The essence of spirituality doesn’t require anything esoteric

 

There are many ideas about spirituality in our culture. Some see it as a refuge or something that will save them. Some see it as escapism, fantasies, and avoidance. Some see reaching the “goals” of spirituality as only for special people. In some situations, and in some ways, there is some truth to each of these.

And yet, the core of spirituality is pragmatic and secular. We don’t need to take anyones word for it. We don’t need to assume anything about the nature of existence. We don’t need to leave it to someone else. We can try it out for ourselves.

So what is this secular and pragmatic core of spirituality?

It takes two forms. One is the many effects of spiritual practices on our human life. The other is finding what we already are.

I have written articles about both so I’ll just give a brief summary here.

Finding what we are

This isn’t dependent on any philosophy or particular worldview. It’s just dependent on noticing what we already are to ourselves.

Even logically, we see that – to ourselves – we must be consciousness.

Consciousness is what’s aware of any experience at all, so that’s what we are to ourselves. Any sense of being something happens within and as this consciousness, any experience of anything at all happens within and as this consciousness. Even the idea of consciousness, the mental images and associations we have about it, happens within and as consciousness.

And we can find this for ourselves. Consciousness can notice itself as, to itself, all there is. We can find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us. We can find ourselves as what the world, as it appears to us, happens within and as.

Our habitual identification is typically with this human self which appears within and as what we are. This is a kind of “trance” as many have pointed out, and is self-perpetuating unless something comes in to help us notice what we already are, or – more accurately – help what we are notice itself.

The most effective approach to notice what we are may be inquiry (headless experiments, Big Mind process). The most effective approach to stabilize this may be a combination of inquiry and basic meditation (notice + allow). The most effective approach to live from this includes heart-centered practices (tonglen, ho’oponopno) and regular emotional healing work. And training a more stable attention helps all of this and our life in general.

Is this the awakening spiritual traditions talks about? Yes, as far as I can tell it is. It’s what we are noticing itself, and noticing itself as all its experiences. It’s oneness. It’s a waking up from the trance of being this one separate self happening within and as what we are. It’s a noticing that what we are is love. After all, oneness noticing itself is expressed as love.

Helping who we are

Traditional spiritual practices, and modern versions of these, can also help us at a human level.

Training a more stable attention supports just about any activity in our life and our general well-being.

Basic meditation – notice and allow what’s here, and notice it’s already noticed and allowed – helps us release out of struggling with what’s here, our experience as it is.

Basic inquiry – finding ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us – also helps release us out of struggling with what is. It brings a lighter touch. It creates a space for us to act a little more from clarity and kindness.

Heart-centered practices helps us reorient in how we relate to ourselves, others, situations, and life in general. It helps shift us out of a struggle orientation to befriending what’s here. And this, in turn, helps our well being and allows us to act more from clarity.

The essence of spirituality doesn’t require anything esoteric

To me, this is the essence of spirituality, and it doesn’t require anything esoteric. It doesn’t require us to believe anything or go outside of our own experience. On the contrary, if we want to take it as far as it goes, it requires us to be ruthlessly honest about our own experience and find what’s already here.

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Everything belongs: an essential part of healing and awakening

 

I assume that in each of us, there is a wish to belong. Something in us desire to belong to our family and our community, and also to the Earth and ultimately existence as a whole.

The good news is that we already belong. Although sometimes, we don’t notice because of our wounds, traumas, beliefs, and identifications.

Everything belongs. Everything belongs where and as it is.

Discovering this is an essential part of healing and also awakening.

In a conventional sense, we can find a community and a place where we feel we belong, and we can actively cultivate this sense of belonging.

Beyond this, we can find that we we belong to humanity, Earth and the universe since we grew out of it and are intrinsic parts of it. We are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We belong to existence. (Deep ecology, ecopsychology, Practices to Reconnect, Epic of Evolution, the Universe Story, Big History etc.)

We can find that all the parts of our human self belong to us. What we see in others and the world is also here. And we can get to know and create a partnership with these parts of us. (Parts work, Big Mind process, voice dialog etc.)

And we can find that everything that happens belongs. It’s all happening within and as what we are. (Headless experiments, Big Mind process, Living Inquiry etc.) Another angle is to say it’s all Spirit, or flavors of the divine, and expressions of the divine.

So how do we go about finding that it all belongs? In general, it’s a process of actively noticing and cultivating the belonging that’s already here, and seeing through and unraveling beliefs, emotional issues, and traumas telling us we don’t.

And, yes, even a feeling that we don’t belong belongs.

Adyashanti: You can’t see your true nature without seeing the true nature of everything

 

When you wake up from your story, guess what you realize about everybody else? They are not their story. They are spirit, too. And that spirit is totally independent of their story and your story about them. So you not only lose your center, you lose their center, that box you would put them in. You see they are the same. This is why it is said that enlightenment is never a personal matter. You can’t realize you are enlightened and still believe that others aren’t. You can’t see your true nature without seeing the true nature of everything. It is literally impossible. This is a tremendous act of compassion, an act of love.

– Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing

Yes, that’s true. And there is a slight nuance or wrinkle to it.

To us, it appears that everybody and everything has the same nature as us.

Everything happens within and as what we are, so naturally it appears that their true nature is the same as “my” true nature.

When we check with others, their reports seem to confirm that their true nature – to them – is the same as my true nature to me.

But is it true for everything? Yes, it appears that way. There may be hints, and sometimes a lot of hints, that the true nature of existence is the same as the true nature I find here. But if I am completely honest with myself, can I know for certain? For me, I find it helpful to have the flexibility to acknowledge the validity in both.

Is this important? Yes and no. It doesn’t really matter in a practical sense. But it’s good to be honest about these things. It helps us clarify and differentiate.

Not that wheel, Jesus: Giving the steering wheel over to the divine

 

What do we mean when we ask the divine to take the steering wheel of our life?

It can mean that we commit to listen to our inner guidance – the quiet voice, our heart, and follow it unless we find a good reason not to. We may do this in small everyday situations at first, and notice what happens when we follow our guidance.

Also, what prevents us from listening to this quiet voice? And what holds us back from following it? What fears come up? What do I find when I investigate these fears and find what’s more true? What happens when I try following my inner voice in small things, see what happens, and perhaps gain some confidence in it?

It can also mean finding ourselves as capacity for our human life and the world as it appears to us. When this shift happens, we notice all content of experience – including this human self and its thoughts, feelings, choices, and actions – happens on its own. It all lives its own life.

God – or life – is already at the steering wheel.

These two – listening to the inner voice and finding ourselves as capacity – go hand in hand. They complement each other. And they are two beautiful ways to metaphorically hand over the steering wheel to the divine.

Note: When I practice following my guidance, I often do it with food, checking in with my inner guidance about when to eat and what, and sometimes also when to do something that has a flexible schedule, or what to do if it’s relatively open. And saying that God is already at the steering while of our life, which is true in a very real sense, is no excuse to be a jerk, act on our reactivity, make poor decisions, and so on. If anything, noticing that God is at the steering wheel can help us be a better steward of our life.

Quote: I have decided to stop being self-aware

 

I have decided to stop being self-aware…. what I do is none of my business

– I’m baby on social media

Although this can seem like a joke, there is more to it. I’ll look at each of the two main parts of the quote.

What I do is none of my business

When we find ourselves as capacity for all content of experience – the world as it appears to us and everything to do with this human self – we also see that it all lives its own life. The world and this human self doesn’t need an additional layer of “I am this human”, “I am doing this”, “I chose to do that” to function. It already functions well independent of it.

In a very real sense, what I do is none of my business.

Of course, as a human being in the world, I am responsible for my actions and how I chose to relate to my thoughts, emotions, and circumstances.

And as capacity for all of it, I find that it’s all living its own life.

The two complement each other and are two sides of the same coin.

I have decided to stop being self-aware

Mindfulness with “shoulds” added to it can become tight and stressful.

Find a lighter touch. See how it is to notice that allowing and noticing is already here. It’s inherent in what we are. No great extra effort is needed.

This easy noticing is, in a sense, the end of trying to be self-aware. It’s just a noticing that it’s already here and inherent in what we are.

Getting to that easy noticing sometimes does involve some effort and struggle. At first, the apparently unnecessary effort and struggle may be just what’s needed.

Aspects of what we are: exploring and using them as medicine

 

There are many aspects to what we are as Big Mind or whatever else we want to call it. And there are many aspects to who we are as this human self. So why not explore it?

Space may be the final frontier, but this is the ultimate frontier and it’s much closer to home. It’s something we can explore here and now, and it just requires some motivation and guidance.

Aspects of what I am

When I look, I find I am capacity for the world as it appears to me. I am capacity for any content of experience – this human self, the wider world, any sense of doer or observer, any insights, any noticing, even awareness. Capacity allows it all.

I am also awakeness. Not any special awakeness but this ordinary awakeness that’s here for all of us. The awakeness that’s inherent in awareness, consciousness, and noticing or experiencing anything at all.

As this oneness, what I am is also love. Not the love that is or is dependent on a feeling, but the love of the left hand removing a splinter from the right.

What I am is also all of it. Any content of experience happen within and as what I am. There is no inherent boundary. There is no inherent other.

What I am includes this human self and the wider world as it appears to me.

I can continue to find aspects or flavors of what I am, although this depends a bit on culture and orientation and what we look for. For instance, I can find (what we can call) feminine and masculine aspects, dark and light, and so on.

Aspects of who I am

As who I am, the world mirrors me. Whatever I see out there – in others and the world in general – reflects parts of who I am. My inner world is as rich as the outer.

Identities come in polarities and although we often identify more with one end of any one polarity than the other, we have both in us. Both are already here. And both are here as potentials that can unfold and be further embraced and brought into our life.

Unintentionally identifying with some aspects

We typically unintentionally identify with one or a set of aspects of what and who we are.

Many identify as a particular human being and overlook what they are (capacity, Big Mind) and also all the sides of themselves they see in others but not in themselves. This is the typical human condition and there is nothing wrong with it, but there is a lot more to who and what we are.

