The simplicity of awakening

I am often struck by the simplicity of awakening. And if it is an awakening to what we already and always are, why shouldn’t it be simple? That doesn’t mean that it easy, though. Often, it seems impossible and confusing, until it happens and it is revealed as utterly simple. In some ways, it was the complexity we added to it that held the temporary misidentification in place.

There are many ways of talking about it, and none are really that accurate. As with anything put into words, it becomes a relative truth, limited and with all its reversals true as well.

One is to say that what is awakens to itself.

Another, as awake emptiness awakening to itself, and to form as no other than itself.

Or as awakeness awakening to itself, no longer identifying with any of its content… with sensations, thoughts, this human self, the soul level, or anything else that is content of awakeness. And then realizing that it is all one field, all awake emptiness and form inherently absent of any separate self anywhere.

Or as the void awakening to itself as void, absent of everything… of form, substance, human self, soul, luminosity, any thing-ness, any thing separate from any other thing. And then realizing that all content is no other than this void, emptiness dancing, still absent of any separate self.

Or as the Ground of awake emptiness awakening to itself. The no-thing which allows all things, already and always. The Ground which allows any and all content, utterly independent of its particulars.

And even if it remains just a map, or a memory of a glimpse, or a vague intuition, this map can be helpful. It can help us see that content is not it, no matter how amazing and beautiful it is. Whatever changes, whatever comes and goes, is not it. What remains, is. The no-thing that remains, utterly free from yet allowing any thing, any content, any experience.

Consciousness… one or many? (and the answer is maybe yes, and neither)

I have had the pleasure of spending some time with Deep Surface lately, including at the Center for Sacred Sciences this morning, and he asked Joel a really good question.. one that I am sure comes up for most of us sooner or later, and probably over and over in slightly new ways.

(Paraphrased:) There is an apparently separate consciousness here, and there also seems to be apparently separate consciousnesses out there, in other people and animals. What is the relationship between all of these? Is it one, many? If it is one, why does it appear as many?

Joel asked us how many consciousnesses we each have direct experience with, and the answer for all of us was one. He then also helped clarify the difference between awareness itself and its content, the seeing and the seen… the content is many and always changing… different sights, sensations, thoughts, subpersonalities and so on. But the seeing is always one, always the same.

This helped clarify it for me as well, and here is one way to talk about it:

A field of awake emptiness

The Ground of all form is awake emptiness, appearing as a field of awake emptiness throughout space.

Over here, the content of this awake emptiness is from this individual. Over there, from that individual. Over there again, from another individual.

Emptiness is always the same. Simply emptiness. Yet its content is always different. It is different here, over time. And it is different at different points in space, with content arising from different individuals (including all sentient beings.)

So the awake emptiness is one, yet its content is many. And this is also why it can be awake to itself over there, in that individual, and not here, in this individual, and so on. In one individual, it takes itself to be that content, that individual. In another, it has awakened to itself as awake emptiness, recognizing the whole field as nothing other than the same awake emptiness.

One, and many (and neither)

So is it one or many? As usual for me, the answer seems to be “yes.”

It is one, in that in our own experience, there is only one. And it is one in that it is the same awake emptiness everywhere (emptiness is emptiness.)

Yet, its contents is of course many, and it appears separate until it awakens to itself as awake emptiness, recognizing the whole field as nothing other than this awake emptiness.

And also, it is such an unusual situation, at least for our minds to grasp, so we cannot really say it is one or many. It is somewhere in between, something a little different, not quite either.

Absent of I

A comment left some days ago made me explore in what ways there is an absence of I in awakening.

One, and the most obvious one, is that there is an absence of I in content.

When we look of content of awareness, we find sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and thoughts. This human self and its surroundings is arising.

And we often take a portion of this content as who we are. I am this human being, or maybe even really some portions of this human being, the ones that correspond with an identity I have made for myself. I am this human being, and I am also smart more than stupid, nice more than obnoxious, right more than wrong, and so on.

In our own experience, there is an I in this content, placed on parts of this human self.

But at some point, we start to realize that all of this has really an inherent absence of I.

And we can discover that in maybe three general ways.

One way is to find ourselves as seeing itself, as pure awareness, the witness. I am the seeing and the seen is released from having an I in it. This can happen in meditation, as a result of yoga or shaktipat, or spontaneously… We find ourselves absorbed into pure seeing, realizing that the world of form is inherently absent of an I.

Another is to find ourselves as headless, as Big Mind, as awake emptiness and form, and again realize that there is no I in any parts of all of this. Anything arising is one field of seeing-seen, form as no other than awake emptiness itself, and this field has no center of an “I”. If there is an “I” here at all, it is equally distributed throughout the field.

And a third, closely related to the two other, is to inquire into the world of form itself. I notice sounds, sights, smells, tastes, sensations and thoughts all come and go, live their own life. Can I be any of these? I do not seem to come and go. Following this leads us into finding ourselves as seeing itself, and then as Big Mind.

This form of inquiry also helps us see more clearly how a sense of an I within this is created. How thoughts are taken as offering absolute truths, are associated with particular sensations, and together serve as an anchor for a sense of a separate I. When this is seen, and especially as there is more familiarity with this territory, the gestalt falls apart into its components. Where there used to be a definite sense of I, there are just thoughts and sensations arising in space.

If there is no I in the content of awareness, is there an I anywhere?

Well, for a while it may appear as if there is an I in awareness itself, as opposed to in content. I am seeing, not the seen. But then that falls away as well.

The content of awareness is not different from awareness itself. It is all awake emptiness and form, with form as no other than awake emptiness itself. There is just a field of awake emptiness and form, absent of a separate I in any of its parts. Just a field of seeing-seen, and even saying that gives an appearance of a split that is not there.

The field is absent of a separate I in any of its parts. If there is an I anywhere, it is the one I which is everywhere and nowhere in particular. The one I distributed equally throughout the field. The I without an Other.

Views and their reversals and shadows

I realize this could have been more clear in some of the previous posts…

Views all have their reversals, and they all have limited validity and a grain of truth in them. They are all relative truths.

When a view is believed in, taken as an absolute truth, that is when it creates shadows. I am this, not that. This is true, not that. I am right, you are not.

And a view is any abstraction. Any thought, image, identity, ideology, framework, map. Anything that helps us navigate in the world. Anything that is really a question, but can be taken as a statement. Anything that, when believed in, we use to box ourselves and Existence in with, saying that it is this way, and not that. Anything that, when believed in, makes it appear that we know how things not only are, but how they should be.

Seen as just innocent questions and relative truths, they are immensely useful in helping us orient and navigate in the world. Taken as statements and absolutes, we try to box the world in, and the world comes knocking on the door wanting to be let in. Which can be quite stressful if we don’t allow it to. It is a big world, and our box is small.

Three aspects of identities

Identities can be seen as having three aspects:

General face to the world

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

Embracing the polarities

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

Free from identities

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

All three together

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

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

The gifts of each

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

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

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


Two nights ago, there was another “journey” that happened on its own as I was about to fall asleep…

I am falling, a free fall – with no end, just the falling. Then, it shifts into an experience of weightlessness. I am reminded that free fall is really just weightlessness (and the other way around.)

When there is a release of identification with form, it is experienced as a free fall. There are no beliefs anymore, and no anchors for these beliefs in sensations. Beliefs in ideas as absolutely true go, including the sense of a separate self, and with them any sense of a fixed point of reference.

Right away, it can be experienced as falling – as having the ground pulled out from under ones feet. It can be disorienting and bring up fear.

But after a while, when we get more used to it, there is more of a sense of weightlessness. Of no ground, and being OK with no ground, even enjoying the freedom it gives.

Now, any view and perspective is OK. There is a fluidity among them. A receptivity to and curiosity about each of them. What is the grain of truth in each? How do they fit together in a bigger picture? They are each revealed as just containing relative truth, so none are held onto as a fixed point of reference.

This goes for any abstractions – any ideas, stories and identities – including the core one of a separate self, as well as identities as a human being, male or female, being of a certain age, and so on.

These identities are all useful and even true in terms of describing this human individual, and essential for navigating in the world. They hold a relative truth. But they do not have any absolute truth. They do not describe what I am – or what is – absolutely, which is this ground of awake emptiness, and form arising within, to and as this awake emptiness, with no separate self anywhere.

As they say in the headless world, right here – at zero distance – I am awake void full of the world, no thing for all things, no color allowing any color, no identity allowing any identity. Here, in my first person identity, I am awake void and the world happening within and as this awake void – including all my third person identities: a human being seen at a few feet away, molecules much closer in, the earth farther out, and the whole of the universe even farther out.

Oneness at the three levels

Over the last couple of days, a lot of things have come up for me around the three levels of being (Spirit, soul and human) and how particular qualities show up when filtered through each. These are generalizations from how it (seems to) show up in my own life right now.

In terms of oneness

Oneness at the Spirit level

At the Spirit level, oneness shows up as awake emptiness and form, absent of any separate I. This is what we discover through the headless experiments, the Big Mind process, or other forms of inquiry, or through meditation (allowing the content to be as it is), or even spontaneously. It is the ground, awake emptiness and form as awake emptiness, so it embraces and goes beyond one and many.

It is one, in that all forms are revealed as a thin surface of the same awake emptiness. It is many, in that it includes all the many forms of the world. It is neither, in its emptiness aspect.

