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.

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Adyashanti: One of the most beautiful things about spiritual maturity

 

One of the most beautiful things about spiritual maturity is that you see the divine in all its guises and you stop arguing about which ones are right.

– Adyashanti, 2017 Mount Madonna Retreat

In a narrow sense, we can take this as Spirit revealing itself to itself as love, wisdom, any and all content of experience, the void everything happens within and as, and so on.

In a slightly wider sense, we see that those expressing awakening realize, notice, and emphasize different aspects of the divine, and use whatever language is available to them through their culture and traditions.

And in an even wider sense, this stopping to arguing which one is right applies to any aspect of life, and is a feature of both spiritual maturity and the ordinary garden variety human maturity.

We get to see that it’s all life playing itself out.

Here are some examples:

Spirit may awaken to itself through some remaining filters of duality, so spirit seems different from (most) content of experience, and the world in general. This is a stepping stone, and with some maturity, we recognize that this is a stepping stone.

Any realization, revelation, and insight is a stepping stone. Awakening continues to open up, clarify, deepen, and find new ways to be expressed through this human life.

Genuine awakenings and revelations may be expressed through a variety of traditions, terminology, and images. Of course, it tends to get mixed up in fantasies and imaginations, and that’s OK too. That’s part of the play.

Any experience is Spirit itself, including those our human self does not like. For me, what I sometimes call the “dark night of the soul” has shown me where I still don’t get this in a more embodied and visceral way.

In short, nothing is wrong. It’s all life living itself out. It’s the play of Spirit. As we continue to realize this, our argument with reality lessens. And life continues to find ways to help us see where we still argue. It’s an ongoing process.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

 

Luke: What do you see?

Rey: Light…. darkness….. the balance….?

Luke: It’s so much bigger.

This seems to be the mainstream interpretation, and although I try to avoid topics that are covered in the mainstream, this one is too good to pass up.

In many spiritual traditions, and in our own ordinary maturing as human beings, we tend to initially split between good and bad, light and darkness. We seek the light and avoid the darkness. That’s the safer approach, initially, until we gain some more experience and reach a certain level of maturity.

And then, we realize we need to outgrow it. We see the pitfalls in splitting life in that way. We realize that we all have both in us, and if we identify with one we have to suppress the other which doesn’t work in the long run. At a social level, we end up demonizing groups, which is not good for any of us.

So we need to find both sides in us. Find a larger whole that already embraces and includes both. Find ways to live with and from both. And in that process, we find some maturity and a different and more real type of kindness. We don’t have to demonize anything in ourselves or others. We recognize ourselves in the whole world, as it is. There is a deeper and more genuine empathy.

Is that why it’s time for the Jedi to end? If the Jedi only know and use the light side, they are out of touch with life and reality. A new approach is needed. And Rey may be one of the first ones to be trained in this new approach.

Embracing both sides we find something so much bigger than either one. So much richer, fuller, more mature, and – if done with some skill – more kind in a real way.

It can also be a dangerous transition. We go from a safer and more immature identification with the good, to getting to know and embracing both sides. We often make mistakes in this transition, and that’s how we learn and mature. That’s how we find the deeper form of kindness that can come from embracing and befriending both.

There is nothing new here. This is part of any relatively mature spiritual tradition, and it’s what we realize growing up – at least most of us. It’s also not new in literature, mythology, or even movies. But if this is the theme of the new Star Wars movie, it’s certainly good that it comes into mainstream culture in this way. It is a message that can be helpful to many, especially younger ones, and especially in the US.

It may not be popular, but I still have to say that the US culture tends to be more obsessed with the good/bad split than many other cultures and has a more immature take on it. Evangelical Christians, and any form of Christian or religious fundamentalism, is an example of that more immature view. Other examples are, unfortunatly, how the US media tends to frame issues, and aspects of US foreign policy.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this approach although it does create some suffering and is dangerous if taken too far. And it’s also a stepping stone. One of an infinite number of stepping stones. Each one with its own drawbacks that we eventually discover, take to heart, and partially resolve with the next more inclusive approach.

And the Last Jedi movie poster is awesome. A great take on classic 50s sci-fi art.

Note: When Rey says “light” there is an image of Leia and a rebellion control room (I assume), when she says “darkness” we see Kylo Ren’s charred helmet (I assume), and when she says “the balance?” we see some books perhaps symbolizing wisdom and maturity.

Note II: I see that people talk about “grey Jedi” as a term for those who embrace the larger and more inclusive wholeness of the light and the dark. I don’t like the term since it sounds bland and as if the light and dark blend together. It’s much more about including both, the full spectrum. Maybe “full spectrum Jedi” is more accurate but obviously less catchy.