After having a glimpse of what we are, and early on in the process of getting to know what we are, some may identify more with some aspect of Big Mind – capacity, awakeness, or something similar. Or as it often is, we identify with some ideas about this. In Zen, they sometimes refer to this as being “stuck in the absolute”. It may feel safer than the scary messiness of being a traumatized human. And it’s also a way to become more familiar with what we are and get used to it. It’s a natural part of the process for many and perhaps most of us.

In the awakening process, there is usually still identifications of different types. We may be identified with ideas about what we are, as mentioned above, and also ideas about who we are as a human in the world. Noticing and exploring this, gradually include more of what and who we are, and find a bit more freedom around this, is an ongoing process. It is the exploration of a lifetime. (And if there are several, then several!)

Intentionally emphasizing aspects as medicine

This is all a part of our exploration of ourselves, or life or the divine exploring itself.

At some point, we may discover that we can intentionally explore and emphasize aspects of who and what we are and this can support our healing, maturing, awakening, and embodiment. We can get more familiar with some aspects and bring them more into our life.

We can use them as medicine for specific conditions.

For instance, if we are used to identifying as this human self, why not exploring finding ourselves as Big Mind?

If we are one-sidedly identified with (ideas about) Big Mind, why not also embrace being a human being in the world?

If we are used identify with (ideas about) what’s closer to the “absolute” – capacity, awakeness, observer – why not also include all that’s happening within and as what we are? (The world as it appears to us.)

If we are used to identify with one particular human identity, why not explore the reverse? Why not find it in ourselves? Why not find how it’s already in our life? Why not embrace it more fully?

This helps us unstick from any particular identifications, and it also helps us explore and embrace more of who and what we are.

How can we intentionally explore aspects of who and what we are?

There are innumerable approaches. I like a combination of dialog and parts work (Big Mind process), inquiry (Headless experiments, Big Mind process, Living Inquiries, The Work), energy work (Vortex Healing), and I also love Process Work (Jungian and shamanic) for these type of explorations.

And, of course, the real work and exploration is in our life today and now.

Organic process and intentional exploration

These shifts into exploring different sides of who and what we are is an organic process. It happens naturally in our human life, and it also happens naturally in an awakening and embodiment process.

An intentional exploration of these sides of us complements this organic process. It can clarify it for us, help us explore things more in detail, and it can give us a map that helps us orient and understand the overall process a little better.

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Is my true nature the same as the true nature of existence?

 

I rarely use the term “true nature” since it suggests certain knowledge, although I also understand why they call it that in Buddhism.

My own apparent true nature

When I explore it for myself, I find I am capacity for the world as it appears to me. What I am is what my experience – of myself and the wider world – happen within and as.

One aspect of this is being capacity for the world as it appears to me. I can also say it’s no-thing full of everything. Or void allowing any experience. Or awakeness and all happening within and as awakeness. Or oneness since all is happening within and as what I am. Or love and all happening within and as love. (This is the love of the left hand removing a splinter of the right, not the type of love that is a feeling or dependent on a feeling.)

It can also be called Big Mind, Brahman, Spirit, the Divine, or any of the labels that points to roughly the same.

So I understand why they call it “true nature”. It’s difficult to imagine anything more fundamental than finding ourselves as capacity for all content of our experience, including awakeness, love, and whatever else it may be.

The true nature of existence

If my true nature is capacity, or capacity and awakeness, what about the true nature of the rest of existence?

The honest answer is that I don’t know.

Another answer is that, yes, it appears – to me – to be the true nature of all of existence. To me, the world happens within and as capacity and awakeness, so it naturally appears that way to me.

It makes logical sense that it’s the true nature of existence. After all, what’s more basic than capacity for anything and all? I am not so sure about the other qualities like awakeness. Is the universe and existence awake in itself? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Perhaps in part. I don’t know.

And yet another answer is that there are signs that suggests it’s the true nature of existence, for instance synchronicities, ESP, distance healing, and more. At the very least, this hints at the oneness of existence.

Exploring this for ourselves

As I often write about, there are ways to explore this for ourselves. Any words are pointers and questions, at most, and this only comes alive and has meaning as we discover it for ourselves.

Headless experiments is an excellent way to explore this, as is the Big Mind process and the Living Inquiries, and many other approaches out there.

Summary

I can say something about what appears to be my own true nature. I can say that existence itself appears to me to have the same true nature. It makes logical sense. There are some hints. And that’s about what I can say.

This is something we all can explore for ourselves. What do I find when I investigate for myself? Is it similar? Different? Would I talk about it differently?

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How our mind creates its experience of matter

 

To ourselves, we are consciousness. And the world, as it appears to us, happens within and is consciousness. (When we look, we can find this independent of whatever worldview we have or philosophy we subscribe to.)

At the same time, we undeniably experience matter, and we may even experience it as solid and substantial.

So how does our mind create its experience of matter?

We can explore this through some forms of inquiry, for instance traditional Buddhist inquiry (exploring what’s happening in each sense field and how they combine to create an experience) and modern variations like Living Inquiries.

What do we find through these inquiries?

In general, we find that our mind makes sense of the world through an overlay of mental images and words, and it also associates sensations with some of these images and words. The sensations lend a sense of solidity and even truth to the thoughts, and the thoughts give meaning to the sensations.

I feel that something is true because of the sensations associated with the thoughts, and the sensations means something to me because of the thoughts associated with the sensations.

And that’s how our experience of matter is created as well. As I type of this computer, I see the screen and the keyboard, I heard the sound of the keys, and I feel the sensations of my fingers touching the keys. There is a mental overlay that makes sense of it all – screen, keys, hands, words, meaning. And one of the thoughts – and underlying assumptions – is of matter. The computer is matter, my fingers and hands are matter.

When I examine this specific experience of matter – for instance the sight and feel of the computer, I find sight, sound, sensations, and mental images and words making sense of it. That’s all I can find. I cannot find something called matter outside of this, or a computer, or hands, or anything else. It’s all made of up of these components in my mind.

My mind is creating its experience out of these very simple components.

I may also notice that all of this – sights, sounds, sensations, mental images and words – happen within and as consciousness. My experience of matter is made up of these components, and it all happens within and as what I am. I find myself as capacity for all of it.

This examination – especially when done over time and from different angles – changes our experience of…. our experience. Yes, matter is matter as it’s conventionally seen. And yet, it’s also not. It’s all made up of these components and it’s all happening within and as consciousness. It’s not as real or substantial as I initially assumed.

After we see through this, how do we experience matter?

I take it as we all do in a conventional sense. I walk, pick up things, my toe hurts when I stub it. But I also notice it’s happening within and as what I am, or within and as consciousness. One does not preclude the other.

Why is it useful to explore this?

This, in itself, is perhaps not directly useful. It’s interesting to see how our mind creates its own reality. And it is useful in exploring anything stressful in this way, whether it’s a thought or belief, an identity, a compulsion, or something else.

As we keep exploring it, we see that these stressful surface thoughts and identities rest on underlying assumptions, so it’s useful to examine these too. And one of these underlying assumptions is matter. (Along with body, doer, observer, consciousness, capacity, and so on, and taking ourselves as any of these.)

How can I explore this for myself?

What I wrote here is just a description of what I have found, and it’s similar to what other report finding. It’s a kind of very general travel description in case you’d like to visit or explore this for yourself. It gives you a starting point.

To actually explore it for yourself, traditional Buddhist inquiry can be helpful, and I have found Living Inquiries to be the most effective. You can ask a trained facilitator to facilitate you through this, and over time you can learn to do it for yourself.

Byron Katie: The real end has no beginning

 

The real end has no beginning

– Byron Katie

I don’t know how Byron Katie sees this. For me, the real end means to come home to what I am here now. And that has no beginning since its always here. It’s always what I am.

Byron Katie speaks here from a conscious noticing of what she is. What she is notices itself as all there is. If the recipient is not in this place, Katie’s words may be impossible to understand or require a lot of mental gymnastics to begin making intellectual sense. If the recipient is in a similar place as Katie, then the words make immediate sense and points to what’s here. They are simple and straight forward.

The role of intellectual honesty in spirituality

 

For me, intellectual honesty seems an intrinsic part of spirituality. After all, spirituality is an exploration of reality, and intellectual honesty guides and supports that process.

This is another large topic perhaps better suited for a book, but I’ll say a few words about it.

Intellectual honesty is intellectual honesty no matter what the topic is. In general, there seems to be some universals to it and some universal findings. And there may also be some universal findings when it comes to spirituality.

How does intellectual honesty look for me in general?

I don’t know anything for certain.

Thoughts are questions about reality.

Thoughts help me orient and function in the world. They can be more or less valid in a conventional sense, and it’s not their function to give any final or absolute truth.

Life is ultimately a mystery, including what we think we understand or know something about.

How does intellectual honesty look for me when applied to psychology?

The world is my mirror.

(a) My mental overlay of the world creates all the maps, separation lines, labels, interpretations and so on that I operate from as a human being in the world. Anything I can put into words or images is just that, my own words and images. It’s not inherent in the world.

(b) Also, what I see “out there” reflects dynamics and characteristics in myself. Whatever I can put into words about someone or something else also applies to me. When I look, I can find specific examples of how it applies to me.

I am my own final authority. I cannot give it away, no matter how much I try.

I operate from a wide range of underlying assumptions. It’s good to bring these to awareness, as far as I can, and question them.

How does intellectual honesty look for me when applied to spirituality?

Awakening can be understood in a small and psychological or big and spiritual way. In both cases, it’s about what we are noticing itself and then living this human life in that context. We are capacity for the world as it appears to us. Any content of experience happens within and as what we are.

In the small interpretation, we say that this is MY or perhaps OUR nature. In the big interpretation, we go one step further and say it’s the nature of EVERYTHING.

What we can say for certain is that it seems to be our nature. And although saying it’s the nature of everything is a leap, there are some hints that this may be the case. (I have written more about this in other articles.)

What are the benefits of intellectual honesty?

