Welcome to Mystery of Existence

This is an exploration into the mystery of existence with a focus on healing, awakening, culture change, and more. What I write here reflects my own process, although often with a focus on what’s more essential and universal.

There are many posts so you may want to start with a few selected articles or follow the tags or do a search on a topic you are interested in. You can also use the essential articles tag (only recent ones) or use the article finder.

If you are on Facebook, I have a pointers page with brief quotes from a range of sources, an articles page highlighting a few articles from here, and a more interactive group.

Feel free to leave comments or send me a private message. I’d love to hear from you.

Enjoy 🙂

Simone Weil: There are two atheisms of which one is the purification of the notion of God 

There are two atheisms of which one is the purification of the notion of God 

– Simone Weil

One atheism is a rejection of there being any God or Spirit or anything divine. Typically, it’s actually a rejection of a certain image of God or the divine, or of a certain culture that goes with one or more religions, although it’s often presented as something more general.

The other is more discerning. It’s a differentiation between our mental representations of God from what these mental representations refer to. We can reject our images and mental representations without rejecting God or the divine. This is a purification of the notion of God.

The first is a belief. It’s a belief that there is no God or divine. We are attaching to ideas as if they are the reality. The second is a sincere exploration of the difference between our ideas and reality itself.

A CONVENTIONAL EXPLORATION OF THE SECOND ATHEISM

A conventional exploration of the second atheism is what I mentioned above.

We notice our images of God and the divine and reality as a whole. We get to know them. We recognize them as mental representations.

And we set them aside. We know that God and reality is always different from and more than our ideas and maps. We find humility here. We find receptivity. We find curiosity.

We ask God to reveal itself to us – in ways beyond and free from the limits created by our ideas and notions about God and reality and anything.

(Note: I should mention it’s been a long time since I actually read Simone Weil so I don’t know if this is how she would talk about it. This is me, not her.)

ANOTHER MORE IMMEDIATE EXPLORATION

For me, this is how the second one looks:

In one sense, I am this human self in the world. It’s what others, my passport, and my thoughts sometimes tell me. It’s an assumption that’s not wrong and it works reasonably well. It’s also an assumption I need to learn and a role I need to learn to play in order to function in the world.

And yet, what am I more fundamentally in my own first-person experience? What do I find if I set aside my ideas about what I am and instead look in my immediate experience?

I find I more fundamentally am capacity for any and all experiences. I am capacity for the world as it appears to me. I am capacity for whatever appears in my sense fields – in sight, sound, taste, smell, sensations, and mental representations.

I find I am what the world, to me, happens within and as. I am what the world – this human self, others, the wider world, any experience at all – happens within and as.

I find myself as what thoughts may imperfectly label consciousness. I find myself as the oneness the world, to me, happens within and as. I find myself as no-thing which allows the experience and appearance of any and all things. I find myself as having no boundaries and no inherent characteristics, which allows the experience and appearance of boundaries and any characteristic.

I find that another word for the oneness I am is love. It’s a love that’s independent of any states or feelings. It’s a love inherent in what I am. It’s a love often obscured by my very human hangups, issues, and traumas.

To me, the world happens within and as what I am, within and as consciousness, within and as oneness, within and as love. To me, the world appears as what a thought may call the divine or God.

The small interpretation of this is that this is all psychology. As a conscious being, to myself I have to be consciousness, and the world as it appears to me has to happen within and as consciousness, within and as what I am. I cannot generalize from this and say that this is how reality or all of existence is.

The big interpretation says that everything is as it appears. Everything is consciousness and the divine. Everything is God.

If we call existence God, then this is the atheism that is the purification of the notion of God.

This is the atheism that differentiates our ideas about God, ourselves, and everything, from what’s here in our immediate noticing.

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Picking up dreams from others?

Several times in my life, I have noticed that my dreams not only change when I sleep in a different location, they also seem to reflect things that are not from my life but from the people who have been in that place before me.

For instance, when I lived in Madison, I would go to Milwaukee to join the Process Work meetings and workshops there. One time, I stayed overnight in a place owned by one of the organizers and I had a string of very intense dreams involving archetypes, magical creatures, and so on. The dreams seemed “foreign” to me somehow. I told my host about the content of the dreams, and she said: “Oh yes, you slept where I work with clients, and those images come from recent sessions I have done with clients.” I moved my massage-table bed to another location in the same room, and slept quietly.

Another time, I stayed in my old Breema teacher’s house in Berkeley during a Breema intensive while he and his new partner were away. The first night, I dreamt his wife was screaming at me and accusing me of several things. When I woke up, I felt I had been him in the dream, and I remembered that he was going through a divorce at the time. I moved to the other side of the bed and slept quietly. (I wonder if the first side of the bed was where he slept?)

Over the last week, I have had very restless dreams bordering on nightmares. This happened when I started sleeping in an apartment and bed that belongs to someone I know (RL). Yesterday, I was curious about what’s happening, I wondered if I am picking up something again, and cleaned the apartment and bed energetically. My sleep last night was much more calm and peaceful.

I should mention that one of the dreams I have had here was of me looking down on my arms and noticing that they were dark brown. (In waking life, they are pink or at best light brown.) I wonder if this dream too may reflect sleeping in the bed and residual energies of another person? (He has darker skin.)

For me, this is just an interesting pattern. I know I can sometimes pick up and sense what’s going on with others and a place, so this may be just another way my system picks it up. It’s also a reminder of how interconnected we all are. And whatever comes up in these dreams does reflect something in me since everything – the whole world – reflects dynamics and characteristics in me. Equally important, it’s all happening within and as what I am. That doesn’t change.

Our brains and this world are not made to make us happy

In evolutionary psychology, it’s common to point out that our organism and nervous system is not made primarily for lasting happiness. It’s made to help us survive.

Of course, we experience happiness in periods, and some seem to have a higher set-point for happiness than others. Also, we can certainly experience a more stable contentment or a sense of gratitude, and that may be as good or better than happiness.

Perhaps this also goes for the world in general. It’s not created to make us happy.

If anything, it’s made for adventure. This world is the universe, existence, or life expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways.

And, if we have a spiritual orientation, we can say that this world – this universe and all of existence – is the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways. Some call this lila.

Personally, I would take survival and adventure over happiness any day. If our human organism and brain were not made for survival, none of us would be here. To me, adventure is far more interesting than happiness. And as icing on the cake, we can still find contentment and gratitude, and even receive periods of happiness.

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Photos: It’s a blur

I had some time to spend in a mall the other day, and thought I would have some fun with motion blur. These images were taken using the Live option on the iPhone and then edited a bit for color and tone. As a kid and teenager, I loved experimenting with double exposure, projecting images onto things and photographing them, freezing fast motion (bursting water balloons and small explosions!), and long exposures. I haven’t experimented much with it since, so it was a fun couple of hours.

I have many other photos I like more in terms of quality and end product, but enjoying the process is equally if not more important, and I did enjoy doing this.

Picking up information during distance healing

I thought I would share an experience I had early on after I started with Vortex Healing.

In Vortex Healing, and in distance healing in general, it’s common to pick up information about the client.

Typically, the information is about whatever issue the client wants to work on. For me, it’s typically a combination of images and sensations in the body (I feel in my own body what’s going on with the client), and some also receive it in the form of words. And the information is usually about where in the body or energy system something is going on, and whatever emotional issues are related to what we are focusing on. (The information is typically quite accurate and can be confirmed.) Over time, this becomes quite routine and a part of daily life for me and most others doing distance healing.

In this case, I exchanged healing sessions with another student at my level. She channeled for me and afterward said that she had several images during the session that didn’t make sense to her. But she wanted to share them anyway – just in case they meant something to me.

She said she saw images of a young woman, in a kind of intentional community with a focus on sustainability and spirituality, and so on. (I don’t remember everything but it was far more detailed.)

It turned out that the images she had picked up were from a book project that had recently come to me and where I had started to write down ideas. It’s about a young woman a few decades in the future, living in a community focusing on sustainability in a generally dystopian world wrecked by our ecological crisis. She has an awakening shift, and the story is mostly about her process of dealing with this new reality.

Why did she pick it up? Probably because that world was especially alive for me at the time. And maybe so she could share it with me as a kind of confirmation about the story and the project. (I still haven’t written it, which weighs on me a bit since the story came to me nearly fully formed and it felt like it wanted to be written and brought into the world.)

Note: To clarify, my VH-exchange comrade is not someone I knew very well, and I hadn’t told anyone about the book project I was exploring.

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Spiritual stories vs what’s here in immediacy

Anyone into spirituality has all sorts of spiritual stories floating around in their minds. And most who are not into spirituality have these kinds of stories as well, they may just dismiss them.

For instance, if we are into mysticism or non-duality, we may have stories about the afterlife, karma, what awakening refers to, what awakening would mean for us and our future, the role of masters, the existence of non-physical entities and deities, and so on.

It’s helpful to differentiate mental representations and our immediate noticing.

MENTAL REPRESENTATIONS

For me, all of these stories are mental representations. I cannot find them anywhere else.

Someone created those stories, told them to someone else, and then they reached me.

I may have stories about the source and whether it’s reliable or not. There may be research matching the stories to a certain degree. Some of the stories may even match my own experiences.

And yet, to me, they remain mental representations and stories. I cannot find them outside of that. I cannot find it in my immediate noticing.

DIFFERENTIATING MENTAL REPRESENTATIONS AND IMMEDIATE NOTICING

For all I know, reality may not be anything like what the stories describe.

That’s a sobering realization and an important one.

In life, it helps us stay grounded and it’s a kind of vaccination against going too far into spiritual fantasies.

And more importantly, it’s a part of learning to differentiate mental representations from direct noticing. It’s a part of learning to recognize mental representations for what they are, holding them more lightly, and also differentiate all that from a direct noticing of what’s here – which is our own nature.

The only thing I can notice directly is actually my own nature. Everything else is a noticing plus a story, a mental representation.

WHAT I AM LEFT WITH

Any story about who or what I am is a story. Any story about the content of experience is a story. Any story about reality is a story.

And what I am left with is a direct noticing of my nature and that any and all experience happens within and as what I find myself as.

IT’S ALL I KNOW

When I learn to differentiate the two, I also notice more clearly that all I know is my own nature. Any content of experience happens within and as what I am, within and as my nature. Even the nature of mental representations is my nature.

To me, the nature of everything is my nature, whether I notice or not.

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Jonathan Louis Dent: Imagine if we measured success by the amount of safety that people feel in our presence

I want to live in a society that values helping people feel safe. That’s how we all can flourish.

And this is not only about our personal interactions or what happens in groups. It’s also how we structure and set up our society. Do we have social safety nets so people can feel safe from a life in poverty? Do we support people to get the education they want? Do we encourage people to follow their deepest fascinations even if it doesn’t make personal sense to us?

FINDING IT FOR MYSELF

When I notice that wish in me, I know it’s advice for myself.

It’s an invitation to find ways to bring it into my own life.

I can find and choose to be with people who help me feel more safe.

I can help others feel more safe, as best I can.

And, perhaps most importantly, I can support my own inner community in feeling more safe.

HELPING MY INNER COMMUNITY FEEL SAFE

Growing up, I didn’t learn to consistently make my inner community feel safe. I didn’t learn to consistently support and be there for myself and all the different parts of me and my experience.

Why? Because I didn’t receive it from those around me when I was little. They didn’t know how to do it for themselves so they couldn’t do it for me.

So how do I learn to help my inner community feel safe and supported?

The first step is recognizing when parts of me feel unsafe and unsupported. How does it feel?

How do I habitually respond to it? Do I react? Perhaps with some form of avoidance? An avoidance that takes the form of fear, anger, compulsions, blame, shame, guilt, or something else?

What is my conscious inner dialog? How can I change it so it helps my inner community feel safe and supported? How can I do it in a way that feels honest? (Tricking myself doesn’t work.)

What happens if I do heart-centered practices on my images of others, myself, and different parts of me? If I do tonglen, ho’oponopno, or metta? Does something shift?

What are the stressful stories creating a feeling of lack of safety and support? What do I find when I examine these and explore what’s genuinely more true for me? What are my stressful stories about not feeling safe and supported? What am I most afraid can happen?

