Photos from a portrait series – 2013

I thought I would share a few photos from a portrait series from 2013. These were made in the basement of a house on Gabriola Island near Vancouver BC. The light came through narrow windows and was perfect for portraits. I used a dark grey blanket as a background for most of these. This is the only portrait series I have done, and I would love to do more.

These are low-res versions I happened to come across so the technical quality is not the best. I may look for the higher-quality originals and upload those at a later time.

See below for color versions of some of these photos.

Shifting baseline syndrome: When we don’t realize how much nature is changing & learning to see with deep-time eyes

Yes, this is a big concern. Most of us don’t realize how much nature has changed over the centuries and even over the last few decades. We see nature and don’t realize how impacted it is by human activity.


When I grew up in Norway in the ’80s, the garden was brimming with insects, birds, badgers, hedgehogs, and more. We had the windows and doors open in the summer, and the inside of the windows became full of insects when we closed them. We drove a few minutes in the car, and the windshield was covered in insects. After one drive, we had to clean it.

These days, there is very little life of any kind. There are very few insects. I hardly see any on the windshield. The inside windows have just about none. I don’t see any grasshoppers, ladybugs, butterflies, crickets, daddy longlegs, or any of the very familiar insects from my childhood. I don’t see any swallows anymore.1

I suspect most young people don’t realize how much this has changed and how quickly. They didn’t experience it for themselves. This is all they are familiar with. This lack of life is what’s normal for them.


This is also happening over longer timespans. When I look at the rolling hills here in Southern Norway, it’s beautiful in its own way. For my inner eye, I see something else. I see the rich and diverse old forest that very likely was there before humans, or when there were only a few humans there thousands of years ago. I see a multi-layered old forest full of animals, birds, and insects. I imagine the ocean similarly full of life.

When I walk through my childhood forest, I experience it differently from when I was a child. Back then, I thought this was wilderness. Now, I see a monoculture planted for profit. The trees are all the same type and of the same age, planted too close together for much else to grow there. It’s far from the rich diversity of a natural old-growth forest.


When I walk in a city or town, I imagine how it looked before humans built it. I imagine walking through the rich and multi-layered forest that used to be there. (Or whatever ecosystem it was.)


For me, it’s important to learn the basics of how mature and rich ecosystems look, and how it was where I am before humans had a huge impact. It’s important for me to learn to see landscapes and places with deep time eyes.


It’s also important for me to learn to imagine how I can be. If we engage in regeneration and bring back a mostly native and rich ecosystem, how would it look? How would it look right here?


If I look at the past, it brings up sadness and grief, and that’s a natural and healthy response. I am nature grieving itself. I am a part of this planet and ecosystem driving the loss of so much of itself.

That’s why I also make a practice out of imagining how it can be. I imagine the place I am in full of life and a rich and mature ecosystem, with human settlement as an integral part of it.

That’s also why I make a practice out of doing something in my own life. When I do something to bring it about, in however small a way it may be, I am part of the solution. It’s meaningful. It brings hope. I get to see that something can be done.


What are some of the small things I do?

In my mid-teens, I got deeply into systems views and deep ecology. In my teens and early twenties, I also got into ecospirituality, the Universe Story, the Epic of Evolution, and so on. I learn to see with deep time eyes. I learned about how the ecosystems used to be before they were hugely impacted by humans. I learned to imagine how it can be, with regeneration and sustainability efforts.

I shifted how I see myself in relationship with nature. I am nature. I am part of this seamless living planet. I am part of this evolving universe. I am the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. I allow this to work on me, and I invite in a deepening visceral experience of it. (Deep ecology, universe story, epic of evolution.)

I learned how we can create a more life-centered and ecologically sustainable civilization. I learned about how our current economic system doesn’t take ecological realities into account (assumes nature is infinite), and how that can and needs to change.

I do small things in my life. I recycle. Use dishwater and shower water for plants. I walk or take public transportation when I can. I try to limit my consumption.

I make connections with and learn from like-minded people.

I have been engaged in several sustainability community projects in the past, especially when I lived in Madison, Wisconsin. (EcoTeams, NWEI discussion groups, Practices to Reconnect, Sustain Dane.)

I am also gifted with being the steward of land in the Andes mountains, and I am engaged in the regeneration of this land. (Roughly a thousand native trees will be planted as soon as the rain returns, and we are also developing a food forest.) We are also using natural building techniques (rammed earth), we use mostly local and/or recycled materials, we will collect rainwater and use it to water the plants, we plan on installing solar power, and so on. It’s a gift and a great privilege to be able to do this.

(1) Why is the loss happening? The general reason is that we – in our Western civilization – are in ecological overshoot. We use far more resources than nature can keep up with and replenish. The more detailed reasons are many: Use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers to grow food. Monoculture. Loss of old forests. Reduced diversity in the gardens. (When I was little, many gardens had wild areas and in general had a lot more trees, bushes, and flowers.) More houses. Less wild (semi-wild) areas.

The nature of different parts of reality

Whether we notice or not, we all operate on assumptions about the nature of reality.

So why not make our assumptions, often absorbed from our culture, conscious?

Why not explore what’s more true for us?


The nature of what I am to myself is the most immediate. It’s the only one I can check out for myself.

It’s not wrong that I am this human self in the world, the way many others see it and my passport tells me. It’s an assumption that works relatively well, although there is some inherent stress in it. It’s stressful to be an object in a world of objects. And it’s stressful to hold onto assumptions not aligned with reality.

When I look, I find that to myself, I am more fundamentally something else. I am what this whole field of experience happens within and as. I am what the world, to me, happens within and as.

A thought may call this consciousness, and as this consciousness, I have a lot of characteristics described and pointed to by mystics through time and across traditions.

For instance, I cannot find boundaries and that can be called oneness. When the oneness I am notices itself, the way I relate to all is a kind of love independent of feelings or states. (Which can easily be covered up by the hangups of this human self.) Waking life and night dreams both happen within and as the consciousness I am. All I have ever known is my own nature, taking different forms.

I also find that I even more fundamentally am something else. I am capacity for all of it. I am capacity for consciousness and for this consciousness forming itself into the field of experience that’s here.

See articles tagged who and what I am for more on this.


So what’s the nature of the world? Of this Earthly world with people and nature and culture?

I cannot know for certain, but it makes sense to me to assume it’s more or less as it appears. This human self lives in a world full of other people and nature. (Any other assumption tends to create weirdness and unnecessary complications.)


What’s the nature of others?

Again, I cannot know for certain. Based on logic and reports, I assume their nature is the same as mine.

To themselves, they are likely consciousness. They are likely what their world happens within and as. They are likely capacity for all of that.

That goes for all beings that we say “have” consciousness. If they have consciousness, then to themselves, they inevitably have to BE consciousness and the world, to them, happens within and as that consciousness.


What’s the nature of all of reality?

Here too, I cannot know for certain.

I know how it appears to me. It appears as consciousness. And I know why it appears that way. The consciousness I am notices itself, and it notices that the whole field of experience happens within and as the consciousness it is, so everything inevitably appears as consciousness. That doesn’t mean that is the nature of all of existence.

I find it useful to assume that the universe and all of existence is a seamless evolving whole. It’s a dynamic system with wholes and parts and the parts are themselves wholes. (Holarchy.)

Whatever the nature of this whole is, I call it reality and even the divine. To me, the wholeness of reality as it is – which I cannot know for certain – is God.

I am open for materialism being true. Perhaps our most fundamental nature, in a third person view is this body. Perhaps the consciousness we are to ourselves somehow comes out of this body. It’s possible.

It’s also possible that all of existence is consciousness. Some signs hint at this, for instance, distance sensing and healing, precognition, persistent series of undeniable synchronicities, and so on. (These can also be explained in other ways.)


As I mentioned, I have done a lot of inquiry on inherited assumptions about reality.

When I was sixteen, there was a shift into oneness and perceiving everything without exception as consciousness. The consciousness I am noticed itself and that it forms itself into any and all experience.

At first, it made the world appear very unreal and it was quite disturbing to this human self. After a while, after some years and decades, it became a new normal. All appears as a dream since it’s all happening within and as the consciousness I am, and that’s fine.

I have been lucky (?) enough to just assume that the world is mostly as it appears filled with people and other beings. At a human level, I just live normally. (I know some can get into weird ideas here.)

I have taken some time to take in others as consciousness to themselves and to include all beings. This is something that needs to be absorbed and unfolds and deepens over time, and there is further to go.

When it comes to the nature of all of existence, I find it interesting that it’s not more common to differentiate between how it inevitably appears to us (all is consciousness) and reality itself. To me, it seems helpful to make that distinction. It makes me freer in how I think about things and how I can talk about it with others. Sometimes, I can take a more materialistic view. Other times, I can take the view of all as consciousness. Both have value and I enjoy being fluid with it. (See posts on the small and big interpretations of awakening.)

The essence of this is that the only thing I can explore for myself is my own nature. The rest are questions and assumptions, something to hold lightly, and it makes sense to be fluid and pragmatic about which assumptions I use.

Image by me and Midjourney

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Action gives hope

Action gives hope. When I act to support life and create a more life-centered civilization, in however small ways it may be, it gives me hope. I feel I can make a difference. I feel we all can make a difference.

This is one of those things that seems obvious when we know it from our own life and may not occur to us before we experience it.

As usual, there are a lot of wrinkles here.


It’s also helpful to come to terms with death – the death of ourselves, our loved ones, this civilization, and even humanity. What comes together falls apart. Death is what allows anything to be. Death and impermanence is what gives space and birth to all we know, and all that was and will be. We wouldn’t be here without it. For all the grief and pain we may experience because of it, it’s also an immense and immeasurable blessing. It helps to let all of that sink in.


We can come to terms with death, even the possible near-term death of our civilization and humanity, and also find hope. They are not mutually exclusive. We contain multitudes.

And we don’t know what’s going to happen. We can only put one foot in front of the other and do our best. We can be a good steward of our own life and our role in the world.


When we notice our nature, and examine our relationship with thoughts, hope is not as important anymore as it may have been before. We don’t really need hope. We have here and now, which is more than enough, and hope is revealed as a story about the future we cannot know anything for certain about.


I have explored these things since my teens.

I have taken action to make my life more life-centered and sustainable in different ways, and also worked on community projects (through Sustain Dane and other organizations). Even small actions make a lot of difference. These days, I find myself helping to reforest and regenerate 15 hectares in the Andes mountains, which is immensely meaningful to me.

I have spent quite a lot of time coming to terms with death and impermanence, and finding genuine appreciation for it. (Although it often also brings up grief, sadness, and despair in me.)

I have explored my relationship with thoughts, including within the context of my nature noticing itself and through structured inquiry.

Image created by me and Midjourney

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When progressives are seduced by misinformation

“If you think that something in the cow’s digestive process changes the climate, there is something seriously wrong with you”

A social media friend posted this quote. She is someone who seems to care deeply about people and nature and is generally progressive in terms of politics.

This brings up a few things for me.


Why did she post it? I assume she may be one of the progressives naively seduced by misinformation. This type of misinformation often originates on the far-right and is – more or less consciously – designed to undermine sane collective action. (Anti-woke is another example of a far-right bandwagon that some naive progressives seem happy to jump on.)

Maybe she wanted to seem smart or anti-establishment? Maybe she wanted to fuel and present a certain identity?

Maybe she knows someone with that attitude and she wants to join in with them?


Here are some questions that come up for me…

Did you consider where that information and attitude come from? (You may find it’s most popular on the far right.)

Did you check to see if there is any solid science behind it? Did you consider if it would hold up in a court of law? (It certainly would not because it’s not funded in science or reality.)

Did you consider that you may be wrong if you see it one way based on whatever, and tens of thousands of scientists from everywhere in the world – who have spent decades studying it – have a different view?

Did you consider who you are aligning yourself with? Did you consider whose interests you are speaking up for? (In this case, it’s the beef industry. In a broader sense, it’s anyone who think they benefit from preventing a shift into a more sustainable civilization.)

Did you consider what those attitudes lead to? (Distrust of science, undermining of sustainable changes.)

