Individual and collective

I received an email from Barry where he suggests that much of what’s surfacing for me now is collective more than individual.

I can find where that’s true for me. It’s obviously collective in the sense of shared and universal. The emotions, experiences and beliefs surfacing here are shared by many, they belong to the human experience.

Also, what I see in others happens within and as awareness, it happens within and as my world. It’s labeled, interpreted and understood through my images and stories. And what these labels and stories refer to mirror what’s right here in me at a human level. It’s all Big Mind/Heart, and the wider world mirrors me as a human being.

So individual or collective doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter so much if what’s surfacing here can be labeled one or the other.

In either case, they are emotions and experiences wishing to be seen, felt and loved. Wishing to be met with and recognized as love.

In either case, they are thoughts taken as true, wishing to be inquired into and live more in clarity.

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Personal and collective

In a couple of recent conversations, the topic of personal and collective material (shadow etc.) has come up.

The distinction makes sense in a conventional sense, and may be useful in daily life.

But what’s real for me is something else.

The thoughts arising here are universal. What happens when I take them as true is universal. The tendency to take them as true is universal. What I find when there is more clarity is universal.

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Personal and collective

One way of exploring what is personal and not, is to look at beliefs. Which ones are personal? Which ones collective?

On the surface it appears that some are more personal and some are more collective. Some are not shared by so many, and some are shared by most.

At the same time, I find that stories are personal and collective. As soon as they appear here, they are personal. And when they are taken as true, their essence and dynamics is shared.

I may believe that Obama is a better president than Bush, and not everyone will agree, so it looks like a more personal belief.

As soon as that story is taken as true, certain dynamics come in. I tell myself it is true. I am right, and others are not. I need to defend this point of view and the identity created from it. And so on. And those more essential beliefs and dynamics are shared, including by those who believe that Bush was a better president.

None of this matters much in a practical sense.

I notice a belief, and inquiry into it.

The process is the same for idiosyncratic beliefs, those shared within a culture, and those shared by (almost) all of humanity.

My cat is smarter than other cats. (Personal.) People should take off their shoes indoors. (Cultural.) Something is right and something is wrong. There is good and evil. (Cultural/universal.) I need love, acceptance and approval. I am a separate I. I am something I can imagine. (Shared by almost all of humanity.)

The process is the same for each of these. I notice discomfort, find the belief behind it, and inquire into it to find what is more true for me.

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Collective layers

Some teachers talk about working through collective layers, and it is maybe not quite as mysterious as it may sound.

As with anything else, we can work with it in the usual ways.

We can see it more as it is, through different forms of inquiry. We can feel it through fully allowing it. And from those two, a love for it is invited in. Head, belly and heart… seeing, feeling and loving it as it is, as if it would never change. Beyond the veils of shoulds and resistance, it is revealed as something that is more than OK, as it is.

(This easily sounds polished and glib when talked about this way, but it is something we each can explore for ourselves.)

And if we look, we see that just about anything arising in us, any patterns of mind, emotions and actions, are already collective. Even what appears as most personal are collective.

It has infinite causes, reaching out through personal experiences, family, subcultures, cultures, human civilization, human biology and evolution, and the dynamics and particulars of this planet, solar system, galaxy and universe. Even the most personal is collective in this sense.

And if it appears as a problem, that too comes from these dynamics. It comes from the shoulds that has its roots in human biology and evolution (pain/injury/death = bad/evil/wrong), and has been elaborated and maintained by human civilization, flavored by particular cultures and subcultures.

Whenever we work with any should… any veil of beliefs, identities, resistance… we work with collective layers and patterns, as they appear here and now, through this particular human self.

We inquire into a stressful belief, and that is a belief known to humanity for millennia. We allow an experience that has been resisted, due to a belief, and that type of experience has been resisted by innumerable people throughout history.

A journey through collective shadows

I did a source code session last night, designed to facilitate a release from “negative influences” such as the collective unconscious. It was very powerful as it happened, and even now, with a very strong sense of alive intelligent presence and luminosity around and in me.

As I was about to fall asleep, a very vivid journey started on its own…

There is a parade of dark and evil figures from all cultures and times, one after another. I experience each of them from the inside, living and breathing their life, and I see how there is the One “I” in everyone and everything, how they all are Big Mind… (and how they appear as dark and evil because they represent things that are disowned.) There is an incredible sense of depth, grittiness and fullness there, and also a deep sense of peace, of God already being it all (and nothing other than God), so just peace, rest.

It is all very beautiful and peaceful, even in the midst of the most horrifying creatures and images.. Just beauty. And freedom from it all, since they do not appear as an Other anymore, and since they are all already God.

Throughout this, the alive luminous intelligent loving presence is very strongly around and in my body, working in and on the body, especially in the kidneys (!).

This was clearly a journey through the collective shadows of humanity, from any culture and time… very vivid, real, living and breathing the life of all of these creatures from the inside, and realizing that there is only the one “I” in all of it, the one Eye, Spirit, Big Mind… as the inside seeing and subjective “I” experience of each creature, the form of creatures themselves, and the seeing of the creatures as Other. They came one after another, as a parade, human like, animal like, huge, tiny, one and many. All cast in the role of the villain. All representing things we rather would not see as ourselves as individuals, and also often don’t recognize as the I of the One I.

