Functional Connection taken as I

Center yet no I

After having her center of gravity shifted into the Witness (pure awareness) recently, in waves, Jen mentioned how curious it is that there is still a sort of center in her human self, although it is not an I.

Ways to talk about it…

That is curious. I tend to see it as a functional connection with our human self. There is input from this human self, and it arises within this field of the world of phenomena as it happens in the present – this room, sounds of cars, sounds of a plane, chirping of birds, chill on the hands, tapping of the keys on the keyboard, and so on. Still, it is just one aspect of the field – not more “I” than anything else.

Another way to describe the connection is as a vehicle. My human self is a vehicle for Big Mind in the world of phenomena.

All is Big Mind, yet also special connection

It is tricky, and – yes, puzzling, as everything is Big Mind. All phenomena is the play of the ground – equally. The whole world of phenomena is this dance of the one ground, it is emptiness dancing.

Yet, there is also a special connection with this particular human self. It is temporary, of course – as this human self is appears only for a limited time. Still, it is an important connection.

Identification and disidentification

There is the possibility of identification as and with this human self, or parts of it. And that still happens. It creates – to varying degrees – a sense of self, of a doer, of I and Other.

And there is the possibility for disidentification with this human self, as seeing it as arising as and within the field of phenomena – as one of the fluid manifestations of ground. And that happens too. Here, there is no sense of doer, no sense of separate self, no sense of I and Other.

Appearance of…

Maybe all I can say is that there is a functional connection, and that connection takes the appearance of…

Sensory input from the wider world of phenomena (this room, the outdoors and son on). Sensory input from this body (sensations, feelings, physical correlates to emotions). Input in terms of emotions and thoughts.

And the appearance of output, in the form of behaviors. Although when there is disidentification with this human self – when the exclusive identification drops, then it is all revealed as just happening – as everything in the world of phenomena is just happening. There is no doer, only the doing.

Fine tuning

So while I could say that this human self provides the opportunity for input and output, that is not really accurate. There is not really any output, as the sense of a doer falls away when the identification with my human self falls away.

And what about the input? That does still seem mostly real to me, although I suspect it is not.

The whole idea of input and output, and even a vehicle, is also somewhat inaccurate. That too creates a separation that is not really there.

The most accurate way to talk about it, as it appears to me right now, may be emptiness dancing. It is all emptiness dancing. It is accurate, closer to the absolute. Yet so succinct that it leaves out most of the possible differentiations, most of the possible explorations of it from the relative side.

These other ways of talking about it seem useful as well. Each highlight certain aspects of what seems to be going on. Each one talking about it from a certain overlay of abstractions, at a certain level of relativity.


I sometimes hear statements along the lines of I am not really my human self, but … whatever word people use for the soul and/or nondual levels.

I can see the validity of that statement. What is less temporal may appear more real somehow. And I can also see the function of that statement. If we are overly identified with our human self, and only occasionally dip into the soul and/or nondual levels, then emphasizing it this way may help us shift our center of gravity beyond our human self.

At the same time, there are other ways of talking about it that are more alive for me.

For me, all levels are equally real. How can they be otherwise? They are all God – as nondual, as emptiness dancing, appearing as all these varied forms and levels. How temporal something is has little or nothing to do with how “real” it is. The wave is not more or less real than the ocean.

To say that I am not my human self but really such and such comes from an identification. Either with our human self, and we are trying to compensate for it. Or with the transcendent levels (soul, nondual), and we are disowning the personal level and our human self.

It is of course OK, and can even be temporarily helpful. And it is also a reminder to us that there is a particular identification behind it – an exclusive identification, with a segment of what is.

Identification & Doer

When I look at the connection between identification and a sense of doer, it appears as incredibly beautiful and also quite comical.

Whenever there is an exclusive identification with anything, it appears as a doer.

When everything is revealed as empty of any inherent I, the sense of any doer also disappears.

There is still the doing, but no doer. Or we can say that the whole is acting through and as our human self, although this whole is not really a doer either – nor is it not a doer. It is all happening, apparently spontaneously. It is all happening, that is maybe the most accurate way to talk about it.

If there is identification with particular thoughts, these thoughts appear as a doer – they seem to initiate decisions, behavior and so on. If there is identification with particular emotions, these emotions appear as a doer – as initiating decisions and actions. If there is identification vaguely with my human self, then this human self appears as a doer.

If there is identification with the witness, pure awareness, this sense of doing begins to fade – although there is still an identification there and a subtle sense of being separate from what arises within this awareness. There is still a belief in the idea of I, now placed on pure awareness and creating the appearance of seer and seen. So while the actions of this human self may appear to just happen, there is still a subtle “doer” as the seer.

And when there is the realization that no aspect of what is has any inherent I in it, when this is clearly seen, then it all falls away. Any sense of being a doer falls away. Any sense of separation falls away. It is all the dance of the ground, emptiness dancing.

No Identity & Identity


I have noticed that the more I find myself as that which is distinct from preferences – as pure awareness and/or Big Mind, the more I can allow preferences to be here on my human level. The more there is a ground of pure indifference, the more deeply there can be caring and engagement.

The ground distinct from any preferences allows for fuller engagement and caring, and fuller engagement and caring motivates me to find myself as ground with more clarity and stability.


And the same seems true for identity. The more I find myself as that which is distinct from any identity, I can allow a very specific and clear identity to unfold on my human level – in whatever form that may take.

Three levels of identity

There are at least two levels and three aspects to this.

