When I am the most important one for another

Merlina, our beloved cat, helped me get something more viscerally.

For her, I was one of the two or three most important beings in the world. When I was with her, I was the most important being in her world. It was very clear2.

How can that not wake up a sense of awe, reverence, and responsibility in me? How can that not change my behavior to be more attentive and wanting to make her life the best possible?


That’s how it is in my life in general. I am the most important person for my spouse. When I talk with someone, I am (very likely) the most important person in the world for that person at that moment. They are giving me their precious time and attention. They chose to give their attention to me over all other beings in the world. I become an important presence in their world.

If I am getting this viscerally, how does it change how I am with that person? Am I more present? More attentive? More interested in them and their world? Less distracted by my plans, agendas, and hangups?

I am far from “perfect” in this, but realizing it and getting it more viscerally is doing something with me, and I wish for it to change me and how I am with others.


The other wing on this bird is realizing and getting viscerally that the other is fundamentally consciousness like myself. To myself, I am consciousness operating through and as this body1. The world as I perceive it happens within and as the consciousness I am. That’s very likely the case for all beings.

We are all fundamentally consciousness to ourselves. We operate through whatever body is here – human, cat, insect, or whatever it is. To us, the world happens within and as the consciousness we are. We are a world.

That too opens up a sense of awe, reverence, and curiosity about myself and the other. It does something to me. To the extent I stay with this noticing and deepen into it, it transforms me and how I am with others and in the world.


As usual, this is an ongoing exploration.

There is a lot of room for deepening and maturing into it, in my case.

And that’s part of the exploration and the adventure.


This is an example of a combination of direct noticing and imagination, as so much is.

I notice my nature. I am fundamentally consciousness and the world to me happens within and as this consciousness. That’s the direct noticing.

I imagine that others are that way too, whether they notice or not, and stay with that imagination and let it work on me. That’s the imagination part of it. It’s making use of projections.

It’s similar to being the most important person to the other. It comes from noticing that it’s that way for me. When I am with someone, that person is the most important being in the world to me whether I want to or not. That’s the noticing. And I imagine it’s the same for others. That’s making use of imagination and projections.

(1) This body happens to be human with a particular identity but it could be any other body of any species. That realization itself is transformative. The consciousness I am could, if things were a little different, function through and as any of the bodies out there. In some ways, it does since consciousness – pure consciousness – is very likely the same everywhere.

(2) Maybe it was more clear because she was not an imagination-fascinated human. She was more here and now. She didn’t get lost in her imagination about the past or future. She was here with me. I was her world.

The image is created by me and Midjourney

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We see others as we see ourselves

We see others as we see ourselves.


If we take ourselves to primarily be an object within consciousness, then we tend to see others that way.

We see ourselves as this body and psyche, and see others as primarily that body and psyche.

We see ourselves as a doer and observer and see others as doers and observers.

We quite literally objectify others and ourselves.

That’s understandable since we do as others do, and that’s what most people do these days.


If we find ourselves fundamentally as consciousness, then we tend to see others as that.

We see ourselves as fundamentally consciousness operating through this body and psyche, and others as consciousness operating through that particular body and psyche.

To us, the world happens within and as the consciousness we are, and we assume that’s how it is for others as well. (Based on their reports and what makes logical sense.)

We find ourselves as what the world, to us, happens within and as, and assume that’s how it is for others.

We find ourselves as oneness and assume others are onenesses as well, whether they notice or not.


What effect does it have to viscerally find ourselves as one or the other, and see others as the same?

If we see ourselves and others as fundamentally objects, then we literally objectify ourselves and others. We assume that the limited and distorted stories we have about ourselves and others are accurate and perhaps even all there is. We see ourselves as objects in the world at the mercy of other objects and living within time and space. We experience that we move through the world. We experience distance and time as real and inherent in the world. We experience the world as fundamentally matter.

If we find ourselves as fundamentally consciousness, then a lot changes. We realize that any story is a story and question about ourselves, others, and the world. They cannot hold any full, final, or absolute truth. We find ourselves as what time and space, to us, happens within and as. In a car or when walking, we experience that the world moves through us. We experience the world as fundamentally consciousness since, to us, it happens within and as the consciousness we are.


I can dip and imagine into the first way of experiencing myself, others, and the world. And parts of my psyche still operate from it. But in general, it’s so long since the initial oneness shift that I have problems connecting with it in a strong and solid way.

In general, I viscerally find myself as consciousness. The world happens within and as the consciousness I am. This body happens within and as consciousness, just like anything else. It all happens like a night dream, within and as consciousness.

I imagine others as that too, and that gets stronger and more clear when I bring attention to it. To me, they too are consciousness. They are consciousness operating through that particular body and psyche. (That’s exciting, the differences and “otherness” of it is exciting.) And that opens for compassion and empathy. They are like me (they are consciousness to themselves) and (like me) operate through a unique body and psyche.

