My neighbors the Pentecostals

My neighbors here in Norway are Pentecostals. It’s a Pentecostal meeting house with one or two caretakers living there, and they have a gathering in their garden as I write this.

A part of me likes to think I am somehow “better” or “more advanced” than them. They are there believing whatever they are told, and I am here doing these advanced practices. They are maybe at red or blue in Spiral Dynamics, I am perhaps at the integral level. And so on.

A few things stand out to me: (a) This part of me that likes to think I am somehow “better” does so to make me feel better about myself. It tries to compensate for feeling less than, which has been a part of me since early in life. (b) There is a lot more to life than what spirituality or practices we do, or where we happen to be on the Spiral Dynamics model. (c) I cannot know. I cannot know any of this. Any ideas about better or more advanced are just that, ideas. They are ideas made up by this feeble mind having lots of questions about the world, and those ideas are questions too.

I really don’t know anything about them. Some of them may be doing far more good practical things in the world than me. Some may help others far more than I do. Some ar likely far more kind than I am. Some are likely more wise in a practical sense than I am. Some are likely far more human and genuinely humble than I am. Some may have healed far more than I have. Some likely have far more open hearts than I do. This is very likely true.

I am not better than them. The idea of “better” is created by this human mind, it’s not inherent in reality. And if I were to have ideas about better and worse, many of them would likely be far better than me in many very important areas of life.

It’s a burden to have ideas about being better, just like it’s a burden to have ideas about being worse. It’s a burden because it’s not aligned with reality. It’s an idea invested with a sense of being true.

When I find what’s more true for me, it’s a relief.

It relieves me from having to remind myself about the ideas of being better and trying to prop those up and defend them. It relieves me from having to mentally put on a mask created by ideas to try to feel better about myself. It relieves me from the separation created by holding these ideas as reality itself.

It helps me see myself in them. It helps me see we are all fellow humans and fellow creatures that essentially want the same. It helps me find love for them.

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Who am I?

Who am I?

As with most important questions, it’s more about the exploration than anything else. The answers are reports from here and now, they will change, and they are questions rather than statements.

MY CONVENTIONAL IDENTITY

If I were to answer that question, I could start with the obvious: name, conscious and public identities, and so on. That’s the boring answer.

More interesting are my conscious interests, passions, and values. What’s important to me? What do I value?

If I trace my desires and wishes back to what I really hope to get out of them, what do I find? What’s the essence in them for me?

THE WORLD IS MY MIRROR

An even more interesting answer is that I am everything I see in the world.

Whatever story I have about anyone or anything is a thought I can turn around to myself and find genuine examples of how it’s true. I am, quite literally, as rich as the (my) world.

I may only see it “out there” and miss out on it in myself. And when I find it in myself, it enriches how I see myself and it allows me to relate to and make use of it more consciously.

THE WORLD AS A SEAMLESS WHOLE

The universe is a seamless system, and I am an intrinsic part of that system. As Carl Sagan said: I am the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. I am the universe bringing itself into consciousness. I am the local product of 13.8 billion years of evolution. I am the Universe and the Earth experiencing itself. I am the Earth taking delight in itself, grieving itself, protecting itself, and so on.

This is as much or more part of my identity as the individual aspects.

THIS ALL BELONGS TO CONTENT OF EXPERIENCE

These are all objects in experience. They all come and go. They are visitors.

What is it that does not come and go? That question brings me from who I am (this human self) to what I am.

WHAT I AM: WHAT MY WORLD HAPPENS WITHIN AND AS

Here, I find I am what this field of experience happens within and as. I am the awakeness taking all these forms. I am the awakeness the world, to me, happens within and as.

This is not a special awakeness. It’s the awakeness inherent in consciousness. It’s the awakeness I assume every single “conscious being” – from humans to ants – are to themselves. It’s what’s already here.

WHAT I AM: CAPACITY

Even more fundamentally, I find that my nature is capacity for all of it. It’s capacity for consciousness and all the different forms consciousness takes.

AN ONGOING EXPLORATION

All of this is an ongoing exploration.

How does my conventional identity change? What feels more right now?

What’s the essence of the different wants, desires, and inclinations in me? What do I hope to get out of it? What do I hope to get out of that? What do I find when I follow the chain back to a simple – and universal – essence? How can I give that to myself?

What stories do I have about others and the world? Which stories have a charge? Which stories are painful? What do I find when I explore these stories? Can I find genuine and concrete examples of how the story fits me? How is it to own it? How is it to notice and relate to it in myself more consciously?

What am I more fundamentally, in my own first-person experience? How is it for it to notice itself? How is it to rest in and as that noticing? How is it to live from and as it?

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Sonder: The profound feeling of realizing that everyone has a life as complex as one’s own

This is a neologism created by John Koening. (See the CBC article What does it mean to ‘sonder?’ Author invents new words that resonate during the pandemic.)

This can be taken as a pointer and not just a description.

WHEN I USE IT AS A POINTER

As a pointer, I find it profoundly transforming to the extent I take it in and allow it to work on me.

What happens when I take it in?

No matter how well I think I know someone (including myself), I find that…

My images and ideas of the other are questions about them. They seem almost pointless. The other is so much more than any of those ideas. They are necessarily very different from those ideas. My assumptions are almost certainly wrong, and superficial, and say more about me than them.

No matter how much I get to know others and myself, I hardly know anything. And that’s beautiful. That helps me hold my ideas more lightly and recognize them as questions. We are all far more and different, and most of it is outside of what I (tell myself I) know.

IF I KNEW MORE ABOUT THEM

There is a related insight here:

If I knew more about them and their life, I would see them very differently. I may have far more understanding and find far more empathy for them. I would likely genuinely wish them the best. 

If I also knew more about myself, I would see myself in others far more easily. 

So why wait? Why not go there right now, even if I don’t know so much about others (or myself)? 

Why not recognize that my stories about them are incomplete, likely quite wrong, and say more about me than them? Why not find curiosity about them (and me)? Why not realize that we are immensely complex and rich and live rich lives? Why not find empathy for others and myself? Why not genuinely wish them and me the best? Why not find in myself what I see in others? Why not see in others what’s in me? 

HOW TO INVITE THESE SHIFTS

How would I do that?

The reminder itself may be enough. When I remember that the experience of others is as rich and complex as mine, I can easily imagine it. (It’s an intentional use of projections.)

Otherwise, the obvious one is to get to know others more thoroughly, especially the ones I see as quite different from myself. For instance, I can take in stories about others – through conversations, books, movies, theater, and so on. (John Koening is an author, and writing books is another since it requires us to imagine into the rich lives of several others.)

There is also a range of structured explorations that invite in these shifts as a side-effect: Inquiry (The Work of Byron Katie, Kiloby Inquiries), projection and shadow work, parts work (Voice Dialog, Big Mind process), and heart-centered practices (tonglen, ho’oponopono, metta).

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What are you painting? It’s a self-portrait

A man walks up to Tove Janson painting a dramatic nature scene.

What are you painting?

It’s a self-portrait.

I am watching Tove, a movie about Tove Janson, the Finnish author and artist who is the mother of the Moomins. I love it so far, and especially that scene.

Whatever we create is a self-portrait, even if it’s just walking down the street or drinking a glass of water.

More than that, anything in our world is a self-portrait.

The way I interpret and perceive something says something about me. It reflects my background, experiences, biases, orientation, dreams and hopes, hangups, and so on. (It reveals something about me.)

Whatever story I have about it, I can turn it around to myself and find specific and genuine examples where it fits. I can find any dynamics and characteristics I see in the wider world also in me. (I find The Work of Byron Katie very helpful here.)

To me, it’s happening within and as what I am. My world is happening within and as the consciousness I am. The consciousness I am forms itself into all of it. In that way too, anything is a self-portrait. (This comes from my nature noticing itself.)

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Why do we crave mystery? Do we crave the mystery we already are?

I saw a brief comment from someone who has dedicated his life to the unexplained – UFOs, cryptids, and so on.

That’s understandable and it’s good that some explore those things.

WHAT IS NOT UNEXPLAINED?

At the same time, I am sitting here wondering: What is not unexplained?

To me, it seems that all without exception is unexplained. It’s inherently a mystery.

WHY IS THERE SOMETHING RATHER THAN NOTHING?

That anything is at all is a profound mystery.

How come there is something rather than nothing?

That’s something thoughts cannot even begin to answer or get a grasp on.

A MYSTERY TO MYSELF

I am a mystery to myself.

When I notice my nature, I find myself in and as that mystery.

I rest in and as that mystery.

MYSTERY IN A CONVENTIONAL SENSE

Everything is a profound mystery, even that which is the most familiar to us and that which our thoughts have lots of stories about.

Reality is always more than and different from our ideas about it.

Thoughts are questions about the world. Thoughts are different in nature from what they point to. (Unless they happen to point to thoughts.)

In a conventional sense, we only scratch the surface in terms of understanding anything. There is always an infinite amount more to learn and explore.

There are always different contexts and worldviews to understand it within, which make as much or more sense than the ones we are familiar with now, and which would turn it all upside down and inside out.

At best, something is only partially explained in a limited and conventional sense.

MYSTERY AS A PROJECTION

When we seek mystery in a conventional sense – UFOs, cryptids, unsolved cases – I suspect it’s partly a projection.

We are already living the mystery. It’s everywhere and unavoidable.

If we don’t notice it, then we seek it “out there” in a conventional sense.

When we notice, and to the extent it’s a living reality to us, it’s here and we don’t need to seek it out in those ways. It can be fun, now and then, and as a spice, but it’s not necessary for satisfying our craving for mystery.

Why do we crave mystery? Because we are it. We crave the mystery we are. We crave noticing the mystery we already are. We crave consciously living from and as it.1

And those too are questions. This too is a mystery.

MY STORY WITH THIS

As far back as I remember, I have lived with an experience of awe and mystery of life, punctuated by times when it came much more in the foreground.

Before school age, I had memories of the time before this incarnation, between lives. I remember standing in the yard looking at the stars when I was ten and profoundly experiencing what Carl Sagan pointed to: We are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We are the universe bringing itself into consciousness. I remember sleeping under a starry sky in the Norwegian mountains and having that experience even more deeply. As a kid, I was fascinated by ESP, ghosts, UFOs, and anything mysterious.

In the initial oneness shift when I was sixteen, it was clear that all is a mystery and all is a mystery to itself. Thoughts cannot even begin to touch it. That’s still here.

I don’t mind exploring some of the conventional mysteries of life, although they are happening within the larger mystery of all of existence. The real mystery is that anything is at all. It’s the mystery I am and live. It’s the mystery of all that thoughts cannot touch. It’s the mystery of all we still have to learn about everything in a conventional sense.

(1) The other side of this, and a more superficial craving, is to fill in the blank spaces, to put a story on whatever and tell ourselves that’s how it is. While our nature is mystery and craves knowing itself as mystery, we also have parts of us that wishes to feel safe and tries to feel safe by telling itself it knows.

Image created by me and Midjourney

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When I am the most important one for another

Merlina, our beloved cat, helped me get something more viscerally.

For her, I was one of the two or three most important beings in the world. When I was with her, I was the most important being in her world. It was very clear2.

How can that not wake up a sense of awe, reverence, and responsibility in me? How can that not change my behavior to be more attentive and wanting to make her life the best possible?

I AM THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON TO THE ONE I AM WITH

That’s how it is in my life in general. I am the most important person for my spouse. When I talk with someone, I am (very likely) the most important person in the world for that person at that moment. They are giving me their precious time and attention. They chose to give their attention to me over all other beings in the world. I become an important presence in their world.

If I am getting this viscerally, how does it change how I am with that person? Am I more present? More attentive? More interested in them and their world? Less distracted by my plans, agendas, and hangups?

I am far from “perfect” in this, but realizing it and getting it more viscerally is doing something with me, and I wish for it to change me and how I am with others.

THE OTHER IS CONSCIOUSNESS TO THEMSELVES

The other wing on this bird is realizing and getting viscerally that the other is fundamentally consciousness like myself. To myself, I am consciousness operating through and as this body1. The world as I perceive it happens within and as the consciousness I am. That’s very likely the case for all beings.

We are all fundamentally consciousness to ourselves. We operate through whatever body is here – human, cat, insect, or whatever it is. To us, the world happens within and as the consciousness we are. We are a world.

