This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be a little on the rant side. And some may be made into a regular article in time.
THE HIGHEST ACHIEVEMENT: TO BE AN ORDINARY HUMAN BEING
I wrote an imagined dialog with someone who has lived for eons, and one of the things that came up – from all those lifetimes of experience – is that the highest achievement is to be an ordinary human being.
Many of us try to be someone special, to set ourselves apart – at least in our minds, and live up to a certain image of ourselves. All that is ordinary, of course. But to intentionally be an ordinary human being is different. This means to see through all these shoulds we put on ourselves, and allow them to wear off. And then discover who we are when we are a little more free from them.
It’s not so easy. It can take a long time to discover and see through these images and shoulds and allow them to wear off.
Click READ MORE to see more of these brief notes.
Me: I don’t watch TV news because it’s more stressful to me than reading.
Tom A.: I don’t get stressed because it’s reality.– a recent conversation
It’s not the whole picture but there is also some truth to this. There is peace in taking in reality. It helps us ground and feel more centered.
JUNE 13, 2020
INTRODUCTORY AND UNIVERSAL, OR ALSO SOMETHING ELSE?
Most of what I write about here is – by intention – introductory and universal. It’s about the basics and the pointers and tools that works for most people through different phases of the awakening process.
I rarely write about less basic things. And I rarely mention pointers and tools that can be useful at more specific phases in the process. I may write more about these things in the future to make it a bit more interesting – and real – for myself.
JUNE 14, 2020
WHOLE & A MESS
Our minds have a hard time dealing with the paradox that life is whole and complete while also being a mess.– Adyashanti in Unity and Uniqueness
As what we are, life is whole. Life happens within and as what we are and as one and a whole. As who we are, as this human self, life can be messy and a mess.
I certainly experience – the wholeness inherent in all of existence, and the mess of this particular life.
I notice that Adyashanti rarely references his own life, apart from some things about his childhood, awakening process, and health challenges. In the teacher role, he seems very clear and someone who has it all together. And that’s how it often looks when all we see is the teacher role side of someone. I am sure our near-universal human challenges are present in his life too. That may well be one driver for his clarity, wisdom, and compassion.
When we find ourselves in a teacher role – whether informally or formally and whether we call it that or not – there is a question we need to resolve. How transparent do we want to be? And in what way? What’s most helpful?
In Adya’s case, he seems to have chosen to keep his private life relatively private. That’s an understandable and sane approach and keeps the focus on the pointers and teachings.
Others may chose to be more transparent and put more of it out there, and that can be helpful too. It can be a bit distracting for a gossip-prone mind. But if it’s in the context of how to work with it, it also gives us practical and finely-grained examples of how to work with what’s coming up in our own life.
In my childhood and teens, and even within the initial awakening, I lived a lot within and from a sense of awe and magic.
As a child, these feelings came when I had “flashbacks” to my life between lives, and also in the sun and breeze and nature in the summer. In my early teens, they came from sun and wind and nature, and also some stories (Tordivelen flyr i skumringen etc.). And in my mid- and late teens from literature (Baudelaire, Oscar Wilde, Tolstoy, Bjørneboe etc.), music (KT Hounds of Love, David Sylvian), and art (Odd Nerdrum, Rembrandt, Manet etc..).
I have had some fleeting tastes of these lately, and it’s a nice memory and even a bit inspiring. Some of these magical feelings – of awe, bliss, and hints of a magical life – came or were amplified as a side-effect of the initial awakening in my mid-teens. At the same time, I know these come and go as any experiences. I am happy for them to arrive knowing they are visitors and will leave again.
For a while, perhaps especially in my late teens and early twenties, I know there was more attachment to these feelings. I associated something important and good with them and wanted them to stay. Now, after having lived a few more years and also gone through a few dark night phases – where “everything” seems to fall away – that seems to have mostly worn itself out.
There is still some unprocessed fear and emotional issues here that creates other attachments (mostly around relationships and survival), but this one seems to have worn out.
A MAGICAL LIFE?
