Images of God

 

Most of what I write about here is very basic. I often feel it’s just Life 101.

And yet, I keep seeing people speaking and acting as if it’s not, so I am drawn to writing a bit.

When people reject God as depicted in religion, as I did in elementary school, we are often just rejecting certain images of God. They don’t make sense to us, so we – often understandably – reject them.

For instance, if we have an image of God as a man with a gray beard sitting on a cloud, it will be seen as quite childish and ripe for rejection. In modern society, even images of God as a separate entity that helps and/or judges us is often seen as relatively immature and something best rejected.

I have to admit, most of the images of God presented by theistic mainstream religions seem a bit childish. So no wonder many reject these images, and in the process reject religion, God in general, and perhaps even spirituality. (Although in Norway, it seems that most reject religion but are open to spirituality and some ideas of God.)

It seems that the better our lives are in a society, the more likely we are to reject old-fashioned theistic images of God. And in places where there is more inequality and larger portions of us live in poverty and under difficult situations, we are more likely to adopt these images. (And that’s fine. It helps us, and it’s very understandable.)

I have two favorite images of God, both of which seem to work a bit better in modern society, and both of which are non-theistic.

God = reality. God = what is, whatever that may be. This includes our physical universe as described by science and perhaps more. We know only parts of reality so we cannot assume we know God as a whole.

God = Big Mind. The consciousness that everything (universe+) happens within and as, and which makes up this consciousness here that my local experience happens within and as.

A benefit of these two is that we can equally well say it, she, or he about God. I tend to it or she since he has been used so much in our culture. Or I may choose one depending on which aspect of reality we talk about.

Another benefit is that we are free to find the validity, helpfulness, and potential shortcomings of any religion or spiritual tradition. They all have some validity to them. They all may be helpful for some people, in some situations, in some ways. And they all have shortcoming and pitfalls.

So if someone asks me if I believe in God, I may say “yes” or “no” depending on who I talk to. I may explain which images roughly apply in my case. I may mention that it’s not really a “belief” but more a pointer and something to explore. Or I may ask which image of God do you mean?

Note: The painting is by Harmonia Rosales. If God can be depicted – mainly by white men – as an older white guy with a beard, so why not also as a black woman? We tend to create God in our own image.

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Talking about the healing modalities I use

 

It can be challenging to talk about healing modalities that are quite different from what most people are familiar with.

Most of the approaches I use fall into this category:

Breema bodywork looks similar to Thai massage or partner yoga, but the experience of and intention behind is markedly different. It’s deeply nourishing and helps us find ourselves as the fullness and wholeness that’s always here and always healthy, even as our body and mind may have ailments.

Inquiry can look similar to cognitive therapy, but it goes far deeper is far more all-inclusive than typical cognitive therapy. Living Inquiries is an exploration of how our mind creates its own experiences, including the stressful and painful ones. We get to explore the basic building blocks (images, words, sensations), and through separating and spending time with each one, it’s difficult for the mind to put it together again in a believable way. We also go back in time to the origins and roots of the issue, and we look at the different branches holding it in place.

Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE) involves trembling and shaking, rocking and stretching, and sometimes also sounds. This is something we are all familiar with, but in TRE these all happen spontaneously and are initiated and guided by the body. We are just along for the ride. (Although we can stop it at any time, if we wish.) There is also a deepening, and a deep relaxation and sense of nourishment that happens as we do TRE regularly over time.

Vortex Healing may look similar to energy healing modalities such as Reiki, acupuncture, or chigong. It’s true it’s an energy healing modality, and yet it’s different to most other approaches in that it uses divine energy guided by divine intelligence. This is the intelligence of life or Spirit itself, so it already knows the problems and the way out of them. As a practitioner, I use my intention to support the healing, I partially guide and partially am guided through the healing session, and I allow my system to be used as a channel for the energy needed for the healing. Where other modalities often work more in a general way, Vortex Healing is especially effective when we work on very specific issues – sometimes the more specific and detailed the better. As a practitioner, Vortex Healing also speeds up and guides my own awakening and embodiment process. It’s very much an intimate partnership with the divine.

And, of course, most people are interested in if and how they can be helped, not the specific modalities. The modalities are just tools. While it’s easy to become fascinated with the tools as a practitioner, clients have a different priority. And rightly so. They are interested in what can be done for them. Can you help me with what I need help with?

In my experience, any issue can be helped by using these tools: Physical and mental health. Psychological and behavioral issues. Relationships. Awakening and embodiment. If there is a problem, there is a way out of it. And as usual, the degree we can be helped depends on many factors, mainly the willingness for change and the energy and time put into it.

Mindful & Mindfull

 

I don’t usually use the word mindfulness. Mainly because I prefer the word noticing, and also because I often am more interested in other aspects of the exploration.

The way I understand mindfulness is noticing.

A noticing of content of experience, which can be differentiated into sensory experiences and imagination (mental representations of sensory experiences, words).

A noticing of how sensory experiences (and especially sensations) and imaginations come together to create experiences that seem real, solid, and substantial. A noticing how how this sense of reality dissolves when we do the forms of noticing described here.

A noticing of space outside and inside of this content of experience.

A noticing of all as awareness.

A noticing of the emptiness all of that happens within and as.

And so on.

There is another way of understanding mindfulness which I like. Mind-full = noticing the mind “full” of presence. The whole field of experience is already and always presence. (Or awareness, or awake space, or emptiness allowing all of this.) And as we notice this, the “center of gravity” can shift from being caught in content of experience to this “context” of all experience. We may even notice this presence as what we are. Content of experience is presence. (And there is an emptiness which all this happens within and as, which all also and more fundamentally is.)

Living Inquiry terminology

 

There are certain words I rarely use in the Living Inquiry context, even if they are part of the “official” terminology.

Unfindable and overcompensation are two of them. (See another post about the “unfindable” terminology and what I prefer instead.)

Overcompensation refers to when we get scared in inquiry and go into thoughts as a way to cope. We may analyze, go into stories, talk about something else, talk a lot more than needed for the inquiry, and so on. And it’s all because we get close to something “hot” in the inquiry, something that our mind tells itself is scary.

It’s completely normal. Understandable. Universal. (We all do it.)

It’s even healthy. It’s a protection against re-traumatizing ourselves. In most situations in life it’s a good and useful protection.

And in inquiry, we can gently enter that territory through (a) gaining trust in the process and the facilitator, (b) see that what initially appears scary is actually OK to look at, (c) look at the perceived threat in entering a particular area, and more.

I am slightly confused about the term “overcompensation”. What are we compensating for? It may mean that we compensate for a deficient self by going into stories. (Although that may not always be the reason we go into stories for safety.) And what means it to over-compensate? Who decides where the boundary is between compensating and overcompensating? It’s a confusing term to me and there seems to be simpler and clearer ways to talk about it.

For instance, when I or someone else goes into stories to avoid feeling something or looking at something, I tend to say that we scare ourselves, are afraid of entering a certain area, go into stories, go into intellectualizing or rationalizing, try to find safety in stories, or something similar. That seems simpler and more accurate.

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What are synchronicities?

 

It’s common for people in meaningful flow to experience synchronicities. In periods, days may even be filled with them.

I am reading a book on synchronicities right now, and it’s interesting to see different interpretations of synchronicities, and specifically how or why they happen.