And there is always further to go and more to explore within this.


I’ll add a couple of short notes.

This is all about projections. I find myself as something and assume others are like that too. It’s an assumption – whether I assume they are fundamentally objects or fundamentally consciousness.

This is also about where our “center of gravity” is. It’s about what we viscerally find ourselves to be. Knowing about it or glimpses of it are good first steps, and – through grace and often intention and explorations – it becomes something that’s immediate and visceral.

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Oneness and how we experience others

When we notice what we are, how do we experience others?

The essence of this is relatively universal, although it will vary how clearly we notice and how much we take it to heart and live from it. I have also chosen to include a few pointers that are related but more culturally dependent.

How I experience others when I notice what I am

They too are awake no-thing taking the appearance of that human self, whether it’s noticed over there or not. They are what their experiences happen within and as.

To me, they happen within and as what I am. They happen as awake no-thing along with everything else. They happen within and as oneness.

How I relate to and treat others is how I relate to and treat what I am, in the most direct and immediate way.

Some related pointers

Here are some pointers that are more culturally dependent, don’t automatically follow from noticing what I am, and still can be very helpful, fill in the picture, and help us shift conditioning.

As who they are, as their human self, they are expressions of this universe and this living planet. They too are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe.

Their human self is a bunch of conditioning just like this human self, and the causes of everything they are go back to the beginning of time and stretches out to the widest extent of space. In this sense, what seems and is most personal about us is ultimately quite impersonal.

As who I am, at my human level, they mirror me. What I see in them is something I can find in myself. When I turn the stories I have about them to myself, I can find specific examples of it in my own life here and now, including in how I relate to them, and in the past.

Also, as who I am, I know they too want a good life free of suffering, just like me. They struggle, just like me. They have struggles hidden from me, just like they don’t know all of mine. They sometimes operate from their reaction to their own (unloved, unexamined) pain, just like I do. They sometimes operate from separation consciousness, just like me.

When I perceive others through separation consciousness

This is how it is when I am more clear and notice what I am and what’s going on.

And sometimes I “forget” some or all of this and operate, to some extent, from habitual separation consciousness. I may forget they are capacity for their own world and take them primarily as a human self, I may take what comes from their (impersonal) conditioning personally, forget that they too want a good life free from suffering, and so on.

Exploring my perception of others

A part of noticing what I am, and exploring how to live from it, is exploring how it influences and changes how I perceive and relate to others.

How is it to remind myself that they too are what I am? That they are capacity for their world? That their world happens within and as what they are? That they are awake no-thing full of their world?

How is it to remind myself that they are the local expressions of the universe and this planet? That they too are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe?

How is it to remind myself that as who they are in the world, as a human being, they are a collection of conditioning just like me? That they are made up of influences from innumerable sources – from their parents and families to friends, culture, and history, and the evolution of our species, the living Earth, and the universe as a whole?

How is it to remind myself that I mirror what they are, just like they mirror me? That they react to me as they react to the sides of themselves they see in me? That their reaction to me is not personal?

How is it to remind myself that they too sometimes operate from the painful sides of separation consciousness? That they too sometimes operate from their reaction to their own pain and issues?

How is it to remind myself that they fundamentally want the same as me? That they too want to have a good life free from suffering? That they too struggle, in ways I am not aware of?

Allowing how I experience others to shift

How I experience others is partly a product of old conditioning and separation consciousness.

So a part of noticing what I am, and exploring how to live from it, is exploring how this shifts how I perceive others.

In this moment, how do I relate to this person? Does some come from separation consciousness?

How would it be if it was more aligned with what’s alive for me when I notice what I am?

How would it be if noticing what I am was more alive and extended to how I perceive others?

Working with these pointers

All of this is an ongoing exploration, and each of these pointers is a medicine for a particular condition.

Each one has value to the extent it’s alive here and now and I allow it to transform me. And there is always more to discover, clarify, and deepen.

It’s good to explore one of these at a time, whether it’s a short visit or over longer periods. After exploring each one of these over time, they tend to be more available in the moment.

Different types of knowing

The examples I give above come from different types of knowing and it’s good to differentiate them.

Noticing what I am and that others and my whole world happen within and as me, is a direct noticing. It doesn’t require thought or any conventional knowing.

The rest require a combination of personal experience and conventional knowing, and they are culturally dependent.

Through reports from others, I assume they too are what I am. They are capacity for their own world, their world happens within and as what they are.

Through working with projections, I come to see that others – and the whole world – is a mirror for me at a human level, and it’s very likely the same for others.

Through examining myself, and through reports from others, it’s very likely they too want a good life free from suffering, and that they too sometimes get painfully caught up in separation consciousness.

Through the universe story, as told by modern science, I see all of us as an expression of the universe and this living planet. We all are, in a literal sense, the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe.

