Planting seeds in the world of form

Seeds are planted in the world of form, and as form, allowing the field of seeing and seen to awaken to its own nature, inherently absent of I anywhere.

And seeds are planted in the world of form inviting the human self to continue to actively heal, mature and develop, before and after this awakening.

The field remains the same in its formless aspect, as emptiness and awareness. It is timeless, untouched by form. Yet, as form, it is not only never the same, it evolves.

And planting a seed in the human self, inviting it to continue to develop even after it is released from any sense of I, allows it to more consciously take part in this evolution. It allows it to continue to play the game, even after the field of seeing and seen has awakened to its absence of I anywhere.

It allows it to be more actively engaged in its own unfolding as an infinitely small aspect of the evolution of the world of form as a whole.

For the benefit of all beings

In Mahayana Buddhism, and maybe especially in Tibetan Buddhism, there is a strong emphasis on seeking awakening for the benefit of all beings.

And there is a pretty obvious reason for that:

If we attain awakening only for our “own” benefit, then that’s it. It stops there. (Not really, but that may be the attitude.) A seed is planted in our human self saying that Enlightenment is it, that it is a goal in itself, and that the continuing healing, maturing and development of our human self is not important.

On the other hand, when the invitation to benefit all beings is planted in our human self, it serves as a catalyst for this human self to continue to heal, mature and develop before and after realized selflessness. The intention comes from from, is form, and is a catalyst and guide for the unfolding of form.

It allows for Self-Realization as well as Enlightenment.

It allows for this human self to actively seek to heal, mature and develop, before and after realized selflessness, because it recognizes itself as a tool for benefiting others in the world of form, even as all these beings, including itself, are absent of any I.

It continues to play the game. It embraces the Absolute, the field of seeing and seen absent of I anywhere, and the relative, including the myriads of beings, the field mistakenly identifying as a finite being and experiencing suffering from it, and the possibility to help the field to wake up to its own nature as the Ground of seeing and seen, inherenly absent of I anywhere.

Aspects of Self-Realization

If Enlightenment is Ground awakening or Big Mind awakening to its nature of emptiness and form absent of I anywhere, then Self-Realization can be seen as the continuing unfolding of the world of form, specifically as an individual Being of soul and human self.

It is Big Mind awakened to itself, functioning through an individual and evolving soul and developing human self, in the context of an evolving universe.

And while the awakening to realized selflessness has a sense of finality, the unfolding of the world of form continues. It is Spirit manifesting, exploring and experiencing itself in always new ways, including as evolution and development. (Evolution and development is one of the ways that Spirit prevents itself from repeating itself. Not that it could anyway.)

Here are some of the possible aspects of this Self-Realization…

Part of evolution of form

Independent of anything else, any human self is inherently a part of the evolution of form in general. Whatever happens with and in this human self has infinite causes, and these causes go back to the beginning of time and extend out to the limits (if any) of this universe.

This human self is the local manifestation of the world of form as a whole, and of the totality embracing emptiness and all of form. It is inherently part of the evolution of form, no matter how that shows up.

Skillful means in general

There can be a continuing development of skillful means, exploring how to live from realized selflessness in a particular culture and circumstances.

Skillful means in teaching

And there can be a continuing development of skillful means in teaching, in exploring how to express and convey the awakening in ways that helps Big Mind (when functionally connected with other human selves) awaken to its own nature.


Then there is the healing of the human self: working through wounds so that this realized selflessness can be expressed and live through a more (conventionally) healthy human self.

Realized selflessness is realized selflessness independent of the state of the human self it functions through, but why not allow this vehicle to continue to heal in conventional terms as well? That only adds to the richness of it, and can also make the wisdom and compassion to come through in a clearer way.

The state of the human self filters the stainless clarity of awakening, so why not allow this filter to be more healthy in a relative sense.

Allowing it and its to become me and mine

An aspect of all of the above, from Spirit exploring itself to skillful means to health, is allowing it and its to become me and mine. (As Freud and his successors, including Ken Wilber, point out.)

Within realized selflessness, any quality and characteristic arise freely, as emptiness dancing. At the same time, they can be disowned by and foreign to our human self, or familiar and used in daily life.

If disowned, they cannot very easily become a part of the repertoire of our human self. It does not know how to use them in daily life in any effective, skillful or elegant way. They become holes in the ways this human self can function and relate to others. They are tools that could be available and useful to our human self, but are not since it is not familiar with how to use them.

Even as they arise as Spirit, and recognized by Spirit as Spirit, they also appear as third or second person, as an it or at best an you. There is little or no familiarity with it as an I, me or mine, with how to live it or live from it, how to use it – effortlessly, seamlessly, effectively and with elegance, in daily life and interactions.

By becoming familiar with these qualities on a human level, they gradually become more me and mine, more of a useful and available tool. And this helps Spirit to experience itself in a different, and maybe fuller and richer way. It becomes included in our available skillful means. And it helps our human self to heal.

Maturing and developing

And then there is the conventional (and less conventional) forms of maturing and developing.