Note III: As mentioned above, there is an apparently safe simplicity in dividing the world into good and bad, and identifying with the good. It seems safe, and it’s also a bit naive since that’s not how the world works. We all have both in us, and identifying with parts within that split leads to scapegoating, dehumanization, us-them attitudes, and struggles with others and oneself. So eventually we realize we need to include both. We need to find both in ourselves, and learn to befriend both and live with and from both. And in that, there is a deeper and more mature kindness and compassion towards ourselves and others.

The simple dualism is a stepping stone. And the exploration of a more inclusive wholeness is also a series of stepping stones.

There is a slight risk here: the initial exploration of wholeness can be used to justify living from parts of ourselves in an unkind and less wise way. We can tell ourselves that “it’s good to embrace all of me, and that means it’s OK to be mean” or greedy, or hateful, or whatever it may be. I certainly saw that with some of the senior students at K. Zen Center. They used the wholeness principle to justify being jerks.

That too, of course, comes with consequences, and those consequences invite us to find a kinder and more mature path.

All as an expression of life

 

During the initial awakening in my teens, it was very clear that all is an expression of life. Whatever it is, it’s an expression of life. (I remember even using those words to express it.)

Listening to Adyashanti from his online course last year, I heard him suggest that as an exploration.  How is it to see everything as an expression of life?

That’s a good reminder or pointer for me too.

It does seem, as so many say, that during the initial opening or awakening, all is freely given. Then, it fades, and it’s a matter of doing the work to find it here too.

If I clearly saw that all is an expression of life, can I find that now too?

If it was clear that all is consciousness (or awareness, or Spirit, or God), can I find that here and now?

If it was clear that there is no separate “I” here, can I find that here and now?

If it was clear that what’s happening is the absolutely best that can happen, can I find that now?

Can I find it here too, in my current experience, even if the content of my experience now is different from back then? Can I find it, independent of the particulars of my current experience?

This is a step in the direction of “spiritual maturity”, and one step beyond the given ease of the honeymoon.

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Teachers and audience

 

There seems to be little correlation between how clear or mature and teacher appears to be, and the size of their audience.

Some may be quite clear and/or mature and have a relatively large audience, such as the historical Buddha, the Dalai Lama, and even Byron Katie. These people live their insights, and they present it in a way that’s inviting and helpful for a large group of people. They are interested in and able to express it in a way that meets a wide range of people where they are. They may also be somewhat charismatic, or be good business people. All of this helps them reach a wider and larger audience.

Some may be less clear and/or mature, and still have a larger audience (some popular new age authors come to mind). They meet people where they are, and do so in an engaging way.

This is also very good. It’s a stepping stone, as any teaching or insight is. There is always further to go. It can always be more clear. It can always sink in a bit further. As it’s lived, there is always more to discover.

Some may be quite clear and/or mature and have a smaller audience, even a very small one – just their family and friends. I assume most lives where reality awakes to itself in a relatively clear way fits this category. They may be content with a simple life. They may not have the human packaging to be a teacher or reach a wide audience. They may not be drawn to it. They may be clear it’s not needed. And that’s very good too. Reality awake to itself is lived in any number of ways, including as just an ordinary person living an ordinary life.

When I wrote clear and/or mature, it’s because I suspect that levels of clarity and maturity may be only moderately correlated. Some seem clear and less mature (Ken W. comes to mind), others seem quite mature and somewhat less clear (the head Breema teacher), while some appear clear and mature (Byron Katie, Adyashanti, Bonnie G., Barry). Of course, if there is clarity and it’s allowed to sink in, that does provide fertile ground for maturity at a human level.

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Healing and maturing beyond the mirror

 

Exploring the world as a mirror is a great way to invite in maturing and healing. I see dynamics or characteristics in others, and see, feel and eventually find appreciation for it in myself.

The next step – going beyond the mirror – is equally interesting, and takes the maturing and healing to another level.

I notice that my world is my own world of images. The overlay of images on pure perception that makes sense of the world. The overlay that filters, interprets, sets imagined boundaries, imagined labels and so on. That is what creates my world.

So maturing and healing has to happen there too, in that world of images. It is, in a quite literal sense, a healing and maturing of those images.

As I notice that – in immediacy, as it happens – there is already an invitation for healing and maturing.

And as I work with it further – through inquiry, visualization, prayer and so on – there is an invitation for even further healing and maturing.

And even an invitation for what I am to notice itself more clearly, to become familiar with itself, for the center of gravity of what I take myself to be to shift into what already is.

