John Lloyd: Oneness, consciousness, void

 

I am a fan of the TV and radio shows John Lloyd has produced, and also enjoyed this interview with him. He has a lot of good points.

For instance, consciousness does seem to be what everything happens within and as. Obviously, that’s how it is in my own experience – and I assume in everyone’s experience. There is no actual content of anyone’s experience apart from consciousness appearing to itself as whatever content is here. And beyond that, it does seem that the whole world is consciousness. Science suggests that. And mystical experiences suggest that.

When it comes to the void, again that’s how it appears. It seems that the void, nothingness, is what allows awareness, consciousness, and all the appearances within consciousness, any content of consciousness. It’s what the Christian mystics called the Godhead. And it does seem to be at the center, or heart, of my own experience of consciousness and what I am. It’s not always in the foreground (although it has been at times, which allows it to be recognized more easily when it goes more quiet and in the background), and it’s not always consciously noticed since attention is elsewhere, but it’s always quietly here.

And then there is oneness. Any content of experience happens within the same presence, awakeness, or consciousness. Any boundary is at most an image connected with sensations, and those too happen within this presence. It’s all a seamless whole.

I should also say that I used the word “I” or “me” here, because that makes it easier to write and talk about this. Any sense of I or me is also created by sensations combined with imagination, and it happens within and as presence, and within and as void. There is no final or ultimate truth to it, as there isn’t any final or ultimate truth to any appearances. They are all ultimately this presence and void. They are the play – lila – of presence and void. Or love. Or Spirit. Or whatever we prefer to call it.

It’s all very simple. And it can all be a direct and immediate experience. It’s all already here.

If it’s an intellectual understanding, it can be fun and entertaining and even helpful to some extent. And it’s also something we can explore and find in immediate experience and not just through words and images.

I also like that he is a professor of ignorance. It would be great if that topic is offered as a course and is included in each topic taught at all levels. Each field has it’s own history of ignorance, of accepted views and theories which later are seen as somewhat or completely ignorant. What we don’t know is infinitely more than the little we do know. And what we think we know – all our current views and theories – will at some point in the future be seen as outdated.

A richer oneness 

 

Oneness is simpler than any of our ideas about it. And also richer.

Oneness seems to continue to reveal itself to itself, in richer ways, through different facets and views, in simpler ways, and in more finely grained ways.

Here are some I keep exploring:

It’s all happening within and as awareness.  My world is happening within and as awareness. I am that which any experience happens within and as. And that world is the world that everyone is experiencing. There is nothing mystical or magical about the content. It’s the usual content of experience for us human beings. And yet, it’s all happening within and as awareness. It’s happening within and as what I am. In that sense, it’s all one. (It’s possible to imagine an “outside world” that’s material here, and yet those images are also happening within and as awareness. My world is still all awareness.)

A slight tweak to that is that the world itself is Spirit, or God, or awareness, or even wisdom and love. This is how it can seem when there is an opening, perhaps especially in what some call cosmic awareness. (It’s what opened itself to itself through me in my teens.) It’s also what we can get hints of through synchronicities, ESP and more. It does seem that the world itself is Spirit, and that’s what awakens to itself in this way (cosmic consciousness), and also in the way described above (all as awareness).

The story of the universe as told by current science tells us that all is one. It’s all a seamless system. In terms of the history of the universe, energy condensed to matter, matter to galaxies and stars, simple matter condensed to heavier matter through exploding stars creating solar systems with planets, this planet evolved into life, this life evolved into what we see today. We are made of star dust. We are – as Carl Sagan said – the local eyes, ears, thoughts and feelings of the universe bringing itself into awareness. This is also called the Universe Story, or the Great Story, and is also explored through ecospirituality. It’s a story happening within thought, and not as immediate of a realization as the two previous ones, but it can certainly lead to one or both of the two previous ones. It opens the door for it.

The first two on this list shows us that all is love. It’s an immediate recognition. And it can also be discovered in a more finely grained way.

All beings operate from deep caring – for themselves, those close to them, life. They operate from love. Even if that love is sometimes confused, or worried love.

Beliefs and identifications similarly comes from deep caring for the self, and from love. Again, often worried love.

