AH Almaas: To be an instrument of the absolute is to be its absolute servant

To be an instrument of the absolute is to be its absolute servant, which is the same as being a complete, thoroughly ripened, and mature human adult. This is human happiness and fulfillment. This is the station of realization of the freedom vehicle, which is the reason we frequently refer to it as the body of service. We develop a new subtle body, which inherently recognizes its function as servicing the truth of Reality. It is a precise, clear, totally objective wisdom, completely free from subjective bias or reaction. This functioning may appear as a limitation when compared with the station of abiding in the absolute, and students tend to react to it in this manner, yet it is actually a deeper and higher realization. For in this station there is no preference at all; there is no need at all for any state or condition, not even for that of the absolute.

A.H. Almaas from The Inner Journey Home: Soul’s Realization of the Unity of Reality, ch. 23, p. 458

I agree with the general gist of it, from my own experience and understanding. (Which is limited, as it is for all of us.) And I hesitate when I see people using absolutist language.

He uses words such as “totally objective wisdom”, and “no preference at all”. On the surface of it, it seems suspect. Is it really that black and white?

Is there anything that’s totally objective? Are we even in a position to know?

Aren’t we all programmed by our culture and traditions? Even if all identifications were gone, I assume there would still be this filter.

A.H. Almaas may say that something is objective. It may indeed appear that way, to him and perhaps others. And a person in another culture or 200 years from now would perhaps see how it’s not objective at all, but reflects the age and culture he lives in, and the limitations inherent in any culture and tradition. I imagine that for a (hypothetical) being from another solar system or galaxy, with an entirely different biology, psychology, culture, and traditions, and embedded in a very different ecology, that may be even more clear. (Those categories may not even apply to such a being.)

Also, isn’t there a difference between preferences and identifications? It seems that preferences are just part of our human self. I like strawberry ice cream more than chocolate ice cream. I like Baroque music over rap. There is no problem there. And if there is little or no identification with it (velcro), I am free to follow what seems wise and kind in the moment, whether it follows or goes against my personal and very human preferences. There is no need for the preferences to be gone.

And similar to above, can we really know if there are absolutely no preferences? Are we ever in a position to know for certain?

Of course, it may be that A.H. Almaas is aware of something I am not here. That is very possible.

It’s also possible that he went a bit overboard in his language use. That he let excitement take his language further than what’s warranted.

Just to be clear: I admire AH Almaas very much, and feel a great deal of resonance with his descriptions and pointers. This is just nit-picking. And yet, it’s important to be aware of and question these things.

Hameed Ali: The latest belowed is not the final Belowed

We all go through life moving from one love affair to another. And always we end up disappointed because at some point we discover that this is not the one. The latest beloved is not the final Beloved. Even though it seems wonderful for a while and we believe we finally have arrived, we keep finding out that our various love affairs are temporary fixes. And the search begins anew. The mind constructs new ideas, more refined conceptualizations of what it is we want. This endless process continues as the mind creates increasingly subtle and increasingly sublime concepts.

Even when we feel we are following our heart, loving something deeply despite the counsel of the mind, we are actually following the mind in subtle ways, ways we still do not recognize as created by the mind. We might be moved by the inner promptings of the heart, but usually our longing is created by the mind’s concepts. The mind veils our heart to a much larger extent than we know. We are appalled and humbled when we discover how thoroughly our mind controls even what feels like our deepest movement toward truth. This is most obvious when we consider the love objects we pursue in the world of manifestation. But even the inner objects we seek, such as essential states or various subtle dimensions, are forms and concepts constructed by the mind. The Guest is beyond all conceptualization, whether it is forms of the outer world or the inner world. The Guest is prior to all forms and all manifestations. The Guest is their ultimate source.

– Hameed Ali / A.H. Almaas in Diamond Heart 5: The Inexhaustible Mystery

And something about The Guest from his website.

Hameed Ali: The process of inquiry is one of the safest methods of spiritual reveleation

 The process of inquiry, on the other hand, is one of the safest methods of spiritual revelation. What determines your inner movement is your own openness, your own application of your will, and the fact that you are not trying to get anywhere. Since you are just trying to see where you are, inquiry is responsive to your own needs in the moment and is naturally considerate of your own capacities and limitations. Inquiry is a gradual, guided approach that each does at his or her own pace. And because the guidance is attuned to you personally, what will arise and how much your true nature will reveal to you at any particular time will depend on your capacity and your situation. Nobody is pushing you to experience something in particular. And you are not trying to manipulate your own experience to channel it one way or another. These are the safeguards implicit in methods such as inquiry that are not oriented toward a particular goal and that are responsive to minute to minute changes in personal experience.

– Hameed Ali, Spacecruiser Inquiry

It’s a bit idealized, but the gist of it fits my experience. For most of us, including me, there is pushing and goal orientation involved in inquiry, and that’s a good thing. That too is something to bring to inquiry. For instance, I may have the thought that inquiry will get me something, and I can identify and inquire into that thought. Some beliefs here may be: Inquiry will make me a better person. God will be pleased with me if I do inquiry. Doing inquiry shows I am a sincere and good person. Inquiry will give me peace. Inquiry will give me enlightenment. It’s better to be clear than confused. It’s better to be enlightenment. What I am seeking is not here.

Hameed Ali: When you say that the mystery is emptiness, this does not capture it completely

So, for instance, when you say that the mystery is emptiness, this does not capture it completely. It does not give you the whole picture. You might say it is stillness. Well, you’ve then discovered something else about it, which helps you understand what it does to desires and agitations. When you realize this stillness, you experience that the whole universe is still. Yet, since you have an innately inquiring mind and you are inquiring into the stillness, the next day you realize that the mystery is not only stillness, it is also knowledge. What does that mean? Well, you knew it was stillness, and you knew it was emptiness, so knowledge must be intrinsic to it. But the next day, you realize that somehow defining the mystery as knowledge does not do it either. You can say that the mystery is stillness, you can say it is knowledge, you can say it is emptiness, but any one of these—and even all of them together—do not do it justice. So every day, you have a new discovery about the mystery, as if you were flying through the blackness of outer space and suddenly found you had alighted on a whole new star system that you can explore with joy and excitement.

