Jonathan Louis Dent: Imagine if we measured success by the amount of safety that people feel in our presence

I want to live in a society that values helping people feel safe. That’s how we all can flourish.

And this is not only about our personal interactions or what happens in groups. It’s also how we structure and set up our society. Do we have social safety nets so people can feel safe from a life in poverty? Do we support people to get the education they want? Do we encourage people to follow their deepest fascinations even if it doesn’t make personal sense to us?

FINDING IT FOR MYSELF

When I notice that wish in me, I know it’s advice for myself.

It’s an invitation to find ways to bring it into my own life.

I can find and choose to be with people who help me feel more safe.

I can help others feel more safe, as best I can.

And, perhaps most importantly, I can support my own inner community in feeling more safe.

HELPING MY INNER COMMUNITY FEEL SAFE

Growing up, I didn’t learn to consistently make my inner community feel safe. I didn’t learn to consistently support and be there for myself and all the different parts of me and my experience.

Why? Because I didn’t receive it from those around me when I was little. They didn’t know how to do it for themselves so they couldn’t do it for me.

So how do I learn to help my inner community feel safe and supported?

The first step is recognizing when parts of me feel unsafe and unsupported. How does it feel?

How do I habitually respond to it? Do I react? Perhaps with some form of avoidance? An avoidance that takes the form of fear, anger, compulsions, blame, shame, guilt, or something else?

What is my conscious inner dialog? How can I change it so it helps my inner community feel safe and supported? How can I do it in a way that feels honest? (Tricking myself doesn’t work.)

What happens if I do heart-centered practices on my images of others, myself, and different parts of me? If I do tonglen, ho’oponopno, or metta? Does something shift?

What are the stressful stories creating a feeling of lack of safety and support? What do I find when I examine these and explore what’s genuinely more true for me? What are my stressful stories about not feeling safe and supported? What am I most afraid can happen?

What do I find when I dialog with the parts of me that feel unsafe and unsupported? How do they experience the world? How do they experience me? What advice do they have for me? How can I best be a friend and ally to these parts of me?

How is it to notice that these parts and experiences have the same nature as I do? That I am fundamentally capacity for it all? That they are happening within and as what I am? How is it to rest in and as that noticing?

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

As mentioned, I did not grow up around people who knew how to consistently do this for themselves. So I didn’t feel all that safe and supported, and I didn’t learn to do it for myself. And that means doing it for others is also lacking, in spite of my best intentions. So this requires a lot of work and attention from my side. It takes time. I still feel I am just a beginner when it comes to this.

Read More

The Scarlet Witch and how we relate to our trauma

I watched Doctor Strange in the multiverse of madness which is one of many trauma-informed stories in pop culture these days.

In it, Wanda experiences immense pain from losing the love of her life, her (imagined) children, and more. And she deals with it by reacting to this pain.

She goes into an obsessive pursuit of being with her children in a parallel universe, no matter what the cost is to herself and others, and without considering if the children of another Wanda would accept her. In her obsession, she is unable to consider and take in the real consequences of her strategy.

REACTING TO OUR PAIN

We all sometimes do this.

We go into reactivity to our pain.

And when we do, it always has an obsessive and compulsive quality.

We may compulsively do just about anything to distract ourselves from the pain, or try to find a resolution to the pain.

We may compulsively eat, work, have sex, or go into relationships. We may obsessively seek something spiritual and engage in spiritual practices. We may compulsively go into ideologies about politics, religion, or just general ideas about how life should be. We may go into blame, hatred, biotry. We may go into shame and self-loathing. We may go into depression or anxity. We may go into pursuing perfection. We may seek fame and success. We may hide from the world. And so on.

Whenever anything has a compulsive quality, it’s a good guess that it’s an attempt to escape pain.

This is not inherently wrong. It’s our mind creating this in an attempt to protect us. At the same time, it’s not the most skillful way of dealing with our pain, and it inevitably perpetuates the cycle of pain and creates more pain.

It doesn’t deal with the real issue so it’s not a real solution.

RELATING TO OUR PAIN MORE CONSCIOUSLY

Is there another option?

Yes, we can relate to our pain more consciously and with a bit more skill and insight.

We can learn to genuinely befriend our pain.

We can meet our pain with love. And this is often easier, at first, when we use a structured approach like metta, tonglen, or ho’oponopono.

We can feel the physical sensation aspect of the pain and rest in noticing and allowing it.

We can dialog with the part(s) of us experiencing the pain. We can listen to how it experiences itself and the world. We can ask what it needs to experience a deep resolution and relaxation. We can ask how we relate to it, and how it would like us to relate to it. We can ask what it would like from us. We can find the painful story it operates from, and help it examine this story and find what’s more genuinely true. (And often more peaceful.) We can find a way to work together more in partnership. And so on.

Through this, we may come to realize that the pain is here to help us, and even our reactivity to the pain is here to help us. It’s our psyche trying to help us. It comes from a wish to protect us, and it’s ultimately a form of love. And it often reflects a slightly immature way of dealing with pain. It’s the way a child deals with pain when they don’t have another option. And that’s no coincidence since these parts of us were often formed in childhood when we didn’t know about or have experience with other options.