If I had seen my life when I was in my early teens, I would be surprised and also see it as a magical life. After all, and especially from the outside, the awakening an be seen as magical and so also what came with it – seeing energies, sensing and healing at a distance, and periods of amazing and relentless synchronicities. And also going through different phases of the awakening process, including dark nights and more stability. Gaining a slightly more finely grained understanding of the awakening dynamics and process. And finding a partner in this process.
All of this is, in many ways, amazing and magical. And yet, when it’s lived its also very ordinary. It becomes ordinary. It becomes an ordinary life because this is the life I know. Both are true.
I rarely look at it this way – looking at my life from the perspective of this human selves early life – so it’s fun to visit it. It’s good to see ones life from different perspectives.
THIS LIFE BELONGS TO LIFE
This life belongs to life and not to any one “I” that owns or inhabits it. It looks like a single life that lasts over time because a flow of matter and energy maintains a somewhat stable yet always changing pattern, just like water flows through a river that keeps looking like itself while always changing.
The only stable thing is this awakeness that all this happens within and as. This awakeness that all living beings knows and are. This awakeness that perceives all as itself when it wakes up to itself. And it’s not really stable since any ideas of stability has to do with time and time happens within this. And the noticing is, at most, temporarily stable since we don’t know about the future.
JUNE 15, 2020
A commenter on this site called me “idiot blogger”.
In what way is that true? Can I find examples?
I am not the one who knows the most about most of the topics I write about.
I sometimes make mistakes. I am a flawed human being.
I remember once or twice attributing a quote to someone without checking as well as I could have. (Although I did correct it and have learned to check better.)
My approach can be seen as a bit idiotic. I write a lot of spontaneous posts instead of a few thorough ones. I write here instead of – as many do – give workshops or write books. I put time and attention into something many people won’t find because they don’t know it exists.
In what way is it not true?
I am clear that this is a personal exploration. Nothing of what I write here is meant as any final or absolute truth. At most, it’s a pointer for own exploration.
Although some know more than me about what I write about, many have less experience.
When I did IQ tests in my teen, my IQ was higher than the level that – in less understanding times – was considered “idiot”.
Does it even apply?
It’s perhaps more useful to see if a blog – or specific blog posts – are useful for someone.
What does it bring up in me?
I notice it triggered a bit of hurt in me. Although I also realized that what this person wrote says more about them than me, and the commenter hadn’t even read my post. Mainly, I feel a bit hurt that the person didn’t read it before making a judgment. And that’s something for me to look at.
So am I an idiot blogger? Yes, in some ways. I can find it. And “no” in other ways. Both are true and neither.
BUDDHISM AND HAPPINESS
A recent headline i Lion’s Roar says How Sharon Salzberg Found Happiness. I find the headline interesting and especially the timing of this headline.
I understand they want to focus happiness in order to catch people’s attention. Many in today’s western society have their basic needs met and feel that what they are missing is happiness.
And yet, it also feels a bit off in a couple of different ways.
Buddhism isn’t primarily about happiness. It’s more about finding a sense of meaning, reducing suffering, and living a life to benefit life in general.
Happiness comes and goes. It’s more dependent on circumstances. It may also be that psychological research is correct and we have a personal set-point for happiness that we tend to gravitate towards.
A sense of meaning and contentment, and learning tools for dealing with and see through suffering, is more lasting. And living a life more to benefit all life is perhaps what we and the world need.
If what’s happening in the world today – the pandemic, climate crisis, focus on structural racism – is showing us anything, it’s that we need just this bigger focus. Happiness is individual and after a while can feel empty. A sense of meaning and working to benefit all life can be far more rewarding and is also what the world needs.
BUDDHISM AND A SENSE OF MEANING
I wrote that Buddhism is – among other things – about a sense of meaning. Is that true? Isn’t Buddhism more about seeing through our need for a sense of meaning? And seeing how our mind creates its own experience of meaning or lack thereof?
Not really. Especially in the beginning, a sense of meaning is just what Buddhism and similar traditions can give people. And that can be very important and help us stay with the process and go further.
And yes. At some point, we’ll need to see how our mind creates its sense of meaning and how any sense of a meaningful life or not is created. And that doesn’t mean we won’t do meaningful activities or live a meaningful life!
