Light and dark in the same sky

I am at the cabin in the forest near Oslo, and saw this amazing sunset rainbow a few days ago.

Light and dark in the same sky.

As anything else, we can use it as a mirror for ourselves. For instance, and in this case, as a metaphor for the mind.


What do we metaphorically see as light and dark in this context?

We can see some states, emotions, orientations, and experiences as light, and some as dark. Perhaps we see joy, generosity, love, peace, and so on are light. And distress, depression, anger, hostility, and so on as dark.

We tend to see what we are aware of as in the light. We shed light on it. And what we are not aware of is in the dark. As who and what we are, some things are in the light, in that we are aware of it (or have a story about it), and some things are in the dark and we are not aware of it (yet).

We can also talk about our shadow. Our desired personality is in the light, and what’s undesired in us is in the shadow and the dark.

And we sometimes talk about enlightenment. We shed light on what we are, and notice what we are. Or it’s in the dark.


This light-and-dark-in-the-same-sky metaphor can be helpful in a couple of different ways.

One is as a reminder that both are here. Even if we mostly notice one, the other is also here.

We may be very aware of sadness, depression, anger, hopelessness, and remind ourselves about the things in our life we are genuinely grateful for, and that these states change and we’ll still have good days. And we may feel content, joyful, and happy, and remind ourselves that we still have unresolved things in us and perhaps even explore these even if they are not on the surface.

We have a desired personality and identity, and remind ourselves that this is not the whole picture. We also have felt or thought or done things that don’t fit this desired image. And we have unmet and unloved parts of ourselves that may not fit this desired image, and these parts of us want to be seen, felt, understood, loved, and included.

We may notice what we are, for instance as capacity for our world, and what our experiences happen within and as. And yet, there are always more layers, more to discover, further to sink into it, and so on. And conversely, if we don’t notice what we are, and wish to, it can help to remind ourselves that what we are is always here. It never went anywhere.

This helps us keep the larger picture in mind.


There is another way this metaphor can be useful.

Both are in the same sky. Our emotions, states, and experiences pass through the same sky. Our desired and not-desired parts of ourselves happen within the same sky. Noticing what we are and not are in the same sky.

Is this sky “other” to us? Is it just a background that’s somehow out there in the world and different from us?

Or is it what we are? Are we this metaphorical sky that all our experiences – whether we see them as light or dark – are in?

Can we find ourselves as this sky? What happens if we do? And how would it be to live from it?

We may find we are capacity for the world as it appears to us, including anything we think of as light and dark. Our whole field of experience – whether it’s of this human self or the wider world, and whether it’s something we can label light or dark – happens within and as what we are.

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Addressing the polarities inherent in any emotional issue

If we want to be thorough in exploring an emotional issue, we need to address both ends of the polarity it belongs to.


For instance, if we explore the victim part of us, we also need to explore the victimizer in us. They are both parts of the same dynamic and create and reinforce each other. If we only address one, we leave an important part of the dynamic out, and this holds some of the issue in place.

Both ends of the polarity are already in us, so if we want to explore an issue more thoroughly, we need to address both ends of the polarity and the dynamic between them.


In what way do we have both in us?

I’ll take the victim-victimizer dynamic as an example.

We have victim thoughts like “poor me”, “life is unfair”, and these are also the victimizer thoughts. These thoughts, when held as true, create a sense of being victim.

I can find how I victimize myself when I engage in and fuel those kinds of thoughts. When I tell myself stories making me into a victim, I am the victimizer in that moment.

I can dialog with the victim and victimizer parts of me and get to know them. I can find both in me.

I can find several specific examples of how I have acted in ways that triggered a sense of victim in others.

I can take any story I have about victimizers in the world, turn it back to myself, and find specific examples of how it’s true.

The story of victim and victimizer is a story. It’s not inherent in the world. Both stories are in me. They are part of the mental representations I put on top of the world. (Which doesn’t condone victimization!)

I can find that I am what my field of experience happens within and as, and that includes any and all victims and victimizers I have ever know about. It’s all within what I am.


In general, we can do it using whatever approach we are familiar with and works for us.

For me, I tend to do it through….

Dialog with each of these parts of me and getting to know them, how they see the world, how they see me and how I relate to them, how they see each other, what advice they have for me, and so on.

Inquiry into both ends of the polarity, whether I use The Work of Byron Katie or Living Inquiries.

Energy work for both ends of the polarity, in my case using Vortex Healing.

Connecting with the energy of one and then the other. Notice and allow. Notice they have the same true nature as myself. Allowing them to unfold and unravel, and align more with reality.


I’ll say a few more things about the dynamic.

We often identify with one end of these polarities and don’t recognize the other in us, and this is part of what creates and holds the issue in place. We may see one end in us and the other end out in the world, so we overlook the importance of addressing how both operate in us.

Our culture sometimes reinforce issues for that reason. Other people and stories in the culture often reinforce the idea that one end of the polarity is out there and the other is in here, so we don’t get the chance to explore both in ourselves – which is where the solution is.

Both ends of the polarity are needed within us to maintain the issue. Without an inner victimizer, we couldn’t feel like a victim. They depend on each other.

If we only address one, the other end will still be here in us, and that will tend to recreate the issue.

