Finding myself as consciousness

Finding myself as consciousness seems a kind of default.

As a child, I remembered the time between lives. I was consciousness, everything was consciousness. All was light. There was a sense of being profoundly at home. At a visceral level, it was and is home.

Later in childhood, I had moments of oneness with the universe. I experienced myself as the universe, locally expressed as this boy. Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (“We are the eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the Universe. We are the Universe bringing itself into consciousness”), along with being out in nature and seeing the stars, were part of triggering it.

Then, there was the shift into kind of finding myself as consciousness. The world, including anything that had to do with this human self, seemed very distant and far away. This happened for a year when I was fifteen. (I say “kind of” since the viewpoint is from something separate from the world.)

And then, there was the shift into oneness. Into all as the divine, or as I would say now, all as consciousness. My world is consciousness. The consciousness I am forms itself into all of it.

There are times when my nature as consciousness is more strongly in the foreground, for instance, when I do meditation, inquiry, or just notice. (And also at times when my body struggles, as it did when it had a septic shock a couple of years ago.) Other times, it goes more into the background, for instance when I am focused on an activity or if I get caught up in parts of me still caught up in separation consciousness. Even then, bringing my nature into the foreground is just an intentional noticing away.

Unsurprisingly, there are still (many?) parts of this psyche that operate from separation consciousness. They were formed within separation consciousness and haven’t quite caught up with the more global noticing of my nature. My psyche mimicked what it saw other humans do, and created these patterns and dynamics for itself. These parts of me inevitably color my perception, choices, and life. And sometimes, I as a whole get caught up in them and take myself to be these parts of me, forgetting all the rest of the infinite richness and what it all happens within and as.

All of that is OK. It’s natural. It comes from an innocent place and a – understandable and often misguided – wish to take care of this human self. Even the occasional struggle with it is natural and OK. Even that is ultimately innocent. (Even if the consequences can be painful.)

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The simplest view

There is a view that explains nearly all of the big questions humans have, and does so in a simple, logical, and elegant way.

That view is that all is Spirit, all is God, the divine, Brahman, Allah1.

The world and all of existence is the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways. What we take ourselves to be is a local expression of the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself.

It explains just about all the big questions and does so in a satisfying way.

As a bonus, it also happens to fit our own immediate noticing when we find our more fundamental nature2.

It explains the question of evil, our relationship with the divine, what the meaning of life is, and much more3.

The main question it doesn’t explain is how there is something rather than nothing4. To me, that’s completely baffling. It stops my mind and I cannot find even the beginning of an answer.

It also doesn’t really explain what happens after the death of this human self. To myself, I am the timeless that time happens within, I am what the appearance of birth and death happens within and as. And yet, that doesn’t mean that the consciousenss I am continues after the death of this human self. It may continue and it may disappear with the body. I cannot know for certain. It’s tempting to say that consciousness continues but if I am honest, I have to admit I don’t know and cannot know.

It leaves some things open, which is how it should be. It leaves the things I don’t need to know now open. It leaves it to be discovered at another time, or not.

And, as any view, it’s a question about the world. It’s something for us to explore.

(1) To some with a Western materialistic mindset, it may seem fantastical and unnecessary. And yet, is it any more amazing that all is God than that all is matter? To me, they seem about equally improbable and fantastical, and the former is – in many ways – more logical. (This also has to do with what we mean by God and what images we have of God. I am not talking about the standard Christian or theistic God here.)

(2) I find I am what my field of experience happens within and as. I am the consciousness that forms itself into any and all experiences that happen here. To me, the world is the play of consciousness. It’s lila.

(3) Evil = part of the play of the divine. Our relationship with the divine = we are a part of the larger divine whole. The meaning of life = for the divine to experience itself as and through us and everything.

(4) Some say it’s because of God, but that’s not an answer since God is something rather than nothing. Some also say that it is all nothing, which is technically true in that all appears as consciousness and not a “thing”. That too is missing the point since there are still appearances. When I say “something” I include appearances, anything that’s not a complete absence.

Image by me and Midjourney

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Many and one onenesses

I like to differentiate between a small (psychological) and a big (spiritual) understanding of awakening. Each view adds and highlights something important.

For instance, are we one or many?

BIG UNDERSTANDING OF ONE AND MANY

From a big or spiritual understanding of awakening, we can say that the divine is one and yet takes innumerable forms, including as any and all beings.

There is nothing wrong with that view. That’s how I see it too.

SMALL UNDERSTANDING OF ONE AND MANY

And a small or psychological understanding of awakening adds something important.

Here, we focus more on our own experience and don’t assume that existence as a whole is as it appears to us.

To myself, I am consciousness, and the world to me happens within and as the consciousness I am. This consciousness and experience of the world is one. I am the oneness the world, to me, happens within and as.

I assume it’s the same for others. They too are fundamentally consciousness, operating through whatever body and psyche is there. They too are oneness to themselves.

From this view, we are all one. The world inevitably appears as one to us. We are many onenesses.

We can also say that existence, most likely, in itself is one. We can add the view from science, which tells us existence is one in that it’s a seamless system. And we can add the view from the big understanding of awakening, telling us it’s all one in that it’s all Spirit, the divine, Brahman, and so on.

MANY AND ONE ONENESSES

In a sense, we are many and one onenesses.

In my immediate experience, I am one, and the world to me happens within and as that oneness.

From a small understanding of awakening, I assume others too are fundamentally consciousness to themselves. They too are a oneness and the world, to them, happens within and as that oneness.

From science, it makes sense to see the universe and all of existence as one system and a seamless whole.

And from a big understanding of awakening, I see all as Spirit. It’s all the play of Spirit or the divine, including when it takes the local form of this being and all beings.

MY STORY

How has this played out for me?

The initial oneness shift happened when I was sixteen. In my direct perception, all was one. And to make sense of it through my mental representations, I definitely fell into the big understanding. I saw it all as God and Spirit taking any and all forms, including anything about this human self.

I was already into systems views (I loved Fritjof Capra’s writings which I discovered when I was fourteen or fifteen). So intellectually, I saw the universe as one seamless system. A holarchy made up of innumerable holons.

The small or psychological understanding of awakening was there, somewhere in the background, but I didn’t emphasize it so much and I didn’t differentiate the two as clearly as I do now. That came more over time, especially as I saw how useful it can be to make that differentiation.

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Flashbacks to before this life and oneness

When I was little, I had flashbacks to the time before this life. It was a profound sense of belonging and love. All was consciousness. I was disembodied. I saw it all as a kind of golden light. It was mostly timeless, with time seeming very faint and distant. And so on.

I didn’t think about it or try to make sense of it. Probably because I was little, and also because I didn’t have any mental frameworks to put it into. It just happened, and I was briefly transported back to how it was. I also didn’t connect it with anything relating to religion or spirituality, because I was little, because what I heard about religion seemed to have no connection with it, and because I grew up in a family and culture where religion and spirituality didn’t play much of a role.

FLASHBACKS, LONGING, SIMPLE DUALITY, ONENESS

This all happened before school age. Later in childhood, I had a deep sense of longing with me. This was a longing I couldn’t satisfy with anything, and I didn’t consciously connect it with the flashbacks.

When the oneness shift happened in my mid-teens, I realized that this is what the longing had been about, and it was also closely related to the flashbacks.

In my memory from before this life, there was a kind of oneness. It was a oneness that wasn’t aware of itself, locally through and as me, as oneness.

THE ONENESS I AM EXPERIENCING ITSELF IN DIFFERENT WAYS

Looking back, this is all somewhat interesting.

It does seem that the time between lives was a time in and as oneness, but without being conscious of it as that. Then, it became a memory and longing.

Then, there was a simple duality of observer and observed. (This happened at age 15. The world and any and all content of experience seemed very distant and I thought something was profoundly wrong.)

At age 16, there was a oneness shift with the oneness I am consciously aware of itself as that.

And since then, an exploration from within and as that oneness.

MEMORIES

Of course, I know that memories are unreliable. Memories are here and now. They are the mind’s way to construct an apparent past. They are constructed and accurate and inaccurate to varying degrees. We may even have images about a past that never happened, even if our mind tells us it’s a memory.

At the same time, there are things that suggests that this was a real memory. It happened spontaneously in early childhood. I later learned that it mirrors what some describe from a near-death experience (NDE). And it does also fit what some religious and spiritual traditions describe.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter so much. What matters is the oneness.

TWO FORMS OF ONENESS

Since I write about oneness here, it may be worth mentioning that there are two kinds of oneness.

One is the oneness inherent in all of existence. It’s all a seamless whole. We and everything are expressions of this oneness. To us, that oneness happens within the story level.

The other oneness is the oneness I am, and I assume we all are to ourselves. To myself, I am fundamentally consciousness, and as consciousness, I am one. To me, the world happens within and as the consciousness I am. It appears like a dream to me since it happens within and as consciousness, just like night dreams and any experience.

In this sense, all conscious beings are a oneness. We are all, to ourselves, consciousness, even if the bodies and psychology we operate through are unique in each case. In this sense, there are multiple onenesses in the world.

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The only thing I can know for certain and what it says about my nature 

What can I know for certain?

CONTENT OF EXPERIENCE

When I explore this, I find I cannot say anything for certain about anything within the content of my experience. I cannot say for certain anything about the world, others, God, or even myself. I cannot even know for certain I am this human self in the world that others, my passport, and my thoughts say I am. (That person could, for instance, be a dream or fantasy or simulation.)

I can say something about how something appears to me, but not anything for certain about what or how it is in itself.

And that’s OK. I can still navigate the world and be as good a steward as possible of this life and what’s in my life.

THERE IS CONSCIOUSNESS

So is there anything I can know for certain?

Yes, there is. I can know for certain that there is consciousness. There is consciousness that is conscious of all this content of experience.

If I said “I am conscious”, it would go beyond what I can know something about for certain. This “I” would be an assumption and something within the content of experience – a human self, an observer, a doer, or something similar. I can just say that there is consciousness and something happening within that consciousness, some kind of content of experience.

HOLDING IT ALL LIGHTLY

Intellectually, we can take this as a curiosity or something interesting or fascinating.

And it also has some practical real-life implications.

For instance, it means that it’s wise of me to hold any ideas I have about anything and anyone more lightly. I cannot know for certain that any of it is accurate.

This especially applies when I notice a tendency in me to hold a certain story as true, when it has a charge for me. The charge doesn’t mean it’s true. It just means there is a charge. It just means a part of me holds it as true, and that there is some identification and an emotional issue there.

And, as mentioned above, I can still navigate and function in the world. I can use my experience, discernment, and best guesses and make the best choices I can. It’s just about holding it all a bit more lightly.

EXPLORING MY NATURE

There is also an invitation here to explore what I more fundamentally am in my own experience.

If I cannot say anything for certain about this human self, or even that it is who or what I am, what does that mean? Can this human self be what I most fundamentally am? Perhaps I more fundamentally am something else?

When I look, I find that to myself, I am more fundamentally something else. I am what any content of experience happens within and as. I am what this metaphorical field of experience happens within and as. I am capacity for the experiences that are here.

Said with other words… To myself, I am consciousness and the world, to me, happens within and as this consciousness. All I know is consciousness, and it takes all the forms of the content of my experience. In this sense, night dreams and waking life are not so different. They both happen within and as the consciousness I am.

This consciousness is capacity for any experience here. It forms itself into any experience. It’s inherently one. It can take apparently infinite forms. It can even pretend it’s something within itself – for instance this human self or a more abstract doer or observer – with an “I” and “other”.

The word “consciousness” is just a pointer. My nature is something that can just be pointed to and not captured by words or mental representations. (And in that, it’s the same as anything else.)

EXPLORING IT FOR OURSELVES

We can explore this in different ways.

We can investigate it intellectually, which helps align our conscious view a little more with reality.

And we can explore it in our own direct noticing.

We can investigate any thought we hold as true and find what’s more true for us, for instance using The Work of Byron Katie.

We can explore our sense fields and what’s in each one, and how the mental field functions as a kind of overlay to make sense of the world. We can use traditional Buddhist inquiry or modern variations like the Kiloby Inquiries.

And we can explore our nature more directly using pointers from, for instance, the Big Mind process and Headless experiments.

Our nature can notice itself and metaphorically wake itself up from the dream of being most fundamentally something within its content of experience, whether this happens to be this human self, a doer, an observer, or something else. It can make this noticing into a habit. It can explore how to live from and as this noticing. It can allow and support this human self to reorganize within this conscious noticing of its nature. And so on.