Do you value staying close to reality, or something else like belonging or fueling a certain identity? (The second is fine, and it’s good to be honest about it.)

Did you consider that these attitudes undermine what you appear to care deeply about? (Taking care of nature and animals.)

If you love nature, why do you promote attitudes not supported by science that undermine sane actions to protect nature?


When you look at the connections between two things, it’s good to look at more than one connection.

In this case, what are some of the connections between cows and climate change?

An obvious one is that the digestive process of cows (the need for grass) destroys the Amazon at a rapid pace and that hugely impacts our climate and all of us.

There are more than one billion cows in the world. How can that not significantly impact our climate? They need an enormous amount of grass and grain, which means cutting down large areas of forests and vegetation. This changes the local and regional climate. It creates a dryer and hotter climate. When this happens around the world, it inevitably changes our global climate.

You cannot leave that out.


To address the narrow topic she likely referred to: Methane from cows and climate change.

One cow can produce 250-500 liters of methane a day. With more than a billion cows, that’s a huge amount of methane.

Methane is a greenhouse gas. It works like a greenhouse. It allows light through but not heat.

Light passes through glass / our atmosphere -> the energy of the light is converted to heat when it hits matter -> and that heat is then trapped in the greenhouse / our planet.

It obviously will impact our climate. It’s inevitable. It’s simple physics.

Our planet is small and the atmosphere is thin. It doesn’t take that much to significantly change our atmosphere, and with it our climate and all we know.

This is all simple. It’s what you learned in elementary school.


When it comes to cows, there is a sane approach:

(a) Reduce the number of cows in the world and (b) change the way they live and are fed.

Eating meat is hugely inefficient when it comes to land use. It’s far more efficient for us to eat lower on the food chain. It’s also more healthy for us. It helps the cows often living in terrible conditions. And it helps protect nature and our ecosystems.

It’s fine to have some cows, but it’s better – for them and us – if they live outdoors as much as possible, on land that’s managed well. (For instance, silvopasture.)

This is sane action whether or not there is climate change (there is), whether or not it’s human-created (it is), and whether or not methane from cows contributes to it (it does).

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Traffic calming measures


This weekend, a young mother died outside of town and two more were seriously injured.

From what I understand, two (presumably) drunk young men were racing each other on motorcycles. One of them hit a young mother driving her own motorcycle and on her way to buy food. She died. The driver and passenger on the racing motorcycle were seriously injured. The other young man drove off without helping. (We know the cousin of the woman who died and the parents of the young woman who was injured.)

This highlights the terrible road culture here, and it brings up a few things for me.


Why do they drive like that? I know a standard answer is that it’s what young men do, but there is obviously more behind it. They may do it because they don’t have a way to take out their energy and hormonal craziness in a more sane and healthy way. They may do it to show off and fuel a certain identity. They may do it to deal with stress and trauma. They may do it because it’s a part of their subculture. They also do it because they can. Here, they know they very likely won’t get in trouble. In most cases, unless something like this happens, there won’t be any consequences.


The mother who died had two children, one nine months old and one five years old. In our culture, some like to assume it’s easier for the youngest one: She won’t understand what’s happening. That’s something you would say if you think we only live from the neck up. The baby has a deep visceral bond with her mother. For her, the mother is her whole world. This loss can easily create a deep trauma for her, as it will for the older child.


What can we do about it? How can we prevent it?


In our culture, some well-meaning folks say we need education.1 They assume that information, delivered in the right way, will change the behavior of those who drive too fast and drunk. It may be one small piece of the puzzle, but it’s not enough and it’s not the most effective approach.

A general rule is that educational campaigns don’t work very well, even if they are well-designed, creative, emotional, fun, and so on

Educational campaigns work for people who take information seriously and already are motivated to do the right thing. Education tends to work for educated people with resources, but this group already often behaves responsibly and it’s not the main target group.

In general, most of us already know what to do. We know we should drive safely. We know we should eat healthy food. If we still don’t do it, it’s not for lack of education. Other factors are far stronger and more influential on our behavior.

In some cases – for instance, some teenagers – educational campaigns may even work against their purpose since people don’t like to be told what to do.

It’s better to assume that people (a) act stupidly (which is sometimes true) and (b) don’t want to do the right thing (which is sometimes the case), and create social and physical structures that bring about the behavior you want anyway. In this case, safer driving.


There is a wide range of practical traffic calming strategies.

The obvious ones are frequent speed controls, frequent drunk driving controls, and digital signs that give you immediate feedback on your speed. In Denmark, they confiscate and sell your vehicle if you drive way too fast.

Several simple road design elements require the driver to reduce speed: Speed humps, speed cushions, and speed tables are uncomfortable if you go too fast. Chicanes are elevated semi-circles located on the edge of the road to make it go in a zig-zag pattern. Medians narrow your lane. Rumble strips give visceral feedback on your speed.

Although not a traffic-calming strategy, reflectors and medians mark the middle of the road and help people stay in their lane.

Trees, bushes, and flowers planted along the road can also help calm the traffic. As can optical markings like a series of white stripes on or across the road. In some places, these can be spaced increasingly closer together to give the drivers a sense of speeding up if you want them to slow down. (The downside is that locals get used to them.)

See Speed reduction methods to promote road safety and to save lives, Finding Creative Ways to Crack Down on Speeding, and Speed Reduction Mechanisms for several of these.

A more creative one is to enroll people who drive at or below the speed limit in a lottery where they can win money. This can be done with traffic cameras or apps. Apps can also be set up so you earn points for fuel, restaurant meals, and similar when you drive at or below the speed limit.

Parking an empty police car by the road can also help, although locals will catch on and get used to it if it’s done too frequently. (Unless it’s moved to different locations and sometimes also means speed and alcohol control.)

The road can be painted in colorful patterns to slow down traffic3. In Portland, they paint mandalas in the intersections for this purpose. Crosswalks can also be painted colorfully and creatively by the community, for instance with images of plants, animals, and children.

I have selected a few examples that may work in our location, in a rural town in Latin America, and left many out.


A mix of strategies will generally work the best. A bit of education, especially in school, may not hurt but is not enough in itself. The coercive ones – controls and punishment – are in the back of the mind of everyone. Some of the design elements work for everyone since they require you to slow down. The more fun and community-oriented ones work for the ones who resonate with that and they lighten the mood that would otherwise be created by the coercive measures.


(1) As mentioned above, the ones who favor educational campaigns are often well-educated and well-meaning. They are among the few an educational campaign would actually work for, although they tend to not need it and act responsibly anyway. They assume others are like them, which is not the case. Most don’t pay attention to educational campaigns, or they quickly revert to their old behavior. Other factors play a far greater role than what educational campaigns, even the best ones, can touch in people.

(2) I have a background in environmental psychology and health psychology, with a focus on strategies to facilitate public behavioral change. (University of Utah and University of Oslo.) What works? Structural changes. What doesn’t work so well? Education.

(3) Road paintings can confuse and interest the driver so they are induced to slow down. It may not work so well if they are locals and familiar with the paintings, which is why it may be helpful to change them regularly. This can be a community art project. The paintings then also become a reminder of the community, which can help local drivers to drive more responsibly.

The image is dreamt up by me and Midjourney and is only meant to give a feel of how road paintings combined with medians, chicanes, and roundabouts may look. It’s not meant to be taken literally.

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Alan Watts: My philosophy is not concerned with what should be but with what is

People often ask me why I smoke and drink. I don’t preach, remember. My philosophy is not concerned with what should be but with what is.

– Alan Watts

Another beautiful Alan Watts quote, and, as usual, there is a lot to explore in it.

I too am interested in the descriptive more than the prescriptive. I am interested in the exploration and what I find. I am interested in what’s already here.

That doesn’t mean that the prescriptive doesn’t have a place. It has often been used by religions, philosophers, governments, and those in power to regulate society. In the best case, it can help society to function more smoothly.1 In the worst case, it’s used to maintain hierarchies and power for the few privileged and to justify inequality and injustice.

At an individual level, it can be used as a temporary (artificial and external) guideline to keep us out of trouble. For those on a spiritual path, it can also roughly mimic how we would live if we did live from our nature recognizing itself.

It also doesn’t mean that exploring our nature can’t be transformative. It often is. When our nature consciously recognizes itself – and recognizes that it’s forming itself into all of its content, including anything related to this human self – that creates a context that can be transformative for our human self and life in the world.2 This too is more about noticing, exploring, and describing more than anything prescriptive. The way this unfolds cannot be prescribed, no more than we can prescribe how a plant should grow.

When it comes to smoking and drinking and similar things, I take a pragmatic approach. I was never drawn to smoking, and alcohol doesn’t feel good in my body. I’ll have a small amount of wine or beer (oatmeal stout) very occasionally, and that’s it. My mind is weird enough as it is so I don’t need to make it weirder. My health is challenged enough so I don’t need to make it worse. It’s not from shoulds or morals. It’s just what happens to work for me, it seems.

To state the obvious (?), our nature recognizing itself doesn’t mean that our human self or our human life is automatically very different. Our human self and our human self may continue much as before, or it can shift in several ways. It seems different in each case, and it depends on how our human self – our psyche and patterns – responds to it. It’s fully possible for our human self to continue much as before, at least for a while until life catches up with us and brings up anything not aligned with oneness, inviting it to become more aligned with oneness. And even that is an ongoing process.


(1) The Ten Commandments is an example of guidelines to help society run more smoothly. Other guidelines also have a practical function. For instance, when some religions say you should stay indoors during a solar eclipse (and add to the motivation by saying it’s “bad luck” to look at it), I assume it is so people won’t damage their eyes by looking directly at the eclipse.

(2) It seems that, over time and in its own time, the human self and psyche transform to be more aligned with this oneness. In the best case, old wounds, hangups, and traumas – which are created by and operate from separation consciousness – realign more with oneness, which is what we call healing, and when the human self operates less from these wounds it lives more from (a very ordinary kind of) kindness and sanity. This happens more easily when we actively join in with that process and invite in that healing for the wounded parts of us. I assume it’s an ongoing process without any finishing line, at least not within the relatively short lifetime of this human self.

Image dreamt up by me and Midjourney

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Be it & what happens when I notice I already am this field of experience

When I wake up these days, there is a lot of discomfort in my system. I suspect it has to do with having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). I have had this experience in the morning to varying degrees for decades now. I don’t feel at all refreshed when waking up, the body feels full of toxins, the brain fog is strong, and so on. That’s all quite typical for CFS.

A helpful reminder for myself is to be it.


It’s simple, and in some ways, it’s obvious and inevitable. I already am my whole field of experience. It cannot be any other way. The consciousness I am forms itself into all of it.


At the same time, the reminder is useful. When the noticing is a little more intentional and has a little more energy, something shifts. It shifts how I relate to what’s here, and that makes all the difference.

My old separation conditioning is to try to avoid an unpleasant experience that’s already here. I try to separate myself from it, in whatever way seems to work the best, which is usually some variation of distraction, compulsion, and so on. This is still in my system, so it helps to notice I already am all of it since it goes against this conditioning. It’s an antidote. It creates another pattern, another conditioning that’s a little more aligned with reality.

It does not necessarily shift the content of what’s here, and it doesn’t have to.

As usual, there is a lot more to say about this.


It can also be useful to explore the content of experience.

The discomfort may come from going against my inner guidance or knowing, or from not taking care of myself and my life in a situation where the kind and wise thing would be to do so. In that case, it’s good to notice and see if I can find a way to follow and act on my guidance. At the very least, I would be more in integrity which gives a kind of peace in itself.

If there is anxiety, depression, compulsion, or something similar here, it’s worth exploring these experiences and what may be behind them. For instance, what stressful beliefs do I have? What’s more true for me?

In the case of CFS and waking up with this discomfort, I know that some supplements and herbs can help, for instance, magnesium, so I can take that and see what happens.


As mentioned, we – or parts of us – can seek separation from discomfort. We can notice we already are it and rest in and as that noticing. And there is a third way.

We can intentionally amplify the discomfort. Make it stronger for 2-3 seconds, then release and relax. Repeat after a few seconds. Notice what happens.

