Simone Weil: There are two atheisms of which one is the purification of the notion of God 

There are two atheisms of which one is the purification of the notion of God 

– Simone Weil

One atheism is a rejection of there being any God or Spirit or anything divine. Typically, it’s actually a rejection of a certain image of God or the divine, or of a certain culture that goes with one or more religions, although it’s often presented as something more general.

The other is more discerning. It’s a differentiation between our mental representations of God from what these mental representations refer to. We can reject our images and mental representations without rejecting God or the divine. This is a purification of the notion of God.

The first is a belief. It’s a belief that there is no God or divine. We are attaching to ideas as if they are the reality. The second is a sincere exploration of the difference between our ideas and reality itself.

A CONVENTIONAL EXPLORATION OF THE SECOND ATHEISM

A conventional exploration of the second atheism is what I mentioned above.

We notice our images of God and the divine and reality as a whole. We get to know them. We recognize them as mental representations.

And we set them aside. We know that God and reality is always different from and more than our ideas and maps. We find humility here. We find receptivity. We find curiosity.

We ask God to reveal itself to us – in ways beyond and free from the limits created by our ideas and notions about God and reality and anything.

(Note: I should mention it’s been a long time since I actually read Simone Weil so I don’t know if this is how she would talk about it. This is me, not her.)

ANOTHER MORE IMMEDIATE EXPLORATION

For me, this is how the second one looks:

In one sense, I am this human self in the world. It’s what others, my passport, and my thoughts sometimes tell me. It’s an assumption that’s not wrong and it works reasonably well. It’s also an assumption I need to learn and a role I need to learn to play in order to function in the world.

And yet, what am I more fundamentally in my own first-person experience? What do I find if I set aside my ideas about what I am and instead look in my immediate experience?

I find I more fundamentally am capacity for any and all experiences. I am capacity for the world as it appears to me. I am capacity for whatever appears in my sense fields – in sight, sound, taste, smell, sensations, and mental representations.

I find I am what the world, to me, happens within and as. I am what the world – this human self, others, the wider world, any experience at all – happens within and as.

I find myself as what thoughts may imperfectly label consciousness. I find myself as the oneness the world, to me, happens within and as. I find myself as no-thing which allows the experience and appearance of any and all things. I find myself as having no boundaries and no inherent characteristics, which allows the experience and appearance of boundaries and any characteristic.

I find that another word for the oneness I am is love. It’s a love that’s independent of any states or feelings. It’s a love inherent in what I am. It’s a love often obscured by my very human hangups, issues, and traumas.

To me, the world happens within and as what I am, within and as consciousness, within and as oneness, within and as love. To me, the world appears as what a thought may call the divine or God.

The small interpretation of this is that this is all psychology. As a conscious being, to myself I have to be consciousness, and the world as it appears to me has to happen within and as consciousness, within and as what I am. I cannot generalize from this and say that this is how reality or all of existence is.

The big interpretation says that everything is as it appears. Everything is consciousness and the divine. Everything is God.

If we call existence God, then this is the atheism that is the purification of the notion of God.

This is the atheism that differentiates our ideas about God, ourselves, and everything, from what’s here in our immediate noticing.

Read More

Is God he, she, it, neither?

In our patriarchal culture, people have traditionally used “he” when referring to God.

Why? Likely because it makes more sense in a patriarchal culture, and whether it’s intentional or not, it has also likely justified patriarchy.

No matter the reason, it does tend to limit our understanding of God.

Why not use a more rich and fluid way to talk about God?

Why not sometimes call God she and highlight the more feminine characteristics of God and existence?

Why not sometimes call God it and highlight our (imagined) third-person relationship with the divine?

Why not sometimes call God mystery and highlight the mystery inherent in the divine and existence?

Why not switch between all of these and more, and highlight the multifaceted and fluid nature of God, existence, and ourselves?

Note: This article is originally from one of the Brief Notes posts. These are usually topics I find interesting enough to mention but perhaps not so interesting that they warrant their own article.

God is primary

If we are serious about our relationship with God or the divine, then this is a good reminder: God is primary. Place God first, be a good steward for your life, and don’t allow yourself to be too distracted for too long by anything else than your relationship with God.

Don’t even get too distracted by saints, or angels, or teachers and priests, or the details of certain practices, or the intricacies of theology, or anything else. Keep it simple and place God first.

And anything in your life is part of and can be an expression of your relationship with God.

Allow prayer and whatever other practices you engage in transform you, and everything will be an expression of your relationship with God.

This is the more conventional understanding of placing God first. (It’s how I guess it looks based on my limited understanding of Christianity and some other religions.)

IN A MORE IMMEDIATE SENSE

We can also understand it in a more immediate sense.

What do you find you most fundamentally are in your first-person experience? What do you find if you use slightly structured inquiry like Headless experiments or the Big Mind process?

How is it to notice this in daily life? How is it to live from this noticing?

How is it to have this noticing as primary in your life?

How is it to prioritize it here and now? And now? And now?

Of course, in daily life, our attention will shift between this noticing to tasks that require our attention. And yet, as we get more familiar with this noticing, it will always be here. It will be the context for our daily life and daily life activities.

Over time, this noticing can become primary.

TWO WAYS IT APPLIES TO IMMEDIATE NOTICING

There are two ways this applies to a more immediate noticing of our nature.

