A few of my Chinese ceramics explorations from week two of trying Midjourney.
See more of my AI images on Instagram.
I am part of the rainforest protecting itself– John Seed
It may seem altruistic to protect nature. For me, it’s self-preservation.
ASSUMPTION OF A DIVIDE
If I see a strong divide between me and nature, then nature can easily be seen primarily as a source of resources, a place to put waste, and a place to occasionally enjoy. If I do something to protect nature, it’s altruistic and often a bit peripheral. It’s a nice thing to do but not terribly important.
INTERCONNECTEDNESS OF ALL LIFE
If I realize the interconnectedness of all life, then I recognize – in a more visceral way – that my own well-being and my own life is utterly and intrinsically dependent on the health and existence of the larger ecosystems and this living planet I am part of. Here, protecting nature becomes self-preservation. I am dependent on the health and vibrancy of nature locally, regionally, and globally.
I AM NATURE PROTECTING ITSELF
I can also go one step further and recognize that I am nature protecting itself. I am a part of this living evolving system protecting itself. I am a separate self, and more fundamentally I am a temporary and local expression of this larger living and evolving system. I am a temporary and local expression of the living and evolving Earth. I am a temporary and local expression of the evolving universe and all of existence.
GETTING IT MORE VISCERALLY
Getting this more viscerally is a big and important shift. It brings us more in alignment with reality. It gives grounding. It’s nourishing. It makes us less dependent on the more temporary surface experiences and situations.
And, of course, it doesn’t mean I am or need to be “perfect” in terms of my own life. I am also a child of my culture. I am also embedded in our social and cultural systems.
As all of us, I live in an economic and social system that rests on the assumption that humans are somehow separate from nature, that the resources of nature are limitless, and that the ability of nature to absorb waste is equally limitless. We live in a human-created social system where what’s easy and attractive to do is also, in most cases, destructive to nature.
And we have another option. We can create an economic and social system that take our ecological realities into account, and where what’s easy and attractive to do – for individuals and businesses – supports life and our ecosystems. It’s possible. We can do it. We even know quite a bit about how to do it.
And yet, it does require a profound transformation of our whole civilization – our worldview, philosophy, economics, energy sources, production, transportation, education, and everything else. And that requires a deep collective motivation. Will we find it? Perhaps. But likely not until we are much further into our current ecological crisis. (Which is a socal crisis since all of our human systems are embedded within our ecological systems.)
On the land in the Andes we are stewards of, there are many different ecological systems, all of them impacted by centuries of grazing and food production. (Although on a relatively small scale.)
Having visited this land for a while, and now living here, several things that come up for me daily.
RESILIENCE AND VULNERABILITY
One is how amazingly resilient nature is when undisturbed by civilization. Ecosystems have evolved to adapt to just about anything that happens in nature with some regularity.
And, on the other hand, how amazingly vulnerable nature is. Ecosystems can be wiped out in a day with the help of machines.
Ecosystems are amazingly resilient when it comes to what occurs naturally, and amazingly vulnerable to civilization and machines.
ECOSYSTEMS PROTECTING THEMSELVES
Another is a feature of the natural regeneration process. On this land, many of the pioneer species have thorns and form dense thickets it’s difficult or impossible to enter.
It’s as if the ecosystem is protecting itself.
It’s as if it’s saying: You damaged me before. Now, as I am recovering, I don’t want any interference. Stay out.
And, of course, machines and technology (including people with machetes and saws) are no match for this natural defense.
CULTURE AND EDUCATION
I keep reminding myself of how important it is to educate the ones we are working with.
The traditional view here is that the pioneer species are “weeds” and should be gotten rid of. Clear everything so you can see the land and decide what to do with it. Clear it all and lay it barren because it’s not a loss.
And, in reality, if you wish to support a healthy ecosystem, it’s a great loss to remove these pioneer species.
IT’S ALL NATURE
Of course, all of this is nature. All of this is the doings of this living and evolving planet.
Civilization is as much a part of this evolving planet as anything yet.
In that sense, it’s all nature. It’s all really the same. It’s all part of the same seamless system.
This view helps us recognize our interdependence with all life. It helps us ground in something more real than the mind-created distinctions between ourselves and the rest of Earth, life, and existence.
And, in another sense, there is a big difference between nature and civilization. Our technology and machines, combined with our numbers, can easily destroy local, regional, and global ecosystems, and that’s what’s already happening.
We are in the middle of an ecological crisis of massive proportions, and one that will impact all of us and humanity as a whole. And, for whatever reason, it seems that only a few take this seriously.
This distinction is important as well. Ecosystems have evolved to deal with what happens naturally. They cannot defend themselves against machines and technology. (Apart from unraveling, taking us with it, and then – slowly – bouncing back.)
We have to defend them, and in that process, we are defending ourselves.
WE ARE NATURE PROTECTING ITSELF
I started out by talking about how this local ecosystem is protecting itself while recovering from damage. Pioneer species often have thorns and form impenetrable thickets.
And I ended with another way nature is protecting itself. We are nature protecting itself. We are part of the living seamless system of this evolving planet, and when we do anything to protect life, we are nature protecting itself.
When I defend this land and take steps to help it recover, I am nature protecting itself.
A few of my space-themed AI explorations from week two of trying Midjourney. Definitely indulging in what my inner 12-year-old would love to see. At a more adult level, I see that my fascination for space exploration and science fiction mirrors my fascination for my inner exploration, for exploring inner space.
See more of my AI images on Instagram.
THE SHADOW AND OUR WHOLENESS
The shadow is the parts of us that don’t fit into our conscious self-image.
It’s not an entity or anything like that. It’s just whatever is here where we say “that’s not me”.
For that reason, we tend to see it in others and not in ourselves. When we see it in others, we are often annoyed by it. We dislike it.
So what we dislike in others, and obviously in ourselves, is a manifestation of our own wholeness.
It’s a part of the wholeness we already are, it’s just not yet the wholeness we consciously recognize, embrace, and relate to as part of ourselves.
In that sense, the shadow – and anything that annoys us in others – is a reminder of what can be our own future conscious wholeness.
It’s the wholeness we already are. And it can be the wholeness we embrace if we have the receptivity and willingness to explore and embrace it.
We push it away because it doesn’t fit our self-image, and it doesn’t seem desirable to us. And, in reality, there are great gifts in it. It helps us find more of our wholeness. And the essence of it is always useful in our life.
What are some examples of this?
One thing that sometimes annoys me in others is being noisy. I see them as inconsiderate and unconscious.
When I can find that in myself, I see that I am often inconsiderate – for instance in my mind when I see them that way. I am often, and really always, unconscious. There is always a lot in myself I am not conscious of, and there is a vast amount I am not conscious of when it comes to others and the world. Most of what is – in the world, others, and myself – are things I inevitably am not conscious of.
When I have those thoughts about someone else, I am describing myself and I am describing myself as I am in that moment.
Also, how would it be for me to be more free to sometimes be noisy? Maybe it would feel liberating? Natural? Maybe I would find another side of myself I would actually enjoy, at least now and then?
Since I am watching the world championships in rapid and blitz chess right now, I am reminded of how chess – and especially the elite chess world – has built up an image for itself.
THE IMAGE-BUILDING OF CHESS
The elite chess world intentionally built up this image by, for instance, having a dress code, organizing relatively glamorous chess world championships, finding sponsors that make large money prices possible, and so on.
And the chess world and the general culture have presented chess skills as a sign of general intelligence, presenting chess as a mysterious game with an exciting history, and so on.
Some of this image-building has been intentional, and I assume much of it has happened more organically.
PROJECTION OBJECTS AND PROJECTING MIND
There are always two sides to this.
One is the projection object, which in this case is chess. This may be a person, an organization, an activity, a religion, or anything else. It can be something existing in the world or something imaginary. Someone may set out to intentionally build up an image for it or it happens more organically. And we all do it, to some extent, with ourselves. We build up an image about ourselves and for ourselves and others. (AKA persona.)
The other is the projecting mind. We all project. We all put a mental map overlay on the world. That’s how we orient and function in the world. (Mental field overlay.) And we all, sometimes and in some areas of life, see characteristics out there in the world that we are not so aware of in ourselves, or the reverse. (Blind projections.) The first one helps us function, and the second one is an invitation to find in ourselves what we see out there in the world (or see more in the world what we are familiar with in ourselves).
HAPPENS A LOT
This image-building happens a lot.
We see it in many sports, perhaps especially sports like formula one, football, chess, alpine skiing, and so on. These are sports we tend to see as somewhat glamorous, and that’s no accident. It’s often because someone has built up that particular image of the sport.
We see it in Hollywood. They intentionally build up a certain image around fictional characters, stars, movies, and movie production.
We obviously see it in brands – clothing, watches, alcohol, cars, and so on.
We see it in religions. A big part of religion is image-building. They create an image for themselves to attract and maintain followers. (We can save you. We have the answers. We are your ticket to eternal salvation.)
We see it in spirituality more in general. Certain spiritual traditions have built up an image around enlightenment, awakening, and so on. Often for the same purpose as religions.
And as mentioned above, we all do it. We all build up, maintain, and present certain images of ourselves. We do it for our own sake so we know who we are in the world, and often so we can feel better (or worse) about ourselves. We do it to fit in with our culture and certain subcultures. We do it to get something from others. And mainly, we do it to find a sense of safety. If we know, more or less, who we are and have built up an identity, then we can rely on it even if we don’t always like everything that’s there.
This is relatively well-known in society, at least to some level. For instance, we see it when people talk about branding in a general sense. We all have our own brand. Religions have their brand. And so on.
GOOD TO BE AWARE OF
As usual, there is nothing inherently wrong with any of this. Much of it is inevitable, and having our own identity and brand helps us function in the world.
And it’s good to be aware of. It’s good to be aware of how people, organizations, businesses, religions, and so on build up a certain brand, and often do it so they can be good projections objects for you and others. They make a brand that it’s easy for us to project wishes, dreams, and sometimes fears onto.
Why? Because those types of projections act as a kind of glue. They glue our attention to the projection object. We often want to get something out of it.
And what we really want is to get to know those sides of ourselves. We want to become familiar with what we see out there – the characteristics – in ourselves.
It’s also helpful to explore the brand we have built up for ourselves. What identities and stories are there? Are they peaceful? Stressful? What do I find when I explore them in more detail?
And it’s especially helpful to see all of this for what it is. These are images. They are created. Often, people want us to buy into these images so we can project wishes and fears onto them, and so our attention gets glued to them.
And none of these images are really true. At most, they have a limited validity. What they are put on top of is different from and more than these images. Reality is different from and more than these images.Read More
For a few months now, controversy has taken over parts of the chess world.
Magnus Carlsen, the current world champion, has indirectly accused his rival Hans Niemann of cheating.
He didn’t do it openly. But he did leave a game with Niemann shortly after sitting down at the table, and he posted cryptic messages on social media saying he can’t say more because it would give him legal troubles. And everyone in the chess world, and the mainstream media, understands that he is accusing Niemann of cheating. (There is a lot more to this story, see the link above.)
Everyone has to be considered innocent until proven guilty. That’s an important principle in our legal system and in society in general, and it’s one I apply in my own life. Unless I have solid data, I consider people innocent. I don’t take rumors and what people say about others very seriously because I know it’s always filtered and biased and often wrong. (And when I notice I don’t follow this, I explore what’s going on.)
In my view, Carlsen has acted in an immature way here. It may be that it’s a deliberate strategy. He may have strong suspicions that Niemann is cheating, he wants to bring attention to it, and he chose to do it that way. And it has certainly put Niemann in the spotlight.
At the same time, it sets a dangerous precedent. It’s not a good idea to publicly accuse others of something we don’t have proof of, whether we do it directly or indirectly.
Why? Because it may be wrong. And because most of us don’t want to live in that kind of society. We may think it’s fine as long as others are targeted, but we or someone close to us may be the next target.
So what could Carlsen have done instead? He could have gathered solid proof and given it to the correct chess authorities. If he didn’t have solid proof, not saying anything would be more honest.
And he could also have done what I would likely have done in his situation. He could have worked with others to gather and analyze statistics of Niemann’s games to look for anomalies, publish the findings without any comment, and allow others to investigate further and make up their own mind. That would, at least, be based on data.
CONVENTIONAL AND BORING OFTEN HAS SOME WISDOM IN IT
It may feel good for Carlsen to go about it this way. He is sneaky and gets what he wants, which is putting the spotlight on Niemann. It may feel good for others to engage in this drama and the speculations around it.
