Looking at knots from the emptiness and form sides

Knots are the whole complex of a belief in a story (as absolutely true), and the accompanying emotional and behavioral patterns. It brings identification into the content of awareness, and comes from and props up a sense of a separate self.

To see what is already more true for us, we can explore these knots from the emptiness side and the form side.

Exploring from the emptiness side

From the emptiness side, we find ourselves as awake emptiness, and see that all of it – the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors – are nothing other than this awake emptiness. We can explore and become more familiar with this through the headless experiments, the Big Mind process, or other forms of inquiry.

Exploring from the form side

From the form side, we can look at the effects of holding onto a particular story as absolutely true, what would happen if it was not attached to in this way, and finding the grains of truth in the reversals of the initial story. Through this, we discover that what we held as an absolute truth is really only a relative truth, which allows the grip on it to relax and identification go out of form and back into the field of awake emptiness (often just experienced as more spaciousness and a sense of peace.) The Work and different (other) forms of shadow work are good ways to explore the form side.

Differentiating the relative and the absolute

Another way to put it is that knots come from taking the relative (stories) as absolute (absolutely true), and the resolution is to differentiate the relative and absolute, seeing the stories as only relative truths, and finding ourselves as the absolute – as awake emptiness, and form as no other than awake emptiness itself.

The experience of the absolute changing over time

In real life, it doesn’t always look exactly like this of course. The exploration of the form side of the knots may not change so much over time, although it may become more clear and differentiated over time. But the experience of ourselves as the awake emptiness and form may change over time. Initially, just as a sense of release, spaciousness, ease and peace. As we go along, more as a clear noticing of the awake void that all forms dances within, to and as – a field inherently absent of any separate self anywhere.

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.

Free will – how the question arises and can be resolved

When there is a sense of I in this human self, the question of free will becomes very important. Do I, as this human self, have free will, or not, or is there a mix?

Spirit awakening to itself, realizing infinite causes in the world of form

But when Spirit awakens to itself as the Ground of seeing or seen, or the field of seeing and seen, absent of I anywhere, it becomes different.

Now, the whole world of form is revealed as a seamless field, and any change in any part of this field is a an expressions of the movements of the whole of this field. Or we can say that any change in any aspect of the world of form, including our human self, has infinite causes and infinite effects.

So even here, there is a taste of no “free will” in the world of form.

And when the field of seeing and seen, which includes the world of form, is revealed as inherently absent of any I anywhere, it becomes even clearer. If there is no “I” in the world of form – not in this human self, not in the soul, not anywhere, how can there be free will? There is no room for free will, there is nowhere for it to be.

This human self and everything else in the world of form just happens. It is the expressions of the movements of the whole, it is Spirit manifesting as form. It all lives its own life.

The field identifying as a segment of itself, the question of free will arises

What is happening when there is the question of free will is a belief in the idea of I as a segment of this field of seeing and seen. And the most plausible candidate for what to place this idea or sense of I on is this human self. Now there is a sense of I as this human self, and Other as anything else. There is an identification with an object which is finite in time and space. Which has a birth and death. Which interacts and relates with the wider world of form.

There are thoughts arising. Decisions made. Behaviors. There is a thought arising, then a decision, then a behavior, following mostly predictably and logically from the thought and the decision.

And when there is a sense of “I” placed on top of all this, there is the sense of “I” thinking, deciding, acting. I think, decide, act.

So then there must be a free will, right? After all, I am the one doing all this.

Yet, logic says that anything has a cause. And that has a cause. And anything may have infinite causes, each of which has infinite causes, which suggests causality and no free will.

So which one is right?

That is how the question arises.

Spirit awakening to itself, resolving the question in two ways

Yet, when Spirit awakens to itself as the Ground of seeing and seen, or the field of seeing and seen, absent of I anywhere, it is revealed in a different way.

There is no free will in the world of form, due to infinite causes of anything, and also that there is, and never was, any “I” there in the first place.

Yet as the Ground, as emptiness and awakeness, there is complete freedom. It is free from form. Unstained by it. Unimpinged by form. Distinct from form. Free from any of the many polarities within form, such as freedom and no freedom.

And as Spirit, there is no I and Other. There is no Other to be free from.

The whole question falls away in two ways.

There is full freedom as awake emptiness, and no freedom within and as form.

And there is no Other to be free from. It is all Spirit.

Time out of the timeless, space out of the spaceless

I noticed the DVD set of Cosmos at the library a few days ago, and thought it would be fun to watch one or two episodes again (it made a big impact on me when I watched it as a kid.)

The episode I watched was The Edge of Forever where Carl Sagan explores some of the most basic and universal questions about our existence, such as where does the universe come from? When did it start, or did it have a beginning? How will it end, or will it end? Does it have an edge or boundary? What happens if we continue infinitely in one direction? Will we end up where we started?

He spends a great deal of time on the Vedic cosmology, which in many ways parallels modern scientific cosmology.

So how did the universe, or space and time, begin?

Emptiness, awakeness and form

When I look at it for myself, right here now, I find that space and time arise within and as the timeless.

There is empty awakeness here, which time and space and all forms arise within, to and as. And this empty awakeness has a definite sense of timelessness and spacelessness. It is distinct from time and space, not touched by time and space, which is why it can allow time and space and any forms to arise within, to and as itself.

It is very simple, and (most likely) alive in the immediate awareness of all of us, yet we typically don’t notice it, or we only notice it as a glimpse, which is then covered up by attachment to the many different stories about who we are and how the world is.

And I also notice that the world of form is in flux. Nothing stays the same. It is always fresh, new and different, and that is especially alive when the empty awakeness is aware of itself. When timelessness comes more to the foreground, the transient nature of forms similarly comes to the foreground.

So in a sense, the universe is born right here now. It continuously dies as it was, and is reborn in a fresh and different way. (There is obviously enough continuity in the processes of the world of form so we can use ideas to orient, make models, predict and analyze what is going on.)

If we assume that the universe as a whole, as it unfolds in space and time, follows a similar process, then there are two pretty obvious options for how form relates to the formless.

Existence “started” with this timeless empty awakeness as a “ground” state. Then, the form aspect emerged from it and the universe was born. At the large scale, form was birthed from the formless, as it is right here now in immediate awareness. Here, there was of course not any “before” because form (and space and time) did not exist then.

Or, emptiness, awakeness and form have always been. The timeless and time, the spaceless and space, the changeless and changing, the formless and form, the empty awakeness arising as the world of phenomena, always are, as two aspects of the same whole, beyond and including all polarities.

Both of these versions are independent on any specifics about how the form aspect unfolds. Today, the Big Bang (or inflation) models are most frequently used, and these easily fits into both of the views mentioned above.

