The two aspects and three centers of One Taste

The two main aspects of One Taste, and the three centers…

Awake emptiness and form

The ultimate one is Spirit awakening to itself. The field of awake emptiness and form, awakening to itself as a field, absent of I anywhere, with a center nowhere and everywhere. Everything arises as Spirit, as awake emptiness and form, as Big Mind, Brahman, The One.

There is typically an intuition of this, maybe a taste or a glimpse, a deepening intuition and sense of it, more tastes and glimpses, all of it allowing our human self to reorganize to this new context, and then it eventually pops and stabilizes.

And as with the other forms of One Taste, described below, this one too seems to have three centers: seeing, feeling and heart. There is a seeing of it all as Spirit, centered in the head, a feeling of it all as Spirit, centered in the belly, and a loving of it all as Spirit, centered in the heart.

The seeing allows the view and cognition of our human self to reorganize to all as Spirit, the feeling allows its emotions to reorganize to all as Spirit, the loving allows the heart to reorganize to all as Spirit. It is Spirit seeing itself, feeling itself, and loving itself.

The world as a mirror for our human self

The other aspect of One Taste is the world as a mirror for our human self.

Whatever I see in the wider world, is also here in this human self, and the other way around, whatever I see in this human self is also out there in the wider world, somewhere, at least as a potential. Any quality, any characteristic, any skills.

As with One Taste of all as Spirit, this one has three centers.

There is the seeing, feeling and loving of what is out there as also right here, and the other way around.

And this one too involves a deepening into it, an increased familiarity with it, an active engagement with it. Specifically, it involves making the qualities seen out there known, intimately familiar, as a lived reality in this human self. It is not only something seen out there and merely recognized in here, but it is a lived reality right here, something that is actively explored, known, lived, in always deeper and richer ways. It becomes part of the active repertoire of this human self.

Other aspects and examples of One Taste

Then there are some other aspects and examples of One Taste.

One, which is implicit in the two other ones, is the heart. The One Taste of the heart, open to all of the infinite forms of Spirit. It is a whole heart, wholeheartedly embracing whatever arises. It is all loved as Spirit, independent of its particular form. It is Spirit loving itself.

And then there are other ones, such as the ones found in Buddhism where we remind ourselves that all beings seek happiness and release from suffering. We are not different there. We are in the same boat. And the practice of refuge in Tibetan Buddhism, where we visualize all beings taking refuge in the Buddha Mind, as we ourselves do.

Free Will II – a difference between realizing and believing in ideas

There is of course a big difference between realizing and believing in the complementarity of the freedom of awake emptiness, and the absence of I and free will in the world of form – in our case, as a human being.

Realizing absence of freedom

Realizing it is Spirit awakening to itself as awake emptiness and form, inherently absent of I anywhere – and as a whole as an I. This is liberation. It is a liberation from an exclusive identity as a segment of this field, it is a liberation from seeing this human self and its actions as an I, it is a liberation for this human self from having a sense of I placed on top of it.

Believing in absence of freedom

Believing in it, just attaching to ideas about it, is quite different. This happens when there is still very much a sense of I there, placed on the local causality of this human self such as thoughts, decisions and actions. It is still taken and experienced as an I, yet there is a belief in infinite causes, in an absence of free will in this human self, maybe in an absence of I.

And this can take different forms.

Believing, yet still acting as if there is free will

One, and the more healthy variation, is to take it as a spur to practice, to explore this, is it really true? Can I find it in my own experience? Are there really infinite causes to anything I think, do, and experience? Is there an absence of I in this human self?

In exploring this, we take our experience seriously in two ways.

First, we take our findings seriously. We explore seriously, in detail, over and over, and take what we find seriously. We explore the implications of what we find, we feel into what it would mean to live more fully from it.

And, equally important, we take our current experience seriously in the context of our daily life. If there is still a sense of an I here in daily life, then I live from that as before. I take responsibility for my actions. I sincerely try to make the most informed and compassionate choices. I live as if I have a free will, because it seems I do.

Even if we don’t explore it further, it is a good thing to act as if we have free will. It does help in making our lives easier on us and others.

Yet, this too, this acting as if we have free will, is the local expressions of the movements of the whole. This too has infinite causes. This too is inherently absent of an I and free will. It may be good to realize that, but also keep it in the background. Acting as if there is free will is in the foreground, realizing that this too is absent of free will, that this too is grace, can go in the background.

Believing, and making wrong conclusions

The other, less healthy, way, is to take a nihilistic approach and abandon any sense of responsibility. Of course, what we are really doing here is to first attach to a belief of an absence of free will, and then attach to an idea that this means nihilism and abandoning responsibility. This is miles away from what happens in a real awakening, when there is a real realization.

How it unfolds when realized

In a real realization, this human self continues to operate much as before. It still explores options and alternatives. It still tries to make informed and compassionate decisions. It is still very much active and engaged in the world. If anything, there is more of an incentive to making informed decisions, to live from compassion, and to be engaged in the world.