When I do this, I notice that how I relate to the experience shifts. There is less struggle.

This too goes against the old pattern of seeking separation and creates a new pattern of less struggle.


Although there was a oneness shift in my teens and I have explored it since, there are still many parts of me that are not quite on board with it. They still live in and operate from separation consciousness.

That’s why noticing I already AM it is helpful. It’s a reminder of what’s already here, and noticing and living from it goes against old patterns.

In addition to this, I have done a lot of inquiry on many aspects of this, from exploring stressful beliefs (which are also identities) to exploring how the discomfort and the reaction to it show up in the sense fields, to dialog with these parts of me, to how it all is here to protect me and was created early in life for that purpose.

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Systems change from an ecocidal civilization to a more life-centered civilization

When I see dynamics that hold our current ecocidal system in place, I see expressions of universal systems dynamics.


Systems seek dynamic equilibrium, and they have dynamics in place to try to maintain that equilibrium. It will resist anything that’s destabilizing. That’s natural and healthy. That’s how any system exists and that’s how we are here.


In our ecocidal system, we see many expressions of this. Some ridicule those who question the sanity of our current system. Some want to continue with business as usual because it’s comfortable or it serves their short-term interests. Some deny that we are in an ecological crisis. Some think it’s hopeless. Some misdiagnose the problem and blame corporations or the government. Laws and courts sometimes protect those who destroy ecosystems and punish those who seek to protect them.

These are all expressions of our current ecocidal system, and they are expressions of dynamics seeking to maintain the equilibrium of this system.

It’s not personal. It’s not really about the individual. It’s all expressions of systems dynamics, often expressed through the attitudes and behaviors of groups and individuals.


So how does this system change? How does it shift into another state, hopefully, one that’s more life-centered?

It shifts the way any system shifts. It shifts due to a build-up of dynamics pushing it out of equilibrium and into another state.

It shifts because too many things induce it to shift, overcoming the dynamics seeking to keep it in equilibrium.


In our case, it will shift because the dire situation we are in will become obvious to more and more people, the necessity to shift into a more life-centered civilization becomes obvious to enough people, and enough people are taking action to make those changes.

The other option is a collapse of our current civilization. A small portion of humans may survive and create another culture. Or humans may collapse with the system. Either way, our global ecological system will continue and find another equilibrium that deals with the changes our civilization has caused.

Note: These are the things I was passionate about in my teens and early twenties, in the ’80s and ’90s. I haven’t really kept myself up to date with systems views since then, but I assume the essence of this still applies. For the last 10-15 years, I have been unable to read much or take in much information due to my health.

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What’s insane? Destroying our life-support system or protesting against the destruction?

I am watching the recent episode of True Detective. At some point, Jodi Foster’s character says that her daughter’s protest against the mine is “insane”. (Then retracts it.)

It’s clear what’s insane in that situation. Destroying our life-support system is insane.

It’s an insanity facilitated by a system that does not take ecological realities into account. A system where what’s easy and attractive to do is also often destructive for our ecosystems and our own life.1

What’s sane is to (a) do anything we can to stop it. What’s even more sane is to (b) shift into a more ecological and life-centered worldview and (c) to live and promote pragmatic life-centered and life-supporting alternatives. All three are needed to change our civilization into a more life-centered one.

Why do so many get it topsy-turvy? Why do they think that protesting is insane while business as usual is sane? Probably because business is usual is what we are used to.2 It’s normal so we think it’s sane. In this view, protesting is not normal so it’s not considered sane. It’s ridiculed. Pushed back against by our legal system. Marginalized. That’s how the current system tries to stay alive.

(1) This system is inherently insane. It’s also understandable how it came about. It was created at a time when our population was small enough and our technology simple enough so we could, for most practical purposes, assume that nature is infinite.

(2) There are also many incentives to maintain business as usual. It’s profitable to some. It may seem more comfortable than change. It’s predictable even if it’s destructive.

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Valuing old age

Yes, that’s true. Our civilization generally values doing and not being. It values production of any kind.

There are a lot of wrinkles here.


These views are cultural and not inevitable.

It’s easy to imagine cultures that value old age. Most non-Western cultures do just that.


Why does our Western culture value youth while most other cultures value old age?

It may be because our society is in rapid change. “Old” knowledge and experience becomes outdated and less valuable. Young people have better quality knowledge than that of old people because it’s more current, relevant, and useful.

Other societies are more stable and highly value old knowledge and wisdom because it’s still relevant. What people learn over a lifetime is still useful and relevant. Old people have better quality knowledge than young ones.

Why is our society in rapid change? Likely partly because we value doing and innovation. (It’s also driven by consumerism. We need innovation to have an excuse to sell and buy new things.)


Even in our rapidly changing society, the wisdom that comes with age is valuable. It’s a timeless wisdom that has to do with being human, and that’s always valuable.

In our society, it’s not always appreciated. Perhaps partly because our focus is more on technology, and partly because we value innovation and new ideas even when it comes to understanding ourselves.

Of course, these “new ideas” are often timeless wisdom packaged in a new way.


We can question any age-related ideas we have absorbed from society. What ideas do I have? Is it true?

Is it true that youth is better? Is it true that old age is useless? What happens when I hold those ideas as true? Can I find genuine examples of how the reverse is as or more true for me? How is it to live from the reversals that are more true for me?

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Feel it as a flavor of the divine

In one of the regular Friday Vortex Healing Zoom meetings, a senior student said: Feel it like a flavor of the divine.

Whatever is here – discomfort, anxiety, sadness, anger, reactivity – feel it as a flavor of the divine.

It’s a helpful reminder for me. It helps me not only notice that it’s happening within and as what I am but also feel it. Take it in. Rest in it. Allow it to work on me.

Here are some additional pointers I sometimes find useful:

You are welcome here. Stay as long as you want. Thank you for protecting me.

Is it separate from me? Is there a dividing line? Does it happen within and as what I am? Am I capacity for it?

Or some other phrasing: Is it true it’s separate from me? Is it true there is a diving line? Is it true it’s not happening within and as what I am? Is it true I am not capacity for it?

For me these days, this noticing and these shifts in noticing are mostly wordless. It may start with the “feel it as a flavor of the divine” reminder and then the noticing is mostly wordless.

Image by me and Midjourney

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Is the self an illusion?

I saw this question yesterday and thought I would see what comes up for me.

As usual, it depends and it has different layers.


First, what do we mean by a self?

It can mean this human self1 or any other kind of self. A doer or observer can be seen as a self.

More to the point, any thought that’s held as true creates a sense of self. There is identification with and as the viewpoint of the story and the identification that comes with it. To us, that becomes a self with anything else as Other.


In a conventional sense, there is a human self here with a passport, biography, identities, and so on.

That’s not wrong. It works reasonably well and it helps this human self function in the world.

The illusion is that it’s what we fundamentally are.

When I look, I find I am more fundamentally something else. I am the field of experience as a whole. I am what any and all experience happens within and as.

I am what a thought may call consciousness, and this consciousness that I am forms itself into any and all experiences, including of a self.

Even more essentially, I find I am capacity for all of it. I am capacity for consciousness and what it forms itself into.


How is the experience of a self created?

In a sense, it’s a useful fiction.

It happens within and as what I am like any other experience. It’s the consciousness I am temporarily forming itself into that experience.

More specifically, it’s created through a combination of what happens in different sense fields. In the mental field, there are images and stories of a self, and the mind associates these with what happens in other sense fields (sight, sound, smell, taste, physical sensations).

There are also physical sensations that lend a sense of solidity and reality to the mental representations, and the mental representations give a sense of meaning to the same sensations.


How is the experience of being a self created?

This experience is created any time a thought is held as true. When that happens, there is identification with the viewpoint of the thought and anything else becomes other.

We perceive ourselves as the viewpoint of the story. It becomes what we, to ourselves, are. It becomes an identity to prop up, remember, reinforce, and defend. Anything else becomes other.

Another way to talk about this is to say that there is a shift into identification with something within the field of experience.


Does it matter? That too depends.

It obviously doesn’t matter hugely. Most consciousnesses function fine even if they are caught up in the illusion of fundamentally being a self. There is some inherent stress, but most can function OK anyway.

In some cases, it matters. It matters if it matters to the consciousness. If there is curiosity, a draw to explore it, a glimpse, or something similar.

It also matters in that it can have real-life consequences. If the consciousness we are recognizes itself, stays with that noticing, and allows it’s human self to reorganize within that noticing, there is a kind of unwinding and reorganization that happens.


Is the self an illusion?

As so often, the answer for me is yes and no and it depends.

It makes sense to assume there is a human self here functioning in the world. (The other options tend to create weirdness in a practical sense.)

This human self is not what I more fundamentally am in my own first-person experience. Here, I find I am more fundamentally what the whole field of experience happens within and as. Even more fundamentally, I am capacity for all of it. The illusion here is about identity, it happens if I take myself as fundamentally this human self – or a doer, or observer, or similar. I can explore this through the Big Mind process or the Headless experiments, and also basic meditation2 and a range of other approaches.

It also makes sense to acknowledge that my experience of this human self and the wider world is created by the mind. The consciousness I am forms itself into all of it. It’s a kind of virtual world. This human self and the wider world are not inherently as I experience it. With different sensory inputs (a different body and sense organs) and different stories, it would all appear very different. I can explore this by examining my sense fields and how they come together to create an experience, for instance by using traditional Buddhist sense-field exploration or modern versions like the Kiloby inquiries. I can also notice that night dreams and waking life both happen within and as the consciousness I am.


I was a very curious kid, but this wasn’t really on my radar until two shifts happened in my teens.

First, there was a shift into being an observer. I found myself as observer and anything else – this human self, thoughts, emotions, the wider world – as distant and far away. To this psyche, it felt like something had gone terribly wrong. This happened when I was fifteen and it lasted for about a year.

Then, there was another shift. This time into oneness, into the consciousness all experience happens within and as. My psyche interpreted this as: All without exception is God. All is God exploring itself as all of it, including locally and temporarily taking itself to be a human self.

That fundamental shift stayed with an overlay of a psyche3 with its conditioning and hangups, and deepenings and additional shifts of many different kinds.

Consciousness showed itself itself, and that it’s not fundamentally this human self or a doer or observer or anything else. So this psyche naturally got interested in it. It was curious and wanted to explore and learn more about how to navigate and live from and as this.


(1) A physical self can be seen as a kind of eddy of matter and energy (in a physical sense) in the world of matter. It’s a subsystem within a larger social and ecological seamless whole. It’s a holon in a holarchy.

(2) Basic meditation is to notice and allow what’s here, and notice it’s already noticed and allowed, and rest in and as that noticing and what’s here.

(3) I thought I would add a brief note on the words I use here. Consciousness refers to what we are to ourselves, what forms itself into the content of experience, and it’s all we have ever known whether we notice or not. Some call it “awareness” although I prefer to use that word for being consciously aware of something. The psyche is more our human operating system and it consists of evolutionary predispositions, conditioning, biases, hangups, and so on. To us, the consciousness we are forms itself into the psyche and everything else.

Image by me and Midjourney

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Is Buddhism true?

Is Buddhism scientific? Is Buddhism “true?” Does Buddhist meditation reveal “the way things really are”? Is the self an illusion? 

– from a Cheeta House announcement about a reading/discussion group

What comes up for me with these questions?

Is Buddhism scientific? It depends. It depends on what aspect of Buddhism you are talking about and what you mean by science. Buddhism is diverse, and there are many valid ways of doing science. Within Buddhism, some approach it in a sincere, sober, and grounded way, which makes it more aligned with science. Some go more into beliefs, which makes it less scientific.

Is Buddhism true? Again, it obviously depends. In my experience, the essence of it has much that seems valid. The way they point to and talk about our true nature fits my experience. The essence of how they describe the dynamics of the mind often seems accurate. Other things in Buddhism are more cultural and peripheral.

Does Buddhist meditation reveal “the way things really are”? As far as I can tell, with the right guidance and sincere exploration, it can. It can reveal our nature to ourselves. We can find ourselves as that which our field of experience happens within and as. We can find ourselves as capacity for all of it. That’s what it can reveal, and it can reveal some of the dynamics of the mind that distracts attention away from this. That’s about it. It cannot reveal the nature of all of existence or anything else, really. See articles tagged small and big interpretations of awakening for more on this.