In both versions, we account for the empty and awake and the form aspects of Existence, which is beyond and includes any and all polarities.

And in both versions, we extrapolate from what is alive in immediate awareness to the larger scale, here the birth and cycles of the universe as a whole. (This is of course what many of the spiritual and mystical traditions do, in many more areas than just cosmology.)

The curse and the blessing of impermanence

Impermanence can be a curse or a blessing.

The curse of impermanence: when identified with the seen

It is a curse if there is an identification with the seen, typically our human self. Then, we are at the mercy of birth and death, illness and loss, getting what we don’t want and don’t getting what we want. Identified as our human self our happiness is precarious at best.

The blessing of impermanence: as a guide to find ourselves as that which does not change

And it is also a blessing, as a reminder to find ourselves as that which does not change. We can notice sounds, sights, smells, tastes, sensations and thoughts come and go. All of this which makes up our human self, which we have been so closely identified, comes and goes, constantly, in our own immediate experience.

Yet, something does not change. What is it that does not change? It is this awake space that all of this comes and goes within, it is the awareness it happens to and as.

Here, impermanence becomes a blessing. It helps us shift out of a blind identification with the seen and find ourselves as the seeing itself. It helps the center of gravity shift our of our human self and into and as the witness.

And here, there is first an intuition and feeling of no separation between the seen and the seeing, both seem to have the same flavor, to be aspects of a larger whole, be born from the same Ground.

Shifting into realized selflessness

Then, there is the noticing of both the seeing and the seen as inherently absent of any I. They are Ground in its seeing and seen aspects, yet with no I anywhere.

The sense of center falls away. The sense of I and Other falls away. The seeing and the seen arises as a field absent of center, absent of I anywhere.

Relative and absolute

Impermanence as a curse or blessing is a relative truth.

The absolute shows us that impermanence is inherently absent of either, so allows both. It allows any relative truth about impermanence, including any and all stories about impermanence that comes up in us, including this one.

The third eye: transcend and embrace, and how to develop it

The third eye (ajna chakra) has to do with seeing auras, seeing into the future, seeing past lives, and such. Right?

Holding polarities: transcend and embrace

Well, maybe, but more simply, it has to do with holding polarities. It is the third eye that transcends and embraces the views from the two conventional eyes.

It transcends in that it sees and holds both, yet is inherently free from and is not identified with either.

It embraces, in that it includes and is informed by the conventional views.

So how can we develop or connect with the third eye?

How to develop the third eye: Big Mind process

One way is the Big Mind process. We explore the different voices at the personal level, and see that while all of them are very useful in our human life, none of them holds any absolute truth.

More specifically, we can explore polar opposite or complementary voices. We see see that they each have an important function, they each serve our human self in a very real way. Yet, they also hold apparently opposite views of the world.

So we can move beyond these two into the voice that sees both.

This voice is inherently free from and not identified with either.

Yet it embraces both. It can freely engage with either. It can bring either forth as needed in a situation. It can draw on information from both, integrating it into a fuller picture. It is the voice that holds and engages with the polarity.

How to develop the third eye: The Work

Another way to develop these aspects of the third eye is The Work.

We take a belief in a thought. Explore the consequences of holding onto this belief. Explore who or what we would be without attaching to the thought and seeing it as inherently true. And turn it around to its many opposite versions, and explore the grain of truth in each of these.

In this way, we see that any statement – any story, idea, thought, map, model, interpretation, is inherently free from any absolute truth.

They are all relative truths.

They can be very useful as practical guidelines, for helping our human self orient and function in the world.

Yet if there is an attachment to them, if they are seen as absolutely true, if there is a belief in them, it creates no end of drama, suffering and discomfort.

Through this form of inquiry, we find the space that is free from yet embraces all of the relative truths, in this case the initial statement and all of its turnarounds.


Why the photo of the bindi in the previous post?

It is a reminder of transcendent truths, of that which is free from and holds all conventional truths.

Of Existence inherently free from, beyond, and including all polarities of existence and nonexistence, spirit and matter, emptiness and form, living and inanimate, life and death, mind and body, nature and culture, a forest and a city, Jesus and Hitler, you and I, clarity and confusion, awakening and delusion, sense of I and realized selflessness.

It is the eye that beholds and intimately embraces the pair of conventional eyes, of polarity.

Meaning of life?

One of the big questions, after having the basic needs taken care of, is what is the meaning of life?

Ground inherently free from any meaning

Ground or Big Mind is inherently free from any meaning or lack of meaning, which means that any sense of meaning or lack of meaning, and any particular content of meaning, is free to arise.

What is, is the meaning

Moving a short distance into the relative, we see that what is, right now, can be seen as the meaning of life. Whatever happens right now, whatever arises as the content of awareness right now, that’s it. That is the meaning of my life, right now, just as it is. That is how Ground, Big Mind, Spirit, Brahman manifests as form, right now.

This is of course not helpful if this realization is not arising on its own, but when the realization is there – it is clear. This, as it is, is the meaning of life. That which arises right now, fresh, immediate, always new, before any ideas are put on it.

Finding one’s own meaning

And then there is of course the conventional way of looking at it, at least in contemporary western societies: life may be inherently meaningless, but find your own meaning. That is the meaning of your life, to find what is meaningful for you. I guess this is Orange and beyond, in Spiral Dynamics.

At Blue (or amber in KW’s new model), the answer tends to be given by whatever tradition one adheres to. If you are Christian, then it is salvation. If you are Buddhist, then awakening – or at least a good rebirth.

And at Green, it may be partly finding one’s own meaning, and partly to live a life good for the larger whole – for humanity as a whole, for the Earth as a whole, for future generations.

Each of these are of course completely legitimate, and can be very helpful, although they are also relative truths.

The Sting & Reversals

I watched The Sting again last night, and was reminded of how much I enjoy well-crafted stories with surprising reversals. In The Sting, the audience is repeatedly led to believe certain stories about what they are seeing. Later on, the audience is given new information and insights which completely reverses what they see as going on.

For us humans, there seems to be a built-in delight in these forms of reversals, especially when they appear in what is clearly just entertainment. In my own life, I see that I either appreciate the reversals as they happen, or at least learn to appreciate them later on.

Reversals in awakening

In the various forms of awakenings, there are also numerous reversals. Here are some variations of just one reversal…

  • The reversal from identification as a human being, an object in the world, to that clear space and awareness within which these objects, and this human self, arises within and as.
  • The related reversal from seeing myself as an object, as finite in space and time, subject to birth and death, to that clear space and awareness these objects, space and time, and birth and death arises within and as. The clear awake space inherently free from any of these, from any characteristic, which allows any of them to arise.
  • The reversal of seeing myself as finite in space and time, to that which space and time happens within and as.
  • The reversal of seeing myself as identified by certain characteristics, to inherently being free from characteristics and thus allowing any to come and go on their own.
  • The reversal of identification as an I, to realizing that everything is inherently absent of any I.