Through exploring myself, and through reports, I assume just about all of who we are at a human level has infinite causes stretching back to the beginning of time and out to the widest extent of the universe. It all has innumerable causes.

For me, all these are useful pointers and go together. Each helps shift a certain type of conditioning.

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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.

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Love for the sense of self

I notice two shifts happening, mostly as glimpses and a slight change in orientation…

First, a noticing of what I am as that which awakening and mistaken identity happens within and as.

And as an expression of that first shift, a love for that sense of self, the images of a doer and observer.

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Whatever the “I” is doing…

At some point on the process, quite late, we paint ourselves into a corner.

There is a sense that whatever this “I” is doing is not going to do it. It can’t touch what I am and everything is.

And there is also an acute sense of the irony of this “I” trying to get rid of itself.

In both cases, this “I” is only spinning its wheels. And gradually wearing itself out.

This “I” as a doer/observer is a gestalt, a fabrication, and it is wearing itself out. (Or more accurately, wearing identification with it out.)

And it is completely innocent. A part of the play of God.

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Some things about stories

Here are a few things about stories, which can be explored through the sense fields…

Any story…

Is a projection of a story and a quality. Imagination is taken as saying something about the world, out there and in the past, present or future. And what that imagination is about is taken as being out there as well. When it is recognized as imagination, it can be a very useful and practical tool for our human self to orient and function in the world. When it is taken as truth, it becomes a blind projection. We are blind for it as an imagination. 

Is imagination, and the world we relate to is quite literally imaginary. It is an overlay of images relating to each other, and those images include images of me. Any drama happens among those images, mostly in the way other images relate to the images of me. 

Is a question, an innocent question about the world. It is sometimes taken as something more, as a statement, fact or truth, which itself is just a story about a story. 

Is a tool. It is a tool for our human self to orient and function in the world. And as any tool, it is sometimes useful and sometimes not. It has only practical value. 

Is no thing appearing as something. Any mental field creation is insubstantial and ephemeral. Like a hologram, it has form but no substance. When it is recognized as a mental field creation, it is noticed as insubstantial and ephemeral. As no-thing appearing as something. When it is taken as true, it appears real, solid and substantial. (Sensations combine with the story to lend it a sense of substantiality, and muscles often tense up to make those sensations stronger.)

Is a mental field overlay. It is a mental field overlay on top of the other sense fields. And separating it out in sense fields (sensation, sight, sound, smell, taste, mental) is itself from a mental field overlay.

For instance, there is a sensation, a story of “pain”, and additional stories of pain as undesireable. All of these create the gestalt of “pain”, and this appears substantial and real when the gestalt is not noticed as a gestalt, and quite differently when it is noticed as a gestalt. 

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Buddhist four phase map of awakening

[…] After a while, and it can vary for different people, one will have gone through many cycles—with what will appear to be an underlying cycle beneath these surface cycles. When the underlying cycle comes to completion, the surface cycles and deeper cycle converge with a fruition, and there is a dramatic shift in perception where one begins to see what is meant by emptiness, now in real-time. This shift, which is the 3rd stage of enlightenment, has to do with seeing the empty, selfless nature of reality upon mere reflection. Where once emptiness was contained in the discontinuity experience at the end of an insight cycle, it now permeates all of experience. It comes obvious, for those of 3rd path, what is meant by the lines from the Heart Sutra, “form is emptiness.”

The time between 3rd path and 4th path tends to be the longest yet. Ingram breaks 3rd path into early and mature phases. In the early phase one is still looking for the cycles to bring further progress, whereas in the mature phase emptiness is so ordinary and integrated into one’s experience that the inquiry turns away from the cycles and toward the last subtle hints of duality, which remain.

Finally, there is another radical shift in perspective, in which the sense of a separate center-point, observer, or doer is completely undone. Apparently this realization can occur and then fade for some time, until finally the shift is permanent (i.e. nothing can interrupt this centerless perspective). This is the opening of the “wisdom eye”, the attainment of arhantship, and as Ingram says is the end of insight path: “For the arahat who has kept the thing open, there is nothing more to be gained on the ultimate front from insight practices, as ‘done is what is to be done’.” It’s also interesting to note that it’s difficult to predict how long it will take from 3rd to 4th path. It tends to be the longest path, though I have so little data (even anecdotal) that it’s really hard to say. […]

A great overview from Vince of a four-phase model of awakening, drawn from Daniel Ingram’s book Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, in turn drawn from traditional Buddhist teachings.

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What does it mean if there is no other?

here are several ways we can discover that there is no Other. There are lots of others, of course, in a conventional sense, but also not in a few different ways.

