The rigidity of beliefs and identifications

 

Why is it appropriate to use a strong word as trauma in this way? Because beliefs and identifications are inherently stressful and – yes – traumatic. There is a low-level trauma inherent in any belief and identification. And in some situations, when life pushes up against the rigidity created through beliefs and identifications in just the right way, it can create a full blown trauma as trauma is understood in a conventional sense.

– from a previous post

There is a lot of information in that paragraph, and it may seem a bit opaque.

What does beliefs and identifications mean? A belief is when we hold a thought to be more or less absolutely true. And identification means that we are identified with the viewpoint of that thought. We – as strange as it may sound – take ourselves to be that viewpoint.

Why does it create rigidity? Because the mind goes from the fluidity of being able to consider and recognize the validity in any thought and viewpoint on a subject, to holding one or a few thoughts and viewpoints are true and real and excluding the validity of other – now apparently opposing – viewpoints. And this creates a certain rigidity of the mind.

It also creates a rigidity of the body since it needs to contract certain muscles to support these beliefs and identifications. (See the previous post for more on this.)

Why is this rigidity stressful? When life pushes up against these beliefs and identifications, it’s stressful. And life will since life is inherently uncontrained by any belief or identification, so it naturally creates situations that goes against any belief or identification.

How does this create trauma? It creates trauma, as trauma is understood conventionally, when life pushed up against the rigidiy of the body-mind in a strong way, or a way that’s especially stressful to that particular body and mind.

The role of society and culture. I should add that society and culture plays a significant role in this. Society and culture comes with a blueprint for most of our beliefs and identifications. The ones that may appear more uniquely individual are variations of themes set by culture and society.

Rigity and life flow. This rigidity of mind and body, in a sense, limits and blocks the flow of life. It limits our perception. It limits how we perceive opportunities and make chocies. It limits how we live our lives. And it even limits the mind’s and body’s natural and inherent capacity to heal itself.

At the same time, in the bigger picture, this rigidiy is the flow of life. It’s life creating this rigidy within itself. And in the even bigger picture, it does so in order to express, experience, and explore itself in its richness and in as many ways as possible. Including through temporary rigidity and what that temporarily creates.

How difficult things look from the perspective of awakening

 

How do difficult things look from the perspective of awakening?

How do tragedies look? Loss of all kinds, whether personal or collective?

It depends, of course. It depends on the level of clarity. It depends on how embodied and lived that clarity is. It depends on conditioning, tradition, and culture, both in how it’s perceived and expressed.

Here are a few things from my own experience.

It’s lila. The play of the divine. It’s all the divine – or life, the Universe – exploring, expressing, and experiencing itself.

It’s all Spirit. It’s happening within and as what we are and everything is. It’s happening within and as (what we may call) awakeness, consciousness, love, wisdom.

It’s not what it looks like. Partly because of lila. Partly because the way it looks, in a conventional sense, is filtered and created by believing stories and being identified with identities and stories. And many of these stories, especially when it comes to loss, are stressful.

When we examine these stressful stories, we may find that reality is kind. (As Byron Katie often points out.) And we can find this for ourselves, even in small ways, through inquiries such as The Work.

When it happens to someone else, there is empathy. We know very well how painful and distressing human experiences can be. We know from our own experience. We wish to be present with others going through it. We wish to be human with others. If appropriate and possible, we wish to alleviate the suffering. That’s all very natural.

And when something diffcult happens in our own life, we wish the same. To be present with what’s here as it is. To recognize the suffering as very natural. Recognize it as the play of the divine, and as Spirit. And if appropriate and possible, to alleviate the suffering. (In our own case, through presence, inquiry, love, and more.)

Mainly, it looks very human. In the best case, it looks like clarity and maturity in a very human way.

In other cases, our own wounds – areas in us not yet healed or on board with the clarity – are triggered and we act from these wounds and lack of clarity.

Often, there is a mix. There is clarity and lack of clarity. And that too is very human.

(more…)

Core, ground, periphery

 

Here is one way to map out the discomfort/suffering dynamic.

