Individual and collective

 

I received an email from Barry where he suggests that much of what’s surfacing for me now is collective more than individual.

I can find where that’s true for me. It’s obviously collective in the sense of shared and universal. The emotions, experiences and beliefs surfacing here are shared by many, they belong to the human experience.

Also, what I see in others happens within and as awareness, it happens within and as my world. It’s labeled, interpreted and understood through my images and stories. And what these labels and stories refer to mirror what’s right here in me at a human level. It’s all Big Mind/Heart, and the wider world mirrors me as a human being.

So individual or collective doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter so much if what’s surfacing here can be labeled one or the other.

In either case, they are emotions and experiences wishing to be seen, felt and loved. Wishing to be met with and recognized as love.

In either case, they are thoughts taken as true, wishing to be inquired into and live more in clarity.

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Obvious bias

 

There is an obvious bias in this blog.

It is mainly individual and view/cognition oriented, leaving out or de-emphasizing larger wholes and energy, heart, relationships, policies, culture and so on.

There is of course no reason that an individual and view orientation should be taken as more primary than any other approach. We can understand or tweak the system from anywhere.

It is interesting to notice that I started our much more whole-systems oriented. And then over time got into this individual + view orientation, mainly through traditions that emphasize that approach, such as (current western interpretations) of Buddhism.

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Tuvix and what it means to be an individual

 

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Science fiction is great for nudging us into questioning our assumptions and ask ourselves questions we didn’t realize we had.

One of these questions is what is a person? And the next question: who, or what, am I?

The Tuvix episode of Star Trek Voyager brings these questions up when Neelix and Tuvok, through a transporter accident, becomes one person, Tuvix. When the doctor finds a way to bring Neelix and Tuvok back, it brings up questions of the rights of this new person, and also of the two he is made up of. Is it OK to “kill” Tuvix so Neelix and Tuvok can come back? Is he a person in his own right? What about the rights of Neelix and Tuvok to live? Where did Tuvok and Neelix go? Where did Tuvix go after Tuvok and Neelix came back?

Other Star Trek episodes also explores this question, for instance when a duplicate of Riker is found, and when the whole crew of Voyager is duplicated by a sentient ocean.

It all brings us back to the underlying questions: What does it mean to be an individual. Who, or what, are we really?

From the view of the unmanifest and manifest, of awakeness and its content, the basics of this is not so difficult. The awakeness or awareness is always the same, just pure awareness. But the content change. First it is Neelix and Tuvok, separately. Then a new person called Tuvix, and then back to Neelix and Tuvok separately. And whatever memories and traits are transmitted through these transitions are transmitted through the world of form, through whatever memory patterns and traits continued through the transitions.

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If Neelix took himself to be Neelix, a portion of the content of awareness, then he would experience himself as dying in the transition, or at least being mixed up with another person. And if Tuvix took himself to be Tuvix, he would experience the transition back to Neelix and Tuvok as a death, or possibly as continuing only as a memory within Neelix and Tuvok.

But, if awareness was awake to itself in both Neelix and Tuvok, it would look a little differently. Awareness is awake to itself as awareness, independent of its content, and realizing its own content as itself. First, there is Neelix, then Tuvix, and then Neelix again, a little changed. Or Tuvok, then Tuvix, and then Tuvok again, also a little changed. But all of this happens within and as awakeness itself. It all has the same basic identity as awakeness.

There is no “I” inherent in either of them, only the play of awakeness itself, manifesting in always new and different ways as it always does.

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

 

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

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

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

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

A field of awake emptiness

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

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

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

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

One, and many (and neither)

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

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

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

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

Headless and fullness of being

 

I paid attention to the slight shifts between headlessness and being with experiences today. They are very similar, although in being with the form is slightly more in the foreground, and in headlessness the awake emptiness is slightly more in the foreground. And of course, within each, there are also shifts in which of the two are more in the foreground.

I also noticed a curiosity about how it is when both are more fully present, and had that answered a few minutes later when I walked into the public library and listened to a surprisingly good live performance of baroque chamber music (Bach, Corelli etc.). The sound, which was full, rich and clear as water, evoked a similar sense of fullness of being at human and soul levels, and also brought into the foreground the awake emptiness.

So at once, there was a deep and rich sense of fullness of being, as an individual, and also the awake emptiness within which and as all form arises. A fullness of being as individual, and also the field arising absent of a separate self.

Distinct, fused and not two

 

We can split what and who we are into two, and then three.

Spirit, then individual

First, what we are as Spirit, the field of awake emptiness and form absent of center and separate I. This is what is absent of I, or the I without an Other.

Then, who we are as an individual, which in turn is an individual soul and human self. This is the individual self that is inherently selfless, as the rest of the world of form is inherently selfless. It is that little speck within the form aspect of Spirit that it, somehow, mysteriously, is functionally connected with, its vehicle in the world of form.

In other words, we can say that what and who we are is Big Mind (Buddha Mind, Brahman, Tao), soul (alive presence) and human self (personality). And all of it is inherently selfless.

In my own experience of this, I am struck by how these three are simultaneously distinct, fused, and also not two.

Distinct

Each of these three are distinct.

Spirit is this field of clear awake emptiness and form, with no center, no separate self. It is a what. Impersonal. Universal. The I without an Other. The field of seeing and seen, as a field, without any center.

Then there is the individual soul, which is experience as an alive presence and can be filtered in many ways. As infinitely loving and intelligent. Infinitely receptive and responsive. As luminous blackness. As the indwelling God, an alive presence in the heart region. As the alive full presence around and in this physical body. And so on.

And then this human self. This body-mind, functioning within the world of physical form, and with a particular personality. This brings the joys and stress of being physical, including the longing, seeking, wanting, fear, happiness, sensual pleasures, contractions, hangups, and much more. It is the little vulnerable animal trying to make its way in the world.