First, I can notice that how I relate is how I relate to anything happening within experience, including myself, others, the wider world, life and God. Said more accurately, how this human self relates, is how it relates to others, life and itself. The I-Other boundary is there in a practical sense – as this human self and the rest of the world – but not in terms of this human self being able to relate to others or life in a way different from how it relates to itself.

Then, I can notice that the wider world is a mirror for me. Whatever characteristics and dynamics I see in the wider world mirrors what is right here. I cannot find anything in others that I don’t find right here now. Here too, the I-Other boundary is there in a practical sense, but not in terms of seeing something in the wider world and not also seeing and feeling it right here.

Finally, noticing what I really am – that which states and experience happens within, to and as – I find that there is no Other. It is all awareness itself taking different forms. The conventional I-Other boundary is still there, noticed as a mental field creation and having a practical function. But there is no I-Other inherent in what is.

In each of these cases, there is a difference between just noticing this and working with it occasionally, and seeing and feeling it more thoroughly, getting more familiar with it through returning to it over and over, and take the consequences of it in daily life.

How does this human self relate to itself and the world, within this context? What does it mean for this human self? How does it look, in daily life?  How does it look, in this specific situation?

Noticing all of this as awareness itself, what does that mean for how this human self relates to itself and the wider world? How does it live its life within the context of all as awareness itself?

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The single eye

The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me.
– Meister Eckhart, Qui audit me

And which eye is that? This squishy eyeball?

No, it is the eye of awareness. The single eye…

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
Matthew 6:22

… that never sleeps.

If the eye never sleeps, all dreams will naturally cease.
– Seng Ts’an, Hsin Hsin Ming

Awareness is the eye that sees God – as awareness itself and all that happens within, to and as it. And it is the eye that sees our human self – happening within, to and as awareness as all other form.

It is the single eye and when it notices itself, all becomes luminous… and not only metaphorically. There is an immediate sense of luminosity of this body and all form. A luminosity of Ground, awareness and whatever happens within, to and as awareness.

It is the eye that, when it notices itself, never sleeps. Never gets lost in its own content. Dreams of an I with an Other, and belief in any other story, cease.

Exploring space

When I explore space, I find two quite distinct ways space appears.

One is how the mental field creates a sense of space. When I close my eyes, the mental field can easily produce a visualization of space and its content. It can easily visualize this body, the various body parts and their relationships to each other, the room, the relationships between the objects in the room, how my body moved and was positioned in the past and may be in the future, and so on. And when I open the eyes again, I can get a quite clear sense of this mental field overlay on top of the visual field.

Space does not seem inherent in any field, and only appears through an overlay of the mental field. An overlay that helps map whatever happens in each field (visual, sound, sensation, smell, taste) in space. Even the mental field itself is mapped in space, giving a sense of thoughts happening in/around the head/body area.

This overlay of a visualized space is crucial for our human self navigating in the world. And also, it is crucial for creating a sense of a separate I. Without space, no I with an Other. A sense of a separate I is anchored here, in and around this body, and the rest of the world is out there, in the periphery.

The imagined separate I depends on visualized space to exist. And when I don’t notice how the mental field combines with the other fields to create a sense of space, space and the sense of a separate I seems solid, real and substantial. When I notice it, the sense of a separate I softens and fades.

The other seems to be free from an overlay from the mental field. This is just a sense of spaciousness absent of any end, inherent in awareness itself.

The first type is essential for mapping the sense fields in space. The second may be just an inherent property of awareness, existing independent of the first one.

Shadows of a sense of separate I

I have explored this before, but keep coming back to it:

Any belief has a shadow, and it is no different with the most basic belief, the one in a sense of a separate I, and I with an Other.

In this belief, we take ourselves to be content of awareness. As an object. As one of many. As a center.

So the reversals of this is then the shadow of the belief in being an I with an Other.
The reversal of taking ourselves to be content of awareness, is to find ourselves as awareness.

The reversal of taking ourselves as a thing, is to find ourselves as no thing.

The reversal of taking ourselves as one of many, is to find ourselves as the field it all arises within and as.

The reversal of taking ourselves as a center, is to find ourselves as no center.

And we relate to these the way we relate to projections in general. And we are attracted to awareness. We fear nothingness. We ignore the field with no center.

In each case, the reversals are already here. The awakeness. The no thing that allows all things. The field all arises within and as. The absence of a center anywhere.
And in each case, it doesn’t fit our identity. So we see it out there.

I have awareness, but it comes and goes, and it is not me. Nothingness is out there somewhere, or after death. The field with no center is the universe or God, not me.

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No biography to write?

Joel wrote his biography up to his awakening, because there was nobody there to write about following the awakening. But is that quite true?

It is true, in the sense that there is no separate I there anymore following the awakening. No I with an Other, placed on this human self or any other content of awareness. It is just this field of awakeness and its content, which is awakeness itself, inherently absent of an I with an Other, absent of center and periphery. Yet still, somehow, functionally connected to a particular human self. (In his case, Joel. In my case, this human self. In your case, your human self.)

