Flavors of being with experiences

 

Initial draft… 

Some flavors of being with experiences…

  • Wanting it to stay. When attention is wholeheartedly with what is experienced, there is sometimes an accidental (and innocent) shift into wanting it to be there. It has been resisted for so long, so now that there is a wholehearted allowing and being with it, an impulse comes up to allow that to continue for a while. For instance, there is pain, resistance to it, then a shift into wholeheartedly being with it, a noticing this shift and the shift of experience itself, and then an element of wanting it (what initially appeared as pain) to stay. This element of accidentally and sincerely wanting it to stay seems to propel it on even faster. The initial experience, and even what it shifts into, moves along quickly. (Almost a form of reverse psychology.) If I notice this pattern and try to use it consciously to make something go away, it is not likely to work very well. I am only digging myself further down into resistance that way.
  • As if would never go away. Being with an experience, as if it would never go away. This invites resistance to it going or staying to fall away, since it will always be there. There is just a simple being with it, as it is. Complexity, other motivations, and strategizing, tends to fall away, leaving it more simple.
  • Wanting it to go away. Being with an experience because there is a wanting it to go away. This one is an identification with a belief and resistance, so the being with is half-hearted at best. There is an identification with a part of the content of experience (the belief, that which wants something to change), and a resistance to another portion of the content of experience (pain, emotions, etc.) so the split between the two seems very real. A half-hearted being with is not going to change this much. I have to be willing to let go of identification with any content, including these beliefs and identities, even if it is only for a moment. If I take myself to be one portion of content of experience, something else will be Other, there is inevitably resistance (wanting it to stay or go away) and so not a wholehearted being with of the whole field of content of experience. There can only be a wholehearted being with experience when there is a willingness to release identification with what I initially identified with.
  • From the three centers...
    • Head. This is a being with coming from seeing, from awake clarity. This one tends to be a dispassionate seeing.
    • Belly. A felt-sense being with, one that is felt in the body. There is a felt-sense of how it is to be with that experience, and how it is when it is not seen as Other anymore.
    • Heart. A loving being with, coming from the heart. When the being with includes the heart, there is a more wholehearted allowing of the content of experience as it is, without wanting or needing it to change. There is also a healing element here, allowing it to change and heal as it needs to, now in the absence of being resisted.
    • All. A heart-felt being with, often starting with seeing and a felt-sense, which tends to invite the heart to join in.

Bringing up and being with

 

For a while, probably due to doing The Work and receiving diksha, a lot of knots came up on their own, so I could see the beliefs and inquire into them, and experience the emotions and be with them in an heartfelt way.

Now, it seems that there are bits and pieces left, scattered around, and I find that it is more helpful to actively go after them. To put myself in situations where beliefs are triggered, and go through my memories and imagination to trigger emotions I can be with, as they are, in a wholehearted and heartfelt way, as if they would never change.

For finding emotions to be with, I find that going through my memories in reverse chronological order is helpful, and also to bring up the memories in the most vivid and detailed way, and then let the memory go and just be with the emotions.

Whenever attention goes somewhere else, I know that what may appear as distraction is really just attention going into another knot, as is the nature of attention to do. It leads me directly to another knot of a belief, a story that is taken as true, and an emotion that has not been fully allowed and experienced in an heartfelt way.

After a while, I also find it helpful to bring attention to whatever sensations are here now, the ones that there is even the slightest hint of resistance to, and be with those as well in a heartfelt way.

And then even do the same with some of the image thoughts here now, such as the ones of a sense of center in space, a separate self, and so on. I find that this tends to release identification with them, bringing me into headlessness, which is just another hint of how beliefs are really just resistance… resistance to what is already more true for me in immediate awareness. (And, we can say, resistance to seeing the truth in its reversals, to seeing it and its reversals as only relative truths, and resistance to fully allowing and being with whatever emotions it triggers.)

After that, I sometimes go into the most scary scenarios I can imagine for myself, the ones that are the most terrifying. And then, notice the beliefs there for possible later inquiry, let go of the images, and be with the emotions triggered in a wholehearted and heartfelt way.

These emotions are just like vulnerable animals, or scared children. All they want is to be seen, felt and loved as they are, as if they would never change.

And this helps what we take ourselves to be. It helps this human self in its daily life. It helps it heal, find itself as more whole.

And it also helps what we really are to notice itself more easily. When there are lots of knots – of stories taken as true and emotions escaped from – attention tends to get absorbed into them. We are caught up in them and the drama created from them. And this makes it less easy for this awakeness to notice itself as awakeness, and all of its content – including all of these knots and all of the drama – as awakeness itself.

Avoiding and being with

 

Whenever emotions come up and there is an impulse to resist, avoid and escape, at least three things can happen…

One is to go with the escape, which usually means a combination of trying to change the trigger, the triggered, and bringing attention over to something else – often the inside of a story related to the emotion, or something entirely different. The habitual pattern of believing in stories is reinforced, as is the belief in that particular story, and the tendency to escape. Still, it is perfectly OK. It is just what the mind does when it takes stories as real. It is just something to notice and explore.