That too opens up a sense of awe, reverence, and curiosity about myself and the other. It does something to me. To the extent I stay with this noticing and deepen into it, it transforms me and how I am with others and in the world.

ONGOING EXPLORATION

As usual, this is an ongoing exploration.

There is a lot of room for deepening and maturing into it, in my case.

And that’s part of the exploration and the adventure.

DIRECT NOTICING AND IMAGINATION

This is an example of a combination of direct noticing and imagination, as so much is.

I notice my nature. I am fundamentally consciousness and the world to me happens within and as this consciousness. That’s the direct noticing.

I imagine that others are that way too, whether they notice or not, and stay with that imagination and let it work on me. That’s the imagination part of it. It’s making use of projections.

It’s similar to being the most important person to the other. It comes from noticing that it’s that way for me. When I am with someone, that person is the most important being in the world to me whether I want to or not. That’s the noticing. And I imagine it’s the same for others. That’s making use of imagination and projections.

(1) This body happens to be human with a particular identity but it could be any other body of any species. That realization itself is transformative. The consciousness I am could, if things were a little different, function through and as any of the bodies out there. In some ways, it does since consciousness – pure consciousness – is very likely the same everywhere.

(2) Maybe it was more clear because she was not an imagination-fascinated human. She was more here and now. She didn’t get lost in her imagination about the past or future. She was here with me. I was her world.

The image is created by me and Midjourney

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Do more awaken these days?

I have written about this before and will briefly revisit it:

Some folks seem to think that more people awaken these days compared to the past.

IS IT TRUE?

It’s impossible to know if it’s true or not.

To know, we would have to (a) have a solid and reliable definition and way of sorting people into one category or the other, and (b) have done global studies at different times through history using representative samples. We would also have to assume that all of this yields solid data, which is unlikely.

That has not happened, and likely won’t happen unless there is a major shift within academia and our collective worldview and priorities.

WHY MAY IT APPEAR THAT WAY?

What are some reasons why it appears that more awaken these days?

It may be selection or confirmation bias.

(a) We know about more people who awaken than before because of global communication and the internet. Anyone these days can have a blog like this one, or join the many online groups and communities on these topics.

(b) Also, the vast majority of the ones who were awake in the past are likely unknown to us. Information about them is lost to time. We only know of the rare few who happened to become public personalities and whom we still have records of. (Today, a very small fraction of the many who awaken are publicly known, and there is no reason to think that was different in the past.)

There are more people in the world, so it makes sense if more awaken. The percentage may be the same or similar to before, which means a higher number.

More may actually awaken for whatever reason. For instance, because there is easier access to teachers and effective methods these days. If we are in a situation where our system is primed for awakening, there are more resources to help shift the system into that state.

MAKING USE OF THE QUESTION

As usual, I am less interested in the conventional answer to the question and more interested in how I can make practical use of it.

The question is an invitation for me to think about it soberly. To identify my hopes and fears and biases, and think about it in an honest and grounded way, as much as is possible for me.

It’s also an invitation to look more directly at my stories and projections.

As mentioned, it may be wishful thinking. Do I hope it’s that way? What do I hope would come out of it? If I tell myself more awaken, what do I find when I examine that thought? If I tell myself it would be better, what do I find when I examine that thought? What am I afraid would happen if it’s not true?

It can also be another form of projection. It may happen here, and I may not notice it fully, so I imagine it in the world instead. I imagine in the world what’s happening here.

WHO OR WHAT AWAKENS?

I am writing about awakening here as someone who awakens.

That’s understandable and not wrong, and yet it’s also not the whole picture.

To most, it may look like someone who awakens. It’s lived through and as a person. And if the other is identified primarily as their human self, then they’ll tend to see others that way as well. To them, it looks like a person who awakens.

To ourselves, it’s a release of identification out of being anything in particular within content of consciousness. What we are awakens to itself and out of these more limited identifications. It’s the consciousness we are, or the wholeness we are, that awakens to itself.

I would say that it’s the consciousness we are that awakens to itself. It’s consciousnesses awakening to itself, or not.

Another side to this is that it’s not one or the other. It’s a process with a lot of nuances and wrinkles.

I tend to see it more as a degree of awakeness in a system. It’s more or less stable through daily life and different situations. More or less of our psyche is on board with it. Our center of gravity is more or less in our nature recognizing itself. We have more or less maturity in how we live from and as it. Our human self is more or less healed and mature in a conventional sense. And so on.

Image by me and Midjourney

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Sting: You could be me in another life, in another set of circumstances

Don’t judge me
You could be me
In another life In another set of circumstances

– Sting in Tomorrow we’ll see

This refrain from Sting frequently comes to mind when I see people in different situations and with other values and orientations from me.

I could be them, in another life, in another set of circumstances.

We are both the product of a slightly different set of infinite causes going back to the beginning of time and out to the widest extent of existence.

Their life, my life, are both expressions of existence, of this universe. We are expressions of this living planet. We are expressions of the same seamless whole.

I can find them in me. I could be them.

In a very real sense, I am them. Whatever story I have about them, I can turn around to myself and find genuine and specific examples of where it’s true. To me, they happen within and as the consciousness I am. The consciousness I am forms itself into my experience of them and all I see in them. It’s me.

Ken Wilber’s bashing of “unhealthy green”

When I see people do green-bashing, it looks a lot like they are fighting their own shadow.

First, what am I talking about?

Ken Wilber has popularized Spiral Dynamics which is a model of adult value development. What do we value? How does this tend to change as we grow and mature?

One of the stages described in this model is the green stage. The values here are inclusivity, taking care of nature, considering the needs of future generations, and so on. Many who are into sustainability or intentional communities are here or have it as part of their value package.

Predictably, this is a set of values that tend to come after – or be added onto – a typical modern mindset where we value democracy, science, and so on. We see that although there is much good here, it’s not quite sufficient. We also need to take care of life.

What people tend to mature into after the green values is a more integral approach, an approach where we see the function and value of the many different value-sets people operate from. Here, we can find it all in ourselves, make use of whatever makes sense in the situation, and see a bigger picture of how it all fits together.

What’s peculiar about Ken Wilber is his green-bashing. He often talks about “unhealthy green” which is not a problem in itself. If we want, we can easily find apparently unhealthy expressions of each of the different value-sets. So why is he so focused on it? Why does it seem to have an emotional charge for him? Why does he seem reactive? Why does it appear to be a hangup for him?

One answer may be his own personal experiences. I don’t know him or his life so I cannot say much about it. But I guess that he may have interacted with people who fit into an “unhealthy green” category in his mind, and he hurt himself in how he reacted to what they said and did.

To me, the green-bashing of Ken Wilber and his followers looks like shadowboxing. It looks like they are fighting their own shadow. It looks like they are fighting these sides of themselves.

And why do people mimic Ken Wilber in this? Again, I am not sure. One possibility is that they admire him and perhaps have their own identity mixed in with his, so they want to follow in his footsteps also here.

NOTES

Models like Spiral Dynamics have their value. They can help us organize data and find patterns. At the same time, they also have their limits. They are all models. They are mental representations of phenomena that are far more rich and complex and also different in nature from these representations. They are to be held lightly and used carefully.

Why don’t I engage in green-bashing? Because it seems a bit silly to me. It looks so obviously like a shadow hangup. Also, I don’t have much personal experience with the “unhealthy” side of green. And what KW and others do tastes a bit of bullying and I am much more likely to go after the bully than to join in with the bullying.

What’s my history with Ken Wilber? I absolutely loved No Boundary when I found it in the ’80s and devoured everything he published for a couple of decades after that. In the late 2000s, I got into some online integral communities and quickly got disenchanted with it all. I am sure his more recent books have value but I haven’t read them.

Why did I get disenchanted? One aspect is seeing how he obviously (and apparently unnecessarily) misrepresented certain people and approaches in his own books. That gave me a bad taste in the mouth. Another is the green bashing he and his followers engaged in. I also noticed how some of his followers seemed to use integral theory to put others down and elevate themselves, and how they seemed to take models as gospel truth instead of recognizing them as questions about the world.

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We see others as we see ourselves

We see others as we see ourselves.

OBJECT WITHIN EXPERIENCE

If we take ourselves to primarily be an object within consciousness, then we tend to see others that way.

We see ourselves as this body and psyche, and see others as primarily that body and psyche.

We see ourselves as a doer and observer and see others as doers and observers.

We quite literally objectify others and ourselves.

That’s understandable since we do as others do, and that’s what most people do these days.

CONSCIOUSNESS

If we find ourselves fundamentally as consciousness, then we tend to see others as that.

We see ourselves as fundamentally consciousness operating through this body and psyche, and others as consciousness operating through that particular body and psyche.

To us, the world happens within and as the consciousness we are, and we assume that’s how it is for others as well. (Based on their reports and what makes logical sense.)

We find ourselves as what the world, to us, happens within and as, and assume that’s how it is for others.

We find ourselves as oneness and assume others are onenesses as well, whether they notice or not.

IMPLICATIONS

What effect does it have to viscerally find ourselves as one or the other, and see others as the same?

If we see ourselves and others as fundamentally objects, then we literally objectify ourselves and others. We assume that the limited and distorted stories we have about ourselves and others are accurate and perhaps even all there is. We see ourselves as objects in the world at the mercy of other objects and living within time and space. We experience that we move through the world. We experience distance and time as real and inherent in the world. We experience the world as fundamentally matter.

If we find ourselves as fundamentally consciousness, then a lot changes. We realize that any story is a story and question about ourselves, others, and the world. They cannot hold any full, final, or absolute truth. We find ourselves as what time and space, to us, happens within and as. In a car or when walking, we experience that the world moves through us. We experience the world as fundamentally consciousness since, to us, it happens within and as the consciousness we are.

IN MY CASE

I can dip and imagine into the first way of experiencing myself, others, and the world. And parts of my psyche still operate from it. But in general, it’s so long since the initial oneness shift that I have problems connecting with it in a strong and solid way.

In general, I viscerally find myself as consciousness. The world happens within and as the consciousness I am. This body happens within and as consciousness, just like anything else. It all happens like a night dream, within and as consciousness.

I imagine others as that too, and that gets stronger and more clear when I bring attention to it. To me, they too are consciousness. They are consciousness operating through that particular body and psyche. (That’s exciting, the differences and “otherness” of it is exciting.) And that opens for compassion and empathy. They are like me (they are consciousness to themselves) and (like me) operate through a unique body and psyche.

And there is always further to go and more to explore within this.

A FEW NOTES

I’ll add a couple of short notes.

This is all about projections. I find myself as something and assume others are like that too. It’s an assumption – whether I assume they are fundamentally objects or fundamentally consciousness.

This is also about where our “center of gravity” is. It’s about what we viscerally find ourselves to be. Knowing about it or glimpses of it are good first steps, and – through grace and often intention and explorations – it becomes something that’s immediate and visceral.

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If you don’t like the outcome of certain policies, blame the voters and yourself, not struggling minority groups

I heard someone today blame struggling minority groups (refugees) for the lack of funding for certain groups of people in Norway.

To me, that’s absurd. This is a question of policies and political priorities. That group is not helped sufficiently because it has not been a priority. And it’s not been a priority because people have voted certain political parties into power.

If you want to blame someone, blame those voters. Blame yourself if you voted for them, and for not getting engaged to make a change. Take a look at the real cause of the situation.

Don’t put the blame on other struggling groups. They are not in any way to blame.

The people who tend to blame minority groups in this way are often the very same people who vote for political parties that created the situation in the first place. They blame struggling minority groups for the policies they voted into place. (Often by voting for conservative and libertarian parties.)

And the more shameless political parties do the same. They blame minority groups for the consequences of the policies they themselves put in place.

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Psychology 101: My culture is inside me

Throughout my daily life, I notice parts of me responding to situations, people, and trains of thought. Mostly, these parts respond with judgments. They are not aligned with my “global” or conscious view. And they come from my culture.

I notice them. Flash on where they come from. Notice what’s more true for me. And they are gone.

WHAT ARE THESE THOUGHTS?

As mentioned, these thoughts are mostly judgments.

She is fat. (And that’s bad.) He is ugly. (Bad.)

She is young, slim, and attractive. (Good.) He is well dressed. (Good.)

If I eat fast food, I am one of those people. (Bad.)

They are at that restaurant, so they must be sophisticated. (Good.)

He is Muslim. (Dangerous.) She looks unkept. (Not good.)