All emotions created from beliefs, all reactive emotions, come from that same deep caring, and the same love. These include reactive anger, sadness, tantrums, distress, suffering, even wounds and trauma.

We may also discover that all situations, and everything I experience, is here to support me, and is from love. This is something we may discover through inquiry, such as The Work.

When I relate to what’s here with kindness and love, there is another sense of oneness. The sense of oneness that comes from relating to my experience, whatever it is, with kindness and love.

So in each of these ways, and many more, we discover a richer oneness. We deepen into oneness. We discover it in a more finely grained way. We discover it in different facets, and from different angles and views. And we keep discovering the diversity and richness within that oneness as well. Oneness doesn’t diminish the richness, it allows the richness, is the richness, and – when discovers itself as oneness – adds to it.

Note: I know that most don’t differentiate the two first. I am unsure why, although I know that the first can be experienced (or interpreted) as the second. The first one reveals all as awareness, including any ideas of a me or I or wider world. At the same time, it’s possible to acknowledge that this is “my world” appearing this way, and I don’t really know anything more. The second is more of an acknowledgment that the world, again as it appears to “me”, does seem to be awareness, love, intelligent, and Spirit or God. (Through many signs including ESP, synchronicities and more.)

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Who and what we are, oneness, awakening

 

When I write what and who we are here, I mean something quite specific.

What I am is that which my whole field of experience – as it is here and now – happens within and as. It’s what I sometimes call awareness, or love, or even Spirit. It’s all there is, in experience, here and now. It’s always here, since it’s what I am. It’s very obvious. It’s very mundane. It’s easily overlooked that that’s what I am. And when that awakens to, or notices, itself it’s sometimes called awakening. That can seem quite extraordinary at first, and then that too becomes quite ordinary in a good way. (That’s why I tend to not use words like Spirit, or Brahman, or other fanciful words, since it often appears much simpler than that. Those words can be a little misleading.)

Who I am is part of content of experience. It’s this human self. It’s the emotions, thoughts, body, life of this human self. It’s the idea of a me or an I. It’s the idea of an observer, or doer. It doesn’t really have fixed boundaries, since it’s what a thought says is me, or I, or who I am. The boundary is somewhat flexible and fluid.

The wider world is the rest of content of experience. It’s what a thought says is “other” in a conventional sense. This boundary is also somewhat flexible and fluid, and can be experienced as more or less solid, more or less real. (It isn’t really real, since it’s created by thought as a way to navigate in the world.)

Who I am, and the wider world, is what makes up content of experience. And that happens within and as what I am. It happens within and as awareness. Within and as love. Within and as Spirit.

These can be seen as two, or three, or one. It all depends on how we decide to talk about it, and where we decide to draw imagined boundaries.

And the boundaries can be experienced as solid and real, or ephemeral, or just a thought with no substance beyond that. That depends on how clearly it’s seen, and even felt. It depends on how much “velcro” is stuck to those ideas. How much associated sensations seem “stuck” onto the words and images creating the boundaries.

When the associated sensations seem stuck onto the boundary images and words, the boundaries can seem quite real. When the sensations are felt as sensations, the images recognized as images, and the words recognized as words, the boundary images and words are recognized as just an imagined overlay, which has a practical function only. It’s not “real” beyond that, but it does help us navigate in the world, and communicate.

Oneness can also be understood in different ways.

One is the very immediate and practical oneness, where this field of awareness-experience is recognized as one. (Any ideas or even experiences of being a separate self is recognized as happening within this field, as any other content of experience.) The world is one, since it’s all recognized as happening within this field of awareness.

Another is the oneness of the world as a whole “out there”. (I realize that this distinction may seem subtle, or even unnecessary, but I find it helpful to differentiate this from the first one.) The world is one, and Spirit, or God, and I see that partly because of immediate experience, and partly through synchronicities, ESP, and more.

A third, which can be part of the previous one, is the oneness of the world as described by science. The universe was one field of energy at the Big Bang, and this field of energy partly condensed down into simple particles, which then condensed into heavier elements. We – and everything – has the same origin. We are quite literally star dust, as is the Earth as a whole. The Earth and the Universe is one seamless system.

