Is anything here original?


As usual, the answer is yes and no.

It’s original in that we all explore slightly different landscapes and have our own perceptions and flavors in how we express it. For instance, I tend to differentiate between respectively who and what we are, and small and big interpretations of awakening, and although I am not aware of others talking about it that way, I assume there must be others who make the same differentiations with same, similar, or different words.

And it’s not original. Just about everything here are things others have discovered and talked about. It’s about reality so of course many will discover similar things. (Or have the same misunderstandings!) We are all exploring and learning about the same or a very similar landscape, so it’s natural if our experience is relatively similar and if the maps we create are similar.

In what way is existence a mystery?


I have written other posts about mystery of existence – which happens to also be the name of this website – but thought I would revisit it and see what comes up.

In what way is existence a mystery?

That anything exists at all is the greatest mystery of all. It’s the one I can’t even begin to get a sense of or intuit. How come there is something rather than nothing?

A more conventional mystery is all the things we can know something about but don’t yet. A lot of these are things we don’t even know we don’t know. And some, probably a minuscule portion, is what we know or suspect we don’t know.

Then there is the mystery inherent in what we think we know. Any story is a question about the world. It points to one facet of something, and there are many other stories that may fit it equally well or better or at least give us a valuable insight and perspective about what the story points to.

And then there is the mystery inherent in everything. Our stories have only a pragmatic function. They help us orient and function in the world. They have no ultimate or final truth in them. What they refer to is ultimately a mystery to us, no matter how much we tell ourselves we understand it.

Even when we recognize all as consciousness and what we are as consciousness, all is a mystery.

For me, it’s helpful to notice all these ways existence is a mystery. It helps me find receptivity and curiosity, and it helps with holding stories about everything and anything a little lighter.

Emphasizing who or what we are… or both and their interactions


Most people in the world obviously emphasize who we are. They live as if they mainly or exclusively are this human self and naturally focus on that.

A few, and especially nondual teachers, tend to emphasize what we are. They emphasize the awakeness we and everything is and everything happens within and as. They may even emphasize the void all of that happens within and as.

I understand why they do it. It’s a compensation for what the majority of people do. Most people emphasize who we are, so these nondual folks instead emphasize what we are.

And yet, both seem a little one-sided. For me, it’s the combination of the two that is most interesting.

When what I am notices itself, how does who I am live within this new context? What happens with who I am? How does it reorient? What happens with all the parts of who I am that were formed in the context of duality? What happens when what I am becomes more clear to itself? What happens as who I am gradually learns to live within this new (and timeless) context?

That’s what most of the articles here are about. Not exclusively who I am as this human self. Not exclusively what I am as the awakeness all experience happens within and as. But the combination and the interactions and how it all unfolds over time.

Of course, they are not really two and there is no interaction or combination. And at the same time, there is – in a sense.

In my everyday experience, there is a sense of interaction between the two. They are one, two, and neither.

And although I acknowledge and am interested in the one and neither, I am – for whatever reason – particularly interested in and fascinated by the (apparent!) interactions.

I should mention that it seems to be more the first generation nondual folks in the west who emphasize what we are. These days, most seems to acknowledge both and the interactions. I guess that’s a natural progression.

Life 101


Most of what I write about here is Life 101.

It’s simple, and – for me — essential.

And that’s why I write about it.

I wish to contribute, in a very small way, to a society where (some of) these things are seen as basic and essential.

It may be helpful to some of the people reading it. (For me, it’s always helpful to be reminded of the basics. And I know it’s helpful to me to find others with similar experiences and interests as myself.)

And, in the best case, it’s helpful to me when I write. It allows me to explore, clarify, and remind myself. The more sincere I am, and the closer to immediate experience, the more I benefit and the more likely I am to be surprised by what I discover.

A nice church sermon?


I feel that the way I write here is often like a nice church sermon. It stays on the surface, although where it comes from is often gritty, complex, and from a lived life. As long as it stays at the level of a nice and somewhat impersonal sermon, it’s less interesting to me and probably to others as well. So I want to bring more of the juiciness of a lived life into it. I want to make it more gritty. I want to be more vulnerable. I not only want but need to be more real. For me to continue writing, it needs to be more real. I want to bring more of myself into it. 

