What it comes down to: seeing what is already more true

So when we start letting go of some of the identities that I described in previous posts, what is left? What, if anything, is revealed?

For me, it has to with simply seeing what is already more true for me, in immediate experience, without knowing in advance what I will find or am looking for, and doing it for its own sake.

If I think I know what I’ll find, I am creating another box for myself. I have an agenda. Receptivity to what is really there goes out the window.

If I do it for some other motive, to find release, to get rid of discomfort, to get somewhere, then I am creating yet another box. Again, there is an agenda there. And again, receptivity – or even interest – in what is really there, goes out.

Thinking I know what to find, and doing it for a particular result, is just another way for me to limit myself, to box myself, life, existence, and even God, into a far smaller space than where it already is. It may look safe for a while, but is in the long run nothing but a dead end.

I think I’ll get something or somewhere by doing it, but all I am doing is boxing myself in. Staying put.

What it all comes back to, and down to, is doing it for its own sake. I engage in inquiry, for the sake of doing inquiry. I engage in headlessness, for the sake of headlessness. I am with experiences, for the sake of being with experiences.

And seeing all the parts of me that is not doing it just for its own sake, is part of it as well. Allowing even that. Being with even that. Seeing even that, as what is, right here and now. For its own sake.

A tough one II

In a previous post, I wrote about what we all probably go through in periods: a sense that all our work has had no effect. Old patterns come up, as before, as if nothing had happened. And this is another invitation to see our beliefs and identities… My work should pay off. My life should be getting easier. I should see progress. I should get somewhere. It is an invitation to see all of these, how one-sided, limited and – yes, even limiting they are, and loosen the grip on these beliefs. These too are boxes i try to put life and myself inside of, and life is far more than what can go inside of any box.

Not only do the old patterns come up as before, but my tools don’t work anymore either

Another part of this, which I forgot in the initial post, is that my tools don’t seem to work anymore. For instance, last night as I was falling asleep, there was a lot coming through, and a slight sense of uneasiness about it. I thought, well – I know how to deal with these things, and tried to be with it, allow it all including resistance, finding myself as headless, doing a journey (ala active imagination and process work) and other things. But nothing worked. Nothing had any effect. Tools that had been trusted companions for so long were useless. And here too, there is an invitation to recognize beliefs and identities… I know how to work with these things. I have skills that allows me do deal with what comes up. I know some of the secrets of the mind. I am familiar enough with the terrain so I can navigate it with more ease.

Boxes and what is outside

All of these are narrow beliefs and identities. Boxes limiting, in my own view, what life, and my life, is and can be. They create a boundary, allowing some things inside and putting other things outside, and then life brings up what is outside and it keeps knocking on our door. Reminders of the boundary, that it is false, and an invitation to see this and find ourselves as big enough to allow what is outside as well. It is an invitation for a wider embrace, partly in our conscious view, but far more importantly in the depth of our life, and in how we live our daily life.

Pure simplicity

Eventually, what is revealed is very simple… it is just what already and always is… life as it is. Revealed as inherently neutral, as simply the dance of life, of existence, of God, Brahman, Tao.

Absent of beliefs, of taking relative truths as absolute, and absent of identification with identities, it is revealed in its utter simplicity, simpler than what words have any chance of describing.

Boxing in

It has been very alive for me how I box myself and life in through beliefs and identities. I create a dividing line through life, and saying that this is true and ok and that is not (beliefs) and I am this and not that (identities.)

Since life is bigger than any box I try to put it and myself inside of, it will come knocking on the door. It wants to be let in, and ultimately, it invites me to allow boxes in general go… or at least the taking of them as true, and the taking of them as defining who I am.

When life comes knocking, when it shows me that my belief is flawed and my identity too narrow, and I resist and try to hold onto my beliefs and identities, there is stress.

The parallel is very close to having someone knocking at the door of my house that I don’t want to let in. I try to ignore it, I become agitated, tense, frustrated, rigid, angry, sad, depressed… there may even be a sense of being driven, hunted, haunted. At times, there may be a relief. Whomever is trying to get it is not there anymore, or at least has quieted down. But after a while, it comes back. The knocking is there again. And my stress is there again.

The only solution is to take a closer look at what is happening. Is this boundary, this idea that I take as real, really an accurate reflection of life, and of what may already be more true for me? And is this boundary, this identity I take as defining who I am, an accurate reflection of who and what I am, in my own immediate experience? Is there something that is already more true for me, if I am receptive to it and examine it closer? And is what I find closer to what life is trying to tell me about itself and my life?

Shadow of beliefs, and shadows of identities

Beliefs have their own shadows, and beliefs also create identities with their own (very similar) shadows.

The shadow of a belief is all the reversals of the thought or idea believed in. The shadow of an identity is anything that does not fit into the identity. And any belief creates an identity.

Say I have the thought that people shouldn’t lie, and believe in it.

The shadow of the belief is the grain of truth in each of its turnarounds, mainly that people should lie. Why should they? Because they do. And because people often have good reasons for it, at least as it appears to themselves. There are many reasons why people should lie, and even the gifts in it, and I can always find one more.

The shadow of the identity is the ways I lie. My identity is as someone who does not lie, so the shadow is the ways I lie in my own life. How do I lie? At one level, everything I say is a lie, or rather at best only a relative and limited truth. At another, more conventional level, I lie as well. I may come up against a threat to an identity, and come up with an (apparently innocent) lie to protect it. And I also lie to myself in many ways. I lie to myself when I believe in any thought, since I at another level already know it is not true. The list is endless, and here too, I can always come up with yet another example.

The shadow of the belief has to do with how I box the world in, and the shadow of the identity has to do with how I box myself in. And the two are of course closely related, just two faces of the same boxing in.

A tough one: an identity of wanting to get somewhere

As the process of exploring who and what we are moves along, we get to more and more core identities… We come face to face with them, how they are all too narrow, their (mostly unpleasant) effects on our life and the lives of those around us, and the necessity of surrendering them.

Last weekend was one of those times when core identities came to the surface. I found myself in the midst of a judgment and irritability attack, where everything was a trigger for both to come up. Not only was I helpless in doing anything about it, it also seemed that all my work in the past was for nothing… that its effect was zero. I was back in the grips of old patterns just as before, maybe even worse than before. (This weekend, my partner went into something very similar.)

And this too can be seen as a deepening of the process.

It is a wearing off of core identities and beliefs… of an identity of wanting to get somewhere… wanting my practice to pay off… wanting my life to be good… wanting a sense of ease…

All of these identities and beliefs came up against reality, and lost, as beliefs always do. Reality always wins, hands down. Even if we try to hold onto identities, the inevitable friction between identity and reality makes them erode… it may be a painful process, and it may take a while, but they do erode… And we can make it a little easier by seeing what is going on, bringing the identities into awareness, seeing how they are too limiting, and consciously allowing them the freedom to fall away.

Views and their shadows

As soon as their is a belief in an idea… a thought, image, identity, perspective, view, framework… there is automatically a shadow. I want this to be true, not that. I want to be identified with this, not that.

My mind closes down, not interested in, or willing or able to, see the grain of truth in the other perspectives, or the limits to the truth and validity of my own. And my heart closes down, seeing them as Other, not able to recognize myself in them, not able to find our shared humanity, not seeing how we are in the same boat.

As ugly as it can get, there is also a beauty in it.

Existence is inherently neutral. Awake emptiness and form, allowing any and all perspectives, views, thoughts, ideas, identities, frameworks, theories, and yet not being touched by any of them. They all have a grain of truth to them, yet they are all incomplete, all missing out of something, all of only temporary, limited and purely functional value.

So when we take any of these relative truths as an absolute, we are at odds with what is. We are automatically up against the world, as it is, and this brings stress, dissatisfaction, suffering, a sense of something being off (we often think it is the world!), of something being incomplete.

And it is true. When we take a limited perspective as all there is, something is off, and something is incomplete. We are right in being dissatisfied.

The stress, dissatisfaction, suffering and everything else is not only a reminder that something is off, but an invitation to correct ourselves. To investigate. To see that what we took as an absolute truth is only a relative one, and that all of its reversals have a grain of truth in them as well.

And it runs through our lives all different directions and levels, from our conscious and apparently chosen views such as grand philosophical frameworks and religion, to our conscious identities, to the often more invisible worldviews of our culture, to views we wouldn’t be caught dead having but still do somewhere in a corner of who we are.