Often, we are aware of the other end of the polarity in us without recognizing it for what it is. For instance, we be aware of the thought “life is unfair” and believe it and feel like a victim. What we may not initially recognize is that this thought, when it’s believed, is what creates the sense of victimhood. It’s not only the thought of a victim, it’s also the victimizer thought. It’s the thought creating a sense of victim in me. When I engage in it, I make myself a victim. It’s innocent and normal, and good to notice.

Projection work, inquiry, and inner dialog are often good ways to find both ends of the polarity in us, especially if we are willing to look at anything – any situation and story – that has a charge for us.

These polarities in us are here to protect us. They were the best way our mind knew how to protect us in a situation in the past, and often early in life. They may be confused and misguided, from our adult perspective, and at the same time come from desire to protect us and kindness and love. In a very real sense, they are confused love.

The radical and the middle ground in our healing and awakening process

The awakening and healing path is – in my experience – both radical and a middle ground.

It’s radical in that to be thorough…. Our exploration needs to be independent of – and sometimes go against – old patterns and social norms and expectations. It needs to be dogged. We need to be radically honest with ourselves. And it needs to go all the way through even our most basic assumptions about ourselves and the world.

It’s a middle ground in that…. Our approach needs to be sane and grounded, flexible and undogmatic, and inclusive and wholeness oriented. In our healing, we include more and more of our parts as a human being. In the awakening, we find ourselves as that which our daily life experience happens within and as – as it is. Through both, we become thoroughly humanized and often live very ordinary lives.

Our healing and awakening process includes everything, including the radical and the very ordinary. Just like life itself.

What I write here reflects my own orientation and limited experience. I know it can look quite different for others. And that’s part of the richness of life and this particular process.

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Victim and victimizer

I am briefly revisiting this topic:

When we explore identities, it’s helpful to explore both ends of the polarity.

For instance, if we have chronic and bothersome issues in our lives, we may also have a victim identity connected with it. It’s helpful to explore this identity and perhaps find healing for it. At the same time, we have a victimizer part in us. We couldn’t have a victim part without the victimizer part. They depend on each other to exist, and they hold each other in place. If we only address the victim part, we only do half (or less) of the work and the release will be partial.

An example from my own life is the victim identity connected with the chronic fatigue (CFS). Yes, there is a victim identity and it’s helpful to inquire into it and invite healing and release for it (through inquiry, TRE, Vortex Healing etc.). But that’s less than half the picture. The rest is the internal victimizer that creates and holds the victim-identity in place. This one may be more difficult to notice since we tend to see it mostly “out there” in life, circumstances, or others. But it’s equally, or really, in here, in me. And that’s where I need to explore it if I wish to find more freedom around the whole victim-victimizer dynamic.

The freedom and relief that comes from this work makes it worth it in itself. And, who knows, it may even impact my physical health. The release may support my body in healing itself better. So it’s definitely worth the time and investment required to find some healing around this and many other identity-sets.

Note: When I have worked on my own internal victimizer using Vortex Healing, I have found it helpful to approach it from slightly different angles. For instance, intending to work on the victimizer, the bully, the self-cruelty, and more, one at a time.

Also, when I say that working on just one of the pair of parts or subpersonalities, it’s because there is the other half, and there is also the awareness and exploration of the dynamic within the pair. So if we work on just one of a pair, it’s less than half of what we need to explore to find a fuller release.

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Deficient and inflated selves

Deficient and inflated selves often seem to go hand in hand.

For instance, I take myself to be inferior to others. I see myself as less than. There is a deficient self here.

At the same time, there is an inflated self, one that’s better than others. A superior self. This too is created in a similar way. It’s the twin or mirror image of the inferior self.

In inquiry, it’s good to look at both.

Can I find a threat?

What do I fear will happen if the self sticks around?

What do I fear will happen if it goes away?

Can I find X? The deficient self? The inflated self?

Can I find X? Me, the one who is that deficient/inflated self?

What’s the first situation I can remember where I felt X? Look for the threat/self.

Is there a command to be X? Inferior? Superior?

Is there a command to not be X?

What do I find when I look at the all the associated images, words, and sensations that comes up around each of these selves?

I may first look at/for the deficient self, and when that seems unfindable and untriggerable, I can look for the corresponding inflated self. Although there are no fixed rules here.

Note: In a more conventional view, we can say that the inflated self is created to compensate for and balance out the deficient self. That may be true in some ways, and we may even see something about how this happens through inquiry, and yet it’s not necessary to emphasize this. All we need to do is to look at both sides of the polarity and see what we find.

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Cultivating the light vs meeting the dark

Some people talk about cultivating the light, or meeting the dark.

For me, the two go hand in hand. As so often, it depends on what we mean, and how we do it.

For me, cultivating the light means to cultivate what I wish more of. And meeting the dark means loving the unloved and examining the unexamined. It means healing the unhealed, and examining painful identifications and beliefs.

Already here, we see how they two go hand in hand. I wish to cultivate and become more familiar with loving what’s here, including what’s been previously unloved in me and my experience. I also wish to cultivate exploration of what’s here, and seeing more clearly what’s here, including how identifications and stressful beliefs are created.

