Feminine inquiry tradition

 

A friend of mine mentioned that we both belong to the feminine inquiry tradition.

I hadn’t heard that term before, and hadn’t really thought of it that way. But I see how it fits.

Here are some of what’s been important to me lately (most of it for a while), that can be seen as feminine:

An emphasis on love. Finding love for what’s here, for this experience, for this part of me and my experience I previously pushed away or ignored. Recognizing that identification (velcro, beliefs) come from love, from a wish to protect, and deep caring.

An emphasis on allowing. Allowing what’s here, this experience as it is. Notice it’s already allowed. Allowing even resistance, contractions, fear and more.

An emphasis on resting with what’s here. Notice. Allow. Rest with even discomfort, tension, resistance, contractions.

An emphasis on feeling. Feeling the sensations that are here. Feeling what I have to feel if I don’t do the compulsive behavior that’s coming up for me to do. Feeling what seems most uncomfortable, here and now.

And the inquiry part:

Inquiring into all of this. Inquire into what’s here. Notice the images, words, sensations. Ask simple questions to see more clearly what’s already here.

So yes, this is a feminine inquiry tradition. It’s love oriented. Feeling oriented. Inquiry oriented. It’s gentle, in a way. And also unsentimental and direct.

It’s even disillusionment oriented. And that too can be seen as feminine. That’s what a mother will do when it’s needed for the welfare of her children and family.

Of course, the reason we may see this as feminine is our stories about it. And these are adopted from tradition and culture. It’s a label. And it doesn’t need that label, which is partly why I haven’t thought about it this way, and may not use that term again in the future. (Unless someone else uses it, and I join in because it fits and helps us connect.)

(more…)

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?

(more…)

Ways through the dark night III

 

Another way of organizing some of what can be helpful in a dark night of the soul.

Head center. Inquiry into our stories about what’s happening, who we are, and the nature of reality. Seeing through these stories helps us find equanimity (no need for drama when we see they are stories), and helps us be a loving presence for what’s surfacing. Inquiring into stories about what’s surfacing (emotional and physical pain, discomfort) is a support in feeling sensations as sensations, without getting (too much) caught up in the associated stories.

Heart center. Heart center practices helps us recognize what’s here as love, and meet it as love. These include prayer (for guidance, support), giving it all over to the divine (our body, mind life, pain, pleasure), metta (to ourselves, the suffering self, and also friends, enemies, the world), tonglen (same), ho’oponopono (same), all-inclusive gratitude practice, Christ meditation, and more.

Belly center. Breathe, feel the sensations, allowing them to move through. Notice any images or words “stuck on” the sensations, and inquire into these. That makes it easier to feel sensations as sensations. Also, body-centered activities and practices can be helpful such as walking in nature, gardening, or Breema, yoga, tai chi and more.

Support. Find support from friends, family, people who are in the same process as yourself, and guides who have gone through it. Eat well. Rest. Get plenty of sleep. Drink plenty of water. Find a nurturing environment. Engage in nurturing activities. Learn about the process. (Spiritual emergencies, dark nights.) Give yourself a break, when you need to. See if you can find patience, and trust in the process.

Also, if you are drawn to it, notice what makes it difficult to do any of the things that seems supportive and helpful, and take it to inquiry.

This is obviously a very simplified outline, and a great deal more can be said about each point. I wrote this mostly because it’s interesting to see how the practices can be organized according to the three soul centers. I also see that Buddhist traditions tends to emphasize the head, while also including the heart and belly, and theistic traditions tend to emphasize the heart, with head and belly sometimes included. It seems that it may be possible to go through a dark night emphasizing practices from any one of the centers, perhaps with support from one or both of the two other.

(more…)

Types of dark nights, in my own experience

 

There are many types of dark nights in a spiritual context, and I am only experienced with a couple.

There is the dark night of the senses, where identification with the body and as a human being is loosened.

And there is the dark night of the soul, where remaining identifications are triggered, wear out, and softened or fall away.

For me, the dark night of the senses lasted for about a year. When I was fifteen, I drank a large amount of alcohol for the first and last time, and the day after, January 1st, I felt the world becoming more (and eventually very) distant. I even remember the exact situation and moment it happened. This lasted for a year, and I thought something was seriously wrong and went to see several doctors and specialists, and had several neurological tests done. Not surprisingly, in hindsight, they didn’t find anything. Now, I see that I could call it an “absorption into the witness”. It was still very dualistic, but a very simple dualism between “I” here witnessing, and the world (including my body, emotions, thoughts) “out there” quite distant from me, and appearing quite unreal, like a dream, as if I could put my hand right through it. This seemed to be triggered by the alcohol, and I had been an atheist for several years by that time. This dark night of the senses, if that’s what it was, didn’t seem “spiritual” at all to me. Prior to this, I had some years where I felt very much an outsider and awkward socially, and also “frozen” in some ways. That too may be seen as part of this dark night, or at least leading up to it. (I sometimes hear “dark night” being referred to as “dry” and losing interest in the world. I wonder if this is not another form of a dark night of the senses.)