Here are a few ways of looking at it:

  1. Synchronicities are created by our own perception. Innumerable events happen in our lives, and there even more possible perceived connections  between them. So out of this huge pool, we pick out the perceived connections that make sense to us and call them synchronicities. Synchronicities are created by our selective attention and interpretation.
  2. A being somehow sets it up for us (!) with some purpose in mind.
  3. We create real, actual synchronicities through our own mind, focus, and intention.
  4. Synchronicities are expressions of movements within the seamless whole we call life, reality, or the universe. Or, we are so inclined, we may also call it Spirit, Buddha Mind, Brahman etc.

Since my teens, I have seen synchronicities as a combination of 4, 1 and 3. (Number 2 seem a bit naive and unnecessary….!)

For me, synchronicities are a reminder of all as one, and a reflection that I am in flow with something meaningful to me. I am also aware that I selectively notice synchronicities and interpret them as meaningful. And at times, synchronicities are remarkable, plentiful, and obvious even to others.

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Talking about the living inquiries

 

Here are some ways I tend to talk about the Living Inquiries.

What

  • Explore how the mind creates its experience of anything – a threat, an object, a command
    • An object here can be a perceived self (deficient, inflated), others, past, future, any concept (awareness, love etc.)

How

  • By examining two areas of experience: Senses + imagination
    • Senses: sensations, sight, sound, taste/smell
    • Imagination: images, sounds, smell/taste, touch, and words = images (letters, words) + sounds (spoken words)
  • See how they combine to create an experience of…. anything.
    • Sensations give imagination (stories, images, words) a sense of substance, solidity, reality and a charge
    • Imagination gives sensations meaning (story)
  • Glued together vs separated
    • When sensations + imagination seem “glued” together, the imagination seems real (may appear as a threat, object, command)
    • When examine how the mind creates its experience of the threat, object, command, several things happen
      • Recognize imagination as imagination, and sensations as sensations
      • See that our experience of the actual “thing” we are looking for is created by our mind
      • This helps unglue sensations + imagination, and the sense of solidity, reality, and the charge is reduced or goes out of it completely

Where & When

  • Initially easier in dedicated sessions – with a facilitator or on our own
  • Then more and more part of everyday life, anywhere and any time
  • As we get more experience, we can bring it into even more intense situations and experiences

Who

  • Anyone who is interested in exploring how their mind creates certain experiences
  • Anyone who is interested in finding peace with what currently seem scary, overwhelming, outside of their control
  • Anyone ready to examine root causes of their suffering and see it go

Why

  • Get to see how our mind creates its own experience of the world
  • Get to see it’s a created experience, not “how the world is”
  • There is more “space” to intentionally relate to our experience instead of acting on it automatically. We can relate to it more intentionally.
  • How we relate to our own experience shifts, typically from seeing it as a problem or enemy to befriending it (seeing its innocence). When this struggle is removed there is more ease and comfort, ability to relate to it intentionally, and act with more clarity and heart.
  • As a side effect, the sense of reality, solidity, and the charge in anything (a perceived threat, object, command) can reduce and perhaps even fall away

Additions

  • There are little “tricks” that can help the mind get – at a more visceral level – that imagination is imagination and sensations are sensations.
    • For instance, we can imagine seeing a mental image on a wall or in a book. We can imagine pushing it further away and closer in. We can imagine stretching it. We can imagine touching its surface. We can do the same with images of words.
  • It can be helpful to notice the space around sense experiences and imagination.
    • Notice the space around the image and between you and the image.
    • Notice the space sensations happen within. Notice the same space outside and inside of the body, and outside and inside of a sensation.
    • If space seems to have a boundary, explore that boundary. Is it an image combined with a sensation? Is it a real boundary? Does that image of happen within space?
    • Noticing space in this way helps “dilute” our experience of anything. It’s similar to drinking a glass of water with a teaspoon of salt in it (intense) vs drinking water from a bucket or lake with a teaspoon of salt in it (it’s OK).
  • As a general rule, follow what has the strongest charge in the moment. Explore how the mind creates its experience of it.

Body contractions & identifications, threats, selves, compulsions

  • When sensations combine with imagination, what happens is also called velcro (Living Inquiries), a belief, or identification. (In a spiritual context, some may even call it “ego”.)
  • Since sensations give imagination a sense of solidity and charge, it seems that the mind creates sensations to serve that purpose. It tenses muscles so there will be sensations that can combine with imagination to give that imagination a sense of solidity, reality, and charge.
  • If the identification or belief is more long lasting, then the tensing and contraction also becomes more long lasting. It can turn out as a chronic contraction connected with and making possible any form of identification or belief (including a sense of threat, deficient or inflated self, or compulsion or even addiction).
  • This is why it can be helpful, and sometimes essential, to work with the body along with the inquiry. We can help release tension and contractions out of the body through therapeutic tremoring (TRE), massage or bodywork, or other body-oriented techniques.

Relationship between imagination and reality

  • Our whole world is created by sensory experiences and imagination. My experience of the world – myself, others, life, and anything – is created by a combination of sensory experiences and imagination.
  • In the moment, imagination functions as an overlay of immediate sensory experiences and helps us make sense of them, interpret, and function.
  • When we consider something that isn’t here – past, future, abstractions – then there is either just imagination or as described earlier imagination combined with sensations.
  • This imagination is essential for helping us orient and function in the world. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. It’s only that when the mind combines it with sensations and takes it as solid and real, an additional layer of suffering is often created. (In a general sense, we can say that sensations and imagination “glued” together = identification, beliefs, velcro = suffering.)
  • When we find peace with this layer creating suffering, or it softens or fall away, we are typically much better able to function in the world. We are more able to act from clarity and with some kindness. (When the mind is caught in this suffering, the mind often tells itself that the suffering is needed for action. When the suffering softens or falls away, we see that’s not true and that we can act and function more effectively without it.)

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Living Inquiries: A different logic

 

The Living Inquiries help me explore my own experience, and see how my mind creates my experience of the world. And it does so at a basic and elementary level of the mind and experience. It looks at images, words, and sensations and how these sometimes appear glued together, as experiential phenomena.

At this level, a different logic operates than what we are used to in our everyday life. It’s the logic of velcro, of how images, words and sensations gets glued together, and (the mechanisms of) how this glue softens or melts away.

To me, this is similar to the relationship between regular physics and quantum physics. A different logic applies to those two levels of reality, and we cannot understand the elementary and basic level very well by applying the physics we know from everyday life.

Through living inquiries, we get to be more familiar with this logic, the logic of velcro. We get to see how traumatic experiences, often early in life, glued together certain images, words and sensations, and how this bundle continued to operate in our life and influence how we perceive and live our life. We also get to see how this glue dissolves and can melt away, freeing us up from being caught by these bundles.

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Forms of rest

 

The term natural rest is quite accurate, and can also be misperceived. Mainly  because the word “rest” is commonly used in a different way.

In a conventional sense, we understand rest as a break from a task, sitting or laying down, and perhaps being spaced out, or entertained, or caught in thoughts or daydreams, being half asleep, and so on.