This cultivation supports the meeting of the dark. And in meeting the dark, I am supported in continuing with the cultivation. (It inspires me to do so, I see it’s needed, and I get to test and fine tune my approach.)

How do I cultivate the light? Here are some practices I am familiar with:

Kindness practices, including loving kindness, ho’oponopono, tonglen, and also the Heart Prayer and the Christ meditation. Kindness towards me, parts of my experience, others, life.

Training a more stable attention also fits here, since it’s what I wish for and it supports any other activity and practice.

Natural rest. Noticing and allowing what’s here. Noticing it’s already allowed.

Prayer. Prayer for guidance. To be shown the way. For Your will be done.

Body centered practices, such as yoga, tai chi, chi gong, Breema.

Spending time in nature. Spending time in service to life.

Setting the intention to live from love, examine what’s here, rest with what’s here, live in service of life (including my life).

 And how do I meet the dark?

By finding love for the previously unloved. Finding kindness towards parts of me and my experience I have habitually ignored, rejected, or battled and seen as undesirable.

By notice and allow what’s here. Including the discomfort, anger, sadness, fear, grief, and whatever else is here in the moment.

By questioning the unquestioned. Examining beliefs and identifications. Finding what’s more true for me than the initial beliefs. Investigating how my most basic perceptions of deficient and inflated selves, threats, and compulsions are created.

By resting with what’s here. Notice. Allow. Rest with in kind presence.

It can be quite simple and straight forward.

When I use the words light and dark here, it’s mostly to connect with how some use these words. I usually don’t use the words light and dark since they are quite imprecise, there are assumptions about the world behind them that I don’t quite agree with, and I don’t even know how I would use the words so they make good sense. That’s why the use of them in this post feels a bit awkward to me.

Why is love, kindness, examination etc. light? I don’t really know, perhaps just because it’s what our personalities tends to like and prefer. We tend to like sunshine and daylight, and also certain qualities in ourselves and certain experiences, so we use the word light for both.

Why are identifications and beliefs dark? They are what creates what some see as darkness, including hate, fear, grief, compulsions, trauma, violence and more. I suppose some call them dark since they are often seen as undesirable, and they are often what we try to hide from ourselves and others, and keep “in the dark”.

Behind the surface expression of these “dark” qualities and experiences is a desire to protect the self, and deep caring and even love. A worried and confused love. That’s one reason I often avoid the word dark about these things. It only addresses and highlights one level of understanding. There is something different behind it.

These words and ideas themselves can be taken to inquiry. Any ideas of light or dark, or cultivation or meeting, or love or inquiry, or anything else that comes up, can be taken to inquiry.

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To find strength, embrace weakness

To find strength, embrace weakness. To find courage, embrace fear. To find love, embrace the unloving. To move forward, embrace resistance.

To find one thing, embrace the opposite in yourself.

What does it mean to embrace it?

Meet it with kindness.

Find love for it.

See it’s here to protect me. It comes from deep caring. It comes from love.

Rest with it.

Then, inquire into both sides of the polarity. Can I find threats? Needs? Commands? Is it findable, the weakness or strength, or whatever it is?

When I do this, what’s left is a more natural strength, courage, love, or moving forward. One that includes both ends of the polarity, and is not opposed to either.

There is more freedom around the whole topic, and the polarity.

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Why is there ambivalence in identifications?

Why is there often ambivalence in how we relate to our identifications?

Identification here means identification with a story. The story is held as real and true. And we identify with its view on ourselves and the world. When it’s activated, we take it as who and what we are.

From my own experience, it seems that identifications are held in place in two ways. There is a perceived threat (a) in not holding onto it, and (b) in holding onto it. We fear what may happen if it’s not there, and are also uncomfortable with what happens when it’s there.

There is a perceived benefit in having it, and also a threat in not having it. And when the identification is here, it’s often apparently enjoyable since it fulfills those needs. And it’s also uncomfortable, since identifications are inherently stressful and at odds with reality.

That ambivalence is partly what distracts us so we don’t see what’s really going on.

That’s why it’s good to look at both sides to how we relate to our identifications. To slow it down, and look more systematically at first one side, then the other.

As mentioned in a previous post, I (may) feel compelled to eat sugar, and also feel ashamed about it. I feel I am unlovable, and experience a threat in not having that identity while it’s also painful when it’s here. I want recognition and approval by many, while also experiencing it as a threat. I identify with a story of the world as a threat, and it’s also threatening to imagine that belief not being here.

Looking at both sides of whatever has charge

It can be helpful to look at both sides of whatever has a charge for us.

I may fear not having what I want, and also fear having it.

I may hold onto a deficiency story, and also want it to go away.

I may be compelled to do something, and also feel ashamed about it.

I may experience a threat, and also being someone who is threatened.

Whenever there is an identification, there seems to be an ambivalence about it. I want to hold onto it, and also have it go away. I fear what may happen if it’s not there, and I am uncomfortable with what happens when it’s there.

So why not look at both sides?

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It’s all here

Some spiritual teachers and teachings makes it sound either/or, or black and white.

The other side of it, is that it’s all here.

Whatever I see out there, in others or the past or future, is already here. What any concept refers to is already here. It may appear small, and take some looking, but it’s here. At least, that’s been my experience so far.

