Dream: Black vessel in the ground

I am in Latin America and have been innocently convicted of something along with several others. There are several large round ceramic vessels in the ground with only the opening visible. We are all to spend ten days in a vessel like this, either alone or with one other. The woman overseeing it all is surprisingly friendly and kind.

INITIAL ASSOCIATIONS

A few things come up right away:

In the dream, I am in Latin America, which has been an important part of my life in recent years. I associate it with nature and shamanism, and this dream feels shamanic and alchemical.

The night before, I read in the news about a Norwegian couple convicted for a crime more than two decades ago, and they are trying to have a retail since a lot of new evidence has surfaced since then. I suspect they are innocent, as I did even back then. A part of me has a fear of being falsely accused.

The woman is surprisingly kind and friendly as if the process is not inherently as terrible as it may seem.

The vessel in the ground seems to point to a kind of shamanic or alchemical process. It’s in the Earth – which gives us life – and is a kind of womb. A vessel for a kind of gestation process.

When my attention goes deep into processes in me, and when certain things come to the surface, it is a bit like being underground. It’s the nigredo phase of an alchemical process, the blackening.

I am not alone. Several others will go through the same process. I may even share the vessel with someone, if I am lucky, someone tells me.

The ten days seem symbolic. It’s a round number in the decimal system. In terms of fingers and toes, it’s a complete number.

MORE DETAIL

And a bit more detail:

Do I falsely accuse myself? I likely do, even if I am not always aware of it. Parts of me may accuse me under the surface, creating stress and tension. This is an angle I want to be more aware of. I may accuse myself for not being good enough, not sociable enough, and so on, mainly based on childhood experiences.

Do I falsely accuse others? I sometimes do when something in me gets triggered, and it mostly happens in my own mind. (It spills out into the wider world occasionally.) When I get triggered, it’s good to notice if and how I falsely accuse others.

When life goes against the wishes of my personality, and when old trauma and unhealed things come to the surface, my mind can interpret it as being falsely accused and punished by life. I don’t deserve it. I didn’t do anything to make it happen. Even if that’s true, it’s beside the point. This is life. Life sometimes goes against what we wish and hope for. Life sometimes brings up pain. It’s universal. It’s shared by all living beings.

The kind and friendly overseer may be a guide – a sophia (wisdom figure) or a psychopomp (guide of souls). Like everything else in the dream, she represents a part of me.

My life situation is creating a kind of vessel for me these days since I am mostly alone, reflective, connected with nature, do qigong, notice my nature, and so on.

Going into the Earth for ten days and then re-emerging is a kind of death and rebirth. It’s a birth from the womb. It’s a reminder that I am from the Earth, or – more to the point – that I am the Earth taking this temporary form.

I am not alone. Several others are going through the same process. That’s certainly true in life. What I experience is what innumerable others have experienced, with slight variations in flavor. It’s universal. The essence of it is likely shared by all living beings, by all consciousnesses connected with a living being. Also, I am not alone in that I have a partner, friends, and family.

The ten days is a finite and relatively short number, similar to a vision quest. Maybe it’s a reminder that this phase of the transformation process – which seems frightening and undesirable to parts of me – is more finite and short than parts of me fear?

ACTIVE IMAGINATION

When I go back into the dream and feel into it… Fear comes up. Fear of confinement. Claustrophobia. Fear of not being in control. Fear of being at the mercy of others.

When I imagine myself in one of the vessels… It feels difficult to breathe. I feel enclosed. It feels the way it does when some deep unresolved issues come up in me and they seem to fill my whole world. (Anger, sadness, anxiety.)

The woman, just through her presence, is encouraging to me. She helps me relax into the process.

It feels like a process of maturation. The best kind of humbling. Earthiness. (Letting go of ideas of light and ideals.) It feels brave. Real. Earthy. It feels like joining non-human fellow Earth-beings in their matter-of-fact way of living their life. It feels like being soil, dark crumbly nourishing life-giving soil.

Soil is soil, it doesn’t try to be anything else. It has no idea of wanting to be anything else. It just is, and nourishes and gives life. I can find that in myself and explore how it is to live from and as it.

In a very literal and real sense, I am Earth. This living system we call Earth takes this temporary and local form. The soil itself takes this temporary, local, and mobile form. It’s not poetry or a metaphor, it’s how it is.

The image is created by me and Midjourney. In the dream, the vessels were completely buried in the Earth with just the opening above ground. This illustration is a cross-section to show the shape of the vessel.

Using AI for programming

I use ChatGTP 4o as a programming assistant these days. It’s to create a web interface for a plant database for our regeneration, reforestation, and food forest project in the Andes. (Google Sheets + Google Apps Script.) In general, I find the AI assistance very helpful. I am also using it to fill in the information for the database, including ranking plants on a variety of dimensions. This info needs to be checked for accuracy, of course, although it generally looks pretty good.

AI PROGRAMMING PRACTICES

First, a few things I have learned about working with an AI programming assistant.

In general, as with all programming, it’s important to be methodical, do it stepwise, and communicate clearly with your programming assistant or partner.

At the beginning of any new dialog, I give the AI any relevant files and ask it to analyze and examine the project. It helps me, it may help the AI, and it helps identify things that can improve the coding or user interface, including finding duplicate code.

Stay on topic. I keep different subprojects in different dialogs. If I have a question not directly related to the current dialog, I start a new dialog for that question. (In a different tab.)

If the current dialog has been going on for a while and/or the AI starts to forget or mix things up, I start a new dialog for a fresh start.

Since it takes a while for ChatGPT 4o to generate a response, I typically ask for only the section of code that’s updated. That makes it go faster. I’ll ask for the full file if there are several updates throughout the same file, or if I am not sure if the AI is working with the same version of the file as I do.

Sometimes, I ask the AI to give suggestions without producing any new code. This can be helpful with troubleshooting, and for finding a strategy to implement a new complex subproject.

I stay involved with the troubleshooting. The AI seems to have a one-track mind to troubleshooting and tends to repeat the same strategy over and over. So I like to take a step back. I examine the code and give suggestions for other things to try. I ask the AI for ideas of other things to try. I often scrap what we did, go back to a clean version, and ask it to try a different approach. (The last one seems to work the best.)

It’s important to stay involved in general. I like to know roughly how it all works and where the different types of code go and help oversee the implementation and troubleshooting. As mentioned in other places, it will sometimes create duplicate code, put code in a place where it doesn’t fit in terms of the file structure, forget that a file exists, remove vital existing code, and so on.

I am in Europe these days, and I find that working with ChatGPT 4o in the mornings European time works the best. In the evening – after the whole of North America is awake – it seems to slow down and often freezes.

When ChatGPT 4o overloads from what I assume are too many people using it, it freezes, cannot reload, and/or it starts giving weird responses. If that happens, it’s a sign to take a break.

This is all not so different from working with a human assistant or in a team with other humans.

Of course, this is all related to my experiences with ChatGPT 4o. Other AIs may need a slightly different approach, and I am sure much of this will change in the future. For instance, I imagine the AI’s ability to keep track of the project as a whole, troubleshoot, and choose a different strategy when one doesn’t work, will all get better.

PROGRAMMING PRACTICES IN GENERAL

In addition to this, general good programming practices are helpful, of course.

I like to include file information in a comment at the top of the file. This describes the file name, its purpose, and the steps, and it helps me keep track of the different parts of the project. Who knows, it may also help the AI.

When I get a new piece of code, I like to check to make sure it goes into the correct file. I have also learned to regularly ask the AI to check for duplicate code in the files.

Since this is a relatively large project, I put the different types of code into separate files. (HTML, styles, front-end scripts, back-end scripts, scripts for search and sort, and so on.) This prevents any one file from getting too big, and it’s more clear where to put and find the different types of code. (Also, I don’t go overboard with this. In some cases, it makes sense to keep it all contained in one file.)

I make small and incremental changes, one bit at a time. This makes it easier to identify any problems.

I keep track of the versions (deployments). I write down the most recent version that works well and sometimes add a brief comment about what works and what’s left to work on. If something goes wrong and it gets too complicated to figure out, go back to the most recent deployment that worked well and start over with a different approach.

I use extensive logging during development. This helps the troubleshooting.

After I implement something new, I test the website to make sure everything else still works.

I find that if I do this when I am hungry or tired, it tends to not go so well. It’s better to eat, rest, and continue later. It’s amazing how something can be fixed after a good meal or a good night’s sleep.

I expect most of the time to be spent on the fiddly little details that don’t quite work. (The 80-20 rule. 80 percent of the project takes 20 percent of the time, and 20 percent takes 80 percent of the time.)

This is just good programming hygiene in general.

The screenshots are from my current project. The first is one page of the web interface. The look and content is still very rudimentary and needs to be refined. The second is a screenshot of the AI filling in a few columns in the spreadsheet. The third is the code used to retrieve image URLs from Wikipedia to be used to illustrate the text.

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Noticing is primary

Instagram gifted me this video from Mingyur Rinpoche (son of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche) this morning. (Was he the young teacher-in-training I had tea with in Kathmandu in the mid-90s? I somehow think it was.)

NOTICING IS PRIMARY

Yes, when it comes to different forms of meditation and mindfulness, noticing is primary.

The content – what’s noticed – is not important in that context.

It can be dullness, agitation, sadness, frustration, anger, joy, contentment, bliss, and so on, anything within the always-changing content of experience.

TRAINING STABLE ATTENTION

When I train a more stable attention, my attention is on something specific within the content of experience. For me, it’s usually the sensations of the breath at my nostrils, but it can be any other sensation, a mental image, and so on. Training a more stable attention also happens through mindful movement like yoga, tai chi, qigong, Breema, and so on.

Whatever else is going on in the content of experience is less important. It’s literally peripheral. (Althought depending on how my personality responds to it, it can trigger distractions.)

NOTICE & ALLOW

Basic meditation is to notice and allow what’s here, and really to notice it’s all already noticed and allowed and rest in and as that noticing.

The content of experience comes and goes and specifically what it is, or whether my personality happens to like it or not, is less important.

The coming and going, in itself, is worth noticing since it shows me that I am not fundamentally any of it.

NOTICING WHAT I AM

I may find myself as what content of experience happens within and as, perhaps amplified by pointers from Headless experiments, the Big Mind process, and so on.

Here too, the specific content of experience is not so important. It’s all what I not fundamentally am. It’s what my nature happens to form itself into.

AT DIFFERENT TIMES

Of course, this will look a bit different at different times of our exploration.

In the beginning, it’s often easier to explore these things if the content is generally more calm and our personality is generally OK with it. It makes it easier to not create distractions for ourselves. Mindful movement can be a great lead-in to meditation and inquiry for that reason.

After a while, it becomes more important to keep noticing through the changing content of experience, and through the metaphorical changing weather and occasional storms, and even if our personality doesn’t like it very much. It’s part of the exploration. It helps us do the same in daily life when storms happen. This often requires a more clear intention and resolve.

NOTICING WHAT IN ME DOESN’T WANT TO

A part of this is to notice the parts of me that don’t want to do this. The parts of me that are scared of it.

Notice and acknowledge they are here. Welcome them. Get to know them. Understand where they are coming from. See what they really need, and if I can give it to them here and now. See they are innocent, and are here to try to protect us. Make friends with them. Find appreciation for them, because they are here to help me and come from love for me, even if it’s confused love.

ONGOING EXPLORATION

Here too, there doesn’t seem to be any finishing line. It’s an ongoing exploration.

It happens here and now, or it doesn’t happen. (Until it does.) Ideas of past times it happened, or ideas of it happening in the future, are ideas and they don’t nourish any more than a menu of a delicious meal nourishes.