Dance of emptiness

Seeing existence as lila, as the play of God, as God playing hide-and-seek with itself, we could see this delight in reversals as reflected in both human and divine life. And that seems accurate in a certain way.

Yet, the Ground, the clear awakeness everything arises within and as, is inherently free from any wants, any desires, any delights, any suffering, any polarities. It is free of these, so it allows any and all of them to arise within and as Ground.

And in that way, the delight in reversals found in human life, is indeed God’s delight in reversals. Although it is only a delight at the relative level, temporary, not absolute in any way, not an inherent characteristic of what is. And it exists side-by-side with the resistance to reversals, which is also found in human lives. That too arises within and as Ground, within and as clear awakeness.

Ground forms itself into delights in and resistance to reversals, and is inherently free from either. It sheds both as a teflon pan.

And that Ground is that which reads this.

Cravings, Addictions & The Hole

I talked with a friend yesterday about cravings and addictions, and what we are trying to get out of those addictions.

Working within the relative

On a relative level, and when there is a sense of I, addictions can be seen as a strategy to meet a need, and if that need is clarified, it may be possible to find other strategies that can meet it in a more effective and fulfilling way.

Process Work is one way to explore this. Sometimes, what is uncovered makes good sense. Other times, it may not make much sense but still work. For instance, I explored my sugar craving a while back, ended up with a movement that filled the same need as the sugar, and the sugar craving fell away (mostly). The movement is a jump up and down, similar to the dance of the Masai warriors. On the surface, there seems to be no connection to eating sugar. But from the inside, in my experience, it gives the same effects as eating sugar does, in an even more fulfilling way.

Working within the relative can be very helpful. Yet, we are still only shuffling around the content. Moving the pieces so they find a relationship to each other that seems to work a little better. It is a temporary and incomplete fix, at best.


From a more ultimate view, it seems that any craving, any addiction, any sense of need, any sense of lack, comes from a mistaken identity. And it will not be resolved until what is awakens to its own nature, with no I anywhere.

What is is the context and content of awareness here now. And the context can be a sense of I, placed on something in the content, or it can be realized selflessness.

When there is a sense of I, placed on a segment of the content, there is immediately a sense of I and Other, of lack, of needs, of something missing. And we try to fill this hole through rearranging the content to the best of our ability, through partners, food, substances, music, entertainment, status, money. Or, if we are more sophisticated, through working on ourselves, our human self, but still just rearranging content.

It may work to some extent, it may work for a while. But ultimately, it does not resolve the sense of lack, of something missing, of something not being complete.

The only release from this discontent is through awakening. Through what is awakening to its own nature, of no I anywhere.

Needs as an attempt to find home

From this perspective, any sense of need is an attempt to find home. Any craving, addiction, need, want, is a sincere attempt to escape the confines of seeing oneself as separate, and find home in realized selflessness. It is a sincere and innocent attempt, although ultimately futile.

The only way to find home is for what is to realize that there is no I anywhere, and the way for this to happen is to set the stage for it to happen, to prepare the ground, for instance through meditation, prayer and inquiry.

Turnarounds and Relative Truths *

Absolute truth is only revealed when the Ground awakens to its own nature, when Big Mind awakens to itself, when Buddha Mind awakens to itself, when Spirit awakens to itself. When the Ground of all phenomena awakens to its own nature of no I anywhere.

As soon as any of this is reflected in ideas, as soon as it is formulated, made into a statement, made into a map, then it becomes by necessity a relative truth. And relative truths are always limited, incomplete, provisional, of temporary and limited usefulness only, subject to revision, modification, replacement.

Absolute truth is immediate, beyond and including any and all polarities. Relative truth is considered and thought out, using ideas, symbols or words that split the world. It can never touch absolute truth, only be the finger that points to it, helping people get a taste of it in their own experience.

In formulated, expressed and relative truth, there are always opposite statements that each also reflect a relative truth. That is why they are all relative truths.


And this is exactly what happens through the turnarounds in The Work.

We take the initial statement, for instance she shouldn’t lie, and turn it around any way possible. She should lie: that is the reality of it, according to my story. I shouldn’t lie: I shouldn’t lie to myself about her, as I do when I tell myself that she shouldn’t lie and she does. I should lie: well, I do, that too is the reality of it. Whatever I say is really a lie, because it is only a story.

We get to see that in the realm of ideas, abstractions and words, every statement has a number of opposite statements that each contains some truth. They are all different perspectives on the same topic, and each one has some validity.

By seeing this, there is a natural release from attachment to any one of these views, perspectives and statements. We find ourselves as the space that can hold each one of them, genuinely seeing how each one has validity, yet is not an absolute truth.

In our human life, we become a little easier to get along with.

And there is also a closer alignment with what is, beyond and including all polarities.

Planting Seeds

I notice that if I plant a seed in the form of a question (and maybe some information to go along with it), an answer will usually surface some days, weeks or even months later.

This has been noted by many people of course, including in writing by many psychologists, inventors and scientists, and Adyashanti as well, on the Spontaneous Awakening CDs.

The most recent example for me was the question of Sakyamuni Buddha’s statement following his awakening: all sentient beings, the great earth and I have awakened together. I remember having the question come up briefly some weeks back, and then an answer of sorts came up yesterday, out of the blue. In between these two instances, there was no attention to or even conscious awareness of the question.

The answer surfacing, at least in its expressed form, is of course always relative, provisional, temporary, to be refined, modified, replaced. Any formulated or expressed answer is by its nature relative: It can be very helpful in orienting in the world of phenomena, yet at the same time is not absolute, limited in scope and even of temporary usefulness.

No Being Has Ever Awakened

I think this is a statement found in many different traditions. Again, it is a statement obscure before awakening and clear after, and clear even through for instance the Big Mind process.

When there is an awakening to selflessness, it is Ground – Spirit, Buddha Mind, Divine Mind, emptiness, awakening to its own nature of no I anywhere. And this Ground is functionally connected to a particular human self.

From this awakening, it is clear that there are no beings, only the appearance of individual separate beings. There is only Ground (somehow separately) functionally connected to all the different beings, and in many cases temporarily identified with and as a sentient being. It is only an appearance, a temporary experience, a temporary misidentification, however real it may seem at the time.

For Ground still identified as a human being, it will appear as if another human being awakened. Yet from the view of awakened Ground, no being every existed – at least not as separate or individual in any way.

To speak in a very approximate way, we can say that in the absolute, there is no room for compassion. Big Mind is cool, detached, seeing itself everywhere, seeing no real (separate, individual) beings anywhere. Yet, moving towards the relative and Big Heart, there is tremendous compassion for all the suffering experienced, even if it is just Ground temporarily misidentified, experiencing itself, as a sentient being.

