My meditation history

I thought I would write a few words about my meditation history, and I’ll include a brief mention of other spiritual practices since they go hand-in-hand.

CHILDHOOD INTEREST

In my childhood, I was fascinated by yoga and meditation and wished to explore both but I couldn’t find anyone who could guide me. Not much was going on in my little town in Norway at the time. (These days, it’s easy to find.) The closest I came was doing yoga from a book I found in the library.

INITIAL EXPLORATIONS

During the observer-observed shift when I was fifteen, I remember trying some forms of meditation based on what I picked up from a movie I watched, but it didn’t make much sense and wasn’t very satisfying. (I think it had to do with focusing on a candle flame.)

TAOIST, CHRISTIAN, AND BUDDHIST PRACTICES

When I was sixteen, there was a shift into oneness that turned everything upside-down and inside-out. This sparked a more intentional exploration of my nature and the nature of existence. (And also of healing since my human self was still quite messy and with lots of trauma.)

It led to first engaging in the Taoist practices described by Mantak Chia, which felt natural to me and I could sense the energies moving. It led to getting involved with a local Tibetan Buddhist center in Oslo and the Ngöndro practices. It led to exploring Christian practices like the Heart/Jesus prayer and the Christ meditation (visualizing Christ in the six directions and the heart). And I also did Tai Chi and Chigong.

I had a passion for these practices and did them for at least two hours daily and often longer. Just like drawing and painting, it didn’t require discipline. Something in me wanted to do it more than anything else.

I should say that the Taoist and Christian practices felt very familiar and natural to me, and I loved them completely. I also loved the Tibetan practice of Tonglen and did it daily for long periods of time.

Some of the other Tibetan practices were more challenging since they seemed to encourage the energy and attention to go “up” and made me feel more ungrounded, and the teachers I talked with about this didn’t seem able to relate to it and didn’t give me helpful pointers.

During this time, I also discovered the books by Jes Bertelsen, which I deeply loved since they incorporated Depth Psychology, Taoism, Buddhism, and Christianity, and I did also explore and engage in the practices described in some of these books.

ZEN PRACTICE

When I was twenty-four, I went to Salt Lake City to study psychology, moved into the Zen center there (Kanzeon Zen Center, Genpo Roshi), and lived there for about three years. Here, I obviously engaged in basic Zen practice. (Training more stable attention, Shikantaza, Koan practice.) If I remember correctly, I think the official meditation practice was 3-4 hours a day during quiet periods and double or triple during more intensive periods. Although I loved my time there and the practice, the more formal practice did feel constricted and constricting compared to the previous Taoist and Christian practices. It felt less alive.

THE BIG MIND PROCESS

After a while, Genpo Roshi developed the Big Mind process which I also loved since it incorporated what had revealed itself during the initial oneness shift and my passion for psychology and parts/subpersonality work. (I was there when I first came upon it and started developing it.)

MORE FOCUSED ON COMMUNITY

After my marriage and moving to another state, it was difficult for me to engage in my inner exploration as I had before. Instead, I got far more involved in community projects – mostly related to sustainability. This lasted for about five years and was deeply rewarding in its own way. (We used a solution-focused and partnership-oriented approach, and I was the coordinator for the organization.)

RETURN TO PRACTICE

In my early- to mid-thirties, my passion for exploration returned.

I trained in Breema, practiced Breema daily for years, and also instructed.

I got back into training a more stable attention.

I found and loved the Headless experiments.

I continued exploring the Big Mind process for myself and with others.

After a few years (2-4?) of these explorations, there was another shift. This time, into a sense of complete absence of any separate self. It was all just existence experiencing and living itself, and this human self somehow living its own life as a small part of that. (The shift itself was triggered by doing one of the Headless experiments, likely supported by all the other practices.)

And this was followed by a collapse of my health and a dark night of the soul that has lasted years. (I have written about this in other articles so won’t go into it here.)

A NECESSARY SHIFT

After my health took a dramatic turn for the worse (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome later combined with Lyme disease), I had to shift how I engaged in these explorations.

Before this, I had relied on my passion and fire. And now, I had to find a more gentle and effortless way of exploring and noticing. (Which is a blessing.)

For instance, I had to use a distinction in basic meditation more intentionally. Basic meditation is to notice what’s here in my field of experience and allow it as it is. And really, it’s to notice it’s already allowed and already noticed. Noticing what’s already here is more effortless and easier, and it’s also a bit closer to reality.

I continued with The Work of Byron Katie, did two “Schools” for The Work, and did most of the certification process. I continued with Ho’oponopono. I got certified in Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) and the Living/Kiloby Inquiries. I did each of these daily or close to daily for some years, with some overlap. (The Work, Ho’o, and TRE during the same time, then Kiloby Inquiries and TRE.)

HUMBLING

I had taken some pride in my practice, ability to keep a stable focus almost indefinitely, and ability to meet my experiences with some intention and equanimity. All that went out the window when the dark night started several years ago. (It came following my health crash.)

My ability to meet my experiences with intention and equanimity went out the window, and a huge amount of unprocessed psychological material came to the surface. It was the most difficult period in my life, and it’s still here to some extent.

THESE DAYS

How do my exploration and noticing look these days?

It’s more a natural part of daily life. I rarely sit down with the intention to practice. I also know that sitting meditation has many benefits and wish and hope to get back into it.

I notice that what’s here in the field of experience is already allowed (by life, existence, mind) and that it’s already noticed (by mind and before consciously reflected upon).

I notice that the world, as it appears to me, happens within and as what I am.

I notice that my more fundamental nature is as capacity for any experience, for anything appearing in my sense fields.

When I notice it would be a helpful medicine, I engage in ho’oponopono, prayer, TRE, and similar practices.

WHAT’S THE EFFECT OF THESE PRACTICES?

I am honestly not sure.

I notice some are quick and eager to point to all the beneficial effects their practices have had in their life. As for me, I cannot say I know. I only have this one life. There is no control group or comparison. I don’t know how my life would be without it.

What I can say is that training more stable attention certainly seemed to have an effect. I had laser attention during the time I practiced this daily, and that supported many activities and my life in general. (The stable attention also came with the initial oneness shift and the transformations that followed.)

The heart-centered practices certainly seem to have an effect when I do them. My orientation shifts.

I have discovered a lot through the different forms of inquiry.

The essence of the Big Mind process and the Headless experiments, combined with the oneness shift in my teens, makes noticing my nature close at hand and effortless.

Have I somehow transformed through these explorations? I don’t know. With the dark night, my capacity to relate intentionally to what’s here was reduced and a lot of unprocessed material has come to the surface. It’s easy to think of this as a backward step, although it’s equally an invitation for deeper healing.

A FEW WORDS ON MEDITATION AND OTHER SPIRITUAL PRACTICES

WHAT IS MEDITATION?

The word is used to refer to several different explorations.

Basic meditation is to notice and allow what’s already here in the field of experience, notice it’s already noticed and allowed, and rest in and as that noticing and allow it to do whatever it does with us. Here, there are also some insights that tend to come over time. For instance, we may notice that attention tends to get distracted, and it does so whenever thoughts have “glue” on them and what they tell us seem real and important. And that any and all content of experience comes and goes, including who or what we think we are. If that too comes and goes, what are we more fundamentally? What are we in our own first-person experience?

Training a more stable attention is also often categorized as a meditation practice.

Inquiry is an exploration of what’s already here, and is often done as a meditation. As is several forms of body-oriented practices like Tai Chi and Breema.

WHAT’S THE PURPOSE OF MEDITATION AND OTHER SPIRITUAL PRACTICES?

That’s a good question. Mainly, it depends on the practice and the person.

Heart-centered practices help us shift our orientation and relationship with our experiences. (AKA ourselves, others, life, situations, and parts of ourselves.)

Training more stable attention supports a wide range of activities, our life in general, and also other spiritual or healing practices.

Inquiry helps us see how our mind creates its experience, and it can help us see through the misleading quality of many of our mental representations.

Some forms of inquiry can also help us notice our nature. (Headless experiments, Big Mind process.)

The purpose of basic meditation is especially interesting here. On the one hand, the purpose is to notice the changing nature of our experience, find ourselves as what it all happens within and as, and also allow that noticing to work on our human self and psychology. On the other hand, there is no purpose. It’s just resting in and as what we are.

WHY WRITE ABOUT THIS?

Why did I write about this here?

It’s partly because I may find helpful insights, pointers, or reminders for myself now.

And it’s partly because it may be helpful to others on a similar path. I have often learned a lot from others. (That includes reminders of what doesn’t resonate with me which clarifies my own path.)

How I visualize when I channel for distance healing

When I channel for myself or others, how do I experience and visualize it?

VISUALIZATION

If I channel for someone else, I ask and visualize the divine doing the work. I make myself and my system available, set an intention, notice what happens to adjust the intention, and the divine is doing all the actual work. (It’s of course doing all the work since it’s all of it including what I take as me.)

I also visualize who or what (an organ, issue, etc.) I am channeling for as the divine, and the divine reorganizing itself. It’s the divine – in the form of what I am channeling for – reorganizing itself.

EXPERIENCE

The experience changes a bit over time and during the session.

I usually get a sense of what I am channeling for through a combination of sensations in my own body and visual images. During the healing session, I usually get different types of information and a sense of what’s happening.

I usually experience the intensity of the energy through the strength of the sensations in my body. And I know that what I am sensing is how the energy is running through my own system and what blocks it’s hitting here. It’s not necessarily saying anything about how strong it is for the recipient.

ONENESS

To me, this is all happening within and as the oneness I am.

There is not any distance inherent in it.

When I sense, I sense sensations in my own body.

And even when I visualize the healing happening “over there”, that “over there” is also happening here and now. It’s happening in my visual images. And it’s happening within and as what I am.

Of course, outside of my experience, there may well be a person here and a person here. And yet, to me, it’s all happening within and as the oneness I am.

TEENS AND NOW

I discovered I could see and sense energies, pick up information at a distance, and invite the divine to reorganize itself “over there” (distance healing) in my mid-teens.

It came as part of the shift into the oneness I am noticing itself, and noticing the world as it appears to me as happening within and as the oneness I am.

I did some healing off and on for some years, but only rarely and for close family and friends. I rarely talked about it.

Some years ago, I got into Vortex Healing and I have channeled more since then. The essence of how I visualize and experience it is the same now and then, as I best can tell.

DESCRIPTIVE NOT PRESCRIPTIVE

This is obviously just my experience and what I write about here is a description.

It’s not an instruction or how anyone else should do it, needs to do it, or even what works best.

It’s how it happens to be for me and it may well shift and change.

My memories from between lives, how it has colored my life, and similarity to near-death experiences (NDEs)

When I was little, I had flashbacks – spontaneous memories – of what seemed to be the time before this life. The time between lives. All was golden light, consciousness, and love. There was a profound – infinite – sense of being home. It was timeless and time seemed infinitely far away. And there were (non-physical) beings guiding me. These flashbacks lasted until about school age.

I didn’t put words on it at the time, and I didn’t mention it to anyone. It didn’t seem necessary. The flashbacks were just something that happened. Especially when I was outside and the sunlight was filtered through the leaves of the trees.

So how did this color my life? I cannot know for certain, but here is how it appears to me looking back.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL – REJECTING RELIGION

Later in childhood, I sometimes experienced a deep sense of longing. I didn’t know for what, but I would often wake up with this deep sense of longing, and nothing I did satisfied it. I suspect this deep longing was to the infinite love and sense of home I had flashbacks to earlier in childhood.

I rejected religion early in elementary school. It didn’t make any sense to me. Why should I pretend to believe that something was true just because someone told me? I also saw no connection between what they talked about in Christianity and the flashbacks, it didn’t even occur to me that there was a connection between the abstractions I heard about and the alive experience I remembered.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL – FASCINATION WITH THE PARANORMAL

At about the same time, sometime early in elementary school, I became fascinated with parapsychology – ESP, telekinesis, ghosts, past lives, and so on. I loved Jack London’s story “The Star Rover” and a book my brother had called “Det Beste: Utrolig men sant (1975)” (“Unbelievable but true”) which had chapters on ESP, telekinesis, ghosts, reincarnation, and so on. I even did my own ESP experiments using the standard ESP cards and symbols.

When I was fifteen, I got into Erik Damman’s “Bak tid og rom” and Fritjof Capra’s “The Turning Point“. Both had a profound impact on me, I read both several times, and I sought out the books they referenced for continued reading.

My family had some interest in these things. My mother had Dalai Lama’s autobiography, which I loved. My father had J. Allen Hynek’s main book on UFOs. My brother had the “Unbelievable but true” book. For them, it was a peripheral interest. And for me, it was a profound fascination. I suspect that this interest had to do with the memories from between lives. Somewhere in me, I knew we are consciousness and that something exists beyond the physical world.

MID-TEENS – AWAKENING SHIFT

The initial major awakening shift then happened when I was sixteen, which colored everything from then on. Here, it was undeniable that I am consciousness and everything is consciousness. All of existence is Spirit. Everything is the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself as that.

Here, I also realized what my earlier longing was for. It was for this. It was for coming home to recognize all as Spirit. It was for recognizing myself as Spirit taking this form. (I later nuanced this into the small and big interpretation of awakening but that’s another topic.)

FINDING IT HERE AND NOW

As part of this, I realized that anything I longed for from these memories was here now. My invitation was to find it here and now. It won’t look the same, obviously, since I then didn’t have a body and now I have one, and my human psyche is much more in the foreground now than it was back then. But the essence is the same. I can find the essence here and now.

What is this essence? It’s finding myself and all experiences as consciousness. It’s finding myself as Big Mind, as what has no beginning or end or limits. As what any and all experience, and the world to me, happens within and as. It’s finding myself as that infinite love. It’s giving to myself the support I experienced then.

Anything I see “out there” – in the past, future, or in others or the world – is already here and I can find it here. I can find the mental representations telling me about it. I can find the characteristics these mental representations point to. I can find myself as what all of it happens within and as.

And so also with these apparent memories from between lives, and before this life.

HOW IT HAS COLORED MY LIFE

How did these memories color my life?

I cannot know for certain, but I can come up with my best guesses.

As a child, it likely opened me up to something beyond a purely materialistic worldview. It may have given me a fascination for those topics.

It’s also likely that it has something to do with me rejecting Christianity and religions in general since they seem abstract and dry, and something we are supposed to pretend to believe without having the possibility to check it for ourselves. In comparison with the experience between lives, they are not much.

I do have fear of strong suffering, pain, and so on. But I am not sure how much fear I have of death. Of course, I may be unaware of it now, and then it comes up later.

When I was close to dying from septic shock last summer, I initially had fear come up since I had no idea what was happening. When I knew, the fear went away and was replaced with curiosity about death. There was still a chance I would die (my kidneys and other organs had collapsed), and I had a curiosity about that next adventure. I noticed I was even looking forward to it a bit, whether it would come now or in several decades.

SIMILAR TO NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES

My apparent memory from before this incarnation is similar to what many describe during a Near-Death Experience (NDE). All is consciousness and love, there are beings and guides I communicate with, and so on. (Minus the floating up from the body, the tunnel, etc.)

And my Before-Incarnation Experience (BIE) seems to have impacted me in a similar way to how NDEs often impact people. Our views, interests, priorities, and lives are transformed. We appreciate life more, and especially our connections with others and the simple and daily things. Our fear of death is reduced or goes away. We value what’s non-material. We become interested in protecting nature and Earth. And so on.

Here is what the Wikipedia article on NDEs says:

NDEs are associated with changes in personality and outlook on life. Ring has identified a consistent set of value and belief changes associated with people who have had a near-death experience. Among these changes, he found a greater appreciation for life, higher self-esteem, greater compassion for others, less concern for acquiring material wealth, a heightened sense of purpose and self-understanding, desire to learn, elevated spirituality, greater ecological sensitivity and planetary concern, a feeling of being more intuitive, no longer worrying about death, and claiming to have witnessed an afterlife. While people who had experienced NDEs become more spiritual, it doesn’t mean they become necessarily more religious. However, not all after-effects are beneficial and Greyson describes circumstances where changes in attitudes and behavior can lead to psychosocial and psychospiritual problems.

HOW COMMON IS IT?

I have no idea how common it is to remember the time before this incarnation. I have almost never mentioned this to anyone. It doesn’t seem necessary. Although it is a bit interesting to me how this before-incarnation experience seems similar to NDEs, and the effects may also be very similar.

WHAT TO CALL IT?

I am not sure what to call it. I usually think of it as a Before-Life experience (BLE) or Before-Incarnation Experience (BIE). The latter is perhaps more accurate since the life between lives is still a life.

DO I KNOW IT’S FROM BETWEEN LIVES?

Do I know it’s an actual memory? And that it’s a memory from the time between lives?

No, I cannot know for certain. That’s the honest answer.

At the time, I did experience it as actual flashbacks to the time before this life, and the experience was spontaneous, clear, and strong.

It happened very early in life, before I was very influenced by anything. Also, my parents were not religious and religion was not a topic one way or another in the house. And when I later was exposed to religion, I made no connection between these flashbacks and what people talked about. It didn’t even occur to me there was a connection since what they talked about seemed so dry, abstract, distant, and not relevant to anything in my life.

It does match what many describe in a Near Death Experience. That means it either points to what it seems to point to, on the surface, or it’s a product of some universal psychological/biological dynamic.

So I cannot know for certain. If I had to put money on something, it would be that they are actual memories, but if they are not, that would be equally interesting. And for me, personally, it’s not so important. What’s important is that they point to something I can find here and now.

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“I went against God’s will”

I wrote about this before but thought I would revisit it to see what comes up.

FOLLOWING MY GUIDANCE

In my late teens and early twenties, I discovered I had a strong and clear inner guidance. When I followed it, things fell into place in amazing ways. The following path wasn’t always easy or carefree, but it felt deeply right and life brought me to places – including physical places and communities – that felt deeply right.

I explored following it in daily life, including in the smallest of ways to see what would happen, and also so I got to see what in me feared following it.

In what situations was it more difficult for me to follow it? Not surprisingly, it was typically when other people were involved and my social anxiety, desire for approval, fear of disapproval and anger, and so on came up.

In my mid-twenties, I studied psychology at the University of Utah on a student visa. (I am from Norway.) During a semester off, I went to Nepal and India and met someone literally from around the corner from me in Salt Lake City. (We had mutual friends so it wasn’t as much of a coincidence as it sounds like.) We got into a relationship, and when my student visa later ran out, we had a choice of splitting up or getting married. We chose to get married.

That felt OK, although the decision was confused by several emotional issues surfacing in me: Fear of being alone. (Although I loved that too.) Fear of losing the community at the Zen center I lived at in Salt Lake City. Fear of losing the cool things in the US culture I couldn’t find easily in Norway. (Including psychology classes on ecopsychology, environmental psychology, health psychology, and systems theories.) Fear of losing my beloved Rocky Mountains and desert. (I felt a profound belonging to that land.) And so on.

