Have a soul?

 

It’s common for some folks in our culture (AKA Christians) to say we “have a soul”.

Even during my atheist years (childhood, early teens), I thought that sounded funny. Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that we are a soul, and have a temporary physical body?

As with so much, it’s all a matter of identification and perspective.

If I am identified as a human being, I may say I “have a soul”. The soul seems “other”, along with the wider world, God, and more.

If I am identified as a soul, I may say I am a soul and have a temporary physical and human form.

If life (Spirit, Big Mind, Brahman, God) recognizes itself, the individual soul and the human self it functions through are recognized as life itself. Here, it may be said that life itself is functioning through a soul and human form. Or we may say that we have a soul and temporary physical form.

It’s interesting that when life recognizes itself as all there is, functioning through a soul and human self, the words used may be what we often use in our culture anyway. We have a soul, and we have a temporary physical human form. There are two ways to look at why this is also our common way of speaking about it. One is that there is a knowing and intuition of reality. The other is that we identify as a more abstract and mostly separate “I” (created by words and images), and this abstract “I” seems to “have” a soul and physical form.

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Reincarnation and soul

 

All of the traditions that came out of India – Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism – center on the idea of reincarnation. This is just as fundamental to Indian mythological thinking as our idea of Judgment, Heaven, and Hell is to our tradition. The notion is that the soul – what I will call the reincarnating monad – puts on bodies and takes them off, over and over again, as a person puts on and removes clothing.
– Joseph Campbell

There is an appearance of a human self here. There may also be the appearance of a soul – an alive presence, personal and impersonal, infinitely wise and kind (and this soul may reincarnate in other bodies after this one, or not). And there is identification with (or as) this human self, with this soul, or a softening and release of this identification. It’s all reality appearing as a human self, a soul, identification or softening/absence of identification. It’s all the play of reality.

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Essensual

 

Essensual is not a new word, but I just recently heard it.

It captures the juicy combination of awakeness and a human life beautifully.

Essence comes in at least three flavors.

It is that sense of wholeness, contentment and meaning that is here when I notice myself as the whole that embraces and includes body and mind.

It is that sense of profound meaning, kindness and wisdom that is here when the soul level is alive, when the alive presence is here in and around the body and everywhere else.

It is what I really am and everything is, the play of awake emptiness as form.

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Prayer is worth more than ten dollars

 

I passed a homeless man in Portland last night, a refugee from New Orleans, and gave him some money. He took my hand, looked me in my eyes, and said:

I will pray for you and your family tonight, and you will pray for mine.

And then as an afterthought:

Prayer is worth more than ten dollars.

It was one of those heartfelt and deeply human interactions that brings a deep sense of meaning to life.

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Facets, paths and tools

 

Whenever I take a story as true, I make life much smaller than it is.

I identify as something within content of experience, so lose sight of what I am. (That which experience happens within and as.) I identify as something much smaller than what I am as a human being, so have to resist parts of who I am and live from a smaller pallete. I have an idea that I know how others – and life – should behave. And in all of this, I try to limit God.

So when it comes to growing and waking up, there is no need to assume that my limited experiences says anything about how it will be for me in the future, or how it should be for others.

I may have experiences with facets of what I am – such as emptiness and fullness and how it is lived through this human self. I may be familiar with awareness as a field with no center and no periphery, and how this human self functions in that content. I may have experiences with infinite love and how it is to live within and from it. I may be somewhat familiar with who I am at the soul level, with the alive presence, brilliance, luminous darkness, and so on. I may have practical insights into these things and much more.

Yet all of this comes from a very limited experience and just one path. There is no reason to assume that life is limited to this, and every reason to welcome a far richer terrain – and find a deep apprecation and gratitude for the diversity in how all of this is expressed through many different humans and their always unique paths.

Facets of reality

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Always only scratching the surface

 

One of the beautiful things about life is that I always only scratch the surface. The unfolding never ends.

This was clear to me even in the initial awakening. It was “complete” in the sense of a Ground awakening, with an absence of I-Other. And it was immensely full since it was combined with a soul level awakening. But there was also a clear recognition that there was infinitely further to go. Within Ground awake to itself, its play continues to unfold in always new ways.

And if the awakening to what we are is not as clear or stable as it can be, then that one too continues to unfold – until the center drops out, and there is not even a hint of a separate I here anymore, just this human self and everything else living its own life.

In terms of the unfolding of the content – of the play of form – there is always further to go in terms of healing and maturing of this human self, and skillful means in terms of how it lives in the world. And there is always further to go in terms of soul levels awakenings and how these allow the human self to reorganize and realign. (Just in my limited experience, there has been a great deal of facets here – yang luminosity, yin luminous darkness, alive infinitely loving and insightful presence, and much more.)

So even in the midst of an awakening – no matter how “complete” or “full” it seems – there is always further to go. It is always only scratching the surface. And it is a beautiful process.

Jesus Christ

 

A simple way to look at Jesus Christ…

Jesus was the human being, reorganized within the context of a soul awakening (alive presence, oneness) and quite possibly a nondual awakening.

The soul and nondual awakening is the Christ part. The awakening to who/what we are at the soul level, as this alive presence, and what we are as awakeness and this field of awakeness and form inherently absent of an I with an Other.