Is the self an illusion? Again, it depends. I would talk about it in two ways. (a) There is a self here in a conventional sense. This is a self with a passport, a biography, and so on. The illusion is more that this is what we fundamentally are. We are what this self and everything happens within and as. Our more fundamental nature is what it all happens within and as. Even more essentially, we are capacity for all of it. So I would say that the self is not an illusion, but that it’s our fundamental nature is an illusion. (b) The other side is that the experience of this self is created by and within consciousness. The consciousness we are forms itself into the experience of this self and anything else. More specifically, it’s created by the mind associating different stories and appearances in the sense fields. It’s a kind of virtual creation that the consciousness we are creates for itself to function in the world. It’s a useful creation in a practical sense.1 See articles tagged who and what we are for more on this.

Even what’s phrased as statements are questions. They point to something to explore here and now.

(1) The self can take many different forms, from this human self to a doer, observer, or something else. In reality, any time the mind identifies with the perspective of a story or identity, a self with an Other is created. It perceives itself to be that view and anything else becomes Other.

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Living outside of what’s natural for us

Yes, this is true for us as a whole, and for our body and mind.

Through evolution, we are made to live in nature, in daily physical activity, in a small community, doing things that are meaningful and give visible results, without clocks and schedules, and so on.

In our modern Western society, we often find ourselves living contrary to this.

Many of us are sedentary in daily life and need to add artificial periods of exercise. We live in cities where we don’t know our neighbors and many are isolated. We don’t know our neighbors and live separated from our family and friends. Many have jobs that are not very meaningful. We have to follow the clock and schedules without regard to the natural rhythms of the day, seasons, and our bodymind. We live separated from nature and the aliveness of nature. We eat food grown with toxins and we clean our homes with toxins. We eat hyper-refined foods. We try to fill the void many of us experience (from living in this civilization) through consumption or fueling certain artificial identities. We see huge portions of nature being destroyed. We see the suffering of people and non-human beings in the news daily. We know that our world can end suddenly from wars. We live with shoulds and taboos that don’t really make sense and create a lot of stress. We see the huge inequality in the world and the many living in poverty. We know that our world is heading towards its end because of our ecocidal civilization.1

No wonder there is a lot of illness of both body and mind. This is a situation that’s not only destructive for our life-support system. It’s destructive for us here and now.2

Many of our illnesses are symptoms of a civilization that has removed itself very far from what our mind and body evolved to live in. Many of our mental, physical, and social ills are illnesses of our particular civilization.

(1) Why is this happening? The essence may be our ability to think abstractly, and more to the point, the tendency of our mind to take these abstractions as true. Abstract thinking is a wonderful tool and it can do a lot of amazing things. And when our minds take it as true and don’t recognize it for what it is, it can create a lot of problems for us individually and collectively. Our mind takes a fantasy world as real and distracts itself from what’s more real. It prioritizes identities, shoulds, and so on, over recognizing thoughts for what they are – an important tool with limited use and validity. As a species, we are still in our childhood when it comes to relating to our thoughts in a sane and wise way.

(2) This doesn’t mean that all was easy for our distant ancestors even if they lived in a setting we evolved to live in. They had their own challenges, of course. They lived with disease, children dying young, famine, local conflicts, and so on. The difference is that most of what they dealt with was on a human scale.

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 49

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.


Every being is a world. When someone is born, a new world is here. When someone dies, a world is gone.

If we are a conscious being, then to ourselves, we are that consciousness. The world, to us, is created within and as the consciousness we are. It’s a unique world. That world doesn’t exist anywhere else. It doesn’t exist before or after. The world, as it’s experienced by any one consciousness, is one of a kind.

That goes for every single being. An ant is as much consciousness to itself as anyone else. It is as much a world as anyone else.

What’s different is the body it operates through and as and the world it creates for itself. Each of us perceives the world differently. We have a particular body and sensory organs, we are in a unique place in the world, we have our world we bring with us from the past. The world we create for ourselves is different.

Our fundamental nature to ourselves is the same. (Very likely, judging from reports and what makes sense.) The body and content of the world is unique.

What a beautiful combination.

Image by me and Midjourney


The brighter the light, the darker the shadow.

– CG Jung

What is Jung referring to here? I am not sure, but I can find where the quote seems accurate.

The more I am identified with desirable qualities, and the more I see them as exclusive, the more the rest of me will go into the shadow. It’s something I see in others and not (so much) in myself.

There is another dynamic here and I am not sure how to talk about it: The more light, the stronger the shadow. When my system goes “up” it’s followed by going “down”. There is a sense of a lot of light coming into my system, it tends to bring up new layers of what’s unprocessed in me. This can happen, for instance, after focusing on heart-centered practices and so on.

The invitation for me here is to engage in these practices differently, in a way that opens to all of me – what’s desirable and not to my personality, what my culture sees as “light” and “dark”. In a way where there is less identification with the “light” side of me and more of a conscious embrace of all of it, including the “dark” sides.

I am exploring these dynamics right now. After the Amma experience some weeks ago, and after going into heart-centered practices, it was as if new layers of unprocessed material came up quite strongly. It’s clear that the more I wish for the light and try to hold onto it, the more the dark comes up and it feels challenging and unwanted. The more I recognize all of it as expressions of the divine and the mind, and the more I can intentionally embrace it all, the easier it is. That’s when it all can work on me and make me more consciously whole and aligned with reality and what’s already here.

What specifically has been coming up? First, grief and pain from Merlina dying. Then, a lot of anger and I didn’t always deal with that anger gracefully. Likely because I never really learned to deal with and work with anger from my birth family, and because a part of me tells me it’s bad and wrong and my mind still believes it to some extent. In addition to this, just generally feeling uncomfortable, which may be discomfort about underlying anger. The anger is partly from me not taking care of my own needs in my life and also recently.

Right now, how is it to fully embrace the anger that’s here? How is it to embrace the fear behind the anger? How is it to embrace the discomfort? How is it to embrace the messiness? How is it to embrace anything in me reacting to what’s coming up?

You are welcome here. You can stay as long as you want. Thank you for protecting me.

Image by me and Midjourney

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Dream: With my father in one of his buildings in Oslo

I am with my father to see a building in Oslo that he designed several decades ago. It’s a large and important performance hall with a lot of interior spaces for the public to hang out. It’s beautifully designed, has a good feeling, and the spaces feel organic and alive. He shows me one area with several nature paintings from his father. I am impressed by the quality of the paintings considering he was an amateur. The building will be demolished and they will build a new building in another location. I ask if the paintings will be moved to the new building and he says yes.

I am not sure what this is about although a few things came up right away.

This is about the creations of my father and grandfather. My father is an architect and artist and my grandfather was a reasonably good amateur artist in his own way. They both love(d) nature, spent a lot of time in nature, and nature was important in their art. I am like that too. I love art, I do some art, I love nature, and I often include nature in what I create. The dream also reminds me that I would like to do a lot more art, the way I used to in my teens and early twenties. (I stopped because I went against my clear inner guidance on a major life issue. That made it too painful for me to continue with anything that connected me with my guidance, including art, because all my guidance said was “get out of this situation”. Because of issues and trauma, I felt stuck and unable to get out of it.)

The building has a large performance hall and many smaller and playful spaces for the public outside of the main hall. It feels good to be there. In waking life, I remember my father telling me that for him, the main criterion for architecture is that it should feel good to be there.

The building will be demolished. In waking life, my parents are old and may not live much longer, and we are selling the house that I grew up in outside of Oslo, Norway.

They will build another and more modern building in another location, and they will bring the art over to the new building. Maybe this is some of what I inherited from my father and grandfather, including a love for art and nature?

Update a couple of days later: It seems that the dream is (a) reminding me of the love of nature and art passed on from my father and my father’s father, and (b) is showing me that old structures and identities are falling away and that something – including that love – continues.

The image is by me and Midjourney. The dream building was not quite as dark and it didn’t rain or snow in the dream. It was also more in the middle of town, surrounded by other buildings. Still, it’s roughly similar to the building from the dream.

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The smell of rain

Here in Cañon del Chicamocha, the rain tends to come up the valley from the south. Quite often, we can see the lightning, hear the thunder in the distance, and see it further down the valley.

If there is lightning, thunder, and the visuals, it doesn’t always come all the way here. But if I smell it, it seems more likely to arrive. I guess it’s because the smell means that the wind is towards us and stronger.

Last night, I smelled the rain in the evening and it arrived around 3 am.

I love that I can smell the rain before it comes. I love the smell of rain (petrichor). I love learning about and experiencing these patterns in nature.

The photo is of the rain further down the valley seen from this area, taken a couple of years ago when we stayed at the house of friends.

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Why do we crave mystery? Do we crave the mystery we already are?

I saw a brief comment from someone who has dedicated his life to the unexplained – UFOs, cryptids, and so on.

That’s understandable and it’s good that some explore those things.


At the same time, I am sitting here wondering: What is not unexplained?

To me, it seems that all without exception is unexplained. It’s inherently a mystery.


That anything is at all is a profound mystery.

How come there is something rather than nothing?

That’s something thoughts cannot even begin to answer or get a grasp on.


I am a mystery to myself.

When I notice my nature, I find myself in and as that mystery.

I rest in and as that mystery.


Everything is a profound mystery, even that which is the most familiar to us and that which our thoughts have lots of stories about.

Reality is always more than and different from our ideas about it.

Thoughts are questions about the world. Thoughts are different in nature from what they point to. (Unless they happen to point to thoughts.)

In a conventional sense, we only scratch the surface in terms of understanding anything. There is always an infinite amount more to learn and explore.

There are always different contexts and worldviews to understand it within, which make as much or more sense than the ones we are familiar with now, and which would turn it all upside down and inside out.

At best, something is only partially explained in a limited and conventional sense.


When we seek mystery in a conventional sense – UFOs, cryptids, unsolved cases – I suspect it’s partly a projection.

We are already living the mystery. It’s everywhere and unavoidable.

If we don’t notice it, then we seek it “out there” in a conventional sense.

When we notice, and to the extent it’s a living reality to us, it’s here and we don’t need to seek it out in those ways. It can be fun, now and then, and as a spice, but it’s not necessary for satisfying our craving for mystery.

Why do we crave mystery? Because we are it. We crave the mystery we are. We crave noticing the mystery we already are. We crave consciously living from and as it.1

And those too are questions. This too is a mystery.


As far back as I remember, I have lived with an experience of awe and mystery of life, punctuated by times when it came much more in the foreground.

Before school age, I had memories of the time before this incarnation, between lives. I remember standing in the yard looking at the stars when I was ten and profoundly experiencing what Carl Sagan pointed to: We are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We are the universe bringing itself into consciousness. I remember sleeping under a starry sky in the Norwegian mountains and having that experience even more deeply. As a kid, I was fascinated by ESP, ghosts, UFOs, and anything mysterious.

In the initial oneness shift when I was sixteen, it was clear that all is a mystery and all is a mystery to itself. Thoughts cannot even begin to touch it. That’s still here.

I don’t mind exploring some of the conventional mysteries of life, although they are happening within the larger mystery of all of existence. The real mystery is that anything is at all. It’s the mystery I am and live. It’s the mystery of all that thoughts cannot touch. It’s the mystery of all we still have to learn about everything in a conventional sense.

(1) The other side of this, and a more superficial craving, is to fill in the blank spaces, to put a story on whatever and tell ourselves that’s how it is. While our nature is mystery and craves knowing itself as mystery, we also have parts of us that wishes to feel safe and tries to feel safe by telling itself it knows.

Image created by me and Midjourney

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Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 69

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.


When I lived in Oregon in the 2000s, I was aware that we were roughly due for another major (8 or 9) earthquake. If I remember correctly, they seem to happen about every three or four hundred years and it is about that time since the last one.

I made sure to have earthquake insurance on the house and was surprised when the insurance agent said it was very unusual.