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Are thoughts in the past or future?

Thoughts are always here and now, like anything else. Nothing of who and what I am can not be here and now.

The content of thoughts can certainly be about the past or future and inevitably is. (Really, all thoughts seem to be about the past. Thoughts about the present are about what just passed. Thoughts about the future are usually thoughts about the past projected into an imagined future.)

When attention is caught up in thoughts, it can seem as if I am in the past or future. I may be lost in ideas about the past or future. I may find myself caught up in and apparently inside of that fantasy.

And when I notice that these are thoughts, attention is not lost in them anymore. They are recognized as thoughts that are here and now, just likely everything of who and what I am is here and now.

Image by me and Midjourney. A woman has several mental images, and notices they are mental images.

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Headless, so what? How the headless experiments work (in my experience)

I love the Headless Way and the headless experiments.

The Headless Way is simple, egalitarian, to the point, easily accessible, and aligned with what mystics throughout time and across traditions have talked about.

THE HEADLESS WAY & DOUGLAS HARDING

It was developed in the mid-1900s by Douglas Harding, and he continued to develop experiments, write books, and share what he had found with friends until his death in 2007.

I was introduced to it by a fellow Breema student in Oregon a few years earlier and immediately fell in love with the approach. He clearly got it, talked about it in a beautifully simple way, had simple experiments to help clarify it, and the organization is egalitarian and essentially non-hierarchical.

The best way to get started may be through their website and Harding’s book On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious.

HAVING NO HEAD

The main pointer is right in the title: We are headless. In our own first-person experience, we don’t have a head. We cannot see our own head.

I assume that may seem odd to many: So what if I can’t see my own head? I know it’s still here. I know I am this human self.

That’s because this is all about what we can discover and explore for ourselves. That’s where the magic is and that’s where it begins to make sense.

THE POINTING EXPERIMENT

The main experiment is quite simple:

Point at things where you are. Notice the shape, texture, color, and so on. Notice they are objects in space. Point to your legs, belly, and chest and notice they too are objects in space. Then point back to where you are looking out from. What do you find there?

And if we want to be more leading: Do you find a head? Or do you find you are space for the world?

WHAT I FIND

What I find is that in my own immediate first-person experience, I have no head. I can’t see my head. Where others see a head, I find a pink blob, sensations, and awake space it’s all happening within and as. My whole world happens within and as this awake space.

How is it to notice this? How is it to keep noticing it? How is it for this human self to live within and from this noticing?

HOW IT SEEMS TO WORK

It’s all about the noticing, of course. No explanation is really needed. But it can be interesting and helpful.

Here is a brief explanation of how it seems to work:

We are trained to think we most fundamentally are this human self. It’s not wrong that we are his human self. It’s here with us as content of our experience quite often, apart from in some dreams and occasionally other states and experiences. It’s what others take us to be. It’s what our passport tells us we are. It’s an assumption that works relatively well in a practical sense.

We may also have ideas of “having” a soul or consciousness, as some kind of appendix. We may even have ideas of being that or something similar.

Let’s set all of that aside. This is about our own first-person experience. What am I to myself, in my own first-person experience?

When I look here, where others see a head, I find a pink blob (what others may call my nose), I find sensations (roughly where others see a head), and nothing else really in terms of the content of experience.

I also find awake space. The pink blob, the sensations, and everything else including the wider world, happens within and as awake space.

Am I more fundamentally this awake space? Noticing there is no head here and noticing the awake space it’s all happening within and as helps me find that. I rest in and as that noticing. I rest in noticing myself as this awake space my world – the whole world to me – happens within and as.

To myself, I am not fundamentally anything within this world. I am not fundamentally this human self. I am not fundamentally a doer or observer. The world, and this human self, happen on its own. It all lives its own life. It all comes and goes. It’s all in apparently inevitable change.

I also notice other aspects of this.

What I am – this awake space – seems to form itself into the experience and forms of this human self and the wider world. It forms itself into what appears in (what a thought may divide into and call) the sense fields.

I notice that the world to me is like a dream. It has a dreamlike nature. It happens within and as the awake space I am, just like night dreams and any state and experience.

I also find that there is something even more fundamental in my nature, and that is capacity. I am even more fundamentally capacity for it all – the awake space and all it forms itself into.

A FEW OTHER HEADLESS EXPERIMENTS

There are other headless experiments to help us notice this, to bring our nature more into the foreground in noticing, and to help explore different aspects of our nature.

One I find powerful is making a face-sized hole in a sheet of paper. Notice what you see through the hole – notice them as objects with shape, color, texture, and so on. Then notice the opening itself, notice it as a clear and open space, a space full of the objects on the other side. Then move the paper closer to where you are looking from, and notice how you become that wide open space full of the world.

For instance, I can take a ruler and measure something. I find there is a specific distance between any two objects. If I turn the ruler 90 degrees so the two ends align and measure the distance between something and where I am, I find there is no distance. Everything happens within and as the awake space I am.

I can also notice that when this human self moves within a landscape, for instance in a car, the landscape moves through me. This human self moves within the landscape, and the landscape moves through me. When this human self moves within a room, the room moves within me.

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What’s the more real, more personal question

I went to meditation at a Buddhist center in Oslo yesterday. I like their simple and informal approach, and also that we sit and chat for a while after with a cup of tea.

During this informal chat, one of the participants asked a convoluted abstract question that I didn’t really understand, and I am not sure if he or the teacher understood it either. Instead of asking him to clarify, or find the simple essence of the question, the teacher answered by talking about something related and more practical. I don’t think she answered the question to his satisfaction. She likely felt it was easier to deflect a bit than ask him to clarify – for himself and her.

For me, this is a reminder that if we have a question that seems convoluted and impersonal, and it feels important, there is usually a far more real, practical, and personal question behind it, and an important part of the process is to find that simple, juicy, alive, and intimate essence of the question.

We may not know what that is at first, but it’s worth exploring what that essence is for us, and then sitting with it and seeing what comes up.

The essence of these questions is usually with us whether we notice or not. They tend to reflect our life koans, challenging situations in our life we don’t have a ready answer or response to. This essence is also sometimes so simple and to the point that, when it’s found, it gives its own answer.

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Biphasic / polyphasic sleep

In my late teens and early twenties, I experimented with polyphasic sleep. I would sleep for half an hour four times every 24 hours. It worked very well. I seemed to immediately go into very deep sleep, I never felt I didn’t get enough sleep, and I had a lot more time to study, do art, read, and so on.

So why didn’t I continue? For social reasons. If I was with others, I would sometimes need my sleep while others still wanted to be awake. I could have made it work, but it would have required prioritizing my sleep schedule over the social. (My university studies required me to only attend a couple of hours of lectures a day which I could easily arrange my sleep schedule around, and I had flexibility in when I did my work, so those aspects of my life worked nicely with polyphasic sleep.)

These days, I love going to bed early, getting up around 4 am, and then getting a second sleep in around 7 or 8 am for maybe one hour. I may also take one or two naps during the day, typically a shortish one (15-20 minutes) late afternoon. It seems to work well for me, and it feels very natural.

I enjoy my sleep more. When I sleep, it feels deeper and more satisfying. I also love being up early when the world is quiet and it feels like a bonus time and an extra gift. Knowing I can get up and sleep as needed gives me more flexibility. It reduces any felt pressure of needing to sleep at a certain time. It helps me be more in tune with my own bodymind and follow what feels right.

I am very aware that this is a luxury. Not everyone has the freedom to sleep and wake according to what feels right to them. We have created a society where schedule takes priority over our own natural cycles and what works better for us.

See below for what ChatGPT 4o has to say about this.

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What’s the purpose of dreamwork?

A while ago, I talked with two who are engaged in a particular form of dreamwork. They said that the women in their group tend to express themselves as more feminine – with long hair and skirts – after doing dreamwork for a while.

I was surprised. To me, dreamwork means to be more fluid and embrace more sides of ourselves. It means to explore many different sides, perhaps at different times in life. It means to be more authentic, which will change over time and can look many different ways and often won’t follow stereotypical gender norms.

From this, I realized that their approach to dreamwork is likely somewhat different from mine.

THE PURPOSE OF DREAMWORK

I assume this has to do with what we see as the purpose of dreamwork.

For me, it’s to get to know more and more sides of myself (as who I am) and to become more familiar with my nature (as what I am).

I am not sure what their purpose is for exploring dreams. Maybe to find some exclusive idea of who they really are? An idea that includes some things and excludes other things?

THE WORLD IS MY MIRROR

The world is my mirror, so everything I see in the world is something I have in myself. Whatever story I have about someone or something in the wider world, I can turn to myself and find specific examples how how and when it’s true.

I can find and embrace those parts of myself and relate to them more consciously. That gives me a far more rich and fluid sense of myself, and when I find in myself what I see “out there”, it helps me relate to it in a more conscious way.

MY WORLD HAPPENS WITHIN WHAT I AM

Also, the world as it appears to me happens within and as what I am.

To myself, I am fundamentally consciousness. The consciousness I am forms itself into the world as it appears to me.

Night dreams and waking life are no different in that way. So the way I relate to others and the world is how I – directly, immediately, and literally – relate to myself.

OTHER SIDES OF DREAM WORK

Dreams show me what’s at the edge of what I am consciously aware of. It’s an invitation to be a little more aware of something at the edge, perhaps to recognize that I know something I previously wasn’t aware of knowing.

Dreams can show me what’s happening in my energy system. They can reflect and make it into images and stories. For instance, if I have done energy work on myself (often Vortex Healing), my dreams often reflect that process the following night.

Dreams can also, in some cases, say something about the future. These dreams seem to have a quite different quality than regular night dreams. I have had five or ten of these kinds of dreams. (I dreamt I would live in Oregon several years before I, for completely different reasons, found myself living there. I dream I would live in the northern part of South America, near a very particular school, and many years later – again for completely different reasons – found myself living there and next to the school from my dream. I dreamt my cat in Wisconsin would be hit by a car and die, I kept him inside for several days, and when I let him out again, he was killed by a car that day. And so on.)

THE EFFECTS OF DREAMWORK

For me, this means that I find more of my inner richness. I become more aware of my inner richness which is literally as rich as the world. It doesn’t make me more of something in particular. It makes me more of everything. It helps me find and explore many more sides of myself, many of which may not conform to norms and expectations. It means to paint outside of the lines.

HOW THIS LOOKS FOR ME

I have to admit that I may appear relatively conventional in my clothing. That’s because I still have quite a bit of social anxiety and find it easier to not draw too much attention to myself. If I felt freer, I would likely use a lot more colors and vary between traditional masculine and feminine clothes (including skirts), find more androgynous styles, and sometimes have fun dressing in a far more eccentric way. I don’t at all justify my conformity here since I know it largely comes from my response to my social anxiety.

Even if I am a white European male, my views often align with those more typically found among women, non-Europeans, minorities of different kinds, and even indigenous people. (Although I don’t pretend I understand their situation or worldviews very well.) Even my illness is more often found among women.

In more important aspects of life than physical appearance, I hope I am following what’s authentic for me. I moved to South America to start a permaculture food forest and regeneration project. I will get rid of the water toilet in my little house and instead install a composting toilet. I plan on growing as much of my own food as possible. And so on. This is what feels good and right to me, and what’s aligned with what I see as most important in the world today.

I am not doing this just because of dreamwork, of course, but it is supported by my general exploration of projections and my inner richness, finding my real priorities, and so on.

