Spirit animal

 

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When I was a child, I had a Big Dream about a black panther, and I realize later that it was very similar to shamanic experiences and connections with a spirit animal. In the dream, there was a connection with the panther as long lost friend, and someone who had immense wisdom, insight and ability to guide me.

The world is a mirror of what is inside of ourselves, and animals can be especially helpful in mirroring and evoking certain qualities in us.

When we journey – whether in dreams, shamanic rituals, active imagination, through using the whole of us as in process work, or even through voice dialog – we are often guided to exactly those qualities that wants to come into our lives more fully. Those that may have been disowned, or just temporarily forgotten. There is an infinity of sources for reminders, including animals.

What comes up is what is needed here and now, so will change over time. But some may have to do with longer term processes, unfolding over decades, and the black panther for me seems to be one of these.

For me, the black panther evokes a beautiful combination of polarities, maybe especially a natural confidence and relaxation, and alertness and explosive activity, depending on what the situation calls for. It is firm and gentle, cute and vicious, and follows its path with receptivity yet in a non-nonsense way and undistractedly. Its velvety blackness reminds of the fertile blackness and awakening of the belly center, which nurtures each of the qualities listed above.

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Shamanism is probably the earliest form for psychology, and from the little I know about it, it can be every bit as sophisticated as any contemporary western psychology. Judging from the earliest examples of rock art, it is a form of psychology that has been with us since before the dawn of civilization, which is humbling and also gives a sense of connection across time and universality.

I have worked with the black panther more lately, bringing its qualities into my daily life, and have found it a great support.I may find the black panther qualities in myself through images and movements, or just ask myself what would the black panther do?

Previews and reorganizing in two ways

 

Initial draft… 

We often experience previews of what can be, a dropping into a future way of being, which then invites a reorganization of our human self to both reflect it and also prepare for a more stable way of living it.

These previews are wonderful gifts, although they are not always taken that way after they are gone. They come, show us what can be – in a more stable way – in the future, and then go away again. If we don’t recognize them as previews and their function of inviting our human self to reorganize, we can easily go into a sense of loss and of something being wrong, while it is just a normal and expected part of the process.

I learned this the hard way, as I assume is how it is for many of us, and I am still in the process of really getting it.

So say there is an awakening into a nondual awakening, of all as the unmanifest manifesting as what is here now, inherently absent of I and Other. It seems stable when it is there, but there may also be a recognition that this human self is not quite able to fully and maturely live from it and express it in the world. The gap is actually pretty big. Then the awakening fades or goes away, but it has initiated a pretty radical reorganizing of our human self.

This reorganizing reflects, to some extent at least, Big Mind awake to itself, and it also prepares the ground for Big Mind awakening to itself in a more stable way, and expressing itself through this human self in a more full and mature way.

These previews may not only happen once. They can happen many times, each time triggering a further and different reorganization of our human self. And the previews may not be of a nondual awakening, they can equally well be of a soul level awakening (oneness, an I here one with all as God), or even a centaur awakening to the wholeness beyond and embracing this human body and psyche.

So although all of this is a natural process, and a wonderful gift, it can be taken in a very different way. It can be taken as a loss, as having something and then losing it, and we can get absorbed into whatever comes up when we tell ourselves we have lost it. And as usual, the more resistance to what is – in this case reorganization and loss of the preview – the more drama, stress and suffering. But that too, if it happens, is part of the process. After a while, when we learn to recognize the patterns of previews and reorganization, we learn to relax and trust the process a little more.

Although this is a pretty typical pattern, it seems that it doesn’t have to happen this way. For some, there is one awakening which stays and the human self reorganize within the awakening. But for others, including me, there are several previews followed by reorganization.

And why not? If something is possible within the habits of the manifest, then God is going to go there. God awakens to itself stably, and the human self it is functionally connected with reorganize within that. And God glimpses itself several times, and the human self reorganize following each glimpse.

It is all part of the overall richness of how God explore and manifest itself.

Explorations and goals

 

Many of the spiritual traditions are heavily goal oriented. There is a shorter term goal of living a life that works better for oneself and others, in terms of reducing suffering. And a longer term and over arching goal of Ground awakening to itself, at least in some parts of the traditions.

There is nothing wrong in this, but it is also only part of the picture, and can create some problems if taken as all there is to it.

For me, it is much more of an exploration process. I am curious about this life and existence in general, and am happy to explore whatever comes up and wherever life takes me. And a part of that wider terrain, which is formed as we go along, is Ground awakening to itself. But it is only one small part of the terrain, and not by any means any “goal” or end point. At most, it is something that happens in glimpses, and then as a more stable shift, and all the other explorations happens – in a conventional view – before and after it, and always within and as what awakens to itself or not.

Ground awakening to itself is not inherently better or more desirable than Ground not noticing itself. The only difference is that in one there is clarity and freedom from suffering, and in the other there is confusion and suffering, so when there is an identification with a separate self, there is naturally a desire for Ground to awaken to itself.

And eventually, when this confusion is thoroughly (or not so thoroughly) explored, when aspects of that terrain is familiar, there is a point where Ground cannot help but to awaken to itself. The sense of a separate self and its identities are so clearly seen as coming just from a thought, from imagination, that it loses any grip. And right there, Ground notices itself as inherently free from anything imagined.

Existence, universe, life, this always evolving form aspect of God, seeks (or, more accurately, moves in the direction of) diversity. And so too in awakening.

If we follow a set path, it is likely to work, at least to some extent. It has many benefits. And although it is a well trodden path, what is brought to it is always somewhat unique and different, so it will have its own flavor.

But why not allow this process, unfolding here now, to lead us? To have an open curiosity, about where this path goes? It is always unique anyway, a unique expression of life and God, so why not allow it to be unique, to willingly allow it to add to the diversity of existence.

It does anyway, so we may as well embrace it, although when there is resistance to it, trying to fit into a tradition and set path, that is also part of its unique flavor.

For me, all of this leads me to embrace both ends of the polarity.

I follow traditional practices, because they work. But I am also very much aware of what can come out of too much of a goal focus… more clashes between stories of what is and should be, more stress, more struggle, and so on. There can also be too much of an expectation of the outcome of practices, which creates, in another way, resistance to what is and struggles with the process and where it wants to go.

But I also follow a more open exploration… I am willing to try anything that comes up, when it comes up for me to try it, like for instance diksha. And I engage in more open inquiries as well, where I have no idea where it will go, such as in Process Work and journeying or tracking. If there is any expectation, it may be surprise over what comes up. Sometimes, it is entirely new dimensions of existence beyond what my thoughts thought was possible.

So there is a more free exploration of any aspect of the always changing and evolving terrain. And as part of this, there is an exploration of what is so clearly mapped out by the many traditions, such as realized selflessness.

God, in its form aspect, evolves in an infinitely rich way. So why not consciously join the process? We don’t need to abandon the traditions, we only need receptivity to and curiosity for a terrain beyond them. This terrain includes what is covered by each of the other traditions, goes beyond this, and is also always unfolding and evolving in new ways.