What do I find when I dialog with the parts of me that feel unsafe and unsupported? How do they experience the world? How do they experience me? What advice do they have for me? How can I best be a friend and ally to these parts of me?

How is it to notice that these parts and experiences have the same nature as I do? That I am fundamentally capacity for it all? That they are happening within and as what I am? How is it to rest in and as that noticing?

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

As mentioned, I did not grow up around people who knew how to consistently do this for themselves. So I didn’t feel all that safe and supported, and I didn’t learn to do it for myself. And that means doing it for others is also lacking, in spite of my best intentions. So this requires a lot of work and attention from my side. It takes time. I still feel I am just a beginner when it comes to this.

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Our human identity is not wrong, it’s just incomplete

For me, it’s convenient to talk about who I am as distinct from what I am.

WHO AND WHAT I AM

As who I am, I am this human self in the world. I am the one others see me as and what my passport tells me I am. It’s the role I need to learn to play in order to function in the world.

As what I am, I am capacity for the world as it appears to me. I am what the world, to me, happens within and as. This is what I more fundamentally am in my own first-person experience.

DOES IT MEAN ONE IS WRONG AND THE OTHER IS CORRECT?

Not really. Each one has validity, it’s just a different kind of validity in each case.

In the world and to most others, I am this human self. That’s an assumption that works reasonably well, although if I take myself as exclusively this, it leaves a lot out and that comes with some inherent discomfort.

To me, in my own immediate noticing, I am capacity for the world and what the world happens within and as. This is my own private experience, and it’s very likely shared by all conscious beings – all consciousnesses functioning through and as a being – whether they notice or not.

We are very likely all capacity for our world, and what the world to us happens within and as. We are the oneness the world, as it appears to us, happens within and as. And it’s that way whether we notice or not.

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN WHO AND WHAT I AM

What’s the relationship between the two?

Obviously, the distinction is mind-made. It’s created by our mental representations. It’s not there in reality, or at least not as a clear dividing line with one thing on one side and the other on the other side.

To me, it’s all happening within and as what I am. My human self and any ideas I have about my human self happens within and as what I am.

That doesn’t make it wrong. It just means that if I exclusively take myself as my human self, a lot is left out. It’s just a part of a bigger picture.

It’s fine if that’s what I do, although it comes with the discomfort mentioned above. It’s somewhat out of alignment with reality as I am already living it. Whether I notice or not, I am already living my nature as oneness, so pretending I am not inevitably creates discomfort.

HOW CAN WE EXPLORE THIS FOR OURSELVES?

If the oneness I am is pretending to be exclusively this human self, and it has a curiosity to discover what’s more real, how can I go about it?

The essence is to discern our mental representations – of ourselves and what we are and life in general – from our immediate noticing. What’s here in my mental representations? How is it to notice that it is a mental representation and not reality? What’s here in my immediate noticing? What am I more fundamentally in my immediate noticing?

And to do that, some structured guidance can be very helpful, including any number of inquiry approaches like the Headless experiments, The Big Mind process, The Work of Byron Katie, The Kiloby/Living Inquiries, traditional Buddhist sense field inquiries, and so on.

Basic meditation – to notice and allow what’s here, and notice it’s all already allowed and noticed – is also helpful. It helps me see that any and all content of experience comes and goes, including anything within the content of experience I take myself to be. And something does not come and go, and that’s something that’s not a thing, it’s what it all happens within and as. It’s the awakeness it’s all already happening within and as.

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WordPress hosting

I just switched host for this website and thought I would say a few words about it.

This website was first hosted on Blogger which was an early blog site. It was perfect for what I did initially.

A SMALL ORANGE – DECLINING QUALITY

Fifteen+ years ago, I switched to WordPress to have more control and options for look and functionality. (I wrote a simple script to transfer the Blogger posts to WP.)

Until yesterday, I used A Small Orange (ASO) as a host and I was very happy with them for the first several years. They were responsive, helpful, and professional.

Some years ago, I started noticing that their service seemed to get progressively worse.

The most crucial problem is that they didn’t update PHP and this creates a lot of problems for a WordPress site. PHP is what WordPress runs on, and an outdated version of PHP is both a security risk and creates problems for how the website functions. For instance, I have had increasingly more problems with plugins that are unable to run on the old version of PHP offered by ASO.

They were running PHP 5.6.40 for my WordPress site, and the current version is 8.1.13. (5.6.40 was released in 2014!)

Why wouldn’t they update PHP? After all, it’s free software and I imagine it only takes a push of a button from their side to update it. I am not sure what the answer is.

But I am certain what my answer is, and that is to switch to another host that runs the current version of PHP.

In addition to the PHP problems, I also noticed a decline in their customer service. They used to respond immediately and were skilled and helpful. These days, it can take days to get a response, and it’s often not very satisfactory.

SITEGROUND – INFINITELY BETTER

I switched to SiteGround and am very happy with their service so far. They respond within minutes and they seem professional, skilled, and helpful.

And they are, as any responsible host, running the current version of PHP.

20-YEAR ANNIVERSARY!

I have been going through a few things on this website as part of the switch, and noticed that the first entry was on December 27, 2002. That means that this blog has been going for almost twenty years!

In the backend, I see that there are about 13,482 articles listed, although only 9007 have been made public. I don’t really know how many unique visitors have been here but a rough calculation tells me that the website has been visited somewhere between 1/2 and one million times. Since a lot of what I write about is quite niche, the content is not for everyone. But I hope at least some have benefited from something here.

Dream: I am African

I am with a group of people from around the world. We talk, and I happen to look down at my arms and notice my skin is dark brown. I realize I had forgotten and make a mental note that in the world, I am that way.

In the dream, it felt very natural, I just needed to remember. And if I had noticed I looked Asian or European, that would have been the same. I just needed to look and then remember.

NONE OF IT IS INHERENT TO WHAT I AM

For me, this dream is mainly a reminder that to myself, I am not inherently any of these things. I need to remember and then tell myself what I am. No label is inherent to what I am.

As I often write in other articles, I have a certain identity in the world. I have gender, nationality, education labels, profession labels, relationship status, address, political leanings, food preferences, and so on. None of that is wrong, and I need to know, remember, and play those roles reasonably well in order to function in the world.

And yet, what I am in my own first-person experience? What am I to myself? Here I find I am more fundamentally something else. I am capacity for my whole field of experience – which includes what thoughts can label the human self, others, the wider world, sights, sounds, sensations, thoughts, and so on. I am what all of it happens within and as.

Here, I have no inherent identity or label. I am inherently free of it all, and that allows all of it to come and go.

MY INNER AFRICAN

This dream also points to my inner African. Perhaps the dream is inviting me to be more in touch with these qualities and characteristics? Or that I am getting a bit more in touch with it?

What do I associate with being African? The ones I have met have been grounded, sane, enthusiastic, alive, and very much in touch with their body and movement. I also associate shamanic traditions, an emphasis on community life, dance, music, and so on. (I love many types of African music and have recently especially listened to the latest album from Sona Jobarteh.)

FIRST CONSCIOUSNESS, THEN HUMAN, THEN THE REST

Something else also came up for me related to this dream.

To myself, I find myself as capacity and what the (my) world happens within and as. And then there are layers of identities from the more universal to the more unique.

And that’s how I like to see others as well. I assume they are like me. To themselves, they are primarily consciousness. They are open to the world. They are space for the world. And then they are an expression of the universe and life, a part of this living planet, human, and finally and more peripherally a certain gender, ethnicity, and so on.

Note: In the world and in waking life, I am Northern European.

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From seeing to visceral

For some years, inquiry was the center of my focus and something I did daily, whether it was The Work of Byron Katie, the Kiloby (Living) Inquiries, the Big Mind process, or just old-fashioned Buddhist sense field exploration inquiry. (This was mostly from around 2000 to 2018.)

I’ll still do more formal inquiry when I am drawn to it, but my focus these days is more on direct noticing and energy healing.

And I also notice a shift. For instance, when I did The Work on a topic in the past, it was sometimes a seeing of what was more true for me a certain topic, and my visceral experience hadn’t quite caught up. These days, I more often notice the visceral experience.

I imagine it may be more of my system catching up to the seeing, and it happens and deepens over time.

For instance, I saw the “I know everyone loves me, I just don’t expect them to realize it” quote from Byron Katie this morning, and I notice it resonates viscerally with me. Not with all of me since there are still psychological parts that don’t realize it, but more of me get it viscerally. The overall experience is of getting it more viscerally. When I first saw that quote many years ago, I remember seeing the truth of it but not getting it so viscerally.

And, of course, there is always further to go. There is a lot I haven’t examined yet, and there are many parts of me that have not caught up with the seeing.

May your inner voice be the kindest voice you know

Through intention and new habits, it can be.

Most of us have an inner voice that’s a mix of the voices we heard growing up – from our parents, siblings, teachers, friends, schoolmates, and so on.

And for most of us, not all of these voices as kind. We learned to speak to ourselves in unkind ways, especially in some situations and areas of life.

WHAT UNKIND VOICES DO TO US

What do these unkind voices do to us?

Mainly, they create an atmosphere that feels uncomfortable and unsafe.

At any moment, our inner dialog can turn harsh and unkind.

And this distracts us from our natural kindness, wisdom, and engagement.

It also makes it easier for us to speak to others in unkind ways. The way we speak to ourselves tends to color how we speak to others. We pass on the ways others spoke to us early in life.

HOW DO WE CHANGE THIS?

The first step is to be aware of what’s happening.

What is my inner dialog?

In what situations do the unkind voices come in? In what areas of life?

Then we can learn to see through and replace these voices. We can find where they come from and who spoke to us in that way early in life. We can examine what they are saying and find what’s more true for us. We can intentionally speak to ourselves in a more kind and supportive way.

THE INNER DIALOG WE ARE NOT CONSCIOUS OF

This applies to our conscious inner dialog, and it also applies to the inner dialog that’s here and perhaps not so conscious.

The part of our inner dialog that’s conscious is just the tip of the iceberg and the rest colors our experience as much if not more.

How do we be more aware of this inner dialog? What can we do about it?

The most effective way to explore this may be through different forms of inquiry.

Here, we can identify this inner dialog and learn to see through it. Fortunately, we have a clear sign that unkind voices are operating in us: a sense of discomfort and stress. And structured forms of inquiry can help us with the rest.

If we keep at it over time, our unkind inner dialog will lose its power and be replaced with a more naturally kind, wise, and pragmatic voice.

And there is always more to explore. There are always voices we haven’t seen yet. There are often more essential underlying stressful stories, and more stories in the wider network of stories.

For this, I especially like The Work of Byron Katie for finding underlying stressful thoughts, and the Kiloby Inquiries can do the same, as do many other approaches including cognitive therapy.

AREN’T SOME UNKIND VOICES TRUE, NECESSARY, AND HELPFUL?

That’s what the unkind voices tell us, and when we explore this for ourselves we may find something different.

I find they are not as true as my mind sometimes tells me. There is often some validity to them, but they are definitely not the whole picture, and the fuller picture is typically far more kind.

They are not necessary. We don’t need unkindness or even stress to act.

And they are not that helpful, especially if compared with the alternative of clarity and kindness.

THE OTHER TYPE OF INNER VOICE

I use the term “inner voice” here since that’s what the quote calls it, and it does work.

The term “inner voice” can refer to two different things.

One is our inner dialog, which is what this article is about.

The other is our inner guidance which sometimes but not always takes the form of a voice. Our inner guidance is calm and clear and available for us to listen to and follow or not. It’s neither kind nor unkind, it just offers guidance.

Image: A meme from social media, source unknown (to me).

“I don’t know” is the only true statement?

“I don’t know” is the only true statement the mind can make

– Nisgaradatta Maharaj

These type of pointers is meant as medicine.

In this case, it’s medicine for the tendency to take thoughts – or some thoughts – as true.

And as with any thought, it’s not entirely accurate. It leaves something out.

Mental representations are questions about the world, whether we notice or not. They are maps of the world and help us orient and function in the world. They are different in kind to what they are about. (Unless they happen to be about mental representations.) Reality is always more than and different from these maps. And they cannot contain any full, final, or absolute truth.

And that goes for Nisgaradatta’s statement as well. His statement also has limited validity, and there is validity in its reversals.

