Biphasic / polyphasic sleep

In my late teens and early twenties, I experimented with polyphasic sleep. I would sleep for half an hour four times every 24 hours. It worked very well. I seemed to immediately go into very deep sleep, I never felt I didn’t get enough sleep, and I had a lot more time to study, do art, read, and so on.

So why didn’t I continue? For social reasons. If I was with others, I would sometimes need my sleep while others still wanted to be awake. I could have made it work, but it would have required prioritizing my sleep schedule over the social. (My university studies required me to only attend a couple of hours of lectures a day which I could easily arrange my sleep schedule around, and I had flexibility in when I did my work, so those aspects of my life worked nicely with polyphasic sleep.)

These days, I love going to bed early, getting up around 4 am, and then getting a second sleep in around 7 or 8 am for maybe one hour. I may also take one or two naps during the day, typically a shortish one (15-20 minutes) late afternoon. It seems to work well for me, and it feels very natural.

I enjoy my sleep more. When I sleep, it feels deeper and more satisfying. I also love being up early when the world is quiet and it feels like a bonus time and an extra gift. Knowing I can get up and sleep as needed gives me more flexibility. It reduces any felt pressure of needing to sleep at a certain time. It helps me be more in tune with my own bodymind and follow what feels right.

I am very aware that this is a luxury. Not everyone has the freedom to sleep and wake according to what feels right to them. We have created a society where schedule takes priority over our own natural cycles and what works better for us.

See below for what ChatGPT 4o has to say about this.

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From the archive: I Ching

I got into I Ching when I was 181 and was introduced to it by Aake Y. who was a kind of mentor for me at the time. Unsurprisingly, I got the Richard Wilhelm translation with a foreword by Jung. (I was deeply into Jung at the time.)

I loved I Ching and read it over and over, and also occasionally used it as an oracle – to reflect or give a view on the situation. It was remarkably accurate, and I also found that if I asked it about frivolous things, or asked too much, I would typically get the “Youthful Folly” hexagram (!).

When Aake introduced me to it, he asked I Ching about me in general and got no. 1 Chien / The Creative which changed to 56 Lu / The Wanderer. I remember I liked the first one, but not so much the second. I didn’t really want to be a wanderer metaphorically or geographically. I wanted to settle.

Of course, it turned out to be accurate. I have been a wanderer metaphorically – in terms of my exploration, and geographically. I have lived in several countries.

After talking with Aake, I asked I Ching about myself. This was the first time I used I Ching as an oracle. To my astonishment, I got exactly the same. I got no. 1 changing to no. 56. That’s a one in 4096 probability. Out of 4096 times, it is likely to happen once.

It’s been a long time since I have used it as an oracle. These days, I prefer to use my inner guidance.

NOTES

(1) I was still living in the basement of my parents’ house for the first year after high school, before moving to Oslo. I got into Taoism before then, through Fritjof Capra’s The Turning Point, and had read several Taoist classics for a couple of years before this. I think I had put off getting into I Ching since I had seen it mainly as an oracle and didn’t know the amazing wisdom in the hexagrams and elaborations.

A few things from the archive: books important to me in my teens, a signed book, a lending list

I am going through storage in Norway, mostly from my teens and early twenties when I still lived in Norway. It’s interesting to revisit that time and see what has changed and what has remained as threads through my life.

I thought I would put a few things up here. It’s interesting to me, although I can’t imagine it’s very interesting to others!

A book by the painter Odd Nerdrum and signed by him. I was an apprentice/student of his at the time so it was easy to get it signed. I thought this book was lost, but it was just in one of the cardboard boxes from that time.

These are two books that were important to me in my mid-teens. They helped transform my worldview and orientation to life, I was passionate about both books and the topics they talk about, and remember searching out other books referenced in these.

Erik Damman‘s Bak tid og rom (“Beyond Time and Space”) is about scientific research that goes beyond the materialism that’s mainstream in science today. As far as I remember, I was introduced to this book by my middle-school teacher who mentioned it in class. I love this kind of science, and for a while, I dreamt about doing it myself. I kind of did, in my own life. I also got to later meet and talk with Erik Damman, at one of his monthly Sunday gatherings at his house.

Fritjof Capra’s The Turning Point was hugely important to me. It’s about quantum physics, systems theories, similarities between certain areas of Western science and Eastern philosophy, and so on. I also loved his other books, and still do although I haven’t read them for a while. (I later got to see Fritjof Capra give a talk at Schumacher College at Dartington near Totnes.)

This is a book-lending list, to keep track of who I had lent which books to. I imagine some of these books could still be with these people!

My brother had Science, Order, and Creativity by David Bohm.

A friend from art school and university had Ken Wilber’s No Boundary. Another hugely important book for me at the time, reflecting and helping me further organize how I saw things.

A friend from school had a book by Rupert Sheldrake. I had several of his books and am not sure which one this was. (I later got to see Sheldrake too at Schumacher College at Dartington near Totnes.)

A friend from Art History at university had Goethe’s Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily which I remember also made an impression on me at the time.

Another friend from Art History had borrowed Energi og bevissthet (“Energy & Consciousness”) by Jes Bertelsen. Jes Bertelsen and his books were very important to me at the time, especially as he took a similar approach to me in terms of using elements from Christianity (prayer, meditation), Buddhism (Buddhist practices), energy work, and depth psychology (Jung). I visited Vækstsenteret, his place in Denmark, and felt deeply at home there. I likely would have been far more involved with that community had I not left Norway and Europe at around that time.

She also borrowed a collection of short stories by Kahlil Gibran. I loved his writing and drawings.

Marianne borrowed two books by the Jungian analyst Strephon Kaplan-Williams. He lived in Oslo at the time, I had done some sessions with him, and I loved his books and his dream cards. Marianne is Marianne Ihlen whom I met in a workshop in Oslo held by Hanne Bertelsen. We became friends. (She was a whole and amazing human being in her own right, although is publicly more known as the ex-partner and muse of Leonard Cohen. I discovered it when we talked on the phone one time, and she told me she had to go to catch a concert with her ex-partner.) Hanne divorced Jes Bertelsen, and I am not sure if she continued to teach. I had a very good connection with her and met her in person several times, so I miss that connection too.

A friend I met in Tai Chi class, Bitte, borrowed Smilende livskunst (The Importance of Living) by Lin Yutang, and also Tao Te Ching . I loved Lin Yutang’s books and read whatever I could find from him. Even more, I loved Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (Laozi), and I read and re-read whatever Taoist classics I could find or order through the main bookstore in Oslo. Bitte was and is far along the awakening path and is highly sensitive and clairvoyant. I remember we sat at the train station after tai chi class, comparing what we saw in the energy system of the different people there. We always saw the same. (Maybe she saw more than me, I wouldn’t be surprised.)

There is also a note I don’t quite understand about “a larger whole” and someone called Boyesen.

Finding myself as consciousness

Finding myself as consciousness seems a kind of default.

As a child, I remembered the time between lives. I was consciousness, everything was consciousness. All was light. There was a sense of being profoundly at home. At a visceral level, it was and is home.

Later in childhood, I had moments of oneness with the universe. I experienced myself as the universe, locally expressed as this boy. Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (“We are the eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the Universe. We are the Universe bringing itself into consciousness”), along with being out in nature and seeing the stars, were part of triggering it.

Then, there was the shift into kind of finding myself as consciousness. The world, including anything that had to do with this human self, seemed very distant and far away. This happened for a year when I was fifteen. (I say “kind of” since the viewpoint is from something separate from the world.)

And then, there was the shift into oneness. Into all as the divine, or as I would say now, all as consciousness. My world is consciousness. The consciousness I am forms itself into all of it.

There are times when my nature as consciousness is more strongly in the foreground, for instance, when I do meditation, inquiry, or just notice. (And also at times when my body struggles, as it did when it had a septic shock a couple of years ago.) Other times, it goes more into the background, for instance when I am focused on an activity or if I get caught up in parts of me still caught up in separation consciousness. Even then, bringing my nature into the foreground is just an intentional noticing away.

Unsurprisingly, there are still (many?) parts of this psyche that operate from separation consciousness. They were formed within separation consciousness and haven’t quite caught up with the more global noticing of my nature. My psyche mimicked what it saw other humans do, and created these patterns and dynamics for itself. These parts of me inevitably color my perception, choices, and life. And sometimes, I as a whole get caught up in them and take myself to be these parts of me, forgetting all the rest of the infinite richness and what it all happens within and as.

All of that is OK. It’s natural. It comes from an innocent place and a – understandable and often misguided – wish to take care of this human self. Even the occasional struggle with it is natural and OK. Even that is ultimately innocent. (Even if the consequences can be painful.)

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What has changed since the initial shift?

It’s been a few decades since the initial oneness shift in my teens, so what has changed since then?

What I notice first is that everything inevitably has changed since everything is change.

Also, what was then is only here as an image. When I explore this question, I am comparing images of then with images of now.

That said…

The essence of what I notice and how I would talk about it is more or less the same. When I see some of my writings from then, the essence is much the same as now.

The words I use have changed some. Back then, I would talk more about God, Spirit, and so on, and these days I try to either not use a label or I more often call it consciousness. I try to focus on a more simple and universal essence.

Back then, it was all new to this human self, and my human self struggled to navigate and make sense of it. These days, it all feels more familiar and ordinary although the curiosity is still there.

Back then, I didn’t know anyone interested in this and I didn’t know much about how people talked about it or what could be found in the different traditions. Today, I know several who are swimming in it and I am a bit more familiar with the different terminologies and what’s in the different traditions.

Back then, I ironically had a stronger impulse to share although I couldn’t since I didn’t know anyone interested or who would understand. (At least, I didn’t know if I did.) These days, I know that the sharing is in good hands with others like Adyashanti, Douglas Harding, Byron Katie, and many more.

Back then, I didn’t know any practices to help clarify, help my human self to realign and transform, and so on. These days, I am familiar with quite a few. I have spent thousands of hours exploring various practices. (Although I am just scratching the surface, of course.)

For years within the initial shift, there were huge amounts of energy going through my system (even back then, I thought of it as high voltage going through regular housing wires), and a huge amount of almost constant insights. Most of what I write about here are those insights and from what life initially showed me then. The energies calmed down over the year, as did the constant insights. For the last 13 years or so, old trauma has surfaced instead, at first at the same level of intensity as the energies and insights following the initial shift.

Back then, I think some parts of me mixed up the essence of what it was about with some of the more peripheral things like states. Parts of me did try to hold onto some states because they felt amazing to this human self. These days, I am more focused on the essence. (Although parts of me still like some states more than others, of course.) States inevitably have come and gone and I seem to viscerally get the essence more clearly.

At that time, I really thought I would eventually write books, give workshops, and so on. I often spent hours a day for years both in practical exploration and also learning about how other people talked about it, and although I did it because I was passionate about it, that image about the future was also somewhere in the back of my mind. That doesn’t seem so likely to happen now.

And a few other areas of life:

At the time, I was just starting to explore music beyond what was familiar to me from radio, friends, and the local music store. Over the next few years, I found some of my favorite composers that are still my favorites (Arto Pärt, early music, and so on) and my general taste and orientation in music is generally the same as back then (slightly unusual music, international music, indigenous music).

I still favor and vote for the same political parties. (The Green Party or whatever is the most progressive and/or left.)

I am still passionate about sustainability and love Deep Ecology, systems theories, Taoism, and so on. (I didn’t find integral models until a few years later, although if I had at the time I would have loved that too.)

I have found more people like me so I feel less alone. (Although most of these are spread out around the world. I miss a local community of people with a similar orientation as me.)

I feel less that I am missing out on things and that I need something to feel more whole. (Some parts of me may still feel it, and it may come up in some situations, but it’s generally more peripheral.)

I guess I have matured in some ways as a human being. That too seems more or less inevitable. We have experiences that inform us and who we are.

In terms of healing, I really don’t know. I have done a lot of healing work of many different kinds, but don’t know what the result is. The water has been too turbulent over the last several years from a lot of old trauma surfacing. In that sense, it often feels like I have taken many steps backward although I know that’s likely not true. This is part of the process too.

The image is of me at Pullahari monastery in Nepal in my mid-twenties, reading When the Swans Came to the Lake. I studied Buddhism there for about half a year while I generally lived at the Zen center in Salt Lake City.

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Out on a Limb

I happened to see Out on a Limb on TV at some point in my teens1. It’s a mini-series based on Shirley MacLaine‘s autobiographical book by the same name, and it was one of several small turning points on my journey. (YouTube has it, in a low-quality version.)

I have a hazy memory of just when in my process I saw it, but I remember the sense that it came to me just at the right moment. It showed me that it was possible to explore things outside of what’s the norm in a secular society. There was a community of people doing it, even outside of traditions, and although I didn’t know anyone personally I felt supported by that community. I read this and other books by her, and I read books by people she mentioned in her books. And so it got started.

Soon, I got into Taoism, Christian mysticism, Buddhism, and more. (Or maybe I had gotten into some of that already, I don’t remember.)

Her books may be New Agey and perhaps more at the fascination2 level than focused on actual practice. For some, that’s enough. For others, it can serve as an important stepping stone. It did for me, and for that, I am grateful.

NOTES

(1) Why did this come to mind? Partly because I started watching Postcards from the Edge with Shirley MacLaine, and partly because something just happened that is similar to a situation from one of her autobiographical books. (An internal shift in me in how I relate to someone corresponded with an immediate shift in the outer world.) I am also back in the same house where I first saw it and I am going through old things here, so that brings up memories.

(2) The fascination is also helpful, especially in the beginning. It helps people stay glued to the path and continued exploration. This fascination comes from projections. We see something “out there” that’s also in here, through exploring it in the world we get more familiar with it, and we can then more easily find it in us.

Aware of the field & that it’s already allowed

In daily life, one of the things I like to keep noticing is the field of experience and that it’s already allowed.

That noticing is already here, so a more intentional noticing brings it more into the foreground1 which seems helpful.

FIELD OF EXPERIENCE

What does “field of experience” refer to?

It refers to any content of experience. Anything that happens in the sense fields, which we can label sight, sound, smell, taste, sensation, and thought (mental images and words).

That means it refers to what conventionally is referred to as “outer” and “inner”, the wider world and what’s happening here which is “hidden” from others – the perceptions and thoughts of this human self.

This field is seamless and although what I am in a conventional sense (this human self) is found there, what I more fundamentally am to myself is not found there.

ALREADY ALLOWED

What’s happening in content of experience is already allowed. It’s allowed by space, mind, life, reality, existence, or whatever we want to call it.

If I try to allow it, it won’t work. My psyche won’t allow it since it’s often caught up in pushing and pulling with what’s here. It’s doomed to fail, which is very good since it’s a dead-end street anyway.

It’s much easier to notice it’s already allowed and align more consciously and intentionally with that allowing. It’s a relief. It’s like coming home.

SHIFTS THROUGH NOTICING

There are some shifts that happen from this intentional noticing. There is a kind of deepening and soaking in it.

When there is a noticing of the content of experience, there is a sense of distance to it and a softening of identification. This helps soften remaining habitual identification with certain stories and identities.

Parallel with this is my nature noticing itself. I find I more fundamentally am what it all happens within and as. Even more fundamentally, I am capacity for all of it – consciousness and what it forms itself into. That makes the noticing, and the sense of distance to whatever is here, easier.

The two are sides of the same coin.

BASIC MEDITATION

This noticing and allowing is the essence of basic meditation.

Formal meditation is a kind of laboratory to explore this intentionally without too many distractions.

As it becomes more of a habit, it’s easier to bring the noticing and allowing into daily life.

And even then, some meditation is helpful. It helps deepen the habit.

MY EXPERIENCE WITH THIS

As I mentioned first, this intentional noticing – of the field and that it’s already allowed – is something I do at different times throughout the day. It seems to bring some shifts.

When I was fifteen, there was a sudden and strong shift. The world seemed very far away, and that included anything that has to do with this human self. All of it was far away. This human self operated in the world far away. Later, I understood that this was a kind of observer-observed shift. It was as if identification went out of everything except the mental construct of an observer.

I assume that shift made it easier for me to notice the field as a field.

A year later, there was a shift into oneness. I assume this was a release out of identification with and as an imagined observer, and it was clear that there is no inner and outer.

It was also clear that everything is allowed by life and existence. It’s already allowed, and it lives its own life.

And it’s possible to intentionally notice and align more consciously with that allowing and invite this human self to reorganize within it.

NOTES

(1) This is like other things. There is an awareness of what’s here in my sense fields whether there is a conscious noticing of it or not. When there is a more conscious noticing of something, it goes more into the foreground of awareness. For instance, a few moments ago, there was not an intentional noticing of the music in this room, but there was a low-grade awareness of the music since it was happening within the field of experience. Now there is a more intentional noticing of the music, so it’s more in the foreground.