(more…)

Scott Kiloby: Everything that is stored in the body will resurface and have its day

 

When I first began the process of awakening, of investigating reality to see whether separation is in fact real or just a belief, I had no idea where that would lead.

I thought it was just about the mind, that machine between the ears. The idea was “wake up out of the belief in my thoughts and live in the now.” Seemed cut and dry to me back then. I had no idea what was in store with regard to my body and the rich but unconscious stories and memories it had stored through the years.

I had those monumental shifts that people often talk about. And I thought I was done. These were, for the most part, head awakenings where beliefs were seen through and stories were dissolved. For a few years after those shifts, I felt a clear transparency where my once really-busy mind had been. And this, again, made me feel like I was done. I hear people all the time proclaiming in one way or another that they are awake simply because they have had a head awakening. I listen patiently, knowing that the other shoe is likely to drop, meaning that everything that was stored in the body will resurface and have its day, until it too is investigated.

You see after the head awakening, which is that awakening into the present moment where one begins to feel as if there is no self, the body awakening is only beginning. In my experience, the body has its own memories, its own shapes, colors, stories, contractions. The last few years have been a process of gradual unfolding in the body, openings one after the other. And the road was not always easy. In fact, at times it has been quite painful.

My chest area opened early on, right after the initial awakening experience. What do I mean by heart opening? Nothing really mystical. It’s just that my chest felt clear and open, warm and loving. For eight years now, I have not felt any emotion (negative or positive) in the chest area. Just a warm, clear, transparent peace there. It’s quite simple really. The heart area is open. Nothing much more to say about that.

But the pelvic area, stomach and throat didn’t clear that easily. It took time. In my pelvic area, I began to be acutely aware of the contraction there after the head awakening. This area was dense, contracted and tight. Sexual addiction was rampant during this time. I wasn’t always acting out on it, but the addictive thoughts were there. And they seemed tied to that pelvic contraction. It’s almost as if that area of the body was screaming madly for pleasure, for release. And nothing would satisfy it for long – no sex act, no pornography. I would indulge in these things and find a temporary release of that dense energy that would last just a few days. The contraction would return and the sex addiction would come with it.

With the Living Inquiries, I finally had a tool to investigate this contraction very deeply. It was often a painful and frustrating investigation. Resting, looking and feeling into that area. Seeing pictures, words come and go, all of which seemed to be connected to that area. The pelvic area seemed as if it had its own mind, its own movie, its own set of meanings. As the meanings were distilled out of the contraction, it began to release. Warmth and space was all that was left.

And when the pelvic area opened, the vast difference between the now-open chest and now-open pelvic made the stomach and throat contraction even more obvious. The stomach and throat were the holdouts. The stomach held all the power-seeking, the intense wanting. The throat area seemed stuck, unable to express itself freely. And these areas carried their own little addictions, pain, sadness, and tightness. These were deeply embedded contractions that were resistance to almost every spiritual investigation, except the inquiries. The inquiries were the only tool that helped me open the stomach and throat. But again, this wasn’t a walk in the park. Months and months of infinite patience, of resting and feeling into those areas gently. Months of mining out the words and pictures that were embedded into the sensations in those areas.

And finally, through this gentle and thorough investigation, those areas began to open. I saw that what I had called a body through the years was actually a combination of words, pictures and energies that appeared on a screen right in front of me. For years, I thought that this play of words, pictures and energies was a body, a physical unit of sorts. Upon investigation, it all began to dissolve, slowly.

I don’t want to paint the picture of this unfolding as something that seems excruciatingly tiring or not worth the investigation. It’s been more than worth it to investigate these areas of the body. Rich, in fact. Very, very rich. Loving, compassionate and a lot of other adjectives I won’t bother adding into this post.

I had no idea in the beginning that awakening is not just about the mind. It is as much, or maybe more, about the body and the stories that are deeply engrained in it.

The body awakening has been the most eye-opening and rewarding part of this process of unfolding. I know now that one of the biggest traps is to proclaim that one is done. Yes, the seeking can end. Yes, one can have those shifts into what feels like non-dual space or oneness. But the unfolding continues to happen, with or without our consent. And it is largely an unfolding within the deepest caverns of our physical bodies.