The only difference is that now, there is no sense of an I there anymore. There are thoughts, choices and actions, yet no I there anywhere. It is just an expression of awake emptiness and form, as anything else happening.

There is very much doing, but no doer anymore.

Grace, and also planting seeds

All of this, believing naively there is free will, taking on a nihilistic attitude, Spirit awakening to itself, all of this is also absent of any I or free will. It is the local expressions of the movements of the whole, it is Spirit expressing, exploring and experiencing itself in various ways. It is all God’s will. It is all Grace.

At the same time, there is a planting of seeds in the world of form that allows these things to happen and unfold. There is a planting of a seed that spurs someone to explore for themselves, and some guidelines for how to do it. There is a set-up that brings someone into cynicism and nihilism when they read something like this. There is the infinite causes coming together so that someone still acts as if there is free will, even if he realizes, to some extent, that it cannot be.

Anything happening in and through us has infinite causes, and we can plant seeds for ourselves and others. We can plant seeds for happiness, release from suffering and awakening. And we can plant seeds for misery. We do both.

And both are themselves the fruits of infinite causes.

But here too, it is a good idea to act as if there is free will.

And around and around it goes, until Spirit awakens to itself.

The mutuality of emptiness and form

This came up again when I read a quote by Jnaneshvar:

Unity becomes strengthened by the expansion of diversity.

The more emptiness is realized, the more we can wholeheartedly engage in form, and the more we wholeheartedly engage in form, the more we need and are invited to realize emptiness.

Emptiness is the awake emptiness that is here now, reading these words. Timeless. Unchangeable. Unstained. Always already. Distinct from form, yet also arising as form.

And form is the world of form, and in our case, specifically this human self and its wider world.

Identified as this human self, and resistance

When this field of seeing and seen, of awake emptiness and form, takes itself as a segment of itself, there is immediately resistance.

It identifies as this human self, there is a sense of I and Other, there is a sense of an exclusive and comprehensive identity, and there is something to push away and something to hold onto.

There are experiences, people, places and situations to hold onto, and there are experiences, people, places and situations to push away. In short, there is resistance – to what is, to what may be.

There is drama, confusion, and resistance.

And with resistance, there is a holding back, or a pushing forward.

I hold back from engaging, from experiencing. I try to distract myself, change the situation, modify my experience. I am ambivalent. Half-hearted.

Or I push forward, I push into situation, into experiences, into the world. Which is just another way of resisting.

Field awakening to itself, realizing emptiness and allowing engagement in form

If this field of emptiness, awakeness and form awakens to itself as this field, absent of I anywhere, it all changes.

Now, there is a realization of being awake emptiness, inherently free from the world of form, unharmed by it. Always here, timeless.

There is also the realization of being form, not just this human self but all form, this whole seamless field of form. Anything arising is this field itself. It is just another expression of this same field.

And there is the realization that awake emptiness arises as this field of form. Form arises within, to and as this awake emptiness. They are not two, although they can be discerned as two.

So in that sense, there is full engagement in the world of form since the field realizies it is not separate from form. It is awake emptiness and form. It is beyond full engagement. It is it.

At the same time, and more interesting here, is what happens for this human self. It is realized as having no inherent I. It is just an aspect of this field of awake emptiness and form, which has no I in it anywhere (or we could say it as a whole is an I).

This means that there is no longer anything to resist. With the absence of I and Other, there is also absence of resistance. It falls away.

And this allows for a more wholehearted engagement in the world of form for this human self. It can more wholeheartedly engage with its experiences, and it can more wholeheartedly engage with the wider world.

With no resistance, a more full and wholehearted engagement, all around.

Mutuality of emptiness and form

So the more fully emptiness is realized, the more wholehearted our engagement in the world of form can be. And a more wholehearted engagement requires and invites a more full realization of emptiness.

Engagement without realizing emptiness is painful. The only solution is realizing emptiness, and when emptiness is first tasted, a more full engagement – and the tastes of pain that comes from not fully realizing form as also emptiness, invites and encourages us to more fully realize emptiness, and form as emptiness.

The two go hand in hand. They are two sides of the same coin. They mutually invite and encourage each other.

Heart Centered Practice: Fullness, engagement and embodiment

I used to focus on heart centered practices – mainly the heart prayer, Christ meditation (visualizing Christ in the heart and about 5 feet away in all six directions), and gratitude (for everything happening, through for instance repeating the word “thanks” as a mantra) – and it seems that they are slowly coming back. There is a quite different embodiment that comes from heart-centered practices, a different sense of engagement in the world.

There are many ways of talking about this, and I am only scratching the surface here as with everything else (and am obviously far behind many others who have explored this).

Where inquiry and basic sitting practice gives insight and clarity, heart-centeredness gives engagement. The first is a zero/first person relationship with God, and the second a second person relationship with God. One gives the context, the other the content. One gives clarity and space, the other fullness and richness. One gives equanimity, the other joy, gratitude and compassion.

And both seem needed, at least in my case.

There is a continuing deepening into the heart and living from the heart possible, before and after a nondual awakening.