Another is to bring attention to something else arising here and now, such as the weight of the body. This brings attention out of the story, which means that the habitual pattern if attention going to the inside of stories is weakened over time. At the same time, it may bring attention away from the sensation component of the emotions, and the sensation/story conglomerate is not processed so it will most likely surface again. The belief in the story triggering the emotion in the first place remains, and may – at best – weaken slightly and gradually over time as the attachment to stories in general weakens.

And finally, we can be with what arises, bringing attention to the pure perceptions of the emotions (usually just a sensation) and seeing the stories associated with it (calling it fear, anger, etc.) as just thoughts. This is a more full processing of it, allowing the emotions to be seen/felt/loved, and the belief to surface for further inquiry.

Seeking escape

 

When there is a belief in a story, there is automatically escape from experience as well. Whenever there is friction between our stories of what is and what should be, there is discomfort, and a seeking to avoid that discomfort… by changing our stories of what is, what should be, or changing our attention to something else. And when this is done to escape the tension, there is a sense of compulsiveness to it, avoidance, and discomfort.

There are, at least, three ways for this to change.

The most crude one is to repeat this over and over until there is an exhaustion of this pattern. If we pay attention, and repeat it often enough, we see that it really doesn’t work, and the pattern may wear out and fall away.

Another is to explore being with whatever comes up, to actively go against the pattern and see what happens. What is the difference between trying to escape an experience, and going into it, fully being with it, allowing it, in a wholehearted and heartfelt way?

And yet another is to inquire into the pattern, to explore it more thoroughly through inquiry, learn about it in its many aspects and flavors, for instance using The Work or the Big Mind process.

In most cases, there is probably a combination of each of these three, and probably other ones as well. There is a wearing out of the pattern, from seeing over and over that it really does not work. There is an inevitably being with of whatever is, even accidentally, and a noticing of the shift that happens. And there is an exploration of the dynamics of the pattern itself, a familiarity with it.

From my Zen days, I see that sitting practice, probably just about any sitting practice when done enough, includes each of those three.

Mimicking Ground

 

Waking up is a process of mimicking Ground, until Ground awakens more fully to itself.

Ground, this awake void, allows any and all forms. If there is an identification as anything less, it creates an I with an Other, and drama.

Or we can say that awareness naturally allows any content, doesn’t hold onto any of it, and is inherently free from all of it. So when awareness awakes to itself, and recognizes its own content as itself, that too is what awakens.

Or we can say that the whole world of form, as it is, is God’s will. As long as there are attachments to stories and identities, we make everything into an I here and Other out there, and this I in opposition to God’s will. By letting go of identification with these stories and identities, God’s will is revealed as God’s will, and any resistance to it is also let go of.

Looking forward to triggering beliefs and emotions

 

At some point, there is a shift from dreading having certain stories and emotions triggered, to genuinely looking forward to it, and even actively triggering them.

Through inquiry, I find what is already more true for me than the initial story, and the clarity and freedom on the other side of taking stories as absolutely true.

And through being with whatever arises, including emotions, I find that what appears one way when resisted, is revealed as something quite different when not resisted. Through being with emotions in a wholehearted and heartfelt way, their appearance of solidity falls away, and there instead something else… such as clarity, stability, fullness and sweetness.

When I do this, I see the shift and look forward to exploring other beliefs and being with other emotions. And as I do this over and over, there is a larger scale shift as well, changing my general attitude towards beliefs and emotions.

Hiding from them may have been my habitual pattern, and it comes up again for a while inbetween the phases of clarity. But then, as the shift happens over and over, the habitual pattern changes as well. That too, over time, shifts from dread and an impulse to escape to looking forward to it.

And then, even taking time to actively triggering beliefs and emotions. For me, reading certain new sources is a great way to trigger beliefs, and going into certain memories is a great way of triggering emotions.

From shunning certain emotions as wounded little animals, or people in distress, there is an active seeking them out. Maybe similar to Mother Theresa seeking out those in need in Calcutta (!)

Of course, when emotions are triggered by memories, it is really beliefs that are triggered, in turn triggering emotions. But for this purpose, it works well to just focus on the emotions. To trigger emotions, and then be with them in an heartfelt way. I can always inquire into the beliefs behind it later on.

Similarly, when I inquire into beliefs I take time to be with the triggered emotions in an heartfelt way. I stay with them for a while, before moving on.

As so often, the two go hand in hand.

Anatomy of resistance

 

Resistance to experience is one of those things that seem so solid and substantial, but turns out to be ephemeral and even fall away (at least as something identified with) when seen more for what it is.

