Ways of relating to demons

 

Milarepa went through a process of relating to his demons in different ways, from asking them to leave, going into dharma combat, welcoming them, and finally feeding them. (I have read a few different versions of this so am not sure what it says in his own writings.)

In any case, it is a good illustration of how I find myself relating to my own demons…

I may ignore them, pretend they are not there. Push them aside for a while. But they stay around and continue to do their demon things, so I need to find another way of relating to them. (Milarepa was probably smart enough to pass through this one quickly.)

I ask them to leave. Some may leave. Others may leave and come back. Many don’t leave. This one is also not very effective.

I go into arguments with them. I tell my version of the story. They tell theirs. And it doesn’t work very well.

I welcome them. Wholeheartedly. As they are. Allow them to stay as they are, even forever if that is what happens. (Which it isn’t.) Some go away. Others transform. And again, some stay. Some even continue to bug me.

I may ask (pray) for guidance, inviting in intention and receptivity for a shift in how I relate to them.

I may have a dialog with them. Asking them who they are. What they want. What they need. What I can do for them. What they can teach me. How they can help. This is more productive.

I can shift into their role, find myself as them and what I see in them in myself. Taking time to sink into it.

I may find any beliefs related to the demons, including the ones that make them appear as demons, and inquire into them. Is it true? What happens when I hold onto that belief? Who am I without it? What is the grain of truth in each reversal?

I feed them. I give them what they really need – love, kindness, sense of safety, and so on. I hold them within Big Heart, and allow them to transform in whatever way they want – within Big Heart.

I can notice them – and anything else – as awakeness itself. As the play of awakeness in/as form. This is the other side of the coin from working with it on the form side.

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Shadow work example

 

In the beginning of shadow work, it may be difficult to find here what we see in others. After all, I am a relatively nice guy, so how can it be that the monster over there is mirroring something in me?

The trick is to be specific enough, and also keep in mind that it may look quite different in degree and form, although the quality is the same.

So I see someone who is a monster.

First, I see that he is misguided. Can I find where I am misguided?

Yes, I can find examples of that in the past and also now. Whenever I get stuck in a rigid view, I am misguided, and it usually has undesirable effects, even if it is just an achy stomach from eating something I knew I shouldn’t have eaten.

The outcome in that example is dramatically different, but the quality is the same. We are both sometimes misguided.

Then, he is cruel. Can I find that in myself?

For me, I can most easily see it when I see my own actions from the perspective of others. I walk past someone asking me for money, and I can understand how that can be seen as cruel. I could have helped, but I didn’t.

Also, there are lots of people in the world who could have benefited immensely from the money I use on frivolous eating and entertainment. I get a little bit of short lived entertainment out of it, and they could have used it to stay healthy or even survive. That is certainly cruel, from their perspective.

I sometimes eat meat, so I support the meat industry. The current meat industry is cruel. It is a system of massive imprisonment of living beings, of conditions that often amount to torture, and systematic killing just so I can get a meal from it. From the perspective of nonhuman beings, that is definitely cruel. (And quite possibly cruel from the perspective of future mainstream human society considering the longer term trends in morals, and who is included in a sense of us.)

Additional qualities may be heartless, manipulative, lier, and so on.

For each of these questions, I find examples of how it is genuinely true for me, and I take the time to see it in more detail, and also to stay with it and feel it in my body.

To summarize, the trick is to be detailed enough in what I see in the Other that is repulsive to me, and in finding it in myself. To find genuine examples of how I do the same. To take time to investigate, to stay with it, and to feel it in my body. And to remind myself that the expression of it can be quite different in type and degree.

In this way, I can find in myself anything I see in even the most misguided (evil, cruel) person out there.

This helps me embrace more of the whole of who I am, so I can relate to it more consciously and not be at the mercy of it. It helps me open my heart to myself and others. And it helps me act out of a little more wisdom and compassion, and a little less from reactiveness and rigid views.

Trigger: This post showing how it sometimes is difficult to work with extreme examples.

Who speaks for Islam?

 

muslims2_500px.jpg

Some things are more important than vacations, so here is a quick pointer to a new book: Who Speaks for Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think. It is based on a large scale Gallup study following 911.

For more information, here is a MPR interview with one of the authors, an article by and a Counterpunch interview with the other author, a summary of the findings, and a brief BBC story.

From the Georgetown University review:

[…] Based on more than 50,000 interviews conducted between 2001 and 2007 with residents of more than 35 nations that are predominantly Muslim or have sizable Muslim populations, the poll surveyed more than 90% of the world’s Muslim community, making it the largest, most comprehensive study of its kind.

The research suggests that conflict between Muslims and the West is not inevitable and, in fact, is more about policy than principles. “However,” caution Esposito and Mogahed, “until and unless decision makers listen directly to the people and gain an accurate understanding of this conflict, extremists on all sides will continue to gain ground.” […]

Some of the key findings of the research include:

  • Muslims and Americans are equally likely to reject attacks on civilians as morally unjustifiable.
  • Large majorities of Muslims would guarantee free speech if it were up to them to write a new constitution and they say religious leaders should have no direct role in drafting that constitution.
  • Muslims around the world say that what they least admire about the West is its perceived moral decay and breakdown of traditional values — the same answers that Americans themselves give when asked this question.
  • When asked about their dreams for the future, Muslims say they want better jobs and security, not conflict and violence.
  • Muslims say the most important thing Westerners can do to improve relations with their societies is to change their negative views toward Muslims and respect Islam.

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Shadows of a sense of separate I

 

I have explored this before, but keep coming back to it:

Any belief has a shadow, and it is no different with the most basic belief, the one in a sense of a separate I, and I with an Other.

In this belief, we take ourselves to be content of awareness. As an object. As one of many. As a center.

So the reversals of this is then the shadow of the belief in being an I with an Other.
The reversal of taking ourselves to be content of awareness, is to find ourselves as awareness.

The reversal of taking ourselves as a thing, is to find ourselves as no thing.

The reversal of taking ourselves as one of many, is to find ourselves as the field it all arises within and as.

The reversal of taking ourselves as a center, is to find ourselves as no center.

And we relate to these the way we relate to projections in general. And we are attracted to awareness. We fear nothingness. We ignore the field with no center.

In each case, the reversals are already here. The awakeness. The no thing that allows all things. The field all arises within and as. The absence of a center anywhere.
And in each case, it doesn’t fit our identity. So we see it out there.

I have awareness, but it comes and goes, and it is not me. Nothingness is out there somewhere, or after death. The field with no center is the universe or God, not me.

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Synchronicity: shadow of ethics

 

I did a brief exploration of the shadow of the Buddhist precepts a few days ago, and it turned out that this was one of the topics of Arny Mindell’s class earlier today.

We each have our personal ethics, whether we are aware of it or not. And as he hinted at, it is meant for ourselves. If we don’t pick it up, it is still around, but we assume it is for others. It is the classic it happens, it can’t be for me, so it must be for everyone else.

Then he talked about the denier of the ethics, both our inner denier and those in groups who take on the role of the denier. This is the voice that asks why, how, when? The voice that criticize and question the ethical guidelines.

How do we relate to this denier? Do we squash it? Disown it? Listen to it? Find the validity of what it has to say? Find a perspective that hold the truth in the initial ethics and the view of the denier? Refine our ethics?

The voice of the denier is essential. It helps us see our ethics, question it, refine it, explore the larger landscape, and much more. It also helps us not get trapped in the shadow of the ethics, disowning in ourselves whatever doesn’t fit with our personal ethics, whether we are conscious of this ethic or not.

One way of exploring this is by noticing our personal ethics as it shows up in daily life, explore the views that criticize it, and then find ourselves as that which holds both. (Process Work has exercises that makes this come alive, and also helps us find our deeper ethics, the ones just emerging, the ones not quite conscious yet.)