In itself, it is absolutely impersonal, yet becomes personal when lived through the life and relationships of an individual human.

Oneness at soul level

At the soul level, oneness shows up in a different way. I can only speak about my limited experiences here with the alive presence, fertile darkness, luminous blackness, and the indwelling God.

Oneness appears in slightly different ways for each of these.

The luminous blackness emerges out of the same awake emptiness as anything else, and is somehow intrinsically interwoven with all form. The same is true, although to a lesser extent, with the fertile darkness (which is more of a composting ground for rigid patterns of the personality.)

The alive presence and the indwelling God have a oneness quality in that they too emerge out of awake emptiness, sharing this ground with anything else. At the same time, they are both alive around, in and for this particular individual (and for any other individual, whom I assume will experience it in a similar way.)

Each of these soul aspects have an universal and a personal quality, maybe most clearly noticed with the indwelling God – which appears as a fragment of God particularly for this individual. It is universal, since it is God (Existence itself), and it is intimately individual and personal, since it is an aspect of God for this particular individual, centered in the area of the physical heart.

Oneness at human level

The oneness at our human level also takes several forms. There is the oneness of all form, arising out of the same awake emptiness, and belonging to the seamless whole of existence.

And then there is the oneness of the mirroring, of finding in ourselves any quality we see out in the wider world. What I see out there, is what I am here. The more we work with this, and become familiar with more and more of our own qualities as individuals, the more it is all revealed as universal. I see any human quality out there in others and the world, and also know it from my own life. We are all in the same boat. We all share everything it means to be human, and are one in that way.

Impersonal and personal

Oneness at each of the three levels is both impersonal and personal, universal and particular to an individual.

At the Spirit level, it is impersonal in that all is revealed as awake emptiness, inherently absent of any separate I. Yet, it becomes intimately personal when this is lived through a human life, in the world, through relationships with other individuals and the wider world.

At the soul level, it is impersonal in that it arises out of the same ground of awake emptiness as anything else, and is available to any individual. Yet, it is intimately personal, especially the alive presence and the indwelling God, in that it is a fragment of the soul level of Existence in, around and for this particular individual.

At the human level, it is impersonal through the seamless whole of the world of form, with everything having infinite causes and infinite effects, and anything happening around and through this individual representing movements of the larger whole. It is also impersonal through finding anything here that I see out there, realizing – in my bones -that we are all in the same boat, it is all just part of being human. At the same time, it is all by necessity intimately and uniquely personal, filtered through this human being.

Differentiating allowing

The process of deepening into who we are, and awakening to what we are, involves an ongoing process of differentiation.

One of the most basic (and common-sense) differentiations is between ways of allowing.

Allowing as a practice

The basic way of allowing, as a practice, is to allow the content of our experiences, as they are. To allow everything, including any resistance to content and to allowing certain content.

Not allowing certain content is suffering, and creates a great deal of struggle and drama. It comes from an identification with a region of content, creating the appearance of other regions of content as other. It comes from an identification with beliefs, thoughts, ideas and identities.

Allowing it releases our identification with content, and allows the ground of this content to come more into the foreground – this ground of awake emptiness that already allows it all, that has no inherent boundaries and no inherent separate self anywhere.

This is the practice we do for ourselves, to reduce suffering, burn through habitual patterns of identification, find clarity, and find ourselves as what we already are.

We allow a full experience of what is, independent of its particulars.

Allowing (or not) in the world

The other form of allowing (or not) relates to our live as an individual in the world. Here, it is just common sense. If someone inflicts suffering on someone else, and I am in a position to change it, I will. I am not going to allow it, if I can prevent it.

Allowing experiences, but not allowing whatever to happen to myself or others

So there is a full allowing of any content of awareness, of any experiences. This brings a reduction of a sense of struggle and drama, and of the confusion that goes along with the struggle and drama. Instead, there is a sense of the stillness, quietness and clarity inherent in the ground.

At the same time, I am not going to allow certain things to happen to myself or others if I can prevent it. And independent of what unfolds, I can fully be with my experiences of it – as it is.

Identity goes out of content, and a sense of doer goes out with it

When we are identified with the content of awareness, there is also inevitably a sense of a doer. And when the identification goes of of the content (and back into the ground of awake void) there is still doing, but any sense of a doer goes out along with it.

A region of content filtered as a separate self, and appearing as a doer

When there is identification with content of awareness, I take myself to be a region of the content of awareness, and other regions as other. I am these thoughts, sensations, sights of this body, sounds of this voice, and an idea of a separate self placed on all of these. I think. I feel. I choose. I decide. I act. I do.

There is not only the doing, but also a doer.

Not filtered through a sense of a separate self, so no doer

When identification goes out of the content of awareness, and back into the awake void (and all content arising as the awake void itself), the sense of a separate self goes out as well. And when a sense of a separate self goes out, any sense of a doer goes out with it.

There is just the doing, with no doer. It is all just happening. A dance of form on the surface of awake emptiness. A mystery, happening within, to and as the awake void.

Cause and effect

Filtered slightly through thoughts, we see that any change in the world of form has infinite causes and infinite effects.

When there is a sense of a separate self, and an identification with a region of the content of awareness, there tends to be an identification with the very local causes and effects, those happening within this individual, the region of content taken as I. I think, choose, react, and then I do.

When identification goes out of content, and the sense of a separate self goes out with it, it is easier to see how any change, including any of the local ones, have infinite causes and infinite effects. Any shifts within this individual have infinite causes and effects, they are the local expressions of the movements of the whole of the world of form. There is thinking, choosing, reacting, and doing, and even causalities within this, but no doer, no separate self doing any of it.

The separate I, and the I without an Other

Here is a slightly different way of noticing the relationship between the sense of a separate I and the one I.

For all of us (I guess) there is a sense of I here. And this is real.

But we assume that this is a separate I, an I with an Other, and we place it on this individual.

This is how the whole human drama, as we know if from our own lives and the rest of the world, comes about.

And then, this I may discover that it is not a separate I. It is really just an I without an Other.

It is the field of all there is – of wakefulness, of emptiness, of form – absent of a separate I. It may happen to be functionally connected with a particular individual, but this individual is just one aspect of the field of form, and there is no separate I anywhere.

We are an I. There can be a temporary and convincing appearance of it is a separate I, one that is placed on a segment of the field and has an Other. And then it can awaken to itself as what it always and already is, the I absent of an Other anywhere.

The fluidity of being with

A rambling, unedited, stream-of-consciousness post (as most of these are), and a reminder to sometime organize this a little better, looking in more detail at some of these connections…

I talked with a friend of mine earlier today, and the conversation went into being with whatever we are experiencing.

Resistance to being with

For me, that is so much a part of my daily life that it was a good reminder of how it can be experienced in the beginning, if we are in the habit of (trying to) resisting experiences. There is often fear coming up around it, including for me with some experiences (if they are very intense, or it goes against a familiar pattern). It may seem scary, potentially overwhelming. What if it takes over? What if I loose control?

Everything included, including resistance

The beauty of just being with whatever I am experiencing, right now, is that everything is included. Whatever arises, whether fear or bliss or contractions of longing, I can simply be with it. Allow it, as it is, as it unfolds, in however way it naturally unfolds. It is very simple (which in my case is a good thing.)

Nothing is left out. Not even fear and resistance to the being with. That too is an experience I can be with.

Resistance in the form of identifications with identities

Resistance to experiences comes from identification with beliefs and identities, including the core one of a separate self. And this resistance to experiences, to what is, this sense of I and Other, creates suffering. We try to wall off experiences, wall of an aspect of what is, of existence itself, and this naturally is stressful, unpleasant, miserable. Ultimately, it is miserable because we wall off aspects of who (as individuals) and what (as Spirit) we already are. We are split against ourselves. And somewhere, we know this.

Who and what I am

There is this field of seeing and seen arising… This awake emptiness arising as form, as the landscape, the tree, sunlight, stove, lamp, sounds of the cars, sensations of the body, taste, words.

When I wall myself off from who I am, as an individual soul and human self, I may wall myself off from this alive presence, the luminous blackness, anger, fear, frustration, joy, or whatever else does not fit into the identities I identify with right now.

When I wall myself off from what I am, as Spirit (Big Mind, Brahman, Tao), I wall myself off from the rest of the field, the landscape, the trees, the awake emptiness, awake emptiness arising as form, absent of I anywhere.

Fullness, nurturing, and quiet bliss

When everything is allowed, these identifications naturally soften, become more transparent, are released, and may even completely fall away. And whatever is experienced, independent of its particular content (even great pain), gives a sense of fullness, a quiet joy and bliss, and of nourishment. Without resistance, there is rest, independent of what arises.

Relaxation and release from identifications

Identification with identities is creating walls, boxing ourselves in, putting ourselves in a cage. It is resistance to what is. So when it is all allowed, there is a relaxation and release of our basic identities, of being male or female, young or old, human, and so on. And there is also a relaxation and even release of our core identity as a separate self.

Fluidity of first person

And this allows for a fluidity of what is experienced as I and Other… What appeared as second or third person (you or it) may become first person. I may find myself as this pain, or as the alive presence, or as whatever else arises. Released from conventional identities, the sense of I can be placed on any aspect of the field arising, or as the field as a whole, without a center anywhere.

Identities without identification

Identities are still there, arising when they need to, used for practical purposes in daily life, but there is no real identification with them anymore. They are just tools for this human self to function in the world. Who I am knows how to work with them, even when there is not an ultimate identification with them.