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Being completely normal

 

We must be completely normal people, who have our feet firmly planted on the ground, but ever aware that while we live in this world, we are not of it.
– from an introduction to an interview with Zlatko Sudac

This is another pointer that can be very helpful.

How sane, mature, wise and kind am I in a conventional sense? How do I appear to others? If they see something in me that is not sane, mature, wise or kind, what is the truth in it? Can I find it for myself?

Is there any reason to not appear sane, mature, wise and kind in this situation?

If something looks weird, what is going on? Am I acting on a belief there? Am I acting on a fixed viewpoint, identified with a role or identity?

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Sane, even in the most ordinary way

 

Awakening is all about sanity, even in the most ordinary way.

A simple way to put it is that growing up as a human in the world is part of the process, and it happens before awakening, during the process of arriving at an abiding and embodied awakening, and within an abiding awakening. Growing up is a continuing process, and it includes healing and maturing, receptivity and less neediness, and acting in a more clear and kind way. And this allows for a more sane way of being in the world – also as seen from a conventional view.

Waking up is what we are noticing itself, releasing identification out of stories and identities, leaving a fluid use of stories as tools. And this too – especially when it happens through a relatively healthy and mature human self – tends to appear clear, kind and sane, even in an everyday sense.

And finally, when there is a freedom to use stories as tools, there is a freedom to follow cultural norms and conventions as well, and to do this from clarity, kindness and with skillful means.

For myself, wherever I am on the path, I can use this as a pointer. If someone sees my actions as anything less than healthy, sane and mature, it is an invitation for me to sincerely find the truth in what they are saying, and take it in. (Especially if I notice a tendency to want to justify or defend my actions or views!) In general, it is an invitation to find any stories I take as true that may lead me to behave that way and inquire into these stories. And this is especially true if there is a pattern in how others respond to me and see my actions.

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Growing and waking up, and reasons for practice

 

Just to summarize the previous post…

To me, right now at least, it seems helpful to differentiate practice aimed at growing up (healing/maturing) and waking up (to what we are).

If my motivation and intention is to reduce suffering and find happiness – to get/compensate for/escape from something – it seems appropriate to emphasize a practice aimed at healing and maturing, finding my wholeness as who I am, this human self.

And if my motivation is truth and love –  a quiet curiosity or love of existence – it makes more sense to aim at waking up, inviting what I am to notice itself. (And also working at maturing which aids awakening, and helps it be expressed in a more fluid way.)

It can be helpful to sincerely investigate and clarify our real motivation. Although in real life, it doesn’t necessarily make that much difference, especially if we use tools that work simultaneously at both levels. The ones that help us grow up, and invite in a waking up as well.

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Reasons for practice at the levels of who & what we are

 

Somewhat convoluted…

I find different reasons for practice at the levels of who I am (this human self) and what I am (that which experience happens within, to and as).

At the level of who I am, the reasons for practice are healing and maturing. And at the level of what I am, inviting what I am to notice itself, the motivations are truth and love.

Right now, it seems helpful to differentiate the two.

At the level of who I am, I practice to heal and mature, and this reduces suffering and sets the stage for happiness. It invites in both, in a genuine way and to an extent that is sufficient for most of us.

The world is a mirror for me, so I find in my own human self what I see in the wider world. There is a sense of wholeness, embracing the (evolving) fullness of who I am, of self-reliance. I am not looking for people or situations for happiness, but carry it with me in my own wholeness.

So this alone is a pretty good reason for practice, and – as mentioned – quite enough for many of us.

But for some of us, finding this approximate wholeness as who we are, is still not quite enough. We see that it is an approximate wholeness, no matter how much we work on it, and there is still a sense of I-Other, of a subtle separation, of something not quite right, of something missing, of not quite being home yet.

So then there is the practice at the level of what we are, inviting what we are to notice itself more clearly. The motivation here is truth and love, finding the truth of what we are, and acting on our inherent love for existence itself. (Said in a glib way, there is the love of truth, and also the truth of love.)

I am not practicing to get, compensate for, attain, or escape from anything. I am just practicing to find what is really true, and to act on and deepen my love for existence itself. (Aka God, Brahman, Tao, etc.)

The good news here is of course that the practices – the tools – we use in either case often are the same.

The Work, the Big Mind process, allowing/being with experience, exploring the sense fields, choiceless awareness practice, and many more practices, all work on the levels of who we are (inviting in healing and maturing) and what we are (inviting what we are to notice itself more clearly). The relative emphasis of the two depends somewhat on how we do the practice and our intention.