Core. The core is identifications and beliefs. It’s holding stories as true and real, and this has energetic, emotional, mental, perceptual, and lived components. It’s reflected in all our human levels of being, in how we perceive, and how we live.

Periphery. These are the consequences of the identifications and beliefs. They include additional beliefs that support the initial ones, reactions towards the pain created by the initial beliefs, reactions towards the life situations the initial beliefs brings us into, and more. There is sometimes a great deal of these more peripheral beliefs, and they in themselves can become core beliefs for additional ones.

Ground. The ground is what we are and everything are, aka consciousness and love.

Identification means identification with or as the viewpoint of a thought. We hold it as real, and perceive and live as if it’s real. This creates a sense of separation. It also creates discomfort and even suffering since it’s out of alignment with reality. Life and reality rubs up against our beliefs and identifications, and this is uncomfortable.

Say there is a belief that there is a separate self. This can have a more peripheral belief that this separate self is unlovable. And this in itself becomes a core belief for a constellation of other beliefs, for instance that I need to seek love by doing what I think other people want me to do, and that her look means she doesn’t like me and that is terrible. All of this creates discomfort and suffering.

And that discomfort is an invitation to – eventually – examine more closely what’s happening and find more clarity and release from it. And that will eventually lead Spirit to recognize itself – and all there is – as consciousness and love.

Why is all this happening? We can see it from a few different perspectives.

At a human level, we can see the formation of the initial beliefs and identification as mimicking the adults in our life. We take on what we see our parents and others doing. It’s a form of love. It’s a form of taking care of ourselves. It’s innocence.

At a multiple-life perspective, we can see it as a habit that is passed on over lifetimes.

At a Spirit perspective, we can see it as Lila, the play of the divine. The universe – and our experience – is the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways. And this includes temporarily experiencing itself as separate, as a separate being. It’s part of the play.

(more…)

The dramatic flow of our lives

 

Dramaturgy is the study of dramatic composition and the representation of the main elements of drama on the stage.

Wikipedia

I have been listening to the Norwegian (VG) broadcast of the world chess championship between Magnus Carlsen and Sergej Karjakin. The commentators will sometimes talk about the dramaturgy of the match. The dramatic flow of the twelve games making up the championship. (They both make mistakes, sometimes missed by the other, the underdog finally won a game, then the current champion, and they are now even before the final game tomorrow.)

Our life has a dramatic flow and composition as well. And sometimes, it can be helpful to step back and see it that way. Whether things go “our way” or not, we can at least appreciate the dramatic flow. I find that quite helpful.

This is a more western way of talking about lila, life as the play of the divine. It’s a more limited view but perhaps more accessible to many.

(more…)

A purpose to life?

 

Some talk about a purpose to life (external to what we make up for ourselves), or of life as a “school”, or a series of tests, or perhaps having a goal we may miss or not.

I see how each of those can be helpful for a while, but they are also inherently stressful. They are stressful because they assume we either pass the test or not, or fulfill the purpose or not, or reach the goal or not. They are additionally stressful because if we believe those stories we believe stories that we cannot know for sure are true. Trying to take them as true while knowing we don’t know for certain is inherently uncomfortable. And they are stressful because we may think we need to push away the grain of truth in any stories that appear incongruous with the one we try to hold as true.

Our minds are fundamentally honest. It knows when we try to deceive ourselves in the ways described above. And that’s discrepany is inherently stressful and uncomfortable.

Ther is a story that makes more sense to me and is far less stressful. And that’s the story of life as lila, as divine play. We can still use the stories of goals, tests, or purposes if they seem helpful, although these stories are seen in the context of the play. We can still grow, mature, and heal, and that too is part of the play. We can even believe stories, and that happens as part of the play.

(more…)

Why do I feel the way I do?

 

A friend of mine asked in a Facebook update why do I feel the way I do? 

That’s probably a question many of us have.

I’ll say a few words about it through the lens of Living Inquiries, since that’s what I am exploring most these days.

Through looking at the images and words connected with the sensations, and feeling the sensations, we get to see how the mind creates the experience of whatever we are feeling. We get to see and recognize the components, and how it makes up a certain experience. That’s one answer to why we are feeling the way we do.