When we engage in Christian practices, such as the heart/Jesus prayer (brief prayer with the breath/heartbeats) or the Jesus meditation (visualizing Christ in the six directions and the heart) we invite our human self to reorganize within this new context, we tap into the particular Christ flavor of soul level awakening (one that I experience as especially fiery in the heart and on top of the head), and we invite what we are to notice itself.

Upsides and downsides of energetic and soul level buffering

 

There are many ways to invite in a form of buffering at energetic or soul levels, being held energetically or within the alive presence in ways that helps us get less caught up in reactiveness.

We can fill up the hara through Breema and other practices. We can receive different forms of energy transmissions, such as the bands of power munai-ki rite, that serves as a buffer, filter and protection. (I am noticing the effects of that one right now, which is what prompted this post.) We can invite in the soul level, the alive presence, through prayer and other practices. And more.

The benefits are pretty obvious. Our lives at a human level typically becomes far easier. Fewer things bug us. There is a sense of not being touched by what we previously got caught up in. It makes it much easier to be who we take ourselves to be if we are identified with stories, and it makes it easier for this human self even if we are not. We get a sense of how it is to live released from being in the grips of stories and identifications. We see that something else is possible.

Our human self may also reorganize and stabilize within this new context, releasing identification more and more over time. It may even lead into what we are noticing itself, finding itself as awakeness, and this field of awakeness and form inherently and always free from an I and an Other.

But there are also some possible drawbacks. We can get complacent, happy with being protected by the buffer, not taking up the invitation to explore more in depth the hooks and rings of identification and beliefs in stories. And that is exactly why any buffer is only temporary. It is within the realm of form, it is content of awareness, and as any form and any content, it will change. When it fills, it only does so to empty. And when it empties, it does so only so it can in turn fill.

It is cyclical, as anything else, and throughout it all is the invitation for us to investigate the hooks and rings more closely. An invitation for what we are to notice itself.

Any buffer is a buffer or protection for who we are, for this human self. And the invitation for what we are to awaken to itself is there independent of buffers or not.

Soul and rebirth

 

Draft: 

Some spiritual traditions talk about a life after death, and even rebirth, and others don’t, and as one Zen master said: I don’t know, I am not dead yet.

It seems that traditions that emphasize the soul level, the alive presence in its many flavors, are more likely to also talk about life after death in general, and rebirth in particular. Christian mysticism, Sufism and Tibetan Buddhism all encourage and nurture the soul level, and all emphasize life after death, and rebirth in the case of Tibetan Buddhism. Advaita and Zen, neither of which explicitly nurture the soul level much, both brings focus to what is here and now, and tends to discourage stories about past and future, including life after death and rebirth.

In my own experience, this makes sense. When the head center awakening is more in the foreground, headlessness, Big Mind, the awake void and all form as this awake void, then any stories about past and future are just stories, and life after death and rebirth become uninteresting. Also, no obvious vehicle for it is present in immediate awareness.

But this changes when the soul level is in the foreground, and the heart and belly centers are more awake and alive. Now, there is an alive presence here. Infinitely alive, loving, intelligent, responsive. It is transparent to the void and timeless, and yet substantial and real, even more so than the physical world. When the soul level is in the foreground, a very plausible vehicle for life after death, and rebirth, is present.

Feeling at home

 

There are many ways to feel at home, and I notice how I cycle through many of the over the course of a day, or even hours, or minutes, or even seconds.

The first one is the feeling at home as defined by the personality, or rather our belief system. It happens when life conform with what my personality likes, and what my belief system tells me is OK or desirable. This happens when there is peace and quiet around me, when I have a good cup of tea, am with friends, watch a good movie, travel somewhere interesting, am healthy, and so on. This level is very much dependent on circumstances.

The second is feeling at home as a human being, in the wholeness of myself as a human being, embracing body and mind. This is the centaur level and it happens when I relax into who I am as a human being, and also when I am in nature, do Breema, or am engaged in another body/mind activity (or am in the flow of its after effects). This level is a little less dependent on external circumstances.

The third, feeling at home as soul… alive presence, luminous emptiness, luminous blackness, alive presence in the heart area (indwelling god). This level is far less dependent on external circumstances, although it is still dependent on content, as described above, and this content comes and goes on its own.

The fourth, noticing that I am already home as spirit… as void, awake void, awake void and form as no other than awake void. This is not dependent on circumstances at all, apart from noticing it. It is what is already and always here and now, independent of circumstances.

When beliefs are triggered, for instance by life showing up quite differently from what my beliefs tells me is desirable, there is often a rapid cascade… the spirit level may cloud up, the soul level is not noticed anymore, I don’t experience the wholeness of myself as that which embraces body and mind, and even the personality is not much happy.

My attention is wrapped up in the small world of the story, the drama of life not corresponding to the story, and the deepening sense of a split between I (as the belief or the one having the belief) and Other (life showing up differently).

That is why it is easier for all of these levels to be present and be noticed when (a) beliefs are temporarily not triggered or (b) beliefs have fallen away, even if it is around just one issue.

Forms of awakening: ordinary, amazing and neutral

 

Sometimes I wonder if these large-themed posts have much value. But then I notice that although these themes have to do with the big picture, they also reflect what is alive here now, in immediate awareness.

The human self, yes, right here, with its thoughts, sensations, emotions, actions in the world. The soul, yes, also right here, as the alive presence (more or less in the foreground, and filtered in different ways.) The spirit, yes, also right here, as the stainless awareness all of this is happening within and to, and even as. Even if it is temporarily identified with its content, forgetting about itself, the spirit level is still here. It is just spirit temporarily forgetting about itself.