Over time, it’s good to remember that our primary focus is on the noticing and living from it. Anything else – teachings, teachers, methods, theology – is secondary. It’s natural to get a bit caught up in all the secondary for a while, and eventually it’s all about the immediate noticing and living from it.

And here and now, how is it to remember the noticing as primary? How is it to life from and do my daily life activities from within this noticing? It’s natural to get a bit caught up in our daily life tasks, so how is it to notice this, notice our nature, and do our tasks from here? How does this change over time? Does it become more natural and familiar to notice and live from it?

SIMILAR DYNAMICS

Whether we understand this is a conventional sense or a more immediate sense, we find similar dynamics.

We find the importance of placing God first.

Of not allowing other things to distract us too much and for too long.

That placing God first can be the context we live our life from.

And perhaps a few things about this process in general. For instance, it may work best if we allow this to emerge naturally for us. To not make it into (yet another) should. To tie it into our existing natural and effortless motivations. Nurture joy, passion, and fascination for this exploration. Hold it all somewhat lightly. See how it unfolds for us with some curiosity and receptivity.

Read More

Examining my images of God

Hence do not wait until rawly bungling hands of men hack your God to pieces, but embrace him again, lovingly; until he has taken on the form of his first beginning.

– Carl Jung, The Red Book, pages 283-284

If I hold onto certain images of God, they can be hacked to pieces since reality always is more than and different from my images of it.

I find it fascinating to examine my own images of God and find what’s more true for me.

Piece by piece, it softens or removes places where I hold onto images. Where I make myself stuck. Where life can rub up against these images, and I may find myself struggling in the gap between the images and reality.

POSSIBLE IMAGES OF GOD

Our images of God obviously largely depend on our culture and subcultures.

We may have an image of God as male, leaving out the feminine.

We may have images of God as a being, or perhaps nature, or perhaps all there is.

We may have images of God as emptiness, oneness, love, and so on.

In each case, it can be helpful to examine our images and find what’s more true for us.

EXAMINING OUR IMAGES

How do we examine these images?

We can do it more informally.

Or we can use structured inquiry to guide us and help in the early phases of these explorations, or any time to go a bit deeper into unfamiliar territory.

I find exploring my sense fields helpful, especially using Living Inquiries.

And I have also found The Work of Byron Katie very helpful

Do you trust in God?

I was asked this question yesterday and couldn’t give an immediate answer.

As usual, it depends on a lot of things.

What do you mean by God?

What does it mean to trust God?

And what parts of me are you referring to?

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY GOD?

Do you mean life or all of existence?

Or do you mean a segment of all there is? Perhaps an image of a higher being? Light and love? Something wise and loving guiding our life? Something else?

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO TRUST GOD?

Does it mean to trust that everything, no matter what happens, is fundamentally OK?

That I can get what I ask for, or something better? (According to what definition?)

That something wise and loving is guiding my life or life in general?

WHAT PARTS OF ME ARE YOU REFERRING TO?

Do you mean my conscious view? (Which is just the tip of the iceberg, not always what I perceive and live from, and – in some ways – the least interesting.)

Do you mean all the different parts of me? (Some may trust life as it is, and many are likely caught up in fear and fearful stories and don’t trust life so much.)

A PRAGMATIC APPROACH

As usual, I tend to be overly sincere in trying to answer these questions, and a bit of a party pooper if you want a simple answer. Personally, I find these kinds of explorations more interesting.

I also like to take a pragmatic approach to these questions, so what’s the pragmatic approach here?

First, what do I mean by God? For me, it’s all of existence, life, what is as it is.

What do I mean by trust? A starting point may be to take it as trusting that life is OK as is.

How does it look to trust life? And how can I deepen into that trust?

HOW TO DEEPEN IN TRUST?

In my experience, parts of me don’t trust life when they are caught up in unloved fear and unexamined fearful stories. These are contractions that live their own life, perceive the world a particular way, and color how I – as a whole and as a human being in the world – perceive and live my life. They are always here coloring perceptions and decisions, and they are sometimes more obviously triggered – often by certain life situations and events.

So one answer is to find healing in my relationship to triggers in life and what’s triggered in me. Can I befriend the contractions in me? Get to know them? Give them what they want and need? Fulfill the sense of lack they are coming from? (This tends to happen naturally when I recognize what they need, the lack, and rest with it.)

What’s the unexamined stressful story (or stories) behind the contraction? What do I find if I examine this more in-depth and find what’s genuinely more true for me? (This may happen easily and naturally, and sometimes it helps to engage in a more structured inquiry.)

Can I recognize the nature of the contraction? What happens when I rest in that noticing? What happens when I invite the contraction to rest in noticing its own nature?

Made in the image of God

In the Abrahamic religions, we find the idea that we are made in the image of God.

What does it mean?

It can mean that…. To ourselves, we are awake emptiness full of the world. Our true nature is this awake no-thing full of our experiences, and that may well be the true nature of existence as a whole. If so, we are made in the image of God. We are what God is. We are made of the same.

We can also look at it from the other side: we make God in our own image.

If we take ourselves as ultimately an object in the world, then we tend to imagine God as the same. God is a being as we are a being, just a different kind of being. And if we find ourselves as capacity, as awake no-thing full of the world, then it’s easy to imagine God – existence as a whole – as that.