Seeing through it and living it are not mutually exclusive.
I don’t know much about ayahuasca visions, but I suspect they are to be held lightly and explored and lived with for a while, ideally with the guidance of someone familiar with the process.
A friend of mine did ayahuasca a couple of years ago, in a modern New Age setting. In the months and weeks before this, she was concerned about it since the (mistakenly) thought that one of her teachers in a healing modality was against it. In her vision, she saw him as dark and threatening, and she cut all ties with him right after.
To me, that vision seemed unsurprising. She was scared of his judgment so it’s natural that he would take that form in her vision. Instead of being open to this possibility, she took the vision literally and cut any connection with him.
Without knowing much about it, I imagine these visions can take many different forms. Some may represent our fears and shadow. Some may open our mind to new possibilities. Some may give hints about what to explore in our life and perhaps new directions. One thing I suspect is that it’s not wise to jump to a literal interpretation and conclusion.
Of course, I don’t really know. Although I do prefer to hold these things lightly and explore them from many different angles. And even if visions can be strong and vivid and seem very real, to not take them literally.
The seed for this article was from watching the Voyager episode This Mortal Coil which addresses this exact topic.
And to fill out the picture, the teacher wasn’t against ayahuasca. He had just pointed out that it creates “hooks” in our system and these can be cleared out.
JUNE 17, 2020
I feel a bit sorry for suffering. Most people want to get rid of it. A lot of healing work is about getting rid of suffering. A lot of people into awakening want to get rid of suffering. Even a whole religion, Buddhism, implies it’s about getting rid of suffering.
Suffering is an experience. Suffering is a part of our experience that wants our attention, understanding, and love, as any other part.
And as with any other part, if we reject it or abandon it or even meet it with the intention of “transforming” it, we create another layer of distress for ourselves. What suffering wants and what we want – when we look a little closer – is to get to know it. To change our relationship with it. Be present with it, listen to what it has to say, ask it what it wants from us, understand it, find genuine love for it, and also recognize it as not “other” – it’s part of who we are as this human self, and it’s part of what we are.
Suffering comes with many gifts. Depending on how we relate to it… it can help us deepen our empathy with ourselves and others. It can help us see that we are all in the same boat. Our own suffering helps us recognize the suffering in others and can motivate us to help them.
Suffering can bring us to our knees and humble us in the best possible way. Suffering can help us become more deeply and fully human in the best sense.
Suffering can motivate us to change how we relate to ourselves and others.
Suffering can motivate us to change the situation we are in. Suffering can be a driver for deep personal and social change. Suffering can motivate us to explore and better understand the situation triggering suffering in ourselves or others. Suffering can motivate us to explore and understand the dynamics of suffering in ourselves and how our mind creates that experience for ourselves.
Without suffering, it may be that none of us would be here today. It has most likely played a vital role in the evolution of humanity, as it can play a vital role in our own healing, maturing, and even awakening if we allow it to.
I said, “depending on how we relate to it” earlier. Of course, depending on how we relate to it, suffering can also trigger the exact opposite of what I described. It can lead to bitterness, hardness, hatred, violence, and much more. And it can open us up and open our heart and minds to ourselves and others and all life and all of existence.
Most of us allow it to do one and then the other depending on the situation, and it also changes over time.
AWAKENING BREAKS THE BIOGRAPHY
I spent some time with my brother and father yesterday and wondered about this. For most people, it’s understandable where their inclinations, interests, and patterns come from. We can see how the conditioning is passed on. And yet, it seems that awakening – and especially when it comes out of the blue – breaks this pattern. Another influence comes in that can take the life in a completely different direction.
JUNE 20, 2020
GRITTY SWEET WHOLENESS
I have found myself in a challenging situation over the last few weeks (and off and on for longer).
And I notice a visceral sense of a gritty sweet wholeness in relation to it. I see my role in it mixed in with some regret and seeing I have acted on fears and hangups. I see the role of circumstances. I see the roles of others and them sometimes acting on their own wounds and hangups. I have a genuine gratitude for what it shows me about myself and how it has deepened my connection with one close to me. It has triggered a gentle survival fear and dread in me (perhaps what’s left of something I befriended several years ago). And so on.