The “rest” in natural rest is quite different. It’s noticing and allowing. Or, rather, noticing what’s already here, notice it’s already allowed, and aligning more consciously with that allowing. It’s alert and relaxed. It’s very natural. It’s just what’s already here noticing itself. And it can happen during any activity, including quite strenuous physical activity or any type of work or a conversation.

Natural rest can also be understood, or emphasized, in a few different ways.

It can be a general noticing and allowing of content of experience, as it is, and noticing this allowing is already here.

It can be a noticing of allowing of a more specific subset of content of experience, for instance a word, an image, sounds, or sensations. It’s a resting with an image, word, sounds, or sensations.

It can be a noticing and allowing which includes, or emphasizes, the boundless space this content is happening within and as. (It’s boundless since any imagined boundaries happen within that space.)

It can be a noticing and allowing which emphasizes that which all content happens within and as.

It can be a resting as any of these. As content of experience. As a subset of content of experience. As unbounded space. As that which any content happens within and as.

When I facilitate myself or someone else, I’ll usually emphasize one of these depending on the client and situation. For instance, I worked with a client a couple of days ago who has a lot of very strong (mental/physical) contractions, and I invited him to first rest with the contractions, and then notice the space it’s happening within, and it seemed to be a welcome relief for him to notice that space. Even the strongest contraction happens within and as boundless space. When we notice that, it seems less overwhelming and more OK as it is. It’s easier to rest with it, and perhaps even as it.

Taking about Living Inquiries: Get to see how my mind creates the experience of X

 

When talking about the Living Inquiries, I tend to avoid the “unfindable” terminology since it easily can be misunderstood.

People may get caught in thoughts such as “if it’s unfindable, doesn’t that mean it doesn’t exist?”, and may even scare themselves unnecessarily through that way of thinking.

Instead, I often say:

Through the inquiries, I get to see how my mind creates my experience of X. And after an inquiry, there is often a sense of lightness around it, and less stickiness and drama. (It’s not about whether something exists or not “in itself”. That’s another topic, and not really relevant or important.)

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Spirituality myths

 

Some myths about spirituality, and how they are valid and not.

I initially kept this post private as it’s written in a different tone than most. It’s more conversational, and perhaps less nuanced and balanced compared with many other posts. I’ll make it public anyway, since some of it may be useful.

Awakening or enlightenment is mysterious and distant.

It’s a noticing of what we already are, and what’s already here, in immediate experience here and now. It’s what we are – that which any experience happens within and as – noticing itself. It’s not very mysterious or far away. It’s closer than anything, since it’s what we are. (And it’s as close than anything, since anything is what we are.)

The grain of truth: Awakening or enlightenment can seem mysterious and distant, if we approach it through thought alone, and especially if we believe the thought that it’s mysterious and distant…! That’s how we stop ourselves from actually looking and exploring for ourselves, in immediacy.

Awakening or enlightenment is unachievable.

It’s actually not that difficult to glimpse or have a taste of what it’s about. The Big Mind process is one way that works for many. Headless experiments another. At the end of a Living Inquiry session it’s often quite obvious. And there is a lot of other approaches that can help us get a glimpse or taste of it. This is very helpful, since it tends to dispel a lot of myths.

From here, it’s the work of keeping noticing, and inquire into our identifications and beliefs that tends to temporarily cover up this noticing.

And when this noticing becomes more clear and frequent (or stable), it’s about deepening and living from it.

The grain of truth: Awakening or enlightenment as you think it is, may well be unachievable. What it’s actually about may be even better than what you think you want. (And what it “actually is about” keeps opening up.)

Awakening or enlightenment is a destination, an endpoint. When that happens, it’s all done.

 No. It’s an “end point” in the sense that what we are has glimpsed itself, or deepened into this noticing to a certain extent, and even is exploring how to life from it.

It’s also an ongoing process. What we are noticing itself can clarify, deepen, open up. And living from this new context is an ongoing exploration, clarification, deepening, and maturing.

There are also many facets to what we are, some of which a thought may call clarity, love, intelligence, presence. And some of which can be associated with the head center (clarity, intelligence, recognizing all as Spirit), heart center (love, recognition of all as love, a love of all as love), and belly center (emotional maturity, felt sense of all as Spirit).

The grain of truth: The recognition of what we are can happen suddenly, and it is – in a sense – an “endpoint”. Something has shifted. And yet, it’s also – equally or more – a beginning.

Awakening is the same as enlightenment.

These words are used in many different ways. Some equate them. Some differentiate them. I tend to differentiate them.

I tend to see awakening as referring to an initial awakening, or awakening to a new phase of clarity and insight, or a new facet of reality.

And enlightenment is more what we are recognizing itself, in an ongoing way, with most of the identifications and velcro that obscures this noticing having found their liberation. In a way, it’s an either/or term, and in another, there seems to be a gray zone here. What we call enlightenment continues to clarify, deepen, open up. And the liberation of identifications and velcro certainly does.

Awakening or enlightenment is what I need.

Are you sure? What do you hope to get out of it? Love? Feeling OK about yourself? Contentment? Aliveness? Authenticity? A sense of coming home?

Are you sure it’s not easier to go for those, rather than something that can seem more abstract and unachievable such as enlightenment?

Of course, these are really the same. And the approach to explore either can be the same. It’s just that it can be helpful in a practical sense to (a) identify  what you really wish for, using ordinary words, and (b) go for that.

The grain of truth: What we really want (love, authenticity, kindness etc.) may be more available when there is some awakening there, some recognition of what we are.

Awakening or enlightenment is what the world needs.

Are you sure? What about love? Practical wisdom? Caring? Isn’t that more what the world needs? And isn’t that more achievable and doable? Isn’t that something we can do here and now, each of us, in our own life?

Why not look at what in us prevents us from living more from ordinary caring and practical wisdom? Why not question unquestioned and painful thoughts? Why not find love for what’s unloved in us – what’s unloved in our experience and who we (think we) are?

The grain of truth: It probably wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Awakening or enlightenment will fix my human life.

No. It won’t. You’ll still find yourself in the same situation as before. You’ll still have to be a good steward of your own life. You’ll still have to live your life as anyone else.

If you think you need your life to be fixed, look at that. Look at the fears, the identifications. Allow those fears and identifications to find liberation now. Don’t wait for an awakening or enlightenment. You don’t need to wait.

What are you most afraid of if there is no awakening or enlightenment? What’s are you most afraid will happen with your life? What is it that’s most uncomfortable to you about your life? Look at those fears.

The grain of truth: You may recognize the OKness of what’s happening. You may have more clarity to act in a slightly more wise and kind manner. (Although even that is no guarantee. The clarity and kindness can easily be covered up by remaining identifications, hangups, velcro, beliefs, wounds, trauma.)

Awakening or enlightenment is a state.

Awakening or enlightenment is a state…. of being always happy, content, joyful, satisfied, of never experiencing any “negative” emotions or states.

That’s the “dream of the ego”. It’s much more about (a) noticing all of our experiences, as they are, are already allowed, (b) and noticing that what we already are is that allowing. It’s a shift of identification from thought-created identities to that which already allows this experience, as it is, and is this experience as it is. It’s an OKness with the experiences that’s here, including what may go against our very human preferences.

In a sense, that does come with a sense of OKness, contentment, even quiet joy. It’s all very quiet, and allows for any other human experience. So there is a grain of truth in the initial idea, but in a more differentiated sense than we may think.