Ouroboros – the process eating itself

 

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Ouroboros, the snake eating its own tail, is a fertile symbol (metaphor, analogy, projection object) that can be understood in many ways.

One is as an analogy for the process of self-inquiry.

In the beginning, it appears that there is a separate self here inquiring, investigating, exploring and so on. But the process itself includes the annihilation of this sense of a separate self. Eventually, even that is seen as just something on the inside of a story, something that appears real only because it is taken as real, a thought placed on top of pure perception, filtering it into what appears as an I here and Other there.

The process of inquiry, and any spiritual practice leading to Ground noticing itself, is a process eating itself up. The separate self, the doer, that appears to initiate and engage in it, is revealed as never having been there in the first place.

What we let go of

 

When we deepen into who and what we are – notice more of the wholeness of who we are as individual human and soul, notice what we are as Ground (awake void), and work with this in our human life – it is also a process of letting go of identifications and beliefs. This takes many forms. We let go of…

  • Being right. Or rather, seeing a particular story as inherently and absolutely true, and discounting the truths in its reversals. This helps us deepen into more of who we are as humans (detached from beliefs and identities, we can embrace more of who we already are), and also reveals Ground to itself more easily (not clouded over by beliefs, the field of awake void and form can more easily notice and recognize itself).
  • Taking ourselves as content of awareness. This one is more obviously related to noticing ourselves as what we are, as awake void and all form as this awake void, without center anywhere and without any I with an Other. It also relates to deepening into who we are, since a release from taking ourselves as content of awareness – including as this human self – allows this human self to develop and mature without the drama, struggle and resistance that comes from being identified with.
  • Drama. As there is a reduced attachment to stories, in number and degree, there is less identification with and production of drama. There is less sense of an I here as stories and the object of some of these stories (including this human self), so less of an I with an Other, so less friction with what is, so less drama.
  • A center. With a reduction of identification with stories and some of their objects, there is a reduction in a sense of an I with an Other, so also a reduction in a sense of a center. There is a field of awake void (awareness) and form (whatever arises within, to and as awareness), and it is revealed as being inherently absent of a center anywhere. Again, this allows this field to notice itself more easily, without the obscuration of a sense of a separate self as a center of the field, and it allows this human self to mature and deepen into who it is, without the drama of identification and a sense of I here and Other over there.
  • An I with an Other. When there is identification with stories, and content of awareness in general, there is automatically a sense of an I with an Other. I am this region of what arises, and the wider world is the rest of what arises. If I notice awake void (awareness), that too may be seen as Other, as something that comes and goes. As we deepen into who we are, we notice the wider world more and more as a mirror of this human self. What we see out there (qualities, characteristics) is something we can find in here, and the other way around. As we deepen into this process, there is less sense of being separate and different from others and the wider world, and more of a sense of no separation and being in the same boat as all humans and then all beings. There may still be a sense of a separate self, but one that is of the same piece as all of humanity, all of life, and all of Existence. And as we deepen into what we are, we find ourselves as awake void (awareness), and this void is void… including of identifications with any form. As we now notice all form as this awake void (anything arising as awareness), this field of awake void and form is now revealed as inherently absent of any I with an Other. This means that we now notice all form as arising and happening on its own, on its own schedule. And this goes for this human self as well. There is doing there, as before, but no doer. This human self and all its activities is just happening on its own, as anything else.
  • Being better or worse. This is similar to the previous one. As we mature as who we are, and see in ourselves what we see in the wider world, there is less and less sense of being better or worse than others, or as what we were, could have been or may be. We are all in the same boat. Whatever arises here is universally human, with a particular flavor, and that is the same as whatever arises in anyone. Of course, we can still use conventional measures and see that someone is better or worse than others in math and other areas, but these have only a limited and practical value. As humans, anything in us is universally human and we are in the same boat. And, again, as we notice ourselves as what we are, as awake void, then anything arising is this field of awake void or form. Better or worse does not apply, except in a very limited and practical way in our human lives.
  • A familiar terrain. We let go of identifying with a particular overlay of stories and identities, and the terrain these tended to keep us inside of (as an I here with an Other out there). In our human life, we go beyond what is defined by any fixed identity and beliefs. As awake void and form, we are inherently free from any stories and identities. In both cases, what is, is allowed to manifest and unfold more freely, without the drama and resistance that comes from identification with stories and identities. (Although here, we see that resistance is not really resistance. Resistance is truly futile, because all it does is kick up dust.)
  • Closed centers. Deepening into who and what we are, is also an opening of the three centers, and a letting go of the ways they function when closed. At the head center, it is a letting go of fixed and rigid views, and an inability to see the truth in their turnarounds. At the heart center, it is a letting go of the ambivalence of the heart being open in some situations and closed in others. At the belly center, a letting go of emotional reactivity, both in terms of identification with it, and also (possibly) as a pattern in general as it is being replaced with a steady nurturing fullness.

Dark nights and patterns

 

I am still reading Bernadette Robert’s Path to No Self. She writes about the path better than almost anyone I can think of, especially in a Christian context.

At the same time, although what she writes about are elements in many paths to awakening, the sequence is clearly a reflection of her own. As they say, if there are 7 billion awakenings, then there are 7 billion different awakenings. Not everyone go through each phase, and not in the same sequence, and there are elements in other paths to awakening that is outside what she describes. When she writes, she gives the impression that there is one main pattern in the awakening process, and she does not seem to fully acknowledge the variability in her writings. Which is fine. Something has to be left to the reader to wrestle with and clarify for themselves, beyond what the writer explicitly mentions.

I can also see that my initial take on the dark nights was, as I suspected, a little off in terms of the Christian tradition.

In general, a dark night is any time beliefs and identifications wear off. It is a letting go of who we thought we were. And this can be gentle and easy if we didn’t quite believe it in the first place, or we use a process that is effective and gentle such as The Work. Or it can be a struggle if the attachment is stronger, and we resist the wearing off. As usual, resistance=suffering (resistance to experience, that is).

Then there are the specific dark nights of the senses and the soul, as St. John of the Cross writes about.

As I understand it, the dark night of the senses puts us on the path. It is a disillusionment with the world as being able to provide us with what we are looking for (essentially, lasting happiness, and freedom from suffering). We realize that being dependent on circumstances for our happiness is a precarious situation, and look for something else. It is a wearing off of beliefs of the world being able to provide lasting happiness, and identities related to that. (Not a full wearing off, just enough to put us on the path, and the wearing off continues on the path.)

The dark night of the soul leads us into the unitive life. It is a wearing off of beliefs and identities of being separate. There is still a sense of a separate self here, an I with an Other, but now an I that is one with the larger whole and God. It is an awakening at the soul level, to the alive presence, to all as God and consciousness. It is a relatively stable awakening.

For Bernadette Roberts, the transition into realized selflessness from here was more of a slipping into it. She didn’t need another (dramatic) dark night for it to happen.

As she points out, it is the torments inherent in the unitive life that wears off the last beliefs in and identification as a separate self. In the unitive life, there can be a great deal of bliss and joy, yet also torments in terms of (a) not being able to fully share it with anyone, (b) others not being interested in it, and (c) seeing how every experience and insight is still filtered through, and tainted by, this sense of a separate self.