What I write are pointers for myself


We teach what we need to learn.

That’s very clear for me with these articles. The pointers I share here are for me.

If I finish and article without taking time to intentionally apply it for myself, it feels incomplete. And when I do, it completes it.

Of course, what I write does come from my own immediate experience. And I do go into it before writing to make sure it’s alive and I can discover more about the topic, or at least remind myself about it. And yet, it makes a difference when I take the main pointer from the article and intentionally apply it after the article is written.

In The Work of Byron Katie, this is what they call Living Turnarounds. I take the most juicy pointer from the inquiry and apply it in my life. That’s how the work comes alive in me and my life. That’s how my insights ground in real life. That’s how I get to see what’s left.

I sometimes tell myself that if just one person benefits from what I write here, it’s worth it. By applying my own pointers after writing a post, I make sure at least one person benefits from it – and that’s me. And if one other person benefits as well, that’s wonderful. That’s icing on the cake.

Read More

11,111 items


A little while ago, I reached 11,111 posts on this blog…! Not all of them have been published (some never got beyond the draft stage and some are still in process) but it’s still a large number. I have had this blog since 2002 so that explains it to some extent.

The rest is explained by writing almost every day for most of the time. So that brings up the question, why is that? Why the slight compulsion? Why the urge to write here? 

I think there are several answers. The immediate answer is that I notice something or something comes to mind, and I feel an impulse to write it down.

I also notice a few other things: There is a fear in me to let it go without recording it. (It seems valuable so I don’t want to “lose it” or forget it.) I typically don’t have that many around me I can talk about and explore these things with. (When I do, I write less here.) I may find a use for some of it later. And some of it may be useful for a reader.  

The first and second ones are definitely something for me to notice and perhaps explore further. 

In any case, thanks for visiting this collection of (at one point) 11,111 articles!  

Mystery of existence


In a conventional view, we may see some things as known (building a car, the function of the heart) and others things as unknown (dark matter, the fate of the universe). Some things are known, other things are a mystery. 

But really, all is a mystery. Our understanding is provisional at best. A guide to help us orient and function in the world. As I often say, there is no final or absolute truth in our ideas and understanding. They are not the final word about anything. 

In an ordinary sense, we can always learn more, we can see things in a new context or within a new worldview or paradigm, we can see it from new perspectives. 

And in a very real sense, it’s all a mystery. It can’t be touched by thought or our human understanding. This is the context of our human life and that’s why I decided to call this website Mystery of Existence. 

The title of this website is a reminder that our understanding is provisional. A question about the world. It opens the door to humility rooted in reality. 

Read More

What makes a good blog post?

What makes a good blog post? Specifically – since it’s what I tend to write about – what makes a good article on healing, maturing, or awakening? Here are some features that come to mind:

Personal. It comes from and is based in my own experience. It’s something I have tried out and have some familiarity with. And when I include my own experience as an example, it grounds it in real life. It also helps if I reveal sides of myself and my life I may be a bit embarrassed to reveal since it connects with the reader and makes it feel a bit more personal.

Practical. Include practical information that allows the reader to get a taste of it and try it out for themselves. Include some hints on possible obstacles and how to overcome them. And include enough information so they can explore it further through other sources if they like to.

Simple. Keep it simple. Keep the language simple (ordinary language, mostly active sentences). Keep the topics as simple as possible. That reveals the content more clearly and makes it more accessible. (If I notice an impulse to impress an imagined reader, that’s an invitation to explore where it’s coming from.)

Levels of abstraction. Ground the topics in specific (personal, real life) examples and the nitty-gritty, and show how it relates to more universal dynamics and patterns.

Connections. Reveal some of the connections to what I have written about before and also what’s out there in the world. It’s always based on something, and when it’s made explicit it helps others find and explore those sources.

