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

 

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?

Integration

 

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.

Evolution

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.

Beliefs

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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In the world, not of it

 

Be in the world, not of it. 

There is no quote by Jesus just like that in the New Testament, but there are a few similar ones.

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.
– 1 John 2:15

When I appear to love the world, I really “love” some of my thoughts. I think that I need something in the world (money, house, status etc.), take the thought as true, and live as if it’s true.  The world if filtered through these beliefs, and it temporarily covers up awareness of what’s already here – all as Spirit, all as love. Said another way, the love for Spirit (the father) is not here, or at least it appears to not be here.

Be in the world, not of it.
– unknown author

What do I find when I look at this way of putting it?

Some examples of how I am in the world: As this human self, I am in the world. To others, I am in the world. I am in the world because this human self lives and functions in the world. I am also in the world because I use thoughts and images as practical guides for my life.

And some ways I am not of the world: I am not of the world when what I am – awareness, capacity – notices itself. I am not of the world, when I notice that the world – my world of experiences and images – happens within and as what I am. I find myself as not of the world when I question my beliefs, including the most basic ones of me and I.

So the statement is an invitation to notice the ways I am in the world, as this human self, and also to take care of that life, to live it the best way I can. And it’s an invitation to  notice the ways I am not of the world, to familiarize myself with what I am, to inquire into the thoughts that prevent me from seeing it.

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Ho’oponopono

 

I have been drawn to a very simple version of ho’oponopono recently.

Something comes up in the outer/inner world that’s disturbing.

And I relate to it with three simple sentences:

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

It seems I am most drawn to do this with emotions, beliefs and wounds – including a sense of being a victim, and an I and me it’s happening to.

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Wholeness

 

Heal (v). O.E. hælan “cure; save; make whole, sound and well,” from P.Gmc. *hailjan (cf. O.S. helian, O.N. heila, O.Fris. hela, Du. helen, Ger. heilen, Goth. ga-hailjan “to heal, cure”), lit. “to make whole”

The meaning of the word heal is to make whole.

How am I made whole, in my own experience?

I find wholeness through noticing the wholeness that’s already here. I can ask myself, is it true the wholeness I am seeking is not already here? 

I can also engage in activities that may help me notice the wholeness that’s here – a walk in nature, inquiry, Breema, TRE, a nurturing conversation with a friend.

Through this, I notice that the noticing or experience of wholeness can come into the foreground even in the midst of illness, unease or confusion. Wholeness can and does coexist with whatever is here.

There is also another way I can find wholeness, and that is through the “creation” of wholeness. I can take medicines, receive surgery, do therapy and so on, and in all these ways my body-mind may find healing and integration in a conventional sense.

The noticing of wholeness is at the level of what I am (that which all experience happens within/as) and also at the level of who I am (this human self). And the creation of wholeness/healing is at the level of who I am.

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Alchemy

 

Alchemy can perhaps be said to have two facets:

First, a transmutation from lead to gold, finding wholeness as who we are, as human beings in the world. This may be invited in through any number of practices, therapies or ordinary maturing and human experiences.

Then, immortality, notice what’s already here, what is – what we are and everything is – noticing itself. That which everything happens within and as – including time and space and who we are – noticing itself. This is, in a sense, finding immortality. What time happens within and as notices itself.  This may be invited in through simple inquiry, although it happens on its own schedule.

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What and who

 

Ice cream, stubbing my toe, soul, feelings of love, sadness, the appearance of an I – it’s all experiences that come and go. They all happen within and as reality, what is, aka what “I” am.

It’s only stories that give them a name, an inside and outside, make them appear attractive or not, and everything else I tell myself about them.

And this human life happens whether this is noticed or not.

John Welwood: Human Nature, Buddha Nature

 

Modern culture and child raising leave most people suffering from symptoms of insecure attachment: self-hatred, disembodiment, lack of grounding, ongoing insecurity and anxiety, overactive minds, inability to deeply trust, and a deep sense of inner deficiency. So most of us suffer from an extreme degree of alienation and disconnection that was unknown in earlier times—from society, community, family, older generations, nature, religion, tradition, our body, our feelings, and our humanity itself. [….]

Yet to grow into a healthy human being, we need a base of secure attachment in the positive, psychological sense, meaning: close emotional ties to other people that promote connectedness, grounded embodiment, and well-being. As John Muir the naturalist wrote: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find that it is bound fast by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything in the universe.” Similarly, the hand cannot function unless it is attached to the arm—that’s attachment in the positive sense.  We’re interconnected, interwoven, and interdependent with everything in the universe. On the human level we can’t help feeling somewhat attached to people we are close to. [….]

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Feeling good

 

As who I am – a human being in the world – it’s natural and healthy to want to feel good. It’s a built-in survival mechanism.

As what I am, truth takes priority.

And I notice that beliefs creates discomfort (don’t feel good) and confusion (don’t have clarity). So whether I want to feel good or truth, it may be a good idea to look at my beliefs.

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High and low

 

Life hunts high and low.

Life hunts high and low to weave together all of who (a human being) and what (Spirit) we are.

Life hunts high and low to remind itself it’s already that which allows and is all of it.

I go high – into an expanded state, cosmic consciousness, bliss, love, release. It offers me a new perspective, a release out of old identities.

I go low – into a contracted state, shadow material, beliefs. It offers healing and the possibility to see through identifications.

There is neutrality – what already allows and is it all notices itself. The ground recognizes itself.

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Coming into alignment with reality

 

I keep seeing this, and each time I do it is surprising and seems new.

When I am out of alignment with reality, there is stress and discomfort in any flavor.

When I come into alignment with reality, there is relief and a sense of coming home.

And this alignment with reality is as who I am in an ordinary human sense, and as what I am.

