The richness of this moment

 

When someone asks me how I am doing, it’s not always easy to give a simple answer.

The reality is that any moment is very rich.

What’s here now. Right now, I notice…. quiet joy, enjoyment, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, sadness, fear, dread, love, discomfort, contractions, a sense of boundlessness, and much more. It’s a bitter-sweet experience, where both ends of many polarities are included.

And when I think about any situation, it’s similar. For instance, when I think of my ex-wife, there is love there, a wish for her to do well, some regret, a twinge when I think of her with someone else, a knowing I wouldn’t want to share my life with her now, sweet memories, slightly uncomfortable memories, and much more.

Richness of views. There is also a richness of views that all co-exist. When I look at my situation now, and my history, there is a wide range of views that all have some validity. I can find tragedy in missed opportunities. I can find privilege. I can find adventure. I can find mistakes and poor judgment. I can see it through a “spiritual” story of opening, initial awakening, dark nights, and situations perfectly set up to further the deepening. I can see it as a moving story of the hopes, failures, achievements, and losses of a typical human being. And again much more.

There is always one more facet of my experience here and now I can notice. There is always one more view that makes sense and has some validity.

Happening within what I am, and reflecting who I am. Taking a slightly different angle, I see that my field of experience – as it is now – is what I am. It’s all happening within and as what I am. It’s the richness of what I am now. And from yet another angle, I see that any quality or characteristics I see “out there” in others or the wider world, is something I can find in myself. I wouldn’t recognize it “out there” unless I already knew it from my own experience and who I am. In that sense, there is an immense – and very real – richness to who I am, if I only look and see.

Awareness, love, ground. It’s equally true that I can find where everything is awareness, love, form, and ground.

The awareness, love, intelligence is here, and it seems I can find it whenever I look. Whatever happens, this field of experience, is awareness, love, intelligence. Or, at least, those are the words that seem to fit the best.

The content of experience is here, as described above, including quiet joy, sadness, satisfaction, slight discomfort and more. And I can find a similar content of experience whenever I look. This happens within and as awareness.

At the same time, there seems to be a “ground” (void) here that awareness and its content happens within and as. And that too seems to be here whenever I look. This is perhaps what it’s most difficult to find an appropriate word for. It’s a  nothingness that allows for awareness and the content of awareness. And it seems surprisingly tangible?

When I say that “everything” happens within this, that “everything” includes any sense of a me or I. That too happens within what a thought may call awareness, love, form, ground. It happens within what “I” really am. In a sense, there is one “I” that all this happens within and as, and another “I” or “me” that happens within this (the human self, sometimes an apparent doer, observer etc.). And really, all of these – awareness, love, intelligence, form, ground – seem all facets of the same.

My life from different perspectives

 

One form of inquiry is to explore something – anything – from a variety of different perspectives.

And one of the simplest ways of doing this may be through the Big Mind process.

For instance, as a facilitator I ask the client (which may be me) to shift into different perspectives, and see what comes up when the clients life is explored from that perspective.

How is the story of my life – or a specific time or situation in my life – from the view of the victim, the hero, the learner, the ordinary human being, Big Mind, Big Heart?

Which perspectives are most familiar to me? Which are less familiar? How is it to spend more time with the less familiar perspectives?

This shows me how my more familiar perspectives are just that, more familiar. They are some of many, and each one has some validity.

Some may even show me something I hadn’t seen, or valued, before.

(more…)

Meeting people where they are

 

The long form improv guideline of Yes, And is a great way of meeting people where they are.

We find the grain of truth in their perspective, which is always there, acknowledge it, and then add another perspective to it.

It is a way to meet people where they are, and then gently expand the perspective. We expand our own by taking into account the truth in theirs. And we expand theirs by adding something new.

It is also a quick way to finding common ground, simply by noting the truth in their view.

And it is a way to stay in integrity. I find the genuine truth, for me, in their perspective. And then add something on my own.

It is very simple, almost childishly so as so much else in this journal. But it has a profound impact if we really bring it into our life.

Aspects of communication

 

An interesting point from Indistinct Union:

All writing is arrogance….of a sort. To say anything, however humble, is to assume one has something to say that has some validity, that someone will find useful. I put these thoughts on the World Wide Web. That’s arrogance.