Yet it is also false, in that this human self still lives its life in the world, as before. And the story of this human self can indeed be told, and may offer valuable insights and pointers for others, maybe even inviting what we are to wake up to itself.

Of course, saying that there is nobody there to write about is a teaching tool, throwing a wrench into our habit of taking ourselves to be content of awareness and inviting us to look a little closer.

But it is also a partial truth, a quite one-sided way of talking about it, and I can’t help thinking that it may be more helpful to include both of these sides.

Yes, there is no separate I here to write about. But the story of this human self can still be told, and it can have some value (or not) to do so.

The benefits of following the chains

What are some of the benefits of following the chains back to their initial segments?

For myself, I notice that it helps me get more familiar with and befriend who I am, as a human being. It helps me discover what is going on at my human level.

Said another way, it helps me find and embrace my wholeness as a human being, to find peace with it, to work with rather than against what is there.

It helps me see that it is all pure innocence. No need to fight it, resist it, want it to go away. Just seeing it clearly is enough.

It helps me see what is already more true for me, in who and what I am.

I find that when there is a sense of being a separate I, there is fear behind just about any emotion, motivation, desire and action. I find that behind that fear is love, filtered through my circle of us. I find that behind the sense of a separate I, and everything that comes with it, is a belief in the story of a separate I, and stories that flesh this identity out.

Milarepa: Magician, murderer, saint


I was fortunate enough to see the new Milarepa movie tonight, made by Neten Chokling who was one of the actors in The Cup and assisted with Travelers and Magicians.

Since I have been exploring the early part of the chain behind “deluded” actions lately, that was one of the things that came up for me.

Especially, how, when we unravel what is behind motivations, the ones stemming from a sense of an I with an Other, we find first fear, and then love.

In his case, fear of losing his mother (she threatened with committing suicide if he didn’t take revenge on the village), fear of what may become of him (they had lost their family fortune), fear of not getting his girl (he was poor, she more affluent). When I look for myself, I find that these types of fears are often behind ill considered actions, and also reactivity and reactive emotions. (Anger, frustration, despair.)

And going behind that fear, there is love. In his case, love for his mother, his father, his sister, himself. Love for those he included in his circle of us, which probably shrank due to how his family was treated by most others in the village.

And of course, behind the fear and reactivity, we find beliefs. A sense of being a separate self, beliefs in justice, in wanting a good life, and so on.

And mixed in with it all, pure innocence. Pure innocence in believing certain thoughts, just because most people around do it. Pure innocence in acting from fear, because this fear is inevitable when we take ourselves to be an I with an Other. Pure innocence in this fear taking the form of anger, hate, despair and wanting revenge, because that is inevitable when we resist the experience of fear, and also when it gets mixed up in typical beliefs. Pure innocence in the love that is behind it all, because that love is what we are. Pure innocence in filtering that love through a boundary of us and them, because that is inevitable when there is a sense of a separate I. Pure innocence in where that boundary falls, because that comes from culture, family and where we are in terms of maturity.

The story, as any other story, is a mirror for myself. Can I find what I see in Milarepa, his path, and in the people around him, in myself?

Where do I find the confusion? Being caught up in a sense of a separate self, and everything that comes from that? Where do I find the turning point? The situation or situations where I went far enough in acting from confusion, reactivity and beliefs that it stunned me, invited me to see if there is another way.

And in the sequel, which is about his training and awakening process, where do I build up stone towers just to have to dismantle them again, or having them dismantled for me?


Buddhism often talk about attachments to things in the world, and how this creates suffering.

But is that really what is going on? What is it an attachment really to? And what is an attachment?

When I explore this for myself, I find that what appears as an attachment to things in the world is something a little different.

Any attachment is to a story only. And this attachment is really an identification with a story.

The core story is that of an I with and Other, which is then fleshed out with other stories.

And I am identified with these, I take myself as these stories. I am this I with an Other, I am a living being, an object in the world, has a certain gender, age, from a specific ethnic background, has certain interests, skills, values, and so on.

I believe I am this human self, so am naturally attached to its well-being and aliveness. (Nothing wrong with that, although the added drama around it may be uncomfortable.) I believe people shouldn’t lie, so am attached to people speaking the truth. I believe a certain type of food will give me comfort, and that I need comfort, so appear attached to that food. I believe an intimate relationship will give me nurturing I cannot find any other way, and that I need that nurturing, so I am attached to having intimate relationships.

Our stories about what is and what should be often do not align, so attachments to stories create a sense of drama and discomfort. This is of course fine. But eventually, there may be an impulse to take a closer look at what is going on, and explore working with attachments.

One way of working with attachments is to explore impermanence.