And so on.

WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?

So why does this happen?

It’s because we learn from others. Our mind absorbs whatever is out there in the culture – from family, school, friends, media, movies, books, lyrics, and so on.

And the more often we are exposed to it, and the more charge it has (even if we just see it having charge for the other person), the more likely it is to go in and come up again.

The job of our mind is to absorb it all and then give it back to us whenever it’s relevant. (And sometimes when it’s not obviously relevant!)

It’s natural and essentially innocent.

RELATE TO IT MORE CONSCIOUSLY

Although if we join in with these thoughts and act on them, that can be quite harmful to ourselves (psychologically) and others (in life and society).

So it’s good to find a more conscious relationship to these dynamics.

I can notice these thoughts and reactions in me.

And I can find what’s more true for me than the stereotypes these thoughts typically reflect.

I can relate more intentionally to the way different parts of me respond to something.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: THE WORLD IS MY MIRROR

There is a bigger picture here.

The world is my mirror. Whatever characteristics and dynamics I see “out there” in others and the world are also here in me. They may be expressed in different situations and in different ways. And the essence is the same. (For instance, whenever I react with aversion to someone or something, the essence of that reaction is often the same as what I am reacting to. I am doing the same as what I see out there in that moment.)

And it’s all happening within my sense fields. To me, others and the world happen within and as my mental field and sometimes my other sense fields. It’s happening within and as what I am. It’s happening within and as the consciousness I am. “Out there” is really “here”. “He she it they” is really “me”.

INTERNALIZATION AND OVER-I

I like to use simple and ordinary language and avoid jargon, but I want to mention a couple of things.

This is often called internalization. We internalize our culture and it lives on in us. It’s how culture is passed on and it’s how we can have a culture in the first place.

And it’s also what Freud called the over-I or – through mistranslation – the superego. The essence of his insights is often valuable, although some of what comes from him are specific to his own culture, and there are simpler and more effective ways to do therapy.

Note: After writing this, a video on this topic popped up on YouTube. From 1-10 how racists are you (Cut). It’s good to see that many these days are aware of unconscious biases that we pick up and learn from the society we live in, and actively seek to be aware of them and counter them.

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Solaris

I saw Tarkovsky’s Solaris in a movie theater in Oslo when I was around twenty and it made a big impression on me. I LOVED it. 

Here was a movie that reflected how we relate to our own unprocessed psychological material. 

On an ocean planet, there is a human research station. If people there have something unresolved with someone important from their past, the ocean will manifest these people. It’s impossible to get rid of them since they just come back, and it’s impossible to leave since it’s a research station far from Earth. It’s the perfect alchemical vessel. Some can’t deal with it and go crazy, and others take it as an opportunity to process and find a resolution. 

That’s a metaphor for life. Life (in the form of our mind) will always bring up what’s unprocessed in us, and we can relate to it in a few different ways. We can try to ignore it and pretend it’s not there. We can struggle with it and try to make it go away. And we can meet it, process it, find some kind of resolution, and perhaps even grow from it. 

At the time – in my teens and early twenties – I was deeply into Jung. I read everything the bookstores in Oslo (Norli, Tanum) could get from him, which was a few dozen books, and absorbed it like a sponge. And Solaris, of course, fits perfectly with exploring our shadow and finding healing for old unresolved issues.

I haven’t seen Solaris since then so perhaps it’s time to rewatch it. I have also wanted to read the story it’s based on, written by Stanislav Lem. 

P.S. I see the movie is available on YT now.

P.P.S. It’s now a few days later and I have listened to the audiobook and rewatched the movie. The story is certainly very Jungian and about the shadow, and full of reflections and metaphors. I still love the essence and that aspect of it. And I also see that this is something I loved at that time, in early adulthood, and I am now drawn to slightly different kinds of movies and books. (More gentle and heartfelt ones.)

Alejandro Jodorowsky: I am the others, the others are me

I am the others, the others are me

– Alejandro Jodorowsky in Jodorowsky’s Dune

I can find several ways it’s true.

The first two are more loose and poetic. The next three are something we can check out for ourselves in our direct noticing. And the last one either depends on our definition or is an assumption – at least for me now.

POETIC & SENSE OF US

We can mean it in a loose and poetic way.

I have a sense of fellowship and a sense of us.

So I am you and you are me in the sense that we are all in it together.

SYSTEMS VIEW

We are all part of and expressions of larger social and ecological systems.

We are expressions and parts of a larger whole, just like cells are part of a larger organism.

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

In this sense too, I am you and you are me.

MIRROR

I see in others what I know from myself, whether I know I know it from myself or not.

I can take any story I have about someone else (or anything in the world), turn it to myself, and find genuine and specific examples of where it’s true.

You are my mirror. You are me.

I am your mirror. I am you.

This is something I can find for myself by exploring projections. One of my favorite ways is through inquiry and especially The Work of Byron Katie.

SENSE FIELDS

To me, the world happens within and as my sense fields.

To me, any experience is found within sight, sound, smell, taste, sensations, thoughts, and so on.

To me, you happen within and as my sense fields.

Here too, you are me. And to you, I am you.

This is something I can explore and find for myself, by noticing my sense fields and how any experience happens within them. Traditional Buddhist sense field explorations are especially good for this.

WHAT I AM

In one sense, I am this human self in the world. That’s an assumption that’s not wrong and it works pretty well.

And when I look closer at what I am in my own experience, I find something else.

I find I more fundamentally am capacity for the world and anything that happens in my sense fields. I am what allows any and all experience, including what I think of as you.

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

If I want to put labels on it, I can say that to me, I am consciousness and the world happens within and as this consciousness I am.

In a very literal sense, you are me. And to you, I am you, whether you notice or not.

This is also something I can check out and find for myself, perhaps most effectively through forms of inquiry like the Big Mind process and Headless experiments, and also Basic Meditation.

SPIRIT

We can take this one step further.

If we call all of existence Spirit, the divine, or God, we can say that we are all aspects and expressions of Spirit.

I am you and you are me.

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AI images – water people – week #5

A collection of water people, an undersea dream by me and Midjourney.

What would this represent in a dream? Being completely at home in the watery world of the emotions?

I love to explore AI images as I would a dream. The AI and I dream up images together, and they resonate with something in me. I can explore them as I would a dream. In this case, these water people seem to evoke a wish in me to be completely at home in the watery world of the emotions. How would it be to be as comfortable with my emotions as these people are in the water?

See more of my AI explorations here: https://www.instagram.com/chrysopoeia_ai_art

Update: A few weeks after creating these, I watched Wakanda Forever where an underwater people (the Talokanil) look a lot like these images. Did I see some images from the movie without consciously remembering? Was the AI trained on images from the movie so that when I asked for underwater coral people, the images created came out similar to the movie? Or is it just an example of currents in the culture leading to similar imagery?

Reduced capacity to set emotional issues aside in an awakening process and from exhaustion

When we have a reduced capacity to set aside emotional issues, they tend to naturally surface.

And that can happen in several different situations.

FATIGUE AND DYSREGULATION

I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME), and this is far from regular tiredness. It’s a profound fatigue and dysregulation of the whole system.

When my system is extra fatigued, it’s no longer able to regulate very well. It has trouble regulating temperature (too hot, too cold), thoughts (difficult to think clearly and make decisions), emotions (more sensitive, reactive), and much more.

This includes difficulty regulating emotional issues. When my system has more resources, it can more easily set old emotional issues aside. (Although they will always color perception and actions.) And when it’s more fatigued, these old issues surface more easily.

That’s one reason I prefer to just go to bed when this happens and set aside any tasks or conversations for when my system functions a little better. (And often, I don’t have much choice. My system desperately needs that rest and anything else is automatically set aside.)

OUR NATURE RECOGNIZING ITSELF

When our nature recognizes itself, something similar can happen.

For a while, it takes itself to most fundamentally be this human self, a separate being in the world. Or, at least, it pretends to do this since others do it.

And then, the oneness we are recognizes itself. It shifts out of its temporary self-created trance.

And, as Adyashanity says, this can take the lid off a lot of things, including anything very human and unprocessed in us. What’s unprocessed comes to the surface to be seen, felt, loved, recognized as love, and recognized as having the same nature as we do.

I am not sure of the exact mechanism, but here is my best guess: It takes active regulation for the oneness we are to pretend – to itself and others – that it’s a separate being, something specific within its content of experience. When it recognizes its nature, it is no longer actively regulating, and that (sometimes) means it’s also not actively regulating old emotional issues. It’s no longer setting them aside, so they surface.

This doesn’t always happen. It can happen a while after oneness first recognized itself. (In my case, it happened several years into the process.) And when it happens, the oneness we are can react with confusion, feeling overwhelmed, fear, and much more.

It’s humbling, it can be very messy. And – as Evelyn Underhill said – it’s a very human process. And it’s not necessarily easy. In my case, it’s been the most challenging phase of my life by far.

And it’s also necessary. For the oneness we are to live from consciously recognizing itself, our human self needs to be a good vehicle. And that vehicle needs tune-up and cleaning. Any remaining emotional issues (beliefs, identifications, emotional issues, traumas) operate from separation consciousness, and they inevitably color our perception and life even if they don’t seem activated.

So they surface to be seen, felt, loved, and recognized as part of the oneness we are. They surface to join in with the awakening.

OTHER SITUATIONS WHERE OUR REGULATION FALTERS

There are other situations where our system has trouble setting aside emotional issues.

The most obvious is when strong emotional issues are triggered, and our mind identifies with what comes up. Here, we take on the perspective and identity of the issue and actively perceive and act as if we are that part of us. We may not even try to relate to it in a more intentional or mature way.

I suspect it also happens in some kinds of mental illness, and under influence of some kinds of drugs. (Sometimes this happens when drinking alcohol.)

CHALLENGES & GIFTS

There are challenges and gifts in our system being unable to set aside old emotional issues.

I imagine the challenges are familiar to most of us. It’s uncomfortable. It can feel overwhelming. We may get caught up in the struggle with what’s surfacing. And we may get caught up in what’s surfacing and view the world and act as if we are that hurt and confused part of us.

There are also gifts here. When these issues surface, we get to see them. It’s an invitation to see, feel, and find genuine love for what’s here. It’s an invitation to examine these confusing and hurting parts of us. It’s an invitation to get to know them. It’s an invitation to recognize that and how they operate from (painful) separation consciousness and unexamined and painful beliefs.

It’s an invitation to find healing for our relationship with them and to find healing for the issues themselves.

All of this is can seem obvious if we are familiar with it, but navigating it is often anything but easy. It takes skill, dedication, experience, and time.

It’s not something that’s done and dusted. It’s an ongoing process.

It’s part of being a human being.

It’s part of being oneness taking on the role of this human being in the world and living that life.

And it’s also where awakening and healing become one process. Where the two are revealed as aspects of the same seamless process.

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The world in me

There are – at least – two ways the world is in me.

And I can find both here and now in my own direct experience.

FINDING A PART OF ME THAT MIRRORS WHAT I SEE IN THE WORLD

If someone asks me if I feel or experience something, I almost always can find it and say “yes”. (And in the past, before I learned to not assume that everyone understands this, that has gotten me in trouble.)

Why is that?

It’s because I find that my psychology has innumerable parts. Whatever I see in the world, I can find in myself here and now.

There is always one part of me that has the characteristics I see out there. There is always one part that right now is experiencing what I see out there. It may not be very strong but it’s there, and it’s there at the very least as a potential.

I discovered this first in my teens, and since then daily and over and over.

And it also makes sense. If I imagine a characteristic or experience in someone else, it’s because I can connect with it in myself here and now. I am already connecting with it as soon as I imagine it in others.

Sometimes, what I see out in the world may be somewhat unfamiliar to me. I am not used to finding it in myself, and then the exploration may have to be a bit more thorough and detailed. Sometimes supported by a form of structured inquiry like The Work of Byron Katie or the Kiloby Inquiries.

So the world mirrors me. I can find what I can see in the world in me here and now.

THE WORLD IN ME

There is also another way I can find the world in me. And that is to see that the world is literally in me.

In one sense, I am a human being in the world. That’s not wrong. And when I look more closely, I find I more fundamentally – in my own first-person experience – am something else. I find I am what the world, to me, happens within and as.