If you are going through this embodiment, just know that there is support out there. There are many of us who can and will support you. You don’t have to buy into the religion of “I’m still seeking” nor do you have to buy into the religion of “I’m done.” You can watch the process unfolding naturally and organically with people who are also going through it with you or who have gone through it.

If you are interested in knowing more, join us in the Scott Kiloby Living Inquiries room. And if anything in this post is confusing or makes you feel defensive, that’s ok too. I’m merely sharing my experience. I’m not saying it is your experience. Only you can speak to that. I’m not trying to put any carrots out there to chase. I’m merely saying, in effect, “join me, because the pathless path to embodiment is painful yet extraordinarily wonderful and rich.” I feel so luck to have this human body, to watch it unfold and open in this way.

– Scott Kiloby on Facebook

Yes, yes, and yes. This fits my experience very closely.

In my teens, there was a clear head awakening followed by heart awakening. Then, after several years of “honeymoon”, there was the beginning of the dark night, which was also a deepening into a belly/body awakening. This has been a long and at times painful and difficult process, or – at least – that’s what a thought may call it. And it has been supported by several helpful tools such as Breema, The Work, and – more recently – the Living Inquiries.

Barry: New species

 

One has to define awakening. If it is the head soul center alone… often minimal disruption, heart much deeper, more cathartic… including the belly – total death and rebirth… The full realization as Christ did includes all three centers and results in illumination of the translation of the body as in light body. May not make it before body dies, but that’s where it goes. New species… love, b

– Barry, in an email to me

This fits my experience. My initial awakening was of the head center, and although it was intense it also fueled my life and activities. Shortly after, it went to the heart center and there was a deeper transformation. And now, several years later, it seems to go to the belly center, and it involves a dark night of the soul and a good deal of upheavals in my life – internally and externally.

Here is a brief way of talking about it: Head center awakening = seeing all as God. (Reorganization of view, setting aside or seeing through what prevents seeing as all God.) Heart center awakening = recognize God as love, and all as love, and love all as God. (Setting aside or seeing through what prevents loving all as God.) Belly center awakening = feeling all as love/God. (Setting aside or seeing through what prevents feeling all as God.) Each one is ongoing, there is a continuing clarification, opening and deepening.

Here is my initial question to him:

It seems that for some, there is an awakening without much drama. And for others, such as both of us, the process has a major and visible impact on our lives. Do you have a sense of why there is such a difference? Is it a combination of how much needs to be cleaned out and how deep the awakening wants to go? So, for instance, if there is more childhood trauma, it’s harder. And if the awakening wants to go deeper, in my case into the belly center, it’s also experienced as harder? Do you have a sense of what’s going on in my case?

Head, heart, belly

 

I am reminded of the three centers: head, heart and belly.

It’s a metaphor, of course, and at the same time close to immediate experience.

Inquiry and meditation (shikantaza, stable attention) tends to emphasize the head center. Prayer the heart. And wordless, felt and body-inclusive practices the belly.

And each set of these practices has their strengths and shortcomings.

To only do inquiry and meditation may give a great deal of insight. But it can also become quite “dry”, distanced, and perhaps a bit arrogant if not heart and belly are included.

To only pray or do other heart centered practices opens up for love, and yet it may miss some crucial insights and it may not be grounded very well in emotions and the body.

To only do belly related practices can give a depth of feeling and reorganization of emotions and body, and yet it may miss all as love and insights.

And this can be expanded to include relationship activities and a life in the world.

…………..

Said another way:

Without inquiry, basic assumptions may continue to be held as true. Without meditation, reality as awakeness (awareness) may not reveal itself to itself. Without heart, all may not reveal itself as love. Without belly, reality as “womb” may not reveal itself to itself.

Global and local recognition

 

As with so much else, this can be discovered “globally” or “locally”. It can be seen as if from the outside of what’s here – the emotion, image, thought, sensation –  even if all is recognized as the same. And it can be recognized from within what’s here, by that part itself. For me, this is a quite interesting exploration now. Again, a thought may say that one feels more transcendent (head center, yang), and the other more embodied and immanent (belly center, yin), and that doesn’t really matter.
– from a previous post

It’s interesting for me to notice that during the initial awakening phase, there was more of a head center recognition of the nature of reality. It was more transcendent and global.

Now, there is an invitation for a more embodied and immanent recognition of the nature of reality, as this reveals itself to itself. A recognition from the perspective of whatever part of me is here and in awareness, a subpersonality and part of my psyche. And this happens when I, as Pamela Wilson suggests, hold satsang with these parts of me. This feels more related to the belly center, and I also notice that love (heart) makes it all gentler and simpler.

When I hold satsang for a part of me in this way, the global and local and the heart are all here.

