A map: Some phases and facets of the path

The self-disclosure of God never repeats itself
– Ibn Arabi

God never repeats itself, and that seems true for how it awakens to itself as well. It’s an adventure. Always unique and different in each case.

At the same time, there are some common themes, and many of these are outlined in maps from different traditions and teachers. When reading any of these types of maps, it’s good to remember that these are maps of possibilities, not of limitations. They say something about what’s possible, what may happen, but not what’s necessary or what will happen.

What I am going to describe here is influenced by some of these maps, although it is mostly from my own experience – which is of course limited. I came up with five themes, and each of these can be seen as (a) a phase, and (b) a facet we can find at most or all phases of the path.

So here they are, as a rough draft.

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Essensual is not a new word, but I just recently heard it.

It captures the juicy combination of awakeness and a human life beautifully.

Essence comes in at least three flavors.

It is that sense of wholeness, contentment and meaning that is here when I notice myself as the whole that embraces and includes body and mind.

It is that sense of profound meaning, kindness and wisdom that is here when the soul level is alive, when the alive presence is here in and around the body and everywhere else.

It is what I really am and everything is, the play of awake emptiness as form.

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Morphine and finding right here

I received a couple of doses of morphine that interesting night at the ER, and I was curious about its effects. Mainly, it took the edge off the pain in a very effective way. And there was also a physical sense of warm and fuzzy wholeness.

The experience reminded me of the experience of body-mind wholeness (centaur) in general, and also of the shifts that happens when I do bodywork and work with projections. 

In all of those cases, there is a sense of wholeness, nurturing fullness, being home. 

There may be a shift from a sense of lack, neediness and being a victim, and into that sense of nurturing wholeness and fullness. (0ver time, the baseline tends to move so that shift may be more subtle.) 

When I explore it through the three centers, I find…

In view, there is a recognition right here of what I see out there – in the wider world, the past or the future. I see and feel it right there, in this human self. 

There is a more open heart, which in itself is nurturing and quietly joyful and satisfying. 

At the belly, there is a felt-sense of a nurturing fullness, nurturing all of me – body and mind – as a human self. 

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Food & a breakfast recipe

I am visiting my family, and food is one of the things that receive more attention than usual. It helps me notice again the difference between tasting with the mouth or with the whole body.

If we taste with the mouth only, we are usually in for trouble one way or another. As we eat, we may ignore the signals from the body saying “that’s enough” or “stay away from that right now” and then pay for it later.

But if I experience myself as that whole beyond and including body-psyche, and am more aware of and responsive to the body, I taste with the whole of me, the whole body and mind. And here, it becomes easy and simple to eat just enough, and also to say no to the foods that do not seem nurturing right now.

I notice that my center of gravity is stably and easily in the second, although I do choose to override it occasionally, which then is just another experience. Another thing to explore and notice.

And a recipe for my favorite breakfast right now:

  1. Soak steel cut oats, coconut flakes and raisins over night
  2. In the morning, make a cup of strong Green Temple Chai (or another spicy tea)
  3. Add the tea and pieces of pear, banana and/or apple (or any other fruit) to the oat mix
  4. Cook on low heat for a while (I often do it for half an hour or so)
  5. Eat with Green Temple Chai or another spice tea

Right now, during the cold season, this is a breakfast that feels deeply nurturing for the whole body, whole mind.

Centaur experiences


When I happen to mention the centaur way of experiencing oneself to people, I notice that not everyone can match it with what is alive in their own experience. Which in turn makes me interested in exploring it further for myself.

Some things that comes up…

  • It is an alive experience of the wholeness of the human self, beyond and embracing body & psyche. It is its own gestalt, which happens to filter into body and mind if there is that story added onto it.
  • The experience of my human self as a whole, beyond and embracing body-mind, has different flavors and can be in the foreground or background. Most of the time, it is more of a background experience, and sometimes, for instance in nature or when I do both body-oriented practices and meditation for a few days, it comes more into the foreground.
  • It comes from, and deepens, an alignment within the whole of the human self. Over time, and when present, it seems to resolve into a deepening alignment within this whole, which brings a sense of less internal struggle, and also less struggle with the wider world.
  • There is a parallel noticing of an already existing whole and a reorganization of this whole. I notice that this human self already and always is a whole, along with the wider world. And before this noticing there may be a reorganization and alignment within the whole of my human self which allows me to notice this, and this reorganization and alignment continues and deepens within that noticing.
  • This all goes along with a change in identifications and beliefs. Before and after, there is a shift in identification with narrow identities that separate me from others, to more wider and inclusive identities where I see myself as in the same boat as others. I find myself as more deeply and universally human.
  • There is a change in projections in general, and the shadow in particular, where I more easily see in others what I know from myself, and recognize in myself what I see in others.
  • The immediate experience of the human self as a whole allows for a noticing of the wider whole in the same way. This human self is already and always a whole, and the wider world is the same. And this in turn allows for a sense of less or no separation, and of belonging to the larger whole.
  • This gives me glimpses of the larger whole beyond and including this human self and the wider world. And this sets the stage for shifts into the witness, into pure seeing, where all form is revealed as one seamless whole. And of shifts into nature and deity-mysticism experiences, of all there is as made of one fabric, as divine, consciousness, God itself. Which in turn can lead to a shift into realized selflessness. Into the Ground – the void – awakening to itself, and then to itself as awake void and form, including as inherently absent of any I with an Other. (Although it certainly does not have to be a nicely organized progression as described here.)