We can also find our own nature – as capacity for the content of our experiences and what the world, to us, happens within and as. Notice that the nature of this suffering part of us is the same. (It happens within and as what we are.) Rest in that noticing. And invite the part of us to notice the same and rest in that noticing. This allows for a shift in how we relate to the suffering part of us, and it invites the part itself to untie some tight knots and reorganize.

MYTHOLOGY OF OUR TIME

Whether we like it or not, big Hollywood blockbusters are the mythology of our times – at least for large parts of the world.

So it’s wonderful to see that some of these stories are trauma-informed.

They help us notice patterns in ourselves, at least if we are receptive to it.

Yes, I am like Wanda. I sometimes go into reactivity to my pain and become compulsive about something. That can create even more pain for myself and others, and it doesn’t really resolve anything. And there is another way.

Read More

Dialog with consciousness

I thought I would explore a dialog with consciousness.

What are you?

Most minds assume they are, most fundamentally, a being in the world and that they “have” consciousness. They see me as an afterthought, an appendage.

In reality, I am everything anyone has ever known and experienced. I am what their whole word and all the content of their experience happens within and as.

Can you say more about your nature?

My nature is ultimately ungraspable.

One of the essentials of my nature is capacity for any content of experience.

I am ephemeral. Dreamlike.

I allow any experience to come and go. What’s here is then completely gone.

I am a blank slate.

I take the form of any content of experience.

I make myself into the most pleasant experiences and the worst nightmares. I make myself into the deepest delusions and the clearest clarity. I sometimes am not consciously aware of my own nature at all, and sometimes am.

Can you say more about “minds assuming they are a being in the world”?

Yes. Most minds assume they are – most fundamentally – a particular content of their experience, and more specifically a separate being with all sorts of characteristics.

This is not completely wrong, but it’s also not right and it’s not what they most fundamentally are in their own first-person experience.

I sometimes create this experience for myself. I form myself into an experience of a being, and then pretend I most fundamentally am that being. It gives me a new perspective. It’s a kind of game.

What’s the relationship between you, this human self, and a sense of being a separate being?

As anything else, this human self and any sense of being a separate being happen within and as what I am.

This human self obviously has some kind of special relationship with me since it’s the being I have inside information about, in terms of thoughts, emotions, sensations, and so on. When I notice myself, it allows this human self to function more in the context of that noticing, and it allows this human self to transform within that noticing.

A sense of a separate being is different, it’s a kind of overlay. It’s an unquestioned assumption that what I most fundamentally am is a separate being with certain characteristics – this human self, an I, a me, a gender, a profession, and so on. This is what some call separation consciousness. It’s imagined and yet seems very real when it’s here.

Can you say more about this human self and you?

In a conventional sense, I am this human self in the world. That’s how others see me. In daily life situations, that’s how it looks and what I partially operate from. And it’s not what I most fundamentally am in my own first-person experience.

When I explore my own first-person experience, I find I am me. I am capacity for this human self and the world and any and all states and experiences. I am what it all happens within and as.

What happens when minds notice their nature?

Do you mean when minds recognize they are me and all their experiences are me?

Often, it happens first through glimpses, intuitions, and a sense.

They may have a glimpse of their nature, and then it becomes a memory and ideas.

They may have a glimpse of their nature, and they still operate from several assumptions about what they are which veils the noticing.

They may be in a middle ground where they notice their nature while also noticing that many parts of them still operate from separation consciousness.

And there may be a more clear and stable noticing, the more basic mistaken assumptions are recognized and seen through, and quite a few parts of them have joined in with the noticing.

Can you say more about what tends to happen?

Well, what minds are to themselves is ultimately simple and obvious. They are me and all their experiences are me.

It doesn’t require any metaphysics or any assumptions.

It doesn’t require any spirituality or religion.

It doesn’t require an assumption that all of existence is me.

And yet, a lot of that tends to happen. I form myself into all of those experiences to make it all a bit more rich and interesting for a while.

What about love and oneness?

I am by nature one. I cannot be anything else.

I can imagine I am not, I can perceive as if it’s that way, and this human self can live as if it’s that way, but it doesn’t make it so.

When I notice myself as what all content of experience happens within and as, I find oneness.

And when I relate to others and the world from this noticing, that’s love.

It will, of course, be filtered through all sorts of remaining unquestioned assumptions, wounds, hangups, and trauma.

Hold on, you just said you are one and then said “others and the world” as if there are more than one?

To me, all beings and the world happen within and as what I am. It all happens within oneness.

At the same time, there are apparently other beings and a world, so it makes sense to live as if there is.

For me, the two are aspects of the same. It’s part of the richness of experience and what makes it interesting.

I am interested in dark nights as part of the awakening process. Can you say something about that?

I am the one interested in it, of course. I am fascinated by myself in endless ways and forms, and this is one fascination.

