Awakening and what’s left


Chogyam Trungpa and many other spiritual teachers have shocked, puzzled, and baffled their followers with their apparently unenlightened behavior. It may be drinking, drug use, frequent affairs, bullying behavior, abuse of their followers, and more.

In our culture, we tend to have an image of awakened people as perfect. And yet, they so often are not. Why is that?

To me, it doesn’t seem so puzzling. In a way, it’s to be expected.

There can be a relatively clear awakening, and yet a lot left to heal at the human level.

If the person is receptive and open about it, then it can become a very helpful part of their teaching. It also helps their students know what they are getting into, and it helps the teacher to work on it if they are ready to do so.

And sometimes, there can be some degree of defensiveness around it, both on the part of the teacher and his or her followers.

The teacher may try to live up to an image or expectations from others. Admitting ordinary human flaws and hangups may not fit this image.

They may feel they are above criticism. (And perhaps lash out if they perceive criticism.)

They may justify their behavior, for instance as crazy wisdom or that they are above conventional expectations.

And really, they are just scared to admit it and look at it, as we all sometimes are. And they use all sorts of tactics to avoid facing it for themselves.

This is pretty universal. We all avoid facing certain things in ourselves because it seems too scary, and we use different tactics to avoid it. And this continues to some extent whether there is an awakening or not, and whether we happen to be in a teacher position or not.

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All as Spirit, and a deeper layer of what needs healing


When I was 16 and had the initial opening or awakening, all was recognized as Spirit and Love. The divine woke up to itself as everything without exception, and as consciousness, love, and the void it all also is. This was quite strong for several years.

At the same time, I knew that there was still a lot of healing needed for my human self and that the remaining unloved and unexamined parts of my human self created a pull for identification. I worked on this as well as I could, but it was difficult to access as deeply as I felt was necessary.

So what happened was a dark night of the soul. And that brought that material up to the surface without much filtering and without much opportunity to hold it back.

There are many ways to talk about this and many angles to approach it from. Each one with it’s own validity and value.

These parts want what I want, which is to be met in presence, kindness, patience, and understanding.

These parts do not yet know all as Spirit and love. They seek to know.

They seek to know their own deeper reality, which is presence, love, and even void.

Said another way, Spirit seeks to know itself as these parts of me. And to know these parts – the trauma, pain, sadness, anger, fear, grief – as presence, love, and void. As the divine and the play of the divine.

This allows for a deeper healing. And it allows for a deeper and more thorough alignment of more of my human self with reality. This is one of the ways an opening or awakening deepens.

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Awakening and healing go hand in hand


Awakening and healing go hand in hand.

What is awakening and healing? Awakening can be seen as what we are recognizing itself to some extent. And this “what” can be called presence, awakeness, consciousness, and behind that void. Healing means a healing of who we are, this human self.

It may be worth mentioning that what we are is not in need of healing since it cannot be harmed. And who we are can’t really awaken since an awakening means that what we are awakens out of an exclusive identification as who we are.

How do they hinder each other? When there is more healing to be done, it means there is velcro and beliefs in the system that can be activated by current situations. When these are activated, there is a strong pull towards identification. And that makes for a less stable or thorough awakening. Conversely, when there is no awakening or has been no openings, there is a deeper level of healing that’s less available. That deeper layer of healing happens when the trauma and it’s components (sensations + imagination) is recognized as presence itself, or love, or even void. What we are recognizes it as itself.

How do they support each other? A deeper and more thorough healing of our human self allows for a more stable and deepening awakening. There is less charge that can be activated, creating a strong pull towards identification and out of recognizing what we are. An opening or awakening allows or a deeper healing of our human self, partly through recognizing trauma and its components as presence, love, or void. And also through making it easier to meet shunned parts of our experience with kindness, rest, and love.

So awakening and healing go hand in hand. That’s partly why I am drawn to tools and explorations that invite in both healing and awakening. It makes sense to include both since they are so intertwined, and are really two sides of the same coin.

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Awakening and trauma


Awakening can happen whether we have worked through a lot of our human stuff or not.

When it does, it’s often followed by a transcendence of our human hangups and pain. We experience a honeymoon phase. We experience some relief from it.

At some point, the intensity of the awakening may fade, and life’s pressures can retrigger our human wounds and hangups again. It may feel like something went wrong, but it’s just life showing us what’s left.

It’s life saying, now you have a taste of what you are, so use that new context to invite healing into who you are, into your human self.

It’s sounds simple talking about it in this way. And it can be experienced as very messy and often confusing when we are in the middle of it. That’s why it can be very helpful to have someone in our life who knows this process and has gone through it themselves.

And it’s not something that happens only once, or in just one way. This clarity / realigning cycle happens over and over and in many different ways.

It’s part of our human life.

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This is who you are not


I am often a nine on the enneagram. I am an Aquarius with the moon in Leo. I score high on openness to experience. I have many identities in the world, from conventional to more fringy sources.

And that’s all what I am not.

It may be how I appear in the world. Some of it may point to how I operate as a human being. And yet, it changes. It changes over situations and with time. And it’s not who or what I am. It doesn’t limit me, unless I believe the identities and live from them as if they are true. Also, if I look for the peacemaker, or the Aquarius, or the one open to experience, can I find that one? Can I find that one, outside of my own images, words, and associated sensations?

It’s not either/or. These identities may fit, to a certain extent, in terms of how I am in the world. And yet, they are unable to limit me or anyone or anything. Life is not bound by our labels. And when I look, I cannot find any of these identities as a real tangible thing. It’s unfindable.

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Moving away = suffering


Moving away is suffering.

Moving away from what’s here is suffering. It’s a moving away from ourselves, from who and what we are. And that’s painful.

So why not try the opposite? Why not try to move in?

How do I do that?