Maturing, for me, means to become more fully human, to mature into what it means to be human as well as Big Mind. Or as they say in Breema: being participation, allowing more of all of us to participate – which influences our human self to mature and deepen over time.

In addition, there are innumerable areas we can develop in as human beings: cognitive (what we are aware of), emotional, relational, aesthetical (our appreciation of beauty), and more specific areas such as skills and insights into music, writing, teaching, kayaking, photography, science, engineering, romance, coziness, yogas, group dynamics, cooking, energy work, medicine, bodywork, mind-body connections, and so on. There is no lack of areas where we can develop and hone our skills and understanding.

An aspect of human development is, as Ken Wilber points out, catching up with evolution in general. How far has human evolution currently gone in any of these areas? Where is the leading edge? And how can I allow this human self to catch up with it, and then be part of the leading edge of this wave of evolution – at least in one or some areas?

Combinations and degrees

These are just a few of the many ways Self-Realization can unfold.

For any given individual at any given time, each of these is emphasized to different degrees.

In some cases, the human self may be happy to just passively take part in the general evolution of the world of form, to go along for the ride.

In other cases, there may be more of a conscious emphasis in some or all of these areas. An active and engaged exploration of what Self-Realization means, in the areas of teaching, skillful means, healing, bringing its into mine, maturing, and/or developing along specific lines.

And our culture and time seems to be one where a more actively engaged Self-Realization is emphasized. A Ground awakening itself is of course fine, but it gets fuller and richer in a different way when these forms of Self-Realization are actively brought alive and explored.

Enlightenment and Self-Realization II

Using the distinction between what Ken Wilber calls horizontal and vertical Enlightenment, or Enlightenment and Self-Realization, it is interesting to see where different approaches and teachings fall.


Horizontal Enlightenment, or just old-fashioned Enlightenment, is realized selflessness, Big Mind waking up to its own nature. It is independent of the particulars of the content: whatever arises is recognized as Spirit, as emptiness dancing, absent of any I.

This awakening is the final release from the suffering of the story of I, it is the final coming home, the Ground of the seeing and the seen awakening to itself.


Vertical Enlightenment, or Self-Realization, has everything to do with the particulars of the content, specifically where the universe is in its evolution, and where this individual soul and human self are in their development.

It especially has to do with the healing, maturing and development of this soul and human self, this individual Being which in this particular case is the vehicle for Big Mind awakening to its own nature.

This being which arises as everything else, and as everything else is inherently absent of any I, yet also functions as a vehicle for Big Mind in the world of form, and is an aspect of the evolution of the world of form.

Self-Realization is never complete. It is a work in progress. It evolves with and as the world of form.

What we miss out of if there is one, and not the other

If there is only, or even mainly, a focus on Enlightenment, the healing, maturing and development of our human self may freeze to some extent, or at least not unfold as much as it is invited to within this new context of realized selflessness.

And although working on Self-Realization alone can certainly be rewarding, it never gives the same sense of completeness and finality as horizontal Enlightenment. There will always be a sense of something missing, which is true: realized selflessness.

Some examples

So where do some of the many approaches fit in this framework?

Of the ones that work mainly on Enlightenment, we find traditional Advaita and Zen, and the Center for Sacred Sciences.

Of the ones working mainly on Self-Realization, we find western psychology (at its best), self-help approaches, shadow work, energy work, body-centered practices, various forms of yoga, and so on.

And of the ones including both, we find the Big Mind process, The Work, Adyashanti, Ken Wilber, and most of the folks associated with the integral institute (they are at least interested in or moving towards addressing both).

The Big Mind process helps with integration, healing, maturing and development at our human level, and also with Big Mind awakening to its own nature.

The Work allows beliefs to unravel, allowing our human self to heal, mature and flower, and also, eventually, and if we take it that far, revealing Big Mind and the Ground.

Adyashanti, while mainly focusing on realized selflessness, certainly also addresses and encourages the flowering of Spirit in our human life.

Flowering of Spirit

I went to a half-day satsang with Adyashanti yesterday, in Portland, and it was wonderful. As a friend of mine said, he is a breath of fresh air.

Awakening and flowering of Spirit

One of the things he talked about is the distinction between awakening and the flowering of Spirit, or Enlightenment and Self-Realization as Ken Wilber calls it in Integral Spirituality.

One is the awakening of Big Mind to its own nature. It is realized selflessness. The other is the continuing maturing and development of this human self, or as Adya said it: the flowering of Spirit through this human life.

Flowering of Spirit in always fresh ways

As he pointed out, Spirit never repeats itself. It is always manifesting as fresh, new, different. Uniquely, whether it is as a snow flake, a mountain, or through and as a human life.

So this flowering inevitably involves the breaking of boundaries, of the conventions of society and our tradition, of the expectations of ourselves and others, of our old limited identity, any ideas of what this human self can and should do. The flowering, if full and encouraged, will naturally break and go beyond any and maybe all of these imaginary boundaries.