And yet, is it what’s best for everyone involved? Is it what sets the best example for others? Is it what’s best for society? Is this the kind of society we want?
On social issues, my views are often conventional and boring.
Why? Because I am a child of my time and culture, and because conventional and boring views often have some wisdom in them.
In this case, the old-fashioned “innocent until proven guilty” principle seems very useful. And it’s not something we can take for granted. It’s easy to imagine a society where this principle is not followed, and we have many examples from history of just that. We even have many examples in our own society, and this situation is just one of many.
It’s a principle that needs to be renewed and applied over and over again by each of us.
A FEW THINGS ABOUT THE CARLSON / NIEMANN SITUATION
A few more things about the Carlson / Niemann situation:
Niemann is obviously a very good chess player even without needing to cheat. (That doesn’t mean he hasn’t cheated, of course.)
He himself admitted that he cheated once, which is admirable, and he has – as far as I know – not been caught cheating by anyone.
He has filed a lawsuit against Carlsen, which is very understandable. He has lost reputation and income due to the Carlsen accusations, and these are accusations without any evidence, so it makes sense that he is taking that step.
People who have analyzed his games have found patterns that they interpret as signs of cheating.Read More
It’s quite common for folks who get into healing and spirituality to hold onto simplistic views for safety.
We hold onto it to try to find some distance from the discomfort we are experiencing, created by deeper, more visceral, and stressful beliefs and identities.
PHYSICAL HEALTH AND EMOTIONAL ISSUES
One of these simplistic ideas is that our physical health challenges are created by our emotional issues.
I have this illness, so it must be created by an emotional issue. Working on that issue is the answer.
The reality is often far more complex. What happens locally is the result of movements within the larger whole. The small things we think we grasp are drops in the bucket of what’s actually going on. Innumerable things influence our health and our emotional issues are just one of those.
Yes, it makes sense to explore that aspect of it and see what happens. Most of the time, it won’t hurt, and it may help.
And it also makes sense to recognize that innumerable factors influence our health. Our health is an expression of what’s happening in far larger and more complex systems.
HOLDING ONTO SIMPLISTIC VIEWS FOR SAFETY
Holding onto views, identities, and stories for safety is inherently stressful.
I find it helpful to identify these and explore them.
What is the story? And some underlying and supporting stories?
What do I hope to get out of holding onto it? A sense of safety? Predictability? Having answers?
What happens when I hold onto it? In this case, do I overly narrow my options for how to explore and view my own health? Do I apply it to others and tell them their physical health issues are held in place by emotional issues? How does it impact my relationship with myself and others?
What’s the genuine validity in the reversals? Is it true that my physical health may have other causes as well? Or that the main cause could be something else?
How would it be to hold the initial story more lightly? How would it be to explore the emotional components and see what happens? And also explore other avenues? (Including finding more peace with my health and body as it is?)
WE ALL DO IT
In one way or another, we all hold onto overly simplistic views for safety. It’s what we humans seem to do, at least so far.
And, in reality, any view, identity, and story are overly simplistic.
Any mental representation is different in kind from what they are about. (Unless they happen to be about mental representations.) The terrain is always different from and far more than any map.
What we think we grasp is a tiny part of what’s there, no matter what it’s about.
And what we think we grasp tends to change over time. It’s provisional. It’s not final or absolute.
Just about anything can be a metaphor for life.
And so also chess.
I don’t play it myself, but I do follow the excellent live chess programs on NRK (Norwegian public TV) during the world championships. Right now, they send from the world championship in rapid and blitz chess.
Since my older brother is into chess, I tried to play it as a kid but I didn’t get very far. For whatever reason, perhaps because of what someone told me, I thought chess was about thinking ten or twenty moves ahead until chess mate. So I predictably fell short and gave up. It wasn’t possible for me.
Later, I realized that chess is not about an impossible detailed planning until the end of the game. That’s doomed to fail. (Unless we are well into the end-game.)
It’s about creating good positions. It’s about being flexible and responding to the current situation. It’s about improving your own position step by step. It’s about being on the lookout for new opportunities and making use of them.
And that’s the same with life. It’s not possible to plan it all out very far ahead. What we can do is find some flexibility. Respond to the situation we are in. Be on the lookout for opportunities. And take what we have and take steps to improve our position.
The focus for the articles on this website has always centered on healing and awakening, with occasional articles on culture, society, sustainability, art, and other topics I find interesting.
From now on, I will also include more articles on rewilding and regeneration.
It’s not a new interest to me. I have been fascinated by and passionate about nature and sustainability since I was little, and that includes what’s covered by rewilding and regeneration.
On this winter solstice (2022), we moved into our tiny house with a large backyard on Finca Milagros. This backyard is fifteen hectares in Cañon del Chicamocha. And I wish to devote a good part of my life to supporting this land to become a more thriving and diverse habitat for plants, insects, birds, and animals.
That will, by necessity, be reflected here since I tend to write about what I am interested in and what I am currently exploring and living.
The rewilding posts will be a kind of chronicle of what we are doing here, and they may be interesting to or useful for others.
And, yes, I know that rewilding is a problematic term. It cannot be done in a literal and complete way, and it’s not possible (or even desirable) to bring this ecosystem back to how it was in precolonial times or even before humans came here. When I use the term rewilding, it’s in a much more loose sense. For me, it’s about supporting the ecosystem to thrive, become more diverse, and become a good habitat for the insects, birds, and animals that are here. I wish to support it in becoming wilder.Read More
A small river goes through Finca Milagros but it’s mostly dry.
This may be because neighbors higher up divert the water. If so, then returning the water to the river is a longer-term project that involves finding better water solutions for the neighbors. If we can help them find sufficient water from other sources, they won’t need to divert the river and it can again flow. That small river will again provide water for innumerable beings and the local ecosystems.
And yes, I am aware that there are more factors. There may be other reasons for the dry river than uphill neighbors. And if they play a role, then their decisions are not always rational. Sometimes culture, resentment, neighbor feuds, and so on play a role.
Still, it’s a good start to get to know the neighbors and those upstream, identify the problem, and see if we can find solutions that benefit everyone.
I’ll occasionally write short updates about the Finca Milagros rewilding project here, partly as documentation and partly because some of it may be helpful to others.
Oneness has been a theme of sorts throughout my life.
FLASHBACKS TO THE TIME BETWEEN LIVES
When I was little, before school age, I had several flashbacks to before this life – when I had no body, all was a golden light, time was a whisper in distance, there was occasional communication with other beings, and all was love, the divine, and oneness. Of course, I didn’t think of it like that at the time. I don’t remember thinking about it at all. It was just something that happened, and I sensed it was profoundly familiar and from before this life, and where I felt the most profoundly at home.
I AM THE LOCAL EYES, EARS, THOUGHTS, AND FEELINGS OF THE UNIVERSE
A few years later, when I was ten years old, I was deeply impacted by the Cosmos TV series by Carl Sagan. I remember going out in the garden after watching the last episode, looking at the night sky filled with stars, and viscerally experiencing that I was – quite literally – the universe bringing itself into consciousness. I am the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. Just like al beings are.
Shortly after this, I was in the mountains in Norway with my father and brother, and we slept out under the stars. It must have been in the fall since the night sky was dark, and again filled with stars. And this time too, there was a shift into a profound visceral sense of the oneness of the universe and all there is.
ALL IS GOD
At sixteen, there was again a shift, and this one didn’t go away. I walked down the gravel road to our house at night, again under a dark sky filled with stars, and a big wind going through it all. From one moment to the next, there was a shift into recognizing all as God. Everything without exception is God.
Everything turned inside-out and upside-down. This human self is God locally experiencing itself as that, and having for a while taken itself as most fundamentally that.
This shift is still here.
FORMS OF ONENESS
There are several forms of oneness.
We can see all of existence as a seamless system. This universe is a seamless evolving system, and galaxies, solar systems, planets, ecosystems, and us are part of that system. We are local expressions of this larger seamless evolving system. Everything is the universe expressing and exploring itself in always new ways, and – through beings – experiencing itself in always new ways. This is a story from science, and it seems accurate in a practical sense.
We can see all as the divine or God, as mystics describe it. God is everything, and everything that we see as distinct things are part of the oneness of the divine. It’s all the divine exploring, expressing, and experiencing itself in always new ways. This is a story when it’s expressed and heard as a story, and it can also reflect immediate noticing.
We can talk about oneness in a more social or metaphorical sense. We as citizens of this nation are one, or we who belong to this political party are one. This is a limited oneness that has an other.
We can also find the oneness we are in our own immediate experience, independent of these stories. We can find it here and now.
In one sense, I am this human self in the world.
And when I look in my own first-person experience, I find something else.
I find I am capacity for my experience of the world. I am capacity for the content of my experience, whether it shows up as sight, sound, smell, taste, sensation, thoughts, or anything else.
I find I am what the world, to me, happens within and as.
I am the oneness the world, to me, happens within and as.
We can explore this oneness through logic and stories, and we can also explore it in our own immediate noticing.
TWO BASIC FORMS OF ONENESS
In reality, there are only two forms of oneness.
One is the oneness found in stories about oneness, which can reflect science, logic, or immediate noticing.
The other is the oneness we can notice here and now.
THE ONENESS WE ARE
The oneness we are can take itself to be something it tells itself to be – a human self, a separate being, a doer, an observer, and so on.
The oneness we are can explore oneness through stories.
And the oneness we are can notice itself in immediacy.
None of these is inherently better than the other. They all have value and a function. But the final one is a bit more fundamental and has more potential for profound transformation.
In our very early rewilding project, there has been one big challenge so far: We have very different ideas about how to do things than the locals.
CLEARING A PATH VS A WHOLE AREA
Last year, we asked workers to clear a walking path through an area of the land just big enough for one person to walk through.
Without our knowing, they spent two days clearing a whole hectare of everything except the largest trees. They cut down all of the valuable pioneer species that bring nutrients into the soil, improve the soil structure, provide shade, give protection for other species to come in, and prevented the grass from taking over. Most of these plants were thorny bushes and trees that can grow relatively large and are very beautiful. They cut down trees with 10-20 cm diameter just because they had thorns.
When we complained, the response was: “These are just weeds, it’s good to get rid of them, they have no value, and they’ll grow back”. In reality, what has happened is just what I expected. The area is now completely overgrown with invasive grass. It went from an area with lots of shade and no grass to being covered in tall invasive grass that it’s very difficult to get rid of.
Why did this happen? We were naive and thought that our instructions were clear and understood: Make a path through here that one person can walk through, nothing more. What they heard was: Clear the whole area. Why? Because that’s what people here do. They clear huge areas of land of everything but the largest trees. Why? Because that’s what has made sense of them traditionally since they use the land for grazing. They remove the thorny bushes and trees so cows and goats can more easily graze, and they plant invasive grass that takes over whole areas to provide food for their animals.
What is the lesson? Make sure the instructions are well understood. Show them physically what to do and how to do it. Be there while they do the work, unless you know from experience that they understand.
EDUCATION IN ECOLOGICAL THINKING
We will work with locals helping us with the rewilding project, and it’s essential to educate them.
For instance, what they think of as “weeds” are often pioneer plants. They come into an area after it has been degraded by grazing, food growing, or erosion. They put nutrients into the soil, improve the structure of the soil, create the condition for other plants to come into the area, and many of them here have thorns that also help protect the land. They are pioneers and protectors of the land. They have immense value from an ecological perspective, and in the context of supporting the land having a thriving and diverse ecosystem.
Also, if we need to create a path or open up a view, it’s often more than sufficient to do a little pruning. There is no need to go nuclear.
PLANTING TREES VS ECOSYSTEM APPROACH
I have also noticed a peculiar mindset among many here interested in helping the land.
Some seem to think it’s mainly about reforesting and planting trees, and that planting trees is sufficient.
For me, that doesn’t make sense for a couple of reasons.
Just planting trees can easily become a monoculture just like any other monoculture. It can create a kind of desert. It doesn’t necessarily create an ecosystem full of life.
A vibrant and healthy ecosystem needs diversity. It needs a variety of plants and animals of all kinds. It needs layers.
And each degraded land needs specific help. For instance, we have areas with erosion. Trees won’t help much there. It’s far more effective to plant smaller native plants that keep the soil in place. When the soil is stabilized, we can start thinking about the next step which could include trees. But to start with trees don’t necessarily make much sense.
We had the first meeting today with one of the people (JL) who will help Finca Milagros rewild, and it makes me happy to finally take this step in helping the land return to a diverse and vibrant state. It feels good to talk with someone who is knowledgeable, pragmatic, and has both a vision and a grounded approach.