Rest with what’s here. Notice. Allow. Shift from thinking to noticing.

Feel the sensations.

Inquire into the images, words, and sensations. See what’s already here.

Relate to it with kindness. Love. Kind presence.

Find the love behind identifications, and the results of identifications. It comes from deep caring. It is love. (Even if it’s confused or worried love.)

When we move into this, we move into who and what we are. We return home, and that’s a relief.

There is more to it, of course. I’ll address some of it below.

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We are what we fear


In the classic cave scene from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes back, Luke Skywalker meets his nemesis and representative of the dark side, Darth Vader. After a brief sword fight, Luke decapitates Darth Vader, and sees his own face inside of Darth’s helmet.

Luke is what he fears the most. He is the dark side.

That’s how it is for all of us. We are what we fear. And that’s true in a few different ways.

It’s happening within and as what I am. It’s all happening within my world. It’s happening within and as (my) awareness. When it’s here, in awareness, it’s what I am.

The world is my mirror. Whatever I see “out there” in the wider world or someone else, is what I know from myself. Whatever stories I have about the world and other people, I can turn them around to myself, and find specific examples of how it’s true. (It may not look the same, or be expressed the same way, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find the same here as I have stories about in others.)

It pushes back. When I try to push something away in myself, and in the world, it tends to push back. It wants in. It wants to be acknowledged. Life is kinder than allowing me to reject something for good.

And why? Because life invites me to see what’s more real and true than my initial beliefs about it.

Life invites me to…. Recognize it as happening within and as what I am. Find in myself, as a human being, what I see in others and the wider world. Realize we are all in the same boat.

Life invites me to…. Meet it – the fear and what I fear – with respect, kindness, curiosity. Take a closer look and examine by beliefs about it, and how my perception of it is created by my own mind.

Life invites me to see that what I fear is not how it initially appears. (That doesn’t mean we become passive bystanders to injustice or cruelty, or approve of it. On the contrary. We are in a much better position to do something the more clear and mature we are in our relationship to it.)

How does it push back? We may find ourselves in situations where we encounter it again. We may replay a situation in our minds. We may have certain qualities or emotions surface in ourselves.

For instance, if I see anger as bad and try to push it away, I’ll still find myself in situations where people are angry, perhaps even at me. I’ll still replay memories of people being angry, or imagine someone being angry with me in the future. I’ll still experience anger, even if it’s pushed down and perhaps comes out as frustration or restlessness, or even feeling flat. It doesn’t go away.

P.S. I am aware that the usual interpretation(s) of the cave scene is slightly different. I imagine the more standard interpretation is that Luke has the potential to go over to the dark side, just as his father did. He has the anger. The impulsiveness. The restlessness. He is his father’s son, in that way. The cave experience is a warning, and also an invitation for him to recognize this in himself and take it seriously.

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A richer oneness 


Oneness is simpler than any of our ideas about it. And also richer.

Oneness seems to continue to reveal itself to itself, in richer ways, through different facets and views, in simpler ways, and in more finely grained ways.

Here are some I keep exploring:

It’s all happening within and as awareness.  My world is happening within and as awareness. I am that which any experience happens within and as. And that world is the world that everyone is experiencing. There is nothing mystical or magical about the content. It’s the usual content of experience for us human beings. And yet, it’s all happening within and as awareness. It’s happening within and as what I am. In that sense, it’s all one. (It’s possible to imagine an “outside world” that’s material here, and yet those images are also happening within and as awareness. My world is still all awareness.)

A slight tweak to that is that the world itself is Spirit, or God, or awareness, or even wisdom and love. This is how it can seem when there is an opening, perhaps especially in what some call cosmic awareness. (It’s what opened itself to itself through me in my teens.) It’s also what we can get hints of through synchronicities, ESP and more. It does seem that the world itself is Spirit, and that’s what awakens to itself in this way (cosmic consciousness), and also in the way described above (all as awareness).

The story of the universe as told by current science tells us that all is one. It’s all a seamless system. In terms of the history of the universe, energy condensed to matter, matter to galaxies and stars, simple matter condensed to heavier matter through exploding stars creating solar systems with planets, this planet evolved into life, this life evolved into what we see today. We are made of star dust. We are – as Carl Sagan said – the local eyes, ears, thoughts and feelings of the universe bringing itself into awareness. This is also called the Universe Story, or the Great Story, and is also explored through ecospirituality. It’s a story happening within thought, and not as immediate of a realization as the two previous ones, but it can certainly lead to one or both of the two previous ones. It opens the door for it.

The first two on this list shows us that all is love. It’s an immediate recognition. And it can also be discovered in a more finely grained way.

All beings operate from deep caring – for themselves, those close to them, life. They operate from love. Even if that love is sometimes confused, or worried love.

Beliefs and identifications similarly comes from deep caring for the self, and from love. Again, often worried love.

All emotions created from beliefs, all reactive emotions, come from that same deep caring, and the same love. These include reactive anger, sadness, tantrums, distress, suffering, even wounds and trauma.

We may also discover that all situations, and everything I experience, is here to support me, and is from love. This is something we may discover through inquiry, such as The Work.

When I relate to what’s here with kindness and love, there is another sense of oneness. The sense of oneness that comes from relating to my experience, whatever it is, with kindness and love.

So in each of these ways, and many more, we discover a richer oneness. We deepen into oneness. We discover it in a more finely grained way. We discover it in different facets, and from different angles and views. And we keep discovering the diversity and richness within that oneness as well. Oneness doesn’t diminish the richness, it allows the richness, is the richness, and – when discovers itself as oneness – adds to it.