Awakening is when what I am notices itself. This is an initial awakening, and it can also happen regularly and on a more ongoing basis. This noticing and recognition can clarify and become more stable. And who I am, this human self, can – and will? – reorganize within this recognition. It’s invited to heal and mature within this recognition, and align with it. That’s an ongoing process, and it doesn’t “end” as long as this human self is around.

Awakening then has three aspects. One is the initial recognition. Another is an ongoing clarification and “stabilization” of this recognition. And the third is the reorganization of our human self within this recognition.

All of them are ongoing. The awakening is here and now. The recognition and noticing is here and now. The reorganization within it is here and now.

There is no “end point”. Any idea of an end point happens here and now, within this.

This awakening doesn’t exclude or eliminate the full range of human experience. It doesn’t preclude sadness, grief, pain, anger, joy, hangups, wounds, trauma, or anything else that’s part of the human experience. What we are already allows the full range of human experience, although it often happens without us being conscious of it, and we may be in conscious opposition to it.

Awakening also allows the full range of human experience (since nothing else is possible), but there is now a conscious recognition of it, and often a more conscious alignment with it.

We are still very much human. We experience the full range of human emotions and experiences. We make mistakes. We have a limited understanding and perspective. We have our preferences and likes and dislikes. We make assumptions. We give bad advice. We don’t know how to do any number of things. Our understanding is faulty.

So there is a full allowing of any experience, as it always is, although now recognized more clearly, and perhaps aligned with more consciously. We experience the full range of human emotions and experiences. And there is an invitation for a healing, maturing, and reorganization within this. Things do change for our human self when awareness recognizes itself, and itself as this field of experience.

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Forms of oneness

 

Oneness can be very simple and even ordinary, and it can be found in many forms.

We have oneness in a broad psychological sense, and this has several aspects.

(a) My world is happening within and as this mind. My world is awareness taking all the forms of content of experience. When awareness notices itself, and the “center of gravity” of what we take ourselves to be shifts to awareness and all its many forms, it’s often called “enlightenment”. (The word sounds very exotic, and what it refers to is much more mundane, simple and immediate). This is “oneness” since all experiences are recognized as the same: what a thought may call awareness.

(b) What I see “out there” mirrors what’s “in here”. Any characteristics I see in others and the wider world reflects what’s here. If I say “he is stubborn”, I can turn it to myself and find an example of how it’s true for me too, and another, and another. I and the world are “one” since I can find in myself what I see out there. (And it’s all happening within my word, within and as awareness, anyway.)

(c) We humans have shared or “universal” beliefs, thoughts, and dynamics of the mind. This is another form of oneness. And it is perhaps especially obvious when we facilitate each other in inquiry.

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Oneness and its discontent

 

There is an inherent discomfort in oneness.

All is recognized as the divine (God, awareness), yet there is still a sense of an “I” it’s happening to – even as that sense of an “I” is also recognized as the play of the awareness.

This is inherently uncomfortable simply because of the appearance of a relationship, and this relationship comes with everything relationships come with – drama, ups and downs, holding onto states and so on.

Eventually, the appearance of a relationship wears out and reveals something much simpler. When identification drains out of the “I”, it leaves reality awake to itself. There is no longer any relationship apart from the appearance of relationships recognized as appearance, as the play of awareness.

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Mystical experiences vs recognizing reality

 

Mystical states can help us recognize the truth.

And the trick is to continue recognizing the truth as the states change.

Mystical states and experiences are certainly not necessary for recognizing reality, but they can offer us a window into reality. They can be stepping stones for recognizing what is.

A oneness experience shows us all as God, although there is still a sense of it happening to an I. The I is recognized as God too, as an appearance of God, but there is still some identification with it.

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Facets of reality

 

Not only are there different forms of awakenings, but there are also different facets revealed within each one.

For instance, within an awakening of what we are to itself, there are facets of emptiness and fullness.

When this awakening is lived through human form, love comes in.

At the soul level, there seems to be innumerable facets, including luminosity, alive presence and fertile darkness.

Independent of – or coexisting with – any of these, is the experience of oneness. All form is one. All is God.

