Talking about myself in the third person

Just now, I was reminded of all the beautiful trees cut down in my neighborhood in Norway over the last couple of decades1. I noticed stress come up in me, and then the reminder that this belongs to this human self.

I said to myself: He is experiencing stress.

I find it helpful to sometimes talk about myself in the third person2. Mostly, I do it in my internal dialog, as a reminder that what’s coming up belongs to this human self. It creates a kind of distance and helps soften any identification. It also reminds me of, and is a pointer to, what I more fundamentally am. It helps me intentionally notice that I am what all of this happens within and as.

It’s also fun – and interesting and useful – to sometimes do the same with others as an intentional exploration.


(1) When I grew up here, there were trees everywhere, especially tall birch trees. I loved sitting in the shade of the birches in the summer to read. Over the last two or three decades, there has been an obsession with cutting down all the trees here to “have more sun”. (My parents joined in and cut down their trees.) That has created a kind of desert where it’s impossible to sit outside on sunny days since there is no shade. To me, it seems a kind of insanity. It makes absolutely no sense. There was plenty of sun here even with the trees, they provided an important habitat for many animals and birds, and the shade is crucial if you want to sit outside in the summer. To me, nothing is more enjoyable and beautiful than to sit in the dappled shade of a birch tree.

(2) To be more accurate, it’s the human self that talks about itself in the third person. What I more fundamentally am is what forms itself into all of it and notices it all.

Are we living within a simulation? Some answers

A popular topic today1 is whether we live in a Matrix-like simulation or not2.

As usual, there are several answers.


If we take ourselves as primarily this human self or something else within the content of experience, then it becomes a vital and existential question. It becomes a matter of what we most fundamentally are.

Whether we’ll ever be able to find an answer is another question. I somehow doubt it.


If we take ourselves as primarily what our experience happens within and as, it may still be an interesting question but it’s not existential in the same way.

Our nature is the same anyway, whether it’s a simulation or not.

To myself, I am what the field of experience happens within and as. To myself, I am consciousness, and this consciousness forms itself into any content of experience.


As many point out: we already live within a simulation.

The consciousness I am forms itself into any and all content of experience. It creates a simulation of the world, and that simulation is all I ever know.

Said in a more limited and biological way, the brain takes sensory input and creates its world. We never experience the world directly. We experience a kind of synthesis created by our brain based on very limited sensory information.


Do we live within a Matrix-like simulation?

To me, what’s most interesting and useful about that question is that it can serve as a pointer to our nature.

Everything we know may be a Matrix-like simulation. We may not fundamentally be humans at all. That is a very real possibility.

In either case, we know that the world we experience – including this human self – is created as a kind of simulation by the consciousness we are. (Or the brain if we like more biological language.)

What does that say about what we more fundamentally are? This helps us open the door for the possibility that we are not fundamentally this human self or anything within the content of experience, including a doer or observer.

So what are we, more fundamentally?

At a thought level, we may realize that what we are is consciousness – independent of any particular content of experience.

That may lead us to explore it in direct noticing, and explore how it is to live from and as it, and also getting and living from it more viscerally.


Questions like these can remain an intellectual curiosity. Something we cannot find any conclusive answers to, and they may seem removed from and irrelevant to our daily lives.

I prefer to make practical use of these questions. I know I cannot know the answer to whether I live in a Matrix-like simulation, and it doesn’t matter so much. Other sides of that question are more important to me. For instance, it’s a pointer to and reminder of my more fundamental nature.


I should mention that there are different variations of this question.

For instance, when Chuang Tzu asked his question about butterflies and dreams, he pointed to our nature as consciousness. Night dreams and waking life both happen within and as the consciousness we are to ourselves.

When some today use the Matrix analogy and computer simulations, that’s a more updated version specific to our times and culture. It likely says more about us today than the nature of our world. And it too can be used to point to our more fundamental nature. (I suspect the Wachowski siblings were quite aware of that when they made the movie.)

(1) Among the few of us privileged enough to have the life and relative comfort to consider these things. Most people around the world have more immediate and important things to take care of.

(2) I regularly see articles on this topic even in mainstream media. The most recent one is from NRK in Norway: Flere anerkjente fysikere: Mener det er sannsynlig at vi lever i et dataspill (Several physicists say it’s likely we live in a computer game).

Image by me and Midjourney

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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?


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.


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.


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.


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.)


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.


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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Anything we can name is not what we (most fundamentally) are

I am watching Your Name which is about a teenage boy and girl who find themselves occasionally swapping bodies and life.

There is a lot to learn from imagining ourselves in someone else’s body and life. And although we cannot switch like this in real life, it does also point to our more fundamental nature.


To ourselves, we are consciousness. And as consciousness, we can take on any identity. We can take on the viewpoint of any story. And in daily life, we usually take on identities that happen to fit (more or less) our physical body and the life of this physical body in the world. If we had another body, we can take on the identities that fit that particular body and life.

To me, that’s the essence of the body/life-swapping part of the movie. We can imagine having a different body and a different life. And that’s because we are not, most fundamentally, our body. We are not, most fundamentally, any particular content of experience. We are consciousness, and as consciousness we can play with and take on any identities and viewpoints.


It’s not wrong that we are this particular human self in the world. It’s an assumption that works reasonably well in daily life. (Although it comes with some inherent stress.)

But is it what I most fundamentally am? What do I find when I explore my own first-person experience?

I find that I more fundamentally am something else.

I am more fundamentally capacity for all of these experiences. I am what this field of experience happens within and as.

A thought can call this consciousness. As consciousness, I am capacity for any and all content of experience. I am what forms itself into any experience that’s here. I am what forms itself into this experience of a human self and the wider world. I am what can take on any identity and any view.


When we discover this for ourselves, and as we get more used to finding ourselves as that, we also get to see that the clues are everywhere. What we are is always here. And the clues and pointers are also always here.

As suggested above, Your Name is also a pointer. If it’s so easy to imagine swapping bodies and taking on a whole new life and set of identities, what does it say about our more fundamental nature?


In a sense, we always swap bodies.

When I see you, you are happening within and as what I am. In my experience, what I am forms itself into you.

And who you see me as is not really here to me. I cannot see my own face or head. My name is a memory I have to access in order to tell you.

And I assume it’s the same for you.

When we meet, we swap bodies. To me, you happen within and as what I am. To you, I happen within and as what you are.


This may make sense logically.

And that’s just another pointer. The invitation is always to find this for ourselves.

Fortunately, there are some effective pointers so we can explore and find this for ourselves. (For instance, Headless experiments and the Big Mind process.)

And fortunately, this exploration doesn’t require any spirituality, religion, belief, or anything else. It just requires some guidance, curiosity, and sincerity. And it does require some diligence to keep noticing and to explore how to live from (and as) this noticing.


Why did I say “anything we can name is not what we fundamentally are”?

It’s because the function of words is to differentiate, and what we are is what anything differentiated happens within and as. Words can, at best, point us to notice what we are. But they can never capture what we are.

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“I don’t know” is the only true statement?

“I don’t know” is the only true statement the mind can make

– Nisgaradatta Maharaj

These type of pointers is meant as medicine.

In this case, it’s medicine for the tendency to take thoughts – or some thoughts – as true.

And as with any thought, it’s not entirely accurate. It leaves something out.