Image created by me and Midjourney

From the archive: I Ching

I got into I Ching when I was 181 and was introduced to it by Aake Y. who was a kind of mentor for me at the time. Unsurprisingly, I got the Richard Wilhelm translation with a foreword by Jung. (I was deeply into Jung at the time.)

I loved I Ching and read it over and over, and also occasionally used it as an oracle – to reflect or give a view on the situation. It was remarkably accurate, and I also found that if I asked it about frivolous things, or asked too much, I would typically get the “Youthful Folly” hexagram (!).

When Aake introduced me to it, he asked I Ching about me in general and got no. 1 Chien / The Creative which changed to 56 Lu / The Wanderer. I remember I liked the first one, but not so much the second. I didn’t really want to be a wanderer metaphorically or geographically. I wanted to settle.

Of course, it turned out to be accurate. I have been a wanderer metaphorically – in terms of my exploration, and geographically. I have lived in several countries.

After talking with Aake, I asked I Ching about myself. This was the first time I used I Ching as an oracle. To my astonishment, I got exactly the same. I got no. 1 changing to no. 56. That’s a one in 4096 probability. Out of 4096 times, it is likely to happen once.

It’s been a long time since I have used it as an oracle. These days, I prefer to use my inner guidance.

NOTES

(1) I was still living in the basement of my parents’ house for the first year after high school, before moving to Oslo. I got into Taoism before then, through Fritjof Capra’s The Turning Point, and had read several Taoist classics for a couple of years before this. I think I had put off getting into I Ching since I had seen it mainly as an oracle and didn’t know the amazing wisdom in the hexagrams and elaborations.

Dream: Destroying a destructive automaton

I am with a group of people I like a lot. They are all my age and deeply committed to awakening, maturing, exploration, and so on. There is also a kind of shapeshifting automaton that can take on several different forms, including humans. It’s creating a lot of problems, and is not needed anymore. We spend a long time trying to destroy it. It finally disintegrates into smaller components, and I knew that these would take on other and far more interesting and less destructive forms.

The only person I know in the group is someone I know from my university days (VD), and am still in contact with. We communicated earlier that day, so he was on my mind.

The automaton was not sentient. It was a kind of shapeshifting robot, taking on many different forms. My sense is that it represents destructive family patterns. Some of these have been on my mind since they are coming up more strongly in someone in my immediate family who is sick and under a lot of stress. One of these patterns is blaming others if something goes wrong, as a kind of automatic and not very conscious reaction. The automaton may reflect these patterns. They are not conscious. They are automatic. They can take many different forms and expressions. They are destructive. When I act on them and become identified with them, they take on a human form (me).

We destroyed it by smashing it with the end of a board. Later in the day, I realize this reminds me of seeing someone in Latin America killing a snake with a board in a similar way.

In the dream, we take decisive action and destroy the automaton, allowing its component to reform into something else that’s more interesting and healthy. In waking life, my pattern has been to explore and bring things into awareness, and see how it unfolds from there. The exploration has been active, but there hasn’t been so much active engagement in decisively changing old patterns. That’s likely needed, and the dream shows me the way. It’s a reminder of my medicine.

Finding safety in not knowing

One of the ways our psyche tries to find safety is through knowing.

PRETENDING TO KNOW

It tells itself that a story is true and that it then knows how things are, even if it’s inevitably painful.

It’s painful for several reasons: Somewhere, we know we cannot know for certain. We know it’s very likely not as true as we tell ourselves it is. We need to reinforce the idea that the thought is true. We need to defend it against contrary views and information. We act on something out of alignment with reality, so our actions and life is out of alignment as well. And so on.

NOT KNOWING

Another way to find safety is in not knowing.

This is not finding safety in the story of not knowing. If we hold onto the story of not knowing as true, we can easily negate what we do know in a limited and conventional sense. We can end up pretending we don’t know what we do know.

It’s finding safety in receptivity and recognizing the nature of thoughts.

THE NATURE & FUNCTION OF THOUGHTS

Thoughts are questions about the world. They are pointers and guides. They are more or less accurate in a conventional sense. They are different in kind from what they point to. (Just like a map or menu.) They highlight some things and leave a lot out.

Their function is as practical guides for us in the world, they cannot provide any full, absolute, or final truth. That’s not within what they are capable of.

CURIOSITY AND RECEPTIVITY

For me, there is a kind of safety in knowing I cannot know for certain, and in recognizing the nature of thoughts. It opens for curiosity and receptivity, and for learning more.

That feels safer than telling myself I know when I know I cannot know for certain.

A MORE THOROUGH EXAMINATION

It’s one thing to have seen this in the past or to recognize it in general.

It’s another thing to recognize it when our psyche holds a certain thought as true, out of old habits and in an attempt to stay safe.

Consciously, I may recognize it’s likely not true. And somewhere in me, I feel and perceive and want to act as if it is.

In those cases, it’s good to identify those thoughts and inquire into them more thoroughly.

The image is a nocturne by me and Midjourney

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A few things from the archive: books important to me in my teens, a signed book, a lending list

I am going through storage in Norway, mostly from my teens and early twenties when I still lived in Norway. It’s interesting to revisit that time and see what has changed and what has remained as threads through my life.

I thought I would put a few things up here. It’s interesting to me, although I can’t imagine it’s very interesting to others!

A book by the painter Odd Nerdrum and signed by him. I was an apprentice/student of his at the time so it was easy to get it signed. I thought this book was lost, but it was just in one of the cardboard boxes from that time.

These are two books that were important to me in my mid-teens. They helped transform my worldview and orientation to life, I was passionate about both books and the topics they talk about, and remember searching out other books referenced in these.

Erik Damman‘s Bak tid og rom (“Beyond Time and Space”) is about scientific research that goes beyond the materialism that’s mainstream in science today. As far as I remember, I was introduced to this book by my middle-school teacher who mentioned it in class. I love this kind of science, and for a while, I dreamt about doing it myself. I kind of did, in my own life. I also got to later meet and talk with Erik Damman, at one of his monthly Sunday gatherings at his house.

Fritjof Capra’s The Turning Point was hugely important to me. It’s about quantum physics, systems theories, similarities between certain areas of Western science and Eastern philosophy, and so on. I also loved his other books, and still do although I haven’t read them for a while. (I later got to see Fritjof Capra give a talk at Schumacher College at Dartington near Totnes.)

This is a book-lending list, to keep track of who I had lent which books to. I imagine some of these books could still be with these people!

My brother had Science, Order, and Creativity by David Bohm.

A friend from art school and university had Ken Wilber’s No Boundary. Another hugely important book for me at the time, reflecting and helping me further organize how I saw things.

A friend from school had a book by Rupert Sheldrake. I had several of his books and am not sure which one this was. (I later got to see Sheldrake too at Schumacher College at Dartington near Totnes.)

A friend from Art History at university had Goethe’s Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily which I remember also made an impression on me at the time.

Another friend from Art History had borrowed Energi og bevissthet (“Energy & Consciousness”) by Jes Bertelsen. Jes Bertelsen and his books were very important to me at the time, especially as he took a similar approach to me in terms of using elements from Christianity (prayer, meditation), Buddhism (Buddhist practices), energy work, and depth psychology (Jung). I visited Vækstsenteret, his place in Denmark, and felt deeply at home there. I likely would have been far more involved with that community had I not left Norway and Europe at around that time.

She also borrowed a collection of short stories by Kahlil Gibran. I loved his writing and drawings.

Marianne borrowed two books by the Jungian analyst Strephon Kaplan-Williams. He lived in Oslo at the time, I had done some sessions with him, and I loved his books and his dream cards. Marianne is Marianne Ihlen whom I met in a workshop in Oslo held by Hanne Bertelsen. We became friends. (She was a whole and amazing human being in her own right, although is publicly more known as the ex-partner and muse of Leonard Cohen. I discovered it when we talked on the phone one time, and she told me she had to go to catch a concert with her ex-partner.) Hanne divorced Jes Bertelsen, and I am not sure if she continued to teach. I had a very good connection with her and met her in person several times, so I miss that connection too.

A friend I met in Tai Chi class, Bitte, borrowed Smilende livskunst (The Importance of Living) by Lin Yutang, and also Tao Te Ching . I loved Lin Yutang’s books and read whatever I could find from him. Even more, I loved Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (Laozi), and I read and re-read whatever Taoist classics I could find or order through the main bookstore in Oslo. Bitte was and is far along the awakening path and is highly sensitive and clairvoyant. I remember we sat at the train station after tai chi class, comparing what we saw in the energy system of the different people there. We always saw the same. (Maybe she saw more than me, I wouldn’t be surprised.)

There is also a note I don’t quite understand about “a larger whole” and someone called Boyesen.

What will I get out of awakening?

What do we get out of awakening?

There are many ways to answer that question.

I will explore it from my own experience and partly what I have heard from others, and in the context of the awakening process and not just awakening itself.

WHO AND WHAT I AM

There is a me and an I here. There is a human being in the world, there are all sorts of identities and identifications. That’s not wrong, and being familiar with these helps this human self to function in the world.

And yet, is it what I more fundamentally am in my own first-person experience? I find I more fundamentally am what it all happens within and as. A thought may say I am the consciousness it all – the world as it appears to me – happens within and as. What I am forms itself into the world as it appears to me, and this whole field of experience. It forms itself into the wider world, this human self, identities and identifications, states, and so on.

Even more fundamentally, I find my nature is capacity for it all – for consciousness and what it forms itself into.

WHAT IS AWAKENING?

This is what awakening refers to, at least as I tend to use the word.

It can appear as a moment in time or it can be more stable and go through different situations in daily life.

It can be more or less thoroughly examined.

It can be more or less lived from in daily life situations.

Our psyche may be more or less on board with it and aligned with it.

And so on. It’s a process of clarification, deepening, and maybe even of our human self healing, transforming, and maturing within it.

WHAT IS THE AWAKENING PROCESS?

It’s a process.

This process is always unique just like everything is unique.

There are also some common themes and aspects of it.

There may be an initial interest and fascination, typically fueled by projections. (We imagine things in the awakening that’s already here, and that helps us find it here – at least if we pursue it.)

There may be a more serious phase of sincerely asking the divine to be shown reality, of practices (prayer, meditation, inquiry, heart-centered practices, and so on), of following the guidance of a coach, and so on.

There may be initial glimpses, either before or during any of these phases. These tend to function as a carrot and encouragement to continue the exploration.

Our nature may recognize itself, at least for a while.

This may be followed by an experience of losing it. This is an invitation for clarification. We are invited to find the essence of what it is about and see the side-effects for what they are.

Our nature may then recognize itself more stably. It rests in noticing itself. The invitation here is to continue noticing through more and more situations in daily life, especially the ones where things in our psyche are triggered. Can I recognize that as my nature too? How is it to notice it while it’s happening?

Here, there is also an invitation for more of our human self to be on board with the awakening. Many parts of our psyche were formed within and still operate from separation consciousness. We may call these hangups, wounds, trauma, and so on. They inevitably color our perception and life in the world. And life tends to bring these up so they can be seen, felt, loved, and examined, and so they can realign with oneness and our nature recognizing itself. I imagine this is a lifelong process for most if not all of us.

WHAT OUR PERSONALITY MAY LIKE

Our personality and habitual patterns may like some aspects and phases of the awakening process.

It may like the early seeking and fascination.

It may like the initial tantalizing glimpses and the fantasies it puts on it.

It may like the initial honeymoon phase.

It may like and be fascinated with some of the side effects of awakening, whether it’s the ability to see or sense energies, sensing at a distance, healing at a distance, a stronger inner guidance, and so on.