And when any of these are lived through our human self, insights can also come in – which is another facet.

There must be many more, but these are the ones I am most familiar with from (very limited) own experience.

I also notice how there seems to be a natural shift among any and all of these. Any one of them is sometimes in the foreground and sometimes in the background. Said another way, the volume of each is sometimes turned way up, sometimes moderate, and sometimes turned way down.

Another aspect of this, which Adyashanti pointed out at his most recent radio broadcast, is that each of these are revealed as complete and omnipresent – because they are.

So it is understandable how some, at least in the very early phases of their awakening, take whatever one is alive for them in the present as all there is. (And sometimes get into slightly comical debates with others around it.)

I must be lucky here. Even in the midst of my initial awakening, it was clear to me that in spite of how amazing and complete it seemed (in that case a mix of Big Mind, Big Heart, alive presence, luminosity), it was only a small aspect of what God is. And whenever there is a shift into any one of these, or one new to me, and even if the volume is turned quite a bit up, it is still clear that it is only a small facet of God.

The lesson in all of this, including for me, is to not limit God.

Whatever experiences and insights I have is always very limited. And whatever story I have about reality or God, God is untouched by it and goes far beyond. If I attach to any of those stories as true, I only create struggle when experience moves on… which it will.

Oneness v. selflessness: a world apart

 

At one point, we come to realize that oneness and selflessness are a world apart.

They may seem similar from a distance, but when we have a taste of each, we see how profoundly different they are from each other.

Oneness is a sense of being one with all, with God, life, oneself, others. There is a realization, either a seeing or feeling, of all being cut from the same fabric, maybe of all being God. A veil is lifted. The boundary of I and Other, placed within content, is softened or becomes more transparent. It is all one, one field, one substance, one life, one consciousness. Yet, there is still and I here that sees this, experiences this, is one with everything else. There is still a sense of center, of being a drop one with the ocean. The basic sense of I and Other is still present. There is still a doer around.

Realized selflessness is quite different. Here, the basic sense of I with an Other is lifted, seen through, seen as just coming from a thought. The whole world of content is a seamless field as before. It is all consciousness, as before. It is all God, as before. But now, there is no center. No hint of an “I” that has even a subtle “Other”. It is the ocean awakening to itself as the ocean, even as the drop is still living out its life. This human self and everything about it is living its own life, revealed as already and always free from a doer.

In one way, the two are not so different. They are both an awakening of the field to itself, tasting all as God.

In another way, they couldn’t be more different. One retains a basic sense of I with an Other. The other sees through it thoroughly. One has a center, the other does not.

And of course, the content of awareness doesn’t have to change for either to happen. There is still all the sensory inputs from this human self. Still thoughts, as before. Still pain and joy. Still this human self living its life, doing its things in the world. No (major) changes here are needed in either case. It all has to do with the lifting of the I-Other boundary, or rather, with a release of identification from it. A clear seeing of it as just being thought-created.

Torments of unitive life, and open mind

 

I am reading Bernadette Robert‘s Path to No-Self, which is a beautiful and clear description of her own path to selfless realization, described in a Christian context.

Two things have stayed with me from the final few chapters…

The first is the inherent torments of the unitive life, the state of oneness with God, yet with still a vague sense of I and Other there.

There are the torments of (a) not being able to express clearly the beauty, clarity, insights, wisdom and compassion here, in one’s own life or words, and also (b) it often not being appreciated, or understood, by others. For myself, I can also add the torments of the intensity of that phase, of extremes of energies going through and massive amounts of reorganization needed of the human self (probably not everybody goes through this).

The beauty of these torments, which Bernadette Roberts describe so clearly, is how it prepares for a final release of a sense of I with an Other.

The remaining sense of a separate I is what gives birth to the torments in the first place. The identification with the particular identities of this separate I gives resistance to what arises in different ways. It is a resistance to what is, which ultimately is the Ground of awake emptiness & form inherently free of an I with an Other. This resistance is what creates the torments, and also what helps burn through the resistance itself, the sense of an I with an Other.

The other thing I found interesting is Phase V, the Open Mind, a practice of going outside of ones habitual perspectives and views, of finding fluidity among a range of perspectives which then tends to reveal the inherent neutrality of any situation (my words).