Another way is to explore the reversals of our ethics, as I did with the Buddhist precepts. What is the grain of truth in them? In what ways are they sometimes better? What is the gold in these reversals?

What is the gold in the shadow of our ethics?

Ghosts and shadows

 

I dreamt about ghosts last night, and when I looked into it afterwards, was reminded of how our relationship with the truth in reversals often can appear as ghosts. It is there, yet at the same time is ephemeral and almost not there.

I believe a story, yet somewhere know that it is only a story, that the reversals have truth in them as well, and even that the situation is inherently neutral without the stories. And since I believe the story, these truths in its reversals may appear as ghosts. There, because somewhere I already know them. Yet not quite there, because I ignore them. Disturbing, because they upset the belief I try to make appear true for myself. Persistent, because they have truth in them.

This is of course the same with shadows in a Jungian sense. Any belief has a shadow, and this shadow is the truth in its reversals. And sometimes they appear to us as ghosts.

In my case, it may have to do partly with my image of Norway. Society has changed quite a bit since I used to live here, and not in a direction my personality likes that much. And a conversation last night brought this up for me, including how there is some resistance to admitting that my stories to myself about Norway are not as accurate as I would like.

The truth in the reversals of these stories appear to me as ghosts. There. Yet ephemeral, not quite solidified. Slightly disturbing. Persistent.

Turkey, genocide and identity

 

I find that it is often the most simple, clear and banal situations that gives me insight into certain dynamics.

The resolution by the US congress on the Armenian genocide, and the reactions from Turkey, is one of these.

From the outside, it is pretty clear that Turkey wants to uphold a certain identity, and that this identity does not have room for genocide. It is limited, which means it is at odds with life, and fragile. It is something that has to be vigorously defended.

Seeing that, the question is: What types of identities do we, on collective and individual levels, cling to that are too narrow, too exclusive, at odds with life, precarious, and triggering the same blind reactiveness we see from Turkey?

For instance, the US is founded on genocide. If we are US citizens, is our identity large enough to comfortably include that? Or the habitual interference in the internal affairs of other countries, including active support of the toppling of democratically elected governments and of brutal dictatorships?

Being from Norway, is my identity for my country of birth large enough to include what happened to the indigenous people there? The tremendous amounts of fossil fuels extracted and burnt due to our oil industry, and its effects locally on people’s health and globally on the climate? The way the jews were left on their own when the Nazi’s invaded? The way gypsies were treated? They way the enormous wealth of the country is used mainly on its own citizens, leaving only a small amount for people around the world that have almost nothing? The petty focus on minor problems when people live in better conditions than nearly everyone any time and everywhere?

And in my personal life, where are the limits of my identity? What is left out? What can I not include yet? And how does it impact my life to constantly have to work on excluding it? Where do I feel I need to defend a precarious and limited identity? What would happen if I let go of defending it, and allowed whatever I tried to keep out?

It my experience, it may be disorienting for a while. Free up attention and energy for something else than defending an imaginary identity. And uncover what is already there, temporarily hidden by the drama of defending an identity, including a decisive engagement coming from clarity and an open heart.

The Work and owning the shadow

 

Through some of the subquestions, The Work helps us explore how our beliefs and perceptions are formed and maintained by culture and community and more.

For instance, asking the question when did I first have that thought? tends to bring up the whole initial context, how it came from family, society and more, and how it continues to be maintained by those around us and our culture. Question no. 4, who would I be without the thought? and the turnarounds help us see that having that belief, that identity, and that way of filtering the world is not inevitable. Other people and cultures may indeed see the world quite differently. Their experiences and interpretations may be very different from what I initially took for granted, and I too glimpse this now.

The Work also helps us work with the he/she/it, you and I dimensions. The initial statement is about Other, a he, she or it. When we read our inquiry to the one it is about, for instance our partner, the you dimension comes in. And the I dimension is there throughout.

Here are some of the ways The Work works with the shadow

  • It brings it up and out by encouraging us to find a stressful statement. Whenever there is a stressful thought, aka any belief, there is also a shadow inherent in it.
    • Often, a part of us see that belief as unacceptable, even if it is there, so we squash it and try to not make it visible to others or even ourselves. In this case, we may partly be aware of our shadow, and uncomfortable with it.
    • Other times, we may be completely identified with the initial statement and corresponding identity, so don’t even question it. In this case, it is usually a blind shadow, and we see it only out there in the wider world.
  • It works with the shadow in its many forms, as a shadow of a belief, an identity, and a group identity.
    • We work with the shadow of a belief through the turnarounds, which help us see the grain of truth in its reversals. The shadow of a belief, a statement taken as absolutely true, is exactly there, in the grain of truth of its reversals and also the limited truth of the initial statement.
    • Any belief creates a corresponding identity, at the very least an identity as someone who has that belief, filters the world that particular way, and behaves in relation to that identity (whether these behaviors are aligned with the identity or not.) When I explore what comes up through question no. 3, what happens when I believe that thought?, I explore this identity and its consequences. Question no. 4 and the turnarounds helps me explore what happens when this identity is not blindly identified with anymore, and I allow myself to move more freely among the different reversals of that identity. These reversals are the former shadow of the initial identity, and this is a way to begin to make more friends with it, bring it more actively into my daily life, see what it asks of me, and harvest its gifts.
    • And from the shadows of the belief and its corresponding identity, group shadows form. Again, through questions no. 3, 4 and the turnarounds, we get to see and explore this group identity, its consequences, its shadow/reversals, and what happens when there is a release from blindly identifying with it.
  • Through taking one or more of the turnarounds into daily life, we get to explore it more actively there as well, with the insights inquiry gave us.
    • We get find the truth in the reversals/shadow of the initial belief, live from a space holding the limited truth in all of them, and find a fluidity among them in daily life.
    • We get to find in ourselves the the reversals/shadow of the initial identity, explore how it is to admit to and live from those reversal identities, and finding a fluidity among them in daily life. What is different when I live from an identity that previously was not acceptable? What gifts does it offer? How it is to find more fluidity among them in daily life?
    • And we get to explore the corresponding group shadows as well. Which groups in my life have these shadows, and how are they expressed? What happens if I deliberately move outside of the group norms and acknowledge the grain of truth in the reversals of the belief, and maybe shift into the reversals identities? Is is accepted or not? Does it help shift the group into a wider embrace? If not, maybe I could leave the group?

The impulse to explore this in a little more detail (not that I haven’t many times before) came when I read some discussion about The Work in the context of the Ken Wilber type integral framework. Sometimes, we can be so intent on finding how things does not align with a particular framework that we miss how it does. (Not that it has to, or even should.)

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The gift of troublemakers

 

Whenever there is a disturbance, there is an invitation to become more familiar with what is happening… from the awakeness side and from the form side.

I wasn’t there, but some new folks came to a local spiritual group this week and asked questions of the teacher which apparently upset some of the old timers. They should have read the teacher’s biography before coming. They should be more respectful. They should go somewhere else if they don’t like it. They shouldn’t ask those type of questions.

I usually find it refreshing and exiting when people break the rules of a group I belong to, even if there is discomfort as well.

What are some of the gifts of troublemakers?

  • They serve as a mirror for everyone there. Can I find in myself what I see in them? In what ways am I disrespectful, argumentative, obsessive? Maybe I do silently what they do openly? Maybe I do it in other situations? Maybe I do it towards them?
  • They shake things up, breake and make visible the norms & unwritten rules of society or the particular group. In this way, they invite us to notice these norms and question them for ourselves individually and as a group.
  • They allow us to see how it is dealt with by the teacher, group and individuals in the group, as a test and mirror. Whatever comes up from anyone involved is something we can find in ourselves, whether it seems to come from reactiveness, confusion & obscuration or receptivity, wisdom & heart. And it also highlights the level of skills we have for dealing with this in ourselves, others and at a group level.
  • It brings attention to group shadows. They may express views, emotions and ways of behaving marginalized by the group and the group norms, speaking for others in the group who themselves won’t bring it up. In this way, there is an invitation to notice and address group shadows individually and as a group.
  • Whatever is brought up most likely has some grain of truth in it. Can I find it? How fluid is my relationship the stories and identities brought to attention here?