These torments are, in a sense, a dark night happening within the unitive life.

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Emptying out

 

I notice that there is more emptying out going on… and it is all an emptying out of identifications with thoughts. And in the process, for a while, there is very little engagement with those thoughts, which is reflected here in very little references to what other writes about, the aqal framework, Buddhist philosophy and so on. What is left is only what is alive here now, and the thoughts needed to reflect them.

It is just one phase, and in general, if it all empties out, then it fills up again, and where there was an attachment to and identification with thought, there is now a free play with and explorations of these thoughts. There is a freedom to explore them without identification. (But what happens in this case is of course still in the future, and itself only a thought.)

It is a funny thing, how the process of disidentification with a story sometimes goes along with a temporary reduced engagement with the story itself and maybe even the object of the story. I guess stepping away from the story, and sometimes its object, allows for an easier disidentification with it. And when it has been released, there is the freedom of engagement again.

For me, one of the stories that is being let go of is exactly this: that a process of letting go of identifications with stories does not need to involve letting go of the stories or the object of the stories. That too is just a belief, a temporary preference of this personality. Sometimes, that letting go of the stories themselves, and even the objects of them, seems to happen whether my personality wants it or not.

Transition experiences

 

In shifting from taking ourselves as an object in the world to awake void & field of form (Big Mind), there can be many transition experiences, either as glimpses or more stable phases.

One way to organize these is by the three aspects of Big Mind: void, awake, and form. It works to some extent, but there are also lots of overlaps here (by necessity, since those three are really the same thing/no-thing). Also, what I list here are mostly things I am familiar with from my own process, so a lot is left out.

  • Void… a sense of form as transparent, translucent, insubstantial, dream-like, absent of I and Other, absent of identification.
  • Awake… a sense of the wider world (beyond the human self) as somehow awake, conscious, animated. (Leading to experiences akin to nature and deity mysticism.)
  • Form… a sense of form as a seamless whole (from shifting the center of gravity into the witness, pure seeing), as transparent and insubstantial (from sensing it as void), and as awake or consciousness itself (from seeing it in its awakeness aspect).

And then a fourth area which comes up to different extents: the soul. It enriches the process tremendously, can appear as a stumbling block if taken as anything final or attached to for any other reason, and can also be a guide into an awakening of the void to itself.

  • Soul… a sense of clear luminosity, of alive presence, of smooth, full, round, luminous blackness, and of this body and all form as void combined with any or all of these. (For instance, a sense of alive presence in and as this body, or the smooth luminous blackness as what all form arises from, within and as.)

More specifically, transition experiences can include a sense of no separation, of oneness (a vague I here, one with the wider world), of synchronicities (the content of form out there mirroring what is going on in here), of one’s inanimate surroundings as consciousness (and not really separate from this consciousness), and much more.

Eventually, it leads into a sense of a separate self falling away, and what is left is just the field of awake void and form, the form including this human self and its surroundings (whatever arises in the field of consciousness), and all inherently absent of an I with an Other. It is all just a field… void, awake and as form.

Resistance: revealing Spirit one piece at a time

 

I have mentioned this before, and the previous post reminded me of it again… the gifts of blocks and resistance.

As awful as resistance can be, in terms of the stress and sometimes suffering created from it, it also has some great gifts.

One of the main ones is that it allows for an exploration of Spirit (in its form and emptiness aspects) one piece at a time, filtered in space and time into mostly manageable portions.

Resistance slows down the process, allowing for a more detailed and thorough exploration of each without it drowning in the immensity of the whole. In some ways, it functions as a magnifying glass, allowing for one piece of the terrain to be explored, in detail, at a time. It holds us in place for a while, inviting a more thorough exploration of that particular area of the landscape.

Our personality certainly does not like resistance and its effects, at least not right away. But with time, there can be a great deal of appreciation and gratitude even for resistance and blocks, for these and other reasons.

(Resistance here refers to resistance to experience, which comes from a belief in a story, which in turn creates a sense of I and Other, seeing of some experiences as undesirable, and then resistance to them, which then leads to a sense of drama, stress and sometimes suffering… which is just about all it creates. Spirit refers to all of Existence, in its form and emptiness aspects, including our daily human experiences.)

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…

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Journey: rocks

 

I did a process work session earlier today, and started a process, which I continued on my way home, and then now. (In Process Work, the unfolding can be similar to what is described here, but they also include a more active exploration of the meaning of the process and how to bring it into daily life. When I do it on my own, it tends to unfold easily, but the meaning of it may not surface until much later if at all. Somehow, it still allows for a shift that is sometimes profound.)
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Belly area spine, and energetic hole

 

During fall and winter, I experienced a lot of (energetic) activity in the hara area, and specifically around the spine (L3-4)…

Since the initial awakening in my teens, I have been aware of an energetic hole that area. I also had scoliosis (side curve) right there, which since then has improved quite a bit with consistent work, shifting into a slight kyphosis (in-out curve).

With the endarkenment shift, there was a sense of a good deal of activity and work happening in that area. And now, the energetic hole is filled in and the area feels much stronger and more solid in general. The remaining alignment of the vertebrae has also improved (just a subtle in/out alignment left for a couple of vertebrae).

The area also seems connected with basic trust, in Existence, life, and ultimately God. The energetic hole seemed, even back in my teens, associate with a lack of basic trust (even in the midst of experiencing all as awake, empty luminosity, and as God). And now, with it filling up, there is a much deeper sense of basic trust… of being held… in and as the luminous blackness.

Important and not

 

A part of the process of eroding beliefs and identities is how we compare ourselves to others, or rather how we compare our stories about our selves with our stories about others. For me, having always placed a great deal of value on being active in the world, and of service in different ways, it is difficult to now go through a phase of fatigue, rest and not doing much at all (apart from “inner” work, which seems to happen mostly on its own.)

There isn’t much sense of a choice here, even in a relative and conventional sense. At the same time, it may be helpful to explore how this is important and not, compared with other outward manifestations.

It is not more or less important, in an absolute sense. It is all the play of God. And it is all happening on its own, living its own life. It is not as if there is much of a choice locally…

It is less important, in a conventional sense, than many other activities… I can see that. Some folks help on a large scale in the world, either by relieving suffering, or by nudging people to awakening. I do neither, and that is OK.

It is more important, in a different sense, in that it is what is happening for me now. It is what life brings up for me right now to explore, experience, investigate, live. And also, it is an exploration of an awakening process, which is the final release from suffering, so in that sense also more important.

Again, in seeing all the different stories together, they tend to cancel each other out. What is left is just what is happening, here now, inherently neutral… prior to any story about it, and free to allow (and see the grain of truth) in any story.

Slow & fast, easy & difficult

 

Vince Horn has a good comment at Buddhist Geeks, under an interview about the Brad Warner vs. Big Mind controversy.