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A “dangerous prayer”

Since my teens, I have explored and trained in a range of approaches to healing and transformation. (Tai chi, chigong, Buddhist practices, therapy, inquiry, somatic approaches, shamanic approaches, etc.)

I really wanted to go deep, especially in what I knew very well were unhealthy family dynamics, and although I could see and understand a lot of the dynamics, I never felt I was able to fully and viscerally dig into it.

At some point, maybe thirteen years ago, I wholeheartedly and sincerely asked the divine to “show me what’s left”.

A few days later, an immense and overwhelming amount of dread and terror came up. It filled my life for about nine months and then slowly diminished over the following years. During the most intense period, all I could do was walk in the forest and listen to talks and books by Adyashanti. I was unable to sleep or eat very much, and mostly unable to function.

Since then, whenever I do healing for myself or receive a session (Vortex Healing, craniosacral, TRE, or something else), it seems to easily bring up a lot. My system seems to use any opportunity to release as much as possible. Often, what comes up is a mix of fatigue, strong discomfort, and some combination of anxiety, anger, and grief. It’s been quite challenging and something I am still learning to navigate.

One obvious solution is to do it in very small portions at a time to not overwhelm my system. Slow is sometimes faster.

There aren’t really any insights here, apart from that our system seems to always want deeper healing and shifts into whatever can bring that about, whether we consciously feel we are ready for it or not. Also, be careful what you ask for because it may happen! I don’t regret that prayer, but if I was to do it again, I would probably ask for it to happen more gently and gradually.

Image by me and Midjourney. I went through some of my old images and felt that this one could work. Wrestling with trauma, primal fear, and anything else that’s surfacing can at times feel like wrestling with a whale.

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When things are what I am

This quote describes what seems common when our nature starts recognizing itself.

The consciousness we are is used to taking itself to be something small within its own content and then starts to intuit or glimpse that it’s all happening within and as itself.

I haven’t heard this interview, so will just write a few things that come up for me.

WHO AND WHAT I AM

As I often say, it’s not wrong that I am this human self in the world. For most practical purposes, it’s true enough. In my experience, this human self is mostly here (apart from in some dreams and visions) so it makes sense to make that assumption. It’s an assumption that works relatively well in daily life. It’s also an assumption that creates stress since it’s out of alignment with what’s more true.

More fundamentally, I find I am what the whole field of experience happens within and as. To myself, I am what a thought may label consciousness, and any experience – of the wider world, of this human self –happens within and as the consciousness I am.

THE EXPERIENCE IN EACH CASE

The consciousness I am can create the temporary experience for itself of fundamentally being this human self. Here, “it” is not “me”. A tree is not me, it’s a tree over there.

This is true in a conventional sense no matter what, and it can feel deeply and obviously true if the consciousness we are is fundamentally identified as this human self.

The consciousness I am can also recognize itself, and that it forms itself into any experience. It’s all happening within and as what I am. The consciousness I am forms itself into (the experience of) a tree, this human self, stars, and anything else.

Here too, we can differentiate between a tree there and this human self here, and it’s all recognized as happening within and as what we are.

THE SHIFT

The shift itself can be gradual or sudden.

GRADUAL

The shift can be gradual, as it seems was the case for the person quoted.

The consciousness we are takes itself to fundamentally be this human self. There is a transition where there is a sense that something else may be more true. And then there is a more clear recognition of its nature and everything happening within itself.

In the middle phase, a lot of things can happen, including what’s described in the quote. There is a sense that the tree over there is me2. That it’s enveloped in love. That there is no difference. And so on.

It may happen in daily life, in meditation or during a spiritual retreat, it may happen in a psychedelic vision, it can happen in a dream, and in any other situation.

This transition can happen through intuitions, glimpses, having a sense of it, and more.

First, the center of gravity stays in the assumption of fundamentally being this human self while something else breaks through and in. Then, the center of gravity shifts into our nature recognizing itself. It happens through seeing it all as within itself. Finding love for it all within the context of oneness, a love independent of fleeting feelings and states. And our human self and psyche reorganizing itself within this context and getting it more viscerally.

SUDDEN

The shift can also be sudden, as it was for me. See below for more details.

When the shift is sudden, it doesn’t mean that it necessarily is as clear and thorough as it can be. It can always be more clear. More stable. More lived. More thorough in terms of the reorganization of the human self and the psyche. And so on.

MY EXPERIENCE

For me, this shift happened in my teens.

THE WORLD WENT DISTANT

On January 1st when I was fifteen, it was as if the world went very far away1. I still remember it. I was outside my parents’ house, talking with some friends. It happened over just some seconds or perhaps minutes. The world – wider world, this human self, thoughts, emotions – all seemed very distant.

This was profoundly disturbing to this human self, and the doctors couldn’t find an explanation. Later, I understood that this was a kind of observer-observed split. Identification went into the observer construct, and everything else seemed very distant. There was a disidentification with everything except the observer construct.

In a way, this is the reverse of what the quote above describes.

ALL AS THE DIVINE

One year later, there was another shift, this time into oneness. I walked along the dirt path to the house in the dark, with a big wind going through the landscape and the sky full of stars. This was between Christmas and New Year. I looked up at the stars and felt the extra expansiveness from the wind going through it all. Suddenly, there was a shift. All was revealed as God. Everything, without exception, is God. Nothing was left out.

This was home. This is home in the most profound sense. It’s more than familiar. At the same time, although very much secondary, it was a shock and surprise to this human self. He was an atheist, and then this? And it’s what always is here and just wasn’t noticed?

In my case, all was revealed as God, as the divine, as Spirit. There wasn’t so much the interpretation that “that is me”, although that is included in it. (The “that is me” idea still assumes that the idea of me and it has some substance and reality to it, which it doesn’t really.)

NOTES

(1) The Chronic Fatigue Syndrome started at the same time, somehow the two seem intertwined although I am not sure exactly how. My human self was under a lot of stress at the time, so it may be that the observer-observes split became a safety value, and the CFS may also have been a safety valve.

(2) For whatever reason, a lot of people use a tree as an example for this. Maybe that’s how it often starts for people? Is it because trees are quite noticeable, stand still, and are alive, and that makes the shift easier?

The image is created by me and Midjourney

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When no-self comes into the foreground

About twenty years ago, there was a shift1 where no-self2 came very strongly into the foreground.

The noticing of no-self has been here since the shift in my teens, and this new shift turned the volume way up on that aspect of what I am. It was so strongly in the foreground that it was inevitable and noticed all the time.

While it happened, this human psyche didn’t know if it was a new deepening into reality which would stay, or if it was a state that would come and go.

It turned out to be kind of both.

The noticing is there, although the volume is not turned up so high. In that way, it wasn’t a state. The notice seems more inevitable and effortless than before.

At the same time, having it so strongly in the foreground was a state which lasted about six months.

Why do these shifts happen? I see it as life showing itself aspects of itself. It’s so clear and so strongly in the foreground that it cannot be missed or overlooked. We get used to it, and it’s easier to notice even after the state goes away.

NOTES

(1) It followed a period of deepening in meditation. There was a deepening that “I” didn’t do but happened by itself. This particular shift was triggered by doing one of the Headless experiments. (The “invisible crash helmet” experiment if I remember the name correctly. It’s where you cut out a circular hole in a piece of paper, notice the hole is full of the world – that you can see through the hole – and also empty. It’s nothing full of the world. Then, you bring the hole up to your face and eyes, and notice you are that nothing full of the world.)

(2) What does “no-self” mean? It’s a label like anything else, and I use it because I cannot think of another label that’s better right now. It just means that what I more fundamentally am is what any and all experience happens within and as. To me, the wider world and anything related to this human self happens within and as what I am. I am not most fundamentally this human self or any other kind of self. (Victim, doer, observer, etc.)

Image by me and Midjourney

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I was a student of Odd Nerdum in the ’90s

In the early 1990s, I was an apprentice of the painter Odd Nerdrum.

In general, I am interested in how it was to be an apprentice of well-known artists. That information is often lost, so I thought I would do those who may be interested a favor and give a brief account of my experience.

THE STUDIO

At the time Nerdrum had a house in Frogner in Oslo, and his studio was in another house (in Kristinelundveien) near Frognerparken in Oslo.

The studio had a large central space two levels high with large windows towards the north or northwest1. The walls were painted dark brown since it’s a good background for looking at paintings. The window had lamps to compensate for the fading sunlight on dark days or late afternoon and to give light at night.

He had a vintage couch there, one or two of his early and especially inspired paintings on the wall, and Persian rugs on the couch and nearby floor. He also had a good stereo where he would often play Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass, and similar kinds of music2.

Off that room was a smaller area where we students had our own space with easels and so on. There was a small bathroom there, and stairs up to a balcony around parts of the large space. Downstairs was a kitchen, the main bathroom, and a couple of bedrooms. He often used one, likely because he was in a divorce process at the time. Another was used by a friend of mine, who had been a student of Nerdum before me, and introduced me to him.

NERDRUM IN THE STUDIO

Nerdum would come in the morning, although the exact time would vary. He painted through the day, with brief breaks for food. He was there more regularly and for longer than most of his students.

He painted quickly and would put up the first layer in one or two hours. Most artists today would probably have been happy with that first layer, but he continued. I assume he used roughly a month on each painting, with variations depending on the size of the painting, and with most of the work on the details and texture.

He would work on more than one painting at a time, perhaps two or three, and sometimes also a charcoal drawing or study for a future painting.

He would use beautiful clear colors while painting, and cover it up with a brown varnish at the end. I assume he did it to mimic old paintings, and it was heartwrenching for me.

While painting, he would have conversations with the model and/or students or guests. The conversation was mostly about art, artists, music, or philosophy.

Sometimes, well-known people would come by – art historians, philosophers, TV personalities, adventurers, and so on. David Bowie came by one day to buy one of his paintings. (Unfortunately, I missed it!)

NERDRUM AS A PERSON

How was he as a person?

He was simultaneously an ordinary human being and larger than life.

He was deeply passionate about his art and art in general. I don’t hesitate in calling him a genius in painting and charcoal drawings. He was knowledgeable and unafraid to speak his mind.

He was socially smart and also unafraid of offending people.

He was happy to talk about the art of others, and he did talk about the aesthetic and visual aspects of his own paintings. One thing I never heard him talk about was the symbolism of his paintings. That was likely very intentional. He wanted to leave it open and available to the rich imagination of the audience. (I think he may have mentioned something about that, not sure.)

THE APPRENTICE SITUATION

When I was there, he had about five apprentices3 in the studio. The number was naturally limited by the space available, and he may not have wanted more anyway.

In my case, I was a model for one painting, I mixed his white paint, and I transferred a charcoal study for a painting onto a large canvas (using grid lines) so he had an outline to follow while painting.

My impression is that most students were models for one or more paintings, and they also did other tasks, likely depending on what Nerdum felt they would be good at or happy with doing.

There was no formal teaching. We were there to learn through observation, immersion, and conversations with him and the other students.

I assume most students came through either writing him directly or because they knew someone already a student. In my case, I had a meeting with Nerdum where I showed him some of my work. I also got the impression that he wanted me as a model.

We would occasionally do things as a group with Nerdum. For instance, we went to see a Spanish movie together at the local movie theater. I also went with him to Kjeller where they work with radiation (!). He was interested in knowing if radiation could help some of his paintings where the paint sagged over time.

NERDRUM, MODERNISM & NORWAY

Nerdrum received a lot of resistance to his approach to painting and drawing from the beginning.

His response was to develop an apparently deep-seated aversion to modernism and much of the art community in Norway.

His response is understandable. It’s a response to hurt. And yet, the whole dynamic was and is somewhat baffling to me. Why did he meet so much resistance just because he painted in a more figurative style? (Did other artists feel threatened because his skill was beyond most of theirs?) Why did he respond by rejecting their approach? (He probably just did what they did. They rejected him and his art so he rejected them and their art.) Appreciating one doesn’t mean you have to reject something else. It’s not a zero-sum game unless you make it so.

Life and art is rich, that’s the beauty of it. It’s very possible to love or appreciate a wide range of approaches to art and anything else. There is more than enough room for everyone, and finding appreciation for it all only enriches our experience, life, and art.

I can add one more thing here: Why does he call his art kitsch? I assume it’s to get ahead of his critics. If he calls his art just about the worst you can, what’s left for the critics to say? It takes the air out of them and their arguments.

MY SITUATION

I had been passionate about learning to draw and paint in a soulful traditional style since my mid-teens, especially the style of Rembrandt, Caravaggio, and other Baroque artists. It wasn’t until high school that I discovered the art of Nerdrum.

I went to art school for a couple of years after high school, got to know another student there who was also a student of Nerdrum, and she introduced me to him.

I was an apprentice for about a year (?), and during this time, I started studying at the university. First, art history and then psychology.

THE LIMITS OF MEMORY

I only knew him during this period, so other students at other times will likely have a different experience.

Also, this is the memory of one person, and it’s a memory – which is notoriously unreliable. Over time, some things fade and some things stay, and what stays is filtered by how we see the world in general.

Still, I think most of this is pretty accurate.

NOTES

(1) The light from the north is best for a studio since it’s more stable and you avoid direct sunlight.

(2) I happened to have a very similar taste in music as him, and a very similar taste in art in general.

(3) We were apprentices in the old-fashioned sense, more than students. When some talk about the “Nerdrum School”, they refer to younger artists inspired by his style, of which many were his apprentice at some point.

The painting is the one I transferred from a drawing to canvas so he had an outline to work with to begin the painting.

Another footnote: I remember Nerdrum once said that he painted so that he would be remembered after his death. He may have said it to seem interesting or to spark a dialog. He may also have used the thought as a motivation to improve and reap the benefits in this life. It’s difficult for me to imagine he believed the thought literally. After he is gone, he won’t be here so he won’t benefit from it. Also, people will remember a simplified image of him, not him.

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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

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.

THE NATURE OF THE WORLD

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.)

THE NATURE OF OTHERS

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.

THE NATURE OF REALITY

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.)

MY EXPERIENCE WITH THIS

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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A synchronicity: Birds singing through the night

Many years ago, when I lived in Southern California, something happened that I have not experienced before or since. 

After I went to bed, a large flock of birds landed in the bushes outside the large French windows in my room. I didn’t see them, but they were chirping and singing loudly until the morning. It seemed to be hundreds of them.

Being used to synchronicities, I wondered what it was about. I felt it signified a major change of some sort. 

When I came in to work that morning, I was told everyone was to meet the management in separate meetings. In the meeting, I was told I and most others were laid off. It was a surprise since I had seniority and nobody had mentioned anything about financial troubles. It was a job I loved and also felt conflicted about since I heard rumors and saw signs of white-collar crimes which I didn’t want anything to do with. 

The rug was pulled out from under my feet since the change, in typical US style, was effective immediately. It felt like the birds that night were telling me that something big was changing, and it was OK. They seemed to tell me to trust life and the process. (Which had been difficult for me due to all the survival fears and trauma surfacing in my system over the previous years.) 

This was a Friday. The next morning, I was on a plane to Berkeley to do the Foundation class in Vortex Healing. I felt this too was profoundly life-changing for me and would set my life on a different course.

So, yes, within a few hours, I got to see what the birds seemed to signify for me. One of the big changes was a surprise and came out of the blue. The other was expected and likely far more significant in my life.

It felt like the universe whispering to me: “You are on the right track even if life is scary and feels like a mess right now.”

Image by me and Midjourney

Talking with the ants

Here at Finca Milagros, we have a lot of ants.

It’s wonderful. There are several different species of different sizes, from big to tiny, and they are a very important part of this ecosystem. They clean up dead animals and dead and dying plant parts. They bring nutrients into the soil. They are essential to clean-up and soil health, which is vital for the whole ecosystem.

When we first moved in here, we had ants in the house. They loved to clean up every little crumb or tiny piece of food they could find. We aimed to keep everything clean and put all food away in sealed containers, but they still found enough to stay interested. (To mention a couple of recent examples of what they discover: an delicious bar of lotion wrapped in paper, and a caramel in the wallet in my mochilla.)

This lasted until I communicated with them. I tuned into them and told them they had plenty of food outside the house, and that the whole outside area is completely available to them. Our area is inside the house, and they need to stay out. If not, it would not be good for them. We can easily and happily co-exist if we only have that agreement.

Almost immediately, they vanished from inside the house and they stayed outside.

This summer and fall, we were away for several months and someone else stayed in the house. When we returned a few weeks ago, the house was overrun with ants, far worse than it had ever been. Again, we did the common-sense things. We kept everything clean. We sprayed with citronella. And it didn’t work that well.

Four days ago, I sat down to communicate with them again. I proposed the same deal as before, and I could sense it was sinking in. Since then, we have hardly seen any ants inside the house. We’ll see how it goes.

This is not anything I would normally mention here or to anyone in person, but something has shifted. If I cannot feel free to write about what’s happening in my life, what’s the point? It feels better to just put it out there. Some will resonate with it. To some, it may be important and support their own process. Others will think it’s weird. And all of that is OK.