All of this relates to different forms of shadows…. The shadow of habitual and unquestioned stories, norms, rules, ways of behaving, and so on, and these show up at individual and group levels.

People acting from contraction

 

One of the things that sometimes trigger irritation in me (when the I-Other split is already primed) is people blindly acting from contraction… people who are tense, wound-up, seem hunted or haunted by something, and are blindly caught up in it, blind to what is happening.

(This is obviously a shadow-projection. At the very moment I see them as blindly tense, I am describing myself as I am right there and then.)

And as usual, there are some valuable gifts in here…

When I am blindly tense (which includes seeing it in others and being bothered by it), it is an invitation for me to more clearly see what is going on. The discomfort in it nudges me to do something about it, and the only way that really works, in the long run, is to investigate my own reactions… to identify and explore the beliefs behind it, be with whatever comes up in an heart-felt way, tracking the process behind it, and so on.

So again, what seems like an annoyance when I don’t notice it as an invitation, becomes a great gift when I do.

It leads me right to my own blind spots, inviting me to see more clearly what I previously was oblivious to.

Shadows of groups

 

The only (?) thing that really has a shadow is a belief, but it comes in many flavors. Beliefs create identities, so identities have shadows. And beliefs create group norms, so groups have shadows.

This came up for me earlier today in a group that has meet monthly for a while. There is a strong focus on transcendence in the group, and on release from suffering, which in themselves are fine. But it also gets a little one-sided sometimes, and the groups creates a quite obvious shadow for itself.

Some of the things in this group shadow:

  • The inherent neutrality of it all. There is a caught-upness in a sense of good/bad about various forms of content… awakening good, delusion bad, freedom from suffering good, suffering bad. Again, it is very understandable, and itself neutral (!), but it does marginalize the realization that any situation is inherently neutral.
  • The process not always working, and also absence of flashy experiences. There is a strong focus on the process working, and just about all examples people bring up is of how it works rather than how it apparently does not work (which is just as valuable and informative). An absence of flashy experiences is also marginalized, along with more mundane and everyday experiences (which still may be significant to the person). In both cases, people feel marginalized and alienated from the group. I know a few examples of that (Including from myself… knowing how much is marginalized, and that people genuine experiences are being marginalized, makes me not quite feel part of the group either.)
  • Appreciating what is, as it is, for its own sake. Many experiences are used only as stepping stones to something else, as something unfortunate to get beyond, as something to transcend, something to manipulate to get something else out of it, as a doorway into awakening. They are not appreciated as they are, for what they are.

Any group has norms shared by the majority, creating a culture which leaves certain things out (marginalized), and so creates a shadow for itself. And some individuals in the group will experience this shadow more clearly, either because they happen to fall into it, or because they generally are more sensitive to it.

Attentive facilitators and participants will actively encourage the group shadows to be brought out and shared in the group. It tends to break the spell, allowing what was previously outside of the group norms to be brought in.

At a group level, it helps the group bring the norms into the light, discuss them, and maybe make a decision to actively follow different norms. It helps the group become more conscious of group dynamics in general, and how they play themselves out in that group in particular. It helps the group bring out and share what was previously left out and marginalized. And it may even help the group re-evaluate its culture, goals, and strategies.

At an individual level, it helps each one find in themselves what was marginalized by the group norms. It helps those who had group shadow material come up for them feel more seen and included. And it helps each one be more conscious of shadow dynamics in general, whether they happen at individual or group levels.

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Monsters!

 

Detail of The temptation of St. Anthony by Matthias Grünewald, 1515

There is no shortage of monsters… from those in movies, books, art, fairy tales, legends, to those in politics, religion, and different forms of cultural phobias (such as xenophobia and homophobia), to those in our dreams, nightmares, neighborhood, families, ourselves.There are lots of them… many different species, many different forms, many different qualities, many different ways they are monstrous, many apparent origins.

Yet, they are all born in the same very simple way: by making a story into a belief.

I tell myself a story is true, and right away, anything that opposes that becomes a monster. At the very least, it is somewhat monstrous, and if it is persistent and powerful, then it becomes a great deal monstrous.

I tell myself that people shouldn’t lie, so those who lie is tinged with monster qualities, and when lies surface in myself (as they do) then those impulses are tinged with monstrous qualities as well.

I tell myself that I should be healthy, so any signs that I am not becomes slightly monstrous, and any clear illness becomes quite definitely monstrous.

I tell myself it is good to be smart, so stupidity becomes monstrous, especially if it comes up right here.

I tell myself there is a separate self here, so any glimpses of anything else also becomes monstrous, something to fear.

Any story that is believed in has its shadow side, which is the truth in all its reversals, and these take on monster qualities. Similarly, any belief creates an identity, and this identity has a shadow which is anything that doesn’t fit this identity, and these too take on monstrous qualities.

Since life inherently allows all of it, what is inside and outside of our beliefs, there is no shortage of monsters. They crop up everywhere, in countless forms.

And since we know that all of it is included, there is a draw towards what is excluded through our beliefs. What terrifies us naturally also fascinates us. We are drawn to the wholeness that is split up through our beliefs and identities. Storytellers have always known that, which is why monsters are rife in popular stories. And our dreams know that too, which is why there are plenty of shadow characters in our dreams.

Life constantly invites us to get to know and befriend these shadows, but if the situations seem too real, our beliefs are activated and often get in the way. That is why stories, whether in waking or dreaming life, can be very effective in slipping in some familiarity with the shadow. We know they are not real the same way as real life (or we tell ourselves that at least), so our guard is down, and we may even find enjoyment in befriending the shadow that way. Which in turn may rub off into our daily life.

With beliefs, monsters appear monstrous, and there is rigidity, a certainty of being right, and a closed mind and heart.

But on the other side of beliefs, monsters appear simply as what they are… fictional characters, people, other species, our own qualities (which are universally human), or whatever else they may be. And we may even see that they are inherently neutral, as anything else.

There is more clarity, a more receptive mind (allowing for a more clear and differentiated view) and heart (allowing for recognition and empathy), and actions that are a little more wise and compassionate.

Being an asshole (the truth and beauty of it)

 

We are renting out a room in our house, and since our first priority is finding someone who is a good match, we are pretty relaxed about the timeline.

Last weekend, someone came over to look at the room, and since there wasn’t a big yes! there, we let it go. (He also had a big story about how he repeatedly was being turned down, which he was happy to share.)

Yesterday, someone called about the room, and as I explained where we are located, he interrupted me and said “you are an asshole” and hung up. At that point, I realized that he must have been the same “Jim” that came over last weekend, and obviously hurt by being turned down again.

There wasn’t much coming up for me about it, apart from surprise and also empathy with his situation, but it is still helpful to explore more in detail how I am (or can be seen as) an asshole.

How can I find that in myself?

  • I didn’t call him back saying that he didn’t get the room. I never said I would, and did tell him we would take our time with finding someone, but I could certainly have been more clear about it. I could have said that if he didn’t hear anything from us, it meant we were still looking. Or asked him if he wanted us to call either way. So by not being clear there, and not taking his needs into consideration, I can certainly see how I (or my behavior) can be seen as an asshole. It fits.
  • After he called, I found myself siding with clarity, seeing his confusion as Other. So in my arrogance, I can easily find myself as an asshole. It balances out the situation.

