The relationship between who and what we are (our human self & consciousness)

What are some of the relationships between who and what we are? Between our human self and consciousness (AKA Buddha mind, Big Mind, Spirit).

It’s obviously a big topic so I’ll mention just a few things here, based on my own experience.

PARTS OF THE SAME

The first answer is that they are part of the same.

It’s thoughts that differentiate the two. I can’t find any diving line outside of my mental representations.

I can also say that to me, my human self happens within and as what I am.

Who I am happens within and as what I am. They are not two.

A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP

To me, everything happens within and as my field of experience.

That includes any human self, they all happen within my field of experience. To me, they all happen within and as the oneness I am, as does anything else.

And there is also a special relationship with this particular human self.

It’s around a lot more than any other humans and most or all other content of experience.

And this consciousness perceives through and as this human self. What I am experiences the sense fields of this human self – sight, sound, smell, taste, sensations, thoughts, movement, acceleration, and so on.

OUR HUMAN SELF WHEN OUR NATURE DOES NOT RECOGNIZE ITSELF

When our nature does not recognize itself, our human psyche tends to operate from separation consciousness. It tends to assume that what we most fundamentally are is an object within the field of consciousness. It perceives, lives, and acts as if this is how it is.

That’s how it was for me too. In my childhood, my psyche was formed within separation consciousness and many parts of me learned to function from separation consciousness.

That’s also how hangups, identifications, emotional issues, traumas, and so on are formed. They are expressions of and operate from separation consciousness. If they didn’t, they would align with reality and find healing.

OUR HUMAN SELF WHEN OUR NATURE NOTICES ITSELF

When our nature notices itself, there is an invitation to keep noticing, explore how it is to live from this noticing, and for our human self to transform within this new context.

All of this is ongoing. The noticing, exploration of how to live from it, and the transformation is ongoing.

It’s all happening within and as the oneness we are, just like anything else.

COLORING OUR PERCEPTION AND LIFE

Even when the oneness we are notices itself, many parts of our human self and psyche still operate from separation consciousness. These parts of us will inevitably color our perception, choices, and life in the world. And they will get triggered more strongly in some situations.

THE TRANSFORMATION PROCESS

The transformation process can also be difficult and messy at times, especially as deep issues surface to be seen, felt, befriended, loved, and recognized as love and part of the oneness we are.

When this happens, our habitual responses to our deep and painful issues tend to come up as well, with an invitation for us to see, feel, and befriend these too.

In periods, what’s unprocessed in us may be mostly under the surface, although they will color our life and some issues tend to come up. This can happen during a kind of honeymoon period after an initial noticing or oneness shift.

In periods, they may come up in mostly smaller portions and now and then. This allows us to explore and befriend painful parts of us without feeling too overwhelmed.

And in periods, the metaphorical lid may be taken off and a huge amount of them come up at once. When this happens, it can feel overwhelming, confusing, scary, painful, and even unbearable. This happened for me some years ago, and I am still in this phase although it has quieted down a bit.

In general, the more trauma we have, the more this process can feel difficult, overwhelming, and messy. And the less trauma we have, the more manageable it may feel although still with its challenges.

WHY IS THE TRANSFORMATION PROCESS HAPPENING?

There are a couple of answers:

When our general system recognizes itself as oneness, what’s out of alignment surfaces so it can heal, transform, and align with oneness noticing itself.

When our general system recognizes itself as oneness, anything in our human self still operating from separation consciousness distorts the expression of oneness. They are out of alignment. They need to transform and realign so the oneness we are can express itself more clearly in more situations and more areas of life.

To me, this seems a natural and perhaps even inevitable process.

And it’s certainly not always comfortable. For me, it’s been the most difficult, messy, and humbling phase in my life by far, and I have not always dealt with it gracefully.

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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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Spiritual stories vs what’s here in immediacy

Anyone into spirituality has all sorts of spiritual stories floating around in their minds. And most who are not into spirituality have these kinds of stories as well, they may just dismiss them.

For instance, if we are into mysticism or non-duality, we may have stories about the afterlife, karma, what awakening refers to, what awakening would mean for us and our future, the role of masters, the existence of non-physical entities and deities, and so on.

It’s helpful to differentiate mental representations and our immediate noticing.

MENTAL REPRESENTATIONS

For me, all of these stories are mental representations. I cannot find them anywhere else.

Someone created those stories, told them to someone else, and then they reached me.

I may have stories about the source and whether it’s reliable or not. There may be research matching the stories to a certain degree. Some of the stories may even match my own experiences.

And yet, to me, they remain mental representations and stories. I cannot find them outside of that. I cannot find it in my immediate noticing.

DIFFERENTIATING MENTAL REPRESENTATIONS AND IMMEDIATE NOTICING

For all I know, reality may not be anything like what the stories describe.

That’s a sobering realization and an important one.

In life, it helps us stay grounded and it’s a kind of vaccination against going too far into spiritual fantasies.

And more importantly, it’s a part of learning to differentiate mental representations from direct noticing. It’s a part of learning to recognize mental representations for what they are, holding them more lightly, and also differentiate all that from a direct noticing of what’s here – which is our own nature.

The only thing I can notice directly is actually my own nature. Everything else is a noticing plus a story, a mental representation.

WHAT I AM LEFT WITH

Any story about who or what I am is a story. Any story about the content of experience is a story. Any story about reality is a story.

And what I am left with is a direct noticing of my nature and that any and all experience happens within and as what I find myself as.

IT’S ALL I KNOW

When I learn to differentiate the two, I also notice more clearly that all I know is my own nature. Any content of experience happens within and as what I am, within and as my nature. Even the nature of mental representations is my nature.

To me, the nature of everything is my nature, whether I notice or not.

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The universality of my experience

Whatever I experience, I can be certain that it’s shared with innumerable humans. Innumerable humans now, in the past, and in the future will share this experience in a very similar way.

It may also be that innumerable beings of many different species have experienced something very similar, are experiencing it, and will experience it.

We are in it together.

SINGLED OUT VS FELLOWSHIP

If I tell myself this is only happening to me, it’s easy to go into “poor me” and “why me” thoughts. I feel isolated and alone. I feel singled out. I feel especially unlucky. I feel that others have it better than me, and I can find any number of examples. (Based on comparing imaginations of me and them.)

If I remind myself of the universality of my experience, I realize that this experience is shared by a vast number of beings. Perhaps most experience something like that at some point in their life if they are lucky to live long enough. We are in it together.

It gives me a sense of fellowship. It gives me a sense of connection. It removes the feeling of being singled out, whether my personality sees that as good or bad.

Reminding me of this naturally deepens my empathy with myself and others. They are like me. And this empathy especially deepens when this noticing becomes a habit, a part of daily life.

EXPERIENCES MY PERSONALITY LIKES AND DOESN’T LIKE

This applies to the experiences my personality doesn’t like – physical or emotional pain, overwhelm, struggle, confusion, illness, discomfort, and so on.

It also applies to the experiences my personality does like – pleasure, joy, excitement, calm, comfort, contentment, peace, and so on. This too is experienced by innumerable humans and likely innumerable beings of many different species.

This too ties us together. This too is a reminder of our fellowship. This too deepens my empathy when I notice.

WHAT IS AN EXPERIENCE?

It’s important to clarify for ourselves what we mean by “an experience”.

Our initial response may be that we know. And when we look a little closer, we may surprise ourselves.

When I explore this for myself, I find that my experience is whatever is happening in my sense fields – sight, sound, smell, taste, movement, physical sensations, and an overlay of mental representations making sense of it all. (Sometimes in painful ways.)

It’s especially the combination of physical sensations and mental representations that creates my experience.

And in this context, it’s mainly the physical sensations with most of the conscious stories stripped away.

These are what my personality responds to with likes and dislikes. (And, of course, the likes and dislikes have stories behind them, many not conscious and learned early in life.)

For me, the focus is mainly on my physical sensations and how my system responds to these. How is it to remind myself that this experience – these physical sensations and the way my system responds to them – is universal? Is shared by innumerable humans and beings?

This is the essence of this exploration, and honing in on the physical sensations simplifies and gives a more clear focus.

A SIMPLE EXPLORATION

This can be a simple exploration in daily life.

What happens when I remind myself of the universality of what I am experiencing now?

What happens when this becomes a new habit? When I do it whenever I remember through the day?

What happens if I use difficult experiences as a reminder of this? And enjoyable experiences? And more neutral experiences?

How does my relationship with myself and others shift?

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“It’s so easy to be tricked by our senses”

I just heard someone say this, and it is true enough in a rough conventional sense.