This is very much similar to the turnaround part of The Work. And, as BR mentions, it seems to be an essential (?) part of the shift from the unitive life, where there is still a sense of a separate I with a particular perspective, to selfless realization which is free from any fixed identifications and perspectives (so also able to play freely with them and make use of them as the situation calls for).

As she also mentions, the fear before entered into is that it will make us into zombies, doormats or nihilists, but what is really happening is just this freedom to play with and explore a range of perspectives and viewpoints, seeing them all as stories of only practical and limited value (not absolute truths). And the whole process is infused with heart and compassion, which gives a practical direction that thoughts alone cannot provide (she doesn’t talk about this explicitly, but it is there between the lines).

The heart (love, compassion, empathy) gives the direction and is the main guide for actions in the world, it tells us what, and the head (stories, views, perspectives, frameworks) tells us how.

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Oneness at the three levels

 

Over the last couple of days, a lot of things have come up for me around the three levels of being (Spirit, soul and human) and how particular qualities show up when filtered through each. These are generalizations from how it (seems to) show up in my own life right now.

In terms of oneness

Oneness at the Spirit level

At the Spirit level, oneness shows up as awake emptiness and form, absent of any separate I. This is what we discover through the headless experiments, the Big Mind process, or other forms of inquiry, or through meditation (allowing the content to be as it is), or even spontaneously. It is the ground, awake emptiness and form as awake emptiness, so it embraces and goes beyond one and many.

It is one, in that all forms are revealed as a thin surface of the same awake emptiness. It is many, in that it includes all the many forms of the world. It is neither, in its emptiness aspect.

In itself, it is absolutely impersonal, yet becomes personal when lived through the life and relationships of an individual human.

Oneness at soul level

At the soul level, oneness shows up in a different way. I can only speak about my limited experiences here with the alive presence, fertile darkness, luminous blackness, and the indwelling God.

Oneness appears in slightly different ways for each of these.

The luminous blackness emerges out of the same awake emptiness as anything else, and is somehow intrinsically interwoven with all form. The same is true, although to a lesser extent, with the fertile darkness (which is more of a composting ground for rigid patterns of the personality.)

The alive presence and the indwelling God have a oneness quality in that they too emerge out of awake emptiness, sharing this ground with anything else. At the same time, they are both alive around, in and for this particular individual (and for any other individual, whom I assume will experience it in a similar way.)

Each of these soul aspects have an universal and a personal quality, maybe most clearly noticed with the indwelling God – which appears as a fragment of God particularly for this individual. It is universal, since it is God (Existence itself), and it is intimately individual and personal, since it is an aspect of God for this particular individual, centered in the area of the physical heart.

Oneness at human level

The oneness at our human level also takes several forms. There is the oneness of all form, arising out of the same awake emptiness, and belonging to the seamless whole of existence.

And then there is the oneness of the mirroring, of finding in ourselves any quality we see out in the wider world. What I see out there, is what I am here. The more we work with this, and become familiar with more and more of our own qualities as individuals, the more it is all revealed as universal. I see any human quality out there in others and the world, and also know it from my own life. We are all in the same boat. We all share everything it means to be human, and are one in that way.

Impersonal and personal

Oneness at each of the three levels is both impersonal and personal, universal and particular to an individual.

At the Spirit level, it is impersonal in that all is revealed as awake emptiness, inherently absent of any separate I. Yet, it becomes intimately personal when this is lived through a human life, in the world, through relationships with other individuals and the wider world.

At the soul level, it is impersonal in that it arises out of the same ground of awake emptiness as anything else, and is available to any individual. Yet, it is intimately personal, especially the alive presence and the indwelling God, in that it is a fragment of the soul level of Existence in, around and for this particular individual.

At the human level, it is impersonal through the seamless whole of the world of form, with everything having infinite causes and infinite effects, and anything happening around and through this individual representing movements of the larger whole. It is also impersonal through finding anything here that I see out there, realizing – in my bones -that we are all in the same boat, it is all just part of being human. At the same time, it is all by necessity intimately and uniquely personal, filtered through this human being.