Here are some thoughts and plans so far:
We need to educate and closely follow up anyone doing work on the land. These are local people with a very different mindset from an ecological one. For instance, they see any thorny plants as a weed to remove, while they in reality are essential for helping the land recover. These pioneers provide the conditions for other plants to grow and thrive.
It’s much better to do some minimal pruning than to remove plants completely. Pruning can support the plants, in some cases.
We can use plants to clear up the water in a large pond on the land. For instance, these can be on a raft and can be removed when they have done their work. (These are non-native non-invasive plants.)
We need to prevent further erosion in some areas of land severely impacted by grazing. We can do this with rocks and plants.
A natural and healthy ecosystem is diverse. It is layered with large and smaller trees, bushes, and even smaller plants. These layers help keep the water in the local ecosystem. (If all trees are the same height, which they often are if planted, the water evaporates more quickly.)
Focusing only on tree planting, which many do here, is not enough and can be a bit misguided. A planted forest can be a monoculture just like any other monoculture. It’s important to focus on the diversity of the whole ecosystem which includes many other types plants, each serving important functions.
There are several engaged species here (we saw a red-light bird after a few minutes by the pond), so one priority is to protect their habitat and create more of the habitat they need.
We have a dry river going through the land. Neighbors higher up are likely taking the water. We need to identify the problem, and possible get to know the neighbors and see if we can find a solution that works for everyone. This is a longer term project.
I knew or suspected what’s listed above since I have been passionate about sustainability and ecology for decades. And it is a blessing to meet and be guided by someone far more knowledgeable than me, and someone who knows this particular ecosystem and has experience with rewilding and regeneration here.
The land is 15 hectares. One or two hectares are closer to the road and perfect for building and food production, and the rest will be wild and mostly left to itself with a few smaller interventions here and there. And we will move slowly and get to know the land, connect with more people in the area working on similar projects, and learn as we go.
Our first project was a tiny house where we will live while we get to know the land better. It’s good to go slowly, be informed, allow possibilities and visions to mature, and think through things thoroughly before doing anything more that impacts the land.
I wish to create wildlife gardens around this and future buildings. Gardens with native plants feeding and attractibg local wildlife, and especially insects and birds.
With just about anything in life, it’s helpful to clarify our motivations, and it’s helpful to differentiate our needs and wishes from our strategies to meet those.
For instance, a relative wishes to build a house on the land in the Andes mountains. He has a specific idea in mind of how he wants to place the different buildings which is the reverse of how most people would want it. For me, it makes sense to take a step back and clarify what it is he wants to get out of it (and perhaps help him clarify it for himself), and then see what strategy may work the best for him. There are likely several strategies that would get him what he wants, not just the one he has on his mind. And we may also find that his initial strategy makes the most sense, in which case the process has confirmed an initial hunch.
There are two parts to this.
One is to clarify our motivation. I notice a surface wish and I can ask myself: What do I hope to get out of it? And what do I hope to get out of that? And that? Eventually, we find an essential motivation that’s free of any particular strategy.
From here, we can explore strategies. What are some of the ways I can meet that wish or need? How many options can I find? Can I find one more? And one more?
And from here, we can chose strategy with a little more clarity. We have (if this is done with some sincerity) disattached from our initial idea of how to go about it. We have clarified our more essential motivation. We have likely found several strategies to meet our wish or need. And we are more free to chose among those strategies, or perhaps decide to pursue two or more if that makes more sense. And, as mentioned above, we may also discover that our initial hunch still makes sense and pursue that one.
We all have priorities, whether we are aware of them or not.
And our life and actions show us our priorities, whether they match what we think they are or not.
OUR COLLECTIVE BEHAVIOR IN THE FACE OF OUR CURRENT ECOLOGICAL CRISIS
At a collective level, it’s clear that our priority is business as usual. We collectively behave as if nothing unusual is happening. We collectively behave as if we are not in the middle of a human-created ecological crisis of enormous consequences. We collectively behave as if the messages from scientists have little to no weight or importance.
Why is that? It may be for many reasons. Most people prioritize day-to-day activities and tasks. Most have a political identity and are reluctant to switch their vote to politicians that take ecological crisis more seriously. We see that others don’t prioritize it, so we assume the situation is not very serious and follow their example. Politicians typically operate within a timeframe of just a few years, not decades and centuries. Many people don’t take things very seriously unless they feel it in their own lives. Some may think we still have enough time, that we are adaptable and will manage. Some also go into denial, dismiss the collective warnings from scientists, and rationalize their dismissal.
WHAT MOTIVATES US TO CHANGE OUR PRIORITIES?
At both individual and collective levels, we continually clarify our priorities, reprioritize, and reorganize our life to align with these new priorities. It happens all the time and mostly in small and almost unnoticeable ways.
Major reprioritizing usually happens first when we viscerally get it as absolutely necessary. It may happen when faced with a serious crisis. When life shows us our situation has dramatically changed, or that we need to face a reality we previously ignored or downplayed.
It happens when life shakes us out of our habitual patterns and priorities.
A MORE REALISTIC SET OF COLLECTIVE PRIORITIES
If we would take our ecological situation seriously, how would that change our priorities? What would a more realistic set of collective priorities look like?
Here is just one example, as it comes to me:
Take a long view on our situation and in politics. Plan for decades and centuries ahead. Make policies where we take into account the interests of our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and their children.
Include the interests of all beings when we make decisions. Our fate is intimately connected, so this is in our own interest. Implement policies that take the interest of all life into account.
Future generations and non-human life are voiceless, so we need to speak for them. Not only for their sake, but for our own. Their fate is intertwined with our own.
If these giving voice to the voiceless was our real priority, it would in itself change a lot and put us on our path to a more sustainable civilization. Taking the big picture in terms of time and ecosystems does a lot. It would ripple into all areas of society, including the economy, philosophy, education, production, transportation, and everything else.
For instance, it would likely lead to assigning advocates for those without a voice – future generations, non-human beings, and ecosystems. To give them real power in political and business decisions. To make the rights of future generations, non-human beings, and ecosystems law.
It would transform our economic system to take ecological realities into account. Our current economic thinking is a fantasyland where nature is seen as only a resource for humans and a place to put waste, and it assumes an unlimited capacity for both. That fantasy is reflected in our current economic system. These new priorities, if taken seriously, would transform our thinking about the economy and our economic systems to be more grounded in reality, which is something we all would benefit from.
WHAT I AM DOING IN MY LIFE
What I am doing in my own life about this?
I look at my life to see my actual priorities. How do I spend my time? What does that say about my priorities? I take a sober look at this and try to be kind with myself. Being realistic about my real priorities, as reflected in my life and how I spend my time, is the first step and can in itself lead to changes and reprioritization.
I am also in a fortunate situation. I was able to buy a sizeable piece of land in the Andes mountains, and. we are now exploring how to use a small part of it for buildings and food production, and support the rest to rewild and return to a more vibrant and diverse state benefitting innumerable beings.
We are also exploring ways to be a little more self-reliant with the essentials. We are looking into solar energy. We are taking steps to collect and store rainwater and use this for our own use and food production. We may gradually expand food production over time. (In a social crisis, which will likely come as a consequence of the ecological crisis, being more self-reliant will alleviate the burden on the local government and it may also be that they won’t be able to reliably provide basic services to everyone.)
Our local community is our greatest resource, so we are also connecting and creating ties with neighbors. And especially those who are like-minded and those who grow food and know how to make and fix things. Self-reliance and resilience mainly happen at a local and regional community level.
We are preparing for a future where our ecological crisis, and all the social consequences of it, is far more acute and severe. And we are learning and plan on sharing what we learn with anyone interested.
We are also considering creating a small eco-community on the land. We’ll see. We need to get to know the land better first.
Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to take these kinds of steps, so we are also keeping in mind supporting those less fortunate, in whatever small ways we can.
And this is not because we are very noble. We are very flawed human beings.
This is because we are aware that this is in our own self-interest. It’s in our self-interest to live in a more sustainable way and create ties with our neighbors. It’s in our own interest to support those less fortunate, in the small ways we can, since we all live in the same society.
And in terms of ecology, we all – all beings – share the same collective fate. We are all impacted by the thriving or deterioration of our local, regional, and global ecosystems.Read More
I rarely talk about unconditional love.
Why? Isn’t it beautiful? Something to aspire to? Something we all want?
IT’S OUR NATURE
Yes, it is our nature. It’s what we most fundamentally are.
To myself, I am capacity for the world, and I am what the world to me happens within and as.
I am the oneness the world, to me, happens within and as.
And another word for oneness is love.
It’s the love of oneness for itself in all the different forms it takes.
It’s a love that’s unsentimental and not dependent on fleeting feelings or states.
It’s the love of one hand removing a splinter from the other.
OFTEN CLOUDED OVER
Even if it’s our nature, it’s also often covered over by our very human and messy hangups, issues, traumas, and the ways we try to cope with life.
It’s there. It shines through.
And it’s filtered by our very human messiness. And that means it often takes a form that looks like anything but love.
ASPIRING TO UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
There is nothing inherently wrong in aspiring to unconditional love, although it often comes with some pitfalls.
We may think it’s something we need to create and not find and uncover.
We may make it into an ideology and use it to get a sense of safety.
We may use it to cover up our very human messiness.
If we aspire to live from unconditional love and talk about it a lot, it’s sometimes a sign of compensating for a sense of lack. We know we often behave like a jerk, and want to be more accepted and loved, so we use “unconditional love” as a strategy to get this. We use it as an identity to mask our humanness. We make it into an ideology. We make the idea of it into a shield.
WHAT’S THE ALTERNATIVE?
So what’s the alternative?
Here are just a few I am drawn to…
Acknowledging that my human self is messy, confused, scared, and has a lot of issues, hangups, and traumas.
Befriending the different parts of myself and experience. Exploring how it is to meet it with more receptivity, curiosity, and kindness.
Find some authenticity and be more honest with me and others. Be vulnerable. Speak what’s true for me as a confession. (It’s often a confession about something in me my personality doesn’t particularly like.)
Notice and rest in the noticing of my nature, and allow this to work on me and transform me in whatever way it does.
Heart-centered practices help me shift my relationship with myself, others, and life.
Examine and inquire into stressful thoughts and identities.
And see what happens. How does it all unfold?
Where am I still hung up? Can I be honest about it? Can I meet it with some kindness?
The seed for this article: Seeing someone saying “It’s all about unconditional love” in an apparently defensive way and using it as an ideology.Read More
When I was four or five (?) years old, I had a strong dream. I was in the jungle with a black jaguar (black panther). We lived together, did everything together, communicated closely, and the black jaguar was my best friend, mentor, and guide.
In a Vortex Healing class some years ago, we did one session for shifting where we internally live in the sister realm – in the realm of nature. We were told that we all live in a particular location, and it may not be optimal for our health and life, so this session was a transmission to shift to a more optimal location and environment. In this session, I experienced a shift from the damp jungle and the jaguar to the drier and higher Andes mountains and the condors. I experienced – and still experience – a deep connection with the condor. (The hairs all over my body stand on end when I am reminded of them.)
At the time, I had no idea that this would not only mean an inner shift but also an outer one.
A couple of years after this, I met the woman who is now my wife. She is from Latin America, and we bought land in the Andes mountains – up the wall of one of the largest canyons in the world. This is the land I was shifted into in that VH class session, and it’s the land of the condors.
I experience a strong draw to bring the condors back to this land. Everything in me resonates with it.
As it turns out, my wife has close friends in Argentina working on bringing the condors back and protecting them, and we are invited to visit.
And who knows what will unfold. I would love if it includes playing a small part in bringing the condors back here. It would be the greatest honor for me.
Image: A condor created by me and Midjourney
I find myself returning to the basics, and in the context of this website, this is the basics of awakening and healing.
A FEW BASICS
When it comes to awakening, what are some of these basics?
Our nature and how to notice and explore it for ourselves.
How to live from this noticing.
The pitfalls on the path, including the misconceptions some have.
The wrinkles that come from our very human messiness.
And also some of the basic structured explorations that support this. In my case, inquiry to notice my nature (Headless experiments, Big Mind process), basic meditation, training more stable attention, sense field explorations, heart-centered practices (tonglen, ho’o), inquiry into beliefs (The Work), and so on.
WHY THE BASICS?
I find that returning to the basics helps me in several ways.
It helps me refine and clarify.
It helps me discover something more essential. (Than I was previously aware of.)