It may like the label it can put on itself before that too falls away. (It may try to adorn itself with ideas about what’s happening, perhaps as compensation for not feeling enough.)

It may like the profound sense of coming home.

WHAT OUR HABITUAL PATTERNS MAY NOT LIKE

There are also many aspects and phases our personality may not like.

It may not like the ongoing stripping away of layers of identifications and holding onto stories for safety.

It may not like the different dark nights that are part of the process. The times when life and the process show us where we are still stuck and holding onto ideas and identities, and that this is out of alignment with reality.

It may not like that whatever is unhealed, unloved, unexamined, and unprocessed in us tends to come to the surface. When the lid is off, it’s off of everything that was previously under the surface. This can be hugely challenging for the personality and at a human level.

To me, it seems that the more awakening, the less I can get away with. If I act on hangups and trauma, or if I go against or don’t act on my guidance, the consequences tend to be immediate and severe. Some parts of my personality don’t like it, other parts really like it, and deeper down it feels completely right and aligned that it is this way.

THE MORE FUNDAMENTAL ANSWER

This is true enough, in my experience.

And yet, a couple of things may be even more fundamentally true.

This is all life unfolding in different ways to itself, as everything is.

We are not fundamentally any me or I, we are what it all happens within and as. We don’t get anything out of it because it’s all happening within and as us, as fish and plankton happen within the ocean, or as clouds and weather happen within the sky.

The image is created by me and Midjourney

The green political compass

My mental political compass is a green political compass.

I use the traditional dimensions like left and right, libertarian and authoritarian, and so on.

Mainly, I use a green dimension. To what extent are the policies aligned with ecological realities? What’s the ecological footprint of these policies? Will they help reduce our global ecological overshoot?

Do they reflect an understanding of how thoroughly we need to change our whole civilization to take ecological realities into account? Do they reflect an understanding of the urgency?

WHERE AM I ON THIS COMPASS?

Where am I on this compass? One answer is that…

I am reasonably far left. I support good social safety nets, fair wealth distribution, policies that take the needs of the least fortunate into account, and so on. Although I don’t mind green capitalism, it seems a pretty good way to go.

I am also reasonably far on the libertarian side. I strongly support individual freedoms in terms of democracy (a deeper democracy than most societies have today), freedom of religion, freedom of sexual orientation, and so on. At the same time, I favor strong governmental regulations of big corporations and anything that impacts nature.

I am obviously far over on the green side. I favor – and recognize the need for – a thorough transformation of all aspects of our civilization to take ecological realities into account.

THE BIGGER PICTURE

A more real answer is that I see the value in a wide range of views and policies.

Each view tends to have some good points. I find it helpful to find and acknowledge the valuable essence in each, although my interpretation may look slightly different from the original.

There is an evolutionary function in each of the general views. The diversity has helped us as a species to survive and still does. Handling the diversity well can help us through our current global ecological crisis.

Taking a bigger picture helps draw something of value from a wider range of views and approaches, and it also helps us take into account the real-world views and opinions people have and deal with it all in a more pragmatic and effective way.

See more on this in the brief outline below of an integral approach.

Please read on. I asked ChatGTP 4o for a summary of these topics.

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The world as a floating island: Infinity in all directions

The process of being is always new and changing, and I assume it’s like that for all consciousnesses.

INFINITY IN ALL DIRECTIONS

What’s come to the foreground lately here is infinite space in all directions.

It’s not new, but the way it shows up feels new and fresh.

All is awake space happening within infinity in all directions.

What I see in front of me – the things and the ground – and the sensations and other sensory experiences all happening as awake space and within awake space with no end.

The world is a kind of island (made up of awake space) floating in infinite awake space.

GROUNDING IN (FINDING MYSELF AS) INFINITE

I notice there is a groundedness in it.

The ground disappears, and there is more grounding.

There is a grounding in something more real and fundamental.

LIKELY THE SAME FOR ALL CONSCIOUSNESSES

Of course, this is the inherent characteristics of the consciousness I am and I assume all “conscious beings” are to themselves. It’s awake space. What’s happening happens within and as awake space. There is no end to what I am to find anywhere.

That’s one of many apparently inevitable characteristics of the consciousness we are – it’s one and seamless, it has no beginning and end, it has no real center or edge, it’s awake space, it takes the form of all of its content, it’s capacity for all of the content it forms itself into, any beginning or end or center or edge happens within and as this awake space.

Here, the infinity aspect of it happens to be more in the foreground now, it’s featured so to speak, it shows itself to itself so it can be more consciously noticed.

It’s also more visceral, likely because it – in the context of time – has been noticed off and on for a few tens of years. It comes into the foreground so it can become more visceral, or it’s more visceral so it comes more into the foreground, or it’s just what it is: one process within a seamless whole.

Image created by me and Midjourney

One life

I just saw the movie One Life. It’s a traditional based-on-true-events movie with a kind of story told before, and yet it had a powerful impact on me. One person can do a lot, with determination and some support.

We can all do a lot, more than we think. And, as the movie reminds us, if we save one life, we save the world. A life is a world, and we save that world.

When we help nature, we save lives too. When we are engaged in creating a wild garden, a forest garden, or reforestation with native species, we help innumerable beings. We can be the ones saving them from their holocaust, and in the process, we help ourselves.

In our own small way, we can do a lot. And it’s certainly not small for the beings that benefit from it.

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Asking the divine

I talked with someone recently who said he only asks the divine for help if he can’t do it himself.

I imagine where it comes from. It seems to assume separation and it makes sense in that context, if you see the divine as a kind of parent you don’t want to bother and it’s better to do it for yourself.

For me, it’s different. I like to ask the divine for help and guidance as much as possible in daily life and in transforming this human self. I ask for support with the day, with energy, with projects, with healing and transformation of myself, and so on. I find it opens me to be more receptive and more connected with the divine as everything.

This is the divine locally connecting with the divine as everything.

It creates a different kind of communication, mutuality, relationship, and dynamics between these different parts of the divine. The divine is in a more conscious team with itself.

The image is created by me and Midjourney

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Earth as context or an afterthought?

For most news outlets, Earth is an afterthought.

One example is the BBC app where “Earth” is number seven out of eight categories, after travel and before sport. It’s presented as an afterthought, as something peripheral and for those especially interested.

In reality, Earth is the context for everything. Earth is what gives us life and sustains us and every single one of our activities and interests. We are local aspects and expressions of Earth.

When we place Earth as an afterthought, it says something about our anthropocentric worldview. We have metaphorically placed Earth as number seven on our list of priorities because, for a long time, we could, and that’s what has led to our global ecological overshoot and the ecological crisis we now find ourselves in.

Hopefully, with our escalating ecological crisis, we’ll sober up and recognize Earth as all there is for us, and the context for our lives and everything we value.

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The experience of center, movement, distance, time, physicality, and so on

If there is identification with and as this human self, or any object, there is – I imagine – a sense of a center and being that center, a sense of moving through the landscape, a sense of real distance, a sense of real time, and so on.

NO CENTER

For me, there is not really a center. I find myself as this field. As the field of consciousness taking the form of any appearances, of the world as it appears to me. At the same time, if there is a focus on a task, there is a sense of a center around this human self. The focus and attention create a sense of center. Also, when I get caught in wounds, hangups, and unquestioned thoughts, there is also a temporary sense of center in or around this human self.

THE LANDSCAPE MOVES THROUGH ME

When this human self moves through a room or landscape, the room or landscape and everything else moves through me. I am space for it all moving through me.

THERE IS NO DISTANCE

There is no distance. Whatever is here is happening within and as awake space, within and as this field of experience, the awake space that takes all of these forms. At the same time, there is distance in a conventional sense, although it takes a bit of conversion for that to happen and to work with it. Fortunately, that conversion happens mostly on its own!

NO TIME

There is no time. What’s here happens within and as this awake space, including any images and words related to past, future, and present. I can only find the past and future, and any ideas about the present, here and now. At the same time, I can work with ideas about the past, future, and present, and that’s a good thing for this human self.

THE DREAMLIKE NATURE OF REALITY

This physicality is like a dream I can put my dreamlike hand through. It’s all happening within and as awake space. This body consists of sensations, visuals, taste, smell, a sense of movement, and so on that happens within this awake space. When I touch something, it’s sensations – and sometimes visuals, sounds, smell, taste, and so on – happening within and as awake space.

INFINITY

To me, the world happens within and as awake space that has no end and no boundaries. It happens within and as what seems infinite. It’s made up of mental images, sensations, visuals, smells, tastes, and movements that happens within and as awake space with no end.

CAPACITY

More fundamentally than any of this, I find that my nature is capacity for all of this – the consciousness I am and all it forms itself into.

THE LIKELY UNIVERSALITY OF THIS

This is how it is, I imagine, for everyone, whether we notice or not. The question is exactly that: if we notice or not.

I am likely no different from anyone else. They too are awake space to themselves, and the world to them happens within and as that awake space. They too are consciousness to themselves, and their world – anything within the content of experience – happens within and as the consciousness they are.

They too are their field of experience, without any inherent center. They too are what their world moves through when their human self moves through the world. Their world is at zero distance from what they are. They too are what their ideas of time – past, future, present – happen within and as. To them too, the world appears as a dream, within and as the consciousness they are. They are the infinite that the finite happens within and as. They are capacity for all of it.

EXPLORING IT FOR OURSELVES

How can we explore this? How can we notice? How can we deepen into this noticing?

What seems to work the best for me is a combination of basic meditation and inquiry.

Basic meditation is to notice and allow what’s here, and that it’s already noticed and allowed, and rest in and as that noticing and allowing.

As for inquiry, I love the headless experiments and the Big Mind process.

Training a more stable attention can help with this, as it helps with just about anything in life.

Heart-centered practices can also be a good support. I especially like tonglen, ho’oponopono, and similar practices. (Heart-centered practices are equally or more a support for our life in general. If I had to do just one practice, it would likely be a heart-centered practice like tonglen.)

The image is created by me and Midjourney

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Sverre M. Fjelstad

Sverre M. Fjelstads TV-programmer betydde mye for meg i barndommen, ved siden av de fra David Attenborough og Carl Sagan.

Han spiller fortsatt en rolle i livet mitt, ikke minst fordi han satte ut bever der vi har hytte i Østmarka, og han har skrevet mye om akkurat det området. Han var kanskje også indirekte en årsak til den nye nasjonalparken i Østmarka.

Se Ut i naturen: Sverre M. Fjelstad fra 2012 (NRK). Se også Sverre M. Fjelstad (1930-2024) og – Det er naturen og Marka som har formet meg fra Østmarkas Venner.

A few food forest mini-documentaries

From New Zealand.

Also from New Zealand.

A brief overview of a forest garden in England.

A tour of Andrew Millison’s small-scale (and abundant) forest garden in Oregon. (My old home ground.)

An update to the “23 Year Old” video above.

There are a lot of good videos on food forests (forest gardens) online, so I thought I would share a few here. I have included gardens from different climate zones since it’s possible to do it just about everywhere.

Why I love Pride Month

I love Pride Month. I love that it exists in our society and is celebrated in many different ways.

Why? There are several reasons.

IT’S A RARE BIRD

Although there are examples of cultures that have been tolerant and inclusive, it’s rare in a global and historical context. Even today, it’s rare. Many cultures and countries are far less inclusive, and in several countries, it’s dangerous to be openly gay. It’s dangerous to be who you are. It’s dangerous for you to be authentic about something that nature has given you. It can get you imprisoned or killed. (As someone said, you will find homosexuality in hundreds if not thousands of species, and anti-gay attitudes in only one. So which one is unnatural?)