LEAVING MY GUIDANCE ON A MAJOR LIFE DECISION

But what felt very strongly not OK with my inner guidance was moving to Wisconsin. My wife got into the graduate program there, and I didn’t want to be the one preventing her from following her dreams. Here too, issues came up: I didn’t want to be selfish, I didn’t want to be the reason for her resentment if she didn’t follow her opportunities.

Although I loved a lot about being in Madison – the community, working with sustainability – it also felt deeply wrong to be there. My inner guidance was there always telling me that this was wrong. And that obviously also impacted our relationship. That too started feeling not right and not as aligned as I had wished.

Even after moving to Oregon, which felt far more right for me, the sense of something fundamental being off was there. My inner guidance told me that the relationship was not right. And I still stayed, likely because of a combination of convenience (it was good on the surface and comfortable in a conventional sense) and my issues (unprocessed fears). My guidance was still there, always, telling me that this was not right.

LEAVING THE SITUATION

After some years of this, I did move away and got divorced. And although my outer life now feels much more aligned, my inner sense of alignment is still not quite there.

I still feel an inner sense of being lost and I am not sure if that’s from childhood issues or going against my guidance for so long, or – more likely – a combination.

“I WENT AGAINST GOD’S WILL”

Throughout all this, the discrepancy between my inner guidance and my active choices was deeply uncomfortable and painful for me.

And I added to that discomfort by telling myself I had gone against God’s will. God had plans for me. God told me what to do through my inner guidance. And I went against it. I ruined my life. This was quite traumatic for me.

It took time for me to process this and clarify this more deeply. Through The Work of Byron Katie, I found more clearly that I hadn’t gone against God’s will. It’s not possible. What happens is the divine. It’s God’s will. Even going against my guidance was God’s will.

IT’S ALL TRUE

It’s not something I wish to repeat. It did create a lot of problems in my life. I did get off the track that felt deeply right for me. In some ways, it did ruin my life. I did go against my clear inner guidance. And yet, I did not go against God’s will.

All of this has validity.

The conventional view is true. And it’s true that I didn’t go against God’s will.

FINDING COMPASSION FOR MYSELF

I also find gifts in this.

I got to experience what happens when I go against my inner guidance on a major life decision. (It’s the same that happens when I go against it on smaller decisions, it’s just that it has a bigger impact on my life.)

I got humbled and humanized.

I got to see that it’s possible to recover from this. It’s possible to again follow my inner guidance and get my life back on what feels more deeply as a right track. (I am still in that process.)

I find compassion for myself. Yes, I made a mistake in a conventional sense. Yes, I did it from unprocessed issues. (Passed on possibly for generations.) Yes, it had consequences. And that is very understandable. I was caught up in issues. I didn’t have the outer and inner resources to make a better decision. How is it to meet that with kindness? How is it to meet what comes up in me around this with kindness?

More than that, it’s very human. I got to experience something very human.

And would I have done it differently if I could have? Yes.

An additional theme for this website: Rewilding

The focus for the articles on this website has always centered on healing and awakening, with occasional articles on culture, society, sustainability, art, and other topics I find interesting.

From now on, I will also include more articles on rewilding and regeneration.

It’s not a new interest to me. I have been fascinated by and passionate about nature and sustainability since I was little, and that includes what’s covered by rewilding and regeneration.

On this winter solstice (2022), we moved into our tiny house with a large backyard on Finca Milagros. This backyard is fifteen hectares in Cañon del Chicamocha. And I wish to devote a good part of my life to supporting this land to become a more thriving and diverse habitat for plants, insects, birds, and animals.

That will, by necessity, be reflected here since I tend to write about what I am interested in and what I am currently exploring and living.

The rewilding posts will be a kind of chronicle of what we are doing here, and they may be interesting to or useful for others.

And, yes, I know that rewilding is a problematic term. It cannot be done in a literal and complete way, and it’s not possible (or even desirable) to bring this ecosystem back to how it was in precolonial times or even before humans came here. When I use the term rewilding, it’s in a much more loose sense. For me, it’s about supporting the ecosystem to thrive, become more diverse, and become a good habitat for the insects, birds, and animals that are here. I wish to support it in becoming wilder.

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Oneness through my life

Oneness has been a theme of sorts throughout my life.

FLASHBACKS TO THE TIME BETWEEN LIVES

When I was little, before school age, I had several flashbacks to before this life – when I had no body, all was a golden light, time was a whisper in distance, there was occasional communication with other beings, and all was love, the divine, and oneness. Of course, I didn’t think of it like that at the time. I don’t remember thinking about it at all. It was just something that happened, and I sensed it was profoundly familiar and from before this life, and where I felt the most profoundly at home.

I AM THE LOCAL EYES, EARS, THOUGHTS, AND FEELINGS OF THE UNIVERSE

A few years later, when I was ten years old, I was deeply impacted by the Cosmos TV series by Carl Sagan. I remember going out in the garden after watching the last episode, looking at the night sky filled with stars, and viscerally experiencing that I was – quite literally – the universe bringing itself into consciousness. I am the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. Just like al beings are.

Shortly after this, I was in the mountains in Norway with my father and brother, and we slept out under the stars. It must have been in the fall since the night sky was dark, and again filled with stars. And this time too, there was a shift into a profound visceral sense of the oneness of the universe and all there is.

ALL IS GOD

At sixteen, there was again a shift, and this one didn’t go away. I walked down the gravel road to our house at night, again under a dark sky filled with stars, and a big wind going through it all. From one moment to the next, there was a shift into recognizing all as God. Everything without exception is God.

Everything turned inside-out and upside-down. This human self is God locally experiencing itself as that, and having for a while taken itself as most fundamentally that.

This shift is still here.

FORMS OF ONENESS

There are several forms of oneness.

We can see all of existence as a seamless system. This universe is a seamless evolving system, and galaxies, solar systems, planets, ecosystems, and us are part of that system. We are local expressions of this larger seamless evolving system. Everything is the universe expressing and exploring itself in always new ways, and – through beings – experiencing itself in always new ways. This is a story from science, and it seems accurate in a practical sense.

We can see all as the divine or God, as mystics describe it. God is everything, and everything that we see as distinct things are part of the oneness of the divine. It’s all the divine exploring, expressing, and experiencing itself in always new ways. This is a story when it’s expressed and heard as a story, and it can also reflect immediate noticing.

We can talk about oneness in a more social or metaphorical sense. We as citizens of this nation are one, or we who belong to this political party are one. This is a limited oneness that has an other.

We can also find the oneness we are in our own immediate experience, independent of these stories. We can find it here and now.

In one sense, I am this human self in the world.

And when I look in my own first-person experience, I find something else.

I find I am capacity for my experience of the world. I am capacity for the content of my experience, whether it shows up as sight, sound, smell, taste, sensation, thoughts, or anything else.

I find I am what the world, to me, happens within and as.

I am the oneness the world, to me, happens within and as.

We can explore this oneness through logic and stories, and we can also explore it in our own immediate noticing.

TWO BASIC FORMS OF ONENESS

In reality, there are only two forms of oneness.

One is the oneness found in stories about oneness, which can reflect science, logic, or immediate noticing.

The other is the oneness we can notice here and now.

THE ONENESS WE ARE

The oneness we are can take itself to be something it tells itself to be – a human self, a separate being, a doer, an observer, and so on.

The oneness we are can explore oneness through stories.

And the oneness we are can notice itself in immediacy.

None of these is inherently better than the other. They all have value and a function. But the final one is a bit more fundamental and has more potential for profound transformation.

Priorities & our ecological crisis

We all have priorities, whether we are aware of them or not.

And our life and actions show us our priorities, whether they match what we think they are or not.

OUR COLLECTIVE BEHAVIOR IN THE FACE OF OUR CURRENT ECOLOGICAL CRISIS

At a collective level, it’s clear that our priority is business as usual. We collectively behave as if nothing unusual is happening. We collectively behave as if we are not in the middle of a human-created ecological crisis of enormous consequences. We collectively behave as if the messages from scientists have little to no weight or importance.

Why is that? It may be for many reasons. Most people prioritize day-to-day activities and tasks. Most have a political identity and are reluctant to switch their vote to politicians that take ecological crisis more seriously. We see that others don’t prioritize it, so we assume the situation is not very serious and follow their example. Politicians typically operate within a timeframe of just a few years, not decades and centuries. Many people don’t take things very seriously unless they feel it in their own lives. Some may think we still have enough time, that we are adaptable and will manage. Some also go into denial, dismiss the collective warnings from scientists, and rationalize their dismissal.

WHAT MOTIVATES US TO CHANGE OUR PRIORITIES?

At both individual and collective levels, we continually clarify our priorities, reprioritize, and reorganize our life to align with these new priorities. It happens all the time and mostly in small and almost unnoticeable ways.

Major reprioritizing usually happens first when we viscerally get it as absolutely necessary. It may happen when faced with a serious crisis. When life shows us our situation has dramatically changed, or that we need to face a reality we previously ignored or downplayed.

It happens when life shakes us out of our habitual patterns and priorities.

A MORE REALISTIC SET OF COLLECTIVE PRIORITIES

If we would take our ecological situation seriously, how would that change our priorities? What would a more realistic set of collective priorities look like?

Here is just one example, as it comes to me:

Take a long view on our situation and in politics. Plan for decades and centuries ahead. Make policies where we take into account the interests of our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and their children.

Include the interests of all beings when we make decisions. Our fate is intimately connected, so this is in our own interest. Implement policies that take the interest of all life into account.

Future generations and non-human life are voiceless, so we need to speak for them. Not only for their sake, but for our own. Their fate is intertwined with our own.

If these giving voice to the voiceless was our real priority, it would in itself change a lot and put us on our path to a more sustainable civilization. Taking the big picture in terms of time and ecosystems does a lot. It would ripple into all areas of society, including the economy, philosophy, education, production, transportation, and everything else.

For instance, it would likely lead to assigning advocates for those without a voice – future generations, non-human beings, and ecosystems. To give them real power in political and business decisions. To make the rights of future generations, non-human beings, and ecosystems law.

It would transform our economic system to take ecological realities into account. Our current economic thinking is a fantasyland where nature is seen as only a resource for humans and a place to put waste, and it assumes an unlimited capacity for both. That fantasy is reflected in our current economic system. These new priorities, if taken seriously, would transform our thinking about the economy and our economic systems to be more grounded in reality, which is something we all would benefit from.

WHAT I AM DOING IN MY LIFE

What I am doing in my own life about this?

I look at my life to see my actual priorities. How do I spend my time? What does that say about my priorities? I take a sober look at this and try to be kind with myself. Being realistic about my real priorities, as reflected in my life and how I spend my time, is the first step and can in itself lead to changes and reprioritization.

I am also in a fortunate situation. I was able to buy a sizeable piece of land in the Andes mountains, and. we are now exploring how to use a small part of it for buildings and food production, and support the rest to rewild and return to a more vibrant and diverse state benefitting innumerable beings.

We are also exploring ways to be a little more self-reliant with the essentials. We are looking into solar energy. We are taking steps to collect and store rainwater and use this for our own use and food production. We may gradually expand food production over time. (In a social crisis, which will likely come as a consequence of the ecological crisis, being more self-reliant will alleviate the burden on the local government and it may also be that they won’t be able to reliably provide basic services to everyone.)

Our local community is our greatest resource, so we are also connecting and creating ties with neighbors. And especially those who are like-minded and those who grow food and know how to make and fix things. Self-reliance and resilience mainly happen at a local and regional community level.

We are preparing for a future where our ecological crisis, and all the social consequences of it, is far more acute and severe. And we are learning and plan on sharing what we learn with anyone interested.

We are also considering creating a small eco-community on the land. We’ll see. We need to get to know the land better first.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to take these kinds of steps, so we are also keeping in mind supporting those less fortunate, in whatever small ways we can.

And this is not because we are very noble. We are very flawed human beings.

This is because we are aware that this is in our own self-interest. It’s in our self-interest to live in a more sustainable way and create ties with our neighbors. It’s in our own interest to support those less fortunate, in the small ways we can, since we all live in the same society.

And in terms of ecology, we all – all beings – share the same collective fate. We are all impacted by the thriving or deterioration of our local, regional, and global ecosystems.

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A shift to the Andes mountains

When I was four or five (?) years old, I had a strong dream. I was in the jungle with a black jaguar (black panther). We lived together, did everything together, communicated closely, and the black jaguar was my best friend, mentor, and guide.

In a Vortex Healing class some years ago, we did one session for shifting where we internally live in the sister realm – in the realm of nature. We were told that we all live in a particular location, and it may not be optimal for our health and life, so this session was a transmission to shift to a more optimal location and environment. In this session, I experienced a shift from the damp jungle and the jaguar to the drier and higher Andes mountains and the condors. I experienced – and still experience – a deep connection with the condor. (The hairs all over my body stand on end when I am reminded of them.)

At the time, I had no idea that this would not only mean an inner shift but also an outer one.

A couple of years after this, I met the woman who is now my wife. She is from Latin America, and we bought land in the Andes mountains – up the wall of one of the largest canyons in the world. This is the land I was shifted into in that VH class session, and it’s the land of the condors.

I experience a strong draw to bring the condors back to this land. Everything in me resonates with it.

As it turns out, my wife has close friends in Argentina working on bringing the condors back and protecting them, and we are invited to visit.

And who knows what will unfold. I would love if it includes playing a small part in bringing the condors back here. It would be the greatest honor for me.

Image: A condor created by me and Midjourney

Finding an easier way: chronic illness as a guide

Some years ago, my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) shifted into a more severe phase. That meant I had to find an easier way to do many things in life.

How can I do this in a way that’s more comfortable? Require less energy? Take my situation into consideration? Is kind to me and hopefully others?

Here are some examples.

FINDING MY VALUE

I have explored and found my value independent of my actions and activities in the world. Before this happened, I put at least some of my value on my actions and what I produced. (After all, I am a child of the western culture where this is a feature.) Where is my value if all I can do is rest? If I cannot produce or do much?

One answer is that we see a baby as having value, and they mostly eat, poop, and make sounds. If a baby has value, why is that not the case with me and anyone else independent of age and production?

Another answer is in noticing my nature, and that the world to me happens within and as what I am. Here, nothing is missing. It’s complete as it is.

And yet another answer lies in examining any stressful thoughts around lack and finding what’s genuinely more true for me. (As I did for several years through The Work of Byron Katie.)

ASKING FOR HELP

I learned to ask for help.

Before this, I took pride in not asking much for help and created an identity around it.

After this happened, I had to ask for help. And it helped me soften that identification and see the value and beauty both in receiving and giving and in allowing others to give. (Especially as long as they feel free to say no.)

I am not doing this perfectly, whatever that means, but I am exploring and learning.

FINDING A YES OR NO BY NOTICING MY BODY’S RESPONSE

I have learned to find a more genuine yes and no, not only through inquiry but also by noticing my body’s response.

For instance, if I am wondering whether to do an activity or not, I can say to myself: I can choose to do this or not, and I chose to do it. And then notice my body’s response. Does it relax? Does it sigh in relief? Then I say to myself: I can choose to do this or not, and I choose not to. And again notice my body’s response.

The genuine yes is reflected in my body relaxing, in a sigh of relief. Sometimes it’s a yes to the activity, and sometimes it’s a no to the activity.

(How does this work? It may be because the more unfiltered and honest part of my mind is intimately connected with my physical body. Or more accurately, because any tension in my mind is reflected in tension in my physical body, and tension always happens when we are not completely honest with ourselves.)

FINDING ESSENTIAL NEEDS AND MOTIVATIONS

What are some of my surface wishes and motivations? Taking one of them, what do I hope to get out of it? And what do I hope to get out of that? And that? What’s the most essential wish and motivation behind it? How can I give that to myself? In life? How is it to give it to that part of me here and now, within myself? (From Adyashanti.)

This is another way to simplify my life. On the surface, I have innumerable wishes and motivations. And when I trace them back to their essence, I find just a few and perhaps really just one.

This helps me prioritize and find and give myself what I really wish for and need.

It also helps me differentiate my genuine needs and motivations, and the strategies I use to find and give it to myself. It helps me explore a variety of ways to give it to myself. (NVC.)

For instance, I may have a surface wish for money. When I trace it back, I find it’s more essentially a wish for safety. Can I offer a sense of safety to the part(s) of me that wish for safety? Can I find ways to feel safer in life? (I can also explore ways to be a good steward of my life in terms of finances. What are some ways to have more stable finances? What are some ways to have a little more money in my life?)

I may have a surface wish for ice cream. When I trace it back, I find it’s more essentially a wish for love, comfort, and enjoyment, and even more essentially love. Can I give love to those parts of me wishing for love? Can I give comfort to the parts wishing for comfort? Can I give enjoyment to my inner community? Can I find ways to give this to myself in life? (And I can, of course, still eat ice cream if I wish.)

SIMPLIFYING MY LIFE

I have always loved simple living, and leading simple living groups was part of my actual job for a while. CFS has encouraged me to simplify even more.

What can I prune in my life? What can I say no to? (Which is a yes to me.) What drains energy? What do I really enjoy? What gives me a boost? What’s worth spending energy on, even if it has a cost?

What has life pruned for me? And can I join in with it? Can I find where it’s a genuine gift?

FINDING PEACE WITH SAYING NO

Like many in my culture, I have been programmed to think I should say “no” as little as possible. A part of me wants to please others to avoid discomfort. I should answer calls. I should say “yes” if I am invited somewhere.

So I have had to explore this and find more peace with saying no, and sometimes really enjoy saying no.

As Byron Katie says, a genuine “no” is a yes to me. Right there, I find more peace with it and even joy.

I see the benefits of learning to say no. It helps me take care of myself and my health. It helps me prune away activities (and sometimes people) that don’t feel right to have in my life. It leaves room for what’s more enjoyable, nourishing, and meaningful. I find that the space itself is enjoyable, nourishing, and meaningful (!).

Feeling free to say a genuine yes or no is easier through good communication and some education. I am working on being better at explaining my situation to people in my life. The more they understand, the easier it is for all of us to have our needs met. We can more easily find strategies that work.

FINDING AND GIVING TO MYSELF WHAT’S NOURISHING

What’s deeply nourishing for me?

In my case, I find it’s a wide range of things and activities.

Bone broth (!) is deeply nourishing for my body and thus for all of me. Whole food low on the food chain is typically the same. (I find refined foods draining.) Warm herbal tea, and sometimes spice tea, is often nourishing, along with dark miso broth.

Nature and being in nature is deeply nourishing for me. (It can be just sitting in a garden, enjoying the sun, clouds, wind, chirping birds, the sound of the wind in the trees, and so on.)

Some relationships are deeply nourishing, especially at certain times.

This type of exploration is nourishing to me, when I have the energy.

Some input – podcasts, interviews, articles, videos, movies, and music – is nourishing for me, at the right time.

Breema is deeply nourishing for me, whether it’s receiving, giving (when I have enough energy), or doing Self-Breema.

Receiving Vortex Healing for energizing is deeply nourishing for my system. It especially helps if I feel very drained or in a crash.