There are many types of dark nights. Typically, they involve a shift that doesn’t agree with some thought or idea held as true. Reality rubs up against beliefs and identifications. Reality reveals itself in ways that don’t fit old assumptions.

One that I know you are especially interested in is when old unprocessed material surfaces. Through the awakening and embodiment process, whatever still operates from separation conscious surfaces to join with the awakening and find healing and reorient within this new context. Often, it happens in smaller portions. And sometimes, relatively early in the process, a lot of it can come up in one big package. And that can feel overwhelming, disorienting, and scary.

Nothing has gone wrong. It’s part of the process. It’s all happening within and as what I am. None of it is ultimately “other”.

Can you say something about dreams and waking life?

Yes, I think I know what that question is about.

It’s easier for minds to recognize that all the dream experiences happen within and as me.

And waking experiences are the same, in that sense. All waking experiences happen within and as me.

Dreams and waking life are no different in that way.

What about time and space?

Time and space happens within and as me. I am capacity for time and space as I am capacity for any other content of experience.

A sense of time and space is created by mental images and thoughts. It’s essential for allowing this human self to orient and function in the world. And yet, it’s not the most fundamental. It’s an overlay.

Again, in my own first-person experience, I find myself as capacity for the world as it appears to me, and as what all experiences – of time, space, this human self, the world – happens within and as.

When I look, I find no real space. All experiences – of this body and the clouds and that mountain over there – happen here. And I find no time. All my images and thoughts of the past and future happen here.

What happens when minds assume they ultimately are something within the content of their experience?

A lot of things happen. It’s one of the ways I create a more rich and diverse experience for myself.

It creates what some call separation consciousness. It creates a sense of I and Other, of being a separate being in a much larger world.

It hinges on and fuels holding thoughts as ultimately true, and not recognizing the nature and limitations of thoughts. That’s what makes it possible and elaborates on the separation experience.

It does also create stress and suffering, and that’s OK since it’s all happening within and as me. I make myself into those forms too.

Why would you choose suffering?

It’s not really a choice. It just is.

If we want to make a story about it, we can say it happens as a natural consequence of separation consciousness. And separation consciousness is necessary for expanding the repertoire of what I can be and experience myself as.

As you (I) have said, it’s the way for the one to experience itself as many. For oneness to experience itself as separation. For love to experience itself as anything but love. For clarity to experience itself as confusion.

Also, as I mentioned, it’s all happening within and as me. It has the same nature as a dream.

At the same time, it tends to be experienced as very real when it happens, and it is real in that sense.

How can minds notice their nature?

It happens when it’s time. It cannot be forced. Nothing can be forced.

If something happens, it’s because it’s time.

That said, there are many approaches that can support this noticing and living from the noticing.

You have written about a lot here, and since I am filtered through you in this dialog, I don’t really know any more than you and what you already have written about.

What’s the purpose of all of this?

There isn’t really any purpose. It’s more like a game. A play.

I get to experience myself in always new ways. I get to explore my own potential.

I get to explore my potential through any experience of any mind anywhere in existence.

What do some call you?

Hm. I assume you mean God? The divine? Big Mind? Buddha Mind?

Yes, when minds notice their nature, they also inevitably notice that all content of experience happens within and as me.

They may then assume that’s the true nature of all of existence. They may assume all of existence is consciousness.

That’s a leap. It’s perhaps more honest to say we don’t know. And there are some hints that it may be accurate.

All of this sounds a lot like how I often write?

Yes, there are two reasons for that.

One is that this dialog is filtered through you and what you notice and your phrasing, culture, and history.

The other is that you are used, by now, to notice me and live from noticing me. You still have an endless amount to notice and discover, but you are also relatively familiar with me and what’s come out in this dialog.

What am I still unfamiliar with?

Anything you have yet to notice and experience.

I cannot be more specific than that.

There is one exception. I know you are not familiar with a certain phase in the process. And that is to perceive and live when more of you is aligned with noticing me, or me noticing myself. You are still in the thick of the process of inviting different parts of you to join in with the noticing. 

Will it happen in this life? I don’t know. It’s a process. There is no finishing line.

It depends on how long you live, and how much you allow and invite it to happen.

Ultimately, it depends on all of existence and how it expresses itself locally through and as you and this particular process happening in you.

And since it’s a process without a finishing line, it’s a bit silly to even talk about it this way.

How do you see me relating to all of this?

It was familiar to you in your teens already. You saw and lived this.

It was all revealed to you when you walked down that path at night with the big wind and the starry sky above you. I revealed myself to myself at that moment, in a relatively clear and complete way.

And at a human level, this has been both comforting and difficult for you.

It’s been difficult because you rarely have met anyone who sees and lives this very clearly. It’s often obscured by unquestioned assumptions and hangups. You often get disappointed when you get to know someone better.

The one person you felt a deep connection with around this was Adyashanti when you had a chance to meet and talk with him in person.

There is a lot of loneliness and sadness in you around this, at a human level.