Mental representations are questions about the world, whether we notice or not. They are maps of the world and help us orient and function in the world. They are different in kind to what they are about. (Unless they happen to be about mental representations.) Reality is always more than and different from these maps. And they cannot contain any full, final, or absolute truth.

And that goes for Nisgaradatta’s statement as well. His statement also has limited validity, and there is validity in its reversals.

We can know certain things. We can notice our nature directly. (Our nature can notice and “know” itself in that sense.) We can know things in a provisional, limited, and conventional sense, although these are not final or absolute truths.

His statement is not the only true statement. It doesn’t hold a final or absolute truth any more than any other thought.

In general, I find it helpful to explore pointers in this way and especially pointers from the non-dual world. What are they meant as medicine for? What’s their validity? In what ways are they not so valid? What’s the validity of their reversals?

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The most important person

In daily life, I am the most important person to my partner. And when I talk with someone, I am – at that moment – most likely the most important person for her or him.

I am also often the most important person for our cat and dog. When I interact with them, my being and actions fill up their world. Just as my being and words and actions fill up the world for anyone I interact with.

I find this is a helpful reminder. It helps me shift out of a (sometimes unquestioned) assumption that I am not that important and my life doesn’t play that much of a role. 

At the moment I interact with someone, my life – and my words and actions – play a huge role for that being. I fill up a significant part of their world. I have a big impact on them and how they experience themselves and their life. 

This is, in a way, obvious and many live from this naturally. But for me, being used to seeing my own life as not that important, it’s an important reminder. It helps me shift my orientation. It helps me orient a bit closer to reality and what’s actually going on. 

It’s medicine for the assumption that my life doesn’t matter that much, and for acting as if that’s how it is, when it’s clearly not always true.

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Philosophy or noticing

Many or all of these posts may appear as philosophy. 

If we don’t notice for ourselves what they are about and are not familiar with it, then the only way we can relate to it is through and within thoughts. We relate to it at a story level, and then it will appear as philosophizing. And since they are words, they inevitably form a kind of philosophy.

If we notice for ourselves what it is about and are familiar with it, then the words become pointers. What they point to may be alive to us as we read it. 

If we are engaged in practices and inquiry to find this for ourselves, then these words may be taken as pointing to something we may find in the future.

We can also use these words as pointers for a more intentional exploration here and now.

We can explore to see if we can find what they point to here and now. After all, any map is a reflection of what’s here now. And we can do this in several different ways. We can find the words and mental representations here and now, and notice they are mental representations. (Guesses about the world. Maps. Pointers for exploration. And with no final or absolute truth.) And we can see if we can find what they point to here and now. Sometimes, what they point to will be psychological dynamics. And sometimes, our nature.

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Adyashanti: There is only watching and/or observing

In truth there is no self, watcher, or observer. There is only watching and/or observing. There is awareness but no owner of awareness, no someone who is aware.

– Adyashanti, Experiencing No-Self online course

This is something we can explore for ourselves, both at a story level and in our immediate noticing.


If we explore it with sincerity at a story level, what are we to ourselves? Independent of our general worldview, we find that to ourselves, in our own first-person experience, we have to be consciousness. To us, any and all experience happen within and as this consciousness. And our more fundamental nature is consciousness.

This consciousness forms itself into all our experiences, including this human self and a sense of being this human self. It also forms itself into a more essential idea of a self, watcher, and observer, and a sense of being any or all of these.

Mind may tell itself it is a self, watcher, observer, and so on and that works well in daily life. At the same time, it does come with some inherent and inevitable stress, discomfort, and a sense that something is off. And that may invite us to take a closer look and explore it a bit further and with sincerity.

We may discover that, to ourselves, we are consciousness. We are what allows any and all experience – of this human self, the wider world, and anything else. And we are what transforms itself into all of these experiences.

In a sense, there is no real self, watcher, or observer. There is only watching and observing.

Whatever is here, whether it’s a sense of self or a noticing of this sense of self as created by the mind, happens within and as what we are.

Finding this at a story level doesn’t itself bring much if any transformation. Our center of gravity will still be the same, which typically is in a sense of being a separate self. And yet, it can be an excellent start for exploring what we are in our immediate noticing, and this can be profoundly transforming.


What do we find if we explore this in our immediate noticing?

We may discover something we can put into more or less the same words as above, and yet the immediate noticing is primary and profoundly transforming for our perception and and life in the world. It can be profoundly transforming for our psyche as it invites the different parts of our psyche to align more deeply with this noticing.

We may find our nature is capacity for the world as it appears to us. Our nature is capacity for all our experiences, whatever they are.

We may find we are what all our experiences – of the world, this human self, and anything else – happen within and as. What we are transforms itself into all of these experiences. What we are is what experiences and what’s experienced and that distinction is only created when we put it into words.

There is the appearance of self, watcher, and observer, created by our mental field. And more fundamentally, we are what all our experiences – including the idea of self, watcher, and observer, and of watching and observing – happen within and as.


Adya’s words are pointers. They are for us to explore for ourselves, see what we find, and allow it to work on us and transform us.

They are medicine for a certain condition.

In this case, they show us the next stepping stone from taking ourselves to most fundamentally be a self, watcher, and observer.

From here, we may notice that in our own first-person experience, we more fundamentally are watching and observing.

And from here, we may notice that all of it – self, watcher, observer, watching, observing, and even mind and consciousness – happen within and as what we are. We are capacity for all of it. The appearance of all of it is created by our own mental field. And we are more fundamentally not any of it.

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Is awakening an experience?

Some would say that if the “spiritual experience” goes a bit further, it’s not an experience anymore. It’s what we are noticing itself. It’s a noticing, not an experience. Although, for me, a noticing is a kind of experience. I understand where they are coming from, and appreciate the distinction, but feel it’s a bit idealized.

– from a previous post

I thought I would say a few more words on this.

It is popular, in some circles, to say that awakening is not an experience.

So is awakening an experience? I would say yes and no, neither and both, and it depends.


We can say it is noticing what we are, and really what we are noticing itself.

Or that it is to notice our nature, which is capacity for the world as it appears to us, and what the world to us happens within and as.

This can sound very abstract if we don’t have a personal experience or noticing of it. And it can seem simple and obvious when there is that noticing.


Awakening is what we are noticing itself as all there is.

To us, the world happens within and as what we are.

Awakening does not happen within the content of our experience. It’s not dependent on any particular content of experience. We can notice what we are whether we experience elation or depression, sadness or joy, or anything else. It’s not dependent on any particular state.

And it can and will be reflected in the content of our experience. It will impact the content of our experience, to some extent. At first, our thoughts and emotions may respond with surprise, elation, fear, or something else. And over time, as we keep noticing what we are, our human self will transform within this noticing and align with it more consciously.

If we look for awakening as an experience and within our content of experience, we are looking in the wrong place. Sometimes, we may need to look in the wrong place for a while. And we may also use structured inquiry to guide our attention so we may more easily notice what we are.


We can say that the noticing itself is an experience. Although perhaps a slightly different type of experience than most other experiences.

In a conventional sense, it happens within a timeline. We can often put a time period or even a specific day or minute for when the initial noticing happened. In that sense, it’s an experience.

As mentioned above, it does impact the content of our experience. Our system has a reaction to it. And if the noticing happens over time, our human self will transform within that noticing. In this sense, there is certainly an experience component to awakening.

And to others where this noticing may not be happening right now, it certainly looks like an experience. They (we) don’t have another option but to see it as an experience since that’s all we consciously know and are aware of.