It’s beautiful in its visceral wholeness and diversity. Wholeness doesn’t neccesarily mean bliss and happiness. It often means a mix of a wide range of experiences, views, perspectives, and feelings, and even a visceral sense of it all at once as a whole.
BEING PART OF THE EARTH COMMUNITY
I am at the cabin by the lake and notice how I feel deeply part of the community here – the insects, birds, animals, trees, plants, rock, water. I viscerally feel part of this community. And it feels right.
JUNE 21, 2020
I assume this is very common. I notice that writing flows easily in periods, and at other times it’s like pulling teeth and feels clunky and missing the mark. For me, these periods seem to last a few weeks or even months at a time. And when the more difficult periods happen, it seems that they represent some kind of gear shift. It’s as if the gear goes into neutral or grinds a bit before going into another gear.
Right now, I find myself in one of those grinding-of-the-gears phases. And it’s fine. I may learn something from the struggle. And it’s also a reminder that everything comes and goes. The flow periods come and go, as do the grinding-of-the-gears periods.
I haven’t done these very general energetic self-portraits for a while. I haven’t been drawn to it or found it very useful – mostly because I work on my energy system in a more targeted and finely grained way these days – but I was drawn to make a few quick drawings yesterday. Here they are.
DESIRE FOR REVENGE
Emotional issues are mostly universal. They follow the same basic dynamics and the healing path is largely similar.
At the same time, there are specifics unique to each type of emotional issue and each person and situation.
So what about desire for revenge?
The universals are the familiar ones: Desire for revenge is an attempt for us to deal with our own pain. We feel hurt and scared. We create a story blaming someone else. And we engage in that story and perceive and may even act on it. All so we don’t need to face the fear at the core of it, and all so we don’t have to undo whatever beliefs and identities we have built up around this particular strategy to avoid our fear.
What’s unique to a desire for revenge?
Acting on any emotional issue harms ourselves and others. That’s no difference with desire for revenge, but it can go further than many other issues. It can lead to violence and even war. It’s an issue that can be shared by a whole group of people who have all experienced some form of collective trauma, if they collectively decide to deal with their trauma in this way.
So how do we work with a desire for revenge? The answer depends on whether the person recognizes what’s going on and have a desire to change it, or if they are more fully identified with and invested in the desire for revenge. In the second instance, others will often have to set limits for their behavior and stop them.
In the first case, we can work with it as we will work with most or all emotional issues. First, it helps to see what’s going on, even if it’s just a theoretical understanding. This can function as a question or pointer we can explore. Talk therapy can help some of the way. And in order to go further, we’ll often need a combination of inquiry, somatic work, and heart-centered practices.
Seeds for this article: Watching the Voyager episode “Hope and Fear”. Seeing the Black Lives Matter movement in the US these days and that it seems largely about equality and not so much revenge. And remembering a person I used to know who would use anger – and sometimes desire for revenge – to avoid her own pain and fear.
OBJECTIFYING OURSELVES & OTHERS
The way we perceive and experience ourselves is how we perceive and experience others.
If we see ourselves as an object, we see others as objects.
If we are connected with our own humanity, we see the humanity in others.
If we live from our heart, we see the heart in the other.
If we realize ourselves as consciousness – what our experience happens within and as – we recognize others as this as well, whether they are aware of it or not.
And really, until we discover what we are and learn to live from it, we do objectify ourselves and others. We see ourselves as an object in the world, perhaps with feelings and wishes and longings, but still an object.
–– in progress / drafts / notes ––
THE ONLY VIABLE OPTION IS TO LET GO
Meditation shows you that the only viable option is to let go.– Adyashanti, specific source unknown (to me)
Meditation is a kind of laboratory where we can notice the dynamics of mind.
We an obviously be lost geographically. And we can feel lost in a metaphorical sense. We may not know what to do or what direction to go.
Yes, I suspect this is the case for several forms of meditation, and perhaps especially the basic meditation or noticing and allowing.
