Core, ground, periphery

 

Here is one way to map out the discomfort/suffering dynamic.

Core. The core is identifications and beliefs. It’s holding stories as true and real, and this has energetic, emotional, mental, perceptual, and lived components. It’s reflected in all our human levels of being, in how we perceive, and how we live.

Periphery. These are the consequences of the identifications and beliefs. They include additional beliefs that support the initial ones, reactions towards the pain created by the initial beliefs, reactions towards the life situations the initial beliefs brings us into, and more. There is sometimes a great deal of these more peripheral beliefs, and they in themselves can become core beliefs for additional ones.

Ground. The ground is what we are and everything are, aka consciousness and love.

Identification means identification with or as the viewpoint of a thought. We hold it as real, and perceive and live as if it’s real. This creates a sense of separation. It also creates discomfort and even suffering since it’s out of alignment with reality. Life and reality rubs up against our beliefs and identifications, and this is uncomfortable.

Say there is a belief that there is a separate self. This can have a more peripheral belief that this separate self is unlovable. And this in itself becomes a core belief for a constellation of other beliefs, for instance that I need to seek love by doing what I think other people want me to do, and that her look means she doesn’t like me and that is terrible. All of this creates discomfort and suffering.

And that discomfort is an invitation to – eventually – examine more closely what’s happening and find more clarity and release from it. And that will eventually lead Spirit to recognize itself – and all there is – as consciousness and love.

Why is all this happening? We can see it from a few different perspectives.

At a human level, we can see the formation of the initial beliefs and identification as mimicking the adults in our life. We take on what we see our parents and others doing. It’s a form of love. It’s a form of taking care of ourselves. It’s innocence.

At a multiple-life perspective, we can see it as a habit that is passed on over lifetimes.

At a Spirit perspective, we can see it as Lila, the play of the divine. The universe – and our experience – is the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways. And this includes temporarily experiencing itself as separate, as a separate being. It’s part of the play.

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All as Spirit, and a deeper layer of what needs healing

 

When I was 16 and had the initial opening or awakening, all was recognized as Spirit and Love. The divine woke up to itself as everything without exception, and as consciousness, love, and the void it all also is. This was quite strong for several years.

At the same time, I knew that there was still a lot of healing needed for my human self and that the remaining unloved and unexamined parts of my human self created a pull for identification. I worked on this as well as I could, but it was difficult to access as deeply as I felt was necessary.

So what happened was a dark night of the soul. And that brought that material up to the surface without much filtering and without much opportunity to hold it back.

There are many ways to talk about this and many angles to approach it from. Each one with it’s own validity and value.

These parts want what I want, which is to be met in presence, kindness, patience, and understanding.

These parts do not yet know all as Spirit and love. They seek to know.

They seek to know their own deeper reality, which is presence, love, and even void.

Said another way, Spirit seeks to know itself as these parts of me. And to know these parts – the trauma, pain, sadness, anger, fear, grief – as presence, love, and void. As the divine and the play of the divine.

This allows for a deeper healing. And it allows for a deeper and more thorough alignment of more of my human self with reality. This is one of the ways an opening or awakening deepens.

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Spiritual identification is a form of body identification

 

Even identification as “spiritual” things such as awareness, Spirit, oneness, Buddha Mind, Big Mind, Brahman etc. actually involve body identification. Any identification requires sensations associated with images and words, so it is a form of body identification. For instance, when I explore “awareness” or “I am awareness” I find an image of awareness connected with subtle sensations in my head, and also other imaginations and sensations making up my experience of awareness or being awareness. Any identification involves body identification, also when it’s a “spiritual” type identification.

– from a previous post

Spirit is….?

 

What is Spirit if not all there is? And wouldn’t that include our human messiness, as it is?

It’s natural, and even essential and healthy, to have our very human preferences.

We may prefer certain aspects of Spirit, or reality. We may prefer expansiveness, bliss, clarity, flow. That’s natural and understandable.