It invites me to explore if there are basics I have left out.
It helps me balance out any tendency to go into complexity. (Which also has its place.)
It helps me ground. (And not get too caught up in intellectualizing and fanciful complexities.)
It helps me prioritize and focus. (And not get too lost in the periphery.)
It helps me communicate a little better with myself and others.
Personally, I also find it helps me stay in contact with the childlike in me, with curiosity, awe, and wonder.
SIMPLICITY AND COMPLEXITY
The basics here mean what’s essential.
Is that the same as simplicity?
Yes and no.
The basics are simple in that the essence of it is often simple. And the basics offer simple pointers and reminders.
At the same time, there is an infinite complexity there as with anything else. There is always more to discover and explore. There are always new perspectives and angles we can take on it. There are always new contexts we can understand it within. And so on.
In this exploration, following the basics typically leads to insights into the complexity. The basics help ground our exploration. And getting lost in the complexity and forgetting the essentials can be fun for a while but is ultimately a distraction.Read More
I keep revisiting the topic of awakening, and especially the basics since that helps keep it grounded.
So what are some of the basic aspects of awakening?
NOTICING MY NATURE
It is to notice our nature.
In one sense, I am this human self in the world. It’s what people, my passport, and my own thoughts often tell me. And it’s not wrong. It’s an assumption that works relatively well in daily life, although it does come with some inherent stress and discomfort.
Another question is: What am I in my own first-person experience? What am I more fundamentally?
Here, I find I am more fundamentally capacity for the world as it appears to me, for any content of experience, for anything that happens in any of my sense fields. I am what the world, to me, happens within and as.
In the first, I am in the world, and in the second, the world is in me. Both are valid and useful, and the second is more fundamental to what I am in my own experience.
Noticing our nature is obviously an essential aspect of awakening.
Another is to keep noticing.
If we noticed in the past, it becomes a memory – a mental image and words – and a kind of reference point, which is useful. It can be a reminder to notice it here and now.
And the real juice is in noticing here and now. With time, as we keep noticing, it becomes a new habit. We deepen the groove.
ASPECTS OF WHAT WE ARE
As we keep noticing our nature and live more in that landscape, we tend to discover more aspects of our nature.
I find I am capacity for the world as it appears to me, for any content of experience.
I find I am the oneness the world, to me, happens within and as.
I find I am what a thought may call consciousness, and the world to me happens within and as this consciousness.
Another aspect of oneness is love. It’s the love of the left hand removing a splinter from the right. It’s a love independent of any states or feelings. It’s an unsentimental and practical love. (And it’s easily covered up when I get caught in my very human hangups, issues, and traumas.)
I also find there is a quiet joy in this, a joy also independent of changing states, feelings, and experiences.
And there is more here. Any content of experience is an aspect of what I am. It happens within and as what I am. The world, as it appears to me here and now, is an aspect of what I am. You are an aspect of what I am. Any thought, feeling, sensation, smell, or sight that’s here is an aspect of what I am.
This human self is also an aspect of what I am. It too happens within and as what I am. And I find I have a special connection to this human self since it’s here, in my experience, most of the time, and it serves as a sensory organ for me in the world and I have inside information about this human self.
EXPLORE LIVING FROM IT
As we get more used to noticing our nature, we naturally explore living from it.
How is to live from noticing my nature? How is it to live from noticing oneness?
How is it to live from this noticing in this situation?
How is it to live from this noticing in more and more situations? Including the ones that are difficult for my human self?
How is it to live from this noticing in more and more areas of life?
SEE, LOVE, VISCERAL
When I notice my nature, I metaphorically see it.
I can find love for all as the divine and/or happening within and as what I am.
And I can viscerally get that all is the divine, including that which my personality doesn’t like.
In my experience, all of this is an ongoing and deepening process.
HEALING AND REALIGNMENT OF MY HUMAN SELF
And that process of living from noticing my nature, and seeing, loving, and viscerally getting all as the divine, requires and leads to a transformation of my human self.
Many and most aspects of my psyche were formed within separation consciousness. They operate on the assumption of separation, and that’s also the essence of emotional issues, hangups, traumas, and painful beliefs (all beliefs are ultimately painful since they are out of alignment with reality).
At a human level, I am programmed to largely operate as if separation is my most fundamental nature. So living from a conscious noticing of my nature requires healing and transformation of my human self and how I am in the world.
And that’s not an easy process. It takes time, it’s ongoing, and life will show me where I am still stuck.
It requires facing unprocessed materials (including the Jungian shadow), and that can at times be overwhelming, confusing, and scary.
It’s a very human and messy process, and at the same time beautiful.
This is obviously a very limited and cursory list of the aspects of awakening.
It’s just what comes to mind to me now, and the aspects I happen to be most drawn to based on my own conditioning and experiences.
Another important aspect is community. If we are lucky, this is a process we share with others. We are our own ultimate authority, and at the same time, it’s something we can explore with others in whatever form that takes.
There are also the side-effects of awakening which can include bliss, a sense of cosmic consciousness (a flavor of the oneness we are), extra-sensory perception, the ability to do distance healing, some level of precognition, and so on. For me, these are fun and interesting but not central – or essential – to awakening.Read More
I am a kind of digital nomad these days, and I have been exploring living in areas of the world where my small income goes further. For me, that resulted in buying land in the Andes that for people from my country (Norway) is inexpensive, and for most locals whose families have lived here for generations is way beyond what they can afford.
I am not the only one. There are many digital nomads from the wealthy parts of the world, and more now after the pandemic and shifting work situations. And if you have the luxury of being a digital nomad, why not live in parts of the world where the climate is warmer and more stable and where the money goes further? Eventually, that can mean buying property in these places. And that means pushing many of the locals out of the market.
It’s a kind of neo-colonialism. It’s an extension and continuation of traditional colonialism. It comes out of and is made possible by traditional colonialism. (Digital nomads tend to be from wealthy countries, and that wealth is often built on extracting resources from colonies – whether they are former literal colonies or countries that in practice function as colonies.)
Of course, this is not the intention. Like me, many love the country and culture where they settle, and they have the best intention. But it is the result.
It’s good to notice.
I have explored AI art for about ten days, mainly using Midjourney. (AI art is, in short, software that creates images from text based on having analyzed perhaps millions of images.)
I am not all that familiar with the discussion around this, although I have picked up a few things here and there.
Here are some additional thoughts from my side.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
There is obviously a discussion about intellectual property related to AI-generated images.
Personally, and so far, I am just exploring it for fun and I share a few images on social media. It’s perhaps a bit similar to creating collages using other people’s works, which is what people did before AI art.
If someone makes AI art in the style of a specific artist and sells it for money, that’s more questionable.
But what if the style is a more generic one or one that cannot be pinned on any one particular artist? Is that too a problem? Some will say yes since the AI is trained on the art of many artists who unwillingly contribute to the AI result.
It also seems clear that to many, AI art is an exciting new frontier. It brings professional-grade image-making within reach to more people. And AI art may inspire human artists, just like human art informs AI art. It’s likely not possible to put the genie back into the bottle, and would we want to if we could?
For me, what it comes down to is: (a) It’s good to have these conversations. (b) This is a kind of wild west where the law has not yet caught up with the technology.
AI art is informed by images in our western and global culture, and obviously reflects biases from the material it’s trained on.
For instance… Jesus and his human parents are depicted as white Europeans, not Middle Eastern. A secretary is assumed to be female. Unless something else is specified, people come out young, white, fit, and beautiful according to western conventional standards. The default man comes out very muscular. And so on.
Some are concerned that this will reinforce existing stereotypes, and that will probably happen in some cases.
The upside is that the inherent – and quite obvious – AI bias leads to conversations among people and in the public. It makes more people more aware of these biases – the standards, norms, and expectations – in our culture.
When I was little, I loved stories about the exotic – other parts of the world, other people and cultures than my own, other landscapes than I was familiar with, science fiction, and so on.
I wonder if this is a natural fascination. We may be drawn to what we don’t know, partly because it helped our ancestors be familiar with more of the world and this aided their survival. The unfamiliar and exotic are also good projection objects, which tend to create fascination.
When I make AI art, I often find I follow my childhood draw to the exotic and unknown: Shamans, different ethnicities, fairy tales and mythology, UFOs, and so on.
Is this problematic? If we exoticize certain ethnic groups and people and think that’s how they are, then yes, to some extent. It’s out of alignment with reality and whether we idolize or vilify, it does these groups and people a disservice.
Is it inherently problematic? Perhaps not always, at least not in the sense that it harms certain groups.
For instance, I have a series of images of neo-druid shamans in the future and make sure to include a wide range of ethnicities and ages. This is a form of exoticism, and I aim at making the exoticism universal and include all types of people.
I have wanted to explore AI image generation for a while and finally got around to it tonight in front of the fireplace and with the neighboring café playing live jazz.
Here is one of my first experiments with Midjourney. A neo-shaman in Tokyo in the rain with dramatic backlighting. I love that he or she is covered in plants and flowers.
I have seen some discussions about AI-generated images.
CONCERNS ABOUT NEW TECHNOLOGY
Will it replace human artists? Will it make it possible for people to make their own illustrations instead of commissioning photographers and artists? Will it ruin creativity?
Yes, some of that will probably happen.
And it’s also important the remember that these are the type of concerns that predictably come up when new technology comes onto the scene. And each time, the new technology finds its place among everything that has existed before and continues to exist.
When photography came, people said it was the end of painting. What happened was that it caused painting to change. Much of it became more free, imaginative, and abstract, and photography and painting not only co-exist but inspire each other. When CGI became viable, people said it would replace practical effects and even actors. In reality, CGI co-exists with practical effects, and it has even led to new types of jobs for actors in the form of motion capture.
I assume something similar will happen now. Some will use AI for illustrations. Some will continue to hire artists and photographers. AI art will inspire human-created art. Human-created art will continue to inform AI art.
It’s not either-or, it’s both-and. And it may well be that the interplay between AI and human visuals will create a kind of artistic and creative mini-revolution.
It’s also very likely that human-created art will be valued even more. AI art will make it more prestigious.
CULTURE MEANS LEARNING FROM OTHERS
Some say that AI steals people’s work to create new work and make money on it.
I understand that argument and concern.
And I also know that that’s culture. That’s what people have done from the beginning. We learn and take good ideas from each other and do something different with it. That’s how we have a culture in the first place.
The AI is just a bit more comprehensive and effective than any human can be, and also a little less creative.
WHO DO THE IMAGES BELONG TO?
Another question is: who owns the images?
In a practical sense, it’s determined by the AI companies and the law.
And in a larger sense, they come from the collective experience and creativity of humanity and really from the whole of existence. It’s always that way, no matter which particular human or technology it comes through. It’s just a little more obvious with AI images.
Some also criticize AI-generated images because they reflect cultural biases. They learn from our culture so they will inevitably reflect biases in our culture.
For instance, if I don’t specify ethnicity for a portrait, I get a European person. If I ask for a god, even a traditional Hindu god, I get someone absurdly muscular. If I ask for Jesus or his parents, I get Europeans and not middle eastern people. If I ask for a general person, I get someone unusually good-looking in a conventional sense
I would say that’s equally much an upside since it brings cultural biases – picked up by and reflected back to us by the AI – more to the foreground. This leads to awareness and discussions – in the media and among those exploring AI art and the ones they share these reflections and observations with.
A lot of people are more aware of these kinds of cultural biases now because of these AI images.
MY OWN BIAS
I have a background in programming and in art, so I naturally love AI-generated visuals. I see it as a way for people without too much experience to still create amazing images. It’s a way to generate ideas. And it has its place and will co-exist with old-fashioned human skills and creativity.
UPDATE AFTER ONE WEEK
I have explored Midjourney and AI image generation for a week now, and find it seems to fit me well. It’s fun to see images created that I have had in my mind for a while but haven’t created in pencil or oil. It’s also fun to get to know the AI and sometimes be surprised by results better and more interesting than I imagined.
I also find I cannot really take ownership of the images, apart from in the most limited sense. They are generated by the AI, the AI is trained on perhaps millions of images created by others, and it’s really all the local products of the whole of existence – going back to the beginning of the universe and stretching out to the widest extent of the universe (if there is any beginning or edge). It’s always that way, and it’s even more obvious with AI-generated images.
The images are very much co-created by me, Midjourney, innumerable artists whose works have informed the AI, and all of existence.
I have also started an Instagram account for my AI image experiments.