It helps us stay honest, on track, and grounded. And it helps us avoid detours created by wishful or fearful thinking. (Although these detours become part of our path and have their own function.) It helps us – individually and collectively – to make better decisions.

Why is intellectual honesty important in spirituality?

I have mentioned a few things about this above.

Spirituality is about reality. It’s about noticing what we already are and living from it. It’s about seeing through our assumptions about ourselves and the world. And in that process, intellectual honesty is invaluable and essential. It keeps us on track. It helps us see through what’s not aligned with reality.

Can intellectual honesty be learned or trained?

Yes, absolutely, although it does require readiness and willingness. We can learn about cognitive bias, logical fallacies, and so on, and learn to recognize them in our own thinking. There is always more work to do in these areas for all of us, and especially in recognizing it in ourselves.

Does intellectual honesty preclude trust, devotion, or poetic expression?

Not at all.

I can trust an approach or a guide, at least for a while and to some extent.

I can engage in devotion and devotional practices towards the divine.

I can enjoy poetic expressions and even engage in my own.

Are the examples above all there is to it?

No, these are just some examples that come to mind. There are a lot more out there and variations and clarifications of these. And probably a lot I am not aware of and won’t be aware of in this lifetime.

Are the examples above examples universal?

They do not represent any final or absolute truth, although it seems that many of these are relatively universal. And it’s always possible to go further with each one of these and other insights and pointers.

The examples I gave above apply to the part of the terrain of reality I am exploring. If we explore other parts of the terrain, there will be some other ones that applies specifically to that terrain. For instance, if we see ourselves as a more conventional Christian, we may chose to “believe” something while also admitting we don’t know.

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I am not a separate being?

 

As a pointer, some non-dual teachers say: you are not a separate being.

That simple statement points to two distinct things.

I am not a being. To myself, I am capacity for the world as it appears to me, and this includes this human self and anything connected to it. It all happens within and as me. To others and in the world, I am this human being. To myself, I am capacity for this one and the rest of the world as it appears to me now.

I am not separate. Similarly, since the content of my experience happens within and as what I am, there is no real separation between anything. When I find myself as capacity for the world as it appears to me, it’s oneness noticing itself as all there is. We can make distinctions through a mental field overlay of images and thoughts, but these are no real distinctions.

So when I hear that I am not a separate being, it’s really two things. I am not a being. And what I am does not have any real separation in it.

Of course, this doesn’t negate our ordinary human and conventional experience of the world. In the world, I am this human being. And in the world, I am somewhat separate from others and can experience myself as separate and even alone and experiencing loneliness.

The banality of what we are

 

Awakening and enlightenment is sometimes seen as mysterious, from another time or culture, for special people, or a fantasy.

And yet, there is a banality to it.

It’s about what we already are noticing itself. Noticing that all content of experience happens within and as what we are. And living from it.

From a conventional view, we can say we are a body, a human being, and so on. And that’s valid enough.

And yet, what we are to ourselves is consciousness.

Consciousness is what experiences or is aware of anything. To consciousness, everything – all experiences – happens within and as itself. And that’s what we are.

What we are is what all our experiences happens within and as. Including our human self, any sense of a me or I or observer or doer, and any ideas about who and what we are – including any ideas about consciousness.

The world as it appears to us – with all its content – happens within and as what we are.

It’s logical. It’s inevitable. It’s something we can notice and explore for ourselves.

And it’s quite banal.

To ourselves, we are consciousness. The world as it appears to us happens within and as consciousness. All content of experience happens within and as what we are.

And it’s all about noticing what we already are and what’s already here.

It’s so ordinary that it’s sometimes easy to overlook.

On the one hand, I understand that we humans are used to taking ourselves to be this body, a human being, and so on.

And yet, it seems so obvious that to ourselves we are consciousness and all our experiences happen within and as what we are. It’s inevitable. It’s logical. It’s not something we can get around.

So why isn’t it acknowledged more often? Why isn’t it the basics of psychology 101? Why isn’t it something that more people – including people in research and academia – explore and study?

If we allow our civilization to continue, I imagine there will be a time when this is more commonly acknowledged and explored, including through research and in academia. It’s already happening, to some extent.

So why isn’t this more commonly noticed and acknowledged?

I assume it’s because our mind is typically conditioned to think of itself as an object in the world, as a human being, as someone with identities and roles, and so on. I

It tends to get fixated on its own content. As many say, it’s a kind of trance.

And as we can discover through inquiry, it’s because our mind associates certain sensations with certain thoughts, the thoughts give a sense of meaning to the sensations, and the sensations give a sense of solidity, reality, and truth to the thoughts.

That’s how the mind can tell itself that it fundamentally is an object in the world – a human, man, woman etc. – and overlook what it actually and more fundamentally is.

This is how what we are can overlook what it is. Capacity for the world. What all its experiences happen within and as.

What happens when this noticing happens? Does it have any practical value?

Yes and no. It doesn’t change the reality of our life – our circumstances and challenges.

But it does change how we see and understand it all. It changes the context for our life and experiences. And that, in a sense, changes everything.

Is this what the different spiritual traditions talk about?

I assume so.

For instance, we are capacity for the world as it appears to us, and this is the void that Buddhism talks about. We are nothing full of everything. And we can say that this is clarity, awakeness, consciousness.

It’s also oneness since all happens within and as what we are, and any ideas of an I or me happens within and as what we are – as anything else does. And it’s all love since oneness is also love. Not sentimental love, but the love that comes from oneness noticing itself as all there is.

If this is banal in some ways, is it also not banal?

Yes, it’s banal in that it’s what we already are noticing itself, and our life – in terms of its challenges and problems – doesn’t neccesarily change even if our conscious context for this life changes.

When this noticing is happening, our life goes on much as before. And as we mature in it, our life often tends to look very ordinary, and perhaps more and more ordinary, to others.

It’s also not banal. It’s the most dramatic change in our conscious context for our life possible. We go from taking ourselves to be an object in the world to that which the world, as it appears to us, happens within and as. We may experience it as magical, amazing, and even baffling.

And as we live from it, our life does transform. In a sense, we become more thoroughly and ordinarily human. We deepen into an ordinary humanness, kindness, and – perhaps – a bit of wisdom.

In another sense, living from this new noticing is extraordinary. It helps transform our human self. It helps the human parts of us still living within separation consciousness to join in with the oneness, and this gives a deep healing of old wounds and traumas. It’s not an easy process, it can be confusing and even overwhelming, and yet it’s more than worth it.

It’s also anything but banal to experience all of existence – as it appears to us – as consciousness, AKA love, AKA Spirit, AKA the divine.

Are there stages to this noticing?

Yes and no.

In one sense, the noticing itself is the same. It’s what we are noticing itself. We find ourselves as capacity for our world and all content of experience.

At the same time, there is a deepening of clarity, healing, maturity, and living from it.

Taking responsibility for our life and knowing the real author of our life

 

I touched on this in the previous article.

It’s good for us to take responsibility for our own actions and life in a conventional sense. It’s honest, healing, and allows us to be more in charge of our life – again, in a conventional sense.

At the same time, it’s good to know the real author of our life. To notice that everything in our life – our abilities, skills, interests, opportunities, choices, hangups, limitations, emotional issues, traumas, belongings, and so on – is given to us. Our life as a whole is given to us. 

Anything in our life has innumerable causes stretching back to beginning of time and out to the widest extent of the universe. We can always find one more cause, and one more. 

It’s all happening within and as what we are. We are capacity for our life and the world as it appears to us. There is no final identity within any of it. It’s all happening on its own. 

Taking responsibility for our life and knowing the real author are not mutually exclusive. They are two sides of the same coin. One helps us in a conventional sense. The other helps us in a more existential sense.

God: An author using pen names (and we are the pen names)

 

I had a conversation with my partner this morning and it got into how life – or the divine – is the author of our lives, and yet we often think we are the author. (Of course, we are responsible for our own actions and need to be good stewards of our own life, but Life is the real author of our lives.)

In a sense, God is the author of our lives and everything else. And when it comes to us as individual beings, she is an author using our names and individuality as a pen name. She is an author with innumerable pen names, and we – as human beings or any type of being – are pen names in flesh and blood. 

We sometimes exclusively identify with or as God’s pen name – as this human being, and that’s natural, understandable, and innocent. And yet, the real author is God – or life, the universe, existence, Spirit, or the divne. 

Said from another perspective, Life is the author of everything, and locally and temporarily takes itself to be this local expression of itself – this local and temporary pen name or imagined author.

It’s beautiful and a part of Life exploring and expressing itself in always new ways. And, as this local pen name, it can also create suffering and a longing for noticing the real author, and for the real author to notice itself as all there is and as this local pen name and imagined author. 

That identity, that’s not who you are

 

All those identities you have, that’s not who or what you are

– paraphrased from a friend of mine (PG)

What he actually said was, and that’s not who you are in response to someone mentioning an identity they had for themselves.

In what way is our identities not who or what we are?

It’s not who we are, as a human being, because we are so much more than that. Any identity is very small compared to the richness and fullness of who we are. Even all our identities combined are small compared with the richness and fullness of who we are.

As what we are, we are capacity for the world as it appears to us. Any identity and what it refers to happens within and as what we are. They can, at most point to something. We are not the identity or any or all of the associations we have around that identity.

As respectively who and what we are, we are different from, more than, and less than, any identity.

We are different from any identity. Any identity comes from an overlay of thought. It can be wrong in a conventional sense. It’s certainly incomplete. And no matter how accurate it may seem, what it is meant to point to is different by nature from any thought.

The fullness and richness of who and what we are is far beyond any identity and all identities. What we are aware of or can name is a drop in the ocean of who and what we are.

We are also less than any identity since any identity comes from the addition layer of thoughts. It comes from an overlay of thoughts. It’s extra.

The more we explore this for ourselves and take in what we find, the more we tend to hold any identity we have – applied to ourselves or others or anything – more lightly. They are already questions, and we get to recognize them as questions and not anything final or complete.