Exploring impermanence has two effects. It invites in a disidentification with stories. And also a realignment of the stories we use in daily life, whether we are identified with them or not, to more closely reflect impermanence. In both cases, there is a release of attachment to having things a particular way. There is less of a war with what is, as Byron Katie says. (Although she uses a direct inquiry into the beliefs themselves, not this particular approach.)

We can explore it outside of stories, through directly see impermanence in the different sense fields. By getting familiar with impermanence in this way, we see that our stories are not true so there is a disidentification with them, and the stories we use realign as well. (This one is important for the disidentification part, less so for the realignment.)

We can also explore impermanence within stories, the impermanence of the universe, earth, humanity, civilizations, individuals, relationships and so on. This helps us realign our stories, and the larger perspective can also give a certain disidentification with stories. (This one is important for the realignment part, but maybe less effective for the disidentification.)

And we can investigate stories directly. We find a should which clashes with our stories of what is, and take it to inquiry. Is it true? What happens when I believe it? Who would I be without it? Can I find the truth in its turnarounds? This invites identification to be released out of the story.

A third way of releasing identification out of stories is to notice what we already are. We can use the sense fields to explore impermanence, see how all content of awareness comes and goes. But something does not come and go. What we really are does not seem to come and go. What is it? What is it that does not come and go? Or we can use the headless experiments to find ourselves as a no-thing full of whatever happens, or the Big Mind process to find ourselves as Big Mind.

There are of course lots of ways to explore attachments. These are just the ones I happen to be most familiar with right now.

So a quick summary:

  • Attachments to situations or things in the world creates drama and suffering, because everything is living its own life and is in flux. We get what we don’t want. We don’t get what we want. We don’t lose what we have but don’t want. We can’t hold onto what we want to keep.
  • This attachment is really an attachment to stories about what is and should be. And this attachment to stories is really an identification with them.
  • We can work with this in two ways. First, by realigning the stories we use, whether we are identified with them or not, with everything living its own life, on its own schedule, and being in flux. Then, by inviting identification to release out of these stories altogether. Realignment without disidentification only works up to a point since the world always will show up differently from our stories about it. There will be a certain amount of drama and discomfort left. Disidentification without realignment will release the drama out of it, but the stories our human self uses in its daily life will not be as closely aligned with the world as they can be. Both are important.
  • And there are several tools for working with attachments in these ways. One is The Work which directly addresses the beliefs, broadens the scope of stores we have available to us through the turnarounds, and invites in a release of identification with the stories. Another is exploring impermanence through the sense fields, which invites in a release of identification with stories, and some realignment of these stories. And we can also find ourselves as that which is already free from identification with stories, through headless experiments, the Big Mind process, or finding ourselves as that which does not come and go in the midst of all content of awareness coming and going.

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Wanting to be right

I asked myself earlier today what am I not seeing?

And after a little while, an answer: Wanting to be right.

Whenever there is a belief in a story, there is a sense of I and Other, and we have to tell ourselves we are right to maintain both.

We have to deny the truths of the reversals, at least at some level. Either by not seeing or acknowledging it at all. Or by not allowing it to deepen into a lived, felt, loved truth in our lives.

There is a belief in a story, which creates a sense of an I with and Other, which in turn brings fear, which in turn encourages us to maintain and strengthen the belief.

And this is what I am not seeing in myself. I see it to some extent, in some areas, but not nearly all the way through.

What happens when something is resisted?

What happens when we resist experience?

  • There is a sense of I and Other. A split into I here and Other over there.
  • From that split comes fear. We fear to not have what we want and to have what we don’t want.
  • There is a rigidity of view. We are stuck in our stories about I and Other and our relationship, and don’t see the validity in the reversals of those stories.
  • Our heart opens, closes down or is ambivalent, depending on our stories.
  • Emotions are reactive. There is a lack of trust.
  • Whatever happens is filtered through all of these… I and Other, fear, fixed stories, an ambivalent heart, reactive emotions and lack of trust. It takes on an appearance created from all of these.
  • Our identification is firmly within the world of form and we don’t notice Ground, and ourselves as Ground.

Not happening to anyone?

Is it true, as they sometimes say in the non-dual world, that whatever is happening is not happening to anyone?

It is true in three ways: it is not happening, it is not happening to anyone, and it is not happening to anyone.

It is not happening.  At least not in the conventional sense, the way it appears when filtered through stories. It is all the play of awakeness itself, taking temporary forms which appear real and solid – when filtered through stories and these are identified with.

It is not happening to anyone. Something is happening, not to someone or something, but within and as something. Within and as this field of awakeness and form, inherently absent of inside and outside, center and periphery, I and Other.

It is not happening to anyone. There is no separate self it is happening to, no I with an Other. It is all happening within the field of awakeness and form, already and always free from I and Other.

And it is not quite true in several ways.

It is happening. It is happening as the play of awakeness itself, taking on innumerable temporary forms within itself.