MORE EASE IN THE EXPLORATIONS: BASIC MEDITATION AND MORE

I used to put extra effort into my meditation practice, whether it was training a more stable attention, noticing my nature, or something else. In my teens and twenties, I would often meditate or hours at a time. I would go fully into the Tibetan Ngöndro practice. I would practice as if my hair was on fire, as they say in Buddhism. I found I couldn’t do that anymore. I had to find an easier and simpler way.

What was this easier way? I have mostly focused on basic meditation, noticing and allowing what’s here, and noticing that any content of experience is already noticed and allowed. By noticing what’s already here, I scale back the effort to the essentials.

I found that the essence of the Headless experiments is also helpful since that too is about noticing what’s already here.

Also, I kept some simple heart-centered practices like tonglen and ho’oponopono.

And I have, in periods, done simple forms of inquiry like the Big Mind process, and The Work of Byron Katie, the Kiloby/Living inquiries.

INQUIRY AND HEART-CENTERED PRACTICES

Inquiry and heart-centered practices help me find more ease.

Stressful stories are only partially true and my system is spending a lot of energy maintaining them and reacting to them. Identifying and examining these stories, and finding what’s more genuinely true for me, opens up space for more ease and presence. I find The Work of Byron Katie and the Kiloby/Living inquiries most helpful for this.

Heart-centered practices shift how I relate to anything – discomfort, myself, others, situations, life, and more. (And really, my images of all of these.) They help me shift from seeing them as enemies, struggling with them, and so on, to genuinely befriending them and perhaps even finding genuine gratitude for them. This too opens up space and opens up for more ease and peace with what is. The practices I am most familiar with are tonglen, ho’oponopono, and the Jesus/Heart prayer.

FINDING WHAT I AM

Finding what I am helps me find an essential simplicity.

In the world, I am this human self in the world. That’s not wrong.

Is that also what I am in my own first-person experience? I find I more fundamentally am capacity for the word as it appears to me, for any and all content of experience. I am what the world, to me, happens within and as.

And here, there is an essential simplicity. It’s the simplicity that allows and takes the form of all the richness of experience. It’s what’s free of tension and stress, and is free to take the form of what a thought may label tension and stress.

THE NATURE OF MY EXPERIENCES IS THE SAME AS MY OWN NATURE

This is perhaps a bit obscure and marginal for most but important to me.

When I experience discomfort, the habitual response in my system is to react to it. To try to push it away. Distract myself from it, often by going into compulsions. Make it go away, sometimes by healing and transforming it away. And so on.

My system responds as if it’s “other”. As if it’s a kind of enemy or problem. As if is a foreign element.

In reality, I am capacity for it. It happens within and as what I am.

Noticing this, and resting in that noticing, helps to shift out of this pattern. And that too gives more of a sense of ease and peace. It initially takes a bit of effort, and it really frees up a lot of energy tied up in the struggle from the old habitual response.

How do I do that? The easiest for me is to remind myself of my headlessness, notice my nature directly, and then notice and rest in the noticing of the nature of (what my thoughts label) the discomfort.

INVITED TO BE MORE SINCERE AND THOROUGH

Very little of this was new to me. These were all things I have explored since my teens or twenties. But the more severe phase of the CFS invited me to be more sincere and thorough in the exploration of all of it. Life created a kind of boundary for me and I needed to go deeper within that boundary. I could get away with less. I couldn’t so easily get away with being approximate and sloppy. I needed to be more sincere and precise.

It almost goes without saying, but a part of this sincerity is to find what’s genuinely true for me. Tricking myself doesn’t work since a part of me (all parts, really) know what’s going on. It has to be genuine to have any value.

OFTEN MESSY

By writing it like this, it can look as if I have it all sorted.

The reality is far more messy and human. I am not by any means perfect in any of this, whatever we imagine “perfect” means. I am winging it. I am learning a few things as I go along, often slowly. I forget and then remember again. I have a lot of issues and traumas that sometimes obscure and confuse any clarity that’s here. I don’t have any final or full answers. And as with most of these posts, I am writing this as a reminder to myself. As an invitation to myself to bring it alive here and now and explore it further.

It’s all very much a work in progress. And an adventure.

Note: What I have written here applies to some extent to many forms of chronic illness. This includes different forms of long-covid, some of which are similar to CFS. Long-covid is a post-viral disease and CFS is often a post-viral disease.

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Picking up dreams from others?

Several times in my life, I have noticed that my dreams not only change when I sleep in a different location, they also seem to reflect things that are not from my life but from the people who have been in that place before me.

For instance, when I lived in Madison, I would go to Milwaukee to join the Process Work meetings and workshops there. One time, I stayed overnight in a place owned by one of the organizers and I had a string of very intense dreams involving archetypes, magical creatures, and so on. The dreams seemed “foreign” to me somehow. I told my host about the content of the dreams, and she said: “Oh yes, you slept where I work with clients, and those images come from recent sessions I have done with clients.” I moved my massage-table bed to another location in the same room, and slept quietly.

Another time, I stayed in my old Breema teacher’s house in Berkeley during a Breema intensive while he and his new partner were away. The first night, I dreamt his wife was screaming at me and accusing me of several things. When I woke up, I felt I had been him in the dream, and I remembered that he was going through a divorce at the time. I moved to the other side of the bed and slept quietly. (I wonder if the first side of the bed was where he slept?)

Over the last week, I have had very restless dreams bordering on nightmares. This happened when I started sleeping in an apartment and bed that belongs to someone I know (RL). Yesterday, I was curious about what’s happening, I wondered if I am picking up something again, and cleaned the apartment and bed energetically. My sleep last night was much more calm and peaceful.

I should mention that one of the dreams I have had here was of me looking down on my arms and noticing that they were dark brown. (In waking life, they are pink or at best light brown.) I wonder if this dream too may reflect sleeping in the bed and residual energies of another person? (He has darker skin.)

For me, this is just an interesting pattern. I know I can sometimes pick up and sense what’s going on with others and a place, so this may be just another way my system picks it up. It’s also a reminder of how interconnected we all are. And whatever comes up in these dreams does reflect something in me since everything – the whole world – reflects dynamics and characteristics in me. Equally important, it’s all happening within and as what I am. That doesn’t change.

Picking up information during distance healing

I thought I would share an experience I had early on after I started with Vortex Healing.

In Vortex Healing, and in distance healing in general, it’s common to pick up information about the client.

Typically, the information is about whatever issue the client wants to work on. For me, it’s typically a combination of images and sensations in the body (I feel in my own body what’s going on with the client), and some also receive it in the form of words. And the information is usually about where in the body or energy system something is going on, and whatever emotional issues are related to what we are focusing on. (The information is typically quite accurate and can be confirmed.) Over time, this becomes quite routine and a part of daily life for me and most others doing distance healing.

In this case, I exchanged healing sessions with another student at my level. She channeled for me and afterward said that she had several images during the session that didn’t make sense to her. But she wanted to share them anyway – just in case they meant something to me.

She said she saw images of a young woman, in a kind of intentional community with a focus on sustainability and spirituality, and so on. (I don’t remember everything but it was far more detailed.)

It turned out that the images she had picked up were from a book project that had recently come to me and where I had started to write down ideas. It’s about a young woman a few decades in the future, living in a community focusing on sustainability in a generally dystopian world wrecked by our ecological crisis. She has an awakening shift, and the story is mostly about her process of dealing with this new reality.

Why did she pick it up? Probably because that world was especially alive for me at the time. And maybe so she could share it with me as a kind of confirmation about the story and the project. (I still haven’t written it, which weighs on me a bit since the story came to me nearly fully formed and it felt like it wanted to be written and brought into the world.)

Note: To clarify, my VH-exchange comrade is not someone I knew very well, and I hadn’t told anyone about the book project I was exploring.

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Books and identity

I had a conversation the other day about books, downsizing, and identity.

After my divorce some years ago, I had to downsize my book collection dramatically. Over a couple of decades, I had systematically built up a small library of books by and about mystics, psychology, shamanism, Native American cultures and mythologies, vernacular/natural/sustainable architecture and design, permaculture, art, and so on. I bought two or three books a week, mostly from amazing used-books stores in Madison, Eugene, Portland (Powell’s Books!!!), and the Bay Area. So I assume the collection was between two and three thousand books, and mostly books you won’t find in most libraries.

It was painful for me to lose these books. Partly because I had made extensive notes in many of them and planned to use them as references for my own future book on mysticism. And equally importantly, because I had used them to build up and reinforce a certain identity.

In my mind, I could tell myself: Look at this cool book collection! Look what a cool and interesting guy I am who has all these books and has read almost all of them!

Collecting books is not the most terrible addiction out there, and using them to build up a certain identity is also not the most terrible thing we can do. I still love books, but it is good to be aware of what we use to build up and reinforce our identity and see what’s behind it.

Do I have a sense – and identity – of not being enough? Am I trying to fill a sense of lack through books? Or in other ways including other collections, clothes, titles, and so on?

Would I rather have kept the books? Yes. Am I grateful I got to more viscerally get how I used – and partially still use – books to build up and reinforce an identity? And that I am doing so to compensate for a sense of lack and not being enough? Yes, of course. In the bigger picture, that’s probably far more important than having an impressive book collection. It’s less visible and potentially more transforming.

Teenage experience: the shift from simplified duality to oneness

I have written a brief autobiography where I touched on this, but I thought I would say a few more words about it since it’s interesting to me. 

When I was fifteen, there was a spontaneous shift into a simple duality of observer and observed. I found myself as what observed this human self and the wider world. It was a very uncomfortable experience, I thought something was seriously wrong, and I went to several specialists. This happened along with the onset of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) which made it extra confusing. 

One year later, I walked down a gravel road at night and there was an equally spontaneous shift into oneness. The divine woke up to itself as everything without exception. The divine had just temporarily taken itself to fundamentally be this human self. All it was happening within and as the divine. 

I haven’t written so much about what happened during that year, and I don’t remember all the details anymore. But I am able to reconstruct it to some extent. 

Before this happened, I was an angsty and nerdy teenager with a deep fascination for literature, science, music, nature, ecology, and more.

During this year, something shifted in me. I got more interested in spirituality and started reading whatever I could find at the local library. I was profoundly influenced by Fritjof Capra and “Bak tid og rom” by Erik Damman. I suspect this is also when I started reading Rudolf Steiner and other influences on western spirituality.

I had been an atheist since elementary school, although I did always have an interest in parapsychology. I read several books on the topic, especially scientific studies that hint at a reality outside of how it’s depicted in current mainstream science. I even did several experiments at home, including with the classic telepathy cards. (The results were often well above random although I don’t have the numbers here to check them with proper statistics…!)

Why did this shift into an interest in spirituality? I imagine it is because of this observer-observed shift. I found myself as consciousness, and although the world seemed infinitely distant, it also happened within and as the consciousness I am. 

If I remember correctly, it was also during this year that I started seeing energies, first around the leaves of the trees I was sitting under while reading. 

And I continued to be an angsty nerdy teenager for another few years. My nerdiness just took a slightly different form. 

A brief update

I thought I would write a brief update.

Although I have put down a lot of ideas for articles, I have only written and published a few. That’s mainly because I have been busy with traveling, classes, moving, the new land and house, and resting and taking care of my health.

CLASSES

I finished a Vortex Healing class (Awakening to Divinity) a couple of weeks ago. Combined with receiving a couple of healing sessions, it seems to have shifted things in me.

I mainly notice that I experience sensing and channeling differently.

When I sense into someone’s system, I sense space with just a few bits of ethereal pieces floating around here and there. I suspect I need to get used to this new way of sensing, and my sensing will likely keep unfolding and revealing more things. (Previously, I could sense the physicality more and I would also get more images providing information.)

My sense of channeling has also changed. I used to sense the energy in my own system quite clearly, maybe because it would run up against things in my own system. Now, there is mainly a sense of space. Perhaps my system has more capacity now? And I am no longer experiencing the friction?

When I do distance healing, there is also much more of a direct and visceral sense of it happening from void and oneness. It’s happening within and as whatever I am doing healing for. It seems to be happening from the inside-out of what I intend healing for.

And that’s not really the right language. It’s all happening within and as the divine. It’s the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself as all of this and the way this process – and everything – is unfolding.

LAND

We are stewards of 15 hectares in the Andes mountains, and it’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I feel a deep connection with it and I am very grateful to have it in my life. It’s a lifelong dream I wasn’t even that conscious of coming alive, at least for now.

We finalized the payment for the big piece two weeks ago and will finalize the payment for the small piece in a few days. And the first tiny house is almost finished.

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The dark night trainwreck

When we go through a dark night of the soul, it can feel like a train wreck.

It can feel like everything – ourselves, our life, the process – is a messy, confusing, disorganized, and overwhelming wreck.

I know it did for me, and it still does to some extent.

DARK NIGHTS

Dark nights are talked about in two contexts.

One is as it’s used by most people, as a metaphor for an especially difficult period in life. For instance, divorce or an existential crisis.

The other is more specific to the awakening process. In the process of exploring our nature, we can go through several different kinds of dark nights.

In general, dark nights happen when life rubs up against our cherished mental representations – of who or what we are or how our life should be. We can explore these and find what’s more true for us. And often, they just have to wear themselves out. It’s a necessary cleaning-out process.

Any remaining beliefs, identifications, emotional issues, traumas, hangups, and so on are distortions that make it difficult to live more consciously from and as the oneness we are. We may get caught up in them when they are triggered. And even if they are not obviously triggered, they are here in our system coloring our perception, choices, and life.

Awakening itself doesn’t necessarily clear all of that out. It seems that many of us need stronger medicine.

THE BIG PICTURE OF MY PROCESS

I have written a brief bio in another article but will give a summary.

In childhood, I had memories (flashbacks) to life between lives, and I felt a strong longing for it – for the divine – even if I didn’t consciously know what it was.

At age fifteen, I got a mysterious illness (which turned out to be CFS). At the same time, the world – anything within the content of experience – also moved very far away. In hindsight, it seems like consciousness went into an observer-observed duality.

One year later, the initial awakening shift happened. From one moment to the next, all without exception were revealed as God. Everything, including all human experiences and culture, was God.

This led to a ten-year honeymoon period.

Followed by the beginning of a dark night when I went against a clear inner guidance on a major life issue.

For some years, my focus was mostly on daily life and community projects.

I then got back into these explorations, and there was an extended shift into a clear no-self state.

And after all of that, it felt like everything collapsed.

THE DARK NIGHT AS IT HAPPENED FOR ME

THE BEGINNING OF THE DARK NIGHT

The dark night started when I got married in the US and abandoned many of the most important things in my life (Zen center, friends, Utah, graduate program, etc.) in order to move to another state to support my wife in taking her MA there. I went against a very clear and strong inner guidance, and it led to me feeling profoundly off track.

The more intense phase started several years later. Following strong pneumonia that kept me bedridden for weeks (which my doctor refused to treat and called “walking pneumonia”), my health collapsed. I initially got CFS following an Epstein-Barr (mono) infection in my teens, and my health had gotten better after that. Following long pneumonia, my system was very weak and then collapsed into acute and severe CFS. I spent the next months in the classic dark room unable to function in daily life.

My memory of this period is fuzzy. I remember going through a phase where archetypes were presented to me and moved through me in different ways. For instance, one night I experienced an apparently endless stream of “dark” archetypes from all of the world’s cultures moving through me. As each one came up to me, I moved into its face as if it was a mask and I experienced that archetype from the inside for a while until the next one came up to me.

SHOW ME WHAT’S LEFT

After a few years, I got a little better, moved back to Norway, and asked the divine “show me what’s left”. (AKA a dangerous prayer.) This led to a whole new phase.

Within one week, I was overwhelmed by a profound survival fear coming up in my system. For about nine months, it was so strong that I was lucky to get one or two hours of sleep early in the morning. And during the day, all I could do was walk in the forest while listening to Adyashanti. The fear was so strong and intense that I couldn’t understand how I was somehow still here. I felt completely overwhelmed. I asked the divine to do anything for this to pass. Even death seemed far more preferable than this, and I also knew it was not a solution. This experience was beyond anything I have ever experienced.

About nine months in, the intensity turned down slightly, although the profound and primal survival fear lasted for several years after this. It’s still here but at a generally much lower volume.

TRAUMAS

The lid was taken off the primal fear, and it was also taken off deep traumas and issues in me that were still unprocessed and unhealed. It seems my system is no longer able to bury these as it did previously. They are here, right on the surface. And I know there may be more I am not aware of.

RESTLESSNESS AND AVOIDANCE

Since my teens, I had a laser focus and loved silence, meditation, and resting in and as my nature. I loved it more than just about anything else. And during this dark night, that all changed. I shifted into a pattern of restlessness and avoidance because of the overwhelming fear and trauma surfacing. It became much more work to meet and be with what was coming up, and it was as if I had to learn it for the first time.

LOSSES

This has been a period of losses. I lost friends, especially during the most intense period. My marriage ended (which was good since it didn’t feel right). I lost my house, belonging, and money. And so on. It has been a period where I felt I lost just about everything.

The last several years are also characterized by a series of false starts. Something happens that seems very good to my personality, and then it falls apart relatively quickly. Several relationships started and ended during this period.

LOSING ANY ANCHORS

At the beginning of the most intense period, around 2011, I also lost any sense of inner anchors. When I turned off the light at night and put my head on the pillow, I couldn’t find any anchor points anywhere. This also brought up fear although also felt like another adventure.

DISORGANIZED

My system has felt disorganized. I am not sure when this started. When the strong traumas and primal fears came up? In any case, I felt like my psyche shattered into a million pieces all pointing in different directions. It’s been very difficult to make good decisions and I see myself behaving in ways I know is far from optimal and in ways I wouldn’t have earlier in life. In several situations, I saw myself acting against my better judgment.

HEART DISTRESS

After the primal survival fear diminished slightly, I noticed an extreme discomfort in my heart. This one too was with me for several years. I think I saw Jeannie Zandie talk about something similar, describing it as a shard of glass in the heart. For me, this went away during the Core Veil class in Vortex Healing. A VH teacher said that my core veil was hanging on by a thread before this class, and that may be what created the immense discomfort.

COMFORT AND SUPPORT

What gave me slivers of comfort and support during these years?

A bit from partners and friends, although their love and support didn’t reach quite into the most painful places in this experience.

Nature has been immensely helpful to me. I have spent as much time in nature as possible.

During the most intense period, I found comfort in the Dark Night of the Soul chapter in Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism. Most of what’s described there fit my experience exactly, and it was a comfort to know that others had gone through something similar. I remember seeing the comedy in Underhill describing different ways people experience the Dark Night of the Soul and finding that just about all of it happened with me. I seemed to need all of it, and not just one or two variations.

In general, finding others who had gone through it themselves was a big comfort to me, including working with one facilitator who had come out on the other side and could guide me somewhat.

Five-element acupuncture helped some during the most intense period, although often for just a day or two.

Vortex Healing may have helped provide a kind of turning point in this process. It does feel that the divine put me on a slightly different path after I got into VH.

