Ordinary as who and what we are

 

We can experience ourselves as ordinary at the levels of who (this human self) and what (that which experience happens within, to and as) we are.

If what we are notices itself, we see all as the dance of Ground, the play of nothingness appearing as something. All becomes ordinary in that sense, of being the play of awareness itself.

If what we are does not notice itself, there is a sense of a separate I which then inevitably appear as special one way or another, better than some others in some ways, worse in other ways.

If who we are is split, divided against itself, this sense of being special is amplified. We cling to an identity which splits us, making some aspects of who we are OK and other aspects not OK.

If who we are is whole, there is a sense of everything happening here being universally human, shared, the wider world becomes a mirror for qualities and dynamics happening right here. There is a sense of this human self being ordinary in that everything here is also seen in the wider world, and the other way around. There is of course still distinctions and differences in a conventional sense, but within the context of shared life and the world as a mirror.

So the sense of ordinariness comes from what we are noticing itself, and more consciously embracing the wholeness of who we are. And a sense of being special comes from what we are not noticing itself, and our human self being split by a limited and rigid conscious identity.

(more…)

From special to ordinary

 

It seems that an awakening goes from special to ordinary in a few different ways.

In the beginning, it may be special in one’s own experience. Partly because it is unfamiliar, and partly because there may still be a trace of I-Other, or residue patterns of wanting to be special.

It may also be special in other’s experience, because the awakening may bring about a marked shift in behavior, and it may be expressed in flashy ways.

Later on, it becomes ordinary in one’s own experience. Partly because there is more familiarity with it, partly because we know that whatever happened is a common and shared pattern, and partly because all – no matter what it is – so clearly is the play of awareness itself.

The content of the play – including awakening and delusion – is secondary to it all being a play of awareness. The human self has also had more time to reorganize and mature within this new context, including a full and heartfelt embrace of all that it is.

And it also becomes ordinary in other’s views, because they see someone who appears quite ordinary, living an ordinary life, and taking themselves as quite ordinary too.

Some effects of the dark night

 

In a loose sense, we experience a dark night any time there is a sense of loss, any time we believe that something should be here – either what was or what could be – but is not.

And in a more narrow sense, the dark night (of the soul) is a loss of God. Of an alive presence of the divine, of seeing/realizing all as God, of awake empty luminosity, or in whatever form it came up. It is of course not a real “loss”, just an experience of loss, or maybe the loss of an experience.

I seems to have gone through a quite typical dark night of the soul. And it may not be the only one. They seem to come at different times, at different levels of intensity, and with different flavors. (I didn’t realize how typical and ordinary my experience of it was until I read Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill, where the chapter on the dark night describes, often in detail, what I also went through.)

Some of the effects I notice, now more of the tail end of it, are…

A burning away of identities, or rather identification with identities (although there are certainly some left.) In the dark night, there is a loss not only of God, but often of lots of other things in our life. For me, anything that gave me comfort was lost, either externally or internally, and with this went any identities that gave me comfort. My experience of myself and my life was so completely at odds with these identities, so the identification with them (as a good Zen student, as someone awakened to all as God, as someone who could deal with difficult situations and experiences, as someone good at you name it) gradually wore off, although in my case with a lot of reluctance, resistance and kicking and screaming (which only made it more difficult for me). I should say that they are not really burnt away, just lessened in intensity and solidity.

A fearlessness. Again, not a 100% fearlessness, just more of it from a sense of transparency of fears. In the dark night, everything worthwhile and valuable seems lost, and it lasts for a while. There is plenty of time to get used to it. So what is there to fear? I am already used to loss, even of what was at the center of my life and gave my life meaning, so what more is there to fear? This is a reduction or loss of the existential fear, so there is still the more mundane fears here, but even those are more transparent, space.

A sense of it all, whatever happens, no matter how amazing or terrible, as unremarkable. We have gone through the highest ecstasies before the dark night, and the darkest loss and despair in the dark night, so anything that happens now have a sense of ordinariness and of being unremarkable, including the most unusual states and awakenings. Or more accurately, they may be experienced as remarkable and surprising for a little while, but somehow against the background of it all being unremarkable. As space, transparent to it as unremarkable.

A surrender. This is the thread that runs through any of the other outcomes of the dark night. Surrender… to what is, to whatever may come. The loss of identification with identities is a surrender of the identification, but also a surrender of wanting things to be a certain way. Now, whatever happens is more OK. Before, whatever happened was OK as long as I didn’t loose God (the apparently stable awakening to all as God.) Now, whatever happens is more OK, including exactly that.

For all of these – identities, fear, a sense of it being remarkable, resistance – there is not a complete burning through. They are still there, only lessened in intensity, not so substantial, more transparent, more as just space.