When I explore resistance to experience, I find…

  • Attention shifting to something else. Instead of being with the trigger (the circumstance) or what is triggered (emotions, tension), it continues on to stories about what is going on, or something entirely different. It may go to stories about something else, or I may create other sensory inputs that attention can go to, for instance by talking with someone, eat, or watch a movie. In other words, there is subtle and not-so-subtle distraction.
  • A good deal of drama is created from identification with the stories and resistance. There is a clash between my stories of what is and what should be, and from here there is a split into a sense of I and Other, and a dramatic relationship between them.
  • Behavior aimed at changing the situation. Such as the trigger, which is usually something in the world, a certain set of circumstances. The triggered, such as emotions and tension. Or even the triggering itself, the process of resistance, for instance through inquiry into the stories of what is and what should be, and a being with of whatever comes up in terms of images, sensations and emotions.

For instance, say there is physical pain.

I have stories of how (a) there is pain and (b) there shouldn’t be pain, and to the extent I take those stories as real and true, there is a clash between them. There is also a clash between what is and my image as someone who either is generally healthy, or at least should be healthy.

So now there is resistance to the pain.

My attention then goes away from the direct perception of the pain to stories about the pain, or to stories about something else, or to different sensations created by something I do (eat etc.)

This clash of stories creates a sense of drama around the whole situation, creating more emotions and physical tension.

And I may try to change the pain itself (by taking a pill), I may try to change the emotions triggered (by talking with a friend, go for a walk, watch a movie, eat good food), or I may try to change the triggering process itself (by examining my stories of what is and should be, or being with what is alive in immediate awareness in a heartfelt way).

The funny, or tragicomic, part about all this is that resistance accomplishes very little.

It is a safety valve of sorts, allowing some of the steam created by the clash of stories to be diffused, so in that sense it is very helpful, in the short term. And it can bring us to certain actions in the world, although these tends to come from a certain compulsiveness (from beliefs) so often have unintended and unpleasant side-effects.

Beyond that, nothing much is happening.

Resistance is very much a spinning of the wheels, leading to not much apart from a sense of drama and a rehearsal of the habit of resisting experience.

But we can also see resistance as an invitation to explore the whole process of resistance in more detail. We can explore our stories of what is and what should be (are they true?). And we can explore what happens when we allow attention to be with what arises, as it is, as if it would never change, and in a heartfelt way.

By exploring the stories, we may find what is already more true for us than those stories, which releases the grip on them. And by being with whatever arises, what we previously resisted may reveal itself as something entirely different than what we thought it was (for instance pain may be just sensation, and beyond that, dynamic and fluid and even have a sense of sweet fullness in it).

(more…)

The filter of resistance

 

In exploring resistance, a few things stand out:

First, that whatever arises, and in particular emotions and strong sensations, are filtered by resistance. They appear in an often entirely different way when there is resistance and when there is not. With resistance, there are clearly recognizable emotions such as sadness and anger, and clearly recognizable sensations such as pain. When there is a heartfelt being-with of whatever arises, each of those are revealed as something else… for me, often as a sweet fullness which cannot easily be labeled even if I wanted to.

Then, that resistance is not what it appears to be. When I explore the anatomy of resistance, there is really not much there. That too, is a gestalt formed by a variety of components, and when these components and the ways they form a gestalt is clearly seen, resistance – as I knew it – falls away. As with a sense of a separate self, it falls into its components.

And finally, resistance is only resistance when it is identified with. Resistance without identification is only part of what arises, as anything else. But with identification, it becomes something that appears very real, solid, substantial, creating a clear sense of I and Other, and separation. In this way, it is no different from anything else identified with. (And all I can ever really identify with is a story, which makes it appear as if I am identified with something else such as resistance.)

(more…)

If nothing else works, then can always be with it

 

For a few days, there has been no impulse to do any form of practice (apart from The Work last night, and then only because I went to a group doing it together).

So then, there is always just being with what is, as it is. Allowing it, as it is, for its own sake.

And this being with allows for quite detailed explorations of resistance.

Seeing how identification with resistance (taking it as an I) creates a sense of I and Other, a center in space, something substantial at this center, drama and struggle, something to protect, separation and alienation, physical tension, being self-conscious (conscious of a particular image presented to the world), and so on.

And then seeing what happens when identification with resistance is lightened up on, released even to some extent… a reduced sense of split between I and Other, of a center, of something substantial at the center, of alienation and separation. And instead, a sense of ease, clarity, a wide open field with less or no boundaries.

And finally, in exploring the effects of resistance and absence of resistance, seeing that resistance achieves nothing apart from a sense of drama. It is a spinning of the wheels. And that the clarity that comes when identification is released from resistance is fertile ground for actions in the world.

It may seem that we need resistance and drama to act, and action may indeed happen in the midst of resistance and drama, but it often has a sense of contraction and drivenness about it, a lack of receptivity and clarity. Without the resistance, the same actions may happen, but now from more receptivity and clarity.

And of course, if there is not even this being with, that is fine as well. If attention gets caught up into the insides of stories, and there is identification with resistance, that too is OK. That too is the temporary play of the awake void. That too is a part of the landscape.

Torments of unitive life, and open mind

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(more…)

Tiredness as support

 

When I experience tiredness, or even exhaustion as I did for a few days last week, I notice a pattern…

Resistance to it creates discomfort, a sense of something being off, a sense of misfortune, of it interfering with plans and self-image, self-consciousness, and so on. (To be more precise, resistance itself is neutral… what creates the sense of discomfort is identification with resistance, seeing it as I, being caught up in it, taking resistance to it as I and tiredness as Other).

