Documentary: Ariel Phenomenon

I finally got around to watching Ariel Phenomenon and can highly recommend it.

THis documentary is about an event that happened at Ariel School in Zimbabwe in 1994, where dozens of children encountered a mysterious craft and one or two alien beings.

Some of the children described receiving a kind of telepathic message from the beings about the ecological crisis we are in. And the experience greatly impacted and transformed the lives of many or most of these children, who are now adults.

This documentary has clips from the 90s intermixed with current interviews with the witnesses.

Many consider it one of the most convincing mass sightings of an encounter with alien beings. (Whatever they may be, alien just means they are alien to us and doesn’t pin anything down about what they are.)

I have read about this event and listened to several interviews (including with witnesses) over the years, so there wasn’t too much new information or new angles in the documentary. But it does give a very good introduction to the story.

With all the material available, and all the angles to explore, this event deserves a series and not just a relatively short documentary. At the very least, I hope the unused material collected for this documentary will be made available online or in book form.

MORE QUESTIONS

Mainly, the documentary refueled my curiosity about several aspects of this event.

How has this transformed the lives of the witnesses? How did it impact each of them? Were the ones closest to the beings the ones who had the most profound transformation?

The local tradition has stories of similar encounters, and it seemed – from some comments in the documentary – that these encounters are ongoing. Is this part of the shamanic tradition? How do the indigenous see this? What role does it play in their lives? Do these encounters transform their lives in a similar manner? Who experiences these encounters? Shamans? Or anyone?

Exactly what did the witnesses experience? They describe black men, lights, sounds, and so on. What was the timeline? In what way were the beings black? (Skin color, clothing?) Did they have other sensory experiences? How does it look when we map out the different experiences of the different children, depending on where they were when they saw the craft and the beings? (This has probably been mapped out by the director of this documentary and/or others, and it was not possible to include it in a short documentary.)

I would love to do something on this but I have a feeling life is taking me in another direction. Although, who knows?

WORLDVIEWS

Part of the documentary is about John Mack and the reactions he received from his colleagues. He was a Harvard psychiatry professor who interviewed the children and took their experience seriously and wrote excellent books on these topics.

Personally, I find it small-minded to dismiss these types of experiences, especially when it was shared by so many. Whatever happened, it’s clearly something interesting to explore and study.

Also, we know how little we know. We know that our current collective worldview is provisional and will be seen as outdated in the future. We know that our collective worldview undergoes periodical revolutions. So why dismiss something just because it doesn’t fit our current worldview?

As one of the interviewed points out, it doesn’t make sense to dismiss something just because we don’t understand it or see it as not matching our current worldview. Also, there is no logic in accepting certain weird possibilities just because it’s part of our culture (e.g. Christianity) while dismissing other things (visits of alien beings) just because they are not part of our mainstream culture or mainstream academic culture. Why are angels OK and not aliens? Why is a belief in God OK but not a curiosity about beings from other places in the universe?

At the very least, we need to take a consistent stance on all of it. Either dismissing all, accepting all, or taking a more curious and grounded approach to exploring it all. And faced with the two first possibilities, the third is really the only one that makes sense. It’s the intellectually honest and consistent approach.

So why do some dismiss this event and these types of phenomena outright? One reason is that we all develop and attach to certain identities and worldviews in order to feel more solid and safe. We may dismiss it because we see it as threatening to their familiar identity and worldview. And this always comes with drawbacks. The drawback here is that we dismiss whatever doesn’t fit our identity and worldview.

Of course, some “UFO-believers” do the same in reverse. That too limits our exploration and prevents a more grounded and receptive approach.

I prefer to explore this in a more open way and remember how little we know and understand.

The Scarlet Witch and how we relate to our trauma

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

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

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

REACTING TO OUR PAIN

We all sometimes do this.

We go into reactivity to our pain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

RELATING TO OUR PAIN MORE CONSCIOUSLY

Is there another option?

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

We can learn to genuinely befriend our pain.

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

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

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

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

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

MYTHOLOGY OF OUR TIME

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

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

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

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

Read More

Dune and fascination with saviors

I watched the recent Dune movie and although it seemed technically flawless, I also wasn’t too moved or captured by it. (Although I will certainly watch part two when it comes out.)

I was reminded of the fascination with saviors we collectively have, some more than others. And, in this case, a predestined and prophesized savior.

WHY ARE WE FASCINATED BY THE SAVIOR?

Why are we fascinated with saviors and the savior archetype?

One answer is obvious. We may feel we need to be saved, sometimes and in some areas of life. Life seems too difficult. We may experience a lack of direction or meaning. We may want someone else, or life, to save us instead of doing it ourselves.

Another answer is that outer saviors mirror ourselves. We have that savior in ourselves. And a fascination with saviors in the world, stories, or in the past or future, is an invitation to find that savior in ourselves. A fascination with saviors “out there” is, in the best case, a stepping stone for shifting into saving ourselves. We are the predestined savior of ourselves and this may or may not come to fruition here and now.

BEING OUR OWN SAVIOR

How do we save ourselves?

We can save ourselves in the way we wish to be saved by someone else. If I had a magic wand and could be saved by someone else in exactly the way I wish and long for, how would it look? And how would it be for me to give that to myself?

Here are some possibilities I find for myself when I explore this:

I can give myself advice as I would a good friend. I can ask for help when I need it. I can notice and follow my inner guidance, the small inner voice. I can learn to befriend myself through the kind of self-talk a good parent or friend would give me. I can learn to meet my experiences with allowing, kindness, and curiosity. I can be a good steward of my life. I can find healing for how I relate to my world – whether I call it myself, my experiences, others, situations, or life in general. I can give myself the chance to do what I have always wanted to do, or have a calling to do. And so on.

FINDING WHAT WE MORE FUNDAMENTALLY ARE

And we can save ourselves by finding what we more fundamentally are in our own first-person experience.

In the world, I am this human self. And if that’s all I am aware of, it will feel incomplete since it is. It will feel like something is off because it is. I haven’t noticed most of what I am.

More fundamentally, I am something else in my own immediate experience. I find I am capacity for the world as it appears to me. And I am what the world, to me, happens within and as. I find myself as the oneness the world, to me, happens within and as.

And here, I find that I am – in a sense – already and always saved. Oneness doesn’t need to be saved. Anything related to being saved or not happens within and as oneness. To me, the world is already saved since it happens within and as oneness. (And that’s just one part of the picture since there is always saving to be done in a more conventional sense.)

I find the wholeness that my apparently broken self happens within and as. I find the inherent health that my illnesses happen within and as. I find the wholeness our apparently broken world happens within and as. And so on. And that doesn’t mean I won’t seek healing for my broken self, or treatment for my illness, or – as mentioned – seek healing for our society and ecosystems.

EXPLORING THE SAVIOR DYNAMIC

So I may notice our collective fascination with the savior archetype, even if it happens in a story like in Dune.

I can find this fascination in myself. I find examples of when and how I wish to be saved. When I dream of a savior to come and rescue me. (In periods of distress, I certainly notice it.)

I can identify more specifically how I wish to be saved, in specific situations when this comes up.

I can find ways to give it to myself.

I can find my more fundamental nature and where the ideas of saved or not don’t apply.

And I can still engage in support and metaphorical saving in a more conventional sense, as needed.

This is not about “doing it all myself”. This is more about finding my savior in myself, and sometimes that savior will ask others to help me.

THE BEFRIEND & AWAKEN PROCESS

These days, I find myself drawn to what I call the befriend & awaken process.

I notice a contraction in me. Contractions are uncomfortable, so these parts inherently wish to be saved and some other parts of me wish to save them.

I notice the physical contraction and where it is in my body. I rest with it. I notice it’s already allowed.

I notice it’s here to protect me. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me.

I find what the contraction wishes for, what it more deeply wants. I may try out a few possibilities, give each one to it, and see how it responds. For instance, love, a sense of safety, support, being seen, and so on.

I notice my nature, and that the nature of the contraction is the same. It happens within and as what I am. In another language, I see it as a flavor of the divine.

I invite the contraction to notice its own nature and rest in and as that noticing.

I take time with each of these explorations. I rest with it. I notice how the contraction responds and how it relaxes and unwinds when I find something that resonates with it.

This is one way to deeply “save” the parts of us that may feel they need saving.