Note: Specific prompt for the image above -> Neo-druid shaman in Tokyo 2300 rain dramatic colorful backlighting semi-realistic
Jeg tenkte jeg skulle skrive litt mer på norsk om oppvåkning.
Hva er det? Finnes det virkelig? Er det noe for alle? Er det nyttig?
HVA ER OPPVÅKNING?
Det er mange forestillinger om hva oppvåkning er.
På ett vis er vi mennesker i verden, akkurat som andre ser oss, som passet vårt forteller oss vi er, og som vi lærte da vi var små. Det er viktig å kunne denne rollen og kunne spille den på et nogenlunde bra vis.
Men er det hva vi er i vår egen direkte opplevelse? Hva finner vi om vi setter til side det vi har lært og ser etter selv?
Her finner jeg at jeg er mer fundamentalt noe annet. Jeg er kapasitet for verden som jeg opplever den. Jeg er det som alle opplevelser – av mitt menneskelige jeg, andre, verden, tanker og følelser – skjer innenfor og som.
HVORDAN KAN VI UNDERSØKE DETTE SELV?
Kan vi undersøke dette selv?
Noen av de mange forestillinger om oppvåkning sier at oppvåkning er bare for spesielle mennesker, de få utvalgte, at det krever tiår med åndelig praksis, og mer.
Det er ikke helt riktig. Vi kan undersøke det selv, og det trenger ikke å ta tiår å finne det.
Hvordan kan vi undersøke det selv? Det enkleste er å bruke en effektiv metode under veiledning av noen som er kjent med denne type undersøkelser.
The Headless Way er det enkleste og mest direkte jeg har funnet. Det fungerer for mange men kanskje ikke alle, ihvertfall ikke med en gang. De har jevnlige møter på Zoom. De holder enkelte kurs rundt om i verden. Det har en nettside med mye informasjon. De bruker et enkelt språk. Og de har en ganske flat og ikke-hierarkisk struktur.
The Big Mind process krever at vi gjør det med en god fasilitator, i hvert fall i begynnelsen. Den ser ut til å fungere for nesten alle, den er grunding og kan klargjøre mye, og det er svært mye vi kan undersøke med denne metoden.
Vi kan også bruke Kiloby Inquiries og The Work of Byron Katie til å oppdage og klargjøre hva vi er. Dette kan ta litt lengre tid men er grunding og en god støtte til de andre metodene.
Og vi kan utforske dette med enkel og grunnleggende meditasjon. Dette kan ta enda mer tid, og jeg ser det mer som en støtte til de andre utforskningsmetodene. Her legger vi merke til hva som skjer i vårt opplevelsesfelt og vi lar det være som det er, så godt vi kan. Etterhvert kan vi oppdage at alt som skjer i vår bevissthet er allerede tillatt å være der som det er (av bevisstheten) og at det allerede er bevisst siden det skjer som del av bevisstheten. (Selv om vi ikke alltid er bevisst på at det er bevisst!) Gjennom dette merker vi at alt innhold i bevisstheten kommer og går, selv det vi tenker at vi er. Så hva er vi da? Er vi det alt skjer innenfor og som?
EN DEL AV EN LENGRE PROSESS
Det å oppdage hva vi mer fundamentalt er i vår egen opplevelse er første skritt.
Etter det er det mye mer.
Vi må ha en viss motivasjon, driv og fasinasjon for å ønske å gå videre.
Om vi ønsker å fortsette, så gjelder det å fortsette å legge merke til dette, og å gjøre det i hverdagssituasjoner og mer og mer ofte så det blir en ny vane og mer og mer tilgjengelig.
Det neste spørsmålet er hvordan det er å leve fra dette? Hvordan er det å leve fra enhet? Dette er en lang utforsknings- og modningsprosess som varer (i det minste) til vårt siste åndedrag.
Og hvordan er det med alle dele av psyken vår som ble formet uten at vi var bevisst noe av dette? Hvordan er det å invitere disse til å helbredes og være med i oppvåkningen? Også dette er en lang prosess som ikke er slutt så lenge vi er i live.
ER OPPVÅKNING FOR ALLE?
Er oppvåkning for alle?
Nei, det virker ikke sånn. Mange er ikke interessert i det, og det er helt greit.
Men det er absolutt for de som har interesse for det. Og det finnes som sagt relativt enkle og effektive metoder som gjør at vi kan utforske det selv.
ER OPPVÅKNING NYTTIG?
Er oppvåkning nyttig?
Det spørs hvordan vi ser det.
På et menneskelig plan så vil det ganske sikkert ikke se ut som vi tror eller kanskje håper.
Den som trodde at han eller hun ville få noe ut av det er ikke det vi mest fundamentalt er.
Prosessen i seg selv kan se ganske anderledes ut enn vi hadde forestilt oss. Det er, for eksempel, mulig at svært mye av det som ligger ubearbeidet i oss kommer til overflaten for å finne helbredelse og bli med i oppvåkningsprosessen. Og det er ikke alltid behagelig eller enkelt.
Om vi går inne i oppvåkningsprosessen med hud og hår (og det er ikke alltid et valg), så vil alt vi kjenner og alt vi er gjennomgå en dyp transformasjon.
HAR VI ET VALG?
Det kan absolut se sånn ut, og det er helt greit å ha den forestillingen.
Men om vi undersøker nøyere kan de se litt anderledes ut.
Her kan vi finne at alt som skjer – våre valg, handlinger, interesser, fasinasjoner – har uendelige årsaker. Vi kan alltid finne en til, og en til, og en til. Og disse årsakskjedene går tilbake til begynnelsen av universet og strekker seg ut til yttergrensene av universet. (Om det har en begynnelse og yttergrenser, som ikke er sikkert.)
Vi kan også si at alt som skjer er de lokale virkningene og uttrykkene for endringer i den større helheten, i universet som et helhetlig system, og i alt som er.
Men, som sagt, det kan være nyttig innimellom å tenke at vi har et valg. Og det er ihvertfall viktig og nyttig å ta ansvar for våre egne handlinger, valg, og liv.
LITEN OG STOR FORSTÅELSE AV OPPVÅKNING
Oppvåkning kan forstås på to måter.
Den ene er den psykologiske forståelsen.
Kort fortalt: Vi er bevisste. I vår egen opplevelse er vi bevissthet. Og verden og alle opplevelser oppleves innen den bevisstheten vi er. Verden og alle opplevelser skjer innen og som det vi er. Det skjer innen og som den enheten vi er. Verden som vi opplever den skjer innen og som den bevisstheten vi er. Vi kan ikke si noe om verden i seg selv, bare hvordan vi opplever den.
Vi kan fortolke det på denne måten, som er den lille eller psykologiske tilnærmingen.
Vi kan også forstå det ut ifra en mer tradisjonell åndelig tilnærming.
Her sier vi at verden er som vi opplever den. Alt er bevissthet. Alt er Gud. Alt er Brahman.
Når vi våkner opp til hva vi mer fundamental er, så er dette ikke bare det vi er i vår egen opplevelse, det er hva alt er. Alt er bevissthet. Alt er Gud.
Den psykologiske tilnærmingen er litt mer jordnær og holder seg til det vi kan si noe om med sikkerhet. Den er også mer forenlig med mange ulike verdsensbilder.
Den åndelige tilnærmingen kan være litt mer inspirerende, den er mer kjent fra ulike tradisjoner, og den er kanskje også mer riktig – det er mange hint som peker i den retningen.
HVA MED RELIGIONER OG ÅNDELIGE RETNINGER?
Hva med alle religioner og åndelige retninger?
Er de relevante når dette er noe vi enklere kan utforske direkte?
Ja, fordi de ulike tradisjonene har mange flere roller enn bare som guide for akkurat dette. De viderfører verdifulle praksiser og innsikter. Og det er alltid bra å ha mange ulike tilnærminger og perspektiv. Det gir oss et rikere bilde.
Men på er personlig plan er de ikke strengt tatt nødvendige. Jeg har utforsket dette delvis innenfor og delvis utenfor tradisjoner, og begge deler kan være nyttig. Men det som virkelig har betydd noe har vært utenfor tradisjoner.
HVA MED VEILEDERE?
Om vi ønsker å lære eller utforske noe er det ofte lurt med en veileder eller fører. Og sånn er det også her.
Selv foretrekker jeg å finne en som vet det er en rolle de tar. Som ser seg selv mer som en veileder enn lærer eller guru. Som kjenner sine begrensninger. Som oppfører seg ryddig og behandler andre med respekt på en normal måte. Og som ser det mest som en felles utforskning.
Allikevel er det alltid opp til oss. Det er opp til å velge fremgangsmåte og veileder. Det er opp til oss å foreta utforskningen. Det er opp til oss å leve det.
HVA MED SPESIELLE EVNER?
Dreier oppvåkning seg om spesielle evner?
Nei. Oppvåkning er kun en direkte erkjennelse av vår mer fundamentale natur. Ikke noe annet.
Det kan føre til en dyp transformasjon. Det kan gi noen relaterte innsikter.
Og innimellom åpner det for spesielle evner som å se energier, plukke opp informasjon på avstand, healing og mer. Men disse er ikke direkte relaterte til oppvåkningen i seg selv.
HVA MED SPESIELLE OPPLEVELSER?
Mange tenker at oppvåkning har å gjøre med spesielle tilstander, opplevelser og kanskje fornemmelser.
Oppvåkning er en oppvåkning av hva alt dette skjer innenfor og som. Vi finner oss selv som hva alt dette – alle opplevelser – skjer innenfor og som.
Det har ikke noe med spesielle tilstander eller opplevelser å gjøre. Alle disse kommer og går innen og som det vi er.
HVA MED VITENSKAP?
Hvilken rolle spiller vitenskap når det gjelder oppvåkning?
Det kan være nyttig å ta en vitenskapelig tilnærming til dette. Hva finner jeg om jeg følger enkelte retningslinger? Hva skjer om jeg utforsker denne praksisen og tilnærmingen? Hva er jeg i mentale representasjoner og hva er jeg i direkte opplevelse?
Vi kan også utforske dette med vitenskap, og enkelte gjør nettopp det. (Forskning på meditasjon og mer.)
Og vitenskap er selvfølgelig også nyttig for vårt liv som menneske i verden, enten vi er bevisst det eller ikke.
Det er lett å tenke at oppvåkning har med noe eksotisk, anderledes, og fjernt å gjøre.
I virkeligheten er det motsatt.
Det vi oppdager er det som alltid har vært her. Det er det vi allerede er mest kjent med.
Den eneste forskjellen er at vi ser vår natur mer direkte. Vi finner at vi er kapasitet for våre opplevelser, og hva våre opplevelser skjer innen og som.
Den våkenheten som er her er den samme uansett. Hva vi er, er det samme. Det vi oppdager er noe vi allerede kjenner svært godt.
DET MYSTIKERE FRA MANGE TRADISJONER BESKRIVER
Det vi oppdager er det mystikere fra alle tider og tradisjoner has beskrevet.
De tekstene og sitatene som kanskje virket mystiske og uforståelige er nå enkle, klare, og noe vi kjenner fra oss selv.
Oppvåkning har ikke noe med å fornemme eller oppleve enhet.
Det har med at den enheten vi allerede er våkner opp til seg selv som dette.
Vi er den enheten som verden og alle våre opplevelser skjer innen og som.
Hvordan er det å leve fra dette?
Hva med kjærlighet?
Det er en type kjærlighet som kommer med oppvåkning, og særlig når vi modnes i det.
Dette er en type kjærlighet som ikke er basert på følelser eller tilstander.
Det er kjærlighet som kommer fra at vi finner oss selv som enhet.
Det er en kjærlighet som er når den ene hånden fjerner en flis fra den andre.
Det er en pragmatisk og usentimental kjærlighet som ikke er avhenging av følelser eller tilstander og kan ta mange former.
MISFORSTÅELSER OM OPPVÅKNING
Jeg har allerede nevnt enkelte misforståelser om oppvåkning.
Noen tror det er kun for spesielle mennesker mens det er for alle som er interessert.
Noen tror det er noe mystisk og eksotisk mens det kun er å legge merke til noe som allerede er her.
Noen tror det vil løse alle deres problemer mens det kun setter alt i en annen sammenheng.
Noen tror du får spesielle evner mens det som virkelig skjer er at du legger merke til noe som allerede er her.
Noen tror du har kunnskap om alt mulig mens den innsikten du får er om din natur.
HVA OM VI IKKE VÅKNER OPP?
Det er greit.
Vår natur er den samme uansett om den er bevisst seg selv eller ikke.
