John Lloyd: Oneness, consciousness, void

 

I am a fan of the TV and radio shows John Lloyd has produced, and also enjoyed this interview with him. He has a lot of good points.

For instance, consciousness does seem to be what everything happens within and as. Obviously, that’s how it is in my own experience – and I assume in everyone’s experience. There is no actual content of anyone’s experience apart from consciousness appearing to itself as whatever content is here. And beyond that, it does seem that the whole world is consciousness. Science suggests that. And mystical experiences suggest that.

When it comes to the void, again that’s how it appears. It seems that the void, nothingness, is what allows awareness, consciousness, and all the appearances within consciousness, any content of consciousness. It’s what the Christian mystics called the Godhead. And it does seem to be at the center, or heart, of my own experience of consciousness and what I am. It’s not always in the foreground (although it has been at times, which allows it to be recognized more easily when it goes more quiet and in the background), and it’s not always consciously noticed since attention is elsewhere, but it’s always quietly here.

And then there is oneness. Any content of experience happens within the same presence, awakeness, or consciousness. Any boundary is at most an image connected with sensations, and those too happen within this presence. It’s all a seamless whole.

I should also say that I used the word “I” or “me” here, because that makes it easier to write and talk about this. Any sense of I or me is also created by sensations combined with imagination, and it happens within and as presence, and within and as void. There is no final or ultimate truth to it, as there isn’t any final or ultimate truth to any appearances. They are all ultimately this presence and void. They are the play – lila – of presence and void. Or love. Or Spirit. Or whatever we prefer to call it.

It’s all very simple. And it can all be a direct and immediate experience. It’s all already here.

If it’s an intellectual understanding, it can be fun and entertaining and even helpful to some extent. And it’s also something we can explore and find in immediate experience and not just through words and images.

I also like that he is a professor of ignorance. It would be great if that topic is offered as a course and is included in each topic taught at all levels. Each field has it’s own history of ignorance, of accepted views and theories which later are seen as somewhat or completely ignorant. What we don’t know is infinitely more than the little we do know. And what we think we know – all our current views and theories – will at some point in the future be seen as outdated.

Vacuum

 

I woke up this morning with an experience of an all-encompassing void or vacuum. And although was already here and impossible to avoid, I still tried to avoid the vacuum. I got up and distracted myself. The vacuum brought up several fears:

About the vacuum: I want it to go away. It shouldn’t be here.

About me in relation to it: (a) It’s easier to avoid it. It’s more comfortable to avoid it. (b) I should be further along. I should be able to fully feel it, go into it. It’s better to open to it. Others are further along.

About what it means: It means something is wrong. I won’t function. I will be passive. I won’t be able to take care of myself.

What it reminds me of: I used to have passion, energy. It’s better to have passion/energy.

All sins are attempts to fill voids

 

All sins are attempts to fill voids.
Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace

When I take a story as true, I sin. I sin by clouding over reality and what I am and everything is. I sin by acting as if the story is true, and placing myself (what I take myself to be) in opposition to life and reality. I sin through feeling I need to defend the story and its viewpoint and identity. And when I sin in the conventional ways, it comes from all of the above.

Why do I take a story as true? To fill a void.

I take a story as true to avoid recognizing that I really don’t know.

I take a story as true to avoid recognizing what I really am, which has no center, no location, no identity, no viewpoint, no ground. And yet allows for the play of all of these.

Void noticing itself, and disappointed

 

When void notices itself, there is nothing there. What “I” really am, the unmanifest within and as which the manifest happens, is really – literally – nothing. An awake nothing. A nothing also absent of an I with an Other, so when it notices itself also as the manifest, that too is revealed as already and always absent of an I with an Other.

When this happens, there can be a sense of disappointment.

Is this all there is to it? Is this what has been made into such a big thing in the different mystical traditions? Is this what all these practices are for? All the fancy titles and robes? All the rituals? All the convoluted and obscure terminology?

But of course, the void is not disappointed. What we really are – this awake nothing full of and manifesting as whatever is happening – is not disappointed. It allows disappointment, as it naturally and inevitably allows anything manifesting, because it is itself. Disappointment only happens within the manifest, and it – as anything else in the manifest – has infinite causes. Or in more typical terms, it is conditioned… by an infinity of things, including culture and personality.

When the void awakened to itself and expressed itself through Gautama Buddha, he initially didn’t want to teach according to the story. One explanation is that he thought it would be too difficult for people to grasp. But another one, equally likely, is that there was a disappointment there, maybe even an embarrassment.