Speaking more accurately, we can say…

Ground awakened to its own nature, functionally connected with a human self, will naturally manifest compassion when this human self encounters Ground misidentified as a sentient being, manifesting suffering.

Inquiry :: He shouldn’t see relative truths as absolute

Several weeks back, a scientist in the audience at the Center for Sacred Sciences got worked up around the types of truths as they relate to science.

Joel said that science deals with relative truths, and today’s accepted theories are tomorrow’s garbage pile of obsolete views (paraphrased). It seems obvious, from both a mystical and scientific view. All theories and models are limited and they are of only temporary value as well. Everything is provisional. Even the absolute truth, revealed to itself and expressed through mystics of any tradition, can only be expressed in a relative and limited way.

The science guy was very reluctant to admit that our current worldviews and theories are provisional, and I noticed it triggered a reaction in me. I could clearly see how he tried to made relative truths into apparent absolute truths, but could not – in the moment, see how I do the same. Instead, I went into a story that I see relative truths only as relative truths, and he does not. I get it, he does not.

From the discrepancy between (a) already noticing that this is not true and (b) trying to tell myself otherwise, many things happened including stress, discomfort, stronger sense of I and Other, sense of something to protect.

He shouldn’t see relative truths as absolute.

  1. Is it true?

    Yes. He is a scientist, and should know better (even a child knows that any map is incomplete and provisional, for god’s sake!)

  2. Can I absolutely know it is true?

    No. And I don’t know what is best for his path, nor for mine.

  3. How do I react when I believe that thought?

    I feel I am right and he is wrong. I see myself as superior. I become righteous. I have something to defend. I experience a split between us, a sense of separation and alienation.

    How do I treat him?

    As rigid. Inferior. Somebody who doesn’t quite get it. Somebody who is reactive, who allows emotions and irrationality take over.

    How do I treat myself?

    As superior. Somebody who gets it. Somebody who is more cool headed. As right. As separate from him, and others who don’t get it.

    Also, I blame myself for going into this. I see that believing the thought brings contraction and discomfort for myself, and I know it cannot be true. Yet I still act and react as if I believe it. I am in the grips of this belief, which I know cannot be true. There is some despair coming up from this. A sense of hopelessness. Of being stuck. Of not quite knowing what to do about it, at least in the moment.

    When did I first have that thought?

    Probably in my early and mid teens, when I realized – to my shock and amazement, how apparently irrational many or most adults seem to be. I still haven’t quite gotten over that shock and disbelief.

    Where in the body do I experience it?

    A contraction and holding in my chest and abdomen. A contraction of the muscles in my lower leg. Tension in my neck. Holding my breath back some.

    What is the payoff?

    I get to be right, superior, more insightful, clearer, more cool headed.

    What is the cost?

    Stress, discomfort, sense of separation, getting caught up in emotions, caught up in and to some extent blinded by my reactiveness.

  4. Who or what would I be without that thought?

    Somebody who sits there and listen to and watch somebody else speak, with clarity, ease, interest and curiosity. I am interesting in what he has to say, where he is coming from, why he would see it that way, and (especially) how that mirror myself.

    Instead of stress and reactiveness there is interest and curiosity. There is a sense of connection and intimacy.

    There is a human being speaking, just like me. And he mirrors me perfectly. Whatever I see in him I can find in myself (if I look).

  5. Turnarounds

    (a) He should see relative truths as absolute.

    Yes, because he does, according to my story. It is his path right now, until it isn’t. He is doing what he has to do, right now – as we all do, myself included.

    When he sees relative truths as absolute, what are the gifts for me?

    I get to see my beliefs around it, and explore how I do what I see him doing. I get to see myself more clearly, in ways I wouldn’t have been able to without him.

    He mirrors me, whether I see it or not. If I don’t see it, there is stress which is a motivation to see more clearly what is going on. If I explore and see it, I learn something new about myself and also about the process of believing in thoughts and projections, and then seeing through it.

    I see that he is my teacher, in a very real sense. Without him, I wouldn’t see this in myself. His presence there is a gift to me.

    (b) I shouldn’t see relative truths as absolute.

    Yes, that is more true. I am far more interested in what I do here, and in finding clarity for myself.

    What are some examples of how I see relative truths as absolute?

    Whenever I believe a thought – any thought, I take a relative truth and make it into an absolute. And in this, there is stress, unease, sense of I and Other, separation, not being at home.

    For instance, in believing that he should not see relative truths as absolute, I do the same as what I see in him. I am the one making this relative truth into an absolute. I attach to that thought as if it is an absolute truth, eternal, always valid, unquestionable.

    (c) I should see relative truths as absolute.

    Yes, when I do. When I see relative truths as absolute, then that is what I do – and have to do, until I don’t.

    When I see relative truths as absolute, what are the gifts?

    I get to experience, from the inside, the dynamics of believing thoughts. I get to become more familiar with the process, from living it.

    I get to experience the stress in it, which encourages me to find some clarity around it, to see more clearly what is going on.

    Also, I find myself in the same boat as anyone, anywhere, who believes in abstractions. This opens up for empathy, and possibly for helping others see it for themselves later on (through mirroring for them what they already know).

    (d) I shouldn’t see absolute truths as relative.

    Hmm… That is an interesting one. I shouldn’t see absolute truths as relative. How do I see them as relative?

    Another way of phrasing this turnaround is…

    I shouldn’t make absolute truths into relative truths.

    The only absolute truth arises when what is remembers its own nature, of no I anywhere, and this cannot be expressed through any abstractions. I cannot see it, apart from being it. How do I then make it into something relative?

    I make it into something relative when I try to reflect it in abstractions, at which point it automatically becomes relative truths, at best.

    So this turnaround is a reminder to see this more clearly, that the absolute truth is revealed when what is awakens to its own nature, and anything expressed automatically is a relative truth, at best. There is no need to get too caught up in terminology or ways of speaking, in comparing or trying to find the one best approach, because it is all relative truth. I can hold it loosely. This is a good reminder.

    As soon as the absolute is expressed, it becomes a relative truth, and I should know the difference.

    (d) I should see absolute truths as relative.

    Whatever is expressed, even when it points to the absolute, is a relative truth. And that means it can be expressed in many different ways. It is similar to many different artists trying to depict the same landscape, each one will do it a little (or a lot) differently.

    And it is all OK. Some depictions resonate with some folks, and other depictions with others. Some are highly realistic, others are more poetic. Some use broad strokes, others include lots of details. Some are rough and approximate, others are more faithful to the landscape. Some are dramatic, others are toned down. Some come directly from the artist, others come through numerous copies of the original. It is all OK.