We can know certain things. We can notice our nature directly. (Our nature can notice and “know” itself in that sense.) We can know things in a provisional, limited, and conventional sense, although these are not final or absolute truths.

His statement is not the only true statement. It doesn’t hold a final or absolute truth any more than any other thought.

In general, I find it helpful to explore pointers in this way and especially pointers from the non-dual world. What are they meant as medicine for? What’s their validity? In what ways are they not so valid? What’s the validity of their reversals?

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Books and identity

I had a conversation the other day about books, downsizing, and identity.

After my divorce some years ago, I had to downsize my book collection dramatically. Over a couple of decades, I had systematically built up a small library of books by and about mystics, psychology, shamanism, Native American cultures and mythologies, vernacular/natural/sustainable architecture and design, permaculture, art, and so on. I bought two or three books a week, mostly from amazing used-books stores in Madison, Eugene, Portland (Powell’s Books!!!), and the Bay Area. So I assume the collection was between two and three thousand books, and mostly books you won’t find in most libraries.

It was painful for me to lose these books. Partly because I had made extensive notes in many of them and planned to use them as references for my own future book on mysticism. And equally importantly, because I had used them to build up and reinforce a certain identity.

In my mind, I could tell myself: Look at this cool book collection! Look what a cool and interesting guy I am who has all these books and has read almost all of them!

Collecting books is not the most terrible addiction out there, and using them to build up a certain identity is also not the most terrible thing we can do. I still love books, but it is good to be aware of what we use to build up and reinforce our identity and see what’s behind it.

Do I have a sense – and identity – of not being enough? Am I trying to fill a sense of lack through books? Or in other ways including other collections, clothes, titles, and so on?

Would I rather have kept the books? Yes. Am I grateful I got to more viscerally get how I used – and partially still use – books to build up and reinforce an identity? And that I am doing so to compensate for a sense of lack and not being enough? Yes, of course. In the bigger picture, that’s probably far more important than having an impressive book collection. It’s less visible and potentially more transforming.

Kurt Vonnegut: Everything is nothing with a twist

Everything is nothing with a twist

– Kurt Vonnegut 

This is a surprisingly accurate pointer, especially when it’s specified a bit. 

To me, everything is nothing with a twist.

In one sense, I am this human self in the world. It’s what my passport tells me and how others see me, and I need to be able to play that particular role in order to function in the world. 

And when I look in my first-person experience, I find I am more fundamentally something else. I am capacity for the world as it appears to me. I am what the world, to me, happens within and as. I am what any content of experience happens within and as. 

Said another way, I find myself as consciousness. I am the consciousness the world, to me, happens within and as. I am the consciousness this human self and anything else happens within and as. 

All that is just to say that I am nothingness that takes the form of any and all experiences. 

To me, everything is nothing with a twist. 

It’s not a metaphor. It’s not poetry. It’s not even science. It’s direct noticing. 

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Teenage experience: the shift from simplified duality to oneness

I have written a brief autobiography where I touched on this, but I thought I would say a few more words about it since it’s interesting to me. 

When I was fifteen, there was a spontaneous shift into a simple duality of observer and observed. I found myself as what observed this human self and the wider world. It was a very uncomfortable experience, I thought something was seriously wrong, and I went to several specialists. This happened along with the onset of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) which made it extra confusing. 

One year later, I walked down a gravel road at night and there was an equally spontaneous shift into oneness. The divine woke up to itself as everything without exception. The divine had just temporarily taken itself to fundamentally be this human self. All it was happening within and as the divine. 

I haven’t written so much about what happened during that year, and I don’t remember all the details anymore. But I am able to reconstruct it to some extent. 

Before this happened, I was an angsty and nerdy teenager with a deep fascination for literature, science, music, nature, ecology, and more.

During this year, something shifted in me. I got more interested in spirituality and started reading whatever I could find at the local library. I was profoundly influenced by Fritjof Capra and “Bak tid og rom” by Erik Damman. I suspect this is also when I started reading Rudolf Steiner and other influences on western spirituality.

I had been an atheist since elementary school, although I did always have an interest in parapsychology. I read several books on the topic, especially scientific studies that hint at a reality outside of how it’s depicted in current mainstream science. I even did several experiments at home, including with the classic telepathy cards. (The results were often well above random although I don’t have the numbers here to check them with proper statistics…!)

Why did this shift into an interest in spirituality? I imagine it is because of this observer-observed shift. I found myself as consciousness, and although the world seemed infinitely distant, it also happened within and as the consciousness I am. 

If I remember correctly, it was also during this year that I started seeing energies, first around the leaves of the trees I was sitting under while reading. 

And I continued to be an angsty nerdy teenager for another few years. My nerdiness just took a slightly different form. 

My experience with “the hum”

About ten years ago, I started hearing a low-frequency hum in the evening and at night. It was very noticeable and uncomfortable and often made it difficult for me to sleep. Earplugs didn’t work, so I started to listen to music or voice (audiobooks, interviews) to block it out to make it easier to sleep. 

I started noticing patterns. The hum started late afternoons on weekdays and lasted until around 7 am, and it was on 24/7 on weekends and school holidays. I walked around the neighborhood to see if I could figure out where it came from. After a while, I honed in on a school about 300 meters away, especially as I noticed that their ventilation system was turned to a maximum at the same time I heard the hum at my house. 

I contacted the principal of the school, explained the situation, and asked if they would consider turning down the ventilation system during off hours. She was kind and understanding and the hum went away for a couple of years. 

Then it came back. I again contacted the principal, who now turned out to be someone different. This one outright dismissed any possibility of the ventilation system creating a sound that could be heard in the neighborhood, especially 300 meters away. I guess this person was not very familiar with the hum phenomenon and that large-building fans are one known culprit. So the hum continued and again made sleep difficult.

This went on until the school was shut down and demolished some time later. 

The hum has been known for several decades, and people hear in different locations around the world. Often, people are stymied in trying to find the source. And sometimes, through some detective work, we can find the source and do something about it. (Or not, as was the case with the second principal.) 

I thought I would share my story in case it can help someone, and it may be a piece in the bigger puzzle of the hum phenomenon.

Note: This was in Ski, Norway.

I am my own final authority

I find that I am my own final authority, and it’s always that way whether I notice it or not.

CHOICES AND ACTIONS

In terms of my actions and choices, I am my own final authority.

I may tell myself I am doing something because of circumstances, or someone told me, or I was forced to, and so on. And, in reality, I am the one making the decisions. Nobody makes them for me.

Even if I think I did it because others told me to, or because of circumstances, or because I was forced, I was still the one making the decision.

NOTICING MY NATURE

Similarly, when it comes to what I more fundamentally am, I am my own final authority.

Others can tell me. I can read things in books. I can make up any number of worldviews and maps telling me different things.

And I am my own final authority. My own noticing is my own final authority.

What do I find if I set aside what I have been told, and what I am telling myself?

What am I more fundamentally?

What am I in my own direct noticing? What am I when I look in my first-person experience?

A LIBERATING REMINDER

I find it’s liberating to notice I am my own final authority.

I don’t need to get too caught up in blaming circumstances, others, life, and so on for my own choices and actions. I did it. I chose it.

And I don’t need to get too caught up in what others tell me my more fundamental nature is supposed to be. I can look for myself.

GUIDES FOR FINDING IT FOR OURSELVES

How do I discover and clarify this for myself?

For me, different forms of inquiry have been very helpful.

The Work of Byron Katie really brings it home to me that I am my own final authority in my choices and actions.

And the Big Mind process and Headless experiments, along with the Kiloby/Living inquiries and The Work, help me notice and explore living from my more fundamental nature.

What you seek is seeking you

What you seek is seeking you

– attributed to Rumi

I imagine this has been expressed by many through time and across cultures and traditions. It’s an expression of perennial insight or wisdom.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

It’s often used to mean that if we seek something essential – love, or truth, or home, or the divine / God, or our nature – then that seeks us. Or even that it’s seeking us whether we are seeking it or not.

IS IT ACCURATE?

In a practical sense, it seems accurate.

When we seek love, truth, the divine, our nature, and so on, and do so with sincerity, receptivity, honesty, and diligence, and with some good guidance, then things often move and fall into place in ways we didn’t arrange or made happen on our own, or couldn’t have. We invite grace. It’s as if what we seek is seeking us.

In some cases, that grace happens without us consciously seeking it. Something happens that puts us on the path. We receive guidance and pointers without asking. Our nature reveals itself to itself without any conscious interest or intention on our part. Here, it definitely looks as if what we seek is seeking us.

NOT ALWAYS THE WAY WE WANT

When what we seek is seeking us, and when grace happens, it can happen in many different ways.

It can be in the form of a glimpse or shift, meeting someone that puts our life in a different direction, finding a book, finding a guide or community that’s a good match, and so on.

And it doesn’t always happen in a way that our personality likes. It’s not always pretty. What puts us on a different course can come in the form of an illness, accident, loss, conflict, and so on.

It can come in the form of gentle or fierce grace.

IT’S ALWAYS HAPPENING

We can also say that the quote is always accurate. Our seeking is always, in its essence, for the essential. And the essential is, in some ways, always seeking us.

Whatever it looks like we are seeking, we are really seeking something essential. We may think we are seeking comfort, love from another, approval, success, money, admiration, being understood, ice cream, and so on. And even here, the essence of the seeking is a seeking for love, truth, the divine, and our nature. (We can find this for ourselves by taking a surface desire, asking “what do I hope to get out of this”, repeat that question, and see what we are most essentially seeking.)

And even if we are caught up in surface seeking – which we all are at different times and in different ways – what we are essentially seeking is seeking us. Love, truth, the divine, and our nature is seeking us. It’s inviting us to notice the essence of our seeking. And it’s inviting us to notice the love, truth, the divine, and our nature making up our whole experience and reality.

Reality is set up so the invitation is always here. We are swimming in it whether we notice it or not. We are swimming in our seeking of the essential, even if it takes the surface form of seeking all kinds of things. We are swimming in the invitation to notice the love, truth, the divine, and our nature that’s all we know, whether we notice it or not.

THE BIGGER PICTURE

We also have the usual bigger picture.

This is all happening within and as the consciousness we are. The seeking, the sought, the process, the apparent failures and successes, and so on are all happening within the consciousness we are. What seeks and what is sought happens within and as what we are. It’s the consciousness we are taking all of these forms.

It’s the oneness we are going into a trance forgetting itself as oneness. It’s the oneness we are seeking to notice itself as oneness. It’s the oneness we are seeking to wake itself up from the trance.

FINDING IT FOR OURSELVES

I am very aware that this can sound abstract, distant, and convoluted.

That’s OK since this is not about the words. This is something we can find for ourselves.

In a conventional sense, we may appear to be this human self in the world. That’s an assumption that works relatively well, although it comes with some inherent discomfort.

And when we look in our own first person experience, we may find something else. I find I am more fundamentally capacity for the world as it appears to me, for any experience that’s here. I find I am what the world, to me, happens within and as. I am the oneness the world, to me, happens within and as.

This oneness is what goes into a trance of taking itself as someting within the field of experience and the rest as “other”. This oneness is what seeks to find itself. This oneness is what seeks to release itself out of the trance.

The essence of this process is to differentiate our mental representations about ourselves, the world, and anything from what’s here in our immediate noticing. The first may tell us we are something in particular within the content of experience. The second shows us we are what our experience happens within and as.

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The school from my dream decades back

This is a long story I’ll try to make short.

During the initial awakening period in my teens, I had some strong dreams that seemed to show me scenes from my future.

OREGON

In one dream, I saw myself in the Pacific Northwest in the US, in nature and a community of people with a shared interest in healing and sustainability. When I woke up, I looked at the map and saw it was in western Oregon. At the time, I lived in Norway and had no interest in going to the US. I strongly disliked the US for political reasons and saw no reason to go there. The thought of living there seemed even further removed.

Forward six or seven years, and I am studying psychology at the University of Oslo. A friend of mine had discovered a scholarship we both qualified for that would allow us to study psychology in some countries abroad, and he happened to have connections in Salt Lake City. We had very little time to explore possibilities, and I saw that University of Utah had courses in environmental psychology, health psychology, and a systems orientations to psychology, which were all topics I were interested in.

We went there, I found Kanzeon Zen Center and moved in there, and later got married.