One of the big picture themes is the different forms of awakenings… to our human self, to the soul, and to spirit.

An awakening to our human self is an awakening to the evolving whole of who we are as a human. This whole which is reflected in everything in the wider world. All I see out there, I can find in here.

An awakening to the soul is an awakening to the alive presence, filtered in innumerable ways, yet always with a sense of aliveness, vibrancy, timelessness, transparency into the void.

An awakening to the spirit is an awakening not only to, but as emptiness, as the void, the ground of all form. It is an awakening as the void, which is the same everywhere and always. To the awake void, which is timeless and spaceless, pure seeing. To the awake void which is no other than form, absent of a separate self anywhere.

The first type of awakening is a deepening into our humanity, a healing, development and maturing into becoming a more whole and mature human being. It is a deepening into our individual humanity, which is also a deepening into our shared humanity, opening for a real sense of intimacy, recognition, fellowship, empathy, compassion, and understanding. I recognize in myself what I see in you, and in you what I recognize in myself. In many ways, it is a deepening into ordinariness, becoming a more thoroughly ordinary human being, to whom nothing human is foreign.

The second form of awakening is an awakening into the extraordinary… into the alive presence, the luminous blackness, the fertile darkness, the indwelling god with is infinite love, intelligence, receptivity and its guidance, the alive luminosity, the brilliancy… all of this, which seems to extraordinary when we are used to identifying exclusively as a human being.

And the third form of awakening is a strange one. It is an awakening into and as void. As the void all form, all content of awareness, anything at the soul and human levels, arises within and as. In some ways, it is completely neutral. There is, literally, nothing there. No content needs to change for this awakening. Pain, fine. Bliss, fine. Even confusion, fine. It can all be there. The void can still awaken to itself, as void, and as emptiness dancing as all these temporary forms.

Together, there is the deepening into the fullness and ordinariness of a human life, the amazing qualities of the soul level, and the utter neutrality of the ground.

Hierarchy of no-thing and things

 

This is another thing that keeps coming up for me, especially as I am exploring the soul level more actively these days…

  • Ultimately, there is void. Emptiness. Nothingness. And awakeness and form all show up from, within, and as this emptiness. For a while, it sounds abstract, but then becomes a living reality (even obvious).
  • Then, there is awakeness, as nothing other than emptiness itself. It is awake emptiness. In itself, this awakeness takes the form of pure seeing, pure awareness, pure witness.
  • Then, the soul level, alive presence, which can be filtered in innumerable ways… as alive luminosity, alive presence in the heart area (indwelling god), fertile darkness, luminous blackness, and so on. All of these too arise as emptiness, void, as emptiness dancing. The void is right there in it, and they can exist only because of and as this void.
  • Finally, the world of form as we typically think of it. All the contents of awareness, from physical objects to energies to sensations to thoughts. These come and go and live their own life, and these too are no other than emptiness. Their ground and essence is the void.

More about each

So we have the void, which is the ground of all there is. It is the one thing that does not come and go, because it is no thing. It is just pure emptiness. It is what allows anything else to be, to come and go.

Then, awakeness… timeless, spaceless. This too, a no-thing.

Then, the soul level… also timeless and spaceless… Sometimes as a field without center and any particular location, but also sometimes with a particular location, as the indwelling god. The soul level comes and goes in different ways, and especially in our awareness. We may notice it, or not. It is present, or not, to us. And it seems that it can be present or not, in different ways, beyond that as well.

Finally, the form level… obviously in time and space, and actually that which creates any experience of time and space. Very much coming and going, as a stream of form.

And all of it arises as emptiness, as insubstantial, transparent, as awake emptiness itself.

Identities

Needless to say, what we take ourselves to be within all of this hugely influences our experience.

  • If my center of identification is in the world of form, I am at the mercy of the world of form.
  • If my center of gravity is in the soul level, I find myself as the fullness here, deeply nurtured, guided, and at home. (Breema)
  • If my center of gravity is in the awakeness, I am the witness, the seeing of it all, detached yet also (apparently) free from the comings and goings of everything else. (Sitting practice)
  • If the center of gravity is in emptiness, then there is only the Ground allowing all of it to exist and come and go on its own… allowing awakeness, the infinite realms of soul, and the infinite richness of the world of form. (Headless experiments)

As form, I am at a particular location and the rest of the world is out there. As soul, I am formless, timeless, spaceless. Something, yet nothing. As awakeness, I am seeing itself, with the seen as slightly Other.

As Ground, it is all revealed as, always and already, absent of any separate self. The seeing and the seen has one ground, one nature, they are not two… only a field of seeing-seen.

Consciousness and energy

 

I am reminded of a great article Ken Wilber wrote on consciousness and energy: Towards a comprehensive theory of subtle energies.

It is a while since I read it now, but what I got from it was a clearer sense of how consciousness and energy interacts and support each other at each level of our being, and in the awakening as well.

If we see ourselves as body (physical, chi), mind (emotions, thoughts), soul (alive presence, luminosity), and spirit (awake emptiness and form, Big Mind, Brahman, Tao), then we can find a pairing of consciousness and energy running through all these levels.