We may perceive something that’s not accurate and often do. Most of the time, we may not even notice. And sometimes, life shows us the error in our perception.

A MORE CLOSE LOOK

And yet, it’s not exactly what’s happening.

Our senses don’t trick us, they are innocent.

It’s our stories – about what we sense and anything else – that tricks us.

And it’s not even our stories that trick us. They too are innocent.

We trick ourselves when we naively hold these stories as true.

And we don’t really trick ourselves because, somewhere, we know what’s going on.

EXPLORING WHAT’S GOING ON

We have the wisdom in us, and we can find it by looking a little closer at what’s going on.

We can idenitify the stories we hold as true and find what’s more true for us.

We can explore our sense fields and how our mental representations combine with the other sense fields to create our experience of the world.

We can learn to differentiate our mental representation and what’s here in immediate noticing.

We can notice that our mental representations may be more or less accurate in a conventional sense. That they are different in kind to what they point to. That they help us orient and function in the world. That they cannot hold any full, final, or absolute truth. And that reality is always different from and more than our ideas about it.

DIFFERENTIATING OUR STORIES ABOUT WHAT WE ARE AND DIRECT NOTICING

We can also explore the difference between our ideas about who and what we are, and what we notice directly. In a conventional sense, we are this human self in the world, and that’s not entierly wrong. And when we look more closely, we may find what we more fundamentally are what the world to us happens within and as.

We are the field all our sense experiences, including our mental representations, happen within and as.

We are the field the world, to us, happens within and as.

How is it to live from that noticing, and as that?

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The outer is (also) inner

This is one of the Life 101 topics many talk about.

The outer is (also) the inner.

A CONVENTIONAL VIEW: THE WORLD IS A MIRROR

The outer world – and the dynamics we experience with others – reflect something in us.

We have the dynamic in ourselves, and we have what we see in others in ourselves.

For instance, we may have an identity as a victim. We see ourselves as a victim of others, situations, life, or even God. That’s one side of it. And the other side is that we also have a victimizer in us. We have a part of ourselves that play the role of the victimizer. Otherwise, we wouldn’t and couldn’t feel like a victim. We couldn’t maintain that identity over time and through various situations, including when the outer victimizer is not present.

In a practical sense, that means that if I work on finding healing for (my relationship with) the victim in me, I also need to work on finding healing for (my relationship with) my inner victimizer. I need to notice and get to know each, find healing for my relationship with each and their dynamic, and possibly also invite healing for both of these parts of me.

This is the conventional view: The world is a mirror. Whatever we see in the outer world is also in us. Whatever story I have about others or the world, I can turn that story to myself and find genuine and specific examples of how it’s valid.

A MORE REAL VIEW: IT’S ALL HAPPENING WITHIN AND AS WHAT I AM

There is another layer to this, and that is that it’s all happening within and as what I am.

My mental field creates an overlay of mental images and words that makes sense of the world for me. This overlay is where any and all labels and stories happens. All my interpretations happens here. And it’s all happening within my mental field. Any ideas of victimizer and victim, and any ideas of inner and outer, you and me, and so on, happens within my mental field. And I can notice this in real time as it happens.

Also, in one sense, I am this human self in the world. That’s an assumption that works reasonably well. And when I examine what I am in my own first-person experience, I find something else. I find I more fundamentally am capacity for the world and any content of experience. And I find that the world, to me, happens within and as what I am. Any content of experience happens within and as what I am.

THE LAYERS

So there are several layers to this.

The world is a mirror. Whatever I see out there is also within me, including all the roles and identities I try to exclude. Those too are here. I have an inner victimizer as much as I have an inner victim. And that goes for any and all of the polarities I see in the world.

My interpretation of the world – labels, stories, and so on – happen within my own mental field. It’s all created by my mental images and words to make sense of the world. It helps me orient and function in the world. So any stories about victimizer and victim, and anything else, happens within my mental field. (That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen “out there” in the world as well, just that my stories about it are mine.)

To me, the world – and any content of experience including of this human self – happens within and as what I am.

All of this are things I can explore for myself in my own immediate noticing. It’s all something I can notice here and now, in real time since that’s the only place it happens.

THE EXPLORATION

How can we explore these layers?

Personally, I explore the mirror dynamics through projection work, including The Work of Byron Katie.

I get to know the mental field through examining my sense fields and how they interact, for instance through traditional Buddhist inquiry or modern versions like the Kiloby Inquiries.

And I find myself as what it all happens within and as through inquiries like the Headless experiments and the Big Mind process.

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What is memory?

I have been unusually exhausted the last few days (after travels), and yesterday forgot to bring a book to return to the library. I had a vivid image of putting the book in my mochila (bag) so it was surprising to not see it there.

I realized that my apparent memory was actually an image I had created when intending to put the book in my bag. It wasn’t an image created from actually placing the book in the bag.

And that says something about what our memory is. It’s a set of thoughts (mental images and words) often associated with bodily sensations.

Just because we have an apparent memory doesn’t necessarily mean it’s accurate.

These images, which our thoughts call memory, are created and recreated in numerous ways.

In my case, they were created from having the intention to put the book in the bag. My mind created an image to support that intention and later took it as a memory.

Even when something actually happens, our memory is always a story. It’s an interpretation. It reflects our psychology as much or more than the actual event. It reflects our biases, viewpoints, access to and lack of information, hangups, issues, traumas, and much more.

And they are always recreated here and now. Just like with Chinese whispers (the telephone game), the story as it is now may be quite different from the original story.

Memories are stories. Sometimes, they reflect something that happened in a conventional sense, and sometimes they don’t. And when they do, they are always recreations and colored by our psychology.

That’s why healing often includes healing our stories about the past. Healing comes from finding a more accurate, kind, honest, and peaceful story about what happened.

And no matter what, it can be fascinating to explore our memories. What do they consist of? What mental images are there? What words? What sensations in the body are they associated with? How do these sensations influence how I perceive the images and words? (They tend to give them a charge and sense of reality and even truth.) How do my images and words influence the sensations? (They tend to give them a sense of meaning.)

Examining the stories we call memories allow us hold them more lightly, and that gives us more peace of mind and more receptivity, curiosity, and kindness in how we relate to ourselves and the world.

The body as capacity, space, and consciousness

I just had a conversation with someone who is taking a Vortex Healing class and said she experienced only space in her chest area.

It made me realize that the way I experience my physical body may not be how it is for everyone. At some level, I know that. And at another level, it’s not something I am aware of or think about.

HOW I EXPERIENCE MY PHYSICAL BODY

So how do I experience my physical body?

For me, it’s mainly capacity. Everything is capacity and this capacity forms itself into the content of experience, the world as it appears to me, and this includes how this body appears in my sense fields – the shapes and colors, the sensations, the movement, and so on.

I can also say that this body is space. It’s space and this space sometimes takes the form of sensations. The sensations happen within and as awake space.

And I can say this body is consciousness. It’s happening within and as consciousness, just like the rest of the world appears to me.

HOW CAN WE EXPLORE THIS FOR OURSELVES?

This experience of my body and anything physical came with the initial awakening shift when I was fifteen and sixteen.

And I keep exploring it.

I explore what I most fundamentally am in my own experience, and find what I can call capacity for the world as it appears to me, and what the world to me happens within and as. (Headless experiments.)

I do inquiry on my experience of this body and any sense of being this body. I notice the sensations. Visual impressions. I notice the mental representations associated with these. I notice the sensations are sensations. I notice the mental representations are mental representations. And what’s left is this capacity and awake space taking all these forms. (Traditional Buddhist inquiry and modern versions like the Living Inquiries / Kiloby Inquiries.)

Through this, I also notice how any sense of solidity is created. It’s created in the same way as much else, through associating physical sensations with certain mental representations. The sensations lend a sense of solidity and reality to the thoughts, and the thoughts lend a sense of meaning to the sensations. And, in this case, this meaning is physical solidity. Here too, when this is seen and explored and we get familiar with this terrain, the “glue” that holds the sensations and thoughts together softens. We see through how the mind creates its own experience of the world. And what’s left is capacity and awake space taking all of these forms.

Why is (what we discover through) awakening difficult to put into words?

What we find through awakening – our more fundamental nature – is notoriously difficult to put into words.

It’s not because it’s far removed. (Our nature is what’s most familiar to us and what we already are.) Or that it’s so amazing that words don’t do it justice. (It’s becomes very ordinary as we get more familiar with noticing it and living from it, although it’s also extraordinary.)

It’s because words have another function.

WHAT ARE WORDS?

Words are mental representations.