    Together, all the depictions give a more comprehensive and rich picture. And each one resonates with some people who may not be able to hear it in any other way.

From Absolute to Relative **

Nothing new here either, but something I am still curious about…

When there is an awakening to selflessness, to what is with no I inherent anywhere, there is also the recognition that everything is the play of God. It is perfect and complete as it is.

Before this awakening, we may say that sounds very cold and detached. What about all the suffering in the world? Is that perfect as well? How can you say such a thing?

From this awakening, we would have to say – yes, even the suffering is perfect as it is. It is God temporarily experiencing suffering. It is God, period.

Yet, from this awakening, something else is happening as well.

When what is awakened to its own nature functions through a human self, and this human self encounters another human self manifesting suffering, then there is the recognition that she is I. This is I suffering. Why wouldn’t I do whatever I can to help?

From realization of selflessness, helping becomes a manifestation of this awakening. She is I, and she is suffering, so I help in whatever way I can.

Or maybe more precisely, I will make myself available for helping, and if she welcomes it – I will do it in whatever way I can.

This is how the Absolute becomes the Relative. This is how Big Mind gives birth to Big Heart.

This is how awakening becomes rehumanized.

This is how God lives more fully as a human being, awakened to its own nature, embracing the ultimate and the relative truths.

This is how God as awakened to its own nature, and as deluded and confused about its own nature, is embraced.

This is how awakening and delusion is lived in a human life.

This is how this awakening – manifested over here, sees itself as still deluded – manifested over there, and makes it self available.

This is how it comes to it to offer its assistance.

Absolute & Relative

The Absolute is what is without or distinct from any stories about it. It is stories when they arise, but cannot be described by them. It is the essence of thoughts themselves – yet not what thoughts tell.

The Relative is what arises with stories – filtered through stories – it is distinctions and polarities, this and not that. It is essential for functioning as a human being in the world. And it is peaceful when stories are not attached to, and stressful when they are – when the stories are taken as an absolute, as a truth, as anything else than fictional.

When what is awakens to its own nature, of everything absent of any I, then the Absolute is revealed as well. It is all God. It is all beyond and including all polarities. It is all emptiness dancing. And that is all.

And when what is awakened to its own nature meets what is (apparently) not awakened to its own nature, the Relative arises as well. Emptiness dances as the Relative. I am you, and if you manifest the Relative, then that is what I am as well. Your wish for liberation is my wish for you, as me. And that is all.

The Absolute – what is awakened to its own nature, and the Relative – what is (apparently) not awakened to its own nature, are emptiness dancing as the Absolute and as the Relative. Both are Ground temporarily manifesting. Both are God exploring itself.

And this is a story too. As any story, it can appear to be an help for navigating the world or not. And as any story, it is peaceful when not attached to and stressful when attached to.

If this story is seen as true, then something else becomes not true – something to defend against. There is an attachment to this story, and an attachment to protecting against other stories. In being caught up in a battle of stories this way, there is stress. And stress is the signal of being caught up in a fictional battle, of taking a fictional battle as real, as all there is.


There are different ways of looking at this situation – however it appears – as perfect.

One is that it is all God, a temporary manifestation of God, emptiness dancing. It is inherently complete, perfect, distinct from any stories we put on top of it, beyond and including any and all polarities.

Another is that whatever this situation is, it allows me an opportunity to get to know myself. Whatever I see as out there is also in here. You are my mirror. And when I recognize this, I return to an experience of completeness and perfection. It is a taste – or sometimes a more full blown realization – of this very situation as God, as complete, as perfect.

So any situation is perfect and complete. Any partner is a perfect partner for me. Any body is a perfect body for me. Any role in the world is a perfect role in the world for me.

It all allows me to see myself. To see whatever I see as out there also in here. To see that I am you. To find the Ground this all arises within and as.

Everything is an invitation to awaken – to ourselves as complete, and everything as Ground, as emptiness dancing.

On a more relative level, this taste or realization gives a sense of freedom. I realize I don’t have to worry so much, I don’t have to get it “right” according to some abstract idea.

And it also gives me freedom to meet people where they are at, still caught in the world of preferences. Of wanting this and not that. And be of assistance from within that world as well. I am both the Ground, emptiness dancing, and I am you wanting certain things and not other things. I am you wanting to be free from suffering. I am you seeking happiness. And as soon as you are there, wanting to be free from suffering and seeking happiness, that is my wish as well. I become in service of that.

It may look many different ways. It may appear that you want health, and then that is my wish as well. Yet, I may also see that what you really want is freedom from suffering, and that is also my wish for you. Your wish becomes my wish for you, which is another name for me.

The Absolute arises in this immediate experience of it all. In God awakening to its own nature, as everything absent of I.

The Relative arises in I as you, when God has (apparently) not awakened to its own nature through you yet. You arise, manifesting a more dualistic view, and that is how the Relative arises in and as me.


Stories can appear true or untrue in different ways.

We can believe in certain stories and not others, and the ones we believe in – of course – seem true to us. We have no end to reasons why they are true, we have a network of other stories supporting them, we filter the world to fit and so on.

At the same time, stories in general – all of them – can seem untrue, either partially or completely.

Partially untrue

In our conventional views, we see that any story is – at the very least – partially untrue.

Any story is incomplete, it highlights some features and leaves other out and so on. The world is always more than and different from our maps and stories about it.

The difference between stories (abstractions, models, theories, images, thoughts) and what they refer to is at best the difference between a map and the terrain, a menu and the meal, or an image and the real object.

Partially untrue – yet good enough to clutch onto

So we may know somewhere that any story is partially untrue.

Yet, we may also experience stories as indeed partially true. Often, that is good enough for us to often act as if they are true, and create a good deal of confusion and suffering for ourselves in the process.

It happens to all of us.

Even for spiritual teachers, sometimes holding onto particular maps and beliefs for dear life.

Even for people in science, who’s whole professional life revolves around the principle of any map being incomplete and inherently different from the terrain, can get caught up into believing in a particular map – not being able to see beyond it.

What is it that I see as so clearly true that I don’t even bother question it? What is it that I feel I need to defend? What do I need to protect? That is exactly where I am holding onto an abstraction as if it is true.

Completely untrue

Stories can also be seen as completely untrue.

And this happens in the realization of selflessness – or tastes of it – in at least two ways.

:: Past and Future ::

We see that there is only this Eternal Now. There is only this Timeless Present. It is Always Already. In its form aspect, it is always fresh, always new, always different. God never repeats itself.

The past and future are so clearly only abstractions, only stories. They do quite literally not exist.

And it becomes so clear that our stories are always about the past or the future. What is is too slippery for thoughts. It is gone before it arrives. Thoughts are too slow. They miss it. They are always about the past or future.