Opening to what’s here II

 

A few things about opening to what’s here:

If it appears to not already happen, it’s because certain images and thoughts are held as true.

One set of images is about what will happen if I do: Something terrible will happen. I will be reminded of something terrible (in past, future, present).

Another set of images tells me it’s possible to not open to what’s here, to avoid it, to run away from it, to distract myself from it.

And yet another set of images tells me that’s happening. I am able to run from it, close it down, close me down from experiencing it.

By intentionally opening to what’s here, I notice it’s already happening. This awareness, this (apparent) space, is already open to what’s here.

It’s not really possible to not open to what’s here. At most, attention can go somewhere else. It may go away from emotions or images that (a thought tells me) are uncomfortable, or dangerous, and better avoided. And then thought label it resistance, or running, or distraction.

By noticing the opening to what’s here, it’s allowed it’s life. Emotions are allowed their life. Images are allowed their life. And it’s seen more clearly as it is. Emotions are seen as emotions. Images as images. Resistance as a label. Running as a label. Distraction as a label. All happening within and as the opening that’s already here.

And then emotions and images, identification and non-identification, even space and time, may be recognized as images, as a label. And there is a quiet curiosity. What’s really here, without the label?

As with so much else, this can be discovered “globally” or “locally”. It can be seen as if from the outside of what’s here – the emotion, image, thought, sensation –  even if all is recognized as the same. And it can be recognized from within what’s here, by that part itself. For me, this is a quite interesting exploration now. Again, a thought may say that one feels more transcendent (head center, yang), and the other more embodied and immanent (belly center, yin), and that doesn’t really matter.

Sometimes, it may be difficult to find the quietness and stability of attention to open to what’s here, stay with it, notice if it’s already happening even if a thought would say it’s not, and so on. And here, I find it can be very helpful to have someone sit with me, even if it’s just for a few minutes, and if that person has some experience with this for him- or herself, then even better.

Update

 

A few things going on now, much of it – I suspect – related to my sessions with Barry.

Right now:

A sense that identified mind (ancient mind, confused mind) and non-identified mind (clear mind) are the same. It’s as if the images held in my mind of the two being somehow separate are falling away. They are revealed as the same, as they are, of course. It’s one mind, and it can appear as identified (confused) and non-identified (clear) at the same time. Specifically, it appears as old wounds (beliefs, fears) surfacing at an emotional and physical level, coexisting with clear mind, and – when remembered – met with love and clarity, held in love and clarity, and with love and clarity inside of it.

There is a sense of heart surgery happening, with a quite physical soreness and achiness in the heart area. Old wounds, emotions, regrets etc. also surface. (These are not really old, they are created right here now.)

I have had periods of very strong (and inexplicable) nausea, perhaps related to something happening (releasing? working itself out?) in the belly and solar plexus area.

A few weeks now:

A sense that Christ (the divine, the light of Christ) is within and inside of all of me, including the darkest (most unresolved, most contracted) areas of the psyche. There is also a sense that the love and intelligence of this light of Christ is at work there.

An experience of Christ – the light of Christ, presence of Christ – in a more yin way, as very soft, deep relaxation, holding. During the initial phase of the awakening process, Christ was experienced as more fiery (filtered through head and heart centers). Now, it appears slightly different, as velvety soft (filtered through the belly center?).

In general, love is brought to whatever is here, when remembered, including – and perhaps especially – any resistance, fear etc. surfacing. I notice that behind the heart ache is sadness, grief and regrets, and I also notice a part of me seeking to go into blame, accusations and victimhood to protect me from feeling, experiencing and meeting that sadness. And that too can be met with love. It’s innocent, it’s there to protect me, and it’s love. Seeing that, it feels natural to meet it with love. When remembered….!

(more…)

Three centers and beliefs

 

During the initial awakening, the head center was quite open and many beliefs were undone at that level. (The level of conscious view.)

Then, the heart centered opened and everything was recognized as love, and many beliefs were undone at that level.

Now, during the dark night, there is an invitation for beliefs to be undone at the level of the belly, at a deep and primal emotional level. (The deep, primal contraction, holding.)

Three centers

 

I was looking at the last couple of chapters in Agents of Grace by Barry Martin Snyder and Karen Anderson, and am very impressed with their description of the three soul centers. Partly because it fits my experience very closely!

Here is how I would describe it, based on my own experience.

An awakening of the head center allows a seeing or recognition of all as God. This is enlightenment and the emphasis of Buddhism, although it’s also found and described by folks in other traditions, including Christianity and Sufism.

An awakening of the heart center opens for a love of all as God, and a recognition of all as God’s love. This is – in Barry and Karen’s terminology – enlovenment, and it’s the emphasis of Christianity and Sufism, although it’s also obviously found in other traditions such as Buddhism.