Both ends of any polarity is here. It happens within and as life, awareness, what I am.

Either of these ways of talking about it – as either/or or all here – are teaching strategies. Both have truth in them. Either one can be helpful for some people in some situations. Neither is, or even points to, any absolute or final truth.

And for me, the it’s all here pointers resonate the most, and is more interesting and juicy as an exploration. At least so far.

Polarities together

My friend K. shared a simple little explorations, from Pamela Wilson.

When you notice something coming up, find the other end of the polarity, and bring them together in your mind.

See them in each hand, and bring the hands together. (Or just see them in the same hand.)

When I do this, there is a sense of relief. They don’t seem so polarized or split anymore. And I more easily recognize that they are both awake presence.

Better than, worse than

If I believe I am better than others, I buy into the whole idea of better and worse, and will also see myself as worse than others – in some situations, in some areas of life.

And that’s how it is with any polarity – smart & stupid, clear & confused, noble & depraved, authentic & inauthentic, skilled & unskilled, kind & cruel and so on. If I buy into these and take them as inherently real and true, I will see myself as sometimes one and other times the other in comparison with others. I am caught up in the dynamics of taking these polarities as true, and inevitably place myself within it.

These polarities are of course valid in a very limited and conventional sense. And when I take a closer look at each of them, in a very specific situation, I may find something quite different. I see the discomfort in being caught up in them. I see the liberation when I am not, and that wisdom and kindness has more room to live. I find how the reverse is equally or more true for me, in the same situation where I had the initial belief. I may also find the gift in finding in myself either of the poles of the polarity.

Big and small

I did an inquiry on he makes me feel small from a childhood situation, and with that belief, I see myself as small and others as big, and find reasons why it’s so.

For the turnaround I make him feel small I also noticed how I have an image of myself as big. In my mind, I see him as small and myself as big, and find reasons why it’s so.

When I believe in the thoughts of small and big, I put these images on myself and others. In some situations, I put an image of small on myself and big on others. In other situations, I put an image of big on myself and small on others. And in each case, I find reasons why it’s so.

It’s all innocent. It’s quite painful until it’s recognized as just an image. And it happens with any thought – any images that comes in pairs – when I take them as true: Good & bad, kind & unkind, right & wrong, smart & stupid.


Dream: Inseparability of ground and evolution

I am with a group of teachers, and they are all enthusiastically sharing how the world of form continues to deepen and evolve before and after awakening. It is a continuing process of exploration. They use a Buddhist term for this unfolding, and although I am familiar with the term I didn’t realize it referred to the inseparability of ground and evolution.

All of these teachers are people I know in waking life, either in person or through their teachings. They are teachers who tend to emphasize the awakening aspect and de-emphasize -or leave out – the development/evolution aspect. And this tends to bug me somewhat.

In the dream, all of them emphasize both aspects equally and with great enthusiasm, and use a term from traditional Buddhism which refers to the inseparability of the two. There is a deep sense of this equal emphasis being an integral part of all mystical traditions, although teachings tends to – for different reasons – emphasize one or the other.

The most materialistic, and the most spiritual

When we go out to one end of a polarity, we often meet the other end right there. For instance, by fully allowing an experience, there is a freedom from it right there (through reduced identification with resistance to it, and the beliefs and identities giving rise to the resistance). By going to the end of one end of the allowing-freedom from polarity, we find the other end.

Another example is the polarity of materialism and spirituality. There is a relatively easy co-existence of these two in some areas of the world, such as northern Europe, delegating them simply to different realms of existence. And in other areas, such as the US, these two are often (peculiarly?) seen as opposed to each other.

But there are also other ways to look at their relationship.

And one is to notice how the most materialistic shares many features with the most spiritual, which I see here as the nondual spirituality of Buddhism, Adveita and other traditions.

  • Infinite causes and infinite effects. Both see the world of form as infinite causes and infinite effects. Anything happening has infinite causes, going back in time to the beginning of the universe and out in space to the extent of the universe, and also has infinite causes. It is the local expression of the movements of the whole world of form
  • No free will. This comes out of the previous one. Everything happening has infinite causes and infinite effects, so there is no room for free will. There is no free will at the level of our human self. As hard-nosed as conventional science is, they usually don’t put it in such crass terms, but the nondual traditions often hold less back here.
  • No separate self. This too comes out of the first one. The world of form is a seamless whole, and any appearance of boundaries are only created in thoughts. If we separate out this human self, we see that it is maintained in structure and content by a continuous through flow and exchange with the larger whole. It is relatively easy to recognize at an abstract level, but as long as there is a belief in a separate self, then our experience of it will be of a separate self. The only way to recognize no-self, in immediate experience, is for Ground to notice itself. First, we may find ourselves as the witness, and all form – including what initially appeared as an inside and outside – as a seamless whole. Then, there may be the recognition of even this witness as absent of any separate self.
  • No inherent meaning. From a materialistic science, and also existentialistic, view, there is no inherent meaning in the universe or our human lives. And this too is what the nondual traditions report, and what we can find through our own exploration. Here now, there is just awakeness, inherently free from any particular content or form, yet allowing any and all form. And any sense of meaning comes only from a story, appearing within and is overlaid on content and form. There is no inherent meaning anywhere, since awakeness is stainless and independent of content, and also since any sense of meaning only comes from a story. And this freedom from stories and meaning allows for a free play of any sense of meaning, coming from any story. Existence already allows any sense of meaning and any story, and when we find this in ourselves, we are aligned with – and find ourselves as – that. So we are free to play with the stories that makes most sense to us, that has a practical value, fits the data more or less, and also supports – as best as we can tell – the life of ourselves, our community, and earth as a whole.
  • (more to come)