So in this sense, stories are always untrue. They are always about something that quite literally does not exist.

:: Free from abstractions ::

At the same time, it becomes so clear that what is is free from any abstractions. It cannot be touched by any abstraction, any image, any words, any story, any theory, any model. To take an simple example, words split while what is is free from any split or wholeness.

What is temporary appears as abstractions – as it appears as anything and everything else, and yet it is not in any way described or touched by abstractions, no matter how refined and apparently sophisticated they are.

In this way too, stories are always utterly untrue. They cannot touch what they attempt to refer to.

Useful tools

At the same time, abstractions and stories can be invaluable and helpful tools for navigating in this world of phenomena. And if we see that they are completely untrue, we are also free from any attachment to them.

We can deepen into both – stories for navigation and freedom from these stories.

I am You

The deepening experience of I am you (and you are I) comes from both the Absolute and the Relative levels.


From the Absolute, I am literally you and the other way around. Everything is Big Mind, Buddha Mind, God, Spirit forming itself into the myriads of forms. Everything is emptiness dancing.

When there is a glimpse or realization of selflessness, there is no I or Other anymore. Everything just is, absent of any inherent I. And when there is no I, there is no Other. It is all just movements within the same ocean, distinctions within a seamless whole.

I – as Big Mind functioning through this human self, is you – as Big Mind functioning through that human self.

As Big Mind, everything and everybody becomes a mirror for myself. I reflect myself in everybody and everything. I fall in love with myself in everybody and everything. I get to know myself through everybody and everything.

This deepens as there is more familiarity with myself as Big Mind. It deepens as there is more familiarity with everything absent of any “I” anywhere.


From the Relative – the Absolute with an overlay of abstractions – I am also you.

I am a human being, and in myself I can find anything I see in you. You are a mirror for myself.

As a human being, everybody and everything is a mirror for myself. Anything I see in everybody and everything is also here in me. I can find any quality out there, also in here. I see it out there, exactly because I recognize it from in here.

This deepens as I become more familiar with seeing in myself what I see in you. It deepens as I continue to explore, notice, and live this. For me, it especially deepens through inquiry. It becomes more and more clear – in a very down to earth way – that I am you. Everything I see in you is also here in me.

Stories Pointing Beyond Themselves

Anything is a story – any scientific model, any spiritual map, any personal or collective history.

Some of these stories point beyond themselves, acknowledging that they are a map only, and that the terrain is more than and different from any map of it. Other stories either omit this point (maybe it is not so clear to those telling it, or they take it for granted, or they don’t see the significance of it), or explicitly counter it by presenting the story as somehow true – presenting the map as the terrain. If it is omitted, confusion can set in. And if it is countered, dogmatism neccesarily follows.

The Universe Story – or The Great Story – typically points beyond itself in one way, and not another.

The title itself does acknowledge it as a story only. It points beyond itself the way science points beyond itself, acknowledging that it will change with new information. And it will also change as social and cultural needs change, since it also has a role as a myth – as a guide.

Yet, it typically does not point beyond itself the way stories in a mystical and spiritual context point beyond themselves – to the eternal timeless Present within which time and space unfolds. Realizing selflessness, any belief in any story falls away. What is, is just emptiness dancing. Any story is revealed as just a temporary and practical tool, absent of inherent value or truth.

Befriending Shiva

My process – as it shows up in dreams and otherwise in my life – is inviting me to radical letting go of attachment to ideas (of past, future, present and anything else). As this has been coming up in Process Work explorations of my life and dreams, I see how helpful it can be to personalize this shift for me.

In its impersonal form, it is a finding peace with the continuous death of everything as it is and its rebirth as something else. The content of the eternal Present is always fresh, different, new. God never repeats itself.

And a radical peace with this is only found in the realization of Selflessness, in awakening to/as the Ground happening as the phenomena in the eternal Present. Awakening to what is, with no I anywhere.

This is all fine – it is a beautiful process in itself. Yet, it also has a somewhat impersonal tint to it.

Absolute and relative

From the Absolute, this all just is.

It is Ground forming itself into the world of phenomena. It is emptiness dancing. There may be distinction of this end (human self) and that end (Ground), of impersonal and personal, but also the recognition of it all as just stories – just labels and a level of abstraction added to what is.

From the Relative, the realm of polarities (and stories) emerge. The process can be seen as personal and impersonal, at this end (human self) and at that end (Ground). And if that is a useful way of looking at it, then why not.

Impersonal and personal at this end

This is impersonal at this end, in that it goes far beyond my human self. The Ground is all phenomena. It is one ocean, forming itself into waves of particular discernible phenomena. It is God appearing as trees, mountains, clouds, dogs, cats, flowers, humans, cities, cultures, planets, galaxies, universe(s).

And it is also personal at this end, in two ways.

This human self is Ground happening as phenomena. Any human self already is Ground forming itself into the appearance of a human self, so the Ground is already personal in that sense.

And this human self can reorganize and mature within the realization of Selflessness. When the Ground awakens to its own nature of no I anywhere, then Selflessness becomes personal in a different way – lived in, through, and as a particular human life.

Impersonal and personal at that end

It can also be seen as impersonal and personal at that end, as Ground.

In its impersonal form, it is emptiness dancing, Ground forming itself in the world of phenomena. Continuous death of what is and rebirth of something else. Always new, different, fresh. A continuous radical rebirth.

And it can also be seen as personal. Or rather, the connection with it can be personalized, as they do in Hinduism and (especially) Tibetan Buddhism. There is already something personal at this end, in the form of this human self. And there can also be something personal at the other – Ground – end. In this case, it can take the forms of Shiva and/or Kali and similar deities of death and rebirth.

Coming from a habitual identification as a human being, this may be an easier way into it. It is no longer a somewhat cold impersonal process, but personal as well – an intimate process of befriending Shiva and/or Kali. In a certain sense, it becomes more real for us that way.

It can be very helpful, as long as we also recognize that this too is only a tool, a story, an abstraction – a way of easing into it. The danger here is obviously that we can take it as more real than it is, that we mistake the map (Shiva, Kali) for the terrain (Ground).

Mutes & Liars *

When we encounter the Absolute, it becomes clear that it cannot be spoken about in any accurate way. We become mute. And then, when we speak, we become liars – we know we lie, and we know there is no other way. If we are to communicate, we have to lie.

(I think someone once said that everybody lies, but only Buddhas know they always lie.)

The same thing seems to happen for people using the Byron Katie inquiries. After a while, it becomes clear that everything we can speak is a story – it is not true. So we can become “mute” by prefacing everything with “this is my story, but”, and then as we become more used to it we speak normally again, yet fully knowing that it is all lies.