God is a black lesbian woman

God is a black lesbian woman.

Why not?

European Christianity depicted God as an older white man. Older white men were typically in the most privileged position. So for a church led by white older men, and where hierarchy and power was more important than supporting the marginalized, it made sense to make God an older white man. It gave legitimacy to the current hierarchy and power structure, and it gave legitimacy to racism, sexism, colonialism, witch-hunts, and systematic abuse of women, non-whites, and children.

In contrast, the Jesus of the New Testament was on the side of the marginalized. So why not depict God as a black lesbian woman? Or whomever is marginalized where we are?

If we see God as all there is, or if we see a spark of the divine in each of us, then God is also literally a black lesbian woman.

Image: Painting by the amazing artist Harmonia Rosales. (Who paints as I had planned to paint before I switched path.)

Taking responsibility for our life and knowing the real author of our life

I touched on this in the previous article.

It’s good for us to take responsibility for our own actions and life in a conventional sense. It’s honest, healing, and allows us to be more in charge of our life – again, in a conventional sense.

At the same time, it’s good to know the real author of our life. To notice that everything in our life – our abilities, skills, interests, opportunities, choices, hangups, limitations, emotional issues, traumas, belongings, and so on – is given to us. Our life as a whole is given to us. 

Anything in our life has innumerable causes stretching back to beginning of time and out to the widest extent of the universe. We can always find one more cause, and one more. 

It’s all happening within and as what we are. We are capacity for our life and the world as it appears to us. There is no final identity within any of it. It’s all happening on its own. 

Taking responsibility for our life and knowing the real author are not mutually exclusive. They are two sides of the same coin. One helps us in a conventional sense. The other helps us in a more existential sense.

God: An author using pen names (and we are the pen names)

I had a conversation with my partner this morning and it got into how life – or the divine – is the author of our lives, and yet we often think we are the author. (Of course, we are responsible for our own actions and need to be good stewards of our own life, but Life is the real author of our lives.)

In a sense, God is the author of our lives and everything else. And when it comes to us as individual beings, she is an author using our names and individuality as a pen name. She is an author with innumerable pen names, and we – as human beings or any type of being – are pen names in flesh and blood. 

We sometimes exclusively identify with or as God’s pen name – as this human being, and that’s natural, understandable, and innocent. And yet, the real author is God – or life, the universe, existence, Spirit, or the divne. 

Said from another perspective, Life is the author of everything, and locally and temporarily takes itself to be this local expression of itself – this local and temporary pen name or imagined author.

It’s beautiful and a part of Life exploring and expressing itself in always new ways. And, as this local pen name, it can also create suffering and a longing for noticing the real author, and for the real author to notice itself as all there is and as this local pen name and imagined author. 

God is primary

As Ken Wilber points out, it’s helpful for us to be able to shift between zero-, first-, second-, and third-person relationships with the divine. (I think I probably added the zero one since it acknowledges no-self more explicitly.)

When we pray or open to the divine in a second person relationship, we can do it through aspects of the divine or intermediaries – avatars, Buddha aspects, saints, angels and so on, or we can connect with God as a whole. These two approaches complement each other and give us a taste of different flavors of the divine.

God – Brahman, Big Mind, Oneness, Spirit – is primary, and all the other ones secondary. They may be entry points to the divine, but God as a whole is always the context and source. For me, it’s important to have my relationship with God as the primary and the other ones secondary.

There are several reasons for this. It reflects reality. It helps me connect with my own wholeness and what I am. In my experience, it brings in the aspects and intermediaries anyway. To put it simply, the one to trust in is God.

And I have personal reasons as well. In the initial awakening, it was the divine that woke up to itself as everything without exception. Everything was revealed as God. It was a kind of cosmic awakening. So it’s natural for me to primarily relate to God as a whole, and I notice it does myself good as well since it helps me to connect with what I am, Big Mind.

The seed of this article was a Vortex Healing teacher (RW) talking about how he prefers relationships with the aspects of the divine over a relationship to God as a whole. Perhaps it’s because his conscious connection with the divine first was through gurus and avatars? For me, it’s the reverse. Both are equally valid and different flavors of how the divine explores and experiences itself.

God is primary

I personally find it helpful and interesting to sometimes explore my connection with aspects of the divine like angels (frequently), saints (St. Francis and others), avatars (Amma) and so on.

And yet, God is always primary. God is what I always return to, including in my prayers and my gratitude.

Whether we see God as Source, the wholeness of existence, that which allows and is all, as Mother and/or Father, or something else, God is primary.

Even if emphasizing aspects of the divine can be instructional, helpful, and interesting, and sometimes easier, I remember (through grace) that God is primary and I keep returning to God in my prayers and gratitude.

This is another very simple and basic topic, and yet it’s good to remember since the basics are important.

God as WE

Afterwards, my friend shows me a book called “God as WE” and asked me if I know of other authors on that topic.

From Dream: A New Dance, a post from 2007

This is from an old post that showed up in the sidebar today.

God as WE. That’s still alive for me.

All of existence is the divine. And so are all beings – the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself as individuals and communities, and as evolving species and societies.

It’s already that way. God is already WE. And yet, when God recognizes and notices itself as WE something else comes in. A new dimension in our experience of ourselves as WE.