Derrida and others may see this in the grand scheme of things, in terms of philosophical and political and religious ideas. But do they see it in all the details of their daily life? Do they see it when their kids make a mess and don’t clean up after themselves. When their partner cheat on them. When someone… a friend, their kids, their parents, their academical opponent… says they are wrong, can they join with the person saying it and find it in themselves?

For many of us, it is easy when it comes to the big ideas such as religions, spiritual approaches and political ideologies. I can see how they are all relative truths. But it is far more difficult in my daily life. It gets far more gnarly and unpleasant when someone rubs up against deeply seated beliefs in me, especially those I didn’t even know I had, or don’t want to admit to being there.

Identities as either/or, both/and, and none

Here is another way of talking about what I explored in the previous post:

Our three forms of identities are either/or, both/and, and none.

Our either/or identity: as we appear in the world to others

Our 3rd person daily identity, as we appear in the world to others, is generally an either/or identity. We are either male or female, 25 years old or not, Asian or not, Japanese or not, have black hair or not, is a computer programmer or not, and so on.

This is the identity which allows us to function in the world as a human being, differentiated from and identifiable among others.

Our both/and identity: our experience of our own wholeness

Our third person identity as we appear to ourselves, is an both/and identity, embracing the wholeness of who we are as a human being, recognizing any quality I see in the wider world also in myself. I am kind and cruel, honest and dishonest, masculine and feminine, industrious and lazy, and so on. No human quality is foreign to me. I contain multitudes.

This is the identity which gives us a sense of wholeness, richness, fullness, and connection, intimacy and recognition in relationship with others. There is no identity to defend here, because nothing is left out.

Our absence of identity: in our 1st (or zero) person immediate experience

In our immediate experience of ourselves, differentiated (and sorted out) from our 3rd person identity, we are a void… an awake void… an awake void full of content – and where the content itself is this awake emptiness. And this awake emptiness has no identity, it is free from any identity, and it allows any and all identities to arise as nothing other than awake emptiness itself.

This is the identity which gives a freedom from any identity, and also allows a fluidity among any of the 3rd person identities.

Together: either/or, both/and, and none

So together, there is our 3rd person either/or identity, which allows us to function as an identifiable individual in the world. There is the both/and identity, which allows us to find any quality we see in the world also in ourselves as an individual. And there is the absence of identity, which allows us to find ourselves as awake emptiness and form, inherently absent of any separate self.

Our either/or identity is given, or developed early on in life. Our both/and identity is discovered and explored as we mature into who we are, as an individual human being. And our absence of identity is discovered and noticed as we separate out our 3rd person identity (as a he/she/it) from our 1st (zero) person identity – what we are in immediate awareness.

Three aspects of identities

Identities can be seen as having three aspects:

General face to the world

First, as being our face to the world, generally defining our third person identity as a he/she/it. These identities are mostly exclusive: I am man, not woman. I am Norwegian, not Swedish. I like ice cream, I don’t dislike it.

Embracing the polarities

Then, as being one end of a polarity, where the other end also has some truth to it. As an individual, we include all qualities and characteristics. Anything we see out there in the world, we are right here. We embrace all the polarities. I am man, but I also have feminine qualities. I am Norwegian, but as a human being I am far more universal than that. I like ice cream, but if I have eaten too much of it – or I am sick – then I don’t like it.

Free from identities

Finally, all identities are only relative truths. When identification is released from these identities, and they are no longer taken as absolutes, I find myself as this awake emptiness, and form as awake emptiness. There are no identities here, nothing that can define this awake emptiness (not even that term). It is untouched by abstractions, yet allows for the play of abstractions and identities.

All three together

In an absolute sense, I am awake emptiness and form, untouched by any identity, yet allowing the fluid and dynamic play of them all.

In a relative sense, I am a human being with several generally exclusive identities. And looking at it a little more closely, all of their opposites are true as well. As this individual, I am everything I see.

The gifts of each

The first type of identity allows us to function in the world. It is our passport identities, the ones that differentiates us – as individuals – from others.

The second type of identity allows us to not be confined to exclusive identities. It allows us to see ourselves in others, and others in ourselves – bringing a deeper sense of intimacy, recognition and connection. It allows us to embrace more of all of what we are, and to bring it out in daily life.

The third type of identity allows for a freedom from any identity. It is the awake void allowing for the fluid play of any and all of them, without being caught up in or confining ourselves to any particular one. None are fixed, none are absolute. They are just the temporary and shifting surface ripples of the time/spaceless awake emptiness.

Differentiating 3rd and 1st person identities

I went to a headless workshop in Portland a couple of weeks ago. It was led by Richard Lang, who did an excellent job – making it simple, accessible, very clear, and doing it all in a very personable and heart-centered way.

One of the things that became clearer to me is how the headless experiments help us differentiate between our 3rd and 1st person identities.

Our 3rd person identity is how other see us. It is our appearance at different distances, our name, our age, occupation, and so on. It is our identity in the world, as a human being. It is ourselves, as a he, she or it.

Our 1st person identity is our immediate experience of ourselves, which is as no thing allowing all things, no form allowing all forms, emptiness allowing fullness, no color allowing all colors, no identity allowing all identities… or in other words as headless, as capacity for the world, as awake emptiness and its content (which is no other than this awake emptiness). It is ourselves as awake void and all forms as this same awake void.

When our 3rd and 1st person identities are confused, it leads to suffering. When they are seen as distinct from each other, there is clarity and a sense of ease.

When they are mixed up with each other, my first person identity tends to go in the background, and is sometimes not noticed at all. I take on the third person identity and become a thing in the world, up against innumerable other things. I am completely caught up in a world of desire, fear, longing, anger, sadness, loss, and much more.

When they are differentiated, I am awake void full of the world… I am free from anything happening, allowing it all, and everything happening is revealed as this awake void. And there is full freedom for the little one, this human self, to use the 3rd person identity to function in the world as well. Nothing is left out.

Aspects of identity

It is interesting to notice, in myself and others, the core identities we hold onto. The ones that seem so real, so obviously true, that we don’t even think of questioning them. And if the thought comes up to question them, or someone else questions them for us, our first reaction is to laugh and want to dismiss it. It seems too outrageous to even suggest that who we take ourselves to be, at a core level, is not who we are.

Beliefs and identities

Any identity is a belief or set of beliefs. We take an image, an idea, a thought, a story, as defining who or what I am, and more importantly what I am not, and then take it as real, as an absolute Truth, and living as if it is the Truth.

And any belief creates an identity. At the very least, it creates an identity as someone who beliefs that particular idea or story.

Any belief creates a split, and so tension and stress

Any belief also creates a sense of a split, it defines a particular area as true and anything outside of itself as false or not real (it boxes Existence in, and since all beliefs also are identities, we box ourselves as individuals in as well.) And a split creates a sense of tension, and of stress.

Even such an apparently innocent belief as “God is good” can be a source of stress. If God is good, why is that not my living experience at all times? What is wrong with me? How can I change it? Am I a lost cause?

Identities and shadow

An aspect of this split is the shadow. If a particular story or idea is true, then anything that falls outside of it threatens my belief in it.

I believe people should be considerate of others, so my own lack of consideration falls into the shadow. I am this and not that, so “that” goes into the shadow.

Identities and allowing some things as only second person

In other areas, the “that” may be perceived as good and desirable, so it doesn’t exactly go into the shadow, but is rather experiences exclusively as second or third person (we can say that the first person experience of it goes into the shadow.)

I believe I am (exclusively) a human being, so the experience of space is kept as third person.

I believe I am physical, so alive luminosity is second or third person.

I believe I am finite in time and space, so timelessness and spacelessness goes into third person.

I believe I am this personality, so awareness is seen as second or third person.

I believe I am form, so the void and formlessness is third person.

First person experience in the shadow, as a safeguard

For all of these, the first person experience of it goes into the shadow. And maybe for good reasons. It serves as a safeguard against inflation, adding the transcendent onto a personal identity.

If I take myself primarily as this personality (or this human self), and then add some of these qualities, such as luminosity, alive presence, of even infinite love, wisdom and compassion, then it may not look pretty. It is a bad case of inflation, of seeing myself as special, better than others, a chosen one, and all the rest that we may know from ourselves and also out there in the world.

As long as there is a strong (and unquestioned) identification with our human self, then it is healthy to keep a first person experience of these transcendent things in the shadow. We can still become familiar with it, even dip into a first person experience of it (or at least of no separation), and then return to a more safe second or third person relationship with it.