When some say “awakening is not an experience”, it’s a pointer.

It’s meant as medicine for a condition, and the condition is to (mistakenly) assume that awakening is an experience and look for it within the content of experience.

It has a practical function only and is not meant to be any final, full, or absolute truth.

And that’s the same when I nuance it here. It’s meant as a pointer. As a support in unsticking from any one particular idea about awakening being an experience or not.

Finding peace with failure in advance

I have been watching Storror videos, and love one of the mental pointers they use:

Find peace with failure in advance.

In this video, they are doing a slightly scary challenge that involves falling into the water if they fail, and one of the ways they prepare is by mentally finding peace with falling into the water. That helps remove their mental struggle with failure, and it makes it possible for them to perform with less distraction from the fear.

This is an example of using our areas of passion as a laboratory. Any area of life that we delve into deeply becomes a kind of laboratory for life.

In this case, they realize that finding peace with failure in advance helps them perform to the best of their ability. They share the pointer with others watching their videos. And they and the viewers can then apply that pointer to other areas of our own life.

In what area(s) of life am I afraid of life? What specifically am I afraid of? How is it to find peace with that fear of failure here and now? What changes when I find peace with failure in advance?

Using Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) as a pointer for what’s here

I listened to an interview with Dr. Jeffrey Long, a Near-Death Experience (NDE) researcher. And although the topic is familiar to me, it was a reminder that the NDEs are all pointing to what’s already here.

Any story, and any cosmology, is pointing to what’s already here in our experience.

What are some common features of NDEs? And what do I find if I use them as pointers for what’s here?


A common experience in NDEs is of all as the divine, and beyond what we can easily put words on.

It may seem very different from our daily life experience, but we can find the essence of it here and now and bring the noticing to life and allow it to transform us.

In a conventional sense, we are this human self. That’s not wrong.

And yet, is it what we most fundamentally are in our own first-person experience? What do we find when we look a little closer?

We may find we are capacity for the world as it appears to us, and what all our experiences happen within and as. We can make this noticing into a habit and explore how to live from it. And we can allow this to transform our perception, life, and human self in the world.

The easiest approach to finding this may be through some simple structured inquiries, guided by someone familiar with the terrain and guiding others. Personally, I find the Big Mind process and Headless experiments most effective here.


Most report a sense of infinite love, of profoundly coming home, a deep peace, and a deep acceptance.

When we find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us, and what all our experiences happen within and as, we find these as characteristics of what we are and this noticing.

All our experiences happen within our sense fields, and they are part of a seamless whole. Noticing this oneness invites a love independent of feelings and states. Since this is what we more fundamentally are and always have been, there is a profound sense of finding home. And there is also an inherent acceptance in this since it already allows and takes the form of whatever is here.


People with NDEs often report panoramic vision, a vision free from depending on the two eyeballs, and generally sensing free from physical sense organs.

When we find that all our experiences are happening within our sense fields, we may also find that it’s all happening within and as what we are. Here, we notice that all our experiences are happening within our seamless field of experience. In a conventional sense, we still see with eyes, hear with ears, and so on. But in our direct experience, it’s all much more immediate.

The thought that we see through the eyes, hear through the ears, sense with the skin, and so on, is still correct in a conventional sense. But it becomes peripheral and the more immediate experience and noticing of what’s here in the sense fields take center stage.


Some report a kind of life review. They get to see a series of instances from their life and the impact their actions had on themselves and others.

Our mind always seeks to process unprocessed material and experiences. It brings it up in daily life and dreams. Often not as explicit memory, but in the form of contractions and reactivity. We may not even notice it, or we notice just a feeling or discomfort without recognizing what’s behind it. And often, the resolution and healing process doesn’t go further unless we actively engage with it and allow and invite deeper and more thorough processing.

In this sense, the life review is ongoing. And we can engage with it more intentionally through therapy, inquiry, and so on.


A few who experience NDEs report a kind of hellish experience. It may be turmoil, despair, confusion, anger, struggle, and so on.

This too is part of our daily life experience. If we look for it, most of us can even find it here and now even if it’s at a very low level.

It’s what happens anytime we identify with a struggle with what’s here in our experience.


Following an NDE, many say their life is transformed.

It leads to changing our priorities and putting what’s most important – typically connections, love, service – at the center, and the rest more in the periphery.

It leads to appreciating life in a fresh way. They find a deeper appreciation of life as it is.

It leads to a realization that we are not, most fundamentally, this human self.

If we explore what’s on this list and make it into a part of our daily life, that too leads to this type of transformation. It transforms our perception, orientation, and life in the world.


These types of NDEs are found across cultures. There is a universality to them.

And the same universality is here when it comes to finding what we most fundamentally are in our own experience, and the rest on this list.


I imagine it’s easy to look at this list and think: Yeah, this is contrived and an intellectual exercise. The two – NDEs and what’s here now – are obviously very different.

So how close is the match between the two?

On the surface, it can certainly seem like an intellectual exercise – until we engage with it ourselves, examine it, and actually find it all here and now. Then, we see that the essence is the same. What’s in an NDE is no different from what’s already here, and what we can find when we look.

And finding this in daily life can be as transformative as any NDE experience.


I have been fascinated by NDEs since I first heard about it when I was eight or ten years old. I read anything I could find about it, even back then.

Why? At the time, I didn’t really know. I was just fascinated by it.

Later, I have seen some connections.

When I was little, before school age, I had flashbacks to an earlier time. There was a profound sense of being home, infinite love, all as consciousness, profound understanding, and so on. I was without body, and there were other beings there – infinitely loving and wise – I communicated with now and then. It was all golden light and consciousness. These flashbacks would often happen when I sat outside and saw the light filtered through the leaves of birch trees.

Later, when I was in my teens, I realized that this seemed like flashbacks to a time before this incarnation. I realized that this was very similar to what people describe in NDEs.

And when the initial awakening shift happened in my mid-teens (age sixteen), I also realized that the essence of these flashbacks pointed to what’s already here, and what was revealed in the awakening shift.

Imperfect practice and noticing what’s already here

Maezumi Roshi, and I am sure many others, pointed out that we can only do approximate shikantaza. We can only imperfectly do the basic meditation of noticing and allowing.

It’s that way with many practices. We can only do it imperfectly.

And there is a great blessing in this, in more than one way. It keeps us humble, and it invites us to find the nature of what we already are.


Basic meditation is to notice and allow what’s already here in our experience. As a human being, this is something we can do only imperfectly.

Why can we only do it imperfectly?

The simple answer is that it’s not humanly possible. We’ll get distracted. We cannot intentionally notice everything happening in our field of experience. We cannot fully allow it all, or do so all the time. And we are always one step behind what’s already happened.

And the more real answer is that the premise is already out of alignment with reality. There is ultimately nobody doing it, and basic meditation cannot be “done” or manifactured.

So what’s the solution?

We can practice more. We can get more familiar with and fine-tune our practice. That is part of the answer and very valuable.

And the more real solution is to notice that basic meditation is already happening. What’s here in my experience is already allowed – by life, space, mind. I can notice it’s already allowed. And I can notice that what’s here in experience is already, in a sense, already noticed. It’s already happening within and as this (ordinary) awakeness.

Both of these perspectives have validity. In a sense, there is a human being here engaging in this practice, and perhaps fine-tuning it through experience. And ultimately, there is nobody doing it and the practice cannot be successfully done or manifactured. All we can do is notice it’s already happening. It’s our natural state.