And I can easily find it in myself in other situations in my life.

  • I sometimes don’t take other people’s needs fully into account (or rather what they perceive as their needs), for different reasons, and especially those who are not regularly in my life.
  • I sometimes procrastinate about things which don’t seem all that important to me, which can bring up stress in others.
  • I sometimes see myself as better than others.
  • I sometimes (often) don’t share my insights, even if it could be helpful to others. (I tell myself it is too obvious, or myself as not having anything to contribute, which is another form of arrogance, of seeing myself as separate and special.)
  • I am not aware of all the far-reaching and long-term impacts of my actions, so engage in actions which certainly harm others. Sometimes I am even aware of the harmful impacts, but still engage in the behavior.

In all of these, and many other, ways, I can be seen as an asshole, and rightfully so. And seeing that, owning it, is a release. I don’t have to push it away, try to deny it, defend an identity as “not-asshole”… I can side with it, find it in myself, see certain sides of myself more clearly… and there is a beautiful release in that. An opening… a receptivity… a meeting of myself and others where we are at.

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

 

Devil

Shadows of random beliefs and identities…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shadow of arrogance

 

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

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

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

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

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

I know you are…

 

~C4chaos has a post on the (as yet small scale) stop cyberbullying day. It is sorely needed.

When I initially started this blog, and allowed for comments, I assumed there would be some nasty ones, but have not seen any so far…

Pee-Wee Herman

For myself, I try to remember the wisdom of the great psychologist Pee-Wee Herman:

I know you are, but what am I?

Whenever I describe someone else, I may hit on something that others will agree with (for what that is worth), but I am certainly describing myself.

Hunted and haunted

 

One of the things that brings up discomfort in me (=shadow) is people who seem agitated, driven in an unsettled way, haunted, hunted… who perform daily activities in a harsh way.

I notice for myself that when I feel this way, it is because I have created a box for life and myself, through beliefs and identities, and life comes up with something that is outside of this box, reminding me that it is too small. It comes knocking, I try to ignore it, it keeps knocking, and I become unsettled and agitated, haunted by its presence.

So what happens when I become unsettled when there are unsettled people around? I have a belief that people should be more conscious, more at peace with what is, and I also have an identity for myself as more conscious than that, and more at peace. So what the person is doing comes up outside of the box, and is unsettling to me. Their behavior becomes a reminder of what I left out in my views and identities, and that is exactly what unsettles me and haunts me.

As usual, what I see out there, in someone else, is exactly what is happening right here, at the same moment. It is a precise mirror.

I think he is stupid, and maybe it is a little stupid of me to believe that? What do I really know? Maybe there are some good reasons for his choices and actions? I think she is agitated and shouldn’t be, and as I believe that, I am agitated because what is shouldn’t be, according to my story. I think someone is brilliant, and right there, there is a hint of my own brilliancy in even noticing. I admire someone for having an open heart, and if my own heart was not at least partially open, I wouldn’t recognize or admire it.

The whole process of having things show up outside of the box can be unpleasant, but it is also a good thing. Life invites me to examine those beliefs and identities, broaden them to make them more widely inclusive, and eventually allow any identification with them to release.

Boxing in

 

It has been very alive for me how I box myself and life in through beliefs and identities. I create a dividing line through life, and saying that this is true and ok and that is not (beliefs) and I am this and not that (identities.)

Since life is bigger than any box I try to put it and myself inside of, it will come knocking on the door. It wants to be let in, and ultimately, it invites me to allow boxes in general go… or at least the taking of them as true, and the taking of them as defining who I am.

When life comes knocking, when it shows me that my belief is flawed and my identity too narrow, and I resist and try to hold onto my beliefs and identities, there is stress.

The parallel is very close to having someone knocking at the door of my house that I don’t want to let in. I try to ignore it, I become agitated, tense, frustrated, rigid, angry, sad, depressed… there may even be a sense of being driven, hunted, haunted. At times, there may be a relief. Whomever is trying to get it is not there anymore, or at least has quieted down. But after a while, it comes back. The knocking is there again. And my stress is there again.

The only solution is to take a closer look at what is happening. Is this boundary, this idea that I take as real, really an accurate reflection of life, and of what may already be more true for me? And is this boundary, this identity I take as defining who I am, an accurate reflection of who and what I am, in my own immediate experience? Is there something that is already more true for me, if I am receptive to it and examine it closer? And is what I find closer to what life is trying to tell me about itself and my life?

Shadow of beliefs, and shadows of identities

 

Beliefs have their own shadows, and beliefs also create identities with their own (very similar) shadows.

The shadow of a belief is all the reversals of the thought or idea believed in. The shadow of an identity is anything that does not fit into the identity. And any belief creates an identity.

Say I have the thought that people shouldn’t lie, and believe in it.

The shadow of the belief is the grain of truth in each of its turnarounds, mainly that people should lie. Why should they? Because they do. And because people often have good reasons for it, at least as it appears to themselves. There are many reasons why people should lie, and even the gifts in it, and I can always find one more.

The shadow of the identity is the ways I lie. My identity is as someone who does not lie, so the shadow is the ways I lie in my own life. How do I lie? At one level, everything I say is a lie, or rather at best only a relative and limited truth. At another, more conventional level, I lie as well. I may come up against a threat to an identity, and come up with an (apparently innocent) lie to protect it. And I also lie to myself in many ways. I lie to myself when I believe in any thought, since I at another level already know it is not true. The list is endless, and here too, I can always come up with yet another example.

The shadow of the belief has to do with how I box the world in, and the shadow of the identity has to do with how I box myself in. And the two are of course closely related, just two faces of the same boxing in.

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.)

Relationships with the ultimate, and inflation

 

In terms of avoiding or minimizing inflation, it is safer to actively explore the 2nd, 3rd, and zero person relationships with Big Mind (see previous post), and then just allow the 1st person relation to come and go on its own.

Inflation inherent in a sense of a separate self

Although even here, as long as there is a sense of a separate self, there will be some inflation, and it is good to notice it and take it for what it is.

There is a sense that I, as a separate self, have a relationship with God, understand something about God, or am someone who has glimpses of the ground of all existence. So I am special, different, am in a special relationship with God or existence, and so on. All of this is inflation. We take something that is inherently neutral, place a value on it, and take it as happening to a separate self.

It is inevitable, and happens all the time anyway.

There is a sense of a separate self, and with it comes an automatic sense of superiority and inferiority, richly diverse and with many different flavors. This form of inflation is just one of those, although it can be an especially nasty one, and annoying to those around, if left unchecked.

So what can we do?

Working with inflation

Again, we can work with it from the form and the emptiness sides.

From the form side, one way is notice and work with projections, and especially shadow projections.

From the emptiness side, I can find myself as headless and see that all of this is (apparently) happening to an individual who is inherently free from a separate self, and more precisely that it is really happening as awake emptiness and form, inherently absent of a separate I.

In both cases, we come to see that it is all inherently neutral, and only takes on significance, meaning, and a sense of importance, through our stories about it, and through believing in those stories.

Views and their shadows

 

As soon as their is a belief in an idea… a thought, image, identity, perspective, view, framework… there is automatically a shadow. I want this to be true, not that. I want to be identified with this, not that.

My mind closes down, not interested in, or willing or able to, see the grain of truth in the other perspectives, or the limits to the truth and validity of my own. And my heart closes down, seeing them as Other, not able to recognize myself in them, not able to find our shared humanity, not seeing how we are in the same boat.

As ugly as it can get, there is also a beauty in it.

Existence is inherently neutral. Awake emptiness and form, allowing any and all perspectives, views, thoughts, ideas, identities, frameworks, theories, and yet not being touched by any of them. They all have a grain of truth to them, yet they are all incomplete, all missing out of something, all of only temporary, limited and purely functional value.