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Center of gravity shifts into Big Mind & fear comes up

 

I talked with someone whose center of gravity spontaneously shifted into Big Mind yesterday, and she noticed how something in her human self was terrified of it.

Both are natural and the fear is not so unusual in a certain phase of the process.

How can we best relate to this fear?

Notice that it’s just a part of our human self that’s afraid of it. It’s not all of us and it’s something we can relate to more intentionally.

Notice that this fearful part of us already is what it’s afraid of. It is Big Mind. It is what we are. It’s afraid of its own nature, and there is a sweet innocence in that.

Listen to what this fearful part of us has to say. What is it afraid of? What is its story? What happens when we believe this? What’s more true?

Notice the sensation aspect of the fear. Notice the body sensations. Allow them to be as they are. Rest with them. Set aside any thoughts for a little while.

Identify and examine any beliefs (as mentioned above) and emotional issues behind this fear. Use whatever approach works for you.

Dialog with this fearful part and Big Mind, and perhaps even allow the two to dialog together.

Find more structured and intentional ways to shift into and explore Big Mind. This can give a sense of predictability and control – in a limited but important sense, and it can help us explore the terrain in a way that feels more safe.

For examining beliefs, I often use The Work of Byron Katie. For exploring emotional issues, Living Inquiries and Vortex Healing are both great. For dialog, Voice Dialog or the Big Mind process works well. And for shifting into Big Mind in a more intentional way, Headless experiments and the Big Mind process are both relatively simple and often effective.

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Adyashanti: Each human is a point of orientation through which the Universe experiences itself

 

Each human is a point of orientation through which the Universe experiences itself.

– Adyashanti, Silent Retreat Vol. 57, Garrison 2017

Yes, we are the universe experiencing itself. We are a point in this universe, located a specific place. And we have a unique orientation – a unique way of experiencing, perceiving, and acting.

As Carl Sagan said, we are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe through which the universe experiences itself.

This is the intersection of science and spirituality, of the universe story & the epic of evolution and Big Mind, of who we are – as this human self and local expression of the universe, and what we are – as capacity for the universe as it appears to us.

Through and as innumerable beings as part of this planet and perhaps throughout the universe, the universe – existence – experiences itself in innumerable unique ways. Each location is different. Each being is different. Each filter of perception – made out of matter and psyche – is different. Each experience is different.

In a bigger picture, we can say that this is not only the universe exploring, experiencing, and expressing itself, it’s existence and even Spirit and the divine exploring, experiencing, and expressing itself – in always new ways. It’s the dance of life or existence. It’s what the old Hindus called Lila.

And we – as humans and humanity and Earth – are part of this dance.

Any mythology or cosmology reflects us here and now. So how does the idea of Lila mirror what’s here and now in immediacy? What I find is that all my experiences happen within and as consciousness. They are, in a sense, this consciousness exploring, experiencing, and expressing itself. Lila is here and now. And to me – as this consciousness – it appears that the whole of existence explores, experiences, and expresses itself in the same way.

This is an instance where we can say that both are equally accurate. We can put a story on existence saying through and as this universe – as us as part of it – it is exploring, experiencing, and expressing itself. And we can say that we, as this consciousness, are exploring, experiencing, and expresing ourselves through all our experiences.

Why is this important? In a way, it isn’t. This view or insight or realization is just one of the many ways consciousness or existence is experiencing itself. In another sense, it makes a difference to us – and through this point of existence that is us.

It helps us be aware of something essential in who – as this human self, and what – as consciousness, we are. It helps us loosen the grip on any (other) ideas we have about how life should or needs to be. It helps us find some appreciation and even gratitude for life as it is here and now. It helps us appreciate the dance of existence as it appears as and to us here and now.

Adyashanti: Profound freedom is a profound intimacy with life

 

Profound freedom is a profound intimacy with life.

– Adyashanti, Silent Retreat Vol. 57, Garrison 2017

What is freedom?

At an ordinary and universal human level, it’s the freedom of movement, freedom of access to education, freedom of access to healthcare, freedom of worship and speech, and so on.

At a more psychological level, it’s the freedom from being caught in beliefs, identifications, emotional issues, and trauma. When we are caught in these, they run us. We are caught in their separation consciousness and perceive and act as if the stressful thoughts behind them are true. When we are more free from being caught in these – because our relationship to them has changed and/or they themselves have healed – we have more freedom in how we respond to situations. (It still comes from conditioning but there is room for more flexibility, kindness, and acting from a larger view.)

Adyashanti talks about the freedom to experience our experiences as they are, without being caught in having to change them, avoid them, or transform them.

And there is the freedom that comes from noticing what we are, and from what we are noticing itself as all there is. When we find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us, and as that which all our experiences happen within and as, it’s all revealed as a seamless whole. And in this oneness, there is freedom. It’s freedom since there is no “other” that can impede freedom. All is movements within the one.

How do these freedoms give an intimacy with life?

The first freedom gives us a richer life and a life where we are more free to follow what’s right for us and our heart and inner guidance. The second allows us to respond more intentionally to situations and work with them instead of reacting to them and work against them. The third allows us to be with and find ourselves as whatever our experience is and gives us an intimacy with our experience as it is here and now. And the last one gives us intimacy with the world as it appears to us since it is what we are.

All of these freedoms – and probably many more – are important and valid. They contribute to the richness of life and function at different levels and areas of who and what we are.

13.8 billion years old

 

When people ask how old I am, I sometimes say 13.8 billion years old.

It’s the most accurate answer, even if it’s perhaps not what they meant.

We are all 13.8 billion years old, as far as we know.

As Carl Sagan said, we are the local eyes, ears, feelings, and thoughts of the universe bringing itself into consciousness.

We are part of the ongoing evolution of this universe as it explores, expresses, and brings itself into consciousness through us and other beings.

Everything that we are is this old. The matter we are made up of has gone through a 13.8 billion year process to be formed into this human form. Our mind reflects the evolution of our ancestors and their environments, the Earth as a whole, and the universe. Our body and mind are the product of 13.8 billion years of evolution of this universe.

And we are also timeless. We are what it all – this universe and the universe in the form of this human self – happens within and as.

As who we are, we are whatever age is in our passport, and we are also as old as this universe. As what we are, we are that which all of this happens within and as.

Loss and what’s left

 

I have lost a lot over the last ten years. Loss strips life away to the essentials. And that helps us see and value the essentials.

Some of these essentials are shelter, food, clothing, family, friends, and nature.

Another, if we are lucky, is our life- and romantic partner.

And this amazing human body with its senses and ability to take in our surroundings.

Who we are and the wholeness and richness of who we are as a human being in the world.

The adventure inherent in life and being a human being in the world.

The quiet bliss inherent in just being.

Noticing what we are – that which all of these experiences happen within and as.

And there is always yet another.

Why I question the term lightworker

 

I sometimes see people on social media use the term “lightworker”, apparently meaning someone working for the good of life and the planet.

I appreciate the intention of supporting life, but the term seems a bit off to me.

First, it seems to set people in that category – and people seem often to use it about themselves – apart from others. I am a lightworker and you are not. Why the separation? We are all in this together. Everything I see in you I know from myself. The world as it appears to me is me in a very real sense. It’s interpreted and labeled through images and words in my own mental field. It reflects back to me what I have in myself as a human being. And I am capacity for all of it, it’s all happening within and as what I am.

Also, it seems to separate light from darkness, and associate light with something good and darkness with something bad. Why this separation? Darkness is as beautiful as light. In physical darkness, there is rest for many animals and plants. There is sleep and dreams. During the dark night, there is rest. During the dark winter, there is rest. Seeds germinate and grow in the dark soil. The universe as we know it emerged from darkness and absence of light. In metaphorical darkness, we find that which we don’t want to see in ourselves, and that’s where – when we get to know these parts of us and include them more consciously in our life – we find a tremendous richness and nourishment for our life.

It seems that the term lightworker comes from a need to set a group of people, including oneself, apart from others. And a need to set light apart from dark. It seems to come out from an essentially dualistic view on the world, leaving out the larger wholeness it’s happening within and as.

And, of course, this too is reflecting who and what I am. I may not do it in this particular way, but I do it in other ways. For instance, as I write this, I put the “lightworker” people into one category and myself in another, and somewhere in me, I see “my own” category as a little better. And I notice that comes out of insecurity and fear. It’s a reaction to unmet and unloved fear in me. It’s a reaction to unexamined beliefs and assumptions.

As I wrote the sentence “It seems that the term…” and I looked at the need to set oneself apart through stories, the lyrics of the song I listened to said:

Beautiful people telling the stories….

– Like a Gypsy, Kojato

When we tell ourselves these stories, we make ourselves into the beautiful people set apart from the rest.

Adyashanti: There’s this whole other side of awakening

 

There’s this whole other side of awakening which isn’t just waking up from form, waking up from the body, waking up from the identifications of the mind, but it’s getting that awakening down in through all of that, and that’s like a clearinghouse. That’s the difference between someone who’s had an awakening and ultimately someone who has discovered their divine individuality.

– Adyashanti in The Divine Individual

Adyashanti: When your ‘yes’ becomes unlimited, there’s profound silence

 

When your ‘yes’ becomes unlimited, there’s profound silence.

– Adyashanti, Silent Retreat Vol.62, Asilomar Dec 2017, Q&A

What does it mean that our YES is unlimited?

It means there is a yes in us to whatever is here, whatever our experience happens to be. There is always this yes, we are always this yes since our nature allows whatever experience is here. The yes Adya talks about is a yes that comes from this recognition.

Where does the silence come from?

When there is a no in us to our experience, there is struggle, and struggle feels noisy. So when the struggle rests, there is silence.

Also, when the struggle rests, it reveals the profound silence we already are and the profound silence all our experiences – including the apparently busy and noisy ones – happens within and as.

And how can our YES become unlimited?

One is to notice the yes already inherent in life and us. The nature of life, existence, consciousness, and what we are is to allow whatever experience is here. There is already a yes to it all. When we notice it, we can align with this yes more consciously.