I can also find this by examining my sense fields. I notice what’s in each sense field. (E.g. sound, smell, taste, sensation, thought.) I notice that any experience happens within one or more sense fields. (And that the sense fields are all one, the distinction between them happens only in my mental field.) I find that the world, to me, happens within and as the sense fields. I find that the world, to me, happens within and as what I am.

Said another way, and a little more from the logic side, to myself I am consciousness. If I think “I have consciousness” it means that to myself, I am consciousness. And that also means that the world, to me, happens within and as consciousness. It happens within and as what I am. It happens within and as the oneness I am.

When someone says “I am not in the world, the world is in me” or talks about “oneness”, then that’s something I don’t need to take anyone’s word for. I can find it here and now in my own direct noticing.

THE EFFECTS OF NOTICING THIS

This is about noticing what’s already here. Nothing needs to be fabricated. We don’t need to tell ourselves any stories about it, or rely on or trust those stories. We can find it here and now.

Our imagination may tell us we are separate. We may have images of ourselves as separate, and those images are inherited from our parents, teachers, and ultimately the culture we live within. We are told we are separate, and that we most fundamentally are this human self, so in our innocence and from our kind heart, we take it on. We do as others do. We learn to pretend that’s how it is.

And that has consequences. We naturally feel somewhat isolated, alone, separate from others, perhaps separate from our body and nature, we learn to be defensive, and so on.

Noticing that the world is in me, in the two ways mentioned above, and noticing it here and now, also has consequences.

Using the world as a mirror helps me get in touch with more of the natural richness I am. It opens up for recognizing in myself what I see in others in more situations, and that opens for a natural empathy.

Finding the world in me helps me see I am not most fundamentally this human self. It helps me relate to any content of experience a little more consciously. It helps me live a little more from this noticing and from the oneness I am.

Mostly, this noticing is a kind of seed and who knows what comes out of it. There are no formulas here. It’s an adventure. It’s something parts of us already and naturally are curious about and even fascinated by.

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The fantasy of arriving

A common fantasy is of arriving.

THE FANTASY OF ARRIVING

At some point, I’ll arrive. I’ll be stable. I’ll have it all figured out. I’ll have enough money. I’ll have the house and family. I’ll have a good job. I’ll be respected. I’ll be loved. I’ll learn to love myself. I’ll find a state that’s peaceful. I’ll be enlightened. I’ll be in paradise. I’ll have found nirvana. God will love me.

There are many versions of having arrived and yours may be different.

This is the fantasy of the part of us that feels that something isn’t right, wants it to be different, and hopes that will fix a more fundamental sense of something not being right. And it’s perfectly natural and understandable.

And yet, it’s a fantasy.

It’s a fantasy of parts of us that are unexamined and often unhealed and unloved.

It’s a fantasy we seek refuge in so we can find some comfort and a sense of safety, if only in an imagined future.

And if we look a little closer, we may find it’s a fantasy that creates discomfort and fear when we fuel it. When we hold it as true and identify with its viewpoint.

EXPLORING THE FANTASY OF ARRIVING

So what’s the solution?

One is to examine this fantasy.

When I explore this for myself, I find it’s an image of an imagined future. It comes from a part of me scared of discomfort and uncertainty. It’s something I go into in order to find a sense of safety.

It’s out of alignment with reality since I cannot know anything for certain about the future.

And holding onto it is uncomfortable for just that reason: it’s out of alignment with what I already know – that I cannot know. I am not honest with myself, and that’s inherently uncomfortable.

Holding onto it distracts me from noticing that I have already arrived where I am now. Holding onto it may distract me from shifting how I relate to what’s here and now and find more genuine peace with it.

I can also connect with this fantasy and the part of me that wants to hold onto it.

Where do I feel it in the body? What images are connected with it? What (stressful) stories are behind it? How is it to dialog with this part of me?

What does it want to tell me? What would help it relax?

How is it to see that it comes from a wish to protect me? That it comes from love?

How would it be to meet it with kindness and patience?

How is it to give it – here and now – what it really wants? (A sense of safety, love, being understood, etc.)

How is it to notice that its nature is the same as my own? That it happens within and as what I am?

And so on. There are many ways to explore this.

WILL WE EVER ARRIVE?

Will we ever arrive?

The most honest answer is that I don’t know. How is it to find peace with this not knowing? I may as well since it’s here. I don’t know for certain and cannot know for certain.

At the same time, I can say “no” since everything is always in motion. The content of experience is always in motion, and often in unpredictable ways. There is nowhere to arrive.

I can say “no” because the idea of arriving somewhere is an idea. It’s created by the human mind. It’s not inherent in reality.

And I can say “yes” because we already have arrived. We are already here. This is it. For me, any ideas – about the past or future or arriving or not – happen here and now. I cannot find it anywhere else.

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Chess and image-creation

Since I am watching the world championships in rapid and blitz chess right now, I am reminded of how chess – and especially the elite chess world – has built up an image for itself.

THE IMAGE-BUILDING OF CHESS

The elite chess world intentionally built up this image by, for instance, having a dress code, organizing relatively glamorous chess world championships, finding sponsors that make large money prices possible, and so on.

And the chess world and the general culture have presented chess skills as a sign of general intelligence, presenting chess as a mysterious game with an exciting history, and so on.

Some of this image-building has been intentional, and I assume much of it has happened more organically.

PROJECTION OBJECTS AND PROJECTING MIND

There are always two sides to this.

One is the projection object, which in this case is chess. This may be a person, an organization, an activity, a religion, or anything else. It can be something existing in the world or something imaginary. Someone may set out to intentionally build up an image for it or it happens more organically. And we all do it, to some extent, with ourselves. We build up an image about ourselves and for ourselves and others. (AKA persona.)

The other is the projecting mind. We all project. We all put a mental map overlay on the world. That’s how we orient and function in the world. (Mental field overlay.) And we all, sometimes and in some areas of life, see characteristics out there in the world that we are not so aware of in ourselves, or the reverse. (Blind projections.) The first one helps us function, and the second one is an invitation to find in ourselves what we see out there in the world (or see more in the world what we are familiar with in ourselves).

HAPPENS A LOT

This image-building happens a lot.

We see it in many sports, perhaps especially sports like formula one, football, chess, alpine skiing, and so on. These are sports we tend to see as somewhat glamorous, and that’s no accident. It’s often because someone has built up that particular image of the sport.

We see it in Hollywood. They intentionally build up a certain image around fictional characters, stars, movies, and movie production.

We obviously see it in brands – clothing, watches, alcohol, cars, and so on.

We see it in religions. A big part of religion is image-building. They create an image for themselves to attract and maintain followers. (We can save you. We have the answers. We are your ticket to eternal salvation.)

We see it in spirituality more in general. Certain spiritual traditions have built up an image around enlightenment, awakening, and so on. Often for the same purpose as religions.

And as mentioned above, we all do it. We all build up, maintain, and present certain images of ourselves. We do it for our own sake so we know who we are in the world, and often so we can feel better (or worse) about ourselves. We do it to fit in with our culture and certain subcultures. We do it to get something from others. And mainly, we do it to find a sense of safety. If we know, more or less, who we are and have built up an identity, then we can rely on it even if we don’t always like everything that’s there.

This is relatively well-known in society, at least to some level. For instance, we see it when people talk about branding in a general sense. We all have our own brand. Religions have their brand. And so on.

GOOD TO BE AWARE OF

As usual, there is nothing inherently wrong with any of this. Much of it is inevitable, and having our own identity and brand helps us function in the world.

And it’s good to be aware of. It’s good to be aware of how people, organizations, businesses, religions, and so on build up a certain brand, and often do it so they can be good projections objects for you and others. They make a brand that it’s easy for us to project wishes, dreams, and sometimes fears onto.

Why? Because those types of projections act as a kind of glue. They glue our attention to the projection object. We often want to get something out of it.

And what we really want is to get to know those sides of ourselves. We want to become familiar with what we see out there – the characteristics – in ourselves.

It’s also helpful to explore the brand we have built up for ourselves. What identities and stories are there? Are they peaceful? Stressful? What do I find when I explore them in more detail?

And it’s especially helpful to see all of this for what it is. These are images. They are created. Often, people want us to buy into these images so we can project wishes and fears onto them, and so our attention gets glued to them.

And none of these images are really true. At most, they have a limited validity. What they are put on top of is different from and more than these images. Reality is different from and more than these images.

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“I am picking up feelings that aren’t mine”

Some people on a spiritual path experience that they are picking up feelings that aren’t theirs, and feel some distress around it.

In a limited and conventional sense, it may be true they are picking up something from others.

We can sense what’s going on with others, to some extent. Either through picking up signals or even at a distance without any obvious connection.

If this is a pattern and feels overwhelming, there are several ways to work with it. We can practice respecting the boundaries of others, and setting our own boundaries more clearly. We can explore different ways of grounding. We can energize our system so it’s in better condition to deal with what’s happening in our surroundings. We can strengthen our etheric field. (The energy field closest to the body.) And so on.

And there is also another side to this.

THE WORLD IS MY MIRROR

The world is my mirror. Whatever story I have about someone else, or even a particular feeling, I can turn it to myself and find specific examples of how it’s true – here and now and in the past.

When this happens, it’s an opportunity to get to know more sides of myself, and often sides I have shunned in the past.

BEFRIENDING

When people say these things, it’s often because they find the feeling uncomfortable.

So this is an opportunity to get to know the feeling and whatever stories we have about it.

How is it to meet and allow the sensations?

What does this part of me want to tell me? How does it see me? In what way is it trying to help me? What advice does it have for me? How can we find a better partnership?

What story do I have about the feeling? What do I find when I examine this story?

EXAMINING STORIES

Beyond this, what stories do I have about the other person? The one the feeling supposedly comes from? What do I find when I examine these?

Is it true the feeling comes from the other person? What do I find when I examine this story?

What other stories do I have about this situation? And what do I find when I examine them?

HAPPENING WITHIN AND AS WHAT I AM

Whatever happens in my world happens within and as what I am.

Whatever happens in others or the wider world, to me happens within and as what I am.

Whatever happens here in this human self happens within and as what I am.

Most fundamentally, I am capacity for all of it and it’s all happening within and as what I am.

All of it has the same nature. It’s all what a thought may imperfectly call consciousness, Spirit, and so on.

It all has different forms and it’s all “one taste”.

Note: This article is originally from one of the Brief Notes posts.

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Dune and fascination with saviors

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

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

WHY ARE WE FASCINATED BY THE SAVIOR?

Why are we fascinated with saviors and the savior archetype?

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

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

BEING OUR OWN SAVIOR

How do we save ourselves?

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

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

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

FINDING WHAT WE MORE FUNDAMENTALLY ARE

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

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

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

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

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

EXPLORING THE SAVIOR DYNAMIC

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

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

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

I can find ways to give it to myself.

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

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

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

THE BEFRIEND & AWAKEN PROCESS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Stranger Things & the shadow

I love Stranger Things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Grounding speculations in what’s here and now

Some stories are clearly speculation. For instance, any kind of cosmology, ideas about an afterlife or spiritual entities, and so on.

And yet, there is a way we can ground it in what’s here and now.

We can use these stories as a mirror. We can find what they point to here and now in ourselves.

FINDING IT HERE AND NOW IN OUR MENTAL FIELD

How can we find the stories here and now?

The most immediate way is to find them in our mental field.

What are the mental representations I have that make up the story? What are the mental images? The words? How is it to rest in noticing the mental images? How is it to rest in looking at (or hearing) the words?

We can also take this a step further.

What are the physical sensations associated with these images and words? Where do I feel it in my body? How is it to rest in noticing those sensations? How is it to notice them as physical sensations?

What other images and words come up? What are the associations? How is it to rest in noticing these?

THE EFFECT OF RECOGNIZING OUR MENTAL REPRESENTATIONS

This can seem obvious. Of course, any story happens as mental representations and in our mental field. And yet, a part of us don’t always know it. A part of us confuses the mental representations for what they point to. And that’s why it can be very helpful to consciously notice these mental representations, recognize them for what they are, and rest in that noticing so our system can take it in.

Any time a story has a charge for us, it’s because our mind associates sensations with the story. These sensations lend a sense of charge to the story, a sense of solidity and substance. And the stories give these sensations a sense of meaning. When we rest in noticing the mental representations as mental representations, and the sensations as sensations, we see through the illusion. We recognize the stories more easily as stories and the sensations as sensations. And we confuse the stories less with reality.