One of the reason there is such as easy coexistence, and so many parallels, between these two, is that the spiritual side of it involves a recognition of Ground, of God as awakeness inherently void of any characteristics, so then allowing and being Ground for itself manifesting in the vast variety of forms we know from our own experience. On the one hand, there is a separation of Ground (awake void) and the world of form, and on the other a recognition of the two as both expressions of existence, of God. And both of these allows for the world of form to be exactly as it is, including however it is experienced by us and described by science.

This is what we find at the extreme end of the spirituality side of the polarity (as defined for the purpose of this argument).

If we go a little further in from this end, we find forms of spirituality mainly concerned with the content of awareness, with the world of form, and not much about Ground at all. And since science is mostly or all about the world of form, they find themselves sharing the same turf, so there is more possibility for conflict. One way to resolve this is to delegate areas, and this is what we see quite often. We agree on science dealing with one area of the world of form (what we can see, touch or measure with instruments) and spirituality with another area of the world of form (what we cannot measure, such as souls, afterlife, and so on).

Quadrant: Beyond & embrace, noticing & working with

It is always fun to play around with quadrants, partly because four field is just enough to make some interesting differentiations and also few enough to grasp right away.

Three that comes up for me is (a) inner/outer, one/many (as Ken Wilber has popularized through is aqal model), (b) self/other, human/spirit (practice), and (c) beyond/embrace, noticing/working with (path).

When I explore the last one, I see that…

I can go beyond and include polarities in two ways: by noticing and also by working with it.

In general, I notice that life is already beyond and includes any and all polarities. And I work with it in my own human life, exploring how it arises and is expressed in this life.

And I can filter it further through each quadrant…

I go beyond and notice by noticing that life is already and always beyond any and all polarities. First, the world of form is a fluid seamless whole beyond any pole and polarity. (When I find myself as Witness, as pure seeing, this is alive in immediate awareness. Whatever arises, here and now, is revealed as aspects of one fluid seamless whole.) Also, when I find myself as awake void I also go beyond polarities, and when I notice the world of form as nothing other than this awake void, I similarly find the world of form beyond polarities.

I go beyond and work with it by finding in my human self whatever I see out there in others and the world. I allow my identity at my human level to embrace both ends of any polarity. I familiarize myself with it, and include it in my active repertoire. All this is a process with no end point and takes work. This includes letting go of beliefs and identities, and allowing a fluidity of views and a more inclusive human identity. This human self deepens and matures into its own unique and universal humanity.

I include and notice by noticing that this fluid seamless whole of form already and always includes any and all poles and polarities. And also by noticing that the play of awake void as form likewise always and already includes any and all poles and polarities.

I include and work with by familiarizing myself with each pole and polarity in this human self, and how they arise and are expressed in this human life, and how they can be expressed. As before, this is an ongoing process, and involves a maturing and development of this human self.

As usual, there is a mutuality among all of these. Working with one makes it easier to work with the three others.

By noticing that which is already and always beyond and embracing any polarity, I can more easily work with it in my own human life

And by working with it in my own life, I can more easily notice that which – in its form and void aspects – already and always are beyond and includes any polarity.

The noticing part has to do with Ground awakening, with Enlightenment.

And the working part has to do with the maturing and development of this individual human and soul, which makes it easier to be who we take ourselves to be before Ground awakening, and is an intimate part of skillful means following a Ground awakening.

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More conventional & radical

Buddhism is often described as the middle way, and it may be middle in that it goes beyond and embraces any polarity. But it is equally radical by going beyond the polarities, and also by deepening into each pole of the polarities.

In my own life, I see how the path is a deepening into both the conventional and radical.

It is a path of befriending the conventional and having it available as a part of the repertoire at the human level. Finding peace with, discovering the gifts in, and even enjoying the conventional in whatever form it comes up, from views to the universally human. It is a deepening into my own humanity and a discovering of the universally human in myself.

And it is also a radical path way beyond and outside of the conventional. It is an embrace of both ends of each polarity, a fluidity among any view and its reversals, a widening of identity to include any polarity. And it is a seeing of the inherent neutrality of any situation and form as the play of the awake void itself. It is a seeing, feeling and loving of all as God. In this way, the conventional is left far behind.

Here too, there is a mutuality between the two. Deepening into, finding peace with and embracing the conventional is an embrace of what is, and allows for it to be part of the repertoire of this human self. And deepening into the radical wide embrace of form, and a noticing of all form as the awake void itself, allows for a deepening into and embrace of the conventional, which is also an aspect of developing skillful means.

Together, it is a radical neutrality which allows the free play of any views and behaviors including the conventional ones.