NEEDING HELP

Before the dark night, I typically took pride in doing things on my own. I rarely needed to ask for help. That also changed during this dark night. I had to ask for help. I became the one who needed help from others. And there is a beautiful blessing here too. I learned the beauty of receiving and allowing others to help.

WHAT MADE IT MORE DIFFICULT

It’s not a surprise or secret what’s made this phase of my life more difficult for me: how my system has reacted to deep trauma. Deep and painful beliefs and identifications creating and holding in place the trauma, originally created as a survival strategy in a difficult family situation. The more we have of this, the more difficult the cleaning-out process can be. It tends to become more messy, painful, and perhaps drawn out.

DURATION

The dark night has lessened in intensity but is not over yet. I still feel like I have been hit by a truck: disoriented, partially in shock, and parts of me find it difficult to trust life.

It started when I got married and went against clear inner guidance, which is twenty-five years ago. And the far more intense phase started fifteen years ago.

It has not been a quick process for me. Perhaps because some traumatized parts of me are strongly holding onto old survival mechanisms and associated beliefs and identifications. These need to wear out.

THE INVITATION IN THIS DARK NIGHT

What was the invitation in this dark night? And why did it happen?

I cannot say anything for certain about the why. But it does seem it happened as a kind of reversal of the long honeymoon period following the initial awakening shift. During the honeymoon, everything fell into place in miraculous ways, I lived in a soft bliss, I had a lot of passion and direction in my life, and so on. During the dark night, everything fell apart, I lived with a huge amount of pain, I completely lost direction in life, and so on. When it goes up, it goes down.

The invitation here is more clear. The invitation is to clarify what I am and live from it, and not be so caught up in changing states, experiences, and situations. The invitation is for my center of gravity to shift more fully and viscerally into and as what I am.

More specifically, it is to…

Not only generally see all as the divine, but also see what my personality doesn’t like as the divine.

Not only see it all as the divine but more consistently find the genuine love for it all that’s already here, including for what my personality doesn’t like.

Not only have my center of gravity in what I am when things are easy, but maintain this center of gravity when it’s challenging and difficult things come up. To maintain this center of gravity when my old habit is to join in with reactivity and the issues coming up.

I can consciously explore this and invite in these shifts. I can prepare the ground. But the shifts themselves are always grace, as is the noticing and any active exploration I engage in. It’s all grace.

And the same goes for exploring and inviting in healing for my traumas and issues, especially the more central ones put in place early in life and related to my parents and family. For instance, my habit of not speaking up and not standing sufficiently up for myself. (And being repeatedly disappointed for that reason and having resentment come up.) And related to that, my issue around wanting to hide and not be seen, and having resentment for not being seen.

In general, the invitation is to wear out – and consciously explore – some of my remaining beliefs and identifications. These are typically put in place early in life to help us survive, and they are often rooted in and held in place by fear. A fear that’s unfelt, unloved and exiled. And has a scary story behind it that’s not sufficiently examined.

As Evelyn Underhill says in the dark night chapter of Mysticism, this is a messy and thoroughly human process.

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A few of my favorite music albums

I always enjoy discovering new music, including through people’s lists of favorites. So I thought I would return the favor and list some of my own favorite albums here.

CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL

Arvo Pärt: Passio, Miserere, Arbos, Te Deum, Da Pacem, Creator Spiritus, Alina (ECM recordings, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Paul Hillier)

Philip Glass: Akhnaten, Satyagraha, Glassworks

Meredith Monk: Book of Days

Steve Reich: Different Trains, Music for 18 Musicians, Reich/Richter

John Adams: Shaker Loops

EUROPEAN CLASSICAL

Jordi Savall (performer): Tous les matins du monde

JS Bach: Die Kunst der Fuge (Keller Quartet)

Rachmaninov: Vespers (Paul Hillier)

Palestrina: Missa Papae Marcelli, Missa Aeterna Christi Munea, Stabat Mater

Allegri: Miserere (Tallis Scholars)

Marin Marais: Pieces de Viole du Second Livre (Jordi Savall)

Canteloube: Songs of the Auvergne (Dawn Upshaw) 

NORDIC

Mari Boine:  Eight Seasons, Goaskinviellja / Ørnebror, Leahkastin

Agnes Buen Garnås & Jan Garbarek: Rosensfole

Jaga Jazzist: Starfire, Magazine, Stix, What We Must

Kings of Convenience: Riot on an Empty Street, Quiet is the New Loud, Declaration of Dependence, Peace or Love

EUROPE

Bulgarian Women’s Choir: Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares, Bulgarian Custom Songs, Ritual

Maria Salgado: Siete Modos De Guisar Las Berenjenas

Kila: Tog e go bog e, Gambler’s Ballet, Luna Park

CONTEMPORARY POPULAR

Kate Bush: Hounds of Love, Aerial part II, The Sensual World

Sting: Nothing Like the Sun, Ten Summoner’s Tales, Mercury Falling, Brand New Day 

Mathieu Chedid – M

LOUNGE, ELECTRO-SWING, NUJAZZ, JAZZ

Kojato: All About Jazz

Bahama Soul Club: The Cuban Tapes

Caravan Palace: <|°_°|> (Robot Face), Chronologic

Stereolab: Dots & Loops, Cobra & Phases, Sound Dust

Bitter:Sweet: Drama, The Mating Game

Django Reinhart

NORTH AMERICA

Bela Fleck: The Bluegrass Sessions, Tales from the Acoustic Planet

Carlos Nakai: Carry the Gift, Canyon Trilogy

William Eaton: Where Rivers Meet

SOUTH AMERICA

João Gilberto, Elis Regina, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Sabrina Melheiros

Compilation: Bossa Nova and the Rise of Brazilian Music in the 1960s

AFRICA

Ayub Ogada: En Mana Kuoyo

Youssou N’dour: Eyes Open, The Guide, Set, Egypt

Sona Jobarteh: Badinyaa Kumoo, Fasiya

MIDDLE-EAST

Axiom of Choice: Niya Yesh, Unfolding

Peter Gabriel: Passion: Music for the Last Temptation of Christ

The Musicians of the Nile: Egypte – Les Musiciens du Nil

Seiur Marie Keyrouz: Chant Byzantin, Canticles de L’Orient

ASIA

Huun Huur Tu: If I’d Been Born an Eagle, Where Young Grass Grows

Sainkho Namtchylak: Naked Spirit

Shakuhachi – The Japanese Flute

SOUNDTRACKS

Bruno Coulas: Himalaya

Hans Zimmer: Interstellar

Sweet & Lowdown

Vangelis: Bladerunner

ELECTRONIC / AMBIENT

Boris Blank: Electrified

Brian Eno: Apollo – Atmospheres & Soundtracks

Jean-Michel Jarre: Oxygene, Zoolook, Amazônia

Vangelis: Albedo 0.39

And, in general, anything from Putumayo.

See also this playlist on Spotify, and a slightly more comprehensive list.

A brief personal history

I love biographies in general, and I am also fascinated by the awakening process and how it unfolds in each case.

So why not write briefly about my own process?

BRIEF OVERVIEW

I was born and grew up in Ski, Norway, and have since then lived in Oslo, Utah, Oregon, California, and most recently Colombia.

In terms of notable events and shifts, I had flashbacks to the time before this life when I was little. I became an atheist in elementary school although was fascinated by parapsychology. When I was fifteen, there was an observer-observed shift. A year later, a shift into oneness which didn’t go away. I was in a honeymoon phase for about a decade, which shifted into a kind of dark night when I went against my inner guidance on a major life decision. About ten years later, there were more shifts and deepenings, including a few months in a strong no-self state. This led to a much darker dark night with a lot of losses in many areas of life and deep survival fear and old traumas surfacing, and am still in this to some extent, although it is lightening up.

INFANT: FLOATING

My earliest memory is of seeing my parents and brother walking on the sidewalk toward our house. I see it from above, perhaps 15-20 meters up. They have a pram and I suspect I am in it. It’s a beautiful sunny day, although a little chilly judging from the clothes. They walk up the short gravel road to the house, and in front of the house is something large and rectangular. I then float around inside, following my parents and brother. I see old yellowish flowery wallpaper in the large bedroom, and parts of it are torn off.

I had this memory throughout my childhood and eventually asked my parents about it later in my teens. (And again just a couple of weeks ago.) This was the day we moved from our old house to this one, and they did walk between the houses since it was just a ten-minute walk. The white rectangle in front of the house was the moving van. And the wallpaper in the large bedroom did look like that and they put a kind of burlap on the wall and painted it white in the days after we moved.

I assume this was an out-of-body experience, perhaps triggered by some anxiety about moving house.

Otherwise, I relatively quickly learned to walk, run, and speak, and I was an active child curious about everything like most others.

I still remember being four or five, sitting in a chair by the western window in the living room, looking at a Donald Duck comic (I didn’t know how to read yet), and suddenly becoming conscious that I was conscious. Somehow, that was a deeply impactful and moving experience.

This all happened in my parent’s house in Ski, Norway. I lived there until I was 18 or 19 when I moved to Oslo. And I am writing this in the log cabin on their property since I am here on a summer visit.

BEFORE SCHOOL AGE: FLASHBACKS

Before school age, I repeatedly had a kind of flashback.

I remember being outside on a warm day, in the garden on the southwestern side of the house, under some beautiful tall birch trees, and the bright sunlight filtered through the moving leaves.

Suddenly, there is a shift and I remember how it was before this life. I am brought back to that life.

All is golden light. I am consciousness without any body. There is a profound sense of being home. All is love and consciousness. There are occasionally some other consciousnesses that seem infinitely loving wise communicating with me. There is a sense of timelessness or of time moving very faintly in the distance. The strongest part of this is that profound sense of home and infinite love.

It’s impossible to put this into words even now. As a child, it never occurred to me to mention this to anyone. And I definitely didn’t make any connection between this and what I heard about religion or God. (What they talked about seemed dry and abstract, and these flashbacks were anything but.)

Looking back, I assume this is an actual memory of life between lives. It closely fits what people report from near-death experiences. And it was more of a flashback – being brought back there – than a regular memory.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: ATHEIST & SCIENCE

In elementary school, I had to take one hour of Christianity classes a week and immediately disliked it and how it was presented. To me, it seemed silly or impossible to pretend to believe something just because someone else said it was so. Why rely on second or third-hand info? Also, religion to me seemed mostly a crutch for people who had trouble dealing with life. So at some point, I decided I was an atheist.

I had no interest in religion or spirituality, although I was fascinated by the paranormal. I loved reading about research into mind-reading and telekinesis, about ghosts, and so on, and I engaged in my own experiments with mind-reading and telekinesis. (With very limited results, although the mind reading – using the classic cards with symbols – sometimes seemed to work.)

In general, I was most fascinated by nature and science and I wanted to be a zoologist and ideally work with animals in Africa. I loved the nature documentaries by Sverre M. Fjelstad and David Attenborough and I was profoundly impacted and moved by Cosmos by Carl Sagan.

I remember walking out into the garden after a Cosmos episode, looking up at the starry sky, and viscerally feeling that I was the universe bringing itself into consciousness. I am the local ears, eyes, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. Even now, that’s a visceral experience and gives me shivers down the spine.

During this time, I was also up in the mountains in Norway with my father and brother. We slept outside during the night, under the dark starry sky, and could see for perhaps hundreds of miles and get a sense of the curvature of the planet. Here too, I had a profound sense of being part of the universe. I was the universe being conscious of itself.

I would also often wake up in the morning with a profound longing. I tried the things I enjoyed the most – being with family or friends, eating strawberry jam sandwiches, drinking hot chocolate, reading Donald Duck comics, and so on, and nothing helped. I had no idea what the longing was for.

MID-TEENS: MYSTERIOUS ILLNESS AND DISTANCE TO THE WORLD

I was a socially awkward teenager (still somewhat socially awkward) with a lot of teenage angst.

One day when I was fifteen, something shifted. It was as if the world went infinitely far away, and that included this human self. And I also had fatigue and other symptoms. The doctors and specialists couldn’t find anything, and it was a difficult and scary period in my life.

Later, I realized that two things happened here.

At a health level, I got Chronic Fatigue Syndrome following mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr) a few months earlier. In Norway at the time, nobody seemed to know about this diagnosis or illness.

And at a mind level, there was a neat split between the observed (any content of experience) and the observer. The oneness I am was identified with the observer and the rest – the world and this human self – seemed infinitely far away.

MID-TEENS: ONENESS SHIFT

One year later, when I was sixteen, another shift happened.

I walked on the small gravel road to the house. It was between Christmas and New Year. A big wind went through the landscape. The night sky was dark and littered with stars. And suddenly – perhaps triggered by the expansiveness of it all – there was a shift.

There was a shift from taking myself as most fundamentally this awkward angsty teenager to finding myself as everything without exception. God woke up to itself as all there is – the stars, wind, trees, this awkward teenager, and everything.

My psychology responded to this with awe and amazement. There were no words that could even begin to describe it.

This shift didn’t go away. I lived the following years in continued amazement, awe, gratitude, and even pain because this was so immensely beautiful and there was no way to share it and I couldn’t find anyone who seemed even remotely interested or had any taste of it for themselves.

Why did it happen? Looking back, I see that the year of observer-observed duality may have prepared the ground for it. I wonder it may have happened partly as a kind of safety valve for my teenage angst and stress. And the processes in me that otherwise prepared the ground for it are probably hidden from me.

MID-TO-LATE TEENS: PROCESSING THE SHIFT

For several years, and even now, there is a processing of all of this at a human level.

I remember at some point sitting down with a sheet of paper, making a dot on the paper, and realizing that was way too much. (And too little.) This may have been a few months after the shift.

I knew nobody who was even remotely interested in this. And since this happened a few years before the internet took off, I tried to find books written by someone who had experienced a similar shift.

I found several books that touched on it, but they seemed to be written through a lot of veils at the same time. Later in my teens, I was in the main library in Oslo, looked at a collection of sermons from Meister Eckhart, and finally found someone who seemed to understand. Although even here, there were filters – in this case, Christian theology and the difference between our times.

There was a recognition of the irony of this happening to someone who had been a self-described atheist for years. That wasn’t a big deal, but it was slightly amusing.

At a human level, I felt very lonely in all of this. The first person I met who understood this from her own experience was Birgitte H.. We did a tai chi class together when I was nineteen, she stood behind me and saw my energy system and aura, and knew what had happened. We started talking and became good friends, and she was an immense support for me. (She was eight years older and had a bit more experience living with and from it.) The next I met was the then-wife of Jes Bertelsen, who similarly recognized it immediately through looking at my energy system, and she too became an important part of my life for a while.

MID-TO-LATE TEENS AND EARLY TWENTIES: STRONG ENERGIES AND CONTINUED SHIFTS

Along with the two major shifts mentioned above, there were many smaller ones.

SEEING ENERGIES

In the summer about half a year after the initial observer-observed shift, I was sitting outside (in the same area as where the flashbacks often happened) reading a book.

I remember looking up at the beautiful birch trees, and seeing a kind of light around the leaves as they contrasted with the sky. I wrote it off as an optical illusion having to do with the eye and brain. The next day, I saw it again. It kept getting stronger over the next several days, and I noticed I saw the light around not only leaves contrasting the sky but everything – people, animals, plants, and even inanimate objects, especially when they contrasted an even surface.

The light around inanimate objects was slightly fainter and not very differentiated. Around plants, a little stronger and with more layers. And around animals – including humans – even stronger and more differentiated around the different body parts and as it extends out away from the body.

This light around everything went out indefinitely far and got fainter further out from the body or object.

I am still seeing this light, and it’s especially helpful to see how awake the system of different people is. With some, it’s awake to itself indefinitely far out. And in most cases, most of the system is not very awake to itself or not at all awake to itself. In an early awakening, the light tends to be very bright. As the awakening matures, the light becomes finer and more – for lack of a better word – subtle. Even closer to the body, it becomes subtle like the faintest light further away from the body.

If people engage in body-oriented practices, like tai chi or chi gong, the light closest to their body – perhaps one or two centimeters out – tends to be strong and bright.

STRONG ENERGIES RUNNING THROUGH MY SYSTEM

Following the oneness shift, I experienced what seemed like enormous amounts of energy running through my system. This went on for many years, almost a decade. It felt like high voltage running through regular housing wires.

INSIGHTS AND INSPIRATIONS

During this time, there was also an enormous among of insights coming through. Most of what I write about here initially came to me in my mid-to-late teens. (Apart from specific names and approaches from different traditions, which I was not aware of at the time.) I would write down whatever came to me, often just minutes apart.

There was also an enormous amount of inspiration that came through in terms of visual art and music. Often, it would come through fully formed but my technical skill wasn’t always up to translating it into something in the world. (A self-portrait in charcoal I made when I was sixteen was admitted to Høstutstillingen, a prestigious annual exhibit in Norway.)

Here is some music I made when I was fifteen, during the observer-observed phase. For a week, I borrowed a sound module I connected to my Amiga computer and I composed one a day. I didn’t have any music training so I just did what came to me. (Here too, what I heard was far richer than what came out due to my limited technical knowledge.)

CYCLES OF UPS AND DOWNS

During this time, there were also strong cycles of ups and downs. I would “join in” with the euphoria that came from what was revealed to me, and then there would be similar downs. (I don’t quite remember the exact nature of those downs, just that it was unpleasant.)

The oneness I am became caught up in the euphoria from the initial awakening shift, and then swung into the opposite for a while to balance it out. This wore off after a while. It becomes tiresome to swing like this. And what it’s about is what it all happens within and as, not any particular content of experience. The swings invited me to find myself as what it all happens within and as even more clearly, and find a more neutral approach to whatever content of experience is here.

TEENS AND EARLY TWENTIES: INFLUENCES

I had many inspirations and passions during my teens and early twenties.

As mentioned earlier, when I was about ten, Carl Sagan’s Cosmos – both the TV series and the book – had a profound influence on me.

In middle school, Erik Damman’s Bak Tid og Rom had a similar profound influence on me. I was already fascinated by parapsychology, and this rooted it in science.

This led to a voracious reading of anything by Fritjof Carpa.

And later in my teens, books by Carl Jung. (I must have read most of what was published by him, and later started reading anything I could find from his close students.)

During my teens, I also read a large number of other books. This eclectic and somewhat random selection ranged from Shirley MacLaine to Edward Bach, Richard Bach, Viktor Frankl, Erich Fromm, and Lin Yutan, to Gregory Bateson.

When I was 17 or 18, I got into Taoist literature. I read my copy of I Ching until it started to fall apart, and read any of the Taoist classics I could get my hands on.

In my late teens, I discovered the books by Jes Bertelsen and was very grateful to find a fellow Scandinavian who was into the same as me and approached it with unusual clarity, thoroughness, and grounded discernment. He even combined the different areas I was most passionate about – Jung, Taoist practices, Christian prayer and meditation, and Buddhism.

I also devoured anything I could find about the history and philosophy of science, logic and valid arguments, and scientific methods. And I loved Arne Næss and his writings on philosophy, deep ecology, and simple living.

In general, in my teens, twenties, and thirties, I read a good amount of books, often two or three a week.