And even some years later, more than fifteen years after the Oregon dream, I found myself in Oregon in just the situation described in the dream. I didn’t plan to move there for its own sake. We moved there because the university there had the best program for the topic I wanted to study.

LATIN AMERICA

I had a similar dream during the same time in my teens.

In this dream, I saw myself in Northern South America, with a partner from there. I was at a small local school and had a role there. Not exactly as a teacher but as someone deeply involved and supporting the school and children. Here too, I saw the location on a map. When I woke up and looked in an atlas, it looked like Northern Brasil or somewhere in that general area.

Fast forward thirty years, and I meet a woman from Colombia. We get married, explore parts of Colombia, and buy land in the Andes Mountains. We accidentally meet a longtime friend of my wife who has a house in the same neighborhood in the countryside, and we end up living in that house for three months while they were away.

On the small road to that house, very close to our land, is a small school. And it’s the school from my dream. The hairs on my body stood up when I saw it, and do so again when I write this. It’s the same school.

The only difference is that in my dream, there were three buildings, and in reality – now – there is only one.

So we’ll see what happens. Maybe I’ll get involved with that school somehow. Maybe we’ll build two more buildings. It certainly needs help, and I cannot imagine anything better than helping children get a good education and more opportunities in life.

Forgetting which part of the field I am supposed to be

Just about any experience highlights certain features of who and what I am.

It highlights certain parts of me as a human being in the world, and it highlights certain parts of my nature. And sometimes, experiences come that highlight a certain feature very clearly.

FORGETTING WHICH PART OF IT ALL I AM SUPPOSED TO BE

About fifteen years ago, in a Breema class in Eugene, Oregon, one of these strong highlighting experiences happened.

I was giving Breema to another Breema student on the floor in front of the fireplace in Asha’s house. I found myself as the field of experience that I am, and everything in the sense fields – the bodies, the Persian rug, the fireplace, the walls, the sounds, the smells – happened within and as the field.

And I also forgot which part of the field I was supposed to be.

Somewhere in me, I knew I was supposed to be something in particular within this field of experience. But I couldn’t access what it was supposed to be.

Was it the rug? The walls? The body on the floor? The body I could see only legs and arms of?

In regular time, this lasted perhaps just a few seconds, or maybe even just a fraction of a second. It brought up some anxiety in me, and that snapped me back into remembering.

I was supposed to be this body that I could only see arms, legs, and parts of the upper body of.

HIGHLIGHTING FEATURES OF WHO AND WHAT I AM

I have had several similar experiences where I forget which part of the field of experience I am supposed to be, although this one stands out.

Even at the time, perhaps fifteen years ago, I was familiar with myself as this field of experience. As the field of sound, taste, smell, movement, sensations, and mental representations.

So what was new? What stood out to me was that I forgot which part of this field I was supposed to be, in a conventional sense and in order to function in the world. That side of it was gone.

And that highlighted that it takes effort to remember those things. It’s an active part of the mind that helps me remember that I am supposed to be this particular human self. The one I can only see parts of, and only can see more of in the mirror or in a photo. The one my passport tells me I am and others tell me I am.

The experience also highlighted the differentiation between the two. I can find myself as the field while forgetting I am supposed to be this particular human self. And the reverse is also possible, to some extent.

WHAT’S THE FUNCTION OF THESE EXPERIENCES?

These experiences help me clarify parts of who and what I am. They someyimes show me something in an undeniable way.

For instance, when I was sixteen, the initial awakening shift showed me – this field I am – that all without exception is God. It’s all consciousness. To me, the whole field of experience is consciousness and there is no center anywhere. Everything and nothing is a center.

It was undeniable. And although that noticing never went away, the clarity of that initial shift created a kind of reference.

Similarly, many experiences also highlight features of who I am. I get to see different sides of my psyche.

A brief update

I thought I would write a brief update.

Although I have put down a lot of ideas for articles, I have only written and published a few. That’s mainly because I have been busy with traveling, classes, moving, the new land and house, and resting and taking care of my health.

CLASSES

I finished a Vortex Healing class (Awakening to Divinity) a couple of weeks ago. Combined with receiving a couple of healing sessions, it seems to have shifted things in me.

I mainly notice that I experience sensing and channeling differently.

When I sense into someone’s system, I sense space with just a few bits of ethereal pieces floating around here and there. I suspect I need to get used to this new way of sensing, and my sensing will likely keep unfolding and revealing more things. (Previously, I could sense the physicality more and I would also get more images providing information.)

My sense of channeling has also changed. I used to sense the energy in my own system quite clearly, maybe because it would run up against things in my own system. Now, there is mainly a sense of space. Perhaps my system has more capacity now? And I am no longer experiencing the friction?

When I do distance healing, there is also much more of a direct and visceral sense of it happening from void and oneness. It’s happening within and as whatever I am doing healing for. It seems to be happening from the inside-out of what I intend healing for.

And that’s not really the right language. It’s all happening within and as the divine. It’s the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself as all of this and the way this process – and everything – is unfolding.

LAND

We are stewards of 15 hectares in the Andes mountains, and it’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I feel a deep connection with it and I am very grateful to have it in my life. It’s a lifelong dream I wasn’t even that conscious of coming alive, at least for now.

We finalized the payment for the big piece two weeks ago and will finalize the payment for the small piece in a few days. And the first tiny house is almost finished.

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Religion and invisible friends

Some memes get popular because there is a grain of truth to them. They point out something we already know and most don’t talk about – even to ourselves – because it’s not polite.

In this case, it is true that many treat their images of God and divine entities as their invisible friends.

And it’s true that many religious people argue that they have the best invisible friend, whether to themselves within their own thoughts or also out loud.

WE ALL DO IT

There is nothing wrong with that. It’s natural – with the mind, biology, and culture we have – to imagine gods and divine entities, to take our images as reality, and even to assume that our images are the better ones.

It’s a way to find comfort and a sense of safety, although it’s also a very precarious project. Somewhere in us, we know what we are doing. We know these are images and imaginary friends. We know it doesn’t hold up to close scrutiny. And we may feel we need to prop up and defend these images, including by arguing with others about who has the better images and invisible friends.

It’s understandable and a bit silly.

And we all do it in our own way. If we don’t do it with religion, we do it with something else or perhaps just about everything else.

THE NONDUAL VERSION

Even nondual folks do it.

We may recognize the more common images in mainstream society and see that people hold onto them for a sense of safety. And we may overlook that we are doing the same, just with different images.

Instead of images of God and angels, we may have images of oneness, capacity, consciousness, love, and so on. We may mistake these images for reality and what they point to. We hold onto them for a sense of safety. And we may even spend energy propping them up and defending them, whether in our own minds or also out loud.

In addition, nondual folks are like anyone else and have more universal images they may hold as true, including of being a doer, observer, this body, better or worse than others, have lack in certain areas, and so on.

That too is natural. It’s how our minds work.

And it’s good to notice. It’s good to take some time exploring these images and see what’s happening.

The essence of finding our nature is to differentiate our images from our direct noticing. What’s here in my images? What’s here in immediate noticing?

NOTE: Yes, I know it’s very unfair by whoever made the meme to use an image from the IRO, the Inter-Religious Organization. It seems they are doing very good work and promote inter-religious understanding and cooperation. (Not arguing about invisible friends!)

My own experience with supporting my kidneys through climate, diet, and healing

My kidneys have been a focus for my healing over the last few years, and I thought I would share a few things I have noticed.

EPSTEIN-BARR AND CHRONIC FATIGUE

First, something I have been told. I got the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) when I was fourteen, in the form of mono/mononucleosis. That led to full-blown Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) a few months later when I was fifteen. Apparently, this virus stayed in my body since then, especially in my kidneys which weakened dramatically over time.

Long before anyone told me this, I had noticed that my kidneys seemed especially weak. Even without specifically scanning my body, I sensed that my kidneys were cold, weak, dry, and fatigued and that this impacted my system as a whole.

WHAT IMPACTS MY KIDNEYS

Here are some things I have noticed about my kidneys:

My diet impacts my kidneys, and especially sugar and white sugar. If I eat sugar, I notice my kidneys get colder and more (energetically) brittle and fatigued. This is most noticeable for one or two days, but can impact my kidneys over time if I don’t help them with diet (bone broth, etc.) and energizing.

Cold weather does the same, especially if my waist area is exposed to the cold over time, and if I breathe in cold air over time. If I am in a cold climate, this can weaken my kidneys dramatically over weeks and months, and the summer may not be enough for them to recover since my system in general is fatigued.

It seems that fear also impacts my kidneys. For instance, if I work on an issue in the evening that brings up fear, I often notice this fear in my system during the night, and when I wake up in the morning I notice that my kidneys are cold, brittle, and fatigued. This tends to pass during the morning, especially if I help energize them.

HOW DO I SUPPORT MY KIDNEYS?

So how do I support my kidneys?

A warm climate helps avoid the stress on my kidneys from cold weather and cold air. If I am in a colder climate, I often use a haramaki – a wrap around my waist to keep that area warm.

My diet strongly impacts my kidneys. It seems to support my kidneys when I reduce sugars and refined foods, eat more whole and unprocessed foods, eat lower on the food chain, drink lots of liquid (often warm), and have a daily dose of good dark bone broth.

Several herbal remedies help nurture my kidneys, especially some adaptogens.

I am working on my emotional issues. Since fear is behind any emotional issue, this helps reduce the generalized fear in my system and the times fear comes up more strongly, and that reduces the kidney drain that comes from fear.

Using a pendulum has been a helpful tool in pinpointing what drains and nurtures my kidneys, especially when it comes to diet.

Vortex Healing (VH) has also been immensely helpful in working on and supporting my kidneys.

With VH, I can more easily sense what’s happening with my kidneys. I can bring up the different energies related to the kidneys, especially prenatal jing, kidney essence, and the constitutional energy of the kidneys. I can optimize the energy pathways related to the kidneys. And I can optimize the function of the kidneys themselves. This has been invaluable and has helped my kidneys greatly.

When I do healing for my kidneys, I find it’s important to invite the divine within the kidneys (making up the kidneys) to reorganize to help energize and heal the kidneys. An inside-out orientation works better than an outside-in orientation (channeling from the outside-in), perhaps because its closer aligned with reality.

A CAVEAT

There is a big caveat here, and that is that I am by no means a medical expert on anything, let alone kidneys. I am not trained in nutrition, Chinese medicine, herbalism, and so on. And there is probably a lot I am missing. Also, this is just my own experience. It may well be different for you, and there are probably many things I have left out that may be as or more important than what I have mentioned here.

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Synchronicity: Losing my wallet

Eleven years ago, I went to Findhorn for an inquiry workshop on money.

The workshop was led by two experienced facilitators in The Work of Byron Katie which I was deeply immersed in at the time. And I went partly as an excuse to experience Findhorn, a place I had heard and read about since my teens, and partly because it was an opportunity to do inquiry with others.

Findhorn is an intentional eco-community that developed in the 70s and 80s and it has a near-mythological status among many in the new age and eco-community world. I loved being there and hope to visit again.

To get there, I flew to Inverness and then took the train to the closest train station to Findhorn where I was picked up by the small Findhorn buss. At Findhorn, I met one of the workshop holders, signed in, and as I was about to pay, I discovered that my wallet was gone. This was quite stressful for me since I was traveling and had my money and credit cards there.

The facilitator gave me excellent advice: Before doing anything else, sit down and put all your stressful thoughts on paper. As I was about to finish this list, the bus returned to Findhorn from another run. I looked under the seat I had used, and found my wallet hung up on some of the metal under the chair. (It was placed so it was safe from others, and only I – who knew where to look – would have found it.)

I spent the workshop doing inquiry mostly on the juicy stressful thoughts on that list.

For me, this was a beautiful synchronicity. I lost my wallet just as I was arriving to an inquiry workshop on money. I wrote down my real and juicy stressful thoughts about losing the wallet and my money. And I got to use that as food for the workshop.

What does “oneness” mean? Some examples of different forms of oneness

What comes to mind when you hear the word “oneness”? That it always refer to the same? That what it refers to is something mysterious? Something that belongs to certain religions or New Age thought? Something not grounded in reality? Something real you cannot check out for yourself?