It is happening to someone. It is happening within, as, and – yes – to this field of awakeness and form.

It is happening to someone, although this one is the field of awakeness and form, and it is a one without an Other.

It is happening to someone. When there is a sense of a separate I, an I with an other, it certainly seems to happen to this separate I. It is experienced as happening to a separate I, and it is very real in that way.

Whenever there is an identification with stories, there is a sense of an I with and Other, and of Other happening to this I. It appears as very real, so it is real in that sense.

Defense and fear

The more I explore beliefs, the clearer the basic pattern and dynamics become…

  • There is a belief in a story.
    • It is taken as somehow intrinsically true.
    • It is seen as reflecting something inherent in the world.
    • The grain of truth in its reversals are downplayed or ignored.
  • An identity is formed from this belief.
    • There is an identity as someone having that belief.
    • And the belief itself creates an identity. (E.g. if the belief is that “people shouldn’t lie” then an identity as someone not lying may be created from it.)
  • There is a split into I and Other
    • A split into right and wrong, true and false.
    • A split into a separate self and the wider world.
    • From this split comes a sense of separation, alienation, not being quite at home, unease, discomfort, and so on.
  • There is a need to defend this belief and its corresponding identity.
    • There is a need to maintain the appearance of truth in the belief, and to ignore the grain of truth in its reversals.
    • There is a need to behave in accordance with the identity formed by the belief.
  • Supporting beliefs are created.
    • A whole army of other beliefs is created and maintained to support and defend the initial belief.
    • These beliefs form a network of supporting beliefs
    • This network consist of groups that are relatively consistent among themselves, although they may not always be so consistent with beliefs in other belief groups. They don’t have to, since groups are often activated more or less separately from each other.
  • Fear comes up, from a sense of having to defend a belief, identity and separate self.
    • This fear provides motivation for maintaining and supporting the initial belief, and its supporting beliefs.
  • The body serves an important function with beliefs, in at least two ways.
    • It tenses up, and the breath often becomes more shallow.
    • It serves as a location in space for a sense of I, and the tense muscles provide sensations serving as this anchor.

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Relating to the world, on both sides of the split

When we relate to the world from within a sense of I-Other split, we relate to both sides (I and Other) the same way. We just can’t help it.

In short, it means that to the extent I am at peace with myself, with what I take as me, with this human self, the more at peace I am with the world. The more acceptance with this little guy, the more acceptance for others and the wider world. The more generosity with this rascal, the more generosity with life in general.

As with so much of the essentials of life, it is very simple.

And it seems fresh when I notice it anew, partly because everything is, even that which a thought may tell me is very similar or the same as a previous insight, and partly because it is always discovered in new ways, from new angles, with different filters, maybe a little more finely grained.

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Priming the I-Other split

I notice how the sense of I and Other is triggered, and deepened, through life not matching beliefs (deep belief trigger an emotional reactivity which in turn trigger this split, even before any related beliefs are conscious).

And when this split is there, anything is fair game for supporting and deepening this split.

For instance, I rushed to catch a train, which triggered this split (human self-train, catch-not catch, others and situations helping-hindering, and so on). Then, even after I had catched the train, I noticed how there was a tendency to irritability, being on edge, a sense of separation, and even paranoia. People rustling with their newspaper triggered irritability, a guy behind me who talked with himself triggered paranoia, and so on.

There is of course nothing new here either. Something puts us on edge, and this makes us more prone to being even more on edge.

Something triggers a sense of an I-Other split, bringing it to surface. Due to this split being at the surface, we are on edge and other situations more easily trigger other patterns of beliefs and emotional reactivity. And this in turn tends to maintain and deepen this sense of a split.

Another situation I notice this is if I do a consentration/stability practice, and fall into seeing lack of consentration as an Other and undesireable. This too tends to trigger a general sense of irritability and being on edge. The practice, did in a less-than skillful way, triggered an I-Other split, and this in turn created the general sense of something being off, irritability, separation, and so on.

And it is a good thing too. It is a signal to me of what is happening, which helps me shift the way I am doing the practice to reduce the sense of split (or allowing it to fall away). The string is too tight, there is too much tension there, too much effort and trying. So by noticing the signs of that, I can shift into a more relaxed alertness, which in turns allows the tendensy to irritability etc. to be reduced or fall away.

If I don’t see what is happening, I am blindly caught up in it. If I notice what is happening, the symptoms – which initially were quite uncomfortable – becomes a precious gift and pointer.

Resistance to Ground, etc.

