A simple exploration for finding trust in the wisdom of our human self

Byron Katie has a simple exercise: When you wake up in the morning, don’t get up. Wait and see what happens, and find some curiosity about it. (Paraphrased.)

When I do this, I find that my human self gets out of bed on its own, and at the right time. It has an innate wisdom that makes it get up when the time is ripe. It happens without any conscious planning or effort or use of will. And it’s often surprising. One moment I was in bed, the next standing on the floor, and there was no planning or effort or will involved.

This helps me see that my human self lives its own life and that it has innate wisdom and kindness.

And I can do this in other areas of life as well. I can wait, notice with curiosity, and see what my human self does on its own.

When I get out of my own way, my human self is more free to live from wisdom and heart.

There is, as usual, a lot more to say about this.

For instance, our human self is always living its own life. It’s just that our mind adds a layer of identification so we think and feel that “I” did it. When we find what we more fundamentally are, it’s more obvious that our human self is living its own life. Words happen. Actions happen. And there is no involvement of an “I”.

The only difference is that the strange loop that creates a sense of “I” or “doer” goes away, or at least is not invested with a sense of reality. The charge goes out of it.

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The universality of my experience

Whatever I experience, I can be certain that it’s shared with innumerable humans. Innumerable humans now, in the past, and in the future will share this experience in a very similar way.

It may also be that innumerable beings of many different species have experienced something very similar, are experiencing it, and will experience it.

We are in it together.


If I tell myself this is only happening to me, it’s easy to go into “poor me” and “why me” thoughts. I feel isolated and alone. I feel singled out. I feel especially unlucky. I feel that others have it better than me, and I can find any number of examples. (Based on comparing imaginations of me and them.)

If I remind myself of the universality of my experience, I realize that this experience is shared by a vast number of beings. Perhaps most experience something like that at some point in their life if they are lucky to live long enough. We are in it together.

It gives me a sense of fellowship. It gives me a sense of connection. It removes the feeling of being singled out, whether my personality sees that as good or bad.

Reminding me of this naturally deepens my empathy with myself and others. They are like me. And this empathy especially deepens when this noticing becomes a habit, a part of daily life.


This applies to the experiences my personality doesn’t like – physical or emotional pain, overwhelm, struggle, confusion, illness, discomfort, and so on.

It also applies to the experiences my personality does like – pleasure, joy, excitement, calm, comfort, contentment, peace, and so on. This too is experienced by innumerable humans and likely innumerable beings of many different species.

This too ties us together. This too is a reminder of our fellowship. This too deepens my empathy when I notice.


It’s important to clarify for ourselves what we mean by “an experience”.

Our initial response may be that we know. And when we look a little closer, we may surprise ourselves.

When I explore this for myself, I find that my experience is whatever is happening in my sense fields – sight, sound, smell, taste, movement, physical sensations, and an overlay of mental representations making sense of it all. (Sometimes in painful ways.)

It’s especially the combination of physical sensations and mental representations that creates my experience.

And in this context, it’s mainly the physical sensations with most of the conscious stories stripped away.

These are what my personality responds to with likes and dislikes. (And, of course, the likes and dislikes have stories behind them, many not conscious and learned early in life.)

For me, the focus is mainly on my physical sensations and how my system responds to these. How is it to remind myself that this experience – these physical sensations and the way my system responds to them – is universal? Is shared by innumerable humans and beings?

This is the essence of this exploration, and honing in on the physical sensations simplifies and gives a more clear focus.


This can be a simple exploration in daily life.

What happens when I remind myself of the universality of what I am experiencing now?

What happens when this becomes a new habit? When I do it whenever I remember through the day?

What happens if I use difficult experiences as a reminder of this? And enjoyable experiences? And more neutral experiences?

How does my relationship with myself and others shift?

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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?

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.


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.


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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Childhood fascinations

When I was little, what was I fascinated by?

I had two big fascinations. One was nature and the universe, and the other was adventure and exploration.

I loved nature and nature programs on TV, and especially the ones by David Attenborough. I also loved anything that had to do with the universe, and Cosmos by Carl Sagan and Ann Dryan. And I loved adventure and exploration books, especially the classics set in exotic locations.

How does this relate to my life now?

I can find all of this very much alive for me. I still love nature and science, and my sense of adventure and exploration is happening right here in my exploration of who and what I am, and my life in the world.

Can I bring my childhood fascinations more into my life now?

Yes, by remembering these fascinations and bring that sense of adventure and aliveness into these explorations.

How is it to remind myself of these childhood fascinations?

I find that my childhood fascinations still are very much alive for me, bring me alive, and enlivens my activities here and now.


Why would we explore our childhood fascinations?

The essence of our childhood fascinations are still with us. If they connect with something in our life now, it tends to enliven what we are doing. If we cannot find it in our life now, perhaps we can bring it into our life? Perhaps we can infuse it into what we are already doing? Or reprioritize and bring a new activity in?