On the topic of ants, I should mention that we had some problems in the beginning with ants eating what we planted outside. They like new and weak plants. As soon as these plants got stronger, we didn’t have any problems anymore.

Note: My wife mentioned this to some friends here, and they said: “Yes, of course. We have a local man talking with the ants for us and it works.” (Paraphrased)

Image by me and Midjourney

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How I visualize the future

I notice I use visualizations of the future in a few different ways.

In daily life, I regularly visualize future scenarios to help me orient and function in the world.

I sometimes intentionally visualize a particular future to find what resonates with me, what feels deeply right for me, and what feels alive and juicy for me. This is a kind of communication with myself.

The third is outside of regular psychology. I visualize a particular future to sense if life is moving in that direction, to get a sense of how much traction it has in life. This one is more about sensing and receptivity.

Yet another is a combination of the two previous. I test out something juicy and alive for me to see if life seems to move in that direction. If there is some traction, I may stay with it for a while as a kind of prayer. As a kind of invitation for life (and me) to move in that direction.

A. THE ONE THAT HAPPENS IN DAILY LIFE

I visualize the future as part of functioning in daily life. It helps me orient, plan, and explore options and possibilities. I see myself making lunch. Writing an email. Going for a walk. Taking a trip. If I am drawn to do it, and I don’t see a good reason to not do it, I do it.

If an imagination about the future has a charge and seems stressful, I recognize it as imagination. It’s not the future. It’s created by my mind. If it has a charge, it means it is fueled by my fears and/or hopes and comes from something unresolved in me. Sometimes, I also do a more thorough inquiry into them to find what’s genuinely more true for me.

B. VISUALIZATIONS TO FIND WHAT RESONATES

Since my teens, I have – off and on – also engaged in intentional visualizations about the future.

For instance, I sometimes sit down to visualize an ideal day one or five years into the future, from waking up to going to sleep. This helps me connect with what’s juicy for me and helps me come alive. It opens options for me in my mind. It’s a way for me to explore what’s in me.

C. RECEPTIVITY AND FINDING WHERE LIFE SEEMS TO MOVE

This one goes outside of regular psychology and is more about receptivity and sensing.

I try out different visualizations of the future and sense where life seems to move. It’s a sensing that’s similar to sensing what’s going on with others at a distance, which I regularly use when I do distance healing. Some options don’t seem to have traction and some do.

This is usually quite accurate, although the future is always in movement so things change – as a little green wise guy once said.

D. VISUALIZATIONS AS A KIND OF PRAYER

There is also one that’s a combination of the two previous.

I find what resonates with me and feels juicy and alive for me. I test it out, and if there is a sense of some traction there, I may stay with it for a while. It’s a kind of prayer. An invitation for life – and me – to move in that direction, if it’s in the cards.

AN EXAMPLE

Here is a simple example of using visualizations to sense where life seems to move.

In my mid-twenties, my right-hand thumbnail split. I wasn’t able to fix it through conventional means or healing, and when I visualized it healing the visualization didn’t seem to have traction. Life didn’t seem to move in that direction.

One day in my thirties, I noticed that the visualization suddenly seemed to stick. It had traction for the first time. So I stayed with it for a while to invite it in and give that possibility more intention. (As a kind of prayer.)

A few days later, I went to the cabin and soon experienced strong pain under that thumbnail. I went to a small emergency room nearby, and the doctor dismissed my concern. I went back to the cabin, and the pain grew stronger. It was strong enough so I had trouble sleeping. One or two days later, the thumbnail fell off. Turns out, an infection under the thumbnail had put pressure on it so it eventually detached. When it grew back, it was in one piece as it was before the injury.

The sense of the visualization having traction turned out to be accurate. Life was moving in that direction, although I couldn’t have foreseen how it would happen.

This is a small example, but I like it since it’s clear and concrete and did not do anything to make it happen. I just sensed and stayed with the visualization, and then life unfolded in a certain way.

Image by me and Midjourney

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The big problem of consciousness & a simple and elegant solution that doesn’t fit our current worldview

I saw an article in Morgenbladet on consciousness research, Norsk filosof står midt i intens konflikt om bevissthetsforskning. I didn’t find the article itself so interesting, but it is an interesting topic.

A MATERIALISTIC VIEW OF CONSCIOUSNESS

Western science is struggling with consciousness, which is not surprising since it comes from a reductionistic and materialistic worldview.

From that worldview, consciousness is somehow created by the brain. Matter gives birth to consciousness.

It’s almost impossible to understand how that can happen. If you start with matter, just about any view on how it transforms into something as qualitatively different as consciousness seems contrived and unsatisfactory. (Systems views may produce the closest we have to something satisfying, but even that’s pretty contrived.)

A materialistic view creates the hard problem of consciousness. It’s inherent in that particular worldview, not in the topic of consciousness itself.

CONSCIOUSNESS AS PRIMARY

We can take a reverse view.

It’s easy for us to imagine matter within consciousness. It’s what happens when we dream. The world happens within consciousness. It’s also what happens in waking life. The world happens within consciousness. It’s what we are most familiar with. It’s our experience. To ourselves, we are consciousness. To us, the world happens within and as the consciousness we are.

That’s our own experience. What if we take a leap and assume it’s also the case for the world itself? What if existence is consciousness, and matter happens within and as consciousness?

Yes, it’s a leap, and it’s a leap that’s consistent with many traditions in the world. (The mystic ones.)

In this view, what we perceive as matter is a form of consciousness.

LOGICALLY SIMPLE

It’s a logically elegant solution to the big question of consciousness. It’s simple. It’s the obvious solution.

One reason it may seem unattractive is that it’s difficult to test and support with data. (That’s also the case with any materialist views on consciousness.)

Another is that it requires us to abandon a fundamentally materialist worldview, or at least place it in a different context. (Logically, this is not a problem since we collectively shift worldviews through history anyway, but it is a problem for some in terms of habit and familiarity.)

NOT MORE WEIRD THAN THE ALTERNATIVE(S)

This view is also not inherently any more weird than a materialist view. Whether matter or consciousness is primary seems equally weird. If anything, the consciousness-as-primary view is simpler and more logical.

It’s also far less odd than the biggest question: How come there is anything at all? How come there is something rather than nothing? That’s the big question that stops the mind. Anything else pales in comparison.

IF IT’S SO LOGICAL, WHY IS IT NOT TAKEN MORE SERIOUSLY?

If the consciousness-first view is simple and logical, why is it not taken more seriously in academia? Why is it still rare and on the fringes?

I suspect that has more to do with familiarity and what’s considered acceptable than anything else.

Most academics and Western philosophers are used to a materialistic worldview. For them, it’s a leap to seriously consider anything else. (Even if they know that our collective worldviews regularly change.)

The materialistic worldview has existed in academia for some generations, and it comes with taboos. One of these taboos is to question the fundamental assumptions within this worldview. Most people in academia are willing to question a lot, but not the fundamental assumptions inherent in the academic world and modern traditions. It may seem too radical. It may seem too risky for their reputation and careers.

At the same time, I assume they know that any worldview is up for revision and will eventually change. They know that as long there is science, it will inevitably undergo a series of fundamental paradigm shifts. And they know that the ones leading the change will meet these taboos and will face a damaged reputation and ridicule, and perhaps even risk their career.

It’s up to each one if they want to deal with that. Some will. Many won’t, at least not until others have led the way and it seems more safe.

Some may also be concerned that it will open up a can of worms in terms of religious ideas and superstitions. That’s not necessarily true. We can use a scientific approach even if we consider the possibility that all of existence is primarily consciousness. There is no lack of examples, and I hope my writings fall into that category as well (as an example of a layman’s view on these things).

MY HISTORY WITH THIS

Why is it relatively easy for me to consider a consciousness-first view?

It’s partly because I read a lot about paradigm shifts within science in my teens, and also Eastern views on Western science. This was mainly through the books of Fritjof Capra and several of the ones he references.

It’s also because this shift happened with me when I was a teenager. The consciousness I am recognized itself and that recognition went into the foreground and stayed there. To myself, I am primarily consciousness and the world, to me, happens within and as the consciousness I am. (Even more fundamentally, I am capacity for all of that, but that’s another topic.)

Is existence itself consciousness? I cannot know for certain. I have written about the small and big understandings of awakening in other articles, and I like to shift between those two views since each has its place and function. I love the small view since it provides a kind of common lowest denominator for talking about our nature and (ironically in this context) is compatible with a materialistic worldview. I also suspect the big understanding is more accurate. I have experienced too many things that point in that direction. (And I also know it can be understood in other ways.)

CAN NOT KNOW FOR CERTAIN

I love that I cannot know. I love that I cannot know anything for certain.

Thoughts are questions about the world.

They have a practical function only. They help me orient and function in the world.

And if they serve as pointers to anything, they cannot even begin to touch what they point to.

Image by me and Midjourey

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No awakening without dealing with trauma

There is no awakening without dealing with trauma.

At some point, the awakening process requires us to deal with our trauma and anything unresolved in us.

It seems inevitable given enough time, and it may not in all cases happen in this lifetime.

AWAKENING BEFORE DEALING WITH THE TRAUMA

Of course, our nature can recognize itself without dealing with trauma or anything else unresolved in us. It can keep noticing itself and even live from and as it through this human self in many situations. We can be in a temporary transcendent state. Our old psychological mechanisms may still be intact enough to push our traumas aside or keep them under the surface as much as that is possible.

In this situation, what’s unresolved in us will inevitably color our perception and life, and it will get triggered more actively in some situations and areas of life. It will always be with us and shape our life. 

It’s not a situation that can last forever. At some point, anything unresolved in our body-mind has to come to the surface to be seen, felt, loved, and recognized as happening within and as what we are. We have to learn to relate to it more consciously and for what it is (scared and wounded parts of us) and invite in healing for it. 

TRAUMA AND WOUNDS LIVE IN SEPARATION CONSCIOUSNESS

What’s the problem with traumas in this context, and generally what’s unresolved in us?

It’s not actually a problem. They are part of the process. It’s natural and even innocent. It provides material for exploration, grounding, humbling, maturing, and so on.

At the same time, these parts of us are out of alignment with the awakening. These parts of us were formed from separation consciousness and life within and from separation consciousness. And, as mentioned above, they will inevitably color our perception and life. As long as they are here, we will live partly from and as these parts of us.

WHAT MAKES IT EASIER AND MORE DIFFICULT

Some things make this process easier: We may have a relatively small trauma load, or just a little comes up at once. We may already have good habits in how to relate to it. We may already be relatively healthy, grounded, and mature. We may find ourselves among people who understand and support the process. In short, we have the resources to deal with it and what’s coming up may not be big enough to overwhelm us. 

And the reverse seems to make this process more difficult: We have a larger and more difficult trauma load. A lot is coming up at once. We may feel overwhelmed and not know how to deal with it. We may not be so healthy, grounded, and mature. We may not find ourselves in an understanding and supportive environment. We may not have the inner and outer resources to effectively deal with it, and what comes up overwhelms us. 

THE EMBODIMENT ASPECT OF THE PROCESS

This is really about embodiment, which is part of the awakening process.

It’s about bringing it into life in a more consistent, grounded, mature, and healthy way.

For that to happen, we need to deal with our trauma and anything unresolved in us, and it’s an ongoing process.

I doubt there is ever a finishing line, at least in this lifetime or as long as we are incarnated.

AWAKENING AS A PROCESS

The essential part of awakening is not technically a process. It’s our nature recognizing itself and that happens here and now.

And everything else is a process. What leads up to it, and how it unfolds within and as that noticing.

IS IT WORTH IT?

Is it worth it?

It is, in a way, a nonsensical question. It’s not up to us as an individual. What’s happening here locally is part of the process of all of existence. Everything has infinite causes stretching out to the widest extent of existence and the beginning of time.

Also, it depends on how we look at it. It can be tremendously difficult and painful, as I know from my own experience. It can seriously impact and complicate our lives.

Not dealing with trauma is not necessarily any easier. That comes with its own pain and challenges and it lasts a lot longer.

HOW IT HAS BEEN FOR ME

I am writing from my own experience here so someone else will talk about it differently.

For me, the initial oneness shift happened when I was sixteen and didn’t go away. My human self lived in a kind of honeymoon state for about ten years where the unprocessed human stuff was set aside or buried. Not intentionally, since I was deeply fascinated by psychology (especially Jung and depth psychology) and did regular therapy. But my system had mechanisms in place to keep it manageable.

Then, a dark night started. First, through a profound sense of being off track in life (I made a life decision that went against my clear inner guidance and knowing). And then, about ten years later, through the “lid” being taken off what was unprocessed in my system. That seemed to have happened through a combination of (a) six months in a clear no-self state, (b) my body-mind being severely weakened by a chronic illness CFS), and (c) a “dangerous prayer” where I sincerely and deeply asked the divine to “show me what’s left” (a deep and overwhelming survival fear came up one or two weeks after). An aspect of this is that a lot has been falling apart in my life, over and over, sometimes because of the way I have dealt with the trauma.

I am still in that darker phase of the dark night, although the form of it keeps changing.

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Another Amma experience – let there be light

I wanted to share another Amma experience that happened just now. 

I used to invite Amma to help when I do group healings, and I have thought of visiting her ashram, but I have not felt a deep and personal connection. That all changed with what happened Monday night and I feel her with me all the time. 

This morning, I was working on a flashlight/headlamp that wouldn’t turn on. I tried everything without result, had given up, and was ready to order another one. As a last resort, I asked Amma for help. A part of me thought it was too small to bother her, but I then reminded myself that it’s more about deepening the connection. After asking Amma, I clicked the “on” button and – through a miracle – it turned on! It seems to be back to normal working order now.

It’s small and it’s not small at all. It’s not small to me.

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Why things have been going wrong

For the last 10-15 years, there has been a pattern of something amazing coming into my life – a fulfillment of a dream – and then falling apart relatively quickly. In reality, that’s been a pattern my whole adult life, it’s just that it seems to have intensified for the last decade or so.

THE UNIVERSALITY OF CHANGE

Of course, all is change. This is something everyone experiences. What comes together falls apart.

I am aware of that and it gives me a more universal context for what’s happening in my own life, which is freeing.

At the same time, it does seem to happen a lot here. Especially over the last decade, it seems to have happened more consistently, frequently, and dramatically than what’s usual.

WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?

When I asked the main Vortex Healing teacher about it, he said he couldn’t find specific emotional issues and that it looked more karmic.

That is likely generally true. It’s possible that through grace, Amma helped me with this. (We’ll see how it unfolds.)

AND SOME PAINFUL ISSUES & BELIEFS

When I look at each specific situation, I also see things I could have done differently and some issues that prevented me from acting more decisively and being a good steward of my life.

What are some of these issues? The ones I am aware of seem to fit into a general theme.

Not wanting to be seen/wanting to be seen. A strategy of wanting to hide and be invisible fueled by a fear of being visible and what others may say or do. I dropped out of one or two careers I loved, was passionate about, and was good at, because of this (art and sustainability/community organizing). When I write here, I do it anonymously so nobody needs to know who is writing it. Few people in my life know about these articles.

Not being able to stand up for myself/imposing my wishes too strongly. The first is a strategy of not wanting to upset or hurt others, which comes from a fear of their reaction and anger. The second is a compensation by sometimes imposing my wants on others, which comes out of a fear of my wishes being ignored. If I suggest something, and it’s rejected, I often quickly give up. Often, I don’t even speak up. Sometimes, I put more energy than I need behind something as a compensation.

Seeing myself as less than/more than. The low self-esteem may be a strategy to stay invisible and out of harm’s way, and it’s compensated for by seeing myself as better than others. I tell myself that what I can contribute is worthless and banal, and also secretly judge others for not being as good as me at something or not seeing something I see. When I write here, a voice in me tells me it’s banal and obvious, while I sometimes indirectly criticize others for not getting it.

There are many others, but these seem quite central. When I write them out like this, it seems pretty terrible but it’s good to be open about it.

I likely internalized these from my birth family out of innocence, in order to do as others do, and in order to stay safe in that environment. I also see how they were formed (or reinforced) to help me deal with specific and repeated types of situations in my family and with peers while growing up.

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An Amma experience: no words

This is one of the more remarkable experiences so far in my process. Below is what I wrote just after it happened, and I’ll leave it as it is since it is quite raw and naked. I may write a more organized summary at some point. I’ll also add updates.

ORIGINAL POST

I have experienced quite a lot of distress today, from coming face-to-face again with the pattern of something very good happening in my life, and then it falls apart. I felt I was brought to my knees.

I wrote the main Vortex Healing teacher (Ric) about this pattern to see if he had any insights or pointers. (His pointers and insights are usually very helpful to me.) His response was that he could not find an emotional issue behind it, that it was likely karmic, and to pray for support.

My wife and I then asked Amma for help, while laying in bed.

First, I saw Amma in the distance. There were several light grey cutouts between me and Amma, so I asked her to remove all the obstacles.