It’s a rare example of humanity, tolerance, and acceptance. It’s a rare bird. And just like a rare bird, it’s something to support and protect.

INCLUSIVITY MEANS INCLUSIVITY FOR ME

An inclusive society is better for all of us. We are all weird and outsiders in our own way, whether we notice or not, and whether it’s part of our conscious identity or not. We can all easily find ourselves as part of a minority group we previously didn’t belong to and never imagined we would.

We may find ourselves with a disability, we may become a refuge for any number of reasons, we may find ourselves in poverty, and so on. These things have happened to innumerable people who thought it would never happen to them, so it can happen to me too.

We all know that, whether we acknowledge it or not. So it feels viscerally safer to live in a more inclusive society. It means that I too am more likely to be included now and in the future.

MEDICINE FOR CENTURIES OF MARGINALIZATION

We live in a society that has a history of excluding and oppressing minorities of many different kinds, including gays and ethnic minorities.

Pride Month is the least we can do to swing the pendulum slightly over to the other side. It’s medicine for centuries of oppression and inhumane treatment of minorities. It’s medicine for gays who feel or fear they are wrong or excluded.

Equally or more important, it’s medicine for the old unhealthy attitudes that remain in all of us, gay or not, just because we grew up and live in this culture.

THE WORLD IS MY MIRROR

The way I treat others is the way I treat corresponding parts of myself. I exclude parts of me, just like our society has excluded minorities for centuries and millennia. Pride month is a reminder of this, and an opportunity for me to intentionally embrace more parts of me. To welcome them, as I wish to be welcomed.

There is a golden opportunity here: What do I react to about Pride Month? What stories do I have about it? What stories do I have about gays? What stories do I have about other minority groups? What do I find when I turn these stories to myself? Can I find genuine and specific examples of how it is as or more true?

RESILIENCE

There are also reasons that – at first glance – may seem more distant, while they – in reality – are equally immediate and personal.

An ecosystem thrives when it’s diverse. Compared to monocultures, a diverse ecosystem is far more adaptable to changing circumstances and disasters. It’s infinitely better able to adapt to and recover from wildfires, floods, and droughts, and it’s far more resistant to pests and diseases.

That’s how it is with our society as well. The more diverse, and the more inclusive of minority groups, the more rich and resilient it is. It provides us with more views and tools to deal with a rapidly changing world. Our toolbox is bigger.

We can easily find ourselves in collective emergencies where the solutions come from minority groups. (I would argue that we are in exactly that situation now: One essential solution to our global ecological crisis is found in the worldviews and attitudes of many indigenous cultures. Another set of solutions comes from hippies and treehuggers who have historically been marginalized and mocked. We won’t find all our solutions in these marginalized groups, but we find some of the essential ones there.)

IT SAVES LIVES

If all of that is not enough, it comes down to something very simple. As the meme above says: Pride is important because someone tonight still thinks they are better off dead than gay. It literally saves lives.

For me, that’s more than enough reason to celebrate Pride Month.

THIS IS WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO SPEND YOUR ENERGY ON?

If I see someone criticizing or opposing pride, my first thought is usually:

This is what you choose to spend your precious time and energy on?

Of course, we are all allowed to have our opinions and views, but there seem to be infinite other issues in the world that are more important than a society – in a brief moment in time – choosing to value and support a minority that has suffered from bigotry and injustice for centuries.

Just to mention a few: Our global ecological overshoot, which is a disaster far worse than most imagine. Massive poverty around the world. Lack of access to clean water. Hunger. People who suffer and die from treatable diseases. Massive inequality between the few wealthy and the many poor. Lack of real democracy in many countries. And so on. The list goes on.

PRIVILEGE

In our current Western culture, it’s generally not acceptable to have open anti-gay or gay-skeptical attitudes. That means that those attitudes take other forms. It may take the form of: They are making too much out of it. It’s too much with all these flags on public buildings. Why is it a whole month?

These are often the views of people who have not (yet) experienced how it is to be marginalized because of their gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. They represent the most privileged groups in our society, and since they are unfamiliar with the pain of being marginalized, they are less able – or less motivated – to imagine into the situation of these groups. That, in turn, means less empathy and understanding.

What they may not notice is that those attitudes hurt them too. It reflects how they relate to marginalized parts of themselves.

Some may also feel threatened by seeing previously marginalized groups elevated. They may feel that their privilege is threatened. They see the world as a zero-sum game where they lose if someone else wins. Their worldview does not include the many ways it benefits all of us.

See also Why I love Woke and Language, woke, pandemics & ecology: Snapshots vs the long view.

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Mari Boine: Mu eadni

Mu eadni / Mother of Mine is a song of love and lament for the woman who gave me life, and for all women who suffer under systems that shame and subordinate them. As a Laestadian Christian, my eadni was bound by strict gender roles, and that insidious association of the feminine with sin. She was taught to be self-denying: that her highest purpose as a woman was obedience. (To males, naturally, all the way down.) When her daughters resisted, she felt it was a personal failure. And yet, she was Sáami, with echoes and stirrings from a much older worldview, one that celebrated the feminine, that found purpose in reciprocity, not hierarchies. Sometimes, I feel her with us, free from shame, sharing our freedom. Smoothing our fringe. Adjusting our belts. Asking us to twirl.

– Mari Boine

Finding myself as consciousness

Finding myself as consciousness seems a kind of default.

As a child, I remembered the time between lives. I was consciousness, everything was consciousness. All was light. There was a sense of being profoundly at home. At a visceral level, it was and is home.

Later in childhood, I had moments of oneness with the universe. I experienced myself as the universe, locally expressed as this boy. Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (“We are the eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the Universe. We are the Universe bringing itself into consciousness”), along with being out in nature and seeing the stars, were part of triggering it.

Then, there was the shift into kind of finding myself as consciousness. The world, including anything that had to do with this human self, seemed very distant and far away. This happened for a year when I was fifteen. (I say “kind of” since the viewpoint is from something separate from the world.)

And then, there was the shift into oneness. Into all as the divine, or as I would say now, all as consciousness. My world is consciousness. The consciousness I am forms itself into all of it.

There are times when my nature as consciousness is more strongly in the foreground, for instance, when I do meditation, inquiry, or just notice. (And also at times when my body struggles, as it did when it had a septic shock a couple of years ago.) Other times, it goes more into the background, for instance when I am focused on an activity or if I get caught up in parts of me still caught up in separation consciousness. Even then, bringing my nature into the foreground is just an intentional noticing away.

Unsurprisingly, there are still (many?) parts of this psyche that operate from separation consciousness. They were formed within separation consciousness and haven’t quite caught up with the more global noticing of my nature. My psyche mimicked what it saw other humans do, and created these patterns and dynamics for itself. These parts of me inevitably color my perception, choices, and life. And sometimes, I as a whole get caught up in them and take myself to be these parts of me, forgetting all the rest of the infinite richness and what it all happens within and as.

All of that is OK. It’s natural. It comes from an innocent place and a – understandable and often misguided – wish to take care of this human self. Even the occasional struggle with it is natural and OK. Even that is ultimately innocent. (Even if the consequences can be painful.)

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More AI experiments

I love exploring AI.

A FEW WAYS I USE AI

I explored Midjourney and image-creation for a while, although I don’t seem drawn to it these days, perhaps because I am more familiar with the limitations. What comes out of it is a kind of average of what it has been trained on, which is to be expected and fine, and it also makes it a bit boring for me in the long run.

Some weeks ago, I created an AI chatbot for this website, trained on the articles posted here. It came up with decent results but the results were not quite interesting enough to make it public, and also not of high enough quality to make it useful. I used Botpress to create it, the AI is from ChatGPT 4o, and it took just minutes to set it up. See below for some chatbot examples.

These days, I use AI (ChatGPT 4o) to create a plant database for Barichara and for the web interface. I use it to fill in the preliminary data (in Google Sheets), which will be checked and updated by humans later. I use it for programming the web interface (Google Scripts App). And I use it for ideas. It’s like working with a decent to good assistant. I find I need to be quite systematic and pedagogical in how I interact with it and give it clear instructions and good examples, and then it does a good job.

In a few days, I filled in the database for around 140 plants and dozens of fields for each. (Origin, natural and cultural history, drought resistance, sun requirement, nutritional value, time to maturity, agroforestry layer, succession stage, and much more.) It would have taken weeks and likely months to do it normally.

The programming is generally easier with the help of ChatGPT, although I need to supervise closely. (It sometimes forgets parts of the existing code, especially if I have just asked it a question related to something else. If the dialog is too long, it seems to make more mistakes and I need to start afresh in a new dialog. It sometimes changes things it shouldn’t change and re-inserts earlier mistakes. The code sometimes contains syntax errors. It is often single-tracked when it comes to troubleshooting, so I need to nudge it on a different track. And so on.)

I also use ChatGPT 4o in daily life anytime I have a question about something: What are some good strength training exercises using only body weight? What’s the difference between permaculture and syntropic agroforestry? What are the stages of ecological succession? How do you feed a butterfly? (That has lost its wing.) If it’s important that I have accurate info, I always check it with reliable sources.

HOW I SEE AI

How do I see AI? I understand more or less how they work (I have a background in programming and have studied neural networks and machine learning on my own and at university), so I don’t have any illusion of AI being “intelligent” and even less that it’s somehow “conscious”.

I suspect that most of the AI skepticism comes from a lack of understanding of how it works, and the gap is filled in with imagination fueled by the term “artificial intelligence” and sci-fi movies. In reality, it’s based on statistics. It’s predictive text, image creation, programming, music-making, and so on.

The term “artificial intelligence” is sexy and good marketing, but it’s not accurate.

It’s a tool like any other. It will reduce the need for some jobs (especially some semi-creative and less skilled jobs), and it will create a lot of other jobs. It will be used like any other tool. It’s an assistance.

A FEW MYSTERY OF EXISTENCE CHATBOT RESPONSES

I thought I would include a few responses from the Mystery of Existence AI chatbot I created, trained on the articles here. I have included my own comments in italics after each of the chatbot responses.

What’s the best music? 

According to one perspective, all music is equally spiritual, as all phenomena – including music – is seen as God, Buddha Mind, Existence expressing itself. This view suggests that Bach, Sting, an Indian chant, heavy metal, and even a song made up by a five-year-old are all complete and perfect manifestations of God in the present

However, the website also lists specific music preferences, which include:

  • Carlos Nakai: Carry the Gift, Island of Bows, Earth Spirit, Journeys, Feathers Stone & Light, Canyon Trilogy, Sanctuary
  • Arvo Part: Te Deum, Passio, Arbos, Miserere, Alina, Orient & Occident
  • Meredith Monk: Facing North, Book of Days, Mercy, Do You Be, Turtle Dreams, Dolmen Music
  • Philip Glass: Akhnaten, Satyagraha, Symphony no. 2, Glassworks, Dracula
  • Steve Reich: Different Trains, Music for 18 Musicians
  • John Adams: Shaker Loops
  • Sting: Nothing Like the Sun, Ten Summoner’s Tales, Mercury Falling, Brand New Day
  • Kate Bush: Aerial, Hounds of Love, The Sensual World
  • Laurie Anderson: Big Science, Home of the Brave
  • Peter Gabriel: Passion – Music for the Last Temptation of Christ

These preferences suggest a variety of music that the website considers good, ranging from new age and ambient to contemporary and classical. 

Notes: The “all music is equal” introduction is quite beautiful and how I see it. The music suggestions come from an old page on this site, and it’s only a small part of a much longer list with more varied and international music.