Centaur and tasting


I am not sure if this is the experience of others as well, but to me it seems that the centaur level also involves a change in taste. (Centaur=a living and lived experience of the whole beyond and including body-mind, the whole of our human self.)
If there is a fragmented sense of self at the human level, taste is also fragmented. Specifically, something can taste good in the mouth and not in the body and the other way around. And this can of course give a sense of conflict, of shoulds and wants pulling in different directions.

But when the sense of our human self is more whole, when there is a direct living experience of the larger whole, the taste also is more whole. When I taste, I taste with the mouth and the body simultaneously. The two are not only aligned, but revealed as the same. Shoulds and wants give way for a simple centaur response to food, so what is good for the whole is also what is wanted. (There are apparent exceptions to this, but even then, what I eat turns out to be something this body-mind seems to need and thrive on, at least in smaller amounts.)

I noticed this even in my teens and early twenties, but didn’t always live from it. Now, it there is a sense of more maturity in it so it becomes (typically) daily and effortless.

Feeling at home

There are many ways to feel at home, and I notice how I cycle through many of the over the course of a day, or even hours, or minutes, or even seconds.

The first one is the feeling at home as defined by the personality, or rather our belief system. It happens when life conform with what my personality likes, and what my belief system tells me is OK or desirable. This happens when there is peace and quiet around me, when I have a good cup of tea, am with friends, watch a good movie, travel somewhere interesting, am healthy, and so on. This level is very much dependent on circumstances.

The second is feeling at home as a human being, in the wholeness of myself as a human being, embracing body and mind. This is the centaur level and it happens when I relax into who I am as a human being, and also when I am in nature, do Breema, or am engaged in another body/mind activity (or am in the flow of its after effects). This level is a little less dependent on external circumstances.

The third, feeling at home as soul… alive presence, luminous emptiness, luminous blackness, alive presence in the heart area (indwelling god). This level is far less dependent on external circumstances, although it is still dependent on content, as described above, and this content comes and goes on its own.

The fourth, noticing that I am already home as spirit… as void, awake void, awake void and form as no other than awake void. This is not dependent on circumstances at all, apart from noticing it. It is what is already and always here and now, independent of circumstances.

When beliefs are triggered, for instance by life showing up quite differently from what my beliefs tells me is desirable, there is often a rapid cascade… the spirit level may cloud up, the soul level is not noticed anymore, I don’t experience the wholeness of myself as that which embraces body and mind, and even the personality is not much happy.

My attention is wrapped up in the small world of the story, the drama of life not corresponding to the story, and the deepening sense of a split between I (as the belief or the one having the belief) and Other (life showing up differently).

That is why it is easier for all of these levels to be present and be noticed when (a) beliefs are temporarily not triggered or (b) beliefs have fallen away, even if it is around just one issue.


After the Breema intensive last week, I notice the centaur level – in Ken Wilber’s terminology – very clearly. The whole which includes (and goes somewhat beyond) body/psyche. The whole of the person, the small self.

And in this, that which is beyond the small self is awakened. The spacious awareness which is distinct from the small self. There is a body, sensations, emotions, thoughts – all arising within this larger field.

When I recognize myself as this larger field – from spacious awareness down to body/mind whole and body, sensations, emotions, thoughts – I am here/now. It is always present, even when temporarily engaging in thoughts.

The centaur level almost seems to have a substance, or what they in Breema calls the “Breema atmosphere”. It has a fullness and richness in it, even while appearing within the empty, luminous and aware space. And this fullness and richness makes it easy to rest within it, and not get lost/caught up in sensations/emotions/thoughts.

When I lived at the Zen center and did yoga and sitting practice every day, this atmosphere was there very strongly. Now, through Breema – it reappears.