Fused

In addition to being experienced as distinct, they are also fused.

Spirit infuses the individual soul and human self, especially as it awakens to itself as Spirit. It realizes that all form, including the individual, is no other than itself. The blind identification is taken out of the individual, allowing the individual to reorganize free from the burden of being identified with and in the context of all as Spirit.

The soul, the alive presence, infuses the human self, allowing it to untie knots, heal, mature, and develop in a far deeper way, into a more mature, whole and rounded human being. Ironically, the soul presence, brought into the human self, allows the human self to become more deeply and thoroughly human. It gives the safety and sense of nurturing which allows the human self to relax, to give up some or all of its struggle with itself, and to become more familiar with all of what it is, and embrace and own it all.

And the human self is infused with Spirit awake to itself, and with soul, working on and within it.

Not two

At the same time, there is no I and Other here. These are not two, nor three.

They are all just Spirit, the field of awake emptiness and form, arising as Spirit awake to itself, and functionally connected with this individual soul and human self. Already and always centerless and selfless.

Trinity

These three are a trinity, such as the trikaya of Buddhism. One yet distinct.

And with the potential of being more deeply fused, placing our individual soul and human self under the influence of Spirit, and our human self under the influence of the soul.

Dark night as burning through remaining traces of a sense of I, and the effects of a sense of I

 

One of the functions of the dark night, which comes some time after a clear (or near-clear) and stable awakening to selflessness, seems to be to burn through and out (most of ) the remaining traces of a sense of separate I, and the effects of a sense of separate I on the personality…

The second part of it, burning through the effects of a sense of separate I on the personality, seems crucial here.

For most of us, our personality is formed within a sense of separate I. And although it does reorganize to a certain extent following an awakening, many traces of this sense of a separate I still remains.

And the dark night is one of the ways this is burnt through, allowing the personality (and the individual) to reorganize more fully within a context of realized selflessness. Maturing into it, becoming more seasoned.

Two ways of being with: meditation and healing

 

There are (at least) two ways of being with experiences…

Atemporal being with

One is atemporal, here and now, just being with and allowing whatever is. This is also a being with whatever resistance arises, which allows a disidentification with this resistance, and this in turn allows for the sense of a separate I to erode and fade, possibly into the field noticing itself as a field, already absent of a separate I. There is an intentional activity here, which is the activity of being with what arises, and that is it.

Temporal being with

Then there is the temporal being with, which is a being with what unfolds over time… Seeing where it leads, what wants to come up, surface, be seen, felt and loved…

Allowing whatever comes up to soften, be held, unravel. Just by seeing, feeling into and love what comes up, there is a deep healing of it, and an unraveling of knots.

And in addition, almost as an afterthought, there is also an insight into patterns (although not always, and not always necessary), which can offer an additional level of healing and unraveling.

Two aspects of the same process

These two are aspects of the same process. The first one is more a meditation, the just sitting type of mediation known as shikantaza in Zen.

The second one is more of a healing process, similar to Process Work, Somatic Experiencing, shamanic work, and many other forms of healing and exploration forms.

And each one contains the other, more or less, depending on the situation and intention.

Within the unfolding of a process is the being with, just as in meditation. And within meditation can be a feeling into and possibly also a loving of whatever arises, depending on the circumstances and intention.

Both as inquiry

And both are inquiry.

Being with whatever arises is really an exploration of who or what am I? It leads to the field (of seeing and seen) to notice itself as a field, already absent of I and Other. Sooner or later, this will happen, and if it hasn’t been a conscious inquiry, it certainly becomes one at that point.

Allowing knots to surface and heal is also a form of inquiry. It is an inquiry into seeing, feeling and loving the knots surfacing, and also into the dynamics of the whole process… of knot-making, knot-unraveling, and what is revealed when knots dissolve… which is new layers of who and what we really are, until the same field awakens to itself also through this process.

The onion is peeled until the empty center is reached, and everything is revealed as always and already awake emptiness and form, absent of a separate I.

Both leading to the field awakening to itself

The atemporal being with leads to the field noticing itself as a field, here and now, independent of content.

And the temporal being with leads to an unraveling of knots which leads to the same place: the field awakening to itself as a field, again independent of the particulars of the content.

The individual as a filter for Big Mind, and more or less healed and mature

The individual is a vehicle for Big Mind in the world of form, and also a filter for Big Mind. No matter how awake Big Mind is to itself, it will still be filtered through the particular individual it functions through… its flavors, and its level of healing and maturity.

The atemporal being with is the classic spiritual path, leading to Big Mind awakening to itself. In the process, there is often a healing of the human self, both before and after this awakening. But there is no guarantee that there is a healing of the human self, of how thorough it is, or that this healing and maturing continues.

And if Big Mind functions thorough a distorted human self, with lots of knots and hangups, it will function in the world in a distorted way as well. The output is no better than the filter. (Instead of garbage in, garbage out as they say in science, is is Gold in, garbage out, if filtered through the garbage of the individual…!)

The temporal being with is a healing and maturing of the individual, and this goes on before and after Big Mind awakening to itself. It allows more and more areas of the individual to heal, reorganize and mature, in always new ways. There is no end to the process. The human individual can become a fuller, richer, more and more fine-tuned instrument for Big Mind in the world. More and more deeply human. More and more deeply Spirit awakened to itself, functioning through and as a human self.

Both needed

As with so much else, it seems that both are needed, and that they are two ends of the same polarity.

The atemporal form is very helpful in clarifying the awakening, for Big Mind to recognize and become more intimately familiar with itself.

And the temporal form is essential for a deeper and more thorough healing and maturing of the individual, which is a vehicle and filter for Big Mind in the world of form.