Denial vs. Opening

There is an impression I sometimes run across: Zen (or more generally meditation) somehow is about repression or denial. It is curious, as there seems to be little in Zen that could give rise to that idea. At the same time, it is understandable, as most people have an impression that Zen is about equanimity (which is partly accurate), and only know how to achieve a semblance of equanimity through repression and denial…

Degrees of Resistance
We relate to our experiences in varying degrees of resistance, and the two ends of the polarity both give a sort of equanimity.

At one extreme, we resist to the point of numbness. The resulting deadening can be seen as a form of equanimity, although one that hides a volcano.

Inbetween the two ends, we variously fuel and push away our experiences. Both of which are forms of resistance – resistance to letting it go, and resistance to having it stay. This brings a sense of struggle and uneasiness.

At the other end of the polarity, there is no resistance to experiences. We allow them to arise, unfold and fade, without fuelling or pushing away. This allows us to fully experience, and allows the experiences to surge through without trace (no resentment etc). This gives a more genuine equanimity – there is no resistance to any experience.

One way to come to this is to consciously drop resistance – through tools such as sitting practice, Byron Katie’s process, asking ourselves Can I be with what I am experiencing right now?, working with projections (see all qualities in the inner and outer world), and meditation in action such as yoga, tai chi, chi gong and Breema.

Of course, the only way to really drop resistance is for awareness to realize itself as inherently space and clarity, in which all experiences arise, unfold and fade – without trace. We find a “ground” in the formless nature of mind, and this allows us to not hold onto its content.

I just re-saw the Matrix trilogy, and what comes to mind here is Neo’s final realization. From continually struggling with and resisting Agent Smith, he realized that the next step is to not resist. To allow the two to be one, with intimacy and no separation. And this allowed them both to transform into light and space.

Experience vs. Ideology

Heaven is my father and Earth is my mother and
even such a small creature as I finds an intimate place in its midst.
That which extends throughout the universe, I regard as my body
and that which directs the universe, I regard as my nature.
All people are my brothers and sisters and
all things are my companions.

The Western Inscription,
Chang Tsai, 11th century, China.

I use this quote at the end of my emails, and whenever I see it there is a mixture of joy and cringing.

Joy – from connecting with this in my own immediate experience. Cringing – from realizing that this too – as everything else – can be made into an ideology, and thus bring suffering in different ways.

It is a reminder that all statements can be used in at least three ways…

Reflections & Reminders
They can be used to reflect our own intimate experience, and a reminder to connect with this aspect of our experience. In this way, it is beautiful and brings intimacy and joy.

Dogma
Any statement can also be made into an ideology and a dogma. Here, it is dead and brings suffering in various ways. Believing in any thought or statement makes it into an ideology, which inevitably brings suffering…

It enhances the experience of separation between myself and others. I get it – they don’t. Or they get it and I don’t. This sense of separation brings suffering.

It brings suffering when existence does not align with the dogma – in this case when I or others don’t seem to experience it or live from it. It can also bring suffering if we try to pretend to have the experience, when it is not really there.

Any of these discrepancies can bring up arrogance, righteousness, guilt, shame, a sense of inferiority or superiority, anger, fear. Arrogance and righteousness when I get it and they don’t. Guilt and shame when they get it and I don’t. Anger when any of us should get it and don’t. Fear when I get it and know I can/will loose it. Depression or cynicism when I habitually suppress any of these.

Within this context of believing in a thought, we tend to fuel them (through circular and habitual mental patterns) or try to push them away. In either case, we also tend to blindly act on them in subtle or obvious ways.

In all these ways, it brings suffering for myself and others.

Guideline
An statement can also be taken as a guideline. An invitation to explore it with curiosity and nonattachment to any particular outcome. Is there a way that this is true for me – in my experience? How is it true for me? If I engage in a particular form of practice that can make this come alive in my direct and intimate experience (and while continually letting go of attachment to any particular outcome)?

Tools

An integral approach also means to explore and apply tools from western and easter cultures, with their complementary yang (external focus) and yin (internal focus) approaches to existence.

Western culture has evolved a wide variety of tools that helps us predict (science) and manipulate (engineering etc) the physical aspect of existence. Eastern culture has evolved an equally impressive range of tools for exploring, understanding and working with the inner/experiential aspects of existence. And they all work, if chosen and applied with some skill.

Eastern traditions have evolved tools that help us explore the nature of mind and existence, to work with the energetic aspect of our being, to relate to inner and outer situations in a way that fuels compassion, wisdom, humility and gratitude.

If western culture takes their scientific approach seriously, there may be only a question of time before some of these tools are taught as a basic part of the education of all of us. Of course, there has to be some understanding of (a) the imporance of intention, (b) when and how to learn and apply each tool, and (c) the context within which to apply them. As with any tools, they can be used to open us up or for contraction.

Systems Effects

One particular feedback loops is especially obvious these days. From our current views and behaviors, we are creating a situation for ourselves that (a) will lead to large numbers of us dying off and/or (b) a change in our views and behaviors.

We are operating from views and patterns that served us well in the past, but are now out of synch with our current situation. What is left out of these views has eventually caught up with us, and we are in a situation where we face tremendous suffering or a change in view.

We are operating from a largely dualistic and atomistic view, and one of the consequences is that we don’t clearly see and account for our interdependence with a finite ecosystem. This in turn has lead to a dramatic unraveling of global ecosystems as well as other ecological changes not conducive to a healthy human life.

The changes need to occur on two levels: Our views and our behavior. In terms of views, we need to move from a fragmented, atomistic, dualistic view to a systems and integral view. In terms of behaviors, we need to explore and implement choices that support life in the short and long run, and close by as well as far away.

And the good news is that these views and choices already exist.

A simple example is supporting local farms, which shows the intersection of areas such as sustainability, health, simple living, bioregionalism, and food production. Supporting local organic farms has multiple benefits:

  • It strengthens the local economy. It allows money to stay and circulate in the local community. It allows local people to be in charge of their own work, or to work for smaller and locally owned operations.
  • It supports food production practices that maintains and enhances the quality of the soil, and is good for local ecosystems.
  • It provides fresh and unprocessed produce, which enhances human health.
  • It creates stronger connections within the local community, which leads to various forms of social support and enhances quality of life.
  • It allows local farmers a good price for their products, as well as reduced price for the eaters (less cost for processing, transportation etc).
  • It reduces the need for fossil fuel due to reduced transportation distance etc.
  • It encourages eating with the seasons, which in turn reduces the load on the body and enhances health.

Believing in Thoughts

Another aspect of the Matrix that I find very perceptive is the consequences of believing in thoughts.

Morpheus believes that Neo is the One. Others believe equally strongly that there is no such thing as the One. In both cases, it limits their behavior. It creates rigidiy, inflexibility, and habitual patterns of behavior. It creates stuckness, and suffering.

Neo is one who does not believe in an ideology, which allows for questioning, exploration, flexibility, responsiveness to the situation, change of approach. And he evolves where others do not.

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Beliefs & Suffering
When we believe in thoughts, we set ourselves up for suffering.

When we believe in a thought, we exclude parts of existence. Existence has a way of coming up with exactly that which is excluded, and the discrepancy between our belief and existence brings up suffering. We believe the world is or “should” be a certain way, it shows us that it is not, and there is suffering.