And as a natural compassion arises beyond beliefs, this free play becomes in the service of compassion.

It is a radical nihilism which takes the form in the world as mature, ethical and compassionate.

Shadows: examples, and going from demonic to gold to neutral


Shadows of random beliefs and identities…

  • arrogance > inferiority, stupidity, not knowing (even in a relative sense)
  • knowing > not knowing (in an absolute sense, seeing all stories as only having a relative truth, and a relative sense, knowing that our relative knowledge is always limited)
  • skilled > unskilled
  • human > not human (leaving out the rest of the seamless field of form, and also awakeness and emptiness)
  • separate self > no separation, and also absence of a separate self
  • good > bad, evil (seeing both out there, in the wider world, and also in here)
  • in control > out of control, and also absence of control
  • masculine > feminine (and the other way around)
  • awake > asleep (in any sense of the words, for instance seeing how the field of awakeness and form – absent of a separate self – naturally arises as both)
  • deserving > not deserving (canceling each other out, as all of the other polarities do)
  • civilized > uncivilized and also noncivilized (independent of civilization)
  • good taste > bad taste (canceling each other out)
  • healthy > disease, unhealthy, and also nonhealthy (being that which is independent of health and disease)
  • thing > no thing (void, emptiness)

All of these beliefs and identities split the field, creating a sense of a separate self here and Other out there. When the shadow is seen simultaneously with the belief and identity, we notice the inherent seamlessness of the field… in a relative sense, finding both out there and also in here, and in a more absolute sense the one field, inherently neutral, and always and already containing both.

For a while, it takes work to discover this, and it may sometimes feel like more of an intellectual exercise, seeing it more than it is deeply felt and sensed. Then, it may become more and more alive and immediate… alive in immediate awareness even without much prompting, at least most of the time. Still requiring a more thorough exploration of remaining areas.

Initially, it may all feel like a big drama. We cling onto beliefs and identities, and experience what is outside of these as scary and undesirable (even as demonic, sometimes.)

Then, as we become more familiar with this landscape, the gifts of what was left out becomes more clear. What appeared as undesirable and even demonic is now revealed as pure gold. And then, as we get even more familiar with it, the inherent neutrality in all of it becomes more and more visible.

The beliefs and their shadows cancel each other out, as identities and their shadows do, revealing the inherent neutrality of all of it… the beliefs, identities, shadows, effects, and the ground it all arises within and as.

Big Mind and indwelling God

Since the shift into a more alive presence of the indwelling God around Christmas, I have been interested in the relationship between Big Mind and the indwelling God. They seem to be mirror images of each other, and two ends of the same polarity.

Big Mind

Big Mind awakening to itself reveals itself as a field of awake emptiness and form (allowing any content, including what arises here and now), and the realization that there is no separate I anywhere in all of this. There is just the one I of the field as a whole, and no separate I, no Other. Big Mind is impersonal, and emphasized and in the foreground in nontheistic traditions (as far as I can tell.)

Indwelling God

The indwelling God is on the other hand very personal. In my experience, an alive presence, infinitely loving, intelligent, receptive and responsive, a guide, teacher and healer, and present in the heart region. And this seems to fit with how others describe it, including among diksha folks where this indwelling God, Antaryamin, is sometimes talked about.

It seems that the indwelling God is emphasized and often in the foreground in theistic traditions, such as Christianity (and probably Islam… the Sufis certainly seem to emphasize the personal quality in our relationship with God.)

Impersonal and personal

So where Big Mind is impersonal and everywhere, the indwelling God is personal and right here, in the heart space of the physical body. The experience of it, at least for me right now, is of a fragment of God for this particular individual soul and human self, and a fragment that includes and reflects the whole of God. It is not diminished in any way, yet also right here and for this particular individual.

Theocentric and Christocentric

I sat at a coffee shop for lunch and made a couple of notes about this, before reading a little further in the intro to Mystics of the Church by Evelyn Underhill. And a little further down the page, she wrote about just this (I can’t remember having read anything about it before, but I also may not have paid attention before, especially since the indwelling God has not been in the foreground much before.)

In a Christian terminology, a Theocentric orientation is a focus on God as Big Mind, and a Christocentric orientation is a focus on God as the indwelling God. She describes the two in very similar ways to what I have found, especially in terms of the impersonal and personal qualities, and the indwelling God as an alive presence, infinitely loving and intelligent, infinitely receptive… infinitely active when invited, and functioning as a guide and master.

Both are equally important, and one tends to be in the foreground for some people and during some periods, then the other, or they can both be very much alive and present at the same time.

Selfless individual

As a point of clarification, it is probably good to mention that even if there is an individual soul and human self here, and an aspect of God for and placed within this individual, there is still no I here. This individual, as all individuals and everything else, is inherently selfless. And that is exactly what Big Mind, and the Theocentric orientation, reminds us of – and make abundantly clear when it awakens to itself.

2nd, 3rd and 1st person relationships

With both Big Mind and the indwelling God, the three forms of relationship – second, third and first person – are each very much possible, and there is often a fluid shift among the three (and sometimes two or all three present at the same time.) Big Mind can be experienced as Other or You, and then as I, and then as It when we talk about it. And the same is true for the indwelling God… it can be You, then I, then It, and maybe two of those or all three at the same time.