Note: I know that most don’t differentiate the two first. I am unsure why, although I know that the first can be experienced (or interpreted) as the second. The first one reveals all as awareness, including any ideas of a me or I or wider world. At the same time, it’s possible to acknowledge that this is “my world” appearing this way, and I don’t really know anything more. The second is more of an acknowledgment that the world, again as it appears to “me”, does seem to be awareness, love, intelligent, and Spirit or God. (Through many signs including ESP, synchronicities and more.)

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No-self & self


I read Nondualism: A Brief History of a Timeless Concept by Michael Taft, and thought it was very good.

One of the topics was self vs non-self, and I see that both have validity for me, in their own way. Reality seems to embrace both ends of any (imagined) polarity, and is also more than either, and less than either.

No-self. When I look, I cannot find a self. I look at images and words, and feel sensations, and cannot find a self here. I cannot find a self outside of what’s made up by words, images, and sensations. I cannot find a general self, and I cannot find specific selves – such as the body, deficient selves, or inflated selves. I also cannot find a “Self” as what I am, as awareness, or Spirit. It’s unfindable. (Which doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, only that it’s unfindable when I look systematically and thoroughly.)

Self #1. There is also a “self” here as what I am. As that which all experience happens within and as. As that which my world – my field of experience, the outer and inner world – happens within and as. That which a thought may call awareness, or presence, or Spirit, or even Brahman (if it wants to be more grandiose). This is the “ground of being”, the “ground” of any experience which also makes up any experience. It’s a “self” without an “other”, or which includes any ideas of a me and other, an outer and inner world, and any other content of experience. (I don’t like calling it a “self” since that word is often understood differently, as something separate and with an “other”.)

Self #2. This is the conventional self, our human self. The self that is a whole that includes (what we call) mind and body. The self that has an “other” in the wider world and other beings. The self that can be more or less healed, mature, and aligned with reality. (A reality that keeps revealing itself to us.)

So there is a self here, in two ways, and there is also no self to be found. Reality is more than either or all of these descriptions, it’s richer and fuller. And reality is also less than either or all of them, it’s simpler and more immediate than these ideas.

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Whose stuff?


Whose stuff is it?

When something appears in my awareness, perhaps something that feels uncomfortable, where does it come from? Is it all mine? Mine or yours? Humanity’s? Does it matter?

For me, it’s a yes to the three first and mostly no on the last.

It’s all mine. (a) It’s all happening in my world. It’s all happening within my awareness. It’s all happening as what I am here and now.

(b) It’s all reflecting what’s here in me. If I recognize it “out there” it’s because I know it from myself. It’s reminding me of what’s here in me, in my human self.

So it’s all mine as (a) what I am, that which all happens within and as for me, and (b) who I am, this human self.

It’s mine or yours. Some of it seems more clearly mine. It’s familiar to me. It’s from my own background, my own history. It’s familiar hangups, wounds, traumas. Some of it may seem more like yours. It’s familiar to you.

This is how we conventionally differentiate between mine and yours, and it can be quite helpful in some situations. It can, for instance, be used to prioritize.

And it’s all differentiated by my thoughts, somewhat arbitrarily, and based on my own assumptions. (And perhaps even fearful or wishful thinking, in an attempt to uphold a fearful or wishful identity for myself.)

It’s all of humanity’s. The more I am familiar with the dynamics in me, and also in others, I see it’s all quite universal. It belongs to humanity. It’s shared, and also personal since it appears here in me.

Does it matter? Not really, most of the time. If it’s here, I can take care of it. Can I find love for it? What do I find when I examine the beliefs responding to what’s here? Or even creating it? What do I find when I try to find the threat, or the deficient self, or the compulsion?

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Can I find myself outside of this field of experience?


Meeting what’s here with love is befriending ourselves. It’s befriending our experience, as it is here and now, which is what we are. (Can I find myself outside of this field of experience, as it is here and now?)

– from a previous post

It’s easy to think that I am something else than this experience. That I am the person having this experience, and parts of that experience – especially the uncomfortable parts – are perceived as “other”.

And yet, can I really find myself outside of this experience? Is it true that I am outside of this experience? That I am something else than this experience?

Isn’t it more true that I am this experience, as it is here and now?

And if that’s true, does it make sense to struggle with it? Wouldn’t it make more sense to notice and allow? To notice it’s already allowed? To meet this field of experience, whatever is here, with love?

I can explore this more systematically. Where do I find myself, here and now? What do I find when I look at the images, words, and sensations that come up? Are any of those me? Are any of them outside of my experience here and now? Can I find myself outside of my experience, here and now?

Spirit is….?


What is Spirit if not all there is? And wouldn’t that include our human messiness, as it is?

It’s natural, and even essential and healthy, to have our very human preferences.

We may prefer certain aspects of Spirit, or reality. We may prefer expansiveness, bliss, clarity, flow. That’s natural and understandable.

And yet, as we mature in our exploration of Spirit as all, there is a distinction here that becomes more clear for us. The distinction between all as Spirit, and our preferences.

At first, our preferences may be held as more solid and real. And after a while, there is an invitation for them to be seen for what they are – our human preferences – and held more lightly.

We see that what’s here is Spirit, even if it takes the form of our human messiness, or contractions, or pain, or whatever else we would prefer to not experience. We recognize this too as Spirit, every bit as much as anything else.

We find our way. We recognize what’s here as Spirit. Complete. Already allowed. Already even a form of love. And we recognize our preferences for what they are. Held lightly. Something we can act on, while still recognizing what’s here as Spirit, as already allowed.

We find our way, allowing both since they both are already here. All is Spirit, including our preferences. We recognize the pain in holding onto those preferences too tightly. We recognize the kindness in taking those preferences into consideration, and acting on them in a very ordinary way in daily life.

This is what so many have talked about and lived. Let Your will be done. While still living a very ordinary human life, kind to ourselves and others.