Believing in thoughts creates contractions. It brings up apprehension, because we know existence can come up with something that shows us the fallacy of the thoughts. It brings up righteousness and arrogance. It brings up fear. It brings up anger and lethargy. It brings rigidity and inflexibility. It creates a whole rollercoaster ride of experiences.

When we are attached to beliefs, we resist whatever comes up from the discrepancy between our thoughts and existence. And this resistance, combined with the crazy (and predictable) rollercoaster ride, brings profound exhaustion. Which in turn can be a motivation to find a different way or relating to all this.

Looking at it from a purely intellectual way, we also find that believing in thoughts is a fallacy. No matter how comprehensive a system of thoughts is, it is exclusive. Existence is always more than and different from our experience of it, and our experience in turn is always more than and different from the way we translate it into thoughts.

Not Believing in Thoughts
When we don’t believe in thoughts (through Byron Katie’s process, sitting practice, or something else), we discover that awareness is distinct from its content. It is clear and spacious, and allows anything to unfold within it. There is no resistance (and no need for resistance), and there is no holding onto anything (and no need to hold onto anything). We discover a wisdom and cognition that is far more responsive, flexible, inclusive and clear than anything we can get from thoughts alone.

Thoughts as Tools
When we awaken to awareness as distinct from its content, we can more fully make use of thoughts as tools. We are not exclusively identified with them, and are more free in using them. They become conscious tools for the spacious and clear wisdom inherent in the mind. And we know they are not true, they are just tools of temporary function and value.

Resolution

I watched the last segment of Matrix again last night, and – among many other things – was impressed with the dynamics between Neo and Agent Smith, and how accurate the depiction seems to be.

When we consciously identify with something, something else is excluded. What is excluded will come up and demand our attention, and it does so in a way that closely mirror the conscious attitude. In this case, Neo was identified with the humans and liberation for humans, and he excluded the machine (and light) world. Agent Smith came up and mirrored this attitude, and did so without knowing why he behaved the way he did – he was just automatically mirroring and showing Neo what Neo could not see in himself. As long as Neo resisted this, there was a battle. And when he let go of resistance, there was a fusion and resolution – a resolution into a more inclusive level.

In my case, although I have directly experienced how everything is God, Spirit, Buddha Mind, I have also been invested in change. In moving towards embodying this more, in healing, in refinement. I escluded somewhat just resting in what is, and see what is – without being anything different – as God, Spirit, Buddha Mind. Now, this seems to be my next phase. To just rest in what is – exactly as it is – and see how this is Big Mind manifesting.

When I visited Boulder last week, I spent a day at the Shambala Center, and this came up for me as my practice. Whatever came up, I reminded myself that this too is Buddha Mind manifesting. As sleepiness, dullness, alertness, someone walking up the stairs, the sound of the cars, the ache in my back.

Weaving Together

After my opening experience in my teens in Norway, I experienced my body as light. Every cell was luminous golden light. And I enhanced this through resting in the experience. For some years, I also used this as a visualization for healing.

In Wisconsin, I mostly visualized on a more physical level. I would visualize my spine straightening out and being supple and healthy (I had scoleosis), and the organs functioning in an healthy way.

Over the last few years, there has been a sense of something else coming up, and last night I looked into what is next. What came up was a weaving motion/pattern in my middle (hara) region. And with that, I sense of everything as it is – my body just as it is here/now – being Big Mind. This is nothing new, but I have not focused on this as an approach to (physical) healing.

So this seems to be the new phase for me, in my healing visualizations. To see what is – with no change – as Big Mind, as Spirit, as Buddha Mind manifesting. This ache, these imbalances energies, the heaviness of my body, the woolliness in my head, all this is also Big Mind manifesting. There is a different healing in this, that does not require anything to change or be different. And it gives room for whatever needs to unfold to unfold.

Knowing Who We Are

There seems to be a natural impulse for us to want to know who we are.

We are born into this world, this body, these patterns that form our personality, and have no idea what happened. We can only try to make best out of it, to learn more how this body/personality and how it functions, and how this larger world functions and operates.

And there seems to be several layers of knowing who we are…

  1. Cultural identity
    These are the labels we learn to put on ourselves by culture. They include gender, ethnic affiliation, sexual orientation, profession, etc. We need to learn the conventions of these labels to function effectively in society, although we don’t need to limit ourselves to/by them.

  2. Small Self
    Here, we get to know ourselves as small self – as a body/psyche whole. We explore how this body works and functions, and how this psyche works and functions. A part of this is to learn to take care of ourselves so we can operate from relative health, and learn different coping strategies so we can deal with the inner/outer situations life comes up with for us.

  3. Larger Whole
    We live within a larger social and ecological whole, and we also need to get to know how these operates and who we are in relationship to this larger whole. As with all of these explorations, it is personal and also occur through collective efforts. Science, myths, rituals, religion, all help us form a view of how/who we are in relationship to this larger whole.

  4. Awareness
    Awareness can awaken to its content, as described in the three previous layers. And it can also awaken to itself – its own nature. When awareness is focused on a body/personality, it tends to at first identify itself exclusively with this body/personality and to function in a more dualistic way. This may be neccesary for it to explore the first three layers sufficiently to function effectively in the world. Then, it can awaken to itself as distinct from its content – as luminous clear space in which all experiences unfold. At this point, we see ourselves as luminous clear space as well as body/personality. Further than this, awareness can awaken to itself as Big Mind, as that in which all phenomena arise, unfold and dissolve. It awakens to itself as God, Spirit, Buddha Mind, and can be focused on a body/personality or have no center. Here, all exclusive identification drops away, although we can still function as/through a small self with all its conventional identifications needed to funciton in society. When awareness awakens to itself as Big Mind, there is a deepening of fluidity in expression – it can express itself as Big Mind and/or small self, and any aspect of these, more freely.

Meaning

From the transdual (Big Mind) perspective, there is no meaning. Everything just is as it is (and is wonderful and terrible as it is). From the view of the small self, there is meaning and purpose, and a striving to find meaning and achieve purpose. Both of these are necessary in a full and conscious human life – both the equanimity of the Big Mind view, and the direction of the small self view. One gives spaciousness and fluidity, the other movement and evolution.

Liberating Karma


I had a small, interesting shift in view some days ago, when I overheard a conversation on reincarnation vs. rebirth.

From a Buddhist view, there is no reincarnation – of any separate/permanent entity, but there is rebirth – of patterns or karma. There are no separate entities, because all phenomena are aspects of a seamless whole. There are no permanent entities because all phenomena are in constant change. This is a view reflected in systems theories as well.

Still, something may be reborn. If there is, then it is the patterns or karma that is reborn. It is the habitual patterns of sensation, emotions, cognition, that are continued and expressed in a different being.

It is difficult to put words on what is beyond any concepts. One attempt may be to say that there is One Mind (God, Spirit, Buddha Mind), expressed in all phenomena. It is the same One Mind that expresses itself as awareness in any living being, although it often identifies itself exclusively with that one body/personality and perceives itself as separate from everything else.

Sometimes, it awakens to its own nature, as being beyond that one being. It can awaken to itself as clear and luminous space, in which all experiences unfold. As beyond dualistic and transdualistic perception, but functioning as either. It can awaken to itself as clear, luminous space, manifesting as any and all experiences, and any and all pheonomena.

In the last few weeks, I had explored how it is this One Mind manifesting, even in the deluded operations of this personality. I see dualistic perceptions, reactiveness, dullness, etc. – and at the same time directly experience how this is also Big Mind manifesting. From this view, there is no need to change anything. Everything just is.

