Held in neutrality

 

Over the last couple of years (it may have been longer), I have quite often woken up with a sense of everything being neutral. It is difficult to describe. There is usually some fear there, and I get up and shake the neutrality off as best I can through my usual morning activities.

This morning, the all pervading neutrality was there again, the sense of me and everything being held in neutrality.

I notice fear, and then bring attention to the sense of neutrality, setting aside any images or thoughts about it. Is it OK to allow that sense of neutrality? Is it OK to be it? Is the fear OK? Is it OK to be that fear?

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Balance

 

If reality is inherently neutral, the play of appearances, then that should be reflected at the level of our stories as well. Revealed when I inquire into stories about a particular situation.

And it really seems to be reflected there.

I have a story about a situation being undesirable, unfortunate, harmful, bad. It is my familiar story and I am identified with its viewpoint and the identities it creates. I feel that it is true because I believe the story. I find evidence to support it. I filter the world through that story, so whatever happens seems to confirm it. I take it as true, so perceive and act as if it is true.

Taking a story as true creates a knot, and that knot is created by supporting stories, reactive emotions, and actions that inevitably follows, and it also creates and fuels a sense of a separate self – locating myself in time and space with a boundary around and the wider world beyond. I condense my experience of myself into an object in the world, with infinitely many other objects around.

Yet, as soon as I am more honest with myself, as soon as I investigate that story in a helpful way and with sincerity, the knot softens and starts to unravel. I may see that all of the reversals of the initial story also has validity, I can find the genuine truth in each of them. Identification with the initial viewpoint softens and may release out of it.

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Joy, discomfort, neutral

 

It seems that just about any experience has three components, or at least has the potential for each three.

I find that any experience, even those that on the surface seems distressing and unpleasant, have a stream of quiet joy running through. There is a quiet bliss in just experiencing. In awareness itself. This thread of quiet bliss is revealed more clearly when the experience is more fully allowed, and the rest of the content of experience tends to be revealed as a form of nurturing bliss as well.

Also, any experience, no matter how joyful on the surface, has an element of discomfort as long as it is resisted. And any experience is resisted to some extent as long as we take ourselves to be an I with an Other. At the very least, we resist knowing that an experience will pass, no matter how much we enjoy it and try to hold onto it.

Any experience is also inherently neutral. As awakeness, any experience is neutral, it is awakeness itself. It is not inherently good or bad, just experience. Just awakeness temporarily being its own content. Any stories of good and bad, desirable and undesirable, right and wrong, are just stories, it all only exists on the inside of a story.

So in one sense, our life consists of good, bad and neutral situations. And in another sense, it is all happening here now, independent of the particulars of the experience.

Heart practice

 

Draft… 

I am reading a book by my favorite spiritual teacher, Jes Bertelsen, on Christian heart practices, and it helps me review some of my own experiences with it and how it has changed over time.

One thing that has not changed is the quality of experience that comes from Christian heart practices for me. The heart opening and coming alive. An alive presence within and around this human self. A sweet mix of pain and bliss in the heart. The world becoming, or rather revealing itself, as alive presence, heart, clarity and love. And also of everything else having to do with the heart, whatever their triggers appear to be, being included and fueling and flavoring the process. Any longing, any pain, any joy and bliss. All together, funneled into the heart practice.

What has changed in how it is related to. There used to be more identification with it, a holding onto it as a core of spirituality and spiritual practice. The qualities of heart practice is content of experience, and for years there was an attachment to this particular content, probably more than anything else.

Then came the dark night phase where this content, which was a constant companion for so long, went away. And in the struggle, the attachment to it somehow wore away as well. (Not by any conscious doing or practice, since I was unable to do any practice during this period, even when I tried.)

Now, when I do occasionally do a heart practice, the same quality of experience is there. The same quality of the heart coming alive, the fire, the alive presence, the sense of the world – all within and around this human self – being heart, clarity and love. And I still see how the human self realigns and reorganizes within this, in a very beautiful way.

But it is not related to the same way. Now, it is recognized more clearly as just experience, just content of awareness, coming and going, living its own life as anything else. There is an appreciation for its uniqueness and effects, but not held onto the same way.

For all its beauty, its reorganization of the human self, its opening up for heart awakening, and even possibly Ground awakening, it is also seen as just experience. There is an inherent neutrality in it, as anything else. All of its qualities and effects are, in a sense, formed from and within neutrality.

And while there was from the beginning a seeing of this, now there is also a thorough felt-sense of it.