She did, and was here in energetic form through and in and around my system, working on it.

She was no longer human. She showed herself in an energy form.

It shifted, and there was no division between Amma and my system. Amma was my system, my system was Amma. It was as if my system was made up of small diamonds.

There were many shifts for the next two hours or so.

I saw my system in infinite space and made up of small diamonds.

There were tears for most of the time and periods of strong breathing.

I saw and experienced what seemed like the real yantras that the drawings try to depict. My system was these yantras, and they were my system.

There was a cosmic phase. Infinite space. Stars.

There was a phase with the presence of aliens (!).

There was a softening and the aliveness and presence of this land was strong, along with infinite space, stars, and the center of the earth.

A lot of the time, I think I sounded like Ellie from Contact when she was going through the wormhole (!).

No words. I don’t know anything. Everything. Nothing. So beautiful.

During the cosmic phase and the stars: This is home.

I took a photo of myself after this was over, to send to Ric, and the photo looks very different from any other of me. During the process, Amma and I were no longer human. We were energies, space, and consciousness, and that shows in the photo.

My wife sensed the same as me throughout this process. She would report what I experienced.

Apart from the first few minutes, I experienced all as energies and infinite space.

This lasted from about 10 pm when I read Ric’s email to close to midnight.

It took some minutes for my human presence to return, and it’s mostly but not quite back an hour later.

It was as if everything that happened today led to this, including channeling into water to clear and protect the land, and sprinkling it along the edges of Finca Milagros. (The road and Camino Real.)

THE FOLLOWING DAY

A few words in the morning: I woke up with some sadness, maybe because of what’s happening in this neighborhood. My system feels quite different and familiar at the same time. Spacious and cosmic, in a way. I still have no idea what it was about. Was it a healing for this land? Was karma removed from my system? My wife says she feels it was a lineage that was created.

I remember that early in the process last night, I asked Amma if this was for me. After all, I have a lot of trauma and struggles at a human level. She waved it away as if she waved away a fly. It felt as if it was determined a long time ago.

From the middle of the process, or earlier, it was all very cosmic. It was as if the whole of the cosmos was here with stars, planets, beings from other places in the cosmos. Later, they were here with this land and the spirit and spirits of this land and the beings here.

Everything happened within and as energy and consciousness – the whole process, Amma, space, cosmos, stars, this land, this (“my”) system, the little diamonds making up this system.

The infinity and space was dark through the process, happening as energies and consciousness, with stars and the cosmos and what else was happening through the process.

Tears ran for just about the whole process. (And also this morning.)

Here is a summary I wrote for one of the Vortex teachers, asking if she could sense what happened: I am writing mainly because we asked Amma for help last night, and it started a two-hour profound process for me. A. sensed it too, and she sensed what was happening as it was happening. It was as if the whole cosmos was here, and everything was energies and consciousness. Anything human was left behind.

TWO DAYS LATER

Update two days later: I was very tired yesterday and rested and slept the whole afternoon and evening and slept through the night.

When I noticed some old personality patterns, they didn’t seem to fit so much anymore.

Looking back to the two-hour Amma process, what stands out is that Amma is not most fundamentally human and I am also not. (We are consciousness and energies, and Amma also revealed herself and me as emptiness and more.)

I remember the complete impossibility of living from what was revealed. (And the impossibility of not living as it since it’s what we are).

And also that there are no words. No words can even get close to describing any of it.

A thought can say that none of that is really “new”. I wrote the same in my teens from direct experience and noticing. And yet, it’s always new. And this version and packaging of it was also new to me.

THREE DAYS LATER

This is a reminder of why I am not so interested in psychedelics. This cosmic journey was as strong and profound as I imagine just about any psychedelic journey. Variations of these kinds of shifts and journeys have been part of my life since early childhood.

ONE WEEK LATER

It’s now one week later, and Amma is still here. In my experience, she appears within and as my system and within and as everything. She is also here in healing sessions and when I ask for healing and transformation for myself.

I find I like to rest in and as this noticing and giving everything that’s here, my whole field and system, to Amma and the divine. This is not so different from what I have done since my teens, but it is different in that the Amma quality is here everywhere now. It’s a different flavor of the divine.

When I do healing now, it also has a different flavor. A more cosmic flavor and all as Amma. It’s also happening from emptiness, which again is not so different from how it was even in my teens, but that emptiness somehow also has an Amma flavor now.

During the cosmic journey a week ago, Amma revealed herself in energetic form, as all of Cosmos and existence, and as the emptiness all comes from and which forms itself into all of it. It makes sense since everything is all of this, and she knows she is all of it.

ELEVEN DAYS LATER

I spent the day yesterday giving everything to Amma – this system, this life, anything in my system that still holds onto an experience of separation and being a doer or observer, and so on. Really, it’s just a noticing that that’s how it already is, and rest in and as that noticing.

In the evening, I started feeling very cooked and a lot of old trauma came up in my system. It was very uncomfortable. When that happens, I usually try to be on my own and not make any decisions. (Against my better judgment, I did send a message – saying something true – which created some trouble, partly because I didn’t have the full picture of the situation. That too is bringing up things in me. Including a family pattern of speaking up about something real and being met with anger.)

It’s now the morning after, and my system still feels very cooked, raw, and in turmoil.

It’s OK. I assume it’s part of a healing process. And it also impacts my daily life, of course.

TWO WEEKS LATER

It’s now two weeks later. What’s easier than anything else is to notice Amma as everything. I notice Amma as all there is without exception, including the most terrible things.

I pick something my personality doesn’t like – an experience, something in me, someone else, a situation – notice it as Amma, rest in and as that noticing, and allow it to work on me and transform me in whatever way it wants.

Of course, Amma here is equal to the divine, and this has very little to do with her human form or even her energetic form. This is Amma as the nothing that forms itself into everything. And I notice the Amma flavor in it all now, after what happened two weeks ago.

THREE WEEKS LATER

I find myself using “Amma healing” now instead of anything else. It seems far more powerful and that’s also what I hear from others. It seems I can quite easily connect with Amma – as cosmic emptiness, energy, and form – and ask her with healing for individuals, situations, and places.

I’ll keep exploring it. Or it will keep exploring itself with a tiny input from me.

Since that evening three weeks ago, my sleep pattern has been different. I used to get up at 4 or 5am and often remembered dreams. Now, I sleep until 7 or 8am and although I know there has been a lot of processing-kind of dreams, I don’t remember any.

I should also mention that since then, a lot has been coming up in my system. A lot of old energies and likely old traumas. It’s been very difficult, and it did shift two days ago. My system feels more open again now.

TWO MONTHS LATER

A couple of notes two months later:

I haven’t remembered dreams (apart from fragments from one night) since this experience. That’s very unusual for me. I feel it has to do with this experience since it shifted on that day.

I wonder if I went into a kind of “opening-closing” dynamic here. That’s something that happened often in my teens and early twenties. At a human level, I would open quite fully to the divine, and then there would be a phase where my system would go into a contraction and unprocessed things would come up. A few days ago, my system went into a kind of contraction, perhaps as a response to old unprocessed pain and anger surfacing.

Another way to talk about is that that “ups” are followed by “downs”. Our system opens to the divine, and then unprocessed material comes up to be seen, felt, loved, and recognized as consciousness and/or a flavor of the divine. It seems to be a natural dynamic. It all happens within and as what I am, and sometimes my center of gravity is in that noticing and sometimes caught up in what’s coming up.

Health crisis & shifting the center of gravity into my nature as a safety valve

Close to summer solstice 2022, I found myself with sepsis and in acute septic shock and rushed to the hospital.

WHAT HAPPENED

I was in Ski, having just returned from the Andes mountains. A tooth broke followed by a strong infection in my jaw and face. I received antibiotics from the emergency dentist. (This happened on a weekend.) It didn’t seem to do anything. That Monday, I went back to the dentist for more work on the tooth, and on my way back to the house, I blacked out.

Somehow I was able to walk the ten minutes back to the house, but I cannot remember anything about it.

I came back to consciousness naked on the couch in the basement of my parents house, sweating profusely, ice cold, and shaking so strongly it was close to impossible to use my phone to contact anyone. With a lot of struggle, I was able to leave a message for my wife (who was sick with covid in the guesthouse) and my brother.

My brother eventually came, didn’t seem to take it very seriously (he disappeared into the bathroom for what seemed an eternity and didn’t tell me where he was), and eventually took me to the emergency room.

They relatively quickly suspected septic shock, called an ambulance, and I was rushed to A-Hus in Oslo. They put ten or fifteen tubes and cables in me, informed me that my kidneys had collapsed, and put me under observation for 24 hours. After that, I stayed in a corridor in the infection section of the hospital for a week. (With people screaming and dying in the rooms I was outside of.) It was quite an experience.

I wrote about this episode in a couple of other articles: It’s all a bonus and My recent health crisis.

FEAR

Between regaining consciousness in my parents’ basement and receiving the diagnosis, fear came up. I realized something serious was happening. I had no idea what it was. I had fear of something seriously happening to me that would affect me for the rest of my life. And I also noticed that a fear of dying did not come up, that seemed OK.

GRATITUDE

I also had a profound gratitude to the nurses and doctors and the healthcare system in Norway. I could not have had a better experience. (Apart from the infection wing of the hospital being full due to a surge in covid, which has more to do with the priorities of politicians and voters than anything else.)

MY NATURE

It seems that the safety valve for my system is to shift the center of gravity more strongly into my nature.

During this whole process, I found myself strongly in and as consciousness. Consciousness was strongly in the foreground and whatever happened within and as consciousness – the symptoms, the events, the people, this human self, sensations, thoughts, and emotions – was all much more in the background. It was happening, but what it happened within and as was much more clear and strong.

That also happened when I had a heat stroke in Oregon several years ago. (Likely because my doctor told me to eat less salt, I was already eating very little salt, and it was a very hot summer.)

I also suspect it’s how the initial oneness shift happened when I was sixteen. My human self was under a lot of stress at the time (to an extreme and overwhelming level), and I suspect my system dealt with it by shifting the center of gravity into consciousness itself.

Initially, when I was fifteen, there was a shift into an observer-observed duality where I found myself as consciousness (without having those words for it) and the whole world – this human self, others, thoughts, feelings, and so on – seemed very far away.

A year later, there was a shift into all – without exception – as God. This human self, thoughts, feelings, ideas of being this human self, ideas of separation, and so on, was all recognized as the play of God, as God taking all those forms. That was the language and interpretation of this human self at the time. These days, I would say it in a slightly different way. There was a shift of the center of gravity into consciousness, into the consciousness I am, and all content of consciousness was recognized as that, as happening within and as the consciousness I am.

SHIFTS IN CENTER OF GRAVITY AND ATTENTION

That initial oneness shift stayed. The shifts have more been in how much in the foreground or background my nature is. I have gone through phases where it has been very much in the foreground – the first ten years or so, during a period when the no-self aspect was in the foreground, and I would also say now. And in daily life, it also depends on where attention goes – to my nature or specific content of experience.

SAFETY VALVE

In my case, the shift into my nature recognizing itself did definitely not happen because I was especially noble or into spiritual practice or had prayed for it or anything of that kind. It happened because my human self was so messed up and needed a safety valve, and – for whatever reason – shifting the center of gravity into my nature turned out to be that safety valve.

My human self had absolutely no interest in spirituality at the time, and even now, I prefer to avoid language related to spirituality as much as possible.

Image by me and Midjourney

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 47

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.

COMMUNICATING WITH NATURE SPIRITS

When we first saw Finca Milagros (then Santa Lucia), we were both stunned by the magic and beauty of the place, and we felt deeply that this land wanted us here to protect and support it. It was as if the divine and the nature spirit(s) of this land clearly communicated with us. I have not had that experience anywhere else before or since.

I felt strongly that we were meant to be here, but it seemed impossible to buy the land for a few different reasons. It seemed too big for us and it had no car access. We were able to find more financial help, and we were able to buy access with the help of a friend. All of it seemed like a miracle.

I have never experienced this particular connection with a land before, and I experience it all the time when I am here.

This morning, I sprinkled water on the land around the house to energetically clear the ground. (We channel into the water, and then sprinkle it.) This too felt like a clear guidance from the divine and the nature spirit(s) here, and when I walked around with the water, I was guided as to where to sprinkle and if some areas needed more. It feels like the divine and the nature spirit(s) here wanted me to do it so they could do their work through the water. My wife senses the same.

I also communicate with the nature spirit(s) here. I tell it our intention and plans. I ask for support and guidance. And there is a clear sense of two-way communication.

I know all of this can seem a bit weird, especially in our culture, and perhaps also for a well-educated science-oriented guy like me. For me, it’s so clear that I cannot ignore it.

Also, it fits with a more general sensing and communication. I can sense, to some extent, what’s going on in the system of others at a distance, and when I check, it’s accurate. I can see energies around people, animals, plants, and inanimate objects. I can see the level of awakening in someone’s system. I can invite in healing at a distance, and it often works well. And so on. Communicating with nature spirits is just a part of this general experience.

Why do I write nature spirit(s)? It’s because I sense the spirit of this land as one and many. It’s both at the same time, and it’s connected to the spirit of the larger region and of this living planet as a whole. It’s also an expression of the divine as anything else.

This is one of the things I don’t talk much about unless I meet someone else who also lives it.

WHEN IT BECOMES VISCERAL

It’s not uncommon for something to start as a mental understanding or a glimpse or taste, and then become more visceral as we get more familiar with it.

So also with our nature recognizing itself. Sometimes, it takes time. It takes time for it to explore itself and especially to explore how to have this human self live from and as it.

For instance, my world is happening within and as what I am. My world is created by my mind. It’s processing and interpreting everything and creating a more-or-less coherent world out of it. That’s a view aligned with mainstream psychology and neuroscience. (And common sense.)

In a more phenomenological sense, I can say that to myself, I am consciousness and the world to me happens within and as consciousness. It’s happening within the consciousness I am. The consciousness I am forms itself into any and all experience, into the world as it appears to me. In a very real way, it is me.

We can get this in different ways. We can get the idea of it, through mental representations. We can notice it when we look and things are not too triggered in us. And we can get it more viscerally and in more areas of life and daily life situations, even when something is triggered in us. There is a deepening here over time and with noticing and experience.

Also, at times, our system can shift into a state where this is strongly in the foreground and everything else is in the background, which helps us recognize it and become familiar with it. When these states fade, we may need to work more intentionally to notice and live from it, and deepen into it.

In this example, the noticing doesn’t necessarily change the experience itself. It changes the context of the experience. That can change how our human self relates to it, and the more viscerally we get it at a human level, the more it influences how our human self responds and relates.

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Being capacity for the world

I find I am fundamentally capacity for the world as it appears to me.

CAPACITY

I am fundamentally what allows any and all content in this field of experience.

This capacity is everywhere in my experience. It’s as if it’s inherent in all experience. It’s as if it forms itself into any experience.

It’s as if it makes itself into consciousness itself, which in turn makes itself into any experience.

NOTICING IT

There isn’t much to say about it. It’s just something to notice, and not even notice but kind of touching on noticing since this is not directly content of experience.

It’s always here. Sometimes, it comes to the foreground of attention. Sometimes, it’s more in the background while attention is on something else. (And even then, it’s kind of noticed.)

Sometimes, it’s even more in the foreground and everything else goes into the background. In my case, it happens during some shifts in meditation. And it also happens when there is consciousness through dreamless sleep.

TALKING ABOUT IT

Words come short in describing it, as words come short in describing anything. (Not because it’s so unusual or mysterious or unfamiliar, but because of the nature of thoughts. Thoughts can only point to something, they cannot capture it.)

When I look for words here and now, I can say it’s absolute stillness, a kind of absolute stillness that’s in and takes the form of everything.

NOT SPECIAL

It’s not special. I assume any “conscious being”, to themselves, are consciousness, and also are capacity in this way. It’s likely universal. It’s difficult to see that it can be any other way.

Here, it’s been consciously noticed for about 37 years so this human self is used to it. It’s familiar to this human self. That too makes it not so much to talk about.

IS IT IMPORTANT?

Is it important? It’s important since there would be no experience without it. It’s what allows any experience. It’s what takes the form of any experience. It’s even what seems to allow and take the form of consciousness itself. It’s kind of a scent that permeates everything.

Is it important to notice it? Or for it to kind of notice itself? Apparently not since it doesn’t seem to be something most consciousnesses focus much on. If it was important to life and existence, it would be noticed a lot more. It seems that it’s perfectly fine for it to be in the background and not consciously noticed or recognized so much.

For this consciousness, it’s fun and interesting to notice, and here too, it’s very rarely talked about. Very occasionally, there may be some words written to reflect it, and I don’t think I have talked to anyone about it unless briefly when it’s clear we both recognize it, as a kind of nod.

A FEW MORE WORDS

Finding myself as most fundamentally capacity also means I am not most fundamentally human. That’s fine. My human layer is one of many layers, and I am most fundamentally capacity for all of it. I am what forms itself into all of it.

