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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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 absentofi.org
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.
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.)
I just added a link to my old blogs in the about section, and thought I would add them here too.
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.
(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.
(d) Identification is here, sometimes recognized as simply identification and sometimes not.
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).
Wow. According to Alexa, this blog has about 850 visitors daily, which – according to Webempires – is larger than the population of Vatican City, and also larger than the largest Santa’s elf gathering (607 Santa’s elves on November 7, 2009). Whenever I think of the readers from now on, I’ll visualize 850 Santa’s elves.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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 www.wordpress.com or installing WP with your own domain name and using a paid hosting service.
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.
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!