Belly center neutrality

 

Each center has it’s own form of “one taste”, and each one can appear in different ways.

Over the last few days, I have noticed a new form of neutrality which I this morning realized was a belly center neutrality. It is difficult for me to put into words as this is a new variation, another flavor of the rounded nurturing fullness of the luminous blackness, and of the warm rounded fullness of the physical senses. This time, it seems more in and of the body, rather than just the senses. It is a steady presence, and gives an odd sense of “one taste” to any experience. Whatever is going on at the surface, there is a dwelling in and as this soft, rounded, nurturing fullness in/of the body.

The One Taste of the head center, when more fully realized, is a seeing of all form as the play of void, of the whole field of what arises as the awake void taking a fluid form, absent of center and an I with an Other.

The One Taste of the heart center, when more fully realized, is a loving of all forms as the play of the void, as the always fresh and evolving form aspect of God.

And the One Taste of the belly center, when more fully emerged, seems to be this bodily, almost substantial sense of soft, rounded nurturing fullness, independent of experiences, situations and content of awareness. It is transparent to the void, yet also substantial in a certain sense, in its fullness.

Each of these can be present in awareness to various degrees, from a sense of it, a hint, a taste, a brief glimpse, to something that is more clearly present and recognized. My guess is that the way they present themselves will continue to change over time, both in terms of being more in the foreground or background of awareness, and in its unfolding.

Beyond beliefs

 

What is beyond beliefs? Or rather, what is beyond seeing the grain of truth in a story and all its reversals, and the inherent neutrality of the situation?

It is very simple…

If we think apathy or nihilism or laissez faire or cynicism or heartlessness or rampant egotism or putting anyone down or aloofness, it could not be further from the truth.

It is true that any of those can come from a belief in any situation being inherently neutral. Actually, any of those, or a range of other ones, are almost inevitable if there is that belief, and it is taken seriously.

But it is very different to actually go beyond beliefs… to really see and have a felt-sense of how all stories are just stories, and all of the turnarounds of each of them have truths in them, canceling each other out and revealing the inherent neutrality of the situation. Using an inquiry such as The Work, we can go beyond beliefs one at a time, seeing this shift over and over in different areas of life.

What is beyond beliefs is a differentiated clarity and a receptivity of mind and heart. We see and acknowledge the relative truth in all reversals of a story. We are free to play with any of the conventional truths, knowing they are only relative truths. We act from compassion and empathy, from a freedom to see and have a felt-sense of ourselves in others. We act from wisdom, knowing that stories are only stories, for practical and temporary use only.

We are free to meet people where they are, acknowledging the truths in the stories they hold onto, and act from that differentiated clarity, empathy and wisdom, in whatever way seems appropriate in the situation (being receptive to learn from it and see how it could have been done differently). And then not call it any of that.

There is nothing wrong with relativism… but it must be a true relativism, one that goes beyond beliefs, including any philosophy such as relativism.

It is very simple… when it is alive in immediate awareness… when it is lived.

Nothing to attain? Yes and no.

 

The final thought before the ‘breakthrough’ was the very clear realization that there was nothing to be attained. For attainment implied acquisition and acquisition implied change of content of consciousness. But the goal is not change of content but divorcement from content. Thus, Recognition has nothing to do with anything that happens. I am already That which I seek, and therefore, there is nothing to be sought. By the very seeking I hide Myself from myself. Therefore, abandon the search and expect nothing. This was the end of the long search. I died, and in the same instant was born again. Spontaneity took over in place of the old self-determined effort.- Dr. Wolff, The Philosophy of Consciousness Without An Object, p 81.

This is also a relative truth, with a grain of truth in its reversal. And exploring this can help us see the bigger picture, and even clarify the initial truth.

There is nothing to attain in terms of content, just as Dr. Wolff points out. The content can stay the same, it is only the context that shifts. Or rather, the forms are the same, although now realized as being no other than awake emptiness itself, a field of awake emptiness absent of I and Other.

That the sense of a doer goes out of it, so there is no doer there anymore that can attain anything. In addition, there is nothing in it for the personality, because it is just the void awakening to itself. And the void is just a void, nothing there.

So there is nothing to attain… in that the world of form does not need to change, there is no doer there to attain anything, and it is just the void awakening to itself, and the void is just a void, nothing.

Yet, there is something to gain. There is the conventional attainments of the human self, which are inherently neutral and no other than the play of awake emptiness as a thin surface of form. There is the attainment of flux, of something new always coming into being in the world of form (and always already having left). And there is the attainment of shifts, independent of what it is from and to.