When there is an allowing of it, a heartfelt being-with the tiredness (and any resistance that comes up), it is revealed in another way. It is just what is happening, when there is an absence (or weakening) of a sense of I and Other. This also allows awareness to notice itself as already free from tiredness (tiredness arises within awareness, but awareness itself is not tired).

Or, if the boundary remains but the relationship between the two changes, there can be an experience of the tiredness as a support.

For instance, I taught a bodywork class Friday night with a lot of tiredness coming up, and instead of the discomfort from resisting it, the tiredness became a support for being with the body (it takes energy to fuel thoughts), for focusing on the basics and essentials, for reducing nervousness (another thing that takes energy), and helped me stay with what was happening.

This variation, of same boundary but different relationship, came up since that is what is encouraged in the context of this particular form of bodywork. (It works mainly at the centaur and soul levels, leaving out the Spirit/Ground level, so there is still a sense of an I with an Other. And this boundary is reified, or at least talked about as real, but that is another story.)

The least human allowing the most human

 

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

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

Differentiating resistance: to experiene, and the French

 

members_of_the_maquis_in_la_tresorerie.jpg

This is something that is (I assume) clear to folks who have done some meditation practice, and (apparently) can be confusing to those outside looking in.

I just read an anthology of essays by and interviews with the Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss, where an interviewer refer to Zen as a philosophy of no-doing, which he (strangely enough) took to mean never getting involved in any sort of social action, and also watched a movie involving the French resistance, and the combination of the two brought it up.

When there is a reference to allowing in a meditation context, it means allowing experience… not resisting experience (including the resistance itself!) This is very different from allowing and not resisting circumstances in the world, such as social injustice and violence against living beings.

The two go perfectly well together. The Germans invade France, maybe kill or torture friends and family, and great sadness and anger may come up, and I can fully allow those experiences. To resist these experiences creates drama and suffering. To not resist them allows for clarity and a sense of ease, even in the midst of the intensity of the experiences and the situation.

What arises may also involve active resistance to the situation that is going on, including actively resisting the German invasion in different ways. In fact, not resisting experience is likely to allow strong empathy to emerge, within more clarity and less drama, which in turn translates to more effective actions in the world.

So there is a big difference between resistance to experience, which only creates suffering for myself, and active resistance to and engagement with circumstances, which may arise from compassion and clarity.

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.)

Job’s suffering

 

Book of Job, illustration by William Blake

I have just picked up The Book of Job, translated and with an introduction by Stephen Mitchell. Before I get too far into it, I want to explore what comes up for me around the topic of suffering now:

  • Life happens. Everything is living its own life, and comes and goes in our lives as guests. This is true for the physical world, and also for our experiences. Even our experiences… everything we may take as ourselves such as our thoughts, choices, impulses, actions… even all of those are guests, living their own life, coming and going on their own, and on their own time.
  • An experience of suffering comes from the clash between life + a belief. Life is one way and it should be another way, according to my stories about it, so there is a sense of something being off. If the clash is mild, there is stress, and if the clash is stronger, there is suffering.
  • Suffering can be seen as an invitation
    • To deepen into who and what we are. To deepen into our shared humanity, to allow edges to round off, to see that we are all in this together, we are all in the same boat, to find in myself what I see in others and recognize in others what I know from myself, specifically, to recognize the suffering of others as my own, allowing for a receptive heart which invites action.
    • To allow and be with our experiences, as they are… allowing the resistance to them to fall away, seeing that it is the resistance, or rather the identification with this resistance, that creates the experience of suffering.
    • To see what is already more true for us. To investigate our beliefs, see if they are true, what happens when I hold onto it and if it wasn’t there, and explore the truths in all of its reversals. And seeing that the truths of its reversals, all together, is what is already more true for us, and also reveals the inherent neutrality of the situation.
  • And then finally, to find a genuine appreciation for what is, as it is…. not as an invitation for anything, not as something that will get us something else, not as something to manipulate… but for its own sake. To appreciate, and even love, what is, as it is. As life… as God expressing and experiencing itself.

In alchemy, this is also the three phases from nigredo (the misery) through albedo (working through, clarification, differentiation) to rubedo (the fruits of the work), and then back to nigredo again to explore a new facet of it.

Resistance to Ground, etc.