USING STORIES AS A MIRROR

We can also use the stories as mirrors.

What’s the story? What do I find if I turn it to myself? Can I find specific and genuine examples of how and when it’s true? (The Work of Byron Katie.)

Through this process, we also ground speculations. We find what they point to here and now and in ourselves.

THE EFFECT OF USING STORIES AS A MIRROR

To the extent I see and feel in myself something I see in others and the world, there is less sense of I and Other on this topic. There is more of a sense of being in the same boat. There is more of a sense of our shared humanity.

This also means I am less reactive about it. If I only recognize a characteristic in others and not myself, or the other way around, I tend to be caught up in issues and reactivity around it. And when I recognize it both there and here, I have more space for relating to it more consciously. I am able to act more from clarity and kindness and less from reactivity.

WHAT IT HAPPENS WITHIN AND AS

There is another useful step here.

And that is to notice my nature and that these stories and any content of my experience happen within and as my nature.

In a conventional sense, I am a human self in the world. Is this what I most fundamentally am in my own first-person experience? What do I find when I explore my own immediate experience?

I find I am more fundamentally capacity for the world. My nature allows any and all experiences.

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

These stories, what I imagine they point to, and what this brings up in me, happen within and as what I am. To me, my nature is their nature.

THE EFFECT OF RECOGNIZING THE SHARED NATURE

What’s the effect of recognizing the shared nature of myself and these stories and what they point to and anything that brings up in me?

To the extent I notice and allow this noticing to work on me, there is even less of a sense of I and Other, and it’s easier to recognize my mental representations as mental representations. And this gives even more space for relating to it all more consciously, from less reactivity, and with more clarity and kindness.

SOME EXAMPLES

Here are some general examples from cosmology and ideas about spiritual entities. (I took parts of this section from a previous article, which was also the seed for this one.)

If I imagine the universe and all of existence as a seamless whole, as one system, can I find that here now? I can find the mental representations of this here and now, in my mental field. I can also find the seamless whole here. As a human self, I am a seamless whole and I keep discovering more about this seamless whole. As what I am, I am also a seamless whole and the world to me happens within and as this seamless whole.

I imagine all of existence as consciousness (AKA Spirit, God, Brahman, Big Mind). I can find that too here. To me, I am fundamentally consciousness. And the world, to me, happens within and as this consciousness. To me, the world is like a dream in that it happens within and as consciousness.

I imagine all of existence as consciousness somehow aware of everything that’s happening. I can find that too. There is a background awareness of anything that happens within and as consciousness. When something happens within the content of my experience, there is a kind of awareness of it before there is a conscious (and perhaps self-conscious) awareness of it.

I imagine spiritual beings with certain qualities and characteristics. I can find these here in myself. It’s not all I am, they may not be what I live from in every moment, but the characteristics are here. For instance, if I imagine certain entities (angels, avatars, etc.), can find what I imagine in them also here – love, wisdom, devotion to the divine, support, and so on. And if I imagine other entities (devil, demons), I can find that too here. I can find it when I react to my own pain in a way that inflicts more pain on myself and others.

I imagine life between lives as disembodied, oneness, and love. When I explore what I am in my own first-person experience, I find I am what the world to me happens within and as. I find I am disembodied (I am not most fundamentally a body), oneness, and when oneness notices itself it’s expressed as love.

I imagine the universe as without any edge or boundary. When I notice what I am, I can also not find an edge or boundary. Any edge or boundary comes from a mental representation, and they happen within and as what I am.

I imagine the universe starting as uniform and then forming itself into atoms, molecules, solar systems, and all we know. When I look for it here, I find that consciousness – the consciousness I am and which is all I know – is uniform, and it forms itself into a wild diversity of content of experience.

These are just a few very general examples. A real exploration would be more thorough, with specific and genuine examples, and with time to take it in and let it work on me.

MORE UNIVERSAL

This, of course, is more universal. It doesn’t just apply to obvious speculations. It applies to any story we have about anyone or anything.

Any story is a question about the word. Any story is a mental representation.

We can find the mental representation here and now, and any physical sensations our mind associates it with. We can use any story as a mirror and find what it points to here and now.

No matter how valid a story is in a conventional sense, or how speculative, we can ground it in this way. We can use it as a pointer for what’s already here.

We can use it as a pointer to learn to recognize mental representations as mental representations. (And not what they supposedly point to.) We can get to know more of the immense richness of who we are. (As who we are, we are as rich as humanity and the world.) We can use it to notice what we are and also recognize that our nature is the same as the nature of our experience, including these mental representations and what they point to and any reactions that come up in us.

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Exploring the world like a dream

I like to explore the world similar to how I would explore a dream.

Why?

The simple answer is that they both mirror me at a human level. And, to me, they both happen within and as what I am.

DREAMS AND THE WORLD MIRRORING ME

Any content of my experience is a mirror for me.

My experience of dreams and waking life both show me what’s happening in my mental field. It shows me my assumptions, stories, and beliefs about others, myself, and the world.

I can take my story about anyone or anything, turn it to myself, and find specific and genuine examples of where and how it’s true.

Anything within my experience, whether it’s a dream or waking life, mirrors parts and dynamics in myself at a human level.

DREAMS AND THE WORLD HAPPENING WITHIN AND AS WHAT I AM

Dreams and waking life both happen within my experience.

They happen within my sense fields. They happen within and as this consciousness.

They happen within and as what I am.

In a conventional sense, and to others, I am this human self in the world. And when I look more closely in my own first-person experience, I find my nature is more fundamentally capacity for the world as it appears to me. I am what the world, to me, happens within and as.

I am what any content of experience – night dreams and waking life – happen within and as.

HOW I EXPLORE DREAMS AND WAKING LIFE

I won’t go into this in detail here since there are many other articles on this topic.

Depending on the approach, I explore what comes up in me in relation to something in a dream or waking life, or I use dreams or waking life as a mirror to identify and explore parts of myself.

I typically use some form of inquiry. For instance, The Work on painful stories related to what’s happening. Or sense field explorations (Living/Kiloby Inquiries) on anything coming up or mirrored including identities, anxiety, or compulsions. Dialog with parts of me triggered or mirrored in dreams or the world. Heart-centered practices towards someone in the world, dreams, or parts of me (tonglen, ho’oponopno). I may identify issues and work on them with energy healing (Vortex Healing). And so on.

And I use some forms of structured inquiry – Headless experiments and the Big Mind process – to find myself as what the world to me happens within and as. (Some like to use lucid dreaming to notice that night dreams happen within and as consciousness, and then see if they can notice that in waking life as well. In my case, I prefer a more direct approach.)

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Here be dragons

Early European mapmakers famously drew in dragons, monsters, and weird creatures in lesser-known or unknown areas of the map.

IMAGINING MONSTERS INTO UNKNOWN AREAS OF THE WORLD

And that’s what we do as well.

We sometimes imagine monsters in areas of the world we don’t know well. Conspiracy theories are one example of this. Another is hearing something about someone we don’t know, imagining it’s true, and then realizing it wasn’t true – or wasn’t the whole picture – when we get to know that person

MAPS AS A MIRROR

And these maps also mirror us.

We sometimes have metaphorical dragons, monsters, and weird creatures in unknown and unmapped areas of ourselves.

As with maps in general, these dragon maps – whether they are the old literal ones or the ones we create for ourselves in daily life – are projections in two ways.

First, as a mental construct that we imagine out there in the world and that helps us orient in and navigate in the world. (And sometimes not!)

And second, they are a projection in terms of characteristics and dynamics. We imagine characteristics and dynamics out there in the world, and they are also here in us. Maps may or may not describe the world, and they certainly describe us. What’s the story I have about something or someone in the world? What do I find when I turn this story to myself? Can I find genuine and specific examples, here and now and from my past?

PRACTICAL USE

What’s the practical use of this?

We can be aware of this tendency to metaphorically draw monsters and dragons into what’s unknown to us. This helps us notice when it happens and counteract it.

And we can use this to actively explore the dragons and monsters in unmapped areas of ourselves. When and how do I imagine monsters in the world? How does that mirror me? When am I like that? Can I find specific examples here and now and from my past? How is it to recognize this? How is it to include it in the image I have about myself? How is it to recognize in me more of what I see in others and the world?

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Mother’s day

It’s mother’s day in some countries today.

We can look at mother in many ways, including literally, as a projection, and metaphorically.

And although much of it may be pretty obvious, it can also help us shift our perspective. We may be able to shift out of habitual views and into views that are more new and fresh to us, and hold them all more lightly.

And that, in itself, is often valuable. 

LITERAL MOTHERS

The most obvious is our own human mothers – whether it’s our biological one or the one(s) who raised us.

Can I find love for my human mother even if she wasn’t perfect?

The more we resolve any issues with our mother and those in our early life, the more we tend to resolve many of the more central issues we have. If you wonder what to find healing for, a good place to start – and end – is your mother and father and anyone important in your early life.

The more we find healing for our relationship with our mother, the more we can find genuine gratitude for her, as she was and is.

Another side to this is that, to us, our mother is as much or more in here as out there. Finding healing for our relationship with our mother (and father) helps us heal parts of ourselves.

MOTHERS ALL THE WAY BACK

There is also the lineage of mothers.

This lineage goes through all our human mothers through the centuries and in many geographical locations, going back to the early human migration(s) from Africa.

It goes back through our non-human humanoid ancestors. The ones that may be somewhat similar to primates today.

It goes back to our non-human and non-primate mammal ancestors. The small ones that lived during the dinosaur era and even further back.

It goes back beyond this, to our non-mammal ancestors. The ones who left the ocean for land, and the ones who lived in the ocean.

It goes back to the very simple organisms that were the pioneer lifeforms in the oceans.

And it goes back to the very first single-celled organism that’s the ancestor of all life today.

All of these are our mothers. They tie us to all Earth life.

Without them, we wouldn’t exist and the amazing living planet we are part of wouldn’t exist.

MOTHER AS A MIRROR

We also have the mother in all of us.

These are the mother qualities of nurturing, understanding, fierce protection, and so on, and also the distorted version of these.

When I see mother qualities in others, whether nurturing or protective or more distorted, can I find it in myself? What stories do I have about my own mother and other mothers? WHat do I find when I turn this story to myself? Can I find specific and genuine examples of how each one is true?

OUR CHILDREN AS OUR MOTHERS

We think of mothers as mothers of children. Is the reverse also true?

Yes, in a sense, our children are our mothers. They are part of making us who we are.

Can I find appreciation and gratitude for this as well? 

MY EXPERIENCES ARE MY MOTHER

At first glance, it may look as if the situations I am in are my mother.

The universe, planet, ecosystem, culture, subcultures, and family I grow up and live in form and shape who I am.

All my experiences – whether I call them small or big – are my mother.

THE WAY I RELATE TO MY EXPERIENCES IS MY MOTHER

When I look more closely, I find something else is more true for me.

It’s the way I relate to my experiences that forms and shapes me and who I am in the world.

The way I relate to my experiences – the way I relate to myself, others, situations, and so on – is my mother.

MOTHER NATURE

Nature is our mother in a very real sense.

Without this living planet, we wouldn’t exist. Every molecule in our bodies comes from the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the food we eat. All of it comes from the wider ecosystems we are part of.

We are an intrinsic part of this living system and a local expression of this living system.

Our own health and well-being, individually and collectively, is dependent on the health and well-being of our mother, of this living system we call planet Earth. 

MOTHER UNIVERSE

Similarly, the universe is our mother.

All of existence, going back to the beginning of time (if there is any) and stretching out to the widest extent (if there is any boundary), is our mother.

We depend on all of it for our own existence.

Without the whole, just as it is, we wouldn’t be.

WE ARE THE MOTHERS OF EXISTENCE

The reverse is also true here. We are the mothers of the universe.

We bring existence into form and life – locally and through and as our experiences and life.

We are the local expressions of existence as a whole. We are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe.

As Meister Eckart said, we are the mothers of God.

CAPACITY AS THE MOTHER OF ALL

There is also the mother of existence, which is what allows it all – as it appears to me – to happen.

When I look at what I more fundamentally am in my own first-person experience, I find my nature is capacity for the world as it appears to me.

I am capacity for any and all experience – whether it’s of this human self, the wider world, or anything else.

This capacity is the mother of the world as it appears to me. 

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The world is my mirror here and now

If I react to something in the world, typically in another person, I can find the same in me. 