Is this what Buddhists call emptiness? It may be. I see how the label could fit, but I prefer the word capacity which I think Douglas Harding used. It fits a bit more.

I used “as if” and “kind of” phrases above. I am sure I could find clearer ways of saying it, but it also works. It shows that the words here are just pointers and approximations. They are trying to reflect something that’s here in immediacy but is also a bit elusive.

The image was created by me and Midjourney.

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Two sides of an unexpected oneness shift: Profoundly at home, profoundly alone – my story

When I was fifteen, there was a shift where the whole world – thoughts, feelings, sensations, others, the wider world – seemed very distant and far away. One year later, there was a shift into oneness where all – without exception – was revealed as God.

THE SITUATION

This human self was an atheist at the time, although with some curiosity about what’s outside of our conventional worldview – ESP, quantum physics, and similar things. I lived in a small town in Norway, and it was the ’80s before the web, so I knew nothing about anything related to this. I knew nobody who was interested in it. There was no web to go on to find info. I couldn’t even find any books since the local library didn’t have anything about it, and I didn’t even know what search terms to use.

RETURNING HOME

So on the one hand, it was a profound sense of coming home. It was a homecoming to something completely unexpected (to this human self) and profoundly familiar (to my nature). It was clear, it was obvious. Everything is God, without exception. And that includes this human self and any sense of being this human self. It was all what God has formed itself into. In this, there is no room for problems.

TURMOIL

At the same time, at my human level, there were a lot of problems. I had a mysterious disease. (Later identified as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.) I had a lot of anxiety and hangups due to family and school dynamics. Huge amounts of energy was running through my system 24/7 for years, it felt like high voltage being sent through ordinary housing wires. I had nobody to talk about these things with at all.

FINDING OTHERS

It wasn’t until that I found a book by Meister Eckhart in the main library in Oslo, where I saw glimmers of someone who had recognized the same, filtered by another time and culture and said by someone who obviously wanted to be careful about how he expressed it. (1) I also met a couple of people (BH & HB) who immediately recognized it in me and where I recognized it in them. That happened when I was nineteen and twenty and was a big relief for this human self. And I found Taoism and read just about everything I could find there. Again, the writings typically reflected something similar but didn’t explicitly talk about the shift that had happened here.

In general, my human life changed significantly for the better after I left high school, moved to Oslo, and started art school there. I found new friends. I found new communities. I was able to explore everything with more breathing space. Things started falling into place.

THE TWO SIDES

So there were two sides to this. As what I am – what a thought may call consciousness, oneness – there was just a returning home that what’s always here. As who I am – as this confused and wounded human being – it was a wild mix of surprise, excitement, confusion, bewilderment, aloneness, and much more.

And that’s all, of course, happening within and as what I am. It’s all happening within and as what a thought may call consciousness, oneness, or any number of things.

NOTES

(1) In my teens, I also read a lot about systems views, mainly by Fritjof Capra and the people he referenced, that hinted at it but didn’t seem to come from a direct noticing. And I also read a lot of books by C.G. Jung which also hinted at it, but again were not written from a direct noticing. They hinted at oneness, the oneness revealed in the shift, and I loved it. I also loved systems views for how important they are for our world today. (Although most still don’t use them, for whatever reason.) And I loved Jung for his understanding of how to find more wholeness at a human level.

Image created by me and Midjourney

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 46

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 NOW THAT’S ALWAYS HERE

It’s difficult to talk about our nature, and also the present or now.

It’s not because it’s more mysterious than anything else, or distant or something we are unfamiliar with.

It’s because words are designed to make distinctions, and this is what all distinctions happen within and as. It’s because most of us, including me, are not used to talking about it. And it’s also because it’s so familiar to us it may be difficult to recognize. It’s all we have ever known.

So how to talk about now?

It’s easy to say what it’s not. It’s not my mental images and representations about the past or future.

It’s what these mental representations happen within and as. It’s what anything I have ever experienced happen within and as.

The now that’s here is the now that’s always been here.

We can say that it’s always changing, which is not wrong. And yet, I only know about that change by comparing mental images of what’s here now (or just passed), and what was a few moments ago, and perhaps even what may happen in the immediate future.

That’s where it gets a little difficult to talk about.

Maybe it’s easier to say that…

The whole field of experience happens within and as what I am. That includes any mental representations of past, future, and present. It also includes any mental representations of change, and of an always changing now, that comes about by comparing mental representations of what’s here, what just was, and what may very soon be.

Or…. I am space for what’s here, which includes my ideas of past, future, and present. And what’s here is always changing. It’s never the same. It’s always new, fresh, and different.

It’s very simple. It’s what I already am most familiar with. And yet, I find it difficult to put into words. For the words to be more accurate, they also tend to get convoluted, at least when I try to do it.

THE TWO SIDES OF AN UNEXPECTED ONENESS SHIFT

When I was fifteen, there was a shift where the whole world – thoughts, feelings, sensations, others, the wider world – seemed very distant and far away. One year later, there was a shift into oneness where all – without exception – was revealed as God.

This human self was an atheist at the time, although with some curiosity about ESP and similar things. I lived in a small town in Norway, and it was the ’80s before the web, so I knew nothing about anything related to this. I knew nobody interested in it. There was no internet to go on to find info. I couldn’t even find any books since the local library didn’t have anything about it, and I didn’t even know what search terms to use.

So on the one hand, it was a profound sense of coming home. It was a homecoming to something completely unexpected (to this human self) and profoundly familiar (to my nature). It was clear, it was obvious. Everything is God, without exception. And that includes this human self and any sense of being this human self. It was all what God has formed itself into. In this, there is no room for problems.

At the same time, at my human level, there were a lot of problems. I had a mysterious disease. (Which later was identified as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.) I had a huge amount of anxiety and hangups due to family and school dynamics. Huge amounts of energy was running through my system 24/7 for years, it felt like high voltage being sent through ordinary housing wires. I had nobody to talk about these things with at all.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I found a book by Meister Eckhart in the main library in Oslo, where I saw glimmers of someone who had recognized the same, filtered by another time and culture and said by someone who obviously wanted to be careful about how he expressed it. (1) I also met a couple of people who immediately recognized it in me from themselves, and where I recognized it in them from myself. That happened when I was nineteen and twenty and was a big relief for this human self.

(1) I also read a lot about systems view, mainly by Fritjof Capra, that hinted at it but didn’t seem to come from a direct noticing. And I also read a lot of books by C.G. Jung which also hinted at it, but again were not written from a direct noticing.

Image by me and Midjourney.

Click “Read More” for more of these shorter articles.

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“I love you, but I love our ecocidal civilization more”

For decades, we have been in a global ecological overshoot.

If we continue, it can only end one way: A dramatic ecological collapse, and with it the collapse of our civilization. (We are in an escalating phase of that ecological collapse now.)

So why don’t more people take it seriously?

Why do so many, in effect, say to their children: “I love you, but I love our ecocidal and suicidal civilization more”?

THE CRUX OF THE SITUATION

The crux of this situation is not – as many think – greed, corporations, governments, lack of technology, or similar. These all exist within a system that’s out of alignment with ecological realities. People are just fulfilling their roles in this ecocidal and ultimately suicidal system.

The crux is the system itself and the worldview it comes out of.

We have a civilization out of alignment with ecological realities.

For instance, our economic system assumes unlimited natural resources and an unlimited ability of nature to absorb our waste and toxins. This system was developed at a time when we had few enough people and simple enough technology so we could make those assumptions. These days, with billions more people and far more advanced and effective technology, it’s ecocidal and suicidal.

What type of worldview does this come out of? We have a worldview that assumes separation. We don’t viscerally get that our own health and well-being is intimately related to the health and well-being of our larger social and ecological whole. We assume, as mentioned above, unlimited nature while we live as part of a limited planet.

Even more fundamentally, we have a civilization that reflects a power-over orientation. We seek power over ourselves (just look at the orientation in many self-help books), others, and nature. And one that assumes that divinity is a sky-god removed from us, nature, and the universe. By removing divinity from ourselves and nature, we open it all for abuse.

The alternative is a power-with orientation where we seek partnership and cooperation with ourselves, others, and nature. And seeing divinity in nature and the universe, which leads to relating to it all with more reverence, respect, and gratitude.

There are workable alternatives. It is fully possible to have an individual and collective worldview that treats ourselves, others, and nature with reverence. And it’s very possible to have a system where what’s easy and attractive to do, individually and collectively, is also what supports society, ecosystems, and the lives and well-being of other species and future generations of all species. It’s a matter of priorities and collective will.

WHY DON’T WE TAKE IT MORE SERIOUSLY?

So why do so many – through their words and actions – prioritize supporting this clearly suicidal civilization over the lives and well-being of their children and grandchildren? Why do they continue to vote for the same politicians? Why do they feed themselves and their children food grown with poison? Why do they clean their houses with toxins? Why do they use pesticides in their garden? Why do they have a sterile lawn instead of a natural garden that supports life? Why do they continue to live as if we are not in a massive ecological crisis?

As usual, there are many possible answers.

We live within this system so it’s difficult to break out of it and live very differently. Our system makes what’s easy and attractive to do also, often, damaging to our life-support systems.

Many have enough with their daily lives. We don’t feel we have the resources to deal with the bigger picture or long-term thinking.

It requires intention and effort to change our worldview, way of life, and who we vote for with our money and ballots. It’s easier to put it off.

The change required may go against our identity. We have built up an identity around a certain political orientation and way of life, changing it all requires us to go outside of that identity, and that seems difficult and scary.

We live in denial in different ways. We tell ourselves that…. nothing is happening, we have time, others will take care of it, we’ll find a technological solution. We distract ourselves (being busy, entertainment, scapegoating, going into harebrained conspiracy theories, and so on.)

Many misdiagnose the situation. As mentioned above, they think it’s about greed, human nature, corporations, governments, lack of technology, and similar things existing within the system. In reality, it’s about the system itself and the worldview it reflects. Some also seem to think our crisis is mostly about climate change while it’s far more fundamental than that. In theory, we can solve climate change, and we’ll still go into ecological collapse if we don’t solve the overshoot problem itself.

WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?

I don’t know. We can just do our best and see how it unfolds.

Our current civilization will end, as they all do. In the best case, it will transform into a more ecologically sound civilization.

Very likely, we’ll have to live through a massive ecological collapse first. It seems difficult to avoid, considering how far we already are into it, and how most people distract themselves with literally anything else.

And that means a massive loss of different types of species, and – again in the best case – a massive reduction in the size of humanity.

So what do we do individually?

SOME THINGS WE CAN DO

Here is some of what I have done.

I have educated myself about the situation. Early on in life, I learned about overshoot and ecological footprints, studied systems views, and so on.

I aim to orient myself to reality. I try to take a sober and informed view of our situation while also knowing I cannot know for certain how it all will unfold.

I find joy and meaning in my connection with the larger whole, through the Universe Story, the Great Story, the Epic of Evolution, Deep Ecology, and the Practices to Reconnect.

I am working on transforming my worldview – intellectually and viscerally – in the same way, and also through different forms of inquiry.

I have made myself somewhat familiar with what happens when civilizations decline and end. What we see in the world today is partly typical for our civilization, and partly what we would expect when it’s in decline. (That includes people distracting themselves with conspiracy theories, or attaching to super-optimistic views of a coming golden age, lots of people waking up, and so on.)

I take small actions in my daily life. I eat organic, local, low on the food chain, and with the seasons as far as possible. For many years, I only bought (very cool and high-quality) second-hand clothes. When it’s possible, I buy food from local farmers. And so on. Doing this helps me feel that it’s possible to change and that I am contributing, in a small way, to the solution.

I have also been involved in other ways. For several years, my self-created job was to coordinate a relatively large group of people with a passion for sustainability. We used a consistent partnership-oriented and solution-focused approach. These days, I am the steward of 15 hectares in the Andes mountains and we work on a long-term regeneration project there to help the land back to a more diverse and vibrant state.

I remind myself of what I am grateful for. At times, I have done a daily all-inclusive gratitude practice. (Write and send a list to a partner that includes what it’s easy to find gratitude for and what’s challenging, this helps open the mind to find the genuine gifts in anything that’s happening in my life.) Other times, it happens more spontaneously in daily life.

I know that endings, change, and death is what opens space for something new. The early relatively uniform state of the universe gave way for particles and matter. The death of stars provided more complex molecules that formed themselves into this planet and us. The death of species opens space for other species. The death of previous civilizations created space for ours. The death of individuals creates room for new individuals. Another civilization may come after ours. Eventually, after humanity is gone, other species may develop their own civilization. And so on. I know this intellectually and am deepening into a visceral knowing of it.

I have sought out communities of like-minded people. I was involved with an amazing sustainability organization in Madison, Wisconsin. I was active in natural building and permaculture groups. I did a work trade at an organic CSA farm in Wisconsin.

I notice my more fundamental nature. I bring my more fundamental nature to the foreground of attention. I find myself as what the world – to me – happens within and as. I find myself as capacity for it all. That helps to release some entrenched identification with this human self, a sense of doer or observer, and so on. I sometimes use Headless experiments or the Big Mind process to explore this further. In the past, I did a lot of basic meditation (notice and allow what’s here in the field of experience) to invite my more fundamental nature to notice itself and rest in and as that noticing. This too is something my system is viscerally deepening into.

I have done a lot of inquiry on stressful beliefs and identifications (The Work of Byron Katie), and on my sense fields to soften the charge in identifications (Kiloby Inquiries).

I use heart-centered practices to help shift how I relate to whatever is here – thoughts, emotions, sensations, others, situations – and so on. Mostly ho’oponopono and tonglen.

I have done a lot of body-centered practices like taichi, chigong, yoga, and Breema. This helps shift how I relate to my body and myself and life and helps me find more nourishment and grounding.

I have also done a lot of practice to train a more stable attention. Mostly, bringing attention to the sensations in the nose from the breath.

I have done and am doing healing and trauma work to help shift how I relate to whatever is here in experience and invite healing for issues in themselves. I find Trauma and tension Release Exercises (neurogenic tremors and movements) very helpful. And these days, I mostly use Vortex Healing.

I am sure there is a lot more that doesn’t come to mind right now.

Conscious through deep sleep

In the mid-2000s, a couple of decades into this exploration, I set the intention to see if consciousness (the consciousness I am) could be conscious through deep sleep and throughout the night.

CONSCIOUS THROUGH SLEEP

After a few nights, it worked.

Consciousness – the consciousness I am – observed this human self fall asleep. There was consciousness through the night, including through deep sleep. It was not aware of anything in particular – apart from perhaps a very faint (subtle) content of experience. There was an absence of a sense of time. (Or perhaps a very faint sense of time as if it was away in the distance? I don’t remember if there was.) Nothing much happening. Then some dreams, and then the waking world.

Is this important? I am not sure. Of course, it’s one of many things that points to and highlights my more fundamental nature. Beyond that, I didn’t find it obviously useful or interesting. Also, this human self prefers awareness to be “gone” during deep sleep, so I didn’t pursue it further.

RELATED TO…

This reminds me of a few other things.

LUCID DREAMING

When I was little, maybe five or six years old, and set the intention to be aware that I am dreaming while dreaming. That too worked. I dreamt I was in a big barn (US style for some reason), and a large group of people with pitchforks were chasing me. I ran out towards a steep drop. I also knew I was dreaming, so it didn’t matter so much that I had no escape. Knowing it was a dream was escape enough.

AWARE OF THE DREAMING PROCESS WHILE AWAKE

I sometimes am consciously aware of the dreaming process while awake, which I wrote about some days ago.

MEMORY FROM BETWEEN LIVES

And it’s similar to my apparent memory from between lives. Here too, there wasn’t too much content of experience. (Apart from the oneness and golden light and some occasional communication with other disembodied entities.) There was very little awareness of time – it seemed very far away. (This memory came as occasional flashbacks when I was very little, before school age.)

DON’T TALK ABOUT IT MUCH

I’ll happily talk about this with others who have similar experiences. It’s fun to explore and compare notes. But I hardly ever mention it otherwise. It seems a distraction from what’s more direct, easy, and essential (noticing our nature here and now) and most people just find it weird.

Image by me and Midjourney

Update: It’s a few days after I wrote this, and something similar happened, likely because this topic and curiosity was in my system from writing the article. I was channeling (Vortex Healing) and lying down on the bed, and consciousness watched as this body was falling asleep. The channeling continued to some extent, although not quite as strongly. And then this body woke up again, likely because a part wanted to stay awake to continue channeling. Watching this body fall asleep is not quite the same as consciousness continuing through deep sleep, but a taste of the same.

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Thoughts and feelings belong to the world

I was on a Headless Way Zoom meeting for the first time this Sunday, and Richard Lang mentioned what someone else had said: Thoughts and feelings belong to the world.

That’s one of the things I love about finding my nature as well.