To me, this WE is not only all human beings, it’s also the whole Earth community. It’s all of life. It includes any beings other places in the universe, whether we know about them or not. And it even includes all of existence. All of it is WE.

This larger WE is what we connect with through the Universe Story or the Epic of Evolution, and through many forms of rituals and forms of spiritual openings. And the WE as a society is something that comes when we find a sacred context for how we see each other and society as a whole, and it can be supported by Big History and practical approaches to create a more real and deep democracy.

Does God evolve?

Does God evolve?

If all is God, and the universe evolves, the answer clearly is yes.

It seems obvious from this view. (We could call it a panentheistic or even nondual view informed by modern science.) And yet, I realize it’s perhaps not so obvious if we are used to a theistic view that sees God as somehow separate from creation.

What doesn’t evolve is the basic – and useful although thought-created – distinction between who and what we are. As who we are, we develop and change and we are an intrinsic part of an evolving living planet and an evolving universe. And we find that who we are and the world we experience, as any content of experience, happens within and as what we are. No matter how much or in what ways creation evolves, it still happens within and as what we are.

And what does evolve is anything in form, the whole universe, and even the world of subtle energies if that’s part of our worldview. This means that the way we come into awakening may slightly change and evolve over historic time. (As is a common view in some forms of modern spirituality.) The content of awakening, meaning what’s noticed and lived from, may also slightly change.

And yet, the essence of awakening remains the same and is timeless. It’s still the divine awakening to itself as all there is and all of it as the play of the divine. The divine expresses, explores, and experiences itself as all of existence including this evolving universe, this living planet, and each and all apparently separate beings. Sometimes, it temporarily and locally takes itself to be a separate being. And sometimes, it wakes up to itself as what all of this happens within and as.

Read More

Hafiz: This place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you

This place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you.

– Hafiz & Daniel Ladinsky

Hafiz through the translation of Daniel Ladinsky is often very beautiful. There is a simplicity and truth to it, and it often comes from a refreshing angle.

We can say that all is God’s will. And more than that, all is God so all is an expression of God and is God. In that sense, where we are is somewhere God has circled on a map for us. And God is also the map, the circle, and the circling.

Images of God

Most of what I write about here is very basic. I often feel it’s just Life 101.

And yet, I keep seeing people speaking and acting as if it’s not, so I am drawn to writing a bit.

When people reject God as depicted in religion, as I did in elementary school, we are often just rejecting certain images of God. They don’t make sense to us, so we – often understandably – reject them.

For instance, if we have an image of God as a man with a gray beard sitting on a cloud, it will be seen as quite childish and ripe for rejection. In modern society, even images of God as a separate entity that helps and/or judges us is often seen as relatively immature and something best rejected.

I have to admit, most of the images of God presented by theistic mainstream religions seem a bit childish. So no wonder many reject these images, and in the process reject religion, God in general, and perhaps even spirituality. (Although in Norway, it seems that most reject religion but are open to spirituality and some ideas of God.)

It seems that the better our lives are in a society, the more likely we are to reject old-fashioned theistic images of God. And in places where there is more inequality and larger portions of us live in poverty and under difficult situations, we are more likely to adopt these images. (And that’s fine. It helps us, and it’s very understandable.)

I have two favorite images of God, both of which seem to work a bit better in modern society, and both of which are non-theistic.

God = reality. God = what is, whatever that may be. This includes our physical universe as described by science and perhaps more. We know only parts of reality so we cannot assume we know God as a whole.

God = Big Mind. The consciousness that everything (universe+) happens within and as, and which makes up this consciousness here that my local experience happens within and as.

A benefit of these two is that we can equally well say it, she, or he about God. I tend to it or she since he has been used so much in our culture. Or I may choose one depending on which aspect of reality we talk about.

Another benefit is that we are free to find the validity, helpfulness, and potential shortcomings of any religion or spiritual tradition. They all have some validity to them. They all may be helpful for some people, in some situations, in some ways. And they all have shortcoming and pitfalls.

So if someone asks me if I believe in God, I may say “yes” or “no” depending on who I talk to. I may explain which images roughly apply in my case. I may mention that it’s not really a “belief” but more a pointer and something to explore. Or I may ask which image of God do you mean?

Note: The painting is by Harmonia Rosales. If God can be depicted – mainly by white men – as an older white guy with a beard, so why not also as a black woman? We tend to create God in our own image.

Read More

Why is God love?

 

God is love.

Why? Why do we often experience God as love when there is a spiritual opening or awakening?

From a human perspective, we can experience God as love for a few different reasons.

When there is an initial opening or awakening and all is revealed as Spirit, there may be an experience of love towards ourselves, others, and everything. It feels like love. God feels like love.

When that realization is lived through us, we act as if from love. All is one, so helping others – as and when appropriate – is as natural as the left hand helping the right. It looks like love.

And when that realization is more stable through situations, we may realize that all is good as is. All is Spirit. What happens is Spirit. There is an infinite wisdom and intelligence behind it. Nothing is out of place. And that, to us, looks like love. The world looks like love.

The first is a felt sense of love, and the two others look like love but are not dependent on any feelings of love. And that’s why we may experience, and say, that God is love. Of course, love – and these three points – are all human concepts. It’s a human attempt at putting words on something.

The first one tends to naturally fade over time. I suspect it’s more a byproduct of an initial opening or awakening. And the other two tend to deepen over time.