This is another example of people not taking science seriously. There will be another major earthquake in the Pacific Northwest. It’s roughly due, although it’s difficult to say exactly when. It could be within our time or in one, two, or three generations.

For me, that’s all I need to take precautions and be prepared. And it seems that for many, it’s a reason to not do much and hope for the best.

For instance, in Japan where they have more of a living memory of tsunamis, they build tsunami towers where people can go to be safe. In the US, they only have three (!) so far.

If Europeans had lived in the Pacific Northwest when the last major earthquake and tsunami happened, they too would have a memory of it, and they would be more likely to do something about it.

As it is, there is only the information from the scientists, and that does not seem to be enough.

Image by me and Midjourney


I have watched the three first episodes of the Spielberg/Hanks production Masters of the Air which follows Band of Brothers and The Pacific. I remember I thought The Pacific was exceptionally good and I also liked Band of Brothers. With this one, I am not so sure. I’ll watch it to the end, but I am somehow less invested in it.

I get the sense that the storytelling is not aimed at making the audience care about the characters. The interactions seem superficial and I haven’t learned much about any of them so far. I know next to nothing about their background, their relationships with people at home, their hopes, dreams, and passions. I have seen short movies that have made me care far more about someone within a minute than I care about any of these characters after three hours.

With Spielberg and Hanks involved, it’s difficult to understand why this is so. Was it an intentional choice? Did they hire writers who are not good at making people care about the characters? Did they get distracted by the technical challenges?

Update: I have seen a couple of more episodes, and although I find it worthwhile to watch, I am not very invested in the series. For me, it would have been more interesting if I got to know the main characters more as humans – with relationships, dreams, hopes, fears, talents, passions, and so on. It would also have been interesting if the series followed both Allied and Axis airmen, humanizing both sides.

Update: I am now watching episode 6, and it seems they are slowing down the pace a bit and making it more personal.

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A secular view on awakening

Awakening has traditionally been understood in a religious or spiritual context.

All of existence is Spirit and the divine, and the awakening is Spirit becoming conscious of itself and its nature locally. It’s Spirit locally conscious of itself while operating through the vehicle of this particular human self.

These days, it makes sense to also use a more secular understanding of awakening. We live in a more secular society, so why not see it in a secular context? After all, awakening and our nature is not going away.

I have written about this several times before so I’ll make it short.


If we “have” consciousness, then what are we to ourselves? We are not primarily anything within consciousness, we are consciousness itself. There is no way around it. It has to be that way. Whether we notice or not, and independent of whatever conscious worldview we happen to use, to ourselves, we are primarily consciousness. Since the world, to us, happens within and as consciousness, it happens within and as the consciousness we are.

To ourselves, we are primarily conciousness.1 And the world – any content of consciousness – happens within and as the consciousness we are.


That means that to us, the world is not so different from a dream. A dream happens within the consciousness we are while this human self is alseep. Waking life happens within and as the consciousness we are while this human self is awake.


Consciousess does not have boundaries. It doesn’t begin or end anywhere. It doesn’t have inherent dividing lines. There is no outside. It’s one. What we are is one. That means that the world, to us, is one whether we notice or not.


Most of the time, the consciousness we are doesn’t notice this. It doesn’t need to. It trains itself to not notice, in a way, since most others don’t seem to notice. It trains itself to operate based on assumptions picked up from others: I am primarily this human self. Consciousness is a kind of add-on. Others and the world are separate from me. The world is more or less as it appears to me.

This is natural and innocent, and since the perception is out of alignment with reality, it comes with some inherent friction and discomfort.


Sometimes, the consciousness we are may have glimpses of what it is and how the world, to it, is. We may feel or experience a connection with all. We may go into a flow state and forget our identity as this human self and of separation. This happens to many or most in daily life, at least now and then.

Occasionally, this is even more clear.2 There may be a shift so everything is revealed as consciousness. Consciousness becomes aware of itself as everything it’s experiencing and everything it has ever experienced. It becomes aware of itself as consciousness and of its world as happening within and as itself.


Nothing “spiritual” is required to understand this. We don’t need to refer to God, the divine, Spirit, Brahman, or any of that.

We can understand it in a much more simple way, and a way that fits most (nearly all) worldviews: To ourselves, we are consciousness. The world, to us, happens within and as the consciousness we are.

Sometimes, the consciousness we are doesn’t notice itself. (It’s lost in identifying primarily as this human self, as something within the content of experience).

Sometimes, it recognizes itself. When it does, we call it awakening.

It’s all a process. It’s an exploration. It’s something we can keep clarifying, deepening into, become more familiar with, and mature into and within.3


What’s the essence of the secular and spiritual views on awakening?

To me, it has to do with our nature and the nature of reality itself.

Both views see our fundamental nature as consciousness. That’s not in question since it makes logical sense and is something we can check out for ourselves.

The difference is that the secular view does not make assumptions about the nature of reality itself. It leaves it open. The spiritual view, on the other hand, assumes that our nature – consciousness – is also the nature of reality itself and all there is.


The spiritual and secular views on awakening are complementary. They fill in what the other is missing, and they each have upsides and drawbacks.

The secular view is compatible with just about any worldview. It’s compatible with the view of Western science. It doesn’t rely on anything mystical or magical. It doesn’t rely on belief. It’s something we can check out for ourselves. It fits with the descriptions from people (mystics) throughout history and across traditions. It helps us find the lowest common denominators of awakening. It can give us a language independent of traditions, and that can help communication across traditions. It can help us find the essence of awakening. It keeps it simple, sober and grounded. It doesn’t say anything about the nature of reality itself and leaves it open. To me, these are all upsides. The downside is that it can seem a bit uninspiring to some.4

The spiritual view has more of a tradition. It may be more familiar to many. It may be more inspiring. On the other hand, it’s often bogged down in terminology, hierarchy, and misconceptions.

Which one is more accurate? The secular view is quite accurate in terms of our own experience and what we can check out for ourselves. And I suspect the spiritual one may be more accurate in the bigger picture. Many hints suggest it.5 (Although these can also be understood in other ways.)


(1) I left out something that we even more fundamentally are. When we find ourselves as consciousness, we may also notice something else about our nature. At some level, I am this human self in the world. That’s an assumption that works well in daily life and I have to include it to function in the world. More fundamentally, and in my own first-person experience, I am consciousness. Even more fundamentally, I find I am capacity for it all. I am capacity for any and all of the experiences that are here. I am even capacity for consciousness itself.

(2) In my case, there was a dramatic shift when I was sixteen. Everything without exception was revealed as God or the divine. This human self and anything connected with it was the temporary and local play of the divine. That language was the language this human self used to make sense of it at the time. Today, I would more likely replace “God” and “the divine” with consciousness.

(3) This process is not always easy. For instance, for most of us, our psyche is formed within separation consciousness and it has wounds that operate from separation consciousness. To align with the reality of what we are (consciousness, oneness), these have to surface and be seen, felt, loved, and recognized as consciousness. The consciousness we are has to recognize itself as it. That’s not always an easy or comfortable process. Depending on how much trauma we have, it can be overwhelming, confusing, and we may not always deal with it gracefully. (Speaking from own experience here.)

(4) What are some of these hints? Sensing and healing at a distance, relatively solid reincarnation stories, undeniable chains of extraordinary synchronicities, and so on. None of these have been examined well enough by Western science yet. Each one can also be explained in other ways. Still, together, they suggest that the spiritual view on awakening may be accurate in the bigger picture.

(5) There are definitely ways to make it inspiring while still grounding it in modern science. We can, for instance, bring in the Universe Story and the Epic of Evolution. In the words of Carl Sagan: We are the universe bringing itself into consciousness. We are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We can call the wholeness of all there is for God.

Image by me and Midjourney.

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Getting closer to 10,000 articles

This website is coming up to 10,000 articles. There are 9,374 published articles. 4,4476 unpublished articles of various stages of completion from finished to notes. And about 100 “collection” posts with perhaps 10-20 shorter articles in each. Including the shorter articles, it’s very approximately 10,000 published articles. (The first post was in 2002. On average, that’s about 850 published regular articles each year or 2.3 articles per day. Of course, quantity is not quality!)

For some years, I wrote about three articles a day. That has slowed down over the last several years. I write when the “spirit” comes over me, when I am unable to not write something. I write mostly just to get it out. (I used to write about these things in my old fashioned paper journals, and decided to write it here instead in case others would find some of it interesting, useful, entertaining, or even annoying which is also useful in its own way.)

Although I have experience with what I write about, I am far from an expert in any of it. There are always others with more experience, clarity, maturity, and so on. Personally, I love the reports of “ordinary” people, including when they share from their healing, awakening, and maturing process.

So why not share some of my process here? Not because it’s special or from an expert, but because it’s ordinary. It’s one person’s story and journey.

What will unfold on this website in the future? I am watching it unfold as anyone else.

Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 48

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.


The human mind wants to make sense of things. That’s natural and healthy. It helps us survive.

It can also go a bit further. Our mind can assume that things happen for a reason, and try to find that reason.

That’s often not so helpful, unless we channel it in a constructive way.

Someone dies. And to cope with the grief and pain, our mind may go to just these kinds of thoughts. Why did it happen? Did I do something wrong? Is it a sign? Does life or the divine want to send me a message? That’s the spin of thoughts. That’s our mind trying to make sense out of a difficult situation.

Whatever ideas we come up with are imaginations. It’s not reality.

It’s futile since we cannot know.

Fortunately, there is a more constructive approach. We can make it meaningful for ourselves. We can use the situation and what comes up in us in a meaningful way.

How that looks is up to us.

We can use it to identify and question painful thoughts and identities.

We can use it to deepen empathy with ourselves and others.

We can use it to deepen into following our inner guidance and what feels right to us.

We can use it to reprioritize, to examine our priorities and find our more real and essential priorities.

We can use it as a reminder that we are it, and notice what shifts. If I am this situation – the whole field of experience – what happens with the impulse to make sense of it? (I find it diminishes and looses its charge. It loses identification.)

JANUARY 26, 2024


Yes, that sums up my experience pretty well.

I am immensely grateful to be here. Life is amazing. Reality is amazing. Magical. Awe-inspiring. Just that there is anything at all is baffling and beyond comprehension.

At the same time, it’s often challenging. Painful. Confusing. Overwhelming. Humbling. In my case, perhaps especially because of old trauma.


As consciousness, all is OK. I find myself as primarily consciousness, and that consciousness is always OK. It cannot be touched by its own experience.

As consciousness forming itself into my experience of the world, all is not OK. Being suffer. We have an ecocidal and suicidal civilization. I have made choices in my life I would have done differently if I could.

As usual, there is a lot more to say about this.

It can seem like a paradox at a superficial word level. It’s all OK and not OK at the same time.

And yet, it’s not a paradox since they refer to different things. As consciousness, it’s all inherently OK. As my experience of the world that the consciousness I am forms itself into, there is definitely room for improvement.

My ideas about improvement have both a universal and personal flavor. Beings don’t like to suffer. We can do what we can to create a society that’s more beneficial for everyone in society, our ecosystems, non-human beings, and future generations.

There is also a difference between the big and small interpretation of awakening here, and there is something valuable in the small version.

In the small interpretation of awakening, I know that I cannot assume that my nature is the nature of all of existence. As consciousness here, all may be OK in a certain way. But I cannot assume that all of existence is consciousness (AKA the divine, God) and that all of existence is OK in the same way. To me, that’s an upside since it requires me to be engaged and do my best – in whatever limited way I can – to make things a little better in the world. (For instance, in my case, through working on regeneration right now.)

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Creating a bridge between our global challenges and how our body-mind works

Why do we seem unable to make the changes needed to deal with our ecological crisis? Why do we seem unable to profoundly transform our economy and other systems to take ecological realities into account?

I suspect it may be because of evolution1.

We didn’t evolve to take global issues seriously, and we didn’t evolve to think on the scale of centuries and millennia.

We evolved to take care of what’s immediate, tangible, and right in front of us.

That has served us well for millions of years.

And in our global crisis, created by a civilization that is out of alignment with reality, it does not serve us well. It may be what dooms us.

It’s important to correctly diagnose the cause of our ecological crisis and also the cause of our inability to make the necessary changes.

