Ground of suffering and joy

 

In the introduction to Diamond in Your Pocket, Gangaji describes how her life before awakening was a ground of suffering, and after a ground of joy, independent of the surface experiences.

(When there is a sense of a separate self, there is inevitably suffering, in spite of conventional joy and happiness. And when this is seen through, there is equally inevitably joy, in spite of whatever surface experiences are there.)

I notice this ground of suffering in myself, and also the habitual resistance in avoiding it. As often as I have seen beliefs and emotions dissolve into clarity and joy, through inquiry and being with, there is still hesitancy there. Still a holding back. A part of me does still not quite believe it: behind the dragons is the treasure.

Dream: a new dance

 

I am visiting an old friend in Norway (JGH), someone I haven’t seen for many years. He lives in a nice apartment in Oslo, and there is a dance there in the evening. Lots of people come over and the dance is something I have never before seen or experienced.

It is a group dance, but also individual. The group moves almost as a school of fish, with one person initiating a slight variation of the moves and many or all of the others following. The new patterns ripple through the group in a very organic and playful way, and it is clear that everyone is enjoying the dance deeply – both what comes up for them individually and what moves through the group in such a seamless and playful way.

I am struck by the atmosphere which is intelligent, playful and soulful at the same time, and which allows such an individuality yet also forms such a seamless flow of patterns on a group level.

I also notice how there is a wide open field embracing and going deep into polarities such as individuality and group, receptivity and initiation, slow and fast, rhythmical and playfully breaking of rhythms, sensuality and intelligence, and much more.

It is clear that this is a mature group, and one that is intimate with themselves, each other and life, in a way I have rarely or never seen before.

I realize that what is different is that they move, in a mature, intimate, playful and effortless way from the three centers and with an emphasis on the belly center.

It is completely different yet also intimately familiar, as something I have for a long time been looking for, yet had not thought I would find. A deep gratitude comes up for me, and a longing and desire to stay and join in on their weekly gatherings.

During the dance, someone mentions that there are groups doing this form of dance in New Zealand, Australia and Europe, but not in the US because it doesn’t fit into their culture.

Afterwards, my friend shows me a book called “God as WE” and asked me if I know of other authors on that topic. I see that it is an anthology with writings by Adi Da, Andrew Cohen, Saniel Bonder and others, and realize that this is an area that is close to my heart yet has been neglected over the last period of time. The only other author I can think of is A. H. Almaas.

This is a big dream as Jung called it, one that made a big impression and seemed to have more significance than most dreams. It is a dream that shows me a whole new different realm of being and life.

A being and living, in a mature, playful and effortless way, from and as the three centers, and especially the warm nurturing felt-sense fullness of the belly center.

The atmosphere in the dream and the dance was very similar to Breema, yet also more dynamic, playful, and with ripples of patterns at a group level I am not used to.

It is a bringing of the belly center qualities into the group level, in a more mature way. It is God exploring itself as WE through an inclusion of all three centers, and especially the belly center.

There was no coincidence that the dream was set in Oslo since the qualities of this dream were more alive for me when I lived there… the soulfulness, playfulness and intelligence all together at a group level, with my friends there.

In the dream, someone pointed out that there were groups doing this form of dance in New Zealand, Australia and Europe, but not in the US because it didn’t fit into their culture. This reflects my ambivalence about living in the US, enjoying many things here but also longing for the intelligent and playful soulfulness I find more easily in Europe.

There was also a synchronicity here: At the end of the dream, I talked with a woman for a while. I remember the quality of her presence and looks, but not the content of the conversation. This morning, a woman came over to look at a room we are renting out, and she was a very close math to the person in the dream. (Not many are.)

Happiness and appreciation

 

I have enjoyed reading some of the posts on happiness over at William Harryman’s blog.

As with so much else, it can be look at from a few different perspectives and levels.

Happiness at the belief level

All the ancient wisdom on happiness, now gradually rediscovered in modern psychology, are of course valid. They work… at least for some people some of the time. But it works because the practices themselves work with our belief systems.

For instance, creating a list of things we are genuinely grateful for does, usually, bring a sense of happiness. And it does so because is brings attention to things in our life that makes up happy. Or rather, we have beliefs about what we want and what would make us happy, so when the existence of those things are brought into the foreground, it tends to trigger happiness. Or even more bluntly, gratitude inventories trigger stories which in turn triggers a sense of contentment and happiness.

I believe friendship, reasonable health, shelter, good food, free time, and opportunity to pursue interests, is what I want and would make me happy, so when I bring attention to the presence of all of these, it triggers happiness.

Similarly, acting kindly triggers happiness, at least partly because it gives us a sense of intimacy, connection and supporting life. We believe intimacy and connection would make us happy, our actions bring up a sense of intimacy and connection, so happiness is triggered.

This all works at the level of beliefs.

What this practice, and similar ones, do not do, is help us question the beliefs themselves.

The limits of conventional happiness practice

As useful as conventional happiness practice, as promoted by Seligman and others, can be, it also has its limits. The most obvious one is that it is dependent on circumstances, on content of awareness… and so, is precarious. It also functions at the level of the personality, so is dependent on the personality being happy (which sometimes is a tall order…!)

Happiness beyond beliefs, as appreciation for life as it is

It may sound radical, even cold, when put this way. But there is a far more rich happiness to be found if we question the beliefs themselves. A quiet happiness, an appreciation for life as it is, not dependent on circumstances.

So far, the most effective tool I have found for this is The Work

It releases beliefs from stories, even the most ingrained ones such as happiness depends on…, revealing a free mind receptive to what is, appreciating what is… loving what is, independent of the content of what is, including independent of what the personality is up to.

It reveals the current of quiet bliss that is always there, and some times covered up by dust kicked up by beliefs.

Together

In real life, it is of course good to do both. The gratitude inventory and other tools are great for allowing happiness to surface when we are still caught up in beliefs. And the exploration of the beliefs themselves reveals what is there behind the dust from wrestling with life and stories… the quiet current of bliss, joy, appreciation… the bliss of simply being… experiencing… of life, exactly as it is, independent of circumstances, independent of content…

Dualistic and Transdual Joy

 

Transdual Joy

When awareness awakens to its own nature of spacious awareness, it naturally functions in a more transdual way which..

Brings up spontaneous joy and bliss, independent of the external/internal situation of the self. Indeed, when there is no resistance to our experiences (how can there be if there is no separation, when we are the experiences), then all experiences becomes bliss. We realize that suffering comes from our resistance to the experiences.

Brings up spontaneous compassion and empathy. There is no separation, so there is a natural compassion for all beings.

Dualistic Joy

When awareness is exclusively identified with – or caught up in – the small self, it functions in a dualistic way. It only knows experiences of joy, bliss, compassion etc. as being triggered by a specific combination of external and internal circumstances. It believes in thoughts, and only allow experiences to come up that match the current combination of beliefs and situations. Otherwise, it closes itself off from them.

When transdual joy, bliss, compassion etc. is expressed through another self, the awareness which is still exclusively identified with and caught up in the small self places labels on the behavior. It calls it “joy”, “compassion”, and maybe “holy”, “spiritual”, etc. And from this, it may try to emulate it by creating a “spiritual” identity for itself. It closes itself off from anything that does not fit with the label and the image, and tries to force an expression and experience that does. This does obvisouly not work for very long, and only creates more suffering.

The only solution is to awaken to the nature of mind, from where it can soften and let go of any fixed identity and express itself more fluidly. Which in turn will be “fixed” into labels and images by awarenesses which are still identified with other small selves.