Of course, these lies may align as closely as is possible with what is true for us, and even with consensus reality (high degree of intersubjective agreement). They may be functional. They may be very helpful in orienting in the world and in communication. Yet, they remain lies and cannot be anything but lies.

There is a great freedom in fully seeing them as lies, because there is then nothing to defend, and we can let go of them more easily – allowing new and temporarily more functional stories to arise and be temporary guidelines.

Car Stolen

Our car was stolen last night, and it reminds me of the different levels of the world…

  1. Absolute / Absence of Stories
    • A step into this is to find myself as pure awareness, as the witness, as that within which the world of phenomena unfolds – and then see that the witness has no inherent “I” either
    • Another way into this is to ask myself can I be with what I am experiencing right now?
    • I find myself without stories
    • I find myself as headless, as the whole world happening with no center
    • I find what is with no “I” anywhere
    • I find the eternal timeless Present, within which the world of phenomena unfolds
    • I find myself as Big Mind, beyond and including all polarities
    • I find myself as nonseeking mind
    • I find myself as Ground taking all these forms
    • Here, it is all fine – it is the Eternal Present within which anything and everything unfolds, as expressions of God, of Spirit, of Buddha Mind

  2. Relative / Stories
    • One set of stories creates a sense of it as desireable
      • We have insurance to replace it
      • It was getting old anyway
      • We can get the car we have wanted to replace our old one with
      • We don’t need it right now
    • Another set of stories creates a sense of it as undesireable
      • This is inconvenient
      • Dealing with insurance and buying a new car is a hazzle

      Or fear inducing

      • We live in a dangerous society
      • Who knows what will happen next? Burglary? Fire? Terrorism?
    • And yet another set of stories are pragmatic, helping me to navigate in the world
      • Contact the police
      • Contact the insurance company
      • Researching and looking for a new car


Some of the many flavors of how God expresses itself as/through humans…

Big Mind

This is the realization of selflessness, of realizing that there is no I anywhere. It is Big Mind awakening to its own nature. And it is still functionally connected with a particular human self.

All is revealed as God, as Ground spontaneously manifesting as the world of phenomena, as emptiness dancing. There are no human beings as an entity – it is just God playing a game with itself, temporarily identified with something finite – a human being.

Nothing needs to change. There is nothing to improve. Everything is perfect as it is.

This is the Absolute.

And on its own, it can appear cold, heartless, disengaged – because it really is.

Big Heart

Big Heart is a movement into the Relative, into duality, into a split.

Here, we include a more conventional view of I and Other within the context of Big Mind.

And this inclusion of I and Other in the context of all as God naturally opens and fuels the heart. It brings up engaged and lived compassion and love.

Human self

Into this combination of Big Mind and Big Heart comes the human self, with its own unique human characteristics – including its talents, inclinations, health and maturity.


And there is of course also the possibility of God not awakened to its own nature, but temporarily identified with the human self and/or awareness – functioning through the filter of I and Other.


Mixed together, there is an infinite number of possibilities.

Big Mind can be emphasized, as it often is in Adveita and Buddhism.

Big Heart can be emphasized, as it often is in Theistic mysticism – for instance among Sufis and Christian mystics.

And any combination of Big Mind and Big Heart can be filtered through a human self, a unique personality – with its unique talents, inclinations, level of health and maturity. Sometimes it shows up as a teacher, sometimes as an activist, sometimes as one in service to the unfortunate, sometimes as an artist, sometimes as a healer, sometimes as an office worker, sometimes as a plumber.

Each of these are just different flavors – different ways God is exploring itself through awakening to its own nature.

No difference

There is not even much difference between God awakening to its own nature of selflessness, in various ways and to various extents, and God being identified with something finite. Both are just God exploring itself. Both are the play of God.

Both are perfect as they are, although it does not always look that way – especially if filtered through any exclusive identification (with something finite). And that too is perfect as it is. That too is God exploring itself. That too is part of the Game.


Another post to clarify this for myself.

There is only the timeless, eternal Present, within which the world of phenomena unfolds, always new, fresh, different. The past and future is only an abstraction, only a story.

To be relatively precise, we can say that the past and future do not exist and never did. There is only this eternal, timeless Present, always. This is the Absolute. The past and future is only a story, only an abstraction.

Going into the relative, and using the framework of time, we can say these are stories of how the world of phenomena previously unfolded within the Present and may unfold within this Present later on.

We can grasp this intellectually, even while identified as an object in the world, although it tends to sound overly abstract or even naive.

This realization – and the implications of it – only unfolds more clearly in our immediate experience when the belief in the story of past, of future, and of I, starts to erode. Then, it is revealed as what always is, was and will be. Simple. Very simple, very clear. Difficult to describe precisely in words, yet also the most simple.

It is of course a liberating discovery or noticing. I can always deal with the Present, and that is all there is. There really is no past or future to deal with, only the stories of them.

Absolute & Relative

Listening to Byron Katie dialogues, and also talking with Jen about what we discover about inquiry, the relationship between the Absolute and the Relative comes up again – as usual with a different flavor.


The Absolute is the world as it appears when we realize selflessness. We see that all is God, in front of and behind the eyeballs. We realize that Existence is beyond and includes any and all polarities, including that of existence and nonexistence. We see that words split the world, and cannot describe existence as it is when selflessness is realized and there is no I and Other anymore.


The Relative is the world as it appears when there is the filter of I and Other, whether we believe in it or not. If we believe in it, there is suffering and confusion. If we have seen through it, there is only clarity and this filter becomes a useful tool for operating in the world as a human being.

Byron Katie and the Absolute

Following her awakening, Byron Katie, was quite clearly absorbed in the absolute, and the relative was swept off the map for a while. Then, she had to relearn how to function as a human being, how to come back to using the filter of I and Other, although now in a quite different context – that of selflessness.

Returning to the world

She did this (my story) out of compassion. She saw she could help people if she met them where they are at, which is operating from the filter of I and Other. She saw she could only communicate and function in the world of form if she herself used this filter, now only as a temporary tool. She did it out of compassion for others – to help them, and out of compassion for herself – so she could engage in the world of form.

She is using the filter of I and Other within the context of selflessness, and in knowing that there is really nobody to help – it is all God. All the play of God. Emptiness dancing.

Smaller scale example

I talked with Jen earlier today, and invited her to share her stressful (and other) stories about me. She hesitated as she sees so clearly how all of these stories are about her, not me. She is not capable to have any stories about me. She only sees the turnarounds.

This is quite beautiful. It comes from a clear realization. And it is quite accurate as well.

Yet, sharing her stories about me with me can also help me. It can be an act of compassion. It can help me see my own stories about myself – and her as well. It can help me see my own stories and inquire into them for myself. And this is true whether my stories are similar to hers, or triggered by and in reaction to hers.