As the identification with our human self, or form in general, relaxes, softens, become more transparent, weakens, becomes more porous, then the first person experiences of it naturally comes more into the foreground.

Until eventually, usually after much work, the beliefs in any identity falls away, and whatever arises, independent of content, is just an aspect of the field of what is, absent of I and Other.

Selfless or Self

This is also why it may be safer to use a terminology of selflessness, rather than the Self, to describe Big Mind (Brahman, Tao, Spirit) awakening to itself.

As long as there is a sense of a separate I, we’ll take whatever can be seen as an “accomplishment” and add it to the identity of this separate self. We’ll do this whether we use the world selfless or Self.

But with “selflessness” there is at least a reminder built in.


Theistic traditions in particular emphasize humility to guard against this inflation. It is beautiful, especially in reading the writings of Christian mystics such as St. Theresa of Avila. There is a real sense of the differentiation between the personal identity and God, and then finally the falling away of any sense of separate self so there is only God.

A drawback here is that the apparent reality of the separate self may be emphasized in the process, and also that there is a strong identification with an identity as “humble”. In this path, those two are among the last identifications to be burnt through.

Layers of identity

Our layers of identity goes all the way down, revealing nothingness, just like the layers of an onion.

The outermost layers are the lightly held preferences, the ones we are typically not much identified with, such as which sweater to wear today, which flavor ice cream, which movie to watch, and so on. There is an identity around these things, but it is not so tightly held. It is our superficial preferences about things not that important.

The roles we play in our life are a little more real and important to us, although there is usually some fluidity here: child, father, mother, husband, wife, lover, teacher, student, profession, and so on. It is possible to be strongly identified with some of these roles, but they are most of the time relatively fluid. We feel at home in several of them, and can shift among them as our situation changes.

We also have preferences that seem more real and more important than the flavor of our ice cream, such as ethics, norms, value systems, all our shoulds about people’s relations.

And our psychological identities, such as feminine or masculine, strong or weak, healthy or sick, outgoing or introvert, active or passive, and so on.

There are the identities we are born into, such as our culture, ethnic group, sometimes religion.

We are also (most often) born into our biological roles, such as sex and (visible) genetic ethnicity.

And then the identities that goes along with being a biological organism, such as mammal, human, wanting to avoid pain, wanting shelter, food and water, seeking safety and procreation, and so on. The basic survival identifications and preferences.

There are also many others, such as a sense of belonging… to a species, family, subculture, culture, bioregion, nation, continent, Earth, universe.

And then the core one: an identification with a sense of a separate self, of an I that has an Other.

More or less identification with the identities

Each of these are identities, the biological and psychosocial ones, the small scale ones and the larger scale ones. And there is more or less identification with each of these identities at any one point in time.

Exploring identities

As we start exploring these, for instance through a form of self-inquiry, we may see that the ones that were tightly held, that seemed so real, so beyond anything that could be questioned, even those are just identities.

They can be identified with to a greater or lesser extent, and when they are more lightly held, it tends to give a sense of more freedom. More possibilities open up. We don’t box ourselves in so much when they are more loosely held, when we release some of our identification with them.

A sudden shift (and convincing demonstration)

I remember one of my first mediation retreats where the pain in my legs grew more and more intense (and I stubbornly refused to get a chair.) At one point, the pain grew so unbearable that a sudden shift happened…

The pain was still there, as much as before, but there was no identification with that pain anymore. It just happened in space as anything else, and there was no identification with is so also no resistance to it. It happened in space, just as the clouds moving through the sky or the sounds of the cars swooshing by the center.

It was a dramatic demonstration of the struggle and drama that is experienced when we closely identify with something (I was this body trying to push away this pain) to the sense of ease and clarity when there is a disidentification with is (the pain and this body just arising in space as anything else.)

Even the identities that seem most real are just identities

It was also a demonstration of how even the identities that seems most real, most beyond anything that can be questioned, are also just identities that we can be more or less closely identified with.

Even my biological identities, or wanting (needing!) this and that, is an identity. Even the core sense of a separate self is an identity. And they can be more or less tightly held, more or less identified with, taken as real, substantial, as defining who or what I really am.

What we really are

As we continue to explore this, we may find ourselves as what is without any center or separate self. Just what is, the seeing and the seen here and now, as a field, inherently centerless and selfless.

Not bound by any fixed identities, any beliefs, any mind-made boxes defining who or what we really are. Just this field, arising as it does right now, inherently free from any identifications, and also beyond and embracing them all. Inherently free from, so allowing, any identities to arise.

No identity, allowing the fluidity of any identities

We are this field of seeing and seen, of awake emptiness and form, centerless and selfless, functionally connected with a particular individual human self. Our real identity is no identity, allowing any identity to come and go, fluidly, as it does anyway.

All the usual identities of our individual self is still there, all our preferences and the way our passport define us, but they are not taken as what we really are. They are identities used for purely functional and practical reason, for getting around and operating in the world, but they are not identified with.

We can say that in our deep, there is no identity. And this absence of identity allows any identity to arise, and it allows a fluidity of identities to come and go.

There is no core identity anymore telling us what other identities to allow or not. Nothing is excluded. Nothing is walled off. There is just the fluidity of what arises. And this is what always has been, we just didn’t see it when we were busy holding onto certain identities and fighting off other identities.

It is the freedom of the ocean which is formless in its depth, and manifests as form (waves) on its surface. From the formlessness of the depth, any form is allowed on the surface.

Dreams: journey and combined composer

I live in an intentional community with several Breema practitioners, and am enjoying the nourishing, warm and human connections there. At the same time, I am about to go on a journey that I know will involve my death, and there is a sense of equanimity about it, an alignment with it, and also a knowing that there is no other option.

Arvo Part, Bach and several others of my most favorite composers come to our house in the form of one person. It seems that he is coming to stay for good. He has an instrument, acoustic and with several organic looking pipes sticking up form it. It can create the sound of any instrument, and the sounds of individual instruments and groups of instruments, including a whole orchestra. The sounds are not only similar to these other instruments, but somehow the actual sounds of the instruments.

The death theme of the initial dream fragment is typical these days, with a sense of death and rebirth at several levels and in several ways.

The composer who is a composite of my favorite composers (and all other composers it seemed), is similar to his instrument which is able to reproduce all other instruments. There is one which contains many, and the individuality of each is maintained, along with the infinite variety that emerges from the access to and interactions of all of these individuals.

It is also similar to a dream some months back of someone playing computer role games shifting into having access to innumerable characters at once, either as pure or as freely chosen composites with characteristics from many.

This is what happens when we explore and become familiar with more of our many subpersonalities and identities, release some of the blind and fixed identification with some, allow some that have been disowned, and find that they are each available in a more fluid and free way.

From being chronically attached to some, and equally persistently pushing others away, there is more of a free access to many of them… in their individual form, or as a combination of qualities from several. (I can’t really say that my life is a good example of this, but the possibility may be awakening in me.)

Creating an identity, and so resistance, out of not resisting

Identities can be formed around just about anything, including being “clear”, allowing what comes up to not stick, of having nothing to defend. And as with any identity, it gives a sense of I and Other, of boundaries, walls, hardness, and – yes – something to protect. I am this, and not that.

It is just another way to create a sense of a separate I, and of resisting being with experiences as they are. Or rather, it is the same as usual in terms of splitting the field into I and Other, and resisting what is. It is just another flavor, another take on it.

I have noticed this one come up over the last couple of days, where some people around me have been in bad moods, irritable and reactive. My response has been to go in the other direction, taking refuge in an identity as not that (at least right now), but it is really just another way of resisting experiences, resisting what is. Just another way to set up walls between I and Other, between I as this identity, and Other as experiences, people and behaviors that fall outside of this identity.

Noticing this wall and hardness, the sense of something to protect, the sense of the possibility of a fall, makes it easier to not resist the resistance. To allow that too to be as it is. And in this, “I” am no longer on one side of the wall and certain experiences and behaviors on the other, but I find myself as the space that the wall and both sides of the wall exists within and as.

There is a sense of release, of spaciousness, of allowing resistance and walls and defense to fall. There is a freedom to allow whatever arises to arise, independent on which side of the wall they happen to arise, to allow it as just aspects of the field.

Transcend and include

Lately, the process of transcend and include has also been vivid for me.