But even then, you realize that you have not reached the end, for the glimmer of another star system is beyond this one. Furthermore, you begin to understand that holding on to any of these discoveries will disconnect you from the inexhaustibility of Being—its very essence. You also might realize that you are attached to there being an end to your understanding.

So this is a slightly different approach to understanding the mystery than the concept of indeterminacy. The mystery is indeterminate, but not in the sense that it is impossible to make determinations about it. It is possible to make an infinite number of determinations, but these determinations fall short of capturing the essence of the mystery. Furthermore, these infinite determinations are actually the content of our consciousness.

What else is there to experience? We can say that the mystery is unknowable and forget about it, but if we do that, we remain limited to the fact of its unknowability. But it is also knowable, much more knowable than anything else—in fact, infinitely knowable. But it cannot be known totally and finally, so we can never say we have finished our exploration.

My understanding of the mystery is that it is an inexhaustible richness, and this richness is inseparable from the mystery. The richness is nothing but the revelation of the mystery, and that revelation is completely inexhaustible. This perspective gives us some basis for appreciating the way of inquiry.

– Hameed Ali (aka A.H. Almaas), Spacecruiser Inqury.


Hameed Ali: The only thing the night can do is incinerate you

Our work on the inner path reveals the fundamental beliefs and assumptions of the mind. Our work is a matter of increasing annihilation of what is not true. If we are really honest with ourselves, if we let ourselves live in our aloneness, away from the influences of all that we’ve learned and been told, all the beliefs about the good and the bad, if we really delve into the matter, we see that the world is not what we think and that we are not what we think. For sure your mother was wrong about who you are and never really saw you. How could she see you? She couldn’t go into the night; she barely lived in the day. What your mother didn’t see is your true nature, the unmanifest ground from which you and the world emerge.

Whoever goes into the night will be eaten up, consumed in an instant, incinerated in a second. The night does not love you, does not do good things for you, does not have mercy on you, and does not make your life easy. The only thing the night can do is incinerate you. This is its only effect: absolute annihilation. This sounds scary, but when you see the falsehood of your entityhood and recognize the pure consciousness, you will be consumed with the passion to annihilate what is false. The longing for cessation is the ultimate desire that we have. It is the ultimate death wish, not the usual physical death wish. To die in total and complete annihilation means not knowing that you ever were or that you ever will be. It is absolute darkness, absolute peace. The Sufis refer to this as fana fidhat, the death into the divine essence. The Christian mystics refer to it as disappearing into the divine darkness. The Buddhists refer to it as the cessation of nirvana or the Bardo’s Dharmakaya. All genuine inner teachings speak of this death and consider it the most definitive experience on the path.

Hameed Ali, Diamond Heart V.

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You are letting go of the very fabric of who you believe you are

Although the disconnection that we sense is not ultimately real, we experience it as real psychologically because reality is such that our beliefs determine our experience. If we believe that we are independent entities, we will experience ourselves as independent entities, and hence, as disconnected. So the return home to our Source is a matter of education; it is a matter of seeing through certain beliefs. But in letting them go, you are letting go of the very fabric of who you believe you are, so the process is very difficult, very subtle, and very radical.

We can fight or complain or kick and scream in protest about our predicament, but all of these are simply the expressions of the belief in a separate identity and do nothing to change the situation. Even if we have an experience of grace or blessing, it is temporary and does not dissolve the belief that you are someone who is disconnected, because you are busy defending the belief that you are someone who is separate. Since God is merciful, He lets you believe whatever you want to believe—He’s not going to take away from you something you cherish.

So as you can see, it is quite a dilemma. We have to turn ourselves inside out, in a sense, so that we can see reality in a way that is completely different from the way we usually see it. It is not as easy as changing the lens through which you are looking at reality; it’s more like you have to completely strip yourself of everything you are wearing, which means stripping yourself of your very sense of yourself. So how do we do that?

– AH Almaas (Hameed Ali) in Facets of Unity


We only feel fulfillment if we are genuine

We only feel fulfillment if we are genuine, if we deal with things in a genuine way, if we don’t run away from our difficulties. And even with pleasures and successes, we tend to like ourselves more when we deal with them in a mature rather than in an indulgent way. Forget about superego judgment and what other people think. We’re talking about you in your own heart, your own inherent sense of value, how you feel about yourself and your life. The morality of the superego developed from this core, from the way that human beings actually work. The sense of gaining value through right conduct has a true origin. If we are who we are and do what we are capable of doing, we tend to like ourselves, appreciate ourselves, and respect ourselves.

So we’re not courageous to earn the approval of the superego, our own or anybody else’s. That won’t affect our real sense of value. We’re courageous because we know the value of knowing and living according to the truth. Courage is not an easy thing; it means taking risks, making sacrifices. Acting courageously often is scary and painful. But by allowing that fear, that pain, something happens in us. There is a transformation that makes us feel satisfied, even though we might have had a difficult time.
AH Almaas (Hameed Ali)


New book from Almaas

A chapter from Almaas‘ new book The Unfolding Now is available as a free download. The book can be pre-ordered and should be out June 10.

From Amazon:

Product Description
In his most accessible work to date, contemporary mystic A. H. Almaas shows readers how being present and aware in the moment leads to the discovery of our True Nature. This relaxed condition of simply “being yourself ” allows us to be free from worries, attachments, feelings of inadequacy, preoccupation with goals, and efforts to eliminate experiences we don’t want. As we begin to embrace the truth of the moment, we feel more like ourselves, and this leads to greater self-acceptance, contentment, and harmony.