The word oneness can refer to several different things and it’s helpful to differentiate.

THE ONENESS WE ARE TO OURSELVES

We may take ourselves to be this human being in the world, and that’s not wrong and it’s an assumption that works reasonably well. 

And yet, if we look more closely in our own first-person experience, we may find something else. We may find that we more fundamentally are capacity for the world – for any content of experience – as it appears to us. And we may find that the world, to us, happens within and as what we are. 

Said another way, we may find that we inevitably are consciousness and that the world, to us, happens within and as this consciousness. 

We can also say that we are oneness, and the world happens within and as this oneness. 

This is the oneness we are and we can explore in our own experience, especially if we are guided by a structured inquiry and someone familiar with the terrain. 

ONE IN A MORE CONVENTIONAL SENSE  

In mainstream culture, we sometimes say we are one – whether that comes from poetry, politics, science, religion, or something else.

We are one in an ethnic or political sense.

We are one in terms of our shared history, either as a group or as humanity.

We are one in terms of our evolution and shared ancestry, either as humanity or all Earth beings.

We are one in that the essence of what we want is the same and shared by all beings. We all wish for comfort and happiness and to avoid suffering.

In some cases, it can be a dangerous rhetoric if it sets “us” up against “them”. And it can be beautiful and healing to the extent it is inclusive.

ONE IN A SYSTEMS SENSE 

We can take this one step further and find oneness in a systems sense.

We are all parts of a seamless system. All of humanity, all of this living planet, all of this evolving universe, all of existence. All of existence is part of a seamless system. 

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

ONE IN A SPIRITUAL SENSE 

It’s also possible that all of existence is God or the divine or Spirit. Spirit takes the form of all there is and all we know, including everything connected with this human self. 

It’s all the play of the divine. It’s the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways, as all there is. 

All of existence is divine and one. 

SEVERAL DIFFERENT ONENESSES 

We can find several different onenesses. 

To ourselves, we are the oneness the world happens within and as. 

We are one in several different social, historical, biological, and evolutionary ways. 

We are parts of a seamless system. 

And all can be seen as expressions and explorations of Spirit. 

THE VALIDITY OF EACH 

Each of these ways of talking about oneness has validity, and the validity is slightly different in each case.

I can check the first one for myself. I can find myself as that oneness.

The two next ones make sense within the realm of stories, and I include science here since science produces stories that help us function and navigate in the world.

And the last one is what mystics from all traditions describe. We can say that they found the first kind of oneness and then over-generalized and assumed that their nature is the nature of all of existence. And there are also hints beyond that suggesting that the “all as Spirit” view is valid in itself. (See articles on the small and big interpretations of awakening for more on this.) 

Image: Enso / Zen circle by Sengai

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Dream: I need chemotherapy to get rid of plastic particles in my body

I am about to receive a kind of chemotherapy to remove plastic particles in my system. The nurse is kind and helpful. I notice a lot of naked fear come up.

I am not sure what this dream is about.

The plastic particles are artificial. They don’t belong in my body. They are low-grade toxic. The treatment is very strong and somewhat unpleasant. The nurse, the one administering the treatment, is kind and good-hearted. And naked and pure fear comes up in me.

That’s the essence. Beyond that, I am not sure but I have a suspicion of what it generally may be about.

Two days ago, I received a powerful healing from NH, and my first impulse when waking from this dream was to ask her about the dream. I intuited it had to do with her healing session for me.

Since my teens, I have noticed that when I check in internally, I cannot find a center line. It’s as if there are multiple center lines. I have also sensed that this has to do with trauma and parts of my system and consciousness not fully being in my body.

That’s what NH, as the first healer I have worked with, picked up on and worked on. And I wonder if this dream is connected with that process.

The plastic may reflect something artificial in me. In a sense, any belief is artificial. It’s the “head above the head” that some in Zen talk about. It’s an addition to our nature and a simpler and more direct way of living. In this context, the plastic may be the painful and fearful beliefs and traumas that make it difficult for me to fully be in the physical body and embody and live this life.

NH is kind and good-hearted, just like the nurse in the dream.

She is giving me strong treatment. It feels soft and gentle, and also very powerful.

And a lot of naked fear in me is coming up. This is the fear holding the partial disembodiment in place.

The dream may show me some of what’s going on around this, and also that the fearful beliefs behind the disembodiment are – in a sense – artificial and don’t belong.

The universality of my experience

Whatever I experience, I can be certain that it’s shared with innumerable humans. Innumerable humans now, in the past, and in the future will share this experience in a very similar way.

It may also be that innumerable beings of many different species have experienced something very similar, are experiencing it, and will experience it.

We are in it together.

SINGLED OUT VS FELLOWSHIP

If I tell myself this is only happening to me, it’s easy to go into “poor me” and “why me” thoughts. I feel isolated and alone. I feel singled out. I feel especially unlucky. I feel that others have it better than me, and I can find any number of examples. (Based on comparing imaginations of me and them.)

If I remind myself of the universality of my experience, I realize that this experience is shared by a vast number of beings. Perhaps most experience something like that at some point in their life if they are lucky to live long enough. We are in it together.

It gives me a sense of fellowship. It gives me a sense of connection. It removes the feeling of being singled out, whether my personality sees that as good or bad.

Reminding me of this naturally deepens my empathy with myself and others. They are like me. And this empathy especially deepens when this noticing becomes a habit, a part of daily life.

EXPERIENCES MY PERSONALITY LIKES AND DOESN’T LIKE

This applies to the experiences my personality doesn’t like – physical or emotional pain, overwhelm, struggle, confusion, illness, discomfort, and so on.

It also applies to the experiences my personality does like – pleasure, joy, excitement, calm, comfort, contentment, peace, and so on. This too is experienced by innumerable humans and likely innumerable beings of many different species.

This too ties us together. This too is a reminder of our fellowship. This too deepens my empathy when I notice.

WHAT IS AN EXPERIENCE?

It’s important to clarify for ourselves what we mean by “an experience”.

Our initial response may be that we know. And when we look a little closer, we may surprise ourselves.

When I explore this for myself, I find that my experience is whatever is happening in my sense fields – sight, sound, smell, taste, movement, physical sensations, and an overlay of mental representations making sense of it all. (Sometimes in painful ways.)

It’s especially the combination of physical sensations and mental representations that creates my experience.

And in this context, it’s mainly the physical sensations with most of the conscious stories stripped away.

These are what my personality responds to with likes and dislikes. (And, of course, the likes and dislikes have stories behind them, many not conscious and learned early in life.)

For me, the focus is mainly on my physical sensations and how my system responds to these. How is it to remind myself that this experience – these physical sensations and the way my system responds to them – is universal? Is shared by innumerable humans and beings?

This is the essence of this exploration, and honing in on the physical sensations simplifies and gives a more clear focus.

A SIMPLE EXPLORATION

This can be a simple exploration in daily life.

What happens when I remind myself of the universality of what I am experiencing now?

What happens when this becomes a new habit? When I do it whenever I remember through the day?

What happens if I use difficult experiences as a reminder of this? And enjoyable experiences? And more neutral experiences?

How does my relationship with myself and others shift?

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Worldviews and how we experience distance energy healing

How we see the world also colors how we experience giving and receiving distance energy healing.

More accurately, how we viscerally experience ourselves and reality color how we viscerally experience distance healing.

INITIAL DISTANCE HEALING EXPLORATIONS

During the initial awakening shift in my teens, I discovered I could sense at a distance (mostly medically related things) and also do distance or energy healing. Both the sensing and the healing happen through intention, and it’s the divine doing all of it. (I call it distance energy healing here since it can be done at a distance and seems to have to do with energies.)

During this time, I experienced this type of healing as happening all within and as the divine. All of it was the divine – the healer, healed, what’s healed, and so on. It all happens within and as the same whole of existence with the divine playing all the parts.

And just like all come out of and, in a sense is, nothingness and emptiness, the healing comes out of that nothingness and emptiness. It comes out of and is the ground of existence, just like anything.

I did this type of healing off and on, mostly very occasionally for close family or friends.

OUTSIDE-IN HEALING PERCEPTION

A few years back, I got into Vortex Healing and started doing energy healing more for myself and others. And for a while, I conceived of it as channeling. As something going into something else.

The sensing happens from here to there and outside-in and the channeling and healing also go from here to there and outside-in.

Why? I assume because that’s how they talked about it so it was natural to default to that perception. I also have a tendency to set aside my own natural way of seeing or doing things if experts say something else, at least for a while until I come to my senses again.

(To be fair, Vortex Healing talk about both of these ways of perceiving distance healing, it’s just that they emphasize the channeling and outside-in approach in the beginning since most students more easily can relate to it.)

INSIDE-OUT PERCEPTION

These days, I am finding back to how it was for me in my teens. It’s still all happening within and as the divine. It is still initiated and partially guided by intention. And I experience the healing coming out of nothingness and happening within and as whatever is the focus for the healing. Similarly, the sensing happens more from the inside out within whatever is sensed.

It’s more as if what’s healed is healing itself, and what’s sensed is sensing itself.

In a phenomenological sense, it’s true since to me it’s all happening within and as what I am. It’s all happening within and as the consciousness I am.

And I also assume it’s more accurate from a big-picture view. It’s all happening within and as the divine. It’s all the divine healing and sensing itself.

A TURNING POINT

A while back, I had an experience with Vortex Healing that was a turning point and led me back to my more original perception of distance healing.

My kidneys are quite damaged from a decades-long Epstein-Barr infection (mono leading to CFS), and I had trouble channeling for my own kidneys. It was as if my kidneys had a kind of shell around them and the energy couldn’t enter. I asked a more senior VH student about this, and he suggested I tried too hard.

And that led me to explore other approaches, including reminding myself that what’s inside the kidneys is as much the divine as anything else. So I invited the divine inside the kidneys to explore shifting into a more healthy form, and that worked. The divine inside the kidneys did the work.

THE PLAY OF THE DIVINE

It’s all part of the play of the divine. It’s all the divine – or life, existence, the universe – exploring, expressing, and experiencing itself as all of it. Oneness experiences itself as separation. No-thing as things. Love as sometimes and locally an absence of love or care. Wisdom as sometimes and locally a lack of wisdom. And so on.

And a part of this adventure is illness, loss, death, healing, finding a sense of wholeness, exploring energy healing, and so on.

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Historic shifts

We are always living history, any moment is a shift in history, and some shifts are more historical and significant than others.

I have written about the topics of this article in several other posts, mainly under the “Reflections on society, politics, and nature” collections. But I’ll repeat the essence here.

TRUMP ERA

I wasn’t really surprised when Trump was elected, mainly because I had followed 538 closely before the 2016 election and they gave Trump a 1 to 4 chance of winning. (Out of four times the polls looked the way they did, Trump would win one time.)

The main risk of the Trump presidency is and was an erosion of democracy. Even before the election, it was clear that this was a man who did not respect democracy, democratic values, civil and grounded discourse, or a wish to create a society that works for everyone. His words and behavior legitimized bigotry, lies, polarization, anti-democratic views and actions, and much more. And that’s going to change the culture around politics. It’s going to legitimize this type of behavior on a larger scale, and that’s going to have direct and indirect ripple effects around the world. And that’s exactly what happened, and is still happening.

When Trump lost to Biden, I saw it as likely that the next election would be between Trump and Harris. Biden may be too old to continue, and Trump is like a pitbull who will never give up or admit defeat. He would love to come back and undo whatever any sane president over the last several decades put in place before him. Right now, he certainly has enough support in the US to do just that.

CURRENT MIDTERM ELECTIONS

Today is the midterm elections in the US, and Trumpists are likely to win several of the seats, and this will further change the political culture and erode democracy. (Including through gerrymandering, court appointments, and so on.)

It seems that these midterm elections, which usually bring only minor changes, may have larger and more lasting consequences this time. This may very well be a significant historical change in US history, and one that will have ripple effects in the world. (For instance, Ukraine may lose much of its current support from the US.)

US CIVIL WAR

There has been a lot of talk about a coming civil war in the US, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that will happen. (The seeds of it are already there and some, in their insanity, actively want a civil war.)

It obviously won’t be like the last US civil war. It will be a far less formalized civil war. It looks like it may be a kind of civil war between far-right militia groups and the rest of society, and they will target the ones they see as their enemy – progressive politicians, judges and courts that actually uphold the law, police that won’t allow renegades and violence, liberal community activists, and so on.