The cause of the problem is our general worldview (of separation) and our systems that assume nature is infinite.

If the cause of our inability is evolution, and we realize that, we may be able to make use of it.

We may be able to set things in place that help us make changes despite our evolutionary handicap. It’s a matter of making our crisis immediate, personal, and urgent. It already is, but many don’t experience it viscerally. How can we help more people get it viscerally?2

Evolution made us perfectly adapted to our way of life up until the modern age, and we are less equipped to deal with our modern life and our current ecocidal civilization. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but it does mean we need to create a bridge between the global scale of our challenges and the way our bodymind works.

(1) Just like many misdiagnose the cause of the crisis, many misdiagnose our inability to effectively deal with it. Some think the crisis is created by greed, corporations, governments, and so on, while it in reality is created by systems that don’t take ecological realities into account. These systems were put in place at a time when we could afford to assume that nature is infinite, and now – with far more people and more powerful technology – those systems are ecocidal and suicidal. Some think the reasons we are unable to make the necessary changes are the same: greed, corporations, capitalism, and so on. In reality, the reason may be far more innocent and fundamental. It may be evolution.

(2) Of course, sooner or later – and I suspect sooner rather than later, it will be immediate, personal, and urgent for most of us. By then, we are far into the crisis and it will be more difficult to turn around.

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When I am the most important one for another

Merlina, our beloved cat, helped me get something more viscerally.

For her, I was one of the two or three most important beings in the world. When I was with her, I was the most important being in her world. It was very clear2.

How can that not wake up a sense of awe, reverence, and responsibility in me? How can that not change my behavior to be more attentive and wanting to make her life the best possible?


That’s how it is in my life in general. I am the most important person for my spouse. When I talk with someone, I am (very likely) the most important person in the world for that person at that moment. They are giving me their precious time and attention. They chose to give their attention to me over all other beings in the world. I become an important presence in their world.

If I am getting this viscerally, how does it change how I am with that person? Am I more present? More attentive? More interested in them and their world? Less distracted by my plans, agendas, and hangups?

I am far from “perfect” in this, but realizing it and getting it more viscerally is doing something with me, and I wish for it to change me and how I am with others.


The other wing on this bird is realizing and getting viscerally that the other is fundamentally consciousness like myself. To myself, I am consciousness operating through and as this body1. The world as I perceive it happens within and as the consciousness I am. That’s very likely the case for all beings.

We are all fundamentally consciousness to ourselves. We operate through whatever body is here – human, cat, insect, or whatever it is. To us, the world happens within and as the consciousness we are. We are a world.

That too opens up a sense of awe, reverence, and curiosity about myself and the other. It does something to me. To the extent I stay with this noticing and deepen into it, it transforms me and how I am with others and in the world.


As usual, this is an ongoing exploration.

There is a lot of room for deepening and maturing into it, in my case.

And that’s part of the exploration and the adventure.


This is an example of a combination of direct noticing and imagination, as so much is.

I notice my nature. I am fundamentally consciousness and the world to me happens within and as this consciousness. That’s the direct noticing.

I imagine that others are that way too, whether they notice or not, and stay with that imagination and let it work on me. That’s the imagination part of it. It’s making use of projections.

It’s similar to being the most important person to the other. It comes from noticing that it’s that way for me. When I am with someone, that person is the most important being in the world to me whether I want to or not. That’s the noticing. And I imagine it’s the same for others. That’s making use of imagination and projections.

(1) This body happens to be human with a particular identity but it could be any other body of any species. That realization itself is transformative. The consciousness I am could, if things were a little different, function through and as any of the bodies out there. In some ways, it does since consciousness – pure consciousness – is very likely the same everywhere.

(2) Maybe it was more clear because she was not an imagination-fascinated human. She was more here and now. She didn’t get lost in her imagination about the past or future. She was here with me. I was her world.

The image is created by me and Midjourney

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Mary Oliver: What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean – the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down – who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

– Mary Oliver, The Summer Day

Inviting the heart to open

I have noticed that my heart could be more open than it is these days. It has likely closed down in response to a lot of losses and pain over the last several years. (The dark night.)


It seems comfortable because there is a kind of comfort in numbness.

But it’s not really. It reduces aliveness and the love and joy I can experience. What’s hidden there has to be experienced sooner or later.

It comes from a wish to protect myself and my heart. But does it really protect? It may protect me from feeling deeply here and now, but I have to feel it eventually. It protects me from feeling in general, but is that what I really want? Is that how I want to live my one wild and precious life?

The closedness comes from unquestioned painful beliefs and identities. It’s not aligned with what’s more true for me. It comes from a kind of delusion, a kind of confusion.

So why not invite my heart to open?


Merlina, our beloved cat, died two days ago. The grief and gratitude for her life that comes up helps me see that my heart could be more open. I wish for my heart to be more open so I can feel more and find more aliveness.

Here are some of the things I have explored.


Waves of grief, sadness, love, and gratitude come up.

It’s easier when I notice I am it. I can be what’s here.

When there is no separation, it’s easier. And that’s how it already is.

It allows it all to come and go more easily. It allows what’s here to be here. It makes it all more alive. It helps me to be more alive.


Yesterday, I spent time with the heart prayer, and I wish to bring it more into my life again. (I used to do it 24/7 at times before in my life, especially in my late teens and early twenties.)

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me. Say this as a mantra, with the breath. The first part on the in-breath, and the second is on the out-breath. (It’s often best to do it in our native language since it’s more intimate to us. I say it in Norwegian: Herre Jesus Kristus, forbarm deg over meg.)

This prayer – and similar ones that are done as a mantra with the breath – has a profound effect. It transforms me. Over time, it becomes ongoing, even when I don’t do it consciously.


I do Tonglen as well. I do it with myself and others, especially the three of us right now. (Merlina, Ale and me.)

I visualize them in front of me. (Including myself.) I see the suffering as black smoke. I breathe in that smoke on my in-breath. And I breathe out light on the out-breath, filling each person.

I also do it with other people, especially anyone I feel I have something unresolved with.


I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you.

I use this too, as medicine. For myself, Merlina, and Ale, individually and as a group. And later, anyone else in my life or the world, and even all beings. I usually stay with one until there is a shift, and may stay even longer to see what more shifts happen, then move on to something else, and then revisit it. This is not something that’s done once and for all, it’s an ongoing exploration.

Image by me and Midjourney

Water in Barichara

Barichara has wet and dry seasons. The dry season is usually December-April, with two or three good rains within that period. Some years, it rains a lot through the year. In other years, the dry seasons last longer.

We are in the dry season and just had a very welcome early morning rain here. I measured it, and it was around 5cm. I imagine many beings are very happy for it – people, animals, birds, insects, and plants.

The roof of our small house is about 100m2. 1mm of rain on one square meter gives 1 liter of water. 1mm of rain on this roof is 100 liters. This rain gave 5,000 liters of water from the roof. That’s quite a lot.

There is no lack of water here, and it is important to manage it well.


We collect water from town in one large and one smaller tank. That means we have water for a while even if the water from town doesn’t flow.

We will install a several-step water filtration system (from sand filter through eventually UV light) for clean drinking water. The alternative is water from large plastic bottles, which is terrible due to all the microplastic particles in the water (200,000 in small plastic water bottles from a recent study).

We will soon start collecting rainwater from the roofs here. I am not sure how big the tanks will be, and we may expand. For now, we are thinking of 2×15,000 liters for the larger house that’s being built (220m2 roof surface) and one 15,000-liter tank for our small house. These tanks will be filled up quickly with some good rains, and we will use the water to water plants. (Perhaps also for showering etc., not sure yet.)

Finca Milagros has one large pond and 3-4 smaller ones. We want to channel rainwater better into these ponds, and make them deeper, so they can hold more water. This is important for the birds, animals, and insects relying on that water, it helps the vegetation and life in the areas around the ponds, and it also helps to replenish the groundwater.

The land here has been grazed so only the area around the big pond has a more mature forest. The rest is various degrees of young forest and arid land. Vegetation helps slow down the flow of water and helps the water absorb into the ground, so that’s one of many reasons we are planning to reforest the area with native trees and bushes.

Bare soil is eroded when it rains. That’s why we are planting cactus and succulents there, mostly native. We are also planting hardy native trees there, mostly boca ratón right now. And we are doing some simple landscaping, mostly with rocks, to reduce erosion.

There is a dry river going through Milagros. It’s dry because of deforestation. Forests bring water into the ground (slows the water flow and makes the ground more porous) and reduce evaporation, both of which give water to the river. With reforestation, there is a chance we can bring the water back into the river, especially if we are also able to help reforest the land higher up.


As far as I know, there are no groundwater regulations here. That’s enormously important. We need to prevent too much use and contamination of groundwater. (Many houses here use septic fields that leach blackwater into the groundwater.) Depleting the groundwater reserves has a huge impact on the ecosystem. Both depleting and contaminating it has serious and devastating consequences for the very long term. Protecting the groundwater is hugely important.

The water that comes from the municipality (aqueduct) is contaminated. That’s another important thing to work on since not everyone can afford good purification systems or to buy drinking water separately. It’s a vital public health issue.

Reforestation is also hugely important. Forests hold humidity and create rain. The other side of Cañon del Chicamocha has more forests and there are always clouds there. I assume they also receive more rain. They (partially) create rain for themselves.

The photo is of the other side of Cañon del Chicamocha at sunset

agua, barichara, santander, agua subterránea, protección del agua

What comes together falls apart

What comes together falls apart. That’s how this world is. That’s how existence is. It’s not wrong. It’s not a mistake. It’s what allows anything to be at all. It’s what creates space for something new.

Seeing this makes it all heartbreakingly beautiful. It helps me more fully appreciate what’s here. I can find gratitude for what’s here as it is, just because it’s part of life, it’s transient, it is something that came together and will fall apart. It’s only here now.

The photo is of Cañon del Chicamocha, taken two years ago. It’s a moment that will never come again – both the clouds and the view and my life as it was then. (Ale, Merlina, and I stayed at the house of friends in the neighborhood we are still in.) What’s here will never come again.

Beloved friend and companion Merlina

Our beloved Merlina died this morning. We loved her deeply. We loved each other.

A lot of things come up around this.

It happened very suddenly, and in a very unexpected way, so it feels like a dream. It doesn’t feel real. It can’t be true.

How will life be without her? She was such a center in our lives. It feels like having lost a best friend and daughter.

Billions of people and beings of all species have experienced this. We all lost someone we love. It’s a deeply personal and profoundly universal experience.

She would want us to have a good life. She would want the best for us.

When we tuned in with her after she died, she felt happy. A little later, very curious about this new existence for her. We feel her as whole, curious, content, and in transition.

We buried her next to the terrace where Ale does yoga in the mornings. Merlina was always there with us when we were there, often looking at the birds. The three of us were together there yesterday morning.

Over the last few days, Ale and I both had images come up. I saw myself posting on social media that she had died. I saw us here without her and the emptiness without her.

Two or three days ago, Ale said “I don’t know what I would do without her” and I responded “she will be gone one day, so you may take the opportunity now to find some peace with.”

I feel raw and naked. I want to reach out to friends I haven’t been in touch with for a while. These experiences show me what’s important in life.

I have a sense that I will lose more in my life in the time ahead. My parents are old. My brother is quite a bit older than me. How can I find a good life with all the losses? Can I find deep gratitude? Aliveness? Can I get my visceral priorities more in line with what’s actually important?

I know the grief will come in waves. I know it will be mixed with a lot of emotions and images – gratitude, sadness, guilt, what ifs, and more.

She had a long and good life. Ale adopted her when she was just a few months old and very sick, and helped her back to health. She was thirteen years old but everyone thought she was just a few years old.

When we brought her to Finca Milagros, she was scared at first with the new environment and all the smells and animals here. The last few weeks, she got more and more comfortable. She climbed trees. She found several ways up and down from the roof. She would come with us when we did things outside. She would go for walks with us on the land. She loved to watch birds and didn’t try to catch them. Yesterday, I mentioned how happy she seemed to be here. She seemed comfortable and content. We had our own little paradise together.