EARLY ADULTHOOD: HONEYMOON AND CONTINUED EXPLORATION

Moving to Oslo after high school, I started more formal practices to continue the exploration.

I practiced Tai Chi daily for a few years and also did some Chi Gong.

I started the Ngöndro practice at the local Tibetan Buddhist Center.

And on my own, I also practiced Christian prayer and meditation daily, often for an hour or more. This was mostly the Heart Prayer (Jesus Prayer), which became an ongoing practice through the day. And also the Christ meditation where I visualized Christ a couple of meters above, below, in front, behind, and on each side of me, and also in my heart.

I explored the practices Jes Bertelsen outlined in some of his books, which seemed similar to Taoist practices. And I explored several practices from Mantak Chia which all were powerful for me.

During this time, I studied art (for a time with Odd Nerdrum) and later psychology at the University of Oslo.

When I was 24, I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, to continue my psychology studies there. (I went there partly because they had professors focusing on a systems approach to psychology and also health and environmental psychology.)

Within a few months, I became a resident at Kanzeon Zen Center and followed the daily practice and the retreats there. I loved this practice and Utah and my time there in general.

My late teens and early twenties were filled with synchronicities of all kinds. (One of the early ones happened when I was in a tram in Oslo, reading Jung’s book on synchronicities where he described a series of fish synchronicities. Someone sat down in the seat opposite me and put down a plastic bag with the painting of a big fish on it.)

This was a kind of honeymoon for me. And it did transition, mainly because I went against my clear inner guidance as described next.

DARK NIGHTS

I have gone through different kinds of dark nights.

In my teens, I experienced a strong version of the usual teenage angst, and also a great deal of social anxiety. At a human level, I felt very alone for the first several years after the oneness shift. This is a kind of dark night, or at least something challenging.

The cycles of ups and downs for the first few years after the shift is another kind of challenge. In a way, this was a thread of a dark night during a period that was anything but a dark night.

In my late twenties, I got married (which seemed OK) and decided to abandon my own life to support my wife in her continued education. (We moved geographically.) By doing this, I went against a very clear inner guidance. My guidance told me to not move there. And we did. This was the beginning of a long period where I lost my passion, I felt I lost my direction in life, I felt profoundly off track, and so on. This was the beginning of a long dark night.

After a geographical move and renewed passion for these explorations, there were new shifts. (I’ll write about those in the next session.) And about six months after a deep no-self shift, the dark night returned and took a much stronger form. The Chronic Fatigue from my teens (which had never completely gone away) returned very strongly, and I ended up in a dark room for months unable to function. (It came after strong pneumonia a few months earlier, and was likely also triggered from living in a house with a mold problem.)

This dark night has gone through many different phases, and I am still somewhat in it. I have written about some elements of it in articles here as it happened.

For a few months, I experienced a huge amount of different archetypes moving through me. At one point, I saw evil characters from human mythologies – from all times and cultures – moving in a parade in front of me. As each one arrived, I found myself as that character, as if seeing through a mask with their face. Then, the next one came and I found myself as that character. This went on for a few hours.

I got a little better, moved back to Norway, and things seemed to get easier.

I remember asking the divine to “show me what’s left” (AKA dangerous prayer), and within a week, I was plunged into another phase of this dark night. A profound primal survival fear surfaced, along with old traumas. It felt absolutely overwhelming and unbearable, and it went on like this for about nine months before it lessened slightly in intensity. During this time, I was only able to sleep for perhaps one or two hours a night. And during the day, all I could do was walk for hours in the nearby forest (Hebekkskogen) while listening to Adyashanti.

During this time – and during this dark night in general – there were a large number of losses. Of health, dreams, friends, property, and more. My life got stripped bare. (I also ended up in a small log cabin on my parent’s property, which I realize is pretty classic.)

For a few years, I also had a strong discomfort in my heart. I heard someone else describing her experience, during a dark night, as a shard of glass in the heart. That’s how it felt for me. This went away when I did the Core Veil class in Vortex Healing, and I suspect that the “shard of glass” experience may have been a fragment of the core veil that was still there and then went during the class. The class was a big relief for me.

Over these years, and less now than when it started, I also felt very disorganized and fragmented. It was as if something in me was shattered. And I acted and made choices from this confused state, often in amazement seeing myself behaving out of character.

For a few years in the beginning of the darkest part of this dark night, I would have a sense of losing all anchor points when I turned the light off in the evening. It was as if there was nothing to hold onto.

A lot more happened during this period. It started when I went against my guidance on a major life decision. It was punctuated by six months of very clear no-self, and then plunged into much stronger darkness with illness, losses in all areas of life, a deep primal fear and trauma surfacing, and so on. And it has tapered off gradually over the last few years. The darkest phase started about eleven years ago.

THE THIRTIES: RENEWED EXPLORATIONS AND NEW SHIFTS

In my thirties, we moved again, this time to an area that felt right to me. (Oregon.) And here, I refound my passion for these explorations. I started meditating regularly again. I got into The Work of Byron Katie. I discovered the Headless experiments from Douglas Harding. I started offering informal Big Mind sessions for friends and whoever was interested. I got deeply into Breema and gave Breema bodywork sessions almost daily for many years. (And also started instructing with an amazing group of other instructors.)

After getting into more serious meditation practice again, several things started shifting.

My focus had always been very stable. (I could easily follow my breath for several hundreds of breaths.) And now, my focus became far more laser-like.

I remember sitting in meditation, and any sense of continuity fell away. The part of my mind creating a sense of continuity was set aside or disabled. There were still sounds, sensations, and so on, but no sense of continuity. It was just what was here now and nothing else. This showed me, in a visceral way, that my mind creates a sense of continuity.

This is just one of many similar experiences that highlighted different aspects of my nature and the function of my mind to me.

I also noticed that my ability to see energies got much stronger, to the point that I could see the energy of people, plants, and things in the pitch dark. I started tasting amazing tastes independent of having eaten or drinking anything. I had periods of a strong taste of the dark feminine divine within and as everything. And much more.

At some point, I did one of the Headless experiments. (Make a circular hole in a sheet of paper, look through it and notice it’s full of the world and also empty and both at the same time, bring the hole up to your face, and notice you are full of the world and empty.) This shifted something dramatically in me and led to six months in a very clear and strong no-self state.

And this, in turn, shifted into a much darker period of the dark night, as outlined above.

CURRENTLY

I am not sure what to say about what’s happening currently.

I am relatively focused on my life in the world these days. I got married last year to an amazing woman with whom there is deep resonance and similar life paths. We bought fifteen beautiful hectares in the Andes mountain and are building a house there designed with the sun and climate in mind, and using traditional methods (rammed earth) and local materials. We wish to help bring the land back to a more vibrant state. (It’s already pretty good, but has been grazed in some areas.) And so on.

In terms of my explorations, the current ones are reflected in what I write about here. It’s a big relief for me that noticing my nature feels ordinary and effortless. I have lived with it for long enough so it’s not new or amazing in that sense. It feels more like old comfortable shoes.

And there is of course always further to go, especially in terms of inviting more parts of me to join in with this noticing.

ABOUT THIS WRITING

This website is mostly about healing and awakening so that’s the context and filter for what I have included and left out.

What I write is inevitably colored by my own history, culture, and experiences. And what I write about my past is inevitably colored by how I see things these days, and also what I happen to remember and forget.

Still, writing this down is somewhat helpful for me since it reminds me of what’s left to explore. (Some unhealed traumas, especially from early in life.). And since my process is a human process, someone else may find something that resonates with their own experiences.

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Our ecological bottleneck and personal decisions

Since my teens, I have been passionate about sustainability, deep ecology, simple living, and so on. (And worked in that area for several years.)

For decades, we have known that we are creating an ecological bottleneck for ourselves and what we have seen so far is only the beginning. We are entering an era of continuous ecological crises with extreme weather, continued extinction of species, unraveling ecosystems, famine, mass migration, and so on. And a lot of people will die, perhaps most of humanity. (And, as usual, those already worst off will be hit the hardest.)

So what do we do at a personal level?

In my case, there is a lot of grieving, also from seeing the loss of ecological vibrancy and diversity in the areas I know the best, including at the cabin in Norway which is in the middle of a large forested area. (Which soon hopefully will become a national park.)

I have chosen a relatively simple life, relying on less than most people do. (Although I do travel, and I love delicious simple food.)

I have learned to grow my own food, build with local materials and traditions, and so on.

And I am planning for the future. My partner and I have land in the Andes mountains where we can cover most of life’s essentials locally. We are building using local materials and building techniques. We have water and will provide for more natural water storage. We’ll grow food. We are creating good connections with the neighbors and the local community, which is our greatest and most essential resource. We live in a place where heating and cooling is not necessary. (Especially with good building design.)

We are very fortunate in that we have resources to choose where to live, buy land, build a house, and do all of this. Most people in the world are unable to do that, either because they don’t have the resources or because they are tied to where they already are for family or work reasons.

In addition to this (and perhaps it’s a bit excessive), we are going to a place in Europe next week to check it out. It’s a place that’s geographically isolated. They have plenty of water. The soil is very fertile. It’s relatively protected from sea level rise. (Which will be several meters or tens of meters this century.) And here too, there is no need for heating or cooling. It may be another place to live as the current ecological and humanitarian crisis worsens.

Personally, I cannot do much about the bigger picture. But I can make good decisions for myself and my family. And I can create mutually beneficial ties with those in the local community. And that’s perhaps enough.

There is also another thing I am doing, and that’s what I typically write about here. The less I am caught up in issues and traumas, I am better able to deal with change, and I am hopefully able to make slightly better decisions.

A FEW WORDS ABOUT OUR HUMAN-MADE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS

Why are we in this situation?

And why does it seem unlikely that we can prevent massive ecological and social problems?

Many like to talk about greed, blame others, and so on.

To me, it looks different and much simpler.

We live in a system where much of what’s destructive for our planet is easy and inexpensive to do, at individual and collective levels. So just by living our daily lives we contribute to the destruction of our ecosystems. (And our future.)

Why did these systems come in place? Not because of any malevolent intention, but because they made sense at the time they were created. They come about centuries ago when nature, for all practical purposes, was unlimited. It was an unlimited source of resources, and it had an unlimited capacity to absorb waste.

What’s the solution?

The solution is to create systems – economic systems and systems of transportation, production, energy, and so on – where what’s easy and attractive to do is also beneficial for our ecosystems. It’s very possible to do this. Many people have developed and explored ways to do it.

What we need is the collective will.

Are we going to find this collective will? Certainly not soon enough to avoid a lot of problems, because that “soon enough” was several decades ago.

Will we find it at all? I am not sure.

As long as we misdiagnose the problem (through blaming greed, others, etc.), we won’t find the real solutions. And as long as we assume that piecemeal solutions (recycling, electric cars) are enough, we won’t find the collective will.

My guess is that most of humanity will have to die off before the ones left collectively seriously address the real causes and start implementing real solutions, and even then we may not since our reduced numbers again allow us to use human systems that don’t take ecological systems into account.

It’s all very simple. Our human systems exists within, depend on, and are part of the larger ecological systems. That means that our human systems – at all levels – need to take ecological realities into account.

If they don’t – and if we have a large population and powerful technology– we will inevitably damage and destroy large parts of the ecological systems we are part of and depend on.

Why don’t more people do more about it?

I suspect many feel they can’t do much on their own so they choose to focus on their own day-to-day lives instead. They may trust that if their leaders don’t take it seriously, it’s because it’s not necessary (yet). Politicians are typically elected for just a few years at a time, so they focus on that timeframe rather than a timeframe that goes over decades or centuries.

I also suspect that more are concerned about this than is sometimes apparent. To others, it may appear that I too am just living a day-to-day life without too much concern about this. (Which is partially true.) What they may not know is the grief I am experiencing over what’s happening with the ecosystems and what will happen with humanity. And they may also not know that when we bought land in the Andes and are building a house there, and are also considering buying something in a location in Europe, it’s with this in mind.

Why do I call it ecological bottleneck?

Because we are in a metaphorical bottleneck right now, and it will continue to tighten in the next decades and perhaps centuries. It’s a bottleneck created by our current economic and other systems which do not take ecological realities into account. Many species won’t survive. (Many are already lost.) Many ecosystems will be severely degraded and damaged, and some will be gone. And as mentioned above, I suspect much of humanity won’t make it through either.

Post-doom

In a sense, the doom is certain. We are already in it and it will get worse. The question is how we will deal with it. I suspect many countries will close down their borders, perhaps even within the EU. A lot of collective and individual resources will be used to deal with an ongoing series of ecological crises. And as usual in a time of crisis, many will focus mostly on their own survival while some will look at the bigger picture and try to find solutions that work for everyone, and there will likely be an increased polarization between the two.

The field

How do I experience myself?

Mainly, as a field. The field my experiences – right now of this room, this body, the computer, the sounds of the keys, and so on – happen within and as.

Sometimes, the focus goes more into the human self. I am the field, and there is a kind of focus on the human self. It stands out a little more.

And I am also very aware that many parts of my psychology still operate from separation consciousness. They too happen within and as the field, and they seem to assume they are separate.

All of that is part of the richness of what’s here.

SEEING VS VISCERAL EXPERIENCE

This is also where the difference between seeing and a visceral experience comes in.

For me, it’s inevitable to find myself as this field in terms of seeing. That is the visceral experience most of the time. And sometimes, when parts of me operating from separation consciousness are triggered, the visceral experience shifts into a sense of being separate.

That too is part of the richness that is here. The field takes that form too, sometimes.

COLORING

And when I look more closely, I find that these parts of my psychology experiencing and operating from separation consciousness color everything even when they are not triggered. It may appear to not be very obvious, but it’s here.

Until all parts are liberated, the whole is not fully liberated.

And that’s OK and more than OK. It’s all how the field and the whole expresses, explores, and experiences itself. It’s part of the richness.

THE FIELD

What is this field?

It’s what I most fundamentally am. It’s what takes the form of all content of experience – the whole world as it appears to me. It’s more familiar to me than any particular content of experience. In reality, it’s all I have ever known since it’s what takes the form of all content of experience.

Thoughts can label it consciousness, or oneness, or love, or Big Mind / Big Heart, or – if we want to be more fanciful – Spirit, the divine, Brahman, and so on. And as with anything else, labels can only point to it.

How can we find it for ourselves?

In one sense, we are this human self in the world. It’s how most others see us, it’s what our passport tells us, it’s what our own thoughts may tell us since we have learned it from others. It’s not wrong and it’s an assumption that works reasonably well. Although it does have some inevitable drawbacks since it’s partially out of alignment with reality. (It tends to create an underlying sense of something being off, and – to the extent our system pretends it’s true – it tends to create discomfort.)

And yet, is that what we more fundamentally are in our own first-person experience? And how can we explore this for ourselves?

We can explore it through basic meditation. Notice and allow what’s here in this field of experience, and notice it’s already noticed and allowed. Through this, we may get a visceral sense of how any and all content of experience comes and goes. And yet, something doesn’t come and go. What is that? Is that what I more fundamentally am? How is it to find myself as that?

We can explore it by investigating our sense fields, and especially how our mental field combines with the other fields to make sense of the world and help us function in the world. (And how it also can create a sense of fundamentally being something within our field of experience, this human self, even if that’s not the full picture.)

We can perhaps most easily and directly explore it through guided noticing. The most effective approaches I have found are Headless experiments (from Douglas Harding) and the Big Mind process (Genpo Roshi).

Everyday mystics

I am a classic everyday mystic.

Most people who know me don’t even know I am into this, but it’s a – or the – central part of my life.

I just live it and explore it quietly in daily life, and write a bit about it here or in paper journals as I have since the shift in my teens.

I am not a very good writer or communicator. I have not been called to take on a more public role. And the essence of what I write about hasn’t changed since my teens. (The changes are more in the details.)

LIKE MOST PEOPLE INTO SOMETHING

This is just like most people who are into something, whether it’s playing the piano, chess, history, or anything else.

Most people do it for their own enjoyment and are not very public about it. They may share a bit for a small group – of friends, family, or folks on the internet, and it may be appreciated because it’s simple, sincere, and does come with a unique flavor (as anything anyone does).

ANY MYSTIC IS AN EVERYDAY MYSTIC

Of course, any mystic is mostly an everyday mystic, even if some sometimes take on the role of a book writer or public speaker or spiritual teacher. These roles are fleeting, like any role.

It’s lived in daily life. It is, in a sense, ordinary to us.

EVERYONE IS AN EVERYDAY MYSTIC

And we are all everyday mystics, whether we know it or not.

To ourselves, we are all oneness and the world to us happens within and as this oneness.

We are all oneness living daily lives through and as our human self in the world.

We are living from and as oneness, whether we notice or not.

In that sense, we are all mystics.

We are oneness exploring, expressing, and experiencing itself through and as our life and all our experiences.

WHAT IS A MYSTIC?

In a more narrow and conventional sense, a mystic is someone sincerely engaged in exploring their nature and how to live from and as it in the world.

It’s a oneness engaged in noticing and exploring itself, and how to live from and as it through and as this human self in the world.

There has to be an aspect of direct noticing and living from and as it.

There has to be a sincere interest in the essence of what this is all about: our nature. Not just a fascination with states and experiences that come and go. (Although that can be the beginning of it.)

And, of course, most don’t go around calling themselves mystics. I am doing it here just for the purpose of this article.

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The essence of the dark night: Viscerally getting any experience as the divine

I have written about dark nights in other articles, and some of the different types of dark nights. And I have written about the dark night I have gone through over the last several years.

There is an important question here: What’s the essence of the dark night I went through? If I were to pick out one thing, what would it be?

One answer is the general one: Life – in the form of life situations and inner processes – rubbed up against some deep identifications in me, rooted in unexamined, unfelt, and unloved fear.

And another is more specific: It’s about viscerally recognizing whatever is here, including and especially what my personality doesn’t like, as happening within the same field.

What my personality struggles with, this human self, how this human self relates to it, and so on, are all happening within and as the same field. (And what my personality struggles with is typically a contraction that comes up in me.)

Said with other words: It’s all happening within and as what I am. It’s all having the same nature and the same nature as me. It’s all part of the oneness I am. It’s all the oneness I am taking the form of the contraction, this human self, how this human self relates to it, and so on. And thought can label this consciousness. Or a love that’s inherent in my nature and oneness and not dependent on any particular feelings or states. Or even Spirit or the divine or synonyms for this.

It’s not about seeing it as that, because that’s not new. It’s about viscerally getting it. And that’s a process. It’s an ongoing process for, I assume, at least as long as this human self is alive and it may go on far beyond that.

What are some of these things I have been invited to viscerally get as the divine? Deep primal fear. Traumas. Painful beliefs and identifications. Losses. Painful reaction to losses. And much more.

And am I finished with it? Not at all. But there have been shifts, and the dark night seems to gradually lighten and trail off, although much of it is still here. And it’s not about getting out of it. (This is, after all, what I am making itself conscious and befriending itself.) It’s about befriending what’s here and my nature viscerally sinking into it as itself.