It’s actually better than the initial idea or hope. It does give us that quiet contentment and joy, and also allows for the full range of human experience as before.

The grain of truth: Awakening or enlightenment is a state of what we are recognizing itself. It does seem like a state in that sense. Also, there is often that quite undercurrent of contentment, OKness, and even joy when that recognition is there.

It’s all an illusion.

Really? Why don’t you see what happens if you don’t pay your taxes, or eat junk food for a year, or act like a jerk with your family and friends? It may be that all is Spirit, and that anything you look for is unfindable, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, or that all is an illusion in an absolute sense. Our actions still has consequences, in a very ordinary and human way.

The grain of truth: It’s all Spirit, yes. Whatever I look for is unfindable. In that sense, it’s an “illusion”, but I wouldn’t use that word. It’s too easy for the mind to make it into a one-sided reality for itself, and act from it.

If I achieve X, I’ll be safe, OK, acceptable, loved.

If I get enlightened (saved, come to heaven) I’ll be OK, safe, acceptable, loved…. by myself, others, God, life.

No you won’t. But it can be better than that. You can see through the painful stories of being deficient (not OK, unloved, unlovable, unacceptable), and you can find love for the parts of you that feel that way. That’s more doable than hoping to get it through achieving some (imagined) state or realization. It’s much more available than that.

The grain of truth: Yes, if you love the unloved parts of yourself and your experience, you’ll be and feel loved. You’ll have what you sought. If you love what’s unloved, question unquestioned stories, feel unfelt sensations, you’ll find a deep sense of OKness, acceptance, even safety. And it’s because you are giving it to yourself.

I need to do X to be awakening or enlightened.

I need to eat a certain diet, read a certain book, do a certain practice, worship a certain god, study with a certain guru, dress a certain way, have a certain type of sex (or no sex), sit in a certain posture, move my energy a certain way…… to awaken or be enlightened.

Are you sure? Certainly, some things may be supportive and helpful in a very ordinary way. A reasonably good diet helps us feel and function better. Sitting mostly upright during practice (prayer, meditation, inquiry) reduces drowsiness. Some teachers may give us helpful pointers. And more. And yet, none of this will magically give us anything. It’s helpful (or not) in a very ordinary and mundane sense. It’s still up to us to actually do the work.

The grain of truth: Yes, some of these may be helpful in a very practical and ordinary way.

X will be a shortcut for me.

Shaktipat. Praying for divine intervention. Saying mantras. Whatever it may be that we think will be a shortcut for us.

Are you sure? Again, some things may be helpful in a practical sense. Some practices will work better for us than other. Some are more appropriate for us, where we are, than other, because we are more ready for them. And as before, it’s up to us to do the work.

The grain of truth: Some things may seem like shortcuts, such as shaktipat. But it sometimes comes with a time-consuming cost, and we still need to do the work – to clarify, stabilize, deepen, life from it.

This is it. I have arrived.

Not likely. It keeps opening up. It’s ongoing. The noticing of what we are is ongoing, with new facets and “layers” revealing themselves. The living from this is ongoing. And the deepening, maturing, reorganization and healing of who we are is ongoing.

The grain of truth: We can indeed “arrive” at a stepping stone, and it may seem like “it” for a while. And yet, it’s a stepping stone. Any insight, realization, clarity, healing, experience, is a stepping stone.

Understanding = realization.

Not quite. One thing is to understand something intellectually, perhaps connected to some degree of experience. Another is to be familiar with it through personal experience. And yet another to live from it, from that deepening familiarity.

If I didn’t go to understanding now, what would I have to feel? Feel it.

If I replaced the words with blah blah blah, what would be left? What’s here? 

The grain of truth: Understanding is often a helpful stepping stone to experience, it’s a pointer and invitation for exploration.

This insight is UNIQUE!

This insight that I have, this realization, this experience, is UNIQUE! Nobody has ever had it before. It’s a new realization. It’s the next step in human evolution!

Are you serious? How can you know? If you are honest, how can you know? And what are you afraid of if it isn’t? (That you’ll feel less than? Not OK? That you’ll have to feel something you don’t want to feel?)

The grain of truth: Any experience and insight is, of course, unique. It’s never happened before and will never happen again, even if a particular insight may be expressed in similar words as someone else expresses theirs.

More people are awakening today than before. Humanity is awakening.

Again, are you sure? What tells you that? What’s your evidence? (Isn’t it equally likely that it just seems that way because it’s easier to find likeminded people today through the internet, people are more outspoken about it than before (less of a taboo), and people interested in these things tend to congregate physically (workshops, talks, Bay Area). Would it seem like many are awakening if you lived in Congo, or most places in the world where few are interested in these things?)

What do you fear would happen if that wasn’t true? If you realized it wasn’t true? Question that fear.

Isn’t that what you really want? To find true freedom from that fear? From the fear that humanity isn’t really awakening? (Whether it is or not.)

The grain of truth: More people may be awakening because there are more people than before. And more information about these things is out there in the open, with valuable pointers which can support an awakening.

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How do the living inquiries work?

 

How do the Living Inquiries work?

Put simply:

Through looking at associated images, words, and sensations, feeling the sensations, and asking simple questions to see what’s actually there, there is a reprogramming of the mind. And this allows us to see the images as images, words as words, and sensations as sensations, and also more easily stay with and feel the sensations.

When sensations, images and words seem “stuck together”, the sensations lends a charge and sense of reality and solidity to the stories created by the images and words.

Through resting, looking, and feeling the sensations, this stickiness softens or release.

I also wonder if not feeling the sensations, and especially noticing and feeling them as sensations, allows something to discharge and release. The tension and “stuckness” that the initial stickiness created may be allowed to release, at least over time.

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Three centers & how I talk about it – including light and dark

 

I had a conversation with a friend today where I tried to put into words the difference between the initial awakening, and the shift that happened some years after.

During the initial awakening, it was a recognition and seeing of all as consciousness, all without exception as consciousness. (Or God, or Spirit, or the Divine.) In addition, there was a sense of the body, and all matter, as golden light. (Quite similar to one of the last scenes of The Matrix, although less dense than in that scene.)

Relatively soon after, there was a shift into recognizing all as love, a recognition of all as consciousness, intelligence, and love – without exception. All form, all in this world, is and cannot not be love. There was also a heart opening, and a loving of all as Spirit and love.

During yet another shift some years later, there was a sense of deepening and depth, and a softer sense of all matter as consciousness, love, the divine. More specifically, there was a sense of consciousness “peering out” from the inside of all matter, of all being and being inside of (in the womb of) the divine feminine, and all being and being held within a soft, velvety luminous blackness. There was a felt sense of all as Spirit. (This was followed by a process where unloved/unquestioned emotional materials has and continues to come to the surface – with an invitation for it to be seen, felt, loved, and the stories behind it questioned.)

Through Barry Martin Snyder, and his description of the three soul centers, I found that I could map the initial awakening to the head center – a seeing and recognition of all as Spirit. The second shift can be seen as relating to the heart center, a recognition of all as love and a love for all as Spirit and love. (Apart from when wounds and hangups were triggered.) And the third relates to the belly center, a shift into feeling all as Spirit. The head center can be seen as more yang or masculine, and the belly center as more yin or feminine.