And even if we start with motivations at the who level (healing, maturing, release from suffering, fining happiness), it may shift (or not) into the motivations at the what level (truth and love).

So for myself, when I see motivations relating to healing and maturing – and reducing suffering and finding happiness, I know they are motivations at the who level. And when I find motivations of truth and love, I see that they belong to the what level.

This is quite different from what I see in most spiritual groups and traditions I am familiar with, and I am not sure if it is just a matter of preference or if I am missing something here.

For me, if I saw someone wanting healing/maturing, I would recommend finding increasing wholeness as who they are. That in itself gives a quite deep release from suffering, and invites in a stable happiness. It may not be “complete” but it is really quite good.

And if I saw someone with truth and love as their main motivation, I would point them in the direction of inviting what they are to notice itself. Of course also including the who level, since working on that level makes it easier for what we are to notice itself, it makes it easier for our human self to function in the world, and when what we are notices itself, it makes it easier for it to express itself more fluidly through our human self.

I would not promote a practice with the intention of what we are to notice itself, if what the person seeks is release from suffering, and happiness. It wouldn’t be honest, since a practice aimed at wholeness at the who level is more than sufficient for this.

Come to think about it, that may be why most Buddhist groups – although their “mission statement” is at what level awakening – often emphasize healing/maturing at the who level. Most people come from the motivation of seeking healing/maturing, and that is exactly what most groups and teachers emphasize.

For the few suckers (like me, it seems) who can’t help it and really want to find the truth and act on their love, there is always the additional teachings, and the additional work that invites what we are into noticing itself.

There are the few more steps beyond the healing/maturing at the who level.

Fully, in three ways

 

In everyday language, we sometimes talk about doing doing something fully, such as being fully responsible.

But what does that really mean?

For me, I can find three quite distinct meanings.

First, doing it fully in the meaning of wholehearted. I do it as fully as I can here and now, where I am, with what is available to me. I am wholeheartedly responsible, in the ways available to me here now.

Then, it means a deepening and maturing over time. What is available to me in terms of being responsible evolves over time, it deepens and matures for me. What appeared fully mature to me then, is not what fully mature means to me now.

And finally, it is the completeness that comes when what we are notices itself. In terms of being responsible, there is a completeness in seeing that there is no I with an Other here, and that everything arising is this I without an Other.

The first one has to do with what is possible for this human self right now, the second one with the maturing and development of this human self, and the third one with what we always and already are noticing itself.

And all three can be at play simultaneously.

I can be fully responsible in the conventional ways. Taking responsible for how I relate to myself and the wider world. Taking responsibility for my actions and their consequences in the world. Work with projections, and see right here what I see in others. Own disowned parts of me. Examine my beliefs, and find what is more true for me. Fully allow experience, as it is.

I can invite in and be receptive to this maturing and evolving over time. What responsible means to me now is not how it will look tomorrow, or in a year.

And I can invite what I am to notice itself, as that which content of experience happens within, to and as. As that which has no Other, so is free from being a victim – and also from (the idea of) being responsible.

Finally, it may be helpful to examine my beliefs around being responsible. I need to be responsible. It is better to be responsible. I need to be fully responsible. Is it true? Could it be that clinging to those beliefs makes me less responsible in certain ways? Less aligned with what is?

What is the difference of taking these stories as practical guidelines only and familiarizing myself with the truths in their reversals, and identifying with them and denying or being unaware of the truths in their reversals?

Trigger for this post: Two excellent posts by Vince on being responsible.

What Ground awakening does and doesn’t do, and what practice does and doesn’t do

 

It can be helpful to be clear about what Ground awakening does and doesn’t do, and what practice does and doesn’t do.

To put it bluntly, all Ground awakening does is change who or what we take ourselves to be. We find ourselves as awakeness, the content of experience as awakeness, and already absent of any I with an Other.

And practice does two things: It invites what we are to notice itself. (Ground awakening.) And it helps this human self heal, mature and develop.

What Ground awakening doesn’t necessarily do is change how this human self shows up in the world. Although it may happen to some extent.

Our human self do tend to reorganize within this new context of Ground awake to itself, but it is almost side effect, it takes time, and may need guidance by intention and specific practices to be more thorough.

And what practice doesn’t do is to control anything. Practice invites change for this human self, and it may invite what we are to notice itself, but that is about it. Whatever shows up within form are guests living their own lives, on their own schedule. And what we are noticing itself is also a guest, living its own life, on its own schedule.

So when we see people functioning within a context of Ground awakening, and they seem relatively healthy and mature, what we see is probably a combination of practice and awakening. The practice – including ordinary psychology and relationship work – has invited the human self to heal and mature, and the awakening may have encouraged that further.