Det er egentlig ikke opp til oss. Det er noe som skjer som følge av noe som er mye større enn oss.
Det betyr ikke at vi er mer eller mindre verdifulle, eller mer eller mindre suksessfulle.
Og jeg vet ikke hva det betyr etter dette livet. Jeg vet hva enkelte sier om det, men jeg vet ikke selv. Det eneste jeg vet er at alt er kjærlighet.
EN LETT HÅND
Det er best å ha en lett hånd med alt dette.
Se det som en utforskning.
Se alle kart vi lager for oss selv som foreløpige og ufullstendige.
Og det inkluderer alt skrevet her.
Vi kan se alt dette som en del av lila.
Som Gud – eller universet – som utforsker og opplever seg selv på alltid nye måter.
NB: Det er en tidligere artikkel på samme temaRead More
At some point in the awakening process, we may find ourselves in a kind of in-between state.
We notice our nature directly, at least when we pay attention to it.
And we also still hold onto some ideas about what we are and identify as these.
To ourselves, we are consciousness and the world to us happens within and as that consciousness.
We are oneness and the world, to us, happens within and as that oneness.
This oneness learns that it is this human self happening within itself. It’s this human self that it can only see in the mirror or in photos and videos, can only see partially directly, that others and our passport say we are, and that it senses and lives in the world through. This is how most onenesses operate.
At some point, this oneness may become curious about its nature. It may intuit itself as oneness and consciousness. It may have glimpses of itself as that. It may learn how to notice its nature, and to do so more often through daily life.
NOTICING AND HOLDING ONTO IMAGES OF ITS NATURE
At this point, it will often both notice directly its nature, at least when bringing attention there. And it will create and hold onto some mental representations of its nature.
These may be mental representations of oneness, void, capacity, love, consciousness, and so on. And perhaps even Big Mind, Brahman, Spirit, and more.
This is a natural part of the process. It’s innocent. There is nothing inherently wrong with it.
The oneness we are is used to holding onto mental representations of who or what it is. It’s what it has learned from others. It’s how it finds a sense of safety, although it also brings friction with reality.
Also, when it discovers its nature, it can feel like a treasure and vitally important, so it tries to remember and hold onto it by creating and holding onto mental representations of it and even identifying as these mental representations.
This too comes with inherent discomfort. It’s something we feel we need to remember, rehearse, and even defend. And that’s a motivation to explore further and find a bit more clarity.
SOME WAYS TO EXPLORE THIS
What are some ways to explore this?
We may need some structured guidance, and here are a few I find useful:
Headless experiments help me notice my nature as capacity and what the world, to me, happens within and as. Here, it’s easier to notice the contrast between a direct noticing and my mental representations of what’s noticed.
Kiloby Inquiries helps me explore any identifications still in my system, including of capacity, oneness, love, and all the other identifications we may create for ourselves.
And the same goes for The Work of Byron Katie. This too helps me identify and explore any ideas I have of what I am.
A SPECIAL CASE OF AN UNIVERSAL DYNAMIC
As suggested above, this is a special case of something much more universal.
The oneness we are notices its nature. It recognizes itself as all it knows. To the oneness we are, the world happens within and as itself.
And it will still, very likely, hold onto a variety of mental representations of who and what it is. It will, at least to some extent, identify as these.
As mentioned, this happens out of old habits and because it feels safe. It’s a natural part of the process. And it comes with discomfort which is an invitation to explore what’s going on and find a bit more clarity around it.
What are some of these mental representations? They typically include a wide range of relatively universal ones. For instance: Gender. Nationality. Political orientations. A sense of lack and not being good enough. A sense of separation. All sorts of shoulds about ourselves, others, and life. And so on.
These are not necessarily wiped out by our nature recognizing itself. Usually, they remain in our system.
And that’s part of the process and adventure.
They are inherently uncomfortable, so we are invited to explore what’s going on, find a bit more clarity around it, and shift how we relate to it.Read More
This is a classic from literature and psychology: We sometimes create what we fear.
Here are a few examples:
We fear not being supported, so we push people away before they have a chance to support us. We expect them to not support us, so we get angry and push them away before they can disprove our story.
We fear and expect not to be understood. So we don’t put real effort into being understood, which increases the chances of people not understanding us. We give up sooner than we would have if we didn’t have that issue.
We fear not being accepted so we people-please. This may lead people to keep some distance from us since they notice we are not completely authentic. It makes us question if we are really accepted by others since we present a somewhat fake facade to them. People-pleasing also means we set aside our own needs, which means we won’t feel completely accepted since we don’t fully accept ourselves, we don’t accept and take our own needs seriously.
When these dynamics happen, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We set the stage to prove to ourselves that what the issue is telling us is true. It maintains the issue. And it feels familiar and even safe to us because we stay in the same familiar loop.
We reduce the risk of having life disprove what the issue tells us, and get into unfamiliar identities.
WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?
It’s often a circular dynamic. We grew up with certain family dynamics, internalized these, act as if our fearful beliefs are true and our identity around it is who we are, set the stage to get our fears confirmed, and increase our chances for just that happening. We recreate the dynamics we are familiar with, even if they are painful.
Another side of this has to do with motivation and skills. If we are used to not being heard and understood, or not being taken seriously, we may feel hopeless about being heard and understood so we give up early in the process, and we may not develop the necessary skills to be properly heard and understood.
INVITATION FOR HEALING
There is a healing impulse in this, and an invitation for healing.
We get to face our fears more often. The invitation here is to get more familiar with it and perhaps see it’s not quite as terrible as our more catastrophic stories about it. We may even learn to navigate this particular terrain a bit better.
More importantly, we get to face our issue and how it plays out in our life. We are invited to identify and explore the issue and what’s behind it, and find a resolution for it. Life shows us what’s going on and we have an opportunity to do something about it.
OTHER WAYS IT PLAYS OUT IN THE WORLD…
The self-fulfilling dynamic is just one way these issues can play out.
For instance, we may have a fear of not being understood, so we go to great lengths to be understood. Here, we are setting the stage for another experience. We may still have the issue, but we act against it.
It’s healthier in some ways, although it does come with its own challenges. For instance, the stress of the issue is still there. Also, our behavior tends to have a compulsive quality which can lead to ill-considered actions and pushback from others.
…AND EVEN THEN LIVING THIS PATTERN
Even here, we are actually living the self-fulfilling prophecy although in a less visible way.
In the example above, we don’t fully understand ourselves. We haven’t completely understood the issue and what it’s about, so we are acting on our habitual way of relating to it.
Similarly, if our issue is to not be supported and we make sure we have plenty of support in our life, we are still living the self-fulfilling prophecy. We are not properly supporting ourselves. If we did, we wouldn’t need to compulsively seek support in the world. If we did, we would resolve the issue.
And as mentioned above, if our issue is not feeling seen, heard, and understood, we may make a great deal of effort in being seen, heard, and understood. This helps our life in the world, but we are not really hearing, seeing, and understanding ourselves. To do so would mean thoroughly exploring the issue and through that finding a resolution for it.
We give to ourselves what we are looking for in the world, and that’s the real medicine for healing.Read More
Some years ago, my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) shifted into a more severe phase. That meant I had to find an easier way to do many things in life.
How can I do this in a way that’s more comfortable? Require less energy? Take my situation into consideration? Is kind to me and hopefully others?
Here are some examples.
FINDING MY VALUE
I have explored and found my value independent of my actions and activities in the world. Before this happened, I put at least some of my value on my actions and what I produced. (After all, I am a child of the western culture where this is a feature.) Where is my value if all I can do is rest? If I cannot produce or do much?
One answer is that we see a baby as having value, and they mostly eat, poop, and make sounds. If a baby has value, why is that not the case with me and anyone else independent of age and production?
Another answer is in noticing my nature, and that the world to me happens within and as what I am. Here, nothing is missing. It’s complete as it is.
And yet another answer lies in examining any stressful thoughts around lack and finding what’s genuinely more true for me. (As I did for several years through The Work of Byron Katie.)
ASKING FOR HELP
I learned to ask for help.
Before this, I took pride in not asking much for help and created an identity around it.
After this happened, I had to ask for help. And it helped me soften that identification and see the value and beauty both in receiving and giving and in allowing others to give. (Especially as long as they feel free to say no.)
I am not doing this perfectly, whatever that means, but I am exploring and learning.
FINDING A YES OR NO BY NOTICING MY BODY’S RESPONSE
I have learned to find a more genuine yes and no, not only through inquiry but also by noticing my body’s response.
For instance, if I am wondering whether to do an activity or not, I can say to myself: I can choose to do this or not, and I chose to do it. And then notice my body’s response. Does it relax? Does it sigh in relief? Then I say to myself: I can choose to do this or not, and I choose not to. And again notice my body’s response.
The genuine yes is reflected in my body relaxing, in a sigh of relief. Sometimes it’s a yes to the activity, and sometimes it’s a no to the activity.
(How does this work? It may be because the more unfiltered and honest part of my mind is intimately connected with my physical body. Or more accurately, because any tension in my mind is reflected in tension in my physical body, and tension always happens when we are not completely honest with ourselves.)
FINDING ESSENTIAL NEEDS AND MOTIVATIONS
What are some of my surface wishes and motivations? Taking one of them, what do I hope to get out of it? And what do I hope to get out of that? And that? What’s the most essential wish and motivation behind it? How can I give that to myself? In life? How is it to give it to that part of me here and now, within myself? (From Adyashanti.)
This is another way to simplify my life. On the surface, I have innumerable wishes and motivations. And when I trace them back to their essence, I find just a few and perhaps really just one.
This helps me prioritize and find and give myself what I really wish for and need.
It also helps me differentiate my genuine needs and motivations, and the strategies I use to find and give it to myself. It helps me explore a variety of ways to give it to myself. (NVC.)
For instance, I may have a surface wish for money. When I trace it back, I find it’s more essentially a wish for safety. Can I offer a sense of safety to the part(s) of me that wish for safety? Can I find ways to feel safer in life? (I can also explore ways to be a good steward of my life in terms of finances. What are some ways to have more stable finances? What are some ways to have a little more money in my life?)
I may have a surface wish for ice cream. When I trace it back, I find it’s more essentially a wish for love, comfort, and enjoyment, and even more essentially love. Can I give love to those parts of me wishing for love? Can I give comfort to the parts wishing for comfort? Can I give enjoyment to my inner community? Can I find ways to give this to myself in life? (And I can, of course, still eat ice cream if I wish.)
SIMPLIFYING MY LIFE
I have always loved simple living, and leading simple living groups was part of my actual job for a while. CFS has encouraged me to simplify even more.
What can I prune in my life? What can I say no to? (Which is a yes to me.) What drains energy? What do I really enjoy? What gives me a boost? What’s worth spending energy on, even if it has a cost?
What has life pruned for me? And can I join in with it? Can I find where it’s a genuine gift?
FINDING PEACE WITH SAYING NO
Like many in my culture, I have been programmed to think I should say “no” as little as possible. A part of me wants to please others to avoid discomfort. I should answer calls. I should say “yes” if I am invited somewhere.
So I have had to explore this and find more peace with saying no, and sometimes really enjoy saying no.
As Byron Katie says, a genuine “no” is a yes to me. Right there, I find more peace with it and even joy.
I see the benefits of learning to say no. It helps me take care of myself and my health. It helps me prune away activities (and sometimes people) that don’t feel right to have in my life. It leaves room for what’s more enjoyable, nourishing, and meaningful. I find that the space itself is enjoyable, nourishing, and meaningful (!).
Feeling free to say a genuine yes or no is easier through good communication and some education. I am working on being better at explaining my situation to people in my life. The more they understand, the easier it is for all of us to have our needs met. We can more easily find strategies that work.
FINDING AND GIVING TO MYSELF WHAT’S NOURISHING
What’s deeply nourishing for me?
In my case, I find it’s a wide range of things and activities.
Bone broth (!) is deeply nourishing for my body and thus for all of me. Whole food low on the food chain is typically the same. (I find refined foods draining.) Warm herbal tea, and sometimes spice tea, is often nourishing, along with dark miso broth.
Nature and being in nature is deeply nourishing for me. (It can be just sitting in a garden, enjoying the sun, clouds, wind, chirping birds, the sound of the wind in the trees, and so on.)
Some relationships are deeply nourishing, especially at certain times.
This type of exploration is nourishing to me, when I have the energy.
Some input – podcasts, interviews, articles, videos, movies, and music – is nourishing for me, at the right time.
Breema is deeply nourishing for me, whether it’s receiving, giving (when I have enough energy), or doing Self-Breema.