And who knows where it will go from there. It may be that mainstream society cracks down on it, although that’s not likely if Trumpists are in charge locally and/or federally. (I say “Trumpist” instead of Republicans since there are still some Republican politicians who favor democracy, although these have increasingly been squeezed out of the party.) This kind of low-grade but terrible civil war may continue for years or even decades.

THE BIGGER PICTURE

Although Trump does influence politics and society, he is mostly a symptom. He is a symptom of white folks in the US feeling threatened because their privileged position may be lost. After all, the demography is against them, and many educated folks in the US actively promote a deeper and more real equality between this traditionally privileged group and the rest of the population.

And he is also a reflection of a much larger global trend away from democracy and towards authoritarian regime systems. The world is increasingly becoming less democratic. For me, as a Northern European steeped in democratic values, this is a strange and disturbing trend. I cannot see how this is going to help the majority of people, the world, and future generations. At least not in any obvious or immediate way.

And yet, it seems that many around the world actively hold anti-democratic values. They support authoritarian leaders. Perhaps it’s because they offer simplistic (unrealistic) solutions? Or because they share conservative values, often based on religion? Or because they offer someone to blame, whether it’s a minority in their own country, the west, or someone else?

CONSPIRACY THEORIES

For me, conspiracy theories are a part of this shift into a more uninformed anti-science and anti-democratic mindset and culture. That’s obviously the case when it comes to far-right conspiracy theories, and it’s the case with conspiracy theories in general no matter what flavor they have.

What conspiracy theories have in common is that distract from far more serious issues that we all face and can see are happening. The obvious one is that we live in the middle of a major ecological crisis that will impact all of us and may end civilization as we know it. (That is the case independent of the climate crisis, due to all the other kinds of damage to our ecosystems.) And we have a wide range of other and related crises including hunger, lack of clean water, preventable diseases, huge disparity between wealthy and poor, and political and social systems that holds all of this in place.

OUR ECOLOGICAL CRISIS IS OUR MAIN PRIORITY

Anyone who does not put our ecological crisis as their main priority in their personal life and in their politics has not understood what’s happening.

If you listen to the scientists and use a minimum of common sense (we collectively use far more resources than the Earth can produce), you can see the huge ecological crisis we are in the middle of. You can see where we are headed. And you’ll put that as the main priority in your life and in your political and social life.

Personally, I keep this at the forefront of the main decisions I make in my life these days. (As outlined in other articles.) It’s my main priority when I vote and support political parties and policies. (How can it be anything else?) And a large part of my working life has been focused on this. (I was the paid coordinator of a local sustainability group that focused on cooperation and solutions to the problems we all face together.)

Our ecological crisis is our main priority whether we notice or not, and whether we consciously have it as our main priority or not. Life is not giving us an option.

WE NEED REALITY ORIENTATION TO DEAL WITH OUR CURRENT CRISIS

Trumpists politics is obviously very dangerous just for its anti-democratic orientation and effect.

And something is even more dangerous there, and that is that its anti-reality. They don’t care about what’s actually happening. They don’t care about science. They don’t care about experts. They don’t care about the numbers. (If they don’t like them.)

And that’s the case with conspiracy theories in general. The vast majority of them are inherently anti-reality. They are founded on bad logic and bad data.

People mostly go into conspiracy theories for emotional reasons and then rationalize to make bad logic appear like good logic. For whatever reason, it feels emotionally satisfying to them to go into conspiracy theories. They generally don’t care about science, experts, real logic, history, or whatever else we as a society need to base our decisions on.

And that’s very dangerous. Especially in a time of collective crisis, we need to base our collective decisions on solid science and data. It’s the only sane approach. It’s the only approach that has any chance of working.

THE NEED FOR PROFOUND SYSTEMS CHANGE

I have written about all of this in several other articles, including our need for systems change. (I wrote about this in my teens as well, long before blogs.)

The cause of our ecological crisis, and a large number of other problems, is the way our social and economic system is set up.

It was created at a time when we didn’t need to take ecological dynamics and limits into consideration. For all practical purposes, the resources of nature were unlimited, and the capacity of nature to absorb waste was unlimited. It made sense, at the time, to ignore it. We ignored it because We could.

We still live within these outdated systems.

And now, we can’t ignore ecological realities anymore. We are well past the time when we had that luxury.

We need a profound change in our systems of economy, production, food, water, education, and so on.

We need to create systems in all areas of human life that deeply and thoroughly take ecological realities into account.

We can definitely do it. There is no lack of solutions and grounded visions.

And it’s very possible to find attractive solutions that help us thrive as individuals and society, even more than now.

What we lack is a collective will. Are we going to find that collective will in time?

We are already past the time when we could prevent major ongoing ecological crises. We’ll have to live and deal with them no matter what. The question is how serious it will be, not whether it will happen.

Will we find it at all? I am not sure. It’s possible, and we’ll have to live and make decisions as if it’s possible.

NOTE: Just to mention it – Biden is currently president of the US, the democrats have the house and senate, we are just out of a regularly scheduled pandemic and there will be more to come, there is a war in Ukraine impacting the whole world, scientists and the UN say that it’s the end of civilization unless we engage in major rapid and collective changes, and most people continue with business as usual as if we are not in a disastrous ecological crisis.

Here are a couple of recent mainstream media articles on these topics:

World is on ‘highway to climate hell’, UN chief warns at Cop27 summit

‘These are conditions ripe for political violence’: how close is the US to civil war?

UPDATE: It’s now a few days after the mid-term election in the US and it seems the Trumpists didn’t do as well as expected. That’s good news for democracy. Maybe it shows that many people in the US still are sane enough to choose a more democratic and inclusive approach. Nothing is linear, and politics and society would move away from Trump at some point. Perhaps that’s now?

I lived in the US for twenty years which is partly why I am interested in what’s happening there.

Hilde: When the scaffolding of taking yourself as the center of the universe falls, the jaguar emerges

When the scaffolding of taking yourself as the center of the universe falls, the jaguar emerges. It comes from the depths of life to remind us that we are instinct, river, and jungle.

– Hilde

I love this quote, found at the bookstore in the town I am in.

It’s not just our pristine nature that’s revealed when the scaffolding of taking ourselves as the center falls. It’s everything else as well. Our human nature. The nature in us that comes from all our ancestors going back to the first single-celled organisms. It’s ourselves as the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe.

What does it mean that the scaffolding falls?

In a conventional sense, it means we realize that although we are at the center of our universe, every other being is also at the center of their universe. Every single thing is at the center of the universe. It’s not just us. We are part of the web of life. We are one local expression of this living planet and this universe, just like every single being and every single thing. Living from and as this is profoundly transformative, and it opens for the metaphorical jaguar in us.

It can also mean to notice our actual and real nature. Our thoughts may tell us what we are, for instance this human self, something within the content of our experience. And when we look more closely in our own first-person experience, we may find something else. We may find we more fundamentally are capacity for the world as it appears to us. And what our experiences – of the world, this human self, and anything – happens within and as.

Here, we find we already are the world. To us, it’s happening within and as what we are. And we are more free to find ourselves as nature, as instinct, as river, as anything.

Dream: At my uncle’s cabin

I am at my uncle’s cabin with my father, brother, and cousin. We are going out in my uncle’s home made canoe. It’s very large and heavy, and in three separate segments that each can be its own canoe. My father falls and goes under water inside one of the canoes, and my brother and cousin don’t seem to be concerned about it. I pull him up again.

I have had several dreams about my uncle’s cabin. Each time it’s the same cabin in the same location which is different from the real-life cabin and location. In my dreams, the cabin is dark, in a dark forest, and by a narrow and long lake.

I suspect that this dream has to do with my family inheritance – in terms of culture and psychological mindset. It feels heavy, dark, cumbersome, and far less efficient and light than could be possible.

My father goes underwater, perhaps submerged by somewhat stagnant emotions, and my brother and cousin don’t seem to mind. I am the only one taking action to pull him out.

This part of my family is from an area of Norway (Hedmark) with big dark woods and a stoic mindset where you grin and bear it and don’t talk about what’s going on with you. I have a sense that the darkness of the cabin and forest, the cumbersome and heavy canoe, and going underwater, all reflect that mindset and culture.

Since I grew up with this, and since it’s happening in my dream, this is all part of me. This dream, and my other dreams about this cabin, show me this part of me.

The dreams say: Here it is. See how it feels in your system. Bring awareness to it. And see what happens. How is it to recognize this energy in you? What happens when you relate to it more consciously?

In waking life, my uncle’s cabin – which is now owned by my cousin and his wife – is open and light, in a much more open area next to a wildflower meadow, and on a much larger and open lake. So the dream-maker in me is obviously transforming it into something much darker. My uncle was a kind of hero of mine when I was little, especially because he had a strong nature connection (he was a biologist) and lived a to me exotic life (he and his family lived in Tanzania for some years). On the other hand, he also had a quite stubborn and judgmental mindset which I discovered later.

In waking life, I am in the Andes mountains and in a culture that seems very different from what I associate with my father’s side of the family. Perhaps that’s why this comes up in my dreams these days? Perhaps it’s easier for me to notice this energy in me since it contrasts more with my waking environment and experiences?

The dark night trainwreck

When we go through a dark night of the soul, it can feel like a train wreck.

It can feel like everything – ourselves, our life, the process – is a messy, confusing, disorganized, and overwhelming wreck.

I know it did for me, and it still does to some extent.

DARK NIGHTS

Dark nights are talked about in two contexts.

One is as it’s used by most people, as a metaphor for an especially difficult period in life. For instance, divorce or an existential crisis.

The other is more specific to the awakening process. In the process of exploring our nature, we can go through several different kinds of dark nights.

In general, dark nights happen when life rubs up against our cherished mental representations – of who or what we are or how our life should be. We can explore these and find what’s more true for us. And often, they just have to wear themselves out. It’s a necessary cleaning-out process.

Any remaining beliefs, identifications, emotional issues, traumas, hangups, and so on are distortions that make it difficult to live more consciously from and as the oneness we are. We may get caught up in them when they are triggered. And even if they are not obviously triggered, they are here in our system coloring our perception, choices, and life.

Awakening itself doesn’t necessarily clear all of that out. It seems that many of us need stronger medicine.

THE BIG PICTURE OF MY PROCESS

I have written a brief bio in another article but will give a summary.

In childhood, I had memories (flashbacks) to life between lives, and I felt a strong longing for it – for the divine – even if I didn’t consciously know what it was.

At age fifteen, I got a mysterious illness (which turned out to be CFS). At the same time, the world – anything within the content of experience – also moved very far away. In hindsight, it seems like consciousness went into an observer-observed duality.

One year later, the initial awakening shift happened. From one moment to the next, all without exception were revealed as God. Everything, including all human experiences and culture, was God.

This led to a ten-year honeymoon period.

Followed by the beginning of a dark night when I went against a clear inner guidance on a major life issue.

For some years, my focus was mostly on daily life and community projects.

I then got back into these explorations, and there was an extended shift into a clear no-self state.

And after all of that, it felt like everything collapsed.

THE DARK NIGHT AS IT HAPPENED FOR ME

THE BEGINNING OF THE DARK NIGHT

The dark night started when I got married in the US and abandoned many of the most important things in my life (Zen center, friends, Utah, graduate program, etc.) in order to move to another state to support my wife in taking her MA there. I went against a very clear and strong inner guidance, and it led to me feeling profoundly off track.

The more intense phase started several years later. Following strong pneumonia that kept me bedridden for weeks (which my doctor refused to treat and called “walking pneumonia”), my health collapsed. I initially got CFS following an Epstein-Barr (mono) infection in my teens, and my health had gotten better after that. Following long pneumonia, my system was very weak and then collapsed into acute and severe CFS. I spent the next months in the classic dark room unable to function in daily life.

My memory of this period is fuzzy. I remember going through a phase where archetypes were presented to me and moved through me in different ways. For instance, one night I experienced an apparently endless stream of “dark” archetypes from all of the world’s cultures moving through me. As each one came up to me, I moved into its face as if it was a mask and I experienced that archetype from the inside for a while until the next one came up to me.