Note: The photo is one I took at sunset at Venice beach in 2012.

Read More

Give it all over to presence

In natural rest, we give it all over to presence.

Notice what’s here. Allow it to be as it is. Notice it’s already noticed. Notice it’s already allowed.

Notice the space it’s happening within. Notice the presence it’s happening within and as.

When we give it over to presence, we are really just noticing and acknowledging that our current experience – all of it – is already happening within and as presence.

Another way to say this is that we are giving everything over to God. In this case, God means the presence that’s already here, that’s everything we experience, and inherent in what we are.

A variation of this is more of a second person relationship to God. We give everything over to God through intention and prayer. I give everything over to you, God.

Read More

Do you believe in God?

In a poll in Norway asking “do you believe in God”, about a third answered respectively no, yes, and maybe.

I realize that the question probably makes sense to most people.

And I also wish it was more specific.

What type of God do you believe in? What’s your image of God? As transcendent? Immanent? Same as reality? Something you relate to on your own? Or through a religion? Or both?

And what does “believe” mean? Have you had direct experiences of Spirit, or God (or whatever you wish to call it)? Is it something you mostly relate to second hand? Does “belief” cover it? Or doesn’t the word “belief” apply? Is it something you are actively engaging with and exploring?

Do I believe in the official Christian image of God? Not really. There is a lot there that’s more about theology, and I see as not very insightful or important.

Do I believe in the God of Christ or Jesus? Not really. I don’t “believe” in it, but I do have a relationship to that God. I relate to something that seems very similar to what Jesus did.

Do I see God as transcendent or immanent? Yes, both.

Do I see God as equal to reality? Yes. I see God as reality, as what is. As what we explore through science, and spirituality, both. (And also art, literature, music, dance, and much more.)

Does the word “belief” cover it? Not really. I appreciate pointers and even maps, and use these sometimes to orient. Mainly, it’s something I am exploring through own experience. Through various forms of meditation, prayer, inquiry, body movements, being in relationships and nature, and more.

What would I have answered if I was asked that question? I would probably asked what they mean by the question. They would have said “no idea”, and I would have been about equally likely to say yes, no, and maybe. Yes, since all is God. No, since I don’t connect to much of the Christian theology. And maybe, since I don’t know exactly what they are asking. I am split about equally in the three answers, just like the Norwegian population.

And I know from other surveys that many or perhaps most Norwegians relate most closely to a more personal and non-denominational form of spirituality, only indirectly – if at all – related to traditional Christianity.

All is God

The basic recognition that all is God can be, and often is, sudden. (For me, it happened without warning in my mid-teens.)

Exploring variations of this, and living from it, is a lifetime exploration.

For instance…..

This experience – including physical pain, emotional pain, discomfort, sadness, anger, joy, reactivity – it’s all God (AKA Spirit, love, awareness).

God as love, presence, awareness takes the form of everything in experience, including a me here and a wider world. In one sense, it’s all love, presence, awareness. And in another, it’s all varied with a me and a wider world, and “levels”, processes, development and evolution.

Recognizing what’s here – including wounds – as God (love, awareness), is a healing of how it’s related to, and allows it to heal too.

What bothers me “in here” and “out there” is all Spirit, love awareness, and being bothered is it too. Since it already is love, presence, awareness, it can be met with that too.

Although all is Spirit, love, awareness and perfect as it is, there is a human side. And this human side has its own needs and desires, and it has consequences to ignore that.

I could have, and did, say this even back then. And yet, it’s also an ongoing exploration. It’s a continually humbling process.

Note: In my immediate experience all is love, presence and awareness. It’s possible to think that this is more of a psychological and individual phenomena, and that “the world out there” is perhaps physical and matter and nothing more. And yet, any ideas of a world “out there” that’s different from love, presence and awareness is also the same love, presence and awareness. And there are enough synchronicities and other experiences suggesting that the wider world “in itself” is also love, presence and awareness. Matter does appear, in several ways – in immediate experience, through synchronicities and other experiences, and perhaps even suggested by current science – as love, presence, awareness.

Read More

Seeing the loop

As Adya points out, consciousness is doing a funny “loop” until it’s seen through.

It first identifies with/as some of content of consciousness, some particular images, words and sensations making up an I (observer, doer) and me (human self). And then uses this as a platform to “look back” at this and other content of consciousness (AKA the wider world). This is how a sense of separation is created. It’s quite astonishing how something that’s barely there – images, words, sensations, identification – can create something that appears very solid and real.

If there is very little awareness of what’s going on, it may seem that this (apparent) platform is separate from the rest of the content of consciousness, that there is a real boundary creating an inner and outer, me and the wider world. Consciousness itself is either not noticed much or noticed as an idea, an object that also becomes “other”. (AKA unquestioned dream state.)

As there is some more awareness, and more is seen through, there may still be identification as the apparent I and me, and there may still be the appearance of a wider world as a slight “other”, but it’s all recognized as awareness, as awake presence. The I-other appearance is softened or is very faint, as is the inner-outer boundary. There may also be a growing awareness of the loop, and the dynamics of the loop. The loop is seen, although not seen through. (AKA illumination.)