On the other hand, it is the natural functioning of the small self to want something else. Ultimately, to find relief from suffering – to find happiness and equanimity. The desiring and seeking of the small self view naturally and effortlessly complements the tranquility and equanimity of Big Mind view. They are inseparate, both are God/Big Mind manifesting.

As with most shifts, this one can be expressed in the same words as I would have used before, but my experinece of it is a little different.

In a way, it is karma – the habitual patterns of sensations, emotions, cognition – that is liberated. Through practice and openings, they transform into patterns that allow the Big Mind view to be more clearly expressed through the small self. They are liberated from the suffering of cuntioning in a small self context only. And this is what is passed on. This is what may be reborn.

In the beginning of practice, we tend to identify exclusively with small self, and practice to liberate this small self from suffering. Then, we realize that there is no separate/permanent small self to liberate. There is only the fluidity between Big Mind and small self. At this point, we may practice just because that is the natural expression of this view and realization, and to better assist other small selves to be relieved from suffering and open to Big Mind.

And we may also practice to allow the next body/personality in which these habitual patterns are reborn, to more easily open for Big Mind. The more I have done the job here, the easier it will be for the next poor schmuck born with these patterns to open up for Big Mind.

Grounded

Here in the US, I sometimes encounter an interesting discrepancy between (a) a high level of criticism and skeptisism towards authorities and (b) a low or non-existent level of critisism and skeptisism towards ones own thought process…

It leads to patterns where people are consistently skeptical towards government, science, etc., and consistently do not question the sources of their information/opinions or the validity of their own thought process. In a way, it is another form of projection: skepticism applied mostly to the outer world, and not the inner.

Of course, it is healthy with a certain level of criticism towards authorities, and it may be especially justified here i the US. The government, media and scientists are sometimes influenced by outside sources, such as big corporations. And if we also apply this healthy skeptisism towards our sources and our own thought process, then we have a more balanced and grounded situation. We can allow ourselves to stay open to different possibilities and not jump to conclusions.

Being

When awareness realizes that it can be whatever comes us – sensations, emotions, thoughts – there is full engagement and no attachment. There is no separation, and nothing to hold onto. There is fullness, richness, spaciousness, fluidity, engagement, freshness.

Dream

I was in Norway, and visited the philosophical practice office of a man in his 50s. I was impressed by how he went direcly to the essence of the issues, and was deeply engaged, honest, receptive and grounded. He knew clearly that anything else was a extra.

Big Mind & Small Self

Big Mind is beyond and includes all phenomena. It is the space in which everything unfolds, and everything that unfolds. Big Mind contains every small self, and any and every view expressed through a small self.

The small self is this organism, with its body and psyche, its habitual patterns of emotions, cognition and behavior. When awareness is identified with small self, it tends to function in a dualistic way – it operates from a fragmented view of the world.

When awareness awakens to Big Mind, there is a tendency for it to first identify exclusively with the Big Mind view. The boundless emptiness in which all phenomena arise, unfold and fade, and its inherent bliss and clarity.

But this is also stuckness. It excludes the views of the small self and it brings its own suffering, when Existence eventually manifests in a way to remind awareness of this. The next step is a deepening comfort with both Big Mind and small self views, and a fluidity between the two. Which in turn leads to a deepening humanity – we become more and more human. More and more able to relate to ourselves and others fluidly and in whatever way seem appropriate in the situation.

Contradictions

Existence is always different from and more than any view – and all views. When we believe a thought or a view, when we hold onto it, we set ourselves up for suffering. And we can respond to this suffering by trying to strengthen the view, or allow it to break open. Of course, this is a continuous process – until there is a resting in spacious and clear awareness – beyond and embracing all and any views.

Cultural Views
Among the more historic and cultural examples are how we relate to other species. In the Western – and now global – culture, we have continually included larger segments of humans into who we see as “us”. We are at a point where we subscribe to universal human rights, and at least think it is a good ideal although we don’t always act accordingly. Along with this, we have science that provides an evolutionary perspective on all life, and tells us that we are very similar to other species on a wide range of criteria. We are very closely related to other mammals, as well as closely related to all life on this planet. There is an inherent contradiction here, in how we use the perceived difference between humans and other species as justification for using different guidelines for behavior, and what our scientific worldview tells us. We have guidelines for treating humans with respect and dignity, yet we allow arbitrary imprisonment and killings of other species. It may be that the next step is to include all species, all earthly life, into the circle of “us”. From justifying a different set of guidelines of behavior because we see other species as “them”, we will apply a similar set of guidelines because we see them as “us”.

Of course, this is still within the realm of dualistic thinking. Beyond this is the realm of transdual views, where we directly experience that any and all views are inherently incomplete, confining, and brings suffering.

Clear

It has been clear to me since high school, although I have tried to pretend otherwise and created a false confusion that way. The single most important aspect of my life is spiritual practice, in a community such as Kanzeon in Salt Lake City or Vækstsenteret in Denmark (Jes Bertelsen). A place where there is a great deal of clarity about the nature of mind/Existence, where there is comfort and fluidity in how to express it, and that is comfortable in the western culture. This is the main piece in the puzzle of my life, and when it is in place – all the other puzzles both seem less important and can fall into place more easily. When I try to fix the smaller pieces first, it brings a sense of hollowness, dissatisfaction and often frustration.

Splits

Excistence is beyond and embracing all dualities.

When awareness identifies with its content and functions in a more dualistic way, there are splits. And these splits take the form of projections which appear in different ways.

Thoughts
In terms of thoughts, we tend to believe in one set of thoughts (mutually consistent or not) and ignore or dismiss their opposites. We are stuck in a particular and limited view of Existence, and this brings suffering whenever Existence behaves in a way that does not correspond to the view.

One way of working with this is to take any thought (statement), turn it around in any way possible (to ourselves, others, its opposite), and find how each of these new statements are as true as the original. In this way, we loosen up attachment to one limited view and open up for a more comprehensive, inclusive and fluid relationship to the different views.

It may also allow us to let go of beliefs (attachments to thoughts) altogether, and allow awareness to become aware of itself as distinct from its content.

Characteristics
Related to this, we tend to see certain characteristics in the inner world (in ourselves), and their opposites in the outer world (in others). This split allows us to experience a strong difference between the outer and inner world. It defines our self-image, which in turn defines what we allow ourselves to experience in the inner world and to express in our behavior. This self-image is formed through culture, subcultures and personal experiences, and is always in flux as everything else.

One of the consequences of this split, is that we relate to characteristics in ourselves and others with attraction and aversion. These function as a glue that binds our attention to whatever we are not yet completely familiar and comfortable with in ourselves, so we have the opportunity to become more familiar and comfortable with it.

When desired characteristics are seen in ourselves, we experience satisfaction, joy, gratitude, self-confidence, arrogance. When undesired characteristics are seen in ourselves, we experience sadness, guilt, depression, blame, anger, frustration. When desired characteristics are seen in others, we experience attraction, love, envy, greed. When undesired characteristics are seen in others, we experience criticism, righteousness, anger, hatred.

Also here, a way to work with this is to turn it around. Whenever I see a characteristic in the outer world (a person, landscape, dream, story, fairy tale), independent on whether I relate to it with attraction, aversion or indifference, I can explore how this characteristic is also there in the inner world, in myself. Is it there as only a potential, or more alive and unfolded? How does it express itself in my everyday life? How do I relate to it? From where did I learn this way of relating to it? What consequences does this way of relating to it have in my everyday life? How would my everyday life be different if I was more familiar with this characteristic in myself? How would my self-image change?