The diksha, and similar energy transfers in the shaktipat family such as Ilahinoor and what happens in Waking Down, is working at awakening from the energy side, functioning as a catalyst for changes on the energetic side, which in turn invites corresponding changes on the consciousness side.

These changes seem to happen at all levels. At our mind level, there is less being caught up in knots. At the soul level, there is an immediate experience and perception of the alive presence filtered in different ways, including the fertile darkness, luminous blackness, and as the alive and infinitely loving and intelligent presence in the heart area – the indwelling god. And at the Spirit level, there is the growing noticing of all as awake emptiness and form, absent of any separate self.

Changes at the energy side supports changes at the consciousness side, and the other way around.

This also reminds me of the slightly expanded integral practice grid, where we have our levels of being on one dimension, and self/other on the second. Some of the practices we do on our own, we put our own work into it, such as yoga, meditation, inquiry and physical exercise. And others are given to us from somebody else, such as massage, Breema, and the various forms of energy transfers mentioned above.

Together, there is our own work, and the gifts of others. Which there always is, of course, only more noticed this way.

Oneness at the three levels

 

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

In terms of oneness

Oneness at the Spirit level

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

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

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

Oneness at soul level

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

Oneness appears in slightly different ways for each of these.

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

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

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

Oneness at human level

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

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

Impersonal and personal

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

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

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

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

Spirit and soul allowing a shift from tragedy to comedy

 

In periods, and especially so over the last year or so, my experience of myself shift… Partly, it because space & awareness goes into the foreground, partly because the soul (alive presence) goes into the foreground, and partly because this human self is shifting and reorganizing.

Sometimes, there is also a discrepancy of the experience of myself and how this human self presents itself in the world. I see old patterns acted upon (often in quite innocent ways) and then surprise comes up. Wow – I haven’t seen that one for a while, and it is certainly not how I experience myself…!

These are typically patterns formed early on in life, coming from more contraction than what seems necessary now. Coming up, there is an opportunity to see them, and holding them in awareness while feeling into it (the witness/feeling into combination that gives an engaged teflon mind.)

When I taught a Breema class last night, this came up quite strongly: seeing the personality behaving in ways other parts of it is not so happy with, with less fluidity, warmth and engaged presence than it would like (I have been physically off for a few days, and it invites some of the older patterns of awkwardness to come up.) It is quite clear that there is no doer in this. It just happens. Materializes out of thin air. Sometimes to the embarrassment of the personality itself. And that too just happens.

Since it was a Breema class, the Spirit (awake emptiness and form) and soul (alive full presence) were in the foreground, which allowed more space around it. The personality happens as ripples of the surface of the vastness of Spirit and soul. And this makes for more of an amusing show than anything else.

What my personality takes as a tragedy, the presence of Spirit and soul reveals as comedy. When the personality is in the foreground, and the Spirit/soul levels are distant, it takes itself very seriously. When Spirit and/or soul is in the foreground, the habitual patterns of the personality not only softens but is also taken, in a friendly way, as comedy.

This seems to happen whether Spirit or soul, or both, are in the foreground. But it happens in slightly different ways.

Spirit allows for a cool detachment. It is impersonal. The personality arises as no other than the awake emptiness itself, so cannot be taken as very solid, substantial or absolutely real.

Soul is an alive presence, and – depending on which aspects of it surfaces – gives a sense of fullness, warmth, nurturing, being held, soft bliss, intimacy. And this warmth and fullness offsets any hardness and habitual patterns of the personality. The patterns of the personality softens, including the way it judges itself. The edges are rounded. It soften, relaxes, releases. And this not only makes it more comfortable right here now, but also allows these patterns to reorganize over time.

Headless and fullness of being

 

I paid attention to the slight shifts between headlessness and being with experiences today. They are very similar, although in being with the form is slightly more in the foreground, and in headlessness the awake emptiness is slightly more in the foreground. And of course, within each, there are also shifts in which of the two are more in the foreground.

I also noticed a curiosity about how it is when both are more fully present, and had that answered a few minutes later when I walked into the public library and listened to a surprisingly good live performance of baroque chamber music (Bach, Corelli etc.). The sound, which was full, rich and clear as water, evoked a similar sense of fullness of being at human and soul levels, and also brought into the foreground the awake emptiness.

So at once, there was a deep and rich sense of fullness of being, as an individual, and also the awake emptiness within which and as all form arises. A fullness of being as individual, and also the field arising absent of a separate self.

Indwelling God and Big Heart, again, and some more

 

I had tea with a friend from the diksha group today, and it (not surprisingly) turns out that we have been going through a very similar process lately. And one of the topics that came up was the importance (in each of our process) to include the soul level, the alive presence, in addition to the Big Mind and human levels. This alive nurturing luminous presence, which shows up in so many different ways when filtered through the three centers, unfolds over time, and infuses this human self.

And the importance for both of us in including the indwelling God in addition to Big Mind/Heart. The alive presence, in the heart area, as a fragment of God for this individual, infinitely loving, intelligent, receptive and responsive. Just waiting for us to ask for guidance, for knots to unravel, for maturing into a deeper and more full and soul-infused human life, and for awakening (and anything else for that matter.)

For both of us, these are living realities, filling out the picture of just our human self (the whole of us as human beings) and Big Mind, rounding it out, allowing more soulfulness – even in the conventional sense of the word.