As part of it, we get to see the many associations to the feeling, including perhaps fears or hopes about the future, and painful or joyful images about the past. We may even get some hints about how this identification (velcro) was created way back in time, perhaps even early childhood. (That’s not so important in itself, but the images, words, and sensations making up those early stories are.) That’s another answer.

Using another approach, I can see this part of my experience as a being, and have a dialog with it, or hold satsang with it. I can ask it who it is. What it’s doing here. How it sees me. How it would like me to relate to it. What would satisfy it forever. And more.

We can also answer the question other ways. For instance, whatever I am feeling is an invitation to rest with it, find love for it, and ask some simple questions about it to see what’s really there. (Especially if the experience is uncomfortable, but even when it’s not.) It’s an invitation to recognize it as an individual expression of a more universal pattern, something shared by most or (almost) all human beings, and perhaps also other beings. It’s an invitation to be more honest with myself, and perhaps others, about what’s really here. It’s an invitation to meet it with kindness in myself, and even others when I (imagine I) see it there. It’s an invitation to heal and mature.

And, it’s an expression of life. It’s life – the Universe, Existence – expressing, experiencing, and exploring itself. It’s the play of life.

Dark forces?

 

Here in Europe, I have come across a couple of people who talk about “dark forces” or entities, and claim to have seen them.

It’s quite possible that something may appear as dark forces, and yet…..

It’s so easily a distraction. It can be made into a belief, which in turn can be stressful and misleading. It can put a cause out there and a victim here.

Here are some other ways of looking at it, which may be more helpful:

It’s all lila – the play of life (AKA the divine). The appearances, our interpretations and everything else.

It’s all happening within and as what we are (AKA awareness, capacity).

It’s all unfindable. I cannot find it – forces, entities, dark, light, causes, outside, inside, me – outside of words, images and sensations.

It’s a projection. Whatever I see “out there” is also here. I can take any story I have about what’s out there, and find how it’s true for me too. I can find a specific example of how it’s true for me, and then another, and another.

None of this is saying that what can appear as dark forces/entities doesn’t exist. That question is not so relevant in this context. (Although it could be interesting as a research topic.) What’s more interesting to me, is what’s more true. And for me, that’s lila, that it’s happening as what I am, that it’s – all of it – unfindable, and that I can find in me and here what I see “out there”.

There are also other stories about this that are as or more true, at least for me, than the standard ones I have heard. For instance, it’s all love.

These forces reflect back to me what’s here, helping me to see it and take responsibility for it, and that’s love.

It’s (unquestioned, unloved) fear and wounds in me that makes me behave in ways that may appear dark and self-destructive. These parts of me wants to protect me, and that’s love.

I can hold these parts of me in quiet presence and love. That’s the invitation, and – in a sense – what they seek and wish for.

In all of these ways, it’s really love. It’s love all around. (It may seem scary, and the opposite of love, before it’s met with curiosity and love, before it’s questioned and loved.)

A final thing here: This is not condoning any harmful or hurtful action. To the contrary, this allows for a more clear and wise action, including saying “no” to certain behaviors. I can find presence and love for hurt and wounded parts of me, and that makes it more possible for me to not act on them in hurtful ways. (Not that it’s always that easy or straight forward. There is often a confused phase before the way I relate to these hurts and wounds heal, and perhaps they heal too.)

(more…)

If I could decide the content of my own dreams

 

As I woke this morning, this question returned to me:

How would it be if I was aware of dreaming while dreaming? What would I do if I could decide the content of my own dreams? Would my choices change over time?

Most of us would probably first go for our “dream” life. All our goals met. Our wishes fulfilled. Perhaps an easy and interesting life, in a house at a nice location, with some travel, and shared with good friends and family.

It would get predictable and slightly boring after a while, so why not add unpredictability, surprise, and some challenges? It would helps us stay alert and interested, and help us push our boundaries and discover new things about ourselves and the world.