Note: There will always be parts of me that don’t want to save these other parts of me, and they themselves are contractions that can be explored in this way.

Read More

Adapting to our more real identity vs attaching to a familiar mistaken one

I was rewatching a couple of Star Trek: Voyager episodes, including Course: Oblivion.

We follow the crew and ship, strange things start happening, and they discover that they are not who they thought they were. They are a substance that can mimic living beings and objects and that formed itself into the Voyager crew and starship. Some embrace their real identity and want to go back to the planet they came from. Others cling to their more familiar and mistaken identity and try to live out that life, even if it means the end of them.

It’s a great idea for a story, although not so well executed. (The buildup is brief. Most of them immediately accept what they really are, which seems unlikely. And it’s not explained so well why some insist on living according to their mistaken identity even if they also accept their real one.)

And as with any story, it can be fun and helpful to use it as a mirror for ourselves.

EXPLORING IT AS I WOULD A DREAM

If this was my dream, how would I explore it? What do I find?

The essence of this story is: A group of people live from mistaken identity. They realize what they really are. Some adapt and want to live according to their real identity. Others want to continue living according to their familiar and mistaken identity, even if it means their destruction.

SOME PARTS LIVE FROM MY TRUE IDENTITY, OTHER PARTS FROM MY OLD MISTAKEN IDENTITY

I can find that in myself.

At some level, I notice and accept my real identity. In my own first-person experience, I find I am capacity for the world as it appears to me. I find I am what the world, to me, happens within and as. That’s my moe fundamental identity.

And at another level, I am used to my familiar human identity. This identity is not wrong, it’s just limited and not what I more fundamentally am in my first-person experience.

Sometimes, I perceive and function more from my true identity. And other times, I revert back to following my mistaken identity. (Especially when unhealed parts of me are triggered.)

Said another way, and just as with the Voyager crew, some parts of me accept and live according to my true identity. And other parts still operate from my old familiar mistaken identity.

CLARIFICATION & TRANSFORMATION

This points to an important part of the awakening process.

It’s relatively easy to notice our nature, especially if we have some pointers and a guide familiar with the terrain.

The challenge is in keeping noticing our nature through daily life – through different states, through different situations, in different areas of life, and even when unhealed parts of us are triggered.

The challenge is in recognizing any content of experience, including that which is unpleasant and our old patterns don’t like, as flavors of the divine. As happening within and as what we are, and having the same nature as we do.

The challenge is in inviting our human self to transform within a more conscious noticing of oneness, and inviting all the different parts of us still operating from separation consciousness to realign with a more conscious noticing of oneness.

How do we do this? We all have to find our own way, and I have written about it in more detail in other articles. These days, I am most drawn to the befriend & awaken process.

NOT EXACTLY MISTAKEN IDENTITY

I should mention that I don’t feel completely comfortable talking about mistaken identity. It works in this context, with this TV episode, but is not competely accurate.

It’s not wrong that we are this human self. It’s just not what we more fundamentally are in our own first person experience.

The two already co-exist (they are aspects of the same), and we can notice the validity in both and live from and as both.

Read More

Stranger Things & the shadow

I love Stranger Things.

Like many others, I love it for its 80s nostalgia and for being more 80s than the 80s were. I love it for the characters which often are more stereotypical than their inspiration. I love it for the dialogue. I love it for bringing Kate Bush back on the charts and introducing her to new generations.

And as with any story – whether it’s fiction, mythology, or about others or the world – we can explore it as a dream. We can use it as a mirror for ourselves.

What I see in Stranger Things is a group of nerds and outsiders, much as myself at that age. (A part of me wishes I had found the type of community back then that they have, which is perhaps also why I enjoy watching it.) They don’t quite fit in. Some of them are bullied.

And I see the upside-down as one of many representations of what Jung called the shadow. The parts of all of us that don’t fit into our conscious or desired identity. The parts we sometimes push aside or even deny. The parts of us that may take on the form of monsters since they are exiled and we are unfamiliar with them.

In this case, we can take it even more literally and see it as the shadow we tend to create for ourselves if we feel like an outsider, if we are bullied (or bully), and so on. We may experience a mix of emotions and painful beliefs and identities — pain, loneliness, self-criticism, blame, bitterness, anger, sadness, victimhood, and so on. And since these may be painful and confusing to us, we may partially exile these experiences and parts of ourselves. We may also attack the sides of ourselves we feel are responsible for us being outsiders, so these become partially exiled. When these experiences and parts of us are exiled, they tend to take on the form of monsters to us. They go into our shadow. They don’t fit into our conscious or desired self image. And they can look, to us, as the upside-down.

Stranger Things operates from a classic good vs evil duality, at least so far. But it does also have some healing qualities. It shows healing and supportive friendships, which mirror how we can be friends with ourselves. (Even as we may also battle other sides of us.) The new season gives us more understanding of how the upside-down may have been created, and with understanding comes a less adversarial relationship. (Although they’ll still need to protect themselves and their world.)

How could Stranger Things reflect an even more mature process and way of relating to our shadow?

I am not sure, there are several options. In Star Wars, we got the back story of Darth Vader so we could understand him better and find empathy with the person he used to be. We learned that the hero (Luke) and villain (Darth Vader) were as closely connected as two people can be. And the villain was redeemed before his death.

In Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver by Michael Ende, the main characters capture the evil and dangerous dragon. Instead of killing her, they put her in a cage so she couldn’t do more harm. And that allowed her to transform into a golden wisdom dragon for the benefit of everyone.

Stranger Things does hint at intimate connections between the main hero (Eleven) and Vecna and perhaps the upside-down itself. If that theme is continued, it reflects the intimate connection between the two. They are both parts of each of us. And if we create a “good” identity for ourselves that excludes certain things in us, then what’s excluded is often transformed into apparent monsters. (This also goes for excluding discomfort and pain. What we exclude tends to take on the form of monsters to us.)

It’s also possible that One (Vecna) could be redeemed. In terms of contemporary storytelling, that could be seen as a bit naive and sentimental. (Unless it’s well done with realism and grittiness, which they probably could pull off.) But in terms of mythology and reflecting inner processes, it would give us another image in popular culture that shows how we can find redemption for parts of us in the shadow.

And it’s possible that Eleven somehow, through facing her past and the uncomfortable sides of herself, could redeem herself and the upside-down. It could bring about a transformation of her and the upside-down. Again, if the story was to reflect a healthy and deep inner transformation, something like that would happen.

Note: I am writing this after having seen the first release (this first seven episodes) of the fourth season.

Read More

Anakin & Judas

I see that Anakin Skywalker plays a central role in the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series.

There is something beautiful in how Anakin is written The prequels show his journey from a gifted and innocent child and youth to someone who – through loss and trauma – descends into bitterness, resentment, and hatred. Darth Vader isn’t just a regular villain and evil character. He was the boy Anakin who later became Darth Vader through how he responded to his own loss and pain.

THE ARCHETYPES OF STAR WARS

The original Star Wars trilogy was explicitly written around archetypes, especially Luke’s hero’s journey, and that’s one reason it resonates so widely.

These archetypes mirror universal parts and dynamics in each of us in a clear and simple way that brings out their essence. We are fascinated by these stories because, somewhere in us, we want to better get to know these sides of ourselves.

WHERE DOES THE FASCINATION COME FROM?

We may be fascinated with archetype-rich stories for a couple of different reasons.

The fascination may be built into us through evolution. Fascination with archetype-rich stories helps us to get to know more about these universal human dynamics, and that gives us a survival advantage. It helps us relate to them more consciously when we meet them in the world or in ourselves.

We are also inherently whole, whether we notice it or not. Our mind seeks to bring this wholeness into consciousness. One way that happens is through a fascination with what appears as “other” while it’s in reality us. And archetype-rich stories are an especially good way for us to learn more about universal dynamics and how they may play out in our life and in ourselves.

A third reason, which rests on the two other, is that all (?) human cultures emphasize archetypal stories. We grow up with fairy tales, mythology, and other classic archetypal stories. This may even further encourage our inherent draw to these stories.

ANAKIN & JUDAS

I’ll focus on Anakin’s journey to Darth Vader here, and Darth Vader’s redemption, and leave out the other archetypal dynamics in Star Wars.