I see, as Ken Wilber describes it, how that which is taken as an “I” gradually becomes a “me”.

In particular, I see how all various identities (of I, gender, wants, etc.) switch between being taken as an I, as a subject, as that which splits the world into I and Other, and as a me, an object, a thread in the tapestry of what arises.

When they become a me, a thread in the tapestry, there is a sense of ease. They are still there, but just as a part of the landscape. There is a release of identification with it.

It is there, available, ready to be used by this human self in whatever way comes up for it to use it, but absent of I. There is just a sense of ease.

The birth of identification with identities

How does the identification with these identities, of a separate I and the details of this I, come about? There are probably many answers to this, and one seems to be pure imitation.

The field finds itself functionally connected with a particular human self, and this human self lives with other human selves that the field takes itself to be. So it is just natural for it to similarly identify with this particular human self. It happens all around, so it must be the way to do it.

The necessity of identities

Identities is crucial for the functionality of this human self. It cannot function very well in the world without it. It has to be able to recognize itself as distinct from everything else, and as having a more fleshed out identity as well, including name, age, gender, and so on.

The optional sense of I

But the identification with these identities, the sense of I place on top of them, is not inevitable. The field of seeing and seen, of awake emptiness and form, can awaken to itself as a field, inherently absent of any I, and still be functionally connected with this human self. And the human self can still function with and from all these identities.

Growing up without a sense of I

Although the field almost automatically (it seems) nowadays identify with the identities of the human self it is connected with, it is probably not inevitable. The field can be awake to itself as a field, while functionally connected with a particular human self, that grows up, and develops and elaborates on various identities for itself, and the field does not need to be identified with these identities. They are a “me” and not an “I”.

Eros, Thanatos and identities

The most basic fears and wants have been coming up more vividly lately, during the waking hours and especially in dreams and just after waking up. They are there, as a layer, underlying everything in this life. And it seems that they were formed in early childhood, mimicking those around me who lived from a sense of I and Other, and separation.

Eros and Thanatos

It is a basic fear of existence itself, of life, of being alive, of what may happen, of suffering, loss, the unknown, death, nonexistence.

At the same time, its mirror image also comes up, the desire for life, for fullness, richness, intimacy, fertility, belonging.

And both comes up in very detailed and specific ways, attached to very specific situations in my particular life.

To borrow from Freud’s terminology, these are the basic principles of Eros, a desire for life, and Thantos, a fear of death.

Freud’s Thanatos and the attraction and aversion that naturally comes up whenever there is a split

As a side note: Freud actually saw Thanatos as the death drive, a wish for death, but this drive is the natural companion to a fear of death and nonexistence.

Attraction and fascination is the inevitable mirror and companion to fear. That which I fear, is also that which I am fascinated by and drawn to.

In general, any split gives birth to attraction and aversion. Whenever there is a sense of I and Other, there is an inevitable attraction and aversion to Other.

Evolutionary, it helps this human self survive by being drawn to carefully explore and become more familiar with what appears dangerous. Psychologically, there is a drive to be whole, and to get to know, befriend and integrate the shadow.

All of these are aspects of the processes which give birth to a natural fascination and draw to exactly that which we fear.

Eros, Thanatos and identities

It is also very clear how Eros and Thanatos has to do with identities.

The basic identity is that of an I, separate from Other.

And this is fleshed out with identities of being a human being, of wanting to be alive, of not wanting to die, of wanting a full life, of wanting freedom from suffering, and so on. All of these are identities that support and prop of the initial identity of being a separate I, of being this human self, finite in space and time.

Surrendering the I placed on these identities

And I see how I am invited, over and over, to surrender any “I” placed on these identities. To allow them to be as they are, and see that there is no I inherent in them. They are just that, identities, ideas placed on top of what arises here now.

Any I placed on top of them, any identification with these identities, any being blindly caught up in them, is born from just a belief in an idea.

In themselves, they are just thoughts, innocent, nothing of consequence. But when a sense of “I” is placed on these identities, on the idea of separate I to all the elaborations of this I, it gives a sense of solidity and reality to a split world. And this inevitably brings suffering in its many variations.

Shakyamuni Buddha, and Mara’s daughters and army

This process of dis-identifying with these most basic identities, is beautifully illustrated in the story of Buddha Shakyamuni’s awakening, where Mara first sent his daughters to tempt him, and then his armies to frighten him.

Of course, there is more to this allegory than just facing our most basic fears and desires, the identities they are born from, and more to the point, our identification with these identities, but it seems to be one aspect of it.

At some point, each of us have to recognize these basic identities, and the story of “I” we place on top of them.

And as with anything in this process of exploration (and awakening), in its universality it is also very personal, it is about this life and here and now, in all its details and manifestations.


So how does it look right now in this life?

As for Thanatos, there is this layer of basic fear that comes into awareness, one that seems to have come very early in this life, and having been formed from a sense of I and Other, from a sense of separation. It is a fear of life itself, of the unknown, the unpredictable, suffering, death, nonexistence.

When there is a sense of I there, this I get blindly caught up in it, it seems too difficult to deal with, and there is resistance in different ways. When this fear just arises as part of the field, and the field notices itself as a field, it becomes just a part of the tapestry. It is still there, but not all that serious anymore.

Eros comes up in desire for a full, rich, fruitful life, and also regrets over (apparently) lost opportunities. Again, when there is a sense of I there, it is also a sense of being blindly caught up in it. All the stories around these themes seem very real, impactful and solid. When the field notices itself as a field, these stories become more transparent, just stories.

Fluid identification

Identification goes from rigidity to fluidity, and from present to absent.

The polarity of blind and fluid identifications

At the one end of this polarity is a blind identification, a rigid holding on to a limited and fixed identity. This is bound to give rise to suffering since everything is always in flux. We can try to hold onto something, including a particular identity, but life always moves on, and in the discrepancy of what we want and what is, there is suffering. Holding onto identities is a battle, and the casualty in this battle is our peace.

The other end is a fluid identification, allowing any identification that arises and spontaneously shifts into something else, knowing that none of them are complete, none of them are the full picture. This is a dance allowing anything to arise and exploring that too as I. It becomes an alive exploration process, against the background of all as Spirit, as Big Mind.

The polarity of presence and absence of a sense of I

The rigid form of identification involves a sense of I. There is a sense of I and Other, the I is fleshed out by numerous identities, and there is a rigid holding onto these. It becomes a matter of life and death. And the sense of I and Other is typically strong and seems very real.

The fluid form of identification can go along with a more vague sense of I, fluidly placed on whatever identity arises here and now. There is a sense of basic trust and safety which allows for a deepening into this fluidity.

Or it can happen within realized selflessness, where Big Mind finds itself arising in particular and always new ways, and finds itself as what is arising here now. This is a fluid and temporary identification, realized as simultaneously absent of any separate I and with the I of Big Mind, the I without an Other.

Identities with and without a sense of I

Identities arise in two different contexts: within a sense of I, or realized selflessness.

When they arise within a sense of I, they are used to guide how the field split itself up in its experience of itself. They flesh out, guide and support a sense of I and Other.

When they arise within the context of realized selflessness, they have a purely pragmatic function, as a guide for this human self in the world, where identities, this human self, and the wider world, are all revealed as awake emptiness and form, inherently absent of any separate I.

Surrendering resistance to sense of I

One aspect of surrender is surrendering resistance to any sense of I. To just be with it, as it is, and notice how it arises as an aspect of the field, as a thread in the tapestry.

Resistance is what produces, and maintains, a sense of I.

And this means that resistance to a sense of I does the same.

So allowing this sense of I to be as it is, and allowing even the resistance to be, is what allows the field to reveal itself, to itself, as a field.

Identity and surrender

Identity keeps coming up for me. There is this unified field of what is happening, of the seeing and the seen, of awake emptiness and form, and any identities placed on top of it filters it into I and Other. And this identity is any sense of separate I, of I and Other, fleshed out with any sense of I am and I want, as opposed to I am not and I don’t want.

First, there is a blind identification with this sense of I and its identities. Then, they are seen as just an aspect of the field, threads in the tapestry, arising as anything else, no more a separate I than anything else.


After dropping into the fertile darkness (belly awakening) and then the alive luminosity, there is now a luminous blackness which shares characteristics with both of those.

It is experienced as luminous and infinitely alive, loving, intelligent, receptive and responsive, and in that sense intimately personal. And it also has the universality of the fertile blackness, the ground of all form, the womb of the cosmos.