This is an ongoing exploration, and it can be profoundly transforming for our perception, human self, and life in the world.

IN MY CASE

This was revealed in the initial awakening shift in my teens.

All was revealed as consciousness, without exception. And any sense of fundamentally being anything in particular within the content of experience – the world of form – was revealed as the temporary play of consciousness.

At the same time, many parts of this psyche were formed within separation consciousness and still operate from separation consciousness. And that’s why it’s been helpful with these types of explorations and inquiries. It helps get more of me on board and aligned with it.

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Awake without realizing it?

Is it possible to be awake without realizing it?

Is it possible for the oneness we are to recognize itself without realizing it?

It sounds almost like a contradiction, but I would say yes.

AWAKE WITHOUT KNOWING

Without having any statistics, I assume many who would be considered awake are not aware of it. They may have been born that way and live their lives mostly from it, without realizing it has any labels and without being interested in any labels.

The oneness they are recognizes itself and lives from that noticing.

It recognizes itself as the field that any and all experiences happen within, including of this human self.

It may not be that conscious all of the time. There may not be the realization that this is different from how most other onenesses perceive and life. It may not happen all of the time.

And yet, there is a general awakening without realizing that’s what it is or that it has any name.

To others, and maybe to themselves, they likely just seem like a normal and relatively healthy, sane, and kind human being.

TASTES WITHOUT KNOWING

Similarly, most or all of us have tastes of it without realizing that’s what it is, or what’s going on.

The oneness we are recognizes itself without perhaps being very conscious of it or having any names for it.

It’s just something that happens. It may happen more easily in certain situations, and we may attribute it to those situations. What happens is that we forget about ourselves. We literally forget to identify as this separate self and find ourselves as what’s left – this open field of experience. This can happen any time we are absorbed in what’s happening, for instance reading a book, doing art, being in a flow state, sex, drugs, music, yoga, martial art, sports, or something else.

When the oneness we are recognizes itself, it’s not really a state. It’s the field that any and all experiences happen within and as that recognizes itself. And yet, it may seem like a state since it comes and goes in time. It’s interpreted as a state. (That’s not entirely wrong. In this case, it is a state in that it comes and goes. And it is the state of the oneness we are recognizing itself.)

WHO & WHAT WE ARE

I’ll give a brief background, even if this is included in a lot of other articles here.

In one sense, we are this human being in the world. That’s what the passport tells us, it’s what others tell us, and it’s what our thoughts may tell us. It seems real, and it’s not wrong.

And yet, to ourselves, in our own first-person experience, we may find we are something else. When I look in my own first-person experience, I find I am more fundamentally capacity for the whole field of experience that’s here. I find I am what this whole field of experience happens within and as.

This is what’s often labeled awakening.

It can happen as an intuition or a glimpse. Recognizing it can be a habit. Our metaphorical center of gravity can shift from taking ourselves as this human self (a separate self) to finding ourselves as this field. We can explore to life from this noticing. We can invite the different parts of our psyche, often formed within and operating from separation consciousness, to join this oneness. And so on.

A RANGE

This article points to a range of different things. It can be the oneness we are intuiting itself. Our center of gravity being shifted towards oneness. Mostly living from – and as – oneness. Or any combination of these. And without being very consciously aware of what’s going on or having any labels or theoretical maps for it.

That’s wonderful. It’s just as wonderful and interesting as having maps.

And it’s perhaps simpler and less contrived, which has its own beauty.

Glimpses of Spirit

The oneness we are can experience itself in innumerable ways.

Here are two ends of a typical spectrum.

(a) The oneness we are takes itself to be this human self. It takes itself to be something within its field of experience, as a separate self, and in our case this human self. This is what’s most common in the world today.

(b) The oneness we are recognizes itself as oneness. It recognizes that any experience happens within and as itself. To ourselves, the world happens within and as what we are. It happens within and as the consciousness we are.

In between those two is a field of almost endless possibilities.

I’ll mention a few common experiences on that spectrum. What they all have in common is that they are a mix of direct perception and an overlay of interpretation, and that overlay is not quite recognized for what it is.

GLIMPSES OF SPIRIT

I’ll first mention a particular experience and then write a few words about the essence of what’s going on, the more fundamental reality of it, and the filters that make it appear the way it does. I’ll also mention the invitation or opportunity in it.

A sense of the divine. Or that we are more than “just” a human self in the world

The oneness we are takes itself as a separate self, as something in particular within its field of experience. At the same time, it senses or intuits what it more fundamentally is. And it interprets this as a sense of the divine somewhere, and that we are more than this limited human self. Both of those are accurate. The invitation is to explore this sense of the divine and that we may be more than this human self.

A sense of a tree (or anything) looking back at me

The oneness we are takes itself to fundamentally be a separate self looking out at the world.

In reality, the world to us happens within and as what we are. To us, the world – including trees and anything else – happens within and as the consciousness we are. It’s then easy to have an experience of a tree or anything else being sentient and even looking back at us.

It is, in a sense, accurate. Although it’s more accurate that all of it happens within and as the consciousness we are.

A sense of Spirit in nature

We may have a sense of Spirit in nature, of nature as divine. This is a variation of the previous one.

In reality, the world to us happens within and as what we are. To us, it happens with and as the consciousness we are. To us, the world and any experience is more fundamentally consciousness. The consciousness we are takes the form of any and all content of our experience.

When the oneness we are takes itself to fundamentally be a separate self (not quite true), and it also senses its field of experience as happening within and as consciousness, it can interpret it as “Spirit in nature”.

The invitation here is to find a bit more clarity about what’s happening and notice that our whole field of experience happens within and as the consciousness we are.

A sense of being a self that’s one with all

The oneness we are takes itself to fundamentally be something within its content of experience, a separate self. (Not accurate.)

In reality, the consciousness we are is inherently one. Our field of experience – that the world to us happens within and as – is inherently one.

Because of the assumption of separation, and the habit of taking itself as a separate self, this is interpreted as “this self is one with all”. The noticing of oneness is accurate but it gets “hijacked” by the assumption of most fundamentally being a separate self.

The invitation here is to take a closer look and notice that any experience of a self or separate self also happens within the field of consciousness. It comes and goes as any other content of experience. It happens within and as the consciousness we more fundamentally are.

A sense of having had it and then lost it

The oneness we are may notice itself as oneness, or it may notice its whole field of experience as consciousness. It may tell itself that all is consciousness, or that all is Spirit or God.

It may then lose sight of this. It gets caught up in old habits of separation consciousness.

And it tells itself “I had it and then lost it”.

That’s both accurate and not accurate. It’s accurate in that the conscious noticing may be gone. And it’s not accurate in that what we are is always here. In reality, it’s all we have ever known.

The invitation here too is to take a closer look. We may get caught up in some of the experiential side-effect of the initial noticing and take that as the substance of what it’s about. That’s an approach that will fail since any content of experience, any state, comes and goes. So what is it that doesn’t come and go? What’s the real essence in the initial noticing?

A sense of all of existence as the divine

This is a bit different from the other ones. This one is more about dialing back than expanding.

We are, more fundamentally, what the world to us happens within and as. We are what our field of experience happens within and as. To us, the world happens within and as the consciousness we are.

That means that it’s easy to assume that our nature (consciousness) is the nature of all of existence.

After, it inevitably appears that way to us. It’s our direct experience.

And yet, it is an assumption. I cannot know for certain.

It’s good to be honest about this. It’s good to notice and acknowledge that what I find about my own nature doesn’t necessarily apply to all of existence. It’s good to see that what I find may be compatible with a wide range of worldviews – from atheism and materialism to more “spiritual” worldviews.

THE PLAY OF CONSCIOUSNESS

This is all the play of consciousness. It’s the consciousness we are experiencing itself in always new ways.

It’s the oneness we are taking itself as something within its field of experience, and then finding itself as oneness again. And in the process, it may have a sense of the divine in nature, or a tree looking back at itself, or of being a self one with all, and so on.

WHO AND WHAT WE ARE

I’ll say a few words about who and what we are, although I often mention it in these articles.

In one sense, we are a human self in the world. That’s not wrong and it’s an assumption that works quite well.

And yet, if we look in our own first-person experience, we may find something else.

I find I more fundamentally am capacity for the word, I am capacity for my field of experience, for the world as it appears to me.

I am what the world, to me, happens within and as. I am the consciousness the world, to me, happens within and as. I am the oneness the world, to me, happens within and as.

This is the essence of what mystics across times and cultures have described.

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How I visualize when I channel for distance healing

When I channel for myself or others, how do I experience and visualize it?

VISUALIZATION

If I channel for someone else, I ask and visualize the divine doing the work. I make myself and my system available, set an intention, notice what happens to adjust the intention, and the divine is doing all the actual work. (It’s of course doing all the work since it’s all of it including what I take as me.)

I also visualize who or what (an organ, issue, etc.) I am channeling for as the divine, and the divine reorganizing itself. It’s the divine – in the form of what I am channeling for – reorganizing itself.

EXPERIENCE

The experience changes a bit over time and during the session.

I usually get a sense of what I am channeling for through a combination of sensations in my own body and visual images. During the healing session, I usually get different types of information and a sense of what’s happening.

I usually experience the intensity of the energy through the strength of the sensations in my body. And I know that what I am sensing is how the energy is running through my own system and what blocks it’s hitting here. It’s not necessarily saying anything about how strong it is for the recipient.

ONENESS

To me, this is all happening within and as the oneness I am.

There is not any distance inherent in it.

When I sense, I sense sensations in my own body.

And even when I visualize the healing happening “over there”, that “over there” is also happening here and now. It’s happening in my visual images. And it’s happening within and as what I am.

Of course, outside of my experience, there may well be a person here and a person here. And yet, to me, it’s all happening within and as the oneness I am.

TEENS AND NOW

I discovered I could see and sense energies, pick up information at a distance, and invite the divine to reorganize itself “over there” (distance healing) in my mid-teens.

It came as part of the shift into the oneness I am noticing itself, and noticing the world as it appears to me as happening within and as the oneness I am.

I did some healing off and on for some years, but only rarely and for close family and friends. I rarely talked about it.

Some years ago, I got into Vortex Healing and I have channeled more since then. The essence of how I visualize and experience it is the same now and then, as I best can tell.

DESCRIPTIVE NOT PRESCRIPTIVE

This is obviously just my experience and what I write about here is a description.

It’s not an instruction or how anyone else should do it, needs to do it, or even what works best.

It’s how it happens to be for me and it may well shift and change.

Why do I love animals? Why do I love nature?

I recently watched the last season of His Dark Materials, and find I have as much and often more empathy with the dæmons as I do with their human counterpart. (The dæmons are animals representing an aspect of the people, their inner self, anima/animus, or something similar.)

Why do I love animals? Why do I love nature? Why is it sometimes easier to find love for a non-human being than for some fellow humans?

There are many answers and they all (literally) come out of one.

Here are some that come to mind:

MISTREATED

Non-human beings are often mistreated by humans. I tend to side with the underdogs, and in this relationship, non-human beings are almost always the underdogs. I have a natural empathy with non-human beings for that reason. (I know this particular dynamic is rooted in my own history and experiences.)

INNOCENCE & DIFFERENT HISTORY

The natural world has everything from cooperation and care to fights and mercilessness.

At the same time, we see an innocence there. For all their savvy and specific skills, knowledge, and experience, many of them generally function cognitively at the level of human children or babies.

Most non-human species must have mental representations and use them as we do, to orient and function in the world. And yet, it seems they are much less likely to elaborate on and believe these imaginations. They use them in a more simple and direct way.

For many of us, it’s easier to find love for animals. They are simpler. In some ways, they are innocent like children. For that reason, we don’t experience the same friction with them as we do with humans. We don’t experience the clashes of hangups and worldviews we experience with humans. And most of us have been more hurt by humans than non-human beings, we have a different history with them.

For all of these reasons, it’s often easier to find love for non-human beings. And especially the ones we know personally and live with.

MIRROR

Animals mirror me in several different ways. I see myself in them.

They mirror my animal nature. They mirror how I am with a simpler mental field. They mirror how I am minus my more complicated – and complicating – human mental field with elaborate ideas, beliefs, identifications, etc.

And the different animals mirror different parts of me as well. Whatever story I have about any type of animal, I can turn it to myself and find specific and genuine examples of how, where, and when it’s true.

And since I wish to have – and have – some love and care for these parts of me, I have the same towards the beings mirroring these sides of me.

WE ARE CLOSELY RELATED

All Earth life is closely related. We are all, literally, part of the same family. We share ancestors. We are cousins. We are far more similar than we are different. We share far more than what’s unique and different.