Receiving Vortex Healing for energizing is deeply nourishing for my system. It especially helps if I feel very drained or in a crash.
MORE EASE IN THE EXPLORATIONS: BASIC MEDITATION AND MORE
I used to put extra effort into my meditation practice, whether it was training a more stable attention, noticing my nature, or something else. In my teens and twenties, I would often meditate or hours at a time. I would go fully into the Tibetan Ngöndro practice. I would practice as if my hair was on fire, as they say in Buddhism. I found I couldn’t do that anymore. I had to find an easier and simpler way.
What was this easier way? I have mostly focused on basic meditation, noticing and allowing what’s here, and noticing that any content of experience is already noticed and allowed. By noticing what’s already here, I scale back the effort to the essentials.
I found that the essence of the Headless experiments is also helpful since that too is about noticing what’s already here.
Also, I kept some simple heart-centered practices like tonglen and ho’oponopono.
And I have, in periods, done simple forms of inquiry like the Big Mind process, and The Work of Byron Katie, the Kiloby/Living inquiries.
INQUIRY AND HEART-CENTERED PRACTICES
Inquiry and heart-centered practices help me find more ease.
Stressful stories are only partially true and my system is spending a lot of energy maintaining them and reacting to them. Identifying and examining these stories, and finding what’s more genuinely true for me, opens up space for more ease and presence. I find The Work of Byron Katie and the Kiloby/Living inquiries most helpful for this.
Heart-centered practices shift how I relate to anything – discomfort, myself, others, situations, life, and more. (And really, my images of all of these.) They help me shift from seeing them as enemies, struggling with them, and so on, to genuinely befriending them and perhaps even finding genuine gratitude for them. This too opens up space and opens up for more ease and peace with what is. The practices I am most familiar with are tonglen, ho’oponopono, and the Jesus/Heart prayer.
FINDING WHAT I AM
Finding what I am helps me find an essential simplicity.
In the world, I am this human self in the world. That’s not wrong.
Is that also what I am in my own first-person experience? I find I more fundamentally am capacity for the word as it appears to me, for any and all content of experience. I am what the world, to me, happens within and as.
And here, there is an essential simplicity. It’s the simplicity that allows and takes the form of all the richness of experience. It’s what’s free of tension and stress, and is free to take the form of what a thought may label tension and stress.
THE NATURE OF MY EXPERIENCES IS THE SAME AS MY OWN NATURE
This is perhaps a bit obscure and marginal for most but important to me.
When I experience discomfort, the habitual response in my system is to react to it. To try to push it away. Distract myself from it, often by going into compulsions. Make it go away, sometimes by healing and transforming it away. And so on.
My system responds as if it’s “other”. As if it’s a kind of enemy or problem. As if is a foreign element.
In reality, I am capacity for it. It happens within and as what I am.
Noticing this, and resting in that noticing, helps to shift out of this pattern. And that too gives more of a sense of ease and peace. It initially takes a bit of effort, and it really frees up a lot of energy tied up in the struggle from the old habitual response.
How do I do that? The easiest for me is to remind myself of my headlessness, notice my nature directly, and then notice and rest in the noticing of the nature of (what my thoughts label) the discomfort.
INVITED TO BE MORE SINCERE AND THOROUGH
Very little of this was new to me. These were all things I have explored since my teens or twenties. But the more severe phase of the CFS invited me to be more sincere and thorough in the exploration of all of it. Life created a kind of boundary for me and I needed to go deeper within that boundary. I could get away with less. I couldn’t so easily get away with being approximate and sloppy. I needed to be more sincere and precise.
It almost goes without saying, but a part of this sincerity is to find what’s genuinely true for me. Tricking myself doesn’t work since a part of me (all parts, really) know what’s going on. It has to be genuine to have any value.
By writing it like this, it can look as if I have it all sorted.
The reality is far more messy and human. I am not by any means perfect in any of this, whatever we imagine “perfect” means. I am winging it. I am learning a few things as I go along, often slowly. I forget and then remember again. I have a lot of issues and traumas that sometimes obscure and confuse any clarity that’s here. I don’t have any final or full answers. And as with most of these posts, I am writing this as a reminder to myself. As an invitation to myself to bring it alive here and now and explore it further.
It’s all very much a work in progress. And an adventure.
Note: What I have written here applies to some extent to many forms of chronic illness. This includes different forms of long-covid, some of which are similar to CFS. Long-covid is a post-viral disease and CFS is often a post-viral disease.Read More
For me, it’s convenient to talk about who I am as distinct from what I am.
WHO AND WHAT I AM
As who I am, I am this human self in the world. I am the one others see me as and what my passport tells me I am. It’s the role I need to learn to play in order to function in the world.
As what I am, I am capacity for the world as it appears to me. I am what the world, to me, happens within and as. This is what I more fundamentally am in my own first-person experience.
DOES IT MEAN ONE IS WRONG AND THE OTHER IS CORRECT?
Not really. Each one has validity, it’s just a different kind of validity in each case.
In the world and to most others, I am this human self. That’s an assumption that works reasonably well, although if I take myself as exclusively this, it leaves a lot out and that comes with some inherent discomfort.
To me, in my own immediate noticing, I am capacity for the world and what the world happens within and as. This is my own private experience, and it’s very likely shared by all conscious beings – all consciousnesses functioning through and as a being – whether they notice or not.
We are very likely all capacity for our world, and what the world to us happens within and as. We are the oneness the world, as it appears to us, happens within and as. And it’s that way whether we notice or not.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN WHO AND WHAT I AM
What’s the relationship between the two?
Obviously, the distinction is mind-made. It’s created by our mental representations. It’s not there in reality, or at least not as a clear dividing line with one thing on one side and the other on the other side.
To me, it’s all happening within and as what I am. My human self and any ideas I have about my human self happens within and as what I am.
That doesn’t make it wrong. It just means that if I exclusively take myself as my human self, a lot is left out. It’s just a part of a bigger picture.
It’s fine if that’s what I do, although it comes with the discomfort mentioned above. It’s somewhat out of alignment with reality as I am already living it. Whether I notice or not, I am already living my nature as oneness, so pretending I am not inevitably creates discomfort.
HOW CAN WE EXPLORE THIS FOR OURSELVES?
If the oneness I am is pretending to be exclusively this human self, and it has a curiosity to discover what’s more real, how can I go about it?
The essence is to discern our mental representations – of ourselves and what we are and life in general – from our immediate noticing. What’s here in my mental representations? How is it to notice that it is a mental representation and not reality? What’s here in my immediate noticing? What am I more fundamentally in my immediate noticing?
And to do that, some structured guidance can be very helpful, including any number of inquiry approaches like the Headless experiments, The Big Mind process, The Work of Byron Katie, The Kiloby/Living Inquiries, traditional Buddhist sense field inquiries, and so on.
Basic meditation – to notice and allow what’s here, and notice it’s all already allowed and noticed – is also helpful. It helps me see that any and all content of experience comes and goes, including anything within the content of experience I take myself to be. And something does not come and go, and that’s something that’s not a thing, it’s what it all happens within and as. It’s the awakeness it’s all already happening within and as.Read More
I read many of the classics from around the world in my teens and twenties, and have not been able to read much the last ten or fifteen years because of brain fog (CFS). It’s been a blessing, in many ways, to not be able to read much. I used to read between one and three books a week – mostly within psychology and mysticism – and it was a big part of my identity. Now, I have to find who I am without that identity, which is another adventure. And it’s also an invitation to stand more on my own two feet without too much input from books and talks.
That said, I am reading a few graphic novels these days since it’s easier for me. Right now, it’s The Odyssey illustrated by Gareth Hinds.
Any story is a reflection of dynamics in ourselves and our lives, and so also the story of Odysseus and Calypso. She is an immortal nymph who fell in love with Odysseus. She kept him captive while promising him immortality and freedom from the suffering of sickness, old age, and death. Zeus ordered her to allow him his freedom. And given the choice, he chose to go back to his wife. He chose to abandon immortality, knowing that he would have to experience no end to struggles and sorrows, including old age and death.
What does this reflect in me?
A MIRROR FOR ASPECTS OF THE AWAKENING PROCESS
In terms of the awakening process, we can understand this in (at least) two ways.
He found his nature. He discovered himself as what the world, to him, happens within and as. We can call this immortality in the sense that it’s what time and change happens within and as. It’s the timeless we always are, whether we notice or not, and no matter what happens with this human self over time.
The first way to understand the Odysseus & Calypso story is that he abandons the commitment to noticing and living from a conscious noticing of his nature. He goes back to the exclusive identification as a human self in the world, and noticing his nature becomes a memory.
That often happens, and it’s not wrong or bad. Our nature remains the same, whether we notice it or not. And it sometimes happens for a while and we are moved to keep exploring our nature again.
I find the other way to see it more interesting.
Here, Odysseus chooses to embrace his humanness more fully without abandoning a conscious noticing of his nature. The oneness we are notices itself and lives from and as that noticing. And yet, there is also a more full embrace of our rich, messy, and flawed human life.
This is often a sign of maturity. It appears we have a choice to remain mostly identified with and as our nature, with and as Big Mind. And we chose to abandon that identification and instead embrace all of what’s here including the flawed richness of this human and his or her life in the world.
And it’s not really a choice.
The oneness we are may identify exclusively as this human self. Then, it discovers its nature and identifies with and as a partial image of its nature. (Out of habit and out of a habitual impulse to protect itself against discomfort.) And then that identification has to go, and we have to find ourselves more nakedly and raw as what we are and what’s here, and that very much includes anything and anything that’s part of our human self and life in the world and in time.
It also and especially includes what’s part of this human self and our life that our personality doesn’t like. That too is part of the wild richness of what we are. That too happens within and as the oneness we are. That too happens within and as the timelessness we are.Read More
Several years ago, when I first heard about Vortex Healing, I was very skeptical. Someone I knew offered to give me a free session so I could get a sense of what it is about.
I had received the Reiki transmission in my twenties but hadn’t used it since the energy seemed to operate without too much intelligence behind it. The spontaneous sensing and healing abilities that had happened for me in my teens seemed much more effective and adapted to what the receiver needed. Receiving energy work, in general, was difficult for my system and often would lead to being bedridden for days. Also, going to the VH website didn’t help with the language and terminology they use.
After talking with the VH practitioner a little more, I did accept receiving one session. This session turned out to be amazing. I could very clearly sense the energy working in me, especially in my digestive system. I could sense that there was an intelligence behind it that seemed to know what it was doing. The day after, my digestion was at least 50% better than it had been. (I have had major problems with food intolerance etc. most of my life.) I was also drawn to get into things I used to be passionate about but had fallen by the wayside.
I received a few more sessions from another practitioner (NW) and could sense that taking the basics/foundational class was in my future. As soon as I decided to take the foundation class, I could sense the energy working on me at different times, mainly in the head area and especially the forehead and temples. This seemed to be a kind of preparation for the class. The transmission started a few weeks before the actual class, perhaps because I needed it to be ready for the actual transmission in the class.
Two nights before I was going to the class (in Berkeley), something very unusual happened. Shortly after I had gone to bed and turned off the light, a huge flock of birds landed in a bush outside the large french windows in my room. It must have been hundreds of birds chirping and singing, and they continued through the night. I had the sense that this was life – or the divine – sending me a kind of message, although I didn’t quite understand why. I was already scheduled to go to the class shortly so I didn’t need any extra encouragement there.
That morning, I received some unexpected and difficult news. It was the end of a phase of my life I had enjoyed and another big loss in my life. (I may write about that another time.) What had happened during the night felt like a message from life or the divine. It was as if they were saying: “don’t worry, it’s good”. And the bad news did genuinely turn out to be a blessing. It was probably the best that could have happened. It helped me end something that was out of alignment with my own integrity.
I also took it as a sign that taking the VH class was correct for me. It felt deeply right although I had worried that the class would be too much for my system. (It turned out to be fine, and the classes seem to generally strengthen my system.)
Was this technically a synchronicity? Birds didn’t have anything to do with the apparently bad news I received that morning, and they don’t have anything to do with VH. It felt more like life reassuring me it was all OK in spite of appearances. It was more of a sign from nature and the divine.
And I know that’s how I took it. That was my interpretation. It’s how I made sense of it and it did fit the situation when I look back at it. It was deeply meaningful and supported me in a difficult situation.
The definition of synchronicity is a meaningful coincidence. In that sense, it was a synchronicity. It was a coincidence that this happened just before two big turning points in my life. And it was deeply meaningful.
