Living from the oneness I am is respectively impossible & inevitable (and that’s not a paradox)

It’s impossible for me to fully live from the oneness I am, and it’s also inevitable.

That’s not a paradox since they point to two different things.


I find myself as consciousness AKA oneness, and it’s possible for me to imagine how it would look to consistently live from and as that recognition of oneness.

At the same time, it’s impossible for me to fully do it in real life. My human self has too many biases, hangups, issues, identifications, and traumas. My perception and life will always be colored by these.

That’s OK. It’s understandable and natural. It’s a process. There is always further to go.

More parts of my psyche can heal and align more closely with oneness consciously recognizing itself. More painful beliefs can be identified and examined. There is always more maturing, learning, and exploration happening.


It’s also impossible to not live from and as the consciousness and oneness I am. It happens whether I notice or not and is independent of how my human self is.

To me, my human self happens within and as the consciousness and oneness I am. The consciousness I am forms itself into it all, including the hangups and trauma, and my human self living from these hangups and trauma.


There is a beauty here. It’s rich. It’s endlessly fascinating.

Life set the stage for this richness. In this case, life (consciousness AKA divinity) sets the stage for an endless exploration of itself through and as the richness of who and what we are – our human self in the world and the consciousness we more fundamentally are.


What I write about above are two different things.

One is consciously living from and as oneness recognizing itself. This is filtered through a human self that has biases, hangups, and so on, so it will be imperfect according to how we may imagine it.

The other is what inevitably and always happens. The consciousness and oneness we are always live through and as this human self whether we notice or not (and for as long as this human self is around!).


As hinted at above, this may appear as a paradox but they are really two different things.

It appears as a paradox because of language. We can present it in a way that uses language to present it as if it’s a paradox. This happens if we stay at the level of mental abstractions.

If we come from immediate noticing, we see it’s really two different things and we can talk about and present it as two distinct things. Here, there is no paradox.

In my experience, that’s how most apparent paradoxes are. It may look like a paradox if we are in language and abstractions, and when we look a little more closely, it’s separated out into two or more distinct things and the apparent paradox falls away.

Image by me and Midjourney

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Nothing matters, everything matters

We can explore this in different ways.


If we take thoughts as holding exclusive truth, then this can seem a paradox. (1)

How can both be true?


If we recognize thoughts as thoughts, this seems different.

Thoughts are questions about the world. They are here to help us orient and navigate in the world.

Thoughts cannot hold any full, final, or absolute truth. That’s not their function. (2)

Here, we recognize that everything and nothing and matters are all ideas. They are mind-made and not inherent in the world.


And there is validity in both.

When I explore this, I find…

Nothing matters

To matter is an idea. I cannot find it outside of an idea. It’s not inherent in reality. Nothing matters because I cannot find “to matter” outside of my ideas of it.

Everything matters

To me, everything happens within and as the consciousness I am. It’s literally me taking all these forms. Everything matters because to me it’s all me.

Also, as a human being, I love this world. I love nature. I love all the ways reality shows up. I love how the universe has formed itself into all we know. I am part of this world so everything matters to me.

It’s all true in its own way.


(1) To get to this point where thoughts seem true AND mutually exclusive, we have to do a lot of mental gymnastics. We have to convince ourselves, against overwhelming contrary evidence, that our thoughts somehow are true. (Whatever that means.) And we have to convince ourselves, again against overwhelming evidence, that whatever validity is in different thoughts is mutually exclusive.

(2) Our ideas about the world highlight some features and leave other things out. They leave out an infinite amount, and we mostly don’t even know what’s left out. They are different in nature from what they point to. They reflect our unique viewpoints and biases. The world is always more than and different from our ideas about it.

Paradoxes: Awakening-shifts and how initial paradoxes may appear different when we are more familiar with the terrain

I have written about this elsewhere but thought I would revisit it briefly.

In an awakening shift – and after we notice our nature or our nature notices itself as all there is – many things may initially appear as paradoxes.

They appear as paradoxes because we are not familiar with the terrain and because our thinking patterns still largely operate from separation consciousness.

As we get more familiar with the terrain, and our thoughts have time to adjust, what initially appeared as paradoxes now appear more inevitable.

At least, that’s how it was for me and I assume that’s not an unusual process.

I’ll go through a few examples here.


