a literal and concrete sense – our larger body. This is not just poetry or the visions of a mystic, it’s literally how it seems to be. The universe is one seamless system, and we are seamlessly embedded in it.

In our culture, we are so used to thinking of separate units that it’s difficult to take this in and really embody and feel it. We are used to thinking of mind and body as distinct and largely separate, and ourselves as a person as distinct and largely separate from the wider whole. There is some truth to it, and yet it’s not the whole picture, and it’s also not the most useful way of looking at it these days. A more integral view, or systems view, or holarchical view, makes more practical sense.

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Separate self

 

Some of the ways there is, and is not, a separate self…

Finding ourselves as emptiness, there is an absence of a separate self… and anything else for that matter. The void is void.

Finding ourselves as awake emptiness and form, and form as no other than awake emptiness itself, there is also an absence of a separate self. There is just one field of awake emptiness and form, with no more or less identification with any part of it. This human self senses, thinks, acts in the world, but there is only the doing and no doer there. It all happens on its own, as part of the field.

Within form, there is also no separate self. There is just a seamless field of form, with infinite causes and infinite effects to anything happening locally… including anything happening to, within and as this particular human self.

And finally, within form, there is a separate self. This human self exists within the world of form. It is a whole as well as a part of a much larger whole. It is a holon in a holarchy. And in that sense, there is a separate self, or rather a separate individual living, relating and behaving in the world.

It is just that this separate self is not really separate from the wider world of form, nor is there a local doer there, nor is it anything else than emptiness itself.

All together, there is emptiness awake to itself and the inherent absence of a separate self in anything. There is the seamless whole of the world of form, with everything local having infinite causes and effects. And there is also the differentiation of this human individual from the wider world, allowing it to function in the world with a particular identity (an identity used for differentiation only, seen as only a relative, utilitarian, limited and temporary, truth.)

Russian Dolls

 

We can see ourselves as a holarchy – as a set of russian dolls, one within another.

Some of the dolls…

  • Physical body
  • Energies
  • Emotional
  • Mental (thoughts)
  • …? (one level here is the tangible and rich sense of a field beyond/embracing the whole of the body/personality – the centaur level)
  • Absolute (space and awareness)
  • Big Mind (transdual)
  • All Existence (no separation if subtle, cosmic consciousness if full blown)

All of these are always there, as long as there is a body and personality, although awareness may be aware of some and not others. And the center of gravity may be at any of these or encompassing all simultaneously. For me, each of these shift to the foreground or background depending on the situation, and the two last ones are present at varying degrees of intensity (from a constant gentle presence to occasional full blown experiences).

Holarchy

 

God/Existence/Buddha Mind/Big Mind can be seen as the highest level of the holarchy. It is that which includes, embraces and is all phenomena – as well as the “ground” they arise from. It is that which the Relative and the Absolute are two aspects of.

At the same time, Big Mind manifests as local awareness – in various degrees of awakening – through and centered on local awareness organs (small selves). And these local awarenesses can slowly awaken to their own nature, until they recognizes themselves as Big Mind.

It is very peculiar how this happens. To me, it seems to be one of the great mysteries – after the mystery that anything exists at all… God centering parts of its awareness on a local awareness organ. And this awareness continuing to be centered on a particular awareness organ even while it is awakening to itself as Big Mind.

Of course, there is a level beyond this: Big Mind not focused on any particular awareness organ. Just the whole, as it is, with no particular focus or center (there has been only one glimpse of this through this particular awareness organ).