Fresh. Keep it fresh and interesting for myself. Keep it authentic and from real life experiences. Venture one or a few steps into the white areas of my own maps. Take time to go a little beyond what I am familiar with. If what I write feels a bit boring or obvious, I can let the article rest while I explore the topic(s) further until it becomes more fresh, alive, and interesting to me.

Do I always do this? Not at all. Most of the time, I only touch on a few of these. But I would like to use these guidelines more actively when I write articles, which is why I am writing this post and make it public. It may help me stick to it. And is this a complete list? Not at all. Read More

Revisiting topics


I tend to revisit topics here.

Most of the articles are one in an informal series of articles on a similar theme. Why? It helps me explore topics from what’s alive in me in the moment, and I may use a slightly different angle or add something I left out in previous articles. And since any topic is fresh for me in the moment, it comes with an impulse to write a few words even if I know I have written about it before.

And it goes back further, to a time this website didn’t exist. I am revisiting topics I wrote about in my paper journals in my teens and early twenties. The essence is much the same, although the wording and how I write about it has changed a bit. There has been an inevitable maturing and I refer more to different approaches and sometimes traditions.

Going even further back, I am revisiting the essence of what was alive for me as a child. The flashbacks and memories of between lives: oneness, all as consciousness, all as love, any being an expression of this oneness. That essence hasn’t changed.

Read More

This writing: ebb and flow, going deeper, and questions


I haven’t written much here for the last few weeks.

Anything in life has its ebbs and flows, and so it is with this writing it seems. I did write daily for several years (often averaging three posts a day!) but more recently I have had more of the slower periods. It may be because of traveling and also feeling I need more intentional rest. It may also be because I find I am boring myself a bit when I write.

And that’s an invitation to go a bit deeper. To find ways to be more authentic in the writing. To write for me and not primarily for an audience. (Which, ironically, may make it more helpful to others.) To find a way for the writing to come more alive for me. To surprise myself. To dig a bit deeper.

Also, I find it easier to write in response to questions. So if you have any questions, please feel free to send them to me. There is a contact link on the top right.

Note: I have had this intention before, to dig a bit deeper when I write. One problem is that I then tend to end up with outlines that seem more for a book than a short article…! So we’ll see how it goes this time. If I ask my mind to dig deeper while keeping it short, it may be different. Often, it helps to plant little seeds of intention.

Update June 13, 2018: After writing this, it’s more clear to me that although I would like to go deeper in the writings (which doesn’t mean more complex or longer…!), that may not be what’s going on. My head seems about as clear (or not) as before, so it’s not that either. I am able to write down notes and ideas for posts and do it almost daily. And I could probably easily write posts similar to what I have already written because the content and form is familiar.

But something stops me from writing out articles right now. If I try, it feels like pulling teeth or wading through molasses, and I am not very happy with the result. My sense is that something is changing and reorienting in me, and just needs time. It’s happened before, and will probably happen again. And it just means the writing here slows down for a while, and then – most likely – picks up again.

I am reminded of the analogy of a seed. It’s best left alone, apart from providing some nourishment in form of air, water, soil, and sun. And so it feels with what’s reorganizing in me now. I don’t know what’s going on, really, or where it’s going, but it does feel like a maturing or perhaps also healing.

Brief pointers


My writing here tends to consist of brief and simple pointers.

Why? I suspect it’s a combination of reasons. Perhaps it’s because that’s what I seem to benefit the most from myself. Perhaps because it requires less effort. Perhaps because it leaves more room for own exploration and discovery.

And for others, and for me at other times, I know that something else may be more interesting and helpful. Perhaps more flowing and personal writing. Or more poetic and heartfelt writing. Or more detailed and comprehensive writing.

Read More

Donate to Mystery of Existence


Due to a relatively high volume of visitors to this site, combined with having chosen to not put any advertisement here, it does cost more than I expected to host this website.

So, if you find the content here helpful or interesting, or something you would like to see around so others can benefit from it, would you consider making a donation? Any amount is welcome.

Thank you in advance! And, of course, I appreciate you as a visitor either way.