When I talk about it in this way, it does reflect my experience quite closely, and yet I feel a bit uncomfortable about some of the wording. The three centers is a metaphor, with a possible physical correlation. The words masculine and feminine are used in a more traditional way, and also as a metaphor. Light and dark are similarly used as metaphors, and I see that they come from an image I have of golden light, and of luminous darkness. Before I noticed these images, it somehow seemed that the world (as matter, consciousness, Spirit, love) was inherently golden luminosity and dark luminosity. After noticing these images, I see that these are images. They may have been created by my mind to fit the experience, and based on cultural influences.

And just to make it clear, these awakenings are not “complete” or a destination of any sort. They were shifts that are still here. They are more or less in the foreground of experience at different times, and shift in “volume”. It’s an ongoing process.

Also, for me, the head and heart awakenings were relatively easy, although they did involve a great deal of reorganization of my human self. The belly shift has been far more challenging, and has involved a large amount of unprocessed (unloved, unquestioned) material coming to the surface to be seen, felt, loved, and gently questioned. It’s all happened on it’s own schedule, and it seems to live its own life, in a way.

I am trying to intentionally align with what seems to happen, and what the invitation is in each moment, although I am unable to do it as consistently as I would like. That too is part of the process. It’s a bit messy, and I am aware that it can seem cleaner and more straight forward when written out in this way. To make it clear, this process is messy. I am bumbling through it.

When difficult emotional material is surfacing, I sometimes react to it and act on it. I sometimes actively avoid it through entertainment, or talking with a friend, or going for a walk, or food. I sometimes rest with it. I sometimes inquire into it. I sometimes find love for it. At different times, I do everything on the spectrum of how humans typically relate to these kind of things.

It can be helpful to bring anything here to inquiry.

Can I find X? Light? Dark? Luminosity? Luminous darkness? Masculine? Feminine? Head center? Heart center? Belly center? Recognition? Love? Feeling?

Can I find someone who is or has X? (Any of the above.)

What’s do I fear would happen if X is not here? What do I hope (or fear) would happen if it is here? Can I find the threat? Can I find what I hope will happen?

Is there a command to find (create, hold onto, not hold onto) X?

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Cultivating the light vs meeting the dark

 

Some people talk about cultivating the light, or meeting the dark.

For me, the two go hand in hand. As so often, it depends on what we mean, and how we do it.

For me, cultivating the light means to cultivate what I wish more of. And meeting the dark means loving the unloved and examining the unexamined. It means healing the unhealed, and examining painful identifications and beliefs.

Already here, we see how they two go hand in hand. I wish to cultivate and become more familiar with loving what’s here, including what’s been previously unloved in me and my experience. I also wish to cultivate exploration of what’s here, and seeing more clearly what’s here, including how identifications and stressful beliefs are created.

This cultivation supports the meeting of the dark. And in meeting the dark, I am supported in continuing with the cultivation. (It inspires me to do so, I see it’s needed, and I get to test and fine tune my approach.)

How do I cultivate the light? Here are some practices I am familiar with:

Kindness practices, including loving kindness, ho’oponopono, tonglen, and also the Heart Prayer and the Christ meditation. Kindness towards me, parts of my experience, others, life.

Training a more stable attention also fits here, since it’s what I wish for and it supports any other activity and practice.

Natural rest. Noticing and allowing what’s here. Noticing it’s already allowed.

Prayer. Prayer for guidance. To be shown the way. For Your will be done.

Body centered practices, such as yoga, tai chi, chi gong, Breema.

Spending time in nature. Spending time in service to life.

Setting the intention to live from love, examine what’s here, rest with what’s here, live in service of life (including my life).

 And how do I meet the dark?

By finding love for the previously unloved. Finding kindness towards parts of me and my experience I have habitually ignored, rejected, or battled and seen as undesirable.

By notice and allow what’s here. Including the discomfort, anger, sadness, fear, grief, and whatever else is here in the moment.

By questioning the unquestioned. Examining beliefs and identifications. Finding what’s more true for me than the initial beliefs. Investigating how my most basic perceptions of deficient and inflated selves, threats, and compulsions are created.

By resting with what’s here. Notice. Allow. Rest with in kind presence.

It can be quite simple and straight forward.

When I use the words light and dark here, it’s mostly to connect with how some use these words. I usually don’t use the words light and dark since they are quite imprecise, there are assumptions about the world behind them that I don’t quite agree with, and I don’t even know how I would use the words so they make good sense. That’s why the use of them in this post feels a bit awkward to me.

Why is love, kindness, examination etc. light? I don’t really know, perhaps just because it’s what our personalities tends to like and prefer. We tend to like sunshine and daylight, and also certain qualities in ourselves and certain experiences, so we use the word light for both.

Why are identifications and beliefs dark? They are what creates what some see as darkness, including hate, fear, grief, compulsions, trauma, violence and more. I suppose some call them dark since they are often seen as undesirable, and they are often what we try to hide from ourselves and others, and keep “in the dark”.

Behind the surface expression of these “dark” qualities and experiences is a desire to protect the self, and deep caring and even love. A worried and confused love. That’s one reason I often avoid the word dark about these things. It only addresses and highlights one level of understanding. There is something different behind it.

These words and ideas themselves can be taken to inquiry. Any ideas of light or dark, or cultivation or meeting, or love or inquiry, or anything else that comes up, can be taken to inquiry.

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A richer oneness 

 

Oneness is simpler than any of our ideas about it. And also richer.

Oneness seems to continue to reveal itself to itself, in richer ways, through different facets and views, in simpler ways, and in more finely grained ways.

Here are some I keep exploring:

It’s all happening within and as awareness.  My world is happening within and as awareness. I am that which any experience happens within and as. And that world is the world that everyone is experiencing. There is nothing mystical or magical about the content. It’s the usual content of experience for us human beings. And yet, it’s all happening within and as awareness. It’s happening within and as what I am. In that sense, it’s all one. (It’s possible to imagine an “outside world” that’s material here, and yet those images are also happening within and as awareness. My world is still all awareness.)

A slight tweak to that is that the world itself is Spirit, or God, or awareness, or even wisdom and love. This is how it can seem when there is an opening, perhaps especially in what some call cosmic awareness. (It’s what opened itself to itself through me in my teens.) It’s also what we can get hints of through synchronicities, ESP and more. It does seem that the world itself is Spirit, and that’s what awakens to itself in this way (cosmic consciousness), and also in the way described above (all as awareness).

The story of the universe as told by current science tells us that all is one. It’s all a seamless system. In terms of the history of the universe, energy condensed to matter, matter to galaxies and stars, simple matter condensed to heavier matter through exploding stars creating solar systems with planets, this planet evolved into life, this life evolved into what we see today. We are made of star dust. We are – as Carl Sagan said – the local eyes, ears, thoughts and feelings of the universe bringing itself into awareness. This is also called the Universe Story, or the Great Story, and is also explored through ecospirituality. It’s a story happening within thought, and not as immediate of a realization as the two previous ones, but it can certainly lead to one or both of the two previous ones. It opens the door for it.

The first two on this list shows us that all is love. It’s an immediate recognition. And it can also be discovered in a more finely grained way.