We are “we” far more than we are “us” and “them”. And we all know this in our cells and bones and our mind when we subtract our complicated human mental field. Any ideas of separation come from our ideas, not from reality.

PART OF THE SAME SYSTEM

We are all part of the same living and evolving system we call Earth or Gaia.

We are subsystems in larger living systems.

We are subsystems in the larger systems we call the Earth and the universe and all of existence.

We are all expressions of the same larger living wholes.

We are part of the same metaphorical body we call life, Earth, the universe, and existence.

And that’s not just metaphorical or poetry or wishful thinking. It’s what current science tells us.

As Carl Sagan said, we are all the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We are existence bringing itself into consciousness.

We are all the Earth, the universe, and existence expressing, experiencing, and exploring itself temporarily and locally as us.

EXPRESSIONS OF THE DIVINE

We can call existence and reality God, Spirit, or the divine.

Here, we can say that we are all expressions of God, Spirit, or the divine.

We are all the divine expressing, experiencing, and exploring itself temporarily and locally as us.

We are all the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the divine.

We are the divine bringing itself into consciousness through and as us.

PART OF THE ONENESS I AM

There is also another oneness here, and one that’s far more immediate.

In one sense, I am this human being in the world.

Ehen I look in my own first-person experience, I find I am more fundamentally something else. I find I am capacity for the world as it appears to me. I find that the world, to me, happens within and as what I am.

I am the oneness the world, to me, happens within and as.

To me, everything – including any being – is part of the oneness I am.

And to the extent I allow this to sink and infuse and transform my human self, this gives birth to a natural love that’s not dependent on feelings or states. It’s the love of the left hand removing a splinter from the right.

WORDS AND LANGUAGE

I use the word “animal” here since that’s the terminology most people use these days.

In reality, we are all animals. We are all living beings.

There is no reason to create a hard and imagined boundary between us and the rest of Earth life.

We are all closely related. We are all in the same boat. We are all embedded in the same larger living systems. We are all expressions of the evolution of the universe. We are all expressions of existence. We are all the Earth, the universe, and existence expressing, experiencing, and exploring itself through and as us.

When I hear the word “animal” I am reminded of the old Greeks who used a similar mind-created division. They called any non-Greeks barbarians. I assume future generations may see our current human-animal distinction as equally quaint and old-fashioned.

Today, there is a growing awareness of all the many ways racism and sexism is expressed in society and our language. In the future, I assume there will be a similar awareness of how our anthropocentrism is expressed in our language and society, and a movement to change it.

CULTURE & OUR ECOLOGICAL CRISIS

How we see humans versus the rest of life is obviously dependent on our culture.

In some traditional cultures, all life is seen as related and part of the same whole.

The irony is that in our culture, that’s the view of science. Science tells us all life is closely related and part of the same living evolving systems. And yet, most people operate on an outdated and misguided idea of the basic separation of humans from all other life. We operate on misconceptions while we know better.

Why? I assume it’s not just because of tradition and habit. It’s also convenient. It allows us to keep using and abusing non-human beings and nature in general.

And that brings us to saw over the branch we are sitting on. It’s out of alignment with reality, and operating on ideas out of alignment with reality has consequences. In this case, the consequence is the destruction of the living systems we are fully embedded in and dependent on.

NOISE

I’ll add one topic that’s been on my mind since my early teens.

I have personally never liked noise or loud music. I love silence and natural sounds, and less human-created sounds (apart from some music).

And, as far as I can tell from research and personal observations, it seems I share that with most non-human beings.

So why do some humans apparently love noise and loud sounds and music?

I don’t know but I assume it has to do with our noisy and complex mental field and what happens when we take certain (painful) ideas as reality. (Taking any idea as reality is painful in itself, no matter what the idea tells us.) Perhaps the outer noise masks the inner noise, at least for a while? Perhaps it’s a strategy to distract ourselves from our own discomfort and pain?

Perhaps it’s a sign we haven’t found peace with our own experience, as it is? A sign of war with our experience?

In our culture, we act as if we are at war with nature, and we act as if we are at war with our own experience. The two are closely related. They depend on each other. And they may break down together.

FINDING PEACE WITH OURSELVES & PEACE WITH NATURE

In most cases, if we find peace with our experience, we tend to find a deeper love for nature. And finding a deeper love for nature tends to be reflected in finding more peace with our experience.

Of course, both take work. And even if we find this peace, and wish to live in a more peaceful relationship with life in general, we are still living within a social and economic system that is inherently destructive. It was created at a time when we didn’t need to take the limits of nature into account. And now – with increasing human numbers and more efficient technology – it’s obviously destructive to life.

We can personally experience peace with life, but our life is not peaceful to life as long our collective human system is as it is.

It takes personal intention, skill, and work to find peace with our experience.

It will take a similar collective intention, skill, and work to find real peace in our relationship with nature – and transform our collective life so it takes ecological realities into account.

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Oneness through my life

Oneness has been a theme of sorts throughout my life.

FLASHBACKS TO THE TIME BETWEEN LIVES

When I was little, before school age, I had several flashbacks to before this life – when I had no body, all was a golden light, time was a whisper in distance, there was occasional communication with other beings, and all was love, the divine, and oneness. Of course, I didn’t think of it like that at the time. I don’t remember thinking about it at all. It was just something that happened, and I sensed it was profoundly familiar and from before this life, and where I felt the most profoundly at home.

I AM THE LOCAL EYES, EARS, THOUGHTS, AND FEELINGS OF THE UNIVERSE

A few years later, when I was ten years old, I was deeply impacted by the Cosmos TV series by Carl Sagan. I remember going out in the garden after watching the last episode, looking at the night sky filled with stars, and viscerally experiencing that I was – quite literally – the universe bringing itself into consciousness. I am the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. Just like al beings are.

Shortly after this, I was in the mountains in Norway with my father and brother, and we slept out under the stars. It must have been in the fall since the night sky was dark, and again filled with stars. And this time too, there was a shift into a profound visceral sense of the oneness of the universe and all there is.

ALL IS GOD

At sixteen, there was again a shift, and this one didn’t go away. I walked down the gravel road to our house at night, again under a dark sky filled with stars, and a big wind going through it all. From one moment to the next, there was a shift into recognizing all as God. Everything without exception is God.

Everything turned inside-out and upside-down. This human self is God locally experiencing itself as that, and having for a while taken itself as most fundamentally that.

This shift is still here.

FORMS OF ONENESS

There are several forms of oneness.

We can see all of existence as a seamless system. This universe is a seamless evolving system, and galaxies, solar systems, planets, ecosystems, and us are part of that system. We are local expressions of this larger seamless evolving system. Everything is the universe expressing and exploring itself in always new ways, and – through beings – experiencing itself in always new ways. This is a story from science, and it seems accurate in a practical sense.

We can see all as the divine or God, as mystics describe it. God is everything, and everything that we see as distinct things are part of the oneness of the divine. It’s all the divine exploring, expressing, and experiencing itself in always new ways. This is a story when it’s expressed and heard as a story, and it can also reflect immediate noticing.

We can talk about oneness in a more social or metaphorical sense. We as citizens of this nation are one, or we who belong to this political party are one. This is a limited oneness that has an other.

We can also find the oneness we are in our own immediate experience, independent of these stories. We can find it here and now.

In one sense, I am this human self in the world.

And when I look in my own first-person experience, I find something else.

I find I am capacity for my experience of the world. I am capacity for the content of my experience, whether it shows up as sight, sound, smell, taste, sensation, thoughts, or anything else.

I find I am what the world, to me, happens within and as.

I am the oneness the world, to me, happens within and as.

We can explore this oneness through logic and stories, and we can also explore it in our own immediate noticing.

TWO BASIC FORMS OF ONENESS

In reality, there are only two forms of oneness.

One is the oneness found in stories about oneness, which can reflect science, logic, or immediate noticing.

The other is the oneness we can notice here and now.

THE ONENESS WE ARE

The oneness we are can take itself to be something it tells itself to be – a human self, a separate being, a doer, an observer, and so on.

The oneness we are can explore oneness through stories.

And the oneness we are can notice itself in immediacy.

None of these is inherently better than the other. They all have value and a function. But the final one is a bit more fundamental and has more potential for profound transformation.

What does “oneness” mean? Some examples of different forms of oneness

What comes to mind when you hear the word “oneness”? That it always refer to the same? That what it refers to is something mysterious? Something that belongs to certain religions or New Age thought? Something not grounded in reality? Something real you cannot check out for yourself?

The word oneness can refer to several different things and it’s helpful to differentiate.

THE ONENESS WE ARE TO OURSELVES

We may take ourselves to be this human being in the world, and that’s not wrong and it’s an assumption that works reasonably well. 

And yet, if we look more closely in our own first-person experience, we may find something else. We may find that we more fundamentally are capacity for the world – for any content of experience – as it appears to us. And we may find that the world, to us, happens within and as what we are. 

Said another way, we may find that we inevitably are consciousness and that the world, to us, happens within and as this consciousness. 

We can also say that we are oneness, and the world happens within and as this oneness. 

This is the oneness we are and we can explore in our own experience, especially if we are guided by a structured inquiry and someone familiar with the terrain. 

ONE IN A MORE CONVENTIONAL SENSE  

In mainstream culture, we sometimes say we are one – whether that comes from poetry, politics, science, religion, or something else.

We are one in an ethnic or political sense.

We are one in terms of our shared history, either as a group or as humanity.

We are one in terms of our evolution and shared ancestry, either as humanity or all Earth beings.

We are one in that the essence of what we want is the same and shared by all beings. We all wish for comfort and happiness and to avoid suffering.

In some cases, it can be a dangerous rhetoric if it sets “us” up against “them”. And it can be beautiful and healing to the extent it is inclusive.

ONE IN A SYSTEMS SENSE 

We can take this one step further and find oneness in a systems sense.

We are all parts of a seamless system. All of humanity, all of this living planet, all of this evolving universe, all of existence. All of existence is part of a seamless system. 

As Carl Sagan said: We are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We are the universe bringing itself into consciousness. 

ONE IN A SPIRITUAL SENSE 

It’s also possible that all of existence is God or the divine or Spirit. Spirit takes the form of all there is and all we know, including everything connected with this human self. 

It’s all the play of the divine. It’s the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways, as all there is. 

All of existence is divine and one. 

SEVERAL DIFFERENT ONENESSES 

We can find several different onenesses. 

To ourselves, we are the oneness the world happens within and as. 

We are one in several different social, historical, biological, and evolutionary ways. 

We are parts of a seamless system. 

And all can be seen as expressions and explorations of Spirit. 

THE VALIDITY OF EACH 

Each of these ways of talking about oneness has validity, and the validity is slightly different in each case.

I can check the first one for myself. I can find myself as that oneness.

The two next ones make sense within the realm of stories, and I include science here since science produces stories that help us function and navigate in the world.

And the last one is what mystics from all traditions describe. We can say that they found the first kind of oneness and then over-generalized and assumed that their nature is the nature of all of existence. And there are also hints beyond that suggesting that the “all as Spirit” view is valid in itself. (See articles on the small and big interpretations of awakening for more on this.) 

Image: Enso / Zen circle by Sengai

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– When I am with you, I feel I am out here (pointing to the area outside of the body)

A series of events led my wife and me to a realtor who quickly also became a friend, and we talked about energy healing, synchronicities, and so on, all topics she has a growing interest in.

At a café earlier today, she said: “When I am with you, I feel I am out here.” (Gesturing to the space around her body.)

I laughed and said: “That’s the reality”.

WHY OUTSIDE OF THE PHYSICAL BODY?

Why did she experience herself “out there” outside of her physical body?

When the oneness we are is identified with just a part of its content, with this human self, it creates an experience for itself of not only being this human self but somehow contained within this human self.

When the oneness we are recognizes itself, then it recognizes the world – as it appears to itself – as happening within and as itself. It finds itself as oneness. It finds itself as consciousness, and the world – including this human self – happening within and as consciousness.

And in the transition between the two, it often creates experiences for itself like the one our new friend described. It still experiences itself mostly as this human self, out of habit. And it also has a sense of itself as more than that and outside of this human self. There are tastes of oneness, often as glimpses.

This helps us get used to our nature, even if our nature is not recognized very clearly at first. And it often serves as a carrot for continuing our exploration.

WHY WHEN WITH US?

Why did she experience this when she was with us?

As an infant and child, being around onenesses that take themselves to be this human self helps us mimic and learn that for ourselves. It’s what others do, so it’s what we learn to do.