For me, Anakin is an example of how we sometimes respond to our pain in a way that hurts ourselves and others.

In the case of Anakin, he indulged in hurt, anger, and reactivity. And when this becomes extreme, some like to label it “evil”. (I don’t find it a useful label.)

Judas is a similar figure. He is an image of how we all sometimes react to our own hurt and pain by betraying our inherent kindness, clarity, and wisdom. Judas betrayed Jesus. We sometimes betray our own clarity and wisdom by how we react to our own pain.

And there is no lack of these types of figures from fiction and history. Sometimes, they are presented as just inherently evil. Other times, we are presented with a background story that presents their journey from a relatively healthy person to one who indulges in reactivity to their own pain.

ANAKIN SKYWALKER & DARTH VADER

Anakin’s story shows us what happens when we respond to our pain with reactivity, and specifically bitterness, victimhood, and so on. We all do this, sometimes and in typically less dramatic ways.

And Darth Vader is both an example of how it looks when we live from this, and that we always have an opportunity to turn it around. He turned it around at the very end of his life. He chose to meet his pain and respond to it differently, in a more honest and vulnerable way.

HOW WE RESPOND TO OUR PAIN

We can respond to our emotional pain in two general ways.

We can react to the pain. This can feel good at the moment. And it’s really a distraction from the pain, it tends to create more pain, and it also reinforces the habit of reacting to pain.

And we can befriend our pain, which invites healing for how I relate to it (reinforces a habit of befriending instead of reacting to) and it invites healing for the pain itself.

When we react to our pain, we seek to distract ourselves from the pain. And the best way to ensure distraction is to go into compulsions and a pattern of indulging. We can be compulsive about and indulge in just about anything: Work. Status. Perfection. Sex. Relationships. Entertainment. Food. Anger. Sadness. Ideologies. (Political ideologies, conspiracy theories, etc.) Spirituality. Awakening. Healing. Religion. Victimhood. Blame. Bigotry. And so on.

A MIRROR FOR OURSELVES

Anakin and Judas and a wide range of similar figures from fiction and history are a mirror for ourselves.

What stories do I have about each of these? What do I find when I turn that story back to myself? Can I find genuine examples of how and when it’s true?

How do I react to my own pain in a way that hurts myself and others? In what situations have I done it? Can I find specific examples?

How is it to befriend my pain instead of reacting to it? How is it to explore this when the pain is milder and I am in a supportive setting of exploring how to befriend it? How is it to support and deepen a new pattern in how I respond to my pain?

This is an ongoing process, and it’s important to have some compassion for ourselves in this exploration. Many of us are trained to react to our pain instead of befriending it, at least when it comes to some types of pain and in some situations. It’s often an ingrained pattern, and something we have learned from family and culture.

How is it to befriend any reactions in me when I notice I still sometimes react to my pain instead of befriending it?

SOME WAYS TO EXPLORE IT FOR OURSELVES

Most or all of the approaches I write about in these articles can be used to explore this for ourselves.

We can use tonglen, ho’oponopono, and forms of prayer to shift how we relate to this in ourselves and others. We can shift how we relate to our own pain, and what triggers our pain.

We can use inquiry to examine our beliefs about our own pain, and what triggers our pain, and find what’s more true for us. (The Work of Byron Katie.)

We can explore how our mind – largely through associating mental representations with sensations – creates its experience of all of this, including the identities we create around it. (Traditional Buddhist inquiry, Living Inquiries / Kiloby Inquiries.)

We can engage in dialog with these parts of ourselves. We can listen to what they have to say and how they experience the world and us. We can help them see things in a way more aligned with reality. We can learn to recognize them as parts and relate to them more consciously. And so on.

We can find our nature and what we are in our first-person experience. This helps us recognize all of this as coming and going and living its own life, and it’s not what we more fundamentally are. (Headless experiments, Big Mind process.)

Read More

Dealing with one’s pain through a passion

I am watching Tony Hawk: Until the wheels fall off which is a reminder that real-life, when filtered and presented in a certain way, sometimes has every bit as good dramaturgy as any fiction story.

A few times during the documentary, he and others suggest that he deals with his pain through skateboarding.

A RELATIVELY HEALTHY WAY TO DEAL WITH OUR PAIN

Of the many strategies we can use to deal with our emotional pain, that one is relatively healthy.

There are many worse ways to do it, including drugs, anger, depression, mindless entertainment, bigotry, fundamentalism, and pouring our energy into less life-centered careers.

Skateboarding is also something obviously he loves. It has given him a successful career and a way to provide for himself and his family. And it has given inspiration and joy to many.

And this strategy, like any strategy that doesn’t deal with our pain directly, doesn’t heal the wounds. They’ll still be there and they will color our perception and life until they are dealt with.

WHAT HAPPENS IF WE DEAL WITH OUR PAIN MORE DIRECTLY?

What happens if we deal with our pain more directly and find healing for our pain? Does our passion fall away?

As so often, the answer may be that it depends.

When there is less need to deal with the pain through a passion, other motivations – existing or new ones – come more in focus. If we have a deep love for it, as he seems to have, then that love will come even more to the surface. We will likely still engage in our passion, perhaps even as much as before, although from a slightly different set of motivations.

And if there isn’t much love for what we are doing, we may decide it’s not worth it or we may find another set of motivations that make sense for us. I am reminded of the difference between athletes here. The ones who do it for their love of the sport often continue even after their professional career is over. And the ones who did it for less heartfelt motivations often quit. (And may even swap it for smoking and eating as exemplified by a well-known female Russian skier.)

A NOTE ABOUT DANGER

Towards the end of the documentary, they talk about the danger inherent in what they are doing.

The sensible choice is to take it easy and don’t risk so much. And yet, going full in is that’s what gives them joy and a sense of meaning. Life is not always about being sensible.

Enough people live sensibly, so there is room for people who stretches it a bit further.

Read More

Wolfwalkers & our relationship with the wild in nature and ourselves

I loved this movie in many different ways. And as any good story that deals with primal archetypes and archetypal dynamics, it can be interpreted at many different levels.

It can be seen as a metaphor for how humans treat each other, including how the English have treated the Irish. It can be seen as a more literal story about how humans treat nature and the wild. And it can be seen as a mirror for dynamics in ourselves, and how we civilize ourselves at the expense of the primal aliveness in ourselves.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF HUMAN RELATIONSHIP WITH THE WILD

It’s easy to imagine a history of the human relationship with the wild, and it will – by necessity – be somewhat speculative when it comes to the early history.

Before agriculture and civilization as we think of it, people lived in nature, with nature, and from nature. They may have had more of a partnership relationship with nature and the wild, and they likely respected nature out of necessity. They had a more nature-oriented spirituality. They didn’t have much property so they didn’t have much hierarchy. They may have had a more matriarchal culture. The inevitable damage to nature was limited since their numbers were small and their technology simple, and they also moved if they needed to which limited their impact on the areas they were in.

With agriculture, this all changed. We could accumulate wealth. We had more division of labor, tasks, and skills. We developed a hierarchy. The ones higher up in the hierarchy developed a wish to control others and the general population. We got culture as we know it. We got more removed sky-God religions. We got a more patriarchal culture.

We lived in tamed landscapes or towns and cities. With agriculture, we depended more on tamed nature. We lived more distanced from the wild. We depend much less on the wild. The wild became “other” to us. For those higher up in the hierarchy, it became in their interest to also tame the population.

We learned to tame nature and ourselves, and find this comforting and the wild scary and unsettling and perhaps even evil.

Our human relationship with the wild shifted. We went from living in and from the wild to becoming distanced from it and viewing it often as something scary and suspicious. We learned that taming ourselves and nature was safer.

WHAT DOES TAMING OURSELVES MEAN?

We know what it means to tame nature. It means to make the wild into agricultural land, towns, and cities. Replace wild forests with planted forests. To kill any animals – typically large predators – we see as competitors or any danger to ourselves. And so on.

But what does it mean that we tame ourselves?

In one sense, it just means that we learn to live with others and in civilization. We learn to express our feelings with words instead of through actions that may harm others. We learn to cooperate. We learn to take others into consideration when we make our choices and live our life. This is natural for us since we are a social species and it doesn’t necessarily come at much or any cost. 

