Chess and image-creation

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


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

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

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


There are always two sides to this.

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

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


This image-building happens a lot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We see our images

I imagine that famous people or people who are in the public eye are more aware of this than most of us.

Other people don’t see us. They see their images of us. And sometimes, they put a lot into that image that’s not exactly how we experience ourselves.

And that’s how it is from our end too. We put our own images on other people, and also on ourselves, situations, and the world.

We see our images, not the person in him or herself, not the situation in itself, and not the world in itself.

Hardly exists at all

Imagined images, words and sounds hardly exist at all.

And they have an important function. They give the world meaning. They create an imagined overlay of the world, giving the world meaning through imagined boundaries, insides and outsides, labels, names, interpretations, stories, and much more. They – quite literally – create our world, they create the world as it appears to us.

For hardly existing at all, this imagined overlay can seem very real when not examined. It’s stories and interpretations can seem solid and real, and have very real consequences in how we perceive the world, and how we live in the world.

When it is examined, through a free or more structured inquiry, it’s revealed as an imagined overlay right on the border of not even existing. It is still used for practical reasons, for navigating and functioning in the world. And – to the extent it’s recognized as an imagined overlay – it’s held very lightly.

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Finding peace with my images

I keep seeing this too:

My world is my world of images. And I can struggle with these images – scare myself with them, or I can find understanding and love for them.

How do I find understanding and love for these images? For me, it’s through support from ho’oponopono, The Work, TRE, bringing them into the heart flame – allowing it to burn away anything not like itself, and holding satsang with them, along with whatever else comes to me.

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Healing my images of the world

When I do ho’oponopono, tonglen, hold satsang with what I see in myself, others or the world, or pray for myself or others, what I do is heal my images of the world.

I invite in healing for my images of myself, others and the world.

For instance, I see what I imagine is fear in another, and hold satsang with it. You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting (me, the other). How would you like me to be with you? What would satisfy you forever? What are you really?

I find it’s already allowed (by life). I find how it comes from love, and is love. I find it’s innocence. I find that it already is Spirit.

And in that way, my images of it are healed. My images align a little closer to reality.

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Thoughts create my world

I had a conversation with a friend today, and she mentioned a talk by the main Breema teacher where he dismissed the pointer that thoughts create our world.

To me, it’s seems that thoughts clearly create my world. And I also understand that it can be looked at in different ways. He may have meant it in a specific way which is quite different from what the pointer brings up for me.

In a conventional sense, I see that my beliefs filters my perception of the world, and also often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe someone doesn’t like me, so I interpret what he says and does in that way. And I may avoid the person, which he may interpret to mean I don’t like him (which is true, I may not like him if I think he doesn’t like me), which in turn may make him decide he doesn’t like me. When I believe a thought, I see, feel and live as if it’s true. I find evidence for it being true. And through my actions, I may make it true (again, in a conventional sense).

Going a bit further, I see that my world of images and thoughts is – quite literally – my world. It’s the world as it appears to me. I see a tree, and have numerous images about and associated with trees which creates my experience of the tree. My images and stories creates what a tree means to me, what I feel about it, what I think about it, how I relate it. Without my images and stories, there would be nothing there for me. And the images and stories I am aware of are only the tiny tip of the iceberg. The wast majority of them are outside of my conscious awareness at any one time. It’s that way about anything in the world. What it brings up in me in terms of feelings, whether I like it or not, what it means for me, is all created from my own world of images and stories.

And it goes all the way to my most basic assumptions of the world, including that there is a world, there are beings, there is space, there is time, that images and thoughts are images and thoughts, and so on.

So in that sense, thoughts create my world. I cannot find anything in my world not created by my images and stories about it. And I get to see this very clearly, and in some detail, through various forms of inquiry such as  sense field explorations and The Work.

If you love your thoughts, you love life

If you love your thoughts, you love life.
– Byron Katie

If I love my image of something, I love life.

I have an image of a homeless man. I find I love that image. I love life.

I have an image of myself as homeless. I notice I recoil from it, and I don’t love life in that moment.

I take time with the image, perhaps inquiring into my thoughts about what it means, and I find I love it. I again love life.

All of these images are innocent. They are innocent questions about the world.

When I recoil from them, I don’t love life. I close myself off from my awareness of love, of me as love.

And when I recoil from these images, I recoil from what the image is about, and I am really recoiling from me.

I am these images, so I recoil from me.

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The underworld gives meaning to a thought

At The School in LA last week, Katie mentioned that the underworld is what gives meaning to a thought.