Childhood fascinations tend to reflect our natural inclinations and passions and are often expressed in a more pure form in our childhood, which is why it helps to remember what fascinated us as a child.

What do you find? What were your childhood fascinations? How does it relate to your life now? Can you bring it more into your life now? How is it to remind yourself of your childhood fascinations?

Note: I have a vague memory of Jung talking about this, but couldn’t find a quote when I did a quick search.

Outer space and spiritual explorations

Since childhood, one of my main interests has been space, space exploration, and science fiction. And I have had an intuitive sense of the connection between space exploration and spiritual exploration. Why is there this connection?

Here are some of the parallels I find:

Both involve exploration of (for us) unknown territory. Space exploration and spiritual exploration are both an adventure and an ongoing and endless discovery.

Space appears infinite and what we are the same. To us, outer space seems infinite. And when we discover what we are – what this experience happens within and as – this “space” too appears without end.

From space we see Earth as a single whole and a single living system. There are no border visible. We are in the same boat. Our destiny – of all Earth life – is interconnected. We are inspired to take care of all life and future generations to the best of our abilities. This recognition of the oneness of all life can also come through spiritual explorations.

Through the Universe Story – as told by modern science – we see that the universe and all of existence is one whole. It’s one seamless system evolving in all the ways we see around us, and as us and our experiences and life. As Carl Sagan said in Cosmos (paraphrased), we are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We are the universe exploring itself.

Through spiritual explorations, we can find something very similar. We find ourselves as the One locally expressing itself as this human self and the experiences of this human self. We find ourselves as that which our experience – of this human self, the wider world, and the universe as it appears to us – happens within and as. We find ourselves as that “no-thing” that’s capacity for all of this.

So there is no surprise if I experience an intuitive connection between space exploration and spiritual explorations. Both involves ongoing and endless adventure and exploration. Both involves the appearance of something without end. Both gives us a realization of Earth and all life as a seamless whole. Both involves a recognition of Oneness and our human self as a local expression of this Oneness – beautiful and amazing in all its richness.

Note: As a child, I was deeply fascinated – and somewhat transformed – by Cosmos by Carl Sagan, and also read anything I could find about astronomy and science fiction. In terms of science fiction, I loved the classics like Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and others.

Finding healing: three basic ways

In my experience, I can find healing in three ways.

I can find healing for the issue itself, whether it’s physical, emotional, a relationship, or something else. This is the conventional approach and obviously an important one.

I can change my relationship to it. From seeing it as a problem and an enemy, I can befriend it and what it triggers in me. This, in itself, changes a great deal and is often experienced as a great relief.

I can find that which is already whole beyond the issue. This may be my wholeness as a human being, which is always here and goes far beyond any issues. It can be being part of the wholeness of the Earth or the Universe or all life. It can be being what I am, that which any experience happens within and as.

How do I go about finding these forms of healing?

Since the first is the conventional approach, the world is full of advice and opportunities for this one. I have written about my own experiences in healing from CFS and Lyme, and also in finding healing emotionally and for parts of me (using inquiry, heart-centered approaches, TRE, Vortex Healing, and other approaches).

I can change my relationship to anything that seems problematic through, for instance, inquiry or heart-centered practices. Inquiry for me is often The Work, Living Inquiries, Big Mind process, parts/subpersonality work, and dialogue with a part or actual person. Heart-centered approaches may be ho’oponopno, tonglen, prayer, gratitude explorations, or whatever else works for us.

Finding what’s already whole depends on what level of wholeness we wish to explore. In periods when I have done meditation and yoga daily, I have found an amazing sense of my wholeness as a mind-body whole. I have also found it, slightly differently, through receiving and giving Breema and especially when I have been immersed in the atmosphere through an intensive or when I gave daily sessions. The connection with (or as) the wholeness of the Earth and Universe can come through being in nature or any number of practices, for instance, the Practices to Reconnect. Finding myself as that which already allows and is any experience can happen through meditation, inquiry, heart-centered practices, and many other ways.

And really, it all depends on grace.

Getting to the point where we are able to have issues and discomfort is grace. It required this amazing universe and Earth and us as temporary parts of it. That’s an amazing grace if there ever was one.

Getting to get to the point where we are interested in finding healing, in any of these forms, is grace.

Having a glimpse of the possibility of these forms of healing is grace.

Inviting it in, through intention and exploration, is grace.

When it happens, it’s grace.

What we call grace is really just the universe or life coming together a certain way locally. Sometimes, we may see just some things (the ones our mind tells us are good) as grace. Sometimes, we may see everything as grace (because it is).

Note: In the “finding wholeness beyond the issue” section, I lumped together things I normally would keep in separate categories. Finding mind-body wholeness is quite different from finding the Earth/Universe wholeness, and those are again quite different from finding what I am, that which allows and is any experience. But that’s OK. In this context, and especially in a brief article like this, it seemed OK to group them together. And it’s a reminder that this should really be a book rather than just a set of brief articles.

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Not knowing what we’ll find

A part of Life 101 is having an open mind.