So when we take any of these relative truths as an absolute, we are at odds with what is. We are automatically up against the world, as it is, and this brings stress, dissatisfaction, suffering, a sense of something being off (we often think it is the world!), of something being incomplete.

And it is true. When we take a limited perspective as all there is, something is off, and something is incomplete. We are right in being dissatisfied.

The stress, dissatisfaction, suffering and everything else is not only a reminder that something is off, but an invitation to correct ourselves. To investigate. To see that what we took as an absolute truth is only a relative one, and that all of its reversals have a grain of truth in them as well.

And it runs through our lives all different directions and levels, from our conscious and apparently chosen views such as grand philosophical frameworks and religion, to our conscious identities, to the often more invisible worldviews of our culture, to views we wouldn’t be caught dead having but still do somewhere in a corner of who we are.

Derrida and others may see this in the grand scheme of things, in terms of philosophical and political and religious ideas. But do they see it in all the details of their daily life? Do they see it when their kids make a mess and don’t clean up after themselves. When their partner cheat on them. When someone… a friend, their kids, their parents, their academical opponent… says they are wrong, can they join with the person saying it and find it in themselves?

For many of us, it is easy when it comes to the big ideas such as religions, spiritual approaches and political ideologies. I can see how they are all relative truths. But it is far more difficult in my daily life. It gets far more gnarly and unpleasant when someone rubs up against deeply seated beliefs in me, especially those I didn’t even know I had, or don’t want to admit to being there.

Transcend and exclude

 

In my own life, and of course… more easily… in other’s life, I sometimes see a tendency to transcend and exclude.

And it has a direct connection with the shadow.

I am identified with a particular identity, and what comes up does not fit within that identity. The box I have made for myself is not big enough, and leaves it outside.

One of the more recent examples is with the movie The Secret, where my initial reaction was of pushing it away, putting it down, seeing it as inferior, not really worth existing.

But then, as soon as that happens, I also notice all the signs of being caught up in a shadow projection: pushing it away, putting it down, seeing it as inferior, not really worth existing…!

So shifting into a transcend and include mode, I am more free to find the grain of truth in its message, and also appreciate how it… obviously… fills a real need for many people. I can explore its value, its gifts, and see how it fits in with the bigger picture… what role does it fill? What can it do for people, and where are its limits? I can explore it in a more receptive and nuanced way.

And working with my own shadow projections around it certainly helps me in this… for instance by using The Work.

Islam’s golden age

 

In our post-cold war times, where Muslims are the new villains and scapegoats, and the Islamic world the new favorite shadow projection object, it may be good to remember what we owe Islamic culture.

The most obvious example is the role of the Islamic world in the birth of modern Western culture: the Renaissance, which would not have been what it was (or may not have been at all) if it wasn’t for the Islamic Golden Age, and their preservation, enriching and transmission of elements from a wide range of ancient cultures, including the Greek and Roman.

The stink

 


An open sewer in Lublin, 1930s.

As long as there is a sense of a separate self, there is a sense of being better and worse than others. And there is also a stink, which is especially noticeable when we cling to a sense of being better than others.

This stink is quite noticeable in much of the integral world… In those who use integral theory to put others down and elevate themselves. In those who find it necessary to see themselves as second tier, and pronounce it to the world. In those who find no use, and not even a right to existence, in less-than-integral approaches that obviously fills a need for others – such as The Secret and the Law of Attraction.

It all comes from a lack of investigation.

Anything I see in others, is also here.

The more I see that, through my own investigation, in a finely grained way, in daily life, the less there is a sense of being better or worse.

There is just a human life being lived out. And anything I see in others, is also here.

On the surface, in my face to the world, there are certainly differences.

But in the vastness of the depth of who I am as a human, and what I am as awake emptiness, there is none… Just intimacy, connection, recognition, and even that is saying too much.

Julian at Zaadz is saying something about this: Second Tier? Get Over Yourself. A Brief Righteous Vent…. (Thanks to William Harryman at Integral Options Cafe for finding and linking to that post.)

Lebensborn

 

This is one of those heart wrenching stories that shows us what blindness to the shadow in ourselves, and not standing up against it when expressed in others, can bring about (there are of course many other aspects to this issue besides projections.)

Living hell of Norway’s ‘Nazi’ children (BBC)

We all have our ideas of what it would be good to teach and learn in schools, and a top candidate on my list – along with interpersonal skills and learning about group dynamics and facilitation – is projections. How do we recognize, and then work with, our projections, and in particular our shadow? And how do we deal with others, as individuals or groups, when they are in the grips of their shadow?

Some of the warning signs of being in the grips of the shadow are…

  • A strong sense of separation between I/us and you/them
  • Seeing us as good/right and them as wrong/evil/bad (or reversed, in unusual cases)
  • Strong emotions of fear or hatred, and variations of those (disgust, unease, etc.), and seeing “them” as triggering or even causing it
  • A certainty of being right
  • A dehumanization of the “other”
  • A lack of empathy with the “other”
  • An inability to recognize our common humanity, seeing in myself what I see in them, and the other way around
  • Reacting in a stronger way than what the situation seems to warrant (as seen by others who are not in the grips of a similar shadow)
  • Scapegoating
  • Overgeneralizing and broadening the group of “other” to include people who rationally do not have anything to do with what triggered our fear/hatred in the first place (such as the children of German soldiers in Norway)
  • A fear/hatred, combined with dehumanization, which – in its extreme expression – can go to the point of wanting to eliminate the “other”, or at least make their lives miserable

We all do this of course, although rarely in its extreme form. But the difference is (a) whether we recognize what is going on or not, (b) how we express it (we always do, even when we try not to), and (c) how we work with it if at all.

I have heard people talk about working with projections in general, including through processes such as The Work, as impractical – just an interesting philosophy. Fun to explore superficially, but nothing of real value. But if it is engaged with wholeheartedly and with sincerity, there are few things as practical and impactful in our lives, and for those we are in relationship with.

It goes to the core of what it means to be human and how we live our life. It can even prevent or soften the impact of the horrors the “Nazi children” in Norway, and in other European countries, went through… and others go through daily around the world.

When we sincerely work on our shadow, it is a practical act of compassion, not only for ourselves but for others as well. It helps us act on our own shadow less blindly, and deal with it more effectively – and with more clarity – when those around us are in the grips of their own shadow.

Dream: Nazis and crown prince

 

I am related to the crown prince through marriage, and we are in the same room. Nazi WWII soldiers come and occupy the house we are in, and the town as well. I am passive in the dream, faced with a situation I don’t seem to be able to do much about.

Well, this is a typical shadow dream, with the shadow taking the form of one of the favorite bad guys in European culture – WWII Nazi soldiers. Knowing that showed me that there are shadow elements in my life now that “wants” to be made conscious (not a big surprise) but didn’t tell me much more, so I decided to use active imagination to explore it further.

I notice that I was relatively passive in the dream, but to engage with the soldiers I need to take on – and engage – with more strength. I talk to the soldiers, asking them who they are and why they are there. Initially, they don’t answer, but one sits down and smokes a cigarette nearby. I notice the strength in him. After puffing a couple of times, he starts talking and says that he represents an active attitude to life – strength, activity and engagement. I take on these qualities myself, and as I do, the soldiers fade more into the background and the situation shifts into becoming far more manageable and workable.

The dream is showing me something I have noticed in my waking life, but not taken all that seriously… it is nudging me to pay more attention to it, and to take it more seriously.

My conscious interest lately has been in surrendering identification with the content of awareness, including the different aspects of this personality. In theory, and when it happens more fully, this allows the whole of the individual to be expressed more fully, including its strength and active engagement in life. But before that shift happens, there is a tendency to disown the active engagement in the process of surrendering.