[…] Even the Buddha recognized that people could progress through the path in at least 4 different ways:
1) slow progress that is very difficult (probably what Brad is describing)
2) slow progress that is pleasant
3) fast progress that is very difficult
4) fast progress that is easy

Fast progress, and I’m talking extraordinarily fast, does happen. I’ve seen it happen for others, have heard of it happening, and have at times experienced it happening. My opinion is that as practitioners, no matter what point in the path we are, we need to hold this open as a possibility and respect and appreciate it when it happens. I suspect that not doing so only creates a disempowering air around enlightenment, and may actually prevent people (if they buy that one-sided perspective) from deepening in insight. […]

It also seems that however it happens, it evens out in the end… in two ways.

When Ground awakens to itself, that’s it… and there is also the realization that it all, the whole human drama and drama of awakening, was no other than emptiness dancing… an appearance of a drama unfolding over time, all happening as no other than this awake emptiness, this timeless now.

And also, the long and/or difficult process has its own rewards. It gives a different depth and richness of experience for this human self, which can be very valuable in aiding others through the process.

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Letting go, even of gold

 

In the process of allowing beliefs and identities to go, there will be times when even the most beautiful ones go. The ones our whole belief system tells us are invaluable, and the ones the whole world tells us should stay. We have to let go of gold, because life wants us to move on… to allow even those beliefs to go.

In my experience, these are often the most painful ones… for me, of being successful in the world, being at the top of the heap, being on track to be well known and admired in different fields and so on… they all went out the window, in spite of my personality resisting and trying to hold onto them as well as it could (which equals nothing since life has a mind of its own).

An aspect of this is that the rest of the world tends to side with the personality here as well. I side with my personality, and the rest of the world does too. Which makes it even more difficult to allow it to go and find peace with it… unless we go to the core and investigate the beliefs themselves.

By doing that, we may see that a wide landscape opens up for us… the beliefs set up fences everywhere, making our playing field small. Without the fences, there is just the wide open landscape.

I thought life should be a certain way, and experienced discomfort when it didn’t conform. But now, at the other side of the belief, there is a genuine appreciation for all of it.

Two ways of losing a belief: friction and investigation

 

There are two ways to lose a belief, and they often go hand in hand.

One is through friction.

I have a belief telling me how life is or should be, and an identity telling me what I am and am not. In both cases, I split life right down the middle, allowing one region of the landscape and not the rest.

When life inevitably shows up outside of my belief or identity, there is a friction between my belief and life, which is experienced a uncomfortable… as stress, something being off, suffering, anger, fear, and so on.

This friction, if it continues, slowly wears off (and out!) the belief. Over time, constantly at odds with life, it has to go, in spite of even the most persistent resistance. It is just too obvious that life is more than my belief, and I more than the identity. My personality may not like it, especially at first, but there is not much choice there either.

The other is through investigation.

I notice the warning signs of holding onto a belief or identity (stress), I identify the belief or set of beliefs behind it, and investigate its effects, what would be without it, and the grain of truth in each of the reversals of the initial story. This too allows it to fall away, although it can be faster and less painful, even fun.

In the first case, I take the side of my habitual beliefs and identities, and it may be a drawn out and painful affair.

In the second case, I take the side of life inviting the belief to go, and it becomes more playful, have a sense of more ease, and can even be fun and enjoyable.

Although most of the time, there seems to be a mix of the two. There is the friction between life and belief, and the stress and resistance that comes with it. And there is the ease of the investigation, when that is finally engaged with.

One journey

 

Everyone goes through a unique process of awakening into who and what they are, but there are also some shared patterns… or rather some general groups of shared patterns.

Here is how it has been for me so far…

  • Atheist
    I grew up in a family and a Northern European culture that is primary agnostic (and orange and green in spiral dynamics terms). There is a great deal of respect for religion and spirituality, at least if it has integrity, but that is about it. I guess agnostic was not good enough for me, because I decided in third or fourth grade to become a die-hard atheist, and continued with that until life propelled me into something else.
  • Absorption into witness
    15 years old, I drank a lot of vodka on new year’s eve. The morning after, I felt fine, but around noon I started feeling strange. It was as if the world retreated and I observed it all from a distance. Later, I realize that this was an absorption into the witness, into pure seeing. It was disconcerting, and I went to many doctors and did many tests (including brain scans), but all checked out OK. This continued, and deepened over time.
  • Big Mind
    Almost exactly a year later, on a clear and windy winter evening, I walked down the dark gravel road from the house to the mailbox, and it was as if all veils had been removed. Suddenly, everything was revealed as consciousness, as God, although not anywhere the God I have been told about or hear about so far in my life. The whole universe is consciousness, awake, form with no substance… tremendously alive, awake, intelligent, loving… beyond and including any and all polarities. It was impossible for me to even begin to put words on it, as it was so completely beyond words and polarities.
  • Deepening
    Over the next several years, there was a deepening into this, and it seemed to especially happen during the night… there was a sense of a tremendous influx of information, and a pulling apart and reorganizing of the human self (an aspect of the dark night of the senses). It was an extremely intense period, and one with a great deal of bliss and pain at the same time. I also had an influx of insights, essentially recreating anything I have since found in the many spiritual traditions in the world, and especially the nondual ones. There was also a great deal of intensity in terms of things coming out in the form of art and music during those years. A read at least one book a week, including Yogananda, Jung, Steiner, Buddhism, Taoism, Christian mysticism, systems theories, Jes Bertelsen (Danish psychologist and mystic) and much more. I also did a good deal of Tai Chi and Chi Gong during those years, in addition to Buddhist meditation and Christian prayer (Jesus/heart prayer) and meditation (Christ meditation).
  • Zen
    I then moved to Utah to continue my studies in psychology there, and moved into Kanzeon Zen Center. It helped ground what had been happening so far, and I also found a great deal of support in the community there.
  • Dark Night
    After some years at Kanzeon, I got married and moved to another state, which initiated several years of a dark night. Up until then, I had lived in a constant samadhi… everything was easy for me, including studies and work. Now, everything was taken away, both on an outer and inner level… it was impossible for me to do any form of meditation or prayer… from being one with the whole universe, living in cosmic consciousness, I found myself as a pitiful, tiny and separate human self.. it was all gone, and there was an agony beyond description. This was the dark night of the soul, stripping away the finer layers of identification with and holding onto content.
  • Knowing that it had to be stripped away
    In the years before this happened, I saw clearly a remaining sense of a separate self even in the midst of the dramatic awakening, one that gave birth to a certain arrogance, which – no matter how much I worked on it – remained… I knew that something had to happen to wear it off, and this was it. But it was far more awful, and more completely awful, than I could have possibly imagined. At the same time, even in the midst of it, I knew that it had to happen, but that too gave absolutely no comfort. Nothing gave any comfort, apart from throwing myself into work to benefit others… (for me, that too the form of solution-focused and partnership-oriented sustainability work at a local community level) Much later, I discovered Theresa of Avila describing just that, actively working for the benefit of others, as commonly experienced as the only comfort for those going through this phase.
  • Tail end of the dark night
    The last few years have been the tail end of the dark night, and it wasn’t until recently that I even recognized it as a classical dark night of the soul. I found Breema during this phase, which has been a great help. And I have also found other practices that have been very helpful, as described in other posts. As commonly experienced by others going through the same, I too at, at one point, got dropped into a far more clear realization… of being emptiness, awake emptiness, and no trace of any separate self anywhere. This lasted for a couple of months, and then some old patterns came up, more to wear off, to see more clearly. And that is where I am right now. There is more to bring awareness into, more to see about the mechanisms of samsara, more beliefs and identities to wear off. There has also been a great deal of fatigue the last couple of years, which is something that has come and gone throughout this journey.