They are questions about the world. They are maps of the world.

They are made up of mental images and sounds. And when we hear or read the words of others, we have our own mental images and words that helps us make sense of them.

Words helps us communicate with ourselves and others. They even allow us to communicate with people we will never meet or people who live long after we are gone.

THE FUNCTION OF WORDS

Our experience is, whether we notice or not, as seamless whole. To us, the world – this human self, others, the wider world – is a seamless whole that happens within our sense fields.

To orient and function as human beings in the world, we need mental representations that splits this whole into parts. We mentally differentiate within this seamless whole in order to make sense of the world.

This helps us orient and function in the world, and also communicate with ourselves and others.

That’s the magic and amazing gift of words and mental representations in general.

THE LIMITS OF WORDS

At the same time, words and mental representations have their limits.

They cannot hold any final, full or fundamental truth for several reasons.

They are different in kind from what they point to. They are maps, and maps are not the terrain.

They are simplified representations. Reality is always more than and different from our ideas about it. And it’s also simpler.

And they are also guesses about the world. Sometimes educated guesses, and still guesses.

These are some of the limitations inherent in mental representations, including words.

There is another limitation of mental representations that is more to the point here. And that is that they differentiate within oneness. 

To ourselves, we are oneness, whether we notice or not. And the function of words is to split the world, not to represent oneness. 

That means they are not very good at describing what we are. They can point to it. They can orient us to notice it for ourselves. And they cannot describe oneness itself very successfully.

THE BEST WAY TO USE WORDS

The best way to use words is to recognize their function and limits. 

We can recognize they are questions about the world. They are provisional maps. 

They help us orient and function in the world. 

They cannot capture any final, full, or absolute truth. 

And when it comes to awakening, they can guide us to notice what we are. Either indirectly through various practices, or more directly through different forms of inquiry. 

UNDERSTANDING THE STORY VS NOTICING FOR OURSELVES

We can use words to – very inadequately – describe our nature

For instance, here is how I sometimes describe it:

My nature is capacity for the world as it appears to me. And the world as it appears to me – this human self, the wider world, and anything else – happens within and as what I am.

That’s the best I can do. These types of inadequate descriptions can be one of several pointers for others to find it for themselves, although more structured guided inquiry is far more effective and to the point.

There is also a drawback inherent in these types of descriptions. We can understand the words, at a conceptual level, and that’s different from finding it for ourselves.

A conceptual understanding doesn’t, in itself, lead to any transformation. And finding it for ourselves, and keeping noticing and exploring how to live from it, can be profoundly transforming – for our sense of fundamental identity, perception, how we live our life, and our human self and psyche.

At most, these types of descriptions are a good first step. They can wet the appetite for exploring it for ourselves.

And when we notice our nature for ourselves, we see that – or whether – the words fit.

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Investing energy into certain images short term

I usually write about my own more intentional explorations here, and not so much about what’s happening spontaneously. So I thought I would make an exception.

THE PAST AND FUTURE AS IMAGES

For a few weeks now, if I talk about the past or future, it’s even more clear that I am talking about mental images and stories. I am reporting on my own mental images and words, and not anything else.

Sometimes, a slight sensation accompanies these stories, and they are recognized as sensations, although I also know what emotion label I can put on them and that these sometimes reflect unresolved issues in me.

INVESTING ENERGY INTO TEMPORARY STORIES

I don’t know if it’s directly related, but over the last few weeks, I notice something else very clearly.

When I need to do something, I intentionally invest energy into that story so I can remember it, and when it’s no longer needed, it lingers for a few minutes. It creates an odd experience of parallel worlds for a little while.

For instance, we have a cat that’s been an indoor city cat for most of her life. Now that we are in the countryside, she is more outside but often under a bit of supervision. If she is gone, I create a mental image of her somewhere outside and me finding her, and my mind invests some energy into this image since it’s relatively important to me.

After she returns or I find her, I see her in front of me, and I also see my mental images of her roaming somewhere. She is here. And my images of her not being here is here. As I mentioned, the images fade after a few minutes, but for a little while, there is a clear and odd experience of parallel worlds.

This happens any time I create mental images of needing to do something or go somewhere, and that’s no longer necessary. The images retain some energy for a few minutes and then it fades, and there is that experience of parallel worlds.

FAMILIAR AND NEW

None of this is really new to me. It’s very familiar. It’s something I have explored and noticed for a long time.

And yet, something is different. I am more acutely aware of it, and it happens without any intention.

This may mean it’s more in my bones and more of a habit. And it likely also reflects another shift in me I am not completely aware of.

INTENTIONAL EXPLORATION VS SPONTANEOUS SHIFTS

I mentioned these two in the introduction and wanted to say a little bit more about their dynamic.

In a conventional sense, these two go hand in hand. Intentional explorations may lead to apparently spontaneous shifts, and spontaneous shifts may lead to further and intentional explorations.

And in a more real sense, this is all happening within and as what we are. We are capacity for both, and intentional explorations and spontaneous shifts happen within and as what we are. They are part of the creativity of the mind.

In a bigger sense, this is life taking these forms. Life engages in intentional explorations and produces spontaneous shifts.

And we can also say it’s all part of the play of the divine.

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Our daily life hallucinations

I have often thought of how strange this may seem to another species incapable of doing it.

Also, when it comes to fictional stories, we willingly and often enjoyably get absorbed into our own hallucinations.

And when it comes to what we call real life, we sometimes unwillingly and painfully get absorbed into our own hallucinations.

HALLUCINATING LIFE

Our experience of life is a hallucination. Our mind puts together sensory input to a more or less unified experience for us. And our experience of life is largely created by our mental images and stories.

It’s often a functional hallucination. Our mental field, combined with the other sense fields, helps us orient and navigate in the world.

And sometimes, when we take our hallucinations to be true and reality itself, we can mislead and create stress and suffering for ourselves.

GETTING TO KNOW OUR HALLUCINATIONS

Fortunately, there is a way out, and that is to examine our hallucinations.

What stories do I tell myself? What happens if I take them as true? How would I function in the same situation without that stressful story? What do I find when I explore the validity in the reversals of the story, finding genuine examples in each case? (The Work of Byron Katie.)

What’s happening in each sense field? What happens when I tell myself specific stories about myself, others, or the world? What’s in my mental field? (Mental images and words.) What’s in my sensation field? How does my mind associate the stories with the sensations? How is it to “take a “peek behind the curtain” and see how my mind creates its own experience? (Living Inquiries.)

When I look at what I more fundamentally am in my first-person experience, what do I find? How is it to keep noticing this? How is it to live from it, in the situation I am in? (Headless experiments, Big Mind process.)

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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Transcendent state of oneness?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dissolving into the field

This is one of my more common explorations, and also something I don’t write much about.

I notice myself as this field of experience, this field that has no end in space, that time happens within, and so on.

I notice what “sticks out” of this field. What seems more dense. What’s seems a bit like “other”. What’s perhaps not so easily recognized as having the same nature as the rest of the field.

I notice it’s nature, the same as the rest of the field. I rest in that noticing. I invite it, the contraction, to find itself as that, and rest and sink into that noticing.

This allows the contractions to, in a sense, “dissolve” into the field. They are more easily seen as having the same nature as anything else, and they relax and reorganize in that noticing.

As usual, there is more to say about it.

For instance, if it’s a strong contraction and one my system is used to struggling with, some earlier steps may be needed. I may need to befriend it before I can notice it’s nature and rest in that noticing. I may need to intentionally welcome it, allow it, see what it’s needs and wants are, notice the lack it’s coming from, give it what it needs and wants, see it’s innocence and is here to protect this separat self, find genuine love and appreciation for it, and so on.

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The past is like a dream

Do you remember how it was before? It’s almost like a dream, isn’t it?

I heard someone say this in reference to the time before the pandemic.

Why does the past seem like a dream? Because, just like a dream, we can only find it as mental images and stories. And, just like a dream, it happens within and as consciousness.

The future is also like a dream, for the same reason. We can only find it in mental images and stories, and it happens within and as consciousness.

And really, the present is very similar. Our mental images and stories about the present, including about what’s physically present with us, are the mental images and stories we find in a dream. And it all, including what’s appearing within all the sense fields, happens within and as consciousness.

If we don’t notice what we are, we tend to take all of this as more solid than it is. The past seems real to us, even if we can only find it as mental images and stories happening within and as consciousness. The future can seem relatively real to us, especially if we attach fears and hopes to it, even if that too only consists of mental images and words happening within and as consciousness. And the present seems real, even if our mental images and stories about it are just that, and what’s happening in all of the sense fields – sight, sound, taste, smell, sensations, thoughts – happen within and as consciousness.