The three of us, and maybe especially Ale and I, have had lots of challenges over the last few years. Finally, it started feeling like things were falling a bit more in place. We have found solutions to things we were not happy about. We have our own place. We have dreams and visions for this place. We resolved some things between us, even if we still have challenges. We had a small and good family. Then, these things happen out of the blue, as they do.

That seems to be a pattern in my life. Just as something seems to fall into place, something happens.

I know everything thinks their non-human companion is special, but Merlina really was special. She was a profoundly good friend. She was deeply in tune with us. She understood what we said to her. She was kind and unusually intelligent. If there was friction between Ale and me, she would meow and show her unhappiness about it and give us love to encourage us to find a better way to be together. She had pure love and we had pure love for her.

Yesterday, she followed me around everywhere I went.

I also notice something about my heart. During the initial awakening process in my teens and early twenties, my heart was open. It was completely open and nothing seemed to be able to lose it. Then, with a lot of challenges in my life and feeling deeply off track, it gradually closed. These days, it takes strong experiences to open my heart – like this, or the experience with Amma some weeks ago, or being very close to dying the summer two years ago.


It’s now later in the day. I am profoundly grateful for the time we had together. I also see even more how deeply I loved her, and how much she likely loved me. As Ale said: “You were one”. Everything brings up memories of her. I experience a deep grief.

One of my core issues is to feel unlovable, and yet, that seems to apply to humans. Something in me doesn’t trust that another human can love me. And if they do, it’s just until they discover whatever it is that makes me unlovable. That doesn’t seem to apply to non-humans. I deeply experienced and trusted that Merlina loved me. She showed it throughout the day. I never felt alone when I was with her. My life felt full when I was with her. Now that she is gone, a deep sense of aloneness is coming up, even if I am with Ale. My life doesn’t feel as full. I feel incomplete.

I notice an impulse in me to seek community. The Zen Center in The Netherlands. Vækstsenteret in Denmark. Findhorn. If this impulse comes up when I have a great loss in my life, when I feel more raw and my heart is more open, maybe that’s something I should take more seriously. Maybe I should do it anyway. I profoundly loved my time at Kanzen Zen Center in Salt Lake City in the ’90s. I enjoyed living in a conscious and intentional housing co-op. I loved living in monasteries in Nepal. Since I discovered Jes Bertelsen and Vækstsenteret in the late ’80s, I have never felt as much resonance with anything else and I loved visiting that one time in the early ’90s. Why didn’t I go there? Why did I live in other places doing other things while feeling somewhat adrift?

I seem to experience emotions and states “globally”. For me, it’s as if the whole world is grief. Nothing is not grief. I can still function relatively normally. (Although we both canceled our appointments today.) But I am living in and as it while I can still relate to it as an object. I guess it’s both at the same time – all is grief, and I can relate to it more intentionally.

On that topic, I also notice it helps to notice I am grief when grief is here. I am whatever is in experience. It’s easier to be it than see it as something other than what I am.


We notice there seem to be more birds around the house now. Maybe they sense she is no longer here. When we came back to the house yesterday morning, a bird was sitting on a pole in the terrace. We have not seen that before.

I didn’t sleep much last night. A lot of grief and tears, and it feels empty in and around the house. She was so full of life, curiosity, and a pure kind of love. Now, we have to find it in ourselves more and – hopefully – give it to each other more.

We can be as invested and in love with non-human beings as we can with humans. It’s easier, in some ways, since the love is more pure and less mixed up with our human (thought-created) messiness. The grief can be as strong.

She used to be with us in whatever we did. Sitting on our lap or another chair, being with Ale when she did yoga on the terrace, taking a nap on the bed or – if it was hot – on the floor next to the bed, coming with us when we were in the garden, and sometimes even going for walks with us up the hill. We would give her ghee in the morning, and she would ask for it if she thought it took too long.


What comes together falls apart. That’s how this world is. That’s how existence is. It’s not wrong. It’s not a mistake. It’s what allows anything to be at all. It’s what creates space for something new.

I wonder if not this grief – and allowing it and being what comes up – heals past grief. It heals parts of past grief that weren’t fully felt, allowed, and expressed. It helps clean up things from the past. We don’t just grieve one thing, we grieve everything.

I suspect this includes grief over my own unlived life. Grief over the lost dreams. Grief over what didn’t happen.

This has also helped me notice that my heart is not as open as it can be, as it used to be. It is more closed down. I have done heart-centered practices to help it open again. (Tonglen, Ho’oponopono, Heart Prayer.)

Grief comes in waves and has different flavors. When I can be it, when I notice I am it, it’s easier.

It rained this morning. She loved rain. She loved watching it.

I am reminded of all the rituals we had. She would be with Ale on the terrace in the mornings when Ale did yoga. She would wait for me outside of the bathroom door. She would snuggle with us in the morning. She slept at the end of the bed on Ale’s side. (Ale is shorter.) She asked for ghee in the morning when we made breakfast. She slept on the table when I worked on the computer. She came with us when we went out in the garden. She would meow if we walked further away, and she would come if we invited her to come with us. She would sit outside looking at everything at dusk. She would come and greet visitors. (Or hide if they seemed scary, mostly with workers and people we didn’t know.) She would take a nap in the afternoon, either on the bed or – if it was hot – on the cooler floor next to the bed. If I took a nap, she loved to come to take a nap with me.

She wanted Ale and me to be good together. If there was a conflict between us, Merlina would come and meow and look me in my eyes for a long time. When I connect with her now, the only thing she wants is for us to be good together.


I seem to largely rest in the reality of not knowing in this situation. For whatever reason, my system seems to fall into a visceral noticing that I AM this experience – of grief and pain and love and more. It seems that it allows the mind to settle. (All of this can change, of course.)

I also remember that in times when it’s been more difficult to notice this, the mind is more unsettled and wants answers. It seeks an explanation. It seeks comfort in knowing. Why did it happen? Where is she now? Will I ever meet her again? Will she reincarnate? Is my sensing about her accurate? Is it wishful (or fearful) imagination? All of that is painful mental gymnastics since there are no final or absolute answers. There is nowhere for the mind to settle. It’s all stories and imaginations. I cannot know for certain.

The only place to find rest is in noticing that I AM what’s here. I am this experience. I am taking the form of this experience. There is a fullness here, a wholeness. It’s a return to a home that never went away, and it’s a home that I, in my imagination, have left many times.

The photo is of Ale and Merlina at the terrace not long ago

A day at Finca Milagros

This is a record of a relatively typical day at Finca Milagros:

I slept in the hammock under the trees and the stars, woke up at sunrise, and had breakfast. (Hot chocolate and oatmeal with fruits and local jam.)

Two people who have a rain gutter business came around 6:30am, looked at the roof, talked with us, and we made an agreement for what type of gutter and the price. They’ll have it ready by mid-February.

We will also install one or two tanks to collect the rainwater. The roof is a little less than 100m2 which means that each millimeter of rain will give us 100 liters of water. A good rain may give us 5cm which means 5,000 liters of water1. We may have at least one 15,000-liter tank to collect the water, maybe more.

Just after 7am, José brought Spanish plum trees from his farm and planted them here for us. (Arbol de cocotas / jocota / Spanish plum / Jamaican plum / spondias purpurea.) He showed us how to plant them at an angle so they shade themselves from the sun. He is one of the workers on Roberto’s house up the hill (the father of my wife) and has helped us with a few other projects.

At 9am, Moncho the carpenter came. (Who we already know since this is a small community.) He looked at the doors and windows, and we made a list of several things for him to fix and improve. He’ll come next week to do the work.

Later in the morning, we planted a diversity of seeds and seedlings in a couple of areas close to the house. We added a lot of mulch to help keep the moisture in the ground. I also put some spiny branches on the stone fence so the neighbor’s cows won’t get to a papaya plant growing too close to the fence.

I contacted several neighbors for advice about the size of the rainwater tanks. I also contacted several people about sources for native flowering bushes and trees since we want more of those close to the house. (The local nurseries don’t have many native plants.)

I was in conversation with the architect about the rainwater collection for Roberto’s house (Ale’s father). We’ll likely use two tanks and place them close to the swimming pool. The roof area is a little over 200m2 which means that 1mm of rain gives 200 liters of water. That also means that a couple of days of good rain will give at least 20,000 liters of water. We may use two tanks of at least 15,000 liters each to collect the water. I am thinking that we actually need more since we need to store water for the dry season.

We also talked about the possible swimming pool, and especially the size. We decided on 11×2.5 meters for now, although it may change. (I wonder if we just need a cooling pool and can use the local public swimming pool for actual swimming. It seems a better use of resources, but I don’t know and I am not the only one making the decisions here.)

I called a friend of mine for her birthday. I know her from Oregon and she is now in Sweden at a weawing school.

I took a nap (siesta) in the afternoon with Merlina, who also takes a nap in the early afternoon.

At 5pm, my wife’s uncle and aunt came to visit. They went for a short walk to look at Roberto’s house that’s being built up the hill and see the sunset over the canyon. We then had a delicious dinner with wine outside.

I should mention that it sounds like I am doing a lot here. That’s not the case. I had all the info ready for the rain gutter people and the carpenter so they knew the situation and what to do. The online communications were brief and to the point. The seed planting took only a few minutes. I left the sunset walk to my wife and her uncle and aunt. I rested throughout and most of the day. I would love to do a lot more and have a long list of things I want to do, but I have to limit my activities to the essentials and rest most of the time for health reasons.

(1) I updated the calculations a few days later based on a good rain that gave us 5cm of water. I initially used a lower estimate.

The image is the view from the hammock during the day. At night, the sky is filled with stars.

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Back to something very human

I am grateful for life bringing me into something very human and out of spiritual ideals and fantasies and what I can do when I feel better 

This was the last item I wrote for my all-inclusive gratitude list today.

I am not feeling very well these days, likely due to a CFS-related crash about three weeks ago. I haven’t been able to recover, and I keep having mini-crashes. My body feels uncomfortable. My energy system disorganized. It’s bringing up underlying anxiety, emotional issues, and traumas. I don’t always deal with it gracefully. I don’t sleep very well. I am unable to function very well in daily life. I can’t think very clearly. I can’t do most of the things on my (simple) to-do list. I haven’t been following up on conversations. And so on.

Life is bringing me back into something very human. A part of me doesn’t like it at all and would like to just continue as I do when I feel a little better and have more resources. A part of me is genuinely grateful for it.

It’s like a mini version of one type of dark night, the one that brings us back into our human messiness and out of spiritual ideals and personas and how we are when we have more resources. The one I have been living for the good part of the last 10-15 years. A part of me feels I am failing even that: failing to become more thoroughly human with messiness and all which seems it would be the easiest of all but is not when we use personas and ideals to try to find safety.

It also helps me notice something very basic: When I identify with just one part and one perspective within this field of experience, it’s uncomfortable. It’s struggle. It’s discomfort. When I allow it all – when I consciously align with what already allows it all – it’s easier. As Leonard Cohen said, if you don’t become the ocean, you’ll be seasick all the time.

Image by me and Midjourney. I am sleeping in a hammock under a tree and a dark starry sky these days, so that view is with me and connected with shifting into allowing it all, and really just noticing that my nature already allows it all.

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A scrub tanager and a vermilion flycatcher (photos)

Just a few photos of a visiting vermilion flycatcher (red) and a scrub tanager, both in bushes and trees next to the house. We hope that the number and diversity of birds and other beings here will increase as the regeneration project progresses over the years. (We are still in a very early phase.)

Mari Boine: Easy to love

One of my favorite musicians is the Norwegian Sami artist Mari Boine. Here, she is in a TV program and is singing the song of one of the other participants. (I think that may be the idea of the program?) The original is a typical – relatively predictable and flat – pop song, and she makes it into something of primal beauty. Look at the reactions of the other participants.

AI-assisted social media groups

Facebook is rolling out AI assistance for groups.

The admin of one of the groups I am in (for the healing modality VH) asked if we should use it. Most seemed to get caught up in the “answering questions” side of it, and it was rejected by a clear majority.