An awakening of the belly center opens for feeling all as God, for a body-feeling of all as God just as it is. This is, again in Barry and Karen’s terminology, enlivenment, and emphasized in Taoism and shamanic traditions, although it’s sometimes found and described in other traditions.

For me, it started with a head center awakening in my mid-teens, a brilliantly clear recognition of absolutely everything – without exceptions and just as it is – as God, as Spirit, as awareness. After some time, perhaps some months and years, this led into an opening of the heart center, a love of everything – as it is, without exception – as God, and a recognition that it’s all already God’s love.

After some years, the dark night of the soul set in with it’s purging of emotional layers, a cleaning out and healing of wounds and primal fears. This allows for a recognition of all as God and God’s love to be lived more fully and clearly through this human life.  So far, there are moments of a shift into a much more clear felt recognition of all as God, and it may lead to a more obvious opening of the belly center (or not). For me, having quite a bit to “purge” at the emotional and primal fear levels, this has been by far the most difficult and challenging part of the process up to now.

(more…)

Feel confusion, fear, anger as love

 

Quite a while ago, everything was revealed as love including anything human such as confusion, fear, anger and despair,

I saw it as a love, in a general way, and in some more specific ways.

And there is a draw to see this in more detail, in a more finely grained way. To feel it as love. Love it as love.

I can see it as love through different forms on inquiry, such as The Work, the Big Mind process, and exploring the sense fields. I find how it’s love in a human and conventional sense, I find how love is behind it, that it’s confused love. And I find it as love, as Spirit.

And through that, doing inquiry as meditation, staying with it, living it, there is an invitation to feel it. And through that, to love it as it is, as love.

This is where my recent session with Barry went. And there was a sense of something itself out in my lower belly, in the tan tien area. A knot of primal confusion, fear, anger, recognized as love, at a felt and bodily level.

(more…)

The Great Mother

 

In a way you may be experiencing the opposite of the non-dual state which is the state of the great mother where she holds it all and it is all hers.
– in an email from Barry

It’s difficult for me to find words that capture this for me, probably because it’s still not very clear for me. And I have written about it before.

During the initial awakening phase, lasting about ten years, Big Mind was relatively awake to itself, although there were some remaining confusion as well. Whatever happened – the world, any experience – was clearly recognized as consciousness, the Divine, God, Spirit. And there was no separation. At the same time, there was a knowing that it could be more clear, and could go deeper somehow, be embodied more fully and in a more rich, deep and juicy way.

During the following dark night of the soul phase, there were glimpses of another way reality could reveal itself to itself. Big Mind was still there, recognizing all as itself, and yet it was as if it was more felt and happening inside of everything, inside of every experience. This was sometimes accompanied with a sense of luminous blackness, Big Mind and everything as luminous blackness, held within it, appearing from within it and as it. And there was a sense that this was (one aspect and “level” of) the divine feminine.

Now, the luminous black is not here so much. And yet, there is an even more felt shift into/as the “divine mother” holding everything within and as herself. It’s felt in the body in a very different way from the initial phase where it was more seen and recognized (head, yang) and loved (heart).

Now, it’s revealed more fully as love. It’s more happening from within any experience, anything that’s here. It feels much more related to the divine feminine, the great mother. And – it seems – it’s much more happening from within the belly and body, or perhaps more accurately aided by shifts in the belly and body.

And, I have to admit, it’s sometimes quite confusing. There is sometimes a real sense of losing the mind (and fear of madness, from a belief of course). There is a real sense that this shift is incompatible with relying on any familiar idea, identity or identification. There is a real sense it wants to shift into something quite different from what’s been familiar in the past, at least in this life.

When Barry says it’s the opposite of a nondual state, that’s quite true in a way. It’s the mirror opposite of the more yang, Big Mind facet of reality revealing itself to itself. This one is more felt, more associated with the belly and body, and perhaps further from what I was consciously aware of before this whole process started. Although the initial phase seemed to require all of me, this one seems to do so again and even more so. And it does seem to include a reorganization at a primal and emotional level of my human self. Not just seeing and recognizing whatever is there – primal fears etc. – as the divine too, as happened during the initial phase, but a deep reorganization and realignment of it.

A shift into being it

 

I felt completely stuck yesterday – caught up in dissatisfaction, internal complaining, unease and general discomfort. Nothing seemed to work, apart from lying down and intentionally open my heart to it, allowing it to be, and giving it all over to the divine. Later, as I went to bed for the night, I continued this, and there was an impulse to shift into being it. And that’s where it seemed to fall into place. Being it was the only resolution that felt complete and honest in the moment.