We also found that we both, as part of the process, have been sleeping a lot, probably to process everything happening, and also have been watching a good deal of movies. For me, the movie watching allows things in me to surface, evoked and mirrored by the movies, and then be composted in the fertile darkness, the nurturing darkness of essence filtered through the belly center.

And also the deepening sense of intimacy between this individual and the wider world, both as a field (Big Mind), but also in terms of its specific content, through a steady unbroken stream of synchronicities throughout daily life.

And much more as well.

I attended a self-Breema class this morning, then had this conversation later in the afternoon, and the wholeness and depth of being was very tangible. Then, I went to a talk at the Jungian society on alchemical symbols (which was excellent and very interesting), got into my head (which is a form of resistance to what is), and afterwards felt more fragmented, and lacking the same width and depth. Interesting how something intended to invite us more into wholeness can actually do the opposite, if it is mainly presented from the head and processed by the receiver by the head. I’ll do a whole day experiential workshop tomorrow, on the same topic, and intend to use my Breema principles more actively – to bring my body and more of my whole being to it.

Aspects of seeking, longing and wanting

 

Another rambling post, this one of some of the things that come up for me when I explore longing in my own life…

Resolved at three levels

Seeking, longing and wanting can be resolved at (at least) three levels.

First, they can be met, and partially and temporarily resolved, at our human level.

Then, they can be met, and more deeply resolved, at our soul level.

Finally, they can be ultimately resolved at our Spirit level.

And these three are in no way mutually exclusive.

What we seek

Some of the things I find myself seeking include sense of belonging, sense of home, intimacy, love, acceptance, allowing, wealth, abundance, fullness, peace, rest, excitement, being fully alive, experience and live life fully, freedom from suffering, joy, happiness, fulfillment, understanding.

Examples of resolution at three levels

So how is any particular longing resolved at the three levels?

A longing for intimacy

Is partially and temporarily met and resolved at my human level in three ways: through intimacy with others, with the larger whole (nature, earth, universe), and with myself. It can take the form of friendship, intimate relationships, physical intimacy, transparency, sharing of more of all of me, connection with nature, exploring and embracing more of what I am.

At my soul level, it is more deeply met and resolved in two ways. First, when the alive presence surfaces as 2nd or 1st person (you or I/me) there is inherent a deep and profound sense of intimacy there (I am not sure how to describe it more clearly, but it is certainly there.) Then, as there is an awakening of the soul level, there is also a deep and profound sense of intimacy with the wider world as well, with others, nature, the universe as a whole. It is all shimmering with and as alive luminous presence. And this alive presence, right here, in this individual, this personal presence, is of one piece with the alive presence out there, the personal alive presence of others, and the impersonal alive presence everywhere throughout nature and the universe.

And as with any other longing, it is ultimately resolved at the Spirit level. It arises from a sense of I and Other, of separation, which gives a sense of lack, of something missing (which is true.) So when the field of what is, of seeing and seen, of awake emptiness and form, when this field awakens to itself as a field, without any center, without any separate self anywhere, then any longing is resolved. There is only identification with longing when there is a sense of separation. In the absence of separation, there is also an absence of identification with longing (it may still arise, but without identification.)

A seeking of a sense of belonging

Is partially met through all our human ways we find belonging, such as belonging to a place, a community, a landscape, a family, a culture, a nation, a planet, an universe.

Is more deeply met and resolved through awakening of soul as alive presence and all the other ways it arises. In second person, there is a deep sense of belonging, and as first person, it deepens even further. There is a recognition that this is who I really am, at an individual level. In my immediate experience, am far more truly this soul, this alive presence, than I am this human self and personality.

And again, at the Spirit level, there is a more ultimate resolution. Here, I find myself as awake emptiness and form, and as the Ground of all form. It is complete. There is no Other anywhere that can add to it. There is no Other that can provide any further sense of belonging.

Soul level

I could go through a large number of longings, and the ways they are resolved at our human level is pretty obvious from our own experience, and the way they are resolved at Spirit level is always the same (absence of I and Other)…

But the ways they are resolved at our soul level is more interesting to me right now, maybe especially since my formal background is mostly from Zen, and this seems to be largely left out of Zen.

At our soul level, either finding soul as second or first person, all the longings I have explored so far, for myself, are naturally resolved. The many qualities of the soul is exactly what I long for…

The alive presence seems to be filtered through the three centers in different ways, as light split through a prism. It is filtered through the belly center as fertile darkness and a luminous blackness, deeply nurturing, holding, allowing anything in this human self to be composted. It is filtered through the heart center as an alive presence in the heart, infinitely loving, intelligent, receptive, responsive and personal. It is filtered through the head center as clarity, awake emptiness, form as no other than awake emptiness.

Through the belly center, there is a deep sense of stillness, nurturing, healing and maturing. Through the heart center, a deep sense of God as personal (whether second or first person) and infinite love. Through the head center, nondual wisdom and a release from suffering.

Together, there is a deep sense of aliveness, belonging, nurturing, acceptance, allowing, peace, rest, stillness, fullness, wealth, richness, excitement, intimacy, understanding.

Embracing all three levels

The alive presence – in all its many aspects, as this individual and the wider world – really fills all my needs, it is everything I ever was looking for. And yet, it does not preclude also finding it at my human level, and it does not preclude finding the ultimate resolution at the Spirit level.