The other is to reorient to our experiences through heart-centered practices, and also investigate any no in us and where it’s coming from – and invite in healing and resolution for it.

These two go hand-in-hand and mutually support each other.


My early longing: a longing to return home to the divine

 

As a child, and I remember this best at elementary school age, I had a longing. I would wake up in the morning, feel this longing, and not know what it was for. I had my favorite food – cornflakes or bread with strawberry jam, I read my favorite comics (Carl Barks’ Donald Duck stories), I read my favorite books (Jules Verne, Sherlock Holmes, Hardy Boys, Famous Five), I spent time with my parents, I played with friends, and nothing did it. Nothing helped alleviate the longing.

When the awakening happened age sixteen, I finally understood what the longing was for. The longing was for coming home – to all as the divine. To recognize all, without exception, as the divine and the play and unfolding and exploration of the divine.

I imagine the longing had a more human element as well. I longed for a deeper and more real relationship with my parents. But a large part of the longing, perhaps fueled by this more human longing, was for coming home.

This longing was fulfilled, and is being fulfilled. It’s a process. Returning home is something we don’t need to since we are always here. And it’s also an ongoing unfolding process and exploration.

There are two ways to talk about this. One is that the longing is to return home to what I am – as capacity for the world as it appears to me, as what all my experiences happen within and as. The other is that this is a longing for a return to the divine, a return to recognizing all – without exceptions – as the divine and the unfolding and play of the divine. The first is what I call the small or psychological interpretation of awakening, and the second the big or spiritual interpretation of awakening. The awakening itself is the same, it’s just how we talk about it that’s different.

Ho’oponopono

 

What is ho’oponopono?

Ho’oponopno comes from an ancient healing practice from Hawaii and other south Pacific islands. It’s a powerful practice that can transform and heal our relationship with ourselves, others, and the world.

In its modern version, it consists of four sentences:

I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.

How can I explore it for myself?

Say the four sentences to anything or anyone you wish to heal your relationship with. Visualize them in front of you. Say it out loud or silently.

(This practice is for yourself so if you are doing it for someone in your life, you don’t need to mention to them that you are doing this.)

You can say it during a time set aside for this, before falling asleep or after waking up, or any time during the day. Repeat several times.

Over time, it can become a continuous and mostly wordless prayer.

You can do it for people in your life, both the ones you like and dislike. For yourself as a whole. For parts of you like physical issues, your body, emotions, emotional issues, or a repeating behavior. For challenging situations, whether they are personal or in the wider world. For Earth as a whole and all life. And for anyone suffering.

It may be easier to first do it for someone in your life you easily like and love, and when you are familiar with the process do it for yourself and anything and anyone else. It can be especially powerful and transformative to do it for anyone suffering and for whatever in your world you dislike or have trouble with.

If you wish, take it as an experiment. Try it and see what happens.

What do I do if I notice resistance?

We may notice some resistance when we do this for someone or something we have a troubled relationship with. It’s natural and part of the process. It shows us that healing is needed and – likely – happening as part of doing ho’o for it.

If the resistance is strong, you can shift and do ho’o for this resistance. When you notice your relationship to the resistance has healed a bit and feels softer, you can go back to what you initially did ho’o for.

What’s the effect?

In my experience, it helps me heal my relationship with whatever I do it for. It feels right. There is a sense of peace. It’s easier to have some understanding for myself and/or the other.

I can still take action when and as needed. I can still act to prevent harm. We don’t need to condone any harmful behavior. It’s about me finding more peace with what is and this helps me take more clear and decisive actions.

It helps me, and it also helps the world. I become less of a nuisance. I may show that there is another way of being. I may act in ways helpful to others.

Ho’o is something I do for myself and the world.

How does ho’oponopno work?

It’s mainly about trying it for ourselves and see what happens. So the question of how it works is perhaps less important but I’ll mention a few things.

It helps me shift into forgiveness and love. It opens that possibility. And that, in itself, is healing.

It helps me heal my relationship with whatever I do it for, and that feels right and healing.

As a human being, the world as it appears to me is a mirror of me. So it makes sense to take responsibility for it all and find healing in how I relate to it.

If I find healing for my relationship to someone or something in the wider world, it tends to heal my relationship to whatever is similar in myself. And the other way around.

As capacity for the world, the world – as it appears to me – happens within and as what I am. So it makes sense to ask for forgiveness when I see suffering and let these parts of my world know I love them.

How do you see ho’oponopno in relation to other practices?

Ho’oponopono is one of several heart-practices – similar to tonglen, metta, heart prayer, and more.

For me, these heart practices are central. They can be profoundly transforming, and they support healing, awakening, embodiment, and being a slightly more helpful part of the world.

How do you use it?

I have gone through periods where I use it a lot through the day and other periods where I use it now and then. When I use it a lot, it tends to become an ongoing and often silent prayer. These days, I tend to use it when I notice I have an unease relationship with someone or something.

It doesn’t mean all my relationships are healed. There is always more. And it certainly doesn’t mean I am perfect, whatever that means. But it does mean that I have a tool that can be very helpful in challenging situations. And it means I am working on a lot of what’s coming up in my life.

Dialog with someone who has lived innumerable lives in many places in the cosmos

 

Living for as many lives as I have, I have over time arrived at many of the same insights that many spiritual teachers and traditions talk about. For me, it’s through experience and living ordinary lives. I haven’t been terribly interested in spirituality in itself, except for at rare occasions. But I realize that a lot of what I know – in my fibers and bones and through my being – fits much of what spiritual traditions talk about.

– a quote from this dialog

This is one in a series of imagined dialogs with people who have lived for eons. This dialog is with someone who has lived innumerable lives in many places in the cosmos and – through a glitch? – happens to remember it all.

THE DIALOG

First, I am curious about the several lives. Does it mean you remember the life between lives?

Yes, although it doesn’t matter so much here. If you don’t remember it yourself, what I say will just become ideas. And if you do, I don’t need to say much about it.

Okay. How is it to have lived many lives in many different places of the cosmos?

I am very grateful for having that experience. It’s enormously enriching to live lives through the filters of different beings – and their senses, bodies, perceptions, culture and more – and their world.

What have you learned that many with one life haven’t?

Mostly, to know that we all live from our own conditioning. Everything about us makes sense in the light of our conditioning – from our bodies, environment, culture, and individual experiences.

Because of all the lives I have had, I am less inclined to judge. The tendency to judge has worn off in me over time. I know how it is to live in so many different circumstances, and I know how so much in us flows from our conditioning.

I have a deep empathy with different beings. I know we all just want to live and be free from suffering – and love and be loved. There is something very beautiful in this. It’s also heartbreaking because I know how universal suffering is and how common it is for beings to not feel fully loved and to not fully love themselves.

These sounds like insights from spirituality?

Living for as many lives as I have, I have over time arrived at many of the same insights that many spiritual teachers and traditions talk about. For me, it’s through experience and living ordinary lives. I haven’t been terribly interested in spirituality in itself, except for at rare occasions. But I realize that a lot of what I know – in my fibers and bones and through my being – fits much of what spiritual traditions talk about.

You mentioned empathy with others. What about awakening?

Well, that’s a big word. For me, it’s more simple and down-to-earth.

Through having lived as many lives I have, I notice that all sorts of experiences and states come and go. I have experienced millennia of mostly “ordinary” states with times of profound despair, mind-shattering pain, and amazing bliss. I have noticed that what I am is that which all this happens within and as. Experiences come and go and what I am doesn’t come and go. Of course, I am whatever state is here but it doesn’t last. Only being capacity for all of it runs through it all.

If you want to call that awakening, be my guest. But it’s really very simple. It doesn’t require fancy words, or rituals, or mythology, or even labels.

What do most people not get?

Hm, from my perspective, many things.

They don’t get how precious and amazing life is. Even a troubled life, even a mundane life, is amazing and precious beyond words.

They don’t get that the way they treat others is the way they treat themselves. Love your neighbor for your own sake. It’s good for everyone.

They don’t get the importance of a long and big perspective. Of course, most people get by with a more narrow and shorter perspective. But a long and big perspective enriches life enormously. And for you folks today, it’s essential for your survival. It’s the only way humans can and will survive. And life is showing you just that.

They don’t get that all experiences enrich life. They are not your enemies. Trying to run away from your experiences only creates an added layer of suffering. In reality, it’s the only real suffering.

Of course, most don’t get that what we are is capacity for all and any of our experiences. We are the experiences which come and go. And we are capacity for all of it.

How can we mimic your process and discover this for ourselves?

Well, that’s not my speciality. But it does seem that some things helps people to find this for themselves. It’s definitely possible to people to find this for themselves, and many do – to some extent.

The main thing is curiosity and sincerity. Explore and see what you find. Don’t take your own or others assumptions for granted. Be willing to leave your most basic assumptions about yourself and life. Get close to your experience.

I feel like this is a trick question since a lot of what you write about on this website does exactly that! Is that what you want me to say? I see through you. And of course, yes, the tools you write about here can be very helpful for people, especially if used with curiosity and sincerity.

Yes, I guess that’s why I asked the question. Although I write about these things exactly because these tools can help us find what someone like you have discovered. It helps us discover what someone who has lived for eons tends to naturally discover through lived experience.

Yes, I agree. For me, it comes through lived experience and mostly free form ideology or pointers or shoulds or trying to live up to anything. And for many humans, it’s often more of a mix of genuine lived experience and insights – and some ideologies and shoulds.

What can we do to make it more from lived experience?

You are asking difficult questions. As I said, this is not my speciality.

Get close to your own experience. Be curious about it. Take it seriously. Make use of pointers and use them to discover for yourself. Set aside shoulds and how people say something is. Live your life and pay attention to what’s happening.

Do you have any advice for P. (this interviewer)?

Yes. You already know all this. You even trust it. But there is some hesitation in you. You can trust it even more. You can sink into it. Lean into it. Rest into and as it. It’s what you are. Live it. It can help you to remember me and lean into what I am.

Thank you! I appreciate this interview and especially your advice at the end.