I also remembered what Evelyn Underhill writes in Mysticism. The dark night is a preparation for, and shifts into, being whatever is.

It’s not new to me, but when it happens in this way, it feels new. Surprising. A fresh discovery.

Misery. Resistance. More misery. Allowing. Opening my heart to it. Then, a shift into being the field of experience.

I also see that being it can have two or three flavors.

(more…)

Which direction is God?

 

Which direction is God for me?

It may seem a trivial question, but it can be an important pointer for how I relate to God.

For me, God was first up. Even as everything happens within and as God, when I prayed, there was a sense of praying to God up there just above my head.

Then, some years ago, there was a shift to God right here, everywhere in and around me, in every particle and cell in the body.

More recently, God is in the belly and below, in its smooth alive luminous black presence.

(more…)

A map: Some phases and facets of the path

 

The self-disclosure of God never repeats itself
– Ibn Arabi

God never repeats itself, and that seems true for how it awakens to itself as well. It’s an adventure. Always unique and different in each case.

At the same time, there are some common themes, and many of these are outlined in maps from different traditions and teachers. When reading any of these types of maps, it’s good to remember that these are maps of possibilities, not of limitations. They say something about what’s possible, what may happen, but not what’s necessary or what will happen.

What I am going to describe here is influenced by some of these maps, although it is mostly from my own experience – which is of course limited. I came up with five themes, and each of these can be seen as (a) a phase, and (b) a facet we can find at most or all phases of the path.

So here they are, as a rough draft.

(more…)

But when Moses rose higher and became more perfect, he saw God in the darkness

 

Moses’ vision of God began with light (Exod. 19.18); afterwards God spoke to him in a cloud (Exod. 20.21). But when Moses rose higher and became more perfect, he saw God in the darkness (Exod. 24.15-18).

— Gregory of Nyssa, Commentary on the Song of Songs, quoted in An Anthology of Christian Mysticism edited by Harvey D. Egan. Via Anamchara – The Website of Unknowing.

This is a beautiful quote. What does it mean?

He saw God in the darkness.

Moses may have found refuge in unknowing, recognizing that no story can touch God or reality, perhaps even finding what he is as the Ground prior to any form. When we realize we don’t know, we are metaphorically in the dark.

(more…)

Inquiry as devotion

 

Heart, mind, belly, action. They are all aspects and expressions of the same.

With a clear view comes kindness, a sense of unshakeable trust in existence, and a life lived from this. With an open heart, a receptivity of view and trust lived in daily life. With a deep sense of trust, a receptivity of heart and view, lived through our human life. (On the path, it often looks more messy and not so clear cut, of course. One may be more receptive than the others at different times. One or more of the others won’t follow so easily due to beliefs clouding it up. And so on.)

No wonder this is also expressed in our practice.

(more…)

Head, heart, belly

 

Something else I keep coming back to…

There is a clear sense of awakening happening at the levels of head, heart and belly, even if those are only metaphors.

And as they happen separately and in different combinations, there is a clearer sense of the qualities of each one.

The head awakening happened for me in my teens, then combined with heart awakening and what I can only call “cosmic consciousness”. More recently, there has been times where there has been a clear head awakening on its own. The head awakening is a clear seeing of all as God. No separate I to be found anywhere. Ground awake to itself. Content of experience awakening to itself as a field, all as awakening, as no thing appearing as something, inherently absent of an I with an Other. This human self is living its life on its own, as everything is. There is no doer. No thinker. No chooser. No observer. No witness. Just the field.

The heart awakening is a love of everything as God. The love of God for itself, when all is recognized as God and this is lived through a human self. This love can be independent of content of experience (of feelings, emotions) and only appears as love when it comes out in actions. This is the love of the right hand helping the left, simply, effortlessly. In addition to this, it can also come out as content of experience, as a feeling, emotion, a bitter-sweet love. Bitter because of the suffering in the world. Sweet because it is love and it embraces whatever/whomever comes up, independent of its characteristics.

(more…)

A felt sense of all as God

 

Of the many flavors of awakening, here are three that are especially interesting to me…

To see all as God…. Recognize in immediate awareness all as awareness itself, as no thing appearing as something. And then let go of even that, leaving only the mystery. This helps reorganize and realign the view, so it is more fluid, less identification with specific perspectives and identities, easier to recognize the truth in any story, and easier to recognize stories as having temporary and limited practical value in specific situations only.

To love all as God…. An open heart that leaves nothing out, because it is all God. This helps reorganize and realign the heart to stay open, and makes it easier to shift into it if it is not.

To feel all as God… A felt-sense, in the body, of all as God. This helps reorganize and realign emotions, from reactivity to a sense of fullness and nurturing support, and also reflecting a basic felt-sense trust in what is, whatever it is.