And being around those who recognize their nature helps us recognize our own nature. It’s what they do, so it’s what we learn to do.

Of course, there is a lot more to this. Many things facilitate the process of recognizing our nature, even when we are around others who do. For instance, receptivity, interest, and readiness. Guidance. Active exploration. Effective pointers. And so on.

In this case, it seems she was just ready for it.

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Byron Katie: When you walk in a dream and know it’s a dream, that’s love

When you walk in a dream and know it’s a dream, that’s love.

– Byron Katie

Night dreams and waking life both happen, to me, within and as the consciousness I am. In that sense, waking life and dreams are not very different.

And waking life, to me, is interpreted by my overlay of stories making sense of it, from the most basic stories that outline, differentiate, and label, to the more elaborate ones that tell intricate stories. This too is a kind of dream, it’s a layer of stories created by my own mind.

When I recognize waking life as happening within and as consciousness, as happening within and as what I am, there is love. It’s all happening within and as oneness. It’s a love that comes from recognition and is not dependent on feelings or states.

Similarly, when I recognize my stories as stories, and viscerally get that they are stories, it opens for love. It opens for receptivity, curiosity, and love. And this goes for any stories – about myself, others, situations, the world, life, the divine, my nature, and anything else.

Several onenesses and one oneness

There seem to be several onenesses and one oneness, depending on how I look at it.

SEVERAL ONENESSES

If we use the small or psychological interpretation of awakening, we focus on our first-person experience of what we more fundamentally are. We find our own nature as what we can call capacity for the world and the oneness that the world to us appears within and as. And we don’t make the leap of assuming that our nature is the nature of all of existence. (Even if it will inevitably appear that way since the world, to us, happens within and as what we are.)

This view is compatible with the essence of what mystics of all times and traditions, and outside of traditions, have described. And it’s also compatible with a range of worldviews or assumptions or guesses about what our fundamental nature is in a more outside or objective view, and what the nature of reality is.

For instance, it is compatible with a guess that we most fundamentally, in an objective sense, is this physical human self and that consciousness somehow is created by the biology. To ourselves, we will still be what a thought may label consciousness, and to us the world will still happen within and as consciousness. We will still find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us, and as the oneness the world to us happens within and as.

Here, we can talk about several onenesses.

I find myself as the oneness the world, to me, appears within and as. You find yourself as the oneness the world, to you, happens within and as. And it’s fair to assume – or guess – that this is the case for all conscious beings. If they “have” consciousness, in conventional language, then to themselves they are consciousness. They are capacity for the world as it appears to them. And, to them, the world appears within and as what they are.

These onenesses may live from their nature, and the dynamics of the being they have a special connection with, without being consciously aware of it. (This may be the case for most species.) They may get caught up in a much smaller identity for a while. (Typical for humans.) Or they may notice their nature and live from this noticing. (AKA awakening.)

ONE ONENESS

At the same time, we can say there is one oneness.

Same kind of nature. Our nature – as capacity, oneness, and what we can call consciousness – seems the same for anyone who has reported about it. And, again, it’s fair to assume it’s the same for all conscious beings.

In that sense, there is oneness. There is an oneness of all beings consciousnesses since we seem to have the same kind of nature.

Oneness in perception. To us, all of existence happens within and as the oneness we are. This is another kind of oneness. A oneness in perception.

One system. At a story level, we can see all of existence as a seamless system. Everything is a seamless whole. It’s a holarchy with holons within holons.

All as Spirit. And we can also take the big or spiritual interpretation of awakening and assume – or guess – that the nature of all of existence is the same as our nature. It not only inevitably appears that way to us, it actually is that way too. There are certainly many hints suggesting this, including synchronicities, distance healing, sensing at a distance, and so on.

SEVERAL ONENESSES AND ONE ONENESS

So from a psychological interpretation of awakening, we can say there are several onenesses. Each being is a oneness whether they notice or not.

And we can say there is one oneness. All beings are one in that their nature is of the same kind. We perceive existence as one when we notice our nature. We can see existence as a whole as a seamless system. And the spiritual interpretation of awakening may be accurate, and all of existence is Spirit AKA God, Brahman, and so on.

All of it seems to have a certain validity in its own way.

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My nature is all I know and all I have ever known

When we discover our nature, we also discover something else: Our nature is all we know and all we have ever known.

How can that be possible?

WHAT I AM

In one sense, am this human being in the world.

And when I look a little more closely, I find I am more fundamentally something else in my own first-person experience.

I find my nature is capacity for the world as it appears to me. My nature is what allows any and all experiences – whether it’s of this human self, others, the wider world, or anything else.

I find that the world, to me, happens within and as my sense fields. It happens as sight, sound, sensations, mental representations to make sense of it all, and so on.

I find that the world, to me, happens within and as what I am.

And here, I find that all I have ever known is my nature. My nature has taken all the forms making up the content of my experience – whether it’s sight, sound, smell, taste, sensations, or thoughts. And whether thoughts label it this human self, others, situations, or the wider world.

Everything I see, smell, taste, sense, think, feel, and so on is my nature. It happens within and as what I am. It’s made up of what I am.

Here is another way to say it: To myself, I am consciousness and the world to me happens within and as consciousness. All I know is consciousness. All I know is what I am forming itself into any and all experiences.

If the oneness we are operates from separation consciousness, then this seems weird, or an abstraction, or imagination, or amazing. And when oneness notices itself, then this seems inevitable. It’s difficult to imagine it could be any other way.

Note: What I write about here is a visceral knowing from direct perception and from living it. It’s not an intellectual or conceptual knowing. I assume that’s clear from how I wrote about it, but it doesn’t hurt to clarify.

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Our nature: From conceptual understanding to noticing to finding ourselves as it, and living from it 

This is a variation on an often revisited topic for me, in these writings and in my life since my teens.

When it comes to exploring our own nature – and what we are to ourselves, in our own first-person experience –there are several shifts that can happen. 

The main ones are from conceptual understanding, to direct noticing, to finding ourselves as it. And through it all, we have living from all of this as best we can and inviting our human self and psyche to transform within it.

CONCEPTUAL UNDERSTANDING

We can have a conceptual understanding of our nature and what we are to ourselves, in our own first-person experience.

If presented in a down-to-earth way, it can make logical sense to many if not most.

Some may find it fascinating but of no practical value and nothing to keep exploring. Some may find it fascinating and continue to explore it conceptually, and that won’t bring any real or thorough transformation. Some may use it as a starting point for a more immediate exploration. And some may first notice or find themselves as their nature, and then explore and express it more conceptually.

And any conceptual understanding is refined through our own familiarity with the terrain, and that’s also what grounds it and keeps it real.

DIRECT NOTICING

Then we may directly notice our nature. We notice it in immediacy.

We may notice our nature as capacity. Our nature is capacity for the world as it appears to us. It’s what allows any and all of our experiences to happen. It’s the nothing that allows all things.

We may notice that the world, to us, happens within and as what we are. Any experience – of this human self, others, the wider world, and anything else – happens within and as (what a thought may call) consciousness.

We may notice we are oneness and the world, to us, happens within and as this oneness.

We may find that another word for oneness is love. This is the love of the left hand removing a splinter from the right. And it comes from noticing and finding ourselves as our more fundamental nature, and it’s not dependent on states and feelings.

With some structured pointers, many if not most can notice this, and it can happen relatively quickly. Some will think it’s too simple and look for something else that fits their preconceived ideas. Some will find it interesting but not be drawn to explore it further or explore how to live from it. And some will get t and continue to notice and clarify and explore how to live from it in daily life.

In my experience, Headless experiments, the Big Mind process, and exploring my sense fields are practices that most effectively help me find and notice my nature, along with basic meditation.

FINDING OURSELVES AS IT

Following this, there may be a shift into finding ourselves as capacity, oneness, and so on.

Our metaphorical center of gravity shifts into being our nature. This is what we already and always are, and now our conscious experience of ourselves is more aligned with our more fundamental nature.

These shifts are always grace. We cannot make it happen, although we can prepare the ground through noticing and clarifying and through our sincerity and receptivity. We can also prepare the ground through simple practices like inquiry and basic meditation.

It seems that there is always more to clarify and more to be revealed. Life keeps revealing more of itself to itself through and as us.

LIVING FROM IT

And through it all, we have living from what we notice or what we find ourselves as.

How is it to live from noticing my nature as capacity and oneness?

How is it to live as capacity? As oneness? As love?

How is that expressed here and now in this situation?

What in my human self needs to heal and mature so I can live more fully from and as this?

Living from and as our nature is greatly supported by inquiry and heart-centered practices, and also following some basic ethical guidelines which help us notice when we are out of alignment.

In general, the more our human self is psychologically healed and mature, the easier it is to live from what we notice – or find ourselves as – in more situations and areas of life.

HAPPENING WITHIN AND AS ONENESS

All of this is happening within and as oneness.

In a purely conceptual understanding, oneness takes itself as primarily this human self and doesn’t notice itself or its nature. It may have an intuition or sense of what it is, which fuels an intellectual curiosity.

When there is a direct noticing, oneness still operates from identification as a separate self and the center of gravity is in this identification, while it also notices its own nature.

Finally, oneness rests in finding itself as oneness. Love rests in finding itself as love. Capacity rests in finding itself as capacity. The center of gravity has shifted more into its more fundamental nature.

INDIVIDUAL PROCESS

How this looks is different in each case. This process is as individual as each of us.

Sometimes, the conceptual understanding is first and sometimes it comes after some of the other shifts.

Sometimes, we explore living from and as this through different spiritual practices before there is any direct noticing or taste.

Sometimes, the noticing or being is far ahead of living from it. While others may live from love and clarity based on a good heart and maturity, and perhaps only an intuitive sense of their nature. 

ONGOING PROCESS

There is always further to go in all of this. There is no finishing line.

We may intentionally explore all of this and put effort into it. And anything that happens – any interest, fascination, exploration, guidance, and anything else including apparent setbacks – is ultimately grace. 

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Some aspects of what I am: Capacity, oneness, human self, etc.

When I explore what I am in my own first-person experience, I find a few different aspects.

CAPACITY FOR THE WORLD

I find that my nature is capacity for the world as it appears to me. I am most fundamentally capacity for any and all experience that’s here and now. I am capacity for what’s happening in my sense fields.

I am capacity for any content of experience, whether it’s what a thought calls this human self, others, the wider world, or anything else.

There is a big difference between (a) understanding this conceptually, (b) noticing this as my nature, (c) finding myself as this capacity, and (d) deepening in finding myself as this capacity.

CONSCIOUSNESS AS THE ESSENCE OF ALL EXPERIENCE

I find myself fundamentally as consciousness. To me, the world happens within and as what I am, it happens within and as (what a thought may call) consciousness.

The essence of any and all experience is consciousness. The nature of any and all content of experience, to me, is consciousness.

As some say, whatever we experience – including what our personality finds the most unpleasant and uncomfortable – is a flavor of the divine.

Again, there is a difference between (a) understanding it conceptually, (b) noticing it in a general way or when my mind is calm, (c) noticing that triggers and what’s triggered is also consciousness, and (d) finding myself as this consciousness that forms itself into all of this, including more reactive patterns.

ONENESS

All my experiences happen within my sense fields. It happens within and as what I am.

To me, the world as it appears to me in immediacy happens within and as what I am.

To me, I am oneness and the world happens within and as this oneness.

Here too, there is a difference between (a) understanding it at a story level, (b) noticing it, (c) keep noticing it when my psychology gets more reactive, and (d) finding myself more fundamentally as this oneness forming itself into all content of experience.

LOVE

When I find myself as oneness – and oneness forming itself into the world as it appears to me here and now – leads to something else. It leads to finding myself as a love that’s not dependent on any states or feelings. It’s the love of the left hand removing a splinter from the right.

Here, the difference is also between (a) conceptual understanding, (b) noticing it, (c) finding myself as it, and (d) how wholehearted the intention and willingness to live from this is. And how our human self is put together also plays a big role. The more healed and mature this human self is, the easier it is to live from this love. This love that comes from noticing and finding ourselves as oneness, and is independent on states or feelings.

THIS HUMAN SELF

In a conventional sense, to (most) others, and to myself when I mentally take on that identify for myself, I am this human self in the world.

In a practical sense in the world, I am one part of the content of my experience. I am this human self as it appears in my sense fields, including my mental representations.

It’s not what I more fundamentally am when I look in my own first-person experience. But it is what I am in a conventional sense and to most others, and it is an interesting and fascinating identity and role to play.