As we see in ourselves what we see in others, we become more familiar and comfortable with these characteristics, and form a more inclusive and fluid self-image. We open up for more awareness in how to relate to these characteristics in ourselves and others, and for genuine empathy with ourselves and others. We know from ourselves what we see in them. We see ourselves and others as universally human, as life manifesting.

Passion

When I look at the passion in my life, I see that it relates to assisting with a deep transformation – on larger and smaller scales.

Social/Ecological Level
On a large scale, I wish to support a deep cultural/social transformation into a more life-centered/sustaining culture. Mainly using a solution-focused, partnership oriented and integral approach, working with the natural processes in people and nature. I did this through the work with Sustain Dane, and now – on a more limited scale – with the NWEI discussion courses.

Individual Level
On a smaller scale, I wish to assist a deep transformation on an individual level that includes the personal and transpersonal aspects. Breema and the Big Mind process are tools I find useful in this area.

Integral Approach
In both cases, I am attracted to using an integral (inner/outer and small/large scales) and inclusive approach. One where we take serious situations/challenges, look at workable solutions, and work with what is already there and the natural processes in the systems.

Personal
And, of course, at the core of this is a personal transformation – in my own relationship to the inner and outer world. This is what fuels and informs my other/outer involvements.

Resistance

For any deeper healing to take place, the resistance must be brought into awareness. There is always resistance to change – even when the change is in the desired direction for the self – and we need to acknowledge the resistance and allow it to tell its story. What can we learn from it? What does it tell us? What is the gold that it offers? What is the valuable information in it? How does it genuinely serve the self? Process Work and the Big Mind process both offers valuable tools for allowing us to listen to and become students of resistance. When it has told its story, when it has been listened to sincerely and its gift accepted, it has done its job and the process can unfold further. The resistance and block is allowed to dissolve.

Example of the voice of resistance: I protect Per from going too far – from getting into situations he is not ready for. I protect him from going out on thin ice and getting injured in any way. I protect him from sticking his head out and having it chopped off. If he was completely healthy, he may behaving in ways that are embarasing to him since he is not used to acting from that space. And when we see this we can consciously take the lesson it offers, and the resistance looses some or all of its charge (depending on how seriously we take its advice).

Healing

It seems that healing can occur in two disctint ways.

One is to focus on the illness itself. The other in shifting our relationship to the illness.

Illness Focus
This is the most typical approach to illness, in both western and eastern healing traditions. We work on the physical, energetic, emotional and/or cognitive levels, and may include the wider social and ecological whole as well. In systems language, we look for control variables which can allow the system to shift into a new attractor state (one that is perceived as more “healthy” by practitioner and client). In this approach, the client can be a passive recipient or an active collaborator.

Relationship
Here, we foucs on the person’s relationship to the inner and outer world, to Existence. This is a less common approach, but can also be found in both eastern and western traditions. The illness may be there or not, but our relationship to it changes. We can be more at ease with it, relax into it, allow ourselves to be whatever comes up (pain, discomfort), and experience it all in a wider context. The pain may continue to be there, but the suffering we add to it may be relieved. In the west, religion has traditionally served this function (finding a sense of meaning and resolution in the midst of pain), and now also psychology. In the East, spiritual traditions have offered profound tools in this area. In the relationship approach, the client is always an active and the main participant in the process, supported and guided by the practitioner.

Integral Approach
A more integral apporoach to health will include both. There is an illness focus, which may include approaches from western and alternative medicine, such as nutrition, medication, surgery, energy balancing – whatever seems appropriate in the situation. And there will be an focus on how the person relates to the inner and outer world. Which views brings about suffering, and how can we allow these to shift? In this approach, the client may be a passive recipient in some areas, and an active participant in other. And there may be a shift in focus over time. Initially, it may be important to do what can be done in terms of the illness itself. Later, the person’s relationship to the illness and life in general may receive more attention.

Breema
Breema is among the approaches that include both areas. And it also includes another important aspect of integral medicine – the practitioner. How the practitioner is.

Breema brings a fluidity and flow into all levels of the small self – physical, energetic, emotional and cognitive. There is a decrystallization of rigidity on any and all levels (rigidity is often a part of the illness picture). It also allows the practitioner and the recipient to get out of the way, so the healing process can unfold more fully and with less resistance.

At the same time, it allows us to experience ourselves and existence in a new way. It opens up for a transpersonal realm and brings it fully into the body here and now, which can profoundly change how we relate to existence. And it does so in a very sweet, full, blissfull way – which is attractive to the small self as well.

Beliefs

Limiting Beliefs
Beliefs are limiting in many ways.

On the most basic level, they represent a particular view – while existence is far more and different from any view. When we believe a thought (or set of thoughts such as an ideology), we set ourselves up for rigidity and suffering.

On a personality level, a belief in a certain self-image/self-identity, limits how we experience ourselves and the world, and how we relate to the inner and outer world. Some characteristics are “me” and experienced and expressed more freely, other characteristics are “not me” (although also available) and not experienced or expressed freely.

Believing in thoughts also tends to be self-fulfilling. We act as if the world correspond to the thought, and often make whatever we believe in happen through our attitude and actions.

Benefit of Beliefs
There are of course benefits to beliefs as well. There is a reason they exist, and it may be easier to see this in an evolutionary context. When the small self develops, either in human evolution or in an individual, awareness is identified with its content. This seems a necessary phase of evolution – being limited to the view of the small self. And in this situation, believing in thoughts is necessary for guidance. It is obviously imperfect, but still works well enough in most situations. Of course, it also brings much suffering, which is an incentive to find another solution.

Alternative
The alternative to believing in thoughts is for awareness to become aware of itself as distinct from its content. In this, it experiences its own true nature – spacious, clear and responsive. Where it used to be bound by beliefs, it is now more free to relate to each situation as appropriate.

Some of the tools for aiding this shift are different forms of meditation (sitting as in Buddhism, or in movement as in yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Gong, Breema), as well as Byron Katie’s inquiry process.

Notes
Someone I know has strong beliefs related to work, and it is very obvious how these beliefs create the reality he finds himself in and also influences those around him.

This weekend, this came up again. In one instance, someone asked what it takes to practice Breema in Oregon, and he replied – as he typically does – LMT (massage) license. This is a partial truth at best, as there are many licenses that will allow people to practice Breema, and the LMT license is just one of them. And I have seen how this creates mental blocks for other people who would like to practice Breema. If they do not have an inclination to study massage, they block themselves from pursuing other options. Even people who could practice with their current (non-LMT) license, don’t…

The other instance was around work in general here in Eugene. Someone else mentioned to him that he is considering moving to Eugene. And he discouraged him from doing so, for the reason that it would be very difficult for him to find work here. Another limiting belief. When Jen and I moved here, we were told the same by many people, knew that it was just a belief and not at all necessarily true for us, and found wonderful work right away.

So his belief in these limiting ideas limits those around him, as well as himself. His own work situation clearly reflect these beliefs.

I notice that there is a charge around this for me, which comes from believing in a thought that says “people should not limit themselves and others by believing in (clearly false) thoughts and ideas”. I’ll work on that next.