I can find it here and now. And I can find examples in the past. 

For instance, I get annoyed by people being inconsiderate and playing loud music in the neighborhood. So how am I doing the same as what I see in them? How am I inconsiderate at that moment? Right now, I am in the countryside outside of a small town in the Andes mountains. The ones playing the radio at high volume at 5 am are farmers or do other manual labor. They get up early to do their work, and this is one of the enjoyments they have in a generally difficult life. So without knowing the fuller picture, it’s a good guess that judging them for playing loud music, and wanting them to stop, is – in some ways – inconsiderate towards them. They, most likely, would see it that way. I am doing what I see them as doing. That doesn’t mean I can’t talk with them about it to see if we can find a solution that works better for everyone. But it does mean that I likely will be a bit less reactive and a bit more understanding in how I relate to them – and myself.

Another example is how I sometimes react to people who go into conspiracy theories. I feel frustrated, angry, and disappointed. These are all signs of reactivity, unexamined beliefs, and that I have the same here that I see in them. So what’s my conspiracy theory at that moment? One of my favorite ones is that they are pretending, they can’t be that stupid, they must know they are just repeating patterns from history, they know their stories are founded in bad logic and bad data, they are saying these things just to rile others up. This is the unexamined conspiracy theory I have about them, and since this story is out of alignment with reality, it’s part of the reason for my reactivity. I am telling myself they are pretending, knowing that many of them may actually believe and feel that their stories are true.

I do the same when I see many spiritual and even nondual teachers. I see a lack of clarity. A lack of differentiation. What looks like immature views. And I tell myself they know better but for an unknown reason chose to present it that way. They have to know better. They have to have more clarity than that. When I tell myself those stories, I am doing what I see in them. I am pretending. I know better but chose to make myself dumber than I am. Somewhere in me, I know they are probably just doing their best.

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“I am picking up feelings that aren’t mine”

I sometimes hear people talking about picking up feelings and energies that are not theirs.

I understand where they are coming from. I understand how being around certain people, or doing some kind of healing work with them, can bring up certain feelings and states in us. And that the mind can come up with stories saying: “Those are not my feelings, states, energies. I picked them up from that person.”

And it’s not how I see it.

WHAT’S MORE ACURATELY GOING ON

When I notice feelings and states come up in me in these situations, I could tell myself that I “picked up” something from the other person.

And I also know that what’s coming up in me is from my own reaction to the situation and person.

Something in me reacts to the other person, and that triggers these feelings and states.

My reaction is always mine, and what’s coming up in me is mine. It doesn’t belong to the other person.

AN INVALUABLE OPPORTUNITY

This is an invaluable opportunity to learn something about myself, find healing for how I relate to the world and myself, and find healing for old issues in myself.

Why would I give that away by telling myself: “I am picking up the other persons feelings and states”? Why would I assign it to someone else?

If I did, it would not only be intellectually dishonest. It would be like giving away an invaluable opportunity to get to know and embrace more of my inner community, find healing for how I relate to myself and the world, find healing for wounded parts of me, and clarify who and what I am.

THE GRAIN OF TRUTH

As usual, there are some grains of truth in the conventional view.

It is possible to sense, to some extent, what’s happening in another person. People who do distance healing, including me, do it regularly. This is a sensing similar to seeing or hearing something. It’s inherently neutral. There is no sense of being “invaded” by anything.

If that happens, it’s because of my own reaction. It’s the consequences of my stories – conscious or not – about what I sense or what I imagine in the other person.

And, of course, what’s triggered in me may reflect something in the other. If he or she is experiencing and expressing anger, my reaction to it can easily trigger anger in me.

THE WORLD IS MY MIRROR

There is more to this as well.

The world is my mirror. What I see in others – and in the world in general – is also here in me.

I can take any story about anyone or anything in the world, turn it to myself, and find genuine examples of how it’s true now and in the past.

If I attach too strongly to ideas of “yours” and “mine”, and don’t use you as a mirror for what’s already here in me, I miss out of an invaluable opportunity to get to know what’s here and use it to explore and find healing, maturing, and clarification of what I am.

And to me, the world happens within and as what I am. Anything within the content of my experience – this human self, you, the wider world, and anything else – happens within and as what I am.

Here too, it doesn’t make sense to divide the world too strongly into “me” and “you”. Of course, there is a me and you in a limited and conventional sense. And more fundamentally, it’s all happening within and as what I am.

Here, it’s more about finding healing for how I relate to it all, whether it’s in me or others or the world.

It’s more about finding it all in me.

It’s more about finding healing for it in myself.

And it’s more about recognizing it all as the divine and forms the divine happens to take here and now. 

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What’s most important to the divine?

What’s most important to life or the divine?

Of course, we cannot know for certain.

And the question itself rests on a lot of assumptions that are questionable.

IF ALL IS THE DIVINE

But if all is God or the divine, then there is a simple answer.

What’s most important to the divine is what’s here now.

If something else was more important, that’s what would be here now.

THE WILDLY RECKLESS SIDE OF THE DIVINE I

From here, we see that for the divine, suffering, eradication of species, and the possibility of ecological disaster and the collapse of civilization is more important than constant bliss and comfort for all beings all the time, or preserving all lie and species, or even preserving this civilization.

If one civilization goes under, the divine may create itself into another. If one planet goes dead, the divine may – through evolution and over time –form itself into another living planet.

As life, we are naturally biased towards life. We love life. But who is to say that life is inherently better or more important than nonliving parts of existence? The nonliving parts seem far more common, so those must also be important to the divine.

THE WILDLY RECKLESS SIDE OF THE DIVINE II

In a sense, the divine is wildly reckless.

What’s here now is gone the next moment and something else is here. (A thought may say it’s the same, but when we look more closely, we may find that what’s here is always new.)

The divine forms itself into what’s here, into something that has never existed before, does not exist any other place, and will never exist again. And then it’s gone and the divine forms itself into something else.

The divine is like a sand artist on the beach, creating amazing sculptures knowing they will be gone without a trace – apart from the sand itself which is ready to take other forms.

THE FULLNESS OF IT ALL

Of course, what’s important to the divine is also experiencing bliss, happiness, joy, working to preserve life and protecting ecosystems, and so on, because that’s also happening through many of us.

The divine is wildly diverse. It wipes the slate each moment and allows for something new and different. It has both stable and wildly reckless sides. And we can even say that the divine seems to take some delight in the wild diversity of it all.

BRINGING IT HOME

These are all stories about existence as a whole.

We can also ground it and find it here and now.

To us, this is all happening within and as what we are. We are all capacity for the world as it appears to us, and it happens within and as what we are.

The nature of what I am is to form itself into all my experiences. Each one is new, fresh, and different from what has been and what will be. Nothing leaves any trace. (Although we tell ourselves it does through our mental representations and as part of dynamics and patterns we can reflect in our stories.)

My nature is wildly reckless. It forms itself into my experience here and now, wipes the slate clean, and forms itself into something new. (Again, my stories will create a sense of continuity, but it’s not here in immediate noticing.)

My nature forms itself into whatever is here, including suffering, struggle, reactivity, hangups, delusion, enjoyment, comfort, kindness, wisdom, insights, and so on.

And I can add stories to this. I can say that this is the most important to existence or the divine, and that may not be wrong. I can say that life or the divine enjoys the wild diversity of it all, and although it’s an assumption and kind of projection, that may not be exactly wrong.

THE PRACTICAL CONSEQUENCES

Any worldview has practical consequences, and those are arguably what is most important in any worldview.

So what are the practical consequences of this one?

I notice that this one helps me be more open to considering that what’s here now is what’s most important to the divine and life. It helps me shift out of a worldview based on my own personal preferences. It helps me hold my own personal preferences less tight.

It invites me to find here and now what this worldview points to. I can find the freshness of any experience here. I notice the constantly clean slate allowing for something else and new.

I also find that holding my preferences more lightly is not compatible with acting from whatever wisdom and kindness is here, it creates space for doing just that. It invites me to act from the more kind and clear sides of myself and do my part in preserving life and supporting this civilization to transform into a more life-centered one. 

Note: This is a slightly rambling and unfocused article. One reason is my fatigue and brain fog which often makes it difficult to keep a clear focus and organize articles well. I may go back and redo this one later, or just leave it as is. We’ll see.

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Putin as a mirror

Anything in the world is a mirror for ourselves.

What stories do I have about Putin? If I turn these stories around, can I find specific examples of how these stories are true about me? Now and in the past?

HE IS UNHINGED

I see him as unhinged from reality.

When I am unhinged from reality? When I go into reactivity in how I see him and the war, my views inevitably get more one-sided and polarized. They may not be wrong, but I may miss out on the bigger picture. For instance, I may miss out on remembering that many or most Russians may not want this war, and many or most of the Russian soldiers may not want it.

HE IS HEARTLESS

I see him as heartless and prioritizing his own ambitions over the suffering of others.

How do I do that now? When I go into reactivity in how I see Putin and the invasion of Ukraine, I tend to lose my compassion and empathy. I may indulge in my own anger and reactivity, and forget about the suffering of the many impacted by this war – the Ukrainians and also the Russian soldiers and their families. I distance myself from this suffering. I don’t allow my empathy for their suffering to work on me and transform me. (To open my heart and mind.)

HE IS REACTIVE

I see him as reacting to his own pain in ways that creates pain for others.

When do I do the same? Again, when I go into reactivity in how I see the Ukrainian invasion, I get more rigid in my views and more heartless. My mind and heart close. And that inevitably creates some pain and suffering for me and those around me. It may just be that I am a bit more cold, distant, and distracted in my interactions, and that impacts me and others.

Whenever I react to my own pain instead of meeting it and examining it, I tend to create more pain for myself and others. My views get more rigid. I act from that rigidity. I am less receptive. I have less empathy and compassion for myself and others. I am less wise. I am less kind.

WHAT THIS EXAMINATION DOES AND DOESN’T DO

Finding in me what I see in Putin does not in any way make what he does any more right. It’s still a crime. It’s still deeply immoral. It’s still deeply unnecessary. It’s still profoundly reckless and puts the whole world at risk. It’s something I will act to prevent or change, to the small extent I can.

Also, finding in myself what I see in him doesn’t mean it’s not also there in him, and sometimes expressed in a more extreme way. In a conventional sense, he does seem unhinged from reality. (Judging from his justifications for invading Ukraine, and as most authoritarian leaders after years in power.) He does seem heartless. (Prioritizing his personal pet plans over the suffering of millions.) And he does seem reactive. (Looking at how he describes a world opposing his actions, and footage showing how he treats his subordinates.)

And this examination may help me respond and act a bit more from clarity and kindness, and less from reactivity. And that’s more than worth it.

Note: This is a very simplified version of The Work of Byron Katie, and doing it more thoroughly – with the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet and the four questions and turnarounds, allows the process to work on us far more deeply.

Why did I choose this picture of Putin? Because Putin seems to – for whatever reason – hate what he sees as weakness which for him includes feminine men and gays. So why not depict him as a drag queen? It’s a reminder that he has those sides too, as we all do. If he felt freer and embraced more of himself, perhaps that’s what he would do instead of waging war?

The play of life (lila) & finding ourselves as capacity for our world

If we more thoroughly explore lila, we are invited to find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us. And finding ourselves as capacity makes it easier to notice all as lila.

Our maps and descriptions of the world reflect something in ourselves. They say something about who we are, as a human being in the world, and they may say something about what we are. And so also lila – the play of life or the divine.

THE CREATIVITY OF THE MIND

Our mind is almost infinitely creative. It takes sensory input from a range of senses and creates the impression of a world. It uses mental images and words to create stories of all kinds, from labels to stories about ourselves and the rest of the world. It can hold these stories as true or not.

It can pretend, for a while and to some extent, that its imaginations about this human self and the wider world are true. It can perceive and live as if these stories are true.

It can recognize itself as capacity for all the content of experience. As what our content of experience – this human self, the wider world, and anything else – happens within and as.

Everything we know and experience is the mind expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways.

This is the lila of our mind, of what we are to ourselves.

THE CREATIVITY OF THE WORLD

We know the lila of the mind since that’s what we are. And we can imagine that the actual wider world is the same.

We can see the evolution of the universe metaphorically as an expression of the creativity of the universe, the play of the universe. Everything that’s ever existed, everything we know, and everything we are individually and collectively, is an expression of the play of the universe.