Here, the difference is in how I live from the noticing above. What would love do? What would oneness noticing itself do? How is it to notice that this contraction and discomfort is a flavor of the divine? How is it to notice that what’s here now, including triggers and reactivity, is happening within and as consciousness? How is it to find myself as that consciousness? And so on. This can get more and more finely grained.

SEAMLESS WHOLE

What these words point to is all a seamless whole.

This differentiation only happens through an overlay of mental representations.

It can be done in many other ways, and the way I do it here reflects my culture, the subcultures I am familiar with and resonate with, and my current noticing and not-noticing.

ONGOING EXPLORATION

This is all an ongoing exploration.

I am very aware that I have much further to go here, especially in more consistently finding myself as all of this in challenging situations, and living from it in those situations.

And I am aware that although practices and conscious exploration are important, they only go so far. Grace is what allows for noticing and finding myself as this, living from it more consciously, and what allows old conditioning to soften and fall away so it’s easier to more consciously live from it.

This is ultimately life and consciousness exploring itself. Life and consciousness forms itself into all of this. Life and consciousness shifts when it’s ready. And these shifts are typically surprising and familiar and it takes time to get used to the new terrain that life reveals itself (to itself) as.

There is no finishing line. There is always more to clarify and deepen into. There is always more to find healing for. There is always more maturing that can happen. There are always more shifts in perception and identity that can and will happen.

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Some aspects of what we are – oneness, love, bliss, capacity, and so on

I sometimes use words like oneness, love, bliss, capacity, and so on.

How do these appear in my own immediate noticing? In what ways do they relate to each other?

OUR HUMAN SELF

In a conventional sense, we are a human self in the world.

It’s not wrong, although it may also not be the whole picture.

What are we more fundamentally, in our own first-person experience?

What do I find when I look, perhaps guided by some pointers or basic meditation?

CAPACITY

In basic meditation, we may notice that all content of experience is always changing.

Am I most fundamentally something within this changing content of experience? This human self? Any idea of being a me or I or observer or consciousness?

Or am I more fundamentally capacity for all these experiences?

How is to keep noticing this aspect of what I am?

How is it to live from this noticing?

ONENESS

When I find myself as capacity, I also tend to notice that the world as it appears to me happens within and as what I am.

I can also explore my sense fields, and find that my world happens within and as my sense fields. And from here, there is a small shift to find that my world happens within and as what I am.

My nature is oneness. It always was, it just didn’t notice.

In my first-person experience, this human self and the wider world happen within and as what I am.

WHY DON’T WE ALWAYS NOTICE OUR NATURE?

Why don’t we always notice this?

Perhaps because of the way our mind relates to its own overlay of thoughts and ideas on the world. Thoughts and ideas differentiate, and that helps this human self orient and function in the world. And when the mind holds some of these thoughts and ideas as true, it identifies with the viewpoint of these thoughts and ideas.

And this creates a sense of an I and Other. It creates a sense of being something or someone within the content of experience. It creates a sense of most fundamentally being this human self with identities and roles.

It creates separation consciousness.

DIFFICULT TO PUT INTO WORDS

This is difficult to put into words.

Not because it’s mysterious or we don’t have words for it.

The function of thoughts and ideas is to point to something within the content of experience, and this is not anything within the content of experience.

The function of thoughts is to split and differentiate, and this is what allows it all and takes the form of it all.

It’s difficult to put into words because the function of words is different. Words cannot capture the simple wholeness of what we are since they are aimed at describing things within the content of experience. Their function is to split.

LOVE

How does love come into this?

Love is what happens when we live from noticing what we are.

Love is what happens when oneness notices itself and lives from this noticing through and as this human self in the world.

It’s a love inherent in what we are, and it’s not dependent on any states or feelings. (Apart from noticing what we are and aiming at living from it here and now.) It’s the love of the left hand removing a splinter from the right. It’s a pragmatic love.

This will always be somewhat imperfect since it’s filtered through this human self with its remaining hangups, wounds, traumas, and so on.

BLISS

There is a quiet bliss in noticing our nature and what we are. Or, more accurately, in what we are noticing itself.

I am not sure where this bliss comes from. It seems inherent in what I am.

Perhaps it’s the quiet joy in our nature noticing itself as all there is.

TRANSFORMATION

For most of us, most or all parts of our psyche is formed within separation consciousness. They are formed at a time when we take ourselves to most fundamentally be a separate human self.

So when we notice our nature and keep noticing it, our human self is invited to transform.

The different parts of our psyche are invited to shift from separation consciousness to oneness.

This is not always a pleasant process. It involves meeting – seeing, acknowledging, feeling, allowing – all the different parts of us operating from separation consciousness. And this includes what we label hangups, wounds, and trauma.

It’s not necessarily what we, as an imagined separate self, thought we signed up for. But it’s what we get, and it’s ultimately what allows us to live from noticing our nature in a more free, clear, and mature way.

HOW DO WE NOTICE?

How can we explore our nature? How can we find what we more fundamentally are in our own first-person experience?

What I have found most helpful is…

Basic meditation. Notice and allow my experience as it is here and now. Notice it’s already noticed and allowed. Aligned with the noticing and allowing that’s already here before any intention or stories come in.

Headless experiments. What am I in my own first-person experience? What do I find when I engage in these playful and simple experiments?

Big Mind process. What do I find I am when my attention is guided by a series of simple questions? Do I find I am without any beginning or end? That time and space happen within and as me? That the world as it appears to me – this human self, the wider world, and anything else – happens within and as what I am?

Sense field explorations. What do I find when I explore what happens in each sense field? What do I find when I see how the mental field (mental images and words) labels, interprets, and creates stories about what’s happening in the other sense fields? How is it to be aware of the mental field activities as innocent questions about the world and not any final or full or absolute truth?

Living inquiries. What do I find when I explore how the mind associates certain sensations and thoughts (mental images, words) so the sensations lend a sense of solidity, reality, and truth to the thoughts, and the thoughts give a sense of meaning to the sensations? What do I find when I trace this back to my first memory of experience a specific association? What do I find when I explore underlying assumptions and see how my mind creates its experience of those? What do I find when I explore the most basic assumptions – about myself and reality – that I operate from?

Note: I wrote this on January 8, 2022, and didn’t publish it. I found it while searching for something else and thought I would publish it now. (I often don’t publish what I write here.)

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A memory from between lives

I may have written about this before, but thought I would revisit it.

When I was little, before school age, I had flashbacks.

THE FLASHBACKS

They usually happened when I was outside and the sunlight was filtered through the leaves of the trees around the house.

They were flashbacks to a time before this life where I was disembodied and everything was a golden light and infinite love and wisdom. I was a part of an ocean of light, love, and wisdom. And felt infinitely at home. This is where I belonged.

Of course, at the time, I didn’t have those words. It was an experience, not anything I put words on or even had the thought of telling anyone about.

Now, I understand it as oneness, and perhaps how it is – or may be – between lives. In these flashbacks, all was golden light, one, consciousness, love, and infinite wisdom. And there were other disembodied beings there that occasionally communicated with me, also infinitely loving and wise.

Later in childhood, I would often wake up with a deep longing. I didn’t understand what this longing was for, and none of my favorite people or activities would satisfy it.

AWAKENING SHIFT AND FINDING IT HERE

When the awakening shift happened in my mid-teens, I realized that this is what the longing was about and it was also about the flashbacks. This is the oneness of the flashbacks. This is the infinite love of the flashbacks. This is all revealed as consciousness, as in the flashbacks. This is the infinite sense of belonging of the flashbacks.

FINDING IT INDEPENDENT OF STATES AND EXPERIENCES

And since then, I have explored finding this independent of states and experiences. This is my nature and it’s always here, what’s required is to notice it. It may not always be as flashy as in the flashbacks or the initial shift, and that’s natural and fine. It’s noticing the essence of it here and now that counts.

WHAT WAS REALLY GOING ON?

Were these actual flashbacks from between lives? It certainly seems that way, and it does fit what many reports from near-death experiences. The flashbacks were strong. They made a profound impression on me. And they didn’t come from anything I had been told. (My parents were not religious, I didn’t live in a religious culture, and I didn’t consciously connect the flashbacks with God or anything spiritual until the awakening shift several years later.)

At the same time, I cannot know for certain.

What I know for certain is that these apparent flashbacks showed me my nature, even in early childhood. They showed me my nature of oneness and love and metaphorical light. (Although the light seemed very literal in those experiences.)

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Hakuin: What is true meditation?

What is this true meditation?
It is to make everything:
coughing, swallowing, waving the arms,
motion, stillness, words, action,
the evil and the good, prosperity and shame,
gain and loss, right and wrong,
into one single koan.

– Hakuin Ekaku

When I look, I find that in my first-person experience, I am capacity for the world as it appears to me. I am what my world happens within and as. I am what any experience – including the list in the quote – happens within and as.

To myself, I am oneness and the world happens within and as this oneness.

This is already happening, whether I notice it or not. And when I notice, I find it’s all happening within and as the oneness I am. It’s all one single koan.

ACTIVE AND RECEPTIVE

This noticing has an active and receptive aspect.

It’s active in that there is intention in the noticing, and a bit of (relaxed) effort. And it may be guided by pointers and/or an experienced guide. Also, there is some effort in keeping noticing.

And noticing also has a receptive aspect. I notice what’s already here. Nothing needs to be created or fabricated. My nature is here independent of states and any content of experience. All that’s needed is noticing and finding receptivity to what’s already here.

TRUE MEDITATION & BASIC MEDITATION

This form of true meditation can happen anywhere and at any time. It can happen within any spiritual practice. It can happen through situations in daily life.

Basic meditation is similar. It’s to notice and allow what’s here. And then to notice that what’s here is already noticed and allowed. The first is more effortful and ultimately impossible. And the second a bit more relaxed, essential, and possible, and something we can notice anywhere and at any time.

A KOAN

Hakuin calls it a koan, so in what sense it is a koan? Perhaps because it’s all inherently a mystery? And how I live my life with all of this – with all of the richness of experience and life – is an ongoing exploration. There is no final answer. There is no finishing line.

Drawing: Ink on paper by Hakuin Ekaku

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The loops of consciousness creating a sense of separation within oneness 

When I explore what I am in my own first-person experience, I notice some of the ways oneness creates an experience of separation for itself. This seems to happen through several metaphorical folds or loops.

WHAT WE ARE 

In one sense, I am a human being in the world. That’s how I appear to others, and it’s not wrong. 

And yet, is it what I more fundamentally am in my own first-person experience? 

When I look, I find my nature more fundamentally is capacity for all of my experiences – of this human self, the wider world, and anything else. I am what the world, to me, happens within and as. 

Thoughts can label this oneness, consciousness, love, or Big Mind. Or even, if we are so inclined, Spirit, the divine, Brahman, or something else. 

It may not be the nature of all of reality. But it clearly seems to be what I am in my own experience. 

It’s what I more fundamentally am than a human self, or a separate being, or an I or me or observer or doer or anything else. All of that happens within and as what I am. 

THE REFLECTION LOOP 

So how does this oneness create an experience of I and Other for and within itself? 

An early loop seems to be consciousness being conscious of being conscious of something. 

Consciousness is inherently low grade conscious of everything it creates itself into, and this is a loop of oneness being conscious of being conscious of something within itself. 

This early loop sets the stage for several other loops. 

THE LOOP CREATING THOUGHTS 

One of these is a reflection of an experience in mental representations including mental images and words. 

Thoughts can reflect experiences, and – as we know – consciousness can create all sorts of other mental representations that don’t directly reflect an experience. 

THE SEPARATION LOOP 

From the reflection and thought loop, consciousness can create a sense of separation for itself. 

It can create a sense of observer and observed, of being a human self in the world, and so on. 

It creates an experience for and within itself of being something within its content of experience (an I and me) and not being the rest (the wider world, the background). 

THE SEPARATION-CONSCIOUSNESS LOOPS 

This, in turn, sets the stage for all the dynamics created by separation consciousness. 

It sets the stage for all the drama we know from our own life and from humanity in general. 

It sets the stage for what we find when we ask ourselves: “What happens when I believe this (any) thought?” How do I perceive myself and the world? What emotions come up? What choices do I make? How do I live my life? 

THE RETURN 

And this sets the stage for a possible return. 

The oneness we are creates a sense of separation for and within itself, and may then find itself in a process of rediscovering itself – and its whole world – as oneness. 