SHOW ME WHAT’S LEFT

After a few years, I got a little better, moved back to Norway, and asked the divine “show me what’s left”. (AKA a dangerous prayer.) This led to a whole new phase.

Within one week, I was overwhelmed by a profound survival fear coming up in my system. For about nine months, it was so strong that I was lucky to get one or two hours of sleep early in the morning. And during the day, all I could do was walk in the forest while listening to Adyashanti. The fear was so strong and intense that I couldn’t understand how I was somehow still here. I felt completely overwhelmed. I asked the divine to do anything for this to pass. Even death seemed far more preferable than this, and I also knew it was not a solution. This experience was beyond anything I have ever experienced.

About nine months in, the intensity turned down slightly, although the profound and primal survival fear lasted for several years after this. It’s still here but at a generally much lower volume.

TRAUMAS

The lid was taken off the primal fear, and it was also taken off deep traumas and issues in me that were still unprocessed and unhealed. It seems my system is no longer able to bury these as it did previously. They are here, right on the surface. And I know there may be more I am not aware of.

RESTLESSNESS AND AVOIDANCE

Since my teens, I had a laser focus and loved silence, meditation, and resting in and as my nature. I loved it more than just about anything else. And during this dark night, that all changed. I shifted into a pattern of restlessness and avoidance because of the overwhelming fear and trauma surfacing. It became much more work to meet and be with what was coming up, and it was as if I had to learn it for the first time.

LOSSES

This has been a period of losses. I lost friends, especially during the most intense period. My marriage ended (which was good since it didn’t feel right). I lost my house, belonging, and money. And so on. It has been a period where I felt I lost just about everything.

The last several years are also characterized by a series of false starts. Something happens that seems very good to my personality, and then it falls apart relatively quickly. Several relationships started and ended during this period.

LOSING ANY ANCHORS

At the beginning of the most intense period, around 2011, I also lost any sense of inner anchors. When I turned off the light at night and put my head on the pillow, I couldn’t find any anchor points anywhere. This also brought up fear although also felt like another adventure.

DISORGANIZED

My system has felt disorganized. I am not sure when this started. When the strong traumas and primal fears came up? In any case, I felt like my psyche shattered into a million pieces all pointing in different directions. It’s been very difficult to make good decisions and I see myself behaving in ways I know is far from optimal and in ways I wouldn’t have earlier in life. In several situations, I saw myself acting against my better judgment.

HEART DISTRESS

After the primal survival fear diminished slightly, I noticed an extreme discomfort in my heart. This one too was with me for several years. I think I saw Jeannie Zandie talk about something similar, describing it as a shard of glass in the heart. For me, this went away during the Core Veil class in Vortex Healing. A VH teacher said that my core veil was hanging on by a thread before this class, and that may be what created the immense discomfort.

COMFORT AND SUPPORT

What gave me slivers of comfort and support during these years?

A bit from partners and friends, although their love and support didn’t reach quite into the most painful places in this experience.

Nature has been immensely helpful to me. I have spent as much time in nature as possible.

During the most intense period, I found comfort in the Dark Night of the Soul chapter in Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism. Most of what’s described there fit my experience exactly, and it was a comfort to know that others had gone through something similar. I remember seeing the comedy in Underhill describing different ways people experience the Dark Night of the Soul and finding that just about all of it happened with me. I seemed to need all of it, and not just one or two variations.

In general, finding others who had gone through it themselves was a big comfort to me, including working with one facilitator who had come out on the other side and could guide me somewhat.

Five-element acupuncture helped some during the most intense period, although often for just a day or two.

Vortex Healing may have helped provide a kind of turning point in this process. It does feel that the divine put me on a slightly different path after I got into VH.

NEEDING HELP

Before the dark night, I typically took pride in doing things on my own. I rarely needed to ask for help. That also changed during this dark night. I had to ask for help. I became the one who needed help from others. And there is a beautiful blessing here too. I learned the beauty of receiving and allowing others to help.

WHAT MADE IT MORE DIFFICULT

It’s not a surprise or secret what’s made this phase of my life more difficult for me: how my system has reacted to deep trauma. Deep and painful beliefs and identifications creating and holding in place the trauma, originally created as a survival strategy in a difficult family situation. The more we have of this, the more difficult the cleaning-out process can be. It tends to become more messy, painful, and perhaps drawn out.

DURATION

The dark night has lessened in intensity but is not over yet. I still feel like I have been hit by a truck: disoriented, partially in shock, and parts of me find it difficult to trust life.

It started when I got married and went against clear inner guidance, which is twenty-five years ago. And the far more intense phase started fifteen years ago.

It has not been a quick process for me. Perhaps because some traumatized parts of me are strongly holding onto old survival mechanisms and associated beliefs and identifications. These need to wear out.

THE INVITATION IN THIS DARK NIGHT

What was the invitation in this dark night? And why did it happen?

I cannot say anything for certain about the why. But it does seem it happened as a kind of reversal of the long honeymoon period following the initial awakening shift. During the honeymoon, everything fell into place in miraculous ways, I lived in a soft bliss, I had a lot of passion and direction in my life, and so on. During the dark night, everything fell apart, I lived with a huge amount of pain, I completely lost direction in life, and so on. When it goes up, it goes down.

The invitation here is more clear. The invitation is to clarify what I am and live from it, and not be so caught up in changing states, experiences, and situations. The invitation is for my center of gravity to shift more fully and viscerally into and as what I am.

More specifically, it is to…

Not only generally see all as the divine, but also see what my personality doesn’t like as the divine.

Not only see it all as the divine but more consistently find the genuine love for it all that’s already here, including for what my personality doesn’t like.

Not only have my center of gravity in what I am when things are easy, but maintain this center of gravity when it’s challenging and difficult things come up. To maintain this center of gravity when my old habit is to join in with reactivity and the issues coming up.

I can consciously explore this and invite in these shifts. I can prepare the ground. But the shifts themselves are always grace, as is the noticing and any active exploration I engage in. It’s all grace.

And the same goes for exploring and inviting in healing for my traumas and issues, especially the more central ones put in place early in life and related to my parents and family. For instance, my habit of not speaking up and not standing sufficiently up for myself. (And being repeatedly disappointed for that reason and having resentment come up.) And related to that, my issue around wanting to hide and not be seen, and having resentment for not being seen.

In general, the invitation is to wear out – and consciously explore – some of my remaining beliefs and identifications. These are typically put in place early in life to help us survive, and they are often rooted in and held in place by fear. A fear that’s unfelt, unloved and exiled. And has a scary story behind it that’s not sufficiently examined.

As Evelyn Underhill says in the dark night chapter of Mysticism, this is a messy and thoroughly human process.

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Center of gravity shifting from separation to oneness

We all have a metaphorical center of gravity we typically perceive and live from, and we can think of this center as moving along a line from who we are (human self) to what we are (oneness).

This center of gravity will shift naturally a bit along this line for all of us.

And if we are in a process of actively exploring our nature, we may see a process that moves the center of gravity from who we are to oneness.

Here is how that may look:

CENTER OF GRAVITY: HUMAN SELF

In most cases, it seems that the center of gravity is in our human self. We perceive and live as if we most fundamentally are this human self.

In an early phase of the awakening process, this is typically where our center of gravity is. We may have an intuition or curiosity about awakening, and explore it mostly through mental representations. And we operate and function as if we fundamentally are this human self.

This is how most onenesses seem to live in the world today.

CENTER OF GRAVITY: IN HUMAN SELF BUT OPENING UP

Then, the oneness we are may start intuiting or glimpsing or being curious about its nature.

When these glimpses or intuitions happen, they tend to be filtered through our habitual mental stories and separation consciousness.

We may sense all as consciousness, and perceive it as the divine in nature.

We may have experiences of oneness and interpret it as if we – as a separate self – is one with everything else.

We may have more clear glimpses of our nature, of the world happening within and as what we are, of everything as consciousness, Spirit, and so on. And then we tell ourselves we had it and then lost it.

Here, our center of gravity is still in our human self although it’s opening to the possibility for something else and is more ready to move.

CENTER OF GRAVITY: SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN

Then there is a process of noticing our nature more clearly. We find ourselves as what the world to us happens within and as. And we learn to notice this more easily when we look for it, and we learn to notice it more often in daily life.

We notice our nature when our attention is brought to it and perhaps less so at other times. And if issues and traumas are triggered, we may get caught up in them for a while.

We may see everything in a general sense as happening within and as us, or as consciousness or the divine. We may not always notice it in things our personality doesn’t like, perhaps because we forget to look for it. We may not yet have a deep love for all as our nature or Spirit. And we may not yet have a visceral sense of it all as our nature or the divine.

We may also shift into states that show us aspects of our nature, and these can be brief glimpses or last for days, weeks, months, and perhaps even years.

Here, our center of gravity moves from our human self towards our nature, and it shifts a bit back and forth depending on our attention and the situation we are in.

CENTER OF GRAVITY: MORE STABLY IN WHAT WE ARE

After a while, we learn to notice our nature and live from this noticing in more and more situations and areas of life. It becomes a new habit.

We also learn to notice our nature even when deeper and more central issues and traumas surface, and to recognize that our nature is the same as their nature. Our center of gravity remains here even in more challenging situations.

We mostly see whatever is here as happening within and as what we are, or as consciousness or Spirit.

And we tend to find genuine love for all as our nature, as happening within and as what we are, as consciousness or the divine.

Here, our center of gravity shifts more into our nature.

CENTER OF GRAVITY: MORE VISCERALLY AS WHAT WE ARE

This invites another shift. A more visceral sense of it all as our nature, as happening within and as what we are, as consciousness or the divine.

Our center of gravity is more solidly in our nature, reflected and supported by this visceral shift.

THE CENTER OF GRAVITY OF OUR MANY PARTS

One side of this process is what’s happening with the many parts of our psyche.

Many of our subpersonalities may still operate from separation consciousness even when the oneness we are generally and “globally” recognizes itself.

As mentioned above, when these are triggered, we may get caught up in them and join in with how these parts of us perceive the world. We enter their separation consciousness and perceive and live from it. At least, for a while.

We may also keep recognizing our nature, that our nature and the nature of these parts of us is the same, and stay in that noticing. This is part of what allows these parts of us to unravel their knots and join in with the awakening, although more specific approaches are often needed.

In the first case, our temporary center of gravity shifts towards our human self, and our more habitual sense of gravity is likely closer to our human self. In the second, our center of gravity remains more in our nature.

Also, each of these parts of us colors our perception and life even if they are not noticeably triggered. They are part of our system. They have their own view of the world. The more parts of us are operating from separation consciousness, the more our system as a whole is colored by separation consciousness. Even if our “global” and conscious view is one of our nature recognizing itself.

The more parts of us join with the awakening, the more our center of gravity can remain stable in our nature. In our nature noticing itself and living from this noticing.

CENTER OF GRAVITY: GENERAL TENDENCIES AND BRIEF SHIFTS

As suggested above, it seems that our center of gravity generally is somewhere on an imagined line from separate self to oneness. There is a place or area on this line where we most often are found to operate from.

At the same time, there are more temporary shifts along this line. During meditation or inquiry, where we perceive from may move towards oneness. When we are triggered and caught up in the trigger, our center shifts more toward separation. And so on.

CONTINUED EXPLORATION

There is no finishing line here. It’s an ongoing process.

It’s a process of continued exploration, clarification, deepening, and maturing.

For instance, our nature has many aspects – oneness, love, activity, mystery, capacity, and so on.

And this process tends to reveal and highlight different aspects of our nature to us at different times, allowing us to get more familiar with it.

SIMPLIFIED OUTLINE

This is a very simplified and idealized outline.

In real life, it’s far more varied and often messier.

It’s typically not so linear. We get hijacked by our issues, traumas, and hangups. It may appear that the process is going backward at times or is stagnating. And that is OK. It’s the oneness we are – or life or the divine – exploring, expressing, and experiencing itself in all of these ways.

It’s just how I like to map it out now. And my own process hasn’t followed these steps so neatly.

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“It’s so easy to be tricked by our senses”

I just heard someone say this, and it is true enough in a rough conventional sense.

We may perceive something that’s not accurate and often do. Most of the time, we may not even notice. And sometimes, life shows us the error in our perception.