And yet, as we mature in our exploration of Spirit as all, there is a distinction here that becomes more clear for us. The distinction between all as Spirit, and our preferences.

At first, our preferences may be held as more solid and real. And after a while, there is an invitation for them to be seen for what they are – our human preferences – and held more lightly.

We see that what’s here is Spirit, even if it takes the form of our human messiness, or contractions, or pain, or whatever else we would prefer to not experience. We recognize this too as Spirit, every bit as much as anything else.

We find our way. We recognize what’s here as Spirit. Complete. Already allowed. Already even a form of love. And we recognize our preferences for what they are. Held lightly. Something we can act on, while still recognizing what’s here as Spirit, as already allowed.

We find our way, allowing both since they both are already here. All is Spirit, including our preferences. We recognize the pain in holding onto those preferences too tightly. We recognize the kindness in taking those preferences into consideration, and acting on them in a very ordinary way in daily life.

This is what so many have talked about and lived. Let Your will be done. While still living a very ordinary human life, kind to ourselves and others.

Early on, we may confuse Spirit with our human preferences. We may see Spirit as expansive, bliss, flow, love, and more. We may seek that aspect of reality, and seek to escape the rest. It doesn’t work very well. It’s painful. And at some point, we get to recognize that. We find a wider embrace of Spirit. We find a simpler Spirit, as what’s already here.

We recognize the pain in holding onto our preferences too tightly, and in confusing Spirit with our preferences. We recognize the freedom in recognizing Spirit as what’s here now, complete, with nothing missing.

Spirit right now is a slight buzz in the forehead, a contraction in the throat, a sense of weakness in the kidney areas, darkness, a bright screen, tapping, organ music, sounds of insects, these words. Noticed. Allowed.

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Who and what we are, oneness, awakening

 

When I write what and who we are here, I mean something quite specific.

What I am is that which my whole field of experience – as it is here and now – happens within and as. It’s what I sometimes call awareness, or love, or even Spirit. It’s all there is, in experience, here and now. It’s always here, since it’s what I am. It’s very obvious. It’s very mundane. It’s easily overlooked that that’s what I am. And when that awakens to, or notices, itself it’s sometimes called awakening. That can seem quite extraordinary at first, and then that too becomes quite ordinary in a good way. (That’s why I tend to not use words like Spirit, or Brahman, or other fanciful words, since it often appears much simpler than that. Those words can be a little misleading.)

Who I am is part of content of experience. It’s this human self. It’s the emotions, thoughts, body, life of this human self. It’s the idea of a me or an I. It’s the idea of an observer, or doer. It doesn’t really have fixed boundaries, since it’s what a thought says is me, or I, or who I am. The boundary is somewhat flexible and fluid.

The wider world is the rest of content of experience. It’s what a thought says is “other” in a conventional sense. This boundary is also somewhat flexible and fluid, and can be experienced as more or less solid, more or less real. (It isn’t really real, since it’s created by thought as a way to navigate in the world.)

Who I am, and the wider world, is what makes up content of experience. And that happens within and as what I am. It happens within and as awareness. Within and as love. Within and as Spirit.

These can be seen as two, or three, or one. It all depends on how we decide to talk about it, and where we decide to draw imagined boundaries.

And the boundaries can be experienced as solid and real, or ephemeral, or just a thought with no substance beyond that. That depends on how clearly it’s seen, and even felt. It depends on how much “velcro” is stuck to those ideas. How much associated sensations seem “stuck” onto the words and images creating the boundaries.

When the associated sensations seem stuck onto the boundary images and words, the boundaries can seem quite real. When the sensations are felt as sensations, the images recognized as images, and the words recognized as words, the boundary images and words are recognized as just an imagined overlay, which has a practical function only. It’s not “real” beyond that, but it does help us navigate in the world, and communicate.

Oneness can also be understood in different ways.