And even here, there is nothing to attain, as all of this is living its own life, coming and going as guests, happening on its own and on its own time. Before the shift into Ground noticing itself, what is taken as an “I” can certainly do things to invite that (and other) shifts, but that is about it. We can clean the house, put out the nice table cloth and the cakes and coffee cups, put the pot on the stove, send out the invitations, but that is all. All the guests, the shifts in form (and thus content of experience) and also the shift into Ground noticing itself, they live their own life. Coming and going on their own. On their own time.

This nothing to gain/something to gain exploration is of course a play with words, but a play that reveals and clarifies distinctions.

See below for a part of the initial draft, on how there is something to attain…

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Postmodernism and The Work

 

I suppose the topic of the previous post also relates to the discussion around postmodernism.

We can use an exploration of the grain of truth in reversals to (a) free ourselves from taking any story as an absolute truth and (b) invite a glimpse of the inherent neutrality of any situation.

But if we stop there, we get stuck in the same way as (some forms of) postmodernism.

The next step is now to engage with the conventional stories of our society, this time from a more differentiated clarity, and a more receptive mind and heart.

We find a freedom from beliefs and identities, which is also a freedom to use and work with the conventional views, stories and frameworks.

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Don’t side with yourself II

 

Here is a small addition to the initial post on Bankei’s reminder of not siding with oneself.

I side with myself when I side with my beliefs and identities. And I don’t side with myself when I investigate these beliefs and identities, and find what is already more true for myself… the truth in the reversals of the initial story, and the inherent neutrality of the situation.

A more accurate way of putting it is that I am not siding with my beliefs and identities.

And by not siding with my beliefs, I am actually siding with myself… with what is already more true for me. With the natural fluidity of mind, seeing each story as only a relative truth, receptive to the truths of each of the turnarounds.

Instead of don’t side with yourself, the slogan could be side with your(true)self! Or, if we have Hindu inclinations, side with your Self…! But that would be confusing for most people.

Bankei was a good teacher. Knowing that we naturally identify with our beliefs and take them as I or me, he said don’t side with yourself (with what you take yourself to be). He was free to meet people where they are at.

Neutrality of path, ground and goal

 

The Ground of everything, the emptiness (void) it all happens within, to and as, is inherently neutral. We can taste this through the Big Mind process, headless experiments, The Work, and in many other different ways, right here now.

The goal, if we can call it that, of Ground awakening, is also inherently neutral. It is like the bottom drops out of everything, revealing it all as nothing other than the dance of emptiness, inherently free from any separate self anywhere. The content stays the same, but now suspended within and as the void.

And the path too, is inherently neutral. It is inherently neutral for the reasons above.

But it is also inherently neutral in itself… going from the most amazingly wonderful (especially in the releases, and the openings into the soul level) and the most amazingly awful (especially the dark nights of the senses and soul, and the wearing off of beliefs and identities).

Together, looking back at the path, the two cancel each other out leaving only an appreciation for the path (or the story about it at least, which is all that is left) and the inherent neutrality of it, also in terms of its content.

The path is like waves on an ocean, with their peaks and valleys, canceling each other out when we look back at it.

It doesn’t sound that great to the personality, but then, there is nothing for the personality there either. There is nothing to gain anywhere in all of this. Just the bottom falling out of it all.

Shadows: examples, and going from demonic to gold to neutral

 

Devil

Shadows of random beliefs and identities…

  • arrogance > inferiority, stupidity, not knowing (even in a relative sense)
  • knowing > not knowing (in an absolute sense, seeing all stories as only having a relative truth, and a relative sense, knowing that our relative knowledge is always limited)
  • skilled > unskilled
  • human > not human (leaving out the rest of the seamless field of form, and also awakeness and emptiness)
  • separate self > no separation, and also absence of a separate self
  • good > bad, evil (seeing both out there, in the wider world, and also in here)
  • in control > out of control, and also absence of control
  • masculine > feminine (and the other way around)
  • awake > asleep (in any sense of the words, for instance seeing how the field of awakeness and form – absent of a separate self – naturally arises as both)
  • deserving > not deserving (canceling each other out, as all of the other polarities do)
  • civilized > uncivilized and also noncivilized (independent of civilization)
  • good taste > bad taste (canceling each other out)
  • healthy > disease, unhealthy, and also nonhealthy (being that which is independent of health and disease)
  • thing > no thing (void, emptiness)

All of these beliefs and identities split the field, creating a sense of a separate self here and Other out there. When the shadow is seen simultaneously with the belief and identity, we notice the inherent seamlessness of the field… in a relative sense, finding both out there and also in here, and in a more absolute sense the one field, inherently neutral, and always and already containing both.