Adyashanti himself is one of the most clear examples of this. He goes beyond any imaginary boundary, whether from culture, tradition (Zen, in his case), expectations, identity. I suspect he continually surprises even himself.

It is possible to restrict and narrowly channel this flowering of Spirit, if there is a clinging to norms, tradition, expectation and old identities. And this probably happens quite a lot.

And it is possible to encourage this flowering of Spirit, going beyond boundaries existing only as ephemeral ideas.

Genpo Roshi does this, having gone beyond the Zen tradition and developed the Big Mind process. Byron Katie certainly does this, although she has learned to talk and communicate in a way that is a little easier for people to take in.Adyashanti does this, in his wonderfully clear and fresh teachings. Douglas Harding does this, daring – in a quite traditional British culture, to suggest that we are really headless in our own immediate experience.

Most of the figures recorded by history also seem to fall into this category, although that does not mean that they were necessarily more important the many who were more anonymous or less obviously adventurous. Jesus was certainly an iconoclast, as were BuddhaShakyamuni, Bodhidharma, Dogen, Milarepa, Meister Eckhart, Hafiz, Rumi, Hildegaard, and many others.

It requires Great Courage (or Great Foolishness!) to invite this flowering of Spirit in our human life. This flood which will break all dams and levees. And the reward is a possibly fuller and richer manifestation of Spirit in our human life, and a continual surprising of even ourselves.

How this human self is put together

I suspect that this too depends somewhat on how our particular human self is put together.

If it is already somewhat reckless, a sucker for freshness and newness, relentlessly curious by nature, or dedicated to truth and authenticity, then this flowering is more likely to be one that goes beyond any and all boundaries.

If more traditional and conventional by nature, the flowering may fall more neatly within the expectations of culture and tradition, and maybe even our old identity.

Both needed

Again, there is nothing wrong in either of these, and there is certainly room for both. If we were all reckless iconoclasts, little would be left of tradition and the accumulated experience and wisdom embodied there. If we were all traditionalists, there would be little freshness, innovation and adaption to new and changing settings and circumstances.

Equally important, some human selves – such as this one, has an affiliation to and resonate with the innovators. Others, with the traditionalists. And we all find our interest drawn to one or the other at various times, and maybe even both.

Further differentiation

(As I write this, I see that I started out closer to what I heard Adyashanti briefly say, and then go into further differentiation on my own. It shifts as I write, which is why I do it – to explore and clarify it on my own.)

When I look at it for myself, it seems that the flowering of Spirit can certainly be full and rich in either case. One is not necessarily more full or rich, or more important, than the other. They complement each other. They are both equally needed. They can both be a flowering of Spirit in a fresh way, whether within the general boundaries of tradition and culture or not.

The one boundary which the flowering do need to break out of is that of our old identity. This is the one that can restrict it. Sometimes, it is possible to break out of our own identity and still function within the general boundaries of tradition and culture. Other times, it may lead us to go beyond and break free from these boundaries. And this can happen in more or less obvious and dramatic ways.


So there is awakening, realized selflessness, which is independent of the particulars of the content, including this human self. And there is Self-Realization and the flowering of Spirit, which is all about content – about the life and maturing of this human self.

And this flowering of Spirit relates to the imaginary boundaries of tradition, culture, identity and expectations in two ways.

First, there is the realization of freedom from any boundaries of tradition, culture, identity and expectations, and the flowering of Spirit beyond and independent of these.

Then, there is the expression of this, how it is lived in the world. Here, it can be aligned with and mostly within the boundaries of tradition and culture, and may even appear to be mostly within the boundaries of the old identity (although most likely not). Or it can obviously and clearly be expressed free from and independent of any and all of these boundaries.

In the realization of freedom from boundaries, there is also the freedom to express it within or free from these boundaries. And that depends on how this human self is put together, the situation, what seems most helpful to others, and so on. It will change with changing circumstances.

The coin of awakening II: Impersonal Enlightenment and personal Self-Realization

I my slow enjoyment of Integral Spirituality, I have come to chapter six, The Shadow and the Disovned Self. In general, I find IS even more clear and to the point than previous books by Ken Wilber, and this chapter in particular is amazingly so. It seems that his writings has benefited from his more active engagement with a range of people through the Integral Institute, and he clarifies several points that used to be more fuzzy to me.

On pages 129 and 130, he writes about the difference between Enlightenment and Self-Realization.

Enlightenment means to be one with the stages and states at any one time. Or we could say it is a Ground awakening, Big Mind awakening to its own nature, or realized selflessness. Enlightenment is independent of however the world of form arises in the present, it is independent of any particulars in content.

In an a complementary fashion, Self-Realization has everything to do with the particulars of the content, of how the evolution of the world of form shows up right now. It has to do with the healing, maturing and development of our human self, until we catch up to the leading edge of current human evolution, and continue to develop (more or less) along that edge.

This is a beautiful way to put it, and one that very much makes sense to me. On the one hand, we have the impersonal awakening which is available at any time and any place. On the other hand, we have the personal expression of this awakening, riding the crest of evolution and our individual development.