As who I am, I come into alignment with reality when I find what’s already true for me. I was the one who made that choice, I cannot blame circumstances or anyone else. I am exactly what I see in her. I do what I complain about them doing. My advice, which I thought was for him, is really for me.

As what I am, I also come into alignment with reality when I find what’s already true for me. Am I content of awareness? Or am I what it all happens within and as?

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The process is endless, so what happens when it’s identified with?

 

Healing, digesting, maturing, clarifying and maturing at the human level is endless, an ongoing process.

What happens when I identify with this?

There is an equally endless process of hope for resolution, struggle, disappointment etc.

How would it be without this identification?

It’s seen as happening on it’s own, it’s all the life processes unfolding.

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Meeting our confused parts as we would meet any being wishing for clarity

 

I keep returning to this topic.

What we are can awaken to itself and all is recognized as the play of awareness, as emptiness in the form of awakeness and it’s play of form. Everything is happening on it’s own.

At the same time, this human self is here and there may be many parts of this human self that’s still not aligned with reality. From it’s previous life within identification as an I, it has wounds, beliefs, stored trauma and more. And the movement is for all of these parts to come to awareness and align with reality. These parts – these voices or subpersonalities – still live partly within confusion, and seek clarity. They wish to be liberated from their suffering.

This can play itself out in several ways.

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It is said that men may not be the dream of gods….

 

It is said that men may not be the dreams of the gods, but rather that the gods are the dreams of men.
– Carl Sagan in Cosmos, The Edge of Forever

Both may be true.

Men are the dream of gods. This human self, and all human selves, appear within and as awareness, within and as capacity for all there is.

Am I within content of experience, or is experience within me?

Gods are the dreams of men. Our images of gods – of anything – are images only. They are our dream.

When we take them as true, they seem real. When we see them as images only, they are just that – images.

100% selfish

 

Being halfway selfish is painful.

I eat something my tongue says is good, and my body feels bad. I keep something for myself, and others notice and keep things to themselves. I try to protect myself through a white lie, and experience stress and tension.

In short, I act on a very limited notion of what is good for me and who I am in the world.

It is much better to be 100% selfish.

When I am completely selfish, I take the bigger picture into account. I think longer term, and in terms of my relationships with others and the wider world. I ask myself, what is really good for me? What will meet my most essential needs? I act in ways that meet my own needs, and also the needs of those around me, and even for the larger social and ecological whole, because I know there is no separation there.

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Projections of me and I

 

Working with projections can be seen as a the universal “cure all”.

It helps us heal, by dislodging us from stuck (victim) positions. It helps us mature, by enriching our view and stories about ourselves and the world. It widens our circle of care, concern, and compassion, and circle of “us”. It reveals the world – the me, I and the wider world – as a seamless whole.

And it helps us notice what we really are.

One of the ways it helps us notice what we are is through projections of the me and I.

We project the “me” out on others. They are humans in the world with certain characteristics, roles, activities and so on.

And we project the “I” out on others as well. There is an “I” there somehow operating that human being. Pulling the strings. Making choices. Acting. Observing. Experiencing.

So how do I work with these projections?

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Don Quixote

 

lostinlamancha

What do I see in Don Quixote? I see – among other things – someone who is at odds with reality, fighting imaginary enemies.

How do I find that in myself? I do the same whenever I take a story as true. I identify with a particular viewpoint, so am necessarily at odds with reality. Reality is not limited to my stories about it.

What happens when I am at odds with reality? There is stress. Discomfort. A sense of unease. Sense of separation. Tension.

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Three facets of spirituality

 

Spirituality can refer to many different things.

When I look at the type of spirituality I am most familiar with, I find three facets. And one, two, or three of them can be present at once, it seems, and in any combination.

First, there is fascination. We can be fascinate by many things, including the idea of what we may get out of spirituality (awakening, healing, peace, good rebirth), our own path and experiences (insights, dreams, glimpses), the stories in the tradition (cosmology, teaching stories), the teacher (personality, what they represent), more peripheral aspects such as reincarnation, supernatural powers, and auras, or even more peripheral things such as astrology, foreseeing the future, reincarnation, and also anything unexplained and weird such as UFOs, crop circles, ghosts and so on.

Fascination can be very helpful. It can make us feel good, hopeful, and inspired. It can help us stay with a path. It can be a needed temporary escape from problems. And it brings up projections, inviting us to find here what we see over there.

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Why does attention go to what bothers us?

 

When I get a small rock in my shoe, attention goes there allowing me to notice it and do something about it.

And that is an example of a much more general pattern. Attention goes to what bothers me, so I can notice it and do something about it.

Sometimes, I do something about it in the world, like removing a pebble from my shoe. Other times, I notice and inquire into a belief. Or there is a combination.

So why does attention to go what bothers us?

In an immediate sense, it is easily explained. Something feels off, so attention goes there so we can do something about it. If it is resolved, attention moves on. If it is not resolved in a satisfying way, attention will tend to return.

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Cruel game

 

There are many reasons why I wouldn’t be a good teacher, at least not of the traditional type. Apart from not being qualified in any way, not being trained, and not enjoying projections coming my way, I often feel that traditional spiritual teachers play a cruel game with their students.

There is a reason for that cruel game, of course, and it is a quite innocent one. When there is an awakening, it is natural for many to want to share it. And when there is an absence of awakening here, combined with neediness at a human level, it is natural to seek something that will fill that hole, and spirituality can be one of those things.

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A more level-headed approach II

 

As the previous “level-headed” post was quite unfair and one-sided, I thought I would be a little more inclusive here. It is also more interesting to me.

If we make the distinction between who and what we are, we get three ways to meet our human and spiritual longings.

We can meet all human and spiritual longings with spirituality tools. We can meet them with psychological tools. Or we can meet them at their own levels.

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