All beings operate from deep caring – for themselves, those close to them, life. They operate from love. Even if that love is sometimes confused, or worried love.

Beliefs and identifications similarly comes from deep caring for the self, and from love. Again, often worried love.

All emotions created from beliefs, all reactive emotions, come from that same deep caring, and the same love. These include reactive anger, sadness, tantrums, distress, suffering, even wounds and trauma.

We may also discover that all situations, and everything I experience, is here to support me, and is from love. This is something we may discover through inquiry, such as The Work.

When I relate to what’s here with kindness and love, there is another sense of oneness. The sense of oneness that comes from relating to my experience, whatever it is, with kindness and love.

So in each of these ways, and many more, we discover a richer oneness. We deepen into oneness. We discover it in a more finely grained way. We discover it in different facets, and from different angles and views. And we keep discovering the diversity and richness within that oneness as well. Oneness doesn’t diminish the richness, it allows the richness, is the richness, and – when discovers itself as oneness – adds to it.

Note: I know that most don’t differentiate the two first. I am unsure why, although I know that the first can be experienced (or interpreted) as the second. The first one reveals all as awareness, including any ideas of a me or I or wider world. At the same time, it’s possible to acknowledge that this is “my world” appearing this way, and I don’t really know anything more. The second is more of an acknowledgment that the world, again as it appears to “me”, does seem to be awareness, love, intelligent, and Spirit or God. (Through many signs including ESP, synchronicities and more.)

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A quantum physics analogy

 

In physics, we have the regular physics that applies to our human-scale world, and quantum physics which applies to very small scales. The rules of regular physics makes sense to us intuitively, at least for the most part. It’s a world we are familiar with, and one that our brain is adapted to understand and relate to. In contrast, the rules of the quantum world can seem quite counter-intuitive and outright weird to us.

It’s similar when we explore ourselves. At a normal scale, it’s all relatively familiar. We can find love for ourselves as a whole, or for parts of ourselves and our experience. We can dialogue with these same parts. We can train a more stable attention. We can find in ourselves what we see in others. Some of it may be a bit unfamiliar, but it’s all happening within a quite familiar world.

When we explore our experience in a more finely grained way, and on a “smaller” or more basic scale, it can feel quite unfamiliar at first. It’s similar to quantum physics. Things don’t work quite the way we are used to. Different rules seem to apply.

For instance, we may see that sensations appear “stuck” on images and words, lending them a sense of reality and solidity, and giving them a sense of charge (velcro). We may see how images, words and sensations appears as who we are, or a threat, or a command to do something (due to velcro).

We may see that we cannot find what initially appeared so real and solid, including a body, a particular (deficient or inflated) self, a threat, a command, an object, a person, words, images, sensations, awareness, and anything else we can give a name to.

That’s all quite outside of our normal experience, and yet it’s right there when we slow down and look more closely and systematically. (For example by using the Living Inquiries, as above.)

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Forms of love

 

There are many forms of love. Or many (non)things a thought can call love.

We can say that love is equal to what we are. What we are already are allows whatever experience is here, and that can be seen as a form of love. This allows any experience, and is not a feeling at all or dependent on any feelings.

When we recognize what we are, to some extent, we tend to live (more) from love since all is recognized as a seamless whole, and it’s all awareness, or Spirit. This is a love that’s not a feeling or dependent on a feeling, but a consequence of recognizing all as Spirit, or all as happening within and as what we are.

There is also the unconditional love that is a feeling, that seems connected with the heart, and can be invited through different heart centered practices. It’s a love for my whole world, for any content of experience, including (what a thought may call) myself, parts of me, others, situations, life, Existence, God.

And there is the more conventional love, perhaps for a person or animal, which is also a feeling. (And no less beautiful or important than the previous ones we can call love.) This can be the love for a friend, children, parents, a pet, a lover. This love can be mixed up with identifications and neediness, which can filter the expression of this form of love, and really any of the forms of love described here.

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Trauma defined broadly

 

Defined broadly, trauma can refer to (a) any experience (b) we reacted to (c) by contracting, by identifying with stressful stories, (d) in order to protect the (imagined) self, (e) and coming from deep caring and love. We may then (f) act on this, which may in turn (e) create an experience for another person who then reacts in a similar way, so the trauma is passed on, slightly changed but basically the same.

You won’t necessarily find that definition in any textbook, but it makes sense to me.

Defined in this way, trauma is behind just about any distress and suffering.

It’s shared by most or all of us. It’s what’s behind a great deal of human suffering and confusion.

In many cases, it may be an important component in addictions, reactivity, abuse, violence, relationship problems, mental problems, and more. Most of what people are in jail for may be connected to a trauma reaction, as is much (or most?) of what we judge others and ourselves for.

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The Lotus

 

The lotus has always had an important mystical meaning. Its roots are down in the slime and mud at the bottom of the lake and the flower unfolds on the surface of the water.

– Carl Jung, ETH, Page 113.

There are several ways of understanding this.

One is that our “roots” are in what’s hidden to us, and they feed and lead to what’s visible. That happens within content, where dynamics we are unaware of inform what’s visible. It also happens in that what we are – this no-thing that it all happens within and as – is the metaphorical “roots” of who we are, this form and human self.

In a more conventional sense, we can use difficulties (mud) to grow (flower). We can use challenging situations in life, or embracing and finding kindness towards inglorious sides of ourselves, to mature, be more fully human, find more empathy, be more real, find a more open heart, find resiliency and more.

And in another sense, we can explore the basic ideas of mud and flower. We may see that they are not as they initially seem.

For instance, I may find that the “mud” in me – perhaps anger, grief, confusion, tendency to isolate, neediness, hopelessness, arrogance – comes from a wish to protect the me, it comes from deep caring, it comes from love. The mud is perhaps really a flower. And the flowers, what I and perhaps others see as my “good qualities”, may turn to mud if I hold onto them and take them as too precious. They may create problems for me and others.

Also, when I look, can I find “mud” or “flower”? Can I find what I see these as referring to? Can I find it outside of words, images, sensations? Is it findable?

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What does awakening mean?

 

Awakening can refer to three slightly different things:

It can mean an initial awakening or opening. An initial recognition of what we are of itself, as all there is.

It can mean the ongoing awakening process, which includes an ongoing clarification and more stable recognition, and an ongoing reorganization of our human self within this (new) recognition.

It can also refer to how we are when the awakening process is a bit more mature, and there is more clarity and stable recognition, and our human self is more aligned with it.

I usually use awakening in the first sense. If I talk about the awakening process, I usually call it “awakening process”. And I mostly don’t use the word awakening in the third sense, since it’s really an ongoing process. There isn’t an end point for this process, at least not until we die. It seems misleading to suggest otherwise.

This is taken from the previous post on Myths About Awakening.

PS. I am aware that the word “awakening” is sometimes used in other ways. In this post, I focused on what it means for me and how I use it.

Myths about awakening

 

There are a lot of myths about awakening in our culture, and perhaps other cultures too. I suspect most of them come from wishful thinking. They are what we – when there is less clarity – wish for and dream for. They are a “dream of the ego”.

Of course, many have done what they can to dispel these myths, and it seems that these days, most teachers do. In all of us, there is something that value what’s real and practical more than dreams and fantasies.