Thank you. I enjoyed this conversation. I don’t think about these things so often so it was fun. And I wish you all the best in your life. As I said, you already know and are all of this. Lean into it a bit more and it will help you a lot. (And if you don’t, that’s completely fine too.)

Wanting what’s here

 

I just (re)listened to the audiobook version of On Having No Head by Douglas Harding, mostly because it’s a relief to listen to someone taking such a simple, grounded, sane, and pragmatic approach to awakening (!)

Towards the end, he talks about actively wanting what’s here.

Why would we want what’s here?

We are capacity for what’s here – our human self and the wider world as it appears to us. It happens within and as what we are. It’s us in whatever form it happens to take here and now. So why not welcome it?

What’s here is here. It’s too late to do something about it. So why struggle with it? Struggle only creates suffering. It makes more sense to actively want what’s here. This also frees us up to be engaged and work on changing situations as needed.

The wanting-what’s-here pointer is a touchstone. It shows us how we relate to what’s coming up in us. Is it easy for us to genuinely welcome it? Or is there an impulse in us to avoid it or make it go away? And do we join in with that impulse or do we notice that it too happens within what we are capacity for? Having the pointer in the back of our mind can help us notice when suffering – unawake and unhealed – parts of us are triggered, and also whether we join in with it or notice ourselves as what it happens within and as – just like anything else.

How does it look in practice?

It’s a welcoming of what’s already here because we can’t do anything about it and struggling with it doesn’t help or make any sense. What’s coming up for our human self is already here. The situation our human self is in is already here. So why not join in with it and actively want it? Also, it’s what we already are so why not welcome it as another expression of the creativity of what we are?

It does not mean to be passive or resigned. We can still actively work to change the situation and circumstances we are in – or someone else is in. Often, wanting what’s here frees up our response. Instead of reacting we can respond a little more intentionally. There is access to more kindness, clarity, wisdom, and creativity.

How can we find this active welcoming?

When we notice ourselves as capacity for what’s here, including anything coming up in our human self, it’s easier to notice it all as happening within and as what we are and find a genuine and active welcoming and wanting of what’s here.

Said another way, the welcoming and actively wanting it is already here. It’s what we already are. So when we find ourselves as capacity for what’s here, we also find this welcoming and wanting.

Why don’t we always notice what we are?

Perhaps we haven’t noticed. Or we have noticed but don’t take it seriously. Or we don’t see any practical use of it.

Or we do notice and we take it seriously, and yet sometimes get pulled into old beliefs, emotional issues, and traumas, and “forget” for a while.

How can we notice what we are?

To have an initial glimpse of what we are, and to keep noticing in daily life, it helps to have some pointers. For me, the most effective one has been the Headless Way, Big Mind process (based on Voice Dialog and Zen), and Living Inquiries (a modern version of traditional Buddhist inquiry).

How can we train this noticing even when emotional issues come up?

There are two elements that stands out to me.

One is how we relate to what’s coming up in this human self. Do we get caught in it or do we notice it as happening within and as what we are?

The other is inviting in healing and awakening for any suffering parts of us surfacing, the one still operating from separation consciousness.

These two mutually support each other.

Noticing what we are while bringing presence into the suffering parts helps them relax and feel seen and loved. They receive what they need and want.

And inviting these suffering parts of us to heal and awaken makes it easier to notice what we are even when they are triggered. Some or most of the charge goes out of them.

I have written a lot about this in other articles so won’t go into it here.

What if we notice the shift is close?

If we are in a situation where we notice that the shift into actively welcoming what’s here is close, then a small pointer or question may be helpful. For instance:

How would it be to want what’s here?

Even if there are things coming up in my human self, I can often find this shift. And I can still notice what’s coming up in me and later get to know it better and invite in healing and awakening for it.

How does the overall process look?

Douglas Harding talks about seven stages or phases. I’ll just mention a very simplified version here.

First, there is an initial glimpse or noticing. This is always spontaneous although it can come without any apparent preparation or through inquiry or other spiritual practices.

Then, there is taking this seriously and wishing to continue exploring it and how to live from it in our daily life.

A part of this exploration is to investigate what happens when the mind gets pulled into old separation consciousness. We get more experience in noticing ourselves as capacity through more and more experiences, states, and life situations. And we invite in healing and awakening for the parts of us still stuck in suffering and separation consciousness.

As we keep doing this, the noticing becomes more stable and continues more often even when emotional issues surface.

Is Douglas Harding the only one talking about this?

Not at all, it’s common for mystics from all times and traditions to talk about it. Christian mystics may talk about God’s and my will becoming one. Byron Katie talks about loving what is. And so on.

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Adyashanti: To be bestows infinite worth upon you

 

You don’t have to be someone to be of infinite worth. To be bestows infinite worth upon you.

– Adyashanti, The Inherent Meaning in Being

This can sound like a well-meaning platitude, but it’s far more than that.

One the one hand, the idea of value comes from culture and what’s seen as having value varies between culture and over time. Assigning value to something has a function, and it can be helpful to examine how we assign value and if there is another way of doing it that makes more sense.

At an ordinary human level, we all agree that babies have infinite worth. Growing up, many of us are taught that our value comes through our actions and that erodes our sense of having infinite value just by being. This is a means of control and it creates a lot of suffering and judgment of ourselves and others.

So why not recover the sense of infinite value of each human being? This can easily co-exist with accountability, responsibility for our own life and so on. Seeing the infinite value in each of us, independent of personal characteristics and roles, provides a sense of basic worth that allows for a more healthy life and a more healthy society.

In our western culture, we see nature as a commodity and having value from the value it has to us – and this is often limited to short-term commercial value. This leads to destruction of ecosystems, eradication of whole species, and systematic abuse of non-human beings. Not valuing all life threatens all life, including our own.

Why wouldn’t all life have infinite value? Why not see all life as having infinite value? This would lead to a more careful approach in how we relate to and make use of nature and non-human beings. We would be far more concerned about their welfare. It doesn’t mean we can’t eat or live or grow food but we would do it with more concern for the lives we are impacting and we would look for ways to make up for it and support a more thriving Earth.

When we take a big picture and deep time view, we see that the universe has unfolded from energy to matter to suns to solar systems to this living planet and all that’s currently part of this living planet. We are all expressions of the universe exploring itself and bringing itself into consciousness. We are all expressions of this living planet and ways for it to bring itself into consciousness. As this, we and all life has infinite worth just by being as we are.

In a more immediate sense, independent of assigning value to anything, we are capacity for the world as it appears to us. This human self, all other beings, and everything happens within and as what I am. In this oneness, ideas of value is not needed in order to live with reverence for life.

How can we explore this in our own life? How can we deepen into this and live more from it? In a sense, this whole website is about just this. We can identify and examine beliefs. We can explore how our minds creates its experience of value and lack of it, and see through it. We can engage in Practices to Reconnect. We can use heart-centered practices to find a more loving relationship with ourselves, others, and all life. We can find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us. We can discover that this human self, others, and the world happen within and as what we are. And we can explore how to live from that in our life.

Is anything here original?

 

As usual, the answer is yes and no.

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

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

Why do I talk about healing, isn’t awakening enough?

 

Yes and no.

Yes, awakening is enough if what we want is to notice what we are, and for what we are notice itself as all there is. For a while, this may seem like all that’s needed, especially if we are in a temporary transcendent state – one where our center of gravity has, for a while, risen “above” our human stuff.

And no, because a transcendent state doesn’t last so we will eventually be plunged back into all the human messiness. That too is the divine. That too want to join in with the awakening. That too wants to heal and awaken.

If we want to live from the awakening in more and more situations and areas of life, we need healing. Healing opens up space for awakening to be lived more fully and in more situations and areas of life.

Also, as a human being in the world, which we also are, it’s generally a much better life if we are more healed. A lot of suffering, confusion, reactivity, and messiness is cleared up as we heal.

So why not focus on both? Why not find approaches that invite in both awakening and healing? Just about all of the tools I write about here do just that, especially if that’s our intention.

In this process of awakening, healing, and learning to live from the awakening, we will also over time develop skills and insights, we tend to mature as human beings, we tend to deeply humanize and become more human, and we may also go through some stages of adult development. All of this may happen mostly as a side-effect of working on ourselves and allowing the awakening to work on ourselves.

And it’s not really about choice or want. Sooner or later in the awakening process, we bump up against unhealed parts of us and we notice that these areas of us suffer. So why not invite in healing and awakening for these parts too? It’s a natural part of the process.

Although it’s not so important, this is also not about “us” choosing or wanting. It’s about life or existence choosing and wanting through and as “us”.

Exploring nonduality: There is no [whatever]?

 

Some nondual folks like to say “there is no X” where X can be anything – self, human being, a cup of tea.

Is that true?

As so often, the answer is yes and no and it depends.

X – whatever it is – is an idea. It comes from a mental overlay. Also, the idea and what it refers to happens within and as consciousness and oneness. In both of those ways, we can say there is no X.

There is no cup because “cup” is a label and an idea and not the thing itself. And there is no cup because it’s part of existence as a whole.

That’s true, and it’s also just one side of it.

There is X because we – collectively – have decided it’s that way. It’s a way for us to function, orient, and communicate. It has an obviously practical function.

Also, even if all is part of existence some things are more or less distinct. A cup can be moved around. It functions, in a practical sense, as something separate from other things.

So….

We can say that a cup doesn’t exist because “cup” is a label and not the thing itself, and the label and what it refers to happen within and as consciousness and oneness.

At the same time, we can say that the cup does exist because we can talk about it and use it. It exists for us in a practical and pragmatic sense.

It may not exist the way most people think of it. The label and our ideas about it are not the cup. And the cup in itself isn’t ultimately a cup. To us, its most basic nature is consciousness, not being a cup.

And that’s the same with anything we can think about and label, whether it’s me, I, an observer, a doer, a human being, the world, the universe, and even consciousness, Spirit, the Divine, Big Mind, God, and so on.

Why is this important?