One is the very immediate and practical oneness, where this field of awareness-experience is recognized as one. (Any ideas or even experiences of being a separate self is recognized as happening within this field, as any other content of experience.) The world is one, since it’s all recognized as happening within this field of awareness.

Another is the oneness of the world as a whole “out there”. (I realize that this distinction may seem subtle, or even unnecessary, but I find it helpful to differentiate this from the first one.) The world is one, and Spirit, or God, and I see that partly because of immediate experience, and partly through synchronicities, ESP, and more.

A third, which can be part of the previous one, is the oneness of the world as described by science. The universe was one field of energy at the Big Bang, and this field of energy partly condensed down into simple particles, which then condensed into heavier elements. We – and everything – has the same origin. We are quite literally star dust, as is the Earth as a whole. The Earth and the Universe is one seamless system.

Awakening is when what I am notices itself. This is an initial awakening, and it can also happen regularly and on a more ongoing basis. This noticing and recognition can clarify and become more stable. And who I am, this human self, can – and will? – reorganize within this recognition. It’s invited to heal and mature within this recognition, and align with it. That’s an ongoing process, and it doesn’t “end” as long as this human self is around.

Awakening then has three aspects. One is the initial recognition. Another is an ongoing clarification and “stabilization” of this recognition. And the third is the reorganization of our human self within this recognition.

All of them are ongoing. The awakening is here and now. The recognition and noticing is here and now. The reorganization within it is here and now.

There is no “end point”. Any idea of an end point happens here and now, within this.

This awakening doesn’t exclude or eliminate the full range of human experience. It doesn’t preclude sadness, grief, pain, anger, joy, hangups, wounds, trauma, or anything else that’s part of the human experience. What we are already allows the full range of human experience, although it often happens without us being conscious of it, and we may be in conscious opposition to it.

Awakening also allows the full range of human experience (since nothing else is possible), but there is now a conscious recognition of it, and often a more conscious alignment with it.

We are still very much human. We experience the full range of human emotions and experiences. We make mistakes. We have a limited understanding and perspective. We have our preferences and likes and dislikes. We make assumptions. We give bad advice. We don’t know how to do any number of things. Our understanding is faulty.

So there is a full allowing of any experience, as it always is, although now recognized more clearly, and perhaps aligned with more consciously. We experience the full range of human emotions and experiences. And there is an invitation for a healing, maturing, and reorganization within this. Things do change for our human self when awareness recognizes itself, and itself as this field of experience.

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All is God

 

The basic recognition that all is God can be, and often is, sudden. (For me, it happened without warning in my mid-teens.)

Exploring variations of this, and living from it, is a lifetime exploration.

For instance…..

This experience – including physical pain, emotional pain, discomfort, sadness, anger, joy, reactivity – it’s all God (AKA Spirit, love, awareness).

God as love, presence, awareness takes the form of everything in experience, including a me here and a wider world. In one sense, it’s all love, presence, awareness. And in another, it’s all varied with a me and a wider world, and “levels”, processes, development and evolution.

Recognizing what’s here – including wounds – as God (love, awareness), is a healing of how it’s related to, and allows it to heal too.

What bothers me “in here” and “out there” is all Spirit, love awareness, and being bothered is it too. Since it already is love, presence, awareness, it can be met with that too.

Although all is Spirit, love, awareness and perfect as it is, there is a human side. And this human side has its own needs and desires, and it has consequences to ignore that.

I could have, and did, say this even back then. And yet, it’s also an ongoing exploration. It’s a continually humbling process.

Note: In my immediate experience all is love, presence and awareness. It’s possible to think that this is more of a psychological and individual phenomena, and that “the world out there” is perhaps physical and matter and nothing more. And yet, any ideas of a world “out there” that’s different from love, presence and awareness is also the same love, presence and awareness. And there are enough synchronicities and other experiences suggesting that the wider world “in itself” is also love, presence and awareness. Matter does appear, in several ways – in immediate experience, through synchronicities and other experiences, and perhaps even suggested by current science – as love, presence, awareness.