What’s the best color? 

My nature is the absence of color that allows color, forms itself into color, and is within any experience of color.

Notes: Yes, accurate enough.

How can I explore my relationship with the universe? 

To explore your relationship with the universe, you have several options:

  1. Find healing for any emotional issues that create a sense of separation and lack of connection. Take the time to investigate the views and beliefs that contribute to this sense of separation, whether it’s with yourself, others, nature, or the universe as a whole.
  2. Shift your perspective on your relationship with nature and the universe. Recognize that you are an integral part of the seamless living planet. You are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe.
  3. Engage in practices that allow you to experience yourself as the capacity for the world. Consider trying out the headless experiments, the Big Mind process, or Atma Vichara. These practices can help you see that the mystery of existence is what everything arises from and as.
  4. Allow attachments to thoughts to unravel. Inquiry processes like Byron Katie’s can facilitate this process. By questioning your thoughts, you can gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your relationship with the universe.
  5. Explore systems views and integral maps to gain a comprehensive understanding of the wholeness of Earth and the universe.
  6. Connect with like-minded individuals who share your interest in deepening their relationship with the universe. Learning from others and engaging in meaningful conversations can be incredibly enriching.
  7. Recognize that as humans, we are the awareness organs for the Earth and the Universe. Through our awareness, the Earth and the Universe become more aware of themselves.
  8. Embrace ecospirituality as a way to see the universe awakening into awareness of itself through its awareness organs, including human beings.
  9. Take small actions that reflect your understanding of being part of a larger ecological system. Simple acts like recycling, using dishwater for plants, and limiting consumption can make a difference.

These approaches can help you deepen your understanding and experience of your relationship with the universe.

Notes: Yes, good pointers in general. A little off in the details, but that’s OK.

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My neighbors the Pentecostals

My neighbors here in Norway are Pentecostals. It’s a Pentecostal meeting house with one or two caretakers living there, and they have a gathering in their garden as I write this.

A part of me likes to think I am somehow “better” or “more advanced” than them. They are there believing whatever they are told, and I am here doing these advanced practices. They are maybe at red or blue in Spiral Dynamics, I am perhaps at the integral level. And so on.

A few things stand out to me: (a) This part of me that likes to think I am somehow “better” does so to make me feel better about myself. It tries to compensate for feeling less than, which has been a part of me since early in life. (b) There is a lot more to life than what spirituality or practices we do, or where we happen to be on the Spiral Dynamics model. (c) I cannot know. I cannot know any of this. Any ideas about better or more advanced are just that, ideas. They are ideas made up by this feeble mind having lots of questions about the world, and those ideas are questions too.

I really don’t know anything about them. Some of them may be doing far more good practical things in the world than me. Some may help others far more than I do. Some ar likely far more kind than I am. Some are likely more wise in a practical sense than I am. Some are likely far more human and genuinely humble than I am. Some may have healed far more than I have. Some likely have far more open hearts than I do. This is very likely true.

I am not better than them. The idea of “better” is created by this human mind, it’s not inherent in reality. And if I were to have ideas about better and worse, many of them would likely be far better than me in many very important areas of life.

It’s a burden to have ideas about being better, just like it’s a burden to have ideas about being worse. It’s a burden because it’s not aligned with reality. It’s an idea invested with a sense of being true.

When I find what’s more true for me, it’s a relief.

It relieves me from having to remind myself about the ideas of being better and trying to prop those up and defend them. It relieves me from having to mentally put on a mask created by ideas to try to feel better about myself. It relieves me from the separation created by holding these ideas as reality itself.

It helps me see myself in them. It helps me see we are all fellow humans and fellow creatures that essentially want the same. It helps me find love for them.

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Liberating parts of me: Recognize it as what I am & awake space

There is a quite simple exploration I have been drawn to for a while.

It feels like the right medicine for me, and it’s a variation of befriending & waking up.

THE ESSENCE

This is the simple version:

(1) Notice one of two things: (a) Something that feels like “other” or my personality doesn’t like. (b) Something that feels more like I or me. (Both come from a mental overlay and are “extra”.)

(2) Recognize it as what I am. It’s happening within and as what I am. It’s happening within and as my sense fields. To me, it’s happening within and as the consciousness I am. There is no I or Other inherent in my field of experience.

(3) Subtly shift into finding myself as that. This is not a big shift, just a shift in emphasis. I am that physical discomfort. I am the anxiety. I am the anger. I am the noise from the leaf blower or the loud music at 3am. I am my images of Trump and Putin. I am this sensation in the back of my mouth that somehow feels more like me. I am the sensations in the head area that feels a bit like me. Take on the that role, shift into being that.

(4) As that noise, what is my nature? As this discomfort, what am I made of? As this image of Putin, what’s my essence? As these sensations in my head area, what am I really?

IN REAL LIFE

In real life, it’s often more fluid and I use whatever seems a good medicine.

I notice something that either seems other or undesirable to this personality, or more like I or me.

I notice I have no head, the world as it appears to me happens within and as what I am, and I am even more fundamentally capacity for all of it. Am I also capacity for Trump? For this bodily discomfort? For these sensations in the back of my mouth? For the sense of being a victim? (This helps me go out of any habitual responses to it.)

How is it to shift into being it? How is it to be the noise? Trump? The anxiety? (This helps me go against the habitual pattern of seeing it as other or to try to push it away.)

As that, what am I made of? (Here, I notice that as the object, I am also awake space. I am what everything else is.)

I like to rest in and as these two. (Noticing that it’s part of the field of experience, and happens within and as what I am, is much more familiar to me. The last two seem more interesting these days.)

Depending on what it is, I may also…

Ask: Is it – whatever it is – an object in experience? Is it an object like any other object? (This helps soften or release identification with it, so it’s especially helpful with what seems more like I or me.)

If it’s a reaction from this human self – anxiety, anger, sadness, attraction, aversion, a compulsion – I may say: Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me.

And it usually ends where it began: Notice it’s all happening within and as what I am. What I am is capacity for all of it.

A FEW VARIATIONS

There are a few variations to this.

As mentioned, I tend to explore two types of things: (a) What seems “other” or my personality doesn’t like. And (b) what seems more like I or me. (Both come from a mental overlay and are “extra”.)

There are also two ways to do it: (a) I explore what’s here now. Or I (b) scan and take time with what seems to need this exploration. I scan through what my personality doesn’t like – people, situations, emotions, sensations, etc., or what seems like “other”, or what seems more like I or me.

There are two general approaches: (a) I sometimes use dialog and elements from the Big Mind process. (b) Or, more often, I just notice and shift in a more natural way. The first can be a little more clear and can bring out more, but also can feel slightly structured and artificial. The second is sometimes less clear but feels more natural.

MAY NEED FAMILIARITY WITH OTHER EXPLORATIONS

This is what I am drawn to these days.

Why? Because it feels like medicine. It feels like medicine for the subtle tendency – from old habits of this personality – to see something or someone as other, or undesirable, or more like I or me. It’s one step further than just noticing all as happening within and as what I am. It’s a slightly more thorough exploration. It invites more of me – more of my psyche – onboard with oneness.

I assume it may not work for everyone. It seems like an exploration for a particular phase of the path, one where our nature recognizes itself and parts of our human self are not quite aligned with it.

It rests on familiarity with our nature, and it also helps to have experience with some forms of inquiry and dialog.

And it is very similar to what others talk about. For instance, Pamela Wilson uses the welcome/thank you and notice it’s nature approach. Genpo Roshi with his Big Mind process, helps us shift into different aspects of what we are and explore ourselves as that – and Big Mind. I love both approaches. There is nothing new in the way I explore it these days, although it’s also inevitably always new and different.

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Shift into and notice what I am made of: a variation of befriend & awaken

I woke up noticing anxiety this morning. That has happened for some days now, and my sense is that this is old anxiety, perhaps triggered by things now.1

Through grace, I started exploring it.2

Thank you for protecting me. This is a reminder that it is protecting me. It is here to take care of me. It comes from love. It’s my psyche trying to protect me.

What are you made of?

I notice it’s made of the same as everything else in my world, consciousness. It’s easy to notice it consciously and “globally”, but not all parts of me know it (yet) so I take time noticing. I invite more parts of me to join in with the noticing.

This feels slightly, “outside in”, so I shift more intentionally into the anxiety. I feel it, become it, notice I already am it. Then I ask the question again. What are you made of? As anxiety, I notice what I am made of and rest in and as that noticing.3

This is just a subtle shift4, and it can make a lot of difference. It makes it more visceral. In the visceral is where the magic happens.

A VARIATION OF BEFRIEND & AWAKEN

It’s a slight variation of the befriend & awaken process.

I notice something come up, parts of me my habitual patterns may wish to push away.

I shift into and find myself as it.

I notice what I am made of.

I rest in and as that noticing.

I revisit it as those parts come up in daily life. It may be just a brief moment while I am doing something else, or it may be through setting aside one or a few minutes to explore.

NOTES

(1) When something comes up – anxiety, sadness, grief, anger, reactivity, compulsions of any kind – it’s worth exploring if it’s rooted in something old. Often, it is.

(2) Grace is what allows it to happen. Even habits come from grace. Remembering that it’s a possibility, and actually doing it, are both grace.

Distracting myself from it is more uncomfortable for a few different reasons: It doesn’t make it go away, it just stays in the background. I know what I am doing, and that it doesn’t really make sense. Going into distractions usually means I am doing something I otherwise wouldn’t, so I do something less meaningful and fulfilling and less in line with what’s more deeply rewarding to me. So I am always grateful when grace allows me to explore and be with it instead.

(3) The two first parts – thank you and what are you made of – is what Pamela Wilson and others talk about. The second part, shifting into being it, comes from certain approaches to parts work, including the Big Mind process and Genpo Roshi. Really, it’s just very natural and comes from the wisdom in each of us.

(4) The shift is a shift in emphasis and it intentionally goes against old habits. My old habits wish to push the anxiety away, so instead, I go into it and find myself as the anxiety.

This is a very simple practice, and it comes from a lot of time spent in other kinds of explorations: Basic meditation, headless experiments, the Big Mind process, and parts work and dialog in general. I am not sure if that’s necessary for this much simpler exploration. It probably isn’t. But it’s been part of my journey.

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Our razor thin atmosphere

The Earth’s atmosphere is very thin, which is why gasses and pollution from our civilization relatively quickly – on historical and geological timescales – have an impact on our atmosphere, climate, and ourselves.

The illustration is from National Geographic via Razor thin: a new perspective on Earth’s atmosphere on Big Think. See more on the atmosphere from National Geographic.

Food forests & revolution disguised as gardening

Over the last few months, we have been working to establish a food forest on our land in the Andes mountains. So far, it’s mostly close to the house, and it will likely expand in time and as we get more experience.

To me, food forests make a lot of sense. If I have a piece of land, I cannot see any reason not to establish a food forest. I would do the same even if I lived in another climate. (It would be different, of course, but it’s still fully possible to establish a nature garden that produces a good amount of food.)

THE HISTORY OF THE LAND

The land was owned by the same family for several generations and was used mainly for grazing (cows and goats) and small-scale food production (tobacco, yucca, etc.). Only the area close to the main pond has a relatively mature and healthy forest. The rest is eroded, has a young forest of pioneer trees, and/or has grass.

Before then, in pre-Columbian times, it was part of the land of the indigenous people in the area, the Guane. I am not exactly sure how they used it, but I assume they may have had a kind of food forest there. They may have cultivated food plants, likely mostly perennials, inside of the existing native forest.