For many, it’s not important and that’s more than OK. They live their lives and have other interests and things to focus on.

But for some of us, this is fascinating. It’s helps us recognize what we really are, which is capacity for the whole world as it appears to us.

For some of us, like me, it’s also about finding a way to express our immediate experience. The way the world appears to me seems a bit different than for many, so there is a natural interest in exploring it further and find ways to express it. (Even if the only way to get it is to find it in our own immediate experience.)

Oneness and individuality

 

From a small interpretation of awakening, it’s easy to see how oneness and individuality fit together. To us, we are consciousness and all our experiences happen within and as this consciousness. It’s all one in that sense. And the content of our experience is all individual. Everything is unique. Including this human self that others take us to be.

From a big interpretation of awakening, we can say that all of existence is consciousness – or Spirit, the Divine, God. And the divine expresses, explores, and experiences itself through and as everything in existence and all of it as unique expressions.

When what we are notices itself, this question of oneness and individuality falls away – apart from perhaps as a gentle curiosity. The answer is right here. Oneness takes all these forms and they happen within and as oneness.

How does this play out in real life? In awakening, there is an invitation for our human self to become more authentic, real, and genuine. To shed some of the pretense and trying to live up to images. And to be more as we are, naturally and without the extra effort. I say invitation since this depends, as so much, on intentionally joining in with this particular process.

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What’s the difference between awakening and non-awakening?

 

Is there a big difference between awakening and non-awakening?

Yes and no.

What are some of the differences?

The main difference is that in one case, consciousness recognizes itself as all there is and all experiences as happening within and as consciousness.

In the other case, consciousness is identified with a number of thoughts which creates an experience of being a separate being in the world and of objects as being the fundamental reality.

Our life as human beings will, by necessity, be a little different in each case.

The conscious context for our life is different and that means that everything tends to stay the same while also being very different.

In what ways are they not so different?

Whether consciousness notices itself or not, that’s what we are. We are consciousness and all our experiences happens within and as consciousness. We already live as oneness. It’s even awake oneness in both cases, although it’s awake to itself in only one.

In both cases, it’s the play of consciousness, whether it notices itself – and all experiences as itself – or not. It’s consciousness expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself – as noticing itself or not.

Is it really so black and white?

No, it’s just a way to talk about it. In reality, it’s much more fluid and – if we want to fit into another too-narrow idea – a spectrum.

Even when consciousness notices itself as all there is, there is some fluidity. It can temporarily go back into separation consciousness, especially when triggered by old emotional issues and beliefs. Noticing oneness can be in the foreground or more in the background – for instance when a task has our attention. And the awakening itself tends to clarify and stabilize our time, perhaps to the extent it’s investigated.

Similarly, non-awakening is not just one thing or always caught in separation consciousness. This too is fluid. When caught in an emotional issue, the separation consciousness tends to get stronger. When we are absorbed in an activity, we may get in a “flow” state, forget separation consciousness, and experience some of the qualities of oneness. (Although it’s not as clear and consciousness typically does not notice itself as everything.) And we can have more conscious glimpses of what we are and oneness, for instance when we are in nature, from inquiry or meditation, or – although I don’t recommend it – some types of psychoactive plants and drugs.

I noticed you used awake in two ways?

Yes, that can be confusing.

In this context, it’s mostly used to point to consciousness awake to itself – and to all its experiences as consciousness and the oneness that comes with it.

It can also point to the awakeness that’s inherent in consciousness. Anyone who reads this does so because of this awakeness. It’s the very ordinary awakeness that we all experience and are familiar with. Consciousness is awake in a very ordinary way, and it may or may not be awake to itself as all there is – to all its experiences as itself.

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Nature spirituality in a oneness context

 

Nature spirituality is seeing – or experiencing – nature as divine. As an expression of the divine. The creation of the divine. Or as the divine.

This can be more of a thought or feeling. It can be a sense or intuition. Or it can be a direct and unmistakable experience and perception.

It can happen as a phase of the awakening process. Or it can happen within a more clear awakening.

It can happen outside or inside of traditional forms of religion or spirituality. Either way, it borrows language and ideas from the culture and tradition(s) we are familiar with.

A more nature oriented spirituality is perhaps especially important today since it helps us find love for and a wish to care for nature and Earth.

Some who are into nature spirituality may see humans as special and somehow apart from the rest of nature. Others see humans as an intrinsic part of the Earth community and all of nature as “us”.

Nature spirituality may focus on untouched nature or any nature. Or it can include humans and human culture and civilization. These too are – in a very real sense – nature and an expression of this living planet and of divinity. (Culture and civilization currently have an ecologically unsustainable form but that doesn’t make it less of an expression of Earth and divinity. It just happens to take this form right now and it can change.)

How does nature spirituality look in a oneness context?

It tends to happen as part of a more general awakening process, as I have hinted at above.

It can happen within separation consciousness with some glimmers of oneness. These glimmers can come as a sense or intuition of nature as the divine or an expression of the divine, and there can be an early sense or glimpses of oneness.

It can also happen within a more clear perception of oneness. Here, there is a recognition that all is the divine and nature is one expression of the divine. And one we chose to honor and emphasize, either from personal inclination or because we realize it’s important as part of the culture change we need in order to survive as a species.

Whether it plays out within mainly separation consciousness or oneness depends on the usual factors in awakening. For instance, a sense or glimmers of oneness and a gradual “thinning of the veils” and wearing out of identifications.

Since I have written several articles about the awakening process in general, I won’t go into it here.

How can we cultivate or open up for nature spirituality?

Several things may put us on a nature spirituality path. It may be an experience or glimpse of the divinity of nature. It may be a deep love for nature, perhaps from childhood experiences. It may be something we read or heard that sparked something in us.

We can cultivate it by being in nature. By finding a community of others exploring nature spirituality. By engaging in rituals and practices like the practices to reconnect by Joanna Macy. By investigating any beliefs and identities standing between where we are and a deeper connection with nature. By exploring and inviting in awakening in general.

My personal experience

After writing this, I realize I can add a few words about my own experience to put some flesh on the bones.

When I was little, I loved nature. My parents took me on many outings to fish, pick berries, hike, and ski. We spent many weekends and vacations at the cabin in the mountains or near Oslo. I often played and explored in nature, in the forest, and by and in lakes. When people asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I often said zoologist.

In late childhood, perhaps around twelve years of age, I was mesmerized by Cosmos by Carl Sagan and would walk outside, look at the stars, know that I was starstuff looking at the stars and the universe locally bringing itself into consciousness, and feel a strong belonging to all of nature and the universe. Around the same time, I slept under the stars in the mountains in Norway and had a profound – and life changing – experience of belonging to the universe as a whole.

The spiritual opening happened in my mid-teens and this was an awakening to oneness. It happened when I walked along a gravel road under a dark starry sky with a strong wind blowing through the sky. It was as if the vastness of the universe – the infinitely deep darkness, the stars, and the big wind – opened up something in me. All was revealed as God, as consciousness, as Spirit, and nothing was not this. It was Spirit waking up to itself locally and through and as this human form. During this time – for the next many years – there was a profound sense of the divine as all there is – the stars, the wind, nature, humans, and human culture.

Eventually, all of this normalized. Now, all matter and nature and anything else is clearly consciousness – or the divine. There is an inherent sense of awe in it. But there are no bells and whistles. It’s familiar. It is, in a sense, ordinary. Something extraordinary and ordinary at the same time.

For the sake of transparency: During this time, I could see there were some identifications left and a slight sense of “I”. At the same time, I knew these didn’t point to anything ultimately true or real and I largely saw through it and saw it for what it was.

A confession

As I started writing this I got lost in describing the different elements of nature spirituality and more or less forgot about the oneness context. My brain is working less well today, probably as part of the usual brain fog and fluctuations that comes with chronic fatigue. I decided to just leave this article as is. Perhaps there is something of value in it anyway.

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Oneness from a psychological perspective

 

This is one of the recurrent themes for me, but I like revisiting it to see if I can find other aspects to it and simpler and more clear ways to talk about it.

Oneness can be understood from a relatively ordinary psychological perspective.

In our own experience, we are consciousness. We are not a human being. We are not a brain. We are not the way others see us. All of that happens within consciousness. To ourselves, we are consciousness and this human self and the world and all experiences are content of this consciousness.

Another way to say it, which is a little more accurate, is that all our experiences – of this human self and the wider world – happens within and as consciousness.

Perhaps even more accurately, all our experiences happens within and as what we are, and the mind can label this many things including consciousness, awakeness, or Big Mind.

This also means that to us, all is oneness. All is one in that it all happens within and as consciousness.

Looking a little closer, we may also notice that all happens within and as – what we can call – emptiness or void. Nothingness makes something – consciousness and all its experiences – possible. So in a more basic sense, we are this nothingness that something happens within and as.

Also, when we discover ourselves as consciousness and all – as it appears to us – as consciousness, then it makes sense that some would take a leap and assume all of existence inherently is consciousness and call it Spirit, the divine, Brahman, Allah, or God.

I find it helpful to think of what I describe here as the small or psychological interpretation of awakening. We are consciousness to ourselves and all our experiences then happens within and as consciousness. This says something about how we are, but it doesn’t assume anything about how all of existence is.

The leap of faith, assuming all of existence is consciousness and calling it Spirit or the divine, is then the big or spiritual interpretation of awakening.

From the small or psychological interpretation, the big or spiritual interpretation is understandable. It makes sense that people would interpret it that way, even if we ourselves may not go that far.

From a small interpretation, the big interpretation may be seen as a projection and a leap of faith. From a big interpretation, the small interpretation means swimming in a pond that’s a little too small.

And personally for me? I find it helpful to switch between both interpretations. The small interpretation allows our view to stay grounded and it may make a little more sense to more people. And I suspect, for a variety of reasons and personal experiences, that the spiritual interpretation is valid as well. It may say something accurate about all of existence.

The nice thing about this way of looking at it – using both a small and big interpretation – is that the essential experiences of mystics form all traditions makes sense from either one. We can understand it from a small or psychological interpretation, and we can understand it from the big or spiritual interpretation.