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Dark Night, Spirit, and Pointing to vs the real thing

 

In the Living Inquiries, and similar forms of inquiry, we look for a real object, not parts or signs of or something pointing to that real thing.

I can see how the dark night of soul has shown me how I have mistaken certain signs of Spirit, or something pointing to Spirit, for Spirit itself. In my conscious view, I knew what was going on, but at a feeling level I was caught in this misconception.

My mind made to assumptions. First, it took certain words, images and sensations to point to, or be a sign of, Spirit or God. Then, it took these pointers or signs to mean the presence of Spirit or God itself. So when these signs went away, or they didn’t have the same meaning anymore, my mind (at least a part of it) thought it meant that Spirit or God went away. That’s of course not what happened. It was only the signs that went away, the signs my mind had attached to for a sense of safety. As Gerald May says in The Dark Night of the Soul, I had worshipped my own words, images and feelings, and the dark night helped me see and wean me off from it. (At least to some extent, as there is still more to see.)

Here is a quick inquiry:

Look at the word “God”. Is that word God? (No. Although I see an image and there is a feeling.)

Look at the image. See it up on the wall. Imagine touching the surface of it. Is that image God? (No.)

Go to the feeling. Feel it. When you are ready, see if that feeling is God? (No.)

And so on, with whatever words, images and sensations comes up around my experience of God, and also Spirit, the Divine, Christ and so on.

It seems really obvious when looked at this way. And yet, when words, images and sensations are glued together, it seems very real, and it’s easy to mistake it for the real object. Also, our minds largely functions according to it’s own logic, and it’s not “rational” in a conventional sense.

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The Divine in Disguise

 

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.
– Matthew 25:40

After the woman had gone, Martin ate some cabbage soup, cleared the things away, and sat down to work again. He sat and worked, but did not forget the window, and every time a shadow fell on it he looked up at once to see who was passing. People he knew and strangers passed by, but no one remarkable.
– from Where Love Is, God Is by Leo Tolstoy

Most everyone is lousy at math and does that to God – dissects the Indivisible One, by thinking, saying, “This is my Beloved, he looks like this and acts like that, how could that moron over there really be God.
– from Lousy at Math by Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Love said to me, there is nothing that is not me. Be silent.
– Rumi

Encountering the divine in disguise is a common and beautiful theme in many traditions.

How would it be to meet the person in front of me as Christ? How would it be to meet this experience – the one right here right now – as Christ?

How would it be to meet the woman on the tram, looking like a veteran meth user, as Christ? How would it be to meet the noisy neighbors as Christ? How would it be to meet someone not giving me what I want as Christ? How would it be to meet whatever is here as Christ – pain, illness, discomfort, anger, grief, hurt, reactivity, contraction, confusion, thoughts, beliefs, identities and identifications? How would it be to meet that in me I have the hardest time befriending as Christ?

How would it be to meet whatever I recoil from as Christ?

The Divine or Christ is not in disguise. The Divine is here plain as day as everything and everyone.

The disguise is in my own mind, my own beliefs, my thoughts saying something is not OK, not good, not the Divine and then taken as true. The disguise is only created in my own mind.

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Spiritualization of matter

 

At a CSS talk, one of the questioners used the term spiritualization of matter. I don’t know much about how it is ordinarily used, but it seems that it can be talked about in a couple of different ways.

All is already awakeness, and that includes all appearances, overlay of stories, identifications, sense of I and Other, doer, observer and so on. What we label matter is already Spirit so no need – or even possibility – to spiritualize anything.

To explore this, I can chose something that seems very much material and physical, for instance a cup. How does it appear in each sense field? Through sensations, sight, sounds, images? What is its appearance in each sense field made of? Is it awakeness itself? Can I find what stories label “matter” outside of these sense fields? Can I find “matter” outside of images and stories? Can I find it as anything else than awakeness? (The very ordinary awakeness we are all familiar with, which is here independent of context of experience and identifications.) This may sound very naive, and I suppose that is one of the reasons we usually don’t explore things this way.