If we notice and allow what’s here, we notice none of it is in our control – and that the idea of “our” and “control” doesn’t even really apply. It all lives its own life. What’s here is already here. We may respond to it, and then that’s what’s already here.
WHY DON’T SPIRITUAL TEACHERS USE MORE EFFECTIVE TOOLS?
This is a loaded question! And it is one I sometimes am puzzled by, although it’s also not so puzzling.
First, is it true?
Yes and no.
This is something that has puzzled me for a while, although it’s also not so puzzling.
Most teachers who function within a tradition feel obliged to stay within the tradition. Many teachers who are outside of a tradition create their own “tradition” and stay with what they are familiar with. And sometimes, teachers assume that what worked for them will work for their students.
In either case, familiarity and tradition becomes more important than finding and using effective tools.
A related question is: Why do people who seek awakening, truth, or whatever it may be often do the same? Why do they sometimes stick with ineffective approaches when there are more effective ones out there?
Perhaps they are not aware of other approaches? Or assume that whatever they are doing will eventually work? Or they believe the myth that noticing what we are is very special and takes a long time and a lot of work? Or perhaps they prioritize something else over finding and using effective tools?
And what are some of these potentially more effective tools?
For me, for helping people notice relatively quickly what they are, it’s the Big Mind process and the Headless experiments. To deepen and clarify it, in addition to these two, the Living Inquiries can be very effective. And I am sure there are many other effective approaches out there I am not aware of.
LESSONS FOR EVERYONE FROM SOMEONE WITH CFS
natural living over forced living, pre-industrial
have a list, do what feel I can
do half of what you feel you can do, leave body energy to recover
find other strategies, adapt, be flexible
life is not other, just a different life and can be equally meaningful and rewarding
living in harmony with ones own inner landscape
do different types of spiritual practices than before, found ones that work better for me now and also do them with less effort
GOING TO SPIRITUALITY IN CHALLENGING TIMES
I have heard people say nobody is an atheist on a sinking ship.
That’s probably true. Even atheists turn to prayer in desperate times.
A cynical view on this is that when all hope is lost, what’s left is God whether we consciously “believe in God” or not. We grasp at straws.
A less cynical view is that challenging times is an opportunity for us to find receptivity and give ourselves over to something larger than us. We realize that we are not the master of everything as we may have thought we were.
ACCIDENTALLY PERFECT PROJECTION
Projections are inherently perfect in that we see our own mental field and what the stories point to “out there” while they are really “in here”.
Sometimes, there is an added perfection which can seem humorous. And sometimes, it’s easier to see when it involves someone else. One example is a recent commenter mentioned above.
The article was about the quote “Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge” and the commenter judged without having read the article. Thus unwittingly illustrating the quote.
It’s likely that this has an evolutionary function. The ones where this magic trick happened were perhaps more likely to survive and have offspring who survived and had children. Perhaps they were engaged in the game of life a little more fully than the ones where this magic trick didn’t happen.
From an evolutionary perspective, awakening can be seen as a “glitch” in the system. The magic trick stopped working or perhaps it never worked. In our evolutionary history, it may be that the magic trick did engage people more fully in life and so had a better chance to have offspring who in turn had their offspring.
In our evolutionary history, it has likely been helpful to have a majority more invested in the game of life. That’s perhaps no different today. Although in a world with serious global challenges, the big picture and deep time views that awakening tends to offer are even more crucial for our survival.
We can see the world as a reflection of us. What I see out there in the wider world is also here in me. When I apply to myself whatever story I have about anything or anyone in the wider world, I can find genuine examples of how it’s valid.
It’s also slightly irrelevant since this life belongs to life and not
This life belongs to life and not to any one “I” that
Voyager – holodeck characters function as humans, including very creative and intelligent, but the ship’s computer can only answer the simplest questions and can only give simple information
PROVISIONAL AND FINAL I
One way to talk about who (our human self) and what (capacity for the world as it appears to us) is provisional and final I’s.
Our provisional I or identity is as this human self, or as a doer, observer, or similar. This belongs to who we are and it’s typically how others see us. There is nothing wrong with this.
Our more basic identity is as what we are, as