Donate through PayPal!

Brief update


I am writing less now than I have previously. It’s not planned. It’s just what’s happening.

As usual, I can make up stories about it. I can say it’s because my system needs more rest and healing. Or I am prioritizing practical things in my life. Or I have said most of what I wanted to say. Or I am getting a bit bored with my own writing, I am not surprising myself as much as I would like to.

There may be something to each of those, but the reality is that I don’t know and I don’t really need to know. Life happens. I have stories about it. And it’s OK to see that those stories can be helpful while also not being “it”.

Blog update


Dear reader

Just a brief update to say I am still here. I seem to go through cycles of posting, and find myself in a more quiet phase where most of my time is spent on Vortex Healing for myself and others. I do have topics and ideas for several new posts and they will come up in the next few days and weeks. Also, if you have feedback or ideas for topics, send me a message.

Absent of I


What does “absent of I” mean?

Simply, it means that what I take myself to be is, when I look, unfindable. Whether what I take myself to be is a me or an I, a human self, a body, a deficient or inflated self, a doer, an observer, a soul, awareness, Spirit, or something else.

When I look, I cannot find any of these outside of images, words, or sensations. And those aren’t “it” either.

Unfindable doesn’t mean doesn’t exist. It just means unfindable.

P.S. The URL for this blog is

How I benefit from what others share


Whatever stories are here – about experiences, insights, pointers etc. – are really questions.

And when I share – or have an impulse to share – these, I sometimes notice hesitation.

Here are some of the fears and beliefs behind this hesitation:

 I am not qualified to share this. Others can do it better. What I say/write may put someone on a wrong track. It’s not an absolute truth, so there is no point sharing it. It’s better to be quiet. I am responsible for how it’s received. (What if what I write here is wrong, puts someone on the wrong track? I know everything here is provisional, stepping stones, so why write about it at all?) 

When these beliefs come up, I can take each one to inquiry and see what I find. And I also sometimes remind myself of how I benefit from what others say or write.

Here are some of the ways I benefit from what others share:

(a) I sometimes feel connected, it’s a relief to see that others are on a similar path.

(b) I may get pointers that are valuable to me.

(c) I sometimes explore the topic by fleshing it out for myself, use different perspectives, take it a step further, etc.

(d) I sometimes go to the TAs of what’s been said and find examples of how these are as or more true.

(e) I sometimes imagine beliefs behind what’s said or written, find a situation where I had those thoughts, and do inquiry.

These and some related inquiries brings me back to myself and reminds me that what I share is for my own benefit. And since I do it for myself, I wish it to be as clear and sincere as possible.

Read More

Putting thoughts on paper


Often, the best advice is what we already know: It helps to put thoughts down on paper.

When I am caught up in stressful or churning thoughts, it helps to write them down. And when I experience a sense of unease or distress, it helps to identify the fearful and stressful thoughts behind it and write these down. Identifying the fearful thoughts behind unease brings what was nebulous into focus. Some stressful thoughts may appear a bit silly when put on paper, and the edge is taken off them. Writing stressful thoughts down relieves the mind from thinking it has to keep rehearsing and churning on them. And now that these thoughts are on paper, I can take them to inquiry.

It’s similar with insights. When I don’t write them down, the mind sometimes tells itself it needs to rehearse and remember them. When I write them down, the mind is more free to move on. (Of course, if I believe it’s an insight, it’s important etc., the mind will still stay somewhat glued to it.)

Read More

Old blogs and rants


I just added a link to my old blogs in the about section, and thought I would add them here too.

Here is a list of my my old blogs, where the most interesting one may be the Rants. It’s mostly about US politics, and I see  lots of beliefs there!

I also have a few old essays listed, and these are also included and more easily read on this site.

Ecospirituality – an outline for a presentation I gave in Madison, Wisconsin.

Ecospirituality: an outline of a worldview – text fragments for an older website.

Ecopsychology, ecospirituality, deep ecology and health – a letter translated from Norwegian.

Økopsykologi, økospiritualityet, dypøkologi og helse – et åpent brev

Absent of I


Absent of I.