We can also frame this differently. If we like, we can say that everything – all of existence including all we are and experience – is the play of the divine. It’s the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways.

MAKING USE OF THE IDEA OF LILA

Whether we see lila as the play of the mind, or the play of the universe or existence, or the play of the divine, it reflects something here and now.

How can we explore this for ourselves?

There are many ways, and I’ll mention just a few.

We can use the story of lila to frame our experiences – and existence in general – as the mind and existence expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways. This can help us hold it all more lightly and approach it with more curiosity, receptivity, and even playfulness.

We can also explore the particular creativity of thought and how it colors our perception, choices, and life.

For instance, we can explore what happens when a belief is believed, and what happens when we recognize a thought as a thought. (The Work of Byron Katie.)

And we can explore how the mind associates inputs from different sense fields and creates an experience for itself. For instance, it can associate certain thoughts with certain physical sensations so the sensations give a sense of solidity and truth to the thoughts, and the thoughts give apparent meaning to the sensations.

LILA & FINDING OURSELVES AS CAPACITY

There is a mutuality between exploring lila and finding ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us.

If we explore lila, we’ll recognize that all content of experience is part of the play. In this, there is an invitation to find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us.

And finding ourselves as capacity makes it easier to notice all as lila.

In a bit more detail:

If all content of experience is part of the play of mind and existence, including any sense experiences and ideas we have about this human self, we may see that this human self cannot be what we more fundamentally are in our own first-person experience. So what are we, more fundamentally, and in our own experience?

We may find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us, and what our experiences happen within and as. (Perhaps aided by structured inquiries like Headless experiments and the Big Mind process.)

This, in turn, allows us to more clearly see all content of experience – including this human self and any thoughts and mental images – as the play of the mind and existence.

LESS DEPENDENT ON ANY PARTICULAR WORLDVIEW

Seeing lila this way makes it less dependent on any particular worldview.

If we are more psychologically inclined, we recognize it as the play and creativity of the mind, and something we know here and imagine onto the rest of existence.

If we take a more cosmological view, we may see it as the metaphorical play and creativity of the universe.

If we have a more spiritual view, we may see it as the play of the divine, and the divine exploring and experiencing itself as all there is and in always new ways.

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The spiritual path & comparing ourselves with others

Comparing ourselves with others seems relatively universal although I am sure it plays out differently in different cultures. It’s also part of what fuels our current consumer culture, and advertisers know how to make use of it.

TWO WAYS TO COMPARE

There are two ways to compare ourselves with others.

One is for pragmatic reasons. It can give us useful information.

The other, which is often overlaid on the first one, is to make ourselves feel better or worse than others. This is not so useful. It can feel good to compare ourselves with someone and make up a story that we are somehow better than the other. But it’s a temporary victory since it means we inevitably are worse than someone else in the world, on the same scale, and we’ll inevitably be reminded of it. And it’s hollow since we know – somewhere in us – that it’s just a mind game.

In terms of spirituality, we can tell ourselves we are more advanced, sophisticated, or mature than someone else and it may feel good for a while. At the same time, we know we are less advanced, sophisticated, and mature compared with some other people. And we know, whether we acknowledge it or not, that it’s a mind game.

We cannot know for certain where people are in their process. We know we are comparing to make ourselves feel a bit better about ourselves. And we know it’s a losing game in the long run.

OUTSIDE VS INNER VIEW

When we compare ourselves with others, we often compare the public image of someone with our inside knowledge about ourselves.

We all have a public persona, which is more or less polished and inclusive. We present a certain image to the world and often leave out a lot of the confusion, pain, and unsavory attitudes and behavior. At the same time, we are often very aware of all the confusion, pain, and unsavoriness in our own life.

So it’s inherently an unfair comparison, and it tends to make us feel not so good about ourselves.

Often, it looks like the spiritual path and insights of others is clean, easy, and perhaps even joyful. And we know that our own spiritual path is windy, confused, didn’t go as planned, and so on.

HOW WE TALK ABOUT OUR SPIRITUAL PATH

The pain of comparison is greatly enhanced or diminished depending on the culture (or subculture) we are in.

If we are in a culture where spiritual practitioners and teachers like to present a glossy image of their own path, and of the spiritual path in general, it can lead to a more unfavorable impression of our own path.

If we are in a culture where spiritual practitioners and teachers are open about the messiness of their own path, and the spiritual path in general, it can help us see that we are all in the same boat. My own messiness is less painful since I know it’s similar for others.

And if we are in a culture that encourages us to work with projections, then…

MAKING USE OF THE TENDENCY TO COMPARE

…we can make good use of the tendency to compare. We can use it as material for our own exploration, and to invite in healing and maturing, and even awakening and living from the awakening.

We can make a practice of finding in ourselves what we see in others. (And in others what we know from ourselves.)

We can identify and examine our painful comparing-thoughts and find what’s more true for us. (Often, that the story is not absolutely true, and that the reversals have validity as well.)

We can explore how the comparing appears in our sense fields. What are the sensation components? The mental image and word component? What happens when I differentiate the two and rest with each? What do I find when I follow the associations, for instance back in time to my earliest memory of having that feeling or thought?

Instead of indulging in thoughts and feelings relating to the messiness of our own path, we can take a pragmatic approach and make use of whatever comes up.

THESE DAYS

I am grateful that these days, in our culture, there is more transparency and openness about the messiness of the spiritual path. People seem to feel more free to share all aspects of their experience. And many work intentionally with projections and inquiry, which also helps.

A glossy image of the path may serve as an initial carrot. But in the longer run, it seems far more helpful to be open about everything that can – and often will – happen on a spiritual path, warts and all.

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I am the mountain?

When mystics (or wannabe mystics!) say “I am the mountain”, “I am you”, “be the river”, and so on, what do they mean?

I don’t really know, and I assume it will vary with the person.

When I explore it for myself, I find a few different possibilities.

ONENESS IN THE PHYSICAL WORLD

Some may use those phrases to acknowledge the oneness in the physical world. We are all parts of the same living seamless systems, so – in a metaphorical or poetic sense – I am you and you are me.

I would phrase it differently, but I understand where it is coming from. We are all part of the oneness of the world. We are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe.

THE WORLD IS MY MIRROR

The world is my mirror.

I can imagine being a mountain, a river, and so on. I can find the part in me that corresponds to it and notice how it feels, how it views the world, and so on. I can have a dialog with that part of me and get to know it.

Similarly, what I see out there reflects something in me.The stories I have about anything in the wider world also apply to me, and I can find specific examples in each case. I can use how I see the world to get to know myself.

TO ME, IT HAPPENS WITHIN AND AS WHAT I AM

To me, any experience – of this human self, the wider world, and anything else – happens within my sense fields. It happens within sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, mental representations, and so on. In that sense, what I experience is what I am at that moment.

To me, all experiences happen within and as what I am. In a very immediate and literal sense, I am the content of my experience. I am what I am experiencing, as I am experiencing it. I am the mountain, the river, you, and anything else. This is the oneness that’s already here in my experience if I notice.

CONVENTIONAL SENSE

In a conventional sense, I am of course this human self in the world. That co-exists easily with all the other ones, and which one is in the foreground depends on the situation and where the attention is.

FIND FOR OURSELVES

These ways of looking at it are all pragmatic and relatively down-to-earth, and it’s even mundane in a good way We can explore it for ourselves. It doesn’t require anything very mystical or removed from our immediate experience as it already is – if we just notice.

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Some reflections on a recent Vortex Healing class

In a recent Vortex Healing course, a few things came up for me. I thought I would write down some of these and see how it is to use them as a mirror for myself.

HOW STUDENTS RELATE TO WHAT’S SAID

Some students seem to take the teacher’s words as the gospel truth. He says something, and they repeat it as fact even if it’s something they cannot check for themselves.

I prefer to put it on the “he said” and “maybe” shelves. If I cannot check it for myself, and it doesn’t have any practical importance, I don’t pay much attention to it.

One example is when the teacher says that Vortex Healing students at a certain level likely won’t have more incarnations. I have no possibility of checking that at this point, it sounds a lot like the unverifiable claims almost all traditions make about their own process, and it makes no practical difference, so I leave it.

I am sure many other students also hold what he says lightly, for similar or other reasons. And I know that, to some, it may be important for them to believe it for a while. It may give them some comfort, even if they somewhere know they cannot know and are in practice deceiving themselves.

HOW STUDENTS RELATE TO THEIR OWN EXPERIENCE

Similarly, I notice that some students seem to take temporary experiences as signs of something more. They may feel lighter, elated, or something apparently unusual, and see it as a sign of deep and lasting shifts.

Again, I prefer to hold it all lightly. The content of my experience always changes and sometimes changes a lot, and I have no idea if it represents anything else. During class, I experience all sorts of things, and I cannot know if it reflects any deeper shifts or not. For me, it’s more peaceful to notice and leave it at that.

I am sure many other students hold this too lightly. And I understand that some may feel a need to make assumptions about temporary shifts in order to feel a bit better, even if they cannot know and it may not be accurate.

TEACHER’S STABS AT BUDDHISM

For whatever reason, the teacher singled out Buddhism for repeated stabs.

Here is a small selection of what he said: “Buddhism is veeeery slow”, “there is no energy transmissions or energetic support in Buddhism”, “there is no differentiation between consciousness and awareness in Buddhism”.

Most of the time, he referred to a very simplistic caricature of Buddhism. It may be accurate in some outlying cases, but Buddhism itself is immensely diverse and what he said is in no way true for Buddhism in general.

Buddhist practice can be fast, especially in terms of allowing us to notice what we are. It can also support living from this noticing in a deep and thorough way.

There is definitely energy transmissions and energetic support (for awakening and embodiment) in Buddhism, and especially in the more shamanic and tantric influenced branches.

And there is obviously a differentiation between what the VH teacher calls consciousness and awareness. Buddhism has very detailed maps of the mind, how it works in unawake and awake states, and the process from one to the other.

Why did he feel a need to take these stabs at Buddhism? Why did he feel a need to present a simplistic caricature of Buddhism? (Straw man arguments.) Is it because he feels insecure? Does he feel that Buddhism is a threat to Vortex Healing? Does he worry that Buddhism is inherently more mature, differentiated, and in many ways more effective than Vortex Healing? (Which it is, in my experience.)

This did trigger something in me. Not so much because it was about Buddhism, but because it seemed unfair and many VH students take his words as gospel truth and may get a distorted impression of another tradition.

Note: I find it interesting that this teacher seems to love Adyashanti. Adyashanti is pure Buddhism. (I trained in the same lineage as him for a while and we had the same teacher’s teacher.) And the teacher seems to feel a need to put down Buddhism. It doesn’t seem very consistent.

REFERRING TO MEDICINE WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING

I have also seen this teacher refer to information from mainstream medicine, and he clearly doesn’t have a very good grasp of it. For instance, in a VH course that relates to genetics, the way he presents mainstream genetics is almost painfully inaccurate. (Medical doctors in VH also point this out.)

He has no background in medicine, so why does he refer to information from medicine? Why does he use this information when he clearly doesn’t have a very good grasp of it?

It may be because he wants to give legitimacy to VH and because he mostly can get away with it since more VH students understand even less about these topics than he does.

It doesn’t matter so much since VH is very different from mainstream medicine. But this, and how he talks about Buddhism, does tend to undermine his authority on any topic.

A MIRROR

All of this is a mirror for me.

I get to see my own reaction, which comes from my own unexamined assumptions and unhealed parts of me.

And I get to see myself in them.

I sometimes take what someone says as the gospel truth. This especially happens with what I tell myself. I tell myself something, take it as gospel truth, and perceive, feel, and act as if it’s true. I tell myself the teacher shouldn’t misrepresent another tradition and take that thought as true.

I sometimes tell myself stories about my own fleeting experiences and take them as true and meaning something far more than what may actually go on. I have a CFS crash, and my life seems darker and more hopeless. In the past, I have noticed a shift after a session (inquiry, energy healing), and told myself it meant there was a real and perhaps lasting shift.

I sometimes misrepresent someone else or even myself. My thoughts sometimes exaggerate to fit a wound I have. I get triggered by someone, and have a one-sided view of them and what they did. I tell myself the VH teacher tries to elevate VH by putting down Buddhism and does so due to his own insecurity. (While, in reality, I cannot know.) In my own life, I sometimes tell myself everything good falls away in my life. When I am on the threshold of something that feels deeply right, something happens so it all collapses. And so on.