The nature of what we are is to allow and notice what’s here, and it happens no matter what this human self is doing or distracted by.

When we do basic meditation, we mimic what our nature already does and is.

At first, it may seem unfortunate that we can only do approximate basic meditation. And, in reality, it’s a blessing since the only real solution is to notice the nature of what we already are.


Finding more directly what we are, through pointers and noticing, is similar. As someone doing it, we can only do it imperfectly.

When I find myself as capacity for the world, or oneness, or stillness & silence, do I actually notice this? Or do I notice my mental representations of being capacity, or oneness, or stillness & silence? Or is there a combination?

Also, when I find myself as this, is there some part of my sense field that’s not included in my noticing, and that there is still some identification with?

In my case, there is likely a yes to all of these questions. There is some actual noticing. There is some noticing of the mental representations, and these are partly mistaken for what they refer to, and they are partly used as pointers to notice what they refer to. And there is sometimes a part of the sense field that is identified with, and especially some sensations and mental images in the area where the head is.

For these reasons, and because my attention is not always stable or fully on, this noticing is imperfect.

Of course, practice helps, especially when combined with honesty and sincerity.

And what really helps is to go beyond what’s done and manifactured.

Can I notice the capacity that’s already here, and that allows all this doing and noticing?

Can I notice the stillness & silence that’s inherent in this field of experience, independent of any noticing and doing?


As I mentioned, there are real gifts in this imperfect practice.

One is that it keeps us humble at a human level. I cannot really do any of these practices. I can only do it imperfectly, and – in a sense – fake it.

And the other is that the only real solution to this is to notice what’s already here. To notice the allowing & noticing inherent in this field of experience. And notice the capacity, stillness & silence, and oneness inherent in this field of experience.

At first, we may assume that the practice is to do it and manufacture something. And after a while, we may find that it’s noticing what’s already here.

As so much, it seems obvious. And yet, for a mind used to complexify things, it’s so simple and natural that it’s easy to overlook.

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Ric Weinman: You are the living expression of the divine’s process of experiencing itself as you

You’re the living expression of the divine’s process of experiencing itself as you.

– paraphrased from Ric Weinman, founder of Vortex Healing

This is phrased in the big or spiritual interpretation of awakening. We can also find it here and now, without any spiritual labels.

When I look, I find that all my experiences happen within and as my sense fields – sight, sound, sensation, smell, taste, mental representations, and so on. This human self happens within these sense fields. The wider world happens within these sense fields.

In the world, and to others, I am this human self. And in my own experience, I am what my sense fields happen within and as. This human self and the wider world happen within and as these sense fields, and all of it happens within and as what I am.

I find myself as…. Capacity for all of this, whatever happens in the sense fields. What it all happens within and as. And what can, imperfectly, be labeled awakeness, awake space, and even consciousness. (And all of those labels are mental representations happening within and as what I am.)

We can also call it life.

So as a human self, I am an expression of life’s process of experiencing itself as me. And as what I am, as what all of this happens within and as, I am also an expression of life’s process of experiencing itself as me.

All my experiences – of this human self and the wider world – are expressions of the creativity of consciousenss. It’s consciousness taking on all of these forms and experiencing itself as it.

I see the value in using spiritual labels for this. The downside of using spiritual labels is that it can give the impression that this is something mystical or magical or something outside of ourselves or “other”. (I know that’s not now Ric means it, I am just talking about how it can be received by some.)

That’s why I prefer to use simpler and more ordinary labels, and point to how all of this shows up in our own experience here and now.

How can I talk about it so it invites us to notice it for ourselves, here and now.

Note: When I say the quote above is paraphrased, it’s because it’s not the original quote. Someone posted it on social media with bad grammar and without a source. I cleaned up the grammar and don’t know how that process changed the quote from the original.

Spiritual pointers & practices are medicine for specific conditions

This is another basic topic I thought I would revisit.

Pointers and spiritual practices are medicine for a condition.


Each one is medicine for a specific condition. That means we need some experience and discernment to see which one may be helpful in any one case.

They help us shift out of a place where we are stuck. These are places where we are stuck due to separation consciousness, and they eventually help us unstick from separation consciousness itself.

Some are more universally useful and some are more specific to specific phases and conditions. I love the more universal ones, but also sometimes use more specific ones.

The pointers are not meant to reflect any final or absolute truth. These too are medicine to help us unstick from a certain viewpoint or position.


Here are examples from some of the practices I find most helpful. These are all relatively universal and work for a range of different conditions and at most phases of the awakening process. They are, in a sense, the adaptogens of spiritual practice.

The Work of Byron Katie helps us unstick from holding a thought as true, and identifying with the viewpoint of the thought. Through the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet, we get to identify a number of stressful thoughts about something specific, and we are then led through the four questions and the turnarounds to examine each one. We get to see we can’t know for certain, what happens when we hold onto the thought as true, how it would be without it, and the validity in the reversals of the initial thought. Each one of these helps us unstick, and together, they can work miracles.

Living Inquiries is based on traditional Buddhist inquiry, and it helps us unstick from taking appearances at face value. We get to see how thoughts – in the form of mental images and words, combine with sensations so that sensations lend a sense of solidity, substance, and truth to the thoughts, and the thoughts give a sense of meaning to the sensations. Exploring this, the mental “glue” softens a bit and we get to recognize a thought as a thought and sensations as sensations, and this helps us unstick from beliefs and identifications.

We also get to see how our mental field functions as an overlay on the world, giving it all labels, interpretations, associations, and stories, and that these are thoughts and not inherent in what they appear to be about. This helps us unstick from taking our labels, stories, and associations as inherent in what they refer to.

Heart-centered practices help us shift how we relate to ourselves, others, situations, and life in general. Practices like tonglen, ho’oponopono, and metta help us unstick from an adversarial relationship and struggle to befriending what’s here.

Basic meditation is to notice and allow what’s here, and to also notice that what’s here – whatever is here in our experience – is already noticed and allowed. This helps us unstick from identifying too much with any particular thought and as something in particular within the content of our experience. We recognize all our experiences as happening within and as what we are, and it all lives its own life.

Headless experiments & the Big Mind process help us unstick from taking ourselves as something in particular within our field of experience (e.g. this human self) and find ourselves as what it all happens within and as. This is obviously helpful if we are not used to noticing this, and it can be helpful even if we are used to it – it can help us clarify.


Some pointers are relatively universal and can be helpful through most or all of the awakening process.

What I see in the wider world reflects what’s here in me. When I have a story about anything in the wider world, I can turn it around to myself and find specific examples of how it’s valid. This pointer applies even when we notice what we are since our human self and the wider world are still here, even if it all happens within and as what I am.

What’s the underlying assumption? Is it true? Whenever we notice we hold a thought as true, it’s helpful to question it. And it’s also helpful to identify and question underlying assumptions, including the ones that seem the most obviously true for us. Leave no stone unturned. Again, this is helpful for us wherever we are in the process.

Our experience of the future & past is created here and now. This is helpful if we take our ideas about the future and past as the actual future or past, or reflecting an actual future or past, or that the future and past actually exist. Even if we are in the habit of recognizing this, there may still be times when we fall into old habitual patterns of taking a thought about the future or past as the actual future or past.