I am both a human self and Spirit.

In the world, in a conventional sense, and to most others, I appear as a human self.

And to myself, in my first-person experience when I set aside what I am told we are, we are Spirit. My nature is capacity for the world as it appears to me. I am what the world, to me, happens within and as. I am what a thought may imperfectly call consciousness.

They are two different things, and both are valid in their own way.


I am nothing and something and everything.

My nature is capacity for the world as it appears to me. In this sense, my nature is and I am nothing.

This capacity takes the form of all content of experience.

It takes the form of this human self, which I am in the world and in a conventional sense.

And it takes the form of any and all experience. It takes the world of the world as it appears to me here and now.

Again, these are different things and each one is valid in its own way.


I already am capacity and what the world to me happens within and as. It’s inevitable and inescapable. None of us, to ourselves, is ever anything else.

At the same time, this requires noticing. Arriving at that noticing can require some effort, discipline, guidance, and skill. And to consciously notice and live from it, and allow this noticing to work on us and our life in the world, we need to keep noticing it.

What we are is always here. And for it to be consciously noticed and lived from, we need to notice it. Again, it’s two different things and both are valid.


For me, these and other polarities are not inherently paradoxes.

They are separate and distinct from each other, and they both are valid in their own way.

They only appear as paradoxes if we are relatively unfamiliar with the terrain, and if our thought patterns still mostly operate from separation consciousness.

Spirit – aka reality and what we are – includes and is more than any and all polarities. And it’s up to us to differentiate within and navigate it all.

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Do you experience paradoxes? An encounter with a spiritual teacher

In the mid-2000s, I went to a spiritual teacher. (The main one at the Center for Sacred Sciences in Oregon where I lived at the time.)

I told him about an especially strong shift into no-self that was happening at the time. (There was a strong no-self state, where the no-self aspect of what I am was strongly in the foreground, and it lasted for about half a year. I have experienced many states and phases like this, and they all highlight certain features of what I am.)

He asked me: Do you experience paradoxes?

I said honestly: “No”

And he responded: “Then it’s not an awakening”.

And that was it.

I was a bit baffled since I was more interested in exploring the no-self shift. For me, it’s a process with a lot of different aspects and phases, and I find it all intriguing. A binary view on awakening has some validity, but it’s not what I personally find most interesting. Also, why ask about experiencing paradoxes? I vaguely remember experiencing paradoxes following the initial awakening shift more than two decades earlier, but that went away as my thought processes got more used to oneness.


What is a paradox?

For me, it’s when we intellectually assume something is contradictory and we have trouble reconciling it.

In an awakening shift, we may notice we are both this human self and the oneness it’s all happening within and as.

This is not a paradox. Both are valid. And they are two different things. In a conventional sense, I am a human being in the world. And to myself, in my first-person experience, I am capacity for the world and what the world happens within and as.

If we hold thoughts as true or not, and as having some kind of exclusive truth, then this can appear as a paradox. We may struggle with understanding how both can be true. The experience of paradox comes from a certain habitual way of thinking about things that reflects separation consciousness.


Following an initial awakening shift, our mind – still operating to some extent from separation consciousness – may have difficulty reconciling apparent opposites. For instance, that we are human and divine, or that we are something within the world and we are what the world happens within, and so on. After a while, we get familiar with this new terrain and the experience of paradox fades away. These are no longer paradoxes for us.

We can also say this another way: If we hold thoughts as holding some form of exclusive truth, then it’s natural to experience paradoxes following an awakening shift. But when we get used to it and our thoughts are more aligned with oneness, we see that thoughts are questions about the world. They help us orient and function in the world, but they cannot hold any full or final or absolute truth. At the same time, there is some kind of validity in any thought. Getting used to this removes the ground for experiencing paradoxes. We get used to the divine as everything and we recognize thoughts as questions about the world and hold them more lightly.

When I look back to the initial awakening shift, I remember experiencing paradoxes as an early reaction to the shift. My mind was baffled that everything is nothing and something, that what I am is this human self and the divine, and so on. At the same time, it was very clear that the divine embraces and takes the form of any and all polarities. And with time, I no longer experienced it as a paradox. My mind got used to it.


There are a few other things that may have happened here.

For me, this encounter was as much a test of the teacher as anything else.