And at some point, the loop itself is seen through. The dynamics of how the appearance of I, me and “other” is created is seen through more thoroughly. Identification is further softened or falls away more fully. The field of experience recognizes itself as the field of experience. The images, words and sensations creating an appearance of an I, a me, and a wider world may still be there, but seen as images, words and images. (AKA oneness.)

Beyond this is the capacity for all of this, which also can awaken to itself as that, and as consciousness and the content of consciousness. (AKA Godhead.)

So the loop may be identified with and creates the appearance of I and other. Presence may recognize itself as the field of awareness, and the loop may be seen. The loop may be seen through, allowing any experience to recognize itself as awake presence, as life itself appearing as this experience. And the capacity for all of this may awaken to itself, as that and all of what it’s capacity for.

Read More

Dark Night, Spirit, and Pointing to vs the real thing

In the Living Inquiries, and similar forms of inquiry, we look for a real object, not parts or signs of or something pointing to that real thing.

I can see how the dark night of soul has shown me how I have mistaken certain signs of Spirit, or something pointing to Spirit, for Spirit itself. In my conscious view, I knew what was going on, but at a feeling level I was caught in this misconception.

My mind made to assumptions. First, it took certain words, images and sensations to point to, or be a sign of, Spirit or God. Then, it took these pointers or signs to mean the presence of Spirit or God itself. So when these signs went away, or they didn’t have the same meaning anymore, my mind (at least a part of it) thought it meant that Spirit or God went away. That’s of course not what happened. It was only the signs that went away, the signs my mind had attached to for a sense of safety. As Gerald May says in The Dark Night of the Soul, I had worshipped my own words, images and feelings, and the dark night helped me see and wean me off from it. (At least to some extent, as there is still more to see.)

Here is a quick inquiry:

Look at the word “God”. Is that word God? (No. Although I see an image and there is a feeling.)

Look at the image. See it up on the wall. Imagine touching the surface of it. Is that image God? (No.)

Go to the feeling. Feel it. When you are ready, see if that feeling is God? (No.)

And so on, with whatever words, images and sensations comes up around my experience of God, and also Spirit, the Divine, Christ and so on.

It seems really obvious when looked at this way. And yet, when words, images and sensations are glued together, it seems very real, and it’s easy to mistake it for the real object. Also, our minds largely functions according to it’s own logic, and it’s not “rational” in a conventional sense.

Read More

God and science

Since childhood I have thought that the discussion about God and science has been a bit silly.

Initially, it was because I identified myself as an atheist and saw the idea of God as irrelevant. I saw it as something people used for comfort.

In mid- to late-teens, I still recognized the idea of God as an idea, and could see that if God=reality, then there is no conflict between spirituality and science. They are both approaches to explore reality, and we can use scientific principles in both areas.

It’s interesting how it hasn’t changed that much for me. I see God as an idea. I see God as equal to reality, and as something to explore through science and spirituality. And I also see how people – including myself – sometimes use the image or idea of God as a comfort, as a crutch until it’s not needed anymore.

How can we explore God using scientific principles? There are many answers to this. One is to explore it mapping out the descriptions of reality found in the different spiritual traditions, as Ken Wilber and some others do. Another is to follow the guidelines for explorations found in one or more traditions – whether it’s meditation, prayer, inquiry, ethics or something else – and see what happens. Each of these is an experiment. What happens if I do this particular meditation over time? What happens if I engage in the heart prayer over time? What do I find if I engage in a particular form of inquiry? Does it match what others report? How is it different?

Gods and people

It’s said that men may not be the dreams of Gods, but that the Gods are the dreams of men.

– Carl Sagan, Cosmos

Words – including any form of philosophy – can be helpful (a) as a way to identify beliefs, and (b) as pointers for own exploration.

So I can say that reality (God) dreams up a world, this world, what’s here. That dream includes images of being a human and identification as that image. And as this apparent human, reality dreams up a wide range of Gods, all images and projections of what’s already here.

And that’s not really helpful until I explore it for myself, for instance through The Work, sense field explorations, or the Living Inquiries.

Read More

God

It may be obvious, and yet perhaps not completely for most of us. It may not be seen thoroughly, felt thoroughly, and lived thoroughly. There is always more to explore and let sink in.

God is a projection. God is an image that’s here. The qualities and characteristics it refers to is here. The image of me and God is here. The image of here and there is here.

And the same with the world. That too is a projection.

My world is a projection. My God is a projection. The image and what it refers to, and all the other images it rests and depends on, they are all here.

And the same with time and space. And me and I. My perception of time and space, my perception of a me and I, are all filtered through my own world of images. Whatever image I have of it all is my images. The images are here. What they refer to is here.

Read More

God takes over

There is the hologram that you have been identified with that spins and spins…then there is reality beyond that…the two are mutually exclusive…you asked for Self Realization…God takes over…what is yours is yours..Surrender to the mystery….love,b

God takes over.

It’s, of course, how it always is. If all is God, then all is God’s will, all is God’s love. Even what a thought may label bad, wrong, undesirable, unloving, identification, all of that too is God’s will, God’s love, and God.

And yet, something is different when there is a conscious shift into seeing this, and surrendering to God.

Surrender to God. What does that mean?

For me, it means surrendering to what is. What in me opposes what is? What beliefs and contracted fears are there? What’s more true than these? How is it to live from what’s already more true for me?