The last few days, there is a sense of a doubleness, of being two at once. Of being the familiar personality, and the luminous blackness.

(In Hameed Ali’s terminology, this fertile blackness is one aspect of essence or presence, and I tend to think of it as soul. It is individual and in that sense personal, but also universal in its characteristics. And when we drop into it, it becomes a guidance for our unfolding as soul and human being, and also a guide towards realizing selflessness. For as with our human self, there is no I in essence either. It is another aspect of the field of awake emptiness and form, inherently absent of I anywhere.)

What is interesting is how tangible the experience of doubleness is. I find myself surprised by it throughout the day: there is this personality, and then the alive essence, both there, occupying the same space, as twins although with quite different characteristics. The personality is made up by identities and habits, formed by family, culture and personal experiences. The essence is something entirely different, and infinitely loving, intelligent and receptive.

I see how attention goes to one or the other, and sometimes both (which is when I am taken by surprise by the doubleness of it). Sometimes, there is being caught up in the personality, riding the familiar patterns of this personality. Other times, there is the surrendering to essence of anything coming up, allowing it to be composted there, becoming fertile soil for something else to emerge.

Identities, moving beyond and holding back

I have been more acutely aware of identities over the last few weeks, seeing them clearly when they come up, and how they filter the world into I and Other, and how attachment to them is holding back what is emerging. They are an old coat that does not fit anymore, too small, wrong cut and color, dusty and old.

These identities is just another way of fleshing out and maintaining the sense of a separate I, and of I and Other. In the field of awake emptiness and form, there is an anchor point for a sense of I (in my case, somewhere near the base and back of the scull), and from here anything and everything else can be made to appear as Other, and the many identities define the relationship between this I and Other. I am this, not that. I want this, not that.

It is so transparent now, so obvious. So old.

There is also a fear in letting go of all of this. All these familiar patterns, these familiar ways of filtering, experiencing and being in the world.

There is a movement beyond all of this, allowing me to see more clearly how identities filter the world into I and Other, a hesitation from fear of letting go, and the intention of allowing resistance to drop and emerge over to the other side.

Dream: giving it all away

I am in a different culture, and must have moved there since I have all my belongings with me. A kind of festival is coming up, and I am encouraged to contribute to a kind of display. I offer them all I have, including my most personal belongings such as letter, photos, journals, and so on.

To my astonishment, a horde of people show up and take everything. Nothing is left. I tell one of the people in charge that there is a mistake, I would never have contributed all I have, including my most personal belongings, if I had known they would all be lost to me.

She said I had to follow the rules of the game. It turned out later that the ceremony was a way for people to get rid of their excess belongings, to declutter. I felt a mix of terror of having lost everything, any anchor I ever had in the physical world, and also, more distant, a sense that it could be exiting and freeing when I got used to it. Everything would be open. No anchors.

The day residue is from an old Star Trek episode I watched last night, Amok Time (!), where Kirk makes a similar mistake by agreeing to take part in a ritual from a culture foreign to him, and finds that he is getting more than he thought he agreed to.

The experience in the dream is similar to two real-life situations for me.

Identities falling away

One is what happens when there is no identity, as I have explored more over the last few days. Our identity, or identities, is our most intimate and cherished belonging, in a certain way. There is a sense of I, and then all the ways we clothe it up and define it through a set of beliefs, through an identity.

Our identity, especially the most intimate parts of it, gives a sense of security, buffering, familiarity, a point of view, a particular perspective, an anchor. And when we start to explore this identity, and parts of it starts falling away, there is a point of no return.

There is a place where the process cannot be stopped, where it continues all the way, until the last element of an identity falls away and nothing is left, except wide open space. Just awake emptiness and form, allowing any and all perspectives to be taken and explored, fluidly, without getting stuck anywhere.

It looks fine for a while. I can get rid of the clutter in my identity, those parts I didn’t care much for anyway. The excess parts. It feels good. But then, there is a point where the more cherished parts of the identity is questioned, where they too are taken up in the process, where they too start to unravel. And that does not always feel so good. This is where terror comes in, a sense of a terrible mistake being made. But it is too late.

Dark night

The other similarity is the dark night phase, where there was a similar experience of all my cherished belongings being taken away.

Of course, those two, the eroding of identity and a dark night, are not that different from each other. They are two ways of looking at the same process. One of letting go to how we see ourselves, how we define ourselves, our identity, all the way to the core of it.

Identity and suffering

This has been in the foreground over the last few days…

There is the field of seeing/seen arising, with no inherent center anywhere.

When something arises in this field, and there is an identity, and what arises is outside of this identity, there is suffering. It can be a very mild form of suffering, or more noticeable, but it is there.


So if there is an identity of someone who enjoys quiet, and there is noise, there is suffering. Without the identity, or the attachment to the identity, it all just arises as part of the field. There is noise, there is this personality, and they are just part of the field as it happens right now.

If there is an identity of someone who wants to be free from pain, and there is pain, there is suffering. And again, without this identity or the attachment to this identity, there is just the field arising of various sensations, of pain and personality, and that is it. It all arises as the field.

If there is an identity of someone who likes beauty, and there is not beauty, there is suffering. Or someone who likes beauty, and beauty is here, there is suffering because it may and will go away. And so on.

Struggle within the field of form in the foreground

When something arises that is outside of the identity, and there is attachment to the identity, the separation and discrepancy comes to the foreground. The two aspects of the field of form, the trigger and identity/reaction, are in the foreground and apparently opposed to each other. There is a sense of discomfort and struggle.

And there is an impulse to make this discomfort and struggle go away. This is a very healthy impulse, coming partly from knowing – intuiting, sensing – that it does not have to be that way.

One solution is to reorganize the field of form, either by removing or changing the trigger or the personality/reaction. It may or may not work, and even if it works to some extent, it is only a temporary solution. The patterns are still there, waiting to come up again. And no matter how much we work at it, and how sophisticated we become at it, we can’t quite control either the wider world or our own personality. It will always be unpredictable, live its own life.

The field itself, as a field, in the foreground

The other solution is to shift the center of gravity out of a segment of the field, from the personality/human self, to the seeing of it, or even better, to the field as a whole, to the field of awake emptiness and form, inherently free from any one center, personality, a sense of I, or any other aspect of what is arising.

Now, the field itself, as a field, as awake emptiness and form, is in the foreground. And any aspects of what is arising, any triggers and personality/reactivity, arise as this field. They are all just aspects of the landscape, threads in the overall tapestry, current flavors of the field, they all blend into the field as a whole although they can also be discerned and focused on if need be.

Identity is suffering

Identity not only leads to suffering, but is suffering. It is the field taking itself to be just a segment of itself, filtering itself through a sense of I and Other, creating a sense of struggle within itself.

And the only real resolution to this is for the field to notice itself, as a field, as the field of awake emptiness and form, and all forms, including triggers and personality/reactivity, as awake emptiness, as flavors of the field, threads in the overall tapestry.


More accurately, it is an attachment to a particular identity that brings suffering. A seeing of an exclusive identity as an absolute truth. An belief in a set of thoughts that make up an identity, from the idea of I to man/woman, young/old, liberal/conservative and so on. It is a way to know how to divide the field up into I/We and Other.

Even after the field awakens to itself, there is still a conventional identity left for this human self, used just for practical purposes. The main parts of this identity are the basic ones, such as name, gender, occupation, address, phone number. In addition, there are the flavors of this personality, the likes and dislikes in many areas of life, and these are now seen as amusing quirks and flavors, not taken very seriously.

Forms of identity

Some forms of identity…


The conventional identity for our human self helps it function in the world, and it can be more or less rigid and exclusive.

If it is rigid, exclusive, either/or and absolute, there is also a relatively strong sense of separation between persona (daily identity) and shadow (anything that does not fit this identity), and an investment in maintaining a stable conscious identity through maintaining a strong border between persona and shadow. I am a man, and that’s it. I vote democrat, and republicans just don’t get it.

If it is more porous, fluid, both/and and inclusive, there is more of a dance between persona and shadow, more space for any quality to be represented within the main identity. I am a man, but also include traditionally feminine qualities such as caring and making food. I vote democrat, but understand and agree with republicans in some areas.

Big Mind form aspect

This is Big Mind in its form aspect, which is all inclusive of all form. Whatever arises is Big Mind, or the Self, or Brahman, Spirit, Tao, in its form aspect.