Almaas brings clarity and understanding to the intimate details of this inner work, which makes use of self-observation and the contemplative method he calls inquiry. Each chapter includes an “exploration session” with questions for the reader’s practice of self-inquiry.

About the Author
A. H. Almaas is the pen name of Hameed Ali, originator of the Diamond Approach, who has been teaching individuals and groups in Colorado, California, and Europe for some twenty-five years. He is the founder of the Ridhwan School and the author of numerous books, including Spacecruiser Inquiry, Essence, and The Pearl Beyond Price.

Thanks to John from open-secrets.com for letting me know!

Belly center and feeling into

I have started listening to Adyashanti’s Five Truths About Truth, and find his way of talking to be as refreshing, simple and clear as always.

He is one of the few I know who talks about the awakening of the belly center. He mentioned it in passing at his satsang in Ashland, and has probably talked about it in more detail other times (still looking for it).

Feeling into being emptiness

In Five Truths About Truth, I notice that he emphasizes feeling into the experience of being awake emptiness.

In my experience, that is one of the aspects of the awakening of the belly center. It allows for and invites to a deepening feeling, with the whole body and every cell of the body, that all is Spirit, all is awake emptiness and form, and it allows for a deepening reorganization of the body and the emotions within this new context.

Practice, and dropping into it

The difference is that before an awakening (even a very early awakening, as in my case) it remains a practice, something we have to intentionally do. After, it happens on its own, and the only intention is to surrender anything coming up, any beliefs, identities, any aspect of the personality, to it.

Alive luminous blackness

Also, before the belly center awakening the term fertile darkness does not make so much sense (at least it didn’t for me). After, it becomes a living presence, an immediate experience.

It is a fertile darkness, an alive luminous blackness which is the ground of all forms, gives a deep sense of fullness and nurturing, and allows for a deep reorganization and healing of the emotional level. And as Almaas writes, and I have experienced since the (early) belly awakening some weeks ago, this luminous blackness is experienced everywhere, as if “peering out through all forms” as he puts it.

Almaas, and Barry and Karen the diksha givers, are the only ones I have found so far whose experiences with this reflects my own, down into the details, although it must be a relatively common occurrence, it is just that I haven’t explored it before in this way, and not looked for descriptions of it.

Belly center, fear, nurturing, and surrender

Searching Google for “belly center” I found several references to the Jelly Belly Center (on Jelly Belly Lane of course), some to this blog, and also this at almaas.com

Body Centers and functioning

Yes, usually the belly center has to do with embodiment, with the capacity to sense oneself. However, the belly center is also the will center. In a sense, the ultimate function of the will is to surrender to what happens, surrender to the now. And to surrender to the now means not to hold onto something. The true function of the will is complete surrender to what is happening without holding on. That is will. The essential self, like all essential aspects, can function in any of the subtle centers. When one is being the essential self, its location is usually the heart center. However, when the essential self is functioning in relation to identifying or disidentifying from any content of experience, it becomes associated with the belly center. The essential self is more like a potential for experience, and it also manifests as the capacity for identification. One of the results of the capacity for identification is embodiment. Embodying something means you are identified with what is happening. An essential state is present. You are embodying it if you are it. The true self has the capacity to identify with something you are experiencing, but it doesn’t have to. It has a choice; it has the freedom. When you are the true self, you can become completely what is there — one hundred percent. If truth is present, you are truth — “I am truth”. But the moment something else arises, you become that. There is no holding on. (Diamond Heart Book 3, pg 79)

It is interesting to note how the belly center seems to have to do with basic fear, basic sense of fullness and nurturing, and also surrender as Almaas points out here. Surrender has come up for me a lot since the early belly awakening some weeks ago, but I didn’t make a connection with the belly awakening until I read this.

From a sense of separation, there is a basic fear, possibly also manifesting as an energetic hole in the hara region. And this fear and basic mistrust makes any form of surrender difficult.

When the belly center awakens, there is a deep sense of fullness and nurturing, of being held, of every cell in the body and also the emotions relaxing, reorganizing to a felt sense of all as Spirit. Realigning to the felt sense of a nondual realization. It allows for a basic trust at the bodily and emotional levels, no matter what else is happening. And this basic trust allows for a deeper and easier surrender to what is.

Hara, energetic hole, scoliosis and endarkenment

I can’t remember if I have mentioned it here, but I have noticed for some time the relationship between energetic holes, physical problems, psychological tendencies, and now also the three soul centers.

For me, the main one is in the hara.

Since the initial awakening in my teens, I have been aware of an energetic hole in my navel area, specifically located at and near my spine. At the same area, I had a noticeable physical deformity as well, an odd stacking of the vertebrae diagnosed as scoliosis.

At the time, I did a lot of Tai Chi and Chi Gong, both because I wanted more grounding and embodiment, and also to fill up this region.

A couple of years ago, I found Breema which also specifically works with the Hara region, and I have experienced a great deal of fullness, warmth and nurturing in the belly from Breema. Slowly over these couple of years, the energetic hole has filled up, and the spine has reorganized so there is only a slight stacking oddity now (helped along with massage in that area).

With the more recent belly awakening, the endarkenment, there is a sense of a deep luminous velvety blackness and also a new level of nurturing, and a new feeling of everything as Spirit.

This feeling of everything as Spirit, and the reorganizing of the emotional level within the context of all as Spirit, was exactly what was missing in the initial awakening. The head and heart centers were awakened, but not (yet) the belly one. So although I saw, and even loved, all as Spirit, I didn’t feel all as Spirit. The emotions lived their own life, and there was a good deal of turmoil there, partly as a consequence of the intensity of the awakening and its implications.

So there was an energetic hole in the hara region, a physical deformity in the spine at the level just below the navel, and a lack of grounding and emotional turmoil.