Edge effect

 

800px-mandel_zoom_11_satellite_double_spiral.jpg

(Thanks to Tom for suggesting fractals as another example)

In ecosystems, and most other systems, the edges are often the most rich and fertile.

We have the land ecosystem, and then the ocean ecosystem, and at the edge between the two there are representatives for both, and for the edge as well. Instead of characteristics from only one system, there are three: one, the other, and whatever emerges uniquely in the intersection of the two.

And so it is with awakening as well.

We have one system which is the awakened one. Another, which is the deluded one (taking oneself as a separate self). And at the edge of the two, there are characteristics of one, the other, and the uniqueness of the edge.

We get to explore a rich landscape, spanning all three ecosystems.

(In systems language, the awakened and deluded situations are attractor states, habitual states the system falls into… but in in this ecosystem analogy, it fits better to think of them as different landscapes or systems.)

Kundalini description

 

I just came across this description of a kundalini awakening, which is an especially clear, honest and touching account. It doesn’t happen for everyone that way, and doesn’t have to it seems, but it is good to know about.

Kundalini awakening or bi-polar surfacing? by Kara-Leah Masina.

It has been a cautious path forward, seeking answers, observing myself. The peak of my experience was the psychosis, but after Kundalini Awakens, it still needs to integrate into your system. Over the last two years, I have continued to experience energy moving up my spine. I have had energy releases from my solar plexus. And perhaps most frightening of all, I have witnessed my body moving through mudras and asanas that I had no conscious knowledge of. […]

This sensation of energy moving up the spine started in 2000 for me, at the very base of my tailbone. I could observe it slowly rising when I was meditating, it would rise until I felt it hit a ‘block’, then the energy would spontaneously move my body around sometimes jerking it right off the ground, until I felt a ‘popping’ or releasing sensation. Then the process would begin again at my tailbone, only this time it would get a millimetre or two higher until it hit the next block. Over a four year period, this energy reached higher and higher up my spine, and the energy releases became more and more violent. Sometimes my eyes would roll back in my head as energy surged up my spine and jerked my head backwards. […]

My hope is that by speaking out about my experience, I might reach others who are under-going this process and have no idea what is happening to them. As yoga and meditation infiltrate Western society, especially if they are mixed with drugs like marijuana, LSD and mushrooms, more and more people are going to awaken Kundalini.

Eating the menu

 

One of the reminders teachers of just about any subject give is to not be satisfied with the menu alone, and not to try to eat it either. Looking at the menu does not give the nourishment of the meal, and eating the menu is also not quite the same.

The menu is the theory, and the meal is when what the theory points to is a living reality.

Reading the menu is listening to it, taking it in, even being exited about it or believing in it. Trying to eat it, is the wrestling with the theory, the exploration of it, trying to make sense of it.

Both are fine, and even an essential part of the process.

Original beliefs

As we start out on the path of discovering who (as individual) and what (as spirit) we are, we already have lots of beliefs from our family, culture, society and our own individual experiences. All of these beliefs, from seeing ourselves as a thing in a world of things to believing that our kids should pick up their socks, defines what is true and good and what is not, splits life in general, and our own life in particular, down the middle, often creating stress and even suffering.

Modifying our beleifs

So when we read and try to eat the menu, we are modifying our original beliefs in ways that have several effects. Hopefully, it relieves some of the stress which becomes an encouragement to continue the exploration. It can serve as a map for our continued exploration. And it can be a pointer to something beyond itself, allowing us to find it for ourselves.

As we have glimpses of what the words point to, these too inevitable become memories and beliefs, which is another menu, and another phase of the process. As with the initial menu, this one encourages us to continue, provides a map, and points to a living reality beyond itself.

Discovering what is beyond the beliefs

Eventually, as we become more and more familiar with the terrain itself, the map goes from being primary, in the foreground, a way to orient and navigate, and something to believe in, to being secondary, in the background, derived from our immediate experience, and just a relative truth, one of many ways to talk about it.

Examples

One of the many areas where I find this for myself is with The Work. Initially, it was a nice map which fitted my own experiences and previous maps. Then, as a explored it in my own life, I gradually became more and more familiar with the terrain itself, and this in turn fed back into the map.

It is a continuing process. Sometimes, the map is more in the foreground. I may be caught up in a belief, and the map tells me it is only a belief, which helps a little but not that much. Other times, the living reality of it is more in the foreground, on its own. And other times again, when I actively engage in the process, I may start out with the map, the theoretical understanding that it is only a belief and that reality (and peace) is on the other side of it, and this becomes a living reality as I go through the steps.

A tough one III: the dark nights of the soul and senses

 

There are many forms of dark nights… In a more technical sense, there are two of them, and in a loose – daily – sense, lots of them.

The two formal ones are…

  • The dark night of the senses, which is an initial stripping away of beliefs and identities, enough to notice all as God, to notice that everything is a field of awakeness, of consciousness, even of awake emptiness. It can be painful, maybe an experience of being pulled apart, dismembered, even of dying. What dies is really only beliefs and identities, but when we are identified with these, when we take ourselves as that, the experience is of being dismembered and dying. For me, this was a very intense time, but there were lots of rewards in the middle of it as well. It was painful, but also immensely blissful.
  • The dark night of the soul, which is similar but goes more to our core beliefs and identities, and specifically the one of a separate self, of someone that this is all happening to. Here, any and all beliefs are stripped away, and it often happens through a profound disillusionment. Everything that we found comfort in is stripped away, taken away from us, and none of our practices have meaning or even work anymore. Nothing is left. God is gone. Any sense of accomplishment is gone. Any ideas of being special, or chosen, are gone. There is no place to anchor any of those beliefs anymore. They get stripped away, whether we want or not, and most often we desperately cling to them as long as we can, making the torment even stronger for ourselves.

Having cleared out some space through the dark night of the senses, the soul realm is revealed. Bliss, clarity, alive presence, all as God, inspiration, luminosity, and so on.

And having cleared out even more, including the sense of a separate self, through the dark night of the soul, the emptiness is revealed in its completeness. When I am gone, emptiness is revealed, as the Ground of it all… of awakeness itself, of the soul level, of mind, of form. It is all emptiness dancing, already and always absent of any trace of any separate self anywhere.

Our core belief, and core identity, of a separate self is greatly diminished through the dark night of the senses, and that is exactly what allows the soul realm to be noticed and come more into the foreground. Here, there can be a sense of no separation, of all – absolutely all – as God, as divine, as consciousness, as the divine mind, there can even be a sense of oneness, but there is still a trace of a sense of a separate self here. And this serves as an anchor for a sense of being special, privileged, of having accomplished something, of being chosen.