But even that may get slightly boring after a while. After all, we know it is a dream. The challenges are no more real for us than the ones we watch in a movie or read in a book. The stakes are not very high. How can we raise the stakes and make it more interesting? By forgetting that we are dreaming.

(more…)

The benefits of belief

 

What are some of the benefits of belief? Of taking a story as true? Of identifying with its viewpoint and the identity that comes from it?

One obvious benefit is that it helps channel attention and action, often with an element of compulsiveness.

We also get to explore what is inside of the story, the world and options available within that story.

We get to notice what happens when we take a story as true, the dynamics of taking a story as true.

We get to filter the world in a particular way, adding to the richness of experience.

We get to filter the world through a sense of an I with an other, and also the viewpoint of the story and its corresponding identity.

Of course, most of this can happen when we use a story as guide for attention and action, even if it is not taken as true. We can still use it to channel attention and action, we still get to explore the world through its viewpoint and identities. We still get to add to the richness of experience through it.

The difference is the drama and reality that comes when the story is taken as true. The story and what it creates – including a sense of a separate I – seems real and substantial, and we act as if it is. And that is the unique benefit of believing a story.

What otherwise may appear as a game (lila) is now taken as a real death-and-life drama. That is the real and juicy gift of beliefs.

(more…)

The mistake

 

There is a core mistake in most of our lives: We take stories as true, including the basic story of a separate I in whatever form it takes, for instance as a doer and observer.

And yet, that mistake is not a mistake. It has infinite causes. And it is part of the play of God, another way for God to explore and experience itself. How else would God experience itself as finite? How else would God experience drama, and being completely caught up in drama? How else would God experience the drama of seeking and eventually “finding” itself?

The initial mistake only appears as a real mistake when stories are taken as true….

(more…)

A thought experiment: What if could chose content of dreams?

 

I keep coming back to this one as well…

Alan Watts suggested this exploration:

What if I could chose the content of my dreams, and each dream contained lifetimes of experiences, what type of dreams would I chose?

I may start out with choosing to get everything I want. (Everything my personality wants). Wealth. Leisure. Success. Security. Tropical beaches. Intimacy. Pleasure. Happiness.

After a while, that may get a little boring and stale, so I would introduce something to spice it up, maybe some light challenges. Some minor snakes in the paradise.

But knowing that it is a dream makes these challenges less interesting, so I may chose to forget that I am dreaming, as I am dreaming, just to spice it up further.

Even forgetting that it is a dream, light challenges may get a little stale, so I may chose to make the challenges more heavy, more dramatic. Poverty. Disease. Violence. Fall from grace.

To spice it up even further, I may chose to realize – or have an intuition – that it is a dream, and then strive to recognize it as a dream in the midst of the dream. Strive to know that it is a dream, even as it unfolds. And to recognize this consistently, through the different dream situations.

(more…)

Just a story? Yes, no, and Lila

 

Is a story just a story?

Yes, it is, because it is only a story. It is an overlay of thought making the world appear a certain way.

There are the basic stories of an I with an Other, extent, continuity and so on, overlaid on what happens in the sense fields. These are usually only noticed if we look a little closer, for instance through exploring the sense fields.

And there are the familiar discursive stories using language and words, the ways we talk with ourselves and others.

And no, it isn’t just a story.

Each story has some truth to it. But so do each of its reversals, and all of them have value only as a practical tool guiding our human self in the world. Or, sometimes, in guiding it in noticing what is really is. In that sense, stories has a practical value.

And they do also have another, very important, function. They create a sense of drama.

When identified with, they make the world of appearances seem real and substantial. They make the stories of a separate I adventuring in the world seem – temporarily – real and true.

They create lila. The drama of an I with an Other in its struggle to survive and enhance its life, and, sometimes, in its struggle to awaken.

Lila as inquiry

 

alan_watts1

Stories are really questions about the world, which means they are an invitation for inquiry.

The story of lila, of God playing hide and seek with itself, is just such a story, as Alan Watts so elegantly shows in this talk on Hinduism.

:: each dream a full life, what content would I choose? ::

Just as a thought experiment, say that each night I dreamt a full human life, from birth to death, in great detail. And say I could choose the content of these dreams, with no limitations.