It may be true, but some other things about writing and communicating – whether with others or myself – are also true…

Independent of anything else happening, when I communicate with myself or others…

  • It helps me clarify certain views and perspectives I am already familiar with
  • It helps me explore a certain area I am already familiar with, but in more depth
  • I can move beyond what I am familiar with, in the same general direction, in a more deliberate and systematic way
  • I sometimes surprise myself by coming up with something different from what I expected or something beyond what I was familiar with
  • I can actively take on, explore, and find the validity in views and perspectives I am less familiar with, including those very different from or opposite to my habitual perspectives. In this way, I move outside of what I am familiar with, it helps me understand better where others are coming from, and I also become more familiar with other sides of myself and the human experience
  • I can explore areas that are new or unfamiliar to me and learn something about them
  • By writing something down, I can more easily let go of it. I don’t need to try to remember it anymore, and can move on.

Among these, I see that all happen for me, and all have their own value.

If something is happening in the world, and I bring up something that can be a catalyst for change, I usually go with what is already familiar to me and habitual views (respect for life, widening circles of care, meeting people where they are, and so on).

If I work on myself, I often explore views and areas different from what I am used to, through for instance The Work or Voice Dialog or something similar. And this latter feeds back to the first since it helps me loosen my grip on certain views, understand better where others are coming from, and see how we are all in the same boat.

(As I write this, I see how certain KW flavored integralists will see this as green and holistic and all the things they don’t like very much, but that is not all there is to it. For instance, meeting people where they are at and speaking a language they understand also – obviously – means meeting people at red with red/amber means when necessary, including using force.)

As a receiver of what someone else communicates….

  • In general, whatever is communicated mirrors something in myself and helps me notice it. I find in myself what I see out there… views, experiences, qualities and more.
  • It helps me clarify, explore and move beyond views and areas I am already familiar with.
  • It helps me become familiar with views and areas unfamiliar to me, which helps me find it in myself and also understand better where others are coming from. We all are familiar with views and areas unfamiliar to someone else, so by sharing this inevitably happens.
  • It can help me explore views coming up in response to the view expressed. What I hear or see may trigger something in me in response, which helps me clarify and become familiar with it, and act on it as well in some situations.

So wherever it comes from, it can be of benefit of the receiver. In that sense, any sharing of views, perspectives, information, opinions, experiences and so on is an act of generosity. It may mirror something in the receiver, and may also trigger something different in response.

Does all of this automatically happen. Maybe yes and no. It may well be that most or all of this inevitably happens, and it then becomes an invitation that is consciously accepted and acted on or not. And for some, it is an active and conscious practice to work with it this way.

King of Kong

 

king.jpg

I saw the movie King of Kong tonight, a surprisingly fascinating and touching documentary about the two top competitive Donkey Kong (!) players in the world. One, Billy Mitchell, is the “gamer of the century” and is increasingly cast as the villain as the movie progresses. The other, Steve Wiebe, is a thoroughly likable underdog taking on the champion, and unwittingly gets embroiled in an old feud between Billy Mitchel and his nemesis, Mr. Awesome.

Two things struck me as I watched the movie.

Steve Wiebe’s great achievement is how he lives his life, independent of whether he is successful and recognized in sports, music or arcade games (all areas he has a great deal of talent, but never got it quite off the ground apart from in arcade games). And this is probably obvious to anyone watching the movie, although maybe not always to himself.

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There must be many movies out there presenting the same story from different perspectives, although the only one I can think of now is Kurosawa’s Rashomon. (If anyone reading this knows of other movies, please tell me about it in a comment.)

Documentaries lend themselves especially well to this as there is usually hundreds of hours of footage which can be edited in many different ways to tell different versions of the same story, each one with a very different message, point and feel to them, and with the audience siding with different people.

In this case, the movie could have been even more interesting if it was made up of two 40 minute or so stories shown back-to-back. The first, told first from the perspective of Mitchell, casting Wiebe as someone associated with his arch enemy Mr. Awesome and out to take him down at any cost. And then from the perspective of Steve Wiebe, as a more tightly edited version of the one out now. Each would independently tell a fascinating story, and together would also remind us of how things look very different from different perspectives.

A good movie does this anyway, weaving perspectives into a larger story, but separating them out adds something extra to it.

Most of the time, even when a story weaves in several perspectives, one perspective dominates or unifies the others, and the other ones are there more for texture. This is of course good and appropriate most of the time.

But once in a while, it would be interesting to see the different perspectives separated out in a more obvious way. It allows for a more thorough exploration of each, how each one seems very real and true when we are absorbed into it, how easily we can shift into another, and how we can find a space holding them all and from here find the limited truth in each.