 

Just a quick summary of what I am exploring these days, as it happens in immediate awareness. What came out below is not very well organized…

  • The Ground, here now, is the field of awakeness, of awake emptiness and whatever arises. It is inherently free from any center and any separate self. It is just one field, beyond and embracing seeing and seen, awareness and its content, this human self and the wider world of form.
  • This Ground is is what is here now, for each of us, only absent of a sense of I and Other. Imagine the content of your awareness, and the awareness itself, as it is, only with a sense of I and Other subtracted from it.
  • When there is resistance to Ground as this field, there is an appearance of I and Other.
  • This happens when there is a belief in a story, when thoughts are taken as anything more than innocent questions, when they are seen as absolutely true.
  • A story becomes a belief when another story is added to it, saying it is true.
  • A story becomes a belief, also when it combines with a sensation. Sensation+story=belief.
  • When a sensation is combined with a story, it gives a sense of a center located at a particular place in space, specifically at the sensation, somewhere within the physical boundary of this human self.
  • This center also allows for a split of space, and a sense of I here and Other out there.
  • This split allows for placing one end of any polarity here, somewhere in this physical body, and the other end somewhere out there in the wider world.
  • This placing of ends of a polarity here and out there, is also how projections work. If, according to how I place a polarity (which in turn is decided by beliefs and identities), one end of a polarity should be out there, then when it arises, it is interpreted as out there. For instance, if I believe I shouldn’t be angry, and have an identity as someone who is not angry, then when anger arises, I have now choice but to filter it so it appears out there in the wider world, placed on appropriate targets (the ones I place it on may indeed experience and act from anger, which only makes them better projection objects).
  • Any belief automatically creates resistance… to the truths in its reversals, and what doesn’t fit the identity that goes with it.
  • The split of space allows for resistance to what is. It filters the appearance of what is allowed and not allowed into different locations of space… what is allowed appears to be in the region where there is a sense of I, and what is not allowed appears as if in another region of space. (What is allowed/not allowed is determined by beliefs.)
  • The sensation a story is combined with serves as a base for a split of space into I and Other (providing a fixed point in space to define the boundary), and also for resistance to parts of what is arising.
  • The sense of density, substance and reality of a sensation provides a sense of the same, of density, substance and reality, to the story it is associated with.
  • If a belief needs to be amplified, it can be amplified in two ways. One is to amplify the sensation it is placed on, which in turn allows for a stronger belief, a sense of more substance to the belief, and a stronger sense of split between I here and Other out there. Another is to engage in and develop supporting beliefs.
  • If a story needs to be combined with a sensation (to create a belief and a split in space), and an appropriate sensation is not available, muscles tense up to create appropriate sensations.
  • A belief also amplifies tension, because it creates a sense of I and Other, and something to protect (a truth or an identity), which in turn creates mental and physical tension.
  • Any belief creates a split in space, of something that is true here and false somewhere else, so also a sense of I and Other.

Gift of resistance

 

There are many gifts in resistance.

It allows for the rich experience of being a separate self (resistance to Ground, to what is inherently void of any separate self, gives rise to the full and varied experience of being a separate self).

And also, within this, it allows for a more thorough exploration of different aspects of Existence and life. It creates a boundary, and I place a sense of separate self on one side and something else on the other side, and I get to explore the boundary, what is on each side, their many relationships, how they are part of one larger whole, how they are aspects of life manifesting… and finally how they are emptiness dancing.

Resistance allows for the exploration itself…

This is an amazing and precious gift of resistance.

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.

Why haven’t we awakened yet?

 

It seems that lots of folks on the spiritual circuit wonder why they haven’t awakened yet. There is a resistance to what is (which happens to be what holds it, the appearance of non-awakening, in place.)

So why haven’t we awakened yet?

The immediate and technical reason is the resistance itself, which creates a sense of I and Other, splitting the seamless field of awakeness down the middle. This comes from a belief in a separate self, which in turn is propped up by innumerable other beliefs. The initial sense of I and Other is elaborated through lots of different identities which define exactly how this I is different from the rest of what is.

Another reason is that it is all the play of emptiness. It is all the spontaneous expression and manifestation of God in the form realm. It is lila, the dance of God. God manifesting, experiencing and exploring itself as and in form, including taking itself to be just a segment of this form.

Any experience, independent of its content, is God experiencing itself. Awakened or not, it is still God exploring and experiencing itself in its vastness and immense richness.

Specifically, there is a tremendous richness in the exploration and experiencing of being a separate self. Why would God let that go right away? There is so much more to explore and experience there, so it makes sense to allow the exploration to continue a little longer.

It may not always be what our human self wants, but that too is part of the game.

So if we take ourselves as this human self, and have stories about why we haven’t awakened, then exploring the genuine gifts of not having awakened may help.

It takes some of the charge out of our initial stories, allowing us to see that they are only stories, and revealing the inherent neutrality of the situation.

It also helps reduce resistance to what is, or rather identification with and fueling of this resistance. This in turn eases a sense of something being off. And it also allows for an easier noticing of what already and always is. A field of awake emptiness and form, seamless, with no center, sometimes with a sense of a separate self and sometimes not.

Asking for it: patterns surfacing full force

 

Intention is one of my staple practices, in different forms. One is to ask to be shown (by life) what I am not seeing, what I need to see, what stands between me and Big Mind, and so on.

I did this before falling asleep the second night at the Crater Lake trip, and I got exactly what I had asked for…

The trip up until then had been very comfortable, easy and enjoyable, with a sense of headlessness and no separate self coming and going and never far away.