New aliveness

When there is resistance, there is also a deadening. A deadening of experience, of life, of who and what we already are, in our fullness.

In the relaxation of resistance, there is a new aliveness. We awaken to more of the fullness of who and what we are, to what is arising here and now. And we may even work with this in a more intentional way… Who am I in my fullness, as this individual soul, this alive presence, and as this human self, finding in myself any and every quality I see in the wider world? What am I in my fullness, as this awake emptiness and the world of form arising as this awake emptiness?

Forms of active and passive

The being with whatever arises is in a way the ultimate yin approach, just allowing what already is. It is a mimicking of Ground, which already allows anything (and which is part of what we already are.) Yet it is also active, it is an active being with. It includes awareness of what is happening, and an active being with of whatever arises – that which we habitually push away, the impulse to pushing away, the resistance… whatever arises.

So being with has a passive and active element to it, yet overall it is passive. It is simply being with what already is, as it is.

Yet there is another active element that complements it. The active exploration of who and what I am, the active living of who I am within the context of what I am, and the active placing of my human self under the influence of soul and Spirit.

Exploring who and what I am

Exploring who I am as an individual human being, I can use the wider world as a mirror. Whatever qualities I see out there, in other people, animals, fictional and dream characters, in the landscape, the universe, these are qualities I already know and am familiar with – to some extent – in myself. And I can become even more familiar with these, own them (in the sense of including them in my active identity as a human being), befriend them, embrace them, explore them in my life and relationships with others and the wider world.

Exploring who I am as an individual soul, I can find myself as this alive presence, as luminous blackness, as fertile nurturing darkness, as the indwelling God, and so on. I can explore how the human self transforms within this new context, placed under the influence of this soul. How it softens, deepens, matures, becomes more fully human. I can explore how it is when the soul level is present in several of us together, how it influences our relationships,how it learns to recognize itself through mirroring itself in others (just as we do on our human level), how it unfolds in presence and relationship with others where it is alive (as individual flames coming together creating a larger fire).

Exploring what I am as awake emptiness and form, I find myself as the field of wakeful form, as it arises here and now, centerless and selfless. The I without an Other. Arising, for right now, also as this particular human self.

Four aspects of the view

I recently discovered the Tricycle blogs, and found a nice little entry by Eric Pema Kunsang on what makes a Buddhist. Essentially, it is the view below. I am not sure which one of (a) believing in it (as an idea), (b) examining it in own experience, or (c) actualize it as living realization is sufficient to be considered a Buddhist, not that it matters. Here are the four aspects of the view, with my (unschooled) commentary below.

  1. Everything conditioned is impermanent
    All form is change, including any experiences and states.

  2. All tainted states are painful
    Whenever there is a belief in an idea, we are at odds with what is, and there is suffering. (This includes the idea of a separate I.)

  3. All phenomena are empty and devoid of self-entity
    This one can be understood in different ways.

    One is that the field of form is a seamless whole, with any boundary superimposed and ultimately arbitrary. This also means that any local effect is really the result of the movements and activities of the whole, having infinite causes. So everything is empty of a real boundary, of a separate I, and also of a local cause of anything happening.

    Another is the immediate realization, or noticing, of emptiness, of every form as awake emptiness. This one is difficult to explain as logically as the previous one, but actually easier to notice here and now – for instance through headless experiments and the Big Mind process.

  4. Nirvana is peace
    I am actually not quite sure what nirvana refers to, but assume it is either the awakening as awake emptiness, as the formless, or the next-door neighbor of awakening as awake emptiness and form as no other than awake emptiness. The content of awakeness, the forms arising within and to awakeness, is no other than awakeness itself. In both cases, there is a release from identification with aspects of form, so also a release from suffering.

    Another way to put it is that this awakening is the awakening to selflessness, of no separate self anywhere in the field of awakeness and form, so no I and Other, so rest and peace.

    And then there is the reminder that nirvana is samsara and samara nirvana. In this awakening, there is the realization that there was never anything besides this. There was always this field of awake emptiness and form. It only appeared differently due to a belief in the idea of a separate I, usually placed on this human self.

    They are both the same field, in one case awakened to itself as a field, and in the other case forgetful of its true nature, believing in ideas, taking itself to be only a segment of itself.

Of course, implied in this is that we are only awakening to what we already are, and this happens within, or even outside of, any tradition. It may be about being a good Buddhist, but is really about just seeing what already is.

Corrections: desire, fusion and shadows

Some of the recent posts have been more than a little approximate…!

Big Mind does not desire, but is desire (when it arises)

For instance, in the posts on desire and insatiability, the distinction between Big Mind and desire is not quite clear. To put it simply, Big Mind does not desire (there is no Other to desire, and in its formless aspect it is free from form). Yet it also is desire, when desire arises in an individual. At that moment, Big Mind arises as desire.

So when desire arises in an individual for a full human life and awakening arises, which seems to be our deepest desire (at least for me), then Big Mind is free from it, yet also arises as the desire.

We can say that Big Mind is the desire for it to experience itself through and as a full human life, and also as Big Mind awake to itself.

In a very approximate (and anthropomorphizing) way, we can say that Big Mind (or God) desires to experience and explore itself as finite, through and as an individual human life. And not only that, but as finite in the form of this universe, as galaxies, solar systems, planets, planets becoming alive, ecosystems, social systems, cultures, industry, subcultures, neighborhoods, families, couples, and so on.

The formless desires to experience itself as form, and form desires the formless. The infinite desires to experience itself as finite, and the finite desires the infinite.

It is a catchy and poetic way of putting it. It sounds good at that level. But it is also very imprecise. It gives the impression that God (or Big Mind) desires, yet when there is only the I without the Other, there is no desire. Only rest. Peace (even in the midst of the worst storms and the strongest desires).


In the same post on desire, the word fusion is used, and this fusion is just one of the relationships between Spirit, soul and human self. Ultimately, it is all Spirit, all God, the centerless and selfless field of seeing and seen.

But within this, there is a fusion of the three, an infusion of Spirit awake to itself into the individual, and an infusion of soul into the human self. The previous post is on this topic.

Collective shadows

And then the post on a journey into collective shadows. Collective shadows? No. Again that is just a poetic, a little more catchy, and very approximate way of talking about it.

My journey was very much through my own individual shadow, of the many and varied dark characters that puts a face on what is there.

But this individual shadow is formed within a culture where most people put many of the same things into their shadow. Even if there is individual variations, there are also many commonalities, and that is where the idea of a collective shadow comes from. Even for humanity as a whole, across cultures, many of the same things are put in our individual shadows.

And the faces put on what is in my individual shadow is of course influenced by everything I have experienced, including dark and shadowy characters from my own culture and many other cultures.

So the immediate experience of the journey is one of journeying through our collective shadow, the shadow of humanity. But, realistically, it is of course just this individual one reflecting what is out there, in our world culture.

It doesn’t really matter for the impact the experience has on me. What was important was the experiencing of each of these dark creatures from the inside, living and breathing their life, and at the same time seeing that it is the one transcendent I which is the I of all of these.

But it is still good to make the distinction.

The transcendent qualities of endarkenment

When I describe some of the qualities of endarkenment, it is often with a sense of unease knowing that they can be interpreted as conventional qualities within form and dependent on something particular in form, while they really are transcendent qualities, independent of yet also arising as any form.

There is a sense of holding, but it is a holding that goes beyond and embraces conventional holding and not holding. There is a sense of luminous blackness, but it is a luminous blackness that goes beyond and embraces (can be found within and as, but is not limited to) physical light and darkness. There is a sense of deep nurturing and fullness, but it is a nurturing and fullness that is independent of – yet in and as – anything happening in form. It is a womb, but a womb that allows everything its freedom to be as it is. It is selfless, yet a selflessness that arises within, as, and allows individuals and even a sense of a separate I. It heals the emotional level, yet allows emotions to be exactly as they are, only inviting them to reorganize within this new context.

It is all of these and other qualities, free from any particulars of form, and yet arising within and as all form, as they already are.

Dazzling dark

When I shifted into (very early) endarkenment some weeks ago, there was first a sense of fertile darkness… Smooth, full, a ground of all form. Somehow connected with the belly center. A dark fertile womb. Healing and reorganizing at an emotional level. Formless and a void, yet also the source of all form and all form itself. Selfless.

Then, some days later, an alive luminosity came up, infinitely loving, intelligent, receptive, and – when invited – active, and connected with the heart center.

And then, a combination of the two, of a luminous darkness, smooth, fertile, alive, infinitely loving, intelligent and receptive.

Dazzling Darkness

Some days ago, I found an anthology of writings from Christian mystics called A Dazzling Darkness, which is a term that seems to describe what I have called luminous blackness.

Searching on “dazzling darkness” I found this

. . . it is all still here, both the shining dark void and the experience of myself coming into being out of, yet somehow in response to, that radiant darkness. My whole consciousness of myself and everything else has changed.

When I read it, I initially thought I was reading something I had written…! It is a close description of the shift that happened for me some weeks back, and written by an Australian by the name of John Wren-Lewis.

Then he goes on…

I feel as if the back of my head has been sawn off so that it is no longer the 60-year-old John who looks out at the world, but the shining dark infinite void that in some extraordinary way is also “I.”