THE TWO MAIN ZONES

The plan is to have a food forest in the area close to the houses, starting next to the houses and expanding out, and also to have a food forest along the main path through the land. This food forest will consist of native trees, bushes, and flowers to support the local ecosystem, and a variety of food-producing trees and plants to feed insects, birds, animals, and us, and to provide income in the future.

The rest of the land will be a kind of nature preserve, and an organization will plant a mix of native trees throughout the land over the next several months and years. (They sell the carbon credits to big international corporations, and our land gets to be reforested.)

OTHER THINGS WE ARE DOING

We are also doing other things to minimize our impact on the land and our life-support systems in general.

We are building using traditional techniques and local materials. These are rammed-earth buildings that stay cooler during the day and can last for centuries with a little maintenance.

We are in the process of setting up rainwater collection systems for watering the plants. We can get 1 liter for each millimeter of rain for each square meter of roof surface, so that adds up quickly.

We will install a solar power system. Since we are close to the equator, there is a lot of solar radiation, and it’s not more expensive than buying and installing a transformer which would be the alternative.

The big house that’s being built now will have a vermicomposting system. Inside the house is a regular flush toilet, the water goes to a worm composting bin where the solids stays and is eaten happily by worms, and the water continues and is deposited underground to nourish parts of the food forest. It’s a simple and low-maintenance system with a lot of benefits.

I will most likely replace the conventional flush toilet in the current small house with a compost toilet 10-15 meters away.

In addition, we are getting to know and create connections with neighbors and like-minded people in the region with similar projects. That’s crucial for several reasons, including sharing of knowledge and some material resources. For instance, we are right now buying high-quality compost from permaculture friends in the area. (After a while, we will have our own.)

WHY A FOOD FOREST?

For me, the question is more: Why not a food forest?

It just makes sense all around. It’s fun and rewarding. It provides habitat and food for insects, birds, and animals. It helps revitalize and feed the soil. It will provide food for us as well as income in the future. It takes a little effort in the beginning, but when it’s established, there is much less effort required and mostly just harvesting the rewards. It’s an example to others and may motivate others in the area to do the same.

PLANTING & HELPING THE SOIL

The area around the first small house has poor and compacted soil, so we are using a lot of mulch – combined with compost and some organic goat manure – to help it. The mulch helps retain moisture, and it also provides nutrients and microbes to the soil.

Since the soil is so compacted, it’s important to dig relatively large and deep holes for the trees and mix the soil with a good amount of compost and a little bit of manure. That helps retain moisture in the soil, it provides better drainage for the rainwater, it makes it easier for the roots to spread out, and it gives nutrients for the plants.

We also plant a lot of different things around these trees: peanuts, peas, flowers, vegetables, and so on. These provide more variety which helps keep pests and diseases at bay, the plants support each other, they help the soil, and the variety and liveliness is fun and enjoyable.

As you can see from the photos, we are just getting started, and the photos were taken well into the dry season so it’s not nearly as lush as it will be now that the rain has returned.

We are trying to plant as much as possible now at the beginning of the rain season, so they can get a good foothold while the rain is here. Some will likely need some watering during the dry season, but we are focusing on plants that will survive a period of drought once they are established and have deeper roots.

RAINWATER COLLECTION AND EROSION CONTROL

We are in an area that gets a lot of rain most of the year and has a dry period over a few months during the northern hemisphere winter.

Because of deforestation, rainwater runs off quickly and brings the soil with it. The erosion is worse along the ridge that goes across the land.

We are doing several things to slow down the water and help it absorb into the ground. The main project is to plant a large variety of native trees, bushes, and flowers. That takes time, so in the meantime, and in especially exposed areas, we are building dams using rocks found on the surface, and we are planting agave, mata ratón, and other plants that help keep the soil in place.

We are also channeling rainwater into a pond, and will – as mentioned above – collect rainwater from the roofs of the houses.

There is a dry river going through the land. With reforestation on our land, and hopefully also on the land higher up the side of the canyon, we may bring water back to this river.

THE LAYERS OF A FOOD FOREST

A food forest has several layers, just like a mature natural forest.

It has everything from tall to medium to small trees, bushes, flowers, and vines. This helps us make full use of the vertical space.

All of this vegetation and water – in the soil and the plants – also helps regulate the temperature. It changes the microclimate significantly, and this allows other species to grow and makes it more comfortable for us.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE & FOOD FORESTS

Many or most of the indigenous people in the Americas created food forests.

They planted food-producing plants in the forests to have better and more regular access to food.

When I am doing the same here, I feel a kind of kinship across times and cultures. We want much of the same. We want to work with nature. We want to support the native forest and our four-legged, winged and crawling relatives and friends. We want to provide for our own needs in a way that also enhances the life around us.

THE MANY BENEFITS OF A FOREST GARDEN

So there are many benefits to a food forest, or a forest garden as it’s also called.

It requires some work in the beginning – in terms of planning, gaining knowledge and experience, and planting and maintenance. As soon as it’s established, it’s largely self-maintaining and we can reap the rewards without much input.

It provides habitat – shelter & food – for a wide range of insects, birds, and animals, especially when native trees, bushes, and flowers are included.

It’s densely planted, and it makes use of horizontal and vertical space. It works in 3D.

The diversity reduces problems with insects and diseases.

It helps nourish and build healthy soil.

It’s a project that will provide enjoyment, food, and possibly income for decades and even centuries into the future.

It will provide income in the future. We can sell food, compost, seeds and seedlings, knowledge and experience, and so on.

It’s profoundly alive, lush, and productive.

It’s fun and deeply rewarding and meaningful, at least for me.

It nourishes the soil and the soul. What can be better than that?

It creates connections with like-minded people working on similar projects. It creates a community.

THE PROBLEMS WITH MONOCULTURES

This is in contrast to the many problems with conventional monocultures.

They are deserts. They don’t provide much of a habitat for insects, birds, or animals.

They rely on chemicals: Pesticides and fertilizers. Pesticides are designed to kill insects, so that’s what they do, and it has led to a dramatic general loss of insects even far away from the growing areas. It’s ecocidal and suicidal. Chemical fertilizers require a lot of energy to produce.

They set the stage for pests and diseases. Having a big area of one plant allows pests and diseases to flourish, which then requires pesticides. Monocultures create a big problem and create another big problem by trying to fix it.

They require a lot of work each year. They often start from scratch each year.

They don’t build soil. Often, through disturbing the soil, laying the soil bare, and using a lot of space between each plant, there is a loss of valuable topsoil. (Which eventually goes into and pollutes the oceans.)

They are inefficient. They often use a big space between each plant, and they only make use of horizontal space.

They are boring. They don’t nourish the soil or the soul.

REVOLUTION DISGUISED AS GARDENING

Permaculture is sometimes called revolution disguised as gardening.

That’s how I feel about this project.

It’s profoundly subversive in the best possible way. It goes against so much of the destructiveness of our civilization (monocultures, pesticides, soil depletion, destruction of ecosystems) and provides an attractive and productive alternative.

Who am I?

Who am I?

As with most important questions, it’s more about the exploration than anything else. The answers are reports from here and now, they will change, and they are questions rather than statements.

MY CONVENTIONAL IDENTITY

If I were to answer that question, I could start with the obvious: name, conscious and public identities, and so on. That’s the boring answer.

More interesting are my conscious interests, passions, and values. What’s important to me? What do I value?

If I trace my desires and wishes back to what I really hope to get out of them, what do I find? What’s the essence in them for me?

THE WORLD IS MY MIRROR

An even more interesting answer is that I am everything I see in the world.

Whatever story I have about anyone or anything is a thought I can turn around to myself and find genuine examples of how it’s true. I am, quite literally, as rich as the (my) world.

I may only see it “out there” and miss out on it in myself. And when I find it in myself, it enriches how I see myself and it allows me to relate to and make use of it more consciously.

THE WORLD AS A SEAMLESS WHOLE

The universe is a seamless system, and I am an intrinsic part of that system. As Carl Sagan said: I am the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. I am the universe bringing itself into consciousness. I am the local product of 13.8 billion years of evolution. I am the Universe and the Earth experiencing itself. I am the Earth taking delight in itself, grieving itself, protecting itself, and so on.

This is as much or more part of my identity as the individual aspects.

THIS ALL BELONGS TO CONTENT OF EXPERIENCE

These are all objects in experience. They all come and go. They are visitors.

What is it that does not come and go? That question brings me from who I am (this human self) to what I am.

WHAT I AM: WHAT MY WORLD HAPPENS WITHIN AND AS

Here, I find I am what this field of experience happens within and as. I am the awakeness taking all these forms. I am the awakeness the world, to me, happens within and as.

This is not a special awakeness. It’s the awakeness inherent in consciousness. It’s the awakeness I assume every single “conscious being” – from humans to ants – are to themselves. It’s what’s already here.

WHAT I AM: CAPACITY

Even more fundamentally, I find that my nature is capacity for all of it. It’s capacity for consciousness and all the different forms consciousness takes.

AN ONGOING EXPLORATION

All of this is an ongoing exploration.

How does my conventional identity change? What feels more right now?

What’s the essence of the different wants, desires, and inclinations in me? What do I hope to get out of it? What do I hope to get out of that? What do I find when I follow the chain back to a simple – and universal – essence? How can I give that to myself?

What stories do I have about others and the world? Which stories have a charge? Which stories are painful? What do I find when I explore these stories? Can I find genuine and concrete examples of how the story fits me? How is it to own it? How is it to notice and relate to it in myself more consciously?

What am I more fundamentally, in my own first-person experience? How is it for it to notice itself? How is it to rest in and as that noticing? How is it to live from and as it?

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When there is awakeness, why does it appear that others – and all of existence – are awake too?

Why when you’re awake, everyone’s awake too?

I saw this question in the title of a video on YouTube, and I assume the real question is: why does it sometimes appear that way?

Why, when my nature recognizes itself, may it appear as if others and all of existence are awake too?

I haven’t watched the video, but I can imagine some answers.

THE WORLD HAPPENS WITHIN AND AS AWAKE CONSCIOUSNESS

The main one is that, to me, the world is experienced through and as the consciousness I am.

So when this consciousness is awake to itself, it appears that others and the world are awake too. To me, they happen within and as awake consciousness.

That doesn’t mean those consciousnesses are awake to themselves, or that the universe is awake to itself. But a naive (?) mental field may interpret it like that.

OTHERS ARE LIKELY AWAKE SPACE TO THEMSELVES

There is another answer.

When the oneness I am notices itself, it’s natural to assume that others too are consciousness to themselves. Their nature may be the same as mine. Their nature may be awake space that their world, the world as it appears to them, happens within and as.

In that sense, they are awake although not awake to their nature. It’s possible to say that those consciousnesses are awake, although they may not consciously recognize their nature. They may take themselves to fundamentally be an object in the world.

APPEARANCES

These are a couple of ways it may appear that others are awake too, although it is just an appearance.

I assume the interpretation of “they and reality is awake too” happens mostly for a little while after the initial awakening shift, and the mental field then catches up and gets a more nuanced view.

NOTES

(1) In a little more detail: When the consciousness I am notices itself, it’s also clear that everything – the whole world and all beings – to me happens within and as the consciousness I am. It can’t be any other way. It’s all like a dream. To me, the world – waking life, night dreams, and any content of experience – happens within and as the consciousness I am. There is a difference between how it appears to me (all is consciousness) and the nature of reality itself (which I can guess about but cannot know for certain).

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Why are wind turbines so bad? Anti-wind energy sentiments in Norway

I have noticed there is a strong anti-wind energy sentiment among many otherwise progressive and sustainability-oriented people in Norway. Some even advocate for nuclear energy (!).