That night, a storm came through and the temperature dropped significantly (in itself fine since I have a good tent, wool underwear and a mountaineering sleeping bag), the air went out of my thermarest, and my body heat got sucked into the ground. Normally, all of this would have been fine and workable, but instead, old and ingrained patterns of resistance got triggered and came right up to the surface… resisting it all, being annoyed with everything, everything feeling wrong… and then, after having resolved the cold issue, the dream about my relatives being insane and believing their own stories, just as I had done that night.

I got exactly what I asked for. I got to see patterns that are still there, although often not triggered or so mild that I don’t notice or can easily brush it off. It is sobering and humbling, and although I was certainly not grateful when it all came up full force and I was completely in the grips of it, the gratefulness came up later on. There is nothing more precious than seeing where I am still stuck… Seeing where the gold is, behind the ugly facade.

The gifts of misidentification, suffering, friction and resistance

 

When we take ourselves to be a separate self, it is natural to want to avoid suffering and friction. And if we identify ourselves as a spiritual practitioner, at least in some traditions, we don’t like resistance and misidentification much either. In fact, our whole practice is often aimed at getting rid of it.

As long as we want to get rid of it, or anything, we are stuck in it. We are identified with content of awareness (resistance, beliefs), which is exactly what we were trying to escape.

And when we finally see this, really see and feel it, allowing even this identification to go, we are fine with all of it… which is also when it tends to fall away.

It is tricky. Wanting something to change is what traps us. And only by fully and wholeheartedly allowing it all can it change, but by then it doesn’t matter anymore. We are doing it for another reason… because we see we don’t have a choice, and because we want to be consciously more closely aligned with what is.

One of the ways to be more consciously aligned with what is, and to allow it all, even the suffering and resistance, is to explore it from the emptiness and form sides more in depth.

From the emptiness side, it is all OK. It is the temporary form play of emptiness. All forms are revealed as inherently neutral. Or as God manifesting and exploring itself, as God’s will.

From the form side, we can explore the genuine gifts of what we resists.

At one level, we see that suffering is an invitation to wake up. When we are not fully awake to who and what we are, there is suffering.

At another level, we see that the misidentification is a part of the play of God. It is God temporarily forgetting what it is, and exploring itself as some small realms of its form aspect (as a separate individual.) It is beautiful, a beautiful play and exploration, even when suffering comes up because of it.

And resistance is an inherent part of misidentification. When we take ourselves to be a separate self, as a region of the world of form, resistance is what allows it in the first place.

Also, resistance and misidentification is what allows for an exploration of parts of the form realm in more detail. It filters a lot out, so that some regions of form come into the foreground and there is a deeper and more intimate familiarity with it. It is part of God’s exploration of itself.

In a very real way, to resist any of this, or to put it down in any way, is to resist and put down God.

Space and resistance

 

Again, not really anything new here but something that is coming to the foreground again…

Whenever there is resistance, there is a split of space itself.

There is a field of 3D space, with sensations, sights, sounds and so on arising within (and as) it.

And some particular sensations in the upper neck/lower head area are used as an anchor for a sense of a separate I. These sensations seem denser than the rest of the field (the rest is space & sometimes form), and there is a sense of tension there.

With this as an anchor for a sense of I, other forms in the field can be made into Other, and when they are, there is also a resistance towards these. The space is split up into I here and Other there, and there is a sense of boundary, limitation, contraction, narrowing, tension and precariousness (I don’t know if the boundary can be maintained, or what will happen if what is on the other invades this side or the other way around.)

In daily life, this is very tangible, and a very good help in noticing what is going on. As soon as the space appears as less than infinite, in any direction, or as soon as some part of the field appears as dense, I know that there is a resistance, an identification with a particular identity.

And in allowing it all, including what is on the other side of the boundary and the boundary/resistance itself, the sense of vast space again arises. There is a release of identification with just a segment of the field, and so a release of being caught up on one side of the boundary and the other side arising as Other.

Voices disowned in the self-inquiry process

 

The voice of resistance is one of the voices battered by my approach to self-inquiry… Put down, tried set aside, ignored, not wanted, resisted, disowned, placed in the shadow.

It is a subtle disowning compared to what is possible when there is a strong sense of a separate I and a particular identity, but also a crass disowning compared to how it can be when all is allowed.

Other voices pushed away in this process may be the sense of I, hangups, contractions, and duality. And the voices identified with when these are pushed away, are the voice of self-inquiry, of seeking (seeking to realize selflessness.), and maybe even the voice of seeing selflessness.

The irony is of course that in the process of attempting to allow all, some are pushed away and resisted.

Compassion for what is disowned

As I write this, I notice a good deal of compassion coming up for these disowned voices.

And this compassion is similar to the compassion that has come up lately for the vulnerable animal, this human self as a vulnerable animal, sometimes confused, scared, contracted, reactive, blindly wanting, trying to protect a particular identity, loving and hating, trying to survive, find its way in the world for the short time it is around. This vulnerable animal is a voice in itself, and it is also the reason all the personal voices are around, it is what the personal voices serve, guide and protect.