There is a deeper longing which is the embrace of all three levels, of finding what we seek at our human, soul and Spirit levels. Why leave anything out?

And some other aspects of this…

Surrender

There has to be a sense of surrender at each of these levels.

One form of surrender has to do with impermanence…

At our human level, it is obvious. Everything is in flux. Things happen. I may seek something particular, and it doesn’t come along. I have what I want, and it goes away. Something comes along I don’t want. That is just human life.

And so it is also at our soul level. The alive presence may be very much present in some phases in our life, and then retreat and seemingly be completely gone. That is the relationship with our soul, at least in the early phase.

The same is the case for the Spirit level. We may have glimpses of various clarity and duration, and then they are gone. Again, this is our relationship with Spirit, until it awakens fully to itself.

Another form of surrender is of what we take ourselves to be…

At my human level, I may find myself as more than or different from what I thought I was, and particular identities are surrendered. I may have ambitions that do not come to fruition. I may find in myself things I didn’t want to see. I may have gifts I didn’t know was there. Ways of being I was not aware was there come up in different situations and emerge over time.

Finding myself as soul, my exclusive identity as a human being (and with the personality) has to go.

And finding myself as Spirit, any identifications has to go.

Each of these is a death, and a rebirth. We die as what we thought we were, and are reborn as something else.

Adyashanti’s inquiries: tracing back, and not already here?

It is helpful to clarify what we seek and long for, and one way to do it (recommended by Adyashanti) is to make a list of everything we want, from the most grand to the most petty, from the most spiritual to the most mundane. Then, go through each item and ask what do I hope to get from this? And continue until you find the seed want (for me, it usually ends up as happiness, and freedom from suffering.)

Then, ask yourself is it true that this is not already here? Usually, I can find it present, at least as a grain, at each of the three levels. Any longing presumes that it is not already here, so this is a way to notice that it may already be here.

Spirit, soul and human self

If we awaken to ourselves as what we are, as Spirit, then everything is rest, peace, even in the midst of great activity and turmoil. There is the I without the Other, so automatically rest, a sense of completeness, of nothing missing. No matter what happens at our individual soul and human levels, the peace and sense of completeness is there.

If we awake to ourselves as soul, to any degree, then there is a continuous sense of alive presence, of profound and vibrant aliveness, nourishment, richness, fullness, sweetness, intimacy, being home. And this infuses our human life, no matter how this human life shows up (if it goes bad, this gives comfort and relieves some of the suffering, and if it goes well, this gives an added sense of vibrancy and aliveness.)

Distinct, fused and not two

 

We can split what and who we are into two, and then three.

Spirit, then individual

First, what we are as Spirit, the field of awake emptiness and form absent of center and separate I. This is what is absent of I, or the I without an Other.

Then, who we are as an individual, which in turn is an individual soul and human self. This is the individual self that is inherently selfless, as the rest of the world of form is inherently selfless. It is that little speck within the form aspect of Spirit that it, somehow, mysteriously, is functionally connected with, its vehicle in the world of form.

In other words, we can say that what and who we are is Big Mind (Buddha Mind, Brahman, Tao), soul (alive presence) and human self (personality). And all of it is inherently selfless.

In my own experience of this, I am struck by how these three are simultaneously distinct, fused, and also not two.

Distinct

Each of these three are distinct.

Spirit is this field of clear awake emptiness and form, with no center, no separate self. It is a what. Impersonal. Universal. The I without an Other. The field of seeing and seen, as a field, without any center.

Then there is the individual soul, which is experience as an alive presence and can be filtered in many ways. As infinitely loving and intelligent. Infinitely receptive and responsive. As luminous blackness. As the indwelling God, an alive presence in the heart region. As the alive full presence around and in this physical body. And so on.

And then this human self. This body-mind, functioning within the world of physical form, and with a particular personality. This brings the joys and stress of being physical, including the longing, seeking, wanting, fear, happiness, sensual pleasures, contractions, hangups, and much more. It is the little vulnerable animal trying to make its way in the world.

Fused

In addition to being experienced as distinct, they are also fused.

Spirit infuses the individual soul and human self, especially as it awakens to itself as Spirit. It realizes that all form, including the individual, is no other than itself. The blind identification is taken out of the individual, allowing the individual to reorganize free from the burden of being identified with and in the context of all as Spirit.

The soul, the alive presence, infuses the human self, allowing it to untie knots, heal, mature, and develop in a far deeper way, into a more mature, whole and rounded human being. Ironically, the soul presence, brought into the human self, allows the human self to become more deeply and thoroughly human. It gives the safety and sense of nurturing which allows the human self to relax, to give up some or all of its struggle with itself, and to become more familiar with all of what it is, and embrace and own it all.

And the human self is infused with Spirit awake to itself, and with soul, working on and within it.

Not two

At the same time, there is no I and Other here. These are not two, nor three.

They are all just Spirit, the field of awake emptiness and form, arising as Spirit awake to itself, and functionally connected with this individual soul and human self. Already and always centerless and selfless.

Trinity

These three are a trinity, such as the trikaya of Buddhism. One yet distinct.

And with the potential of being more deeply fused, placing our individual soul and human self under the influence of Spirit, and our human self under the influence of the soul.

Twin

 

After dropping into the fertile darkness (belly awakening) and then the alive luminosity, there is now a luminous blackness which shares characteristics with both of those.