There is a lack of differentiation between surrendering identification with any content, and of the content itself, so there is a disowning of aspects of the content – in this case the active attitude.

My job then is to allow more fully the active attitude, and also surrender identification with it. And in my daily life, noticing headlessness seems to be the easiest way to do that.

Additional notes

When something is disowned, it is because our conscious attitude does not fully allow it. It is seen as “bad” one way or another. So when it shows up in dreams, it takes on an image which our culture tends to view as “bad” as well, in this case Nazi soldiers. As the qualities they represent are more fully, wholeheartedly and consciously embraced, their form typically change into something more benevolent. (In this particular case of active imagination, I consciously took on their qualities, and they faded away.)

And I still need to explore the presence of the crown prince in the dream.

What I don’t want to hear

 

In our local The Work group last night, we explored our least favorite things to be told by someone else – what are they, where can I find it in myself or my life, can I also find their opposites, and what are their gifts?

For me, the list can easily be quite long. Here are some that come to mind…

  • You are weird
  • You are incompetent
  • I don’t like you
  • You are a liar
  • You are selfish and self-centered
  • You are a loser
  • You are oblivious

Funny how these all seem to bring up least-favorite childhood memories…!

So let’s see if I can find these in myself, their opposites (finding myself as big enough to contain both), and also find the genuine gifts in each.

You are weird

Yes, I can see that I am weird in many different ways. I have some unusual interests (including in whatever I write about in this blog). I like unusual music. I don’t do much of what many do, such as going to bars on weekends. I prefer more quiet conversations with friends to big parties. I don’t always join in conversations on topics others find interesting, preferring to listen. I am sure my look can be seen as somewhat weird in different ways and different contexts (I especially noticed that when I was in rural Nepal!) A specific instance: I felt weird at times during the Breema retreat at Breitenbush this weekend, preferring to sleep and go on walks on my own rather than socializing (apart from meals.)

And at the same time, I am normal. My life is a human life, with all it means to be human. Nothing I have ever experienced or thought is something that I haven’t found expressed by someone else. My fears and insecurities seem to be quite ordinary, even common. A specific instance: last night during our local The Work meeting, where I saw that anything coming up for me – including the things I was most embarrassed about – was shared by others, sometimes all, in the group.

What are the gifts of being weird? Well, I am part of expanding what is allowed and expressed in human experience, maybe allowing others to be more comfortable with it as well. Others seeing it (and especially if I am comfortable with it) can help them be more comfortable with themselves and what they go through, maybe even enjoying it! I also get to explore areas of human experience where some others don’t go, filling out the map a little.

To be continued…

Parade: seeing myself as others see me

 

This happened as I was about to fall asleep on the second day of the Breema retreat at Breitenbush (posted the Monday after)…

There is a parade of people in my life, one after another, and I see myself from their perspective. I see my appearance and actions, and experience in first person how this may have been experienced by the other. Then, I see myself as if with an x-ray vision, seeing the inner machinery (thoughts, emotion, confusion, motivations), and how this would have been experienced by the other if they had seen it. This happens for each person, one at the time, going from my current life to past and into childhood. Then, the same happens with animals in my life, including ants I tortured as a child (!)

There is an emphasis on the pain, confusion and suffering my behavior triggered in others, and there is a sense of a sweet openness to it all, taking it in, allowing it to sober me up and see myself more as I would see myself from another persons perspective. There is a sense of sweetness, painfulness, space, quiet receptivity, taking it all in, allowing it to work on me.

This parade was very similar to the parade of sinister characters from some weeks ago. Both happened as I was about to fall asleep, both were similar to a waking dream (happening on their own), and in both cases, there was an inside – first person – experience of each character. As with that one, this parade was very sobering.

I see the pain I inflicted on some animals as a child, seeing myself as a giant, powerful and as evil as they come. I see myself as completely oblivious to the pain I am indirectly inflicting on animals through some of my food choices, and the miserable conditions of laborers creating many of the things I use and wear. I experience the pain triggered by my behavior and words in those close to me, in innumerable situations, in many different ways. I see myself acting and behaving in patterns from my past, not corresponding to the current situation (including not living up to my potential in certain situations, just out of old habits.) And much more.

In each of these cases, I experience myself from the outside, as I would have experienced myself if I were in the other persons (or animal’s) position. The whole parade lasted for maybe thirty or forty minutes, although it is difficult to say for certain.

Deeper layers of the shadow

 

It is pretty easy to notice the surface layers of the shadow, the ones that come up in everyday life, projected on my neighbor, political figures and others. But there are also deeper layers to the shadow, layers that reflect deep patterns in our culture and in our biology as human beings, layers that mirrors our core identification as a separate I.

The journey that happened some days ago is an example of an exploration into these deeper layers of the shadow. And as it shook me to the core, it is clearly going deeper than I am familiar with…

In this vision (or journey, or spontaneous active imagination) there was a parade of dark, shadowy and evil characters from many cultures and times, animal like, human like, gigantic, tiny. I found myself on the inside of each of them, living and breathing their life. And this I was not a separate I but the same one transcendent I in each of them, living and breathing their life. It was the I without an Other.

In the very beginning, seeing a dark large male figure in a black desolate landscape, silhouetted against a dark sky, staring out with red eyes like searchlights scanning the landscape, there was fear coming up, because there was still an identification with a separate I. But soon, there was only the one transcendent I, and an absence of Other and of fear. (Fear requires an Other, and in the absence of Other, there is also an absence of fear.)

Of course, even as powerful a shift as this was, it is another drop, another phase into owning more fully deeper layers of the shadow. There is always further to go, more to see and notice, additional layers to own, befriend, embrace, become more intimately familiar with.

Maybe the most surprising part of this was the fear that came up after the journey was over. A fear of speaking about this, or even writing about it anonymously here… Who can understand? Only the few who themselves have gone here. Those who have befriended these deep layers of their own shadow, seeing that this too is Spirit, this too is God.

And as I write this, I am (by coincidence) listening to Misread by Kings of Convenience…

How come no-one told me
All throughout history
The loneliest people
Were the ones who always spoke the truth…

A close reflection of the sober and somber mood I found myself in writing this.

Not that I see this as “truth”, it is only how things appears for one individual at one phase of his path. But to speak this provisional truth is one way to find myself as lonely…!

Corrections: desire, fusion and shadows

 

Some of the recent posts have been more than a little approximate…!

Big Mind does not desire, but is desire (when it arises)

For instance, in the posts on desire and insatiability, the distinction between Big Mind and desire is not quite clear. To put it simply, Big Mind does not desire (there is no Other to desire, and in its formless aspect it is free from form). Yet it also is desire, when desire arises in an individual. At that moment, Big Mind arises as desire.

So when desire arises in an individual for a full human life and awakening arises, which seems to be our deepest desire (at least for me), then Big Mind is free from it, yet also arises as the desire.

We can say that Big Mind is the desire for it to experience itself through and as a full human life, and also as Big Mind awake to itself.

In a very approximate (and anthropomorphizing) way, we can say that Big Mind (or God) desires to experience and explore itself as finite, through and as an individual human life. And not only that, but as finite in the form of this universe, as galaxies, solar systems, planets, planets becoming alive, ecosystems, social systems, cultures, industry, subcultures, neighborhoods, families, couples, and so on.

The formless desires to experience itself as form, and form desires the formless. The infinite desires to experience itself as finite, and the finite desires the infinite.

It is a catchy and poetic way of putting it. It sounds good at that level. But it is also very imprecise. It gives the impression that God (or Big Mind) desires, yet when there is only the I without the Other, there is no desire. Only rest. Peace (even in the midst of the worst storms and the strongest desires).

Fusion

In the same post on desire, the word fusion is used, and this fusion is just one of the relationships between Spirit, soul and human self. Ultimately, it is all Spirit, all God, the centerless and selfless field of seeing and seen.