To me, that doesn’t quite make sense.

Yes, wind energy has drawbacks. It’s visible and changes the scenery locally, and it does harm and kill some birds.

At the same time, it’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind.

ENERGY CONSUMPTION

We have a society, lifestyle, and civilization that depends on high energy input, and Norwegians use more energy than most similar countries. Our priority should be to reduce our energy consumption.

It’s possible to reduce energy consumption quite dramatically through more efficient design and changes in lifestyle. (When someone lived in our tiny house in the Andes last year, that person used several times as much energy as I do when I am there.)

THERE IS AN IMPACT NO MATTER WHAT

We have to get energy from somewhere, and there is an impact no matter what. Our energy-hungry lifestyle inevitably has a big impact. The question is: What type of impact are we OK with?

Wind energy is an easy target since it’s often local and easily visible. The impact from most other sources of energy is far more severe, although it’s also often less visible, at least locally and short term.

For instance, fossil fuels may not have a very visible local impact in the short term, but it has a huge ad devastating impact globally and long term. The same can be said for nuclear energy.

It’s not good that some birds are harmed by the blades of wind turbines, but there are ways to reduce that impact. For instance, there are wind turbines without blades. In any case, the main impact on the bird population comes from elsewhere – especially loss of habitat, loss of healthy ecosystems, pesticides, loss of insects, and so on, and it’s far more important to make changes there.

THE TERRIBLE CONSEQUENCES OF NUCLEAR ENERGY

Nuclear energy (fission) is a bad alternative.

It moves the cost to future generations which itself is ethically questionable. They don’t have a say.

The waste storage requires ongoing maintenance for millennia, and something will inevitably go wrong. When it goes wrong, the impact is immeasurably worse than the impact of wind energy. It can devastate life in a whole region for millennia. (This can happen even after humans are gone, so we are pushing the consequences onto whatever life is here then.)

Fusion energy is an exception. If we could develop useable fusion energy, it would have a much lower impact and likely generally be a good solution. The drawback is that it requires a centralized system, and it’s still years or decades in the future.

SOME SOLUTIONS

So what’s the solution? Here are some places to start: Reduce energy use. Use more local renewable energy, whatever makes the most sense where you are. (Solar, ground, wind, ocean, water, etc.) Find better storage. Keep looking for better solutions.

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The mental gymnastics required to talk about who and what I am

It requires a lot of mental gymnastics to talk about anything at all, and talking about who and what I am is no exception.

THE WHO & WHAT DISTINCTION

In this context, “who” and “what” refer to two different things.

“Who I am” refers to this human self.

“What I am” refers to what I more fundamentally am in my first-person experience – what my field of experience happens within and as. (A thought may call this consciousness.)

This is a sometimes useful distinction, and it’s created by my mental field as all distinctions are.

MENTAL GYMNASTICS

What are some of these mental gymnastics? What’s required to distinguish between who and what I am?

(A) There is what’s here in immediacy which is simpler than any words. If I were to put words on it, it would be a “seamless whole”, although even that’s a bit too much. This is the first mental gymnastics and the first distinction.

(B) Then there is a distinction between what I more fundamentally am (AKA consciousness) and what it forms itself into (the field of experience). In immediacy, there is no such distinction. It only appears when my mental field creates that distinction in order to communicate and explore certain things.

(C) Then, there is a distinction within this field of experience between this human self and the wider world, into me and not-me. In reality, the field of experience is seamless so it requires quite a bit to differentiate out these two.

USEFUL MENTAL GYMNASTICS

These distinctions are sometimes useful. As I mentioned above, they help me communicate with myself and others, and they help with certain types of explorations. (Although I sometimes wonder how useful some of those explorations are!)

It’s also helpful to notice that these are mental gymnastics. What they refer to is far more simple and immediate and words cannot really touch it1.

It’s also interesting to notice how much energy all of this takes! It doesn’t come for free.

A FEW MORE WORDS

There is always more to say about this.

For instance, I can imagine further distinctions: (a) Seamless whole. (b) Calling it consciousness. (c) The field of experience it forms itself into. And (d) it as capacity for all of it, capacity for itself.

Capacity is inherent in what I am, it seems, just like the rest.

NOTES

(1) Just like words cannot really touch anything they refer to. This is inherent in words, not what they point to. More accurately, it’s inherent in the difference between the mental field (mental images and words) and what they point to.

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Social anxiety & tonglen

I have some social anxiety, and I notice it’s stronger now than what’s usual. Maybe because I am more on my own these days (out of practice) and I am in Norway where I grew up. (I am reminded of situations that my system responded to by creating social anxiety in order to protect me.)

I find that doing tonglen – for others and myself – helps me a lot. I do it with specific groups and locations where I experience social anxiety, and then expand it to all of humanity and all beings. (If I visualize a group, I often include myself in the group.)

It’s a new discovery each time, even if I know I have discovered it many times before.

It feels new and it is new since the other times only exist in my mental images, in imagination a thought may call memory.

Sonder: The profound feeling of realizing that everyone has a life as complex as one’s own

This is a neologism created by John Koening. (See the CBC article What does it mean to ‘sonder?’ Author invents new words that resonate during the pandemic.)

This can be taken as a pointer and not just a description.

WHEN I USE IT AS A POINTER

As a pointer, I find it profoundly transforming to the extent I take it in and allow it to work on me.

What happens when I take it in?

No matter how well I think I know someone (including myself), I find that…

My images and ideas of the other are questions about them. They seem almost pointless. The other is so much more than any of those ideas. They are necessarily very different from those ideas. My assumptions are almost certainly wrong, and superficial, and say more about me than them.

No matter how much I get to know others and myself, I hardly know anything. And that’s beautiful. That helps me hold my ideas more lightly and recognize them as questions. We are all far more and different, and most of it is outside of what I (tell myself I) know.

IF I KNEW MORE ABOUT THEM

There is a related insight here:

If I knew more about them and their life, I would see them very differently. I may have far more understanding and find far more empathy for them. I would likely genuinely wish them the best. 

If I also knew more about myself, I would see myself in others far more easily. 

So why wait? Why not go there right now, even if I don’t know so much about others (or myself)? 

Why not recognize that my stories about them are incomplete, likely quite wrong, and say more about me than them? Why not find curiosity about them (and me)? Why not realize that we are immensely complex and rich and live rich lives? Why not find empathy for others and myself? Why not genuinely wish them and me the best? Why not find in myself what I see in others? Why not see in others what’s in me? 

HOW TO INVITE THESE SHIFTS

How would I do that?

The reminder itself may be enough. When I remember that the experience of others is as rich and complex as mine, I can easily imagine it. (It’s an intentional use of projections.)

Otherwise, the obvious one is to get to know others more thoroughly, especially the ones I see as quite different from myself. For instance, I can take in stories about others – through conversations, books, movies, theater, and so on. (John Koening is an author, and writing books is another since it requires us to imagine into the rich lives of several others.)

There is also a range of structured explorations that invite in these shifts as a side-effect: Inquiry (The Work of Byron Katie, Kiloby Inquiries), projection and shadow work, parts work (Voice Dialog, Big Mind process), and heart-centered practices (tonglen, ho’oponopono, metta).

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A wonderful smell and taste in the awakening process: amrita, ambrosia, divine nectar

I feel a delicious smell and taste in my mouth. It is an indescribable smell and flavor, it could be a kind of incense or perfume with Divine characteristics. It generates immense well-being and reminds me of the immeasurable union. It’s a reminder that I’m the one. I can also relate it to smells that I experience when I visit Amma the Divine Mother. It looks like Amma’s smell when I receive her hugs. It is literally magical and Divine.

This is my partner’s description of something that happened during and after the most recent Vortex Healing class, and others have noticed it as well.

It seems to be one of many possible side-effects of awakening, and this one is variously called divine nectar, amrita, and ambrosia, and it probably has more names in different traditions.

This particular side-effect is likely not necessary for our nature to recognize itself. It may also not be necessary for a thorough transformation of our human self within that new context. But it is one of many visitors that can come in the process, and it can serve as an encouragement.

Here are what I wrote about it in 2007: Shift in taste and smell | Other senses changing also | Dr. Wolff on ambrosia.

What are some of the other side effects of awakening? It can be seeing energies, sensing at a distance, the ability to invite healing at a distance, insights, inspiration for art and anything else, precognition, and so on. Different personalities relate to these in different ways depending on inclinations and conditioning.

Note: I found this article on divine nectar from a yogic perspective. It’s interesting but I have no way to check how accurate it is. I am more interested in it as (a) a phenomenon in the awakening process, and (b) how we relate to it.

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Awakening dissolves paradoxes

Some seem to take an experience of paradoxes as a sign of awakening.

When I try to remember the initial oneness shift, I can’t find an experience of paradoxes. What I remember was that thoughts couldn’t even touch it. There was no way thoughts could accurately reflect or convey the nature of all.

I also understand how paradoxes may appear. If the oneness we are recognizes itself, and our mental field still operates from duality, it can create the experience of paradoxes. Our mind may not yet viscerally get the nature of thoughts.

Over time, as our mental patterns reorganize within the context of oneness and we get more familiar with the nature of thoughts, I assume the experience of paradoxes tends to fall away.

WHEN THOUGHTS OPERATE FROM SEPARATION CONSCIOUSNESS

If we rely on our mental field to give us truths, our world will inevitably appear full of paradoxes. One thing seems true, and also something else, and to the conditioning of our thoughts, they appear contradictory.

Our psyche may deal with this in a couple of different ways.

It may try to resolve this by denying the validity of one set of thoughts and affirming the validity of another set of thoughts. It tries to make paradoxes go away.

Or it may acknowledge the paradoxes, hold the validity in apparently contradictory sets of thoughts, and seek to find a bigger picture that reconciles the two.

THE INITIAL PHASE WHEN OUR NATURE RECOGNIZES ITSELF

When our nature first recognizes itself, our mental patterns may still operate from duality so there may be an experience of paradoxes. This dissolves as thoughts reorganize and operate within our nature recognizing itself.

WHEN THOUGHTS REORGANIZE WITHIN ONENESS

When our nature recognizes itself, that shifts. Thoughts are recognized as guides and pointers to help us orient and function in the world. They are practical pointers only, and cannot hold any final, full, or absolute truth. Each thought has some kind of validity in it, and it’s up to us to evaluate what kind of validity that is.

There are no paradoxes since thoughts are recognized as not holding any final truth, and there is some validity to all of them. (Even the more outlandish ones can be seen as holding validity, for instance, as a projection.)

RECOGNIZING THE NATURE OF THOUGHTS INDEPENDENT OF AWAKENING

We can examine thoughts and recognize their nature independent of awakening, for instance through different forms of inquiry.

This is not quite independent of awakening. If we thoroughly examine thoughts, viscerally get their nature, and examine core self-related thoughts, it tends to lead to our nature recognizing itself.

PARADOXES AND AWAKENING

Paradoxes appear when we look to thoughts to give us truth, and when our mental field operates from a sense of separation. We can deny these paradoxes or seek a bigger picture that resolves them.

At first, when our nature recognizes itself, there may be an experience of paradoxes. That’s because oneness recognizes itself, and our mental field still operates from trying to invest thoughts with truth.

Paradoxes then dissolve as our mental field reorganizes, and operates within the context of our nature recognizing itself, and also recognizing the nature of thoughts.

Note: I wrote this back in March and didn’t publish it. I wanted to write a more simple version. That didn’t seem to happen (I wasn’t drawn to it for whatever reason), so I am publishing this now.

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