It is experienced as luminous and infinitely alive, loving, intelligent, receptive and responsive, and in that sense intimately personal. And it also has the universality of the fertile blackness, the ground of all form, the womb of the cosmos.

The last few days, there is a sense of a doubleness, of being two at once. Of being the familiar personality, and the luminous blackness.

(In Hameed Ali’s terminology, this fertile blackness is one aspect of essence or presence, and I tend to think of it as soul. It is individual and in that sense personal, but also universal in its characteristics. And when we drop into it, it becomes a guidance for our unfolding as soul and human being, and also a guide towards realizing selflessness. For as with our human self, there is no I in essence either. It is another aspect of the field of awake emptiness and form, inherently absent of I anywhere.)

What is interesting is how tangible the experience of doubleness is. I find myself surprised by it throughout the day: there is this personality, and then the alive essence, both there, occupying the same space, as twins although with quite different characteristics. The personality is made up by identities and habits, formed by family, culture and personal experiences. The essence is something entirely different, and infinitely loving, intelligent and receptive.

I see how attention goes to one or the other, and sometimes both (which is when I am taken by surprise by the doubleness of it). Sometimes, there is being caught up in the personality, riding the familiar patterns of this personality. Other times, there is the surrendering to essence of anything coming up, allowing it to be composted there, becoming fertile soil for something else to emerge.

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.

Layering of beliefs, the quiet little voice, bliss, and clarity

 

Since a long time back, I have noticed this layering…

Surface layer of thoughts and beliefs

There is the layer of thoughts coming and going on their own. This layer is innocent and very useful in daily life (essential for our human life).

To the extent these thoughts are believed in and attached to, they morph into something quite different. Now they shout, whisper, should, lure, talk into, contradict and confuse. They guide by fear, and this (false) guidance tend to bring only more confusion.

Quiet little voice

There is the quiet little voice – the inner voice, intuition, which calmly gives advice. It is always available, even if ignored or clouded over by the confusion from beliefs. It also always gets the last word without seeking it, because life validates it, the proof is in the pudding.

This is the quiet voice of the soul, the quiet guidance. If followed, it brings a sense of fullness and flowering. If not followed, there may be stress and a sense of something being off, derailed. (And even here, it is readily available, allowing us to get back on track.)

Although it is always available, it may be temporarily clouded over by the confusion of beliefs. It may be hidden within the drama from beliefs, or beliefs may contradict it which makes a choice difficult. As the noise from the beliefs fall away, the quiet voice emerge more into the foreground and it becomes easier to act on its guidance. The more clarity and the less attachment to thoughts, the easier and more effortlessly we live from this guidance.

Quiet stream of bliss

There is the always present quiet stream of joy and bliss, independent of any content of experience, any content of experience, of any situation, whether there is chatter of beliefs or not, whether the quiet voice is followed or not, whether there is suffering or joy at these more transient layers.

This is the stream of joy and bliss that is always here, the bliss of Spirit unfolding and experiencing itself, independent of any content of experience.

As the quiet voice, the quiet bliss is always available.

When there is resistance to experience, the struggle of the resistance goes to the foreground and the layer of quiet bliss goes into the background and may be hidden. When resistance to experience falls away, this stream of quiet bliss emerges to the foreground.

Ground clarity

Then there is the Ground clarity, the awakeness and brilliance that any content arises within and as. It is the Ground clarity that thoughts, beliefs, confusion, the quiet voice and the steady stream of bliss arises within and as. That which all this arises within and as. The Ground of emptiness, awareness and the stream of forms.

Combined

So there is the layer of thoughts, living their own life, serving us very well through innocent questions about the world.

Believed in, there is stress and confusion, and this may cloud up or make it difficult to act on the guidance from the quiet voice.

As beliefs fall away, the clarity allows the quiet voice to emerge into the foreground, and it can be acted on with more ease.

Independent of all this, there is a layer of quiet bliss, the bliss of Spirit experiencing itself independent of the particulars of experience.

And all this unfolds within and as the Ground awakeness and clarity, the Ground of seeing and seen.

All this is alive in immediate awareness, right here now.

Soul Practices

 

There are probably as many, or more, ways to deepen into the soul level as to Big Mind.

For me, the heart prayer, Christ meditation and Breema are the ways I work with the soul level.

The heart prayer and Christ meditation is a second person practice, awakening Spirit – in its Christ aspect – as Thou, and also awakening soul as first person, as I or me.

Breema is a first person practice, awakening soul as I, me or mine.

With the Christ centered practices, there is a sense of deep fullness and richness, of unspeakable beauty, bliss, pain, longing, joy, and sometimes of losing any sense of separate self in an immensity and infinity of bliss and radiance.

In Breema, there is a similar sense of fullness, depth and richness, yet with an absence of the longing, pain, and intensity of the prayer. There is just a sense of calm fullness, of being home, of no separation, a quiet bliss and joy, and of being participation – of all of me participating.

So the fullness and quiet bliss of soul is there in both cases, yet with the Christ practices more intense and transcendent (although also very much in and through the body), and with Breema more quiet and body centered.

Soul & Spirit

 

Another rambling post…

In reading The Void by A. H. Almaas, my curiosity about the relationship of soul and spirit comes up again.

Soul, as that part of us that continues between human incarnations, the F7 and F8 levels in Wilber’s framework. Bringing this level into awareness gives a sense of richness, fullness, meaning, direction, joy, bliss and so on – all causeless, or more precisely not dependent on conditions apart from bringing the soul level into awareness.