We don’t know what we’ll find in any exploration of life, whether it’s through science, psychological or spiritual explorations, or just through living our daily lives.

We honestly don’t know, apart from that it – most likely – will be different from what we think, expect, envision, hope, or fear. And when we admit to ourselves, and remind ourselves, that we don’t know, it helps us stay honest with ourselves and the process and notice what’s actually here.

It’s easier said than done. Our minds are typically experts at getting themselves caught up in hopes, fears, and expectations. Our hopes and fears have a charge, and that charge makes them irresistible to the mind. (Of course, the mind creates all this itself, but that’s for other posts.)

What can we do? We can notice. Allow. See it’s the play of the mind. Notice the specific fears and hopes. Meet them with kindness and respect. Inquire into the fears and hopes and see what we find. All of that helps the mind soften and release it’s tendency to get caught in its own creations of hopes and fears.

It can also help to see that this is universal. It’s an universal human experience. And it’s here for a good reason. Having hopes and fears, giving them a charge, and even for the mind getting caught in them, all helped our ancestors survive. We wouldn’t be here without it. At the same time, it’s not conducive to more rational big picture or long-term decisions on behalf of ourselves and humanity, or even for our individual contentment (if that’s what we seek).

Note: I mentioned charge above, and have written about it in other posts. The charge comes from thoughts – mental words and images, being associated with bodily sensations. Sensations lend a sense of reality and solidity to the thoughts and make them seem true, and thoughts lend a sense of meaning to the sensations. For instance, a set of sensation is taken by the mind to mean that I am this body, and that same idea is given a sense of substance and truth by the same sensations.

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Welcome, God

Earlier today, I noticed some slight discomfort, sadness, and impulse for it to change.

And then welcome, God. To the discomfort, sadness, and impulse for it to change. And as a reminder to myself that it’s all Spirit. It’s happening within and as awakeness. It’s the play of life. It’s life experiencing life.

It’s also a reminder of how spiritual practices are made. Something happens spontaneously, as welcome, God did. We find it helpful to ourselves. And sometimes, it’s passed on to others. To be more useful, it’s often made into a structure or a kind of prescription. And sometimes, it’s helpful to someone else, and sometimes not.

Either way, it’s something that initially happens spontaneously. Is found to be helpful. There is an impulse to pass it on to someone else. (Often as a kindness.) It is made into something slightly more structured. And it is then helpful or not, depending on the person and the situation they are in.

This particular one is helpful if we have seen (as a glimpse) or continue to see (when we look) all as Spirit. But we sometimes need a reminder that some manifestations of Spirit – such as discomfort or an impulse for something to change – also are Spirit. So we can then try welcome, God as a reminder, and see what happens.

Note: We can say welcome, God to anything. Situations. People. Emotions. Thoughts. Whatever it may be that we initially don’t recognize as Spirit. Whatever we don’t automatically recognize as Spirit due to old habits of calling some thing bad, undesirable, or just not the divine.

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Exploring the little things

I enjoy exploring the apparently little things. It may be a minor annoyance, a small physical pain, slight tiredness, or a quietly nagging sense of discomfort.

What are some of the benefits of exploring the little things?

When I explore an apparently small thing, I get to….

Explore the label minor and major. Is it true it’s minor? Is it true this other situation is major?

Explore it in relative peace, free from the drama and turmoil that’s sometimes here around situations I see as major.

Identify and investigate thoughts I put on this minor situation, and see that I may put the same thoughts on other situations as well, including the ones I see as major. When I take a thought as true, I put it on any situation, whether thoughts label it minor or major, and the dynamics are similar or the same.

Invite in a shift in how I relate to it, which may shift how I relate to other people, states or situations in my life.

Become more familiar with the process, deepen the groove of relating to it in a different way. This may make it easier when minor and major things come up in the future.

Explore what’s here now, no matter what it is, free from thinking I need to wait for something major to appear.

And what are some of the ways I can explore these little things?

I can….

Inquire into my stressful thoughts about it, and find what’s more true for me than the initial thought.

Explore it through the sense fields. What’s there in sensation, in sight, in taste, in smell, in sound? What’s there in the mental field, in the form of images, thoughts? How is it when these images and thoughts are taken as “real” and solid, representing reality? How is it to differentiate the mental sense field from the others, and see images and thoughts as mental field activities?

Pray for my “enemies” – whether it’s a person, a state or a situation, which includes shifting into well wishing for it, as it is, and recognizing it as already God, Spirit, awareness, love.

Do tonglen or ho’o on the person, state or situation, including myself.

Confess to myself, and perhaps another, about what’s happening for me around this.

Shake (neurogenic tremors, TRE) with the situation in mind.

And in each of these cases, I can be open to whatever images or memories come up. For instance, what are some of the early situations where I remember having the same stressful thought?

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TRE and play

When I explore the natural shaking and tremoring of the body – through Tension/Trauma Release Exercises – I find some questions helpful:

– o –

What happens when I allow the natural shaking and tremoring of the body?