What would someone who loves themselves do? For most of us, our habit is to not fully or always love ourselves, and not always love all parts of ourselves or our experience. This simple pointer can help us shift out of that and first imagine how it would be to love ourselves and what we would then do in this situation, and see how it is to bring that into life.

How would it feel to be completely lovable? This is another remedy for not feeling completely lovable. It can help us shift into feeling it and making it more real and alive for us.


Many pointers are for more specific conditions.

How is it to live from noticing what I am? How is it to live from it here and now? This is a universal pointer when we notice what we are, and it’s obviously not so relevant if we don’t.

How is it to notice this as a flavor of the divine? When we find what we are, and in the process notice all as the divine, this can be a helpful question. Especially if we experience something that our habitual response is to avoid or reject, for instance a particular emotion or sensation. This question can help us more consciously recognize that too as the divine, and soften out of the struggle.

What’s the true nature of this phenomenon? When we notice what we are, and still respond to some experiences out of separation consciousness habits, this can be a helpful question. It can help us recognize that what we experience, for instance an emotion, has the same true nature as ourselves. It’s all happening with and as what we are, so to us, it has the same true nature as what we are. And, as with the pointer above, this can help us soften out of our old habitual struggle with it.


Each spiritual practice and pointer is a medicine for a particular condition.

Some are more broadly helpful, and some have a more narrow use.

They tend to help us unstick from a place we got stuck due to separation consciousness.

Any pointer helps us unstick from a particular view. They don’t hold any final or absolute truth.

The practices and pointers I mention here are just a few I happen to be familiar with and find useful. There are, obviously, a wide range out there that are all compatible with awakening and what we find in awakening.

The value in a memory of awakening

A memory of noticing what we are can be a helpful reminder and pointer.

We notice what we are. We find ourselves as capacity for the world and what our experiences happen within and as.

Later, we may not notice it directly but we have this memory. And that memory reminds us that it’s possible and it can serve as a pointer for again noticing here and now.

Memories of awakening sometimes get bad press. If a memory is all there is, and we take the memory as valuable in itself, then we can get stuck there and it’s not so helpful in the long run. But if we take the memory as a reminder and pointer, and notice what we are here and now, the memory is of immense value.

I have mentioned this briefly in other articles and thought I would make it into a brief article on its own since it’s an important topic.

A wrinkle: fascination with the side effects of awakening

One wrinkle in this is the possible side effects of awakening.

An initial awakening may come with bells and whistles (bliss and so on), and our mind may naturally get fascinated by this and overlook the real value in the awakening which is noticing what we are.

This means that our memory may be of the side effects more than the apparent dullness of noticing what we are, which, in turn, means that the memory – and how we take it – can lead us to try to recreate the bells and whistles.

This is a natural, ordinary, and ultimately innocent mistake. If it happens it becomes part of our process and hopefully something we learn from. And we may – eventually – realize what it’s really about and the value in it. We realize that all states and experiences come and go, and what this is really about – our true nature – is always here. It’s the no-thing that’s here through and independent of all these shifting states and experiences.

Looking for what we are

If we set out to look for what we are, a couple of things may happen.

We look for something. We may look within content of experience, and what we are is not a thing.

Also, we may look for something apart from us, and what we are is not apart from us.

So how can we go about it?

One answer is to notice what all our experiences are to us. We are capacity for the world, and all our experiences happen within and as what we are.

Here, we don’t directly look for what we are, because that often leads us to get stuck in looking for something within the content of our experience. We instead look at what all our experiences are to us.

That may be a good pointer, but we still need to explore it for ourselves. How can we practically go about exploring it? As I often mention, the two most effective approaches I have found are the Headless experiments and the Big Mind process.

Why don’t spiritual traditions use more direct pointing?

Why don’t most spiritual traditions use direct pointing similar to the Headless experiments or the Big Mind process? Is it because they didn’t figure it out?

It probably varies with the tradition. The theistic ones may not do it because it doesn’t fit so cleanly with their theology. And the non-theistic and more non-dual ones may not do it for another reason that makes as much or more sense.

These traditions typically start people off with preliminary practices. These practices reorganize and realign us at a human level, and they mimic living from and embodying an awakening. When people are ready, there may be a direct pointing that helps people notice what they are, or the teacher wait until the student have a more spontaneous noticing. And then there is an emphasis on continued noticing and embodiment, bringing it into daily life.

Why do they do it this way?

It may be because they, through experience, find that the embodiment side of it is what’s practically most important and what takes the most time. Noticing what we are takes very little time, if we are guided to it. Living from it takes a whole life, and many lifetimes if we have many lifetimes to work with.

The other side of this is that if some are shown and notice what they are too soon in the process, they may not take it seriously, or they may think they got it and nothing more is needed. Both of which are a bit misguided.

Also, if someone doesn’t get it, for whatever reason, they’ll at least have the benefits from the preliminary and other ongoing practices.

I know that in Dzogchen, they have direct pointing but don’t use it until people have done the preliminary practices and are ready for it. Possibly for these reasons.

Is it misguided to go directly to helping people notice what they are?

No. It’s just helpful to also point out that noticing what we are takes very little time, and exploring how to live from it takes infinite time. It’s something we are never done with, at least not until we die and are not here anymore.

A YES to the world

What does it mean to say YES to the world? And why would we?

First, what does it mean?

It means to say an internal YES to whatever is in our world – the situation and people, and our own emotions, thoughts, sensations, and whatever else is here.

It’s an intentional shift in orientation from the NO parts of us have towards the world to a YES.

Why would we say YES to the world?

Mainly for pragmatic reasons.

What’s here is already here. We are too late in doing anything about it. If I fight it, I just create additional stress and distractions for myself. If I say YES to it, the stress and drama calms down and I am in a better position to relate to it more consciously and do something about it if that’s appropriate.

Saying YES to my world is a kindness to myself. It helps me act more from clarity and kindness.

How do we do it?

For me, it’s easier to ask myself a question:

Can I say YES to what’s here?

How is it to say YES to this situation? To what I am experiencing now?

Can I say YES to the “no” in me?

This opens the mind to the possibility. It opens for curiosity. It helps me connect with the side of me that already says YES to this experience.

Does it mean being gullible or passive?

Not at all.

It just means to allow some of the drama to settle and finding the more clear side of myself. I’ll still act if that’s needed, and I may do it a little more effectively.

Aligning with reality

This is not only pragmatic. It’s also an expression of what we already are.

The reality is that we are already “built open” for the world, as Douglas Harding says. What we are is this awake no-thing that’s open for the world as it is. What we are is built with an inherent YES to the world.

By asking ourselves can I say YES to what’s here? a few things may happen. One of these is that we notice what we are and live from it, especially if this is available to us from experience.

Getting to know the NO in us

A side-effect of this is that we get to see the NO in us. We get to see the parts of us that say “no” to life or a situation.

It’s very natural and understandable that we have these sides of us. They were created from separation consciousness, and there is often a lot of pain and fear in there.

When we get to know them more closely, we may see that they are here to protect us and really come from and are an expression of love. They also come from painful beliefs, identifications, and sometimes trauma.

They come from unloved and unexamined fear.

By saying YES to the “no” in us, we acknowledge these sides of us while not getting caught in them.

A what-if orientation

These type of explorations work best if they come from a what-if orientation.

What if I do this? What happens?

This also opens from some receptivity, curiosity, and even playfulness.

Where does this pointer come from?