My sense is of a shift among 2nd, 1st and 3rd person relationship with the luminous darkness, and they are often there simultaneously. The darkness is You, then I, then both, then an it when I write about it. (The sawed off head is not my experience, but that may be because I am already familiar with this shift of 2nd, 1st and 3rd person perspective.)

And what I perceive with my eyes and other senses is a whole world that seems to be coming fresh-minted into existence moment by moment, each instant evoking the utter delight of “Behold, it is very good.” Here yet again I am constantly up against paradox when I try to describe the experience.

Yes, it is all always fresh, new, different. For me, that came up during the initial (head/heart centered) awakening some years ago, and is still with me, so I don’t experience it as especially connected with the endarkenment/belly awakening, but I can see how it is if that is the first form of awakening, if that is the initial gateway for someone (as it apparently was for JWL.)

For me, the endarkenment shift included a felt-sense, with body and emotions, how it is all very good. It is as if this this luminous dark void as source of all form, holds it all, embraces it, as a womb, with a deep full nurturing felt-sense of all as infinitely OK and good, independent of the particulars of form.

These things only appear as a paradox if our view is mostly dualistic. After a while, it becomes more familiar with functioning within a more nondual context, and it is not experienced as a paradox anymore. Both poles of all polarities are more naturally included.

Thus, in one sense, I feel as if I am infinitely far back in sensing the world, yet at the same time I feel the very opposite, as if my consciousness is no longer inside my head at all, but out there in the things I am experiencing . . .

Hm… Not the way it is for me now, but again, I can see how it can appear that way immediately following an initial awakening. For me, the empty awakeness is evenly spread out, as a field leaving nothing out, embracing anything arising outside and inside of this individual, which is just a small thread in the overall tapestry.

Felt sense of all as one.. or as (the transcendent) I?

Hm… When I look at the title of the previous post, I see that there is quite a difference between all as one, and all as (the transcendent) I. What I wanted to convey is all as the transcendent I, but I wrote “one” instead to avoid the misunderstanding of all as the ego-I, which of course is quite different.

Ego-I and transcendent-I

The ego-I is the sense of a separate I, placed on this individual.

And the transcendent-I is the I of Big Mind, of awake emptiness and form, absent of any separate I anywhere.

All as ego-I is massive inflation… insanity. But all as the transcendent-I is the supreme sanity…

In the dream, what was – and is – alive is all as a felt-sense of the transcendent I.

All as one

All as one is the soft version of it, as it allows a sense of a separate I which somehow is not separate from anything else. It is all a seamless field, but there is still a vague sense of I here placed on this individual soul and human self.

This is the safe ground, where we get the best of both worlds. I get to feel not separate from anything else, which is good, and then I also get to maintain a sense of I here placed on this individual. It feels good, without rocking the boat too much. It is still relatively familiar, and my identity doesn’t change that much.

All as transcendent I

And all as the transcendent I is very different. it is far more radical. It does away with the separate self-sense all together. It completely eradicates any sense of a separate I placed on this individual self. It is the I that transcends the formless and all form, it is the one I everywhere and always.

It wipes out anything familiar, any identity at all. Nothing is left. Just this one I, everywhere and always, no more present in this individual than in any other (although it is functionally connected with this particular individual, for the time being).

This is the complete death of any individual self-sense, of any fixed identity. This is what differentiates sticking the toes in the water, and taking the plunge. It is what separates a dabbling in awakening as Big Mind, and taking the full consequence of it.

Why one, and not transcendent I?

So why did I write “all as one” and not “transcendent I”, although that is what was – and is – alive for me? Partly to not confuse it with the inflation of the ego-I, but also partly because the fear of taking the plunge is real… It is a real fear, a terror… It is the ultimate death of any sense of separate I, of any continuous identity. A plunge into something beyond all of this, something unknown, and also very familiar.

I know, at several levels, that taking the plunge only leaves behind what has always been an illusion anyway, and that what is plunged into will be strangely and intimately familiar… Yet, there is also a hesitation here, a holding back… Am I ready? Willing? Will it happen even if I make myself more consciously available to it?

Three realms of being

Here is one way of slicing the cake of our being, into three realms…

First, the formless… Awake emptiness, capacity for the world. Selfless, timeless, spaceless.

Then, this awake emptiness as form, including innumerable individuals (selfless), unfolding in space and time.

And finally, not less important than the two other, me as this particular individual self, as an individual soul and human self alive here and now, in this little spot of the whole wide world of form. And this is where shadow work, healing, development, maturing, and unfolding as an individual takes place, deepening over time, endlessly (at least as long as this individual is around.)

This corresponds roughly to the three centers…

Spirit filtered through the head center reveals itself as the formless, as awake emptiness, as form as awake emptiness, as individuals inherently selfless.

Spirit filtered through the heart center reveals itself as formless love, and all forms as no other than formless love. It also reveals itself as love for all form, including all individuals, no matter their particulars, as Spirit.

Spirit filtered through the belly center reveals itself as a felt sense of all as Spirit, and as the luminous blackness which, among other things, gives a deep sense of nurturing, fullness and healing for this particular human self.

Each of the three centers include the formless, form and selflessness, although the head center reveals the formless in the foreground, the heart center form – including individuals – in the foreground, and the belly center this particular individual in the foreground.

Forms of darkness

I read parts of A Dazzling Darkness earlier today, an anthology of writings from Christian mystics. My attention was first drawn to the title, and then on of its chapters on darkness.

Reading the selection under that chapter, I was reminded of the many forms of darkness…

There is the darkness of evil, of what appears as Other and not desirable. (Not used my mystics much, thankfully, since mystical awakenings does away with the sense of I and Other and reveals all as Spirit.)

There is the darkness of the dark night, of loss, of failed expectations, of a profound sense of hopelessness.

There is the darkness of not knowing, of finding ourselves as that beyond discursive thought. This is the darkness from an absence of the “light of mind”, of conventional thinking and abstractions.

And then there is the darkness of the luminous blackness, the fertile darkness, formless and arising as and allowing all form.

The three first ones are metaphors, poetic expressions, analogies, and produced by the thinking mind. And the fourth one seems to be a direct experience of fertile darkness, of luminous blackness (from my own experience, others I have talked with, and also as described by Almaas. Even right now, there is a sense of this luminous blackness as formless, yet in and as all form.)

Forms of emptiness

Some forms of emptiness…

The emptiness from impermanence. The world of form is flux, always dying as what it is and reborn as something else. As soon as it is reflected in ideas, images and thoughts, it has moved on to something else. There is nothing fixed here. All forms are empty of anything that is fixed, permanent, anything that can be labeled and stay true to the label (not that it could even if it was fixed).

The emptiness from interconnectedness. Existence is a fluid seamless whole, with no inherent boundaries anywhere. Anything we differentiate out is inherently absent of separate existence. It is just a temporary local manifestation of the whole.

The emptiness from absence of I. There is no separate I inherent anywhere, no I and Other. There is only the appearance of it, coming from a belief in the idea of a separate I, placed on a segment of the world of form. For us, this sense of I is typically placed on this human self. Since this field of seeing and seen, of awake emptiness and form, is functionally connected with this human self, and this human self is a perceptual center for this field, it becomes the most natural candidate for being an anchor for this sense of a separate I.

The emptiness of awakeness. Awareness is empty, and the content of awareness is no other than awareness itself. So awake emptiness and form is inherently empty.

Before this is an alive experience, it cannot so easily be conveyed. But when this awake emptiness notices, and awakens to, itself, it is obvious.

Awareness has no form, is not finite in space and time, is timeless and spaceless, is that which all forms arises within, to and as, is not touched by the always changing forms, is no different from its own content.

It is empty of substance, empty of change, yet is also any substance arising and any flow of change. It is similar to a hologram in that there is form, but these forms are empty of substance. There is just crystal clarity there, empty awake crystal clarity temporarily arising as always changing form.

It is its own subject and object, it is the seeing and the seen, the field of awake emptiness and form.

And just about impossible to talk about in any way that makes sense if this is not already alive in awareness, if awareness has not awakened to itself as awareness, empty awakeness and form.

There are also the existential forms of emptiness, those arising from and within a context of a sense of I. These are the emptiness of longing, of a sense of something missing, of lack. And this emptiness is no other than a reflection of the emptiness of Existence, the emptiness of awakeness.

The existential emptiness can only be resolved, completely, when the emptiness of awakeness awakens to itself, becomes familiar with itself, allowing any sense of a separate I to dissolve, and seeing that it is also the fullness of all form.

By finding ourselves as nothing other than awake emptiness, any sense of I and Other falls away, we are filled up by the world of form, and find ourselves as nothing other than the fullness of the world of form. The world of form is no other than awake emptiness, inherently absent of any I and Other, and that is what we already and always are.

Even as we misidentify with a segment of Existence, there is also the (subconscious) knowing that we are awake emptiness and form, inherently absent of I and Other. And this discrepancy is what gives rise to the longing, the feeling of lack, of something missing. Something is missing, and that is to wake up to ourselves as always and already this field of awake emptiness and form, where there is no I and Other anywhere.

This field that is temporarily and functionally connected with this individual human self and soul, which has this human self as a vehicle in the world of form, as a perceptual center, and this too inherently absent of an I. It is just the local manifestation of the field as a whole.