First, a brief description of what awakening is, in my experience:

What we are – that which our whole field of experience happens within and as – recognizes itself, independent of any content of experience. And this may be described as presence, awareness, love. (A presence, awareness, love, which recognizes itself as this content of experience, as it is here now.)

An awakening can happen easily and quickly. It’s what we are recognizing itself. The awakening process can be longer and ongoing. It’s a clarifying and stabilizing of this recognition, and a reorganization and realigning of our human self within this new context.

Awakening can be used in three different ways. (Sorry.) (a) It means an initial awakening or opening. An initial recognition of what we are of itself, as all there is. (b) It also means the ongoing awakening process, which includes an ongoing clarification and more stable recognition, and an ongoing reorganization of our human self. (c) It can also refer to how we are when the awakening process is a bit more mature, and there is more clarity and stable recognition, and our human self is more aligned with it. (I usually don’t use it in this sense, since this part for me is also ongoing. There isn’t an end point for this, at least not until we die.)

The myths about awakening seem to fall into two general categories:

What it is.

What it means for our human self.

And here are some more specific myths, and what seems more real to me:

What it is.

Not already here. Is it true that what I am seeking is not already here? Is it true the peace is not already here? The love? (Even if it seems very faint?)

A state. It’s not a state of experience, where our content of experience somehow is fixed. It’s more of a state of recognition. What we are – that which our whole field of experience happens within and as – recognizes itself, independent of any content of experience. There is a recognition of the peace, love, and joy that’s always here, even if it’s more faint, and the rest of our field of experience shifts and changes are before, including sometimes going through the full range of emotions, pain, and more.

Either/or. It’s not so much a binary shift, although it can certainly be experienced that way – especially in the beginning. What we are is always here, and we do often notice it, often without recognizing its significance. And even when the recognition is more clear and stable, there may be times when attention is absorbed into thought (or when there is identification with a thought and a viewpoint) and that recognition goes in the background or is temporarily “forgotten”. There is a big middle zone here, in my experience. And I suspect that there will often be some shifts, even if the recognition is much more established.

An end point. It’s an “end point” in the sense that what we are recognizes itself. It’s not an end point, since what we are keeps revealing itself to itself. It’s also certainly not an end point in how we live from it, or how our human self can transform within this recognition in terms of healing, maturing, and more. Life keeps on going.

Difficult. It’s not really that difficult for what we are to recognize itself. It can happen quite simply and quickly through following pointers, for instance from the headless experiments, the Big Mind process, the Living Inquiries, and more. It may indeed take time for this recognition to clarify and stabilize, and for the rest of us – our human self – to reorganize and align with this. That seems to be an ongoing process. And parts of this process may be experienced as quite challenging.

Pleasant. An awakening and awakening process can be relatively simple and easy. And it can also involve a lot of struggle, pain, and even suffering. It seems very individual, and each phase can also be quite different. For me, the initial phase was somewhat challenging although not hugely. The second phase was generally quite pleasant. And the third phase, the dark night of the soul, has been very challenging and at times painful.

What it means for our human self.

No problems. The “dream of the ego” is that awakening means no more problems. Reality is often different. The awakening process itself can be quite challenging, and bring up a lot of previously unloved and unquestioned trauma, wounds, pain, and more. (As our human self reorganizes and realigns.) And our human life will tend to have the universal human challenges, including what comes up in relationships, work, money, health, and more. We continue to live very human, and sometimes messy, lives. Just look at what happened to Jesus, and any number of other saints and teachers. Their lives were often not easy.

Perfect health. This is another “dream of the ego”. When we are less clear, perfect health seems like an ideal and a dream. Most of us will naturally have that preference which is perfectly fine and even healthy. And yet, illness and physical problems is part of being an ordinary human, and an awakening very much means being an ordinary human being. For some, or perhaps all, of us, illness in in our human experience. It helps remind us we are very human, just like anyone else. It can even be a part of an awakening process. For instance, a kundalini process will sometimes include periods of poor health and physical problems. And just being human means illness sometimes comes our way. The difference is that we see it’s OK. If it’s here, we may even find the gifts in it.

Perfect wisdom, love, insight, teachings etc. This is very similar to what I mentioned above. We are still very much human. We have our preferences, wounds, hangups, blind spots, perhaps even trauma. What we are is, in a way, perfect love and wisdom, and this gets “filtered” through our human self, with all its idiosyncrasies and shortcomings. (I don’t like that way of talking about it since it sets up a duality that isn’t really there. I think I wrote it more because it’s similar to what I have heard others say. And that’s a good example of a very human shortcoming!)

No pain, sadness, anger, grief etc. Again, as above. As humans, we will have the full range of emotions. These may come up during the awakening process, as a reaction to what’s happening, or as part of the reorganization of our human self. And they come up just because we are human. There is nothing wrong in this. And most of us, if we are honest, wouldn’t have it any other way. What’s different is that when there is some recognition of what we are, these experiences can flow through with less resistance, and we may even recognize them as what we are – as presence, love – and be perfectly OK with them as they are here. They are honored guests.

And an additional one:

Living in the present. This is often misunderstood. Awakening does indeed mean to “live in the present”. And that’s because we recognize that “the present” is all there is for us. Everything happens here, including any thoughts and feelings about the past or future. (It doesn’t at all mean to try to avoid or suppress any thoughts about past or present. That would be stupidity, to put it bluntly.)

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Spiritual practice?

 

I sometimes use the words “spiritual practice”.

It’s a convenient shorthand. Most people have a general idea of what it means.

At the same time, I can’t say I like either of the words very much.

The word spiritual can refer to many different things, and be understood in many different ways.  (Most of which are different from the way I intend it.) It may sound special or something out of the ordinary. While for me, it’s more synonymous with life or existence. It’s ordinary. Simple. It’s what all already is. It’s all already Spirit. We cannot escape it, even if we try.

I also see that the word spirituality does point to a certain orientation to life, so in that sense it’s useful.

The word practice sounds a bit heavy handed to me. It may bring to mind drudgery, or something that’s overly disciplined. While what it really means, at least for me, is something that’s just part of everyday life. It’s a resting with what’s here. Finding love for what’s here. Occasionally asking some simple questions, to shift out of habitual views.

It’s very simple. Even ordinary. A part of everyday life. Ongoing. Restful.

This too is about slightly different orientations, and perhaps phases of our process. Initially, both spiritual and practice can be helpful and meaningful words. They hint at a different orientation than what we perhaps were used to, and the discipline we initially may need to shift to that orientation. After a while, as we become more familiar with the terrain, the word spiritual may hint at something that seems too extraordinary, and practice doesn’t fit either since what it refers to is just part of ordinary everyday life – a resting with what’s here, finding love for it, an inherent curiosity.

Bumpy and messy

 

When I write these posts, I am aware that the way I write can make what I write about appear simple and straight forward. Reality is usually not like that. Reality is often bumpy and messy.

Since it’s that way for me, I assume it’s like that for many others too. Most people who speak or write about different practices make it seem clear, simple and relatively straight forward. That’s understandable. We seek to present it in a clear and simple way. And that doesn’t mean it’s always that way to us.

For me, it’s certainly been a bumpy and messy path, with lots of apparent detours, mishaps, wrecks, derailings, and more. And that’s part of the process too. That’s life.