It also means following my inner guidance, my heart. What in me opposes following what this guidance tells me now? What fears are there? What stories do I tell myself to confuse myself so I am less receptive to this guidance? What is it “I” want that seems opposed to what is, and this guidance? What’s the fears behind it? What’s more real and true than these fears?

And it means surrendering to love and truth. If I am completely honest with myself and others, what will happen? Being completely honest is another way of losing control. As long as I hold back, as long as I tell little lies, I can maintain the thought that I am in control. Being completely honest, and I lose that illusion. What am I afraid would happen if I am completely honest? What fears are there? What’s more true for me? How would it be to live from this honesty?

I did ask for it, as Barry points out. I sat in front of the altar in Bodh Gaia for days prayer for full awakening no matter what it would cost. (In my early/mid twenties, of course, in the grip of youthful folly, and perhaps also a deeper wisdom.) And now, when I realize more fully, and at an emotional level, that “I” am not in control and never was, it brings up a lot of fear in me. There is really a sense of giving up control and giving my life more fully over to God. I have no idea what will happen, and I also see that I never did even when I earlier told myself I did.

Nothing has really changed. It’s all already God’s will. I never knew what would happen or where life would take me. And yet, it’s good to meet those fears me. Welcome them. Thank them for protecting me. Ask them how they wish me to be with them. Ask them what their deepest longing is, and what would satisfy them forever. Ask them who they are (in form) and what they really are.

And there is a change here too. Where I before had some confidence that I could follow and often achieve my personal wishes and preferences, it’s not like that anymore. At least, it seems to not be that way anymore. As a friend of mine said, there is my will, and your will, and then there’s God’s will. There is a sense of surrendering my personal will and preferences to God’s will, and much in me opposes it while it at the same time really wants it. It brings up neediness and fears in me. What if I won’t get what I want? What if I won’t get to fill the hole in me the way I thought I would fill it? There may be other, and more deeply satisfying, ways of filling those holes. And I don’t know what will happen. It may happen the way my personality wishes, and it may not. I don’t know.

Invite God into what I thought was only mine

Another thing I keep noticing:

The relief when I invite God into what a thought (sometimes) says is only mine.

Into any sense of….. me and I, personal will, control, needs, desires, hopes and fears, memories, wounds, joy.

When I give this over to the divine, and invite the divine into it, there is a deep sense of relief, of coming home.

And it doesn’t mean I won’t do what seems kind and wise in my life. It’s just that the context around the sense of me and I and personal will etc. is different.

It’s held more lightly. It’s recognized as the divine. The divine – presence, love, awakeness – recognizes itself as that too.

Adyashanti: You are seeking God with His eyes

Has it ever occurred to you that you are seeking God with His eyes?
-Adyashanti

The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.
– Meister Eckhart, Sermons of Meister Eckhart

JYN: Angry at God

Situation: Before incarnation, when realized I was going to incarnate and resisted it.

1. I am angry at God because he/she is pushing me into incarnation, and it will be my ruin.

2. I want God to find another way for me, to support me, to help me live in love.

3. God should realize it will be my ruin, should realize it’s a mistake, shouldn’t make me live this life.

4. I need God to make it all good for me, not leave me, help me remember.

5. God is crazy, irresponsible, mistaken, incompetent, stupid, hateful, ruins everything.

6. I don’t ever want to again lose love, forget, be thrown out of love, be thrown out of paradise.

Read More

From life/God to father, mother

I did an inquiry on God earlier today, and noticed images of myself as child, having the same thoughts/fears about my father and/or mother.

My relationship with God cannot be repaired –> My relationship with my father cannot be repaired, won’t be the same. (After I or he was upset.)

It’s a reminder that when I do inquiry on life or God, it may be helpful to see if I remember having the same thoughts about my parents, and perhaps take that to inquiry later.

And the other way around, I may have thoughts about my parents that I also put on life, reality or God, and it’s good to look at that as well.

Read More

The Divine in Disguise

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.
– Matthew 25:40

After the woman had gone, Martin ate some cabbage soup, cleared the things away, and sat down to work again. He sat and worked, but did not forget the window, and every time a shadow fell on it he looked up at once to see who was passing. People he knew and strangers passed by, but no one remarkable.
– from Where Love Is, God Is by Leo Tolstoy

Most everyone is lousy at math and does that to God – dissects the Indivisible One, by thinking, saying, “This is my Beloved, he looks like this and acts like that, how could that moron over there really be God.
– from Lousy at Math by Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Love said to me, there is nothing that is not me. Be silent.
– Rumi

Encountering the divine in disguise is a common and beautiful theme in many traditions.

How would it be to meet the person in front of me as Christ? How would it be to meet this experience – the one right here right now – as Christ?

How would it be to meet the woman on the tram, looking like a veteran meth user, as Christ? How would it be to meet the noisy neighbors as Christ? How would it be to meet someone not giving me what I want as Christ? How would it be to meet whatever is here as Christ – pain, illness, discomfort, anger, grief, hurt, reactivity, contraction, confusion, thoughts, beliefs, identities and identifications? How would it be to meet that in me I have the hardest time befriending as Christ?

How would it be to meet whatever I recoil from as Christ?

The Divine or Christ is not in disguise. The Divine is here plain as day as everything and everyone.