This energetic hole then gradually filled in, the physical deformity reduced greatly, and then there was a sudden shift into endarkenment, an early belly awakening into feeling all as Spirit, allowing the emotions to reorganize to all as Spirit, and a new sense of deep nurturing and being held by the velvety luminous blackness.

It is also interesting to note that Hameed Ali (A. H. Almaas) writes about these things in ways very close to my own experiences (although from far more experience and with more precision.)

Sequence of unfolding of fertile darkness and alive luminosity

As I mentioned in the previous post, there has been a sequence of unfoldings of the fertile darkness and the alive presence, in how they appear to me.

First, I dropped into the fertile darkness, a belly awakening, a deep smooth fertile blackness, a feeling of all as Spirit, allowing the emotional level to reorganize.

Then, the alive luminosity, infinitely alive, intelligent, loving, receptive and responsive.

Then, in my dream from yesterday, the luminous darkness, where the fertile darkness took on the qualities of aliveness, love, receptivity and intelligence of the alive luminosity.

And then last night, during the Christ meditation, the soft luminosity, where the alive luminosity took on the smooth deep soft embracing qualities of the fertile darkness.

As I also mentioned, it seems that this is the way the two are revealed to me as not two.

All of these have the same qualities of infinity, timelessness, presence, omnipresence, emptiness yet inseparable from form. It is as omnipresent as space, yet also independent of space and time. And as Almaas points out in his book Essence (which I skimmed through for the first time last night) there is a definite quality of substance to it. An alive presence with substance.

Alive luminous blackness

Initially separate, now revealed as aspects of the same

It is interesting how the endarkenment and the alive luminosity came up at different times (the endarkenment a few weeks ago, and the alive luminosity only a few days ago), and as initially separate and distinct.

Now, in the dream and in my awake consciousness, they are merged.

There is a sense of a luminous velvety blackness, where the blackness itself is luminous, as black light. And it has the alive intelligence, love and receptivity that I first noticed in the luminosity.

Luminous Night’s Journey

This also reminds me of Hameed Ali’s journal excerpts published under the title A Luminous Night’s Journey. When I read it this summer, I knew he was describing something in the title that was unfamiliar to me, and it seems that this is it. The alive luminous blackness, velvety, intelligent, loving, receptive.

Belly awakening, fertile darkness and alive luminosity

As described earlier, the fertile darkness seems connected with a belly awakening, and of feeling all as Spirit. It allows the emotions to reorganize within the context of all as Spirit, becoming less reactive, and giving a sense of deep quiet nurturing fullness.

The alive luminosity also seems connected with the belly awakening. Where the emptiness aspect of luminosity is revealed in a head centered awakening, the belly awakening seems to reveal the aliveness, intelligence, love and receptivity of the same luminosity. It has more of a sense of fullness to it, and infinitely alive.

Awake emptiness and form, filtered through head and belly awakenings

It seems that the awakening of each of the three centers, of head, belly and heart, each reveal different realms of the same, different facets of Spirit, of awake emptiness and form.

The awake emptiness and form is there, in each case, yet revealing different aspects of itself in each awakening, as light split through a prism.

In the head awakening, the emptiness takes on a crystal clear quality, as clear mountain air, and the luminosity is revealed with this empty crystal clear quality.

And in the belly awakening, the emptiness takes on a velvety smooth fertile black character, while the luminosity takes on an infinitely alive, intelligent, loving, receptive and responsive quality.

Courage to explore

In this shift into endarkenment, I am especially grateful for company along the way.

Among the few traveling companions I have found are Karen and Barry, leading our diksha group, and who have both gone through and are deepening into the endarkenment.

Adyashanti who briefly mentioned the three centers of awakening when he spoke in Ashland, and how his main shift started as a belly awakening.

And also Hameed Ali, who has written about all this in such a clear and detailed way in many of his books, under the pen name A. H. Almaas.

Especially as this seems to be a little outside of the well-worn paths of the traditions, at least what is spoken about openly and presented to a general audience, it is good to find fellow travelers. It gives courage to explore. To dive into it more fully.

Beyond sanity and madness

I notice that I am at the edge of what is comfortable for me when I write about these things. It is at the edge of familiar identities, of how I am used to appearing in the world. It is easy enough to write about the different forms of inquiry, because anyone can explore that for themselves and see how it works, and it is also closely aligned with the safe territory of cognitive psychology, and the respected traditions of Buddhism and Advaita.

But these things. The belly awakening, the endarkenment, the alive luminosity, the tongues of flame. Those are areas that are less immediately accessible for most people. It cannot so easily and immediately be confirmed by anyone. Only some fall into it on their own, unintentionally, and not many more fall into it through practice and different forms of catalysts such as the diksha. It feels like more of an uncharted territory, especially for me with a background in western psychology and Zen.

Fortunately, there are some who themselves have explored this and talk about it, such as Karen and Barry, the diksha givers, and some who also write about it, such as A. H. Almaas (Hameed Ali).

There is a definite sense of going beyond sanity and madness here. Of going beyond the sanity and madness as defined by culture and respected traditions, and also by the conventional parts of myself.

But this is also what we do any time we go beyond our familiar and usual identity. Our old identity may be more or less comfortable, but it is at least familiar territory and predictable and safe in that sense. Going beyond it brings us into uncharted territory. It brings up fears. It can feel like stepping into madness.

Certainly, as defined by our old identity, it is madness to leave the confines of our old identity and step into new territory.

It is the madness of any explorer, whether of the outer or the inner world.

Alive luminosity, endarkenment, centers

From an email I sent to Barry and Karen following the diksha Sunday:

Lots of things happened for me during and after the diksha and codes for the three centers.

Alive luminosity

The main one happened the same evening, after I went to bed: An alive, infinitely intelligent and loving, receptive, responsive light everywhere, including streaming in, through and around the body. It is an infinitely alive luminosity I can communicate with, and I offered my intention to it for having many issues resolve in my life (reactiveness, relationships, clinging to identities, health issues.)