In another sense, it can mean that we tame ourselves at the cost of our aliveness, sense of connection and meaning, and authenticity. This happens when we take taming ourselves in a slightly misguided way. We may deny our emotions or needs, wishes, and desires instead of acknowledging or expressing these and finding ways to get our needs met. We may disconnect ourselves from our body and nature and feel disconnected, ungrounded, and aimless. All of this tends to come as a consequence of believing painful beliefs and identities and perceiving and living as if they are true. And these painful beliefs and identities tend to come from our culture or subculture. They are passed on and shared by many if not most humans in our culture, and some may be common across cultures – especially in our modern world.

HOW DO WE REWILD OURSELVES?

Rewilding nature is a popular topic these days, and very much needed for the health of nature and ourselves and our culture.

But how do we rewild ourselves?

There are several approaches, and what works best is probably a combination of the ones that resonate the most with us – and that may change over time.

We can connect with nature through spending time in nature, gardening, spending time with non-human species, learning about nature, spending time in the wilderness, learning to survive in the wilderness, spending time at a bonfire, looking at the stars, and so on.

We can connect with our body by walking barefoot, receiving bodywork, doing different forms of yoga, learning to recognize and take seriously the signals from our body, and so on.

We can engage in nature-centered spirituality and rituals, including the Practices to Reconnect from Joanna Macy.

We can shift our worldview from one of separation to connection and oneness, for instance through deep ecology, the epic of evolution, the universe story, ecospirituality, system views, integral models (AQAL), and so on.

We can engage in actions on behalf of other species, the Earth, and future generations. These may be small and “invisible” everyday actions or more visible in the world. These may be actions to stop damage, change our culture, or envision and implement life-centered alternatives.

We can learn to notice and acknowledge our emotions and wishes, needs, and desires. We can find ways to express this and meet our needs in a kind way. We can find a more authentic way to live that’s kind to ourselves and others.

We can identify fears we have of rewilding ourselves.  What’s the worst that could happen?  What does my culture tell me could happen? What do I find when I examine these stories? What’s more true for me? How is it to meet and be with the fear and allow it as it is? How is it to find love for it? 

We can find healing for any emotional issues that create a sense of separation and lack of connection, aliveness, groundedness, and meaning.

We can identify and investigate the views and beliefs that create a sense of separation – with ourselves, others, nature, and the universe as a whole. We can identify beliefs passed on through our culture. We can find them in ourselves and inquire into them and find more freedom from them and what’s more true and honest for us.

We can connect with and taste the wholeness we are at a human level, through a combination of meditation, body-centered practices, emotional healing, and more.

We can explore what we more fundamentally are in our own first-person experience. At one level, we are a human being in the world. And what do I find when I explore what I am in my own first-person experience? I may find I more fundamentally are capacity for the world as it appears to me. And what the world – this human self, the wider world, and anything else – happens within and as. I may find myself as the oneness this human self and the wider world happen within and as.

This is not only for the benefit of ourselves. It benefits our culture. It may help our species survive. And it will likely benefit other species, this living planet, and future generations.

Note: This article itself is an example of rewilding ourselves. I saw the movie three or four weeks ago, made a few notes, and allowed it to rest. Today, I was moved to write the article and it came out easily and naturally, without much if any effort.

When I saw the movie, I noticed I wasn’t ready to write the final article. I knew that pushing it would be uncomfortable and likely wouldn’t give a good result. So I allowed it to rest and digest on its own, and I waited for it to come to fruition in me and move me to write it.

I planted the seed, waited, and it sprouted in its own time in the form of this article.

Read More

Attachments vs solidarity and loyalty

Armorer: In order to master the ways of the force, Jedi must forego all attachment.

Din Djarin: That’s the opposite of our creed. Loyalty and solidarity are the way.

– The Book of Boba Fett, Return of the Mandalorian, 18 minutes in

This is an interesting topic.

ATTACHMENTS

We don’t really have attachments to people or places or things. We have attachments to certain stories telling us we need these and it’s terrible if we don’t. Attachments come from beliefs, issues, and hangups.

And although they come from innocence and are normal, they also function as a kind of prison. They limit our options and make us act from reactivity.

Without them, there is more clarity and kindness, and more possibilities for a range of actions.

And without attachments, we can still have friends and family and even be loyal and act in solidarity.

SOLIDARITY & LOYALTY

The question about solidarity and loyalty is who or what we are loyal to and in solidarity with.

Is it just a small group as opposed to everyone else?

Or is it to a much larger group or even life itself or something else?

We can be loyal to humanity, or Earth, or all life. We can even be loyal to the universe in the sense of the context of the universe as one seamless system that everything we know is an expression of.

We can also be loyal to honesty, kindness, our more fundamental nature, and so on.

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE TWO

Attachments will limit our perception and options which is why the Jedi work on having a conscious relationship to attachments and find ways for them to undo themselves.

With a more conscious relationship with attachments and a lighter load of attachments, it’s easier to live from loyalty and solidarity, whatever is the focus for our loyalty and solidarity.

So the philosophies that respectively Grogu and The Mandalorian follow may have more in common than The Mandalorian seem to think.

Read More

It’s not a theory?

I was watching the trailer for the new Foundation series, where Seldon says: It’s not a theory, it’s the future.

Yes, it’s not a theory. It’s a model. It’s a guess. It’s a question.

It’s a question about the future.

Even if it has been accurate in most or all cases, it’s still a question.

I love Asimov’s Foundation series, but that part of the dialog in the trailer was a bit disappointing to me. When he says “it’s not a theory, it’s the future”, it shows a fundamental and elementary misunderstanding about theories and science.

Any theory, model, and so on, is a guess and a question about the world. Some may be consistent with a huge amount of data, and they are still guesses and questions. They are maps. They are different in type from what they are guesses about. Reality is always different from and more than any map.

I assume the quote is not from the book since Asimov himself was a scientist and knew better. And if I am honest, if it had been in the book, I would likely have abandoned it at that point.

I’ll still watch the first episode since I love the story it’s based on.

Note: The model Seldon refers to is a complex modelling of the future of society.

Wanting to know how fiction ends

Why do we have an impulse to know how compelling fiction ends?

FICTION CAN GO IN ANY NUMBER OF DIRECTIONS

I have often thought it’s a bit silly.

The story is made up anyway. It can go in a number of widely different directions.

It’s easy to imagine alternate endings that the author plausibly could have chosen. The reason the author landed on a particular ending may be because ofpersonal fascination, wanting to subvert expectations, wanting to draw in an audience, wanting to highlight a particular feature of human life, setting it up for the next part, practical or resource reasons, or something else.

Sometimes, the ending we looked forward to can even be disappointing, as we have seen in a recent TV series (GoT) and final movie trilogy (SW).

If this was the whole picture, there would be little or no reason to want to know how a story ends. So there must be something more going on.

EVOLUTIONARY IMPULSE TO TAKE IN STORIES

One answer may be in evolution. We have likely evolved to be fascinated by stories since these told our ancestors something important about themselves, their community, and their world. Stories gave them a survival advantage.

It’s easy to see how this is the case with stories from real life. The way the story is told reflects community values and orientations, so the listener gets to absorb these. And the content can offer practical information about social interactions, interactions with nature and wildlife, how to deal with unusual events that may return, and so on.

To some extent, fiction – mythology, fairy tales, tall tales – did the same. Fiction also conveyed cultural values and orientations. It gave people insights into interactions within the community and with outsiders and the natural world, and so on.

And it’s easy to see that the ending is an important part of the value of all of these stories.

Taking in compelling stories, from beginning to end, gave our ancestors a survival advantage.

GOOD FICTION REFLECTS DEEPER TRUTHS

There is an obvious value in stories from real life. We learn through the experience of others and how they chose to tell the stories.

And compelling fiction does the same, in a heightened form. Good fiction distills the essence out of real-life stories and reflects universal human truths. They are a way for us to learn something essential about ourselves, others, and the world.

NO CLEAR LINE BETWEEN STORIES FROM REAL LIFE AND FICTION

There is a fuzzy boundary between stories from real life and fiction.

When we tell stories from real life, we inevitably interpret, filter, highlight, leave out, and get things wrong. The story reflects us and what we find important, our worldview and values, our hangups and limitations, and so on. As we know, these stories are often told quite differently by others.