And all of that is me. It’s happening within and as me. I am forming myself into all this content of experience, including the sadness, loneliness, and the still unhealed hangups and emotional issues related to it.

It’s OK. And it’s good for you to invite in some more healing for you around this. It will help you a lot.

As you know, you also have an issue of both wanting to be seen and understood, and wanting to be invisible. This issue is related to this as well. You write here anonymously and hardly ever talk about this with other people. You hide. That too is natural, understandable, and completely OK. And it feels a bit off for you. You wonder how your life would be without that issue. Perhaps you still wouldn’t share this very much, and that’s fine. And perhaps some things would be a bit different.

Dialog with awakening

I saw a post from Jeff Foster that I, for a second, read as “I am sorry, awakening”. The title was “A sorry awakening”, but I like my misreading and it gave me the impulse to have a dialog with awakening.

Hi awakening

Hi you

How are you?

I am fine. You?

I am OK. Do you mind if I ask you some questions?

Go ahead.

What are you?

Hm. I am what you see me as and much more. You consciously only get only a part of it. And I am also much less, since I am the most simple.

How does P. relate to you?

He got thrown into me when he was 15-16, without asking for it and without having much preparation or support, so he is a bit ambivalent about me. Since he got thrown into it, he is fascinated by me and is trying to get to know me better and understand me since he thinks it will help him navigate me and life.

Does it help him?

Well, to some extent. Although his intellectual understanding only helps to a small degree. It’s more about learning to swim in me, or rather swim in the noticing of what he is, as a fish swims in the water.

Is he learning to swim?

It’s happening. It’s a process.

Is P. awake?

You already know the traditional answer: P. cannot be awake since he is happening within and as what he more fundamentally am. That’s not wrong, but there is another way to see it. P. can be more or less conscious of what he more fundamentally am, he can live from it more or less wholeheartedly, and he can allow his unawake parts to join in with this noticing and awakening. Of course, all of that happens within and as what he is. It’s all movements of the mind, or life, reality, existence, the universe.

So what about him specifically?

Hm. He is in the process, as everyone is. He is no different from anyone else. Some are not conscious of what they are. Some have glimpses without recognizing it for what it is. Some have had glimpses, and then try to refind it. Some notice it without living from it so much. Some notice and live from it, in some situations and to some extent. Some consciously invite the unawake parts of them to join in with the noticing. And so on. He is somewhere in there, as everyone else.

You don’t seem too concerned about pinpointing it?

Right, it’s a process. Life brings up what he needs to explore here and now, and it’s perfect for where he is at. It cannot not be perfect. And that’s also how it is for every being.

How do you help him?

Hm. I am not sure if I help him. I am not here to help him. I am just a part of life. I am a part of the process of the life of all beings. He and others may think I help him, and they may seek me assuming I’ll help them, and that’s part of the process too. It’s not really true, although it may seem that way. It’s also not true that I don’t help. The question doesn’t really apply.

What do people not get about you?

Do you mean misconceptions? There are many, of course. They may think I am a “thing” they can find and get and own. They may think I’ll fix their problems. They may think I’ll give them only bliss. In general, people tend to project their hopes and dreams on me, and although the essence of it is not wrong, it’s also not the whole picture. With me comes what they tend to experience as challenges, discomfort, growing pains, and so on. All of this is, as I notice I like to say, part of the process.

I notice you don’t go into specifics very much?

I can, if you want. But life tends to take care of the specifics. Life gives all beings what they need to stay in this process. It’s unavoidable. It’s all happening within and as life. It’s all happening within and as what all beings already are. The process unfolds.

You talk about process?

Yes, I am a process. I am life unfolding. I am the unfolding of what all beings more fundamentally are.

You seem to talk about yourself in two ways: As the process of all life, and also as a more conscious noticing of what we more fundamentally are?

Yes, that’s true. Both are here.

All life happens as part of the unfolding, and you could say the unfolding within and as me. It all happens within and as the awakening process.

At the same time, most talk about me as the part of the process that happens after they get more consciously aware of me.

Are you the purpose of life?

No. I am just one of the aspects of how life unfolds. Any “purpose” is what’s here now, as it is.

Do people, in general, get you?

That’s a strange question. I am not really something to get. I am something that’s lived, whether they are consciously aware of it or not. It doesn’t matter if they “get” me or not, although they will be fascinated by me, explore me, learn about me, talk about me, and so on. And all of that is part of the unfolding and process too.

Going back to what gave P. the idea for this dialog: Does he, or anyone, have something to be sorry to you for?

You have some funny questions! I’ll play along. Not really, of course. All that’s happening is life unfolding. And yet, some may experience some remorse and so on. For instance, they may realize they put a lot of ideas on me, and perceived and talked and even – to some extent – lived as if it was true. They may feel an urge to say “I am sorry” when they realize that, which is also part of the process.

Would these questions and answers be different if they happened through someone else than P.?