(a) The sense of I is gone.

(Has happened at times.)

(b) Identification with the image of I is gone.

(Happens now and then.)

(c) Identification may be here, and recognized as simply identification.

(More current.)

(d) Identification is here, sometimes recognized as simply identification and sometimes not.


Writing from and for the most unclear parts


I sometimes write from a more wise, experienced and clear part of me, and notice it doesn’t feel quite right. What’s more interesting to me now is to welcome and write from and to the confused parts. One form that takes is asking myself, how is it to meet this with kindness? Another is through identifying beliefs, write them down (here and on paper), and take them to inquiry (most often in person with someone).

This blog


I notice that I hesitate publishing most of the posts I write here, and leave them as unpublished drafts.

When I look further, I find two reasons, two unexamined beliefs.

I need to be careful about what I write. Yes, that is true. Some folks will take whatever they read or hear as true, just because they want to. It is good to be responsible, try to be as accurate and consientious as possible, and make it as useful as possible. But I can also trust that just like me, most people are discriminating and actively wrestle with and process what they read and hear. And whether we actively digest or not, life will hold up a mirror to us and present us with feedback and opportunities to notice, learn, and grow.

I need to be better informed, more experience, and further digest the material before I put it down. Yes, that is true as well. I write about things I am not trained in, and have not explored nearly as much as I could. It is good to notice and acknowledge to myself and others. And yet, these are just personal explorations. And it is fine to write from a place that is somewhat uninformed, inexperienced, and half-digested. It is inevitable in a relative and conventional sense, since someone – usually a large group of people – are more experienced, better informed, and have digested whatever it may be far more thoroughly than I have. And it is inevitable in an absolute sense in that we all, even the most experienced and insightful, just barely scratch the surface of what is there.

This is all part of my conscious view on the world. But somewhere in me, it hasn’t quite sunk in. It is still not quite processed and there is still some lack of clarity. there is room for allowing it to sink in, and for more parts to reorganize and realign.

Read More

Simplicity for simple minded folks


Very occasionally, I go to my Feedly and enjoy taking a look at a variety of blogs, including some on integral and Buddhist topics.

It is a good reminder that all blogs find their own niche. Many Buddhist and integral blogs do sophisticated and in-depth analysis of a variety topics, and offer an important and compassionate service that way. I enjoy reading it, and find a great deal of appreciation for what they do.

And in some ways, it makes it clearer to me that this blog is more about simplicity. Simple and often obvious reminders, which is what I need in my own life right now.

Read More

Why this blog?


Why am I writing this blog?

The honest answer is that I don’t know. So it is good I don’t really need to know.

I used to have a paper journal, and then decided to move it to this blog to see what would happen. Would I connect with like minded people? Would I get “hey stupid” type comments, or at least alternative perspectives, which would help me recognize something new about a topic or myself? Would it help me move beyond where I am?

I did make some connections. Disappointingly few leave “hey stupid” type comments, so not much to learn there. And I am not sure if it has helped me move beyond where I am, although it may have in some areas.

Read More

Self-indulgent, and also universal?


A rambling post…..

Blogs – including this one – can easily be seen as self-indulgent and self-absorbed, an expression of our individualistic and navel-gazing contemporary culture, and so on. All of that may be true. I often have the thought that this blog is way too self-absorbed.

And yet, if it also is universal – a mirror for what is going on here and for also for others – it may be interesting and even at times helpful.

It also seems that there are two ways of being self-absorbed.

Read More

WordPress housekeeping



MoE mysteriously went down last night, and it turned out to be a simple problem: 

After several years of use, the MySQL tables needed repair.

I had neglected doing this (even if I do it regularly when I work on desktop databases), problems accumulated behind the scenes, and something eventually broke down giving me a message to upgrade the database…

Database Upgrade Required. Your WordPress database is out-of-date, and must be upgraded before you can continue. The upgrade process may take a while, so please be patient.