Awakeness can awaken to itself, notice itself, and identification shift out of stories. Our human self will then reorganize within this new context, and this can be called spiritualization of matter. Our body, energies, emotions and views shift and reorganize within this context of what we are awake to itself. Our human self heals, matures and develops in this new context, and does so in ways that appears sane and mature in a conventional sense as well.

This reorganization can also happen before such an awakening, through practice and at least to some extent.

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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.

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.

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.

Resistance as essential for embodiment

 

Resistance seems essential for embodiment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The essence of The Secret

 

Well, I keep being reminded of The Law of Attraction around here (in a small hippie town on the US West Coast, which incidentally reminds me that it would be nice to live in a larger city where more people are a little more sophisticated…!)

Apart from anything else that can be said about the law of attraction, the essence of it seems to be this:

One want: Spirit

There is one want behind all our diverse wants, and that is Spirit.

Or more accurately, it is the happiness, contentment, abundance, sense of coming home and freedom from circumstances and suffering that comes from shifting the center of gravity into the Witness, from tasting Oneness, and finally to realize selflessness.

And this Spirit, as Ground of seeing and seen absent of any I anywhere, is always here now. Indeed, what is experienced as a separate I is Spirit itself temporarily mistaking itself for a segment of itself.

All the many wants of Spirit boils down to one: for it to remember itself, who it really, already and always is. The Ground of seeing and seen, of experiencing and experiencer, absent of I anywhere. The Big Mind beyond and including all and any polarities. The emptiness that is form, and form that is emptiness. The freedom from form that is the fullness of form. The emptiness full of the whole world.

Unraveling wants, and notice what I want right here

For me, I see I have a huge diversity of wants and wishes, and when I explore these I find that each one leads to the same essential wants: happiness, and freedom from suffering.

And is it true that this is not already here? When I look for it, I can find it in the wakeful clarity that is always here, independent of an unstained by the always shifting content of experiences.

By noticing this, over and over, I can become more familiar with it. From being more in the background, often unnoticed, it can shift more into the foreground. I can notice it, independent of whatever else is going on. I can find myself as it, then as the oneness of seeing and seen, then as seeing and seen already absent of any I anywhere.

Is it possible to make a mistake?

 

Here is one way of looking at the question of mistakes from different filters…

Ground and Big Mind

Ground is inherently free from any notions of mistakes or no mistakes. It allows any forms to come and go as Ground itself, as emptiness dancing.

Big Mind, as Ground as emptiness and form, is similarly absent of any notions of mistakes. It is beyond, yet includes, any ideas of mistakes or no mistakes, and anything these ideas point to.

When Big Mind awakens to its own nature, there is the realization that any and all forms are inherently free from mistakes/no mistakes.

Spirit exploring itself

Moving slightly into the relative, yet informed by the absolute, we can say that everything is Spirit exploring and experiencing itself.

I eat icecream, I stub my toe, I sleep, I miss a deadline, I get praise, I forget the name of a Breema sequence when teaching, I decided to stay in the US instead of going back to Norway, I get sick and can’t do much for a couple of days, I fail a test of some sort.

All of these, and anything else in any human life and existence as a whole, is Spirit manifesting, exploring and experiencing itself – as emptiness and form, experiencer and experienced, seeing and seen.

And this happens independent of the particulars of the content. No matter what form is doing, it is still Spirit experiencing itself. There is no mistake there. It is inherently free from the possibility of mistake.

Beliefs

The sense or experience of mistakes only come in, and is inevitable, when there is a belief in thoughts. Existence should look this way, so if it conforms, it is no mistake, and if it does not, there must be a mistake somewhere: you made a mistake, I made a mistake, God made a mistake.

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.