Wolves and perspectives

 

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Since I was a child, I have tended to get into arguments with my uncle, repeating the same patterns over and over. (With him and few or no others.) Most recently, when I last visited my family which lives on another continent, it was over the topic of wolves. Our country has ten or fifteen wolves or so, and he is adamant that they should be shot. The conversation went along these lines…

  • Me: Why should they be shot? Don’t they have as much right to life as anyone else? They were probably here long before us humans, so we are the invaders. And there are lots of us, and very few of them, so if anything they are the ones needing protection. (The usual Spiral Dynamics Green arguments.)
  • Uncle: They are a danger to people. Would you like your child to be eaten by wolves on their way to school?
  • Me: If you are concerned about that, why don’t you work for traffic safety, or even eradicating all the wasps? Traffic and wasps kills quite a few people every year, while there is no recorded instance of a wolf ever killing a human being.

And so it goes, with both of us deliberately pushing each other’s buttons, getting more caught up in emotions, and more entrenched in our particular and increasingly fixed views. (Even writing this, I notice some jitteriness and emotions coming up.)

It is an example of both of us getting caught up in habitual patterns, even as we see it happening, and even as we both (most likely) see that we both agree below the surface of particular strategies, and that we both have valid and good points. Even as we see it, we can’t help getting caught up in it…

We both have the same deep wish, which is to support life. For him, it takes the form of wanting to protect people. For me, wanting to protect a species that is almost eradicated. Our wish is the same, although our emphasis, perspective and surface strategies are different, at least as they come out in an entrenched conversation like that.

And I also see how we both take perspectives that comes out of the conditions of our lives.

He (and my father) grew up on a farm, hunting for much of their food, and during difficult economical and social times (including war), so they needed to actively take care of humans and fend off threats from nature. Their lives were precarious, and a deliberate and active protection of their family and community was appropriate in those circumstances. Humans obviously, and appropriately, went before animals.

I grew up under quite different circumstances, in a country now peaceful, safe, prosperous and social democratic, where everyone were taken care of. For me, seeing that humans were generally safe and well of, it was natural to expand my circle of concern to include animals and the natural world. For me and my generation, taking care of other species was a luxury that we could easily afford.

Seeing all this, a space opens up that includes both of us…

There is an understanding of where we each are coming from, and how we defend perspectives based on our own background and circumstances. There is a recognition of how we both have the same wish, to support life, although it is sometimes expressed in different ways. There is a recognition of the validity of both of our perspectives, and a willingness to find strategies addressing the concerns of both. And there is an empathy for both of us, a heartfelt allowing and holding of each of us where we are.

The more I sincerely explore it and what is true for me around all of this, the more there is a release from being blindly identified and caught up in these patterns. From a sense of separation, there is a sense of intimacy with himself, myself and the situation. From frustration, a new appreciation. From truly believing the perspective I promote, a recognition of the validity of both perspectives.

Even if we go into the same old patterns again, there is a new appreciation of both of us, even in the midst of our stuckness. And that makes even the stuckness worth it.

The question of evil

 

Some of the many ways of looking at evil, in the context of Spirit as beyond and including all polarities.

Confusion

Evil comes out of confusion. It comes out of believing in the idea of I, placing it on this human self, and then creating a more elaborate identity that needs to be defended.

I see myself as an object in finite space and time, and need to protect myself. I take as I, and believe in, the more elaborate identity of this human self, and this also needs to be protected.

And since it is a death-and-life matter, I am willing to use death-and-life means.

Expressions of Spirit

It is an expression of Spirit. It is Spirit expressing, exploring and experiencing itself, in yet another flavor. It is awake emptiness and form, in one of its many expressions, inherently absent of good and bad, good and evil, better or worse.

Drama

It ads to the drama of Spirit expressing, exploring and experiencing itself. Spirit creates a sense of I and Other, place the I on this human self and Other on anything else, and the drama is in motion. There is more juice, more engagement, more liveliness, if it appears as a life-and-death drama.

Evolution and development

Souls develop over incarnations, and human selves develop within its lifetime.

Evil actions is simply the actions of an immature soul or human self, when pressed to its limits. When nothing else seems available.

Or we can say that evil actions happen when our circle of care, compassion and concern is exclusive. It may be that we see a strong boundary between we and them, dehumanize the Others, and see it in our interest to harm them, directly or indirectly. Or it may be that we are simply oblivious to the effects our actions have on others, although this is typically not seen as evil.

Over the course of the development of the human self, its circle of care, compassion and concern gets wider and wider. The circle of we and us expands to include more and more people, groups of people, species and systems. It can go from egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric and even to Kosmocentric, depending on the inner and outer conditions.

In egocentric, my circle only goes around me and maybe those most immediate to me. In ethnocentric, it includes my group, however it is defined – my nation, religion, ethnicity, age, political affiliation, and so on. In worldcentric, it includes all of us – which can be all of us human beings, all of us beings on this planet, all of this planetary ecosystem, all of us in past, present and future. And in Kosmocentric, it includes all of Existence, beyond and including all polarities. It includes all of Spirit as awake emptiness and the whole world of form.