Embracing both ends of the polarity

There is a very clear difference between Big Mind and the indwelling God, although they share – and are of – the same essence. To use some metaphors, we can maybe say that the indwelling God is a holographic fragment of the totality of God (Big Mind), or that the indwelling God is the drop and the totality the ocean.

And it is also clear how perfectly the two complement each other. Big Mind is impersonal, everywhere, all revealed as Spirit. The indwelling God, a very tangible alive personal presence, for this (inherently selfless) individual, a guide, receptive, active when invited.

One without the other leaves us only with half of what is possible, and half of what is already there… since they are both already there, waiting to be discovered, to awake consciously to itself.

Already here, and evolving

Both are already there, waiting to be noticed, but also evolving… in different yet related ways.

Big Mind is always already awake emptiness and form, independent of the particulars of form. At the same time, it evolves as form… in all the ways described by science and probably many more.

The indwelling God is similarly already here, as a fragment of God in and as this individual. And at the same time, this indwelling God seems to evolve as it is invited into our lives more consciously. More and more aspects of it is revealed. The dual relationship of the indwelling God as You and I is revealed in increasingly more depth. It evolves and changes as it is invited in, and as our individual soul and human self develops, matures and evolves. (At least, that is how it seems now.)

Deep center and excitement

I had a process work session with Gary today, and I noticed how there was a sense of deep center and excitement.

The belly awakening, the endarkenment, gives a sense of a deep, rich, dark, silent earthiness and fullness everywhere, yet also centered in the belly.

And it allows whatever else to happen, including the more flighty and light excitement that comes when exploring some of these things in words and ideas, especially when talking with someone who shares the excitement about it.

In the past, there has always been the swing of a pendulum between excitement and “going up” and a sense “going down”. I went up, then down, as if to compensate for it, and the other way around.

This time, after the endarkenment and the dropping into alive luminosity, both are there simultaneously. Easily. Effortlessly.

There is the deep dark rich infinite ground. A womb holding it all. Deeply silent.

And there is the flights into excitement and ideas and conversation within this deep darkness and silence. The silent darkness is there as a context for it, and also there before and after.

A wonderful experience: finding that larger whole of light and dark, of head and belly, of ground of form and form, of yin and yang, feminine and masculine.

During the enlightenment, seeing all as Spirit, as awake emptiness and form, there was of course the seeing of forms as empty, of the ups and downs as empty luminosity. And there was a silence in the midst of it all. But this is different. This has a different depth and richness to it. It is a different dimension of being.

Seeking and nonseeking

Adyashanti likes to talk about what happens when wanting falls away: We want something, get it, and experience the fullness and contentment that is there when the wanting goes into the background for a while.

Of course, his point is that the absence of wanting is what gives this sense of fullness and contentment, not getting what we (think we) want. What we think we want may be an object, but what we really want is to experience the fullness and contentment always here, and coming into the foreground when the wanting is in the background.

What do I really want?

One way to explore what we really want behind our surface wants is to make a list, and then for each want ask what do I hope to get out of this? And then the same question, until we arrive at something that is not reducible to something else.

A simple sequence may look something like this: I want money >> security, safety, freedom >> happiness, freedom from suffering, freedom from and not victim of circumstances.

Is it true it is not already here?

Having found this, we can ask ourselves is it true that what I seek is not already here?

Happiness: yes, I can find that right here. When there is a simple quiet being with whatever is experienced, there is a quiet happiness and bliss here, independent of whatever else is experienced. Freedom from suffering: yes, I can find that too here. There is something here always free from suffering and any other content. Something not touched by content. A wakefulness, clarity, capacity for everything to arise within. Seeing free from any of the particulars of the seen. Freedom from circumstances: yes, that too is right here, in the same stainless wakefulness and seeing.

Big Mind process

Through the Big Mind process, we discover the same but with more differentiation.

We see how seeking mind is immensely useful in many ways, including on a purely practical human everyday level. Yet, if seeking mind is typically in the foreground, there will be a chronic sense of dissatisfaction. There is always something to seek that is just around the corner, just over the next hill, just into the future or over there.

When nonseeking mind comes into the foreground, there is a sense of fullness, quiet, contentment. Here, we notice that what we seek is already here.

They both have their functions: Seeking mind on a practical relative level, and nonseeking mind as a reminder of the absolute.

In the relative, there may indeed be lack and something to gain. In the absolute, there is nothing missing. Both are needed.

Becoming whole: Star Trek, women and brains

As part my cultural education, I watched Spock’s Brain from the Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) last night.

Common themes: what to do with powerful women, and rationality and sentiment

From the few episodes of TOS I have seen, there seem to be some common themes.

In Spock’s Brain, it is powerful (although sometimes vacuous) women, and how to relate to and deal with them. In The Galileo Seven, the relationship between rationality and sentiment as played out between Spock and his shipmates.

Fascination with polarities, and how it looks in daily life when embraced

In both cases, and I am sure many others (which I would discover by watching more episodes), there is a fascination and curiosity with polarities, and an active attempt to reconcile the poles with each other.