In a practical sense, it doesn’t really matter. Whether we are looking for a more healthy and mature human self, or to notice what we really are, practice is a way to invite it in.

The trigger for this post: Noticing how Joel sometimes talks and writes in a way that may give the impression that Ground awakening does more than it does. And how students at CSS sometimes talk as if a Ground awakening is responsible for what practice is actually responsible for.

Happening to/for/as me

 

Some of the ways everything is happening to, for or as me…

If I see myself as an object in the world, and a victim, then things are happening to me.

If I see myself as an object in the world, and what is happening as a guide, a way to learn and mature, then it happens for me.

If I find myself as awakeness – this field of awakeness and form, then everything is happening within, to and as me. And here too, for me at my human level, as a guide, a way to learn and mature.

Whatever happens is a guide for me to find myself in my wholeness as a human being, to develop and mature as a human being, and to notice myself as what I already am, as awakeness.

It can be a guide in many ways.

I can use stress and reactiveness to find a belief, and then inquire into that belief.

I can use it as a starting point for a journey, for instance as they do in Process Work.

Or any of the many other approaches available.

In any case, it helps me find to find what appeared as Other as myself, at my human level, and as awakeness.

And since what happens is always fresh, in a conventional way and since the future and past only happens within a thought, there is always more to explore at human and awakeness levels.

The unmanifest awakening to itself, and the manifest awakening to itself too

 

When there is an awakening, it happens both for the unmanifest and the manifest.

The unmanifest – awareness, awake void – awakens to itself as the unmanifest, and as the manifest happening within, to and as itself.

The manifest – this human self and the wider world – similarly awakens to itself as awake void, and to itself as the manifest already and always inherently absent of an I with an other.

Both awakens to its nature as the field of awake void and form inherently absent of an I with an Other.

Both can, and usually do, happen suddenly. But the second one also take time to trickle through, to reorganize all the different parts of this human self within this new context of not being taken as an I with an Other. The realization is there, but deepening into the lived realization takes time. As long as this human self is still around, it continues to reorganize, mature and develop within this new context.

Disidentification from beliefs, fully allowing it all, and actively embrace the fullness of our human self

 

Whenever I use the word disidentification there is a part of me that cringe, because I know it can sound very different from how it is meant.

It can easily sound aloof, distant, transcendent, and all the other words that -rightly so – have associations of escape.

But the reality of it is very different.

The reality of it is that identification – with beliefs, identities, this human self and anything else – automatically creates resistance and ambivalence. We identify with certain beliefs and identities, and anything that does not fit this, whether it happens in this human self or the wider world, is resisted. We cannot help it. There is a great deal of ambivalence about our human self and the wider world, which creates drama, stress, escape, clinging, and resistance. We are part of it, yet also don’t want to be. We appreciate some of it, and want something else to go away. We disown parts of our self and what it means to be a human, and we build cases for how life should be different.

And a disidentification with this – with beliefs and identities and all that comes with it – is an allowing of it all. It is a wide embrace of who we are as a human being, and this life, and the world as it shows up. This is what automatically happens through disidentification.

Beyond this full allowing of it all, there is also an invitation for our human self to actively embrace all of what it is, to actively explore and own all its different parts and voices and subpersonalities. To actively live and become familiar with itself as it is mirrored in everyone else and everything in the wider world. To find a fluidity among a wide range of identities without getting caught up in blind identification with any of them. To engage with a much wider repertoire of ways of being in the world.

Far from being aloof, distant, unengaged, one-dimensional, or living up to any shoulds or identities, a disidentification with beliefs and identities allows and invites for an active embrace and living of all of what this human self is and matures into.

This does not automatically happen, but the invitation is there. And whether or not this invitation is taken depends on the interest and impulses of this human self, and it is really OK either way.

Although I have to say, emphasizing the active embrace of our human self is a juicy addition. Without it, there is just the automatic and passive allowing of whatever happens to manifest. With it, there is an active engagement, exploration and living of always more of the wholeness of this human self, and its unfolding development.

It is more fun. And just in terms of skillful means, it also makes sense. In our culture, the juicy engagement and embrace of all of what we are is more attractive to many of us than the traditional emphasis on transcending and escape. Why escape? This life may be messy, but it is what is here so why not actively embrace it beyond a passive allowing?

More and less radical

 

As there is a release attachment to stories, we become both more and less radical. We can maybe say that we become more radical at the depth, in a freedom from beliefs, and less radical at the surface, in an ability to meet people where they are and play with and use any story.