From my initial awakening, and since then, I have been familiar with empty luminosity, and everything as awake emptiness and form, in an impersonal form. Its intelligence and love was there but more in the background.

This time, there are the same elements, but as immensely alive. Its aliveness, responsiveness, intelligence and love is in the foreground, to be touched. It is infinite, yet also immensely personal.

I also notice a double thing happening since Sunday: asking the light for it to be resolved, and also giving it to the fertile darkness for composting. Something comes up (a contraction, identity, fear, resistance), and I ask the alive light for it to resolve, and give it to the darkness for composting.

I wonder if the impersonal empty luminosity, and the impersonal awake emptiness and form, has to do with the head awakening (enlightenment), while the personal infinitely alive luminosity has to do with the belly awakening (endarkenment).

It is almost as if they are two aspects of the same empty light, one revealed through enlightenment and revealing mostly its empty and impersonal nature (and the awake empty nature of all form), where this one is revealed through endarkenment and reveals its intimate, personal, alive, receptive, responsive, intelligent and loving nature.

In any case, it is yet another whole new dimension opening up for me.

After having been in the enlightenment for several years, I remember feeling a little “bored” by it, there was not much surprise there, and I felt that there had to be something more to it. Something was missing, and it had to do with embodiment and aliveness. The endarkenment, and the alive light, have these qualities. And it seems that it will only keep unfolding, revealing itself (to itself) in always new ways.

There was also a synchronicity (one of many): I read the first chapter of Facets of Unity by A. H. Almaas on Saturday, and was intrigued by the titles of another chapter: Living Daylight. After the experience of the alive luminosity, I skimmed through this chapter, and his description of living daylight is a very close match to how I experience the alive luminosity, including its personal, loving, wise, receptive and responsive aspects. He even mentions the three soul centers (head, heart and belly), and describes them in very much the same way I as experience them, and as you describe them as well. A nice support for me.

Some other things:

Sunday night, as the alive luminosity cursed through me, there was so much bliss that at some point some fear came up, and the bliss reduced in intensity – although has remained very much alive since then. I slept for twelve hours in the two following nights, and could have slept much longer (lots of processing and reorganizing needed).

I can’t remember if I mentioned this in a previous email, but here is how I experience the three centers for now (using some of your terminology):

Three centers

:: Head

Enlightenment. Awake emptiness and form. Seeing all as Spirit. Reorganizing view (nondual context). Yang. Male, masculine. Light. Heaven. Transcendent. Impersonal

:: Belly

Endarkenment. Feeling all as spirit. Reorganizing body/emotions (Less reactive. Sense of fullness, nurturing, being held. Composting anything arising, any resistance, anything coming from a sense of separation, anything at a body/feeling level not coming from all as felt Spirit.) Yin. Female. Feminine. Dark. Earth. Immanent. Personal.

:: Heart

Enlovenment. Loving all as spirit. Reorganizing the heart (open to all form). Embracing, allowing, holding Yang and Yin. Male and female. Masculine and feminine. Impersonal and personal. Heaven and Earth.

Ego as structure and sense of I

I am reading the first few pages of Facets of Unity by Almaas, and am as always very impressed by the clarity of his writing, and the realms he is exploring.

On page 7, he writes about the ego as being developed to compensate for loss of contact with Being (which I understand as human self + soul + Big Mind/Heart, which are all facets of Big Mind).

I am sure it will be clarified further into the book, but for now, I wanted to clarify for myself how I see ego (to more easily modify it as I read on)…

Ego as structure

Ego can be used, in a conventional psychological sense, as ego structures, as that which allows this human self to function and operate in the world. It is the personal voices in the Big Mind process. This form of ego is necessary for our human self to function, and its healing, maturing and development continues before and after awakening to realized selflessness.

To use a crude analogy, the Mars Rovers need software to function, and this software is continually developed and refined to allow them to function in more effective, and sometimes new, ways. The ego is to our human self what the software is for the Mars Rovers.

Ego as a sense of I

The other way the terms ego is used is as a sense of a separate I, placed on our human self.

Spirit, the field of awake emptiness and form, is functionally connected with a particular human self, and forgets about itself as a field, with inherently no center and no I anywhere, and develops a sense of a separate I, placed on the human self.

There is a perceptual center in the human self, and this perceptual center is made into an “I” center.

This is the version of ego that comes from and creates the illusion of I and Other, and creates all the drama, discomfort and stress.

Without it, when the field awakens to itself as a field, there is just awake emptiness and form, with no I anywhere. There is a sense of ease.

Ego structured in different contexts

Going back to the ego structures, and this is what I expect Almaas will write more about, we see that they come out differently depending on which context they are formed, or reorganized, within.

When formed and organized within the context of a sense of I, they are formed within the assumption of separation. They reflect, and operate as if, there is an I as this human self, and Other as the wider world. There is, by necessity, trauma here as well, to different degrees – reactiveness, habitual and obsessive patterns, and so on.

When the field awakens to itself as a field, realizing that there was no I there in the first place, these ego structures are invited to reorganize within this new context of realized selflessness. The reorganization is bound to happen to some extent, and it can be helped along with some conscious alignment with and facilitation of this reorganization process.

It will allow the human self, emotionally and in terms of view, to realigned within a realization of no I anywhere. It reorganizes, gradually and in a deepening way, to all as Spirit.

Emotionally, there is less reactiveness, they give a sense of fullness, and of ongoing support and nourishment. The view functions gradually more transdually, differentiating while reflecting a nondual realization.

And it is certainly also possible for the field to never forget itself as a field, even as it is connected with a particular human self. It stays awake to itself as a field, while the human self develops and matures. This may be more common as humanity evolves further, although who knows.

Currently into…

  • A. H. Almaas
    The Void, Essence. The beauty of acknowledging and working with the seamlessness of human, soul and nondual levels, and of following one’s own process while being aware of parallels in many traditions.