The YES to the world is something we find in many places – from poets to psychologists, philosophers, mystics, and some spiritual traditions. It’s one of the things we discover if we explore ourselves and how we relate to the world, and what works and doesn’t work so well. It’s also what we discover when we discover what we are, and explore this for a while in daily life.

I suspect that I got the “YES to the world” wording from Adyashanti although I don’t have a clear memory of where from. (I haven’t taken in much from spirituality for the last several years.)

Why do I write about this now?

Well, the answer is almost given. This is something I have explored and applied in my own life over the last few days. It’s something I have returned to since I have needed it. A lot of primal fear has come up, partly triggered by working on and exploring it in myself.

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Notice vs realize

In spirituality, people sometimes talk about realization or realizing our true nature.

I tend to avoid using realize in that sense.

Why? It’s mostly just a personal preference.

The word realization can come with some baggage and misleading associations. It’s a word that can be taken to refer to something we figure out within thought. And although thoughts can play a role, that’s not really what it’s about. For the same reason, we can also take it as something we realize once and for all and then it’s done. Of course, the traditions and teachers who use the word realize point this out as well.

I prefer the word notice, to notice what we are. It suggests it’s immediate, fresh, and direct, and suggests it doesn’t have to do with thoughts. It also seems simpler and more ordinary, which is appropriate since what’s noticed is the most ordinary (no) thing there is. It’s what we are and are the most familiar with, even if we don’t consciously notice it.

At the same time, realize has useful connotations notice doesn’t have. For instance, one definition of realize is to become fully aware of something and understand it clearly. It goes beyond just noticing and suggests that it needs to be seen and understood thoroughly, and even lived thoroughly. This is, of course, something we can clarify when we use the word notice.

I don’t have a strong preference here and I have no trouble with people using realize. It’s just that notice resonates with me more right now, and it may change.

Note: Since I mentioned the role of thoughts earlier, what is the role of thoughts in this context? Thoughts can serve as a pointer for noticing what we are, for instance through guided inquiry. Thoughts can reflect what we notice and find. And thoughts can also serve as a pointer for how to live from it and perhaps avoiding some of the pitfalls (although we often have to get our own experience with those pitfalls).

Sebastian Blaksley: tenderness is justified under all circumstances

The message of Christ was “that tenderness is justified under all circumstances… there is never reason to disconnect from the sweetness of your heart.”

– Sebastian Blaksley, Choose Only Love V

Even the simplest pointer has a lot of complexity in it, and this one is no exception.

Tenderness is justified under all circumstances

When someone acts in a harmful way, they do so out of ignorance or in reaction to their own pain, and usually from a combination of the two. And they suffer from it, whether they notice or not.

And if a situation goes in a different direction than we wanted, it’s not personal. It’s life.

In both situations, it’s far more comfortable to keep a tender heart. It’s more healing for ourselves and sometimes others. And it tends to come with some receptivity and clarity so it’s easier to make better choices.

Why don’t we always live with a tender heart?

If our heart closes down, it’s typically for two related reasons.

We don’t see the situations very clearly, and our own hangups and wounds are triggered. We close our heart as a reaction to fear in us, and we react because this fear looks scary since it’s unloved and unexamined.

Tender heart and action

We can have a tender heart and also act decisively when that seems appropriate. One doesn’t exclude the other.

Supporting a tender heart

We can support a tender heart in many different ways. For instance, through heart-centered practices, insights & inquiry, healing how we relate to ourselves and the world, and inviting in healing for wounded parts of us.

Supporting a tender heart through healing

We won’t live with a tender heart in all circumstances.

When I notice that my heart is shutting down, I can ask myself some questions. How is it to meet myself with kindness? How is it to meet this pain in me with kindness?

When we notice our heart closing in a particular situation, we can use this to identify which wounds were triggered in us and, perhaps later, invite in healing for these.

Typically, when our heart closes, it’s a way for our system to protect itself. It comes from a wish to protect this human being, it’s ultimately innocent, and it’s a form of love. As mentioned above, it’s typically a reaction to fear in us that looks scary because it’s – so far – unloved and unexamined.

So this is another way to support a tender heart: inviting in healing for how we relate to ourselves, our own wounds, and the world. And invite healing for the wounds themselves.

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Can I find peace with what’s here?

Can I find peace with what’s here, as it is right now?

Any pointer is medicine for a certain condition, and this pointer is helpful for me right now. It helps me shift my relationship with what’s here, as it is, including the way I respond to something based on my conditioning.

Something in me knows how to find peace with what’s here, and something in me already is at peace with what’s here. This question opens up for receptivity to these parts. Something shifts on its own.

When I say “what’s here” – it means anything and all of what’s here. What’s going on in my body, emotions, and thoughts. What’s happening in my life situation. And how I respond to it all, out of habitual patterns.

Storror: Be accepting of going in

Be accepting of going in, and then you’ll stick it.

– Storror parkour team in Parkour Water Challenge, 18 minutes in

This is an example of how dedication to excellence in any area of life tends to lead us to similar insights. In this case, the insight is that if you accept failure, you are more likely to succeed. The fear of failure is often what leads to failure, so when we accept the possibility of failure and find some peace with it, we are more able to focus on the task and do our job well.

The Storror guys continue to push the boundaries of what they are able to do in parkeour, and in the process discover universal insights that people through history have discovered.

Standing on a ledge, about to jump onto a beam in the water, it’s easier to focus on the task and do the job well if we accept and find peace with falling into the water. If we are afraid of falling into the water, the fear will distract us and make hesitation and a mistake more likely.

This is what any good psychologist or coach will help us with. And this is also a common thread in Asian philosophy. For instance, the samurai practices finding peace and coming to terms with death (they practiced imagining already being dead) so they wouldn’t be distracted by fear of death at a crucial moment.

Life as a forever emergency

I saw an article about the benefits of thinking of the climate crisis as an forever emergency.

In a sense, life itself is a forever emergency. Humanity as a whole experiences a continuous series of smaller and larger crises and emergencies, as do we as individuals.

It’s very helpful to realize that this is part of the human condition, and that this is how it is for all fellow Earth beings.

If we live in the hope that this will change, we’ll be forever disappointed, and we’ll struggle with what is because it destroys our dream. As soon as we adopt a forever view on crises and emergencies, we can find more peace with it.

A forever view may help us in several ways. It may help us be better mentally prepared and better prepared in general. More able to enjoy the calm periods. Prioritize. Appreciating the small things in life. Looking for ways to learn and grow through the emergencies. And have more empathy with others since we are all in the same boat here.

Find a way to do it, so you would want to do it forever

Find a way to do it that’s so comfortable that you’d want to do it forever.

When we do Breema bodywork or self-Breema exercises, this is one of the informal guidelines.

And what we discover in any laboratory – in this case Breema sessions – is meant to be used in life in general.

Most of us have our lives changed because of the pandemic. So instead of impatiently waiting for it to be over, why not find a way to make this new life comfortable and enjoyable? Why not find a way to do it so we would want to do it forever?

It’s an invitation. Can I find a way to do this so I am a little more comfortable? Can I find a way to make it a little more enjoyable?

It’s often a process of making small adjustments, discovering new things over time, and the question always applies. Circumstances change. I change. What I discover change. So it’s a question to keep alive.

Feel it as a flavor of the divine

Pointer in spirituality are medicine for a particular condition.

Some pointers are more universally helpful. And some are more specific for some people and some situations.

One that’s specific to where I am now is this:

Feel it as a flavor of the divine.