What happens when I follow the form? What happens when I try it in different positions?

What happens when I try it standing freely? Sitting? Laying on my side with my legs curled? Laying on my back with my legs out? Laying on the back with the knees over the chest?

– o –

Can I find a way to do this so I would want to do it indefinitely?

How is it to move in the direction of comfort and enjoyment?

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Quantum physics and evolution as pointers

The scientific approach in general is a good guideline and pointer for our own “spiritual” explorations.

And within science itself, it seems that the study of the very small and the very large both are fertile ground for pointers and guidelines for exploration.

Science in general helps us recognize that we don’t know. We operate from our own world of images and this is just a map. It may be very helpful in a practical sense in everyday life but there is no “truth” in it. Examples from quantum physics, the study of the very small, helps bring this home.

Through this, we notice that we may assume that there is an objective world “out there”, and it is helpful to act in daily life as if it is so, but this too is just an image. As is the images of a me and I (doer, observer). As we notice these images as images, as content of experience, there is an invitation for identification to release out of these images. We can still use any and all of them in a practical and pragmatic way, to help us function and orient in the world, but they are recognized as images, helpful tools only, and not any absolute truth. And we can notice what happens when there is identification with the viewpoints of some of these images, including the images of a me and I, and what happens when there is a softening or release of this identification and we are more free to play with and make use of these images while recognizing them as images only.

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Examining contractions

Whenever a contraction comes up – of any flavor – it can be helpful to explore it.

I can ask myself the usual Big Mind questions. What color has it? Shape? Texture? Can I find a beginning or end?

I can explore how it appears in each sense field. How does it appear in the sensation field? The thought field? (Images?)

Is it content of experience? Does it come and go?

What is it made up of? (What is its substance?)

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As insubstantial as a thought

Emptiness – in this case refering to insubstantiality – can be explored through the sense fields…

When I explore the mental field, I notice images, verbal thought, and in general mimicking of each of the other sense fields. (Sensations, sound, smell, taste, sight.) What is a thought made up of? How long does it last? Where does it come from? Where does it go? I may notice that thoughts are insubstantial and ephemeral. They appear, quite literally, as no thing appearing as something. They are similar to a hologram: form without substance.

And as I explore appearances in each of the other sense fields, I can ask myself the same questions. What is it made of? Where does it come from? Where does it go? How long does it last? Again, I may find that whatever appears in each of the sense fields appears insubstantial and ephemeral. As no thing appearing as something.

I can then explore the gestalts created from an overlay of the mental field on top of the other fields. I can close my eyes and visualize my body and the room I am in, then open the eyes and notice that the mental field overlay is still there even with my eyes open. Or I may notice an image coming up as an overlay of sound, with a suggestion of what created that sound. Or memories from tastes and smells. Or a sense of a separate I, an I with an Other, a center with periphery, a doer, observer, overlaid on sensations in the head area.

And here too, I can notice that in immediate experience it is insubstantial and ephemeral. A no thing appearing as something.

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Both sides of the street?

Sometimes, someone will talk about both sides of the street and the importance of including both. 

I imagine that they are talking about emptiness and form. Or, said another way, who (our human self) and what (that which experience happens within and as) we are. 

So what do I find if I explore this for myself? 

First, form and emptiness are always here, so that part is easy. And in daily life, my human self and what I am is here too. (I am not going into this much here.) 

When I explore it through the sense fields, I find that what happens in each (and as gestalts) is awakeness itself appearing as form. Whatever happens is empty-awake-form. Empty as in insubstantial, nothing appearing as something. Already awake. Appearing temporarily as form. 

Also, before and within awakening it is possible to temporarily emphasize one, the other, neither or both, and these are all ways God manifests, experiences and explores itself. 

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Relating to thoughts

Some ways of relating to thoughts independent of their source (myself or others) or their content…

I can believe it. Take it as true. Identify with it. Create an identity from it. Prop it up. Defend it. Deny the truth in its reversals. Deny its own limited truth.

I can explore it in the sense fields. How does it appear in the sense fields? How does a mental field overlay combine with the other sense fields to create a gestalt? What happens when it is taken as true? What happens when it is noticed as a gestalt? (I often find that it appears as solid and real when it is taken as true, and that I notice it as emptiness/awakeness itself when it is recognized as a gestalt, but that can change next time I look.)

I can explore it as a question. What happens if I take the story as an innocent question about the world? What happens if I take it as a statement, or as a true view?

I can turn it around to the speaker, and then myself. Any advice is (also) for ourselves. When others speak, and I recognize it as advice for him/herself, it becomes more congruent. And when I turn it around to myself, I find it here too.

I can notice the belief and inquire into it. Do I know it is true? What happens when I take it as true? Who would I be if it was not taken as true? What are the truths in its reversals? What is more true for me than the initial belief?

I can notice the fear behind it and meet that fear. Can I find fear behind the impulse to make a story into a belief? What happens when I meet it? Welcome it, as it is?

