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 made into a regular article in time.
WHAT’S THE MEANING OF LIFE?
This is a question that, in a way, comes from the idea that we are different from the rest of existence.
What’s the meaning of a tree? A star? Water? Air? A dandelion?
The meaning of a tree is to be a tree. The meaning of a star is to be a star.
And the meaning of us is to be us.
It can be quite simple.
We can also say that…
Asking for the meaning suggests that we are not fully engaged in our life. We are not fully enlivened. So what would make us come more alive?
We can find a deep sense of meaning by finding our intimate connection with the rest of existence, with the larger whole.
The meaning of life is for each of us to find what’s meaningful to us. What makes you come alive? What feels deeply right to you? If you could not fail, what would you do?
The question itself is worth looking into. What do I find when I examine the question? Or underlying thoughts, like: “My life is not meaningful”, “I am not enough”.
Seeking awakening is often not (only) about seeking awakening.
What do I hope to get out of awakening? And out of that? And out of that?
It can be helpful to identify what we imagine we’ll get out of it, and look at our strategies for finding that.
Maybe there are other strategies that make as much or more sense?
For instance, we may wish to find love, acceptance, peace, rest, coming home, freedom from discomfort, and so on.
If that’s the case, shifting our relationship with our content of experience, in general, is often a more direct and effective strategy.
Finding healing for our relationship with anything, inviting in healing for our traumas and wounds, and questioning our stressful thoughts, is more likely to get us what we want.
And to deeply do this, it does help to find our more fundamental nature. It creates a different context for these explorations.
JUNG, EGYPT, AND THE AFTERLIFE
I remember Jung saying that some in old age get interested in Egypt.
We know we are close to the end, most of us wonder what is after this life, and Egypt is all about the afterlife. It may not give answers, but the pieces we know from ancient Egyptian culture have that focus. (It has that focus since we largely know it from burials! It’s an example of survival bias in action.)
I have seen this with my own parents. When they got in their eighties, they got interested in Egypt. They got books, documentaries, and even decorative objects from and about Egypt.
June 14, 2023
CONDITIONING PLAYING ITSELF OUT
The more we explore ourselves, the more we see that our life is conditioning playing itself out, and our interactions with others and the wider world is conditioning playing itself out.
We can examine certain patterns of thoughts, reactivity, perception, and in life, and see that it comes from somewhere else. It’s natural, understandable, and essentially innocent. (Although the result can be damaging to ourselves and others.) My favorite set of training wheels here is The Work of Byron Katie.
We can find what we more essentially are in our own experience. I find myself as capacity for the whole field of consciousness that’s here. And I find myself as what it happens within and as. And that allows me to see that this human self happens on its own and lives its own life, just like anything happens on its own and lives its own life. There is a release of identification from the content of experience, and that makes conditioning stand out.
IF WE LIVED FOR EONS, WOULD AWAKENING BE INEVITABLE?
To me, it seems that awakening is inevitable if we just lived long enough, perhaps for centuries or millennia. And it wouldn’t seem like anything special. It would just be a natural part of maturing and having lived for a while.
Over time, we get to see that any and all content of experience comes and goes, including anything we think we are, and any identifications we may have. We dream, and are someone different. We have an identity for ourselves and in the world, and something happens and it goes away. We think we are something in particular, and those thoughts go away.
So if we are not fundamentally anything within all this that comes and goes, what are we?
What are we more fundamentally? When I look, I find I more fundamentally am capacity for the experience of all of this. I am what the world, to me, happens within and as.
This is what we may discover through basic meditation, and also what we may – inevitably? – discover if we would be around for a few millenia.
Basic meditation is, in many ways, a condensed micro-version of this. We compress what would happen naturally, over many many years, into a noticing over minutes, hours, and days.
And we can support that process through other explorations, including inquiry.
JUNE 15, 2023
SMALL UNDERSTANDING OF AWAKENING AS AN ANTIDOTE TO NIHILISM
If we get into some forms of spirituality, and get the ideas before the lived experience, we can go into forms of nihilism. We can tell ourselves and others: “It’s all the divine, so… I don’t need to help anyone. It’s fine if people die and it could have been prevented. I can do and live as I want. There is nobody here to get hurt.” And so on.
It’s a kind of insanity. And there are many antidotes. For instance, Buddhism tends to emphasize compassion and being a good steward of your life.
Another antidote is the small understanding of awakening.
In a small understanding of awakening, we recognize that to ourselves, we are inevitably consciousness, and we can “wake up” to ourselves as consciousness, and this softens identification with anything within the content of consciousness. This is independent of any worldview and it can be understood in a secular way.
That means that the world may be as we conventionally see it: Many beings and a world we live within.
That, in turn, means there is no reason to abandon ordinary kindness, wisdom, stewardship of our life, and so on.
And, of course, we can find all of this within a big understanding of awakening as well, where we assume that all of existence is as we perceive it: consciousness. The main spiritual and religious traditions all emphasize it.
Note: Since we are consciousness, and the world to us happens within and as that consciousness, it will inevitably appear as if the world and all of existence is consciousness. In the small understanding of awakening, we acknowledge that we don’t know the nature of all of existence. In the big, we assume it is how it appears to us, it is consciousness.
JUNE 16, 2023
DREAM: GETTING INVOLVED IN PRACTICAL THINGS RATHER THAN A CEREMONY (*)
I am in a Christian monastery, and the monks are starting a service. I am caught up in trying to fix something practical, and it takes longer than I expected. I miss the serivce and feel slightly bad about it.
That’s how my life is right now. I am focused on doing practical things (getting my parents’ house ready for sale), and I don’t set time aside so much for inner explorations. Although they are still part of my life: noticing my nature during my activities (and rest), some inquiry sessions, noticing gratitude for all there is, and so on. The two are woven together and is really one. And that doesn’t mean that more formal explorations don’t have a place. They are still very valuable and help me find more clarity and explore more thoroughly.
Is the dream reflecting a side of me that thinks I should do more formal practice? Or does it invite me to do it? Or both?