And what’s the difference between seeing something as the divine (or having the same nature as me) and viscerally getting it as the divine? We can see it, and our human self may still go through its habitual responses to it. It may be caught up in and operate from reactivity. When we viscerally get it, our human response tends to change. There is more of a befriending of whatever is triggered in us. And over time, that tends to allow what’s triggered to transform as well.

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No experience is local

No experience is local.

Whatever I experience – what’s felt, seen, heard, smelled, tasted – is experienced by consciousness as a whole.

It’s local in that I, through thought, can identify where it is in a conventional sense. For instance, the sound of a bird comes from the tree above me. Or the pain of stubbing my toe is in my toe and foot.

And yet, it’s all experienced by consciousness as a whole. It’s all experienced by all of what I am.

And since, to me, the world happens within and as what I am, it’s as if the whole world is infused with the experience.

I cannot remember not experiencing it this way, and it’s difficult for me to imagine it being any other way. But from what I hear from others, this isn’t completely universal.

In a sense, it’s inevitable and universal. I assume that to themselves, everyone are fundamentally consciousness and to them the world happens within and as what they are, just as it is here. And noticing it may not be universal. If these consciousnesses viscerally take themselves to be something within their own experience, then experiences may seem more exclusively local.

Note: I was initially aware of this when I read about Taoist tantric sexual practices in my teens, and they talked about local vs all-body orgasms. To me, orgasms and anything else happens globally, through and in consciousness as a whole.

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The place where the shift happened

My parents are selling the house where I grew up, so it’s been coming to me to make a little video of the place where the oneness shift happened. The shift where oneness recognized itself as all there is, without exception.

As I have written about in a couple of other articles, this happened when I was sixteen years old, after a year of an observer-observed duality that was confusing and disturbing to my human self. I was an atheist at the time with no interest in religion or spirituality, and I assume the shift happened partly as a kind of “safety valve” for teenage angst, awkwardness, and social anxiety.

I walked along a gravel path to the house where I lived with my parents. A big wind went through the landscape. The stars lit up the dark sky above me. And from one moment to the next, I went from being a nerdy teenager to finding myself as the oneness it all happened within and as.

The scenery has changed quite a bit since then. Back then, birch trees lined the road. The road itself was a beautiful gravel road with puddles after rain. The sides of the road were wider and had lots of wildflowers. The modern-looking building was just a regular house. The garbage bins were not there. And I am sure the night sky was a lot darker than it is now. (The roof of my parent’s house can be glimpsed at the end of the short road to the left.)

Also, the shift happened late in the evening between Christmas and New Year, and this video is taken a morning in July!

Why did I make this video and post it here? It’s obviously not anything important, and the answer is that I just felt like it. For a long time, I mostly left out anything person in these writings so it may be time to include a few more personal stories.

Reactions to noticing our nature / finding ourselves as our nature

When the oneness we are notices its nature, what are some of the typical reactions?

In my experience, it depends partly on how and in what context we notice our nature.

NOTICING OUR NATURE

We can notice our nature in a relatively undramatic fashion, for instance through guided inquiry. (Headless experiments and the Big Mind process among other approaches.)

Oneness notices itself.

And because of assumptions and emotional needs, may see it as too simple, too familiar, and not exotic or dramatic enough. It’s not what it thought it would be, so it keeps on looking somewhere else.

Or it may find itself intrigued and fascinated by it and keep exploring its nature. It keeps returning to noticing its nature. It keeps exploring how to live from it. And so on.

The upside of a simple noticing is that it’s often undramatic and simple and we are less likely to be distracted by dramatic experiences. It’s a little easier to notice the essence of our nature – capacity, oneness, love, and so on. And that it’s not about any particular content of experience. Oneness can notice its nature here and now through shifting states and experiences.

The downside is that we may see it as too simple. We expect something more dramatic or exotic, so dismiss it and continue to look somewhere else. Eventually, after some wild goose chases, we may realize that our nature never went anywhere and by neccesity is simple and familiar to us, and we may return to this simple noticing.

FINDING OURSELVES AS OUR NATURE

The oneness we are may also find itself as itself in a more wholesale way, with or without any particular preparation or intention.

This is often a sudden shift, although some seem to experience it as a gradual shift.

The upside of this is that our nature is undeniable. It’s strongly in the foreground of our noticing and experience, and it’s impossible to miss or explain it away.

Even the most dense atheist, like me when this happened, can’t dismiss it.

The downside is that we can easily get caught up in the associated states and side-effects of these more dramatic shifts with fireworks and bells and whistles. We may end up chasing states for a while and miss the simplicity of our nature that’s here across changing states.

MY EXPERIENCE

In my case, the shift happened without conscious preparation and intention and was dramatic, wholesale, and lasting.

Although my nature did notice itself relatively clearly, the drama of the initial shift and the side-effects and states (which my personality found very enjoyable) made me also chase experiences and states for a while. At some level, I was a little confused.

Later, I came to appreciate the simplicity of a simple noticing of my nature – especially guided by the Headless experiments and the Big Mind process.

The simple noticing helped me clarify the essence of my nature and what this is really about.

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Ways of knowing our nature

There are many ways of knowing in general.

And there are many ways of knowing our nature.

WHAT IS MY NATURE?

What is my nature?

Are I this human self? To others, in my passport, and to myself when I take on that identity, that’s true enough. It’s an identity that works well. (Although it comes with some inherent stress since it’s not completely aligned with the reality as it appears to me.)

And when I take a closer look in my own first-person experience, I find I am more fundamentally somehting else.

I am more fundamentally capacity for my experiences – for the world as it appears to me and any content of experience.

And I am more fundamentally what the content of my experience happens within and as. What the world as it appears to me – including this human self, others, the wider world, and any states and experiences – happen within and as.

I am the oneness the world, to me, happens within and as.

This is a direct noticing. It’s not primarily a philosophy, although it will inevitably appear that way when reflected in words. It’s not a “mystical” view since it doesn’t require any adherence to any religion or form of spirituality or anything else. It just requires noticing.

It also doesn’t suppose anything divine, any God or Spirit or anything of that sort. All I can say about it is that there are experiences here. That points to consciousness. No matter what that consciousness rest on in some third-person or objective sense – whether it’s created by this human body and nervous system or whether it’s a part of a divine reality or God or Brahman – to myself I am this consciousness. And to me, the world happens within and as what I am, and I am capacity for the world as it appears to me.

To myself, I am inevitably consciousness, the world happens within and as what I am, I am capacity for the world as it appears to me, and I am the oneness the world to me happens within and as.

WAYS OF KNOWING MY NATURE

So what are some ways I can know my nature?

I can have mental concepts – ideas, maps – about it. Whether I notice my nature or not, and no matter where my visceral “center of gravity” is, I can have these concepts.

And no matter what, it’s helpful to identify, explore, and question these concepts. They may be more or less accurate in a conventional sense, and they are ultimately all wrong and somewhat misleading. Reality is always more than and different from our ideas about it, and ultimately – to us – also simpler. And so also with our nature.

This investigation also helps me differentiate noticing ideas versus noticing what the ideas point to, which are two very different things and sometimes – when it comes to apparently ephemeral things like our nature – it can be easy to mix the two up.

I can notice my nature more directly. Popular misconceptions says this is very difficult, can take lifetimes of practice, and so on. And, in reality, it can be sinple and quick – especially if we are guided by someone familiar with the terrain, familiar with guiding others in noticing their nature, and who is using effective structured pointers – for instance Headless experiments and the Big Mind process.

Noticing once is helpful. And in terms of transformation – of our perception, sense of what we most fundamentally are, and of our human self and life in the world – keeping noticing is where it’s at. This requires a deep interest which helps us prioritize it over most or all else, and which keeps us coming back to it through the day.

This ongoing noticing helps me be more familiar with the terrain – the terrain of what I am, the transformations that happen through this ongoing noticing, and how it is for this human self to live in the context of this noticing in daily life and through different situations.

The more we actively investigate and explore these different parts of the process, the more familiar with will be with this terrain. And we’ll have different fascinations and ways to explore it that gives us all different levels of familiarity with different parts of this vast and infinite terrain of who and what we are and the process of noticing our nature and living from it.

Through this process, the center of gravity of what we take ourselves to be will shift. What we viscerally experience ourselves as, without having to shift our attention anywhere, will shift.

An initial noticing of our nature may or may not shift our visceral experience of what we more fundamentally are. If the noticing comes through guided inquiry, it may not shift too much at first. The shifts happen over time as we keep noticing and exploring.

If the noticing comes more spontaneouslly, or following long practice and exploration, the shift may be more dramatic and immediate.

And, in most cases, there are many shifts like this. Our nature keeps revealing new layers of itself to itself.

So we have a conceptual knowing. We have the knowing that comes from direct noticing. We have the knowing that comes from exploring and becomning more familiar with the terrain over time. And we have the knowing that comes from viscerally finding ourselves as capacity, oneness, love, and so on.

IN MY CASE

This is not always sequential.

In my case, the initial noticing and shift of center of gravity happened at the same time and without any apparent warning or preparation.

I was a nerdy and angsty teeanger, walking down a path at night with a big wind blowing through the landscape and the night sky littered with stars above me. And from one second to the next, my visceral sense of identity went from this awkward human being with social anxiety to the oneness all of existence happens within and as. The consciousness that all happens within and as.

Previous to this, I had less than no interest in relgion or spirituality. I had decided I was an atheist in elementary school since religion seemed mostly absurd to me and a crutch.

This was a visceral shift that never went away. And most of the insights I write about here came immediately or over the first short period after this shift.

At the same time, it has taken a long time to get more familiar with the landscape and how to live from it. My human self continued to have many of the same issues, and it takes time – at least in my case – to find healing for these.

And it also took a bit of time to reflect the noticng and my experiences in some preliminary and provisional maps. For instance, I loved Ken Wilber’s integral model when I discovered it later in my teens.

And there has been several shifts since. For instance, some years ago, there was a much stronger shift into the oneness and “no self” aspect of my nature which helped me viscerally differentiate my nature versus shifting experiences more clearly.

And there has been shifts into what can be called the divine feminine or a kind of soft fertile darkness aspect of my nature.

This is all an ongoing process and exploration.

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Zig Ziglar: The chief cause of unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want now

The chief cause of unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want now.

– Zig Ziglar

Combined with a dream I just had, this quote – which I just saw on social media – helps me see that I have a pattern of doing just that. I have often traded “good enough” or things that are easy and attractive enough for what I really want.

In my twenties, I abandoned a life I deeply loved and that felt deeply right in order to support my new wife in her career and ambitions. Looking back, I see ways I could have done both but I didn’t.

In that process, I abandoned a prestigious PhD (equivalent) program in clinical psychology which deeply felt like the right track for me. Again, I could have taken a short break and picked it up again, but didn’t and waited too long.

These days, I often feel I miss a spiritual community of like-minded people. I have tried out different groups with at most moderate success. At the same time, I know there are groups I resonate deeply with, for instance, Jes Bertelsen’s Vækstcenter in Denmark and the international Headless community, but I have not followed up on either of those. I can easily join online meetings in the Headless community and haven’t so far. (I plan to in the near future.) I can also attend courses at Vækstcenteret relatively easily.

I love Breema and it feels deeply nourishing and whole-making for me, and I haven’t done it much for the last several years, mainly for lack of a local community of practitioners. (I used to live in Eugene, Oregon, with a very active community and was much more involved there.) There is no reason I can’t join the online offerings, plan on going to the Breema Center again, and also offer classes where I am.

I sometimes meet people I feel a resonance with and want to get to know better, but don’t nurture these connections for whatever reason. Sometimes, I think they won’t be interested in hanging out with me and that I am not “good enough”.

It’s not that my life feels deeply off track (as it has at times in the past due to my own decisions based on fear). It’s more that some adjustments are needed, as my dream this morning showed me as well.

So what’s most important to me? And how can I bring more of it into my life?

The most important: Finding my nature and living from this. Truth. Love. Authenticity. Sincerity.

Other important things: Nature and be in nature. Community of like-minded people. Taking care of relationships that feel right and good to me. Meaningful activities – art, community work, sustainability. In short, nurture nurturing relationships and activities.

Also, very important: Being a good steward of my life. Making good decisions for me now and for my future self (as best I can from what I know now).

And some that come to mind appear superficial but there is more to it than meets the eye: Wearing clothes I really like. (I sometimes “save” these and wear OK clothes instead.) Eating the best quality food. When I bring things into my life, choosing high-quality things I really like. (Relatively good with that one.)

What it comes down to is clarifying my priorities with honesty and sincerity. (And setting aside for a while what my personality considers practical or possible.) And living from sincerity and authenticity.

Note: Several things this morning came together to nudge me to take a closer look at this. A friend from the Zen center in the US moved to an affiliated Zen center in The Netherlands a year ago, is very happy with the decision, and encouraged others to follow their dreams. A quote by Sting said something about being willing to risk. And the dream was maybe the main nudge. (In the dream, a Danish woman in Portland, Oregon – which is one of my favorite places – invited us to live in her beautiful house. And I met another woman I felt a deep resonance with who wanted to join our marriage and it felt deeply right for all of us.)

Themes of awakening in my own process

I wrote an article about themes in the awakening process and how this can be useful in itself, and as a complement to a more traditional stage view on awakening. (Stage models can be interesting and useful to a certain extent, and also come with drawbacks.)

I thought I would give an example of how a theme orientation can be used in a specific case. And since the case I happen to be most familiar with is my own, I’ll use that.

Each theme could be its own book, so this is obviously a very simplified overview.

INTEREST

My interest in this came after the oneness I am shifted into noticing itself as all there is. It took the form of trying to find books written by others who had found the same, and then reading a lot of books and engaging in a variety of practices from different traditions.

In my late twenties and early thirties, my active exploration and interest dipped a bit since I was very engaged in sustainability and community organizing. I probably needed a little breather after a quite strong exploration in my teens and early- and mid-twenties. And then it returned in my mid-thirties and hasn’t waned much since.

CONCEPTUAL EXPLORATION

My conceptual exploration started after the initial shift. At first, I had little idea about what to look for, apart from Christian mystics. And I did find people who seemed to have found the same, including Meister Eckart.

After a couple of years, I started finding more people and devoured a lot of books. Especially from Jes Bertelsen, CG Jung, Taoism, Ken Wilber, Fritjof Carpa, and Tibetan Buddhism in my teens and twenties. Zen in my twenties and thirties. Adyashanti, Byron Katie, and Douglas Harding in my thirties, and I also dipped my toes into Advaita/Neo-Advaita. I have also read a lot from other traditions and by other authors, often two or three books a week. (I used to have a library of a few thousand books on these topics.) In addition, I have listened to talks, talked with a few spiritual coaches, lived at a Zen center, and so on.

And I explore how to express and map out certain things here in these articles.

DIRECT EXPLORATION

In my case, the direct exploration started the moment my system shifted into oneness recognizing itself.

In my teens, oneness recognized itself as all there is and explored itself. There was an enormous amounts of insights coming just about all the time, which sometimes felt a bit overwhelming. Most of it is, in its essence, the same as I what write about here now. (I often feel there hasn’t been all that much development, more a getting used to it.)

In my late teens, I also did tai chi and chigong daily. I did Christ meditation and Jesus/Heart prayer daily for one to three hours, and the heart prayer became ongoing even as I slept, and this was profoundly transformative for me. I did several Taoist “inner yoga” practices as described by Mantak Chia and Jes Bertelsen, and found these very powerful. And I loved doing tonglen. I continued all this into my twenties, and in my early twenties, I also started the Ngöndro practice from Tibetan Buddhism.

After moving to Salt Lake City for psychology studies, I found Kanzeon Zen Center, became a resident, and followed their daily program and the sesshins/retreats. I was also there when Genpo Roshi developed the Big Mind process, which I am very grateful for. The practices I did here were training a more stable attention, basic meditation, and koan practice.

I continued most of these practices, and in my thirties, I also got into ho’oponopono, Breema bodywork (instructor), The Work of Byron Katie (did daily for many years), the Headless experiments (love them), Living/Kiloby inquiries (facilitator), and more.

And a few years ago, I got into Vortex Healing and have continued to take these classes since they seem to do something interesting and possibly useful with my energy system, and I find the tools powerful and helpful.

GLIMPSES

I did have glimpses of oneness before the major and lasting shift that happened when I was sixteen.

During early childhood and maybe up until about school age, I experienced several flashbacks to what seems the time between lives. It seems to mostly happen when I was outside in the garden and the sunlight filtered through the leaves. It was an experience of all as consciousness, golden light, and one, and I found myself as consciousness without a physical body. It seemed timeless, with only a hint of change and of time happening mostly in a place far away. There was occasional communication with other consciousnesses, and they seemed infinitely wise and loving and were there to guide me. I felt profoundly at home. (It was all one and consciousness and golden light, and a sense of entities within this oneness.)

At the time, I didn’t consciously consider it very much. It just happened. And I made no connection between this and the word “God” or Christianity which seemed much more distant and abstract. When I later learned about near-death experiences, I realized that this seemed very similar although it was more of a memory from before this life. And when the oneness shift happened, I realized that the deep longing I experienced as a child was for what I had experienced between lives, and really for oneness – for the oneness I am recognizing itself as all there is.

After being profoundly influenced by Cosmos by Carl Sagan when I was ten, I also had several moments when I looked into the deep starry sky and experienced all as one. As Carl Sagan said, I am the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. I am the universe bringing itself into consciousness. I deeply and viscerally experienced that.

And since then, I have experienced glimpses and shifts that point to more lasting noticing and shifts coming up. For instance, in my mid-thirties, there were a few months when the essence of my nature came to the foreground very clearly and strongly and was unmissable. This was a temporary state, but it has helped my noticing focus on the essence of my nature since then. Thes essence stands out much more clearly and is less easily confused with states and other changing content of experience.

And there was also a shift that happened when I was fifteen which seems to have led to the oneness shift one year later. This was a shift where the world – including this human self and anything connected with this human self – seemed infinitely far removed and I found myself as what was observing it all. In hindsight, it seems that my mind created the experience of a clean observer-observed duality, and this – one year later – led to a shift into oneness recognizing itself as all there is.

MORE STABLE SHIFTS

The first stable shift that happened was also the first shift I am consciously aware of. It’s what happened when I was sixteen, walking down a gravel road to the house, with a big wind going through the landscape and the infinity of space filled with innumerable stars above me. For whatever reason, and perhaps as a safety valve for stronger-than-average teenage angst, oneness shifted into recognizing itself.

From one millisecond to the next, all without exception was recognized as God, as the divine and consciousness. This human self was the divine exploring itself as and through this form, and the divine takes and explores itself through all forms and everything that is. Even temporarily and locally taking itself as most fundamentally a separate being is the divine exploring itself through and as that.

Many years later, the shift mentioned above happened – where the essence of my nature came to the foreground in a clear and unmistakable way. This led to a more immediate and clear noticing of the essence of my nature through daily life situations. The noticing became a little more precise, at least that’s how it seems.