And finally Ground awakening. The dark night paves the way for a Ground awakening. An awakening independent of any content, any state, any experience, and allowing them all.

Profoundly ordinary

 

During the initial awakening (in my teens) where many of the things happening now happened in a more dramatic way, there was both a realization that all is God, and also a sense of how remarkable it was… which seems to indicate that the final veils of a sense of I had not been seen through.

Now, there is just a profound sense of ordinariness about it, of how unremarkable it is, and also a deeply felt sense that this is just the middle ground, an early middle ground… There is infinitely further to go in the areas I write about here, and obviously much further to go in all of the other areas of life.

Seeing this brings a more genuine humility at all levels… A humility that comes from seeing things more realistically, and not only see it, but also deeply feel it in the body, and love it.

And some of the things to see, feel, and love is that…

  • All already is God, so in the absence of Other there is not much room for pride or arrogance, nor for a sense of inferiority.
  • At my individual level, there is infinitely further to go in maturing, developing, exploring, discovering, in all areas of life.
  • There are many, many areas I, as an individual, am not very well developed in, compared to where many are at today.
  • And everything I see in here is also out there, and the other way around, at my individual level. They are there at least as seeds, possibilities, and often far more fully bloomed.

Today is one of those days where I feel firmly held so I can see this, take it in more fully, allow my whole being to more thoroughly organize within this… All as God, and at my individual level, there is infinitely further to go, there are many areas I am not well developed in compared to many others today, and the outer and the inner mirror each other perfectly.

It is deeply sobering, and even shakes me to the core… shakes up everything not aligned with this… everything formed within a context of separation and ideas of better and worse.

Maturing into the unremarkable

 

I looked at some of Adi Da’s book at a bookstore earlier today, and was again struck by the discrepancy between content and emotional tone. There seems to be nothing special or unique in the content, yet it has an emotional tone as if it is. This is the same discrepancy I have noticed with his student, Saniel Bonder (Waking Down in Mutuality)… Here too, nothing unique or different in the content, yet it is presented – and has an emotional tone – as if it is. Very odd.

And it seems somewhat immature.

One of the hallmarks of a mature and seasoned awakening seems to be a sense of it being unremarkable, nothing special whatsoever. There is no separate I there, just this one field arising in myriad ways, so how could it be remarkable? Any sense of specialness seems to come from a trace, or more, of a sense of separate I.

In Zen, they talk about the brilliant sun and the hazy moon of enlightenment. The brilliant sun is the immature and young awakening, where there is lots of flashy stuff and maybe even a sense of it being remarkable – to the person it is expressed through and others as well.

Later on, it matures and seasons into the hazy moon of enlightenment, which seems completely and utterly unremarkable, both to the person it is expressed through and others. It just seems very mature, whole, balanced, in a completely unremarkable way.

As a sidenote: I wonder if not a dark night phase following the brilliant sun is what helps season it. Burning through and out (most of) the remaining traces of a sense of I, and maybe more importantly, the effects of a sense of I on the personality… Including a sense of it being special. That is certainly how it has been for me. A brilliant sun phase where it did seem quite remarkable, then a plunge into a dark night where there is no consolation anywhere, and then a gradual emergence into a ground awakening that seems completely unremarkable in every way.

(Not that I am a good poster boy for any of this… the process is far too messy for that, and my human self far too messed up… but I guess that too is part of the process for many.)

Unremarkable

 

It is interesting how the recent shifts all seem so unremarkable. There is the discernment that statistically, it may (or may not) be relatively unusual, and there is certainly a curiosity about it. At the same time, it feels completely unremarkable.

From amazing to familiar

During the initial awakening several years ago now, awakening to all as God, it did seem amazing and remarkable. From perceiving myself as this human self, and the world and universe as dead matter, it was all revealed as a seamless whole of Spirit. And it was experienced as even more remarkable since my conscious view prior to this was atheist (God obviously has a sense of humor) and I had no interest in anything spiritual. Over time, that shift, and other similar ones, become ordinary. The remarkableness burns away with time.

It is what is awakening to itself, just noticing what it already is.

More remarkable: that Spirit can temporarily forget itself as Spirit

In a way, and from the context of Spirit, it is maybe more remarkable that it can be temporarily identified with a segment of itself, with a human or any other form, than that it can notice what it already always is.

Most remarkable: that anything is at all

And, of course, what is truly remarkable is that anything is at all. Everything else, any particulars of how Spirit manifests, really pales in comparison.

In the context of the absolutely amazing fact that anything at all is, all the specific manifestations takes on the same taste. It is yet another flavor of One Taste.