And then a long list of error messages when I did…

WordPress database error: [MySQL server has gone away]

The fix is simple and explained here: How To Quickie: Repair MySQL Tables.

(Thank God for friendly and helpful folks at the WP user forum.)

donations now accepted



From my days in the non-profit world, I learned that there are many out there who have surplus money and look for somewhere to invest it. So here it goes: an opportunity to donate to Mystery of Existence. And I thought, if I am going to welcome donations, why not offer a wide range of options.


I should be honest here and say that I although I live frugally (by choice), I have what I need materially. Which is not to say that I wouldn’t appreciate a surprise which pays for another year of blog hosting, a cup of tea, or a retreat…!




I am upgrading to WP 2.7 so things may go out of whack for a few hours.

I did a manual upgrade this time (have used Fantastico in the past), and it was painless and quick. Was able to do it while waiting for the dinner to be ready, with time to spare. And the new admin interface looks great. 

If you are looking for a blog platform, you can’t go wrong with WordPress – either using their free hosting system at or installing WP with your own domain name and using a paid hosting service.

Absent of i-dentification


When I first decided on the URL for this blog, I saw it as refering to an absence of a sense of I.
I now realize that a simpler and more clear way of looking at it is as absence of i-dentification.
If I look for an absence of a sense of I, I am looking for something happening within content of experience. There will be times when there is no sense of I, but it is within content of experience. And as any content of experience, it comes and goes as a guest, on its own.
So absent of i-dentification is a little simpler and clearer. There is an absence of identification with content of experience, whatever that is, because what we are recognizes itself in all of it.
For me now, there is a vague sense of an “I” here. It is a gestalt made up of a set of sensations in the head area and the images of a center and an I with an Other. But when I look at it, I see that it is just like any other content of experience. It has form but no substance. It is the Ground of no-thing taking a form while never being anything else than no-thing. It is awakeness itself taking this particular form.
There is still some identification with this gestalt, but that too is awakeness itself.
Identification or not are both expressions of awakeness. When there is identification with experience, it doesn’t quite notice itself as awakeness and all forms as itself. And when it is awake to itself within and as whatever happens, there is a release of this identification. Either way is fine. Both are expressions of this awakeness. Awakeness exploring itself in a richness of ways. Although one tends to bring a slight sense of dissatisfaction and an impulse for a shift into the other. 
Read More

Migration done


I finished migrating the blog to a new server and it looks OK from this end. If you see anything that doesn’t seem to work, let me know. Also, it would be fun to hear from readers in general – about anything at all or just a simple hi!

The host is now a small orange, which have good prices, reliable service and excellent tech support. And as before, it is run on WordPress and uses the Foliage template.

Journal on vacation


The journal is still on vacation, apart from possibly finishing a couple of draft posts. My sense is that something needs to shift (not necessarily anything major), so it seems right to go in “neutral” for a while. There is still a great number of posts here to look through, if you find it of value.

Update: There will be some occasional posts from now on, although less frequent than before.

Blogisattva Award Nominees


The Blogisattva Award Nominees have been announced!

Here are the blog of the year nominees:

Michael died last month, so I find it especially poignant to read through his blog… a good reminder of impermanence, and of the courage available to us even in difficult times.

I also see that Mystery of Existence is honored with four nominations! Best achievement blogging on Buddhist practice or Dharma, best achievement blogging on matters philosophical and psychological, and twice under best philosophy or psychology post.

This blog


A few things about this blog…

I write it for my own sake, to get down on paper whatever comes up for me so I can move on, so I don’t have to try to think about or remember it anymore. I use it as a way to explore topics. A way to describe experience and (temporary) insights. A way to, hopefully, notice where I am stuck. I way to record whatever comes up when I plant seeds for myself in the form of questions or a topic.

And as for whomever may read it, it may serve as a pointer for something they can investigate for themselves. It may help clarify what is true for them, in experience or beliefs, even if it is very different from what is here. It may point folks in the direction of practices that work for them. (Any of those would be great.)

And most importantly, whatever is written here is only a question. Something to explore further. A starting point for investigation.

And from limited experience.