The disguise is in my own mind, my own beliefs, my thoughts saying something is not OK, not good, not the Divine and then taken as true. The disguise is only created in my own mind.

Read More

What’s excluded

What do I exclude from my image of God?

What do I exclude from my image of what’s good?

Illness? Suffering? A violent death?

People who disagree with me? Noisy neighbors?

My thoughts? Emotions? Confusion?

My will?

Read More

The dark side of the sacred

I came across a blog post called Holy Irreverence: A New Series Exploring the Dark Side of the Sacred by Vanessa Fischer.

It’s an interesting topic. What comes up for me around it?

Definitions of Sacred and light/dark

First, what do I think of as the Sacred? The Sacred for me is the same as life, reality, God.

And light and dark? Light and dark are not inherent in reality, they are only found in my thoughts about it. Since they are labels in my thoughts, what’s called light or dark is arbitrary and influenced by culture, tradition and personal experiences. (It’s arbitrary from a big picture, and yet often not experienced as arbitrary within a particular culture or tradition.)

Aspects of the Sacred

Then, when we talk about the “dark” side of the Sacred, what aspects of the Sacred may we refer to?

I find three: (a) The “dark” side of the Sacred (God, reality, life). (b) Approaches that address the “dark” sides of the Sacred (life, reality). (c) The “dark” sides of a Sacred process (awakening, maturing).

The dark sides of the Sacred as inquiry

A simple way of defining the dark side of the Sacred is to see it as the shadow of our typical images of the Sacred (reality, God) and a Sacred process (awakening, maturing, living from it). If I see God as good, can I also see the bad (what I label bad in my own mind) as part of the Sacred? If I see clarity as sacred and part of a sacred process, can I also include confusion? If what I see as desirable is included in my image of the Sacred, can I also include what I see as undesirable?

If I see something as sacred, can I see the rest as also sacred?

(a) The dark side of the Sacred. What’s my image of the Sacred or of God? What’s the reverse? If I make a list, can I find genuine and simple examples of how each one is equally part of the Sacred?

(b) Approaches addressing the dark side. Any approach to the Sacred worth it’s salt will have ways to address and work with the dark sides of life. Some may be of the first aid variety, making the process a bit easier in the moment. Others will go more to the core of the issue, and may even uproot any ideas of shadow or light, right or wrong, desirable and undesirable. Some of my favorites are tonglen and various forms of inquiry (the Big Mind process, sense field explorations, The Work).

(c) The dark side of the Sacred process. I am not even sure what to define as a sacred process. If it is a process of awakening and/or maturing, then it does have it’s “shadow” sides, which – when I examined it a little closer – turned out to be it’s bright sides! For me, these have included loss (of dreams especially), disillusionment, illness, and primal fears and beliefs surfacing so intensively that they cannot be ignored, pushed aside or sidestepped.

Read More

Reality is enough

In inquiry, I find that simple, clear and genuine examples are enough. As I find and take these in, they create a context where there are no footholds for beliefs. And if there are, I can take these to inquiry.

Reality is enough.

Some related beliefs:

Reality is not enough. (For finding peace, happiness, contentment.)

I cannot trust reality. Reality is not to be trusted.

Reality is not good. Reality is not friendly. Reality is scary to me.

Reality needs to be enhanced. Reality needs my help.

Read More

Tamed

I can be tamed by belief or reality.

When I am tamed by a belief, I live and perceive within the world created by the belief.

So I can invite taming by reality instead (inquiry, meditation, prayer, ho’o etc.) – being tamed by love, kindness, reality, God.

Read More

God

God is sometimes referred to as personal and impersonal. How do I find that in my own experience?

God is impersonal in that God is reality, what is, what’s here now. God is experience and what experience happens within and as. (Including confusion, identifications etc.)

God is personal in that this “I” can connect with infinite love and intelligence, there is a personal communication between this appearance of an I and me and God as infinite love and intelligence.

And that I and me, and the infinite love and intelligence, are all expressions of the impersonal God.

So God is impersonal and personal, and neither since all of that are just labels and mental overlays.

Read More

God is a pool shark

There is an awake Sufi teacher in Bay Area that says that God lets you win the first few hands of poker. Then once you relax and think you’ve figured it out and are “winning”, He cleans you completely out.

My gratitude partner shared this analogy with me.

Somehow, I am more drawn to the image of God as a pool shark, but the story is the same:

God lets you win the first few games. You relax and think you are in control. And he cleans you out.

Which direction is God?

Which direction is God for me?

It may seem a trivial question, but it can be an important pointer for how I relate to God.

For me, God was first up. Even as everything happens within and as God, when I prayed, there was a sense of praying to God up there just above my head.

Then, some years ago, there was a shift to God right here, everywhere in and around me, in every particle and cell in the body.

More recently, God is in the belly and below, in its smooth alive luminous black presence.

Read More

God and reality

What is the relationship between God and reality?

It may seem a strange question, but whether we see ourselves as atheists, agnostics, believers, or perhaps mystics, it is important to clarify.

Do I see God as somehow separate from the reality we know? Separate but connected? Or identical?

If we see reality and God as identical, what does that mean?

Read More

The existence of God

ThinkBuddha has an interesting post on an invitation to debate the existence of God.

It brought up a few things for me, which as usual feel very basic and only scratching the surface, but it is good to get it out. It creates an opportunity to take the next step.

Read More