Big Mind formless aspect

This is the formless aspect of Big Mind, the awake emptiness.

In itself, it is completely free from any identity. Stainless. Untouched.

At the same time, it is the awake emptiness of all form. It is the emptiness of form, taking any sense of absoluteness or substantiality out of whatever arises.

All together

All together, there is (a) the conventional identity of our human self, typically of the more inclusive and fluid variety. It is there only as an aid for functioning in the world and there is nothing absolute in it. (b) There is the realization of all form as Big Mind, as Spirit, as the Self, the all-inclusive “I”. (c) And the realization of freedom from any identity as formless awake emptiness, and the awake emptiness of all form – allowing for a lighter touch.


Some aspects of contraction…

Contraction through identity

The field of seeing and seen, absent of I anywhere, takes itself to be a segment of itself. It filters itself through a sense of I and Other, creates a more elaborate identity for this I, and allows anything else to appear as Other.

From the wide open spaciousness of the field, there is a contraction into “I” as a small segment of the field and Other as everything else.

Contraction as tension

And when there is a sense of I and Other, there is also the sense of needing to protect this I from Other, defending one segment of the field against other segments of the field. And this creates physical and mental tension.

We do this physically, protecting this human self against hunger, cold, heat, danger, illness.

And we defend our constructed identity. We maintain it so it is not forgotten. We defend against whatever arises in the field that does not fit the identity. We may even experience discomfort when something arises that is outside of the identity, and want to eliminate it, either by ignoring it, going away from it, or trying to remove it from the world (good luck.)

It is actually quite interesting how this happen, and to notice it as it happens.

Example of tension through defending identity

There is just this field of seeing and seen, inherently free from any center or I anywhere.

Then, a belief in the idea of I, placed on this human self, and a sense of I and Other.

Then, the construction of a more elaborate and complex identity, such as man, old, healthy, republican, good citizen, father, son, husband, jovial, hard worker, good neighbor, likes fish but can’t stand rutabaga.

And then something arises in the field, maybe something that is labeled “not good citizenship”, and there is immediately an impulse to make it go away – by ignoring it, placing it firmly “over there” at somebody else, changing the other person, supporting politics aimed at removing or changing the other person, and so on. Immediately, the peace is disturbed.

One segment of the field is put up against another segment of the field. The field is in struggle with itself. The knot of identification is tightened. The sense of I and Other intensifies.

The center of gravity is even more firmly in the form aspect of the field, forgetting itself as the whole field, and as awake emptiness as well as form.

Getting up in the morning

There are two ways to get up in the morning…

One is to identify with whatever impulses there are to get up and to stay in bed, and get caught in the drama of it.

The other is to simply watch, with curiosity, what this human self is doing. Watching the thoughts coming up. Watching sensations and images. Watching the personality do its thing. Watching the human self in the bed. Watching it getting out of bed (or not).

It lives its own life anyway. And in my experience, it does get out of the bed anyway, even without the identification and (minor) dramas.

It gets up with or without the identification, but without there is a sense of ease, clarity and effortless, and surprise as well. There is an impulse rising, and it gets up. Or maybe it gets up even without any discernible immediate cause.

The many forms of oneness

I have talked with a couple of people lately who have mentioned oneness, and it reminded me of how this too looks differently depending on the center of gravity of identification and the whole aqal context as well.

Identification with a segment of the seen: oneness as emotional merging or a taste

When there is an exclusive identification with our human self, the idea of oneness typically remains just an idea. We may try some form of emotional merging, or feeling into the oneness, but that is about it. It does not go very far, and typically includes effort and fantasy.

Sometimes, there can also be a taste of oneness when I is temporarily forgotten (or more precisely when the idea of I is forgotten – and there is not the attachment to or building up of the idea of I). The sense of I goes into the background or falls away for a while, revealing all there is as a seamless whole. This can happen through sex, drugs (food, alcohol, recreational drugs), rock’n roll (entertainment) and relaxation (meditation, receiving Breema).

Identification with the seeing: the world of form as a seamless whole

When the center of gravity shifts out of the seen and into the seeing, when we find ourselves as pure awareness, as Witness, as that which the seen arises to and within, oneness takes a different form.

Now, the seen is revealed as an always a seamless whole, as one if you like.

This human self appeared as inner and the rest of the world as outer, and now, inner and outer is revealed as created by the exclusive identification with our human self. It is not inherent in the world of form.

The whole world of form arises within and to awareness, as a seamless always changing whole. It is one.

Noticing that seeing and seen are not two: a taste of oneness of seeing and seen

After a while (or sometimes right away) there is the noticing of the seen as arising to, within and now also as awareness. The seeing and the seen are both awareness. The seen are not so different from the seeing. They are not two.

The boundary between first I as seen and Other as seeing, and then I as seeing and Other as seen, now starts to erode. It is the early realization of the absence of I anywhere. The sense of I is merely created by an attachment to the idea of I as a segment of what is. I and other are not inherent in neither the seeing nor the seen.

Here, there is a taste of the oneness of seeing and seen.

Absent of I: absent of oneness and manyness, yet including both

The next shift is into realized selflessness.

Here, the inherent absence of I in seeing and seen is fully realized.

The Ground of seeing and seen is inherently absent of oneness or manyness, yet also allows and includes both.

That is why the whole game of hide and seek could play itself out in the first place: from exclusive identification with the seen, with the human self, to include – or shift to – the seeing itself, to a hunch of the absence of I anywhere, to realized selflessness.

Feeling like myself

And here are some of the different ways of feeling like myself….

Usual identity

One is whenever life unfolds so I can be comfortable in my usual (limited) identity.

I am this and not that, and life does not question that identity right now, or, even better, life conforms to how I would like to see myself.

So I see myself as an introvert, and I have a quiet evening at home or with close friends. Or I see myself as clear and alert, and I happen to feel that way today. Or I would like to be warm and personable, and I happen to be in a situation where that comes out.

In each case, I feel like myself, aligned with my usual identity or what I would like my identity to be.

Being participation

Another is when we experience ourselves as whole. For instance as the whole that is beyond and includes body, energy, feelings, thoughts and soul.

This is what they call Being Participation in Breema. And the body/psyche whole is called the Centaur level in KWs framework.

We can shift into this when we are relaxed and alert, comfortable with ourselves and the world, and our (limited) identity falls more into the background. And our center of gravity is more stably here when our identity is more embracing and closer to include all of what we are as humans and soul and even Spirit.

Ground awakening

And yet another form is to feel like my Self, when the Ground of seeing and seen awakens to its own nature absent of any I. Here, everything in the seen and the seeing itself is revealed as Spirit, as emptiness dancing, as the Always Already.

When Ground awakens to itself, there is the final sense of “feeling like myself”. Spirit recognizes everything as itself, as the many forms of Spirit.

Coming home

In each of these cases, there is also a sense of coming home, deepening with each one.

As a kid, I remember sometimes waking up in the morning with a sense of longing, of longing for something I couldn’t quite identify, longing for a deeper sense of home. I tried everything, from reading Donald Duck comics, eating sandwiches with strawberry jam, drinking hot chocolate, spending time with my parents and brother, going outside, playing with friends, but nothing seemed to help. There was something really important missing, which I could not identity.

When the initial awakening came, out of the blue, in my mid-teens, I realized (later) that this is what I was longing for. This is what I knew was already there, but not noticed. This deep sense of belonging in and as part of all of Existence, of no separation, of everything, with no exceptions, as God and Spirit.

And later when I found Breema, I found another flavor of this sense of belonging and coming home. And again in the tastes of realized selflessness.

Forms of integration

Some forms of integration…


At the Ground level, the seeing and seen as Ground, there is an absence of integration, lack of integration, and even the possibility for integration. Everything happens on its own, as Ground. It is emptiness dancing. It is already one, and absent of one, many, and absent of many.

Human self

At the level of our human self, one form of integration is the integration of our many qualities, skills, aspects, subpersonalities and so on. The question here is: What is alive in my active repertoire?

This is all about familiarizing ourselves with our human self, allowing all the many qualities to come into awareness, to become more familiar with them, to bring them into our daily repertoire and everyday life. As Ken Wilber puts it (and Freud before him), we allow what arises in our immediate awareness as it to become I, me and mine, we allow what is 3rd and 2nd person into 1st person.