And that’s why, when we notice what we are, it can feel like the world is a dream. It’s because it is, to us. It always was and is and cannot be anything else, we just didn’t notice. This can be disorienting and perhaps disconcerting at first, but we get used to it as anything else. We are just noticing what’s always here and what we already are more familiar with than just about anything else.

As what I am, all is subject and object

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

And when I look more closely, I find I am capacity for the world as it appears to me. I am what all my experiences – including of this human self and the wider world – happens within and as.

And here, I find that all of my experiences are both subject and object.

Anything happening within my sense fields – of this human self and the wider world – is an object. It’s all happening within me. It’s not what I more fundamentally am.

And anything happening within my sense fields is a subject. It’s what I am. What I am takes all these forms.

THE PRACTICAL USE OF THIS

Why is this important? In some ways, it isn’t. It’s just something to notice, and it can be a bit fun to notice.

At the same time, it is helpful to notice all the content of my sense fields as objects. That helps me find myself as capacity for it all, and as what it all happens within and as.

And it is helpful to notice all of it as subject since that’s helps me find myself as oneness. As what takes the form of all of it, as it appears to me.

THOUGHTS CREATING A SENSE OF SUBJECT AND OBJECT

There is one thing here to clarify.

When we normally experience something as subject (what we are) or object (other), it’s really a thought telling us this, and a thought we hold as true.

The conventional sense of subject (me as this human self with all these identities and roles) and other (the rest of the world, and the parts of me that don’t fit my desired image) comes from holding a thought as true. It comes from identifying with a thought.

A thought says: I am this human self with these identities. My mind holds that thought as true and identifies with the viewpoint of this thought. In my own experience, I become the viewpoint of this thought.

Another thought says: I am not this table, or phone, or this room, or what’s outside the window, or these other people. And my mind identifies with the viewpoint of that thought, and that becomes my experience. All of this then is “other” to me.

This is our conventional experience of ourselves and the world. We take ourselves as this human self (roughly since we exclude some things we don’t like), and we are not the rest of the world.

That’s not wrong. But it’s not what we more fundamentally are, in our own first-person experience. To ourselves, we more fundamentally are capacity for it all, and what it all happens within and as.

This human self and the wider world happens within my sense fields, and I am what these sense fields – what this human self and the wider world – happens within and as.

And we can find this for ourselves. We can notice it, and it can become something we live from – and as.

And here, all my experiences – including my thoughts – become objects. They happen within me. They are not what I more fundamentally are.

And they all become subject. They are all what I am. What I am takes all these forms.

NOT QUITE AS CLEAR CUT

There are some wrinkles here. It’s not quite as clear-cut in practice.

Yes, I may notice what I am. And at the same time, I may still be partially identified with certain thoughts – mental images and words.

Both can co-exist. The task here is to notice where there is identification, and find that too as what I am capacity for, and what happens within and as what I am.

I can find it as having the same nature as myself – capacity for itself, stillness & silence, and so on, and invite it to find itself as that and relax in that noticing.

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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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What’s inside? Inside & outside in a conventional sense and when I look more closely

When we say “look inside”, what do we mean? What’s inside, and what’s outside? And what do I find if I look at this more closely in my own experience?

INSIDE & OUTSIDE IN DAILY LANGUAGE

In our daily language, inside refers to what only we have direct access to – our sensations, emotions, thoughts, and so on. Outside refers to our shared reality that we all can access.

This is obviously a useful and accurate enough differentiation.

WHAT INSIDE & OUTSIDE HAPPENS WITHIN AND AS

If I look more closely, and am more intimate with my experience, I find something else as well.

I find that all my experiences happen within my sense fields. What’s inside happens within my sense fields. And what’s outside happens within my sense fields.

It’s all happening within and as what I am.

THE MENTAL FIELD CREATES THE DIFFERENTIATIONS

The differentiation between inside and outside in a conventional sense comes from an overlay of mental images, labels, and stories.

It’s conveniently created by the mental field to help me function and orient in my daily life and in the world with others.

BOTH TOGETHER

These two go beautifully together.

In my own first-person experience, I cannot find any real inside and outside. I still use the inside and outside differentiation in a conventional sense, and I know it’s a convention and doesn’t reflect any reality beyond that – at least not in my first-person experience.

As who I am, as this human self in the world, inside and outside point to different things. And when I look more closely, I find that the conventional inside and outside both point to what’s happening within my sense fields. What they each point to is happening within and as what I am.

CHILDLIKE EXPLORATIONS

Does any of this matter? After all, the question itself seems childlike and naive, bordering on the ridiculous.

And what we find may seem like an interesting concept, and not more. We may even notice for ourselves that inside & outside happens within and as what we are, and see it as interesting but of little or no practical use. It remains a minor curiosity.

In reality, this type of sincere exploration of simple and childlike questions can be profoundly transforming.

From starting with a simple question (what’s inside?), we may discover what we are in our own first-person experience.

And if we keep noticing what we are, and keep exploring the implications and how to live from it, it can be profoundly transforming. It can transform our perception, our life in the world, and our human self beyond what we could have imagined.

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I am in you and you in me?

When you call me European, I say yes. When you call me Arab, I say yes. When you call me black, I say yes. When you call me white, I say yes. Because I am in you and you are in me. We have to inter-be with everything in the cosmos.

– Thich Nhat Hanh

This can sound like a poetic expression or well-intentioned wishful thinking.

And if we look more closely, we may find something else. We may find it’s an accurate description of how it already is.

BIOLOGY

We share ancestry not just going back to the first cells but to the beginning of this universe. We share 99.9% of our genetic material.

We are basically the same, in all the essentials. We have the same basic needs, wants, fears, and so on.

PROJECTIONS

If I have a story about you, and turn it around to myself, I can specific examples of how it’s true for me as well. I can find how it’s as or more true for me.

You are my mirror. You help me see myself. (If I allow it and notice.)

In this sense, you are me. What I see in you is what I know from myself, whether I notice or not.

WHAT I AM

My experience of you happens within my sense fields. If you are here, or I see a movie or picture of you, you happen within my sight and possibly touch, smell, and so on.

Whether you are here or not, you also happen within my mental field. You happen through my mental representations of you – my mental images, labels, memories, and stories.

I find I am capacity for you. You happen within and as my sense fields. You happen within and as what I am.

In this sense, you are me. You happen within and as what I am. And I am you. What I am takes the form of my experience of you.

I AM IN YOU AND YOU IN ME

In several ways, it’s true that you are in me and I am in you.

It’s true in a biological sense.

It’s true since you are my mirror. What I see in you is what I have in myself.

It’s true since my experience of you happens within and as what I am.

The question is: if I keep noticing this, and keep exploring it and seeing it’s undeniably so, what does it do to me? If I take this seriously, how do I live my life?

More pervasive emotional issues tend to be felt all over the body

I notice how my mind associates certain sensations with certain thoughts, in order to give these thoughts a sense of substance, reality, and truth, and this also gives a sense of meaning to the sensations.

The more we recognize this pattern and learn to differentiate the sensations with the thoughts, the less charge these thoughts tend to have. The sense of substance and truth in them tends to go out.

I also notice that the mind creates physical contractions in the body, and these – in turn – allows for a stable access to sensations that lend a sense of solidity and reality to certain thoughts. In order to believe and have emotional issues, we need sensations, and in order to have reliable access to these sensations, the body contracts.

If the issue comes and goes, the contractions tend to come and go. If it’s a more stable issue, the contractions tend to be more stable as well.

This is how identifications, beliefs, hangups, emotional issues, and traumas are created. This is how our mind creates all of these, and they are really just different name on the same dynamic.

There is one pattern here I have noticed for a long time: The more pervasive and central the emotional issue, the more I feel those sensations all over the body.

A more limited and peripheral issue may be connected with contractions in a certain part of the body – solar plexus, center of belly, throat, face, and so on.

And a more pervasive issue is often associated with stable sensations all over the body.

When I work on something, and I notice it’s connected with all-over sensations, it’s a good hint that this is a more central issue, that it’s from early in life (sometimes infancy), and that there is a strong and familiar identification with this issue. It has become the water we swim in.

We can still work on it as we do with any other emotional issue. It just means it’s worth focusing on and prioritizing since it may be pervasive. There may be a good deal of branches to explore. And when we find some resolution for it, we’ll likely see the effects in most or all areas of our life.

Our mental activity is a kind of dream

I mentioned this briefly in a previous article, and thought I would expand on it a bit here.