This is what we call an awakening process, and it often goes through several phases: An early interest. Early glimpses. Investing in fears and hopes. Going into a more dedicated exploration. Finding itself and its whole world as oneness. Exploring how to live from this. Inviting in healing for our human self and psyche so we more easily can live from oneness in more situations and areas of life. Going through dark nights. And so on. 

CAVEATS 

This is a map, and any map is a simplification and highlights some things while leaving other features out.

It may also be mistaken in certain ways. I am sure others have far more detailed maps based on more detailed examinations and more familiarity with the terrain.

This is just how it appears to me right now, and it’s a very simplified version of even that. 

Photo: One I took in Cañón del Chicamocha

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Cells and oneness

Someone I talked with brought up the idea that we are like cells in an organism. Just like a cell is a part of a larger organism, we – as human beings – are part of a larger organism. We are holons in larger holarchies, just as we are a holarchy for smaller holons. We are part of the seamless system of this planet and the universe and all of existence.

This is all accurate at a story level, in terms of science, and so on.

At the same time, we are something else. To ourselves, in our own first-person experience, we are capacity for the world as it appears to us. We are what the world – this human self, the wider world, and anything else – happens within and as. We are oneness and love.

These two are complementary. In the world and as human beings and at a story level, we are like cells in a larger organism. To ourselves, when we look, we find we are capacity for the world as it appears to us, and what the world happens within and as. We are oneness and love, and we are the oneness and love that – to us – the world happens within and as.

Is oneness a state?

I saw a quote from Jac O’Keefe saying “the oneness state is….”. while others emphasize that oneness is not a state.

So is oneness a state?

As usual, the answer may be no, yes, and it depends. 

ONENESS INHERENT IN REALITY

Most fundamentally, oneness seems inherent in reality and not a state.

The physical universe is a seamless system evolving into everything within this universe, including us and our life and experiences. As Carl Sagan said, we are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe.

And if we look with some sincerity in our own first-person experience, we may find we are oneness.

We may find that our more fundamental nature is capacity for all our experiences – for the world, this human self, and anything else. And that we are what our experiences happen within and as.

The world, to us, is one. We may not notice it, but that’s our nature whether we notice or not.

So in these ways, oneness is not a state. It’s inherent in the universe, and it’s inherent in our more fundamental nature.

ONENESS AS A STATE

We can also see oneness as a state.

When we notice our more fundamental nature, it’s a state of noticing. It’s a state of oneness noticing itself.

Within this noticing, we notice we are capacity for time and space, and time and space happen within and as what we are. So here, the oneness noticing doesn’t seem like a state. A state happens within time, and time happens within what we are.

And yet, from the perspective of time, noticing oneness – or oneness noticing itself – can certainly be a state. It’s something that can come and go. It can come and go and come again over years and decades. When we notice more easily, the noticing will also come and go to some extent depending on where we have our attention.

ONENESS AS A STATE AND NOT

Oneness is inherent in reality and what we are.

When oneness notices itself, it recognizes that time and states happen within and as oneness. So here too, we find that oneness is not a state.

And from the perspective of time, noticing oneness can certainly be a state. We can shift into oneness states for a while, then shift out of it, and then back into it differently, and so on. And when we shift out of it, it’s an invitation to notice our remaining unquestioned beliefs and identifications.

Living from an idea of awakening

This is perhaps obvious, as so much here, but worth mentioning.

We can live from a direct noticing of our nature and what we are. (Capacity for our world, what everything to us happens within and as.)

We can live from our ideas about this.

And we can live from a mix of the two, and one more than the other at different times.

There is nothing wrong with this. It’s natural and innocent. And the images and ideas can be used as a springboard for a more direct noticing.

At the same time, it can be interesting and helpful to examine these mental images and ideas. As we do, they may lose their charge. We learn to recognize them. And we may learn to differentiate between our mental images and the actual direct noticing.

What are some of these mental images and ideas?

It may be awakening, oneness, love, capacity for the world, consciousness, awareness, and so on.

And how can we explore them?

There are many forms of inquiry we can use, either more spontaneous and organic, or more structured. Personally, I find Living Inquiries – a modern version of traditional Buddhist sense field inquiry – very helpful.

Aspects of oneness

We can find oneness in several places.

I’ll make this short since I have gone into it in more detail in other articles.

ONENESS IN IMMEDIATE NOTICING

One general form of oneness is what we notice in our own first-person experience.

Here, I find my nature as capacity for all my experiences – for the world, this human self, and anything else as it appears to me. One place I find oneness is my nature as capacity for the world as it appears here.

Another place I find oneness is within my sense fields. All my experiences – of the world, this human self, and anything else – happen within my sense fields. Within sight, sound, taste, smell, sensations, thought, and so on. These sense fields are a seamless whole. Any sense of boundaries and any labels come from my mental field overlay. This is another oneness.

I find that all my experiences – of the world, etc. – happen within and as what I am. This is yet another aspect of oneness.

These are all aspects of the same, and all ways to explore and find oneness for ourselves.

ONENESS IN A CONVENTIONAL SENSE

We also find oneness in the world, in a conventional sense. And many of these stories of oneness come from science.

The universe is a seamless evolving whole.

All we know and see and know about is a part of this evolving seamless system.

We are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe.

All Earth life share ancestors. We are all intimately related. We share huge amounts of DNA with a large number of species – whether we call them animals or plants.

And so on, and so on. There are always more examples of oneness in the universe and the natural world.

ANTIDOTE TO A SENSE OF SEPARATION

Why is this important?

Because it’s an antidote to a one-sided sense of separation. Especially in our western culture, it’s easy for people to feel disconnected and separate from just about anything – themselves, others, society, nature, existence.

Exploring the connections, and also exploring these forms of oneness, is an antidote to that sense of separation and isolation.

We can find the oneness already here, in our immediate experience. And we can find it in the universe and nature – which we are an intrinsic part of.

We can engage in all sorts of practices to explore this for ourselves.

We can explore the first general form of oneness through inquiry, basic meditation, heart-centered practices, body-centered practices, and so on.

And we can explore the second through deep ecology, ecopsychology, ecospirituality, epic of evolution, the universe story, big history, shamanic work, rituals, and Practices to Reconnect.

We can find these two forms of oneness for ourselves, and allow it to transform us and our life in the world.

Photo: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, spiral galaxy NGC 4651

Transcendent state of oneness?

I saw someone use this phrase, partly as a joke.

Recognizing oneness can happen here and now, it doesn’t require any particular state (apart from the state of noticing) and it doesn’t require transcendence.

As I often write about, certain simple and structured inquiries can help us notice oneness here and now. For instance, Headless experiments and the Big Mind process.

And, over time, exploring sense fields is another effective approach.

I notice that all my experiences happen within my sense fields – sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, thoughts, and whatever else we want to label and look at.

I notice that my sense fields are a seamless whole, and any “outside” and “inside” are both parts of this seamless whole and only come from an overlay of mental representations (mental images, words).

I notice that my nature is what allows all of this and takes the form of all of this. I am what all of it – this human self, the wider world, and anything else – happen within and as.

And here, it’s oneness. It’s all a seamless whole.

To me, the world and all of existence happen within and as what I am. It’s all one.

It’s already this way. It’s already my nature and here. All that’s required is to notice it, and that’s independent of any particular states (although strong states can be distracting) and it’s independent of any transcendence. It’s also independent of any spirituality or religion, and any dogma or even worldview.

All of this – states, transcendence, ideas – happen within and as what we are.

There is a slight irony here. Some who seek awakening assume it’s a state or connected with a state, so they seek certain states. In reality, their nature is already here and is what already allows any and all states. And it’s in some ways easier to notice in a more mundane and ordinary state since we are not distracted by the fireworks of unusual states.

In many cases, we may have some strong states which help us recognize certain things. These then fade, and we are invited to notice our nature here and now, in this more ordinary and mundane state. And then to keep noticing as states come and go.

Aspects of what we are

There are many ways to talk about the aspects of what we are.

Most of us would say, if asked, that we are this human self. And that’s not wrong.

And yet, in our first-person experience, we may find that we more fundamentally are something else. When we look, we may find we are capacity for our world, and what all of our experiences – of this human self and the wider world – happens within and as.

SENSE FIELDS

To us, all our experiences – of this human self, the wider world, and anything – happens within and as our sense fields. It happens within sensations, sight, sound, smell, taste, movement, and thought, and any other sense we wish to include.

Here, there is no inherent inner or outer. It’s all part of the same field. And it’s all happening within and as what we are.

Any boundaries, labels, and stories come from an overlay from our thought field. It’s created by mental images and words. It’s not inherent in the world or what these images and words refer to.

CAPACITY

Even more fundamentally, our nature is capacity for all of this. Capacity for any and all content of experience.

We are what allows all our experiences, and takes the form of all our experiences.

Our nature is capacity, or void, or emptiness, or no-thing, taking the form of the whole world as it appears to us.

ONENESS

When we explore the sense fields, and notice it’s a seamless whole, we also find oneness. The sense fields are a seamless whole, and happen within and and as what we are.

Siimilarly, when we find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us, the world is a seamless whole. It’s one.

Our nature is this oneness inherent in our experience. It’s always here, although it may be temporarily covered up if the mind takes it’s mental overlay – with its boundaries, labels, and stories – as inherent in what it refers to.

LOVE

Another word for oneness is love. When oneness notices itself, it’s naturally expressed as love.

It’s a love independent of any feelings or states. It’s the love of the left hand removing a splinter from the right.

And it can be, and often is, covered up by the mind holding (stressful) thoughts as true. It’s always here. It can be covered up. And the covering up is, in reality, love covering itself up. It’s part of the creativity and play of love.

STILLNESS & SILENCE

The world, to us, happens within and as what we are. It’s nature is it’s nature, independent of what temporary form it takes.

It doesn’t really move, even if it takes the form of movement. It’s silent even if it takes the form of all sorts of sound.

It’s inherently still and silent.

ALL THE MANY FORMS: HUMAN SELF & THE WIDER WORLD

All of this, to us, takes the form of all our experiences. All our inner experiences that are not on display to others. And all experiences of the wider world.

It takes the form of all our sensations, sights, sounds, smells, taste, emotions, thoughts, states, and so on. It takes the form of all beings as they appear to us. It takes the form of the universe as it appears to us, in bits and pieces.

ALL THE MANY FORMS: THE PLAY

All these many forms happen within and as what we are, and are expressions of the creativity and play of what we are.

That includes the mind not noticing what’s going on and temporarily taking itself to be a separate self, and something specific within itself.

And it includes the mind catching on to what’s going on, and finding itself as what’s described here, and perhaps far more.

HOW TO EXPLORE THIS

How can we explore this?

As I often mention, for me, the most direct and effective approaches are Headless experiments and the Big Mind process. These can give us a taste, and pointers for how to keep noticing and exploring it.

Investigating the sense fields, and how they combine to create our experinece, is another way that help undo many of the mental dynamics covering up the noticing of what we are. The Living Inquiries is a modern version of traditional Buddhist inquiry, and an effective way to explore this.

We can also do other forms of inquiry, like The Work of Byron Katie.

And there are innumerable practices that supports this noticing and living from this noticing, including heart-centered approaches (ho’oponopono, tonglen, prayer), body-centered approaches (yoga, tai chi, chigong, Breema), energy-sentered approaches (Vortex Healing), and so on.

As with any exploration, it’s helpful to have a certain orientation (receptivity, curiosity, sincerity, playfulness, recognizing we are our own final authority), a rough map, and a guide or guides who is familiar with the terrain.

Photo: The beach in Santa Marta by Alejandra Lobelo

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From noticing oneness comes love, and from noticing capacity comes stillness & silence

We could say that love comes out of finding ourselves as oneness, and silence and stillness come out of finding ourselves as capacity.

– from a previous post

This is where words fall short, but I thought I would say a few more words about it here.

WHAT WE ARE IN OUR FIRST-PERSON EXPERIENCE

To others, and in many practical settings, we are this human self in the world. And yet, when we look more closely in our own first-person experience, we may find that – to ourselves – we are more fundamentally something else.

In our first-person experience, we may find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us.

We are capacity for our own field of experience. We are capacity for this human self, the wider world, and anything else that happens in this field of experience.

To us, this human self and the wider world happens within our field of experience. We are capacity for it all. And it’s all happening within and as what we are.

ONENESS & LOVE

We notice that this human self, the wider world, and any other experience happens within our field of experience. We find ourselves as capacity for it all.

Here, we may also notice that this field of experience is a seamless whole. It’s one.

Any sense of boundaries comes from our mental overlay of mental images and words.

And when we notice this, we may find that another side of oneness is love.