What would I do?

Maybe we would start with a few months of dreams that fulfills all our most immediate desires. Then, it may get a little boring, so why not add some drama? And to spice it up, why not forget within the dream that it is a dream? And to really make it juicy, why not take it to an extreme?

:: each day the same day, how would I want to live it? ::

I just watched Groundhog Day for the first time (better late than never), and that story too is really a question for ourselves, an invitation to inquiry. If I lived the same day over and over, how would I live that day? How would I, eventually, want to live that day?

(more…)

What if we could choose our dreams?

 

I listened to the Alan Watts podcasts about Hindu mythology, which is specifically about Brahma and lila, God playing hide-and-seek with itself.

One part I found especially interesting is in the third segment where he explores what we would do if we had complete freedom to choose our night dreams?

For a few months, we would probably want to dream about having all sorts of riches and pleasures. But it would get boring and predictable after a while.

Since we know it is just a dream, and we can’t really get hurt by it, we may then choose to include some drama in the dream to make it more interesting. Something is at stake, and we may or may not get it.

And to make it even more juicy, we may choose to make it into a life and death drama, to see how far we can take it. After all, it is just a dream and we don’t really get hurt.

(more…)

Nothing has ever happened

 

In the Star Trek TOS episode Errand of Mercy, the Organians several times says nothing has happened, in spite of a Klingon invasion and several hundreds of their own dead. And that is also what some spiritual teachers in this planet says.

In what way is that true? In what way has nothing ever happened?

When I look for myself, I find that it is true in a Big Mind sense.

There is awakeness and its content of what arises here and now, including stories about this content. It is a timeless and spaceless present, within which there are stories of space and time placed on top of what arises.

In that sense, nothing every happens. It is all the play of awakeness, which is inherently free from this play, allows this play, and forms itself into this play. Nothing every happens, in the sense that nothing really happens in a dream. It is all the play of and within the one awakeness.

And yet, something does happen, when all of this is filtered through stories. With stories, there is a whole world of form and objects, including living beings, and a lot certainly happens within this world and to all of these beings.

If those stories are taken as real, then there is an I here that something happens to, and a lot of drama. I take the play of awakeness for solid objects in a real world, playing itself out in a drama of life and death importance.

If they are directly seen as only stories, and the consequences of taking these stories for real are also directly seen, then it is all different.

Then, we can freely play along and engage with the game, but now also seeing that nothing really and ever happens. It is all the play of the awakeness.

Good and evil, absolute and relative

 

goodandevil1.jpg

Over the last few weeks, I have come across several references to Buddhism and The Work, and other similar approaches, as leading to nihilism… It is obviously coming from people who haven’t tried it out for themselves, and project something onto it, but it can still be useful to look at.

The easiest way to talk about it is through the filter of the absolute and relative

From the absolute, from void awake to itself, no stories are real… they have only limited and temporary truth to them, their reversals each also have truth to them, and altogether they reveal the inherent neutrality of any situation. It is all God, God’s will, the play and appearances of God. No matter how it appears, it is just appearances temporarily covering up God’s play. The world of form, the content of awareness, is the infinitely varied faces of God.

If this becomes a belief, a story taken as true, it can look pretty weird… it can easily take the form of nihilism, apathy, anti-social behavior, lack of empathy, reckless disregard for social norms and rules, and so on, dependent on what else is going on in the personality.

But if it is realized, if void is awake to itself, it is very different… here, it is expressed through natural empathy and compassion, through a deepening and maturing of the human self it is expressed through. It is expressed in a deeply human way… It looks like clarity, wisdom, compassion and wholehearted engagement in the world. It looks like a life lived for the benefit of the larger whole, in a deeply (and deepening) mature and skillful way.

It is the void playing the game through a human self, knowing it is a game, and acting from the compassion, wisdom and engagement that naturally comes up in this human self when it functions in the context of void awake to itself.