But within this, there is a fusion of the three, an infusion of Spirit awake to itself into the individual, and an infusion of soul into the human self. The previous post is on this topic.

Collective shadows

And then the post on a journey into collective shadows. Collective shadows? No. Again that is just a poetic, a little more catchy, and very approximate way of talking about it.

My journey was very much through my own individual shadow, of the many and varied dark characters that puts a face on what is there.

But this individual shadow is formed within a culture where most people put many of the same things into their shadow. Even if there is individual variations, there are also many commonalities, and that is where the idea of a collective shadow comes from. Even for humanity as a whole, across cultures, many of the same things are put in our individual shadows.

And the faces put on what is in my individual shadow is of course influenced by everything I have experienced, including dark and shadowy characters from my own culture and many other cultures.

So the immediate experience of the journey is one of journeying through our collective shadow, the shadow of humanity. But, realistically, it is of course just this individual one reflecting what is out there, in our world culture.

It doesn’t really matter for the impact the experience has on me. What was important was the experiencing of each of these dark creatures from the inside, living and breathing their life, and at the same time seeing that it is the one transcendent I which is the I of all of these.

But it is still good to make the distinction.

A journey through collective shadows

 

I did a source code session last night, designed to facilitate a release from “negative influences” such as the collective unconscious. It was very powerful as it happened, and even now, with a very strong sense of alive intelligent presence and luminosity around and in me.

As I was about to fall asleep, a very vivid journey started on its own…

There is a parade of dark and evil figures from all cultures and times, one after another. I experience each of them from the inside, living and breathing their life, and I see how there is the One “I” in everyone and everything, how they all are Big Mind… (and how they appear as dark and evil because they represent things that are disowned.) There is an incredible sense of depth, grittiness and fullness there, and also a deep sense of peace, of God already being it all (and nothing other than God), so just peace, rest.

It is all very beautiful and peaceful, even in the midst of the most horrifying creatures and images.. Just beauty. And freedom from it all, since they do not appear as an Other anymore, and since they are all already God.

Throughout this, the alive luminous intelligent loving presence is very strongly around and in my body, working in and on the body, especially in the kidneys (!).

This was clearly a journey through the collective shadows of humanity, from any culture and time… very vivid, real, living and breathing the life of all of these creatures from the inside, and realizing that there is only the one “I” in all of it, the one Eye, Spirit, Big Mind… as the inside seeing and subjective “I” experience of each creature, the form of creatures themselves, and the seeing of the creatures as Other. They came one after another, as a parade, human like, animal like, huge, tiny, one and many. All cast in the role of the villain. All representing things we rather would not see as ourselves as individuals, and also often don’t recognize as the I of the One I.

And in the living of their life from the inside, and seeing that the “I” of each of them, the inside experience of each of them, is the One “I” of everyone and everything, there is a release from all of this. They are no longer Other, at an individual or Spirit level, so a release from them. Just rest, peace.

I am not sure what the activity in the kidneys was about, although I know they are associated with fear in Chinese medicine, and throughout this journey there was a deep absence of fear… Where there is no Other, on individual (projection) and Spirit (Big Mind) levels, there is an absence of fear.

Phases of the endarkenment: dark night, Breema, dreams of soul mates and shadows, identities, and sleep and movies

 

Just to complete the picture here of the endarkenment process, I should mention a few things about my dreams and sleep.

Dreams of soul mates

Since about July this summer and up to the endarkenment shift, I have had a large number of dreams where I meet my soul mate (always a different one each time!). These dreams stopped after the endarkenment, because what I dropped into was the soul mate, or rather (an aspect of) soul itself.

(I have been embarrassed to write about these dreams here since I am in a relationship in my waking life, even as I know that these dreams reflect a much deeper inner process, not the externals of my waking life.)

Phases of the endarkenment process

As I see it now, the endarkenment process started a long time ago, and has gone in several phases. The first phase was the dark night, preparing the ground for it. The second finding Breema, which has an emphasis on the belly center. The third seems to have been all the soul mate dreams, reflecting a shift that has not yet become conscious. And the fourth, dropping into the velvety smooth darkness, the endarkenment itself. I guess the current one is the fifth, where it continues to deepen and change.

Shadow dreams mixed in

Also, mixed in among the dreams I have written about in this blog has been a series of shadow dreams, of things coming to the surface needing to be seen, balancing, grounding and widening it out in all directions. There has been a pattern of awakening dreams (velvety blackness, alive luminosity) and widening dreams (shadow dreams), much as a wave with peaks and valleys passing through.

Identities

Related to all of these corrective and shadow dreams is identities. I have been more acutely aware of identities over the last few weeks, seeing them clearly when they come up, and how they filter the world into I and Other, and how attachment to them is holding back what is emerging. They are an old coat that does not fit anymore, too small, wrong cut and color, dusty and old.

More about this in the next post.

Sleep

I have also needed a lot of sleep in this period. Even today, I slept more than twelve hours, and could have slept many more. There has also been a lot of processing before falling asleep and after waking up, allowing a parade of whatever comes up to be embraced by the velvety darkness.

Movies

I have also had a draw to see a lot of movies since the endarkenment, in a wide range of genres from science fiction to horror to existential to comedy to thrillers to post modern to documentaries to classical to quiet Iranian movies. It is as if the endarkenment wants as much of me as possible to come up and be embraced by the velvety darkness, and movies is a good way to trigger this.

Draw to the primitve

 

I am catching up with watching documentaries I missed when they played in the theaters, or that didn’t play around here (Theremin, Derrida, Fog of War).

The most recent one was Keep the River on the Right, about a New York artist and anthropologist who lived with tribes in New Guinea and Peru.

As with all of these movies, it is the human story that is most touching and interesting to me.

And then other things coming up as well.

Fog of War and parallels to Iraq

For instance in Fog of War, some of the parallels between the Vietnam and Iraq wars.

(a) In both cases, the US got into it partly through a serious lack of understanding the historical and cultural background and filters of the Other. In Vietnam, reading into a civil war something far beyond just that: as one more body falling victim to the virus of communism, ready to spread everywhere if not stopped there. In Iraq, not taking into account its history with the British empire, and how a destabilized Iraq inevitably would go in the direction of civil war.

(b) Apparently believing in each case, or at least pretending to believe, that they can “win the heart and minds” of the people they slaughter and who’s country they illegally invade and (try to) occupy.

(c) The US going into it, in both cases, with very little support from the international community. As McNamara said, if even your friends and allies don’t think it is a good idea, maybe you should cool down and see if they have a good point. They are most likely seeing something you don’t.

(d) And finally, how an obviously very intelligent and well-intentioned person can get into trouble through setting loyalty over his own judgment.

The draw of primitivism

At some point in Keep the River on Your Right, the topic of a draw to primitivism came up, and I got curious about what it is about.

For me, what is in the foreground now when watching these types of anthropologically themed movies is just the diversity of human cultures, world views, experiences and filters. But I also remember that in my childhood and early teens, the primitive was fascinating to me in itself. What is it about?

Two things came up for me…

:: Free from beliefs

The first is a draw to a natural, unhindered state of mind. A freedom from the shoulds and rules of civilization and culture. A more open and receptive way of being, more spacious, just doing what comes up next to do.

This is of course a projection.

All cultures have believes, norms, shoulds, rules, unquestioned assumptions, including tribes living in New Guinea and Peru.

And the freedom we are looking for is available right here, by allowing the shoulds to fall into the background for a moment through dance, ritual, nature, mystical experiences, drugs, sex and so on, or more stably and deeply through questioning beliefs and allowing them to fall away.

It is not only available right here, it is here right now. It is the awake emptiness right here, which we usually don’t even notice, or just take for granted, or don’t explore enough to see what is about – how it can transform what we take ourselves to be and how we live in the world as human beings.