THE CONVENTIONAL VIEW ON DREAMS AND WAKING LIFE

Many think of dreams and waking life as categorically different.

A dream is a fantasy and product of the mind. It may say something about our internal life, and that’s about it.

Waking life is real, as it appears to us. It has nothing to do with dreams, with the possible exception of daydreams and fantasies.

THE GENERAL DREAMING FUNCTION OF THE MIND

The reality is quite different.

When we look, we may find that all our mental activity is a kind of dream.

We put mental representations on top of what’s in our sense fields – sights, sounds, sensations, smells, taste – to make sense of them. We label and have stories about what’s here. Similarly, we have mental representations of what isn’t here – the wider world, the past and future, and so on.

In a very real sense, all our mental activity is imagination and a fantasy. It’s a kind of dreaming activity.

It can be very useful in helping us make sense of the world and in helping us orient and navigate in the world. It can be more or less accurate, in a conventional sense. And this dreaming activity doesn’t hold any absolute or final truth.

THE DREAMING ACTIVITY OF THE MIND – IN NIGHT DREAMS AND WAKING LIFE

This general dreaming activity of the mind plays itself out while awake and also in our sleeping dreams.

Both are an expression of the creativity of our mind.

Both create a world for us. Sleeping dreams happen in the absence of sensory inputs. And these waking dreams happen partly as an overlay over sensory inputs (what we see, hear, feel, smell, taste etc.) and partly in the absence of these sensory inputs (imaginations of a wider world, past, future, and so on).

Both can seem real if we take them that way, and we can learn to see through both. We can recognize a sleeping dream as a dream while we dream (lucid dreaming) and we can recognize our waking dreams as they happen (through inquiry). It takes time, but recognizing dreams as they happen can become a new habit.

What we are is capacity for both types of dreams, they both happen within and as what we are. When we notice this, identification with them tends to soften. It’s easier to recognize them as dreams.

Our sleeping dreams are one expression of the general dreaming activity of the mind.

NOTICING THIS HELPS RELEASE IDENTIFICATION OUT OF THE DREAMING ACTIVITY

Recognizing this general dreaming activity of the mind can help us take it a little less seriously. It is immensely valuable in helping us navigate the world. And it doesn’t hold any final or absolute truth.

When we notice that all mental activity is a kind of dream, it helps release identification out of this dreaming activity.

HOW CAN WE EXPLORE THIS FOR OURSELVES?

If we just read or hear about this, it becomes part of the dream. It may be interesting, but it doesn’t really do anything for us.

So how can we explore this for ourselves?

The simple answer is by noticing the dreaming activity directly. By noticing this dreaming activity as an overlay on the other senses for what’s in our immediate environment. And for anything else – the wider world, past, future, and so on – it functions on its own.

And to do this, structured inquiry can be very helpful. We may not be used to noticing this, and may not even know how to go about it, so a structured inquiry will function as training wheels and helps us explore it more systematically and in depth.

The best approach I have found is the Living Inquiries, which is a modern version of traditional Buddhist Inquiry. Here, we get to explore the different sense fields, and how the mental field combines with other sense fields to create our experience of ourselves and the world.

As we get more familiar with this, we learn to notice and recognize the dreaming activity of the mind – the mental field activity – as it happens. And that makes a big difference. It helps us hold this dreaming activity more lightly, recognize it as a kind of dreaming activity, and not something that holds any final or absolute truth.

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Thoughts as an evolutionary experiment

We can see our human ability for elaborate abstract thought as an evolutionary experiment.

Thoughts as tools

Thoughts are tools. They help us orient and navigate in the world.

They provide us with mental maps of the world. They give us images of the past, present, and possible futures. They provide us with the opportunity to mentally test out actions before we make them.

All of this makes it possible for us to function in the world.

Thoughts mimic senses & language

Thoughts seem to mimic our physical senses and, in our case, language.

In our case, we have thoughts mimicking sight, sounds, sensations, movement, and words (mental images and sounds).

Other species may have thoughts mimicking their own senses, whatever these are.

A helpful way of using this tool

What’s the optimal way to use this tool of thought?

It seems that the best way to use this particular tool is to recognize thoughts as thoughts. They are questions about the world. They help us orient and navigate. They provide maps about the world. They have a very important practical function. They are provisional. They are not what they appear to refer to. And none of them hold any final or absolute truth.

When we recognize this, we can hold them more lightly. We can find the validity in them, question them, find the validity in their reversals and other views, and use them more consciously as a tool. We recognize their value and their inherent limitations.

Misuse of the tool of thoughts

How can this tool be misused?

The easiest is to hold a thought as true. When we do, we identify with the viewpoint with the thought. We take ourselves as the viewpoint of the thought, make it into an identity for ourselves, create a sense of I and other, and feel a need to prop it up, elaborate on it, and defend it if it’s threatened.

When we hold a thought as true – either consciously or a part of us holds it as true – we perceive and live as if it’s true. We get out of alignment with reality since no thought can hold any final or absolute truth, and a thought and its reversals all hold some validity.

This is how a huge amount of human suffering is created, and it’s also how we create a good deal of problems for ourselves and others.

Thoughts as an evolutionary experiment

I assume many types of animals have some form of thought.

Specifically, they may have thoughts mimicking their senses. They may have mental maps of their surroundings. Mental representations of friends and foes. Mental representations of however they communicate. And so on. In most cases, these may not be conscious thoughts.

Human thought has gone a couple of steps further into abstraction. We have developed complex language and mental representations of this language, and that allows us to imagine and explore a wide range of things in our minds. Our minds are immensely creative.

This form of more abstract and elaborate thought is, in a sense, an evolutionary experiment. It’s as if nature said to itself: let’s see what happens with this species if they have this ability. Let’s see how they use it, and whether it aids their survival or becomes their undoing.

We can see how it has indeed aided our survival and made us into a powerful species. And we can also see how it has brought about conflicts, war, and immense suffering, and brought the ecosystems we are dependent on for our own survival to the brink of ecological collapse.

Abstract and complex thought as a new evolutionary experiment

This more elaborate form of abstract thought is a relatively new evolutionary experiment. It may have evolved over just a few hundred thousand years.

In an evolutionary sense, this is a very new tool for us. We are still learning how to use it.

We are systematically misusing it by assuming thoughts can do more for us than they can. They are powerful, and they have helped us create this civilization, technology, culture and so on. At the same time, they have their limits. They can’t hold any final or absolute truth, and we often perceive and live as if they can.

I assume that if we survive long enough, we may also learn to relate to thoughts more consciously. We may learn to recognize what they can and cannot do for us, and their inherent limitations. If this ever happens on a collective scale, it will mean a revolution in human evolution and history.

How we can explore this for ourselves

We can explore many aspects of this for ourselves.

We can explore our sense fields – sight, sound, smell, taste, sensations, and mental representations – and see how mental representations combine with the other sense fields to create our experience of the world.

We may recognize how our mind associates certain thoughts with certain sensations, so the sensations lend a sense of substance and reality to the thoughts, and the thoughts give a sense of meaning to the sensations. (Traditional Buddhist inquiry, Living Inquiries.)

We can examine any thought we hold as true and find what’s more true for us. (The Work of Byron Katie.)

We can use basic meditation to notice and allow our experience as it is. This helps us notice and allow thoughts, recognize that they live their own life, and perhaps soften identification with them and hold them a bit more lightly.

In a sense, through examining our thoughts and our relationship with thoughts, and learning to relate to them more consciously, we take the next evolutionary step in our own life. We find a more sane and healthy relationship with thoughts, and that is one of the things that can most help humanity today.

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Do we live in a simulation? We already do, and it doesn’t matter so much when we discover our true nature

In the most recent episode of Judge John Hodgman, he rules on a case where a woman wants her husband to stop talking about how we all live in a simulation. It brings up existential angst in her. 

We already live in a kind of simulation, in a couple of different ways. 

We know from science that our physical sense organs only receive a very limited type and amount of information, this is organized and put together in the brain, and we add a large number of labels, interpretations, and stories to it. Our senses, brain, and consciousness work together to create a kind of simulation of the world that helps us navigate and function in it. It’s not absolutely real and it doesn’t reflect reality accurately, which is OK since it works well enough.

Many take themselves to most fundamentally be this human being in the world. But when we look, we may find that to ourselves, we are capacity for the world. We are what the world – the world as it appears to us, the world of phenomena – happens within and as. In that way, our waking experience is very similar to a dream. A dream happens within and as consciousness. And the world as it appears to us happens within and as consciousness. Here too, we find that the world to us appears a kind of simulation.