Identities with and without a sense of I

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

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

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

The hard work of fluid identities

In spite of how it seems sometimes, our identity is quite fluid. That is one of the reasons we have to work so hard at making it appear real to us, real and stable.

When I look, I see that my identity shifts from moment to moment. Right now, it may be as someone who wants to be as clear as possible. A moment ago, it was as someone who didn’t like the current music selection at Earlier tonight, as someone who was willing to pay $7.50 for the current issue of WIE? As I started reading it, as someone happy to see them writing about diksha, taking it as a confirmation of my own identity as someone who benefits from and appreciates diksha. Before then, during a conversation with an acquaintance, as someone who wanted to be perceived as responsible (the topic was on a project I have allowed to be mostly fallow for the last few months, and this could threaten that particular identity). Then during a few minutes of sitting practice, as someone who wants to awaken in all directions – including to all of me as a human being, and in particular the shadow.

There is just the field of awake emptiness and form, absent of I, yet believing in the idea of I, so whatever arises in form is scanned for a good candidate to place this sense of I on. Usually, it is some aspect of this human self that fits our more elaborate identities.

Whatever then comes up as I is where my identity is, and it changes always, from moment to moment.

So as Bhagavan says below, whenever a question comes up, and we identify with the question, we are that question. To ourselves, in our own experience, we are that question. The question “who am I” arises in the field, there is an identification with it, it is seen as I, and everything else is seen as Other. Right there, the field splits itself into I and Other in its own experience.

Questioner: I was so lucky to receive a life review today. At the end of the journey I was asking, ‘Who am I?’

Bhagavan: On a psychological level, you are that question. There is no answer. If the question goes, you go. It is by continually asking that question that you perpetuate yourself. When you become enlightened, the question goes away, and so do you. You are nothing but consciousness, a witness.

Adyashanti on The Awakened Way

One of the most clear, simple and beautiful descriptions of an awakened life I have found, from Adyashanti.

While the world is trying to solve its problems and everyone around you is engaged in the same, you’re not. While everybody around you is trying to figure it out, trying to arrive, trying to “get there,” trying to be worthy, you’re not. While everyone thinks that awakening is a grand, noble, halo-enshrouded thing, for you it’s not. While everybody is running from this life right now, in this moment, to try to get there, you’re not. Where everybody has an argument with somebody else, mostly everybody else, starting with themselves, you don’t. Where everybody is so sure that happiness will come when something is different than it is now, you know that it won’t. When everybody else is looking to achieve the perfect state and hold on to it, you’re not.

When everybody around you has a whole host of ideas and beliefs about a whole variety of things, you don’t. Everyone on the path is getting there; you haven’t gotten anywhere. Everyone is climbing the mountain; you’re selling hiking boots and picks at the foot in the hope that if they climb it and come back down, they may be too exhausted to do it again. When everybody else is looking to the next book, to the next teacher, to the next guru to be told what’s real, to be given the secret key to an awakened life, you’re not. You don’t have a key because there’s not a lock to put it in.

When you’re living what you are in an awakened way, being simply what you’ve always been, you’re actually very simple. You basically sit around wondering what all the fuss is about.

When everyone is sitting around saying, “I hope that happens to me,” you remember when you did that. You remember that you didn’t find a solution to that. You remember that the whole idea that there was a problem created all of that.

When you’re being what you are, when you’re living the awakened life, there’s nobody to forgive, because there’s no resentment held, no matter what.

The truth of your being doesn’t crave happiness; it could actually care less. It doesn’t crave love, not because you are so full of love, but because it just doesn’t crave love. It’s very simple. It doesn’t seek to be known, regarded highly, or understood. When you’re living what you are in an awakened way, there’s no ideal for you anymore. You’ve stepped off the entire cycle of suffering, of becoming; you’re not interested.


And finally, when you’re just living in the awakened way that you really are, you’ll never form an image again of what it’s like. Even as it’s happening, you won’t form an image because you’ll know they’re all images, dust. The way it was yesterday won’t be the way it is today.

Full text

The closest to immediate experience

I realize that many of these terms, such as fertile darkness, luminous blackness, alive luminosity, crystal clear quality, and so on, can be seen as poetic inventions. In a way, they are, but they are also what seems closest to immediate experience.

There is an immediate experience of the fertile smooth rich darkness, the alive luminosity, the luminous blackness, the crystal clear quality, and more. These are the terms that are most close to how each of these appear, when arising in awareness.

They are metaphors, but the closest to experience that we, or at least I, can get. The words themselves come from the thinking mind, but the thinking mind is only of assistance in putting it into words, as close to experience as possible. It has a secondary and minor role. Experience is primary, putting it into words secondary.

Emptiness filtered through head and belly centers

For instance, emptiness, then filtered through the head center, or even thought about in abstract terms, could be called fertile. But it is a stretch. Its empty quality is in the foreground, and the empty quality of all forms are in the foreground. The experience is that forms are emptiness, that they are inseparable. To say that form comes out of emptiness, and emptiness in that way is fertile, is possible, but a stretch from the immediate experience. It is an intellectualization.

But emptiness, when filtered through the belly center, does have a sense of fertility about it. It is black smooth full rich and fertile, and a fertile ground of form. In our immediate experience, it appears as fertile, as brimming with potentiality.

So to call emptiness fertile is more of an intellectualization if filtered through the head center, and an immediate experience when filtered through the belly center.

This blog

Some of the things happening recently, especially the endarkenment, has brought me to revise my intention for this blog. It has always been mostly about my own process, and now more than ever it will be, it seems, at least for a while.

In the past, there has been some shoulds of wanting to include more integral contexts, linking to entries in other blogs, writing in a more coherent and clear way, writing in ways that may benefit others more – as that looks in my own ideas about it.

Now, I see that I have to abandon all of that. This is a journal of one little phase of one person/soul’s process, with all the quirks and uniqueness and universality of that. However it comes out is OK. I write for myself, as a record of what is happening. If it somehow benefits someone else, that is fine, if not, that is fine too.

Others do the integral blogging very well, far beyond what I can do (at least right now). Others do the linking to good entries very well, again far beyond what I can do right now.

I’ll just follow my own process, wherever it takes me, however quirky this blog becomes.

Simple and immediate

Some of the last posts are examples of something that is very simple as it happens, but sounds far more abstract and complicated when I write it down…

In a way, it is not so difficult to write relatively precisely about this in a way that sounds abstract and convoluted, and it is not so difficult to express it in simple, more immediate, and less accurate way.

The trick is to talk about it in a way that is simple, precise, and immediate.

Adyashanti does it, in a way that appears effortless. Genpo Roshi as well, especially through the Big Mind process. Byron Katie does it, although limited to the narrow (yet all encompassing) aspect of beliefs.

The three centers of head, belly and heart, seeing, feeling and loving

After the endarkenment shift, this is more clear to me now…

[Snippet from the previous post]

Spirit awakening to itself

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

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


As I tried to describe in the previous post, this also happens in terms of the world as a mirror for our human self.

I see, feel and love what I see in the outer world as also right here, in this human self.

And there is a deepening into it, in both cases.

A deepening into Spirit seeing, feeling and loving all as itself, allowing the view, emotions and heart of the human self to reorganize to all as Spirit.

And a deepening into seeing, feeling and loving the world as a mirror for my human self, allowing the view, emotions and heart of the human self to reorganize to the world as a mirror, in a very detailed and specific way.

The first One Taste is that of emptiness and form. Of all as awake emptiness and form.

The second One Taste is that within form. If the wider world of form as a mirror for this human self.

So in summary…

There is the One Taste of emptiness and form, of all as awake emptiness and form.

There is the One Taste within form, of the wider world of form as a mirror for my human self.

There is the seeing, feeling and loving of it all as Spirit, and of the wider world of form as a mirror for my human self.

And there is the deepening into it.

The complementarity of Atman and Anatman

I just finished up The Supreme Self by Stan Trout, which is one third autobiography, one third history of mysticism, and one third how different universal questions appears when Spirit awakens to itself.

As it is written by somebody who is intimately familiar with Big Mind, the essence of the various traditions is brought to the foreground and presented in a very clear and simple way. (Which by necessity means that the diversity and difference in flavor goes into the background, leaving out some of the richness.)

One thing that came up for me is the complementarity of Atman and Anatman, of Self and no-self, and the traditions emphasizing one or the other.

There is the Self, aka Buddha Mind, Big Mind, Brahman, and so on. The field of seeing and seen, of awake emptiness and form, as that beyond and including all polarities. It is “I” as awake emptiness and form, as the field as a whole, as Big Mind.

And there is the no-self, the field of seeing and seen absent of I anywhere. It is the field of awake emptiness and form awakening to itself as a field with no center anywhere, with no I as any segment of itself. There is doing, but no doer.

There is a beautiful complementarity of Self and no-self, and this is expressed within each of the traditions talking about Atman or Anatman, whether they emphasize one or the other in how they talk about it, or as a path into this realization.

The Big Mind process strikes me as a practice that especially well includes both. We get to explore ourselves as Big Mind, as Atman, as awake emptiness and form, as the whole beyond and including all polarities. And we get to explore the no-self, the absence of I anywhere in this field of awake emptiness and form, including in all the different personal and transpersonal voices. They are all there, available, yet each one of them inherently absent of an I.

Update March 2010: Stan Trout’s new website is The Mystic Vision.

The question of evil

Some of the many ways of looking at evil, in the context of Spirit as beyond and including all polarities.