Early on, we may confuse Spirit with our human preferences. We may see Spirit as expansive, bliss, flow, love, and more. We may seek that aspect of reality, and seek to escape the rest. It doesn’t work very well. It’s painful. And at some point, we get to recognize that. We find a wider embrace of Spirit. We find a simpler Spirit, as what’s already here.

We recognize the pain in holding onto our preferences too tightly, and in confusing Spirit with our preferences. We recognize the freedom in recognizing Spirit as what’s here now, complete, with nothing missing.

Spirit right now is a slight buzz in the forehead, a contraction in the throat, a sense of weakness in the kidney areas, darkness, a bright screen, tapping, organ music, sounds of insects, these words. Noticed. Allowed.

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I haven’t done a poll of how many would say they feel or have felt broken, but it seems it could be a good number of people. Many of us feel broken in one or more areas of life, or have felt broken at some point in our life.

It’s true, and also not the whole picture. We may be broken in some ways. Whole in other ways. And the term doesn’t even apply in yet another way.

I am broken from feeling unloved and unlovable, feeling not included as a child and early teenager, from missing out of things that felt deeply important to me (mostly relationships), regrets, fears about the future. (And a pattern of first getting a “yes”, waiting too long, getting a “no”, and feeling the loss very deeply…. in relationships and education and work opportunities.) This does impact my life. It impacts how I perceive myself, others and the world, and how I live my life.

I am also whole in other ways. I experience myself as whole, as the wholeness body and mind are part of. I experience myself as a seamless whole. I am able to meet experiences with kindness and love (at least at times, when I remember and find a clear intention), and that gives a sense of wholeness. Even in the areas I experience myself as broken, I may experience myself as whole in some situations.

And the term doesn’t even apply. I cannot find an actual “brokenness” outside of images, words and sensations.

All of these are real. Each one is valid, in its own way. I cannot leave one out, or deny it. I cannot say that there is no brokenness, even if I feel whole in other ways, or the brokenness is unfindable. I also cannot say that the brokenness means that my wholeness is not there, or that it is findable as something real, solid and concrete.

Brokenness is an invitation. It’s an invitation to see myself as deeply human. To see and feel that we are all in the same boat, and that it’s part of the human experience. To meet what’s unloved in me with love. To meet my unquestioned stories with (somewhat systematic) curiosity. (The stories creating a sense of brokenness.) To notice what happens when I meet my brokenness in this way. To notice my wholeness, and that the brokenness is really unfindable. And to do this for others too, when they feel broken.

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The Lotus


The lotus has always had an important mystical meaning. Its roots are down in the slime and mud at the bottom of the lake and the flower unfolds on the surface of the water.

– Carl Jung, ETH, Page 113.

There are several ways of understanding this.

One is that our “roots” are in what’s hidden to us, and they feed and lead to what’s visible. That happens within content, where dynamics we are unaware of inform what’s visible. It also happens in that what we are – this no-thing that it all happens within and as – is the metaphorical “roots” of who we are, this form and human self.

In a more conventional sense, we can use difficulties (mud) to grow (flower). We can use challenging situations in life, or embracing and finding kindness towards inglorious sides of ourselves, to mature, be more fully human, find more empathy, be more real, find a more open heart, find resiliency and more.

And in another sense, we can explore the basic ideas of mud and flower. We may see that they are not as they initially seem.

For instance, I may find that the “mud” in me – perhaps anger, grief, confusion, tendency to isolate, neediness, hopelessness, arrogance – comes from a wish to protect the me, it comes from deep caring, it comes from love. The mud is perhaps really a flower. And the flowers, what I and perhaps others see as my “good qualities”, may turn to mud if I hold onto them and take them as too precious. They may create problems for me and others.

Also, when I look, can I find “mud” or “flower”? Can I find what I see these as referring to? Can I find it outside of words, images, sensations? Is it findable?

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Who and what we are, oneness, awakening


When I write what and who we are here, I mean something quite specific.

What I am is that which my whole field of experience – as it is here and now – happens within and as. It’s what I sometimes call awareness, or love, or even Spirit. It’s all there is, in experience, here and now. It’s always here, since it’s what I am. It’s very obvious. It’s very mundane. It’s easily overlooked that that’s what I am. And when that awakens to, or notices, itself it’s sometimes called awakening. That can seem quite extraordinary at first, and then that too becomes quite ordinary in a good way. (That’s why I tend to not use words like Spirit, or Brahman, or other fanciful words, since it often appears much simpler than that. Those words can be a little misleading.)

Who I am is part of content of experience. It’s this human self. It’s the emotions, thoughts, body, life of this human self. It’s the idea of a me or an I. It’s the idea of an observer, or doer. It doesn’t really have fixed boundaries, since it’s what a thought says is me, or I, or who I am. The boundary is somewhat flexible and fluid.

The wider world is the rest of content of experience. It’s what a thought says is “other” in a conventional sense. This boundary is also somewhat flexible and fluid, and can be experienced as more or less solid, more or less real. (It isn’t really real, since it’s created by thought as a way to navigate in the world.)

Who I am, and the wider world, is what makes up content of experience. And that happens within and as what I am. It happens within and as awareness. Within and as love. Within and as Spirit.

These can be seen as two, or three, or one. It all depends on how we decide to talk about it, and where we decide to draw imagined boundaries.

And the boundaries can be experienced as solid and real, or ephemeral, or just a thought with no substance beyond that. That depends on how clearly it’s seen, and even felt. It depends on how much “velcro” is stuck to those ideas. How much associated sensations seem “stuck” onto the words and images creating the boundaries.

When the associated sensations seem stuck onto the boundary images and words, the boundaries can seem quite real. When the sensations are felt as sensations, the images recognized as images, and the words recognized as words, the boundary images and words are recognized as just an imagined overlay, which has a practical function only. It’s not “real” beyond that, but it does help us navigate in the world, and communicate.