Oneness makes sense. The awakening process makes sense. The pitfalls and dark nights make sense. The transformation of the human self in the context of oneness recognizing itself makes sense. Early glimpses make sense. Nature spirituality makes sense. And so on. (I am very aware that I haven’t gone into these here so it’s a bit of a teaser. I have written about it elsewhere on this website, and I may explore it more in further articles.)

Infinitely rich, infinitely poor

 

I typically don’t write a lot about this because it’s something we discover for ourselves and it’s not so important in itself – apart from perhaps as a sign of where we are in the process.

That said, a part of noticing what we are – that which our experience happens within and as – is to notice that as this, we are simultaneously infinitely rich and infinitely poor.

We are infinitely rich in that all our experiences – our experience of the world, others, our human self – happens within and as us. And we are infinitely poor in that we don’t “own” any of it. It all comes and goes on its own. We cannot hang onto any of it and none “belongs to us”.

My experience of myself and the world

 

The way we experience the world often seems ordinary and unremarkable to us. We may not pay much attention to it. Although when we are on an awakening path, this tends to change. The question of how we experience ourselves and the world comes more into the foreground.

What’s the context of my experience?

It’s relatively easy for awakeness to notice itself and that content of experience happens within and as what I am. (Another label for this is oneness.) In daily life, particular content of experience is often in the foreground for practical reasons but that it’s happening within and as awakeness is always here and easily noticed.

There is also a noticing of the void all happens within and as, including the awakeness all content of experience happens within and as (!).

Is there a sense of a me or I?

Yes and no. In daily life, it’s easy to know that this human self is “me” and the one other people take me to be.

I notice a slight tension in the forehead and the roof of the mouth that feels a bit like “I”. I recognize it for what it is, and there is probably more for me to explore and see through here.

When I get caught in emotional issues, there is a stronger sense of a me and an I, although there is also an awareness of what’s going on. This too is happening within and as awakeness, it’s a temporary and local appearance, and not any ultimate truth. (Although if it’s strong, I may feel, experience, and even act as if it is.) This is something I am aware of and keep exploring, and I typically work on the emotional issues that come up.

Is this awakening?

This isn’t awakening as a state or somewhere to arrive. But it’s a snapshot of a particular phase of an awakening process. The process is ongoing and it seems unlikely to have an arrival place. There is clearly a lot further to go in clarity, healing, and embodiment, and that’s more than OK.

How is the content of my experience these days?

It keeps changing as any content of experience does. My system has a lot of fatigue right now so I notice the fatigue and rest. Sometimes, contentment is more on the surface with some low-grade other things in the background. And sometimes, different emotions are more in the foreground. When that happens, I pay attention to what it seems to be about and often explore it through informal inquiry and do some basic Vortex Healing for it.

Do I always explore what comes up?

Yes and no. I explore it in the sense that I notice it and make a mental note that this is something to continue to explore and perhaps find healing for. Sometimes I go more in-depth right away or within a few days. Sometimes, it goes on the back-burner and I know I may address it more in-depth if or when it comes up again in the future.

In general, how is this different from how most people experience themselves and the world?

I assume the essence is the same. The awake space everything is happening within (and as) is here whether we consciously notice or not. And our content of experience always changes and includes all the usual human experiences.

What’s different between this and most people’s experience?

The main difference may be that here, the awakeness – what all experience happens within and as – notices itself a bit more than what seems average these days. (And that can change – both here and in the world.)

So there isn’t that much of a difference between awakening and no awakening?

Again, yes and no. The awakeness is here and all our content of experience happens within and as it. In some cases, this is noticed – or it notices itself, and in some cases, there is identification as a me and I within this content of experience.

It seems somewhat fluid. I assume everyone has moments where they live more from the oneness (flow states etc.) and then a thought comes in saying “this human self is who I am, try not to forget it too often”.

There is a spectrum from what we are noticing itself to being caught up in identifications, and we are probably not aware of how far the spectrum goes in each end.

There is also a spectrum to how this is reflected in our life. At one end is a human life thoroughly reorganized within oneness noticing itself as all there is. This typically involves a lot of healing of emotional issues. At the other end is the extreme of living from separation consciousness and emotional issues and traumas. Most of us are somewhere in-between and shift somewhat fluidly along the mid-range.

What’s the main difference between my teens and now?

It’s actually not terribly different from my teens, following the initial spiritual opening or awakening. (Age sixteen.) The main difference is that there is more peace with the whole process now. Back then, it was intense and at time overwhelming and confusing. Now, it’s more familiar and – in a sense – ordinary.

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Describing awakening in a simple and grounded way

 

I like to demystify what can be demystified – including awakening. Why not try to describe it in simple and ordinary ways that others can check out for themselves, and that doesn’t rely on references to what’s outside of most people’s experience?

So what is awakening?

Awakening is what we are awakening to itself.

Independent of our worldview, it makes sense that what we are – to ourselves – is consciousness. Even within a materialistic view, it’s hard to not admit that to ourselves, we are consciousness.

All our content of experience – including the world and ourselves as a human being – happens within and as consciousness.

Typically, we identify with a particular content of our experience. We identify with and as this human self, and as an observer, doer, and so on.

Awakening refers to noticing that we are consciousness that this content of experience happens within and as. The initial noticing can be called an initial opening or awakening.

Sometimes, that’s all it is. And sometimes, the process continues.

We notice. Identification releases somewhat out of content of experience. Consciousness wakes up to itself as all there is. (To itself it’s all there is.) This noticing becomes more ordinary and continues through more and more situations in daily life. Our human life reorients and transforms within this new noticing and context.

Why are not more people interested in it?

We may not have heard about it.

We may not have been exposed to it in a way that makes it seem possible or attractive to us.

It may seem too mysterious, obscure, and distant.

It may seem like it’s for other or special people, not us.

We may not see how it’s useful.

It may seem like something we already know, intellectually.

Why are some people really into it?

We may have had a glimpse or opening and wish to continue to explore it.

We may intuit that there is something and set out to explore it.

We may be drawn in by traditions or teachers speaking about awakening.

We may seek to avoid suffering and have heard it will help.

It may happen out of the blue and stay and we keep exploring this new context for our human life.

What are some of the effects of awakening?

Mainly, our human self reorients and reorganizes within this new context.

This involves a lot of different changes and processes and lasts a lifetime.

It typically involves healing of emotional issues and hangups. Examining old beliefs, assumptions, and identities. And changing how we relate to others, ourselves, and the world in general.

How do we live within oneness? That’s the question, and the transformation of our human self can be more or less thorough within this lifetime.

What about spirituality?

Isn’t awakening about spirituality?

Yes and no. Yes, spirituality is often about awakening. And no, awakening doesn’t requite religion or traditional spirituality.

At the same time, there is a lot of practical and valuable information in spiritual and religious traditions.

Small and big interpretation of awakening

This article is mostly about the small or psychological interpretation of awakening. We talk about it a way that (can!) make sense independent of whatever worldview we have.

There is also the big or spiritual interpretation of awakening. Here, we use the more familiar language of God, Spirit, the Divine, and so on.

We may say that awakening is God (Spirit, the Divine) awakening to itself locally through this human self.

Spirit temporarily and locally took itself to be an ultimately separate being (this human self), and then woke up to itself as all there is.

How can we explore it for ourselves?

Mainly, we need to find one or more approaches that make sense to us. Perhaps they feel intuitively right. Or someone we trust recommends it. Or we happen to have a local awakening-coach and join for a while.

There are some approaches that within minutes can give us a glimpse or taste of what awakening is about. The two I enjoy the most is the Big Mind process and the Headless experiments.

Is there anything I need to be aware of?

Mainly, the usual guidelines for exploring and learning anything applies here too. It helps to have the guidance of someone you trust and who has experience. Trust yourself and what feels right to you. If the approach you use has little or no effect, consider trying something else.

When I said “consciousness” earlier, it was to make it more understandable. The mind may label what we are “consciousness” but that’s just a label. That label and all our ideas about it also happen within and as what we are.

The awakening process, and the approaches we may use on the path, tend to open our heart and mind, and that can open for whatever unprocessed psychological material is in us. If that happens, it can feel confusing, scary, disorienting, and overwhelming. So it’s good to find an awakening-coach who has experience with this, can take some precautions, and knows how to help you through it.

It can help to set aside what you think you know about awakening, especially the myths and ideas from religion and traditional spirituality. Make it simple for yourself. This is about noticing what you already are. There are ways to help you notice it. And there are people who can help you with it. It’s not so different from learning or exploring anything else in life.

Is awakening important?

Yes and no. If it happens, it may be the most important (no-thing) thing in your life since it becomes the context for everything. It can also help transform your human self.

And yet, most human beings live without having a (conscious) taste of this and that’s fine. You can have a very good life without conscious noticing of what you are.

If what you mostly want is a good life, and that’s the case for most of us, another strategy may be more direct. For instance, focus on self-compassion and healing the most obvious emotional issues. Nurture nurturing and important relationships in your life. And, in general, be a good steward of your life. And there is no problem with including this in an exploration of what we are. They work very well together.

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The radical and the middle ground in our healing and awakening process

 

The awakening and healing path is – in my experience – both radical and a middle ground.

It’s radical in that to be thorough…. Our exploration needs to be independent of – and sometimes go against – old patterns and social norms and expectations. It needs to be dogged. We need to be radically honest with ourselves. And it needs to go all the way through even our most basic assumptions about ourselves and the world.

It’s a middle ground in that…. Our approach needs to be sane and grounded, flexible and undogmatic, and inclusive and wholeness oriented. In our healing, we include more and more of our parts as a human being. In the awakening, we find ourselves as that which our daily life experience happens within and as – as it is. Through both, we become thoroughly humanized and often live very ordinary lives.

Our healing and awakening process includes everything, including the radical and the very ordinary. Just like life itself.

What I write here reflects my own orientation and limited experience. I know it can look quite different for others. And that’s part of the richness of life and this particular process.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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