The dark night of the soul takes care of that. Every reason for feeling special, privileged, of having accomplished something, of being chosen, is taken away. And none of the practices or tools that at one point work so easily and so well, have any use anymore. They are all broken.

Where the dark night of the senses is more of a dismemberment and a sense of dying as a human being, the dark night of the soul is a deep existential falling away… my most core identity of being something at all, separate from anything else, is wrestled away… leaving just emptiness. No angels. No luminosity. No bliss. Nothing special. Just emptiness. The emptiness that allows, and is, the dance of everything.

The dark night of the senses leads into an amazing awakening, with lots of bells and whistles… God in all its glory. Alive luminosity. Guidance. Inner God, and all as God. Amazing insights. Amazing abilities to do things in the world. Amazing energies.

The dark night of the soul leads into nothing at all. At the threshold of it, it appears thoroughly boring, neutral, like nothing. And inside of it, there is the Ground of all, that which allows the dance of everything. It is nothing special. Just what is, here and now, always.

The void that never changes, and allows all change. The no-thing that allows all things. The absence of everything which allows the fullness of everything. The groundless ground, which already and always allows every fruit.

The bottom falls out of everything. Leaving only the dance of emptiness, with no separate I anywhere.

What it comes down to: seeing what is already more true

 

So when we start letting go of some of the identities that I described in previous posts, what is left? What, if anything, is revealed?

For me, it has to with simply seeing what is already more true for me, in immediate experience, without knowing in advance what I will find or am looking for, and doing it for its own sake.

If I think I know what I’ll find, I am creating another box for myself. I have an agenda. Receptivity to what is really there goes out the window.

If I do it for some other motive, to find release, to get rid of discomfort, to get somewhere, then I am creating yet another box. Again, there is an agenda there. And again, receptivity – or even interest – in what is really there, goes out.

Thinking I know what to find, and doing it for a particular result, is just another way for me to limit myself, to box myself, life, existence, and even God, into a far smaller space than where it already is. It may look safe for a while, but is in the long run nothing but a dead end.

I think I’ll get something or somewhere by doing it, but all I am doing is boxing myself in. Staying put.

What it all comes back to, and down to, is doing it for its own sake. I engage in inquiry, for the sake of doing inquiry. I engage in headlessness, for the sake of headlessness. I am with experiences, for the sake of being with experiences.

And seeing all the parts of me that is not doing it just for its own sake, is part of it as well. Allowing even that. Being with even that. Seeing even that, as what is, right here and now. For its own sake.

Begrudgingly accepting

 

Here are three general phases in befriending the shadow, letting go of narrow identities, or inquiring into beliefs (all aspects of the same process)…

  • Being blindly in the grips of it, not even noticing what is going on
  • Noticing it as a shadow, an identity, a belief, and exploring it
  • Finding resolution through befriending and becoming intimately familiar with it, and seeing what was already more true for me than my surface belief

During the second phase, when it is still half-resolved, I notice in myself and others a tendency to begrudgingly accept it. I know, on an idea level and from past experience, that it is a shadow and comes from a belief, but am still in the grips of it on an emotional level, and to some extent also on a behavioral level (it seeps out, even if I try to hold it back.)

I know there is a monster in the back yard, and that I cannot get rid of it, but I am not happy about it either.

Genuine appreciation

Exploring it further, more wholeheartedly, in my daily life and in more detail, seeing what is already more true for me, the monster is revealed as not a monster at all. I find the genuine gifts in that which was placed in the shadow, and in the situation I initially didn’t want.

As in the story of Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver by Michael Ende, the demonic queen dragon turned into, when captured and kept safely in a cage, a golden dragon of wisdom. The horrors of it was real as long as it was roaming free, untamed by civilization. But through capturing it, and containing it without killing it, it was allowed to transform into golden wisdom.

What I initially was blind to, and then begrudgingly accepted, is now something there is genuine and unreserved appreciation for.

Examples

For instance, say I have a chronic illness. Initially, I am identified with getting rid of it. After a while, seeing that it hasn’t worked yet, I start working on my own attitudes around it. I try to find peace with it, although I still see the illness as something awful and undesirable. Eventually, I may come to see the real gifts in the illness… I start realize what it has brought to my life that I genuinely appreciate… the maturing and deepening that has happened for me through the illness… this obstacle which nothing could be done with… I may still not have chosen it, if there had been a choice, but now, there is a genuine appreciation for it. Beyond acceptance, is appreciation.

Or I may have trouble with anger, for instance through a one-sided identity as somebody who is not angry. Anger then becomes a real problem, and something I try to avoid in myself and others. It becomes a monster in my life. Then, I may half-heartedly accept that it is here as well, although I still don’t like it much. And finally, as I explore it further, I see how it supports my life when it is allowed to become a part of the team of all of me. I learn to genuinely appreciate all of its many gifts to my life… its energy, its ability to get things done in certain situations, its assistance in getting through to people if everything else fails.

Alchemy

In alchemy, this is the process of nigredo (the suffering of being in the grips of it), albedo (the work), and rubedo (the fruition of the work.)

Amazingly wonderful, awful, and ground

 

In looking at my own path, I recognize a pattern (which is pretty obvious) that is similar to what I have heard from many others…

  • First, a normal life. I was an atheist and very science oriented. For me, this lasted until my mid-teens.
  • Then, an awakening. For me, it came out of the blue, and although intense also amazing and amazingly wonderful.
  • Then, a dark night, as awful and the previous period was wonderful,
  • And then, the Ground, finding oneself as the Ground of all of this, the play of form.

In this case, the awakening period, where everything was easy and I seemed to have a superhuman energy and clarity, lasted for almost exactly as long as the dark night has lasted, several years each. And I am still at the tail end of this dark night, there is still more to burn through… more beliefs, identifications, more boxes I have made for myself and existence that needs to go.

At times, it is a painful process. And at times, with a sense of ease and even bliss. But there is always the same ground, the same void it is all coming out of, the same void within it, the same void it is happening to.

And after having gone through the extremes of ups and downs, the amazingly wonderful and amazingly awful, I am ready for the Ground. The Ground allowing it all. The Ground of emptiness that cannot be reduced to anything else. The Ground which is the nothingness allowing all things.

Three relationships with the reversals of views

 

Related to the previous post, but also a little different…

I see how I cycle among three relationships with an awareness of the reversals of views.

One is happily oblivious, using or attaching to a view without much awareness of the grain of truth in their reversals.

The other is releasing views. Having seen how each view has innumerable reversals, and they all have limited and relative validity, I become more cautious. I release from them, as much as I can. There may even be ambivalence here, because I see that I cannot continue in my certainty of particular views anymore, but I am also not quite able to play freely with them either. So I hold back. And I investigate.