DARK NIGHTS

I have gone through a few different dark nights, and it obviously depends on what definition we use.

In my teens, I went through a kind of conventional dark night filled with teenage angst, social anxiety, and a self-esteem that was very low in some areas and OK in other. I assume the oneness shift may have happened as a kind of safety valve for this pressure that was building up. 

Later, I experiences another kind of dark night when I went against clear and unmistakable inner guidance on a major life issue. I geographically moved away from what I deeply loved and what felt deeply right for me  – graduate studies, Zen center, a community, and nature I deeply loved in Utah. I did on the surface to support my then-wife in her studies and career – by sacrificing my own – and deeper down I was caught up in fears. And it felt deeply wrong and I felt deeply off track. One consequence of this was that I was abruptly unable to continue drawing, painting, and meditating, which I had deeply loved and did daily for 10-15 years before this. 

Some years after this, I went into an even deeper dark night. It started with strong pneumonia which led to severe CFS and being confined to a dark room for months. Then, there were several months with huge amounts of archetypal images going through my system, including the dark ones. Then, divorce (which was good) and loss of my house, belongings, friends, community, and just about all of my money in the divorce process. A part of this process was also asking the divine to “show me what’s left”. This was followed, a few days later, with an enormous amount of primal survival fears and trauma surfacing. It was overwhelming, felt unbearable, and led to nine months of immense pain where I was lucky if I could sleep one hour in the morning, and walked for hours every day in the forest listening to Adyashanti and the dark night chapter in “Mysticism” by Evelyn Underhill. This gradually eased over the next several years. Along with this, I have felt that my brain doesn’t work very well, it’s been difficult to make good decisions, and my system has felt disorganized. This dark night is still here, several years later, although it seems to gradually ease up.

EXPLORING LIVING FROM IT

How do we live from what we notice? How do we live from the shifts that come about through heart-centered approaches and other practices?

For me, it makes the most sense to allow this to unfold naturally.

I notice and am curious about what happens.

If I notice I act from reactivity in some situations or areas of life, I make a note of it, identify some issues behind it and perhaps some stressful thoughts and identities, and typically explore it using one or more approaches.

Sometimes, I’ll take a turnaround from The Work and make it a living turnaround” and explore how it is to live from it in daily life.

Sometimes, I’ll intentionally go against an old habitual pattern that is not so helpful for me (or others) anymore.

And that’s about it. As with anything else here, this is an ongoing process. And there is certainly a lot of room for improvement for me and probably all of us.

HUMAN SELF ALIGNING AND REORGANIZING

I have been passionate about psychology and healing since my teens. Initially, I devoured a large number of books (talks made into books) by Jung and humanistic psychology and explored it in my own life. I have gone to therapy at different times in my life. I trained in Process Work for several years and did a number of workshops and classes with Arnie Mindell and others. I have done Breema bodywork since the mid-2000s and am an instructor. I trained in the Big Mind Process with Genpo Roshi since I was at the center when he initially developed it. I have done heart-centered practices since my teens. I have explored a good number of issues using different forms of inquiry.

And that doesn’t mean I am anywhere near “healed”. There is always further to go. Some central issues – formed through my mind’s response to ongoing childhood experiences – take time to explore and unravel. And often, it’s as much or more about healing my relationship with certain hangups in me and their triggers than finding healing for the issues themselves. (The two are obviously connected, and healing my relationship with what’s triggered and the trigger does invite healing for the issues.)

These days, I mostly enjoy using the befriend & awaken (wake up) process which I have written about in other articles. In short, I notice a contraction, which is reflected in the body (tension) and mind (reactivity). Notice the physical sensations connected with it, that they are physical sensations, and rest in noticing that it’s already allowed and noticed. Thank the contraction for protecting me, and for its love for me. Explore what it deeply wants and needs, and rest in giving it to it. Notice some of the painful beliefs behind it and inquire into these. Notice that its nature is the same as my nature, and rest in that noticing. Invite the contraction to notice its own nature. And so on.

SHARING

I haven’t shared much about this. I tried in my teens, in very small portions with friends, but none seemed to have any interest in it. I also tried with one or two Buddhist teachers in Oslo, but I got the sense that they were more familiar with – or interested in? – the teachings than the actual terrain.

I did meet two people in my late teens where there was an immediate mutual recognition, and this was very important to me. One was my friend BH whom I met at tai chi, and the other was the then-wife of Jes Bertelsen whom I took some workshops with. Later, I experienced the same with Bonnie Greenwell and Adyashanti when I got to spend some time with him one-on-one.

I imagine most people who know me don’t even know I am interested in these things. And my sharing these days is mostly here, in these articles.

At a human level, I notice some loneliness in me around this. Parts of me wish for more of a sense of shared exploration and a community of people exploring this. What I have found is that people who follow a traditional path often seem to be as or more interested in the tradition than the actual terrain. And for me, the terrain has always been primary and the traditions more of a support.

STAGES AND THEMES

I thought I would add a few words about stages and themes.

THE GIFTS AND LIMITATIONS IN CONCEPTS AND MAPS

Any map and any concepts about reality are superimposed by the creativity of our mind. They are essential and useful in helping us navigate and function in the world. And they also come with limitations. They are not reality itself. They are different in kind to what they are about. They are simplifications and leave a lot out. And they are inherently inaccurate.

They are questions about the world. They are provisional.

STAGE MODELS OF AWAKENING

And so also with stage models about awakening.

They can give us a generalized map of a typical awakening process, and that can be useful. It can give us some markers. It can help us feel we understand a bit more about the overall process. It can be intellectually fascinating. And so on.

At the same time, they come with inherent limitations and possible drawbacks.

I mentioned some above. Stage models, by necessity, simplify and generalize. And when we develop them or use them, we tend to emphasize data that fits and set aside, ignore, leave out, or interpret away data that doesn’t fit.

Life is always more than and different from any map, and it’s also in its essence simpler.

We can superimpose universal themes and phases on an awakening process. And it’s also inherently individual. The way oneness ties itself into separation consciousness is somewhat individual, and the way it unties itself is also somewhat individual.

In many cases, the process may not fit a particular stage model. The stages may be jumbled. We may apparently skip one or more. The characteristics of several stages may happen at once. There may be something else happening in our process that seems important and is not covered by the stages in the model. And so on.

If we hold stage models lightly and are aware of their limitations, then they can be useful.

And if we hold them more tightly and ignore their limitations, it’s often stressful.

For instance, if we are in an awakening process, and the form it takes doesn’t fit the models we are familiar with, we may think something is wrong and this may create unnecessary confusion and doubt. (Although, if it happens, then it’s part of our process and we are invited to learn from it.)

Similarly, if a spiritual coach is caught up in certain stage models and encounters a student whose process doesn’t follow these models, the coach may not be able to adapt so easily, they may get a wrong impression of the situation, and they may even try to fit the student into the model even if that’s not what they need. (I have experienced this several times.)

THEME ORIENTATIONS

That’s why I like the theme orientation.

Many themes are found through the awakening process, and it’s interesting to see how each theme changes over the course of the process.

A theme orientation is more adaptable to the individual quirks and flavors of the awakening process.

We can always add or subtract themes depending on what we wish to focus on or find useful. (For instance, additional themes may be relationships, our life in the world, and special states, abilities, or experiences.)

And we can weave in a (lightly held) stage understanding into a theme orientation if or when that seems useful.

IN MY CASE

In my case, a stage view does work to some extent, although some stages will be in a different sequence than in most models. (For instance, interest and exploration came after the initial shift.) Also, several aspects of the process have been present throughout the process and not just in one or a few stages. (Interest, glimpses, shifts, dark nights, etc.) And several important aspects of the process may not fit neatly into any particular stage. (E.g. early glimpses.)

For these and other reasons, it seems a bit forced to try to fit my process into the stage models I am familiar with and even the ones I have come up with in articles here. It’s like trying to fit my foot into a shoe that’s too small or has a different shape than my foot.

A theme orientation feels far easier and more logical to work with, and it’s more fun for me to explore the themes and how they have changed through the process.

And in exploring that change, it’s possible to test out or include the idea of stages if we want to.

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Stage models, reality, and when the sequences are jumbled

For me, it was more about finding cosmologies that fit my experience. Specifically, that in my experience I am consciousness and the world to me appears as consciousness. (Whether that’s how reality actually is, is an open question but possible.) I had to go to Buddhism, Taoism, mystics from different traditions, etc. to find cosmologies that reflected this. (When the shift happened for me, I was an atheist living in a Christian culture so I wasn’t familiar with any of the cosmologies that eventually felt more like home.)

This was my reply when someone in an online “spiritual emergency” group asked about shifts and cosmologies.

In many cases, people will initially be interested in spirituality, read and hear about it, explore some practices, and so on. And if there is a real shift in perception and identity, it often comes some years into the exploration.

Most maps and models of the awakening process reflect this. First, there is an interest or draw to it. Then an exploration of maps and practices. And then a shift.

And, as we all know, maps are maps. They are mental representations of a part of life and life’s processes. They are more or less accurate in a conventional sense. They are always refined as we get more information and experience. They are simplifications. They leave a lot out. They are different in kind from what they refer to. And life is more than and different from any map.

Life operates independently of human maps. And if we have our noses too deeply into our maps, life will inevitably throw up surprises and remind us that it’s different from our ideas about it.

In my case, life didn’t follow the standard maps. This human self was an atheist, mostly interested in science, and saw spirituality and religion as a crutch of little or no interest. One night – while this human self was walking down a dark gravel road under a sky filled with stars and a big wind, out of the blue, and for whatever reason – oneness shifted into noticing itself, and the “center of gravity” shifted into oneness. And then this human self spent a long time playing catch-up and exploring the sharing from others who had recognized the same or similar, cosmologies, and different types of spiritual practices.

It took at least a couple of years before I found anyone who seemed to describe what seemed so obvious to me. I still remember it. I was still a teenager, standing in the man library in Oslo, in the religion and spirituality section, reading in an old book of Meister Eckhart’s sermons. And there, behind some layers of cultural differences and Christian language, I saw someone who had at least glimpsed the same.

Later, I found reflections in some Taoist writings, and also Buddhism and especially Zen, but all of it seemed hidden behind layers of tradition, cultural differences, and sometimes intellectualizing that deviated from actual immediate noticing. I found Jes Bertelsen, a fellow Scandinavian, who clearly knew what this was about. Some years later, I found Adyashanti who most clearly of anyone reflected what seemed so obvious to me but few talked about in a direct and simple way. After that, I also found the more modern Advaita and neo-Advaita folks who talked about the same, often in a clear and direct way, and also sometimes seemed a bit caught up in ideology.

If I am honest, I still feel I am playing catch-up to what was revealed back when I was sixteen and what is still shows itself to itself here. I still feel a bit like I was hit by a truck. I still work on helping my human self reorient and reorganize within it.

And when it comes to stages and models of the awakening process, I hold it all lightly. Yes, there are some common phases and elements of the process. And no, it’s not always sequential and especially not in a particular one-size-fits-all way. The phases may happen in different sequences. Sometimes, several phases – or elements of several phases –– happen at once. Sometimes, phases return in a different way.

To me, it all looks more like themes woven into each other and expressed in our life in different ways. The themes are recognizable. And they are always woven in an individual way.

My recent health crisis

I am just back after a few days at the hospital in Oslo.

I broke a tooth. The infection in the root spread to the face. I felt surprisingly unwell and, without knowing it, had the beginnings of sepsis. And following a dentist appointment, my system went into septic shock. There is about an hour I can’t remember, and I woke up sweating profusely, shaking uncontrollably, and without being able to think much at all. Fortunately, I relatively quickly got sent to the hospital in an ambulance and received critical care, was then under observation for a day, and then spent a couple of days in the infection section of the hospital.

It was a dramatic and scary experience, I am profoundly grateful for modern medicine and for being able to receive such good care so quickly. Without it, I may not have been be here today.

SHIFTING INTO BIG MIND

I also noticed what seems to be a natural tendency in my system. In a crisis, the “center of gravity” shifts into Big Mind. I far more strongly and clearly and unmissably find myself as Big Mind, as what this human self and the wider world happens within and as.

I can see it as a kind of safety valve. Or my system may not have the energy or ability to operate closer to the human side of the equation so this is what’s left. Or it just makes sense. In these types of crises, it’s helpful to function a bit more from and as Big Mind.

In daily life, I always find myself as Big Mind. It’s always there. It’s easy to notice. And yet, the “center of gravity” tends to shift around a bit on that spectrum from the human self to Big Mind. Sometimes, its more over to the human side, sometimes more over on the Big Mind side. It depends on the situation and where attention is and what’s required, and also if anything is triggered in me and how much I get caught up in it.

THE EFFECTS OF BIG MIND

How did I notice the effects of having Big Mind more strongly in the foreground?

The most obvious is that in my immediate experience, what I am is this crystal clarity anything happens within and as. Any ideas of boundaries or time or space or divisions between this human self and the wider world and so on happen within and as this crystal clarity.

I found myself surprisingly OK with the whole situation. At one level, my human self did its best to get the care needed and to tell the nurses and doctors the symptoms and what had happened. At another level, there was just a noticing of it all and a slight curiosity about how it would all unfold. Would he survive? How would it be to die? What’s on the other side of death, if anything? How is that big adventure?

I also noticed that things that normally would annoy this human self, like a nurse talking unnecessarily loudly in the middle of the night or someone making a lot of slime-related sounds, were fine.

And I noticed and experienced the whole situation as love. The words and actions of the nurses and doctors were love. The iv was love. The cardiovascular monitor was love. The ten tubes and cables attached to my body is an expression of love. All the work innumerable people have engaged in for all of this to exist was love. I know that, for them, it may “just” be a job. And, for me, it was love. It’s an expression of care. It’s what helped me survive and get back to health.

CHALLENGES

That said, there are also some challenges at the human level.

For instance, the first night at home was riddled with restless dreams bordering of nightmares, involving imagery from the hospital stay – including wanting to not move too much because of all the tubes and wires connected to my body. I was also generally disoriented.

At the hospital, I spent the last two days in the infection ward. Since they didn’t have enough rooms, they put me in the corridor. The first afternoon and evening, my bed was next to the room of a woman dying. The nurses said it was best to stop treatment so she could die sooner since there was nothing they could do for her.

My bed was moved down the corridor for the night, in between two isolation rooms. The people in both rooms were screaming in agony – or confusion? – through the night. Groups of nurses went in and out of the rooms most of the night, dressing in and out of their protective astronaut outfits.

In spite of having been close to death just a day or two earlier, I was one of the healthier people there. It really felt like one of the first circles of hell – hearing and imagining the agony of some of the patients and seeing the nurses literally running around to try to keep up with everything while somehow and miraculously still being attentive, with a smile, and often a good-hearted joke.

My body and mind function as if I was ninety years old and in bad shape even for that age, although I know it will change. And I imagine I will enjoy the small pleasures of life even a bit more. I already do.

I get even a bit more viscerally that life is change. Nothing that’s here will last. Enjoy it while you can.

Note: After I came back to the house, I have been in bed most of the time. Just now, I went outside in the beautiful summer afternoon and had dinner in the garden. It literally felt like being reborn into this life.

Note 2: I suspect I may have had this infection for a while, and wasn’t able to have it taken care of it because of a confluence of reasons including the pandemic. It may explain why my body has seemed to struggle and has felt especially weighed down for a while now.

Note 3: I have had a couple of infection-related dreams. A day or so after returning from the hospital, I dreamt that some ruthless burglars wanted to break into my car and there was nothing I could do. Last night, July 5, I dreamt a fake male nurse wanted to put poison into my iv to kill me. The first is a typical infection dream, and it’s a good sign it was my car and not my house. (It seems to suggest that my mobility will be impaired, which it was.) The second seems to mirror the poisoning of my blood that did happen, and perhaps that I am not out of the woods yet. I am still on antibiotics and will take another step to remove the source of the infection. (And, of course, I can explore these dreams in a more psychological-mirror way as well.)

Note 4: I noticed my misophonia went away during this experience. Sounds that usually would trigger stress in me were just sounds. Maybe because of the stronger shift into Big Mind?

Note 5: It’s now a week after I returned from the hospital, and I still feel like I have been hit by a truck – with fatigue and brain fog as the strongest symptoms. (On top of what I already have from the CFS.) This means I am not writing so much here, and that may change in time.

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“I don’t know anything for certain”

When I was a kid, I would ask the repeated “why” question as most other kids.

My father would give an answer. I would ask why. He would give another answer. And so on.

I assume I did this partly from a genuine curiosity and interest in learning, and partly to see the limits of my father’s – and the adult’s – understanding and knowledge about the world.

At some point, I would also ask: Are you sure? Are you sure it’s like that?

He answered: I don’t know anything for certain.

I must have taken it to heart. It’s been one of the guidelines in my life.

I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING FOR CERTAIN

Here is how I came to see it a few years later and still see it:

Thoughts are questions about the world. There is always a question mark after each thought, even if we don’t notice it.

They are here to help me orient and function in the world. They are maps. They help me communicate with myself and others.

They have different degrees of validity in a conventional sense. And they each have validity in one form or another. (At the very least, as a mirror for something in us.)

They are always provisional in a conventional sense. They are always up for revision.

They can be pointers. They can point to certain things we can explore for ourselves.

They cannot hold any final, full, or absolute truth. Why? Because they are different in kind from what they refer to. (Unless they happen to refer to thoughts.) They are simplifications. Reality is always more than and different from any map. And reality, as it appears to us, is also simpler in its essence.

This applies to any kind of mental representation, whether it’s a mental image or words (visual or auditory). And it applies whatever the thought apparently is about, whether it’s ourselves, others, a situation, the world, science, philosophy, God, or whatever it may be.

I love that we have thoughts. And I also want to be sober about their limits.

HOW I HAVE EXPLORED THIS

As I mentioned, I must have taken this to heart when I heard it from my father when I was four or five (?) years old.

When there was a shift into oneness at age sixteen, I also saw this directly. I could easily see the limits of thought.

In my teens and early twenties, I also delved into the philosophy of science and I loved and devoured the writings of people like Fritjof Capra, Arne Næss, Gregory Bateson, and David Bohm.

And later, I got into The Work of Byron Katie, Buddhist inquiry, and modern versions of Buddhist inquiry like the Living / Kiloby Inquiries.

Photo: An image of my father when he was young, perhaps a few years before I was born.

My intuition lights things up

Over time, I notice how my intuition – or inner guidance – communicates in different ways.

In my teens and twenties, it was mostly with words. It would say a word or simple sentence, and the voice was unmistakable. (Clear, direct, without emotion.)

These days, it seems to often work by visually highlighting things. I see a menu, and an item stands out as if highlighted. Today, we went to look at cars, and one was – in a sense – lit up as soon as I came into the room, and that turned out to be the one we all liked the most.

It can also work through a more visceral feeling. When we looked at land some months ago, I didn’t notice much when we visited different places until we came to the land we ended up buying. As soon as we entered the land, I experienced a profound sense of connection and even love for that land. It felt deeply right. It felt like the land had chosen us, more than the other way around. And in spite of obstacles that seemed unsurpassable (the land was “landlocked” with no access to a road), we did end up becoming stewards of just that land.