Universal

Small Self
When all we are aware of is the small self, it seems that we take everything personally – in a double sense.

Everything that comes at us – from others or the world in general – is taken personally, as something we are entitled to or an insult. It either validate how deserving we are (though being a good person, lovable, karma, etc), or how cruel the world is to us.

And we take everything arising in us as intensely personal – every sensation, emotions, thought. We define ourselves by these processes. We define ourselves as a small self, a unique and separate individual, through these universally human processes that happens to unfold within this self.

Big Mind
When we open up to the transpersonal realm – to Big Mind or aspects of Big Mind – it all shifts.

We used to be trapped in the view of the small self, seeing everything as me or not me – and a strong separation between the two. Now, we have more of a sense of overview – we see the universal patterns that play themselves out in this as well as all other personalities.

The human drama is the same in all cases, with different minor variations and different flavors. Still, the underlying processes are the same. And they can be boiled down to identification with small self.

Even when we are in the midst of our lives, something in us knows that these are universal patterns and processes playing themselves out. Something in us watches this, as a play unfolding. There is more space and overview. We have room to not get caught in it, to relate to it with more awareness and sense of choice.

Universally Human
For me, it is my aim to continually become more fully and deeply human. This includes becoming intimate with everything unfolding within myself, be continually more honest about it, and recognize it all as universally human. In this way, everything I see in others becomes a guidepost for finding and becoming intimate with the same in myself. And in this process, I open up for deepening empathy and sense of connection with others.

Voices

Persistent Voice
The voice of the critic has come up repeatedly today, in spite of outer circumstances that are not conducive for it. Everything seems to be a target, even that which this personality sees as 99% desirable. The last one percent is sufficient as a trigger.

It has been good to see this and stay with it. I see clearly how small part of me this voice is, compared to everything else. This takes the charge out of it and allows me to not engage in or fuel it. I can appreciate it for the ways it helps me, with sharp discernment, take the lessons and let to go.

The Big Mind workshop last weekend, and the Breema intensive this weekend, set (some of) the circumstances for this realization to deepen and clarify.

Big Mind
In the Big Mind process, I become familiar and intimate with a variety of voices and how they support and are in relationship with the self. For the voices on the level of the small self, I learn to recognize them, how they help me, and that they each are just one small aspect of the whole. I gain a perspective on each, and are there is less of a hook for me to get caught up in any one of them. There is more of a fluidity in how they come up, and whether and how awareness chooses to engage in them. And the transpersonal voices helps me connect with and relate to everything from a larger and more inclusive view.

Breema
Breema gives me a deep and delicious experience of myself as a whole – body, energies, emotions, cognitions, and transpersonal awareness. All with fluidity, fullness, richness, deliciousness, clarity and presence.

When I tap into this through the Nine Principles, Self-Breemas or Breema Bodywork, I experience directly how all the patterns of the personality are just ripples on the ocean. The whole is infinitely larger than any of these, and this makes it easy to choose to not engage in them in an habitual way. I can see them and let them go. Or I can choose to engage from insights they offer me, with more clarity and spaciousness.

Each of the voices bears a gift, and it may be appropriate to act on this gift of insight in the situation. Joy and a sense of connection may led to speaking from appreciation. Anger may lead to speaking from honesty with another person.

Yin & Yang

I am continually stuck by how well Breema and Big Mind seems to go together.

Yin
Breema is the yin aspect. Through Breema, I open up for Big Mind in a full, rich, deliscious and intimate way. It becomes a thick atmosphere in and around me. And I can tap into and deepen it any time through the Nine Principles, Self-Breema and Breema bodywork.

Yang
The Big Mind process is the yang aspect. It provides clarity, differentiation, insights and overview. It is the clear space, in which it all unfolds.

Integral
Together, they provide a more integral approach. Big Mind provide the clear view. Breema the full and rich embodied taste.

Inclusive and Fluid

General
One aspect of the world is that it continually offers to wake us up. It is existence offering itself opportunities to wake up to its own nature.

One example is views. Whenever we are stuck in any particular view, the world offers situations that shows that this view is too limited. And this brings suffering, which can be an incentive to wake up. To see through the delusion of believing in any one or any set of limited views.

Specific
This came up yesterday during the Breema intensive. The experiential aspect of Breema is very much inclusive and fluid (or rather beyond the polarities of inclusive/exclusive and rigid/fluid). And some expressions of Breema reflect this transdual experience.

Still, the way it sometimes is expressed and interpreted is somewhat exclusive and rigid. This is natural. When a transdual experience is interpreted, it will come out in different ways depending on the familiarity with the terrain and the language and vocabulary available.

In Breema, there seems to be some “taboo” topics among some of the students – areas that many are concerned with yet rarely speak about in groups. Yesterday, several of these topics were brought up by new and older students, and I could see how some of the other students were horrified, while others took it as a welcome and refreshing change and opportunity to meet the questions with honesty.

If Breema is about intimacy with existence, then nothing is foreign to it or left out. Whenever something appears as “taboo” – or a situation brings up non-physical discomfort for us – it shows us where we are stuck, nothing else.

Dream

I lived in a beautiful house (white old wood construction) in a beautiful rural area (decidious trees, orchards, hedgerows, flowers), most likely in Norway. It was spring. There were a group of us living in the house, and our relationships were flowing and beautiful.

One day, some thugs living nearby came near the house, and verbally abused one of my housemates. I told them sternly, and with a good deal of self-righteousness, to apologize. Their response was to physically abuse the person. Even more righteous, I said I would go to the police. And their response was to threaten even worse abuse – of others and the house.

For everything I said or did, their response was something even worse than what they had done previoulsy. At the end of the dream, I and one of my housemates closed all the windows and doors in the house (there were many of them, and they were all open as it was spring).

Notes
There was a sense of relief in the dream. My self-righteous and arrogant approach had run into a dead end. Whenever I acted from this attutude, something came back to me that was even worse than before. And it was systematic and with no way out. There was a tremendous sense of relife – finally I had run into a situation where I had no choice but to drop it.

Of course, connected to this is the polarity of the pure and beautiful, and the dirty and ugly. I am identified with the former – here expressed as a beautiful house in beautiful surroundgs in which people with beautiful relationships lives. And obviously not with the latter – the dirty and violent thugs – who show me exactly who I am as well as the delusion I am operating from.

I need to see these thugs in myself in my everyday life, and also the attitudes that give them good reason to resent me and bring attention to themselves through their behavior.

Disintegration

I mentioned earlier how music seemed to disintegrate into its components if it is on during sitting practice. I saw clearly that I am the one creating a sense of flow, rhythm, melody.

Similar to this, I have moments in everyday life where everyone and everything seems to disintegrate, to fall into their components. And as with music, it becomes very clear that it is this mind that creates a sense of connections and coherence among the many parts of the inner/outer world. And that this coherence makes sense on a certain level (everyday functioning), but also is arbitrary.

Inquiry

Through the inquiry process, awareness comes to realize that (a) thoughts are not true (not an accurate reflection of existence), (b) believing in thoughts causes suffering, (c) there is an alternative (awareness not identified with its content is spacious, clear, responsive), (d) the thought/statement can be turned around in any and all ways (to ourselves, its opposite etc), and each of these new statements are as valid as the initial one. They help us recognize and integrate projections, and unstick from any particular view.

So when there is a contraction, something in me looks for the thought that something else in me believes in, recognizes that it is not true and causes contraction/suffering, recognizes the space, clarity and responsiveness that is always there, and (if it is on a word level) turns the statement around.