Oneness can also be understood in different ways.

One is the very immediate and practical oneness, where this field of awareness-experience is recognized as one. (Any ideas or even experiences of being a separate self is recognized as happening within this field, as any other content of experience.) The world is one, since it’s all recognized as happening within this field of awareness.

Another is the oneness of the world as a whole “out there”. (I realize that this distinction may seem subtle, or even unnecessary, but I find it helpful to differentiate this from the first one.) The world is one, and Spirit, or God, and I see that partly because of immediate experience, and partly through synchronicities, ESP, and more.

A third, which can be part of the previous one, is the oneness of the world as described by science. The universe was one field of energy at the Big Bang, and this field of energy partly condensed down into simple particles, which then condensed into heavier elements. We – and everything – has the same origin. We are quite literally star dust, as is the Earth as a whole. The Earth and the Universe is one seamless system.

Awakening is when what I am notices itself. This is an initial awakening, and it can also happen regularly and on a more ongoing basis. This noticing and recognition can clarify and become more stable. And who I am, this human self, can – and will? – reorganize within this recognition. It’s invited to heal and mature within this recognition, and align with it. That’s an ongoing process, and it doesn’t “end” as long as this human self is around.

Awakening then has three aspects. One is the initial recognition. Another is an ongoing clarification and “stabilization” of this recognition. And the third is the reorganization of our human self within this recognition.

All of them are ongoing. The awakening is here and now. The recognition and noticing is here and now. The reorganization within it is here and now.

There is no “end point”. Any idea of an end point happens here and now, within this.

This awakening doesn’t exclude or eliminate the full range of human experience. It doesn’t preclude sadness, grief, pain, anger, joy, hangups, wounds, trauma, or anything else that’s part of the human experience. What we are already allows the full range of human experience, although it often happens without us being conscious of it, and we may be in conscious opposition to it.

Awakening also allows the full range of human experience (since nothing else is possible), but there is now a conscious recognition of it, and often a more conscious alignment with it.

We are still very much human. We experience the full range of human emotions and experiences. We make mistakes. We have a limited understanding and perspective. We have our preferences and likes and dislikes. We make assumptions. We give bad advice. We don’t know how to do any number of things. Our understanding is faulty.

So there is a full allowing of any experience, as it always is, although now recognized more clearly, and perhaps aligned with more consciously. We experience the full range of human emotions and experiences. And there is an invitation for a healing, maturing, and reorganization within this. Things do change for our human self when awareness recognizes itself, and itself as this field of experience.

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Embracing the messiness of human life


What we are already embraces – and is – all there is.

An awakening process is, in many ways, a tour of some of the essentials of what we are. All as awareness. All as love. All as dispassionate. All as allowing what’s here. Expansion. Contraction. Bliss. Pain. Suffering. Being human with all that means, including the messiness of human life.

After an initial opening and perhaps even expansion, it’s natural to wish to stay there, to make it into a permanent state. It doesn’t quite work that way. Life may well invite us to recognize all as Spirit, including contractions, pain, and the messiness of human life.

That’s one type of dark nights. The one where we “lose” the bliss, opening, expansion, and may get to experience the reverse – contraction, and the still unloved wounds, pain, reactivity, and other very human parts of ourselves.

To the extent we struggle with this, it will feel even more painful. We add suffering to a process that’s in reality very kind and loving, and even wise. We struggle against it, because we don’t quite recognize this process too as Spirit, as love, as wisdom.

And when I say “we” I mean I, me.

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We are what we experience


It may appear that there is (a) a me here, (b) experiencing certain things, and (c) living in the world. These may appear as three somewhat different things.

That’s how it seems when we filter our experience through beliefs, or….. identifications with images and words, or….. when there is velcro and some images and words seem attached to feelings (which lend them a sense of solidity and reality, as if they reflected a reality “out there”). These are all different ways of saying more or less the same.

And yet, what’s more real is that it’s all a seamless whole. There is only this field of experience as it is right now, with sounds, smells, tastes, images, words, sensations. That’s all. That’s my world. That’s who and what I am.

Any images of past, future, present are images happening in immediacy, and those are who and what I am as well.

If I reject a part of what’s here now, I am – in a very real way – rejecting a part of myself. That’s why it hurts. That’s why it hurts to wrestle with what is, here and now. And that’s why it’s such a huge relief to notice, allow, and find love for it.  To feel sensations, and find curiosity about words, images, and sensations making up my experience.

Ego vs self


Adyashanti sometimes talks about the difference between the ego and the self, and I am not sure if I completely understand what he refers to.

Here is my best guess:

The ego, in this context, is the me, the human self, all the different hopes, fears, drives, desires, wounds and trauma of the human self. When this is seen through, and seen as what it is, there is a relaxation and sense of unification of the me. Traditionally, the dark night of the senses is what helps wear off identification with the me, although some may be left even after a dark night of the senses. I assume that seeing through the me is what leads to liberation. All is recognized as consciousness, but there is still a sense of identification as a center, as an I, which brings us to the self…..

The self is the loop, consciousness turning back and looking at itself. I assume this is the I, identification as an observer and doer. The human self may be seen through, and there may still be identification as an I, an observer and doer. When the I seen through, center of gravity goes to the whole field of consciousness.

For me, it’s easier to see this in terms of which images and words are identified with. Is it something part of the me, the human self? Or is it the I, the observer and doer?

It’s all about seeing through the appearances of a me and I. Seeing how these appearances are created. Seeing images as images. Seeing words as words. Feeling sensations as sensations. And for a while, until it’s seen through, there is the appearance of an interplay here between what “I” can do, such as inquiry, prayer and meditation. And grace, the way life works behind the scenes, the way life set situations up. And it’s all really grace, including the apparent doing. That too is life’s activity.