Time doesn’t exist?

 

I saw someone on Facebook (one of the teachers from Center for Sacred Sciences) say “or perhaps time doesn’t exist at all?”.

If that’s they case, why not throw away your calendar? 😉

Saying that time doesn’t exist is as misleading as saying it does exist. It does and doesn’t, in different ways.

It can be another place for identification to land, another story we are trying to find a sense of safety through by holding it as true, or even a “final” truth.

To me, it seems much more accurate to say that it’s unfindable. When I look for time, I find words, images and sensations, and none of those are “time”. I cannot find time outside of these words, images and sensations. (And if I look for words, images and sensations in this way, I cannot find them either…..!)

I still have images and words relating to time, and I use them to organize my life in an ordinary and everyday sense. But I still cannot find an actual, real “time” when I look for it.

And unfindable is not the same as “doesn’t exist”.

Open presence experiencing a me

 

First, there is apparently a me – a human self – experiencing presence.

Then, open presence is revealed as experiencing a me, a human self. (And experiencing the world through this human self, through its senses, emotions, thoughts and so on.)

This shift often happens first as one or more glimpses, and perhaps as a sense of “thinning of the veils”. Then, it may become more clear and stable, and there is an exploration of how this “new” realization is lived through our human self in the word.

During the transition, it may at times seem that the realization is “lost”. And here, there is an invitation to find here and now what was realized, independent of specific states and experiences. For instance, it may seem that “I am a me experiencing presence” but is that really so? Isn’t that too open presence experiencing a me?

It sounds simple when put this way, but the transition often involves time, maturing, a deep healing of the human self (bringing love and understanding to the wounds, pain and trauma), and life circumstances that require us to live with authenticity and from love and understanding.

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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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Spirituality, or just human?

 

I don’t like the word “spirituality” so much. In our culture, it has some unfortunate connotations.

It can be seen as airy fairy. Escapist. Elevated. Elitist. And probably much more, depending on who you ask.

I like to think of it as just human, for many reasons:

It seems that an awakening can happen through anyone, sometimes out of the blue

Awakening seems to be a natural part of our developmental and perhaps evolutionary process. (As individuals and a species.)

An awakening process often feels very human. It includes a quite deep healing, maturing and reorganizing as a human being.

Living from an awakened context is also very human. It’s still an ordinary human life, only within a different conscious context.

When I use the word “awakening” here, I mean the process of (a) spirit awakening to itself as all there is, and (b) our human self reorganizing and realigning within this new context. The first can be sudden, and the latter often takes time.

I would like to use the word “human” more often, just as I tend to use the word “life” instead of Spirit or God. I probably will, when the context makes it clear what I am referring to.

The word fits, since we are talking about life (or reality, or Spirit) awake to itself through this human self, so it is all very human.

The word also has its drawbacks since spirituality is about reality itself, expressed through and as everything in the universe, and life can awaken to itself through many possible beings, not just humans. (Does a dog have Buddha nature? Woof!) For instance, if there is life throughout the universe, life can awaken to itself through them too, and will be expressed through their unique psychology and physiology. Spirit will still awaken to itself as all there is, just be expressed through a quite different type of being.

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River and eddy

 

I liked this image that came up in a conversation with Kiara:

Imagine a river that suddenly thinks it’s an eddy, and only the eddy, and then panics and stresses about it.

That’s what’s happening with us. We are the river – the whole field of experience and awareness – and yet identify as a small part of it. And since it feels small and contracted and vulnerable, we – at least at times – panic and stress out.

It’s innocent. And the panic and stress is love, it’s worried love.

Taking ourselves to be the eddy and only the eddy is stressful, partly because it’s not the whole truth, and partly because we find ourselves very fragile. Noticing ourselves as the river again can happen in a few different ways. One is to examine our identifications and identities, and the process of identification. This helps release the “glue” that holds our mistaken identifications in place. Another is to notice and bring attention to the larger river and resting as this river. This helps us notice that we already are the river. We are consciousness and it’s content, including that which a thought may label inside and outside, this person and the wider world.

Walking sleep, and higher consciousness?

 

George Ivanovich Gurdjieff (January 13, 1866 – October 29, 1949) was an influential spiritual teacher of the early to mid-20th century who taught that most humans live their lives in a state of hypnotic “waking sleep”, but that it is possible to transcend to a higher state of consciousness and achieve full human potential.

This is written by someone who is not a Gurdjieff follower, so I am sure the wording doesn’t accurately reflect his. Still, the words used here are good fodder for inquiry, and for finding the validity for me in these words and their turnarounds.

Walking sleep?

This is all awakeness, whether a thought says mind is identified or not, or both are here at once (which seems more true for me). In that sense, calling it “walking sleep” doesn’t quite make sense.

And I also see how it’s valid in that when mind is identified with images and thoughts, it tries to make these appear true, and that is – in a sense – a trance.

For me, calling it “walking sleep” is a little heavy handed, although I also see it’s validity.

Higher state of consciousness?

For me, it’s not really about states. States come and go. It’s more about noticing and a shift in identification.

And yet, that too is a state. It’s a state of noticing, or a certain state of identification (or release of identification). That too may well come and go. When there is an idea of time, it certainly does appear to come and go.

So using the word “state” can be a bit misleading, although it does point to a release of identification as a state, and that can be helpful.

And what about the idea that it’s “higher“? Again, that’s not how it appears to me. It’s more about finding a more basic and simpler way for the mind to operate, one that’s more closely aligned with reality. It’s not higher. If anything, it seems “lower” in that it’s simpler, more basic, more aligned with reality, and less stressful and contrived.

And I also see how it can be labeled “higher” since most people think of a simpler life, and one more aligned with reality, as “better” so also “higher”.

So here too, the word “higher” doesn’t quite fit since it’s really more about a simpler and more basic functioning of the mind, and I also see why they use that word since it fits more conventional ways of looking at it.

Karma

 

I told a friend about something in my life the other day, and she said “it’s karma”.

What does the word mean for me now?

Karma – whatever ideas we have about it – is an idea. It’s a projection. An overlay of images and thoughts. It’s not inherent in the world or “out there” in the world. And the idea of a world is also an idea that’s right here.

Within the realm of ideas of images, karma can be said to be cause and effect. We have an image of something go before something else in time, and have another image saying one caused the other.

One basic image of how karma operates is beliefs. Mind takes an image or thought as true, and there is a perception as if it’s true, emotions come as if it’s true, and actions come as if it’s true.

Another basic image if karma is of infinite causes. Whatever happens, even the most simple thing, and even that which seems the most “personal” such as choices and intentions, has infinite causes. I can make a long list of what brought it about, and I can always find one more thing, and one more thing. The whole universe, the whole of existence – in it’s extent and history – is behind it.

The first view of karma – focusing on beliefs – can be quite helpful. And the second helps soften the idea that it is – or something is or can really be – personal.

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Old patterns

 

When I speak, I could use quotation marks around each word.

For instance, what a thought may label an “old” pattern is perhaps old in the sense that thoughts say it’s here now and used to be here in the past.

And yet, it’s not really “old”. It’s here now, and that’s the only place I can find it.

And the “pattern” is also something only found in images and thoughts. It’s a label. An interpretation. A helpful guide.