What is the relationship between men and women, and the masculine and feminine, when women gains more power in society, when men must learn to share power with women, when women find the masculine in themselves and men ind the feminine in themselves? What is the relationship between rationality and sentiment, between head and body, and how does it look when both are included? How does it play itself out in real life? How does it look in the grittiness in our daily interactions?

Mirroring at cultural and individual levels

This is pretty obvious: those themes, and many others from TOS, were very much alive in the mid and late 1960s, at both collective and individual levels.

As a culture, the leading edge in the western world of the 60s was at green, shifting into the postmodern, pluralism, a widening circle of concern that includes women, other ethnicities, and the Earth as a whole. It was the larger scale birth of the ecology movement, the human potential movement and deepening feminism.

And along with this, as a rough parallel on a personal level, there was a shift into the centaur level, finding ourselves, in our own immediate experience and daily life, as the whole beyond and including body and psyche. This was the larger scale birth of the western fascination with and exploration of mediation, yoga, projection work, and innumerable (other) mind-body practices.

Star Trek picked this up, which may be one of the reasons there is still an active interest in the original series (apart from nostalgia, and its quirkiness and humor.)

Shift: found and worked at

Any shift from having the center of gravity in one end of a polarity to embrace the polarity as a whole, has two aspects.

:: Found

One is the discovery and the noticing of the polarity. It has always been there, it just looked fragmented when there was an exclusive identification with one end.

Men and women have always had both masculine and feminine qualities. It is just that culture and gender identity has filtered these qualities so that some come out and are embraced, and others remain hidden and excluded.

And there is always the whole of psyche and body: of rationality and feelings, of feminine and masculine, of persona and shadow. It is always there, although again may not be noticed if the conscious identification is with only aspects of this whole.

All that is needed here is just to notice what already is. Nothing needs to change, apart from this noticing.

I can just notice that there are indeed feminine and masculine qualities in me, independent of my biological sex and cultural gender. I can notice the whole beyond and embracing my whole human self, including psyche and body, the feminine and masculine, persona and shadow.

:: Worked at

At the same there, there is an aspect of exploration, discovery, testing out, seeing how it plays itself out in real life.

How does it look in society when women and men are more equal in terms of power? How does it look in my life if I find myself as the larger whole which includes the feminine and masculine, the rational and feelings, persona and shadow? What are the roles of these aspects in this new situations? How does it play itself out? How does it change and mature over time, as I become more familiar with all of these aspects, these ways of being in the world?

And this exploration is what some of the TOS episodes seem to mirror: how does it look at collective and individual levels, when we embrace more of what we already are?

Parallels between atheism and mysticism, materialism and the nondual

We have all noticed it: the extreme ends of any spectrum tends to look strangely alike.

And so it is with atheism and mysticism as well, and materialism and a nondual view.

All one

Atheism and materialism say: it is all one, it is all matter.

Mysticism and a nondual view say: yes, it is all one, it is all God, it is all Spirit, it is all emptiness and form.

Infinite causes

Atheism and materialism (may) say: the universe is a clockwork, cause and effect, everything is determined, we are biological machines with no free will.

Mysticism and a nondual view say: the whole realm of form and phenomena is a seamless fluid whole, and when it is filtered into parts, it is all cause and effect. In fact, for any change in any aspect of this whole, there is infinite causes and infinite effects, and so it is also for our human self.

Our human self is a puppet with a million strings attached to it. Every choice, every action, has infinite causes stretching back to the beginning of time and out to the extent of the universe. It lives its own life. There is doing, but no doer. There is choosing, but no chooser.

It is all Ground appearing as clear awakeness and the infinitely varied world of phenomena, as seeing and seen, as form of emptiness, and emptiness dancing. There is only one I, and that is Spirit. Choice? Who needs it?

No meaning

Atheism and materialism say: there is no meaning inherent in life or the universe. We have to create our own meaning.

Mysticism and a nondual view say: there is no meaning inherent in Ground, it is free from meaning as it is free from any characteristic. Meaning only arises in the world of form and phenomena, it only arises in our human life. We create our own meaning. And any meaning is only a relative truth, there is nothing absolute or final in it.


An outline of how polarities may be perceived through dualistic, transdual and nondual views…

First, the poles of the polarity are seen as absolutely different and separate from each other. One has little or nothing to do with the other. One is in here, another is out there. One is bad and should be annihilated, the other is good and should be sought. This is the mostly blindly dualistic view, and occurs if we are exclusively identified with our human self.

A slightly more sophisticated view is that the poles of the polarity are dependent on each other. We wouldn’t experience joy if there wasn’t grief, or wouldn’t know to call something light if we didn’t know darkness, and so on. This is a more conventional view and very early transdual.

Going a little further, we see that all polarities are aspects and expressions of one single process. The universe is a seamless process, and expresses itself in polarities. It is inherent in existence that we cannot have one without the other. It is the way the whole – beyond and including all polarities – expresses itself. This is more deeply transdual.

Eventually, as we awaken as Big Mind – as what is with no “I” anywhere – there is again a different realization of polarities. It includes the previous one, but now we also realize that all phenomena – expressing themselves in polarities – are Spirit, God, Buddha Mind. They are emptiness dancing. This is the One Taste experience of polarities.