And this difference between belief and realization is why, on the relative level, all nondual traditions emphasize ethics and norms… before the void awakens to itself, live your life in an honest and sincere way, in a way that does as little harm to others and the larger whole as possible, and in a way that supports life as much as possible. These may all be the temporary appearances of the awake void, but this path is one that leads to the void to be awake to itself, and the suffering is real in that it is experienced as real… so why not reduce it as much as possible.

The absolute is free from good and evil (or bad), but at the relative everyday level, it is a useful distinction… live your life in a way that minimizes suffering and optimizes well-being and joy for yourself and others, including future generations.

The function of thoughts

 

Some of the functions of thoughts…

  • They help our human self explore, and orient and navigate in the world (they split up the seamless whole so we can explore segments of any shape and size, how they relate to each other, and the larger whole they are aspects of)
  • They help our human self communicate, with itself and others, here and now (although there is always some lag time) and between past, present and future
  • When believed in, they create a sense of a separate self, and I with and other, which is essential for lila (God playing hide-and-seek with itself)

Whether believed in or not, they help our human self explore, orient and navigate within the world of form. And when believed in, when a story is added to the stories saying they are true, they create a sense of a separate self, and the richness of the human drama.

Why haven’t we awakened yet?

 

It seems that lots of folks on the spiritual circuit wonder why they haven’t awakened yet. There is a resistance to what is (which happens to be what holds it, the appearance of non-awakening, in place.)

So why haven’t we awakened yet?

The immediate and technical reason is the resistance itself, which creates a sense of I and Other, splitting the seamless field of awakeness down the middle. This comes from a belief in a separate self, which in turn is propped up by innumerable other beliefs. The initial sense of I and Other is elaborated through lots of different identities which define exactly how this I is different from the rest of what is.

Another reason is that it is all the play of emptiness. It is all the spontaneous expression and manifestation of God in the form realm. It is lila, the dance of God. God manifesting, experiencing and exploring itself as and in form, including taking itself to be just a segment of this form.

Any experience, independent of its content, is God experiencing itself. Awakened or not, it is still God exploring and experiencing itself in its vastness and immense richness.

Specifically, there is a tremendous richness in the exploration and experiencing of being a separate self. Why would God let that go right away? There is so much more to explore and experience there, so it makes sense to allow the exploration to continue a little longer.

It may not always be what our human self wants, but that too is part of the game.

So if we take ourselves as this human self, and have stories about why we haven’t awakened, then exploring the genuine gifts of not having awakened may help.

It takes some of the charge out of our initial stories, allowing us to see that they are only stories, and revealing the inherent neutrality of the situation.

It also helps reduce resistance to what is, or rather identification with and fueling of this resistance. This in turn eases a sense of something being off. And it also allows for an easier noticing of what already and always is. A field of awake emptiness and form, seamless, with no center, sometimes with a sense of a separate self and sometimes not.

Neutrality and appreciation

 

When beliefs are gone, the inherent neutrality in any situation is revealed.

From the emptiness side, we see that it is just emptiness dancing, the play of God.

From the form side, we see that any story about it, and all its reversals, all have a grain of truth in them.

Both reveal the inherent neutrality in the situation.

But what happens when all situations are revealed as inherently neutral?

What happens, at least in my experience, is a deep appreciation for life, for existence, for the world of form, for the play of God, and for this particular life. A deep gratitude and appreciation for it, as it is, independent of its particulars.

Beyond appreciation, there is also a quiet and deep joy in the freedom of the play of life and God, as revealed here and now. And beyond this, a joy in the freedom of the play of stories and their reversals, all revealing some relative truth.

The gifts of misidentification, suffering, friction and resistance

 

When we take ourselves to be a separate self, it is natural to want to avoid suffering and friction. And if we identify ourselves as a spiritual practitioner, at least in some traditions, we don’t like resistance and misidentification much either. In fact, our whole practice is often aimed at getting rid of it.

As long as we want to get rid of it, or anything, we are stuck in it. We are identified with content of awareness (resistance, beliefs), which is exactly what we were trying to escape.

And when we finally see this, really see and feel it, allowing even this identification to go, we are fine with all of it… which is also when it tends to fall away.