And to the extent identification is released out of a story, it is recognized as a tool. It becomes a tool for my human self to orient and function in the world. A story can appear more or less appropriate for any one situation. And as any tool, any story has some things it is good at. (If only to deflate the appearance of absolute truth in its reversal.)

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Dimensions of practice: goal and exploration

Of the many dimensions of practice, goal orientation and exploration orientation is one of the most obvious one. Do we have a particular goal in mind? Or do we practice to explore the terrain?

If we are stuck in either goal orientation or exploration orientation, the drawbacks of each tends to come up to the foreground.

The goal orientation becomes future orientation, competitiveness, arrogance, missing out of what is here now. We don’t see that everything we take to be out there, in the future or in others, is right here now.

Similarly, the exploration orientation easily becomes a lazy and aimless wandering.

But tempered by each other, we find that goal orientation offers a sense of direction and focus, and also measuring sticks. And exploration orientation offers a sense of adventure, receptivity, not knowing, exploring new parts of the terrain, enjoying the here and now, finding here and now what we may otherwise see out there – in the future, past, others.

Richness of edges

I am appreciating more and more the play at the edge of a sense of separate self, and shifting into the field, absent of an I and Other.

As where any two ecosystems meet, it has three zones.

There is the sense of a separate self, and anything that goes with that, including the drama. I get to explore that, experience it, live it. There is a great deal of juiciness here. And I also get to explore it through various practices, such as labeling of the sense fields, journeying, the Big Mind process, The Work, Process Work, and more. (Any of these can be used when there is a sense of separate self, at the edge, or even when awakeness is noticing itself more fully, and each one offers  a different flavor to it.)

There is the edge itself, where I get to explore the mechanisms of samsara more in detail. I have a foot in both world, which allows me to live the dynamics of samsara, yet within the context (intuition, glimpses or direct awareness) of headlessness or Big mind, or awakeness noticing itself and all of its content as itself.

Then there are the shifts into awakeness noticing itself, which includes exploring the dynamics of the shift itself. Noticing how an exclusive or enhanced identification with certain sensations (for me in the throat/mouth/neck area) is released. How these sensations now are just content of awareness as anything else, an object rather than an (imagined) subject. How the field of awakeness and its content notices itself as a field. How the sense of a separate I, a center and periphery, and so on comes just from a thought, and that those thoughts may still be there but are now seen as just a thought, not filtering perception anymore (the sense of inside and outside went a long time ago).

In some ways, it is so enjoyable that there is no desire to move on. Exploring these three are more than sufficiently rewarding and interesting. But most likely, after a while, when the mechanisms of samsara has been seen through enough, the hooks for a sense of a separate self falls away on its own time. Leaving just awakeness to itself, in its great aloneness and infinite diversity.

Explorations and goals

Many of the spiritual traditions are heavily goal oriented. There is a shorter term goal of living a life that works better for oneself and others, in terms of reducing suffering. And a longer term and over arching goal of Ground awakening to itself, at least in some parts of the traditions.

There is nothing wrong in this, but it is also only part of the picture, and can create some problems if taken as all there is to it.

For me, it is much more of an exploration process. I am curious about this life and existence in general, and am happy to explore whatever comes up and wherever life takes me. And a part of that wider terrain, which is formed as we go along, is Ground awakening to itself. But it is only one small part of the terrain, and not by any means any “goal” or end point. At most, it is something that happens in glimpses, and then as a more stable shift, and all the other explorations happens – in a conventional view – before and after it, and always within and as what awakens to itself or not.

Ground awakening to itself is not inherently better or more desirable than Ground not noticing itself. The only difference is that in one there is clarity and freedom from suffering, and in the other there is confusion and suffering, so when there is an identification with a separate self, there is naturally a desire for Ground to awaken to itself.

And eventually, when this confusion is thoroughly (or not so thoroughly) explored, when aspects of that terrain is familiar, there is a point where Ground cannot help but to awaken to itself. The sense of a separate self and its identities are so clearly seen as coming just from a thought, from imagination, that it loses any grip. And right there, Ground notices itself as inherently free from anything imagined.

Existence, universe, life, this always evolving form aspect of God, seeks (or, more accurately, moves in the direction of) diversity. And so too in awakening.

If we follow a set path, it is likely to work, at least to some extent. It has many benefits. And although it is a well trodden path, what is brought to it is always somewhat unique and different, so it will have its own flavor.

But why not allow this process, unfolding here now, to lead us? To have an open curiosity, about where this path goes? It is always unique anyway, a unique expression of life and God, so why not allow it to be unique, to willingly allow it to add to the diversity of existence.

It does anyway, so we may as well embrace it, although when there is resistance to it, trying to fit into a tradition and set path, that is also part of its unique flavor.

For me, all of this leads me to embrace both ends of the polarity.

I follow traditional practices, because they work. But I am also very much aware of what can come out of too much of a goal focus… more clashes between stories of what is and should be, more stress, more struggle, and so on. There can also be too much of an expectation of the outcome of practices, which creates, in another way, resistance to what is and struggles with the process and where it wants to go.