Thoughts, feelings, sensations, moods, and anything connected with this human self, belong to the world. It’s out there in the world. It’s part of what comes and goes.

It’s part of the field of experience.

What I more fundamentally am is not touched by any of it. I am what allows it all to come and go. I am what momentarily forms itself into all of it. It’s all happening within and as what I am.

MY HISTORY WITH THIS

I noticed this first when I was fifteen and the world suddenly (around noon on January 1st) seemed to become very distant. Thoughts, feelings, sensations, and the wider world all seemed very far away.

My mind responded by thinking something was very wrong. Later, I saw it more as a basic observer-observed split. There was identification with the mental representation of an observer and a release of identification with any content of experience.

In any case, it made it very clear that thoughts, sensations, and so on belong to the world. It belongs to the content of experience. It comes and goes and lives its own life just like any other content of experience and anything else in the world.

This shifted into oneness about a year later, and it never went away. (Although it goes more in the background or foreground of attention depending on where my attention goes…!)

I have since explored this more thoroughly through different forms of inquiry – the Big Mind process, Headless experiments, traditional sense field inquiry, and modern versions of sense field explorations like the Kiloby Inquiries.

Does this mean I don’t have hangups, traumas, wounds, and so on? Does it mean my center of gravity never goes into these traumas and wounds?

Not at all. I have a lot of traumas and wounds, these parts of me operate from separation consciousness, they color my perception and life, and they sometimes come to the surface and take over for a while.

That’s OK. It’s very human. It’s part of the process.

Image is created by me and Midjourney

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Free will?

I have seen articles about a neurobiologist (Robert Sapolsky from Stanford University) who spent decades arriving at the conclusion that we have no free will.

With these types of things, the process of exploration is often more interesting and rewarding than what we arrive at.

And yet, to arrive at that conclusion doesn’t need to take decades.

INFINITE CAUSES

Everything that happens has infinite causes. We can always find one more, and one more, going back to the apparent beginning of time and stretching out to the widest extent of existence.

So where is there room for free will?

OUR NATURE RECOGNIZING ITSELF

Also, the experience of free will only seem to happen when there is identification with and as the mental representations of an I, doer, free will, and so on. When this identification is softened or released, and our nature recognizes itself more clearly, our human self happens within the content of experience as anything else. Our human self lives its own life. It’s happening on its own. There is no experience of free will. Similarly to above, there is no room for free will. The idea of free will or not seems irrelevant.

THE EXPERIENCE OF FREE WILL

We may have the experience of free will. Our mind uses mental representations to create a sense of I and free will and a me that operates according to that free will. That requires a lot of mental gymnastics, but it can appear convincing. This human self does something, and there is a thought saying: “I did that”. There is the experience of free will, but that doesn’t mean there is free will.

The experience of free will can only seem valid to the extent there is identification with these mental representations. It happens as long as our nature doesn’t recognize itself very clearly and doesn’t recognize the nature of thoughts. And it’s reinforced by a worldview telling us we are separate from the larger whole.

ASSUMING WE HAVE FREE WILL

On the other hand, it seems good for us to think and experience that we have free will. I imagine that helps many of us to be slightly better stewards of our lives.

And, of course, whether we experience that we have free will or not is not really up to us. It happens or it doesn’t. Each one has innumerable causes.

IN MY CASE

I don’t want to leave this too abstract so I’ll include a few words about my own experience.

When I was fifteen, it was as if the world became very distant. This human self, thoughts, emotions, sensations, and the wider world all became infinitely distant. It seemed to happen far away. This human self obviously got scared by this and went to a number of doctors and specialists who couldn’t find anything.

In hindsight, I realized what happened. There was a release of identification with the content of experience. There was no “I” within (most of) the field of experience. The only sense of “I” that was left was as an observer. There was a simple observer-observed duality.

Of course, at the time, there was no conscious reflection of it like that. It just seemed like something had gone very wrong.

Just about a year later, there was another shift, equally sudden as the first one. From one moment to the next, there was a shift into oneness. There was no “I” anymore, only (what this mental field interpreted as) God. This was simultaneously immensely familiar and obvious, and also a great shock to this human self who was a die-hard atheist at the time with absolutely no interest in spirituality. Any idea of I, me, observer, observed, and anything else was recognized as created by the mental field and not inherent in reality.

Although this mind didn’t recognize it at the time, the first shift showed me that this human self happens on its own. He lives his own life. And the second shift showed that while putting it in a larger context. All is God (Spirit, the divine, Brahman). The question of free will was revealed as the creation of the mental field, just like the experience of free will is.

Note: We can also take a more limited psychological approach to arriving at the conclusion that we have little or no free will. Our perceptions, thoughts, emotions, choices, and behavior are influenced by a huge amount of things outside of our conscious awareness. We are not aware of how our brain takes sensory stimuli and creates an experience. Many are not so aware of how the different sense fields combine to create an experience. Many are not very aware of how our biology, evolution, culture, and personal experiences color our perception and behavior. And so on. Most of what influences us happens outside of our conscious awareness, so how can there be much free will?

Image created by me and midjourney.

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Patterns in misophonia & sound sensitivity: humans vs nature

Since I was little, I have had misophonia and sensitivity to sounds. The misophonia is mostly triggered by chewing and paper and plastic rustling, and the sound sensitivity mostly to loud sounds and noise.

GENERAL PATTERNS

I have noticed some general patterns.

My system is more sensitive when I am exhausted or stressed, and it’s much easier if I am rested and relaxed.

The misophonia and sound sensitivity is triggered more easily when the sound is ongoing. The reaction builds up over time.

And I get more stressed if I think I am unable to do something about it. If I cannot do anything about the source, if I don’t have anything to put in my ears (often tight earbuds with music), or if I cannot remove myself from the sound. (That’s why traveling with others in a car, bus, train, or plane can be stressful for me.)

If I am more resourced, the sound doesn’t last too long, and I can do something about it, it’s much easier to deal with.

THE SOURCE OF THE SOUND

And there is also a difference depending on the source of the sound.

If the source of the sound (for instance, chewing sound) is a non-human being or a baby, it’s usually completely fine with me. I may notice a small reaction far in the background, but it’s OK.

If the source is a human that’s not a baby, that’s when the misophonia is triggered.

And it’s the same with noise sensitivity. If the source is humans, it can feel overwhelming. If the source is nature, it’s typically fine.

For instance, I am currently in the countryside in the Andes mountains (El Caucho outside of Barichara). Yesterday, there was construction noise nearby which I noticed bothered me. This morning, a neighbor had the radio on loud, which bothered me. (Especially since it’s Sunday at 5:30 am), while the guacharacas loudly crowing much earlier didn’t bother me at all.

WHAT THIS SUGGESTS

This suggests that my reaction is mediated by my mental field.

If the source is “innocent” as my mind sees it, there is less reaction.

And if I have stressful thoughts about the source, the reaction is stronger. Some of the thoughts I have identified and explored are “they should know better”, “the sound is aggressive” and “this is a symptom of our destructive civilization” (loud machines, chain saws, leaf blowers), “he is inconsiderate”, and so on.

WHAT I CAN DO ABOUT IT

These patterns give me several cues for what I can do about it.

I can continue to support my system to rest and build up energy. (I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome so this is important for me in general.) I can make sure to get good sleep. Eat well. Rest before, during, and after any activity, and extra. Take my vitamins and herbs. (Vitamin D, Siberian Ginseng, and Echinacea seem especially helpful.) Receive energization with Vortex Healing. (Amazingly helpful.)

I can continue to find ways to manage the situation when it happens. I have earbuds with me. For longer travels, I bring noise-canceling earphones. If I am about to travel with people in a car, let them know in advance. If I am in a public space and people close to me are loud, I go somewhere else. And so on.

I have found it helpful to ask myself some questions. Is this too the voice of the divine? (I notice it directly so it’s not a “trick” and I’ll still do the other things.) How I would respond if the source was a baby or non-human being? Are not humans and human civilization also nature?

I can also explore mental representations triggered by these sounds, what they mean to me (underlying assumptions, associations), how I relate to them, and what’s more true for me. I have already done this with The Work of Byron Katie and the Kiloby Inuiries, and it has helped a lot, and there is more to discover.

WHAT’S THE CAUSE?

What’s the cause of misophonia and sound sensitivity?

I am not sure. It’s likely a combination of several things:

My stressful thoughts about the sounds and what they mean.

How resourced my system is.

We evolved in a generally much more quiet environment than many of us live in today, and this likely puts a lot of stress on our system. It’s not surprising if some of us are extra sensitive to sounds and noise.

And it doesn’t matter so much. I have some ways to work with it anyway.

Image by me and Midjourney. And, no, I won’t keep going on with black-and-white woodcuts forever! It’s just what I am drawn to right now.

Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 45

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.

OCTOBER 14, 2023

SUPERSTITIONS WE ALL ENGAGE IN

There is a solar eclipse today where I am, and someone told me to not go outside during the eclipse because it will damage my health. Apparently, that’s what some in India think.

To me, with my Western mind, it doesn’t quite make sense.

If it were true, we would see an upswing in illnesses following a solar eclipse, which would be picked up by the healthcare system. And I am not aware of that. There is nothing in the medical journals, apart from a predictable upswing in eye damage. (There is a small change that there is something in the data that nobody has explored statistically in connection with eclipses, or that there is a delayed manifestation of the illnesses.)

Also, it doesn’t quite make logical sense. A solar eclipse is just the moon getting between the Earth and the sun for a brief period, so a shade is cast on the ground. I don’t see how that could influence us. (Unless there is something in the brief line-up that has nothing to do with the eclipse itself as we experience it with an occultation of the sun.)

To my Western mind, this seems like a superstition someone started to reduce the cases of eye damage at a time before easy access to eclipse glasses. They noticed eye damage from people looking at the sun during an eclipse and started and propagated this rumor to shape people’s behavior. In some cultures, I assume it would be reasonably effective.

Or it’s just the typical old-fashioned superstitions where people make up stories around phenomena they don’t understand. (In this case, where they made up stores before science explained it to us.)

Of course, we still do that. We still individually and collectively make up stories about things we don’t fully understand, whether it’s about ourselves, others, the behavior of someone in our life, the world, or anything else. We try to make sense of things, so we make guesses about the world. These guesses are more or less grounded in solid logic and data. And the world is always more than and different from our stories about it.

OCTOBER 16, 2023

STORIES ABOUT HEALING & AWAKENING

Our minds seem to love to make up stories about healing and awakening, and especially of those we are invested in one way or another.

This session was so powerful! My old issue is completely transformed. This transmission shifts your system in that way. This awakening is forever. And so on.

Personally, I am happy to entertain the possibility of all these things. But I also know that I don’t know. I cannot know for certain. A lot of different things can explain what I observe. And it’s very tempting for the mind to create happy stories so it can feel better about itself, life, and what’s happening.

I also realize that early in the journey, and perhaps with some things, it’s comforting to hold onto desirable stories about what’s happening. And, at some point, it’s more comfortable to hold hold it lightly.

For me, what’s more honest is that I don’t know. I notice I am draw to something, and I do it or don’t do it, and that’s enough. I receive healing sessions from certain people for certain issues at certain times, because it feels right. And that’s enough. I don’t need to create a lot of others stories around it.

HAVE TO / WANT TO

I removed “have to” from my vocabulary a long time ago.

In our culture, “have to” is something we use to make it look as if we didn’t make a choice. Don’t blame me, I am doing it because I have to!

For me, it’s more honest to say that I want to. I don’t “have to” do anything. But I want to do some things.

Someone points a gun at me and tells me to do something, and I choose to do it or not. I pay taxes because I want to, not because I have to. I emerge from diving underwater because I want to breathe air, not because I have to. I rest because I want to, not because I have to. I do things to keep this human self alive and comfortable and avoid too much trouble because I want to, not because I have to.

[Read on for more of these.]

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Earth from ISS

A suicidal / ecocidal civilization: Finding a more real, grounded, and kind way to relate to it all

All civilizations rise and fall, and ours is no exception.

An interesting twist is that ours is the first global civilization that rises and falls and we don’t know how that’s going to look.

INDEX

What comes together falls apart | A civilization fatally out of alignment with reality | Sudden change | Familiarity with systems dynamics | We have the solutions but do we have the collective will? | What will collapse mean? | What can we do individually? | Collapse acceptance | Power-over vs power-with | What’s my history with this? | Notes

WHAT COMES TOGETHER FALLS APART

How can we know that our current civilization will fall?

In terms of history, it’s because all past civilizations have risen and fallen. It’s what civilizations do and ours is no exception.

In the bigger picture, it’s because everything does. What comes together falls apart.

We can notice it here and now. Every moment, what was is gone and something new and fresh is here. And it happens at more obvious and larger scales, including at the scale of humanity, culture, Earth, and the universe. It will all be gone.

Everything we know – collectively and individually – has come together and will fall apart.

A CIVILIZATION FATALLY OUT OF ALIGNMENT WITH REALITY

We can also look at specifics of how our civilization creates its own fall.

The most obvious may be that our civilization is fatally out of alignment with reality.

We operate on a worldview that’s out of alignment with reality. For instance, we assume and emphasize separation in a world where everything is intimately connected. We assume the superiority and rights of humans over other beings. We prioritize the current generations over Future generations. And, crucially, we assume that the Earth has unlimited resources and unlimited ability to absorb waste. (See more below under “Power-over vs power-with”.)

This is reflected in all aspects of our culture and all our systems. (1)

Let’s look at our economic system.

We have created an economic system that assumes an infinite ability of nature to provide resources and absorb waste, and that our health and well-being is not dependent on the health and well-being of the larger ecological systems.

We made those assumptions because it fits our general worldview, and because we practically could at the time it was developed.

At the time, our population was relatively small and our technology relatively simple so we didn’t receive immediate feedback from nature. For all practical purposes, nature was infinite.

We still use that economic system. The problem is that we now have a much larger population and a far more efficient technology, so Earth cannot keep up.

Globally, our ecological footprint would require two Earths to be sustainable. And for the Western world, our ecological footprint would require around five Earths to be sustainable.

We are also putting more waste into the Earth’s system than it can easily deal with. There are plastic particles and toxins in just about every living being. We are in the middle of an insect apocalypse because we (insanely) grow our good with toxins. Our climate is changing dramatically from all the heat-trapping gasses we release into the atmosphere.

We are in overshoot and we are not doing anything significant to change it.

And that overshoot has serious consequences.

SUDDEN CHANGE

Ecologically, we are doing the equivalent of living on our savings. If we lived on the interests – the surplus produced by the Earth – it would be sustainable. But we are digging into the savings. That looks OK for a while. We have what we need. Then we suddenly realize the harsh reality. We are out of funds.

Our climate is similarly set to undergo sudden change. Any system tries to maintain equilibrium for as long as possible. We put heat-tapping gasses into the atmosphere, the system maintains a kind of stability for a while. And at some point, it shifts into a new state, and that tends to happen quickly. In the case of climate, it shifts into a more chaotic and unpredictable state.

That’s what we can expect with our global ecological system as a whole. In the coming decades, we can expect to see a series of sudden and likely dramatic shifts. These shifts feed into the system to trigger a cascade of other shifts.

What may happen?

Several moderate changes are already happening: More extreme weather. Stronger storms. More drought. Heavier rain and flooding. Crop failures. Species extinction. Mass death of insects impacting the whole ecosystem. Mass human migrations away from areas that become unlivable from drought, flooding, and rising ocean levels (eventually tens of meters). This, in itself, is serious but manageable, at least initially.

We may also see more extreme changes: Changes in ocean currents may significantly impact regional climates. The oceans may die due to rising water temperatures, acidification, and low oxygen levels, and this – loss of oxygen production from plankton, etc. – will seriously impact land life. Forests may collapse in large regions due to drought or they may lose their ability to produce oxygen because of increased temperatures. And so on. These are all things experts in the field say can happen, and will likely happen if the current Earth changes go far enough. If any of this actually happens, it’s not realistically manageable for us. It may not be compatible with human life.

FAMILIARITY WITH SYSTEMS DYNAMICS

If we are not familiar with big-picture thinking or systems theories, we may assume a kind of linear and gradual progression. That means we have time. Things look mostly OK so far, so why change too much too soon?

If we are familiar with overshot and systems views, we tend to see it differently. Then we know that things may look mostly on for a while, then there is a sudden shift, and we are screwed. We don’t have time to wait. Changing things within our current sudden is not enough. We need a deep transformation of our civilization as a whole.

WE HAVE THE SOLUTIONS BUT DO WE HAVE THE COLLECTIVE WILL?

We have the solutions.

We know some (humane) ways to reduce our population. (Educate women, provide economic safety nets for everyone, and so on.)

We have many technological solutions that are part of the puzzle.

We know how to create an economic system that takes ecological realities into account, and where what’s attractive and easy to do – individually and collectively – is also ecologically sound. (We have the big picture and know in what direction to move, and the details will be worked out.)