And in the living of their life from the inside, and seeing that the “I” of each of them, the inside experience of each of them, is the One “I” of everyone and everything, there is a release from all of this. They are no longer Other, at an individual or Spirit level, so a release from them. Just rest, peace.

I am not sure what the activity in the kidneys was about, although I know they are associated with fear in Chinese medicine, and throughout this journey there was a deep absence of fear… Where there is no Other, on individual (projection) and Spirit (Big Mind) levels, there is an absence of fear.

Awakening West?

Quite a few these days believe that we are seeing a larger scale awakening, in the west and around the world. To me, this seems to be a projection of the potential, unfolding or more mature awakening in the people holding these views. Nobody is immune to blind projections, not even when an awakening to selflessness has taken place.

And of course, no matter which thought we believe in, we can find lots of apparently convincing evidence to support it. When we believe a thought, it is the job of the mind to support it and prop it up.

In this case, the evidence may be we who are interested in these things tend to hear about and meet lots of people who have awakened or are in an awakening process – far more than we did just five or ten or twenty years ago. But there are of course simple explanations for this. We are far more interconnected these days, especially through the internet (websites, blogs, listserves, etc.) And in my case, I didn’t even know where to look in the beginning and it has taken time to uncover all these people I now know or know about.

To know if there really is a larger scale awakening process taking place, we would need large scale studies, grounded in solid science, and uncovering trends over several decades. I personally don’t know of any yet.

There may indeed be a larger scale awakening, or not, but to believe either way is a blind projection. It is wishful thinking. It is free fantasy. At least until there are some good studies out there showing trends over time. And even then, it would still just be a story.

My only business here is my own awakening, and not even that.


In ourselves as individuals and groups, there are certain qualities and views which are welcome, some that are neutral, and some that are less welcome.

Individual shadows

Somewhat rambling…

When this occurs at our individual level, those qualities and views which are less welcome – those which does not fit with how we would like to see ourselves – are often referred to as the shadow.

They are there, but typically seen more easily in others, and then as unwelcome even there, as a disturbance, something we wish would go away. They appear to remind us on qualities in ourselves we don’t appreciate.

Although really – they remind us that we have an exclusive self-identity, one that is less inclusive than life itself. It is a reminder that we have an identity in the first place, and our core identity is the belief in the idea of I – placed on only a segment of what is.

As long as there is the belief in I, there will be an exclusive identity. Some parts of the terrain fit with this identity, and other parts do not fit – and are experienced as a disturbance.

So this experience of a disturbance, of discomfort, is a gentle and persistent reminder of not being aligned with what is. We believe in the idea of I, and thus a relatively fixed and limited identity, while there is no I inherent in any aspect of what is. What is, is simple selflessness.

The belief in the idea of I clashes with selflessness – inherent in all there is and existence itself, so there is bound to be a degree of suffering there. And this suffering and discomfort, this nagging sense of something being not quite right, can only be resolved through realizing selflessness.

Group shadows

The same dynamic shows up at group levels – in couples, families, smaller groups, communities, countries, and globally.

As a group, we may have a certain identity formed by the reason for and/or history of the group, and there is also an automatic identity formed by the shared identity of the most influential group participants.

So here also, there is an identity – explicit although most often implicit, and certain qualities and views fit this identity and other qualities and views do not fit this identity so well. Some are easily welcome, others are less welcome.

This is just a natural aspect of group dynamics, but it can be quite distressing for those group participants who feel that something is coming up in them which is marginalized by the group. No matter how apparently open and welcoming the group is, or intends to be, this seems to happen.

The only remedy may be to set aside time specifically to address what has been left out of the group, to explicitly welcome in the marginalized qualities and views and the people in which these come up.

Deeksha group

In the deeksha group Sunday, this happened. As it would in any group.

During our first deeksha, I mainly experienced nothing at all – apart from various forms of resistance coming up. Others I talked with later similarly reported experiencing nothing at all.

Yet, when we shared our experiences in the group, these views were clearly marginalized. Those speaking up all had various remarkable experiences to report, often one more “spiritual” than the other. An atmosphere was created where the voicing of unremarkable experiences did not seem to fit in, or invited in.

This partly has to do with the facilitation, creating the expectation in the group of certain types of experiences. And it partly has to do with the participants in the group, wanting this for the group and themselves.

Both created an atmosphere where experiences of plain resistance or of nothing remarkable at all were marginalized, not exactly not welcome, but not explicitly welcomed either.

To remedy this in such a group atmosphere, there needs to be an explicit welcoming in of those qualities and views, a time set aside for welcoming them in, and even explicitly honoring them as valid contributions to the group. This helps everyone to find it in themselves, and see how these were previously left out of the group sharings.

These are all natural group dynamics. Marginalization happens. And it typically takes a very conscious effort to allow whatever has been marginalized – views, experiences, qualities and those identifying with them – into the group, often through setting aside a time for explicitly welcoming them in and honoring them.