But I also follow a more open exploration… I am willing to try anything that comes up, when it comes up for me to try it, like for instance diksha. And I engage in more open inquiries as well, where I have no idea where it will go, such as in Process Work and journeying or tracking. If there is any expectation, it may be surprise over what comes up. Sometimes, it is entirely new dimensions of existence beyond what my thoughts thought was possible.

So there is a more free exploration of any aspect of the always changing and evolving terrain. And as part of this, there is an exploration of what is so clearly mapped out by the many traditions, such as realized selflessness.

God, in its form aspect, evolves in an infinitely rich way. So why not consciously join the process? We don’t need to abandon the traditions, we only need receptivity to and curiosity for a terrain beyond them. This terrain includes what is covered by each of the other traditions, goes beyond this, and is also always unfolding and evolving in new ways.

Explorations and getting it out

Victorian explorer

I have done two retreats/trainings over the last few weeks, and have a deep appreciation for both groups and their approaches. At the same time, both groups have a clear goal focus, which it helps me see even more clearly how my path is one of exploration, not of seeking any particular goal. My passion is to explore the terrain, to get familiar with the evolving landscape of what is.

One group emphasizes realized selflessness (Ground awakening), and as that is one part of the landscape, and I only have limited experience with that (off and on), I want to go there. The other group emphasizes “being present” (or rather, just noticing that there is never anything else), and since that is one part of the landscape, I explore that as well. But it does not mean that Ground awakening is inherently better than a sense of separate I, or “being present” is somehow inherently better than being absorbed into the content of thoughts.

It is all part of the landscape… all part of God’s exploration of itself as void and evolving form, all God’s will, all God’s play. It is all God manifesting, exploring and experiencing itself, in evolving and infinitely varied ways. And that is something that is loved, felt and seen in this particular path, of this human self.

There are also many benefits to seeing it all as an exploration. Mainly, there is less of a tendency to get caught up in the split of seeker-sought, which tends to reinforce the sense of I and Other, where what is sought is always over the horizon, and where it is easy to overlook that what we are seeking may already be right here. When it is an exploration, we are free to explore any area of the terrain with less drama and less of a split.

(The benefit of goal orientation can be included in the exploration process, although within this context, they provide a general direction, and maybe at times temporary goals lightly held.)

Another aspect of this exploration is recording it, getting it out, so that there is less or no need to try to remember anything or hold onto any maps, frameworks or temporary insights. They are all recorded, so there is a freedom to let go of them and move on to something else. So in one sense, these writings are recordings of a journey, and in another sense, they are discarded reflections of what at one point was alive in immediate awareness. Life has already and always moved on.

Barriers as gateways


This is something well known, and used, in many approaches: seeing barriers as gateways.

Something appears as a block or hindrance, and – when explored further – turns out to be the gateway into exactly that which it appeared to block. It guides us into and reveals what it temporarily obscured.

As usual, this happens on the emptiness and form sides, and in the form side from direct seeing of the form, and then from exploring its content.

Whatever arises can be recognized as void itself, or as an expression of Big Mind, for instance through the headless experiments, or in the Big Mind process through the transcendent voices.

We can see a thought, triggering drama and stress when believed in, as just a thought, with no inherent substance to it.

And we can explore the content itself, using the block or problem as a pointer to the richness and freedom it is temporarily obscuring.

The Work is maybe the clearest example, in how it reveals the peace on the other side of the belief, when what is already more true for us is noticed (including the truth in its reversals). Another way to explore the content is through different forms of journeying. In for instance Process Work, symptoms are used as an access point into the underlying process, allowing it to unfold more fully and consciously. There are also many other forms of explorations and inquiry into the content which works in the same general way, using the block as a gateway.

So blocks becomes pointers, guides, and also that which brings a contrast in experience which allows for more differentiation, and they even allow us to find more appreciation for the block itself and what it revealed beyond itself.

Resistance: revealing Spirit one piece at a time

I have mentioned this before, and the previous post reminded me of it again… the gifts of blocks and resistance.

As awful as resistance can be, in terms of the stress and sometimes suffering created from it, it also has some great gifts.

One of the main ones is that it allows for an exploration of Spirit (in its form and emptiness aspects) one piece at a time, filtered in space and time into mostly manageable portions.

Resistance slows down the process, allowing for a more detailed and thorough exploration of each without it drowning in the immensity of the whole. In some ways, it functions as a magnifying glass, allowing for one piece of the terrain to be explored, in detail, at a time. It holds us in place for a while, inviting a more thorough exploration of that particular area of the landscape.

Our personality certainly does not like resistance and its effects, at least not right away. But with time, there can be a great deal of appreciation and gratitude even for resistance and blocks, for these and other reasons.