We have the worldviews necessary for a more sustainable civilization. Some elements may be ecospirituality within each of the major religions, the Universe Story, the Epic of Evolution, deep ecology, systems views, integral views, and so on.

The question is: Do we have the collective will? Will we find it in time?

We are already too late to avoid massive changes to our planet which will impact all of us, so we have minus time in that sense.

Will we be able to create an ecologically sustainable civilization in time to prevent the fall of our civilization? We have to work towards it as much as we can, but it is unlikely.

What we tend to see at the end of civilizations is what we see in the world today: A few who recognize what’s happening, take it seriously and sincerely work towards creating a better and more functional civilization. Many who go into denial, continue much as before, or wait for others to do something. Polarization, infighting, distractions, and the privileged holding onto their privilege even if it’s suicidal. Of course, all of this is common anyway.

There is also a great deal of simplistic misdiagnosis of the situation. Ideas that focus on aspects of what’s happening within the system but not the system itself. Some blame greed, governments, or corporations. Some think there is a technological solution. Some assume it’s mainly about climate change. Some think we still have time because the changes will be gradual and incremental. And so on. All of it is simplistic and myopic. This misdiagnosis reflects and comes out of the worldview that created the situation in the first place. And the misdiagnosis is part of the problem.

WHAT WILL COLLAPSE MEAN?

I don’t know.

What we know is that it will look different from the collapse of past civilizations. They were regional and this one is global. People in those civilizations continued to live their lives, just in a slightly different context. A lot from those civilizations was passed on to other and emerging civilizations. In our case, we don’t have another place to go. We have destroyed our global life-support system to the extent that it may no longer be able to support us, or at least very many of us.

The best scenario may be significant ecological changes, a significant reduction in the size of humanity, and a new emerging civilization – hopefully with some lessons learned. This requires that the more extreme Earth changes – like the death of the oceans – don’t happen.

The worst, from our perspective, is the end of humanity. (Along with many other species and ecosystems.) The Earth’s system changes to the extent that it’s no longer compatible with human life. In this case, the end of humanity happens sooner rather than later. If the changes are as dramatic and rapid as some scientists – and especially those familiar with systems views – think, it may even happen within one or two generations.

In the bigger picture, these are not disasters. This is just what happens. It’s how reality is set up. Things come together and fall apart. Death is the price of life.

WHAT CAN WE DO INDIVIDUALLY?

The question then is: What can we do individually and in small groups?

We can do what we can in our own life.

We can find what we are most drawn to, and do that. Joanna Macy talks about three categories: Stopping actions. Creating and living alternatives. And developing and spreading new worldviews.

In my case, I eat organic and local as much as possible and do a few more things in my personal life. I used to be actively involved in local sustainability organizations. I do healing work for myself and others. I currently have 36 acres in the Andes mountains I am helping regenerate and make into a food forest. (I realize the last one is not everyone can do, and I didn’t expect it in my life.)

We can all find something we are drawn to that’s meaningful and a small part of the solutions. We may not be able to save the world. But we can save our world. We can save ourselves by doing something meaningful.

We can realize that we live within a *system* that’s not ecologically sustainable.

That means that what’s easy and attractive to do is not ecologically sustainable. We all, inevitably, contribute to the destruction of ecosystems, just by going about our own lives. That’s not our fault. It’s inevitable. We don’t need to beat ourselves up for it. (And we don’t need to use it as an excuse either.)

We can find ways to nourish ourselves through our connections with the larger whole.

We can explore the Practices to Reconnect (Joanna Macy), the Universe Story, the Epic of Evolution, Deep Ecology, ecospirituality, systems views, integral views, and so on. Whatever we resonate with.

We can spend time in nature. We can connect with and nourish our physical body and sense-oriented animal self.

We can get familiar with the bigger picture.

Through the Universe story, the Epic of Evolution, systems views, Big History, and so on, we can become familiar with the bigger picture.

We expect what comes together to fall apart.

During the end of a civilization, we expect an amplification of what we generally see in society: Polarization, infighting, distractions, denial, people holding onto privilege, and so on. It’s what humans do.

We also expect some to do the work to create a better functioning civilization.

And we expect to experience grief, anger, hopelessness, and a wide range of emotions as a response to what’s happening.

We can find more peace with death and change.

Change happens. What comes together falls apart.

It happens continuously, which we notice if we look closely. And it happens at a more obvious and larger scale, sooner or later.

Change and death are what allow something new to exist. It’s what opens up space for something new and different. It’s what allows experience. It’s what allows evolution. It’s how we are here. It’s what allows anything to exist at all.

Everything and everyone is born to die.

It’s meant to be. It’s perfect. It’s how this universe is set up.

We can find gratitude.

We can find the gifts in death and change. As I have mentioned above, it’s what allows anything to be at all. It’s what allows us as individuals to be. It’s what allowed humanity and our current civilization to exist.

It’s what opens the space for something new. When our civilization is gone, who knows what will come in its place? Perhaps some humans will survive and create something new, and even something more aligned with ecological realities. And when humanity is gone, who knows what will come in our place? Perhaps the descendants of the octopus will create a new and amazing civilization that would not be possible if we were still here.

We can allow and welcome our grief, anger, and other responses.

It’s completely natural to experience grief, anger, hopelessness, and a range of other emotions in the face of what’s happening with our world. And it helps to make friends with it and even welcome it.

It’s natural. It’s healthy. It’s something we can channel into action.

We are, in a very real way, a local part of the Earth grieving itself. We are the Earth grieving itself.

These are universal emotions. All humans experience it and many or most species likely experience it in one form or another. It’s one of the things that tie us together. Even what triggers these emotions is universal in its essence.

We can find gratitude.

There is a lot to find gratitude for here.

We are an expression of all of existence. We are part of this amazing and beautiful larger whole.

We are alive. We are alive at the peak, in some sense, of our civilization. We have the basics for life and often a lot more. Many of us live beyond what anyone could have imagined in the past, and better than 99.9% of all humans that have lived in terms of healthcare, food availability, convenience and so on.

We are aware of the larger context of impermanence and can allow it to inform us in sobering and beautiful ways.

By viscerally getting impermanence – including of ourselves and all we know – we can find deep and equally visceral gratitude for our life and what’s here now.

We can find kindness towards ourselves.

We can learn to relate to ourselves and our world with more kindness.

That, in itself, makes a big difference.

It makes our life easier, and we are giving ourselves something essential we all wish for. It’s what we often are really looking for when we think we are looking for something else.

It’s something our civilization doesn’t really teach us and something we don’t learn unless we are lucky with our parents and upbringing. So this work is also part of changing our civilization and our individual and collective worldview.

One of the things I do for myself is to aim at being a good parent to myself, especially when thoughts and emotions visit that it’s difficult for me to meet with kindness. And I also use the befriend & awaken approach.

We can find kindness towards others.

We all do our best with the cards we are dealt. When people go into denial, short-sightedness, and so on, it’s their way of dealing with living in this world. A lot of it, or all, comes from fear.

We can be of service.

We can find meaning and joy in being of service, in whatever form that takes for us. Whether it is supporting humans, non-humans, or ecosystems.

We can find fellowship.

We can find others like us. We can find and create communities. We can support each other.

I did this in the past and lost it to some extent (apart from what I carry with me) due to illness and other life circumstances. Now, it may be time to refind and rebuild community.

We can find our nature, if we are drawn to it.

What do I mean by our nature?

It’s true enough that I am this human self in the world.

And if I look more closely, I find that in my own immediate experience, I am more fundamentally what my field of experience happens within and as. I am, more fundamentally, what a thought may call consciousness, and the world, to me, happens within and as this consciousness. This is what mystics across cultures and throughout time have described. (And talking about it this way is compatible with a range of worldviews.)

Just about anything is an invitation for us to notice and explore how it is to live from our nature. And these types of more dramatic and massive change even more so.

Of course, many won’t be drawn to it. But if you are, then there are ways to explore this. The ones I have found that seem most effective are: The Big Mind process. Headless experiments. Kiloby Inquiries. Basic meditation. And supportive practices like training a more stable attention.

What does this do for us? Not much, necessarily. But it does feel like coming home which is a relief. And it does change the context for everything.

COLLAPSE ACCEPTANCE

What does collapse acceptance mean?

It means accepting that what comes together falls apart.

This civilization will come to an end. Human civilization will come to an end. Humanity will come to an end. Each of those deaths will leave space for something else, which could be a new human civilization or new species eventually developing a new civilization.

It also means accepting the possibility of a more imminent collapse than many expect.

It’s a possibility, it’s not inevitable. We don’t know for certain.

To me, it also means using this to fuel our life – our gratitude, zest for life, engagement, connections, and so on. We can use it to deepen our conscious connection with our life, the life of others, and life in general. We can use it to be good stewards of our own life and life in general. It’s immensely precious as long as it’s here.

POWER-OVER VS POWER-WITH

A few more words about worldviews.

The worldview of our civilization (post-agriculture) has a power-over orientation where we seek power over ourselves, others, nature, and so on. We have a transcendent sky-god out there somewhere and not in or manifesting as everything, including ourselves, others, and nature.

That allows us to see nature – and ourselves and others – as primarily a resource and something to use (and abuse). This is internalized in all of us, and we can train ourselves to recognize it and support and emphasize alternatives ourselves and our culture.

The alternative is a power-with orientation where we seek partnership and cooperation with ourselves (different parts of our psyche), others, nature, and the universe. It’s also to see all of existence as sacred, as the divine or an expression of the divine. (This includes ourselves, others, nature, the universe.)

When this is internalized, it leads to a very different life individually and collectively. We’ll still need to use natural resources to support our own life, but we’ll do it from a different place. We’ll do it with more gratitude, reverence, and seek to find ways to do it that supports not only our own life but the larger living system, future generations, and life in general.

Of course, there will still be times when a more narrow view takes over – times of crisis or when we are caught in trauma, and we’ll make mistakes because we don’t know better – but that will still happen within a larger context of a general power-with and immanent Spirit orientation. And there will be systems in place to protect the interest of life – our own and the wider living systems – to prevent the worst anti-life behaviors.

This is not idealism. It’s what’s necessary for our own survival. It’s how we protect our own survival and the survival of our descendants.

WHAT’S MY HISTORY WITH THIS?

I loved nature from a very early age. As a child, I always said I wanted to become a zoologist. (What I really meant was ecologist but I didn’t know that word then.) I loved being in nature. I loved the hiking, skiing, and cabin trips with my family. I loved sleeping under the stars in the mountains of Norway. I loved the nature documentaries with David Attenborough and Sverre M. Fjelstad. I loved Cosmos by Carl Sagan, which had a huge impact on me and – in many ways – changed my life. (“We are the local ears, eyes, thoughts and feelings of the universe. We are the universe bringing itself into consciousness.”)

In my mid-teens, I got deeply into Fritjof Capra, systems views, and the people he references. I also got deeply into Deep Ecology (Arne Næss, a fellow Norwegian) and eco-philosophy, and I got deeply into Jung. I read all the books I could get my hands on from these authors.

Climate change became a big topic in my later teens, in the ’80s, and even then, I saw it as just one expression of the problems inherent in our civilization. We need to make the changes anyway, climate change or no climate change. (Discussing the details about it and whether it’s human-caused or not is a distraction and sometimes an intentional distraction.)

In my twenties, in the US, I read everything I could find about ecospirituality (from any and no particular tradition), ecopsychology, the Universe Story, the Epic of Evolution, and so on. I used the Ecological Footprint a lot in my work with sustainability. (I was the initial paid coordinator for Sustain Dane in Madison, Wisconsin.) I organized several projects where we used the ecological footprint as a central theme, and also several events and workshops (and one longer retreat) where we used the Practices to Reconnect and the Council of All Beings.

These days, I work on a regeneration project (15 hectares) in the Andes mountain. It feels deeply rewarding to help this land become more vibrant and healthy again and support the lives of innumerable beings. An integrated food forest will provide food for non-human beings and humans. And it may also eventually be part of local eco-tourism. We’ll see. Anything can happen.

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Connecting with people who recently died

In my mid-teens, I discovered I could connect with the system of other beings and sense (some of) what’s going on. I have mostly used it for healing purposes since I also do distance healing.

And this also works for people who have recently died.

It’s been interesting for me to check in with people who have recently died, and perhaps do a little healing for them if it seems helpful and their system seems to want it.

I have been surprised by how diverse their experience seems to be.

One seemed to be in turmoil and disoriented when I checked in the day after he died.

Another, who died from cancer and was Christian, seemed to experience relief and peace.

Yet another, who recently died, seemed to experience a fullness and restfulness.

And yet another, who died just a few days ago, a kind of sober peace. My sense is that he left earlier than he wanted.

It also seems that the typical human responses are most obvious shortly after death, and then it seems to wear off. After a while, there is less to connect with. Maybe they shed layers in the period after death? I also assume the essence moves on – away from this kind of life or into another incarnation.

Is what I perceive accurate? I would think yes, mostly, based on my experience with this over several decades. And also based on checking in with others who can also sense at a distance. I sense what’s going on with someone – living or recently dead. They do it too. We compare notes. And most of the time, our reports closely match. (Even if one or both of us know next to nothing about the person in a conventional sense.)

Note: I wrote an article yesterday where I pointed out that we don’t know what will happen after death, and that the most peaceful – for me – is the rest in and as that not-knowing. That’s true. And what I write here too is accurate enough. Both can co-exist. The first is more accurate and the context for the second, and the second is more pragmatic and is held lightly.

The image is by me and Midjourney

The dreaming process seems ongoing through the day and night

This is something that’s so ordinary for me, perhaps for my whole (?) life, that I don’t see it as something unusual or noteworthy.

The dreaming process of this mind seems ongoing. My mind seems to produce dreams during the day and also during the night.

Sometimes, these dreams are in the background although I can typically notice them if I bring attention to them. I watch the dreams form and unfold as if I am watching a night dream.

And sometimes, they take the form of night dreams which I either remember or don’t or vaguely remember or have a sense of.

I imagine it may be like this for most people, it’s just that we don’t always notice.

Image: Created by me and Midjourney

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My personal relationship with AI-generated images

What are some of my personal relationships with AI-generated images (text to image)?

I LOVE IT

I love it. I apparently find it endlessly fascinating to see what comes out of it.

I also love it because it allows me to generate images similar to the ones I wanted to make back when I did art full-time – in my late teens and early twenties. (The sacred portraits – sculptures and paintings – are one example.)

I love it because it allows me to create something that I want to see now.

I love it because it feels like tapping into the collective image production of humanity and seeing what comes out of it. To me, it’s very much a collaborative process between me, Midjourney, the people across cultures and times that created the images it’s trained on, all of humanity since the totality of humanity is necessary for all of this to happen, and really Earth and existence as a whole – in its fullest extent and going back to the beginning of time – since all of it is necessary for any of this to happen.

SADNESS AND HOLLOWNESS

There is also another side to this.

I am hoping it will help me get back into a more old-fashioned and hands-on image-making. I would love to get back into drawing and perhaps painting or even ceramics.

It taps into some sadness of having abandoned something I loved so much and was so passionate about. I used to be unable to not draw daily and would draw for hours at a time and often through the night. It helped me come alive and connect with something deep and full in myself.

There is also a kind of hollowness in it. I love what comes out of it. I tap into my knowledge of art and art history when I make the images. I typically spend a lot of time refining the prompts. I create a lot of images and select the ones I like the most. And so on. So there is work going into it. But it also feels a bit hollow. It’s “just” a digital image and not something you can touch, hold and smell. It’s not something I created with my own hands. And that makes a difference.

THE SOCIAL ASPECTS OF AI

And there is more, which has a personal component since I live in this world.

I don’t like the term “artificial intelligence“. The program can mimic intelligence to a certain extent but it’s not intelligent. It’s based on statistics. When it comes to image generation, it predicts what elements typically go together. To me, AI is a misnomer.

It’s trained on a huge amount of images, so what it produces is a kind of average based on that material. The images are, at best, solid and good but not exceptional.

AI will take the job from some people, but not those very skilled at what they do. And AI will also make a lot of new kinds of jobs. I imagine that what we’ll see is similar to CGI in movie-making. It’s one tool among many others. And we’ll see a mix of AI and more traditional approaches, and interesting processes and dynamics between the two.

As with so much, it will likely not be as good as we hope and not as bad as we fear.

Image: An example of what I make with Midjourney that I would like to see. In this case, an imagined bronze sculpture with a certain expression and light.

What does non-dual mean?

I hardly ever use the word non-dual even if I have been familiar with it for a few decades. I prefer to describe my experience using more ordinary words.

So what does on-dual mean? What does it refer to?

ESSENCE

Here are a couple of versions:

Reality is a seamless whole. Only thoughts divide. And reality is always more than and different from any thought or set of thoughts.

To ourselves, we are consciuosness and the world to us happens within and as this consciousness. We are oneness and the world to us happens within and as that oneness. Again, thoughts divide and cannot capture the reality of what we are, or reality as it fundamentally appears to us.