For a while, it takes work to discover this, and it may sometimes feel like more of an intellectual exercise, seeing it more than it is deeply felt and sensed. Then, it may become more and more alive and immediate… alive in immediate awareness even without much prompting, at least most of the time. Still requiring a more thorough exploration of remaining areas.

Initially, it may all feel like a big drama. We cling onto beliefs and identities, and experience what is outside of these as scary and undesirable (even as demonic, sometimes.)

Then, as we become more familiar with this landscape, the gifts of what was left out becomes more clear. What appeared as undesirable and even demonic is now revealed as pure gold. And then, as we get even more familiar with it, the inherent neutrality in all of it becomes more and more visible.

The beliefs and their shadows cancel each other out, as identities and their shadows do, revealing the inherent neutrality of all of it… the beliefs, identities, shadows, effects, and the ground it all arises within and as.

Shadow of arrogance

 

As I continue to work with projections and the shadow, many aspects of it become more and more immediate and alive as it happens. One way it manifests is having the shadow of a belief or identity come up along with the belief and identity.

A belief arises, and right there is the shadow of that belief. An identity arises, and right there is also the shadow of that identity. Or at least parts of the shadow.

So when arrogance arises, along with it arises inferiority, stupidity, not knowing, and whatever is left out from an identity which gives rise to arrogance. I see both out there, in others and the world, and also in here in this human self.

Together, there is a fuller picture, a wider embrace of what is. And it is all revealed as inherently neutral. The initial identity is neutral, what is left out is neutral, and the landscape (always) including both is inherently neutral.

Of course, our personality may not see it as neutral. It sees different parts of all of this as desirable or undesirable, mature and less mature, good or bad. But that too is inherently neutral.

Dream: humbling truth

 

Two male relatives of mine are literally insane. They make up big stories from nothing and act as if they are true.

Well, another humbling truth. I am those two male relatives, making up big stories and act as if they are true. Every situation is inherently neutral, seen from both the emptiness and form sides… anything beyond this is made up… it is a story arising, and taken as true. And I certainly do that as much as anyone else. We are in the same boat there. It is a form if insanity, although one that is so common that it is usually not seen that way.

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.

If beliefs are gone, what is left?

 

When we are used to live with and from beliefs, and we hear about allowing beliefs to fall away, then the natural question comes up: if beliefs are gone, what is left?

First, what is a belief?

It is taking any idea, which only has relative truth, as an absolute truth. More precisely, it is adding a story onto another saying that it is absolutely true. And right away, we see that there has to be a dissonance here. We cannot know that any story is absolutely true, yet we try to make it so for ourselves. We make it appear true at a surface level, yet know at the same time that we cannot know if it is or not. Also, any belief creates boundaries for life, for what can and should happen. So when life shows up outside of these boundaries, or even when we fear/hope that life may show up outside of these boundaries, there is also stress. When there are beliefs, we get stress from two sources.

Then, what is left when they are gone?

It is simple. It is the same stories, without beliefs. The stories are there, as before, but not believed in as true. They are seen as only relative truths with limited, temporary and purely utilitarian purposes… nothing more. If we go one step further, we see that all the reversals of any story also contains a grain of truth, revealing the inherent neutrality of the situation.

We can still use the stories in daily life, and really, we have to. Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to function. But now they are revealed as only stories, added onto the inherent neutrality of any situation. They are revealed as tools of limited and temporary value only.

There is a tremendous freedom here. A freedom to play with any story and its reversals. A freedom to not get stuck on the inside of the boundaries of any story, because it is only a relative truth.

Inherent neutrality

 

We can explore the inherent neutrality of anything happening from its emptiness and its form sides.

From the emptiness side, it is emptiness dancing. It is awake emptiness itself taking various forms, in an unending stream. There is nothing inherently good or bad, or desirable or undesirable, in it. Just the play of the void.

From the form side, we can explore the many stories about it and their reversals and find the grain of truth in each of them. This reveals that they are all only relative truths. In a sense, they all cancel each other out, revealing the inherent neutrality of the situation.

Together, there is a more thorough exploration of the inherent neutrality of anything happening, gradually allowing us to release identification with more and more stories, including our core ones. Which, over time, allows Ground to start noticing itself, more and more, in our daily lives.