(Resistance here refers to resistance to experience, which comes from a belief in a story, which in turn creates a sense of I and Other, seeing of some experiences as undesirable, and then resistance to them, which then leads to a sense of drama, stress and sometimes suffering… which is just about all it creates. Spirit refers to all of Existence, in its form and emptiness aspects, including our daily human experiences.)

Pulling the rug out from under one’s own feet

Awakening is a process of constantly pulling the rug out from under one’s own feet.

Any belief is stuckness in a particular story, and this prevents Ground from noticing itself as Ground.

Noticing these beliefs, and inviting them to unravel, is similar to pulling the rug out from under one’s own feet. Any belief gives a sense of a platform, a ground, a fixed view and position, it gives a place to stand, an identity. Unraveling beliefs allows that to fall away, until there is no ground there anymore… no fixed positions or identities… no place to stand. Noticing oneself as the groundless Ground of void, and everything arising within, to and as this awake void.

The same is also true for a healing of and deepening into who we are, as individuals (at the relative level, and after the basics are taken care of).

Here, the stuckness of beliefs prevents a wide embrace of who we are as individuals on the human and soul levels. It prevents an exploration of the evolving fullness of who we are, and a lived familiarity with it.

And here too, healing and familiarity with who we are involves pulling the rug out from under one’s own feet, allowing old beliefs to fall away revealing the wide open field that was already there.

Life will do it for us to some extent. But we can also actively participate in the process, and find it to be quite interesting and even enjoyable, for instance by using The Work to explore what is already more true for us than the surface beliefs.

The joy of figuring things out

I have always enjoyed figuring things out. (I was one of those kids who would take things apart and put them together again, with varying degrees of success, to see how they work.)

So, in the spirit of figuring things out, I am wondering why I enjoy figuring things out…

No matter what the area of exploration, the enjoyment is still there… unless it is temporarily clouded over by stress from deadlines or dire consequences of not figuring it out.

It can be making this WordPress blog work, exploring what works in relationships in general and with a particular person or group, exploring how the mind works, thinking through what is needed for winter camping, exploring how to train a specific cat using clicker training, or whatever else.

Here are some things that come to mind…

  • Evolution
    There is a clear evolutionary advantage in enjoying exploring and figuring things out. It helps us solve problems when they arise, find new strategies to reach certain goals, and move beyond where we are in general. It is to great benefit to individuals to have this to some extent. On a group level, only some need to have this joy of exploration as a passion, and that is exactly what we see.
  • Release
    Whenever we are faced with (something we define) as a problem, there is a certain tension there. Life is one way, and we would like it to be a different way. This tension is often experienced as unpleasant (which actually comes from a belief), so we are motivated to resolve the situation, which means to either change life itself, or our stories about it, or a combination. In either case, figuring out how to resolve it gives a sense of release, which we experience as pleasant (which actually comes from another belief).
  • Socially
    There are also social aspects to the joy in exploring. It is a shared belief, at least in our culture, that exploring it a desirable thing… for its own sake, and also for what it produces. So when we explore, we are aligned with our own beliefs about what is desirable and good. It also means that explorers, in just about any area of life, are often admired (or at least approved of) by society.
  • For its own sake
    Then there is the joy in exploring itself. What I find (and what I hear from others to who look into it) is that there is a quiet joy in experiencing itself, independent of the content of the experience. There also seems to be a joy inherent in exploration itself, although that may really come from what is described in the previous posts (and whatever is left out).

So all around, from biology, psychology, socially, and practically, there are benefits to exploring which all (can) trigger a sense of joy.

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Gift of resistance

There are many gifts in resistance.

It allows for the rich experience of being a separate self (resistance to Ground, to what is inherently void of any separate self, gives rise to the full and varied experience of being a separate self).

And also, within this, it allows for a more thorough exploration of different aspects of Existence and life. It creates a boundary, and I place a sense of separate self on one side and something else on the other side, and I get to explore the boundary, what is on each side, their many relationships, how they are part of one larger whole, how they are aspects of life manifesting… and finally how they are emptiness dancing.

Resistance allows for the exploration itself…

This is an amazing and precious gift of resistance.

The function of thoughts

Some of the functions of thoughts…

  • They help our human self explore, and orient and navigate in the world (they split up the seamless whole so we can explore segments of any shape and size, how they relate to each other, and the larger whole they are aspects of)
  • They help our human self communicate, with itself and others, here and now (although there is always some lag time) and between past, present and future
  • When believed in, they create a sense of a separate self, and I with and other, which is essential for lila (God playing hide-and-seek with itself)

Whether believed in or not, they help our human self explore, orient and navigate within the world of form. And when believed in, when a story is added to the stories saying they are true, they create a sense of a separate self, and the richness of the human drama.


My partner and I went to see David Copperfield last night. He is a great performer, and it was very entertaining. And part of the entertainment is of course to try to figure out how it is done.