It was just too simple, too obvious, what was already and always there, and really nothing at all (he may have thought). How can I talk about what is inherently absent of anything, yet allows it all? Yet at the same time, this void does not so easily notice itself, or at least realize that it notices itself, which makes it worth the effort. May as well teach as anything else.

Fully human, fully void

 

There is a an inseparable intimacy between void awake to itself, and a deepening into our humanity.

In both cases, we invite void to notice itself as void, and when it does, to express itself more fully through our human life. And in both cases, we allow our human self to know and express itself more fully as universally human, and also in its uniqueness.

A widening embrace of our humanity involves an untying of knots and release of identification, which in turn invites void to notice itself, and our human self to more fully and freely express the fullness of what it is.

And void noticing itself involves a release of (exclusive) identification with the manifest, which allows void awake to itself to more fully and freely express itself through our human life, and also gives the freedom for our human self to embrace and express itself more fully and freely.

A deepening into one is a deepening into the other, and disidentification is the key in both cases.

Disidentification with the manifest invites our human self to heal, mature and develop, and allows it to embrace and express itself more fully. And the same disidentification allows void to notice itself, and express itself more consciously and freely through our human life.

And disidentification can happen in many ways.

It can happen through exploring beliefs, which is an identification with an exclusive view, and see what is already more true for us, which releases the identification and allows us to find the grain of truth in each of the turnarounds of the initial story.

Simply being with our experiences, in a wholehearted and heartfelt way, also invites a disidentification with the content of our experiences.

We can also explore the different aspects of our human self and see that there is no “I” anywhere there, find ourselves as void awake to itself, and explore how void awake to itself can be expressed through this human life, through the Big Mind process.

Or we can just find ourselves as the unmanifest, and the manifest as the unmanifest, through headless experiments.

In each case, the release of blind identification opens for a healing, maturing and development of our human self, and also for void noticing itself more easily.

As so often, it tends to sound very abstract when described in general terms like this, but it can be very much alive and juicy when explored through our own life.

The magic of void

 

When there is an identification with content of awareness, with stories and their objects such as this human self, then void is not something that looks particular attractive. I am something, an object in the world, and void means an absence of that. It means death.

And this is exactly what keeps the game playing, which is a good thing. It is how it is set up. The awake void takes itself as its own content, the forms it temporarily take, so the whole drama of I and Other is created and plays itself out. It is nothing if not entertaining.

But it also seems a little too real sometimes. A little too substantial, too much about life and death. So here, the urge to find a resolution to the drama comes up.

The resolution is simple. It is for the void to awaken to itself, to notice itself. And yet, that is exactly what “I”, if I take myself as content, fears the most and wants the least.

So then there is the drama of waking up. The struggle of awake void noticing itself through the clouds of beliefs in stories. The struggle with fear and resistance coming up in leaving identifications with stories and some of their objects behind. The drama between wanting to see what is already more true for us, and yet holding onto and retreating into familiar beliefs.

Yet, when it happens, when void notices itself, either out of the blue or following a good deal of practice, there is just ease. The void washes away any content, including identifications with stories. And when content comes back, it is noticed as nothing other than the awake void itself. The content of the awake void is the awake void itself. Said another way, the content of awareness – which is awake void – is awareness itself.

This is the magic of the void. It is absent of any content. So when it notices itself as void, and form comes back in, form itself is noticed as void. Specifically, it is noticed as absent of any separate self, any I with an Other, so there is also an absence of identification with stories and any other content of awareness.

It all arises on its own, in its own time, out of and as void itself. Always and already absent of an I with an Other. Even the sense of a separate self, and the drama that came out of it, was always and already absent of any separate self. Even that just happened, on its own, on its own time, as the play of awake void itself.

Void awakening to itself, and absence of identification

 

From the previous post:

There is an absence of identification with any stories, and so with any particular content, since the void is absence, and also since thoughts and everything else are recognized as nothing other than the void itself taking temporary forms.

It is interesting to explore how identifications falls away when the void awakens to, or rather just notices, itself.

First, as void there is absence of any content, including identifications. When void awakens to itself, it realizes that it is absence so no identifications.

Then, when void awakens to itself it recognizes all forms as itself, as void itself. So when thoughts and stories, they are recognized as void, as insubstantial. They are recognized as just thoughts, of only temporary, limited and practical value for this human self to navigate in the world.