That’s fine. We can choose what we want for whatever reason we want or for no reason at all.

And yet, the reasons people gave didn’t make so much sense to me.


The first question we have to ask ourselves is: How would it work?

I don’t know but I have some (educated) guesses.

AI answers would be marked “AI answer” or similar.

The moderator(s) will have to approve any AI answer before it’s published.

The AI response would be based on the top past answers to similar questions. It would offer the essence of the most valued answers from within the same group. (This is similar to how some news sites, for instance the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation NRK, use AI to summarize articles.)

This is all likely since it’s in Meta’s interest. They want to offer a service that makes sense to people and that would be reliable and useful.


Some were concerned about the quality of the AI answers. I understand that concern, and I don’t see it as a reason to reject it. Why not try first? If Meta wasn’t confident the AI could give good answers, they wouldn’t roll it out.

As mentioned above, the AI response would likely be a summary of the top answers to similar past questions.

The moderator(s) will approve the answer before it’s published.

It would be one of many voices and we, the group members, would add to it as we normally do.

One said that we would need to know that the AI answers would be “factual and accurate”. If that was the criterion, we would have to exclude humans from commenting in the group. What we humans say is often not all that “factual and accurate”. The group discussion on this very topic is an example since some of it didn’t seem grounded in reality.


Some had privacy concerns. I understand those concerns, although it seems based on the assumption that there is privacy in the first place.

To me, it makes sense to assume that nothing on social media is private, including in groups.

AI would be the least of my concerns here. Most of the time, AI is a “black box” and we are not able to access the content of the neural network apart from through the usual interfaces. It’s not a database where you can go behind the scenes and look up info.


As so often, I see people rejecting a possibility without taking time to understand it.

In the discussion, not a single person asked how it would work. They didn’t seem interested in learning more before making a decision.

Many dermed to reject it based on assumptions picked up from movies and media hype. In reality, the workings of AI are pretty boring. It’s based on statistics and it’s not “intelligent”. We decide how and when to use it. As with any tool, it has strengths and limitations, and it’s useful in some situations and for some purposes.


Would I want AI assistance in this social media group?

The main reason to not adopt it is that it’s not really necessary. Members answer questions, often by referring to past discussions.

There are also some reasons to try it out.

It wouldn’t hurt. If it doesn’t work, we can just disable it.

It could be fun and spark interesting conversations.

It could make the job of the moderators and group members easier. Many questions are repeated, and the AI could provide the essence of the most valued answers from the past.

As group members, we would comment on, evaluate, elaborate on, and add to the AI answers.

In general, it would be educational, and highlight some of the strengths and weaknesses of AI.

To me, that’s a missed opportunity. And that’s fine since the group is not about AI. We can learn about that outside of this one group.

Note: There is a personal side to this for me. I often feel that when I share something I see as relatively informed and grounded, it’s overlooked. That happens in life as well as in these kinds of groups. It’s been a pattern for me my whole life, including in my birth family.

Image by me and Midjourney

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Why do people in this healing modality look young?

In a social media group for Vortex Healing, someone asked why Vortex Healing people seem young for their age.

Here are some answers that come up for me:

It may or may not be true. It may be selection and/or confirmation bias. We may have that idea and look for examples that fit. Or we know people who fit and assume that’s the case for everyone.

If it is true, it’s likely because people who are into healing work tend to live more healthy lives. We tend to value health and healthy living, so we may look a bit younger.

Also, the ones who are into Vortex Healing have resources – money, time, and the ability to focus on something else than day-to-day survival. We are privileged and that tends to be reflected in our lifestyle which, in turn, is reflected in how we look. Privileged people tend to look more healthy and younger.

It’s also possible that Vortex Healing itself – going to classes and giving and receiving healing – does something. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case. It works.

Another side of this is that our culture values youth. We are a culture of change so we value the young. In cultures that are more stable and where things don’t change so much, they tend to value old age and the experience that comes with age. So if we value a healing modality, it makes sense if we want it to do other things we value, like youth.

As usual, I am less interested in the conventional answer to the question (yes, no, because you can work on the telomeres, etc.) than how to think about it. It’s an opportunity to take a sober approach and include the bigger picture.

Image by me and Midjourney

A small synchronicity (?) the day after: I talked with someone who thought I was at least ten years younger than I am.

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Imagined futures & an alternate timeline where a collective of popes guide us into a more ecologically sound civilization

I cannot help imagining different futures and alternate realities, including the ones I would like to see.

When it comes to desired changes in society, imagination goes before transformation, so these imaginations can be hugely helpful and important.

I imagine something that will almost certainly not happen as I imagine it, and yet, these imaginations serve a purpose. They highlight what’s lacking in our current institutions. They offer an alternative. And that imagination may guide us. It may be a seed to something different.

For whatever reason, I imagine what a future institution of the pope would look like. What if ecological overshoot brings about a radical transformation of civilization? What if we realize that all our structures and institutions need to radically transform? What if we realize that most religions need to radically transform to take ecological realities into account? What if we want religions to be among what guides us into a more ecologically informed civilization? What then? How may it look? How would I like it to look?

What if an alternate reality of the institution of the pope looks radically different? What if it’s free from any particular religion? What if it is far more inclusive? What if its purpose is to guide civilization in a more ecologically sound direction? What if it’s earth-centered, life-centered, and future-centered? What if all life is considered sacred? What if it’s a collective of people from around the world? What if each is there for only a limited time?

Here is one vision.

I notice a part of me thinking that this is silly. It certainly won’t happen this way. It’s naive. It’s not grounded in reality. And yet, this is how social change happens. It happens through imagining possible futures and alternative timelines. It happens through imaginations most see as naive and unrealistic.

It happens not only through the imagination of writers, poets, artists, or philosophers. It happens through the imagination of people like you and me.

Images by me and Midjourney.

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Do more awaken these days?

I have written about this before and will briefly revisit it:

Some folks seem to think that more people awaken these days compared to the past.


It’s impossible to know if it’s true or not.

To know, we would have to (a) have a solid and reliable definition and way of sorting people into one category or the other, and (b) have done global studies at different times through history using representative samples. We would also have to assume that all of this yields solid data, which is unlikely.

That has not happened, and likely won’t happen unless there is a major shift within academia and our collective worldview and priorities.


What are some reasons why it appears that more awaken these days?

It may be selection or confirmation bias.

(a) We know about more people who awaken than before because of global communication and the internet. Anyone these days can have a blog like this one, or join the many online groups and communities on these topics.

(b) Also, the vast majority of the ones who were awake in the past are likely unknown to us. Information about them is lost to time. We only know of the rare few who happened to become public personalities and whom we still have records of. (Today, a very small fraction of the many who awaken are publicly known, and there is no reason to think that was different in the past.)

There are more people in the world, so it makes sense if more awaken. The percentage may be the same or similar to before, which means a higher number.

More may actually awaken for whatever reason. For instance, because there is easier access to teachers and effective methods these days. If we are in a situation where our system is primed for awakening, there are more resources to help shift the system into that state.


As usual, I am less interested in the conventional answer to the question and more interested in how I can make practical use of it.

The question is an invitation for me to think about it soberly. To identify my hopes and fears and biases, and think about it in an honest and grounded way, as much as is possible for me.

It’s also an invitation to look more directly at my stories and projections.

As mentioned, it may be wishful thinking. Do I hope it’s that way? What do I hope would come out of it? If I tell myself more awaken, what do I find when I examine that thought? If I tell myself it would be better, what do I find when I examine that thought? What am I afraid would happen if it’s not true?

It can also be another form of projection. It may happen here, and I may not notice it fully, so I imagine it in the world instead. I imagine in the world what’s happening here.


I am writing about awakening here as someone who awakens.

That’s understandable and not wrong, and yet it’s also not the whole picture.

To most, it may look like someone who awakens. It’s lived through and as a person. And if the other is identified primarily as their human self, then they’ll tend to see others that way as well. To them, it looks like a person who awakens.

To ourselves, it’s a release of identification out of being anything in particular within content of consciousness. What we are awakens to itself and out of these more limited identifications. It’s the consciousness we are, or the wholeness we are, that awakens to itself.

I would say that it’s the consciousness we are that awakens to itself. It’s consciousnesses awakening to itself, or not.

Another side to this is that it’s not one or the other. It’s a process with a lot of nuances and wrinkles.

I tend to see it more as a degree of awakeness in a system. It’s more or less stable through daily life and different situations. More or less of our psyche is on board with it. Our center of gravity is more or less in our nature recognizing itself. We have more or less maturity in how we live from and as it. Our human self is more or less healed and mature in a conventional sense. And so on.

Image by me and Midjourney

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Own AI images: Turner, Hertervig, Munch (exploring Midjourney v6)

The new version of Midjourney (v6) came out a few days ago, so I thought I would explore it and see how it’s different from v5. My first impression is that some of the painting styles is much better than before, I’ll need to explore more how to create images of sculptures since my old prompts are not very successful, it knows a little more about the world as advertised, and the compositions are better than v5.

The first two images are created with a combination of four image prompts and a brief text prompt. They are oil sketches in the style of William Turner, and much improved compared with v5. The composition is generally better, the brush strokes are more often visible and more realistic, and I also like the colors more. If I had seen these two without context, I would have thought they were originals from Turner.

The next two are created in the same way, with a combination of image and text prompts. I used four or five images of paintings by Lars Hertervig (a Norwegian painter from the 1850s and 1860s) and a text prompt asking for a southern coast landscape from Norway with crooked fir trees and clouds. The images will bring Lars Hertervig to mind to anyone who knows his art, although they don’t exactly hit his style. Also, the brush strokes and painting technique is decidedly more modern than what you see from that era. Still, there is something interesting about those images.

Then there are two in the style of Edvard Munch. Again, there is something interesting about both, although few would mistake them for his actual work. They are too superficial and slick in style and lack personality and soul. It may be because I didn’t use image prompts for these, I am not sure.

As I mentioned above, my old prompts for creating images of sculptures don’t work very well with v6. I discovered that if I specify stone as the material (instead of bronze as I did with v5), it gives a result I enjoy much more.

In general, it’s been fun to explore and I’ll likely continue to explore off and on as it comes to me.

Note: I know the point of AI images is not to create works that could be mistaken for a particular artist, but I am exploring it here to get a sense of the possibilities and limits of MJ6.

Viscerally getting others as consciousness

In a very general way, how we perceive ourselves is how we see others.

If I perceive myself as primarily consciousness, I tend to perceive others as primarily consciousness. I tend to see others as consciousness and the world, to them, as happening within and as that consciousness. We are all primarily subjects and a world to ourselves. (We subjectify.)

If I perceive myself as fundamentally this human self, or anything else within the content of experience, I tend to perceive others as fundamentally the same. We are all objects within the world. (We objectify.)


As usual, it’s that simple, and also not.

One question is: How can I deepen into noticing my nature? How can I deepen into living from and as it? How can I invite more of me – this bodymind and psyche – to be more onboard with it? How do I relate to this whole process?

The other question is: How can I deepen into imagining others as consciousness? How can I allow that to work on me and transform this bodymind and life?

Both of these are ongoing explorations. There is no finishing line. (As far as I can tell.)

And there is a difference between these two. The first recognition is an immediate noticing. The second requires some intention and imagination.


I have written more about this below, in another version of this article.

This is an ongoing exploration for me, and it makes a huge difference in how I perceive and relate to other beings.

Here at Finca Milagros, I see any living being as consciousness and a world to themselves. To themselves, they are consciousness just like me. The only difference is the particular body and nervous system they operate through and as.

That gives me a natural reverence for all life. If I kill one of them – inadvertently or intentionally – I snuff out a whole universe. I snuff out their particular universe.

That’s not something I take lightly.

That’s one side of it. The other side is that this bodymind was formed within separation consciousness as is the case for most of us. It has a lot of hangups, wounds, and traumas, as many of us do. And all of that also color how I perceive and live in the world. I eat some meat. I sometimes get scared, angry, and reactive. I sometimes feel exhausted and care less. And so on. That’s part of the process too.

Images by me and Midjourney.

This is a simplified version of a longer article. See below for the first version of this article which gives more details.

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