Recognizing the process and consequences of believing in thoughts in myself, I also recognize it in others. And realizing that the process far less substantial than it may appear in myself, I also see it as much less substantial in others. Instead of thinking “they are angry at me”, I realize that they are just believing in a thought, which in turn causes them suffering. And this makes it much easier to deal with the situation as it is, simply, with less extra.

Believing Thoughts

It seems that the Byron Katie inquiry process dissolves habitual patterns that work on all levels – physical, energetic, emotional, cognitive.

Believing in any thought gives a contraction on all these levels, so looking into it enough for awareness to no longer be able to believe the thought dissolves these patterns of contractions.

Although there are still many areas that can benefit from inquiry for me, I notice daily situations where I used to contract (for instance tense up, shallow breathing, judgment, righteousness, blame, circular thought patterns) and where there is now space, clarity, responsiveness. It is effortless, and I have noticed a part of me trying to recreate the old patterns, but there is nothing there – no hook.

It is striking to see to what extent I and others believe in thoughts, its consequences (all undesirable), how unnecessary it is, and how blind we all are to this. Although the inquiry process is a relatively quick way to awaken to this realization.

The inquiry process goes to the root of the matter – believing in thoughts – rather than reorganizing the believes themselves. And the process allows us to see and experience for ourselves who and what we are when we don’t believe in thoughts. It allows awareness to awaken to itself as distinct from its content, with its inherent and everpresent qualities of spaciousness, clarity, responsiveness.

Western approaches, including psychology, tend to focus on reorganizing beliefs. They focus on the specific beliefs, rather than the process of believing in thoughts itself. Most likely, this is because they do not acknowledge – or are not aware – of what/how awareness functions when it is not identified with its content. The realization of awareness as inherently spacious, clear, responsive, is always infinitely close – but a shift needs to happen.

It is also interesting to note that the inquiry process gives an understanding on a deeper level. After doing it for a little while, I know recognize the general process – and it partly seems to apply itself in real life situations, and I can partly consciously initiate and engage in it.

I recognize the contractions when I believe a thought, I can recognize the thought behind it, I know it is not true, I recognize the effects of believing it (suffering), I recognize who/what I am without believing it (space, clarity, responsiveness), and I turn the statement around. This happens instantaneous and wordlessly, and takes care of much in the moment. And it also benefits from a further inquiry on paper to release it more fully, at least for now.

The main effects of believing in thoughts seem to be contraction and suffering. Thoughts always represent a limited and particular view, and existence is far beyond and more inclusive than any particular view. We set ourselves up for suffering when we believe in thoughts, because the world will always give us situations that do not correspond with the limited view of the thought.

A belief has an inherent expectation of how the world will work, the world behaves differently, and we suffer.

When we believe in limited views, when we act as if they are true, it creates a contraction – which in turn has many aspects and a cascade of effects. There is a sense of precariousness, since the world at any moment can give us something that does not correspond with the belief. There is a rigidity – an attachment to particular pattenrs of emotions/thoughts/behaviors/outcomes. There is a sense of being trapped and confined, in a limited view, in situations that do not correspond to the belief. There is a sense of being separate – from ourselves, desired outcomes, others, existence.

When awareness really sees through this, through the inquiry process, beliefs drop. Awareness reveals itself as it is distinct from its content – with its inherent and always present spaciousness, clarity, responsiveness, compassion, and quiet current of joyfulness.

The inquiry process has a parallel with Buddhist basic meditation practice. The space and clarity we find when awareness drops beliefs, corresponds with shamata – calm abiding. The insights we gain in how the process of believing in thoughts create suffering, is vipassana – insight meditation.

Wisdom of the Body

During the times where I use a more comprehensive set of practices, there is a deep transformation in how the world is experienced through me. I experience myself intimately and with a sense of fullness and richness, as one whole – beyond body/mind, and as intimately part of a larger whole.

In Norway, there was meditation, prayer, tai chi, chi gong, walking/biking/hiking, rewarding and deep social interactions, and balanced/fresh diet. In Salt Lake City, during my years at Kanzeon, I also in periods did a daily yoga practice, in addition to hiking, walking, diet, rewarding social interactions, etc. Here in Oregon, I use meditation, Breema bodywork and Self-Breema, walking/biking/hiking, balanced/fresh diet, rewarding social interactions and engagement, visualizations when it seems appropriate.

In each case, there is a rich, intimate and delicious sense of this self as one whole, beyond and embracing body/mind, of no separation with any inner/outer phenomena, and of awareness as distinct yet inseparate from any inner/outer phenomena.

There is a difference as well. In Norway, I experienced this body and the whole physical universe as transparent – as of light. In Salt Lake City, there was a gradual grounding through the sitting practice. And now, an even further melting into the physical body – of more fully and intimately being body, energies, emotions, thoughts, awareness – and with no separation to the larger whole.

Over the last year, there has also been a closer alignment of the different layers of this self. My body has given me very clear and accurate information about what food to eat, and my mind has paid attention to it although not always followed it. Now, there is a much closer alignment. What nurtures the body/mind, is also what I consciously want to eat – with no effort or trying. It also seems that the closer alignment of the different layers allows the emotional level to contribute a sense of fullness, richness and vibrancy in my daily life.

Shifts

Awareness can function in a wide variety of ways.

  • Identified with content
    It can be identified with its content – with the body, sensations, emotions, thoughts – and function in a dualistic way. There is an inner and outer, me and you, body and mind, birth and death, right and wrong.

  • Distinct from content
    It can become aware of itself as distinct from its content, and function in a more transdualistic way. It sees all inner and outer phenomena as part of a fluid seamless whole.

  • Center
    Awareness can function in a way centered on the small self – in either of the previous situations. When it is identified with its content, there is little choice. And when it awakens as distinct from its content, it can still function centered on the small self (and usually does, so it can be effective in the world).

  • No center
    Awareness can also be aware of itself as distinct from content, and function without being centered anywhere. Everything and nothing is a center. For me, this has occured during sitting practice, and I am not familiar enough with it to say much more – although I suspect that it can still function through the small self – it is just that the small self perspective is not there anymore. In a way, this is God functioning in a self-aware way through a small self. And it is a little one-sided as well, excluding the view of the small self.

  • Fluid
    A more fluid and inclusive approach is to move freely between an emphasis on Big Mind view (which does not have any center) and small self view (which is a center). This way, we know that awareness (the “true me”) is not any self or anything separate from anything else, and we also allow ourselves to be fully human. There is a fluidity, freedom and fullness in this – and there is also no endpoint – it is a continous process of fluidity, embodyment, exploration, intimacy with the many aspects of existence.

Poison & Medicine

Any inner/outer situation can be poison or medicine, and the higher the intensity in the experience, the stronger effect.

Poison
When awareness is identified with its content, situations can be poison. If the personality relates to the situation with aversion, it creates contractions in the form of repression, bitterness, cynicism, anger, sadness, hopelessness, and more. If the personality relates to the situation with attraction, it again leads to contraction, this time in the form of clinging, envy, jealousy, greed.

This can be seen as a poison, although there is nothing wrong from another perspective. It is just the natural functioning of awareness when it is identified with its content. It is one way awareness functions, one phase in the evolution of humanity and the development of individuals. One way God manifests and explores itself.