(more…)

Heart intelligence

 

I keep coming back to the mutuality of view, heart and belly. I notice the dynamics in daily life, and get curious about it… how does it look when I explore it a little more closely? 

It is simple when it is lived. And there is now end to how complex it can get when I try to sort it out within thought. 

For instace, I notice how an open heart supports a more receptive view. 

First a few general things about views

When the view is receptive, there is fluidity, curiosity and innocence (the don’t know type) there. Receptivity to find the practical validity (grain of truth) in any story, including the reversals of familiar ones. There is a sense of not needing to defend any story or identity, because none of them are taken as really true. They are at best temporary and practical guidelines. 

When the view is closed, there is rigidity and identification with stories and identities. There is a sense of needing to protect certain stories and identities. To enhance and defend them, and shoot down any story (or situation) that appears to threathen them.

(more…)

Morphine and finding right here

 

I received a couple of doses of morphine that interesting night at the ER, and I was curious about its effects. Mainly, it took the edge off the pain in a very effective way. And there was also a physical sense of warm and fuzzy wholeness.

The experience reminded me of the experience of body-mind wholeness (centaur) in general, and also of the shifts that happens when I do bodywork and work with projections. 

In all of those cases, there is a sense of wholeness, nurturing fullness, being home. 

There may be a shift from a sense of lack, neediness and being a victim, and into that sense of nurturing wholeness and fullness. (0ver time, the baseline tends to move so that shift may be more subtle.) 

When I explore it through the three centers, I find…

In view, there is a recognition right here of what I see out there – in the wider world, the past or the future. I see and feel it right there, in this human self. 

There is a more open heart, which in itself is nurturing and quietly joyful and satisfying. 

At the belly, there is a felt-sense of a nurturing fullness, nurturing all of me – body and mind – as a human self. 

(more…)

Appreciation and differentiation

 

When I differentiate, it can happen within the context of appreciation or not.

If I differentiate – using thought to sort things out – within appreciation, I find that it tends to invite in curiosity and receptivity. I am more free to explore different views and takes on the topic, find the validity in each, and ways these views may fit together into a larger picture. If I am engaging with someone else, there tends to also be more of a sense of us and a recognition of myself in the other. A sense of exploration and partnership, whether the other person is open to that or not.

If I differentiate and it is not within a context of appreciation, it can be quite neutral. But the stage is also set for more easily going in the direction of a rigid view and a closed heart. Instead of a more open exploration, I may go into justifying or defending a particular view. I may go into polarization. I may experience separation to others and the views they happen to use as a guideline.

Either one is of course fine. And the differentiation without appreciation may be an effective tool in some specific situations. (Tough love, but there can be appreciation even there, just not expressed so directly.)

But in general, differentiation within the context of appreciation seems to be more helpful. When the heart comes in and supports the mind, there is more receptivity and curiosity there, and a willingness to explore the validity in a wider range of views. In some ways, there is a certain intelligence that comes from the heart supporting the mind.

Even when the differentiation comes up with the same in both cases, it is at least more enjoyable to do it within the context of appreciation and a deeper sense of us.

(more…)

Flavors of allowing

 

I find it fascinating to explore the different flavors of allowing experience: Shifting into Big Mind or headlessness. Choiceless awareness. Asking myself can I be with what I am experiencing right now? Shifting into gently and quietly meeting experience as it is. Bringing in a sense of kindness and the heart. And so on.

When I shift into allowing experience, I see, feel and love it as it is, for its sake. And the emphasis on each shifts between and within each form of allowing.

In Big Mind, headlessness and choiceless awareness, it seems that the seeing of experience is in the foreground, with feeling it anywhere between background to foreground, and the possibility of loving it is there are well – coming and going.

When I intentionally bring in the heart, the love for experience as it is comes into the foreground.

And there is also a way of being with experience where the felt sense is in the foreground. The sensations are invited in center stage, and welcomed there as they are.

Each one has its own flavor, and each one can be a helpful and valuable exploration. What happens when experience is resisted? What happens when it is allowed and welcomed? What happens when the seeing of it is in the foreground? The felt sense? Love and kindness?

In each case, a shift from (being caught up in) resistance to allowing is a shift from a sense of separation to that field which holds it all. When the felt sense is brought in, I “get it” with the body. I feel the difference. When love comes in, there is a sense of appreciation and gratitude for experience, as it is and for its sake.

And in terms of healing and maturing as who I am, this human self, that seems to be invited in when the felt sense and kindness is in the foreground.