Have a soul?


It’s common for some folks in our culture (AKA Christians) to say we “have a soul”.

Even during my atheist years (childhood, early teens), I thought that sounded funny. Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that we are a soul, and have a temporary physical body?

As with so much, it’s all a matter of identification and perspective.

If I am identified as a human being, I may say I “have a soul”. The soul seems “other”, along with the wider world, God, and more.

If I am identified as a soul, I may say I am a soul and have a temporary physical and human form.

If life (Spirit, Big Mind, Brahman, God) recognizes itself, the individual soul and the human self it functions through are recognized as life itself. Here, it may be said that life itself is functioning through a soul and human form. Or we may say that we have a soul and temporary physical form.

It’s interesting that when life recognizes itself as all there is, functioning through a soul and human self, the words used may be what we often use in our culture anyway. We have a soul, and we have a temporary physical human form. There are two ways to look at why this is also our common way of speaking about it. One is that there is a knowing and intuition of reality. The other is that we identify as a more abstract and mostly separate “I” (created by words and images), and this abstract “I” seems to “have” a soul and physical form.

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Spirituality, or just human?


I don’t like the word “spirituality” so much. In our culture, it has some unfortunate connotations.

It can be seen as airy fairy. Escapist. Elevated. Elitist. And probably much more, depending on who you ask.

I like to think of it as just human, for many reasons:

It seems that an awakening can happen through anyone, sometimes out of the blue

Awakening seems to be a natural part of our developmental and perhaps evolutionary process. (As individuals and a species.)

An awakening process often feels very human. It includes a quite deep healing, maturing and reorganizing as a human being.

Living from an awakened context is also very human. It’s still an ordinary human life, only within a different conscious context.

When I use the word “awakening” here, I mean the process of (a) spirit awakening to itself as all there is, and (b) our human self reorganizing and realigning within this new context. The first can be sudden, and the latter often takes time.

I would like to use the word “human” more often, just as I tend to use the word “life” instead of Spirit or God. I probably will, when the context makes it clear what I am referring to.

The word fits, since we are talking about life (or reality, or Spirit) awake to itself through this human self, so it is all very human.

The word also has its drawbacks since spirituality is about reality itself, expressed through and as everything in the universe, and life can awaken to itself through many possible beings, not just humans. (Does a dog have Buddha nature? Woof!) For instance, if there is life throughout the universe, life can awaken to itself through them too, and will be expressed through their unique psychology and physiology. Spirit will still awaken to itself as all there is, just be expressed through a quite different type of being.

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Why it’s called a dark night, and it’s main function


I decided to rewrite this post:

It seems that a dark night is called a dark night for several reasons, and it may all have one function.

It’s called dark because what happens may go against our wishes, shoulds and identifications. There may be an apparent loss of divine presence or connection. Things may fall away, including what looks good to us. We may lose our health. We may have a sense of regression (spiritually and psychologically).

It’s called dark because dark things may happen, such as loss (or relationships, work, health, identities etc.), and dark things surface, such as wounds and traumas (to be seen through, healed).

It’s called dark because there may be a darkening of the faculties, a dampening of the personal will, the intellect, awareness of Spirit, morals and so on. There may even be a reversal of these. A strong will goes absent. A bright intellect goes dull. Clear morals give way to immoral impulses and perhaps actions.

It’s called dark because it may appear that God’s presence is gone, or that God’s guidance or grace is gone. In reality, what we took as a sign of Spirit may be what’s gone, as a way for us to recognize Spirit as any content of experience. Also, the dark night is just another form of God’s grace and love, even if may look very different to our conscious mind, at least early on in the process.

(Yes, I am aware that the language here about “dark” and “moral” is very conventional. I am writing about how all this may appear to a conventional view.)

It’s called dark because what’s really happening is obscure to us, it’s hidden. What a dark night does to us at a deeper level, how it matures our human self and soul, is hidden from our conscious view. (This is not unique to a dark night, it’s really always the case.)

It’s called a night because it’s an invitation to rest, just as a physical night. There may be an invitation for physical rest, after a period of activity and high energies running through our system. It may also be a rest from analysis and mental activity, and more elaborate practices. What it’s not necessarily a rest from is basic practices such as mindfulness, inquiry, prayer, and heart practices. (These may be very helpful, perhaps even more so than before.)

The one main function of all of this is to bring us face to face with identifications, and invite these to soften, be seen through, or wear off. This can be supported by inquiry, prayer, giving it over to the divine, and consciously aligning with the process.

Whatever appears “dark” does so only because we see it that way. It can equally be seen as light, and as a “brilliant day”, since the whole process is an invitation to see and shed identifications, leaving us – in view, heart and feelings – more aligned with love, clarity and reality. And we can also come to see the beauty and love in the darkness, in the deep rest we are invited to find through surrendering to what is, finding love for what is, and even finding gratitude for what is.

The whole process, as life itself, invites us to find wholeness as who we are, as human beings, embracing all the many polarities in us, and find in ourselves anything we see “out there” in the world and in others. And it invites identifications to soften and eventually release so we find ourselves as life itself, or what a thought may call love, or awareness appearing as all experience. Or simply what’s here, when images and words are recognized as images and words.

Note: When I write about a dark night here, I am mostly referring to a dark night of the soul in a technical sense, as one of the typical phases of a process of awakening. Some of this may also apply to other dark nights in an awakening process, and even dark nights in a more loose and everyday sense.

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Truth. It’s a big word, and one I didn’t use for a long time.

Now, I seem to be a little more comfortable with it, perhaps due to having explored truth and reality through inquiry.

One way to look at truth is that it’s reality reflected in images or thoughts. In this way, there is no absolute or final truth. It’s always provisional. And it can also be quite helpful in an ordinary sense, in helping us orient and function in the world.