It’s the love of the left hand removing a splinter from the right. It’s a love that comes from perception, from oneness, and is not dependent on feelings or states.

Living from this love is another matter. Our human self may still have hangups, beliefs, emotional issues, and so on that color our perception and life, and sometimes kick in more strongly and temporarily prevents us from living more intentionally from oneness and love. This is where healing comes in.

CAPACITY & STILLNESS / SILENCE

Finding ourselves as capacity is finding ourselves as, literally, nothing.

We are capacity for anything in our field of experience, and the capacity itself is nothing.

When we notice this capacity, it comes with a deep silence and stillness.

And resting in and as this can be immensely transforming for us.

I find myself as capacity. I find myself as this silence and stillness. I notice that a contraction in me is also this silence and stillness. Rest with and as it. And may notice that the contraction, in a sense, finds itself as this silence and stillness and tranforms and unravels within it.

ONENESS -> LOVE, CAPACITY -> SILENCE & STILLNESS

This is all in the borderland of being too intellectual, but there is also something real here.

When I find myself as capacity for the world, I also find that the world is one. My field of experience is one, and that oneness happens within and as what I am. Here, I also find it’s love. Oneness, when it’s noticed and lived from, is love. A love not dependent on feelings or states.

When I find myself as capacity, and notice and rest with this noticing, I find myself as silence and stillness.

From noticing oneness comes love, and from noticing capacity comes stillness & silence.

ESSENCE VS SPECIFICS

At least, that’s how it appears to me now, and it’s important to differentiate the essence from the details.

The essence of this is that, in our own first-person experience, we may more fundamentally be something else than our human self, and living from that noticing can be profoundly transforming for our perception, life in the world, and for our human self.

What many report is finding themselves as…. capacity for the world, what all content of experience happens within and as, oneness, love, or whatever other aspects people notice, and using whatever labels they find helpful and may be familiar with from their culture and tradition.

The specifics about how love and stillness & silence fit into all of this may be interesting and have some practical use. For instance, in my case, I find it easier to first find myself as capacity, and then notice the stillness & silence, at least for now. And it’s less important in the big picture.

Tomorrow, or next year, or in ten years, I may write about the specifics in a different way. For instance, I can find this stillness inherent in what I am without first noticing myself as capacity. This stillness in inherent in consciousness, independent of what forms this consciousness takes.

And others who explore this will also find and report slightly different things.

After all, when we create maps in this way, we may not be completely clear about the terrain, we notice different things as we get more familiar with it, we emphasize different aspects of the terrain, we may be influenced by other maps, and we use a language we are familiar with.

And that’s part of our collective exploration of what we are. The essence of what people report seems to be mostly universal, and what we each discover, emphasize, and how we talk about it may be a bit different. It all adds to the richness of our collective exploration.

EXPLORING THIS FOR OURSELVES

If we don’t notice this for ourselves, all of this can sound very abstract and even philosophical or a fantasy.

Fortunately, we can notice and explore this for ourselves, and it doesn’t even have to take that much time or be too difficult.

We can use the Headless experiments to find ourselves as capacity for the world.

The Big Mind process can help us find ourselves as all the different aspects of what we are, how they relate to each other, how we relate to all of them (what we already are), and so on.

We can use basic meditation to notice and allow our experiences, and perhaps especially our contractions, and notice it’s already allowed (by life, mind) and it’s already noticed (in the sense that it happens within and as the ordinary awakeness that’s here). This helps us find ourselves as the capacity for it all we already are.

There are also other very helpful approaches. For instance, we can explore our sense fields through traditional Buddhist inquiry or modern variations on this like the Living Inquiries.

And in each of these cases, it helps to be guided by someone familiar with the terrain, familiar with and skilled in guiding others, and someone we trust and resonate with to a certain extent.

Stillness & silence as part of what we are

One aspect of what we are is stillness & silence.

Over the last few years, I have tended to focus on the oneness aspect of what I am, and finding myself as capacity for it all.

Before then, and perhaps especially in the years following the initial awakening shift, I did pay much more attention to the stillness & silence side of it, and somehow that got “lost” for a while.

That’s OK, and it may be time to intentionally notice it more again.

STILLNESS & SILENCE

In a sense, oneness and capacity are the two ends of the polarity of what we are. And somewhere in the zone inbetween is the silence and stillness of what we are.

We are capacity for that silence and tillness, and that silence and stillness come out of and are aspects of finding ourselves as capacity for our field of experience.

We could say that love comes out of finding ourselves as oneness, and silence and stillness come out of finding ourselves as capacity.

THE PRACTICAL SIDE OF & STILLNESS & SILENCE

There is also a practical side to finding ourselves as silence and stillness, as my friend Amy H. reminded me of.

When a contraction comes up, and I notice there is something out of alignment with oneness in how I relate to it and how it operates in me and my life, I can….

Find myself as capacity for the world. (This helps me get into it.) Find myself as stillness and silence. Notice the contraction as stillness and silence.

And rest here for a while.

In a sense, and this is one place where words fall short, this reminds the contraction of what it is. It helps the contraction find itself as this silence and stillness. And that helps it align more consciously with oneness. It helps it rest and unravel and find some peace.

A MISSING PIECE

For me, this has been a missing piece lately.

I have met these contractions in different ways… befriending, dialog, listening, finding love for, notice as part of oneness, notice their true nature is capacity, and so on.

And one missing piece has been this silence and stillness.

When I find myself as it, and the contraction as it, something different does happen. It is, as Amy calls it, a dissolver.

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Gospel of Thomas (v22): When you make the two into one

(1) Jesus saw infants being suckled.
(2) He said to his disciples: “These little ones being suckled are like those who enter the kingdom.”
(3) They said to him: “Then will we enter the kingdom as little ones?”
(4) Jesus said to them: “When you make the two into one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside and the above like the below —
(5) that is, to make the male and the female into a single one, so that the male will not be male and the female will not be female —
(6) and when you make eyes instead of an eye and a hand instead of a hand and a foot instead of a foot, an image instead of an image,
(7) then you will enter [the kingdom].”

– Gospel of Thomas, verse 22

(1) Jesus comes up with an analogy he wants to share with his disciples.

(2) To enter the kingdom, we have to become like little children. We need to set aside conventional views and what we think we know about ourselves and the world, explore with sincerity and curiosity, and be honest with ourselves about what we find.

(3) Do the disciples misunderstand? Or do they get it and just want more pointers?

(4+5) When we find ourselves as capacity for the world, and what all phenomena happen within and as, then these are all aspects of oneness. Here, we directly perceive two as one, inside as the outside, above as below, female as male. They all happen within and as what we are.

(6) Not sure about this one. My own limitation? Or translation problems?

(7) When we find ourselves as what all our experiences happen within and as, we enter the kingdom. We consciously enter the kingdom that’s always here and we always are.

Oneness and how we experience others

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

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

How I experience others when I notice what I am

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

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

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

Some related pointers

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

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

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

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

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

When I perceive others through separation consciousness

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

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

Exploring my perception of others

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allowing how I experience others to shift

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

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

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

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

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

Working with these pointers

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

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

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

Different types of knowing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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From observer to oneness

When I was in my mid-teens there were a couple of shifts.

First, I was identified as this human self.

Then, there was a shift in the “center of gravity” of what I experienced myself as. I found myself observing while what was observed seemed very distant. This human self with all its experiences and the wider world seemed far away. My experience was that something was seriously wrong, and several specialists could find no explanation.

After almost exactly a year, there was another shift, this time into oneness. All was revealed as God. This universe and this human being with all its experiences is the divine taking this form and the experiences and experiencing it all. Any sense of being a separate self is the divine having that experience for itself, locally and temporarily, and there is no ultimate reality to it.

As a human being, I did nothing for this to happen, it came out of the blue.

And in hindsight, the shift into observing and then oneness makes sense.

First, there is the usual separation consciousness. Then, an intermediate shift where “I” was the one observing and experiences all the experiences. As Adya says, it’s a simple and clean duality of observer and observed. And then, a shift into oneness. In hindsight, the observer-observed shift seems like a stepping stone, a way into oneness.

Since then, it’s been a journey of clarification, deepening, rediscovering, and learning to live from it. And the process has sometimes been far more messy than that sentence makes it sound like!

Why did these shifts happen? I don’t really know. Some would say it has to do with spiritual practices in past lives. I would also guess it happened partly because of the teenage angst I experienced at the time. It was difficult to be this human self, so something in me shifted into what I am. Something in me knew how to shift.

An elegant order in the way everything fits and unfolds

There is something about the universe — an elegant order in the way everything fits and unfolds

– Tom Atlee in his recent newsletter

I agree. Seen from the view of parts, this is how it appears.

There is also the view from the whole, and we can look at it in two different ways.

One is that existence is one. The universe is one seamless system. Everything happens within and as this one system. If we want, we can say that it’s all lila. It’s all the play of the universe, life, or the divine.

Another is that the world as it appears to us happens within and as what we are. If we want to put a label on it, we can say that it all happens within and as this consciousness that we are. To us, it all fits in an elegant way because it all happens within us and this oneness. And also because it’s all interpreted by our own mental field.

So it’s all oneness and dynamics and movements within the whole. The parts fit because they are part of a whole. An animal or plant or geological element fits into an ecosystem precisely because it’s a system, it’s a seamless whole. An eddy in a stream fits into the stream because the stream is a seamless whole. Any part of Earth fits because it’s a part of the living system of Earth.

And it all fits because, to us, it’s all happening within and as what we are. We are the oneness it’s all happening within and as. And we provide the mental overlay that makes sense of it all. This mental overlay makes the parts fit because of the stories we have about it.

Healing from oneness

During the initial awakening in my teens, I discovered healing from oneness. I have done it off and on since when needed. And I have more recently started to explore and use it more intentionally and frequently.

How does oneness healing look?

It does require some noticing of oneness, of what we are. And the more clear, stable, and thorough this noticing is, the easier oneness healing may be.

One aspect is noticing that whatever I wish to invite in healing for is already Spirit or the divine. It’s a flavor of the divine. It’s the divine temporarily and locally taking that particular form. It’s already happening within and as what I am.

Another is to invite it to notice itself as the divine. This happens through gentle noticing and intention, and it’s an invitation for the divine to wake up to itself as that particular – temporary and local – form.

If it’s an emotional issue, then yet another aspect is to invite it to align with reality, to align with oneness. This also happens through noticing and intention, by noticing all as oneness, how it may not consciously be aligned with oneness, and inviting it to realign with reality and oneness.

What do I use oneness healing for?

I mostly use it for anything coming up in me that seems even slightly “other” or “I”. If it seems “other”, it’s because there is some separation consciousness there. And if it seems “I”, in the sense of separate me or identification as something within the content of consciousness (sensations, ideas), that too comes from separation consciousness.

I notice something come up and then notice it as the divine and invite it to align with oneness, or for Spirit to wake up to itself in the form of that identification, issue, or whatever it is.

For instance, I may lie bed before falling asleep or after waking up. I notice some discomfort in my body and invite Spirit to notice itself as that discomfort and any reaction to it. I may notice some sensations in my head area that there is a bit more identification with, and invite the divine – in the form of these sensations and the identifications – to notice itself as the divine.

I may notice some reactivity in me (reflecting an emotional issue), notice the sensations and thoughts making it up, and invite Spirit to wake up to itself as that.

I may have a physical issue, and invite Spirit to wake up to itself as that – as the sensations and thoughts making up that.

If I do healing for others, I notice it happens within and as oneness, and I usually take some time to invite the divine to wake up to itself as whatever the healing is for.

I have done this for physical objects and plants.

And I sometimes do this for situations as well, whether it’s my own, someone else’s, or something happening in the world.

What form does the healing take?

When it comes to healing for myself, the main healing is healing my relationship with my experiences. If something is uncomfortable to me, it’s easy to fall into an old habit of wanting to push it away or avoid it. It’s natural, but there is a discomfort inherent in this movement.

So when I notice the discomfort and my reaction to it as the divine, there is a healing. And when I invite Spirit to notice itself as that, in that form or discomfort and the reaction to it, there is also a healing.

Anything else is secondary. Emotional issues may soften and lighten. Physical issues may resolve. And so on. That’s the icing on the cake.

When it comes to healing for others, the main function is obviously healing in a more conventional sense, and my healing of my relationship to my experience is still there but secondary.

Oneness healing for self and others

There is an interesting distinction here.

If I do oneness healing for myself, whether it’s for something physical or emotional, then it can be understood from a small or psychological interpretation of awakening. To myself, I am consciousness and all my experiences – including of this human self and the wider world – happens within and as what I am.