And, of course, that ability to meet people where they are, and use and play with any story as the situation calls for, is maybe the most radical.

It is the most radical, yet typically appears not radical at all. It just appears as deeply human and somewhat mature.

Seamlessness of psychology and spirituality, practice and daily life

 

Another topic that is pretty obvious…

Before Ground awakens to itself, it makes sense to do practices that invites Ground to notice itself and also makes it easier to be who we take ourselves to be. Why leave one out?

And after Ground awakens to itself, it makes sense to continue with practices that allows who we took ourselves to be, this human self, to continue to mature and develop. After all, it is who Ground-awake-to-itself is expressed through in the world, and part of the exploration and development of skillful means.

Some practices focus on one or the other, and that is fine and useful. And other cover both areas seamlessly.

Among those covering both areas…

  • Being-with of whatever arises
  • The Work
  • Big Mind process
  • Headless experiments
  • Heart practices such as gratitude and rejoicing in others happiness.
  • Stability practice and meditative inquiry

Each of these (a) makes it easier to be who we take ourselves to be, (b) makes it easier for Ground to notice itself, and (c) makes it easier for our main tool for skillful means following awakening, this human self, to continue to mature and develop.

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Quadrant: Beyond & embrace, noticing & working with

 

It is always fun to play around with quadrants, partly because four field is just enough to make some interesting differentiations and also few enough to grasp right away.

Three that comes up for me is (a) inner/outer, one/many (as Ken Wilber has popularized through is aqal model), (b) self/other, human/spirit (practice), and (c) beyond/embrace, noticing/working with (path).

When I explore the last one, I see that…

I can go beyond and include polarities in two ways: by noticing and also by working with it.

In general, I notice that life is already beyond and includes any and all polarities. And I work with it in my own human life, exploring how it arises and is expressed in this life.

And I can filter it further through each quadrant…

I go beyond and notice by noticing that life is already and always beyond any and all polarities. First, the world of form is a fluid seamless whole beyond any pole and polarity. (When I find myself as Witness, as pure seeing, this is alive in immediate awareness. Whatever arises, here and now, is revealed as aspects of one fluid seamless whole.) Also, when I find myself as awake void I also go beyond polarities, and when I notice the world of form as nothing other than this awake void, I similarly find the world of form beyond polarities.

I go beyond and work with it by finding in my human self whatever I see out there in others and the world. I allow my identity at my human level to embrace both ends of any polarity. I familiarize myself with it, and include it in my active repertoire. All this is a process with no end point and takes work. This includes letting go of beliefs and identities, and allowing a fluidity of views and a more inclusive human identity. This human self deepens and matures into its own unique and universal humanity.

I include and notice by noticing that this fluid seamless whole of form already and always includes any and all poles and polarities. And also by noticing that the play of awake void as form likewise always and already includes any and all poles and polarities.

I include and work with by familiarizing myself with each pole and polarity in this human self, and how they arise and are expressed in this human life, and how they can be expressed. As before, this is an ongoing process, and involves a maturing and development of this human self.

As usual, there is a mutuality among all of these. Working with one makes it easier to work with the three others.

By noticing that which is already and always beyond and embracing any polarity, I can more easily work with it in my own human life

And by working with it in my own life, I can more easily notice that which – in its form and void aspects – already and always are beyond and includes any polarity.

The noticing part has to do with Ground awakening, with Enlightenment.

And the working part has to do with the maturing and development of this individual human and soul, which makes it easier to be who we take ourselves to be before Ground awakening, and is an intimate part of skillful means following a Ground awakening.

(more…)

The least human allowing the most human

 

It is ironic how finding ourselves as that which is furthest removed from the human (the awake void) is what allows for a deepening into what is most human… Finding ourselves as awake void, as nothing at all, as that which is free from any identification, is exactly that which allows for this human self to deepen into its humanity, to mature and develop into its evolving fullness. Free from identification and resistance, the always changing wholeness of the human self is embraced and allowed to evolve freely.

But that is only one side of it. The other side is that the identification with content, with this human self, and the resistance that brings with it, is also a part of the maturing of the human self… that too is part of the process, before the void awakens to itself.

Digesting habitual patterns

 

I have recently come across several references to digesting the habitual patterns of our human self… the beliefs and all their effects, including emotional reactivity and behavioral tendencies.

When I explored this for myself, I saw that this digestion happens in several ways.

It can happen through an heart-felt seeing and being with. For instance (a) by being with the gestalt of it as it arises, which tends to invite a deepening into our humanity. (b) By noticing whatever thoughts and emotions that arises as void itself (as fleeting, and insubstantial). And (c) by differentiate and clarify what arises, through for instance labeling practice (seeing how emotions are really just sensations and a story added onto it).