It seems that he cannot see energies. If he did, he would have relied on that to evaluate how much awakening there is in someone’s system. (As I do.) It’s much more direct and reliable than words.

And it seems that he doesn’t understand that the experience of paradoxes is an initial reaction that tends to fade with time and as we get more familiar with the terrain. He asked a question that makes sense for a relatively fresh awakening shift, not one that happened 25 years ago.

This is in marked contrast to when I have met with other spiritual teachers. For instance, in my teens and early twenties when I met teachers who sees energies and could see the awakening in my system before talking with me. And when I met with Adyashanti and there was a deep mutual sense of recognition.

From this and other experiences with this particular teacher, my sense is that he had a prejudice against new members. At the time, I had started the introductory course which contained pointers, books, and practices I was familiar with from twenty-five years of practice. He was reluctant to meet with me since I was a novice in his mind, and he seemed to meet me with that filter. He assumed that whatever I said was from the view of a novice. (For the same reason, I was also not allowed to join their retreats, even if I had decades of serious meditation practice, and had done a large number of far longer and more intensive retreats as a resident of a Zen center.)

Another side of this is a wound I have. When people jump to conclusions about me, my pattern is to do nothing to clarify it even if their conclusion seems odd or doesn’t fit reality. I let them believe whatever they want to believe. This has, at times, created difficulties in my life and it’s something I am conscious of and working on changing. It’s also one of the more ingrained patterns in me.

This pattern is related to a wound of not being seen and understood. A part of me expects to not be seen and understood, so I don’t even try to clarify in anticipation of misunderstandings or clear up misconceptions that have already happened. My passivity then sets up a situation so just that – not being seen or understood – is more likely to happen. In this case, the teacher played into it. And I left feeling not seen and understood. This pattern is also reflected in that I did nothing to explain my background or history upfront.

Finally, I may have understood the word paradox differently from the teacher. He may have just meant realizing the inherent richness of existence, and that the divine includes and takes the form of everything. And I understood it as having trouble reconciling apparently contradictory things.


If I were to ask one question to see if there is an awakening, what would it be?

Most likely, it would be: Is your human self happening on its own?

In your own direct and visceral experience, is your human self happening on its own? Is it living its own life?

And I look for a way to ask it that is less leading and more open-ended.

In my experience, that’s one of the essential signs of awakening and it’s there whether the awakening shift is new or familiar.

Some other possible questions:

How do you experience your physical body? For me, where my mind has images of this body, I find some sensations happening within and as the consciousness I find myself as.

How do you experience the world? To me, happening within and as what I am.

When you walk or drive in a car, are you moving through the landscape? Or is the landscape moving through you? For me, it’s moving through me. I can almost not remember it being any other way.

Do you have an experience of distance? Yes and no. I can relate to and use distance in a conventional sense. But I don’t experience distance, it’s all happening within and as the consciousness I am.

Of course, with all of these questions, there is a risk of getting an intellectual answer rather than how people viscerally and directly experience something. So finding questions that are more open-ended may be helpful, along with some follow-up questions.

Personally, I would just look at their energy system and see it there. That cannot be mistaken and it cannot be faked. When I look at the energy system that’s awake, the awakeness goes out infinitely from the body, and the energy field is clear, more transparent, and high vibration. (It’s very difficult to describe in words.) If there is less awakeness, then the awake part of the energy field stays closer to the body, and the energy field is generally more dense,

Ironically, around the same time, someone at the center had some kind of awakening shift and was pronounced “awake” by the main teacher. (Another oddity I don’t quite understand. The initial awakening shift is a milestone but doesn’t mean the person has matured into it or is ready to teach or guide others.) I looked at his energy system and could see the awakeness there, but I also saw that it wasn’t very stable. It was half awake and half unawake. Some weeks later, the main teacher announced that the awakening for this person wasn’t very stable.

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Awakening and the experience of paradoxes

When I first came to the Center for Sacred Sciences in Oregon, I had a meeting with the main teacher and mentioned the awakening shift that happened in my teens.

He asked: Do you experience paradoxes?

I answered honestly: No.

His response: Then it isn’t an awakening.

I understand where he was coming from. In the first phase following an awakening shift, it’s common to experience paradoxes.