Evil comes out of confusion. It comes out of believing in the idea of I, placing it on this human self, and then creating a more elaborate identity that needs to be defended.

I see myself as an object in finite space and time, and need to protect myself. I take as I, and believe in, the more elaborate identity of this human self, and this also needs to be protected.

And since it is a death-and-life matter, I am willing to use death-and-life means.

Expressions of Spirit

It is an expression of Spirit. It is Spirit expressing, exploring and experiencing itself, in yet another flavor. It is awake emptiness and form, in one of its many expressions, inherently absent of good and bad, good and evil, better or worse.


It ads to the drama of Spirit expressing, exploring and experiencing itself. Spirit creates a sense of I and Other, place the I on this human self and Other on anything else, and the drama is in motion. There is more juice, more engagement, more liveliness, if it appears as a life-and-death drama.

Evolution and development

Souls develop over incarnations, and human selves develop within its lifetime.

Evil actions is simply the actions of an immature soul or human self, when pressed to its limits. When nothing else seems available.

Or we can say that evil actions happen when our circle of care, compassion and concern is exclusive. It may be that we see a strong boundary between we and them, dehumanize the Others, and see it in our interest to harm them, directly or indirectly. Or it may be that we are simply oblivious to the effects our actions have on others, although this is typically not seen as evil.

Over the course of the development of the human self, its circle of care, compassion and concern gets wider and wider. The circle of we and us expands to include more and more people, groups of people, species and systems. It can go from egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric and even to Kosmocentric, depending on the inner and outer conditions.

In egocentric, my circle only goes around me and maybe those most immediate to me. In ethnocentric, it includes my group, however it is defined – my nation, religion, ethnicity, age, political affiliation, and so on. In worldcentric, it includes all of us – which can be all of us human beings, all of us beings on this planet, all of this planetary ecosystem, all of us in past, present and future. And in Kosmocentric, it includes all of Existence, beyond and including all polarities. It includes all of Spirit as awake emptiness and the whole world of form.

Belief in an idea

Evil can be seen as coming from a belief in an idea. We believe in the idea of good and evil, create a definition for it (usually coming from culture or religion), and place it on the world.

We place it on top of something that is inherently free from good and evil, and then we act as if it is really there – because it is, for us.

Conventional views as a guidelines

And then there are the many conventional views on ethics, law and so on, which are all very useful (essential) in our daily life. They serve as guidelines for our own behavior, and also for how we will allow others to treat others.

All together

Each of these views, and many more, have a good point. They are each true in their own way. They are each useful. But if we get stuck in just one, something else is left out and what we leave out will most likely come back to bit us. We act from a filter that removes most of the spectrum, and lose much of the information available to us.

We see it all as Spirit, and disregard conventional views, guidelines and laws. We stick only to our beliefs, and ourselves end up acting in less compassionate ways. We see it all as drama, and stoke the drama instead of helping people find relief from suffering and awakening.

The more of the spectrum included, the more we can see, and the more informed, and hopefully compassionate, our actions can be.

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.

Adi Da, Avatars and God-Men

Hm… My dreams are telling me that it is time to reveal my ignorance (even) more openly, to deflate whatever inflation is here, so here is one in maybe many more entries revealing my ignorance… As if not all the entries here do that…!

When I looked up shaktipat online, I found a page with excerpts from Adi Da on shaktipat.

Which reminded me how little I know about Adi Da, his teachings, and also the whole idea of Avatars, and that whenever I hear about Avatars, God-Men and the like, I am confused.

In my worldview, everything and everyone is emptiness, awakeness and form. So no difference there. And it also means that all beings are Buddhas, although not consciously awakened as Buddhas yet (this of course reveals my Buddhist filter and bias.)

Questions about the term Avatar

If Avatar is used to simply mean an incarnation of God, then everyone and everything is an Avatar. Why single out some incarnations?

If Avatar is used to mean a being that embodies Big Mind (God) having awakened to itself as Big Mind, then why not just call it an awakened one, as they do in Buddhism? Seems less pretentious.

If Avatar is used to mean a highly developed soul incarnating, the term makes more sense. But the way Avatar is used seems to indicate a difference in kind not in degree, and a more or less developed soul seems to be a difference in degree, not so much in mind.

Implying a difference in kind opens it up for all sorts of misconceptions and projections that are not so easily integrated. (Buddhism also opens up for projections, but since it is emphasized that you too are a Buddha, a sleeping one that can and will awaken, these projections are more easily recognized, worked with, and integrated into a full awakening and recognizing this as the Buddha Mind.)

The term God-Man seems to have the same questionable attributes as Avatar… And Adi Da’s use of these terms on himself is one of the many things that have raised red flags for me and held me back from reading much by him so far (although I understand he is highly respected by many who’s opinion I respect.)

No matter what, he too is emptiness, awakeness and form, although that form may be more highly developed than for many others, and the realizations expressed through this form may be highly refined realizations.

A question about Adi Da

Still, in the back of my mind, I do question if there is not a remaining identification with this form (at soul and human levels) in the case of Adi Da. An identification that is not only blind (not recognized as attachment to beliefs), but also tightly held onto.

If emptiness and awakeness has awakened to itself as Ground and clearly recognize itself as Ground, and any attachments to beliefs and form are recognized as attachments to beliefs and form (even as they are still there), then it comes out as genuine humility as we see in many Buddhist teachers, maybe especially Tibetan ones.

If this attachment is not recognized as attachment, and even made into a tightly held onto belief, it seems that it can come out in a form of weirdness similar to the weirdness of Adi Da.

When Big Mind more fully awakens to itself, it recognizes that the soul and human self it is functionally connected with is absent of an I, as all form is absent of an I. No matter how this soul and human self shows up in the world, there is no need to make it into anything special.

It seems that with Adi Da, there is the (accurate) recognition that the soul and human self is highly developed, but it is still taken as an “I” to some extent, which makes it into something slightly weird, inflated and grandiose.

Belief in ideas and/or human self problems

A remaining belief in ideas can explain some of the weirdness.

Another way to look at it, or maybe the other side of it, is that the human self can also have some remaining problems, as Ken Wilber points out, even as there is an awakening to realized selflessness. But it seems that for these to be played out, at least in any extreme or (conventionally) harmful forms, there still has to be an overlay of beliefs in ideas which then amplifies the problems at the human level.

To me, it seems that it is likely that there is still an attachment to beliefs there, whenever the weirdness takes the form of apparent inflation and something to protect and defend, as it seems to do with Adi Da.

If there is no attachment to beliefs, if the emptiness is clearly realized and in the foreground, there is also nothing to defend – and this may take the form of receptivity. Somebody says something about me, and I can take time to find the truth in it. No matter what the description is, there is always some truth in it, and I can find it in myself, own it, take responsibility for it, and allow for changes. And I can do this before and after realized selflessness.

A mirror for myself

Which is a reminder to see how this weirdness, inflation and grandiosity shows up in this life.

Some of the ways it shows up, here and now, is when I see the weirdness in him and not in myself.

When I believe that my view of him and what I write here has any form of absolute truth in it.

When I believe that I can see something about avatars that generations of mystics haven’t seen. (If that is not grandiose, I don’t know what is.)

When I believe that I can know that I see him more clearly than he sees himself…!

Ocean and wave

One of the common analogies for the relationship between Big Mind and the human self is that of the ocean to the wave. They are one substance, and the wave is a local and temporary manifestation of the whole.

Sometimes, when people talk about it, they place the center of gravity in the wave even after it awakens as the ocean, as if the wave awakens to itself as the ocean.

But the wave doesn’t awaken. If it appears to, it is just a preliminary awakening. It still sees itself as a unit, as an “I”, and sense or taste or have an intuition of oneness with the ocean. The boundaries may blur and appear not so real anymore, but there is still a sense of I there, overlaid on the wave.

What really awakens is the ocean. It awakens to itself as the ocean, manifesting as that particular wave and all other waves. It realizes that it was only temporarily misidentified as a wave.

For the ocean identified as other local waves, it may appear as if that particular wave awakened. But it is always the ocean awakening to itself, and expressing it through that wave.

Whatever changes in the wave is just a reflection of the ocean awakening to itself while functioning through the wave.

Tracing subject and object

Here are three ways subject and object may appear…

Subject and object: this human self and the wider world of form

When there is an exclusive identification with this human self, this human self appears as a subject and the wider world of form appears as an object.

There is the field of seeing and seen, absent of I. It believes in the idea of I, and this human self seems to be the most likely candidate. After all, there is a functional connection with this particular human self, and the perceptual inputs comes through it.

If there is an I anywhere, it is most natural to first put it on this human self.

Subject and object: seeing and the whole world of form as object

Then, we may notice that the seen is always changing, so how can there be an I there? How can this human self be an I, when it just consists of fleeting components such as sights, sounds, sensations and thoughts? They all come and go, but something does not come and go, and that is the seeing itself.

So then the sense of I is placed on the seeing itself.

The seeing appears as a subject, and the whole world of form becomes the object.

As a side effect, the whole world of form is revealed as a seamless field. There is no longer any inside or outside. It is all just one field. This human self and the wider world of form is a seamless field, with no absolute boundaries anywhere. There is a disidentification with this human self, and thoughts, sensations, choices, behaviors and anything else arises just as clouds, mountains, rain, sunshine. It all comes and goes on its own, living its own life.