Basics and elaboration

 

It seems that when void awakens to itself, allowing identifications to fall away, some things are obvious. First, that all content of awareness is this awake void itself. Then, that any identifications, any beliefs in thoughts, any absorption into the content of thoughts, clouds over this recognition of being awake void and form (and conversely, that void awakening to itself does away with those identifications).

And inherent in both of those, that there is no inherent center anywhere, no inherent I with an Other. It is just this awake void and any forms as the awake void itself… a field with no center, with no I and Other, and still, somehow, temporarily and functionally connected with this human self, who is able to work with any story appropriate to the situation… without taking it as anything more than a tool of temporary and purely practical function, without believing in it, taking it as more than a relative, limited and pragmatic truth, without being absorbed into its content.

This seems to be the basics of a Ground awakening, and from here, the possibilities of elaboration and differentiation in how it is reflected in stories is endless…

And this elaboration can be explored both before and after Ground awakening through different processes of inquiry, such as The Work and the Big Mind process… both of which allows for a much more finely tuned and differentiated expression of the basics insights. After the awakening, this differentiation can be done with great clarity and precision, to the (limited) benefit of others. And before, in a more approximate way, allowing mistaken identities (which they all are) to more easily fall away.

Rollercoasters and path into void

 

rollercoaster.jpg

Our deepening into what we are, is a path into the void.

And what prevents us from noticing ourselves as the void, is exactly that which propels us to notice ourselves as void: an identification with content. It is the identification with content (any content of awareness) that clouds over a recognition of ourselves as awake void, and it is the same identification which creates a sense of something being off (in whatever form… unease, restlessness, dissatisfaction, suffering) which invites us onto the path of finding ourselves as (already and always) awake void… and the content of this awake void as the awake void itself.

The content of awareness is always in flux… so if there is identification there, there is also preferences, and life clashing against those preferences, so then also suffering. When life shows up according to the preferences, there is joy and satisfaction. When it does not, disappointment, frustration, anger, sadness, grief, suffering. In this sense, the world of form is a wave with peaks and valleys, and one follows the other.

It is a rollercoaster ride, and when there is identification there, it is as if we are sitting inside of the rollercoaster. We are along for the ride, at the mercy of wherever the tracks take us. When the track goes up, what we take ourselves to be goes up, and when it goes down, what we take ourselves to be goes down. For a while, it can be fun and even fascinating, and there are enough peak moments to make it worthwhile. But then there are the lows as well, which are equally tormenting as the peaks are enjoyable.

(I know this is not a perfect analogy… Many folks enjoy rollercoasters, but I don’t so much so this works for me…!)

We may try to redesign the track to have more or bigger peaks and to design out the lows, but we see that the peaks are still followed by the lows, no matter what.

After a while, after having gone around the track for several times, a question comes up. Isn’t there something else to life? Is it always going to be this way? I have tried all sorts of techniques and tricks to change content, but peaks are still followed by lows. We start to explore other options.

This may lead us to first find ourselves as an outside observer, as the witness of it all. But there is still separation here, so still some dissatisfaction. And since there is an identification with an aspect of what is, in this case the seeing, it is also inherently unstable. Identifications too are in flux.

Then, we may find ourselves as the space it all happens within, but this too is not quite satisfactory for the same reasons as mentioned above.

To stretch the analogy a little, we can also identify with the alive presence that everything happens within and as (the soul level), but this too is unsatisfactory in the long run and for the same reasons.

And then, finally, as the void it all happens within and as. The awake timeless void that time and space, the amusement park and the rollercoaster and the observer and anything else happens within, and which is nothing other than the awake void itself.

Looking back, we may see that not having much of a stomach for the rollercoaster ride was actually a good thing, propelling us to explore alternatives and finally to happen upon ourselves as the awake void, doing away with any identifications, any sense of inner and outer, any sense of center, any sense of an I with an Other.

Thoughts self-liberating, already happening

 

In Buddhism, they talk about thoughts self-liberating, and by looking at it, we see that this is already happening anyway. They arise from and as the void, and vanish back into it, no matter what else is happening… whether they are recognized as awake void, or believed in and their content is taken as real and substantial.

All that is needed is to notice that this is already happening…

Thoughts self-liberate by being transient, by coming and going. Even when the content of a current thought appears to be the same as a previous one, it is a brand new fresh thought. For each one, its departure is inherent in its arrival.