I can also explore the content of what comes up, through for instance identifying the belief behind the reaction, and exploring that belief (The Work), or through tracking the process behind it (e.g. Process Work).

I can also invite the soul level to work on it, either while bringing in the heart-felt seeing, or as an ongoing process outside of attention. After the endarkenment shift, this one has been especially alive.

In general, the digestion happens through (a) noticing what already is, and (b) maturing as a human being through insight into patterns, and a reduced identification with particular identities (which in turns allows me to deepen into our shared humanity, and allows a more well-rounded personality to form.)

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…

(more…)

Buddha maturing

 

The conception of the awakened Buddha is maybe a glimpse of our Buddha nature, or an intuition of it, or even just an interest in it. Through the gestation period, there may be more and more glimpses of it, or explorations of it through headless experiments, the Big Mind process, meditation and other practices. And the birth of the Buddha is Buddha Mind awakening to itself, as a field of awake emptiness and form, absent of any separate self anywhere.

(It is usually not as clean cut as this, but it may be a useful generalization.)

The Buddha growing up

The Buddha is born, and may realize its own nature clearly, but it still needs to grow up and mature in its expression in the world. Its vehicle in the world – this human self – has to reorganize and relearn how to function in the world and live its life within this new context of realized selflessness.

Compassion arises

The first thing that happens is that it realizes that it has awakened to itself, yet also not. In the world and the lives of individuals, there are many examples of Buddha Mind not having awakened to itself, and of Buddha Mind experiencing confusion and suffering. So compassion arises naturally, and a desire to help – both with alleviating the suffering itself and in removing the causes of the suffering (if, when and to the extent they seek and want the help.)

Refining its instrument in the world

To do this, the vehicle for Buddha Mind in the world – this human individual – needs to be refined. It needs to continue to heal, mature, develop, and learn skillful means.

Deepening into the fullness of this human self

The more this human individual matures and deepens into the evolving fullness of what it is, the more it can connect with others where they are. It recognizes in itself what it meets in others. It becomes more deeply and thoroughly human, without having to defend or attach to any particular identities. It can allow the evolving wholeness of itself, with all the weaknesses and imperfections that goes along with being human.

Playing the game

Maybe most of all, Buddha Mind awakened to itself has to play the game. It has to take the experiences of Buddha Mind, when it is confused and suffers and takes itself to be just a small part of its own form, seriously. It has to play along, meeting people where they are, even when it is clear that it is all just the dance of the awake emptiness. When awakened to itself, this dance is free enough to play along in whatever ways arise.

Deepening into the ordinariness of what and who I am

 

Our path is in many ways one of continuously discovering more of what and who we are, which can seem remarkable at first, and then deepening into the ordinariness of it.

Discovering, and then deepening into the ordinariness, of what we are, as the field of seeing and seen, of awake emptiness and form, centerless and selfless… allowing our individual self to reorganize, mature and develop within this context.

And of who we are and can be, as individual souls and human selves, embracing the whole of it right now, and as it unfolds and develops over time. At our human level, it means deepening into the ordinariness of being human, embracing and owning more of what we are, which is not so different from what we all are.

Together, there is the ordinariness of Big Mind awake to itself, functioning through an individual soul and human self. And the ordinariness of this human self, as increasingly more mature, rounded and deeply human.

Profoundly ordinary

 

During the initial awakening (in my teens) where many of the things happening now happened in a more dramatic way, there was both a realization that all is God, and also a sense of how remarkable it was… which seems to indicate that the final veils of a sense of I had not been seen through.

Now, there is just a profound sense of ordinariness about it, of how unremarkable it is, and also a deeply felt sense that this is just the middle ground, an early middle ground… There is infinitely further to go in the areas I write about here, and obviously much further to go in all of the other areas of life.

Seeing this brings a more genuine humility at all levels… A humility that comes from seeing things more realistically, and not only see it, but also deeply feel it in the body, and love it.

And some of the things to see, feel, and love is that…

  • All already is God, so in the absence of Other there is not much room for pride or arrogance, nor for a sense of inferiority.
  • At my individual level, there is infinitely further to go in maturing, developing, exploring, discovering, in all areas of life.
  • There are many, many areas I, as an individual, am not very well developed in, compared to where many are at today.
  • And everything I see in here is also out there, and the other way around, at my individual level. They are there at least as seeds, possibilities, and often far more fully bloomed.