Whole field of seeing and seen as absent of subject and object, and as a whole as subject and object

Finally, when the field awakens to itself as the field of seeing and seen, absent of I anywhere, the whole sense subject and object falls away.

When there is no sense of I and Other, there is no sense of subject or object.

Or we can say that the field as a whole becomes subject and object. It is, as a whole, its own subject and object.

The many meanings of transpersonal

I am reading The Modern Alchemist, which is a good introduction and overview of the general alchemical process, but also has some quirks.

It also reminds me of the many possible uses of the word transpersonal. I have never quite understood what is meant by it, so I have avoided using the word, but this is an opportunity to explore some of the ways it can be used.

Transpersonal as universal at human and soul levels

In The Modern Alchemist, the word transpersonal seems to be used, at least some times, as meaning universal. Something is transpersonal if it is a universal psychological pattern or process.

It can also be expanded beyond the human level to the soul level. At both levels, there are universal patterns and processes, universally human and universally soul.

This is a horizontal transpersonal, going beyond the individual to include the collective.

Transpersonal as beyond the human, as soul and Spirit

Transpersonal can also be used as meaning the soul and Spirit. This is a vertical transpersonal, transcending the individual human into the soul and Spirit realms.

More generally, transpersonal can mean a shift beyond where we usually place our sense of I. If there is a sense of I there, it is typically placed on a combinations of segments of our human self and soul. And we may, temporarily or more stably, go beyond this in what we experience as ourselves. This is another form of transpersonal.

Transpersonal as absent of I

And transpersonal can mean absent of I. When there is a sense of I there, placed on our human self or soul, it is taken as personal.

Yet, the human self and the soul, as anything else in the world of form, is inherently absent of any I. When this is realized, when Spirit awakens to itself, it is a shift beyond the personal into the transpersonal. It is all recognized as not being personal, and never having been personal.

This is probably the less typical way to use the term (I don’t think I have ever seen anyone use it in this way), but it is another way of going beyond the personal, of shifting into the transpersonal.

The meanings of personal

It may also be interesting to explore what personal means.

Personal could mean anything that is individual, such as this human self and soul.

Personal can also mean an experience of this human self and soul as personal. This is an experience of personal that comes from identification. When there is a sense of I here, placed on our human self and/or soul, it can be taken and experienced as intensely personal.

When what this I is placed on becomes a me or mine, when it goes from an apparent subject to object, it is a little less personal. And when this me or mine is within the context of realized selflessness, any sense of it being personal goes away.

And personal can also refer to the unique flavor of this human self and soul. Everything about is may be universally human and soul, but it still has a unique flavor. It is still icecream, but its particular flavor is strawberry-kiwi. The flavor is there before and after realized selflessness.

The problems with the word transpersonal

One problem with the word transpersonal is that it can be used in so many different ways, probably many more than mentioned here. That is of course the case with many other words we use, such as ego, so that, in itself, is only a problem if the definition is not made explicit.

And there are also some problems with the specific definitions above.

If it used as meaning universally human or soul, that it is a problem. I have not found anything in me that does not appear universal. It seems that anything happening – any process and any pattern, in any of us, is a reflection of universal patterns and processes. How could it be otherwise? If it is all universal, as it appears to be, how can we make a differentiation between personal and transpersonal in this way?

If it is used as meaning soul or Spirit levels, it appears a little more clear-cut, although there are a couple of things to keep in mind. It may be that the soul level continues after the human self dies, so there is a differentiation there. But in our daily life, where exactly is the boundary? And although we can certainly differentiate out our human self and soul from the larger world of form, they are still Spirit.

Also, and more problematic, the soul level is still very much personal. It is part of the world of form (although not physical) and it is individual, just as the human self is. And we can certainly place a sense of I on it, just as we can with our human self. So why call it transpersonal? Only Spirit is truly beyond the personal soul and human self, as emptiness, awakeness and all form.

If transpersonal is used in a very general way, to mean a shift beyond our sense of what is personal, it gets even more nebulous, as this sense of I can be placed on just about anything, including any combinations of segments of our human self and soul.

If it is used to describe the shift from a sense of I to realized selflessness, it is even more clear cut, but probably not very useful. There are already many other, and more familiar, terms for this.

And more generally, if nothing is really personal – if it is all universal patterns and processes, inherently absent of I – how can anything be transpersonal?

So transpersonal cannot easily be used to refer to what is universally human or soul, since all seems to be. It cannot easily be used to refer to the soul level, since that is individual and in form, just as the human self, and thus can be seen as personal too. And if nothing is really personal at all – if it is all universal patterns and processes absent of any I, how can anything be transpersonal?

I guess this very cursory outline shows why the word transpersonal is not all that useful for me, unless I can find some definitions that make more sense and have some practical use. (To me, it seems that the term comes out of a general idea of what is personal and what goes beyond, without having thought much about it.)

Finally, I have to admit that I am not very familiar with how the term is used by others so this whole discussion may be unfair, and it is certainly uninformed. And it probably also duplicates what many others have said, and probably resolved long time ago.

Spirit as 1st and then 3rd person

This is something I have been curious about for a while…

I have seen, and hear about, settings where somebody talks about Spirit as 1st person, the listeners get confused, and then they continue to just talk about it – only making people even more confused and up in their heads.

Jen is taking the foundations course at Center for Sacred Sciences, and last time, they talked about the First Fundamental:

  1. Consciousness alone is absolutely real
    The appearance of an objective world distinguishable from a subjective self is but the imaginary form in which Consciousness Perfectly Realizes Itself.

If we don’t have an immediate taste of it, it won’t make sense. And then it just goes into the realm of ideas and spins around and around, as it apparently did in the discussion about this principle.

And something similar is happening at the Breema Center. The head teacher talks about the Ocean (Spirit, Big Mind) while people sit and listen. But it is difficult to see that it does much for the listeners. I know it does just about nothing for me, because it is just somebody talking about it, and in a relatively abstract and removed way, using words that does not invite it to come alive in immediate awareness.

So why not use one of the many ways to help people find it for themselves, to notice that it is already alive in immediate awareness? There is no shortage of methods that really work out there, and also anyone for whom it is alive can without too much trouble find words that are fresh, alive, immediate, and invite a fresh, alive and immediate realization in the listener.

There are pointing out instructions in many traditions. And maybe even more helpful, there are many forms of inquiry which, in a step-by-step fashion, allows people to discover it for themselves right there and then.

We can ask when you close your eyes and try to find yourself, here in this moment, who or what do you discover yourself to be?

Or we can guide through an exploration of the seen, the seeing, and then both absent of any I. (Notice sights, sounds, tastes, sensations, thoughts. Notice how they all come and go. Can you find an “I” anywhere in this changing world of form? What is it that does not change? What is this awareness that all of this unfolds within and to? Is this awareness within time or is time within it? Is it within space, or is space within it? Can you find any color, form, extent, beginning, end to this awareness? Where does the seen end and the seeing begin? Can you find a boundary between the seen and the seeing? Can you find an I anywhere in all of this?)

Another, very similar and more systematized approach, is the Big Mind process which also allows it to come to the foreground of awareness within just a few minutes.

Instead of talking about it first, and then expect people to find it, why not allow people to have a taste first, and then explore it through language. First, going to Spirit as 1st person, then include Spirit as third person.

If we want people to know about apples, it makes sense to first allow them to have a taste, and then we can explore it through language as much as we want – exploring its texture, sweetness, crunchiness, biology, how to grow them, the history of apples in the human civilization, and so on.

To be fair, both CSS and the Breema Center do allow people the taste as well, in other settings. And that is actually their focus. But it just seems odd to me in the particular situations where it all goes to the head, and stays there, going around and around in the realm of ideas, when it could be grounded in a real taste right there and then.

Field of seeing-seen

The Ground of seeing and seen is of course really one field.

It is the field of seeing-seen, or even the field of Ground-seeing-seen…!

It is seamless. It is absent of I anywhere. It is simultaneously, and as a whole, subject and object.

And yet, it can be talked about in all of these ways – and many more – when a layer of abstraction in placed on top of it. When various aspects of this field is filtered out and the relationships between these are explored. But this is merely a way of talking about it. As anything expressed, it immediately goes into the realm of the relative, and has no absolute truth to it. It is merely a finger pointing.

The funny thing is that all of this is alive in immediate awareness to all of us. It is only the filter of the temporary belief in the idea of I which (again temporarily) makes it appear differently. The field of seeing-seen temporarily splits itself into I and Other, and our human self then acts as if it is true.

The many faces of love

Somebody sent me a question about love, pointing out (accurately) that I don’t use that word much here.

Here are some of the things that came up for me…

Jnana and bhakti

There are two main approaches to spirituality: jnana (inquiry, insight, wisdom) and bhakti (love, compassion, devotion).

Over the last few years, jnana has been more in the foreground for me, in the form of various ways to do inquiry. Before this, there were several (pre-blog) years where bhakti was in the foreground as a practice and lived experience.

Both are fine of course. And at different times in our lives, one may be in the foreground for a while, and then the other, and then maybe neither, and then both.


Another thing about love is that it is used in many different meanings, and also can be filtered in different ways.

It can be filtered through a generally egocentric or ethnocentric or widening worldcentric way of being. Being exposed to people living from the two first of these, it is fine if I am inside of their circle of concern, but not so nice if I am outside of it. (Ku Klux Klan really do love whites, and I am sure it is a genuine love, but I if I am black and on the outside of that love, I may not appreciate it so much.)