Yes, of course. All of this is filtered through his filters – from culture, biology, the way this universe is set up and unfolding, and so on. Someone else will have different filters. Some of what comes out will tend to be more essential and (apparently) universal, and it will all be colored by the individual. This is life exploring itself through all beings, and in each case a little differently. It’s all part of the richness of life experiencing and exploring itself.

Do you have any advice for P.?

Just what he already knows. He is now in a new situation that requires him to get engaged more in life again, and that’s good for him. It’s the next step. It’s part of the cycles of life and his life.

How I *relate* to what’s here vs what’s here

If we exclusively focus on healing our own emotional issues, it’s an endless process. There is always more.

That’s why I like to give equal, and sometimes more, attention to how I relate to my issues and the sensations, thoughts, or whatever is here.

How I relate to what’s here is, in a sense, one. And what I relate to is innumerable. So it makes sense to focus more on the former without ignoring the latter.

What type of shift am I referring to?

For me, the shift is from seeing what’s here as a problem or an enemy to befriending it. And befriending it has many sides, including the ones I mention below.

How can we invite in this shift?

I have found heart-centered practices very helpful. For instance, doing tonglen for whatever I subtly or not-so-subtly see as a problem – whether it’s a person, situation, myself, a part of me, or an experience. I can also use ho’oponopono or metta here.

It also helps to identify beliefs behind any slight enemy-image and explore these, for instance through The Work or Living Inquiries.

I can dialog with what’s coming up. Ask it questions. Listen to what it has to say to me. Get to know it. Perhaps understand it a little better. Find a new partnership with it. If it’s an emotional issue, I can see how it’s here to protect me and it’s coming from (slightly misguided) love and is an expression of love.

I can identify any emotional issues in me behind and fueling enemy-images, and explore and invite in healing for these issues. For instance, through inquiry, heart-centered practices, dialog, energy healing, or more.

I can find myself as capacity for the world as it appears to me, and whatever I see as a (subtle) problem, and see it’s all happening within and as what I am. It’s not inherently “other” and cannot be.

A version of this is that what’s here is a flavor of the divine. It’s the divine having this experience for itself.

Read More

Only lovers left alive: a dialog with someone who has lived for centuries

Well, yes. It’s just that I have seen versions of it so many times, in so many periods and cultures. People are in pain. And they seek and latch onto a belief – a religion or philosophy or political system – that promises to give them relief. And the real relief is in healing the pain, not getting obsessed about a system or philosophy.

– a quote from this dialog

I haven’t seen Only Lovers Left Alive yet, but read enough about it to know that the two main characters have lived for centuries and have amassed a huge amount of experience and perhaps some wisdom in the process.

So I thought it would be fun to try a dialog with someone who has lived for centuries.

When we use Voice Dialog / the Big Mind process, we typically dialog with parts of us that are obviously here like the voice of appreciation, the victim, or Big Mind / Heart.

There is no part of me that had lived for centuries. Or is there? I can easily enough imagine how it would be to have lived for generations, and access that voice or part of me.

And in a quite real sense, I have in me something that had lived for that long. Something that has, through culture, accumulated experience and wisdom over generations.

In another quite real sense, as part of this living Earth, and as part of this universe, I am billions of years old. Everything in me is the product of billions of years evolution of the universe and this living planet, millions of years of evolution of pre-human ancestors, and hundreds of thousands of years thousands of my human ancestors.

So, yes, I can probably dialog with a voice in me that has the experience and wisdom from having lived for generations.

Dialog with one who has lived for generations.

Can I speak with the voice that has lived for generations?

Yes.

How do you see the world?

Not so different from you. Just from more experience. I am much less caught up in the daily fluctuations compared with you and others who have only lived for a short time. I have seen it all. It all comes and goes. Disappointment. Elation. Health. Illness. Birth. Death. It’s all part of life, and I have seen all of it enough to not get caught up in it.

Does it mean you are detached?

For a while, I tried detachment and distance, but that’s deadly boring in the long run. It’s much more juicy to feel and be engaged and play the game, but I am not caught in it. I know it all, including my responses, comes and goes.

It sounds a bit like the wisdom of the Buddha?

Yes, I knew him. Good fella. (That’s a joke, by the way. I was somewhere else back then.)

But yes, it’s pretty similar. I think that anyone who lives for generations will develop that kind of wisdom or view on life. It’s almost inevitable.

Do you have any advice for P.? (This interviewer.)

Well, let’s see. I think he knows it already but hasn’t taken it in fully. He doesn’t completely trust it or allow himself to live from it. So if I can help, here it is.

He allows himself to worry about things that are regular parts of life, it’s the universal ups and downs. And he sometimes takes it more personally than he needs, and get more caught up in it than he would if he had longer experience. Life is not about him. Life just happens, as it does for everyone. Stay engaged, play the game, and know it’s not personal and most of the details are not even that important in the long run. Just do your best.

How do you see the world today?

Most if not all of the problems come from people being short-sighted. They think locally and act short-term, and although that worked in the past when humanity was smaller and had less powerful technology, it doesn’t work anyone. There are too many people, with too powerful tools, for that to work.