And ultimately, our true nature is what all our experiences happen within and as. If we take our most fundamental identity to be this human self, then it matters a lot whether we live in a simulation or not. It’s a question of our fundamental identity. If we find ourselves as capacity for it all, it matters less and it’s something we hold more lightly. It may be an interesting question, but it’s not a matter of what we fundamentally are to ourselves.

Magic tricks & Awakening

I have written about this a few times before, but wanted to revisit it briefly.

Magic tricks take advantage of the mind’s ability to take shortcuts. We don’t process everything from scratch, and it wouldn’t even be possible. We operate from our biology and assumptions based on experience and what we learn from others.

Most of the time, this works very well. We see a head sticking out from behind a tree and legs poking out on the other side, assume there is a person behind the tree that the head and legs belong to, and it’s usually correct. We drop something, assume it will fall, and it almost always does.

And it’s what magicians take advantage of. They set up a situation that’s familiar to us, our mind automatically makes assumptions and takes shortcuts, and that’s how we are tricked. We imagine something happening that isn’t. We experience the dissonance between what we think happened, based on our assumptions, and knowing it couldn’t have possibly happened that way.

We see a woman in a box with the head and feet sticking out. The box is sawed in two. And we imagine there is half of a woman in each part of the box while knowing that’s impossible. (In reality, there is either one real woman in one section and artificial feet in the other, or one real woman in each part and half of their bodies hidden from view.)

Assumptions & shortcuts

How does this relate to awakening?

The same principles are what prevent us from noticing what we are. Life is the magician and tricks us into thinking that what we fundamentally are is this human being, and the way it happens is the same. Our mind operates from assumptions and shortcuts.

A central assumption is that we most fundamentally are this human being, so that’s how we perceive and live. We make it come true for ourselves, in our own experience. And we have many other assumptions that branch out from and support this assumption and make it seem even more solid and real.

Misdirection

Another central principle of magic tricks is misdirection. Our attention is led away from where the magic is happening. A magician holds a ball in one hand, appears to put it in the other, holds up the closed hand we now think is holding the ball to bring our attention there, while the first hand – which is still holding the ball – drops it in the pocket.

How does misdirection play a role in the context of awakening?

Our mind is fascinated by stories it holds as true. That’s the misdirection. This distracts us from the actual magic, which is how our mind creates its perception of reality. And it distracts us from what we really are, which is capacity for our world.

Learning how the magic tricks are done

For me, there is a double enjoyment of good magic tricks. First, from the initial and often baffling performance, and then from learning how it’s done.

Sometimes, the effect may be good while the method – if based in gimmicks more than skill – is a bit disappointing. Other times, the method makes me appreciate, admire, and enjoy the trick even more.

When we examine and see how our mind performs its magic tricks, both apply. In one sense, it’s almost laughably simple and it seems baffling that we are able to trick ourselves that way. In another sense, it’s very impressive.

How can we see through the main magic trick of the mind?

The main magic trick of the mind is to create a sense of us, most fundamentally, as this human being.

So how can we see through it?

To notice what we are, our assumptions need to be set aside for a moment.

This can happen through a long practice and investigation process. We can do basic meditation and notice and allow what’s here, which allows our identification with our thoughts to soften so it’s easier to notice what we are. We can also chip away at one assumption and belief at a time, through inquiry. (The Work of Byron Katie, Living Inquiry.)

And we can notice what we are relatively quickly through guided inquiry. (Headless experiments and the Big Mind process.) We can find ourselves as Big Mind, or as capacity for our world.

In most cases, these slow and fast approaches work very well together. The slow can create a more solid basis, and the fast gives us an immediate taste of what it’s about.

The real magician & lila

So who is really the magician? We can say it’s life, Spirit, or our mind.

And who is the audience that’s temporarily tricked? Again, it’s life, Spirit, or our mind.

Another word for these magic tricks is lila – the play of Spirit, existence, or our mind. It’s how this awake capacity can experience time, space, multitudes, taking itself as ultimately a being, and everything that comes from all of this.

It’s how…. the timeless can take itself as time and being within time, the spaceless as space and happening within space, the no-thing can appear as a thing, the one as many, the seamless whole as separate, the void as substantial, and so on.

A few more details

I’ll add a few things for clarification.

When I say “capacity for our world”, it means capacity for all the content of our experiences – thoughts, feelings, sensations, sights, sounds, smell, and so on. We are capacity for this human self and the wider world. It’s all happening within and as what we are. To ourselves, this is our fundamental nature.

When our mental field (mental images and words) combines with sensations, it’s because our mind associated certain thoughts with certain bodily sensations, and these thoughts give meaning to the sensations and the sensations give a sense of solidity and substance (reality, truth) to the thoughts. This is how a thought or assumption appears true to us. And when we explore this, the “glue” or associations tend to weaken and we may even recognize what’s happening as it’s happening.

I never remember anything

I never remember anything. I have images and tell myself they are from the past and call them memories.

Memories are created here and now.

When I see this, I hold them lighter and more as questions.

I have images, tell myself they reflect something from the past, and I am aware they are images and different from what actually happened. Someone else may and will have different images about the same situations. I may adjust and change these images if I explore them further, and if I am reminded of something through what others say, photos, written notes, or something else.

If I am not aware of this, I may tell myself that my images about a past situation are the real thing. They accurately reflect what happened. They are like a kind of camera faithfully recording the past situation. (Not that cameras record something accurately in its entirety.) I may get upset by any suggestion that my memories are not accurate.

I imagine the past, as I imagine the future.

When I look, I also find I imagine the present. I imagine a world beyond what’s here in my immediate sense perception, and I also put an overlay of mental images and stories on top of what’s here in my sight, hearing, sensations, smell, taste, and so on.

Are we in a simulation?

Some ask this question. As so often, the answer for me is yes, no, and don’t know.

In a conventional sense, the answer is: I don’t know. And that’s fine, I don’t really need to know.

When I look more closely, I also find that I can know something about it, and the answer is yes and no.

The world as it appears to me, happens within and as what I am. I am capacity for it. It happens within and as what a thought may label consciousness. And I perceive it through an overlay of thoughts that labels, interprets, and creates stories and generally makes sense of it. In that sense, it’s a kind of simulation. It’s like a dream to me since it happens within and as consciousness, and it’s filtered and interpreted by my mental images and stories.

At the same time, there is consensus reality. It seems that I perceive the world more or less as others, at least in a basic and everyday sense. I see a blue sky, walk on the ground, open doors, eat, talk, and so on. In the consensus reality and pragmatic sense, I live and function as if it’s not a simulation. For all practical purposes, it’s not a simulation.

So I cannot know if we are in a simulation, in the way most people talk about it. It’s a kind of simulation since my world happens within and as what I am and is interpreted and made sense of by a mental field overlay. And for all practical purposes, in consensus reality, it’s not a simulation.

Projections and the larger context

I have written about this before, starting from my old paper journals in my teens. And, for whatever reason, I am drawn to revisit it.

There are several layers to projections.

The world is my mirror

The world is my mirror. What I see out there is something I know from myself, whether I acknowledge it or not.

Whatever story I have about someone or something, I can turn it around to myself and find concrete examples of how it’s true.

Through working on this, I get to see something in myself wherever I look in the world. The fundamental separation of “you are that and I am not” or “I am this and you are not” goes away.

This reduces the reactivity that comes from the “you are that, I am not” perception, and we are more free to act from whatever clarity and kindness is here.

It helps me discover a far richer sense of myself, less constrained by ideas of what I am not.

It makes it more difficult to dehumanize others, no matter the species.

The world becomes a rich mirror and it’s an endless adventure to explore and actively make use of this mirror.

We can have blind or conscious projections. If they are blind, it means I see something out there and not in myself or the reverse. If it’s conscious, I am still projecting – I am seeing something out there that I know from myself – but I recognize it’s a projection.

That also means that I hold my projections more lightly since I am more aware of it as a projection. I know it’s here, and I know it may or may not be out there as I see it.

Mental field overlay

Another kind of projection is our mental field overlay.

Our mental images and words create an overlay on the other sense fields and make sense of these. They provide labels, interpretations, stories, interpretations, and so, and this helps us function in the world. I see a candle, and instantly have associations to flickering light, winter evenings, past experiences here and other places, the label “candle”, the thought that it will burn out within a few hours, images of more candles in the corner closet, and so on. My senses take in their impressions, and my mental field makes sense of it and helps me orient and navigate.