  • Ken Wilber
    Integral Spirituality. The beauty of genius and integration.

  • Adyashanti
    True Meditation and more . The beauty of clarity and simplicity.

  • Joel Morwood
    Talks. The beauty of clarity and finding parallels in many mystical traditions.

  • The Work
    of Byron Katie, over phone and on my own. Unraveling beliefs, undoing the knots.

  • Big Mind process
    Exploring the ways the mind works at personal and transpersonal levels, and seeing that there is no I anywhere in all of this.

  • Breema
    Instructor training. Deepening and exploring being/soul level connection.

  • Diksha
    Catalyst for awakening. (Amazingly effective, in my limited experience.)

  • Process Work
    Facilitating myself and others, and taking classes/workshops at the PW Center in Portland. Unfolding the process behind, and finding the gifts in, symptoms (anything coming up as a disturbance or anything interest goes to).

Lack & Void *

I am enjoying reading The Void by A. H. Almaas, where he outlines a process of: sense of lack > experience of hole in body image > awareness of space > awareness of the emptiness of space > awareness of the fullness of space.

Space is often initially experienced as “other” and the experience of it is resisted, then after resistance falls away or is reduced, space is more immediate and still “other”, then – the process of dissolving conventional identity starts, space may be experienced as “I”, and eventually there may be just the emptiness and fullness of space with no I anywhere.

This is of course a variation of what mystics from many traditions say: our conventional sense of emptiness, lack of meaning, or lack in general, is a yearning for awakening – for finding ourselves as not lacking anything.

Somewhere, there is the knowing of what we are. Yet, our conventional identity prevents us from seeing this. Everything we are which does not fit into this identity is placed “out there” by a story added onto it. And in the awakening, we see that we already have – or rather are – everything we are looking for.

All of this – the nature of who (or rather what) we are – is already alive in our immediate experience. We already know ourselves as it. But then we place a number of stories on top of it, creating an identity of an isolated “I”, an identity of this not that, and it is temporarily obscured. So no wonder there is the conventional sense of lack and emptiness. We are missing a conscious knowing of who we already are, in our fullness. We consciously know ourselves only as a little fragment of what we are, although the rest is right there under our noses. As the Sufis say, we are like a fish looking for the water – which is already there surrounding it.

Simply said, we are everything arising right now – in this very moment, absent of I anywhere. This is the divine mind, Buddha Mind, Spirit, emptiness dancing, right here already. Right under our noses, yet appearing so far away when there is the holding onto an identity of “I” as a fragment of this.

I also find it interesting how Almaas is using an approach in unfolding the initial, conventional sense of lack and emptiness into an awareness of ourselves as space. It is very similar to the unfolding process in Process Work, although PW has not (yet) gone quite as far into the nondual. They are still at the edge of it, exploring the edge in different ways, peeking occasionally over at the other side, curious about it. (They seem to be at the edge as a group, individuals may well go further).

Soul & Spirit

Another rambling post…

In reading The Void by A. H. Almaas, my curiosity about the relationship of soul and spirit comes up again.

Soul, as that part of us that continues between human incarnations, the F7 and F8 levels in Wilber’s framework. Bringing this level into awareness gives a sense of richness, fullness, meaning, direction, joy, bliss and so on – all causeless, or more precisely not dependent on conditions apart from bringing the soul level into awareness.

It is individual, seems to evolve, yet also has the same essence across individuals. It has many names, such as essence and being.

Awakening to or glimpsing the soul level opens for nature and/or deity mysticism experiences. It allows for experiences of intimacy with all there is, of everything as God, of oneness and unity, of no separation. Yet, there is still an I and Other here, even within the unity. There is an I placed on the soul level.

And Spirit, as the Ground of it all, Big Mind, the nondual level in Wilber’s framework. This is the completely detached view, completely impersonal, allowing it all to be as it is. It is a shift in context, from a sense of I to a clear absence of I anywhere.

Soul, then Spirit, and the other way around

As Almaas mentions, some traditions – such as Buddhism, focus on nondual awakening and then bringing in the soul level. And other traditions – such as Sufis, focus on bringing in the soul level, and then nondual awakening.

Either is of course fine. And as this differentiation appears to us, it is just about inevitable that different traditions will approach the two in a different sequence and with different emphasis.

This is clear in for instance Breema, which clearly emphasize the level of soul, essence, Being, and briefly and indirectly acknowledge the nondual. It certainly makes it more accessible for more people, and the benefits are immediate and clear.

Soul awakening vs. nondual awakening

Yet, any awakening to soul level is bound to be temporary, unless eventually grounded in clear nondual awakening.

A soul awakening not (yet) grounded in a nondual awakening seems similar to the god realm as described in Buddhism – wonderful, possibly long lasting, yet eventually leading to a fall. Some of us learn that the hard way…!

If our sense of identification, our belief in the thought “I”, is placed on the soul, it seems wonderful for a while. Until there is a fall. Until that too goes away. And then it can lead to a suffering that easily matches any other form of suffering. We have lost that which was most beautiful to us, most meaningful, most blissful.

Only a clear nondual awakening is “stable” because it does not rely on any conditions within the world of phenomena. And the soul level seems very much within the world of phenomena, just as everything else. Bliss comes and goes. Causeless joy comes and goes. A sense of connection, fullness, meaning, direction and guidance comes and goes.

A Ground or nondual awakening allows any content to come and go. Bliss and boredom. Joy and sadness. Meaning and absence of meaning. Fullness and void. Guidance and no guidance. Everything is clearly revealed as absent of any I. There is an absence of any final or absolute identity.

Soul and Spirit

So bringing the soul level into awareness is more accessible and easily enjoyable than working on the nondual awakening. Yet, it is also incomplete, temporary, inviting to a fall – if a nondual awakening is not also present.