It is tricky. Wanting something to change is what traps us. And only by fully and wholeheartedly allowing it all can it change, but by then it doesn’t matter anymore. We are doing it for another reason… because we see we don’t have a choice, and because we want to be consciously more closely aligned with what is.

One of the ways to be more consciously aligned with what is, and to allow it all, even the suffering and resistance, is to explore it from the emptiness and form sides more in depth.

From the emptiness side, it is all OK. It is the temporary form play of emptiness. All forms are revealed as inherently neutral. Or as God manifesting and exploring itself, as God’s will.

From the form side, we can explore the genuine gifts of what we resists.

At one level, we see that suffering is an invitation to wake up. When we are not fully awake to who and what we are, there is suffering.

At another level, we see that the misidentification is a part of the play of God. It is God temporarily forgetting what it is, and exploring itself as some small realms of its form aspect (as a separate individual.) It is beautiful, a beautiful play and exploration, even when suffering comes up because of it.

And resistance is an inherent part of misidentification. When we take ourselves to be a separate self, as a region of the world of form, resistance is what allows it in the first place.

Also, resistance and misidentification is what allows for an exploration of parts of the form realm in more detail. It filters a lot out, so that some regions of form come into the foreground and there is a deeper and more intimate familiarity with it. It is part of God’s exploration of itself.

In a very real way, to resist any of this, or to put it down in any way, is to resist and put down God.

The freedom to let go

 

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

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

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

After all, it is all the play of emptiness.

That is how it looks from the emptiness side.

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

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

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

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

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

Dream: detective work (lila)

 

I have been given the task of tracing a person, and it turns out to involve many people and situations, and a large amount of drama and surprising twists and turns. Finally, as it reaches its climax, I find the person at the bottom level of a very tall building. It turns out that my client and the target, and several others involved, were all the same person. I notice how it seems that everyone and everything were that same person, apart from me searching (and working) for him, and it puzzles me.

As I wake up, I stay with the discrepancy of everyone being the same person, apart from me as the searcher. I also realize that the dream seems to be all form the felt-sense perspective, not the conscious view, and that at this felt-sense level, there is indeed a sense of I and Other, I as searcher (doer, chooser) and Other as anybody and anything else. The dream seems to be a reminder for me to notice that, take it into account… there is still a sense of I and Other at the felt-sense level.

The dream is a variation of Lila… God playing hide and seek with itself, through all of us seeking God, and then realizing that there never was anybody or anything but God in this whole drama.

And it is also another variation of the dream of a composer who is a composite of many composers, and his instrument which can make the sounds of many instruments. The individuality of each is preserved, many combinations are available, yet as one composer and one instrument.

Playing the game: taking a fictional character as real

 

Say there is a fictional character, and you want to make the stories about him or her more engrossing for yourself. What do you do?

Pretending a fictional character is real

One way is to pretend the person really exists, to take the stories seriously and as reality. That way, you can allow yourself to go into it more fully, to put more energy, attention and interest into it than you otherwise would.

And that is exactly what many Sherlock Holmes scholars and fans do. They play what some refer to as The Game: studying Sherlock Holmes as if he was a real flesh-and-blood person, Dr. Watson his biographer, Conan Doyle his literary agent, and the stories themselves histocial documents.

Playing the game to bring out the richness of the stories

In this program on Sherlock Holmes from To the Best of Our Knowledge, Leslie Clinger – author of The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, talks about The Game, or Holmesian Speculation.

Listen about 25 minutes into the program:

It’s a game. And it’s a game we play to enhance our appreciation of the story. When we treat them as real, we can justify spending a great deal more effort in researching the background of the stories and in working up explanations for the stories in a way that brings out their richness.

Lila

And so it is with our lives as well, according to many mystics and spiritual traditions.

This human self that there is so close an identification with, that seem as an I, that is taken so seriously, that appear so real, so solid, so true. This human self has no I in it anywhere. There is no I in the seeing of it, in the awake space it arises within and as. There is no I in the seen, in this human self and all its aspects: its sensations, feelings, emotions, thoughts, behaviors.