Medicine
When awareness awakens to itself as distinct from its content, any situation can be medicine. The energy in whatever comes up – in the form of sensations, emotions, thoughts – allows awareness to clarify and deepen. There is a breaking open instead of breaking down. It opens for a deeper humanity, for deepening compassion, humility and gratitude.

This can be seen as a medicine, although from another perspective, this is just the natural functioning of awareness when aware of itself as distinct from its content. It is one way awareness functions, one phase in the evolution of humanity and the development of individuals. One way God manifests and explores itself.

Fullness

I am noticing more of a fullness when I am whatever comes up. If I wake up at 4am with an undercurrent of stress and panic, I am the stress and panic and whatever else is there, and it has a fullness and a richness to it. It does require attention and a shift, but also comes easily these days. The richness of it draws me in.

Separation
When “I” am separate from whatever comes up, and what comes up is perceived as undesirable (pain, fear, sadness, stress etc), then there is resistance and a pushing away. This brings up suffering.

No Separation
When I am whatever comes up, in all its fullness, richness and flow, it is OK. I am stress, rather than being stressed. I am fear, rather than fearful. I am anger, rather than angry. There is no separation, nothing “else” to push away or cling to. It is only what it, and it is OK.

Fluidity
There is also a fluidity in moving from one to the other – in not getting stuck in no separation or in separation. If I am stuck in one or the other, that too brings suffering.

Being stuck in separation directly brings suffering. We are one object in a world of a large number of other objects with unpredictable behavior. We have what we don’t want. We don’t have what we want. All this brings suffering.

Being stuck in no separation also brings suffering, from ignoring the view of the small self. We are the small self and its view, but we do not allow ourselves to fluidly move into and out of this limited view. Not allowing the view of separation to come up brings suffering. It brings suffering through a disconnect from others who do experience the world in terms of separation. It brings suffering through not being fully human.

Thoughts

Exploring the inquiry process outlined by Byron Katie, there are several aspects of thoughts that becomes quite clear.

  • Impersonal
    Thoughts are impersonal. They arise, unfold, fade – come from nowhere and go to nowhere. Awareness can choose to engage with them or not.

  • Universal
    Thoughts are universal. It is the same thoughts arising in each human being, in different variations.

  • Contraction
    When we believe in a thought, it causes contractions (on all levels) independent of what thought it is.

  • World vs. Thoughts
    Any thought is just an opinion, from a limited view. And the world is more than and different from any and all views. When we believe a thought, there will inevitably be times where the world and the thought does not align, and this causes a contraction and suffering.

  • Functioning
    We can take care of ourselves and function very effectively in the world without believing in thoughts. In fact, we function with more clarity and responsiveness in the absence of believing in thoughts.

  • Arise w/out believing
    Thoughts will always arise, and that is fine. It only becomes a problem for the self when awareness believes in the thought, operates as if it was true, and thus sets itself up for suffering when the world inevitably does not align with the thought.

    Thoughts can be there and live their lives, and if we inquire into them, there is an absence of any impulse to believe in them. Something in us knows – effortlessly – that they do not match reality, what they do for the self (suffering), and that we can function very well without believing in them.

Deluded

I notice a deep disgust with how I am deluding myself with what I perceive as my realizations.

I sit on my own (and weekly with a local group), read, write, live, and it is so clearly not enough. I need to work closely with a teacher and a group, to cleanse myself of realizations. And to place myself in a situation where mind/life can continue to clarify and deepen.

Any realization becomes delusion, it becomes a burden, stuckness, starts to rot. And to get rid of it, we need the help of a guide familiar with the terrain from her/his own experience. Someone we can trust (if there is not enough trust there, we will withdraw physically and/or mentally when it gets rough).

On our own, we are guided – at least partially – by the small self, and the preferences of the small self. This means that we are guided into deepening patterns of delusion, no matter how sophisticated it appears to ourselves and others. We need someone who can see through it, who are familiar with the terrain from their own experience – and can help us cut through the realizations/delusions.

As they emphasize so much in Zen, realizations and even enlightenment is only the beginning of a long process of maturation, continually dropping realizations/delusions, clarifying, deepening, wearing off the extra, becoming more and more human.

Big Mind & Small Self

Big Mind
Big Mind is everything, embracing all polarities, and it is nothing. It is existence and nonexistence, birth and death, mind and matter, psyche and body, anger and compassion, sadness and joy, delusion and enlightenment.

Big Mind and Small Self
It is also all and any small self, and all and any view that any small self can have. It is the general views of small selves (dualistic) and the specific view of any small self (flavored by the personality and unique experiences of that particular small self).

Small Self and Big Mind
Any (human, at least) small self can open up for a taste of Big Mind, and – with experience – life from a Big Mind view. As it becomes more comfortable and experienced with this, it can bring the Big Mind view more and more fully into its life, in more and more situations.

Small Self
The small self is the organism and personality. Awareness, functioning through/as a small self, naturally perceive the world dualistically. There is inside and outside, me and you, us and them, heaven and earth, birth and death, mind and matter, friend and enemy, right and wrong, delusion and enlightenment. This discernment is essential for its survival. Without it, no species would survive.

When awareness is exclusively identified with small self, all it can see is duality. The world is fragmented. The small self is separate from everything else. This is a precarious situation, as the small self is dependent on the unpredictable behavior of external objects for its survival and happiness. It naturally brings up attachments, which in turn brings suffering.

Big Mind Only
When awareness awakens as Big Mind, there is no separation – and no suffering. Big Mind is suffering, but does not suffer. Big Mind is anger, but not angry. Big Mind is attachment, but not attached. There is a sense of equanimity, compassion, bliss, joy.

And it is tempting for awareness to stay here. Why suffer as small self when I can stay in Big Mind?

Big Mind – Inclusive and Not
Big Mind contains and is everything – beyond all dualities. It is any small self, and any view of small self. But when awareness is exclusively identified as Big Mind, something is left out: the limited view of the small self. Big Mind is the limited view, but not limited to it.

There is a stuckness there – an attachment to Big Mind and avoiding the limited view of small self. Why would awareness willingly be small self, with all its suffering? Because exclusively being Big Mind is stuckness, and also contains suffering.

There is another depth to the realization that Big Mind is really everything. Big Mind includes the limited view of the small self, and it is also this limited view, so awareness can allow itself to also and again live from this limited view. This is a descent that requires a good deal of familiarity with Big Mind and trust in the process.

Big Mind/Small Self Fluidity
It sees that the fluidity of freely moving between the views of Big Mind and small self is more inclusive. More free. Less attached. A richer and more full experience. And more connected with the other small selves – it can participate in human life in a more full and equal way. It willingly becomes more fully human.

Health

An integral approach to health may look something like this…

Big Mind
This is the level that can offer a sense of health independent of the actual condition of the body/mind. When we open up for Big Mind – or other transpersonal aspects such as non-seeking mind – we fully and deeply experience that everything is OK as it is. As they say in Breema, true health is harmony with existence.

A sense of separation gives suffering. A sense of no separation alleviates and dissolves suffering. And we can open up for the experience of no separation – of being whatever comes up in the inner/outer world – in many ways. Breema, yoga, meditation, Big Mind process, etc. Anything that brings awareness into awareness of itself – as distinct from its content. In this, awareness discover its inherent qualities – often described as tranquility, equanimity, joy, bliss, compassion.

What small self strives for, with limited and always temporary success, is revealed as the inherent and always present nature of awareness/mind/consciousness.