Receptivity

 

Exploring Bernadette Roberts’ views on the different traditions yesterday was an uncomfortable experience for me. There was a sense of contraction and tension coming up, obviously because I have some beliefs about how she should relate to those traditions.

I had the thought that she should be more receptive and have more appreciation, as I know from my own  teachers and friends – and sometimes myself. And then I saw that the advice was for myself.

It reminded me of how important receptivity is for me and in my own process. A receptivity of mind, heart and body, and in relationships to myself, others and the wider world.

I notice over and over the shift from tension to receptivity, and what happens there.

When there is a receptivity of mind, there is a quiet sincerity in exploring the truth in any statement and view, the truth in their reversals, and also a receptivity in seeing it all as a mental field creation. These stories are invaluable in a practical way, for my life in the world, and are free from value beyond that.

When there is a receptivity of heart, it is there for whatever arises… this human self, others, life, situations. There is a receptive kindness there, independent of the likes and dislikes of the personality.

When there is a receptivity of body, there is an allowing of experience and emotions, and this gives a sense of nurturing fullness, and of healing at an emotional level.

And from all of this, there is appreciation. Appreciation for my human self, with all its quirks and wounds. Appreciation for others, as they are. Appreciaiton for stories, for the grain of truth in each of them. Appreciation for situations and experiences, including the most difficult ones in my past.

Dimensions of allowing

 

Allowing experience, shikantaza, headless experiments and the Big Mind/Heart process are all flavors of a similar shift.

And they can all fall a little differently on several dimensions, often depending on intention, experience and more.

The shift into allowing experience, into headlessness, Big Mind, realized selflessness, can be more or less partial, more or less clear.

It can be done with an emphasis on Big Mind, seeing all as awareness itself.

It can be done with an emphasis on the heart, on kindness, Big Heart.

It can be done with an emphasis on the felt sense of the shift, how it feels in the body.

It can be done with an emphasis on our human self, on who we are.

It can be done with an emphasis on what is here now, as it is, or on what is here now unfolding over time, revealing a process and a journey within content of experience.

And it can be done as a combination of any of these, simultaneously or shifting attention over time.

(more…)

Tong len

 

Some of the things I notice when I do tong-len

  • It works with projections. Whatever I see over there – and especially shadow material – I find right here. I find in myself the suffering I more easily see in others. And I also find right here the causes of suffering, confusion and all its expressions.
  • I see all of that as not or less personal. I see that it is shared, it is a part of human life. I also see that it is all an object, content of experience, coming and going on its own.
  • There is a shift from a sense of I-Other split to a sense of us. We are all in the same boat here. We all experience confusion and its many effects.
  • In the taking in of suffering and giving of clarity, there is a shift from confusion to clarity. I gradually get familiar with and come to trust that shift. I know, deeply, that it is possible. This helps me remember in daily life, and invite it in.
  • There is an opening of the heart towards others and myself. A shift into kindness. Holding us all, including my own human self, in kindness.
  • There is a shift into a sense of nurturing fullness, and out of reactiveness.
  • There is a shift into a more receptive view, and out of rigidity.
  • There is a release of identification with content, and an easier shift into finding myself as Big Mind/Heart. I see content as shared and coming and going on its, and there is less of a sense of a separate I.
  • There is a shift into more engagement in daily life. There is a release from fear. Less sense of separation. A shift into kindness. And all of this is naturally expressed in engagement.

Trust

 

We can have trust in something, but if we do we depend on whatever we have trust in being available to us, and we are also likely to be disappointed.

Another approach is to realize that this trust awakened in us by something in the world, is right here now. It can be found independent on circumstances. And it is really just trust. Not in anything in particular. Or maybe, in life, existence, what is.

One way it may emerge is through certain explorations, such as wholeheartedly allowing any experience, and being open to investigating any belief.

When I wholeheartedly allow what I am experiencing right now, especially those experiences that seem the most scary, I find that it is OK. I can be with it, allow it, as it is, as if it would never change. It may be more than OK.

Even as the content of experience stays much the same, there may also be a shift into a sense of nurturing fullness and a quiet joy. A quiet joy in just experiencing, independent of the content of experience, revealed when I don’t struggle against it.

And when I investigate beliefs, including those that seem most untouchable or create the most stress for me, I find that the belief, and what it refers to, also are OK. And again, it may be more than OK. I may find the gifts in the reversals of the initial belief, a release of identification out of the initial story and its reversals, and clarity.

In both cases, I may find a genuine appreciation for what is, as it is.

There is a receptivity of the heart and mind, and this invites in a sense of trust in nothing in particular, or in what is, as it is.

And this trust eventually is experienced in the belly center. It becomes a deeply felt trust. A sense of nurturing fullness of the belly center, and in experience in general.