And compelling fiction reflects universal human dynamics and insights and has a deeper truth.

There is always an element of fiction in stories from real life, and elements of real life in fiction.

WHY DO WE WANT TO KNOW THE ENDING?

So why do we want to know the ending of fiction? Even if it’s obviously silly since the story is made up anyway?

One answer may be evolution. It gave our ancestors a survival advantage to take in stories, told by others in their community, from beginning to end.

P.S. Sorry for the lack of simplicity and clarity here. I have had a quite strong brain fog for a few weeks, and it makes it difficult to write with flow and clarity. Hopefully, I can return and clean this up a bit.

Read More

Solaris & finding resolution

I watched the Icelandic series Katla, and notice it has a similar theme to Solaris. Material from a meteorite seems to have the capability to sense who people are longing for, and make them come into life as flesh-and-blood beings.

Tarkovsky’s Solaris was one of my favorite movies in my late teens and early twenties. In this case, an ocean planet is able to sense what’s unresolved in the scientists on a space station, and manifests people they have something unresolved with.

The movie beautifully and clearly shows two general ways we can relate to what’s unresolved in us. In Solaris, most struggle with it and go deeper into trauma. And the main character takes the opportunity to interact with the person manifested from his life, and find resolution.

And that’s how it is for all of us. Life brings up whatever is unresolved in us, and we can either struggle with it and maintain or reinforce the issue or trauma, or we can take the opportunity to get to know it, befriend it, and find resolution. To find resolution, we often need to go through some struggle, we need to heal our relationship with what’s coming up, and that allows the issue itself to find healing.

I should mention that Solaris is based on the book by Stanislaw Lem by the same name. And Katla is more of a regular fantasy story which does reflect dynamics in ourselves, but it lacks the beautiful clarity of Solaris.

The Matrix: There is no spoon

Boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Boy: Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

– The Matrix, about 1:11 in

As so often, there is some truth to this and it’s easy to misunderstand.

This is not about bending spoons. It’s about realizing what we are.

What are we in our own first person experience? What are we if we are honest with ourselves, and set aside what others have told us we are?

We may find that in our own experience, we are capacity for the world. We are what our field of experience happens within and as.

There is a spoon in a conventional sense. And when we notice what we are, we also realize that the spoon is not what we thought. It happens within and as what we are. Any boundaries and labels come from our own mental representations and are not inherent in what they appear to be about.

Since the spoon happens within and as what we are, if the spoon bends, we are the bending.

In the movie, this is about bending spoons as a way to discover and explore how the matrix is created by the mind. For us, it’s about noticing what we are.

Noticing what we are doesn’t give us any special powers. It’s about noticing what we already are, and if we continue to notice, it’s about our human self transforming within that noticing.

It may seem that it gives us something. But it ultimately doesn’t give us anything. What we notice is that we are not anything in particular within our field of experience. There isn’t any separate one to gain anything.

Also, the process of transformation is, as Adya says, a destructive process. It’s not really what our personality wants.

Finding the one

I rewatched the 1984 version of Dune, and am reminded of the savior theme.

Paul is the one, the savior, the messiah. As was Luke in Star Wars, Neo in the Matrix, Jesus in Christianity, and many others across cultures.

Why are we collectively fascinated with the savior?

The obvious answer is that we want to be saved, and we may think someone else can save us. Perhaps it’s a special human, or a divine entity.

And there is another answer.

We are that savior. The world is our mirror, and the savior we see out there was here all along.

This savior can also take many forms.

It can be finding genuine care and love for ourselves and our experiences.

Becoming a good and loving parent for ourselves.

Becoming a safe haven for ourselves.

Finding more of the wholeness of what we are as a human being.

Learning to find healing for our wounds and traumas.

Finding what we are – capacity for the world, and what our field of experience happens within and as.

And perhaps a combination of all of these and more.

The Matrix and our world

The Matrix – with its real and virtual worlds – is explicitly an allegory for our world.

In what way is our world like The Matrix?

In a literal sense, it’s theoretically possible – although probably unlikely – that this world is created by some beings like in The Matrix. And in a metaphorical sense, we all believe things others may want us to believe and we can wake up from those illusions.

There is also another way, and one I find equally or more interesting.

Our world is created through an overlay of thoughts, of mental images and words. This overlay is what makes sense of this world and also helps us visualize a past and future and a wider world beyond what’s here and now. It’s where all labels, assumptions, values, and so on come from.

This overlay is virtual. It’s imagined. It’s created from thoughts to help us orient and function in the world. It’s completely essential for our survival.

And it makes our world quite a bit like The Matrix.

How can we take the red pill?

The safest and most lasting and effective way may be through inquiry, and especially sincere inquiry over time.

Through headless inquiry, we may discover that we are capacity for our world. The world, as it appears to us, happens within and as what we are.

Through traditional Buddhist inquiry, and modern variations like the Living Inquiries, we may discover how our mind creates its own reality. How it associates sensations with thoughts… so the sensations lend a sense of solidity and truth to the thoughts, and the thoughts give meaning to the sensations.

Through The Work of Byron Katie, we may discover that the thoughts and assumptions we held as true are not as true as we thought, and not true in the way we thought.

Through basic meditation – notice and allow what’s here – we may come to hold our thoughts a little more lightly which supports these forms of inquiry.

And so on. There are innumerable forms of inquiry and supporting practices that can be helpful here.

I am personally not interested in the path of psychoactive drugs. Although they can give us a glimpse of this, it’s dependent on chemical, it’s often transient, it may come with side-effects, and there are other approaches that are more reliable and thorough.

Why would we want to take the red pill?

There is some inherent suffering, discomfort, and struggle in taking our virtual world as inherently true and real.

Taking the red pill may not remove the suffering, discomfort, and struggle, but it can make it much easier. It can help us not struggle with it, and that – in itself – is a big relief.

Also, some of us seem drawn to truth, or love, or returning home, no matter what the cost may be. In that case, it seems we don’t have that much choice.

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXIII

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

DISREGARDING SOCIAL ISSUES

I am watching Enola Holmes and enjoy it very much.

I especially enjoy that they are highlighting an inherent problem with Sherlock Holmes: He investigated individual crimes, was on the side of the establishment, and never questioned the crimes inherent in the social structures at the time.

These are not crimes according to the law and the courts, but they are crimes against humanity. Crimes of – at the time – not allowing large portions of the population to vote, keeping large portions in poverty, structural racism, and much more.

Of course, it’s much easier to see these problems with the benefit of a hundred years of hindsight and changes in social norms and values.

At the same time, this is happening today. We know of a large number of injustices and crimes against humanity – and life – and we don’t do nearly enough about it. What are some of these crimes? As I see it, it’s in an economic system that is not aligned with ecological realities. It’s in allowing the massive destruction of nature to continue. It’s in creating huge problems for future generations. It’s in ignoring the right to life of all species. It’s in supporting policies that allows huge gaps between the few wealth and the many poor. It’s in systemic racism. And much more.

Click READ MORE for more brief posts.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXII

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

From 2001: A Space Odyssey

AN ALIEN INTELLIGENCE WILL BE ALIEN TO US

I saw someone commenting that he doesn’t like the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey much because he doesn’t understand the alien aspect of the story. For me, that’s one of the brilliant things about the movie. The story is shrouded in mystery.

An alien intelligence will be alien to us. It will be mysterious. We won’t be able to make sense of it based on our own experiences, and our own experiences is all we have. It’s easy to imagine an initial alien encounter that’s a complete mystery and completely baffling to us. And even if we gather more information and think we understand more, we may discover we don’t understand it as well as we thought.

In most sci-fi, the aliens are us in another form. They have human drives and motivations, and they represent sides of us and are mirrors for us. Since that’s the explicit intention of most sci-fi, that’s completely appropriate.

If we want more realistic sci-fi stories, then we have movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Arrival. The alien intelligence here is alien to us. It’s mysterious, baffling, and confusing. It doesn’t quite make sense to us.

This is also one of the problems I have with some of the traditional alien-encounter stories. The aliens are too often just us in another disguise. They are scientists traveling through space to probe and examine us and tell us we need to take better care of Earth. In other stories, and especially the more shamanic or fairy-tale like ones, the encounters are truly mysterious and inexplicable, as I imagine is closer to how it may be in reality.