The third is a free play with views, first using one, then another, then a third, the a view that includes some of them all, being able to find the truth and validity in each of them, and also seeing the limitations of each. This comes from a more thorough investigation of particular views and each of their reversals. There is a more finely grained familiarity with the terrain, so also more freedom.

Examples and flavors

There are many flavors to this.

One is in terms of views in general.

Another is with shadow projections, where I am first blindly caught up in it, then learn to recognize the symptoms and become more cautions, and then more free around it as we become more familiar with the process.

And yet another is in the belief of a separate self. Initially, we take it for granted. Then, when we see that too as just another idea with relative truth, we may get a little stunned and hold back for a while while investigating further. And finally, there is a freedom around it, a free play, allowing it to be there when it is, yet also seeing the insubstantiality of it.

The three relationships play themselves out in each of these situations, and many more than involves views and beliefs.

More on transition experiences

 

I wrote a long post on transition experiences, but decided to make it short and simple. Some details goes out, but the essence is maybe more clear.

Here are a couple of points from the longer post that may be interesting…

  • What we are, is a field of awake emptiness and form, absent of a separate I. This means that what is alive in each of ours awareness here and now, is realized to be nothing other than awake emptiness itself. This room, the cat, the sound of the cars, the lamp, computer, thoughts, sensations, it is all awake emptiness. An awake void, temporarily taking these forms. And it is all without a center, without any trace of a separate self.
  • When we take ourselves to be an object in the world, we filter awareness so it appears to be only here, associated with this human self, and not out there, in the wider world… with the exception of being there, in theory, in other people. We don’t notice emptiness much, everything seems quite substantial and real. And there is certainly a sense of a separate self here, in this human self.
  • So in the transition between the two, what we are breaks through within the context of what we take ourselves to be. There is a growing sense of no separation, glimpses of the wider world as somehow inherently alive and awake, a diminishing sense of the solidity of the boundary between I here and the rest of the world out there, and so on.

As Ken Wilber and others have pointed out, this transition mirrors what we find in nature mysticism (nature, all objects, as alive), deity mysticism (all as God), and finally realized selflessness (one field, absent of center and separate self.)

All of these transition experiences can be experienced and interpreted in different ways. I am sure there are many more than I wrote down here, and each of them will take on different flavors for different people at different times.

One experience I have heard recently, from a friend, is an experience of walking in nature, and everything suddenly appearing aware… the trees, stones, ground, landscape. Another, is of objects smiling back at you (having awareness, being somehow alive, able to make a connection.)

Of course, these are all just experiences and states. Nothing to be too caught up in. Just carrots, and sometimes distractions (!), within our process of exploring what we really are – in our own immediate awareness.

And that is the ground of awake void, and forms as no other than this awake void, all absent of a center and separate self. It is all emptiness dancing. A depth of awake emptiness with a thin surface of form.

Briefly: transition experiences

 

What are some common transition experiences during awakening?

Here are some I have noticed for myself, and also heard from others:

Within form…

  • A sense of no separation between “I” here and the rest of the world out there
  • A sense of oneness with all of Existence. I am here, yet one with all.
  • A sense of the world of form as a seamless whole, with no separation between this human individual and the wider world
  • Noticing synchronicities – the outer world mirroring the inner, as if one seamless field.

Within awareness…

  • A sense of “I” as awakeness, as witness, pure awareness, pure seeing.
  • A sense of awakeness out there, in the wider world… in plants, trees, objects, the universe. it all seems mysteriously and inherently awake somehow.

Within emptiness…

  • A sense of awareness itself as a void, as empty, insubstantial.
  • A sense of all forms being insubstantial, transparent. Almost like a dream.

With the sense of a separate I…

  • The sense of a separate I weakens, becomes more transparent. There is just what is, content of experience staying much the same, yet with an absence of a separate I. And this becomes gradually more clear.

And it makes sense.

If what we are is awake emptiness and form, inherently absent of a separate I, then that is what comes through, in different ways, during the awakening process. We may take ourselves as an object in the world, but what we really are breaks through… as an intuition, a sense, a glimpse.

It is Big Mind gradually becoming more familiar with itself, as it already and always is. Only temporarily filtered through taking itself as an object within form.

The Buddha growing up

 

Filtered through a relatively mature human being, an awakening to what we are (as Spirit, Big Mind, Brahman, headless, awake emptiness and form absent of separate I) can show up in some broad ways.

What we are as not awakened to itself, hidden by strong and narrow identifications

First, a noticing of what we are can be nonexistent. When there is a relatively complete and exclusive identification with our human self, there is not much room for noticing ourselves as Spirit. Spirit may break through occasionally, through drugs, sex, ritual, nature and so on, but these are interpreted as anomalities and usually as completely “other” (which is good, otherwise there would be inflation.)

What we are as other or “no separation”, within the context of a sense of separate self

Then, it can show up as other yet more present, and gradually as with “no separation.” Awareness is more present, but still slightly as other. Or I may find myself in periods as awareness, or awake space, or awake emptiness, with what arises as form as distant, or as arising within and to awareness, or as no other than awareness itself. There is still a sense of a separate I here, at least most of the time, although it may appear subtle, vague and transparent.

Awakening to what we are, and sense of I clearly seen as just an idea

Then, in a more full awakening to what we are, we find ourselves as awake emptiness, and whatever forms arising as no other than this awake emptiness. Any sense of a separate I is clearly seen as coming only from a belief in the idea of a separate I, often placed on the perceptual center (head area) of this human individual. Now, this idea of a separate I, along with the perceptual center and this human being, all arises within the field of awake emptiness and form, and as no other than awake emptiness itself. There is just a field inherently free from center and any separate I or self.

Expressed in the world as the Brilliant Sun of awakening

At first, although it can be a very clear awakening, it is also expressed in relatively immature ways through our human self. It is a baby Buddha which needs time to develop and mature in its expression. In Zen, this clear but also relatively immature expression of an awakening to what we are is called the Brilliant Sun of enlightenment. It is the child and youth stage of the Buddha and often shows up in the world in flashy ways.

Deepening into the Hazy Moon of awakening

As this awakening matures, as the Buddha grows up, this awakening to what we are also includes a more full awakening as who we are. It includes a deepening into who we are as an individual human being and soul (alive presence), expressed in the world as a maturing into the fullness and evolving wholeness of our human life. It is a deepening into who we are, into becoming more and more fully and deeply human, within the context of the awakening to what we are. This is the Hazy Moon of awakening, the awakening which comes through a deeply ordinary, mature and seasoned human being, a human being which appears in the world as (at first) nothing special, apart from being thoroughly and deeply human. Of course, over time, there is the realization in the wider world that this ordinariness, depth and maturity is indeed remarkable, maybe the most remarkable of any of the many ways an awakening can be expressed.

Deepening into who we are, before and after an awakening into what we are

In real life, the sequence is of course not always clearly laid out like this.

For instance, the deepening and maturing into who we are happens before and after an awakening into what we are. And to the extent it happens prior to a more full and clear awakening it allows for a more rapid shift into the hazy moon of awakening.