Sometimes, something comes up – a sensation, discomfort, emotion – and my old pattern is to react to it. My mind tells itself that this is not good, it’s not the divine. So avoid it or make it go away.

When I remind myself that this is a flavor of the divine, there is a shift.

I remind myself that this too is the divine. It’s a flavor of the divine. I notice it is the divine. It’s happening within and as what I am capacity for. It’s happening within and as – what the mind may label – consciousness, awakeness, love.

This morning, I woke up feeling material from an old issue – perhaps going back lifetimes if my sense is right and that of others who have sensed into it. It felt very uncomfortable and I did wrestle with it for a few minutes and felt grumpy. Then I remembered this pointer, and it helped my relationship to it to shift. The symptoms are still here but there is no longer any need to struggle with it. I notice it as a flavor of the divine and that makes it much easier.

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My advice is for myself

My advice is for myself.

What I write on this website are reminders and explorations for myself. And if it resonates with someone else, that’s icing on the cake.

Even when someone asks me for advice, I am aware that my advice is the advice I would give myself in the situation I imagine they are in. If the advice resonates and is helpful for the other person, that’s a bonus and not a given. We are all different. We need different things.

If I think my advice – whether spoken or not – is for someone else, I create an impossible situation for myself. I expect or want the other to follow it. I get frustrated if she or he doesn’t. And they often won’t for whatever reason, including that my advice didn’t fit their situation. It wasn’t for them. It was for me imagining myself in their situation – as I imagined their situation was.

I also see that most of my advice for others is unspoken. Right now, my advice for the neighbor is to be more quiet and considerate. It’s not spoken and probably won’t be spoken. And if I think it’s for him, I frustrate myself. The advice is for me. I am the one who enjoys being considerate of others and not make much or any noise. I am the one who can benefit from my mind quieting down about the neighbor, and be less noisy in my thoughts about him.

If I want to share with him that I would enjoy and really appreciate more quiet, I need to tell him. I can’t expect him to know if I don’t share it with him. It doesn’t feel right or necessary in this situation, so what’s left is my advice to myself.

I cannot go too far in seeing that my advice is for myself. But I can be one-sided. I sometimes withhold pointers or information from others even if it could be helpful for them. And that’s also not the most kind. When I notice this, I typically ask if they would like to hear what I have found helpful in similar situations. If they say yes, I’ll share. If they say no, then I am grateful they are able to say an honest “no” and I know it’s not the right time or place. (I am grateful that some of my friends are good at saying “no”. It means they trust that it’s OK for me.)

I have written this as it came to me without planning it out in advance. That means it’s more wordy and less structured than it could be, but I’ll leave it as is.

What I exclude from oneness

I may generally notice and realize that all is the divine, and yet I sometimes exclude something from it.

That points to an unresolved issue in me, something in me that I can invite in healing and awakening for.

Not surprisingly, when it happens, it’s sometimes more visible to others than it is to myself. It sometimes takes someone to point it out to me before I take it seriously. (And I may, at first, feel a bit defensive when it’s pointed out to me. Although I secretly know it’s true and I am grateful.)

I exclude something from oneness in my view and in my behavior. I perceive or act as if something or someone is not part of oneness. As if it’s somehow excluded from the divine.

It’s very natural, it’s very ordinary, and it’s probably a part of any awakening process.

It reminds me to keep going with the awakening, healing, and embodiment. It’s a reminder to include more and more parts of me in the awakening and healing.

How does it look? Here are some examples:

I see someone inn the world my conditioning doesn’t like, reject and condemn them, and “forget” that this person is also an expression of the divine. (When I recognize the oneness also here, I can still condemn an behavior and take appropriate steps to prevent the person from harming others. But I don’t need to condemn or reject the person, and I don’t need to forget that this person too is the divine.)

I reject something in myself. I avoid feeling it. I may not (like to) acknowledge it’s here. I see it as a problem. I may ignore it or try to get rid of it. I ignore my knowing that this too is the divine, and (mostl likely) do so to avoid pain.

I made a bad decision at a crossroads in life. I even went against my clear inner guidance. And I tell myself I went against what life or the divine wanted me to do. I am caught in regret and self-blame. And I am unable to see that this too was and is the divine. That this too was, in a sense, divine will. I may also overlook that this experience can helps me to go deeper – in healing, humanizing, maturing, awakening, and embodiment.

When I remind myself that “this too is the divine”, notice it, and allow it to sink in, it’s the context that changes. And this shift allows me to relate to it differently. Often with less reactivity and with a little more sanity and kindness.

Recognizing these people, parts of me, and situations as the divine doesn’t rule out sane and decisive action. On the contrary, it helps me be more clear and grounded in how I relate to it and in my actions.

What I write are pointers for myself

We teach what we need to learn.

That’s very clear for me with these articles. The pointers I share here are for me.

If I finish and article without taking time to intentionally apply it for myself, it feels incomplete. And when I do, it completes it.

Of course, what I write does come from my own immediate experience. And I do go into it before writing to make sure it’s alive and I can discover more about the topic, or at least remind myself about it. And yet, it makes a difference when I take the main pointer from the article and intentionally apply it after the article is written.

In The Work of Byron Katie, this is what they call Living Turnarounds. I take the most juicy pointer from the inquiry and apply it in my life. That’s how the work comes alive in me and my life. That’s how my insights ground in real life. That’s how I get to see what’s left.

I sometimes tell myself that if just one person benefits from what I write here, it’s worth it. By applying my own pointers after writing a post, I make sure at least one person benefits from it – and that’s me. And if one other person benefits as well, that’s wonderful. That’s icing on the cake.

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So much is about the match.

The particular match between the person and the art, whatever the art is.

A painting. A movie. Music. Food.

With art, some is inherent in the piece. The skills it’s made with. How universally it tends to speak to people. And yet, what it really comes down to is the match. The match between the person, there and then, and the piece.

Since my teens, I have preferred the rare art critics who speak partly about the skills behind and the universality of a piece, and the type of person the piece may be a good match for. (Most critics tend to generalize from how well the piece matches them personally and try to make it sound universal.)

The match principle can be transfered to other areas of life, incluidng pointers for life or spiritual practice. Here too, the skills and insights its coming from, and how universally it applies to people, plays a role. But it really comes down to the match.

The good guide or teacher will offer pointers that match the person and where he or she is at, as much as possible.

Of course, there are exceptions and extreme cases. Some food may be immediately unhealthy for everyone. Some pointers, if taken literally, may be unhelpful to anyone.

Painting by Mark Rothko.

Past lives as metaphors

I have some images that could be taken as images of past lives, and also from a disembodied state before my current incarnation. More recently, two separate vortex healers have had images come up during sessions with me that had them wonder if it had to do with my past lives.

I am very aware that all of these are images, perhaps with some charge associated with them. That doesn’t mean they are actual memories. And it doesn’t really matter that much to me. What matters is what these images of possible past lives mean to me now. In what way do they resonate with me? What in me do they speak to or point to?

For instance, the two vortex healers both had a sense of a soldier energy in me, someone who has been in a war. One also had images of a medieval battle. All of that very much resonates with me. It fits the primal survival fear that I have experienced off and on for some years now. The survival fear that surfaced when I – stupidly? bravely? inevitably? – asked God or life to show me what’s left. (The primal dread and terror surfaced one or two weeks after that prayer, stayed at an intense and overwhelming level for about nine months, and then lessened a bit.) It doesn’t mean I have had past lives as a soldier, but those images fit perfectly my experience of this dread and fear. It’s what I imagine a soldier in and after war easily can experience.