We go behind the clouds (the content of awareness – sensations, emotions, thoughts), and find the clear sky and the sun – always there.

On this level, there is a shift in view from exclusive identification with small self (organism/personality) to including Big Mind (all inclusive, beyond dualities). There is a deepened familiarity with both, their relationship, and how we can move fluidly in expression of one or the other.

Small Self
This is the more familiar level of “fixing” whatever is going on. We look at all levels:

  • Physical level
    Nutrition, structural, surgery if necessary.
  • Energetic
    Acupuncture, yoga, energy healing.
  • Emotional
    Social support, being with, empathy from inner and/or outer sources.
  • Cognitive
    Cognitive therapy, Byron Katie’s inquiry process.
  • Social
    Family interactions, social support, work situation, etc.
  • Ecological
    Physical environment – quality of (indoor/outdoor) air, water, food, etc.
  • Existential
    Meaning, purpose, sense of connection. Religion, spirituality, deep ecology, new cosmology, ecospirituality, etc.

Of course, many tools and approaches address several of these levels, or at least impacts several levels as the patterns shift. The body/mind is one seamless and fluid system, and if we change a control variable at one level and in one area, it can (and inevitably will to some extent) impact the whole system. A skilled practitioner – in any from a wide variety of approaches – may assist in shifting the whole system into a state of improved health (in whatever way that is defined by the person).

Practitioner
The practitioner is a part of the comprehensive approach. When the practitioner apply to her/himself what they suggest for others, it has several effects. (a) It serves as a model for the client, they see what it can look like. (b) The client tends to trust the advice more when they see that the one suggesting it applies it in their own life. (c) It helps the practitioner become clearer, which helps the decision process. (d) It gives the practitioner a more thorough familiarity with the terrain, another invaluable aid in helping the other towards conventional and deeper health.

General Patterns
There are two general processes that span these categories.

  • Relationship to the disease (inner/outer situation)
    At both the Big Mind and the small self levels, we can find a way of relating to the situation that gives a relief from suffering. This is inherent in the Big Mind view, and optional within the small self level (cognitive therapy etc).

  • Fixing the disease
    This occurs at the personal level, but can be informed by insights from the transpersonal level.

Integral Approach
An integral approach to health may then include three main areas:

  • Big Mind
    Transpersonal. Shift in view from exclusive identification with small self to include Big Mind. A deepening familiarity with both helps us find more fluidity in expressing one or the other, depending on the situation. Here, we find true health in realizing that everything is OK as it is – the Big Mind view. And in not getting stuck in this view, which in itself would bring suffering.
  • Small self
    Body/psyche. This is the relative and small self aspect, which also must be included. We work on all levels and scales, and look for control variables that may shift the whole system towards health.
  • The practitioner
    Self-insight, own health on all levels.

Just Being

I woke up at about 5:30 this morning, with a familiar sense of an undercurrent of stress (anxiety, fear, etc). It tends to come up when I am in a transition period (as I am now), and also when the discrepancy between not living at a practice center (Kanzeon, Vækstsenteret in Denmark) and my deep desire for it regularly resurfaces.

Of course, I know that I can be it – whatever it is that comes up. I can be fear, stress, anxiety. And the lack of separation between “me” and “it” allows the suffering inherent in it to dissolve. There is whatever is going on – as before – but without the suffering. Instead, there is a sense of fullness and intimacy.

From the stuckness that comes with separation (trying to push it away or “do” something with it), and the suffering associated with it, there is a sense of movement, fluidity and intimacy.

I know very well that I am aligning myself more with reality (there is no separation), and that gives a sense of relief (dissolving suffering). I have access to both a sense of separation (small self) and of no separation (Big Mind), and in the moment – I shift my attention to Big Mind.

Still, there is also a sense of a “trick” being applied. Small mind and Big Mind are both there, and I choose to move attention away from one and to the other. Isn’t something left out? I guess it is all about fluidity – to be able to fluidly move between the two and not get stuck in one or the other. Not ignore or deny the experience of one or the other.

If I habitually shifted attention exclusively to Big Mind in these situations, at the cost of small self, it – everything ignored on the relative side – probably would come back to haunt me. I would use Big Mind as a “buffer” against the suffering inherent in being a human being.

Although Big Mind includes everything, and is beyond all polarities, it is paradoxically a partial view – it excludes the realities of the small self.

An inclusive awareness is in both small self and Big Mind, both are there at the same time, and there is a fluidity in which one is more clearly expressed in the situation. An exclusive awareness brings attention to one, at the cost of the other. And if the “other” is small self, including the sense of separation inherent in small self, it will come back and demand its due attention.

Both are there, and the easiest – the path of least resistance – is to allow awareness to be both fully, as they are and come up in the moment. There is small self with its sense of separation, and we can be with and be it. And there is Big Mind with its no separation, and we can be that as well. We can be both, because that is what is. And we can be the fluidity between the two, because that is what is as well. It is only what is.

No need to try to change it, to ignore one or the other, to try to hold onto any particular expression of either, because this is adding something extra to what is there. It creates another separation, with its inherent suffering. And it requires an extra effort, instead of just relaxing into being with and being what is.

Stream

During an 1 1/2 hour nap Friday morning (at Jen’s office), there was an unbroked, continious stream of consciousness – through falling asleep, deep sleep phase, dreams and waking up. It witnessed it all, or “I” witnessed it all, and also was aware of what was happening throughout.

This is pretty typical when we are engaged in any form of practice where awareness becomes aware of itself as distinct from its content. It is the personality – the organism with its patterns of sensations, emotions, thoughts – that goes to sleep. When awareness is identified with its content – with this personality – that too goes asleep. When it awakens to itself as separate from its content, it can continue to stay in awareness even while the personality is sleeping.

I had this happening for several years after/during my opening experience in my teens/early 20s. At the time, it came with very strong energies and intensity – with a sense of tapping into infinite awareness (beyond dualities), learning and reorganization (of personality and more) during sleep. This time, it was very calm and ordinary.

Friday night and Saturday, I did a Big Mind workshop with Genpo Roshi in Portland.

Edges

We all have a comfort zone. Areas in ourselves, behaviors, and inner/outer situations that we are more comfortable with. These usually correspond with our conscious self-image. And it is limited, small, leaves something out, and is thus less fluid and inclusive than it can be.

Then there is everything outside of this zone, that which is available to us but not consciously acknowledged and lived. These are the qualities we see in others but are not comfortable with in ourselves, those we relate to with attraction or aversion when they come up in the outer world. And then there are qualities we are as yet oblivious to – those we see as neutral or do not recognize.

There is a good deal of juiciness and energy when we explore these qualities in ourselves, become more comfortable with them, explore how to live them in everyday situations, and find a new fluidity among a more inclusive set of qualities. The energy that used to take the form of attraction and aversion, when we saw the qualities mostly in the outer world, not enlives the inner world. It brings a stronger sense of life and vibrancy.

And there is the edge between the two. These are the qualities that are on the border of being related to more consciously. The qualities we may have a hunch of being in us, but are not yet comfortable acknowledging and/or bringing to life.

Some current edges for me…

  • Deeper honesty/sincerity/authenticity, less embellishment or trying to project a certain image
  • Work discipline
  • Clear communication, in the moment
  • More deeply comfortable with myself in more situations
  • Deeper honesty about inner/outer situation (seeing it clearer, with less need for bias, more grounded, straight)