And one of the many ways to do this is the Big Mind process, allowing not only for Big Mind to have a taste of and shift into recognition of itself, but also the many voices at our human level to be brought into awareness and a more conscious integration in the daily life of our human self.


Integration in our view has two aspects.

:: View as self-identity

One relates to our integration as a human being.

What is included in my identity as a human being? How wide, deep, embracing is it? How strong or permeable are the boundaries?

The wider and more porous our identity as a human being, the more inclusive our repertoire can be, and the more of the its are allowed to become I, me and mine.

And does this identity also leave room for and include myself as soul, and as Spirit – absent of any I anywhere, inherently free from any identity?

:: View as general framework and worldview

The other has to do with our general worldview and framework. How integral is my view?

Does it include and allow for the inner and the outer, and the one and the many? The Beautiful (aesthetics), the Good (ethics), True (Science), and Spirit? The many lines and levels of evolution and development? 1st, 2nd and 3rd person relationships with myself, the world and Spirit?

Self as seeing (or absent), me as this human self, and other as the rest of form

Another pretty obvious thing for those following KWs work:

I as seeing, me as human self, other as the rest of the world

When the sense of self shifts from the seen to the seeing, what is seen is divided up in two parts: me – as this human self, and other – as the rest of the world of form.

I am the seeing. Me is this human self. And other is the rest of the world.

Pretty simple.

And at the same time, the me and other is clearly seen as segments of the seamless fluid world of form. The dividing line between me and other is just for convenience’s sake, for practical reasons, as an aid for this human self to function and orient in the world of form. There is a demarcation line, for practical reasons, but it is just an abstract overlay.

I am the seeing that the world of form happens within.

Realized selflessness, and still me as human self and other as the rest of the world

Then, there is the realization that I am the Ground the seeing and the seen happens within and as, and there is no I inherent in any of it.

Even here, in realized selflessness, this human self is still me and the rest of the world other.

And here, it is even more clear that there is no inherent difference among any of these. It is all Ground in its many forms, Spirit playing, emptiness dancing.

The only difference is a practical one: there is still a functional connection with this particular human self. So, for purely practical reasons, it is labeled me.

And as the rest of the world of form continues to evolve, this human self continues to develop.

Identification versus development

It is interesting (although pretty obvious I guess, to those exposed to KWs work and that of others) how identification and development can be seen as somewhat independent of each other.

Shifting identification and sense of self

In the previous post, I mentioned how identification – the center of gravity, the sense of self or I – shifts from unformed, via the seen – our human self, to the seeing itself, to nowhere to be found – realized selflessness.

And how one polar end is unformed and nonfunctional – as in a baby, where the other polar end – realized selflessness, can engage with and use everything explored through previous identifications.

In Spiral Dynamic terms, the identification moves up the spiral and explores a new way of functioning at each turn of the spiral, and all of these are available – and can continue to mature and develop, within realized selflessness.

Development of this human self

There is somewhat of a dependence between the development of this human self and where on the spiral the sense of identity is, and there is also somewhat of an independence between the two.

The separation of the two is most clear when there is a realized selflessness, and this human self still continues to heal, mature and develop indefinitely – as long as it is around. The sense of self remains the same, absent (!), yet the me – as this human self, continues to develop, and develop, and develop, as part of the general evolution of the world of form.

I guess this is why the sense of self is a separate line of development.

Playing the game: taking a fictional character as real

Say there is a fictional character, and you want to make the stories about him or her more engrossing for yourself. What do you do?

Pretending a fictional character is real

One way is to pretend the person really exists, to take the stories seriously and as reality. That way, you can allow yourself to go into it more fully, to put more energy, attention and interest into it than you otherwise would.

And that is exactly what many Sherlock Holmes scholars and fans do. They play what some refer to as The Game: studying Sherlock Holmes as if he was a real flesh-and-blood person, Dr. Watson his biographer, Conan Doyle his literary agent, and the stories themselves histocial documents.

Playing the game to bring out the richness of the stories

In this program on Sherlock Holmes from To the Best of Our Knowledge, Leslie Clinger – author of The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, talks about The Game, or Holmesian Speculation.

Listen about 25 minutes into the program:

It’s a game. And it’s a game we play to enhance our appreciation of the story. When we treat them as real, we can justify spending a great deal more effort in researching the background of the stories and in working up explanations for the stories in a way that brings out their richness.


And so it is with our lives as well, according to many mystics and spiritual traditions.

This human self that there is so close an identification with, that seem as an I, that is taken so seriously, that appear so real, so solid, so true. This human self has no I in it anywhere. There is no I in the seeing of it, in the awake space it arises within and as. There is no I in the seen, in this human self and all its aspects: its sensations, feelings, emotions, thoughts, behaviors.

There is no I anywhere in the seeing or the seen. There is only the Ground of empty awakeness the seeing and the seen arises within and as, with no I anywhere. There is doing, yet no doer anywhere. There is choosing, yet no chooser anywhere. This human self just happens, absent of any I. It lives its own life, as anything else in the world of phenomena lives its own life.

This self, as an I, as a separate entity, as a chooser, as a doer, is fictional.

And what makes it a more interesting and engrossing character? To pretend it is real. To take it as I. To have a close identification with it. To live as if it is separate from anything else. To see myself as it, and subject to birth and death, joy and suffering, health and happiness, gain and loss, and all the other ingredients of the human drama.

There is no drama without identification with this human self. And the drama is what makes it engrossing. It is what makes it interesting, at least for a while.

A new flavor of the game: seeking awakening

And then there is a weariness of this drama. A growing readiness to move on. For Ground to awaken to its own nature as awake space, as seeing and seen, absent of I.

There is a new flavor of the game, not much different from all the other flavors, and this one is called spiritual seeking and practice.

This and the other ones are all games where human self is taken as an I, and the new flavor is to try to have this I awaken. Which of course is impossible. This human self can never awaken, and there is no I anywhere anyway – only a temporary and mistaken identification as an I and this human self, but it makes for another interesting chapter of the drama.

A new game: this human self functioning in the context of realized selflessness

And then there is a significantly new game: Ground awakens to – or rather remembers – its own nature, and now the game becomes to allow this human self to live from this awakening, to mature, evolve, interact, experience, explore within this new context of realized selflessness.

It is a whole new section of the story, yet one that is no less juicy. And one that has no end, at least as long as there is a functional connection to human self.

A belief means identity with content

They decided to divide the stone into pieces.
Of course then the Priceless became lost.

Most everyone is lousy at math
And does that to God –

Dissects the Indivisible One,

By thinking, saying,
“This is my Beloved, he looks like this
And acts like that,

How could that moron over there

– from The Gift

In an earlier post, I mentioned the shifts from (a) a sense of I as seen, as content of awareness, as this human self, to (b) I as seeing, as pure awareness, as Witness, as that which content arises to and within, to (c) a realization of absence of I in seeing and seen, and Ground as seeing and seen.

Whenever there is a belief in a thought, in any thought, there is automatically an identification with content.

An idea is attached to, it is believed in, it is taken as true. Right there, the world is split.

It is split into I and Other. I is placed one segment of the world, leaving the rest to Other.

It is split into I as having a particular identity and Other as outside of this identity. I am those segments that fit into this network of ideas making up an identity, and whatever is left is Other.

Right away, there is an identification with content. I am this, not that.

Right there, the center of gravity is in content.

Right there, comes a sense of drama and struggle.

Right there, forgetfulness comes in.

Forgetting myself as the seeing, as pure awareness.

Forgetting myself as Ground, as seeing and seen, absent of I anywhere.

Content fighting content

The only struggle is within content, and then only when there is an identification with a section of content.

There is an attachment to the thought I, placed on something within content, and this creates an appearance of I and Other. From this comes the innumerable relationships between I and other, including struggle and conflict.

The only release is for Ground to recognize itself, and content as itself. There is a shift out of identification with content, most typically our human self or a segment of our human self, and into clear awareness becoming aware of itself, and its content as no different from itself.

Content can stay the same, with the same relationships among all the various aspects of content. The difference is that when there is no – mistaken – identification with content anymore, there is also no sense of drama and struggle.

Identification & Not

I keep coming back to this…

In terms of our identifications, there are really only two broad categories: The first is a belief in the idea of I, and the other is an absence of this belief.


When there is a belief in the idea of I, it can be placed on any number of phenomena or segments of what is.