That’s what I have found as well.

There is an image of a cat in my mind. In itself it’s just an image, and perhaps not even that.

Then, there are underlying thoughts and assumptions that gives meaning to this image. A cat is fluffy, warm, sits on my lap, gives pleasure. There are images of past experiences with cats. I see myself as someone who likes cats, and someone liked by cats. I think they are mammals, beings, a facet of Spirit as anything else. I think they live 15-20 years or so, like to eat mice and birds. I think people treating cats unkindly are wrong, bad, hurt, caught up in their own hurt and take it out on cats. I feel sorry for mistreated cats. I see images of cats soaking up the warmth from the sun, drinking water, purring, having kittens.

All of these images give meaning to the initial image of a cat. They are all there, activated to some extent as soon as there is an image of a cat in my mind. Sometimes, I am aware of some of these images. And most of the time, they are just there in the background, activated by the initial cat image, providing to vague images, creating a general atmosphere, offering associations, bringing bout feelings, giving me a sense that I like cats and like to be with them.

So all the meaning that cats have for me – everything I associate with them, feel about them, and expect from a cat – is from my own world of images. It’s from, in the words of Byron Katie, the underworld. There is an image of a cat in my world of images, and it’s underworld is this world of images in my mind associated with my image of a cat.

And that’s how it is with any thought. In itself it’s just a nonverbal thought – AKA image – or a verbal thought. And it’s giving meaning through its associated images and thoughts.

And in inquiry, I can investigate all of these, all the way from the apparently surface and peripheral ones to the very basic ones.

Individual and collective

I received an email from Barry where he suggests that much of what’s surfacing for me now is collective more than individual.

I can find where that’s true for me. It’s obviously collective in the sense of shared and universal. The emotions, experiences and beliefs surfacing here are shared by many, they belong to the human experience.

Also, what I see in others happens within and as awareness, it happens within and as my world. It’s labeled, interpreted and understood through my images and stories. And what these labels and stories refer to mirror what’s right here in me at a human level. It’s all Big Mind/Heart, and the wider world mirrors me as a human being.

So individual or collective doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter so much if what’s surfacing here can be labeled one or the other.

In either case, they are emotions and experiences wishing to be seen, felt and loved. Wishing to be met with and recognized as love.

In either case, they are thoughts taken as true, wishing to be inquired into and live more in clarity.

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Playfulness, wisdom and a toy piglet

Towards the end of his life, Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss had a toy piglet. It is perhaps a little odd for a grown and respected man to have a stuffed toy.

What is even more odd is that he and his wife treated it as a child, and wrote a book about him.

It is easy to dismiss it as the folly of an old man. But is that all?

Playfulness was always central in his life, and his playfulness in relating to his piglet is a teaching in itself. It is an invitation for us all to find more playfulness in life, including in how we use our imagination.

And there is also wisdom here.

When we interact with others, we usually assume we interact based on who they are. But we are really interacting with them based on who we imagine they are. When Arne Næss treated his piglet as a living being, it becomes clear that he is really interacting with his imagined piglet. This is an invitation for us to take a closer look at this in our own life.

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Homunculus, the idea of a little person observing and experiencing, can be seen as a silly idea. And it would be, today, if we take it as real and “out there” in the world.

But it can also be a source of great insights and interesting explorations, if it is taken as real in terms of our experience and images of the world.

What do I find if I look for the “doer” in my experience, here and now? Do I find an image of a doer? (This may be easier, at first, with eyes closed.) An image of “me” as a human in the world doing things? And an image of a “doer” pulling the strings and making this “me” do things? Can I find it outside of these images? Is the image of a doer different from any other images? Is it different from any other content of experience?

What do I find when I look for the “observer” in immediacy? Do I find an image of an observer? An image of someone, an object, observing and experiencing? Where is it located? Is it “anchored” on certain sensations? Does it shift location as attention is brought to it? Can I find it outside of these images?

Also, what happens when the image of the doer or observer is noticed? What happens if identification with the doer or observer is softened, or even released? What happens when either is identified with?

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This is it


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

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

This is it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Knots and reimagination


There are many ways to work with knots.

I can allow the experience that comes up, as is, with kindness. I can inquire into stories around it and find what is more honest for me. I can act with more integrity in the world.