There are also several layers or types of truth.

(a) There is truth in an ordinary everyday sense.

(b) There is what’s more true for me than the images and thoughts I hold as true about something, and I can find this through inquiry.

(c) There is the “truth” of who I am as a human being, how the different subpersonalities and voices function etc.

(d) And there is the truth or reality of what I really am, which a thought may call awakeness, or awakeness and it’s many appearance (aka my world), or that which allows and appears as awakeness and it’s appearances.

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Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed


But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed.
Matthew 8:8

And paraphrased, used in some Christian traditions before reviving the bread and wine:

Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.

I attended Eucharist at St. Paul’s Cathedral yesterday, and was deeply touched by this simple phrase.

I – as what identified mind says I am, this human self – is not worthy to receive Christ. It cannot be worthy, because it’s a mistaken identity. It doesn’t exist as it appears to exist. It also is not worthy since it operates from images and thoughts taken as true, while reality is quite different. It’s not worthy because it operates on a basic lie, and this basic lie engenders any number of other lies.

The grace comes from Christ, it comes from the divine. Say the word, and I shall be healed. Say the word, and this human self will function in its real context, within what I am noticing itself. Within awakeness – the divine, noticing itself. Nothing needs to change for that healing to take place, apart from the noticing.

The reversals are also true. This human self is worthy to receive Christ, because it is already the divine. It is the divine temporarily appearing as a human being and the world it’s in, and either identifying as that human self or not. And when awakeness (the divine, Christ) notices itself, this human self is bound to change. At the very least, it initiates a process of aligning this human self – more and more thoroughly – with reality, with reality noticing itself.

All as Christ, and a flailing human self


This is nothing new, and is also experienced as new (and that is familiar too).

All is clearly Christ – the whole field of experience including what thoughts may label the wider world, this human self, and me and I. It’s what a thought may call Christ, presence, infinite wisdom, love.

And at the same time, as part of that, is this flailing human self afraid of everything. Wounded. Hurt. Sometimes confused. Sometimes content. Sometimes happy.

Recognize vs realize etc.


Here is a very simple way of thinking about this process:

Recognize vs. realize

It’s possible to recognize what’s here, to notice it, to have a glimpse. And it’s possible to realize it, to live it, to deepen in lived familiarity with it.

Nature of reality vs. nature of illusion

What can be recognized and realized is the nature of reality, what we – this field of experience – really are, aka (a) presence, love, awareness, (b) all of this as this field of appearances, and (c) capacity for all of it.

And we can recognize and realize the nature of illusion, how the world of apparent separation etc. is created through taking images and thoughts as true, and all the dynamics around this.

As a whole vs. parts

The nature of reality and the nature of illusion can be recognized and realized globally, as the whole of this field of experience.

And it can be recognized/realized by the different parts of me, the subpersonalities, the different aspects of this psyche. This happens through holding satsang with these parts, as they surface to find their own liberation, to realize the nature of reality and illusion for themselves, to recognize and realize what they really are.

Milestones vs. ongoing

There are some common milestones in recognizing/realizing the nature of reality and illusion, and it’s also ongoing. There is always further to go. Reality keeps opening up to itself. There is (most likely) no end point.

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Capacity, awakness, form


About 30 minutes into this video, Bentinho Massaro talks about three facets of reality or what we are, and it’s quite simple and basic, and fits my experience and noticing.

There is awakeness and the field of awakeness which every experience (sight, sound, sensation, taste, smell, mental) happens within and as.

There is content of awakeness (experience) – as sights, sounds, sensations, tastes, smells and mental activities (images, thoughts).

And there is the capacity for all of this.

Using Bentinho’s analogy, there are clouds (form, content of awakeness/experience), there is the sky (awakeness which clouds happen within and as), and capacity for it all (space). Where this analogy breaks down, where it doesn’t fit, is in the word space. The appearance and experience of space (and time) happens within and as awakeness, and capacity is capacity for all of it.

There is also a difference between noticing and finding ourselves as form, awakeness, and capacity. I may generally take myself to be form, content of experience, as this human self (me), this soul (presence), or the I (doer, observer), and I may still – at times – notice awakeness and even capacity. I may find myself as awakeness, and form (experience) happening within and as me, and I may intuit or notice capacity. Where I am right now, I have noticed capacity, and perhaps to some extent found myself as it, and yet it remains mostly a noticing for now. And that’s fine.

My me – my human self and soul (subtle body, presence) – will continue to change and evolve within all of this. As long as this human self is around, it will continue to reorganize and align with what’s noticed, and what I take myself to be. Noticing awakeness invites the human self to reorganize and realign with this, and finding myself as awakeness even more so, and I assume the same is the case for noticing and (at some point?) finding myself as capacity. It’s ongoing, and I don’t assume there is any end to this as long as there is a human body around, and a more subtle body.

So there are three facets of reality – capacity, awakeness, and awakeness in its play as form and experience. There is the difference between noticing and finding myself as either of these three. And there is the continuing reorganizing, aligning and evolving or the me – my human self and soul – within all of this, guided and influenced by what’s noticed and what I find myself as.

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Love and want


A friend shared how she noticed how love and want is there at the same time.

They may seem contradictory, one from our clarity and the other from thinking we need and want something. And yet, they are there at the same time. It’s just a matter of noticing.

I notice the same in The Work. Even when I take a thought as true, what’s here when I don’t is here, it’s available to be noticed.

It’s helpful to notice. Even as I am caught up in images and drama, can I find what’s here when I am not? Can I find who I would be without it?

Can I notice the silence, the clarity, the love, the quiet intelligence? Can I notice it’s all happening as awakeness?



In the tradition of looking at turnarounds of teachings, I thought I would look at integration.

The main teacher at Center for Sacred Sciences would sometimes say that Enlightenment has nothing to do with integration.