Working on a nondual awakening is certainly more difficult, maybe less appealing, yet also the only lasting awakening. And the soul awakening and development can – and will? – certainly continue within a nondual awakening.


There are innumerable synchronicities daily these days, which is apparently one of the common side-effects of diksha (and was also common during my initial awakening).

There are maybe two especially memorable from the last week.

Coming from essence

One was the dream where someone told me that she liked it better when I come from essence, and then somebody in my waking life telling me the same just half an hour after waking up – without having been told about the dream, and without us having talked about essence before. (Essence is a word I rarely use, so I was surprised when it came up in the dream.)

Reeking of alcohol

Another is from my plane ride from Portland to Oakland, where I listened to the New Year’s Cleanse 2005/06 with Byron Katie.

As we approached Oakland, I listened to a dialogue where she and someone else role played a drunk client coming into a counseling session. Katie, as the counselor, asked the client if he had been drinking, she said no, and she said something along the lines of “that is funny – I smell alcohol, there is only the two of us here, and I have not been drinking”.

As I listened to this, a reaction came up in me having to do with being accused of doing something I haven’t done, based on just such circumstantial evidence – it happened several times as a kid.

And as I got up from my seat to get my duffel bag out from the overhead compartment, I noticed a pool of liquid in the compartment. It turned out to be alcohol, probably from a broken bottle in another bag, and my duffel bag and its content of clothing, smelled strongly of liquor.

As I made my way from the airplane to picking up my suit case, and taking the bus and BART to where I was staying, I reeked pretty strongly of liquor. Just as the client coming into the counselor’s office, and innocent of having been drinking – just as in my story about it.

Synchronicities and stories

Synchronicities just are, of course, and we place stories on top of it.

One of the stories is that Existence is a seamless whole, so no wonder there are synchronicities. If Existence is similar to an ocean, then synchronicities are just the various expressions of movements within this ocean – expressed in the various situations in our lives.

For me, they are a reminder of this seamless whole. And they may also invite me to bring attention to something in particular, just as dreams do.

In my case, it helped me pay more attention to essence, to the point of reading Almaas’ book on essence. And also see my pattern of reactiveness about being innocently accused of something, which I can take to inquiry.

Dream :: Bringing Essence to it *

I am talking with a young woman about how I relate to a particular situation involving someone else, and how I can relate to it from a Big Mind space (nondual, neutral, detached) or from essence (soulfulness and more engaged). She says “I like it better when you bring essence to it”.

The woman in the dream is someone from a bodywork intensive I am currently in. And essence is here used in a similar way as in the Diamond Heart (A. H. Almaas) approach, at least when they use it in a more relative sense.

A few minutes after I woke up, a quite remarkable synchronicity happend.

I am carpooling with another woman from the intensive. This morning, one of the first thing she brought up was essence – used in the same way as in the dream, expressing and interest in and attraction to essence. I mentioned the dream to her, and it turned out that the issue brought up in the dream had been on her mind recently as well. We have not talked about essence before, as far as I can recall, and it is not a term I usually use (I tend to prefer soul).

When we talk, there is often a sense that there is one mind dialoguing with itself – an ease of connection and understanding, and this synchronicity is just one example of that sense of one mind dialoging.

The dream reflects a conscious issue that often comes up when I do these bodywork intensives: the relationships between my human self, my essence (soul level) and the nondual. (Although these are of course only what appears when a story is added onto what is).

The soul level gives a sense of fullness, meaning, direction and guidance. The nondual – or rather a nondual awakening, gives release from any identification with any phenomena, including this human self. And this human self is the vehicle in the world of phenomena.

Without the soul level, there is a sense of shallowness and coldness. Without the nondual, there is blind identification with fragments and a sense of struggle and drama. Without the human self, there is no functional connection in the world of phenomena.

For a while now, there is been a need for me to bring the soul level more into awareness and this life – along with the two others. It used to be more present, but has now been in the background for a while. And the dream seems to point to just that.

In Jungian terms, the dream is the anima reminding me to bring the soul – and soulfulness – more into my life.



Luminous Night’s Journey – A. H. Almaas

Spacecruiser Inquiry – A. H. Almaas

Anatomy of Miracles – Subagh Singh Khalsa (Sat Nam Rasayan)

The Healing Art of Sat Nam Rasayan – Guru Dev Singh

Classical Five Element Acupuncture Vol. III – J.R. Worsley

Listening to

Aerial – Kate Bush

Ancestral Voices – Carlos Nakai, William Eaton

Voices from the Distant Steppe – Shu De

Orphan’s Lament – Huun Huur Tu

Egypt – Yossou N’Dour

Glassworks – Philip Glass

Unfolding – Axiom of Choice


Portals of Grace – Azam Ali

Himalaya – Eric Valli

Blue Idol – Altan

Morimur – Bach (Hilliard Ensamble)

Die Kunst der Fuge – Bach (Keller Quartet)

Byron Katie – dialogues

Joel Morwood – talks (Center for Sacred Sciences)


Byron Katie inquiries, daily in periods

Atma Vichara – inquiry into what appears most as “I” and seeing that too as empty of any I, just appearing within space as everything else

Breema – Self-Breema and bodywork, daily

Facilitating Big Mind – couple of times a week

Kundalini yoga – weekly classes, simple exercises a few times a day (breath of fire and more)

Sitting practice – shikantaze, now and then

Deeksha – monthly hands-on deekshas, and inviting in at any time

Sat Nam Rasayan – weekly classes, sometimes during the day

Being with whatever is – going into experiences, especially uncomfortable ones

Water (80+ ounces a day), diet, some strength, walks, biking

Offering to the divine – any perceived problems, my human self, my whole being, my relationships, the house and material goods, community, earth, universe

Intention – to have resolved/cleared whatever prevents… (awakening, living a fuller live)

One Mountain, Many Peaks

Almaas and Wilber both point at how our filters shape our world, including in our spiritual practice. We have views, interpretations and guidelines for practice, either from a particular tradition or more-self created, from own experience and a range of traditions.