Click READ MORE to see more posts on these topics.

Read More

Gandalf: A wizard is never late

A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins, nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.

Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings

How is that possible? Is it because he knows in advance when we will arrive? Is it because his schedule is never upset by unpredictable events? Is it because he will never admit to being late even if he is? Is it because he wants to mess with Frodo’s mind?

Or is it something else?

Perhaps a wizard trusts life and the divine and knows that no matter when he arrives, it’s exactly when it should be?

Perhaps a wizard knows that ideas of early and late only exist in our mind. And that we miss a great deal when we get caught up in shoulds?

Perhaps he wants what’s here? Perhaps he has discovered that nothing constructive comes out of struggling with what’s here, that it makes more sense to want what’s already here, and that this does not preclude decisive action when needed.

My bet is on something like the last three.

Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things III

This is a post in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be a little on the rant side. And some may be made into a regular article in time.

Allowing things to be

Colonel Brighton: Look, sir, we can’t just do nothing.
General Allenby: Why not? It’s usually best.

– from Lawrence of Arabia, 1962

I love that brief dialog from Lawrence of Arabia. It shows experience, trust, and an effective way of dealing with some situations.

In the particular situation in the movie, the Arab tribes had taken over Damascus without the skills and experience to actually run it. Allenby knew that if left to themselves, they would realize they needed help and that running Damascus was not what they really wanted. He allowed them to arrive at that conclusion for themselves. The alternative, which Brighton proposed, was military intervention which would only have galvanized the Arabs against the British. (I will refrain from commenting on colonialism and colonialist attitudes in history and the movie…!)

Sometimes, we obviously need to take action and get involved. We find ourselves in a situation that – if left to itself – will lead to undesirable consequences and nobody else may be in a better position to take charge, or our participation is required in another way.

But often enough, the situation will run its course without any problems. Our intervention is not needed. We can sit back, watch it unfold, and see it arrive at a conclusion that is desirable or at least not terribly undesirable. And if it should take a surprising turn and our intervention is needed, we can always get involved.

If I remember correctly, Jung would sometimes “accidentally” set fire to a piece of paper in his ashtray to see how his patient would react. Did they sit back and let the small fire run its course – knowing it would burn out without any risks? Or would they freak out and try to control the situation even if it was not necessary?

Click READ MORE for more notes.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXVI

Continued from previous posts…. These posts are collections of brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

Gritty wholesomeness

I was very skeptical when I first started watching Outlander but I have come to love it. I love it mainly for its gritty wholesomeness.

It shows flawed yet fundamentally caring and healthy people dealing with a series of raw and gritty challenges. And there is something wholesome in the best way in that. It reminds us of those sides of ourselves.

In that sense, it’s a bit like The Little House on the Prairie for grown-ups, and especially season four and five since they are set in North America.

I also like that it shows modern people in a time that was far more tribal and eye-for-eye, and how they adapt and learn to survive in that situation. They needed to find their warrior as we all sometimes do.

Click READ MORE to see more entries.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XX

Continued from previous posts…. These posts are collections of brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include a few short personal notes as well.

A more formalized type of mirror. I am not much into astrology or tarot, although I recognize that it can be helpful. At their best, they combine archetypes, projections, and synchronicities in a powerful and potentially life-transforming way.

Both have systemized some basic archetypes and some of their dynamics. And since archetypes are universal, they will resonate with whomever is receptive to it.

Both can serve as very good projection objects. We see ourselves in the astrology charts or a tarot card or layout because we put ourselves into it.

Synchronicities can play a role in both. Something going on in our life – and especially in our mind – can be reflected in astrology and tarot.

In all of these ways, astrology and tarot can serve as a mirror for us. They can help us see and get to know aspects of ourselves.

It seems less useful if we have a simplistic and heavy-handed approach to astrology, tarot, or anything else. For instance, if we think they tell us something that’s going to happen. That can create stress, and even self-fulfilling prophecies (or the reverse).

And it seems more useful if we hold it all lightly. If we consciously use them as mirrors for ourselves. And if we are conscious of the archetypes, projections, and synchronicities.

Of course, the whole world is a mirror for ourselves. We don’t need astrology, tarot, or something similar to see and get to know aspects of ourselves. We just need to recognize that the whole world – and especially what in the world and our life currently draws our attention – is a mirror for what’s here now.

Astrology, tarot, and similar things are more formalized, structured, and explicit mirrors for ourselves. Life is the mirror we live with all the time, and we may need a somewhat structured approach to make use of it. For instance, some form of inquiry.

Unedited photos from Bryant Park, New York.

Editing photos. When I take, select, and edit my own photos, I need one or more pointers for myself to guide me. Here are some of the pointers I tend to use:

Something I would like to look at over time, and again and again.
Something that gives me pleasure.
Something that is interesting.
Something where I can keep discovering new things. 
Something that conveys a certain mood.
Something that conveys a certain way of perceiving the world.

Something that feels right at a deep level.

Of course, not every photo need to satisfy each of these. And a photo can be interesting for other reasons. But these are useful pointers for me, at least for now.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XIX

Continued from previous posts…. These posts are collections of brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include a few short personal notes as well.

Trump as the shadow. Trump represents shadow material for many people in the US and the rest of the world. He is one of the few leaders who happily and wholeheartedly seem to embrace qualities most of us see as undesirable. Qualities many of us try to avoid acting on (which is healthy), and perhaps exclude from how we see ourselves (less healthy).

That’s one of the golden opportunities with the Trump presidency. We can’t avoid seeing despicable behaviors from him. And that’s an invitation to find the same in ourselves. What do I see in him? (Make a list.) When and how do those descriptions fit my behavior? (Use specific examples.) Take it in. Allow it to change how I see myself.

The test for how much shadow material I have worked through – recognized in myself and included in how I see myself – is how I react when I see Trump. Do I react with reactivity, contempt, disgust, and so on? Do I see a human being like myself? (Although I don’t agree with his words and actions. If I see him with more empathy and perhaps as a confused and wounded human being, can I find that too in myself?

One of the best ways I have found to work with projections and shadow material is The Work of Byron Katie. The Living Inquiries is also good.

Read More

Almodóvar’s Pain & Glory, and completing something unfinished

I watched Pain & Glory (Dolor y gloria) by Pedro Almodóvar and found it beautiful, moving, and emotionally satisfying.

It’s semi-autobiographical, filmed in a replica of Almodóvar’s own apartment, and Antonio Banderas – who played the slightly fictionalized Almodóvar – apparently wore the director’s clothes (!).

According to interviews with Almodóvar and Banderas, the fictional parts is mainly the reconciliation that happens in the movie. The director repairs three different relationships – with a former colleague, his mother, and a former lover. A fourth – with his childhood reading student – is left unfinished, perhaps something to explore in the future.

Unable to mend these relationships in his outer life, he did it – in a beautiful way – in his inner life and through his art. And we can do that too.

I have gone back to my childhood in my imagination and replayed situations with some changes. I imagine myself and the other people – who I felt hurt by at the time – as the most sane, wise, kind, and humane versions of ourselves, replay the scenes and how they would be different, and dialog with them and ask why they acted the way they did (and imagine their answers).

Imagining them – and me – as whole is fictional in one sense, but real in another since we all have the capacity to live from the most mature, wise, and kind versions of ourselves. And when I feel hurt, it usually comes from a combination of the actions of others (often coming from their hurt and reactive parts) and the hurt and reactive parts of me interpreting what happened.

There are many other ways to do this. For instance any form of parts work (Voice Dialog, Big Mind process, Internal Family Systems) or a form of inquiry (The Work of Byron Katie, Living Inquiries).

Some may say that it’s not really mended if it’s just in our imagination. It’s true that the reconciliation may be deeper and more embodied when it happens in real life with the people involved. And yet, it’s real enough even if it happens “just” in our imagination. It’s real for us. It’s real for our mind and our system. It’s real for us to the extent it’s wholehearted, genuine, sincere, visceral, and lived.

And doing it within ourselves can be a good stepping-stone for doing it in life, when and if that’s possible.

Note: What Almodóvar did in Pain & Glory is similar to Alejandro Jodorowsky’s psychomagic acts. Creating this film – where he mends three important relationships in his life – is a psychomagic act.