Today is one of those days where I feel firmly held so I can see this, take it in more fully, allow my whole being to more thoroughly organize within this… All as God, and at my individual level, there is infinitely further to go, there are many areas I am not well developed in compared to many others today, and the outer and the inner mirror each other perfectly.

It is deeply sobering, and even shakes me to the core… shakes up everything not aligned with this… everything formed within a context of separation and ideas of better and worse.

Food and digestion

 

My partner is watching a movie for a language class she is taking, and the movie – with its violence and sense of impending doom – does not sit so well with her. And at the same time, she is smart enough to see that it is less about the movie itself, and more about how she receives it.

The analogy with food and digestion seems quite close…

Any experience is food, and how we relate to the experiences is how this food is digested.

So if our coping mechanisms are not so well developed, then many types of experiences will be difficult for us, even traumatic. And the more developed they are, the more types of food are OK, or even nourishing.

Ultimately, any type of experience can be deeply nourishing, although this requires not only that we awaken to what we are (realized selflessness) but also a great deal of maturity in who we are, as an individual.

If there is only an awakening to what we are, then the experience just sails through us with few or no hooks. It is teflon land. But it does not mean that it is deeply nourishing on a human level.

For it to be deeply nourishing, we need to digest it also as who we are, as an individual. Use it to mature as a soul and human being, to become more deeply human.

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.

Maturing into the unremarkable

 

I looked at some of Adi Da’s book at a bookstore earlier today, and was again struck by the discrepancy between content and emotional tone. There seems to be nothing special or unique in the content, yet it has an emotional tone as if it is. This is the same discrepancy I have noticed with his student, Saniel Bonder (Waking Down in Mutuality)… Here too, nothing unique or different in the content, yet it is presented – and has an emotional tone – as if it is. Very odd.

And it seems somewhat immature.

One of the hallmarks of a mature and seasoned awakening seems to be a sense of it being unremarkable, nothing special whatsoever. There is no separate I there, just this one field arising in myriad ways, so how could it be remarkable? Any sense of specialness seems to come from a trace, or more, of a sense of separate I.

In Zen, they talk about the brilliant sun and the hazy moon of enlightenment. The brilliant sun is the immature and young awakening, where there is lots of flashy stuff and maybe even a sense of it being remarkable – to the person it is expressed through and others as well.

Later on, it matures and seasons into the hazy moon of enlightenment, which seems completely and utterly unremarkable, both to the person it is expressed through and others. It just seems very mature, whole, balanced, in a completely unremarkable way.

As a sidenote: I wonder if not a dark night phase following the brilliant sun is what helps season it. Burning through and out (most of) the remaining traces of a sense of I, and maybe more importantly, the effects of a sense of I on the personality… Including a sense of it being special. That is certainly how it has been for me. A brilliant sun phase where it did seem quite remarkable, then a plunge into a dark night where there is no consolation anywhere, and then a gradual emergence into a ground awakening that seems completely unremarkable in every way.

(Not that I am a good poster boy for any of this… the process is far too messy for that, and my human self far too messed up… but I guess that too is part of the process for many.)

Personality contrasted

 

Within this context of (early) belly awakening, the contrast between this endarkenment and my personality is very vivid.

Throughout the day, I notice all the hardness of this personality, a hardness, rigidity and narrowness that comes from not being aligned with the endarkenment. And my task is simply to notice, and surrender whatever comes up to the endarkenment.

I see how the endarkenment invites (and it is an offer I can’t afford to refuse) this personality to allow any hard edges, anything coming from fear and resistance, so soften, to become more rounded, whole, mature, more deeply and thoroughly human.

It is a reorganization of the whole individual self. A transformation from what was created from a sense of separation, and the subsequent fear, resistance, clinging to exclusive identities, hard edges, and a sense of something to defend, to being aligned with all as Spirit, also in a deeply felt sense, allowing the personality to be more rich, full, whole, rounded and mature.

The One Taste of public and private situations

 

A while back, I used this practice more regularly, and still find it useful.

How would it be if there is One Taste of public and private situations? If I act in public as if I was on my own, and when I am on my own as if everybody could see me?

Acting in public as if I am on my own helps me with finding ease, comfort, allowing pretense to fall away.

Acting on my own as if everybody could see helps me find a sense of transparency, nothing to hide or protect, allowing the light of awareness into (more of) all I am and do.

Together, it helps me find ease and comfort with myself, as I am, accepting it as it is, be OK with all of what I am. It helps me find a sense of wholeness, of transparency, of receptivity, of nothing to hide, noting to protect or defend.

This is one of the many forms of One Taste, one that plays itself out on our human level.