Love, even world-centric love, is also filtered through beliefs. For instance, I may love somebody, but also think they should appreciate me, or be with me, or give me money, or generally behave the way I want. Love is then mixed up with much else that may not be so comfortable for those at the receiving end.

The view and emotion of love

There is also the view and emotion of love.

The view of love is Big Mind, or any views that approach Big Mind such as deepening and widening worldcentric circles of concern, a sense of no separation, of oneness, of recognition, and so on.

If I act from these views, my actions may be interpreted by others as coming from love. In reality, I am just acting from a sense or view of no separation, or recognition, or Big Mind, but it certainly looks like love, and I may even experience it as love – or not.

Which brings us to the emotion or experience of love. As with any content, the emotion or experience of love comes and goes. It is sometimes strong, sometimes, less strong, sometimes absent, sometimes mixed up with all sorts of other emotions. It is maybe not the most reliable basis for action.

But the view can be more stable. Unravelling beliefs, or finding myself as witness, the world of form is a seamless field and there is no absolute separation of I and Other anymore. From here, I will naturally live in ways that looks like love. And when the emotion is there to create a fuller and richer experience, that is the icing on the cake.

Impersonal and personal

A final thing that comes up for me is that love can be experienced as impersonal or personal, by either the giver or the receiver.

On the one hand, love in its essence is completely impersonal – embracing everyone and everything.

On the other hand, if my whole being is participating (present, engaged, wholehearted), and I am transparent and receptive, and interested in the other person as a human being, it tends to be experienced – by both, as more personal, more alive, more rich and full.

Headless Way

There has been some interesting comments and messages after I helped post the Headless experiment videos at YouTube.

Different responses: hooked, not hooked, and upset

As with so much else, some get it right away and are hooked (like me). Others get it and move on to something else. Some are interested, but don’t quite get it. And others again don’t get it and are upset that somebody can be so stupid. (The second and third seem to be quite common when I show the videos to people, and I got the third response from someone through YouTube.)

It seems that people who have some experience with what the headless experiments point to are more likely to get it. And why some who get it are hooked and others not must have to do with how we are individually put together, it is our unique flavor that shines through.

Here is one way to talk about the headless experiments…

Conventional view

There is of course a head here, attached to this body. And as long as the center of gravity is in this human self, there will be an identification with this head. It will appear as the center, as I as opposed to the rest of the world.

Headless shifts

The headless experiments invites us to shift our center of identification out of this body, this head, and this human self. It invites us to find ourselves as what the world of form appears within.

I as awake space, capacity for the world

In the beginning, it may be helpful to see this as space, awareness, capacity for the world, and so on. I am the awake space the world of form arises within. This human self is just one small part of the tapestry of this world of form as it arises right now, and there is no more identification with this human self than with anything else. It is all just happening, living its own life. There is doing but no doer.

Headless = Big Mind, realized selflessness

And then, there may be another shift into realizing that even this seeing, this awareness, this space, has no I in it. There is no I in the seen, as this human self and the rest of the world of form, and there is no I in the seeing. It is all just happening, with no I anywhere.

This is Big Mind, already right here, even as there is a sense of I placed in the seen or the seeing. Through the headless experiments, or the Big Mind process, or other forms of inquiry, Big Mind can notice its own nature – as a seamless field of seen and seeing, absent of I anywhere.

Movie analogy

One way to talk about this is to use a movie analogy.

The content of awareness stays the same: it is the sensations, smells, tastes, sights and sounds conveyed through this human body, reflecting this human self and its surroundings.

Yet the context shifts from a sense of I, typically placed on this human self, to realized selflessness. None of this, the seeing or the seen, has any I in it.

It all becomes a field, a terrain, a tapestry, absent of any I anywhere.

And it is similar to a movie screen with characters and their surroundings, yet with no I anywhere, not as the seen up on the screen and not as the seeing of it. It is all just happening on its own.

Relative and absolute

So there is this field of emptiness and form, of capacity and world, of seeing and seen, realizing itself as absent of I anywhere. At the same time, it is somehow functionally connected with this particular human self. It is all absent of any I, yet within the world of form – and for purely practical purposes, this human self is me and the rest of the world is other. And this human self has a head, so if there is a low doorway it will bend down.

I am headless, since this I is either awake space for the world of form, or absent. But this human self very much has a head, and will take care of it as needed.

Dreaming as an analogy

Many traditions and teachers use dreaming as an analogy for the process of awakening. The word awakening itself is related to this analogy…!

Waking up

Waking up from a dream is a parallel to awakening in the sense of Big Mind awakening to its own nature of emptiness and form, with no I anywhere.

Lucid dreaming

And waking up to the dream, within the dream, as happens in lucid dreaming, is an even closer analogy. This is parallel to Big Mind awakening to its own nature while still being functionally connected with a particular human self.

In the case of lucid dreaming, the dream goes on and is realized as a dream as it happens. Whatever happens is realized as a dream, as form and emptiness, as the play of consciousness.

In the case of awakening, the human self goes on and is realized as the play of Consciousness, as absent of I, as a small part of the tapestry of phenomena arising as Spirit itself and as emptiness & form, and, to use another analogy: as a vehicle for Big Mind in the world of phenomena. The world of form, including this human self, is realized as Spirit itself, as form and emptiness, as the play of consciousness, and the human self continues on within this realization.

The difference is that in lucid dreaming, there is typically still a sense of I there, and it is often placed on our human self. So the consciousness that creates and is the dream is often taken as individual or human consciousness, as a property of and dependent on this human self.

In awakening, this consciousness, temporarily and mistakenly identified with our human self, is revealed as Spirit, Big Mind, Buddha Mind, Divine Mind. It is that which all phenomena throughout the universe is made up of, including this particular and infinitely small human self.

Awakening from the nightmare

Another way the dreaming analogy can be useful is in looking at awakening from the nightmare.

When we have a nightmare, we often wake up. It is just too terrifying to stay in the dream, so something allows us to wake up.

And there are many examples of where this has happened in awakening as well. Our human life becomes too terrible to continue to be identified with, so consciousness awakens to its own nature – as Spirit, Ground, emptiness and form, as all there is absent of any I – yet still functionally connected with this human self.

Shunryu Suzuki
had his first clear awakening while he was hanging from a meat hook that had pierced his eye socket (!). Read the juicy details in Crooked Cucumber.

Douglas Harding said several times that the awakening happened because Douglas became too much of a nuisance and a burden.

And for me too, the initial awakening happened during a very stressful time in my teens, including after a prolonged period of physical illness (which later turned out to come from severe food intolerances).


Some ways of talking about a nondual awakening…

It is the Ground of all phenomena that awakens to its own nature, while still functionally connected to a particular human self.

Allowing any and all phenomena

This Ground is that which already allows all phenomena to arise, to come and go, to live their own life. It allows – in no particular order – Hitler and Jesus, Buddha and GWB, pain and pleasure, equanimity and drama, repression and clear seeing, clouds and mountains, inanimate matter and life, seeing and seen, stars and galaxies, dark holes and nebulae, birth and death, cities and rain forests, Bach and Madonna, cars and bikes, confusion and clarity, delusion and realization, a sense of I and awakening as already selfless, beliefs and thoughts freed from beliefs, suffering and joy, arrogance and humility, any and all perspectives, justice and injustice, harming and helping, destruction and building up, war and peace, simplicity and complexity, and anything else that is happening, ever has happened, and ever will happen.

It allows all of this, inherently. It allows itself to be formed into any and all of these. It allows space to hold and take any and all of these forms. As Ground, there is no resistance to any of these, not even to resistance. It is all there, naturally, spontaneously, just happening, living their own lives.

Spiritual practice mimicking Ground

And in spiritual practice, we mimic this as well as we can.

We practice shikantaza, just sitting, allowing anything to come and go on its own, including resistance and holding onto something. We practice selflessness, acting in selfless ways, because that is our nature. We practice self-inquiry, looking at what is already true in immediate experience.

In all of these ways and many more, we prepare the ground for Ground to spontaneously awaken to its own nature.

Content stays the same, context shifts

In a nondual or Ground awakening, the content can stay the same. No change is needed in content. It is just the context that changes, from a sense of I to a realization of no I anywhere in all of this.

When the context shifts in this way, content does change as well as a consequence of this shift. This human self reorganizes and realigns to the new context, at all levels – from physically, energetically, emotionally and mentally, to how it lives its life. It needs time to reorganize, as Ground needs time to become familiar with operating through a specific human self in the context of realized selflessness.

There is a maturing at all levels after this awakening, and this includes exploring and developing skillful means, ways to live this through a human being and in the world.

Ground and human self

No human being awakens. It is the Ground that awakens to its own nature while functionally connected with a human self.

There is no human awareness, only the inherent awareness of Ground temporarily misidentifying itself as human or as the property of a human self.

When the center of gravity is in the human self, it sees itself as an object in the world, within time and space, subject to birth and death, at the mercy of emotions and beliefs, living from likes and dislikes. When Ground awakens to its own nature, allowing and as any and all phenomena arising, this human self just becomes a part of the landscape.

There is a seamless field of whatever is happening, this human self is a small part of this field, and there is no I anywhere. This human self and everything else lives its own life. There is just the doing there, and no doer to be found anywhere.

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.