A gradual awakening to and exploring of who we are as human and soul helps with this maturing and seasoning. The more we know ourselves in the fullness of our evolving human self, and the more we allow our human self to be reorganized within the alive presence, the more it heals, develops, deepens and matures.

A deepening into who we are aiding the expression of an awakening as what we are

When an awakening into what we are is filtered through a relatively immature individual, it will appear in the world as immature. And when it is filtered through a more seasoned, mature and deeply human individual, it is expressed in a more seasoned, mature and deeply human way.

And this can only aid its expression in the world.

It allows for a more differentiated and fluid use of tools and approaches, and for a deeper and more real connection with others, and this is more potent in alleviating the suffering for others, and also help them awaken to what they are (or rather, for what is to awaken to itself through them.)

The impulse to help

After, and often long before, an awakening into what we are, there is a natural impulse to help others, a natural compassion expressed in various activities in the world.

It all arises as an inherently selfless field of wakeful emptiness and form, as inherently absent of any separate self. And since what arises are individuals where what is has not yet awakened to itself, there is a natural impulse to help alleviate the suffering experienced (the suffering is really nothing than awake emptiness but is taken and experienced as real so worth alleviating) and to aid in what is to awaken to itself through those individuals (as long as these individuals seek it out and are interested.)

So if there is any concern with helping others, there is also a concern with allowing our only tool for this – our individual human self – to deepen, heal, develop, differentiate, mature and season. And this happens through a deepening into who we are, as an individual human being and soul.

The more honed our tool is, the more effective it can be in the world.

Embracing both, before and after an awakening into what we are

For many reasons, it makes sense to emphasize both an awakening into who we are, as individual human and soul, and what we are, as Spirit.

A deepening into who we are is enjoyable in itself and it reduces suffering. It allows knots to untie, releasing identification, which reveals more of what we are. And it allows for a more mature and seasoned tool for a more full awakening of what we are. There are benefits all around.

An awakening into what we are is not only the final release from suffering, but also allows for a deepening into who we are. When there is less identifications and drama, who we are can unfold in a more free way, and deepen more easily into its evolving fullness as a human being and as a soul.

Mutual influence

Deepening into who we are reduces suffering, aids in an awakening to what we are, and allows an awakening to what we are to be expressed in a more mature and seasoned way. And awakening into what we are removes (identification with) suffering, and allows for a deepening into who we are.

Again, there is a beautiful symmetry here, of one aiding the other.

Alchemy: the metals of the world in the process of becoming gold

 

In an alchemical text (don’t remember which one), it apparently says that all metals in the world are in the process of becoming gold. Translated, it means that everything in us is already in a process of awakening, although it is a very slow process which can be speeded up by various alchemical processes – mainly by bringing the prima materia, the stuff of our lives, into awareness, and then explore, differentiate, and bring it into a more conscious wholeness.

The big picture: awakening to who and what we are

This journey which each part goes through is an aspect of the overall process from unconscious and undifferentiated wholeness, through a split and partial consciousness, through active work and exploration of each aspect and their relationships, to a conscious and differentiated whole.

There is always and already the whole of what we are, and this is eventually noticed in awakening to ourselves as Big Mind. And then there is a conscious and differentiated whole of who we are, as individual human beings and soul, which only comes about through active exploration, by digging into it, living it, working through it, engaging actively in it – gradually healing, developing and maturing as individuals.

Awakening as what we are can happen at any point, and is independent of content, including of how or who we are. But awakening as who we are is a long, gradual process.

At our human level, it is one of individualization, of differentiating and exploring each pole in each polarity, and then the polarity as a whole, of developing and maturing as a human being. At our soul level, it is a process of becoming familiar with ourselves as soul, as alive presence, in all its many facets, and how this influences and transforms who we are as human beings.

Impulses for awakening to who and what we are

It seems that for those who actively explore this process, there is an experience – or realization? – of everything inside and outside of us being an invitation, or an impulse, to awaken more to who and what we are.

Some simple examples of this is active imagination, where any dream or fantasy is a path to bringing aspects of us into awareness, and becoming more familiar with and embracing a polarity in ourselves and our life and not only its separate poles. The same is the case with Process Work, although in a more comprehensive and extended way, where we find that anything in our life, no matter how apparently insignificant, is an impulse towards awakening more to who and what we are. And the same is the case with The Work, where any stress in our life is an invitation to awaken to who (whole process) and what (question #4) we are.

I also notice this when I am just curious about what arises in me, and explore it – allowing it to unfold a little bit.

Example: impulse to death and rebirth

For instance, if this personality has a great deal of resistance to being with a particular experience, I notice an impulse towards death (sounds more dramatic than it necessarily is.) And this impulse can of course be interpreted in different ways by the personality, for instance of wanting the situation (the trigger) to change or go away, or of me to change or go away, or of how I relate to it to change or go away. I want to remove the trigger (by doing something in the world), myself (for instance by distracting myself or going unconscious), or how I relate to it (through working on myself.)

The basic impulse is an impulse towards death, and it can be interpreted in all of these forms, some of which works better than other, and some effects which are more superficial and temporary than others. In this context of anything being an invitation to awakening more to who and what we are, the essence of the impulse is an invitation to allow our limited, and limiting, beliefs and identifications to die.

The stress comes from a discrepancy between our stories of what is and how it should be (all coming from beliefs and identities), so the stress is an invitation to notice this, actively explore our beliefs and identities – through the many ways available – until they soften or fall away on their own.

Of course, this impulse can equally well be seen as an impulse towards life. Any fixed belief and identity limits a sense of aliveness, and when it falls away, there is a sense of liberation and more life.

For me, if there is a great deal of resistance and I get caught up in it, it seems – initially, before working on it, as an impulse to death. And as there is more space and clarity around it, or if there is this space and clarity around it from the beginning, it seems more an impulse to life. They are two aspects of the same process of death (of beliefs and identities) and rebirth (more free from these beliefs and identities.)

King Lindorm and the split

 

The fairy tale of King Lindorm is a good illustration of the unconscious to conscious wholeness sequence: unconscious wholeness > split > exploring and making conscious the polarity > embracing the polarity/conscious whole.

The most clear example is midway through the story where the two kings leave the castle (the familiar, ruling patterns and identities) for war, leaving the women to rise the child. The masculine explores and gets to know itself through war, active engagement with the wider world, and the feminine explores and gets to know itself through motherhood, through nurturing at home. The split, the separation of the two (separatio) is necessary for both sides to find space to explore themselves, and then their relationship.

So there is a (mostly) unconscious wholeness/unity, a split, an exploration of each pole of the polarity separate from the other, an exploration of the relationship between the two, and then a conscious wholeness.

This is a pattern that seems to run through this existence, at all levels, from Existence as a whole (differentiated into awake emptiness and form) to our lives as who (individuals) and what (Spirit) we are, and in every aspect of our lives – all of the many polarities of our lives.

It is also interesting to note that the conscious wholeness happens at two levels: first, by noticing the whole of the polarity which is always and already there, and then in the conscious way the poles of the polarity functions on their own and in relationship with each other. The first is always there, the second comes through the work of differentiation, exploration and clarification.