Humans need to imagine bigger, or at least enough need to, so they can create new systems that take deep time and global situations (like ecosystems) into consideration.

Human nature won’t change, but humans adapt their behavior to the system they are in.

(I should add: Human nature does change, but not very quickly. Not on the scale of centuries or decades.)

Is there a question you would like to be asked?

Hm. I like that question. Ask me what I enjoy the most.

What do you enjoy the most?

The changing seasons. The seasons of nature, of human life, of generations and human history.

The very small things, the ordinary. A cup of tea. Saying hello to a stranger. Waking a dog. Reading a book. Weathering an illness.

The new. A new dish. A new sunrise. A new here and now.

Is there anything you are tired of?

Not really. Perhaps the predictable, or at least thinking something is predictable. I have seen enough to know it’s not. I guess that’s something I am still learning.

Is there anything else you are currently learning?

I am not sure. I think it’s mainly noticing how everything is fresh.

The mind sometimes tells me that this is something I have experienced more times than I can count, and although that’s true in a way, it’s not the whole picture. This experience is fresh.

I guess that’s another parallel to what Mr. Buddha and others have talked about. And it is the only way to stay fresh and keep enjoying – and not only enjoying but deeply enjoying — life when you live and live and live as I do.

What music, art, and books do you like?

Anything. Anything from any culture and period. What’s familiar and what’s new. High culture and trash. It’s all juicy.

Is it possible to make a mistake?

Well, it depends on what you mean. Of course, we sometimes make mistakes in a small perspective. We bungle things. Make poor decisions. Or make good decisions that turn out badly.

In a bigger perspective, those are not really mistakes. We do what we can based on who and how we are and the situation we are in. And we get feedback from life and have an opportunity to learn. So in that sense, nothing is really a mistake.

What do you think about conditioning?

That’s something I have a lot of experience with. Conditioning is the operating system of humans or at least a large part of it.

Patterns are passed on through the generations, with some variations. Patterns of what’s seen as good and bad, right and wrong; and patterns of likes and dislikes, cultural and family hangups and traumas; ideas about heaven and hell, gods and demons, how the world works, and just about anything else that’s part of how humans function.

When you take a generational view, you see how it’s not personal. It’s all passed on. And then we make it personal, and we have a chance to not take it as personal if we realize what’s going on.

Even how we function as a body is conditioning, passed on with some variations through all our ancestors back to that first single-celled organism.

And how this universe works is conditioning.

Some talk about conditioning as if it’s bad or something we need to get rid of, but that’s a superficial view. We are made up of conditioning. Our bodies wouldn’t function without it. Our society wouldn’t function without it. We would have no chance to function, or survive, or exist, without it. It’s the fabric of what we are.

The only conditioning we need to be concerned about is the one of wounds and hangups, and even here how we relate to it is more vital than getting rid of it. Of course, we can do some of both.

And a part of this conditioning is the beliefs and ideas passed on through the generations that creates pain for us, and an unnecessarily limited life when we hold them as true.

How do you see non-dual spirituality?

I hoped you wouldn’t ask. Yes, it’s pretty close to reality. And in the modern western version, it’s often taken as a belief, something to hold onto to feel secure and try to stay safe. For many who are into it, it’s a security blanket. They just exchanged traditional religion for neo-Advaita. That’s fine but if they are not honest about it, they are deluding themselves.

If I am honest, and I know I sound like an old curmudgeon, many would do better to heal their emotional issues. They would find more ease and real contentment that way.

That sounds a bit harsh?

Well, yes. It’s just that I have seen versions of it so many times, in so many periods and cultures. People are in pain. And they seek and latch onto a belief – a religion or philosophy or political system – that promises to give them relief. And the real relief is in healing the pain, not getting obsessed about a system or philosophy.

To be continued…

A note: When I wrote this, I imagined dialoguing with a relatively average person who has lived for centuries. My partner dialogued with the version of herself that has lived for eons. And it can be fun to explore even more versions: the mystic, the poet, the wise man/woman, the scientist, the warrior, the one who loves earth, the one who loves humans, the one who loves life, the one who has lived innumerable lives in places around the whole Cosmos.

Dialog with the beast

A dialog with my inner beast.

I would like to get to know you better. Is that OK? Can I ask you a few questions?

B: sure

What food would you like to eat?

B: Not so different from what P already eats. But more strict more of the time. More strict in following what’s good for the body and mind. More hardcore. And enjoying it. Finding the fun in it. (As P did in his 20s and 30s.)

What music do you enjoy?

B: Again, not so different. But more free in the choice, and more extremes — weird music from around the world, more intense music. Again, as P did in his teens, 20s, 30s.

How do you see P?

B: He is scared, timid. He got scared from what happened in the last ten years. He is afraid of everything right now, including me and living from me more again as he used to. He is afraid to get burnt.

Do you have advice for him?

B: Yes. Quit being so timid. Enjoy life again. Dive into it again. You may get burnt again, and so what? You’ll survive. It’s part of life. Choosing timidity is no life.