And if the knot is particularly sore, I can also reimagine my response in situations that triggered the knot. I can imagine myself in the situation, now acting from more clarity, wisdom and kindness.  (This is similar to revisiting a dream through active imagination). When I do that, I notice a further shift into a sense of clarity, honesty, relief, and alignment with what is more true for me.

What is a knot?

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Healing and maturing beyond the mirror

Exploring the world as a mirror is a great way to invite in maturing and healing. I see dynamics or characteristics in others, and see, feel and eventually find appreciation for it in myself.

The next step – going beyond the mirror – is equally interesting, and takes the maturing and healing to another level.

I notice that my world is my own world of images. The overlay of images on pure perception that makes sense of the world. The overlay that filters, interprets, sets imagined boundaries, imagined labels and so on. That is what creates my world.

So maturing and healing has to happen there too, in that world of images. It is, in a quite literal sense, a healing and maturing of those images.

As I notice that – in immediacy, as it happens – there is already an invitation for healing and maturing.

And as I work with it further – through inquiry, visualization, prayer and so on – there is an invitation for even further healing and maturing.

And even an invitation for what I am to notice itself more clearly, to become familiar with itself, for the center of gravity of what I take myself to be to shift into what already is.

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Whoever believes

Whoever believes that the All itself is deficient is (himself) completely deficient.
Gospel of Thomas, verse 67.

This can be seen as referring to projections.

What I see in the world says more about me than the world. In a conventional sense, it says a lot about me and little about the world. In a real sense, it says all about me and nothing about the world.

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World of images

Again, maybe 101 stuff, but good to notice….

When I explore my own world of images, the mental field overlay on the sense fields, it is quite helpful to notice the overlay on the wider world, and also on the me part – my human self. But what is really helpful is to notice the overlay of the wider world, the me and the I, the relationships among them, and how drama is entierly created from these relationships, within my own world of images.

If I don’t notice the overlay of a me, and also – and especially – the overlays of a doer, observer etc., there is easily still an identification with these, and I don’t notice how all drama is created in the relationships between the wider world and the me + I.

When I include the images of a me + I, in their many forms, the “trick” is seen through. I notice how it is all within my own world of images, and how any drama is created within my own world of images.

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World of images

Exploring the sense fields is a very useful and versatile tool, maybe especially helpful for noticing how the mental field creates an overlay on all the fields, creating gestalts such as a sense of space and time, a me and a separate I.

Over the last few weeks, I have noticed a particular flavor of this more, as it happens in daily life.

I notice the images of the wider world, me and of the relationships among these, and how any sense of drama is created among and within these images. If there is a sense of drama – tension, stress, attraction, aversion and so on – it is all created within my own world of images.

It is obvious, in one sense, and also what I discover through The Work, but it is still a little different to notice it as it happens, in daily life. It has its own flavor.

And when it is noticed in this way, it just becomes silly. There is no point in taking it seriously anymore. Why would I want to create drama for myself in this way, or at least be caught up in it as real? When it is noticed in this way, I cannot take it as substantial and real anymore.

I can of course use it as information and as something to help my human self orient and function in the world, and it is a very helpful tool in this sense. But when it is noticed as it happens, it cannot be taken as substantial and real anymore.

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Own world of images

The world I see and relate to is my own world of images. It is what happens in the sense fields, with an overlay of images to help this human self orient and function in the world.

This mental field overlay creates a sense of extent (space) and continuity (time) and places whatever happens within that sense of space and time. It creates images of a me as this human self, and images of others and a wider world. And it creates images of a separate I as a doer or observer.

All of this is my own world of images, helping this human self to make sense of and function in the world.

And I can notice it as it happens. I can notice that overlay of time and space. Of a me relating to other people and the wider world in general. Of an I doing as this human self, or observing as awareness itself.

I also notice how all drama happens within this world of images. It comes from images of me/I relating to images of others and the wider world in a certain way. It comes from relationships between images of me and the wider world, when these relationships do not align with images of how it should be.

It is amazing and beautiful.

And I notice how I see myself in three ways here…

I see and relate to my own world of images, whether I recognize them as an imagined overlay or take them as true.

I see qualities and dynamics out there, in the wider world and the past and future, that are also here, in this human self.

And all I see is awakeness itself. What happens in the sense fields and the overlay of images, including the images of me and I, is all the play of awakeness.

There is a great freedom in noticing this, especially as it happens in daily life. I notice that all I relate to is my own world of images. So I can make use of it a practical way. I can use this world of images as a temporary guide for this human self in the world. But I don’t have to take it seriously. I know it is only my own world of images. There is no truth in it.

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