In either case, these frameworks shape what happens in – at least – two ways:

Interpretation and vocabulary

The obvious one is in our interpretation of what arises in the present. We may be faced with a very similar landscape (although it is obviously never quite the same), but how we see it and the meaning we add to it is filtered differently for each of us – and for each one of us at different times.

So the landscape may be quite similar, yet the wording and interpretation of it may still be quite different.

Shaping actions and content

The other is how our filters shape our practices themselves, which in turn shape the landscape.

If we focus on compassion, then an heart opening and infinite compassion is likely to become central in our experience of the divine and awakenings. If we focus on a nondual awakening, then the ground – emptiness dancing – may be central. If we focus on divine love, then our relationship with the divine may be at the center (2nd person). If we include energy practices, then the energy aspects of existence may stand out in our experience and view of it.

The general landscape may be similar, but the particulars can be quite different. And it seems that there is an infinity of possible variations of this landscape, always revealing itself to us differently and in a new way.

It is different for each of us, and also different for each one of us over time.

One mountain, many peaks

So it seems that one metaphor that may fit this view is that of one mountain and many peaks.

The mountain is the realization that all is God, all is consciousness, and the realization of selflessness, that there is no I inherent anywhere. The peaks are the various ways this mountain arises in our experience, with some aspects highlighted and others in the background or left out.

We all climb the same mountain in various ways, independent of tradition and filters. Yet we also arrive at different peaks. Folks following the same practice may arrive at the same general peak, yet at different locations on that one peak. And folks following quite different practices may arrive at different peaks.

Of course, this is a mountain that is not static. It is always created, always new, always different. Always changing with the continuing evolution of the form aspect of God.

Exploration & Goals

On my visit to the Bay area last week, I was introduced to the work of A. Hameed Ali aka A. H. Almaas (a Kuwaitian with a Scandinavian pen name!). I was told his writings are very clear, and that definitely seems true.

I have enjoyed reading the first few chapters of Spacecruiser Inquiry so far, and am looking forward to exploring the specific inquiries suggested later on, and also to read other books by Ali.

He is using a beautiful, simple accurate language, and speaks very closely to my own experiences and explorations, so I naturally find a great affinity with his approach and outlines.

Explorations and goals

One of the themes is that of exploration and goals.

We can look at what is as an exploration process, as God exploring itself, as lila – the play of God. In this framework, the exploration process itself is the primary goal, and any goals found at particular points in time are secondary – just parts of this overall exploration process.

Goals as primary

In our own lives, this shows up in how we approach any spiritual practice.

I notice that if I see a particular goal as primary, it throws a wrench into the machinery. For instance, if my goal is selflessness – and I see that as the purpose for life and as an end point, I will always hold the idea of selflessness up for myself. I compare where I am now with that idea, I do any practice with that goal in mind, I get caught up in abstractions and comparing what is with these abstractions. The idea of selflessness may even be more important than my direct and immediate experiences in the present. And all of these create obstacles. They only reinforce a belief in ideas in general, including the belief in the idea of a separate I.

I may be able to let go of this idea to some extent, and I may be able to follow and be with what is – what is alive right now, but it is still going against the stream if my overall goal is selflessness or any other goal occurring at some point in time. My overall framework is not helpful in allowing me to explore and be with what is in the present.

Exploration as primary

But if the overall context is that of exploration, it becomes different – even if I for a while use the idea of exploration as a guideline. Now, what is alive in the present becomes important, for its own sake – not to get me anywhere.

And as goals arise in the present, they are included – although not taken as seriously as before. They are secondary at best, just markers in time allowing for added richness to the overall exploration process.

Now, selflessness is just a shift, and the exploration goes on before and after this shift. It is actually not that important in itself. It is just God exploring itself, first through a sense of separate self and then in the context of realized selflessness. It doesn’t really matter. Although for our human self, it does matter a great deal, as one brings a great deal of struggle and suffering and the other a sense of ease and release for suffering.

Absolute and relative

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter one way or another. A sense of self and realization of selflessness just adds to the richness of the exploration process. But locally, it does matter – as one brings suffering and the other a release from suffering.

This is just another way of easing into holding both the Absolute and the Relative. From the Absolute, all is OK as it is (or here, an exploration process). And from the Relative, there is room for improvement (further awakenings, release from suffering and so on).


Our human self’s desire for release from suffering is one of the many drives in this overall exploration process. It helps it to move, to dislodge, to have a direction.

First, we seek release from suffering through rearranging the content – either in the outer or inner world. We rearrange our circumstance, and our habitual patterns, as well as we can. And this gives some relief although not nearly a complete or more lasting one.

Then, we may find that realization of selflessness is a more complete release from suffering, and here the drive comes through seeking realization of selflessness.

And after selflessness is realized, the dynamism comes through enjoying the exploration process itself.

Aligned with what is

Whenever we are more aligned with what is, things go easier.

If what is is more similar to an exploration process than a situation where goals are primary, I may find that temporarily applying exploration as a general metaphor is helpful. And if what is does not have any I inherent in any of its segments, then realizing selflessness – even to some degree, gives a sense of relief and release from suffering.

The proof is in the pudding. And the pudding is our own life and immediate experiences, in this eternal present.

Explorations and goals together

Exploration and goals go together, beautifully.

The primary goal may be the exploration process itself, as it shows up in the present. Really, it just is as it is and we can put the label “exploration process” onto it.

And within this exploration process are secondary goals which we may temporarily adopt as human beings. These include goals such as education. Starting and caring for a family. Developing and maturing as a human being. Awakening further to the nature of what is. Realizing selflessness. Exploring my human life in the context of selflessness. And so on.

There are no lack of goals, in any area of life, and they all add to the richness of the overall exploration process. They are one of the ways God explores itself, in its infinite potential.