And thoughts are inherently self-liberated since they are nothing other than the void itself… translucent, insubstantial. They are the void itself, mimicking the sensory fields without input through the senses. They are nothing more real than that.

Both are pretty easy to notice, just by bringing attention to the thoughts themselves, to thoughts as thoughts, instead of to their particular content (and having the attention absorbed into their content).

When attention go to their content, and the content is taken as real, a whole world is created and this is what creates a sense of a prison (of an I trapped inside of a world where suffering is inherent) and an urge to be liberated from this.

Recognizing thoughts as thoughts is one way to find that liberation.

And what is liberated is really the thoughts themselves… they are liberated from being believed in, from being identified with, taken as real and substantial. Through that, the final “prison” of taking the idea of a separate self as true can also, eventually, fall away.

Deep time & Big Mind

 

I have been reminded of deep time this last week, from attending the archeology film festival, reading an article about the life and death of the solar system, to watching some snippets from Cosmos online. It is a revisiting of an interest I have had since childhood in these themes which are, in some ways, next door to Big Mind.

Deep time, the long now, infinite causes and effects, evolutionary spirituality, the universe story, the epic of evolution, the great story… all of these are in many ways one step away from Big Mind, they can lead us into it from the form and emptiness sides.

From the form side, contemplating the evolution of the universe and our place in it, almost requires shifting into Big Mind to hold it all… And from the emptiness side, realizing the utter impermanence of it all is an invitation to a shift into emptiness, the void, which is what is left when everything else is gone.

To really grasp for instance the universe story requires a shift into Big Mind, and to really grasp the impermanence of it all requires finding ourselves as the void. At least to some extent. It requires dipping into it, tasting it. And is an invitation to explore it further.

I am actually surprised not more Buddhist teachers use the universe story (and deep time, the long now, etc.) in that way… as a nudge, an invitation into Big Mind and finding ourselves as the void. It seems like a perfect teaching vehicle.

I would have jumped on it right away if I was in their position, and I guess many will in the future… maybe through a combination of multimedia and experiential activities such as the practices to reconnect and the Big Mind process.

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The path of sobering up

 

Especially recently, the path of deepening into who and what I am feels very sobering… Which is not surprising. We go from having a lot of ideas about who and what we are and how the world is, which include a lot of fantasies and wishful thinking, to seeing more clearly what is already there, what is already more true for us.

The two main aspects to this sobering up may be working with projections (at the who level, leading into what), and also discovering the void, and ourselves as the void (at the what level).

I thought I was worse and better than everyone else, but the more I work with projections, and maybe especially the shadow, the more I see that is not the case. Whatever I see out there, I also find in here, and the other way around. The more I work with projections, the more the world is a mirror for myself, at the level of my individual self.

And as I find myself to be the void, nothingness, as the void awakens to itself, it is even more sobering. Here, all identifications fall away… as this human self, this personality, finite, separate, and I with an Other, and anything else, it all falls away. There is only the void, which is no thing… nothing… nothing there… awake void and form arising as this awake void itself. Everything is stripped off. It is beyond and includes any and all polarities. It cannot be touch by words, as words split the world up. This is the real sobering up, having all identifications stripped off with not a trace left. Anything I ever took myself to be is stripped away.

At a more finely grained level, both of these include a stripping away of beliefs as well.

At the who level, it involves partly exchanging beliefs with other beliefs. But as the process goes on, the level of attachment to beliefs themselves fades (although some strong attachments usually remain). The whole system of beliefs and identities becomes more inclusive, more transparent, more fluid. We deepen into the evolving whole of who we are, which in developmental terms looks as maturing and developing along the different lines and levels outlined in many different models.

At the what level, it involves examining and questioning even our most core beliefs, those that seems so obviously true that most of the time it wouldn’t even cross our mind to question them in a sincere, thorough and experiential way. I am a human being. I am this personality. I am an object in the world. I am finite in space and time. I am an I with an Other. I am.

So at the who level, we find the wider world mirroring us in a very precise way. What I see out there is also in here, and the other way around. We deepen into the evolving wholeness of who we are, healing, maturing and developing.

And at the what level, the void awakens to itself, allowing all identifications to fall away. The Ground of who and all form awakens to itself.

Additional note: the third part here, in addition to projections and void, is of course to see this human self more accurately, including where it is in terms of lines and levels of developments. Working with projections does just that, allowing for a clearer view of what is, and the void also helps in seeing this human self clearer, as void itself.