This mental field maintains our world even in the absence of the other senses. Right now, I can easily imagine the rest of the house I am in, the other people here, the outside, town, country, world, and so on. This is the exact same mental field as the one I described in the previous paragraph, it’s just that now it functions in the absence of other sense impressions. We can notice this mental field activity by closing our eyes and imagine what’s around us, this body, and so on.

Why do I include this in this description of projections?

Because we can say this mental field is an overlay on the world. We project it out onto the world to make sense of the world.

Here too, it can be blind or conscious. We can project out this mental field overlay and take what it tells us as true and how the world “in itself” is. Or we can be conscious of what’s happening as it happens, which allows us to hold what this mental field tells much more lightly.

The first tends to create struggle and discomfort. The second gives us more flexibility and receptivity, and can help us navigate the world with a little more ease.

While the “overlay” description works well and isn’t completely wrong, it may be more accurate to say that this mental field is what creates our world in the sense of anything we imagine and have thoughts and stories about. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to make any sense of the impressions from our senses, and we wouldn’t have any notion of a world beyond what’s here in immediacy.

All happening within and as what I am

These types of projections, and all my other experiences, happen within and as what I am.

I am capacity for my world. I am what my world happens within and as.

And this is the context for both of the previous types of projections.

To the extent I notice what I am, it’s easier to notice the two types of projections and hold it all more lightly.

How can we explore this for ourselves?

This can sound abstract and esoteric until we start exploring it for ourselves, in our immediate experience.

So how can we explore this for ourselves?

For the first type of projections, The Work of Byron Katie is excellent.

For the second type of projections, traditional Buddhist sense-field exploration is helpful, as is the modern version of Living Inquiries.

For discovering what we are, Headless experiments and the Big Mind process often work well.

Why would we explore this?

For me, this is fascinating, it enriches my life immensely, and to the extent I live from it I find it brings a bit of ease into my life.

We can say it’s up to each one of us if we want to explore this, although, in reality, it’s not really up to us. It’s something we are drawn to or not.

And although it can be helpful to share some experiences of what happens when we explore these things, these descriptions can also become a kind of goal and a distraction. It’s more interesting if we discover it for ourselves and allow ourselves to be surprised.

Not knowing which part of the field I am

Right now, as I am sitting here, I see two arms and hands, the screen on a phone, a table, a cup, flowers, a lake, and a few other things. And I notice a low-grade effort telling me that, for practical purposes, “I” am this body sitting here writing on the phone. (I am not all the other things in the sense fields.) It’s something that’s added to what’s happening and it helps me function in the world.

At times, this effort is even more obvious. For instance earlier today, there was a moment where “I” didn’t know which part of the sender fields I was supposed to be. The bucket of water? The cup? The arms moving? It lasted only a fraction of a second, but I could clearly see the mind working to place a pragmatic sense of I or me on something in the sense fields.

This is a common experience for me. There are things in my sense fields, it all happens within and as consciousness, and often there is no need to put the I or me labels on anything. It’s all just happening and functioning on its own.

“I” can pay attention to what this happens within and as, and notice that this never goes away. In that sense, it seems to be what “I” am. And for practical purposes, “I” sometimes places the I or me on this body and the one others see me as. In both cases. It’s clear that the I or me is just a label put on top of what’s here, in all the sense fields, which is living its own life.

I assume this is common in an awakening process. The mind has to work actively, for all of us, to create and assign and remember the I and me labels. And when there is more awakeness here, that process may become more transparent and visible. And sometimes, “we” notice the mind scrambling for å fraction of a second to assign the labels.

Senseless, sensible, coming to our senses

Senseless: Lacking common sense, wildly foolish.

Oxford Dictionary

Sensible: Done or chosen in accordance with wisdom or prudence, likely to be of benefit.

Oxford Dictionary

Come to your senses: to start to understand that you have been behaving stupidly.

Cambridge Dictionary

There is often wisdom in traditional sayings and expressions and even embedded in everyday words.

What does it mean to come to our senses? In an everyday use, it means to perceive and act in a more grounded and sensible way. There is a literal truth in that expression. When we are caught in thoughts, we can get a bit loopy and insane. We live in abstractions. We take our own imaginations, our own mental images and words, as reality. We make ourselves crazy that way.

Coming to our senses means to bring attention to our senses, to sensations, sights, sounds, smell, and taste. And also to our imaginations as what they are, recognizing them as mental images and words (imagined sounds and mental images). When we bring attention to our senses, the mind is incapable of simultaneously be caught up in stories and content of thought. It’s either one or the other. (Unless we do both half way, in which case we are still caught in stories and imagination.)

The more we bring attention to our senses, the more we make it into a new habit, and the more we have an actual freedom in shifting attention between our senses and occasionally into stories. Now and then, we do need to bring attention into stories to function in the world. Using stories in this practical sense is natural and kind. And we can do it as needed and while recognizing these stories as imaginations.

There is some effort here in terms of intentionally bringing attention to our senses. And over time, it becomes more and more effortless. Even the recognition of imagination as imagined becomes more effortless more often.

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Memories

When I look at my own memories, here is what I find…..

They are mental representations of the senses – sight (images), sound, taste, smell, touch.

They are mentally inserted on a mental representation of a timeline, and among other mental representations taken as memories.

A thought says they are true, or not. It really happened, or not.

This is why memories are notoriously unreliable. Since they are mental representations they are, quite literally, imagined. And it’s very easy (read: inevitable) for them to change over time, for pure imagination to be inserted into the timeline and be taken as true, and even for “accurate” representations to be taken as something that didn’t happen. It’s also very easy for these mental representations, these imaginations, to be influenced by what we hear and see, or even the questions someone is asking us. (Questions will inevitably reflect the assumptions of the person asking the questions, and this influences the form the mental representations takes of the one asked the questions).

And that’s why memories “recovered” through hypnosis are unreliable at best, created at worst, and can also be (unnecessarily) distressing to the client.

From subject to object

Our conventional experience is that there are objects – out there in the world – and a subject somewhere here.

When I look for myself, I see that the boundary is fuzzy and changing. For instance, my body is – in some instances – an object for me, and other times more of a subject, something I am. Fear may be an object to me, and it may also be a subject, what I am. I am afraid.

I also see how everything that appears as a subject is really an object. It’s all happening within content of experience. And when I notice that it’s happening within content of experience, it becomes an object to me. For instance, I may take certain sensations in my throat, inner mouth and head area as me, as a subject. And when I look, I see they are sensations – combined with words and images. These sensations goes from appearing as a subject, to being recognized as objects.

Through this process of looking, more and more of what appeared as subjects are revealed as objects. I took myself to be certain words, images and sensations, and when I look, I see they are words, images and sensations, and there is a softening or release of identification with – or as – them.

Said another way, something appears as a subject as long as it’s unexamined. When it’s examined, it’s revealed as – typically – a collection of words, images and sensations. It’s revealed as a collection of objects.

It’s not what I am, in the sense of taking some collections of words, images and sensations as a subject in contrast to other words, images and sensations that are taken as an object. And at the same time, the whole field of experience – including any words, images and sensations, are revealed as what “I” am.

So as there is an exploration of this, there is a shift from some collections of words, images and sensations appearing as objects and some as subjects (identified with or as) to more and more of the collections appearing as subjects being revealed as objects. Eventually, all is revealed as objects – happening within and as experience, and all is revealed as subjects – as what I am.

Another thing I see is that this is what many mystics and teachers from a wide range of spiritual traditions talks about, and since it’s difficult to put into words, it often appears as mystical or airy fairy. It can also be very practical and down to earth, and we have tools to explore this in a very pragmatic and practical way, for instance through the Living Inquiries. Perhaps that is a gift of this age, making what may appear mystical and elusive very practical and pragmatic. (I know that many traditions do have very pragmatic ways of exploring this, and yet, now, it’s at least more widely available. And it’s in a language and form that fits better the modern western mentality and mind.)

Meeting dullness

Sometimes, a belief creates obvious emotions such as anger, fear, sadness or joy, and there is an apparent intensification of experience.

Other times, it may go the other direction. A belief may create a sense of dullness, stagnation or numbness, and there is an apparent reduction of experience.

In either case, the sensations are something I can meet with curiosity.

I can stay with the sensations and breathe, and notice any shifts or changes, any images or thoughts behind the sensations.

I can meet it in satsang: You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me. How would you like me to be with you? What would satisfy you forever? What are you really?

I can do a simple inquiry. What’s here in sensations? What’s here as a label? What’s here as an image, a thought (about what it is, what is means etc.) What happens when these come together, and are taken as true? What happens when I stay with the sensations alone? How is it to question the labels and thoughts? Is it really pain, fear, anger, dullness? Does it really mean something terrible has happened?