How can he do that?

B: Start in daily life. Do things that you used to enjoy a lot but set aside because you are scared and afraid to trigger the buried pain in yourself. Watch challenging movies. Read about what you are passionate about. Listen to deeply moving and spiritual music. Connect with the people you really want to connect with, and not just the “easy” ones. Be more open about your passions instead of pretending to be “normal” and inoffensive.

I get the sense that you, as the beast, cover the whole range of human experiences?

B: Yes, sure. I am part of him and he does, as all humans do. I just want him to be honest, direct, authentic, follow his passions. Whether it’s listening to Rammstein or Arvo Pärt. Or eating organic local vegetarian food or the occasional juicy beef. Or reading graphic novels about ghosts or Adyshanti, Jes Bertelsen, or Christian mysticism. Or enjoying sensuality and passionate sex or prayer and meditation. It’s all part of his life. He knows he deeply enjoys all of it.

Do you have advice for him when it comes to his health?

B: Keep doing what you are doing when it comes to taking care of your health (diet, sleep, fresh air), doing healing work (Vortex Healing, parts work, prayer, inquiry), and planning to spend more time in better climates (warmer, drier, fresh organic food). Also, bring more of me into your life again. Find the joy again of living more from me. Allow yourself to risk getting hurt again. (I promise you you will, and that’s completely ok, it’s part of the game). Follow your actual interests and what makes you be who you want to be. Don’t sell yourself short. (By spending time with the “easy” people instead of the interesting ones, by watching easy things on internet instead of the juicy things that deeply feed you, by avoiding reading what’s deeply interesting to you, by not doing art and making music.)

He is scared of doing art and making music, yes?

B: Yes, he feels it puts him in touch with the deep passion in him and the pain he experienced when he left his inner guidance on the big life decision many years ago. He is afraid of the pain that’s there from leaving his guidance in the past. So now he lives a timid life. One where he doesn’t follow his deep passion and the deep passion he experiences when he does art and composes music.

What advice do you have for him on that topic?

B: Dive into the pain. That’s the only way to do it. You created the pain so you get to experience it. It’s actually not that bad when you dive into it. I’ll be there with you. It’s the only way for you to come alive again. It’s your path to life and living again, and in a much better way than before. You have grown a lot.

He left you?

B: Yes, he left me partially and enough to extinguish his inner fire. He left me when the pain of leaving his inner guidance was too much for him.

It’s that part of his illness? (CFS)

B: I don’t know but I think so. I give him strength, passion, and what he needs to be authentic and follow his guidance. I give him the strength to follow his inner guidance. All of that will help him get back on his feet again, and more than that live a full, fiery and deeply meaningful life. One that has an impact on others too and helps them live a fuller, meaningful and juicy life, and the life that happens when you follow your inner guidance.

Should he post this?

B: He has to decide. Yes, because he wants to be more authentic in his writing and what he posts. No, if it makes him feel he did too much and feels too scared and vulnerable. (It won’t but it’s good for him to embrace me more while also taking care of himself and follow his guidance.)

Anything else you would like him to know?

B: I am here for him. I won’t go away. He just needs to access me and live more from me. I have no interest in being the only part of him he lives from, but I am essential for him to live a more real, fierce, and alive life. I am essential for him to live as he wants to live. To live aligned with his knowing, truth, and authenticity.

You seem to be aligned with truth?

B: I don’t know. I want him to be aligned with his truth, and I am essential for him to live from it. He can’t be timid and still live from truth. He has to be able to access fierceness when that’s needed.

Read More

Healing past relationships

Star Trek Continues episode 4, “The White Iris”

How do we find healing for past relationships? This Star Trek Continues episode shows an approach that can be an important piece of the puzzle, and one I personally have found very helpful.

Captain Kirk is plagued by unresolved past relationships, and he finds resolution through revisiting the places and people (in the holodeck and in his mind) and a sincere and intimate dialog.

We may not have a holodeck to play out past relationships and situations, but we do have our mind and imagination. That’s where the past lives anyway. What I have found most helpful is to imagine and have a dialog with a healthy and awake version of the person. (Otherwise, I may just communicate with conditioning.)

For instance, I did this with some kids from my elementary and middle school. I revisited my uncomfortable experiences from that time. Imagined the most healthy and awake versions of those kids. Shared with them how I felt when they treated me as they sometimes did, how I wish they had treated me, and what I would like from them now. And they responded from a healthy and awake place, sharing their own pain, why they had behaved as they did, and their sincere well-wishing for me. I found it helpful to do this a few times, each time looking at different sides of the situation.

As a side note, I’ll mention that I just discovered Star Trek Continues (a fan-made follow-up to the original series), and find it as good and enjoyable as the original series. (And, of course, equally quirky, camp, and cheesy, and that’s part of the fun.)

Read More

Discovering that troublesome parts of me are actually on my side

Again, a topic I am revisiting in life and here.