A MORE CLOSE LOOK

And yet, it’s not exactly what’s happening.

Our senses don’t trick us, they are innocent.

It’s our stories – about what we sense and anything else – that tricks us.

And it’s not even our stories that trick us. They too are innocent.

We trick ourselves when we naively hold these stories as true.

And we don’t really trick ourselves because, somewhere, we know what’s going on.

EXPLORING WHAT’S GOING ON

We have the wisdom in us, and we can find it by looking a little closer at what’s going on.

We can idenitify the stories we hold as true and find what’s more true for us.

We can explore our sense fields and how our mental representations combine with the other sense fields to create our experience of the world.

We can learn to differentiate our mental representation and what’s here in immediate noticing.

We can notice that our mental representations may be more or less accurate in a conventional sense. That they are different in kind to what they point to. That they help us orient and function in the world. That they cannot hold any full, final, or absolute truth. And that reality is always different from and more than our ideas about it.

DIFFERENTIATING OUR STORIES ABOUT WHAT WE ARE AND DIRECT NOTICING

We can also explore the difference between our ideas about who and what we are, and what we notice directly. In a conventional sense, we are this human self in the world, and that’s not entierly wrong. And when we look more closely, we may find what we more fundamentally are what the world to us happens within and as.

We are the field all our sense experiences, including our mental representations, happen within and as.

We are the field the world, to us, happens within and as.

How is it to live from that noticing, and as that?

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“I look at a tree, and divinity is looking back at me”

I have heard similar things from a few different people, and suspect this is a common experience at a certain phase of the awakening process. And for whatever reason, I have heard more than a few talk specifically about trees looking back at them!

HUMAN SELF AND WHAT WE MORE FUNDAMENTALLY ARE

In a conventional sense, we are this human self in the world. That’s not wrong, and it’s an assumption that works pretty well. (Although it does come with some inherent discomfort since it’s out of alignment with reality.)

And if we explore what we are in our own first-person experience, we may find that we more fundamentally are something else. We may find we are what the world to us happens within and as.

We may find we are a field of consciousness within which this human self, others, the wider world, and any other experience, happens within and as.

ONENESS EXPLORING ITSELF

The oneness we are is in a process of exploring itself.

It explores itself by taking itself to be one part of the content of experience – this human self – and anything else as “other”.

It explores itself through the process of becoming consciously aware of itself as oneness and how it is to live from and as that noticing. The field of consciousness we are, and that the world to us happens within and as, becomes consciously aware of itself. And that happens through sudden shifts and it’s also an ongoing process.

And it continues to deepen in and as that exploration.

MOSTLY IDENTIFIED AS THIS HUMAN SELF: A TREE IS A TREE

If the oneness we are is mostly identified with this human self, then it will experience itself as one object (this human self) and the rest of the world as other objects.

This is how most seem to operate, and there is nothing wrong with it. It’s divinity – or the oneness we are – exploring, expressing, and experiencing itself and the world in this way. It’s how we learned to operate from those around us.

Here, a tree is a tree. It’s an object as any other object. We may have ideas about the tree – that it’s a plant, it has no consciousness, or maybe it has a kind of plant consciousness, and so on, and those are all ideas. To us, it remains an object out there.

AWAKENING PROCESS: TREES SOMETIMES LOOK BACK AT US

If the oneness we are is in a process of noticing itself, we call it an awakening process.

Here, it may mostly be identified as a human self (and a doer, observer, and so on), and will have glimpses of something more.

This sometimes includes glimpses where trees and other things appear to look back and be conscious.

It has a glimpse or intuition of itself and its whole field of experience as consciousness and interprets it as if trees and other things are looking back at us.

MORE CLEAR RECOGNITION: TREES HAPPEN WITHIN AND AS THE FIELD OF CONSCIOUSNESS

And when this clarifies and settles, the whole field is awake to itself as a field and as consciousness, and we find ourselves as this field.

The oneness we are recognizes the whole field of experience as happening within and as itself, and within and as what we can call consciousness.

Here, a tree and anything else in the world – humans, animals, plants, stones, stars, the wind, this body, thoughts, feelings – all happen within and as this field of consciousness. It all happens within and as what we are.

To us, it’s all consciousness. Or Spirit, the divine, or God. Depending on how we chose to label it.

And there is always more to clarify, deepen, mature, explore, live from and as, and so on. There is no finishing line. It’s an ongoing process.

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

I can tune into or imagine the “looking back” experience. In my case, the initial awakening shift was more of a jump from the first to the third, followed by a long “cleaning up” phase clarifying and allowing more parts to join. That means that the process mostly skipped the intuiting and “looking back at me” phase so it’s something I am less familiar with.

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Dream: I have ancient coins from around the world

I am in Norway, on the coast (Drøbak area), with my wife, father, and a group of young adults. We share an interest with the group of people. My father is driving, and he needs coins to pay an entrance fee or toll. We all go through our coins to contribute. I find my share, and also notice I have a large number of ancient coins from different cultures around the world, and I have gotten them without effort. They just came to me and I picked them up.

What do the coins represent? I assume something of value since they were valuable in their own time and are still very valuable. Perhaps ancient knowledge? Timeless insights?

Much of what I write about in these articles is relatively timeless and universal, although obviously filtered through me who is a child of my culture and time. And it did come to me relatively effortlessly. Most of it, and the essence of all of it, came in the initial spontaneous awakening shift in my teens. I didn’t see it echoed by others untial several years later.

I also have modern coins, which may be the knowledge required for our modern society.

Why the group of young people? We like them and get along well with them and there is a sense of community, perhaps because we all have similar interests. (I am not sure exactly what, but likely in sustainability and spirituality.)

Why Norway and my father? It may have to do with my roots in this life, and also where I was during the initial awakening shift.

Set aside looking for God and explore your own experience instead

There are many paths to God, and the two main ones may be devotion (prayer, surrender) and inquiry (investigation). Each one may be important at different times in our process. Both are equally valid and important. Each one offers something unique. And each one can be medicine for the other.

The statement above reflects the inquiry approach, and how the inquiry approach can be medicine for some of the potential pitfalls of an exclusively devotional approach.

WHAT WE MAY MISS ON A DEVOTIONAL APPROACH

If we are exclusively on a devotional path, we may look for God as something far away and out there, unfamiliar and extraordinary. We may get caught up in ideas about God, reality, and ourselves, and perceive and live as if they are true. And we may miss out on recognizing how our mind creates its own experiences.

INQUIRY AS MEDICINE

One medicine for this is inquiry. Through inquiry into our own experience, we may clear up a few misconceptions. We may explore what we more fundamentally are in our own direct experience, and find something we can call Spirit and qualities we associate with the divine.

WHAT WE MAY FIND THROUGH INQUIRY

We may find ourselves as what the world, to us, happens within and as. We may find ourselves as oneness and the oneness the world, to us, happens within and as. We may find ourselves as without any inherent characteristics allowing for the experience of any and all characteristics and experiences. And so on.

We may realize that our nature is already what we can call Spirit, and it has always been what’s the most close and familiar to us, and for that reason also the most ordinary. We may find that all we have ever known is our own nature since the world to us happens within and as what we are.

TWO WINGS OF A BIRD

Clearing up this, we may still enjoy a devotional approach. The two are not exclusive.

As they say in Buddhism, devotion and inquiry are like two wings of a bird.

THE REVERSE – AND GENERAL ORIENTATIONS

We can also find this in the reverse. An exclusive inquiry approach can be one-sided and a devotional approach can be the cure.

And there are some general orientations that guide and support both devotion and inquiry: Receptivity, curiosity, sincerity, diligence, authenticity, and so on.

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A few of my favorite music albums

I always enjoy discovering new music, including through people’s lists of favorites. So I thought I would return the favor and list some of my own favorite albums here.

CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL

Arvo Pärt: Passio, Miserere, Arbos, Te Deum, Da Pacem, Creator Spiritus, Alina (ECM recordings, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Paul Hillier)

Philip Glass: Akhnaten, Satyagraha, Glassworks

Meredith Monk: Book of Days

Steve Reich: Different Trains, Music for 18 Musicians, Reich/Richter

John Adams: Shaker Loops

EUROPEAN CLASSICAL

Jordi Savall (performer): Tous les matins du monde

JS Bach: Die Kunst der Fuge (Keller Quartet)

Rachmaninov: Vespers (Paul Hillier)

Palestrina: Missa Papae Marcelli, Missa Aeterna Christi Munea, Stabat Mater

Allegri: Miserere (Tallis Scholars)

Marin Marais: Pieces de Viole du Second Livre (Jordi Savall)

Canteloube: Songs of the Auvergne (Dawn Upshaw) 

NORDIC

Mari Boine:  Eight Seasons, Goaskinviellja / Ørnebror, Leahkastin

Agnes Buen Garnås & Jan Garbarek: Rosensfole

Jaga Jazzist: Starfire, Magazine, Stix, What We Must

Kings of Convenience: Riot on an Empty Street, Quiet is the New Loud, Declaration of Dependence, Peace or Love

EUROPE

Bulgarian Women’s Choir: Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares, Bulgarian Custom Songs, Ritual

Maria Salgado: Siete Modos De Guisar Las Berenjenas

Kila: Tog e go bog e, Gambler’s Ballet, Luna Park

CONTEMPORARY POPULAR

Kate Bush: Hounds of Love, Aerial part II, The Sensual World

Sting: Nothing Like the Sun, Ten Summoner’s Tales, Mercury Falling, Brand New Day 

Mathieu Chedid – M

LOUNGE, ELECTRO-SWING, NUJAZZ, JAZZ

Kojato: All About Jazz

Bahama Soul Club: The Cuban Tapes

Caravan Palace: <|°_°|> (Robot Face), Chronologic

Stereolab: Dots & Loops, Cobra & Phases, Sound Dust

Bitter:Sweet: Drama, The Mating Game

Django Reinhart

NORTH AMERICA

Bela Fleck: The Bluegrass Sessions, Tales from the Acoustic Planet

Carlos Nakai: Carry the Gift, Canyon Trilogy

William Eaton: Where Rivers Meet

SOUTH AMERICA

João Gilberto, Elis Regina, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Sabrina Melheiros

Compilation: Bossa Nova and the Rise of Brazilian Music in the 1960s

AFRICA

Ayub Ogada: En Mana Kuoyo

Youssou N’dour: Eyes Open, The Guide, Set, Egypt

Sona Jobarteh: Badinyaa Kumoo, Fasiya

MIDDLE-EAST

Axiom of Choice: Niya Yesh, Unfolding

Peter Gabriel: Passion: Music for the Last Temptation of Christ

The Musicians of the Nile: Egypte – Les Musiciens du Nil

Seiur Marie Keyrouz: Chant Byzantin, Canticles de L’Orient

ASIA

Huun Huur Tu: If I’d Been Born an Eagle, Where Young Grass Grows

Sainkho Namtchylak: Naked Spirit

Shakuhachi – The Japanese Flute

SOUNDTRACKS

Bruno Coulas: Himalaya

Hans Zimmer: Interstellar

Sweet & Lowdown

Vangelis: Bladerunner

ELECTRONIC / AMBIENT

Boris Blank: Electrified

Brian Eno: Apollo – Atmospheres & Soundtracks

Jean-Michel Jarre: Oxygene, Zoolook, Amazônia

Vangelis: Albedo 0.39

And, in general, anything from Putumayo.

See also this playlist on Spotify, and a slightly more comprehensive list.

Dream: A woven shirt encodes ancient sacred texts

A group of people are weaving a shirt that encodes an ancient sacred text. It’s very beautiful and woven with white and light blue threads made of a shiny material.

The pattern of the shirt encodes the sacred text, similar to the binary code of a computer.

It’s as if the sacred text is made physical, embodied, by being made into a shirt.

What’s the sacred ancient text? I suspect it’s the divine realizing itself in a timeless (ancient) way. The divine noticing itself as it is, and through and as a being living more consciously from and as what’s noticed. There is always further to go here.

Who is going to wear it? I am not sure. Since it’s my dream, it’s probably me, but I wasn’t completely aware of that in the dream.

I had this dream the night before the first day of my new Vortex Healing class (Awakening to Divinity), and the first night in the house where we will stay for the next month. (The photo above is from this morning.)