Voices to dialog with

So some voices to explore for me right now may be…

Voice of resistance – voice of allowing, sense of I – Big Mind, contractions, hangups, duality – nonduality, self-inquiry, seeking mind – nonseeking mind, seeing selflessness, the vulnerable animal, and maybe even Big Belly (the voice of endarkenment.)

How do they each serve the self? How do they function right now? Are they appreciated? How are they treated? How can they serve the self better? How can the self serve them better?

What is alive in pushing away

As I write this, the quality that comes up when certain things are pushed away, such as resistance, is very much alive.

The hardness of it. The sense of pushing away. Of a split. The aggression of it. A sense of something to protect and defend. A sense of the possibility of the wall breaking down and being invaded by what I am trying to push away and defend against. The precariousness of the situation. The paranoia that comes with it.

Always looking for signs of the wall breaking down. The ambivalence towards life and other people, not knowing what they may say or do that can threaten the identity built up around this. The energy that goes into building up a particular identity, and holding what is on the other side of the wall at bay… at all cost, in any situation. It is terrible, but also seems so desperately necessary.

Until it isn’t. When the wall falls, it is OK. But that is certainly not how it seems when the wall is up, when all energy is used to keep it up, to defend against what is on the other side… whether it is certain experiences, disowned voices, human qualities not included in our self-identity.

Dream: Informing and a backlash

 

I inform on somebody in my own circle, and end up spending a good deal of energy hiding from them.

I don’t remember many of the details of this dream, but this seems to be the essence. I was part of a larger social group, and some were involved in very questionable behavior (organized crime of some sort.) They had initially invited me to join, I said no, and then later decided that it was in the public interest to inform on them. In this case, the public interest was clearly more important than (misguided) loyalty. They heard about it, there were quite a few of them (5 or 8), they were ruthless, and they were looking for me, so I went into improvised hiding. First, part way down a convoluted streambed leading down a hillside to the ocean, then up on a loft, and some other places. The others wanted to help me, but didn’t quite know how.

This dream is very similar to one I had in November, and also to some previous ones.

Staying with the dream after waking up, it seems to have a connection with self-inquiry. When I do self-inquiry, discover that the whole sense of I seems to be a fabrication, and also is the immediate cause of any dissatisfaction in my life, it is, in a way, a betrayal of who I have taken myself to be.

I take myself to be this person, yet through examination find that not to be so, and betray my old identity, what I have spent a (short) lifetime to build up, what I am most familiar with.

In voice dialog terms, the voices (subpersonalities) that were often taken as an I, closely identified with, placed on the king’s throne, are revealed to have no inherent I, become less closely identified with, and do not get access to the throne very frequently. If it is done skillfully, they will find their new role and be happy with that. But if it is done hastily and with less respect for these voices, they may certainly become upset, want revenge and try to sabotage the new order, and for good reason.

I haven’t done voice dialog/Big Mind process on myself for a while, so this dream is an invitation to do that again. To see how the voices are doing, who are disgruntled (always for a good reason) and how things can be set more right.

One issue I see, and have seen for a while, is that when I do self-inquiry, there is a slight element of pushing there… of “knowing” what to look for, a slight impatience to “get there”, and of revealing the selflessness of what I often take for I. There is a disrespect inherent in this, a forcefulness, a resistance to what is and how the voices currently show up, that does nobody any favors (not what I then take as myself, which is the voice of self-inquiry, nor any of the other voices.)

There is probably more to this dream as well, maybe other areas where this pattern comes up.

Fully allowing leads to Big Mind

 

This is another of those secrets hidden in plain view..

Whenever we fully experience something, anything, it leads into Big Mind.

Resistance to experience is what gives rise to a sense of a separate I. And this sense of separate I provides an ongoing propping-up for resistance. They are two aspects of the same system, operating in a positive feedback loop. Their strength is linked. One increases or decreases, and the other does the same.

So whenever experiences are fully allowed, when even resistance is allowed, the charge goes out of resistance, and the sense of a separate I diminishes… all the way, until Big Mind notices itself, free from a sense of a separate I.

There is no need to wait for the right moment for this, to wait for the stars to align, for the perfect teacher to come along, for the blissful experiences, for Christ to appear in a vision. What is here, right now, is perfect. That is all that is needed.

Just allow what is right here now to be, as it is, including resistance and anything else. Allow it all to be, to unfold and live its own life. Be with it, without having to change anything. And the field of awakeness and its forms (content) will notice itself as a field, inherently free from any separate I. And that is what we already are.

Resistance as essential for embodiment

 

Resistance seems essential for embodiment.

First, it is what allows the world of form. It is what allows Spirit to not only find itself as formless but also as form. Resistance is inherent in the world of form, as divisions, boundaries, friction. Without these types of resistance, inherent in Spirit as form, there would be no form. Resistance is the mechanism for Spirit to become form… galaxies, solar systems, planets, living planets, individual beings, experiences, thoughts, culture, cities, this universe. It is what allows form unfolding in space and time.