:: Meeting and getting to know the shadow

The other aspect is meeting and getting familiar with the shadow.

In our civilized culture, the “primitivism” we project onto these tribes is not allowed, not OK, held at bay by our shoulds, outside of our conscious or ideal identity.

Yet, we yearn to be more whole, to allow all of us into our identity, to be OK with all of who we are, so we seek out the shadow in many ways. We want to meet it, get to know it, become familiar with it, befriend it. Some of the more acceptable ways of doing this is through stories, such as movies, books, dreams, fantasies, and more consciously through active imagination.

Dream: taking action to clear it up

 

I am alone on the second floor of a building used for lectures, art, body oriented practices and similar. The architecture of the building, and the atmosphere and orientation, seems quite similar to anthroposophy, and the room is used for a form of body-oriented practice similar to Eurythmy, although this form is more full, inclusive and fluid.

A larger group of students (all male?) are about to enter the room, and I am there to clear something up. They have been misinformed about, or have misinterpreted, something I have done, and I am in danger if I meet them unprepared.

So when they come up the stairs to the room, I hold them at gunpoint and ask them to move over to another end of the room.

When they are all gathered there, I explain the situation to them, and they soften, change their attitude about me and what I have done, and welcome me. The situation was resolved quickly and ends in a sense of warm connections and inclusiveness.

Another shadow dream, but this one where the apparent conflict between me and the shadow is quite easily resolved, partly because I take action and make a container for it to be resolved.

This dream reminds me of my favorite shadow-work story from when I got interested in these things in my teens: An evil queen dragon has kidnapped a large number of children. These are rescued and instead of killing the dragon, she is contained and placed in a large cage. After a while of being contained, she turns into a golden dragon of wisdom. (Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver by Michael Ende.)

By containing the shadow, as I did in the dream, it is given a chance to transform.

If we give it free reign, it can easily hurt us and others. If we combat with it, it only grows in strength and can also easily harm us and others. If we ignore it, it does potentially harmful things behind our backs. If we kill it (as it is in so many stories), it is only reborn in a different form.

The only real solution is to face it, take whatever measures necessary to contain it, and allow it to transform in its own time.

Dream: telling the truth || feeling into the truth of the shadow

 

I had been the third speaker for a group of people, and noticed how people had been steadily trickling out throughout each of the three sessions. A woman behind me said “no wonder people left, you are not a very good public speaker.” I noticed a part of me wanted to protest, but also how true it felt and how good it felt to be with that truth. How it nurtures, in a deep way.

After I woke up, I allowed myself to continue to feel into this, and then to feel into anything else that I don’t want to see about myself. It all felt full and nurturing, and as a new shift into owning more parts of my shadow. I have done this before, including through The Work, but to feel into it in this way, so deeply, fully and tinged with bliss, was new.

The day before, what they call Being Participation in Breema had been especially alive for me and in the foreground. Allowing my whole being to participate in whatever I am doing (noticing that it already is), and the fullness and sense of nurturing and quiet bliss that comes with it.

And this is just one more aspect of Being Participation. Allowing my whole being to participate in feeling into the truth held by the shadow. I am a failure. I look weird. I am noisy. I am crude. I am unaware. I am inconsiderate. I am blind. I am, in a very specific way, anything I see in the world.

There is a truth in all of these statements, as there is in any statement. There is a truth in all of these statements which do not align with how I would like to see myself, or how my culture is telling me I should see myself. There is a grain of truth there, at the very least.

And to feel into it is to own it in a deepening way. To be with it, feel into it, allowing all of me to participate, allowing more of all of me to be felt as me.

Dream: Informed on a central criminal, and hunted by his friends

 

I informed on a central, powerful and influential man, with enough information to have him put away for life. His friends were after Jen and I, and we did our best not to be found.

We lived in a beautiful terrased apartment complex, and had moved from one top level apartment to another a few weeks before. His henchmen had broken into our old apartment around noon the same day, only hours after I had informed and the head crook put away. Unfortunately, our names and the number of our new apartment was listed at the ground level, and they had seen it and would come back.

The apartment or building (?) complex was up on a hillside, in Mediterranean style white-washed stucco, and had a beautiful and expansive view. Many interesting characters lived there, including the head teacher at the Breema Center and many artists and musicians.

A while before all this happened, we had invited friends and neighbors over to a party in our apartment that afternoon. They all arrived and enjoyed themselves, with much music, food and dancing. But Jen and I were concerned, planned what to do next, and we also informed our friends that they may be in danger just by knowing us. We knew our friends and family may be in danger, as harming them was one way the crooks could harm us.

Early in the evening, the party disbanded and Jen and I left the apartment, taking all our personal belongings with us – especially anything could give more information about us, our families or our friends.

There was a sense of nobody there who could substantially help us, not even the police. There was also a sense of foreboding, and of dread and terror. I said at one point “this is going to change our lives forever.”

There is a lot of things going on here, and I am not even sure where to start.

Some things that comes up for now:

Making beliefs into crooks

There was a clear sense of the head crook as representing beliefs, especially as I have worked on exploring beliefs so much lately through various forms of self-inquiry. The dream reminds me of something I am already aware of (although obviously not enough): I am making beliefs into criminals…! In my own mind, I make beliefs into criminals, someone to be locked away for good. And the chief criminal is of course the belief in the idea of I.

Seeking realization very easily makes anything apparently hindering realization into an Other, and even into an enemy or a crook. And this of course is just another way to create and reinforce a split, a duality, an I and Other.

The dream is reminding me of this. If I am too attached to the light, the dark will not go away, and it may even take a sinister appearance and go after me – to the point of killing me, as representing the dualistic attitude.

(Less importantly, the dream says that the head crook has been informed on and put away for good. What I have made into the chief crook here is the sense of I, the belief in the idea of I, and I have certainly spent a good deal of time informing on him, doing my best to put him away for life…!)

Embracing the light and the dark

I did a quick Process Work explorations of this, using vector work.

The two main elements in the dream is the criminals and our beautiful life in the apartment building.

The line of the criminals is dark, has a heavy and ominous feeling, and goes to the north-northwest (sunset).

The line of our life in the apartment building, with the nice expansive view and artists and the head Breema teacher, is light and luminous, and goes to the east-northeast (sunrise).

And the line that combines them both, embraces the dark and the light, the shadow and the conscious identity, heaven and earth, crooks and saints, the endarkenment and the enlightenment.

Getting the general idea is one thing, and working on the specifics of it, over and over, in always new ways as it shows up in life, is another.

Fear when shifting (or letting go of) identities

Another aspect of all of this may be the fear that comes up when we shift, or let go of, identities. Who am I if I am not … (a belief in an idea)? How will my life look without it? Will I be able to function? It is only natural that fear comes up as we reach this threshold, and that some terror may come up immediately after it has been crossed.

I let go of this identity. Won’t something terrible happen? Isn’t the sky going to fall? Am I not going to be struck by a thunderbolt?

Invitation to a deeper shift

The dynamics of this whole process, played out in the dream, is very typical. It is the experienced struggle of light and dark, and the process of integrating them both in our lives, in always deeper ways.

It is a process that leads up to realized selflessness, and one that – if we are open to it – is ongoing even after realized selflessness.

It can always deepen and be more inclusive. It can always be lived more fully. There is always more “its” in this human self that can be made into a “me” and “mine”. And there are always me and mines that can be deepened, explored in new ways, lived in more full and inclusive ways.

Before and after realized selflessness, our human self can continue to heal, mature, develop, and continue to own and embrace “its” and made them more fully and deeply into “mine”.

It is just part of the game, part of the infinite creativity of Spirit, part of the unfolding and evolution of Spirit in its form aspect.