We are non-dual and reality as it appears to us – before mind gets caught up in our stories about it – is non-dual.

WHAT DOES DUALITY REFER TO?

Another approach is to focus more explicitly on our relationship with thoughts.

Duality – the experience of duality – happens when our mind assigns exclusive truth to a thought.

This thought is true, that thought is false. Buddhism is true, Christianity is not. I am right, you are wrong. I am this human self and not the wider world. I am something within the content. of experience, and not what it all happens within and as.

Non-duality involves – but is not limited to – recognizing the limited validity in a range of different perspectives and stories, and seeing the bigger picture that holds them all.

HOW THE MIND RELATES TO THOUGHT

Said another way, this has to do with how the mind relates to thoughts.

If my mind gets caught up in holding thoughts as true, then duality is created.

When I recognize my own more fundamental nature, and the nature of thoughts, the non-dual is revealed.

It’s pretty simple, and yet there are innumerable wrinkles here which makes it interesting.

HOLDING THOUGHTS AS TRUE

What happens when my mind hold a thought as true?

The obvious is that I’ll perceive and act as if it’s true, to the extent possible.

Also, when my mind gets caught up in holding a thought as true, then an experience of duality is created.

Each thought creates a view, and the mind identifies with and as that view. A sense of I is created around the view. I become that particular view.

That, in turn, creates a sense of I and Other and identification with the former.

That’s how an experience of duality is created.

RECOGNIZE THE NATURE OF THOUGHTS

So what’s the nature of thoughts?

They are here to help us orient and navigate in the world. They have a pragmatic function. Their function is not to hold or reflect any final, full, or absolute truth.

They are pointers. They hold limited validity, and the way they are valid varies.

RECOGNIZE MY MORE FUNDAMENTAL NATURE

In one sense, I am this human self in the world. And when I look more closely, I find I more fundamentally am something else.

More fundamentally, and to myself, I am what my field of experience happens within and as.

A thought may call this consciousness. To myself, I am consciousness. And the world, to me, happens within and as the consciousness I am.

This involves a release of identification with content of experience, including a human self, doer, observer, and so on. And, more precisely, it involves a release of identification with mental representations of all of these things.

Here, it’s easier to recognize the nature of thoughts. Recognizing my more fundamental nature makes it easier to recognize the nature of thoughts. It’s easier to hold them all more lightly. To see that they have a pragmatic function only.

IN REAL LIFE: A MIX

In real life, it’s of course not always so clean cut and simple.

Our nature may generally rest in recognizing itself and thoughts are generally recognized for what they are. And at the same time, parts of our psyche holds onto certain (painful) thoughts as true. These are wounded and traumatized parts of us. And they inevitably color our perception and life.

We may also generally recognize or nature and the nature of thoughts, and sometimes more obviously get hijacked by painful thoughts and identifications.

Or there may be areas of life where we hold onto limited and painful thoughts and identifications, perhaps even without recognizing because it’s so familiar to us. It may be obvious to others but not so much to us, at least for a while.

MY EXPERIENCE

As I have mentioned a few times before, there were a couple of big shifts when this human self was in his teens.

The first one was when I was fifteen. Mid-day on January 1st, it was as if the world became distant. The whole field of experience became distant – the world, this human self, emotions, thoughts, everything. Later, I understood that it was if any sense of “I” became absorbed into observing. The observing became an I and what this consciousness was temporarily identified with and as. My human self at the time had no ideas about this and just felt something had gone terribly wrong. This lasted for a year.

Almost exactly a year later, between Christmas and New Year, there was a shift into oneness. Into all as the divine, Spirit, God. This shift didn’t go away.

All of this made it unavoidable to see the general nature of thoughts. They are here to help us orient and navigate in the world, and not so much more. They cannot capture any full or absolute or final truth.

They happen within and as what I am, as anything else. They live their own life, as anything else.

As is not unusual, many parts of my psyche were formed within separation consciousness, were wounded and perhaps traumatized, and these continued to operate from separation consciousness and wounds. They color my perception and life. Some of these have found healing, and some still wait for healing.

When it comes to my mental field and mental habits, it was shocking to to this part of me when the oneness shift happened. I was a self-identified atheist since elementary school so definitely hadn’t expected – or even heard about – it. My mental field was used to operate from duality, so it took some time for it to reorganie and be more aligned with oneness. And that’s an ongoing process.

How have I supported my mental field in realigning? I read a lot of systems views and deep ecology books in my teens and early twenties. I read a lot of Taoism in my late teens and twenties. I read a lot of Buddhism in my twenties and thirties. I read a lot of general mysticism in my twenties and thirties. And equally or more importantly, I have done quite a bit of different types of inquiry – especially the Big Mind process, The Work of Byron Katie, and the Kiloby Inquiries.

BIG MIND ON NON-DUALITY

Hi Big Mind.

Hello.

Can you say something about non-duality? How does it look to you?

Non-duality is a term some humans like to use. It looks about as useful as it’s not. Some get very caught up in the idea of it, in their mental representations of it, instead of using it as a pointer for finding it for themselves.

Non-duality is what I am, what you are, what every conscious being inherently is. It’s not something mystical or distanced or weird. It’s what we already are and are most familiar with.

It’s really all we ever know.

At the same time, mind is very good at creating the experience of something else. Of creating the experience of duality.

It’s part of how I explore and experience myself. There is nothing wrong about it. It’s natural. And it can be interesting to explore.

Duality is the experience we create for ourselves when we take ourselves to fundamentally be a human self or anything else within the content of experience.

It’s just an experience. It’s a filter. It’s not inherent in what we are or reality.

What we are and reality is one. It forms itself into everything within content of experience. And that includes a temporary experience of duality.

When I form myself into an experience of duality, it creates a sense of discomfort. It’s out of alignment with my nature and reality so it’s inherently uncomfortable. It can also create a longing, and that longing is ultimately for me to recognize my nature.

I should also say that recognizing my nature and being temporarily caught up in duality are inherently equal in a certain way. The former is more peaceful and the latter is more uncomfortable and creates more challenges for this human self and other beings. And my nature is also the same in both cases.

Image by me and created with Midjourney to hint at non-duality AKA oneness. Lots of things inside a circle.

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Shapeshifting and what it says about our more fundamental nature

I am reading The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images and love the content and format, and just about every paragraph is a pointer for several types of explorations.

For instance, there is a chapter on shapeshifting. (One expression of this is shamans experiencing themselves as a jaguar, condor, bat, or whatever it may be during their shamanic journeys.)

A REMINDER OF OUR MORE FUNDAMENTAL NATURE

For me, that’s a reminder of our more fundamental nature.

Yes, in one sense I am this human self. And more fundamentally, I am consciousness. I am the consciousness that this whole field of experience – the wider world, this human self, and anything else – happens within and as.

I can take on any perspective.

I can create an identity out of any perspective and mental representation. I can imagine myself as it, and perceive and feel as if it’s true.

Most of the time, the consciousness we are is identified with and as our human self. Why? Because that’s what others do, and when we grow up we do as others do. If we were connected with the body of a different species, and we grew up in a society where people had that type of body, then that would be our typical identification.

This identification works pretty well in daily life, so most of us don’t have any strong incentives to question it. (It does come with inherent friction and stress since it’s somewhat out of alignment with reality, but most of us don’t realize the root cause of that discomfort.)

The ones who tend to move outside of this typical identification are the outsiders in society, the insane, mystics, and shamans.

HOW WE CAN EXPLORE IT

How can we explore this for ourselves?

The Big Mind process is perhaps the most direct and effective way to explore this. We can explore taking on a wide range of perspectives. If we can imagine something, we can imagine into that perspective. We can explore what happens when we identify with and as a particular perspective. We can even find our more fundamental nature and explore how it all looks from there.

We can also get a taste of our more fundamental nature through the Headless experiments, and explore identities and how we are not – more fundamentally – any of it.

We can dismantle of identifications through The Work of Byron Katie.

We can explore how our mind creates perspectives and identifications through the sense fields and how they combine, for instance, guided by the Kiloby Inquiries.

And there are many other approaches. Just find the one(s) that resonate with you.

MY EXPERIENCE

My path into this was perhaps a bit unusual and had some shamanic elements.

At age, fifteen, something shifted so it felt like the world – any content of experience including this human self, feelings, thoughts, states, and so on – felt very distanced. It all felt very far away. At the time, I had absolutely no interest in spirituality (I was a self-identified atheist), what happened was scary and didn’t make any sense, and the doctors and specialists couldn’t figure out what was going on either.

Already here, life showed me my nature. It showed me that I wasn’t fundamentally anything within the sense fields, within the field of experience. Because of my background, I didn’t get it which is normal and fine.

Almost exactly one year later, there was another shift. This time into oneness. Here, all was revealed as God, Spirit, the divine. The whole field of experience and the consciousness it happened within and as was revealed – as consciousness, Spirit, the divine, or whatever we want to call it.

This didn’t go away and led to an intense process over several years for my human self.

I have continued to explore this – through Buddhist practice, Taoist practice, Christian practice, parts work, several forms of inquiry, energy work, and so on. I even dipped into shamanism a few times, but not seriously. (Although I love it and am very happy people go into it deeply.)


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How CFS feels

This perfectly captures how it feels to live with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

I may look fine or OK to others. I am often able to mobilize for short periods and appear relatively normal. And my experience of myself is very different.

HOW IS IT TO LIVE WITH CFS?

How does it feel? It’s almost impossible to describe, but here are some attempts:

It feels like having severe influenza minus the congestion and fever. It’s equally difficult to think and get up from bed and do things.

I have strong brain fog: It feels like cotton in and around my head. It’s difficult to remember things. It’s difficult to make good decisions. (Sometimes, it’s difficult to make even the simplest decisions.) It’s difficult to take in information. It’s difficult to stay focused for more than five or ten minutes. (I typically have to watch movies in short segments over several days.) It’s difficult to string together words. (which is why these writings are short, choppy, and feel like a list of points.) It’s often difficult to find words. In bad periods, it’s difficult to relate to life and what comes up in the way I do when I have more energy. In short, the executive functions are impaired and it gets worse the worse the CFS is.

I get worse after just about any activity, and sometimes a lot worse. Any type of “explosive” activity (walking fast, heavy lifting, etc.) is just about impossible since it causes a severe crash. And any type of activity at all worsens the symptoms and requires a period of recovery. Simple and essential daily life activities are often all I can do. And, in periods, even that’s very difficult.

I have to schedule extra rest before, during, and after any planned activity. If I am meeting someone, or if I have an appointment of any type, I typically have to rest for days before and after. I have learned to do things slowly.

It takes a long time to recover from infections and other illnesses.

In short, my system lacks resources. It lacks the resources to do things. To have conversations. To take in information. To process. To think. To consciously and intentionally relate to life and what’s coming up in me. To recover after other illnesses. And so on.

At an energetic level, I and others have found a pattern: My system seems very disorganized when I have a crash. That’s perhaps not surprising. It takes energy to keep a mind-body system organized. When it’s energized (using Vortex Healing), my system again becomes more organized.

SOCIAL, MEDICAL & POLITICAL ASPECTS

This is challenging enough in itself. On top of this are the social, medical, and political aspects.

Most people don’t understand it very well and may assume it’s just mild tiredness. They typically see me when I am able to mobilize for a few hours, or in the better periods, and they don’t see what’s happening the rest of the time. Some get upset that I have to cancel appointments, and don’t realize how much effort I put into trying to make it happen. Or they think that my long periods of not staying in touch mean I don’t value the connection.

CFS is a kind of “pariah” illness. It’s poorly understood. There isn’t much research. Politicians and policymakers don’t take it very seriously. Many doctors don’t know much about it. There is no mainstream medical treatment. (In Norway, the largest newspaper – Dagbladet – seems to have a campaign to show that CFS is just a matter of “pulling yourself together”.)

This will very likely change. I am sure they will understand the mechanisms better. (The trigger seems to often be a combination of physical and/or psychological stress, often involving a viral infection.) They may even find an effective treatment or cure. If or when that happens, CFS will be included among the acknowledged and understood diseases. (There will still be diseases in the pariah category going through a similar process.)

HOW I HAVE EXPLORED IT

I have lived with this since my teens, and I have tried a wide range of approaches.

I have found a diet that works for me. (Eating low on the food chain. Reduce or avoid sugar, wheat, and dairy. Drink lots of water / herbal teas. Have bone broth daily. And so on.)

I have found that sun and moderate to warm climate work well for me. (Cold weather impacts my system strongly, as does very hot weather. Both place an extra demand on the very limited resources of my system.)

I have learned to rest before, during, and after activities. I have learned to portion out tasks over time and move slowly.

I have used a wide range of herbal medicines. For instance, a combination of Siberian ginseng (eleuthero) and echinacea seems to work well. (I fill my own capsules and have around five large ones daily. Siberian ginseng gives energy and echinacea helps my immune system. I have used this for long periods, and am now taking a break.)

I discovered that hyperthermia treatment seemed to help me greatly for several months. (I would like to try it again but it’s expensive and I need to travel quite a distance for it.)

I have tried a wide range of alternative treatments. What seems to work the best is Five Element Acupuncture. (Helps for a day or a few days.) Breema. (Gives an amazing sense of health and wholeness beyond the struggles of this human self). And Vortex Healing. (Energization and removing pathogens.)

And I have also found different forms of inquiry to be very helpful. (The Work of Byron Katie, Kiloby inquiry, Headless experiments, Big Mind process, and so on.)

UPSIDES

There are also upsides. It has been an invitation for exploration and transformation. It’s an invitation to find my value independent of my resume or activities in the world. To be more authentic and transparent. To find value in rest. To find the gift in asking for and receiving help. And so on.

In many ways, CFS is an invitation to examine and see through many of the assumptions in our society and find what’s more true for us.

It can bring a correction to some of the lopsidedness of our current civilization. (Including valuing people according to their resume or activities, valuing doing over resting, and so on.)

Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 44

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.

FORGIVENESS

Why would I want to forgive? For me, the answer is that it feels better.

Does forgiveness mean not having boundaries? Not at all. Forgiveness and boundaries go hand in hand.

How can I find forgiveness?

One answer is specific approaches like understanding, heart-centered practices (tonglen, ho’o, metta), inquiry like The Work of Byron Katie, and so on.

Another answer is more general. I find it through finding forgiveness for myself. The more I can forgive myself, and live in that forgiveness, the more I can find forgiveness for others.

Is it easy? Not necessarily. Wounds can go deep, and wounds make it difficult to find genuine forgiveness. Healing opens up for forgiveness. Those two too go hand in hand.

SEPTEMBER 1, 2023

BRAIN FOG

How do I experience the brain fog?

It has several aspects.

It feels like cotton in and around my head.

It makes it difficult to remember.

It makes it difficult to take in information. (And my brain gets tired quickly.)

It makes it difficult to process information.

It makes it difficult to string words together and communicate.

In general, the more drained and exhausted my system is, the less energy there is for my executive cognitive functions. (Thinking, talking, making decisions, intentionally relating to what’s coming up, etc.)

It really seems that life wants to experience brain fog through and as me these days.

The baseline brain fog is from the onset of CFS in my teens, following a mono-infection.

When the CFS dramatically worsened 10-15 years ago, following severe and long-lasting pneumonia, it got a lot worse. My memory got a lot worse after Covid last year. (Teflon brain.)

And I suspect severe Lyme some years ago and septic shock last summer also play a role.

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things – vol. 43

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.

IS WHAT I WRITE ABOUT HERE MY WHOLE LIFE?

I mostly write about awakening, healing, and CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) here. So if you know me just from these writings, it may seem that this is my whole life.

Of course, from my perspective, it’s quite different. These are aspects of my life, and far from my whole life. Most of the time, I am just living an ordinary life where I go to the store, talk with people about practical things or nothing very important, make or laugh at a joke, enjoy simple things in daily life, deal with ordinary life challenges, and so on.

LIVING WITH A DISABILITY

I live with a disability. (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / CFS.)

It doesn’t mean that it’s who or what I am.

It doesn’t mean it defines me as a whole or fully.

It’s not even close to being all of my life.

It’s a part of my life. It’s something I live with.

That’s just about it.

It’s the same with a lot of other things in my life: my gender, ethnicity, age, education, politics, and so on. It’s part of my life, but it doesn’t define me and it’s not even close to being all of who or what I am.

And none of it is what I more fundamentally am. What I am is what allows all of it, and forms itself into all of it.

POINTER OR PHILOSOPHY?

When I write about my nature, is it philosophy?

In a sense, yes. Anything that’s mirrored in our mental field becomes philosophy.

And a more real answer is that it depends. It depends on the receiver.

If we use it as a practical pointer to look and expore here and now, then it’s a practical pointer.

If we let it stay in the realm of mental representations, then it’s a philosophy.

It’s up to each of us if it’s one or the other.

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