Then, it is what allows Spirit to awaken to itself while functionally connected with a human being (or any other being for that matter, where Spirit awakens consciously to itself.) Resistance is what allows Spirit to fully embody in, through and as a body, conscious of itself. It is the gritty process of embodiment, of allowing everything about our individual self to reorganize within the new context of Spirit awakened to itself… our physical body, our energy system, our emotional level, our heart, our view, our relationships, our life and engagement in the world.

Resistance is inherent in embodiment. It is Spirit exploring itself as formless & form and the unfolding relationships between the two, including what takes place when the form is reorganized within the context of the formless awakened to itself.

So why resist resistance? Why not makes friends with it, embrace it, see that too as God’s will, as God itself, as an essential part of the embodiment process. The more resistance, the more gritty the process is, the fuller and richer the process and the eventual embodiment.

Resistance gives rise to struggle and suffering, and resistance to resistance is no different. It is God resisting itself, so that is not surprising. And allowing gives a sense of release, spaciousness, of all as Spirit.

As with anything else arising, we can deepen into seeing, feeling and even loving resistance as Spirit itself, as always no other than Spirit.

Allowing even resistance

 

Our diksha group met again tonight, and I again noticed resistance… just allowing resistance, and how resistance is still there, yet also as if not there.

When resistance is resisted, not allowed, not wanted, it appears as very real and solid, in our experience, it splits the world into I here and Other there in a very substantial and impactful way.

But when resistance is allowed, welcomed in, even befriended, its nature as awake emptiness is revealed, it becomes transparent, spacious, immaterial, still a wall but a wall made out of just space.

An image of a maze came up. When resistance is resisted, I am on the ground level inside of the maze, and the walls are very solid. The maze appears as a real problem. And when resistance is no longer resisted, the walls become transparent and immaterial, and I am all of the space surrounding and making up the maze itself. The maze, although still there, is not a problem anymore.

Soul retrieval

 

After exploring headlessness again today, I see how so many explorations are really soul retrieval, if we use that word in a wide sense. It is about retrieving – in the sense of allowing, noticing, owning – who we are at an individual level, and what we are at the headless/Spirit level.

Working with projections, we find here in this individual life what we see out there in the wider world. As long as we only see it out there (or only in here), there is a split, not only between this self and the wider world, but within this self.

Working with being with experiences, as they are, there is again a retrieval of what was divided and split off… through a sense of I and Other. We find ourselves as the space holding both sides of the dividing line, the division, and the content on both sides.

Doing the Byron Katie style inquiries, we also work with the split through releasing attachment to beliefs in thoughts, and we find ourselves as that which already is and allows it all.

And through the headless experiments, we find ourselves as capacity for the world, full of the whole world… as it appears one piece at a time to this human self.

In each case, there is a healing of the split, simply by finding ourselves as that which already is and allows it all. The Other, that which was split off, is finally allowed and owned, the sense of I and Other falls away, and this reveals the field always and already allowing it all.

It happens on our individual level when we work on projections, and it happens on a Spirit level when we find ourselves as headless.

In either case, there is a sense of retrieving a bit of our soul, of what we already are but didn’t notice or didn’t allow.

Vulcans, and walling and allowing experience

 

In watching movies, I cannot help being curious about what processes they may reflect, both within each of us and among us. Often, it is quite simple and basic such as with the Vulcans in Star Trek (I have been watching some of the original episodes for the first time).

Walls

The Vulcans have learned to suppress and control feelings and emotions, and rely on cool intelligence. And this reflects the common view in our culture, at least in the 60s: we either have to act on our feelings and emotions, or we have to suppress them.

Either way, we do battle with them. They are an Other that either controls or is controlled by us. There is a space where I am here and emotions there, and when they get strong, they either flood and overpower me, or I am able to erect and maintain a wall that keeps them in check.

The skill of the Vulcans is to be able to very effectively erect and maintain these walls, although they do break down sometimes (sometimes with scary results, and other times to the glee of Kirk and Bones.)

Trapped in this mode, the sense is that if I allow myself to fully experience something, it will take over, it will overpower me, I will loose control. And this fear is the motivation to keep holding it at bay, whatever it is – grief, sadness, anger, rage, pain, joy, pleasure, love, bliss.

Space

But this is only one option. The other is to allow ourselves to fully experience whatever we experience, to be with it, to allow resistance to the content of our experience to fall away.

Here, there is a sense of spaciousness, of holding and allowing any content. And there is a sense of release, and we realize that the pressure that we thought we were erecting a wall and fighting against, was created by the wall and the fighting itself. Without the wall and the resistance, there is no pressure. There is just whatever is experiences, unfolding within and as awareness and space, and that is it.

There is no sense of being overpowered, because the whole sense of I and Other becomes more transparent and spacious. They are revealed as part of the same space.

Intense experiences may be unfolding, but unfolding within a much larger (actually infinite) space. There is only pressure when the space is walled in. Without walls, no pressure.

And without pressure, any experience is revealed as bliss itself. For me right now, giving a sense of blissful smooth expansive quiet fullness,.