This was in April and although it was too dark for me to see the birds, I suspect it was a murmuration of migrating starlings that landed in bushes and trees outside my window. They arrived well after dark and left again at the earliest sign of light in the morning.Read More
This is an exploration into the mystery of existence with a focus on healing, awakening, culture change, and more. What I write here reflects my own process, although often with a focus on what’s more essential and universal.
There are many posts so you may want to start with a few selected articles or follow the tags or do a search on a topic you are interested in. You can also use the essential articles tag (only recent ones) or use the article finder.
Please free to leave comments or send me a message. I’ll almost always respond.
There are two atheisms of which one is the purification of the notion of God– Simone Weil
One atheism is a rejection of there being any God or Spirit or anything divine. Typically, it’s actually a rejection of a certain image of God or the divine, or of a certain culture that goes with one or more religions, although it’s often presented as something more general.
The other is more discerning. It’s a differentiation between our mental representations of God from what these mental representations refer to. We can reject our images and mental representations without rejecting God or the divine. This is a purification of the notion of God.
The first is a belief. It’s a belief that there is no God or divine. We are attaching to ideas as if they are the reality. The second is a sincere exploration of the difference between our ideas and reality itself.
A CONVENTIONAL EXPLORATION OF THE SECOND ATHEISM
A conventional exploration of the second atheism is what I mentioned above.
We notice our images of God and the divine and reality as a whole. We get to know them. We recognize them as mental representations.
And we set them aside. We know that God and reality is always different from and more than our ideas and maps. We find humility here. We find receptivity. We find curiosity.
We ask God to reveal itself to us – in ways beyond and free from the limits created by our ideas and notions about God and reality and anything.
(Note: I should mention it’s been a long time since I actually read Simone Weil so I don’t know if this is how she would talk about it. This is me, not her.)
ANOTHER MORE IMMEDIATE EXPLORATION
For me, this is how the second one looks:
In one sense, I am this human self in the world. It’s what others, my passport, and my thoughts sometimes tell me. It’s an assumption that’s not wrong and it works reasonably well. It’s also an assumption I need to learn and a role I need to learn to play in order to function in the world.
And yet, what am I more fundamentally in my own first-person experience? What do I find if I set aside my ideas about what I am and instead look in my immediate experience?
I find I more fundamentally am capacity for any and all experiences. I am capacity for the world as it appears to me. I am capacity for whatever appears in my sense fields – in sight, sound, taste, smell, sensations, and mental representations.
I find I am what the world, to me, happens within and as. I am what the world – this human self, others, the wider world, any experience at all – happens within and as.
I find myself as what thoughts may imperfectly label consciousness. I find myself as the oneness the world, to me, happens within and as. I find myself as no-thing which allows the experience and appearance of any and all things. I find myself as having no boundaries and no inherent characteristics, which allows the experience and appearance of boundaries and any characteristic.
I find that another word for the oneness I am is love. It’s a love that’s independent of any states or feelings. It’s a love inherent in what I am. It’s a love often obscured by my very human hangups, issues, and traumas.
To me, the world happens within and as what I am, within and as consciousness, within and as oneness, within and as love. To me, the world appears as what a thought may call the divine or God.
The small interpretation of this is that this is all psychology. As a conscious being, to myself I have to be consciousness, and the world as it appears to me has to happen within and as consciousness, within and as what I am. I cannot generalize from this and say that this is how reality or all of existence is.
The big interpretation says that everything is as it appears. Everything is consciousness and the divine. Everything is God.
If we call existence God, then this is the atheism that is the purification of the notion of God.
This is the atheism that differentiates our ideas about God, ourselves, and everything, from what’s here in our immediate noticing.Read More
Several times in my life, I have noticed that my dreams not only change when I sleep in a different location, they also seem to reflect things that are not from my life but from the people who have been in that place before me.
For instance, when I lived in Madison, I would go to Milwaukee to join the Process Work meetings and workshops there. One time, I stayed overnight in a place owned by one of the organizers and I had a string of very intense dreams involving archetypes, magical creatures, and so on. The dreams seemed “foreign” to me somehow. I told my host about the content of the dreams, and she said: “Oh yes, you slept where I work with clients, and those images come from recent sessions I have done with clients.” I moved my massage-table bed to another location in the same room, and slept quietly.
Another time, I stayed in my old Breema teacher’s house in Berkeley during a Breema intensive while he and his new partner were away. The first night, I dreamt his wife was screaming at me and accusing me of several things. When I woke up, I felt I had been him in the dream, and I remembered that he was going through a divorce at the time. I moved to the other side of the bed and slept quietly. (I wonder if the first side of the bed was where he slept?)
Over the last week, I have had very restless dreams bordering on nightmares. This happened when I started sleeping in an apartment and bed that belongs to someone I know (RL). Yesterday, I was curious about what’s happening, I wondered if I am picking up something again, and cleaned the apartment and bed energetically. My sleep last night was much more calm and peaceful.
I should mention that one of the dreams I have had here was of me looking down on my arms and noticing that they were dark brown. (In waking life, they are pink or at best light brown.) I wonder if this dream too may reflect sleeping in the bed and residual energies of another person? (He has darker skin.)
For me, this is just an interesting pattern. I know I can sometimes pick up and sense what’s going on with others and a place, so this may be just another way my system picks it up. It’s also a reminder of how interconnected we all are. And whatever comes up in these dreams does reflect something in me since everything – the whole world – reflects dynamics and characteristics in me. Equally important, it’s all happening within and as what I am. That doesn’t change.
In evolutionary psychology, it’s common to point out that our organism and nervous system is not made primarily for lasting happiness. It’s made to help us survive.
Of course, we experience happiness in periods, and some seem to have a higher set-point for happiness than others. Also, we can certainly experience a more stable contentment or a sense of gratitude, and that may be as good or better than happiness.
Perhaps this also goes for the world in general. It’s not created to make us happy.
If anything, it’s made for adventure. This world is the universe, existence, or life expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways.
And, if we have a spiritual orientation, we can say that this world – this universe and all of existence – is the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways. Some call this lila.
Personally, I would take survival and adventure over happiness any day. If our human organism and brain were not made for survival, none of us would be here. To me, adventure is far more interesting than happiness. And as icing on the cake, we can still find contentment and gratitude, and even receive periods of happiness.Read More
I had some time to spend in a mall the other day, and thought I would have some fun with motion blur. These images were taken using the Live option on the iPhone and then edited a bit for color and tone. As a kid and teenager, I loved experimenting with double exposure, projecting images onto things and photographing them, freezing fast motion (bursting water balloons and small explosions!), and long exposures. I haven’t experimented much with it since, so it was a fun couple of hours.
I have many other photos I like more in terms of quality and end product, but enjoying the process is equally if not more important, and I did enjoy doing this.
I thought I would share an experience I had early on after I started with Vortex Healing.
In Vortex Healing, and in distance healing in general, it’s common to pick up information about the client.
Typically, the information is about whatever issue the client wants to work on. For me, it’s typically a combination of images and sensations in the body (I feel in my own body what’s going on with the client), and some also receive it in the form of words. And the information is usually about where in the body or energy system something is going on, and whatever emotional issues are related to what we are focusing on. (The information is typically quite accurate and can be confirmed.) Over time, this becomes quite routine and a part of daily life for me and most others doing distance healing.
In this case, I exchanged healing sessions with another student at my level. She channeled for me and afterward said that she had several images during the session that didn’t make sense to her. But she wanted to share them anyway – just in case they meant something to me.
She said she saw images of a young woman, in a kind of intentional community with a focus on sustainability and spirituality, and so on. (I don’t remember everything but it was far more detailed.)
It turned out that the images she had picked up were from a book project that had recently come to me and where I had started to write down ideas. It’s about a young woman a few decades in the future, living in a community focusing on sustainability in a generally dystopian world wrecked by our ecological crisis. She has an awakening shift, and the story is mostly about her process of dealing with this new reality.
Why did she pick it up? Probably because that world was especially alive for me at the time. And maybe so she could share it with me as a kind of confirmation about the story and the project. (I still haven’t written it, which weighs on me a bit since the story came to me nearly fully formed and it felt like it wanted to be written and brought into the world.)
Note: To clarify, my VH-exchange comrade is not someone I knew very well, and I hadn’t told anyone about the book project I was exploring.Read More
Anyone into spirituality has all sorts of spiritual stories floating around in their minds. And most who are not into spirituality have these kinds of stories as well, they may just dismiss them.
For instance, if we are into mysticism or non-duality, we may have stories about the afterlife, karma, what awakening refers to, what awakening would mean for us and our future, the role of masters, the existence of non-physical entities and deities, and so on.
It’s helpful to differentiate mental representations and our immediate noticing.
For me, all of these stories are mental representations. I cannot find them anywhere else.
Someone created those stories, told them to someone else, and then they reached me.
I may have stories about the source and whether it’s reliable or not. There may be research matching the stories to a certain degree. Some of the stories may even match my own experiences.
And yet, to me, they remain mental representations and stories. I cannot find them outside of that. I cannot find it in my immediate noticing.
DIFFERENTIATING MENTAL REPRESENTATIONS AND IMMEDIATE NOTICING
For all I know, reality may not be anything like what the stories describe.
That’s a sobering realization and an important one.
In life, it helps us stay grounded and it’s a kind of vaccination against going too far into spiritual fantasies.
And more importantly, it’s a part of learning to differentiate mental representations from direct noticing. It’s a part of learning to recognize mental representations for what they are, holding them more lightly, and also differentiate all that from a direct noticing of what’s here – which is our own nature.
The only thing I can notice directly is actually my own nature. Everything else is a noticing plus a story, a mental representation.
WHAT I AM LEFT WITH
Any story about who or what I am is a story. Any story about the content of experience is a story. Any story about reality is a story.
And what I am left with is a direct noticing of my nature and that any and all experience happens within and as what I find myself as.
IT’S ALL I KNOW
When I learn to differentiate the two, I also notice more clearly that all I know is my own nature. Any content of experience happens within and as what I am, within and as my nature. Even the nature of mental representations is my nature.
To me, the nature of everything is my nature, whether I notice or not.Read More
I want to live in a society that values helping people feel safe. That’s how we all can flourish.
And this is not only about our personal interactions or what happens in groups. It’s also how we structure and set up our society. Do we have social safety nets so people can feel safe from a life in poverty? Do we support people to get the education they want? Do we encourage people to follow their deepest fascinations even if it doesn’t make personal sense to us?
FINDING IT FOR MYSELF
When I notice that wish in me, I know it’s advice for myself.
It’s an invitation to find ways to bring it into my own life.
I can find and choose to be with people who help me feel more safe.
I can help others feel more safe, as best I can.
And, perhaps most importantly, I can support my own inner community in feeling more safe.
HELPING MY INNER COMMUNITY FEEL SAFE
Growing up, I didn’t learn to consistently make my inner community feel safe. I didn’t learn to consistently support and be there for myself and all the different parts of me and my experience.
Why? Because I didn’t receive it from those around me when I was little. They didn’t know how to do it for themselves so they couldn’t do it for me.
So how do I learn to help my inner community feel safe and supported?
The first step is recognizing when parts of me feel unsafe and unsupported. How does it feel?
How do I habitually respond to it? Do I react? Perhaps with some form of avoidance? An avoidance that takes the form of fear, anger, compulsions, blame, shame, guilt, or something else?
What is my conscious inner dialog? How can I change it so it helps my inner community feel safe and supported? How can I do it in a way that feels honest? (Tricking myself doesn’t work.)
What happens if I do heart-centered practices on my images of others, myself, and different parts of me? If I do tonglen, ho’oponopno, or metta? Does something shift?
What are the stressful stories creating a feeling of lack of safety and support? What do I find when I examine these and explore what’s genuinely more true for me? What are my stressful stories about not feeling safe and supported? What am I most afraid can happen?
What do I find when I dialog with the parts of me that feel unsafe and unsupported? How do they experience the world? How do they experience me? What advice do they have for me? How can I best be a friend and ally to these parts of me?
How is it to notice that these parts and experiences have the same nature as I do? That I am fundamentally capacity for it all? That they are happening within and as what I am? How is it to rest in and as that noticing?
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
As mentioned, I did not grow up around people who knew how to consistently do this for themselves. So I didn’t feel all that safe and supported, and I didn’t learn to do it for myself. And that means doing it for others is also lacking, in spite of my best intentions. So this requires a lot of work and attention from my side. It takes time. I still feel I am just a beginner when it comes to this.Read More