There is no I anywhere in the seeing or the seen. There is only the Ground of empty awakeness the seeing and the seen arises within and as, with no I anywhere. There is doing, yet no doer anywhere. There is choosing, yet no chooser anywhere. This human self just happens, absent of any I. It lives its own life, as anything else in the world of phenomena lives its own life.

This self, as an I, as a separate entity, as a chooser, as a doer, is fictional.

And what makes it a more interesting and engrossing character? To pretend it is real. To take it as I. To have a close identification with it. To live as if it is separate from anything else. To see myself as it, and subject to birth and death, joy and suffering, health and happiness, gain and loss, and all the other ingredients of the human drama.

There is no drama without identification with this human self. And the drama is what makes it engrossing. It is what makes it interesting, at least for a while.

A new flavor of the game: seeking awakening

And then there is a weariness of this drama. A growing readiness to move on. For Ground to awaken to its own nature as awake space, as seeing and seen, absent of I.

There is a new flavor of the game, not much different from all the other flavors, and this one is called spiritual seeking and practice.

This and the other ones are all games where human self is taken as an I, and the new flavor is to try to have this I awaken. Which of course is impossible. This human self can never awaken, and there is no I anywhere anyway – only a temporary and mistaken identification as an I and this human self, but it makes for another interesting chapter of the drama.

A new game: this human self functioning in the context of realized selflessness

And then there is a significantly new game: Ground awakens to – or rather remembers – its own nature, and now the game becomes to allow this human self to live from this awakening, to mature, evolve, interact, experience, explore within this new context of realized selflessness.

It is a whole new section of the story, yet one that is no less juicy. And one that has no end, at least as long as there is a functional connection to human self.

Hide and seek, right here

 

Lila… cosmic play, God playing hide and seek with itself.

It can often sound a little abstract. It can easily remain just another attractive (or not) idea.

But it is more intimate than so. It is alive right here, in immediate experience.

Right here, is the open awake space. That which all content happens within.

Right here is the open awake space forming itself into its own content. The content that takes the form of this human self and the rest of the world.

Right here, is the identification with the fluid content. The seeing of I as a part of this content.

And right here, is the wish to awaken. Right here is the desire for Ground to awaken to its own nature. To notice itself as Ground, as seeing and seen, as inherently absent of I anywhere.

Lila

 

I have been listening to more audio of Byron Katie facilitating inquiry with a range of people, and am again struck by how clear she is – and the clarity others arrive at through the inquiries.

It is similar to the Big Mind process in that people with little or no background in anything “spiritual” speak like sages – often arriving a deep insights mirroring what is said by gurus, teachers, sages and saints from many traditions and time periods.

Lila

I am also struck by something else: finding peace with what is, through seeing through our stories and allowing the belief in them to fall away, is only possible when we discover lila. That it is all the play of God.

Seeing through our stories, and discovering lila, are two sides of the same coin.

And when we see through even one of our stories, allowing the belief in it to fall away, we have a glimpse of lila. Seeing through another story, there is another taste of lila. And seeing through the story of “I” – as a segment of what is, we arrive fully in a realization of lila. There is the realization that what appeared as our business, is God’s business – and always was.

There is only God. There is no mistake.

A Richness In Ordinary Life

 

If all is the play of God, then there must be a great deal of interest and richness in an ordinary life. There are, by definition, far more ordinary and average lives than the obviously extraordinary ones, and why would there be unless there was an extraordinary richness even in these ordinary and unassuming lives?

All of this – the words play, interest, richness, ordinary, extraordinary and so on – are just abstractions, an overlay of what is. Still, is may point to something beyond these abstractions – something to explore and see what emerges from it.

In this case, it may help us see our own lives – as they are, often ordinary and unassuming – as being immensely rich. Rich enough for God to want to manifest in this particular way, to explore itself in this life as it is right now.

And it also seems that when we allow our experiences more fully into awareness, when we are with our experiences, we realize this richness directly.

That is certainly the case for me. When I am with my experiences, there is an immense richness there – often tinged with some bliss as well, independent on whatever other content may be there.