Radical, and radically simple

The pointers and tools I find works best for me are often very simple. And they may also, from a conventional view, be a bit radical.

It’s the usual ones:

Question any stressful story, any underlying belief – including those that seem most obviously “true”, and find what’s more true for me.

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Quantum physics and evolution as pointers

The scientific approach in general is a good guideline and pointer for our own “spiritual” explorations.

And within science itself, it seems that the study of the very small and the very large both are fertile ground for pointers and guidelines for exploration.

Science in general helps us recognize that we don’t know. We operate from our own world of images and this is just a map. It may be very helpful in a practical sense in everyday life but there is no “truth” in it. Examples from quantum physics, the study of the very small, helps bring this home.

Through this, we notice that we may assume that there is an objective world “out there”, and it is helpful to act in daily life as if it is so, but this too is just an image. As is the images of a me and I (doer, observer). As we notice these images as images, as content of experience, there is an invitation for identification to release out of these images. We can still use any and all of them in a practical and pragmatic way, to help us function and orient in the world, but they are recognized as images, helpful tools only, and not any absolute truth. And we can notice what happens when there is identification with the viewpoints of some of these images, including the images of a me and I, and what happens when there is a softening or release of this identification and we are more free to play with and make use of these images while recognizing them as images only.

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Religions and their commonalities and differences

We’re Not the Same…And That’s OK. Stephen Prothero says the leaders of the interfaith movement have a problem: call it the Kumbaya Effect. Instead of grappling with our religious differences, he says they gloss them over, creating a ‘pretend pluralism’ that does more harm then good. Stephen Prothero, author of God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World — and Why Their Differences Matter.

The current episode of Interfaith Voices is on why our differences matter. It is an interesting topic, so before I listen to it (if I do!), I thought I would explore it for myself first. I am usually not so interested in religion, so it is good for me to take a look at it.

When it comes to emphasizing commonalities and differences, it seems appropriate and helpful if we emphasize commonalities these days. With increasing connection among people of different religions, emphasizing commonalities helps diffuse tension and ease interactions. Within that context of emphasizing commonalities, there is also a great deal of benefit in acknowledging and looking at the differences among religions.

Ecosystems are more resilient and stable the more diverse they are. And although social systems are not identical to ecosystems, it does seem healthy for humanity to have a wide diversity of approaches to religion, spirituality, and God. Each provide their own unique perspectives, contexts, and insights. There is a richer set of approaches and tools for us to try out. They provide contrasts to each other. There is an incentive for each tradition to clarify and refine their own approach. And there is an opportunity to find apparent universals and commonalities within the diversity. And as in an ecosystem, we don’t know which “species” will show itself fit and thrive in the future.

We can even acknowledge the benefits of the varieties that are apparently not so healthy, such as the ones with weird ideas, views not aligned with science, and fundamentalism in general. They provide a mirror for us, a contrast, an incentive to find alternatives that are more kind, wise, and aligned with reality, and they provide an opportunity for exploring and implementing strategies in relating to them such as working to minimize damage, invite changes, and developing more attractive alternatives.

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This is it


A sentence from any source can be used as a koan, a question for own exploration.

It is most interesting when the statement appears mundane or counter intuitive, and even if it is a familiar reminder, it can be an invitation to look in a fresh way and perhaps a little further.

This is it.

This is all there is. All my images of the world and myself is my own world of images.

All I see “out there” – in present, past, and future, is here now. All goals, dreams, qualities, dynamics, whatever it is, is here now.

It is an image here now. The feelings and atmosphere it evokes are here now. The qualities and dynamics I see out there is here now.

Even the images of present, past, and future themselves happen in my own world of images.

I can notice and get familiar with this in the usual ways. I can inquire into my beliefs. I can explore my sense fields. I can recognize my images as images as they happen. I can notice my emotions as here now, and not belonging to anything out there in the past, future, or present. I can recognize my goals as stories here now. I can find the qualities and dynamics I see in others here now, in myself, including in how I relate to that person. I can ask myself if what I seek is not already here.

In this way, I get double benefit from my world of images. I can use my images, goals, and so on as guides for choices and actions in the world. And I can recognize it all already happening here now.

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Living in the present

The present moment is highly overrated. From an evolutionary perspective, the past and the future are where it’s at. Any aardvark, antelope, cat, or cockroach can effortlessly reside in the present moment. Only human beings can engage deeply with the past and consciously co-create the future. By doing so, by looking outward with aims of bettering our world, big or small, we also walk a path that leads to inner fulfillment.
– from by Evolutionary Spirituality: Coming Home to Reality by Michael Dowd

I agree completely. And yet, there is a common misunderstanding here.

The “present” doesn’t exclude past and future. It is just a reminder to notice thought as thought.

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Stable attention and pointers

A friend of mine with a great deal of experience with Buddhist practice, uses the word “concentration” practice for what I tend to think of as stable attention.

As usual with these things, it is an opportunity for inquiry, for trying it out.

What I know for myself, is that several of the usual tools work quite well for me with the stability practice.

I can bring attention to the sensations at the tip of the nostrils, or something the belly, or the whole-body experience of the in-breath and out-breath. (There is a quite noticeable change throughout the whole body from the ordinary in- and out-breath.)

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Cosmology as pointer

It is my second day at the intensive, and words from the main teacher reminded me of how cosmology can be a pointer.

Our actions in this life determines whether we will evolve into higher or lower beings following this life.

That is the familiar story of karma, and these types of more abstract teachings – apparently describing something out there somewhere – can be very helpful when taken as a pointer for something here and now, and less helpful when taken as a belief. (Although when it is taken as a belief, that is part of the process as well.)

When taken as true, it may at best encourage students to practice and to live in a more ethical way. But it is inevitably mixed with getting caught up in fears and hopes, and is just another log in the fire of taking stories as true. It is a scare tactic, and not quite honest since we cannot know. (Even if the most respected teacher or book tells us so, if we have vivid visions or memories, even if science indicates that it may be so, the truth is that we cannot really know.)

As any story, the story of karma is a question, an invitation to explore for ourselves, and to find what it points to here and now rather than take it as (only) “out there” in the wider world or the past or future.

Is it true that my current actions evolve me into a higher or lower being? How can I find it in my own experience?

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Boundary between I and other

Sometimes, it is said that awakening means the boundary between I and Other is recognized as imagined

That is true and a helpful pointer. It helps us see that boundaries are created in the mind. They are, quite literally, imagined. This is a good starting point. 

And it is just that, a starting point, because it leaves something out. It can be taken as saying that the boundary may be imagined, but the I and other is real. There is an I here and a wider world, but it is part of the same seamless whole. 

The truth is more radical than that. So the next pointer is to say – as many do – that there is no separate I, no other, no world, no boundaries. All of those are imagined. All of those happen within our own world of images. 

This is an invitation to notice not only boundaries as imagined, but any object is as well. They all happen as a mental field overlay on the sense field. They all happen within our own world of images. And this includes the wider world as well as any sense of doer and observer. They all happen as content of awareness. They all come and go, on their own schedule. They are all gestalts, made up of mental field overlays on each of the sense fields. 

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A few resources

As of August 2009: See this page for updates.

A few resources I have found helpful…


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