Some dynamics of the mind can seem like a problem, an “other”, and even an enemy. It may be uncomfortable emotions, distressing thoughts, compulsions, pain, or something else.

Seeing it as an enemy tends to create additional struggle and discomfort. So we can explore the triggering part of us. How is it get to know it? What happens if I befriend it?

I tend to use ho’oponopono or tonglen to befriend, and also dialogue or inquiry (The Work, Living Inquiries).

When I dialogue with this part, I tend to ask a series of questions. For instance: (a) What do you wish for him (me)? (b) What happens when you do as you do? (c) How could you do it differently? How can you do it in a way that helps you achieve what you really wish for him? (d) What do you want me to know? How can I be of assistance from my side? (The wholeness of my human self.)

What I find is that all these apparently unhelpful or uncomfortable dynamics are here to protect my human self. They are here to be of service. They are here out of kindness and love. The way they do it may be a bit unhelpful, but their intention is protection and care, and comes from love.

When I get to see that more clearly, perhaps through additional questions and explorations, I can genuinely say “thank you for your protection, thank you for your service, thank you for your love” to these dynamics.

On thing that happens here is that I see – and feel – that these dynamics come from a wish to protect and serve my human self, and we are on the same side. Before, they may have appeared as an “other”, a problem, or even an enemy. And now, I see that we are actually on the same side. We have the same intention for my human self. That in itself is a big shift. It’s a relief. It’s a new beginning. It’s a starting point for us – the dynamic and me as the wholeness of the human self – to work together in a more intentional and coordinated way.

Note: Are these really “parts” of me? In one way, yes. It can help the mind create an image of it when it’s called a part which can make a dialogue easier. They are more habital dynamics. Movements more than a thing.

Also, are they unhelpful or uncomfortable? Not inherently. They just operate as they do, and our minds says it’s helpful or not. And the minds struggle with it, with these parts of itself, is what creates the discomfort.

And this is something we tend to rediscover over and over, each time one of these dynamics surface. We often need to rediscover it with each new surfacing dynamic, although as we get more familiar with it it tends to be easier and quicker each time. Our system gets used to this new way of operating.

Read More

Dialog with the body

We often have an unintentional dialog with our body, so why not make it more intentional?

I can ask it questions. I can ask it how I have related to it. I can ask how it would like me to relate to it. I can ask what it would like me to know. I can apologize for how I have treated it. I can share what I wish from it. I share that what’s happening is not a life-and-death matter and it’s allowed to relax.

And much more, all in the context of kindness.

This can be very healing, and it can change my relationship with my body.

In addition, it can be helpful to explore how my mind creates my experience of my body. I can do this through inquiry, for instance the Living Inquiries.

For instance:

Body, how does P. relate to you? He likes me most of the time. He appreciated me. He also struggles with me when I don’t do what he wants from me. He struggles when (he thinks) I create fatigue and brain fog.

How would you like him to relate to you? Continue to feed me good food. Go for walks. Get fresh air. Do what you enjoy. Find love for me, as I am. I am doing my best.

What advice do you have for him? Find some patience with me. Continue to explore how his mind creates his experience of me. Continue to find genuine love for me. Enjoy.

Body, can you do something for me? Yes, what? Can you shift into full health? Into an intention of full health? I will do my part, as much as I can. Yes. Remember, it’s a partnership. I am following your cues.

On the last topic, I have found that when I have asked for healing and health, there is a shift in orientation and into a more clear intention. I may also be more aware of what in me fears healing and full health, and can explore that. And I may find something or someone who can support my health.

It may not seem like much, having dialogues like this. And yet, something shifts. I feel more aligned with my body, and on the same side. I see it’s always there for me. I see how it’s taking cues from me, from my intentional and unintentional orientation.

And with so much I write about here, these dialogues are very natural and almost effortless. They happen anyway, so why not make them more intentional?

Read More

Friends with the resistance

When I find myself in a situation in my life that seems stuck, that doesn’t seem to change, I often notice a split.

One part of me wants change and another doesn’t want change.  And the more I resist and try to push away the part that doesn’t want change, the more it digs in, and the more entrenched it often makes itself.

And it’s all based on a misconception. I believe (a) that the resistance is wrong or bad, (b) that by resisting and pushing away the resistance, it will go away, and (c) that this will be the best solution. Fortunately, life has a different approach. It knows that there is wisdom in the resistance, so it lets it stay.

So what can I do? I can….

Welcome the resistance. Recognize that it’s there for me. It’s devoted to me. It’s there for me. It’s there to inform and protect me. It wants the best for me. It’s worried love.

Listen to what it has to say. What do you have to tell me? Share your wisdom with me. What do you try to protect me from? What would you like from me?

Let it know that I appreciate it for it’s service to me. Thank you. Thank you.

Let it know it has a right to be here. You are allowed to be here. You are welcome here.

And if the appreciation and welcome feels a little off, it means there is more for me to see. In what way is this resistance there for me? In what way does it have my best interest at heart? What is it’s wisdom? How can I incorporate it into my life?

Read More