None of us are that different. We tend to have similar stories about ourselves and others. And within the same culture, we also tend to share stories about specific individuals, situations and topics. We tend to share our basic 1st generation labelling stories, and – in ethnic/political/value subgroups – share more elaborate 2nd generation interpretive stories as well.

Seeing an overweight person, we tend to think “unhealthy” and have either judgmental, defensive or compassionate stories around it. Seeing a young movie star, we tend to think “successful” and “beautiful” and either judge the cult of that image or ourselves for not measuring up, or both. Seeing Bush, we look at our stories about what he is doing and then elaborate into “liar” or “conservative hero”.

So Jen sharing her stories about me – with me – can be an act of compassion and a great help to me.

And it is a parallel to coming down from the mountain and into the marketplace. Coming from the Absolute and into the Relative, out of compassion for ourself and others.

Trust :: Basic and Conventional

As with so many things, it seems that trust too occurs at many levels.

In – or even after – an awakening to selflessness, a fundamental trust in existence arises on its own. It is all revealed as the ground forming itself into myriad of phenomena, as consciousness, or as God. There is no Other to distrust here.

But there is still the conditioning of our human self, which brings about a mix of trust and distrust. This is not a problem in the context of selflessness, the distrust and hangups and everything else is also emptiness dancing. At the same time, it is also something to work on, in the context of our development, maturing and evolution at human and soul levels.

Meditation is one way to allow this basic trust to sink in at our human level.

And it seems that the many forms of inquiry do the same.

Process Work unfolds the profound wisdom and healing behind what initially appears as a problem. Byron Katie’s inquiry into beliefs does the same, uncovering the gifts within what appeared as a stressful thought. The Big Mind process shows the profound wisdom behind all the ways the mind functions, on personal and transpersonal levels. And a more free-form inquiry, from innocent curiosity into what is happening, seems to unfold the same.

So in terms of the various levels, there seems to be…

Basic trust

A basic trust in Existence – as nondual, consciousness, the many forms of ground, waves on the ocean, the play of God, emptiness dancing.

A deepening trust in existence at our human level, seeing that there is healing within symptoms (Process Work), clarity within stress (Byron Katie), and wisdom within all the ways the mind functions (Big Mind). This is a process that deepens over time, through experience – over and over – with these and other forms of inquiries.

Both of these forms of trust – the transcendent and personal – are basic, not dependent of the specifics of the situation.

Conventional trust and distrust

And then there is the more conventional level of trust and distrust, the discernment, discriminating wisdom. This too deepens and matures over time, through experience. We learn to trust in certain ways and to be cautious in other ways. We learn to trust certain people in certain situations (maybe most), yet remain some caution in other situations.

Coexistence of basic and conventional trust

The conventional level can quite easily co-exist with the deeper level of trust.

It provides an overlay of conventional trust and distrust arising from the specific situation, on top of basic trust in existence which is there independent on the specifics of the situation.

Conditioned and unconditioned

The basic trust is unconditioned in the sense that it is independent of the specifics of the situation. But it is also conditioned – the transcendent trust on awakening, and the personal trust on inquiry and reconditioning (rewiring at our human level).

The conventional trust is always conditioned on the specific situation.


It seems that the word “emptiness” can be understood in a couple of different ways…

One is the nature of mind – the clear, spacious awareness empty of any particular characteristics. The words void and deep silence are sometimes used to describe it. Ultimately, it is distinct from the world of phenomena, so any words – inherently about the world of phenomena – point in the wrong direction. This is the Absolute.

The other is the world of the phenomena. All phenomena are aspects of a seamless fluid whole. It is a holarcy, a set of nested systems – one within another. Whatever we can discern as a whole in itself, is a temporary vortex in the stream. In the world of phenomena, nothing is permanent and nothing exists by itself. There is flux and no absolute boundaries. This small self is empty of any fixed or separate existence. This is the Relative.

In our own experience, it can unfold like this…

Awareness awakens to its own nature – this clear spacious awareness empty of characteristics. It can learn to recognize it and become familiar with it. It sees that it is distinct from any experiences of the inner and outer world that appears within itself. And it learns to come to this experience in more and more situations in our everyday life. It begins to function in a more and more transdual way – embracing its own nature and the world of phenomena, and all polarities within the world of phenomena.

Having found its own “ground” – empty of characteristics and distinct from polarities such as existence/nonexistence – it can allow itself to recognize the world of phenomena as a fluid seamless whole. It is resting in its own “ground” so there is no longer any need to hold onto anything in the world of phenomena. It can allow it to be seamless and flux.

This small self becomes a vehicle, an empty shell through which awareness can function in the world of phenomena. It is recognized as a temporary vortex in the stream.

Emptiness & Fullness

Existence embraces the Absolute and the Relative.

The Absolute is the nature of all phenomena, including the mind – it is the “ground” of everything, the void, the deep silence – that which is without any characteristics and distinct from all phenomena and all polarities. At the same time, it can clearly be experienced – just by looking in and see what is left when anything related to the small self is taken away.

The Relative is the fluid seamless evolving whole of all phenomena.

And when awareness awakens to its own Absolute nature, it can function in a transdual way and experience both the Absolute and the Relative. It awakens to Big Mind, to emptiness and fullness. The emptiness allows the fullness to be, the fullness gives richness to the emptiness.

A footnote: Within the Relative, we can also say that there is a form of “emptiness”. The Relative is a fluid seamless whole, so there are no absolutely fixed and no absolutely separate “entities”. What we perceive as distinct phenomena are vortexes in the stream, temporary manifestations within the fluid whole. This self is part of the seamless fluid whole. It is an expression and manifestation of God/Buddha Mind as all phenomena are, and the spacious awareness which functions through it is an aspect of God/Buddha Mind – as all awareness is.

Nothing to Achieve, Something to Achieve

From a Big Mind perspective, there is nothing to achieve. Everything is perfect as it is. Everything is already Big Mind.

But from the perspective of an awareness that has not yet awakened to itself as Big Mind, there is something to achieve. And there is often a strong motivation for it as well. A motivation that comes through a combination of the carrot – the bliss and equanimity of awakening, and the stick – the current suffering from a perception of separation. To awaken to Big Mind, there is work to do.

If we say there is nothing to achieve, then it is only part of the picture. If we are stuck here, we are indeed stuck – with little possibility to awaken to Big Mind anytime soon.

If we say there is something to achieve, that is also only part of the picture. If we are stuck here, then we will always expect the awakening to be somewhere in the future, always over the next hill, and we don’t notice the expressions and tastes of Big Mind that is already here.

With both, we can appreciate Big Mind as it manifests here/now, and we are free to engage in whatever practices seems appropriate to prime us for awakening more fully into Big Mind.