It can be placed on this human self, and I appear as an object in the world of phenomena. I am within and limited in space and time. I can and am impacted by innumerable other and unpredictable objects. I am born and will die. I have likes and dislikes. Awareness and consciousness comes and goes, and fluctuates in presence. This naturally brings about a great deal of stress and drama.

It can be placed on awareness, on the Witness, on the seeing. In this case, there is I as pure awareness and seeing, and Other as that which is seen.

I am timeless, and that within which time/space unfolds. I find myself as awareness and consciousness, free from coming and going and fluctuation in presence.

The world of phenomena now appears as a seamless whole spanning that which arises within and outside of this human self. It is a seamless field, of which this human self is just a small part of the landscape. I am not this human self, it only arises within me as everything else.

The sense of I and Other can be experienced to varying degrees here. There can be a relatively clear sense of I as seeing and Other as the seen. Or the sense of I and Other can gradually erode, along with a deepening sense of no separation, of unity, of oneness (although there is still an I which is in no separation, unity and oneness with something else).

This naturally brings a good deal of relief, although there is still an identification with a segment of what is, there is still a sense of I and Other, there is still potential for stress and drama here.

There is a potential for a fall from grace. The belief in the idea of I is still around, and may with time shift away from the seeing and into the seen again, from the timeless and into that which is within time.

Absence of identification

Eventually, the Ground awakens to its own nature of no I anywhere. It all arises within and as awareness, as before, but clearly with no I anywhere.

The Ground awakens to its own nature, independent of content. The content may be as before, it may – and will – go through any number of states, and it doesn’t matter. It is all revealed as Ground, independent of which temporary form it takes.

There is the activity and doing of this human self, as before, but now revealed as (always) absent of any doer.

This is the only real liberation. The liberation of any belief in the idea of I, placed anywhere.

Each shift notable

Each of these shifts are notable.

Shifting from identification with form to awareness is experienced as a significant shift, and may take time to get used to.

Shifting from identification with awareness to the realization of no I anywhere is experienced as a similarly significant shift, and also takes time to get used to.

While the shift from identification with our human self to awareness is significant, it is really just what the sense of I is placed on which changes. In the shift into Ground realizing its own nature of selflessness, the whole sense of I is shown to be just a belief and falls away.


Within all this, there is a great deal of fluidity. There is a center of gravity shifting among these three. The first two may, and often seem to, appear mixed with each other. The third may happen in periods before it stabilizes.

Identity & Knowing Someone

In a conventional view – when there is still a good deal of beliefs in thoughts, we tend to feel we know someone when we have a sense of their beliefs, maybe especially those they don’t readily admit to themselves or others. Yet, all we have is really just a rough map of their temporary identifications, how they identify themselves. We have a rough map of the minefield they have constructed, which can be useful in daily life – in having some sense of where we are likely to find support, which areas to step around if we don’t want to set off one or more mines, and so on.

When we start unravel our own beliefs and identifications, this way of “knowing” someone makes less sense. It may still be useful in a conventional sense, but it is certainly no way of knowing anyone. We see how temporary and ephemeral these structures of beliefs and identifications are. Examine them, and they fall away, one by one.

What is left is who we really are, who we already are, when the dust kicked up by beliefs settle. And this appears to be no different from what anyone else are. At our human level, we all have the same thoughts coming up – although believed in to different extent and in various patterns. We all know the suffering from attaching to thoughts, and some of us know the relief from allowing these to unravel. At beyond this, we find ourselves as clarity. As the timelessness and spacelessness that time and space happens within and as. In the meeting of others, we find ourselves as inherent and effortless wisdom and compassion.

Even at a conventional level, most of us probably have experiences of (a) the dissatisfaction of just knowing someone through their beliefs and identifications – even if they happen to correspond with our own, and (b) the depth of intimacy which can occur – even with strangers, through nonverbal interactions, maybe especially through gazing, working on someone’s hara (in Breema) and so on. Here, we connect at a different level, one where are are not so different from each other, or maybe not at all different.

Body Identification

I am reading A Cry in the Desert: the awakening of Byron Katie, and although it is interesting, it is also a reminder that any story first perfectly mirrors its author, and then equally perfectly (and differently) mirrors whomever reads or hears it.

All we see is ourselves. While there is still a belief in I, it appears that all the qualities we know from our human self is what we see out there – in others, in dreams, in stories, in landscapes, in fantasies. And when the belief in I drops, we see that whatever is happens is Buddha Mind, Spirit, God, emptiness dancing – inherently absent of any I. (Or we can say it is an “I” in a different way. It is the “I” distinct from the I of I and Other. It is the “I” which has no fixed identity, no boundaries, no Other – and yet also is free to manifests as the experience of fixed identity, boundaries, and I and Other.)

The author talks about body identification in a way that helped me look at the different apparent levels of body identification again. For instance…

  1. Body identification & sense of separation
    This corresponds with for instance F5 in Ken Wilber’s framework, center of gravity in the rational mind. It is where many (most?) people in the modern world are.

  2. Body identification & less or no sense of separation
    This corresponds with F7 and F8, nature and deity mysticism. There is still a sense of I, even if it may become more vague and ephemeral, yet also a clear experience of no separation, of intimacy with any- and everything happening. F6, the centaur level, the experience of the whole beyond body and psyche, may also include the beginnings of this sense of no separation.

  3. Identification as Witness
    Here, the center of gravity shifts into the Witness, into the seeing, into pure awareness. I am seeing, not this body, not anything in the world of phenomena. Initially, there may be a sense of separation to the world of phenomena. Then, there may be a sense of no separation with the world of phenomena. In either case, the world of phenomena is directly experienced as a seamless whole, there is no inner and outer anymore.

    What used to be seen as “inner” – the interior experience of this human self, and the “outer” – the experience of the outer world, are seen as just parts of a seamless landscape. The apparent boundary between them falls away.

  4. Nondual
    Finally, there is a realization that even this sense of I – now placed on the Witness, is also merely a belief in a thought. It is still the belief in the thought I, now just placed on pure awareness rather than this human self. In seeing this clearly, and the potential for suffering and confusion even here, this too falls away. Now, there is just what is, inherently absent of any I. It is all emptiness dancing.

    It is the inner and outer world from no. 1 and 2, revealed as a seamless whole in no. 3, and now revealed as inherently absent of any I in no. 4.

I & Identity

The sense of I seems to come from a belief in the idea of I.

And our sense of identity comes from all our other beliefs.

Belief in the idea of I

First, there is the simple belief in the idea of I – creating a sense of I and Other, of subject and object, of seer and seen. And as on of the job of thoughts and emotions is to make beliefs appear true, it takes on a very convincing appearance.

Without beliefs, thoughts are revealed as completely innocent – just an aid to explore and navigate in the world of phenomena. When a thought is believed in, it becomes the source of drama and struggle. And when a thought is believed in, it becomes the job of many of the other thoughts to make the belief appear real.


Our sense of identity, used to fill in and flesh out the initial simple sense of I and Other, comes from all our other beliefs.

From the simple I, there is the more refined and complex I am (…), I believe (…) and so on. We split existence into I and Other, I am this and not that. I am a human. I am alive. I am white. I am male. I am liberal. I like fish’n chips. I don’t like conservatives. I believe democracy is good. I believe people shouldn’t talk during a movie. Ad infinitum.

Unraveling beliefs

There are many ways to unravel beliefs. The Work seems to be one of the most straightforward and direct ways, and there are also many other forms of inquiry which does the job. Sitting practice is another, repeatedly getting dipped into something which does not match our initial and conventional beliefs, and gradually allows them to erode and fall away.

In the absence of beliefs, there is only Ground manifesting as the myriad phenomena, emptiness dancing. It is just what is – often the same content as before – although absent of any inherent I and Other, subject and object, seer and seen.

Free Fall

An absence of identity seems similar to a continuous free fall.

Maybe because what is seems similar to one. It is just this Eternal Now, this Timeless Present, within which all these phenomena happen – always fresh. Everything dies as what it was and is reborn as something else, continuously.

There is nothing to hold onto. It is not possible to hold onto anything, no matter how much there is a trying to hold onto something. There is only the appearance of holding onto something, an attachment to the idea of holding onto – and that too cannot be held onto.

So there is a free fall. An absence of anything to hold onto.

Over the last few weeks, the memory of a recurrent childhood dream has come up for me. A dream about a free fall. And then this experience of an absence of identity as a free fall. The experience of both are very similar.