It’s an awakening as my true nature – as what all content of my experience happens within and as, as emptiness full of my world, and oneness healing makes sense within this context without assuming anything about the true nature of the rest of the world or existence.

When I do oneness healing for others or for situations, and it works (it often does), then it does seem to require an assumption about the true nature of all of existence. It’s most easily explained by assuming that my true nature, as it appears to me, is the true nature of everyone and everything. It’s all consciousness, it’s all Spirit or the divine.

Direct noticing and how we may find it for ourselves

This all happens within direct and immediate noticing. Thoughts may guide attention but that’s about it. It’s not about thoughts or what happens within thoughts.

So how can we find this for ourselves, if we don’t already? The answer is the usual answers for what supports or invites awakening.

Training a stable attention helps for anything we wish to do, including this exploration of our true nature.

Basic meditation – notice and allow – is very helpful. It helps shift our center of gravity out of taking ourselves as limited content of experience (this human self) to the context for and all content of experience. (When I say “context” for our experience, I mean noticing ourselves as that which all our experiences already happen within and as.)

Heart-centered practices are helpful to shift how we relate to any content of experience. In some ways, it mimics what can happen naturally when what we are notices itself.

Inquiry helps us see through beliefs and identifications, and how our mind creates its own experience. It helps us see through what we are not, but sometimes perceive we are, and more easily notice what we are.

Some form of inquiry helps us notice what we are more directly, and explore and get familiar with it. (Headless experiments, Big Mind process.)

There are also many other helpful practices and explorations. In this context of oneness healing, the Big Mind / Big Heart process may be especially helpful. We can explore particular issues through dialog, and we can get a better sense of anything – including that which we have a strained relationship with – as the divine.

What’s the bigger picture of oneness healing?

From a big or spiritual understanding of awakening, it’s all happening within and as Spirit. The issue focused on, the person receiving healing, the one channeling, the healing itself, and all of it are local and temporary expressions of Spirit. It’s all part of Lila, of the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new and different ways.

From a small or psychological interpretation of awakening, it’s all happening within what we are – which a thought can label consciousness. It’s all happening within the play of consciousness.

In either case, it’s an opportunity to deepen, clarify, and live from the awakening.

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The One experiencing itself as many

Through noticing what’s here in immediacy, we can find a few things….

We may notice that the One experiences itself as many.

No-thing experiences itself as something.

Consciousness experiences itself as matter.

And sometimes….

The One experiences itself as separation.

Love as not-love.

Clarity as confusion.

It can help to use a more structured form of inquiry to notice this, for instance Headless experiments, the Big Mind process, Living Inquiries, or The Work of Byron Katie.

This is all what we can notice for ourselves here and now.

COSMOLOGY

And we can also see it in the universe as a whole. We can make it into a cosmology. (After all, any cosmology mirror us here and now.)

Existence is oneness experiencing itself as many. No-thing as something. Consciousness as matter.

And sometimes – locally and through us and other beings – oneness experiencing itself as separation, love as not-love, clarity as confusion.

MORE DETAIL

There is easily one or several books worth of material here if we want to go into more detail. I’ll just say a few words.

I find that I am capacity for the world as it appears to me – including this human self and any me or I or observer or doer. That’s the oneness. It all happens within and as what the mind may label consciousness. Within this oneness is immense diversity. The world is many. (It’s an overlay of thought that divides the world up in this way, and it’s a very useful function of thought.)

I find that no-thing experiences itself as something. What I am is no-thing full of the world as it appears to me. No-thing full of somethings. (Again, the somethings are separated from each other through an overlay of thought.)

Similarly, consciousness experiences itself as matter. What I am – and I assume what you are to yourself – can be labeled consciousness. The world as it appears to me happens within and as consciousness. And when thoughts label some things in the world matter, and sensations come in to lend a sense of substance to those thoughts, then consciousness experiences itself as matter.

Also, when these dividing lines created by thoughts – often in the form of mental images – are held as true, there is an experience of separation. So the One experiences itself as separate, as an I here and others out there.

When thoughts are held as true, the mind can tell itself that this human has been wronged, is a victim, and so on. And then love – which is another word for oneness – experiences itself as not-love.

And when the mind takes thoughts as true, clarity – which is yet another word for oneness – can experience itself as confusion.

STRUCTURED FORMS OF INQUIRY

We can all (?) find this for ourselves, and structured forms of noticing – AKA inquiry – can help here.

Headless experiments can help us find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us – including anything connected with this human self and any I or me or observer or doer.

The Big Mind process can help us find ourselves as Big Mind (AKA capacity full of the world), Big Heart, and a variety of other aspects of what and who we are.

Living Inquiry – which is based on traditional Buddhist inquiry – can help us explore in detail how thoughts (words and mental images) combine with sensations to create our experience. Specifically, it’s helpful to notice how the mind associates certain sensations with certain thoughts, and these thoughts lend a sense of meaning to the sensations, and the sensation give the thoughts a sense of substance, reality, and even truth.

The Work of Byron Katie is a great help in exploring thoughts we take as true, and in finding what’s more true for us in our own direct experience.

There are many other forms of inquiry out there as well, which may work as well or better for you. These are just the ones I happen to be familiar with.

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Oneness and individuality

From a small interpretation of awakening, it’s easy to see how oneness and individuality fit together. To us, we are consciousness and all our experiences happen within and as this consciousness. It’s all one in that sense. And the content of our experience is all individual. Everything is unique. Including this human self that others take us to be.

From a big interpretation of awakening, we can say that all of existence is consciousness – or Spirit, the Divine, God. And the divine expresses, explores, and experiences itself through and as everything in existence and all of it as unique expressions.

When what we are notices itself, this question of oneness and individuality falls away – apart from perhaps as a gentle curiosity. The answer is right here. Oneness takes all these forms and they happen within and as oneness.

How does this play out in real life? In awakening, there is an invitation for our human self to become more authentic, real, and genuine. To shed some of the pretense and trying to live up to images. And to be more as we are, naturally and without the extra effort. I say invitation since this depends, as so much, on intentionally joining in with this particular process.

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Oneness from a psychological perspective

This is one of the recurrent themes for me, but I like revisiting it to see if I can find other aspects to it and simpler and more clear ways to talk about it.

Oneness can be understood from a relatively ordinary psychological perspective.

In our own experience, we are consciousness. We are not a human being. We are not a brain. We are not the way others see us. All of that happens within consciousness. To ourselves, we are consciousness and this human self and the world and all experiences are content of this consciousness.

Another way to say it, which is a little more accurate, is that all our experiences – of this human self and the wider world – happens within and as consciousness.

Perhaps even more accurately, all our experiences happens within and as what we are, and the mind can label this many things including consciousness, awakeness, or Big Mind.

This also means that to us, all is oneness. All is one in that it all happens within and as consciousness.

Looking a little closer, we may also notice that all happens within and as – what we can call – emptiness or void. Nothingness makes something – consciousness and all its experiences – possible. So in a more basic sense, we are this nothingness that something happens within and as.

Also, when we discover ourselves as consciousness and all – as it appears to us – as consciousness, then it makes sense that some would take a leap and assume all of existence inherently is consciousness and call it Spirit, the divine, Brahman, Allah, or God.

I find it helpful to think of what I describe here as the small or psychological interpretation of awakening. We are consciousness to ourselves and all our experiences then happens within and as consciousness. This says something about how we are, but it doesn’t assume anything about how all of existence is.

The leap of faith, assuming all of existence is consciousness and calling it Spirit or the divine, is then the big or spiritual interpretation of awakening.

From the small or psychological interpretation, the big or spiritual interpretation is understandable. It makes sense that people would interpret it that way, even if we ourselves may not go that far.

From a small interpretation, the big interpretation may be seen as a projection and a leap of faith. From a big interpretation, the small interpretation means swimming in a pond that’s a little too small.

And personally for me? I find it helpful to switch between both interpretations. The small interpretation allows our view to stay grounded and it may make a little more sense to more people. And I suspect, for a variety of reasons and personal experiences, that the spiritual interpretation is valid as well. It may say something accurate about all of existence.

The nice thing about this way of looking at it – using both a small and big interpretation – is that the essential experiences of mystics form all traditions makes sense from either one. We can understand it from a small or psychological interpretation, and we can understand it from the big or spiritual interpretation.

Oneness makes sense. The awakening process makes sense. The pitfalls and dark nights make sense. The transformation of the human self in the context of oneness recognizing itself makes sense. Early glimpses make sense. Nature spirituality makes sense. And so on. (I am very aware that I haven’t gone into these here so it’s a bit of a teaser. I have written about it elsewhere on this website, and I may explore it more in further articles.)

Awakening is differentiation

Awakening is not just oneness. It’s also differentiation.

Without differentiation, there is no awakening. At least, if we start out from separation consciousness and wish to see what awakening is about. And if we wish to actively support clarification, deepening, and embodiment of the awakening.

So what is it we need to differentiate?

Mainly, the difference between thoughts and reality. Obviously, a thought is as real – or unreal – as anything else. But what it says about reality has varying degrees of truth to it, and even the most accurate thought has no final or ultimate truth to it.

We may know this at a superficial conscious level. We may hear it and tell ourselves I know that. But the reality is often different. At some level, we – our system – takes several thoughts as true even if we consciously may know it isn’t. It requires a much deeper exploration to see this and see through it so the “glue” making these thoughts seem real weakens. (Our mind’s magical truth-glue that makes something that’s not completely true seem true.)

How is this connected to awakening?

When we – at any level – hold a thought as true, there is automatically identification with the thought’s viewpoint. We experience ourselves as the viewpoint of the thought. And that creates a sense of being something within the content of experience – within the world, and an I with the rest of existence as Other.

What the thought is about doesn’t really matter. Taking any thought as ultimately true – somewhere in our system – creates this dynamic. Although some of the core ones are thoughts saying we are a human being, a me, an I, a doer, an observer, and so on.

How can I explore this differentiation?

Through inquiry, whether natural, organic, and unstructured or more structured.

Structured inquiry can be a good way to start, and can help us go deeper wherever we are in the process. And the more natural and unstructured inquiry helps us trust our own wisdom and guidance. (Especially when we already are somewhat familiar with the terrain, perhaps with the help of structured inquiry.)

For me, a combination of Headless experiments (Douglas Harding), the Big Mind process (Genpo Roshi), The Work of Byron Katie, and Living Inquiries (modern version of traditional Buddhist inquiry) has been helpful. But there are many other approaches out there.

What about other forms of differentiation?

Yes, there is the conventional form of differentiation and discernment we need in daily life, to function in the world.

The differentiation I wrote about above is helpful for awakening and also healing for our human self. The daily life differentiation and discernment is essential for us to function in the world.

Just as what and who we are – oneness and this human self – these two forms of differentiation are two sides of the same coin.

Thomas Merton: Nothing has ever been said about God…

Nothing has ever been said about God that hasn’t already been said better by the wind in the pine trees.

– Thomas Merton

Yes, this is the experience when there is a taste of oneness, or when oneness wakes up to itself more stably. It becomes very clear that all is the divine – including the divine’s temporary sense that it’s a separate self – and that no words can even touch it. They can, at most, point to it.

Words, in themselves, are abstractions and cannot capture anything very well apart from other abstractions.

When there is this taste or awakening, it’s obvious that all is the divine. It’s all consciousness, awakeness, clarity, and everything happens as this, and everything is also the void it all happens within and as. Any idea of being a separate self also happens within and as this and is a temporary expression of it all.

At the same time, it’s impossible to express in words. Words split up the world and this is the wholeness – and nothingness – of it all. What is – leaves, trees, the wind, the stars – expresses it much more directly, immediately, and beautifully.

Since we already are this, it’s closer to us than words. How do we notice it? How can we invite it to notice itself? When that happens, it’s a consequence of movements within the whole of existence. And that may express itself as a want, wish, glimpse, opening, a meeting with words or a guide, or something else that initiates and brings forward this process.

And from the “point of view” of the divine (which doesn’t really have a point of view but includes all points of view), the divine temporarily and locally taking itself as separate or the divine noticing itself are equal.

Using imperfect words, we can say that all the divine and equal in “value” but in experience and expression they are – obviously – different.

Why isn’t the divine always noticing itself as all there is? Most likely because it “wants” to experience itself as something else. The infinite “wants” to experience itself as finite. So it has created a divine play where it gets to temporarily and locally take itself as finite, as a separate being.

I should mention that although the content of words can only point to the divine, the words in themselves express it – just like everything expresses it. Everything is the divine.

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