Sometimes, I invite my relationship to it to shift through ho’oponopono: I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you.

For me, it’s easier to remember to meet a sensation intentionally when it’s an intensified sensation or experience such as anger, sadness, or pain. And it’s easier to “forget”, at least for a while, if it’s a reduction in experience, such as a sense of dullness, stagnation or numbness.

Meeting it is an invitation to see what’s really here. Is it really what it appears to be? Does it mean what my thoughts says it means? Is it true it’s not already allowed?

And it’s an invitation to explore how it is to shift how it’s met. What happens when mind tries to run away from it, or get rid of it, or put a lid on it? What are the fears/beliefs behind this impulse? How is it to meet it more intentionally, with curiosity and respect?

God

It may be obvious, and yet perhaps not completely for most of us. It may not be seen thoroughly, felt thoroughly, and lived thoroughly. There is always more to explore and let sink in.

God is a projection. God is an image that’s here. The qualities and characteristics it refers to is here. The image of me and God is here. The image of here and there is here.

And the same with the world. That too is a projection.

My world is a projection. My God is a projection. The image and what it refers to, and all the other images it rests and depends on, they are all here.

And the same with time and space. And me and I. My perception of time and space, my perception of a me and I, are all filtered through my own world of images. Whatever image I have of it all is my images. The images are here. What they refer to is here.

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Befriending heartache

Heartache has come up the last few days.

When I notice it as only sensations, I see that the sensations themselves are quite mild. Other sensations – in the throat and solar plexus – are stronger.

It’s the beliefs about what these sensations mean that makes it painful, and amazingly painful at times.

Here are some of these beliefs:

It’s heartache.

She doesn’t love me. I am unlovable. I will never be loved.

My life is doomed. My life is in ruins.

Something terrible has happened.

Note: In one sense, this heartache is old. It may well be from early infancy. And more accurately, it’s here now. It’s fresh.

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Investigating basic body labels

I keep exploring basic sensations and labels while in bed, before falling asleep.

Last night, the label pain – and headache – came up.

Staying with the sensations, what’s there?

Can if find where the turnaround, it’s pleasure, is equally or more true?

Exploring this, it’s as if I am looking behind the veils of the initial beliefs. When I stop at the initial label – it’s pain – it looks a certain way. It seems solid, real, “out there” in the world, and it triggers a range of additional beliefs including another experience is better, I want it to go away, I am a victim. When I look at what’s there in sensations, something else is revealed. It’s something that the label doesn’t fit on anymore. The sensations are revealed as awareness itself. I find how the turnaround – it’s pleasure – is genuinely true for me.

In the beginning, it required going to this exploration intentionally and it felt like “work”. Now, after being more familiar with it, it’s more available, it’s more familiar. And it’s different and fresh each time. What’s really here, in sensations? Can I find how the turnaround is equally or more true, here and now?

Body and awareness

I had a conversation with someone who mentioned bodywork within a nondual context. It seems quite natural for me, although there is obviously more to explore! When I investigate my body through the different sense fields, I find sight, sensations, sound, taste, smell and images. Each of these are awareness, they happen within and as awareness. There is no substance there. And there is also no substance there when they come together, and there is the label “my body” or “a body”.

That’s the context any bodywork happens within as well. When I do Breema, my body and the recipient’s body are both awareness. They happen as awareness, and as the play of awareness. The image of an I – as a doer, observer – happens within the mental field, and is also awareness. Taken as true, the mind is temporarily identified as an I, and it appears real. And even then, nonidentified mind is here. It’s identified mind –> it’s nonidentified mind. Can I find where that’s true for me, here and now?

Here are some thoughts it’ can be interesting to look into:

There is a body. I have a body. It’s a body. The body is real.

This body is …. years old. This body is made of matter. This body has been born. This body will die.

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Three facets of thought: Page, letters, meaning

A book has three essential parts: The white pages, the ink and letters on the pages, and the content and meaning of the words.

And that’s how it is with images and thoughts – mental field activity – as well.

There is ink and letters – the images and thoughts themselves, as images and thoughts. It’s what I notice when I label images images, and thoughts thoughts. An image comes up, it’s labeled image. A thought comes up, it’s labeled thought.

There is a content to these images and thoughts, they have a meaning. An image is of a bird. A thought says it’s a magpie, and it’s standing at the doorstep looking in.

And it’s all happening on and as a white page. Images and thoughts happen as awareness, it’s the play of awareness taking a temporary form as an image or a thought. It’s “substance” or “material” is awareness itself.

So when there is an image or a thought here, the experience of it may be quite different depending on where attention goes.

(a) If attention goes to the content of the story, that’s what’s in the foreground. If attention is absorbed into the content of the story, and the story is taken as true, what it tells me will seem quite real, substantial and solid. And if the content is recognized as an innocent question about the world, as an image or thought and not reflecting any absolute or final truth, this content can be very helpful in a practical and pragmatic, sense as an aid to orient and navigate in the world.

(b) If attention goes to the image as an image, or the thought as a thought, for instance through labeling, then that’s what’s in the foreground. The image here is recognized as an image. The thought that’s here is recognized as a thought. Attention is freed from being absorbed into the content of the image or the thought, although there is awareness of this content.

(c) If attention goes to it all as awareness itself, as the play of awareness, then that’s what’s in the foreground. It’s all happening within and as what I am. And this includes any images or thoughts about a me as this human self, and an I as an observer or doer. A variation of this is bringing attention to the image that’s here, or the thought that’s here, as also love.

Again, this is perhaps most effectively explored through various forms of inquiry, investigating what’s here now in immediacy.

 

Primary and secondary

I may also notice that what’s here – awareness as sensations, sounds, sights, tastes, smells, thoughts and images – are primary, and the content of images and thoughts and images are secondary, they respond and react to what’s primary. They are always a bit slower, they happen within and as what I am. Even who I am – the images and a man of a particular age, with a name and nationality etc. – is secondary. It happens as an afterthought, within what I am, or simply what is.

This is from a previous post. What’s here is all primary, of course. It’s all happening within and as awareness, within and as what I am. Sensations, sounds, sights, tastes, smells, images and thoughts all happens within and as awareness, within and as what I am (awareness, the play of awareness, capacity for all of it).

And yet, the mental field reactions and responses to it – the content of images and thoughts reflecting, labeling and making a story out of it – is, in a sense, secondary. It happens after the fact, and it’s quite literally an afterthought. Even the images and thoughts of a me experiencing it and an I observing and acting is, in the same sense, secondary and an afterthought.

How can I notice and explore this? The most helpful approach, for me, is investigating the sense fields, and also using The Work.

 

 

Confusion, fear, anger as love

In what way is confusion, fear, anger etc. love?

(a) It’s a sign that a thought is taken as true. It’s an invitation to look again, to find what’s more true than the initial thought. This sign is love.

(b) It’s confused love. Believing the thought creating confusion, fear, anger etc. is confused love. It’s an attempt to find what we (think we) want or need – security, love etc.

(c) It’s made up of love. It’s the substance of love. (i) When I look, I see it’s all happening within and as awareness (love). (ii) Through the Big Mind process, I find it’s all Big Heart. (iii) If all is God/love, then isn’t this too – confusion, fear, anger – love?

And as usual, the really helpful explorations are detailed and on what’s here now, or – in the case of The Work – on a specific thought in a specific situation. That’s where this comes alive, where it sinks in. Where it’s seen in some detail, with real, simple, and specific examples, inviting in feeling it as love, love for it as love, and living it as love.

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This is not God, is it true?

The truth is that until we love cancer, we can’t love God. It doesn’t matter what symbols we use—poverty, loneliness, loss—it’s the concepts of good and bad that we attach to them that make us suffer.
– Byron Katie

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
– Matthew 5:43-44

Anything thoughts tell me is wrong, bad, not God, becomes an enemy for me, in my mind, when those thoughts are taken as true.

It’s uncomfortable, painful, it’s how I create suffering for myself.

So what can I do? Here are a few approaches I find interesting and helpful: Prayer for he/she/it, ho’o, tonglen, The Work, sense field explorations, the Big Mind Process, Headless experiments, and more. And all are supported by inviting in a more stable attention, perhaps by bringing attention to the breath, or through body-centered practices such as yoga, tai chi, chi gong, or Breema.

All of this helps me shift into finding genuine love for he/she/it, and it may even help me notice it’s already love. It never was anything but love.

And I do it for my own sake. It’s a relief. I function from more clarity. I function from more kindness. There is a sense of coming home.

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