Belief in an idea

Evil can be seen as coming from a belief in an idea. We believe in the idea of good and evil, create a definition for it (usually coming from culture or religion), and place it on the world.

We place it on top of something that is inherently free from good and evil, and then we act as if it is really there – because it is, for us.

Conventional views as a guidelines

And then there are the many conventional views on ethics, law and so on, which are all very useful (essential) in our daily life. They serve as guidelines for our own behavior, and also for how we will allow others to treat others.

All together

Each of these views, and many more, have a good point. They are each true in their own way. They are each useful. But if we get stuck in just one, something else is left out and what we leave out will most likely come back to bit us. We act from a filter that removes most of the spectrum, and lose much of the information available to us.

We see it all as Spirit, and disregard conventional views, guidelines and laws. We stick only to our beliefs, and ourselves end up acting in less compassionate ways. We see it all as drama, and stoke the drama instead of helping people find relief from suffering and awakening.

The more of the spectrum included, the more we can see, and the more informed, and hopefully compassionate, our actions can be.

Perspectives

 

It can be a helpful exercise to take any topic and explore for ourselves how it may look from a range of perspectives.

Lets take one of a number of similar stories on the behavior of US soldiers in Iraq…

Iraq envoy accuses US of killing

Iraq’s ambassador to the UN has demanded an inquiry into what he said was the “cold-blooded murder” of his young unarmed relative by US marines. […]

He said Mohammed, an engineering student, was visiting his family home when some 10 marines with an Egyptian interpreter knocked on the door at 1000 local time.

He opened the door to them and was “happy to exercise some of his English”, said the ambassador.

When asked if there were any weapons in the house, Mohammed took the marines to a room where there was a rifle with no live ammunition.

It was the last the family saw him alive. Shortly after, another brother was dragged out and beaten and the family was ordered to wait outside.

As the marines left “smiling at each other” an hour later, the interpreter told the mother they had killed Mohammed, said Mr Sumaidaie.

“In the bedroom, Mohammed was found dead and laying in a clotted pool of his blood. A single bullet had penetrated his neck.”

Source: BBC News

Personal Level Views
When awareness is exclusively identified with the small self, it functions in a dualistic way. It tends to create oppositions and identify with one group against the other.

For those already opposed to the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, this may be is just another example of the inhumanity of US soldiers, US government and possibly the US culture in general. Or if the view is more refined, there may be a view of these soldiers – as well as the Iraqi people – being victims of an inhumane military culture and of US foreign policies.

For those who see the Iraqi war as a part of spreading freedom and democracy around the world, there could be a denial about the US government or US soldiers ever doing anything unethical. This story is clearly a lie, designed to blacken the reputation of the US. Or there could be an acceptance of the story, but a dismissal of it as a rare anomality. There will always be a few bad apples, and it does not reflect on the US military, US foreign policies or US culture in general.

For those who see the invasion and occupation of Iraq as a part of a strategy of furthering US economic, military and cultural dominance in the world – and in the Middle East in particular – this may be seen as an unfortunate incident, but also an acceptable cost – along with the other tens of thousands of dead civilian Iraqis. You can’t make an omelet without breaking an egg.

In all of these views, there is a “we” and a “them”. We are right, they are not. We take care of our own, even if it may bring suffering to others.

Transpersonal Views

A transdual view can function on different levels…

From an exclusively Absolute view, nothing happened. Nothing ever happens or will happen. It is all just a mirage – insubstantial appearances. The nature of all phenomena is spaciousness and clarity.

From a Big Mind view, this is all expressions of Big Mind. The soldiers, the killed young man, the mother, the reporter, the US government, the emotions and thoughts experienced by all of these, are all Big Mind. It is all part of the richness of Existence. It is all just Existence exploring itself in its myriad ways. This is the view of equanimity.

From a Big Heart view, there is a deep compassion for all human beings involved in this situation. We see the suffering of the soldiers, and of the family and friends of the dead man. We see the suffering and confusion of those who defend the acts of the soldiers, and those who see it as just another example of US dominance and inhumanity.

We see the confusion of each person involved, and how this confusion leads to suffering in its many variations and manifestations. Ultimately, these are all just human beings trying to make the best out of a difficult situation, doing as best as they can – in the inner/outer situation they are in.

From a Yang Big Heart view, there is also the element of ruthless compassion. Of cutting through and shake people out of their delusion. For the soldiers, to help them see how they act out of lack of empathy and compassion, and thus cut themselves off from their own humanity. For those on either side of the war and the issue, to help them see the humanity in the opponents. For everyone, to let go of attachments to ideologies and see that we are all just humans doing as best as we can, in all our confusion and pain.