Just a quick summary of what I am exploring these days, as it happens in immediate awareness. What came out below is not very well organized…

  • The Ground, here now, is the field of awakeness, of awake emptiness and whatever arises. It is inherently free from any center and any separate self. It is just one field, beyond and embracing seeing and seen, awareness and its content, this human self and the wider world of form.
  • This Ground is is what is here now, for each of us, only absent of a sense of I and Other. Imagine the content of your awareness, and the awareness itself, as it is, only with a sense of I and Other subtracted from it.
  • When there is resistance to Ground as this field, there is an appearance of I and Other.
  • This happens when there is a belief in a story, when thoughts are taken as anything more than innocent questions, when they are seen as absolutely true.
  • A story becomes a belief when another story is added to it, saying it is true.
  • A story becomes a belief, also when it combines with a sensation. Sensation+story=belief.
  • When a sensation is combined with a story, it gives a sense of a center located at a particular place in space, specifically at the sensation, somewhere within the physical boundary of this human self.
  • This center also allows for a split of space, and a sense of I here and Other out there.
  • This split allows for placing one end of any polarity here, somewhere in this physical body, and the other end somewhere out there in the wider world.
  • This placing of ends of a polarity here and out there, is also how projections work. If, according to how I place a polarity (which in turn is decided by beliefs and identities), one end of a polarity should be out there, then when it arises, it is interpreted as out there. For instance, if I believe I shouldn’t be angry, and have an identity as someone who is not angry, then when anger arises, I have now choice but to filter it so it appears out there in the wider world, placed on appropriate targets (the ones I place it on may indeed experience and act from anger, which only makes them better projection objects).
  • Any belief automatically creates resistance… to the truths in its reversals, and what doesn’t fit the identity that goes with it.
  • The split of space allows for resistance to what is. It filters the appearance of what is allowed and not allowed into different locations of space… what is allowed appears to be in the region where there is a sense of I, and what is not allowed appears as if in another region of space. (What is allowed/not allowed is determined by beliefs.)
  • The sensation a story is combined with serves as a base for a split of space into I and Other (providing a fixed point in space to define the boundary), and also for resistance to parts of what is arising.
  • The sense of density, substance and reality of a sensation provides a sense of the same, of density, substance and reality, to the story it is associated with.
  • If a belief needs to be amplified, it can be amplified in two ways. One is to amplify the sensation it is placed on, which in turn allows for a stronger belief, a sense of more substance to the belief, and a stronger sense of split between I here and Other out there. Another is to engage in and develop supporting beliefs.
  • If a story needs to be combined with a sensation (to create a belief and a split in space), and an appropriate sensation is not available, muscles tense up to create appropriate sensations.
  • A belief also amplifies tension, because it creates a sense of I and Other, and something to protect (a truth or an identity), which in turn creates mental and physical tension.
  • Any belief creates a split in space, of something that is true here and false somewhere else, so also a sense of I and Other.

Mutuality of (physical) tension and beliefs

I am exploring an interesting mutuality of tension and beliefs…

Through The Work, I see how beliefs create tension… both mental and physical. Any belief brings a sense of something to protect (an apparent truth or identity), which in turn brings tension.

And through labeling practice, I see how sensations combine with stories to create the appearance of emotions, moods, and even a sense of separate self. If an appropriate sensation is not available for a particular story, the body tenses up to make it available. And if the sensation needs to be amplified, the body tenses up more right there, which in turn allows for an amplification of the story.

The sensation/story complex allows for a sense of a center in space (located somewhere in the body), which in turn allows for a split of space, with an I here and Other out there. All of which is essential for the existence of the belief.

So beliefs create tension… by creating a sense of something (a truth or an identity) to protect, which naturally brings tension.

And tension allows for the belief… by creating (and amplifying) sensations which the story can combine with. When sensation and story combine, it creates an appearance of a separate self, emotions and moods, all of which are essential for the appearance, and maintenance, of the belief.

Beliefs amplify tension, and tension amplify beliefs.

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Gathering awareness

A friend of mine wrote me an email of a shift into all as alive awareness…

There was just this strong sense of awakeness, without any apparent location or identifiable characteristics. At the same time, there was a sense of this same awakeness being the forest and landscape I was walking through, being my body and its sensations, being […] with his thoughts, energies, and feelings, all the contents of experiencing.

And it reminded me of how we gather awareness into a bunch sometimes.

We are this awakeness, everywhere, in and as everything. Yet, when we believe that we are a separate I, and place it on this human self, then we have to work very hard to not notice that we already are this awareness, which is formless, timeless, spaceless, and also arises as form, time and space. We have to, figuratively speaking, pick up any trace of awake emptiness “out there”, in the wider world, and place it “in here” on our human self. We have to diligently gather it up, and pile it all up here in this poor self. It is hard work to filter existence in this way, to make it appear so different to ourselves than what it already and always is.

Which is why there is often such a sense of release, joy and even bliss, when this awakeness awakens to itself. When the filter of I and Other is released, and the awakeness again and consciously notices itself as selfless, formless, timeless and spaceless, and also as all the selves, all the forms, and time and space.