And yet, judging from my own process, this experience of paradoxes fades and goes away after a while. In my case, it dissolved sometime during the first five or ten years following the awakening shift.

If we are used to living primarily through the filter of thought, then awakening does lead to an experience of paradox. We directly perceive that reality is more than any story, different from any story, simpler than any story, and any story has some validity to it. From the experience of our old story-focused perception, we experience endless paradoxes when there is an initial awakening shift.

And when we get more familiar with it and used to it, it’s different. We rely more on our direct perception. We know that stories have a practical function only and cannot reflect or hold any final, full, or absolute truth. Reality is always more than, different from, and much more simple than any story. And so on. There are no paradoxes because paradoxes only happen when we hold stories more tightly, and we know that stories cannot hold any real truth.

What are some of the apparent paradoxes we may experience? It may be that we are both spirit and human. Everything is ephemeral and dreamlike and also, in a sense, real and substantial. Before awakening, awakening may seem abstract, distant and complex, and within awakening, it seems the most familiar and simple. There is some truth to any number of stories and views. And so on. And as we get more familiar with awakening and living from it, these appear less as a paradox until our tendency to experience paradoxes falls away.

So why did he ask that question? I am not sure, and I didn’t take the opportunity to ask. As I see it, that particular question makes sense if it’s a recent shift, and it makes less sense when it’s something we have lived with and within for a while.

There are some lessons here.

If you find yourself in the role of an awakening teacher, don’t depend on just one question for your evaluation. Be a bit more curious. Get to know where the student is coming from.

And if you are in the role of a student, speak up and clarify. (I didn’t which is a pattern for me and comes from an old hangup and what’s still unresolved about this issue.)

Note: This happened fifteen or more years ago, and I was moderately involved for a few years until I left Oregon.

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Do you experience paradoxes?

I have been asked this a few times, including by a spiritual teacher who saw the experience of paradoxes as a sign of awakening.

My answer is, most honestly, no.


Paradoxes happen within stories, and if we look at stories more than direction noticing, or we hold stories as true, then there will be the appearance of paradoxes. If we hold any two stories as true, there will inherently be some kind of paradox.

Of course, we may or may not notice those inherent paradoxes, and we may experience them more as cognitive dissonance than paradoxes.


If we recognize that there is some validity in any story, and that stories cannot reflect any final or absolute truth, there are not really any paradoxes.

Most simply, if we find ourselves as capacity for the world, and what our field of experience happens within and as, there are no real paradoxes. It’s all happening within and as us, and our mental representations are here just to help us navigate and function, they cannot hold any ultimate truth.


What’s some examples of typical possible paradoxes?

The most obvious may be that we are this human self, and also capacity for the world. As what I am, I am capacity for the world and what my field of experience happens within and as, and that includes being capacity for this human self, and this human self – along with everything else here – happening within and as what I am. If we look mostly at thoughts, and we think the two are mutually exclusive, it may seem contradictory or a paradox. And if we look at our first-person experience, it’s just how it is and there is a simplicity to it. The more familiar we are with noticing what we are and living from it, the less likely we are to experience any paradox.

Another possible paradox may be that everything physical is void, insubstantial, and also substantial. I find I am capacity for this keyboard and these hands and fingers, and to me, all of it has the same true nature as my own. It’s all capacity for itself. It’s all void taking these forms. At the same time, it’s all happening within and as what I can call consciousness, so it’s insubstantial. I can explore that by noticing how the keyboard and my hands appear in my sense fields, and how my mind associates sensations with the mental representations of keyboard and hands to lend a sense of solidity and substance to it, and how my mental representations give a sense of meaning to the sensations. And in a conventional sense, both the keyboard and my hands are physical. I can easily damage this keyboard by dropping my laptop or dropping something on it, and if I hit my hands on the table, they’ll hurt. I don’t find any paradox here, and I can also imagine that it can seem like a paradox if we look at this in a conceptual way and imagine that each of these has some kind of exclusive truth to them.


So are paradoxes a sign of awakening, as that spiritual teacher seemed to assume? For me, it seems that we may experience paradoxes if we are partly or mostly operating from separation consciousness and have some glimpses or intuitions about what we are. If we see it more clearly, or if we have a more clear relationship with thoughts, it seems that paradoxes fall away.

I should add that this is just my experience. I haven’t checked with others how it is for them.