Read More

Nausicaä & Teto

In Nausicaä of The Valley of the Wind, Nausicaaä meets a vicious fox-squirrel. It jumps on her shoulder and bites into her finger. She remains calm and says “there is nothing to fear”. The fox-squirrel calms down and eventually becomes her friend. She says “you were just a little scared, weren’t you”. (About 12:25 into the movie.)

This is similar to befriending scared parts of ourselves. They can seem vicious, reactive, and fearsome. Our tendency may be to recoil and pull back – or to struggle with them in another way. And that tends to reinforce the reactivity dynamic and the cycle repeats.

If we instead – as Nausicaä – relate to these parts of us with some understanding, kindness, and curiosity, we may shift out of the old cycle. These parts of us may feel more understood and safe, allowing them to relax a bit. We may get to know them a little better. We may even befriend them. And the whole dynamic changes.

The main key is our orientation. Our understanding that fear is behind both the scary parts of us and how we have habitually reacted to them, and when it was initially formed it came from an intention to protect us. Despite surface appearances, it comes from a kind intention. This understanding allows us to meet it with some kindness, curiosity, and patience.

Another key is to notice and allow. Notice what’s here – what’s surfacing and how I react to it. Allow it as it is. And, depending on my experience and practice, explore the different components of what’s happening and see how they work together.

This topic is also a reminder of something else: How I relate to nature and other beings reflect how I relate to myself. As I find more kindness towards myself and the different parts of me, it tends to shift how I relate to nature as a whole and other beings in general.

P.S. Nausicaä of The Valley of the Wind is an early Hayao Miyazaki movie. While the animation is a little rough and the music at times terrible, the story is powerful.

Read More

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

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

– a quote from this dialog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dialog with one who has lived for generations.

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

Yes.

How do you see the world?

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

Does it mean you are detached?

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

It sounds a bit like the wisdom of the Buddha?

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

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

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

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

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

How do you see the world today?

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

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

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

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

Is there a question you would like to be asked?

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

What do you enjoy the most?

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

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

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

Is there anything you are tired of?

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

Is there anything else you are currently learning?

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

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

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

What music, art, and books do you like?

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

Is it possible to make a mistake?

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

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

What do you think about conditioning?

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

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

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

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

And how this universe works is conditioning.

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

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

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

How do you see non-dual spirituality?

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

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

That sounds a bit harsh?

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

To be continued…

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

Sincerity on the spiritual path

Professor Broom: In medieval stories, there is often a young knight who is inexperienced, but pure of heart.
John Myers: Oh, come on. I am not pure of heart.
Abe Sapien(who’s psychic) Yes, you are.
Professor Broom: Rasputin is back for him. What I’m asking of you is to have the courage to stand by him when I am gone. He was born a demon; we can’t change that. But you will help him, in essence, to become a man.

– from Hellboy (2004), quoted in Wikipedia

One of the most valuable qualities on a healing and spiritual path is sincerity, a pure heart. As Broom says, this is a recurrent theme in some of the traditional legends and perhaps most famously the grail legend (Perceval).

Sincerity allows us to be more honest with ourselves, and that’s essential for emotional healing, awakening, and embodiment.

Is also essential for having a meaningful and juicy relationship with ourselves and others, one that allows for authenticity, growth, and surprises.

If we have some sincerity, it doesn’t matter so much if we are young or inexperienced on the path we are on. Sincerity is gold, and we can always learn tools and we will gain experience.

Is sincerity something we can learn or develop? Perhaps not. But I can notice when I am not sincere and I can then shift into sincerity.

Sometimes, it’s not so easy. We may be caught in fear of a situation or something coming up in us and retreat into defensiveness to try to stay safe. That’s OK. Again, it helps to notice. I can be honest with myself about what happened. And that, in itself, is sincerity.

It also helps to notice what in me takes me away from sincerity. What is the fear about? What is the fearful story? What beliefs do I find? Identifications? And then explore it further, befriend it (find healing for my relationship to it), and perhaps find healing for the issue itself.

As I wrote the second paragraph (“Sincerity allows us….”), I noticed a synchronicity in the lyrics of the song I was listening to:

There are times when a man needs to brave his reflection,
And face what he sees without fear,
It takes a man to accept his mortality,
Or be surprised by the presence of a tear.

– Sting and Rob Mathes, I love her but she loves someone else

Image: The Achievement of the Grail by British Artist Sir Edward Burn-Jones design, William Morris execution and John Henry Dearle flowers and decorations, from the Holy Grail tapestries 1891-94, Museum and Art Gallery of Birmingham, wool and silk on cotton warp.

Serving oneself

I watched the 2017 documentary about Spielberg, and one of the many things that struck me was when someone said he is totally unselfconscious and it’s almost as if he is an employee of Spielberg.

If that’s true, and it seems there is a good amount of truth in it, it’s one piece of the explanation for how he has been able to so wholeheartedly do what he loves and be so productive, make movies across many different genres, with such skill, and for so long. He has been getting out of his own way.

So the question for me is, if I am an employee of Per (this human being here), how can I best serve him? How can I be a really great employee? What would I do in this situation? How would I approach this task if I was an employee of Per?

Again, this is a very simple pointer or inquiry, and if we apply and follow it, it can be life transforming.

Spoilers?

Many seem concerned with wanting to avoid “spoilers” for movies, and that’s fine.

In my case, I notice that the more I know about a movie in advance, the deeper and richer my experience is. I don’t care about being surprised. I want a richer experience.

So perhaps those who enjoy the surprise prefer to avoid “spoilers”, and those who want a richer experience don’t mind advance knowledge?

Either approach is fine, of course, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s connected with personality traits. And it’s clearly influenced by culture and sub-cultures.

Life is set up so it’s a mix of likely spoilers while inherently being spoiler-free. We may have ideas about what’s likely to happen but what actually happens is a surprise – either in the details or even the main plots.

Read More

Life of Brian

I rewatched parts of the documentary The Secret Life of Brian about Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

And I was reminded that the controversy wasn’t about the movie making fun of Jesus (which it didn’t) but that it made fun of religious people and Christians in particular (which it very much did).

It’s interesting how both the makers and those offended seemed to buy into the “offended on behalf of Jesus” line while something else is really going on.

Those who were offended were offended because the movie made fun of them – of the flaws and misguided views and actions of many religious people – and they couldn’t take it. Most likely, it hit home too closely. And that was something they couldn’t admit.

Just to mention it: I love Jesus as he is depicted in the New Testament (whether he existed as a historical person or not), but I don’t have much fondness for much of what Christianity evolved into. I guess that’s why I, and many others, like the movie.

Read More

Dream factory

I saw the Hollywood Costume exhibit in LA a couple of years ago.

It was fun. And it also made the dream factory aspect of Hollywood very obvious. They are explicitly and openly in the business of (a) producing compelling dreams that (b) people will invest with emotional energy so it (c) seems real, substantial, charged, fascinating, and attractive to them, and they (d) seek it out and are willing to pay money for the experience.

It’s a manipulative business. But since it’s so explicit it’s also honest. We know what’s going on, and we – to a large part – chose to which degree we wish to participate. (The other side of this is that we get to vicariously experience a great deal we otherwise wouldn’t, which enriches our lives and – in the best case – help us learn and grow.)

Since the dream factory function of Hollywood is so obvious and excaggerated, it’s easy to see and explore there. And that can help us see similar dynamics in other areas of human life.

The dream factory side of the entertainment industry in general is pretty clear. But it’s also there in most or all businesses. Most or all organizations. And also in all religions.

All are in the business of creating dreams that people invest with emotional energy, draw themselves into, and are willing to invest time, energy, and sometimes money to experience more of.

There is nothing inherently wrong in this. But it’s good to be aware of.

Read More

Song of the sea

I just watched Song of the Sea, and thought it was a beautiful and heartfelt movie. (One of my favorite bands, Kila, made the music, which is how I got interested in it.)

There is always a lot to be said about stories and how they reflect parts and dynamics in each of us.

In this case, the sister represent intuition, a deeper knowing, and nature connection. The brother a more intellectual knowing, which sometimes leads him astray, until he finds his heart. We all have these two, and they sometimes are at odds with each other, and sometimes more closely aligned. The heart is what brings these two together, as it does in the movie.