So in what sense is the reverse true? In what way is integration integral to Enlightenment?

One example is quite obvious. When everything is recognized as Spirit, there is a reorganization of the human self within this new context. A reorganization at physical, energetic, emotional, and mental levels, and how this human self functions in the world. In this sense, there is an integration within Enlightenment. The human self realigns with reality, and this is an ongoing process. It integrates into this new context of Spirit recognizing itself as all there is.

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Bubbles of confusion


This is something many talk and write about these days:

There may be an initial awakening or opening (as it was for me in my mid-teens). There is a shift into Big Mind/Heart. Spirit notices itself as everything and everyone, without exception. The world (Spirit, God, Brahman) is revealed as a seamless whole. The boundary between inner and outer is revealed as just coming from an image overlaid on perception. The images of me and I are recognized as only images, and identification with them may be released at a conscious level, and may or may not release at an emotional level.

During this time, there may still be wounds and beliefs at the human level. And they may not be noticed much, for a while, since attention is released out of these wounds and beliefs. The brilliant light of Spirit is so strong that these – in contrast – minor hangups are barely noticed.

At some point, these wounds and beliefs surface again. They want to be included in the light. They want to align with reality. Emotions that were stuffed as they initially surfaced, often prior to the awakening, surface now to have their life, to be felt, to move through, and release. Beliefs created earlier in life, and still held at an emotional and sometimes conscious level, surface to be inquired into, so the thought can be released from being taken as true.

This may happen within Spirit noticing itself. There may not be any “need” for Spirit to re-identify as a me and/or I. The surfacing and moving through of stuffed emotions, and the surfacing and inquiry into beliefs, may happen within Spirit remaining aware of itself as all of it. This happened for me, to some extent, during the initial illumination phase.

Another option is that Spirit may temporarily re-identify as the me and/or I. One way of looking at this is that certain crucial images and thoughts have not been seen through thoroughly. Another is that this temporary re-identification allows emotions and beliefs to surface without being eclipsed by the brilliance of Spirit recognizing itself. This may be a darker dark night, and for me, this is what happened following the illumination phase. And even then, it shifted to some extent between the two options.

This is all about our human self, allowing it to reorganize and realign with reality more thoroughly, at more levels, in more areas of life, in relation to more of the possible thoughts that come up in us. It can bring clarity and insights into more areas of life, and it allows Spirit noticing itself to live with more kindness through this human life.

Spirit may well notice itself, as described initially, and yet be hindered in it’s expressed by remaining wounds and beliefs at a human level. The more clarity there is on the variety of thoughts surfacing, the more stuffed emotions are released, the more there is a deep healing and maturing at a human level, the more free Spirit is in it’s expression and it’s life through and as this human self in the world.

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Fascination with scary stories


Why are we – some of us – fascinated by scary stories?

I find a few different ways of looking at it.


In an evolutionary context, it makes sense that we are drawn to explore scary things through stories. It helps us mentally prepare for similar situations in our own life. We get more familiar with the possible situations and how we may react, we get a bit desensitized to these types of situations so we may be more calm if or when something similar happens in our own life, and we get a chance to mentally explore different ways of dealing with it.


When I take a story about something scary as true, my attention tends to be drawn to these beliefs and what they are about. Again, it’s an invitation to mentally explore these situations in a safe setting, and how I may deal with it if something similar should happen in the real world. It’s also an invitation to explore these beliefs in themselves. Are they realistic? What’s more realistic? What’s more true for me? 

An impulse to wholeness as who I am, this human self

What I see in the wider world is a reflection of what’s here. So far, I have found how each one of my stories of the wider world – including anything scary – equally well applies to me. As long as I think some human quality or characteristic is only out there in the world, or only in me, it’s painful and uncomfortable. When I find it both in the wider world and in me, there is a sense of coming home and it’s much more comfortable. In this sense, being drawn to scary stories in an invitation for me to use it as a mirror, to find in myself what I see out there in the world, and whether the scary story is from “real life” or made up doesn’t matter much.

Finding a characteristic both in the wider world and myself, I can also relate to it in a more relaxed and level-headed manner, so this impulse to find wholeness also makes sense in an evolutionary perspective.

An impulse to clarity as what I am 

There is also an invitation to find clarity here. When I take a story as true, it’s uncomfortable. And finding more clarity on the story, it’s more comfortable. So when I am drawn to what I think of as scary stories, there is an invitation for me to identify and investigate any stressful belief that may come up. Through this, what I am – clarity and love, that which any experience and image happens within and as – notices itself more easily.

I also see that when I take a story as true I tend to get caught up in reactive emotions and one-sided views, and finding more clarity helps me function in a more healthy, kind and informed way in the world.

Summary: Evolution, and who and what I am

It makes evolutionary sense for me to be drawn to scary stories in all of these ways. (a) I become more familiar with the different scenarios of what may happen and how I desensitize to scary situations to some extent, so I can be more calm if or when something similar happens in my own life. I get to mentally explore different ways of dealing with it, in a safe setting and before it happens. (b) I am invited to investigate my beliefs about it and find what’s more realistic and true for me. (c) I am invited to find in myself what I see in the wider world, which helps me relate to it in a more relaxed and level-headed manner. (d) And there is no end to the stories I can investigate, including my most basic assumptions about myself and the world, which helps me function in the world from more clarity, kindness and wisdom. Each of these support my survival and ability to reproduce and raise offspring.

All of these also make psychological sense. It helps me function in the world, and find a sense of wholeness as who I am.

It all makes spiritual sense. It helps this human self – the infinite experiencing itself as finite – survive and function in the world. It’s an invitation for what I am to more easily notice itself.

And all of these perspectives – evolution, psychology and spirituality – converge in one sense, and are the same in another.

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