:: Big Mind ::

One is the level of pure awareness and/or Big Mind (beyond and including all polarities). Here, there are no preferences. As Genpo Roshi says, it is the ultimate masculine. Pure clarity and indifference.

:: Human Level ::

Another is my human level.

Here, I can work on the Centaur level in Ken Wilber’s terminology, to find myself – in my immediate experience – as the whole beyond and including my human self, this particular body and psyche.

::: Finding the Universal :::

And this involves, among other things, working on projections. Whatever qualities and characteristics I see external to my human self is also in my human self. Any and all qualities in the world of phenomena – in other humans, animals, plants, landscapes, weather, stories of all sorts (dreams, mythology, fairy tales, novels, movies, songs), and the universe – are right here, in my human self as well. What is outside is inside.

In this way, I find myself more as a whole as a human being. I am familiar with more and more qualities in me, find a wider repertoire and become more skillful in relating to these qualities in my own life and when it comes up in others.

Through this, I find the universally human in myself. Whatever comes up, in myself or others, is immediately recognized as universally human, as life.

::: Finding the Unique :::

And through this, I also find the uniqueness of this particular human self. I see the unique manifestations of this universally human, the unique flavors, the unique filters it is expressed through. Realizing the universally human is the ground which more fully allows for the unique.

The unique is more fully experienced and expressed within the context of the universally human.

This is of course the individuation process as described by Jung, and the centaur level seems to be where the Jungian center of gravity is.

Emotions in the context of Big Mind

As we find ourselves as pure awareness and then Big Mind, our experience of and relationship with emotions also changes.

Identity and emotions

When I am exclusively identified with my human self – or a part of my human self – I have little choice but to be repeatedly caught up in emotions and other experiences. I try to hold onto some, push away others, and am neutral towards another group. I am an object in the world, struggling with other objects including emotions and experiences, and this struggle is often experienced as suffering.

When I awaken as pure awareness, as the Witness, I allow them all to come and go within space – as any experience and the whole world of form. They all come and go on their own, as guests. I am free to engage with them in various ways (for instance using their energies for action in the world) or not.

And when what is awakens to itself with no “I” anywhere, the whole world of form is revealed as emptiness dancing. As some of the many masks and forms of Spirit. The content is the same as previously – the same forms and experiences – but they are revealed as emptiness, as Spirit.

Emotions, qualities and energy

Another aspect of emotions is how their qualities are revealed and their energy applied.

Exclusively identified with my human self, emotions are seen as good or bad, positive or negative. I want some and try to hold onto them, and don’t want others and try to push them away. In either case, their energy – and the energy “I” put in to manipulate them – often comes out in behavior, and a somewhat “blind” behavior at that. I tend to be somewhat at the mercy of inner and outer circumstances, acting and reacting out of habitual patterns.

Finding myself as pure awareness, I am more free to engage with content – including emotions or not. I can use their energies for action, within the context of space & awareness. There is less reactivity here, or more accurately – there is less blind engagement with reactivity. That too comes and goes as guests, within this stainless space & awareness.

And when what is awakens to its own nature, with no inherent “I” in any segment, then it all becomes emptiness dancing and there is even more freedom in whether to and how to engage with content and emotions.

In the last two cases, emotions can just unfold in space – as they are, or we can actively engage in them and here the qualities of the emotions tends to change.

Anger becomes directed forceful engagement. Dullness becomes resting as what is, with clarity. Jealousy and envy becomes rejoicing in other’s happiness. Attraction becomes a realization of that too as me, at human (in terms of characteristics) and Big Mind levels. And so on.


When I don’t believe in toughs, in abstractions, I can find anything and everything in myself. I am fluid. There is no fixed or limiting identity to measure my experiences or actions against.

It may be that there will at least be a trace of rigidity/fixedness as long as this awareness functions through a body and personality, but it is always possible to further soften this set of ideas called a self-identity. To soften it, help it become more inclusive and porous, until it melts away…

And there are many ways to move in this direction.

Working with projections is one. Anything and everything I see in the outer world – in other people, in landscapes, in dreams, in mythology, in stories, in movies, in the universe – all characteristics and attributes, are also there in the inner world. When I see a characteristic in the outer world, it can be a reminder to look for it in the inner world. It can be unfolded and experienced already, or it may be there only as a potential. Can I find it? Can I see that there is no difference between the outer and inner world?

Allowing thoughts to drop us is another. Allowing the belief in thoughts – in any thought – to fall away. Byron Katie’s inquiry process seems remarkably effective for this. I experience a contraction or suffering, I find the thought behind it, and I inquire into it. Then it releases me.

Awakening to the nature of mind is another – or maybe that which makes all the other ones come to fruition. Here, I find a “ground” distinct from the small self, the body and personality, and all the habitual patterns of emotions, thoughts and behaviors. From this view, I see the inner and outer world as a fluid seamless whole. Nothing is fixed (or need to be), and there are distinctions yet no absolute boundaries. There is a sense of rich intimacy with any and all phenomena that arise in this awareness empty of any characteristics. This awareness experiences more directly, with less or no filters. Thoughts just appear within this awareness, distinct from the direct experiences. There is no need to believe in thoughts. They are just seen as that which they are – just thoughts. Just abstract representations of experiences. Very useful as that, but not anything I need to believe in or take seriously.

And living this, no matter how we come to it, is always a process. There is a continuing and deepening process of insight and integration. And life itself gives us feedback on where we are stuck, where there is still rigidity, where we resist experiences because they do not fit with thoughts we believe in. Suffering or dis-ease is a faithful and loving reminder.