I sometimes pretend to know more about something than I do. Every single article I have written here is an example of that. I pretend something is a certain way while, in reality, I cannot know. I am just guessing. (As I assume we all do, which is also a guess.)

This is a very rudimentary start. To go deeper requires working directly with the contractions coming up in me in these situations, identifying and examining the stories, looking at how it plays itself out in the sense fields, using tonglen, and so on.

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Using dream work to inform waking life – in a few different ways

There are several ways we can use dreams to inform waking life.

DREAMS REFLECT PARTS OF OURSELVES

We can take the different dream elements as representing parts of ourselves, and explore it. This is typical dream work, and it helps us get to know the different dynamics and elements in ourselves, and relate to them in a more intentional way.

LUCID DREAMING AS A WAY TO NOTICE OUR NATURE

We can engage in lucid dreaming, and notice we dream as we dream. Here, we can intentionally notice everything in the dream as happening within and as consciousness – within and as what we are.

And we can bring that with us into waking life. In waking life too, we can notice all our experiences – the world as it appears to us – as happening within and as consciousness, within and as what we are.

(I personally prefer simpler and more direct paths, although I know some find this useful.)

EXPLORE WAKING LIFE AS WE WOULD A DREAM

We can approach waking life as a dream in two different ways.

We can explore waking life as we would a dream. What if my waking life was a dream? What if all the different elements in waking life mirrored me? What does it say about me? How can I get to know these parts of me? How can I relate to them more intentionally? How can I befriend these parts of me?

This is what we also do in projection work, when we explore our sense fields, and in practices like ho’oponopono and tonglen.

HOLDING OUR WAKING LIFE MORE LIGHTLY

We can use dreams as a way to hold our waking life a little more lightly (if we hold it tightly) and see it more as an exploration and adventure.

For instance, Alan Watts’ dream-related thought experiment can help us shift how we relate to waking life. If I could chose my dreams, what would I chose?

First, I would probably want to have wish-fulfilling dreams. Then, I would get a bit tired of it and add in elements of surprise and challenges.

And after a while, I may end up with dreams that are very similar to waking life – with elements of pleasure, contentment, challenges, surprises, and so on.

DREAM WORK INFORMING OUR WAKING LIFE

In each of these ways, and probably many more, dreams and our exploration of dreams can inform our daily life.

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A pragmatic approach to religions and religious topics

I understand that for many, religious topics are for religions. They are a matter of belief and taking someone’s word for it.

For me, religious topics are for science.

Does consciousness, what we more essentially are, continue after the death of this human self? What data is there? What different interpretations of that data can we make? What can we say something about, and what’s unknown and/or speculation?

If a religion encourage certain beliefs, what are the effects of those beliefs at a social and individual level?

What are the effects of the different practices each religion offer or encourage? What practices works for different people, and different phases of the process? What are the drawbacks and things to keep an eye on? If we see practices as medicines for certain conditions, how effective are they?

And even…. how can we make use of the different cosmologies as a mirror? How can we use them as pointers to find what they refer to here and now?

This is how I personally prefer to relate to religions. I look at the effects of certain orientations and views. I explore the effects of the different practices. I take their cosmologies as a mirror for myself.

For instance, several religions and teachers talk about reincarnation. For me, that’s just what someone says and I put it on the “someone said it and I don’t know” shelf in my mind. I find the serious research into what may happen after this life, and reincarnation, very interesting. And I am interested in the different ways we can interpret the data they come up with.

I personally have what seems like memories from the time between lives and before this incarnation (these came in the form of flashbacks before school age), and I also have what seems like memories of certain past lives. (Especially one from Russia in the 1800s.) And these, I put in the “seems like memories but they are really just mental images and I don’t know” category.

Mainly, I use these images as pointers to find what’s here now. I can find the images here and now, and some sensations my mind associated with each of them. I can find what the images point to, here and now.

I can find what the images from between lives point to here and now – all as consciousness, a deep sense of being home, a gentle bliss, and so on.

And I can find what the Russian images point to – the kind-of-radical views, wanting to speak up against injustice, and feeling terrified of the possible consequences of speaking up. Whether or not those images were from a real past life, they certainly point to dynamics and issues in my life now and that’s more important.

In short, I prefer to take a pragmatic approach to religons and topics often found in religions. What’s the most honest way for me to see it? What can I say something about (typically very little), and what’s speculation? How can I make use of it? What happens when I engage in the different practices? What conditions is each one medicine for? How can I use the different cosmologies as a mirror for what’s here now?

And it gets a lot more finely grained than this.

Identifying with a role

I listened to a podcast with two actors from a 90s TV-series. One of them seems consistely reflected and mature, and talks about his character as “he” or by name. He keeps a healthy differentiation between himself and the character he played. The other seems a bit less mature, and talks about his character as “I”. He seems more identified with the role.

I have noticed this in general. The more reflected actors differentiate between themselves and the characters they play. And the less reflected seem to more often identify with their roles.

And that’s how it is for all of us. It’s typically more healthy to differentiate between the roles we play in life and who and what we more fundamentally are.

DIFFERENTIATING THROUGH LANGUAGE

We can start by differentiating in our language. For instance, we can say: As a husband, I see it this way. As a father, this is how I experience it. As a Norwegian, it looks this way. As a Muslim, I see it a certain way. As a human, it looks like this. And so on.

All of this helps remind us that these are roles we play in life, and that each role has a certain perspective.

ROLES AND WHO AND WHAT WE ARE

Who are we without any of the roles? Can I find my value independent of any role? Can I find who I am without any role?

Many of our roles come and go. And although some may be more lasting, like gender and species, those too are roles.

The roles don’t define all of who or what we are. All they define is our role in the world while we are in those roles.

WHO WE ARE WHEN STRIPPED OF MANY OF OUR HUMAN ROLES

We can find who we are independent of most of those roles. As a human being, we are someone even if we are not in a particular role in terms of work, relationships, and so on.

Some of us experience losing many of these roles, for instance through illness. And life invites us to find our inherent value and who we are even when we don’t play those particular roles.

THE WORLD IS MY MIRROR

Beyond this, everything I see in the world reflects parts of who I am. Whatever story i have about someone or something in the world, I can turn it back to myself and find genuine examples of where is true. Here, I discover I am as rich as the world.

This is an ongoing process and we can explore it through working with projections in any way we find interesting and helpful.

For me, inquiry like The Work of Byron Katie is an effective and direct way to explore this, and find in myself – in a genuine and visceral way – what I see in the world.

WHAT WE ARE

And none of this is what I more fundamentally am. When I look, I find I am capacity for it all – this human self, the roles, the wider world. I am what it all happens within and as.

THE LAYERS OF WHO AND WHAT WE ARE

Who and what we are has layers, from passing roles (relationships, work, age) to more lasting ones (gender, nationality, species), to the more universal ones where we find the world as a mirror and our nature as what the world to us happens within and as.

A small synchronicity: Kings of Convenience singing “don’t let them tell you what you are”.

“How many awake people are there in the world?”

I have seen this question a few times on social media, and most recently in the Vortex Healing group on FB.

This is fertile ground for exploration.

DEFINITIONS & GREY ZONES

First, what do we mean by awakening?

If we have noticed what we are once, is that awakening? Or if we used to notice?

If we notice what we are now, is that awakening?

If we are in the habit of mostly noticing what we are, even if it’s sometimes in the background of our attention, is that awakening?

If we intentionally explore bringing more of ourselves onboard with awakening, is that awakening?

If we mostly recognize our bubbles of separation consciousness for what they are, and invite them to rest as what they are, is that awakening?

Is awakening something else, like having the “core veil” gone as they talk about in Vortex Healing, is that awakening? Is it really awakening, even if that person still mostly operates from separation consciousness? (Most would probably say no.)

Also, how can we tell? What measures would we use? Would we do some kind of larger-scale study? Would we trust what someone tells us based on psychic sensing? If people give different numbers, who would we trust? And why? (Personally, I wouldn’t trust any specific numbers, apart for perhaps from a conventional larger-scale study.)

There is also an element of in-group bias here. For instance, Vortex Healing folks tend to use the “no core veil” definition and assume that a significant portion of awake people are found within Vortex Healing. (Even if many of these mostly operate from separation consciousness.) And other groups will tend to do the same.

WHAT IT CAN SHOW US ABOUT OURSELVES

Having an answer to the literal question may be interesting, but it doesn’t really do much for us.

So we can turn the focus around. What does the question say about me? Where does it come from? What can I discover?

What needs and wants are behind the question? Is there a sense of lack?

What are my fears and hopes? What do I fear and hope on behalf of humanity and the world?

And closer to home, what are my fears and hopes about awakening? what do I hope to get out of it? What do I fear will happen if it’s not here? (Or if it is here?)

I call also explore this more in-depth through more structured inquiry. I can use The Work to identify and examine stressful thoughts around the topic. And Living Inquiries to examine identities, compulsions, and fears.

MAKING USE OF THE QUESTION

The question itself may be unanswerable because it depends so much on the definition, and we don’t have any accurate way to get a number.

But we can make use of the question. It helps us explore what we mean by “awake”. It can help us explore how we would go about finding a number. What sample would we use that would be representative of humanity as a whole? (Seems unlikely it would be.) What measures would we use for “awake”? (Questionnaire? Interviews? Brain scans? A combination?)

And, most importantly, we can see where the question comes from in ourselves. What are my needs and wants behind it? Is there a sense of lack? How can I invite in healing for this in myself?

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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 WE SEE AS LIGHT AND DARK

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.

BOTH ARE HERE

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.

IN THE SAME SKY

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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Triggers and what’s triggered in me, and how I relate to it all

There are several ways of looking at the interactions between our life situations and what’s triggered in us.

THE SITUATION TRIGGERS SOMETHING IN ME

The most common one is to see a situation as triggering something in me.

My neighbor is using his noisy lawn mover, and it’s triggering an issue in me around noise.

If we look more closely here, we’ll see that the situation in itself is not triggering anything. It’s my thoughts about it that triggers the issue in me.

My perception of the situation triggers someting in me, and that perception is part of what’s unhealed and unresolved in me.

This is a very useful way to look at it, especially if we look at it more closely. It means that I can use ordinary life situations, and how I respond to them, to identify and explore something unhealed and unresolved in myself.

MY PERCEPTION CREATES MY WORLD

My perception creates my world, in a couple of different ways.

The stories I have about a situation, shapes how I perceive it and respond to it. These stories are the difference between stress and peace.

My stories also influence and, to a large extent, determine the choices I make and how I live my life. It shapes my life and the situations I find myself in.

Said another way, my mental field – with its labels, mental images, and interpretations – shape how I perceive and respond to a situation. And my mental field determine, to a large extent, how I live my life and the situations I find myself in.

ALL HAPPENING WITHIN MY SENSE FIELDS

To me, this human self and the wider world happens within my sense fields. More specifically, anything triggering (in the wider world) and triggered (in this human self) happens within my sense fields. It’s all happening within and as what I am.

I get to see that the whole trigger-triggered dynamic is happening within my sense fields, and within and as what I am. And my mental field and it’s labels and interpretations is what creates the whole dynamic.

To the extent we take this in, from direct noticing, it transforms how we relate to triggers and what’s triggered. We cannot any longer wholeheartedly blame anything outside ourselves.

We know it’s all an inside job, and that the solution – apart from sometimes taking care of things in our life situation, is to take care of it in ourselves. Perhaps through working with projections, inquiring into stressful stories, dialog with parts of ourselves, and so on.

ASSUMING THAT OUR SITUATION MIRROR US CLOSELY

Beyond all of these interactions, some seem to assume that our life situations mirror us closely. Whatever is unresolved in ourselves is reflected in our life situation, and whatever clarity and kindness is here is also reflected.

To me, this seems a bit naive and it’s something I can’t really check or verify. At most, I could possibly say that it looks like it, without knowing for certain. (And I personally can’t even say that.) If I take it literally, I would either have to take someone’s word for it (which I won’t), or I’ll have to leave it in the “don’t know but that person says so” category.

There is a more pragmatic way of taking this:

Take it as an what if thought experiment.

What if my current life situation is reflecting something in me, what would it be? What issue in me could create this situation? What happens when I identify and explore that issue?

There is nothing to lose here, apart from perhaps some time and a stressful belief or emotional issue.

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