The own witch takes away pain by turning herself and others into stone. (Going numb.) We all do that too, in areas of ourselves, and sometimes. It can seem scary to feel, and yet that’s how we thaw, and also how we find our heart.

And the movie is also a reminder that we are nature. We may think we are disconnected from nature, or more connected with nature, which is true in a limited sense. And more truly, we are already nature. We are nature having all these feelings, emotions, thoughts, ideas, impulses, lives. Even our culture and civilization and technology is nature. It’s nature temporarily taking these forms. And when we see it, something shifts. (Similar to how the brother shifted in this movie.)

Read More

We are what we fear

In the classic cave scene from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes back, Luke Skywalker meets his nemesis and representative of the dark side, Darth Vader. After a brief sword fight, Luke decapitates Darth Vader, and sees his own face inside of Darth’s helmet.

Luke is what he fears the most. He is the dark side.

That’s how it is for all of us. We are what we fear. And that’s true in a few different ways.

It’s happening within and as what I am. It’s all happening within my world. It’s happening within and as (my) awareness. When it’s here, in awareness, it’s what I am.

The world is my mirror. Whatever I see “out there” in the wider world or someone else, is what I know from myself. Whatever stories I have about the world and other people, I can turn them around to myself, and find specific examples of how it’s true. (It may not look the same, or be expressed the same way, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find the same here as I have stories about in others.)

It pushes back. When I try to push something away in myself, and in the world, it tends to push back. It wants in. It wants to be acknowledged. Life is kinder than allowing me to reject something for good.

And why? Because life invites me to see what’s more real and true than my initial beliefs about it.

Life invites me to…. Recognize it as happening within and as what I am. Find in myself, as a human being, what I see in others and the wider world. Realize we are all in the same boat.

Life invites me to…. Meet it – the fear and what I fear – with respect, kindness, curiosity. Take a closer look and examine by beliefs about it, and how my perception of it is created by my own mind.

Life invites me to see that what I fear is not how it initially appears. (That doesn’t mean we become passive bystanders to injustice or cruelty, or approve of it. On the contrary. We are in a much better position to do something the more clear and mature we are in our relationship to it.)

How does it push back? We may find ourselves in situations where we encounter it again. We may replay a situation in our minds. We may have certain qualities or emotions surface in ourselves.

For instance, if I see anger as bad and try to push it away, I’ll still find myself in situations where people are angry, perhaps even at me. I’ll still replay memories of people being angry, or imagine someone being angry with me in the future. I’ll still experience anger, even if it’s pushed down and perhaps comes out as frustration or restlessness, or even feeling flat. It doesn’t go away.

P.S. I am aware that the usual interpretation(s) of the cave scene is slightly different. I imagine the more standard interpretation is that Luke has the potential to go over to the dark side, just as his father did. He has the anger. The impulsiveness. The restlessness. He is his father’s son, in that way. The cave experience is a warning, and also an invitation for him to recognize this in himself and take it seriously.

Read More

Deep wounds and deep caring

I am rewatching X-Men Days of Future Past, and it’s reminding me of what can happen when there is a combination of deep wounding and deep caring. It’s also easter, and that too is reminding me of this theme.

Raven, and to some extent Eric, both were deeply wounded, and deeply care. And it sometimes comes out in reactive ways. Ways that hurt themselves more, and hurt others too.

I see the same in Judas. There too, I imagine a deep caring, and deep wounds, combining to bring him to do what he did. To give the person he deeply loved to those who wanted to do away with him.

And I see the same in myself. I see what happens when there is deep caring, and deep wounding, and acting from reactiveness. It hurts me further, and it hurts those around me.

Sometimes, it’s not very obvious. Sometimes, it’s in what I am not doing rather than what I am doing. And yet, I see the same pattern there. A combination of deep caring, deep wounding, and acting from reactiveness rather than a more clear and kind intention.

Deep wounds come from deep caring. They are an expression of deep caring. And, as Xavier said, Just because someone stumbles and loses their way, it doesn’t mean they’re lost forever. Sometimes we all need a little help.

Interstellar: Earth vs Space

I finally got around to watch Interstellar, and liked it very much. I thought it was very moving at times, the story was tight, and I like well made science fiction movies in general.

It also brought up the topic of sustainability vs space colonization. To me, those go hand in hand. They both have to do with big picture questions. And knowledge from each may well inform the other. For instance, what we learn from sustainability will be of help if (when?) we create space colonies or terraform other planets, and what we learn from those will give us valuable information about how to live in a more sustainable way back on Earth. (Although we probably should have figured that our before we get around to space colonizes and/or terraforming.)

In the short and medium term, we need to learn to live in a more genuinely sustainable way. (Which will require significant reorganization of how we do just about everything, including our institutions.)

In the medium and long term, we need to explore space further, and learn to move beyond this planet. We need, as so many points out, to become an multi-planet species. We need to branch out. It’s what life does. It’s part of our built-in draw to adventure and exploration. It’s how Earth will propagate. It’s what’s necessary if Earth life is to continue beyond the lifespan of this one planet and solar system. It’s what’s prudent, considering that having just one location for Earth life is far more precarious than two, or more.

All life propagates, and Earth is a living system, so why wouldn’t Earth propagate? In that sense, we are in service of Earth life. We are the part of Earth that may be able to make it happen.

And although Interstellar contrasts sustainability with space colonization, it’s the type of movie that makes these ideas more mainstream. It’s part of spreading these ideas, making them familiar, and even attractive.

Read More

What’s left out

I haven’t watched American Sniper, but from the trailer – and just knowing it’s a Hollywood movie – I assume it’s presented as “apolitical”, and the main character as a slightly conflicted hero.

If that’s the case, what’s left out is quite glaring: He participated in illegal wars, mainly created to serve corporate (and political) interests. And he, most likely, saw himself as serving his country, and doing his job. Which may be true, but is secondary to him choosing to be an active participant in very questionable foreign policies. The US foreign policies and military actions may well create more enemies and terrorists than they are preventing or getting rid of, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that too is left out of this movie.

By leaving these things out, the US movie producers are doing their job, which is (a) to make money, and (b) not question the actions of the US government in any serious way. (If they do so, they mostly focus on more harmless fringe issues.)

If this was a movie….

If this was a movie, what would be the meaning of this?

If you were the director, what would you change? How would you write the sequel?

 These are excellent questions from a conversation I recently had with Bonnie G.

Read More

Pixar: Inside Out

I am happy to see that the parts view is used in popular movies.

It’s easy to grasp, since it’s so close to how we experience it anyway. And it can be quite illuminating, and – as this movie shows – entertaining.

Truman Show

I first saw The Truman Show with friends from the Zen center, and was immediately struck by the – almost too obvious – parallels with the story of the Buddha, and of each of us as we begin to see through what we take as real and true. I later read that it was, indeed, the intention of the creators of the movie.

Here are some things that come to mind:

Truman is the only “true” one in the TV show. He is also each of us, the “true” man in the sense of universal man.

He takes his world as real and solid, and “accepts the world presented to him”.

He begins to see that his world is not as it appears. Little hints here and there makes him suspicious that his world is not as it first appeared to him.

He seeks the truth.

This brings up fears. It’s a threat to his identity. It’s a threat to who he takes himself to be and what he takes the world to be.

His world creates apparent obstacles to finding the truth. This is a reflection of how our mind sometimes brings up fears and reasons for not pursuing the truth, since it means giving up our familiar identities, identifications, and how we see ourselves and the world. It can feel threatening.

He persists, since he wants truth more than comfort and safety.

And he finds reality, or at least what’s more real. Reality reveals itself to him.

Although this is not part of the movie, it’s possible that after having explored the “real world” for a while, he’ll be disillusioned about it. He may have his hopes and dreams dashed. He may regret having sought it out. And if he continues to persist in finding what’s more true for him, he may find a deeper peace with himself and his world.

This parallels the typical phases – or sometimes facets – of an awakening process. (a) Taking our world as it appears to us, without much questioning. (b) Initial curiosity, interest. Initial quest to find what’s more true. (c) Facing some unloved/unquestioned fears and identifications. (e) Early release from identifications. Honeymoon phase. (f) Facing deeper unloved/unquestioned fears and identifications. (g) A deeper peace with what is. (h) Repeat variations of f-g. (?)

Read More