It seems that if the choice has to do with something visual, the “lighting up” happens. If it’s not visual, it’s often still with words. (For instance, just now, my inner guidance said “take off your hat”, which was probably good advice since I started feeling hot without noticing it too much.) And sometimes, it’s more visceral as with the land.

Is this inner guidance reliable? Yes, it seems so. It hasn’t been off so far. The only thing that’s been off is my ability to follow it. In most cases, I can follow it with no problem. But, for instance, when it came to one major life decision many years ago, I was too caught up in fears and frozenness to be able to follow it, and it was not a good experience. It led me to feel profoundly off track in life until I got it corrected later on. And even after correcting it, it has taken time to start feeling more on track again. (This had to do with marriage and geography.)

How do I recognize it? For whatever reason, my guidance seems to speak clearly so I haven’t had much trouble recognizing it so far. In general, I practice listening to and following it in small situations in daily life, for instance when it comes to when and what to drink or eat, or other smaller – and sometimes larger – choices in daily life. The more I listen to and follow it, the clearer it seems to speak and the easier it is to follow it. I build trust by listening to it and following it.

Is it all peaches when I follow my guidance? Often, following my guidance does lead to an experience of flow. But if following my guidance means that fears and painful beliefs are triggered in me, that can of course be challenging. And when it comes to bigger projects, there are obviously moments and situations that are challenging even if I follow my guidance. For instance, with the land, we have had minor crises and challenging situations. (So far, these have been resolved without too much trouble.)

Perception of distance when we notice our nature

There are many signs or byproducts of noticing our nature.

One is our perception of distance.

How do I experience distance?

CONVENTIONAL DISTANCE

I experience it as anyone else in terms of things being closer or further away. I know where things are in space just like anyone else.

NO DISTANCE

And at the same time, there is a sense of no distance.

Everything is happening here, within and as what I am. There is an absence of distance.

It makes sense. Since, to me, the world happens within and as what I am, there is no sense of distance to what’s happening.

MENTAL FIELD OVERLAYS

There is another side to this as well.

I am aware of my mental field representations that create a sense of conventional space and distance in the first place. It’s a kind of mental overlay depicting space. It’s an overlay on the other sense fields, mostly the visual one. And it also serves as an image to put other mental representations onto, including objects and physical locations. There are also other overlays, including the ones serving as a kind of yardstick telling me roughly the distances between objects in the world.

These mental field overlays are essential for me being able to orient and function in the world.

THREE LAYERS

In a sense, there are three layers to this.

In my immediate perception, there is no distance to anything. It’s all happening within and as what I am.

In a conventional sense, I operate with distances just like anyone else.

And I am also are of how my sense of space and distance is created by my mental field representations of space, distance, and so on. I am aware of these since I have taken the time to explore them in some detail so they are more easily recognized by me and they are familiar to me.

DISORIENTING?

This shift happened in my teens, and I have lived with it for a while, so I don’t remember specifically how it was to notice this at first. I assume it took some getting used to. What I do remember is that I was frequently disoriented for a while after the initial shift, perhaps a few years. I had trouble functioning normally in the world. For instance, I remember walking straight into a glass door that I normally would have easily avoided.

Note: I have written similar articles on movement, time, doership, the physical, and this human self.

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This human self is connected with my world in a special way

It’s not unusual in an awakening process to have apparently unusual experiences.

NOT KNOWING WHICH BODY WAS “MINE”

For instance, around fifteen years ago, I was in a Breema class in Oregon. We were three or four pairs practicing a new sequence. (On a beautiful Persian rug in front of the fireplace.)

And Big Mind shifted into the foreground (not unusual) and where there was no knowledge of which of the bodies were “mine” (less usual). There were several bodies in my field of vision.

Somewhere in me, there was the knowledge that “I” was supposed to be one of them. But it was impossible to find which one it was.

I am not sure how long it lasted, probably just a few seconds, and then it shifted again so I knew that this body – the one I can only see the arms, legs, and parts of the upper body of, is the one I am in the world.

HIGHLIGHTING CERTAIN ASPECTS

These types of experiences, which I have had many versions of, help us notice certain things about the relationship between who and what we are. And more than that, it gives us a viceral sense of it.

In this case, it showed me that as what I am, as Big Mind, any content of experience is essentially the same. As Big Mind, I form myself into any and all content of experience. My nature is the nature of all of these experiences. It’s all essentially consciousness. There is no special relationship with any of it.

At the same time, there is a special connection with this particular human self. Yes, it happens within the content of experience as anything else. It happens within my sense fields, including the mental field in the form of mental representations, just like anyone and anything. At the same time, this human self is the only one there is inside information about. It’s the only one whose thoughts, feelings, sensations, and so on are within this content of experience. And it’s the only one others consistently take me to be.

IN THE WORLD VS TO MYSELF

It’s perhaps not so much of a mystery.

In a conventional sense, to others, and to myself when I take on the identity of this human self, I am in this human self in the world. That’s not wrong.

It’s also not the whole picture.

To myself, in my own first-person experience, I find I am more fundamentally something else. I am more fundamentally capacity for the world as it appears to me. I am what the world, to me, happens within and as.

As what I am, this human self happens within and as what I am along with any other content of experience. As what I am, this human self is the only one I have consistent inside information about. And this human self is the only one others consistently take me to be.

NO SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP AND A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP

On the one hand, there is no special relationship between what I am and this human self. It happens within and as what I am, just like anything else. It lives its own life, just like anything else.

On the other hand, there is a special relationship with this human self. It’s the one there is inside information about. It’s the one others take me to be.

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A rewilding synchronicity

Last fall and winter, my wife and I were looking for a small piece of land to build a house on in the Andes mountains. After some dead ends, we were shown land that was way beyond what we were looking for in size, and immediately fell in love with it. And through a series of amazing events, we were able to become stewards of that land. We both felt the land chose us, as much as we chose it.

Although the land has forests and a diversity of ecosystems, most of it is impacted by centuries of grazing so we wish to help bring it back to a more vibrant state (rewilding) and be a haven for insects, birds, and other animals.

As part of this longer-term project, I contacted a local guy (originally from the US) who specializes in rewilding. We chatted on Whatsapp and agree to meet later. For me, this is an important and perhaps vital contact for our rewilding project.

Immediately after talking to him, I called up a friend in Oregon. And without me mentioning any of this, apart from being in the Andes mountains and buying land here, he started talking about a rewilding guy in the Andes mountains he has been following for a while. It turns out this guy was the one I had chatted with minutes before.

On the one hand, it’s not entirely unlikely. My friend in Oregon is interested in anything progressive, including rewilding it turns out. (I had mainly talked with him about spirituality and integral approaches before.) Unbeknownst to me, the local guy I had contacted does have an organization with an international reach. And my friend in Oregon did know that my wife and I had been looking for land in the Andes mountains.

On the other hand, it was quite an amazing synchronicity, especially in terms of geography and timing. What were the chances that the guy he knew about was the same local guy I had talked to? Latin America is a big place. What were the chances that my friend would bring it up minutes after I had chatted with the rewilding guy?

A synchronicity is defined as a meaningful coincidence. This was certainly, in my experience, an amazing coincidence. And it was certainly meaningful to me. I feel a deep call to support this land in rewilding itself, and this coincidence only reinforced that wish.

Big Mind process & awakening

What’s the relationship between the Big Mind process and awakening?

And what is the Big Mind process?

THE BIG MIND PROCESS

The Big Mind process was developed by Zen teacher Genpo Roshi based on Voice Dialog and his experience as a Zen student and teacher.

In the Big Mind process, we take on the role of different perspectives and these are typically personal (parts of our human psyche) or transpersonal (Big Mind, Big Heart, etc.).

It’s a therapeutic process, and it can also help us shift into the “view” of Big Mind, of our nature, of what the world to us happens within and as. A skilled facilitator can help most people find their nature within minutes and speak from this, which means novices can sound like traditional Zen masters or mystics in a very short while.

WHAT’S THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE BIG MIND PROCESS AND AWAKENING?

Is this awakening?

Yes and no.

The noticing itself is a noticing of our nature, and that is awakening. It’s typically a noticing free of bells and whistles and big experiences. It helps us get a sense of what it’s about and, equally important, what it’s not about. (It’s not anything distant, it’s not for special people, it’s not about mystical powers, etc.)

At the same time, for this to transform us, we need to keep noticing and exploring how to live from it.

It’s not enough to notice it once or when we do the Big Mind process. We need to keep noticing, clarify, deepen, and continue to explore how to live from it.

We need to allow it to transform us and our perception, life in the world, and the different parts of our human self and psyche.

SUPPORTED BY PRACTICE

This process is supported by different forms of practice.

The noticing itself is a form of practice and can be supported by the Big Mind process and similar forms of inquiry (e.g. Headless experiments.)

Living from it is also a form of practice and can be supported by therapeutic work. The more healed we are as a human being the more able we are to live from a conscious noticing of our nature in more situations and areas of life.

And traditional forms of spiritual practice also support us in this process.

Basic meditation helps us notice that all our content comes and goes, and find ourselves as what it all happens within and as.

Heart-centered practice helps us shift our relationship with ourselves, others, the world, and all content of experience. It helps us have a relationship with it that’s more aligned with oneness.

Training a more stable attention supports all of this and just about anything else in our life.

And so on.

MY BACKGROUND

I was at Kanzen Zen Center when Genpo Roshi developed the Big Mind process, I took part in several Big Mind workshops, and I have used it for myself since then and occasionally facilitated others. And that’s about it.

I remember some conversations about this at Kanzeon Zen Center at the time. People off the street would get koans almost immediately, even if they had no experience with Zen or meditation. Some old-timers seemed miffed that newbies, within minutes, would “get” – at some level – what they themselves had spent years on. (Which was entertaining to me.) And Genpro Roshi likened the process to bringing water down the mountain to people and emphasized that we still need practice to clarify, deepen, and learn to live from it.

As with so much else, I have been out of the loop for more than a decade due to my health so I am not sure how others see it or what the “official” take on it is these days.

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Paradoxes: Awakening-shifts and how initial paradoxes may appear different when we are more familiar with the terrain

I have written about this elsewhere but thought I would revisit it briefly.

In an awakening shift – and after we notice our nature or our nature notices itself as all there is – many things may initially appear as paradoxes.

They appear as paradoxes because we are not familiar with the terrain and because our thinking patterns still largely operate from separation consciousness.

As we get more familiar with the terrain, and our thoughts have time to adjust, what initially appeared as paradoxes now appear more inevitable.

At least, that’s how it was for me and I assume that’s not an unusual process.

I’ll go through a few examples here.

HUMAN AND SPIRIT

I am both a human self and Spirit.

In the world, in a conventional sense, and to most others, I appear as a human self.

And to myself, in my first-person experience when I set aside what I am told we are, we are Spirit. My nature is capacity for the world as it appears to me. I am what the world, to me, happens within and as. I am what a thought may imperfectly call consciousness.

They are two different things, and both are valid in their own way.

NOTHING AND SOMETHING / EVERYTHING

I am nothing and something and everything.

My nature is capacity for the world as it appears to me. In this sense, my nature is and I am nothing.

This capacity takes the form of all content of experience.

It takes the form of this human self, which I am in the world and in a conventional sense.

And it takes the form of any and all experience. It takes the world of the world as it appears to me here and now.

Again, these are different things and each one is valid in its own way.

WHAT WE ALREADY ARE & REQUIRES NOTICING

I already am capacity and what the world to me happens within and as. It’s inevitable and inescapable. None of us, to ourselves, is ever anything else.

At the same time, this requires noticing. Arriving at that noticing can require some effort, discipline, guidance, and skill. And to consciously notice and live from it, and allow this noticing to work on us and our life in the world, we need to keep noticing it.

What we are is always here. And for it to be consciously noticed and lived from, we need to notice it. Again, it’s two different things and both are valid.

NOT PARADOXES BECAUSE THEY ARE DIFFERENT THINGS

For me, these and other polarities are not inherently paradoxes.

They are separate and distinct from each other, and they both are valid in their own way.

They only appear as paradoxes if we are relatively unfamiliar with the terrain, and if our thought patterns still mostly operate from separation consciousness.

Spirit – aka reality and what we are – includes and is more than any and all polarities. And it’s up to us to differentiate within and navigate it all.

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This human self is happening on its own

This human self is happening on its own. It’s living its own life, like anything else.

This is one of the things that was noticed in the initial awakening shift in my mid-teens. All is God, including this human self. All is God, even any temporary and local sense of fundamentally being this human self. All is God, including God waking up to itself out of this temporary and local sense and into noticing itself as all.

And this includes noticing this human self as living its own life, as happening on its own.

If there is a sense of more fundamentally being something connected with this human self – an observer, doer, or something else – then that’s an invitation for exploration.

I notice my nature is capacity for this too, as it is capacity for any other content of experience. I notice it’s happening within and as what I am, just like anything else.

I can explore how this experience is created in my sense fields. What are the physical sensations and contractions related to it? How is it to rest in this noticing? What are the mental images creating it? What happens when I rest in noticing these as mental images? (Any sense of being anything in particular is created by a combination of physical sensations and mental representations, and resting in noticing these components separately is a good start in seeing through the illusion.)

I can also use The Work of Byron Katie to inquire into any stories connected to it. (I am an observer. I am a doer. I am this physical body. These sensations mean I am an observer. And so on.)

A memory from between lives

I may have written about this before, but thought I would revisit it.

When I was little, before school age, I had flashbacks.

THE FLASHBACKS

They usually happened when I was outside and the sunlight was filtered through the leaves of the trees around the house.

They were flashbacks to a time before this life where I was disembodied and everything was a golden light and infinite love and wisdom. I was a part of an ocean of light, love, and wisdom. And felt infinitely at home. This is where I belonged.

Of course, at the time, I didn’t have those words. It was an experience, not anything I put words on or even had the thought of telling anyone about.

Now, I understand it as oneness, and perhaps how it is – or may be – between lives. In these flashbacks, all was golden light, one, consciousness, love, and infinite wisdom. And there were other disembodied beings there that occasionally communicated with me, also infinitely loving and wise.

Later in childhood, I would often wake up with a deep longing. I didn’t understand what this longing was for, and none of my favorite people or activities would satisfy it.

AWAKENING SHIFT AND FINDING IT HERE

When the awakening shift happened in my mid-teens, I realized that this is what the longing was about and it was also about the flashbacks. This is the oneness of the flashbacks. This is the infinite love of the flashbacks. This is all revealed as consciousness, as in the flashbacks. This is the infinite sense of belonging of the flashbacks.

FINDING IT INDEPENDENT OF STATES AND EXPERIENCES

And since then, I have explored finding this independent of states and experiences. This is my nature and it’s always here, what’s required is to notice it. It may not always be as flashy as in the flashbacks or the initial shift, and that’s natural and fine. It’s noticing the essence of it here and now that counts.

WHAT WAS REALLY GOING ON?

Were these actual flashbacks from between lives? It certainly seems that way, and it does fit what many reports from near-death experiences. The flashbacks were strong. They made a profound impression on me. And they didn’t come from anything I had been told. (My parents were not religious, I didn’t live in a religious culture, and I didn’t consciously connect the flashbacks with God or anything spiritual until the awakening shift several years later.)

At the same time, I cannot know for certain.

What I know for certain is that these apparent flashbacks showed me my nature, even in early childhood. They showed me my nature of oneness and love and metaphorical light. (Although the light seemed very literal in those experiences.)

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Out-of-body experience as a child

From very early childhood, I have had what seems to be a memory.

I see my parents, my brother, and myself as a little baby in a carrier, going on the sidewalk to the house I grew up in. It’s a sunny day, maybe in early spring.

I see all of this from above, from a birds-eye view, perhaps 10-20 meters up.

As we approach the house, I see a largish white rectangle in front of the house.

I float inside the house. I see some yellowing patterned old wallpaper on the walls in the main bedroom. I see the living room. It’s all empty. The walls are in need to painting.

In my teens, I asked my parents about this, wondering if it really was a memory. They confirmed everything. We had walked from the old house 10-15 minutes away to the new house, and it was an early spring day. I was perhaps four months old. The large rectangle outside the house was the moving van, seen from above. The wallpaper in the bedroom was as I saw it, and they painted it over almost immediately.

It seems I was out of my body here, which somehow makes sense. Another memory from very early childhood is from between lives when I was shown my next incarnation. I loved the oneness and love between lives and didn’t really want to incarnate again. I preferred this disembodied state. And that’s perhaps why I was out of body here.

Condors and childhood fascinations

As a child, I was fascinated by nature and nature documentaries and dreamt of working with wild animals when I grew up.

My life took a different course, and instead I had some years as an artist, studied psychology for several years, and later worked with sustainability and then as a therapist.

Now, this childhood dream is again surfacing. Becoming a steward of the land in the Andes comes with the wish to help the land regenerate and rewild and become a refuge for a wide range of beings.

And with this comes another dream: bringing the condors back to this beautiful canyon in the Andes mountains.

Others have done it in other places. They have experience they can share with me. And the land seems good for this project. So why not?

It’s more than a dream. It feels like a calling. It’s something that came and stayed rather than being consciously created.

If it is at all possible, I imagine it will require a lot of time and engagement: Learning about the process. Setting up a local non-profit organization. Finding local allies and people who can join the project. Working with the local government and organizations. Educating the locals and, when possible, getting them onboard to whatever extent they are interested. Finding local bird specialists who can consult. Getting required permits (?). Getting and releasing the condors. Follow-up. And perhaps repeating with a new batch. It may be a decades-long project for all I know.

I don’t know if this will happen. It may not be possible. It may be that the canyon doesn’t provide the right habitat, due to human activity. (Just one poisoned carcass could kill them all.) And the ones who care for the few condors available may have better habitats in mind. If this project is possible, a lot of things still will have to fall in place. And if it does fall into place, it will likely involve far more than I imagine.

Why do I write about this?

Because our childhood fascinations are important. They never go away. When we follow them, it can take any number of outward forms. And you never know when an opportunity comes up to engage in these fascinations and bring them to life in new projects.

For me, engaging in my childhood fascination in this way feels deeply meaningful and aligned with the depth of who I am.

In general, following my fascinations seem important. It’s what brought me on this journey of exploring who and what I am. It’s what brought me into art and then psychology. It’s what gave me the opportunity to work on sustainability with a group of amazing people. It’s what brought me to the zen center many years ago, and the community there. Following my fascinations brings aliveness, meaning, and a sense of deep alignment.

In this case, this dream connects me with my childhood fascination. It may be that this particular project doesn’t come to fruition, but the reconnection in me may lead to something else.

Note: During a kind of shamanic journey some years ago, in a Vortex Healing class, I saw myself in the Andes mountains with condors. They seemed to be my guides. It was an experience that resonated deeply with me. This was a while before I met my now-wife and had any plans of going to Latin America, let alone buying land in the Andes mountains.