Dream: infinite blackness beyond the porthole

 

porthole2.jpg

There is an infinite blackness beyond a porthole. I can stick my arm through and pull some of it back as a treasure that has great value. I also notice how much I enjoy the situation, being safe on this side of the porthole and being able to receive treasures from the infinite blackness. I know I have to (will?) go through the porthole and then dissolve into the blackness, but fear is coming up.

After I woke up, I continued with active imagination:

I stay with the infinite blackness and the fear, and the infinite blackness becomes everything… all space. I find myself as a piece of black, rectangular fabric, gradually unraveling within – and into – the blackness.

This dream is from the second day of the retreat.

Deepening into who and what we are (clarified)

 

When I refer to deepening into who and what we are, what does that really mean?

Simply put, it is the individual at the human and soul levels that deepens into itself, as who it is. And it is Ground noticing itself, as what it is. And then, the individual reorganizing within the context of Ground awakening to itself.

And within that simplicity, there is a lot of wrinkles and complexity…

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Journey: rocks

 

I did a process work session earlier today, and started a process, which I continued on my way home, and then now. (In Process Work, the unfolding can be similar to what is described here, but they also include a more active exploration of the meaning of the process and how to bring it into daily life. When I do it on my own, it tends to unfold easily, but the meaning of it may not surface until much later if at all. Somehow, it still allows for a shift that is sometimes profound.)
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Aspects of emptiness

 

Integral Options Cafe’s speedlinking for yesterday linked to a post on emptiness. Before I read it, here is what comes up for me on the topic.

Emptiness (shunyata) can be used in several different, although relatively closely related, ways…

  • As the Ground, the void everything arises from, within, and as.
  • As awake emptiness and form, Big Mind… which is emptiness dancing as form
  • As what is being inherently empty of any separate self, anywhere. It is just one field of awake emptiness and form, absent of any separate self… there is doing, but no doer.
    1. It is empty of separate self because it is emptiness dancing. (The void is just the void, no separate self there, not even when form is included).
    2. And it is empty of any separate self even within form. The world of form is a seamless whole. Everything happening has infinite causes and infinite effects. It is the local manifestations of the movements of the whole.
  • And finally, as absent of beliefs. Empty of believing in the stories of I and a particular identity. Empty of taking relative truths (stories, thoughts, maps, frameworks) as absolute.

I am sure there are other forms of emptiness here, but these seem to be the main ones.

And the funny thing is that these are not intellectual fabrications. It is not something thought out (although it can be thought out, and it can make sense, to some extent, within the realm of thought).

It not only comes from what is alive in immediate experience, but what is alive in immediate experience for all of us… right here now. If we look, investigate for ourselves… using pointers from the Big Mind process, headless experiments, or other forms of inquiry.

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The absolute & relative of meaning of life

 

As with anything else, we can look at the meaning of life from the emptiness and form sides.

From the emptiness side, there is an absence of even the question.

When we include form, and form is recognized as no other than emptiness, then what is, as it is, is the meaning of life. Put another way, it is God’s will. It is God manifesting and exploring itself. It is perfect as is, or rather, not touched by ideas of imperfection and perfection. It is emptiness dancing.

And from the form side, in the context of all form as God exploring itself, then we see that one of the many relative meanings of life is evolution and development, since this allows God to explore and experience itself in always new ways.

So meaning of life can take on many different flavors… Finding ourselves as emptiness, as awake void, there is an absence of the question. Finding ourselves as awake emptiness and form, the meaning of life is what is, as it is. What is, here and now, is God’s will. It is what comes out of and is made of the void. It is the local manifestations of the movements of the whole. And as form, evolution and development takes on meaning as well, as it allows God to explore and experience itself in always new and more complex ways. And finally, the meaning of life is what we make it to be, through our stories. When we believe a story about the meaning of life, either in general or for our own life, then that becomes our living reality. And that too, is God exploring and experiencing itself in just another way, another flavor.

What I take myself as, is how I experience Existence in general

 

It seems that whatever I take myself to be, is how I experience Existence as a whole as well.

If I take myself as a thing, everything else also appears as things. Specifically, if I take myself as this solid object called my human self, then all other form also appears as solid, real, substantial.

Similarly, if I find myself as awake void full of the world, then this world appears as nothing other than this awake void. Forms appear as less solid, less substantial, as emptiness itself, or maybe even (for me now) as a thin insubstantial surface of form on the vast awake emptiness.