It is individual, seems to evolve, yet also has the same essence across individuals. It has many names, such as essence and being.

Awakening to or glimpsing the soul level opens for nature and/or deity mysticism experiences. It allows for experiences of intimacy with all there is, of everything as God, of oneness and unity, of no separation. Yet, there is still an I and Other here, even within the unity. There is an I placed on the soul level.

And Spirit, as the Ground of it all, Big Mind, the nondual level in Wilber’s framework. This is the completely detached view, completely impersonal, allowing it all to be as it is. It is a shift in context, from a sense of I to a clear absence of I anywhere.

Soul, then Spirit, and the other way around

As Almaas mentions, some traditions – such as Buddhism, focus on nondual awakening and then bringing in the soul level. And other traditions – such as Sufis, focus on bringing in the soul level, and then nondual awakening.

Either is of course fine. And as this differentiation appears to us, it is just about inevitable that different traditions will approach the two in a different sequence and with different emphasis.

This is clear in for instance Breema, which clearly emphasize the level of soul, essence, Being, and briefly and indirectly acknowledge the nondual. It certainly makes it more accessible for more people, and the benefits are immediate and clear.

Soul awakening vs. nondual awakening

Yet, any awakening to soul level is bound to be temporary, unless eventually grounded in clear nondual awakening.

A soul awakening not (yet) grounded in a nondual awakening seems similar to the god realm as described in Buddhism – wonderful, possibly long lasting, yet eventually leading to a fall. Some of us learn that the hard way…!

If our sense of identification, our belief in the thought “I”, is placed on the soul, it seems wonderful for a while. Until there is a fall. Until that too goes away. And then it can lead to a suffering that easily matches any other form of suffering. We have lost that which was most beautiful to us, most meaningful, most blissful.

Only a clear nondual awakening is “stable” because it does not rely on any conditions within the world of phenomena. And the soul level seems very much within the world of phenomena, just as everything else. Bliss comes and goes. Causeless joy comes and goes. A sense of connection, fullness, meaning, direction and guidance comes and goes.

A Ground or nondual awakening allows any content to come and go. Bliss and boredom. Joy and sadness. Meaning and absence of meaning. Fullness and void. Guidance and no guidance. Everything is clearly revealed as absent of any I. There is an absence of any final or absolute identity.

Soul and Spirit

So bringing the soul level into awareness is more accessible and easily enjoyable than working on the nondual awakening. Yet, it is also incomplete, temporary, inviting to a fall – if a nondual awakening is not also present.

Working on a nondual awakening is certainly more difficult, maybe less appealing, yet also the only lasting awakening. And the soul awakening and development can – and will? – certainly continue within a nondual awakening.

Soul & Big Mind

 

This is of course very basic, but a topic that has come up for me more strongly over the past few weeks.

Among the many ways of slicing the continuum of being is body, mind, soul and spirit.

Body, mind, soul, spirit

The body is our physical body – a fluid and temporary pattern of matter and energies. And this body shows up at our individual level, as our human self, and it also shows up as the whole of this universe – as the body of the divine mind or Big Mind. (F1 in KW’s framework).

The mind is the psyche, the emotions and thoughts at our human level. As with our physical body, these are universal patterns with a unique flavor in each of our case, and in time as well – always showing up in new and fresh ways. (F2-F6)

The soul is that part of us that goes on between physical incarnations. It is that which evolves, matures, develops over longer time spans. When brought into awareness, it gives a deep sense of richness, fullness, guidance, meaning, intimacy – in short, soulfulness. It is the middle ground between our human self and Big Mind. (F7-F8)

The spirit is the ground of it all, and also that which forms itself into all these other phenomena. It is the divine mind, Big Mind, Buddha Mind, Brahman, Dao and so on. It is completely impersonal, allowing all the manifestations to occur within and as itself. (F9, nondual)

Leaving out the soul or not

In Zen and the standard Big Mind process, the soul level is mostly left out and there is an emphasis on our human self and Big Mind. There are good reasons for this, mainly to avoid distractions from realizing Big Mind (selflessness) and living from this realization.

At the same time, it leaves out the deeply nurturing sense of soulfulness which comes from bringing the soul into awareness. When I ask to talk with the soul in the Big Mind process, there is a presence there which is quite different from any of the other voices – including that of Big Heart.

When I lived in Norway, all levels were quite strongly present – including the soul and Big Mind, and there was a tremendous richness of it all. In Utah, living at the Zen center there, the soul aspect got de-emphasized and gradually left my attention and awareness. And now, it seems time to bring it back in. Apart from the fullness it offers, it also gives a sense of responsibility for the evolution of this soul – for allowing it to mature through bringing it into awareness. And through that, participating more fully in the evolution of the form aspect of the divine mind, of Big Mind.

Evolution of soul and selflessness

In some ways, it is easier when only our human self and Big Mind/Heart are into the picture. It does simplify it. It brings attention to the ground awakening, to realizing selflessness and living from that. When the soul is into the picture, it is both fuller and a little more complex.

There is a dual emphasis on the evolution and maturing of this soul, as well as realizing that the soul too is part of the world of phenomena – that too is the temporary manifestations of the divine mind, of Big Mind. That too is ultimately selfless.