Here are some ways it could be done…

Transporting to Perth

What we see: We are shown live footage from a beach near Perth, and DC promises to bring someone with him there and back during the course of the evening. The woman is pre-selected, and we watch a brief video explaining that her estranged father wants to re-establish connection. A randomly selected audience member chooses two letters, and DC writes them on his forearm. He also takes a polariod photo of a group of audience members holding a postcard written by a couple of them. DC and the young woman is hidden behind curtains, then vanishes, and a little later shows up on the live footage from the beach near Perth. The woman runs into the water, and DC shows the letters on his arm and the polaroid photo they brought with them.

How it can be done: The woman and DC have doubles on the beach in Perth. Before the transportation, DC’s double writes the two letters on his arm, learning which two letters to write via a communication link from back-stage, and the polariod is digitally transfered and printed on the beach.

Guessing numbers in advance

What we see: DC tells us has audience members select random numbers and answer a personal question, which he writes on a large screen on stage. Then, he opens a well sealed box, takes out a large piece of paper and an audio cassette, walks over to the edge of the stage (with his back touching the black curtains there), unfolds the piece of paper, and puts the cassette into a tape player. Amazingly, on the piece of paper is written the numbers and information given by the audience members, and the audio tape has him saying the numbers out loud. He also shows two license plates with the numbers on them.

How it can be done: Someone back-stage writes the numbers on a piece of paper and a voice-double reads them in on a tape. When DC walks up the black curtain, he is given the paper and tape and switches them with the ones he pulled out from the box, distracting the audience and using sleight-of-hand. A machine back-stage puts the numbers on blank license plates.

Vanishing audience members

What we see: A group of randomly selected audience members sit on a platform on stage, curtains are drawn around them, and they shine of the curtain with flashlights. When the curtains are raised, they are gone.

How it can be done: The group is led out through the black back curtains as soon as the curtains are lowered around them. The flashlights are simulated by a simple mechanical and electronic device behind the curtains, creating the appearance of the volunteers still being there. (The only question is, what do you do if a stubborn volunteer refuses to go…?)

None of this takes anything away from the performance or the entertainment, if anything, trying to figure it out only adds to it. Especially since none of us knows how he really does it.

Insatiable as who and what I am

Both as what (Spirit) and who (individual soul/human) we are, we seem to be insatiable…

I notice this most recently in exploring music (through Last.fm, online radio, and other sources).

There is a deep and quiet exitment and satisfaction in exploring all this music from all over the world, having it at my fingertips, in my living room, being able to share it with others who have similar taste (or not.)

As who I am

As who I am, part of the satisfaction is to explore different parts of myself through this music, especially that of other cultures. I experience myself differently through this music, as I experience myself differently through the larger world in general… any situation, any relationship, any interaction, any engagement, any music, literature, theater, movie… all of these allows me to experience myself and the world differently… bringing new aspects and qualities out.

As what I am

And as what I am, it is the same. The infinite variety of the world of form allows me, as awake emptiness and form, to experience myself in, through and as this infinite variety. Why would awake emptiness arise as form, if not to experience itself as form…?

Awakening to what I am, while embracing who I am

By the way, this is where many approaches to spirituality seem to be a little one-sided. It is true that to awaken as what we (already) are, we need to disidentify with all our (fixed, limited) identities, to die to what we have taken ourselves as, to let go of beliefs in thoughts and ideas.

But this does not exclude living a full life. On the contrary, it allows us to live a far more full life, as who and what we are, in and through this human life. It is fully possible to disidentify from fixed identities, and let go of beliefs, in the midst of a full life.

Awakening to what I am, and experiencing without holding on

What they got right is that to explore life only as who we are does not give any lasting or complete satisfaction. Something will always seem to be missing, and that is awakening to what we are. And in awakening to what we are, we allow anything… There is an absence of holding on, no pushing away, of anything in the world of form.

We can be insatiable, just allowing what arises to arise, without holding on, without pushing away. Just experiencing (and enjoying) our form aspect, as this individual and the wider world, independent of its particulars.


The word insatiable has connotations of craving, desiring, clinging. When these are blind, it means that we have not yet awakened to what we are.

Here, I am using insatiable in a more free and loose sense, to include Spirit arising as, and experiencing and exploring itself as form. Spirit is “insatiable” only in that it arises as and in innumerable forms, always as new. But since there is no Other here, there is also no clinging.

Cycling through 2nd, 3rd and 1st person

In the shifts into endarkenment and then the alive luminosity, I notice what seems to be a natural cycling through 2nd, 3rd and 1st person relationships with it.

I initially explored the fertile darkness through a 2nd person relationship, as a You, then a 3rd person relationship, as an it, exploring and mapping it through images and words, then a 1st person relationship, as part of the field absent of I, then back to a 3rd person relationship, and so on. Naturally cycling through the three ways of exploring it. And the same seems to happen with the alive luminosity.

The second person relationship takes the form of seeing, feeling and loving it as You, and also prayer and intention. The first person relationship is not a relationship, but the field awake to itself – including the fertile darkness and alive luminosity – as absent of I. And the third person relationship is one of mental exploration, of mapping, writing, reading and talking about it.