Maps for the awakening path

Maps for the awakening path can be very helpful.

MAPS HELP US NAVIGATE IN UNFAMILIAR PLACES

After all, any time we enter a place that’s unfamiliar to us, maps, stories, guides, and fellow travelers can be invaluable. They help us orient, make better decisions, avoid some pitfalls, provide company and guidance on the way, and can make the whole experience generally more easy and enjoyable. We can learn from those who are more familiar with the place, and we can find support from others exploring it.

Of course, this depends on the quality of the maps, stories, guides, and fellow travelers.

It depends on how we relate to these sources of information and the journey itself.

And it depends on what we bring with us in terms of baggage, orientation, experience, and good sense.

THE CHARACTERISTICS OF MAPS

For all the many benefits of maps, they also have some limitations, and it’s good to be aware of and explore the characteristics of maps.

They are different in nature from the terrain. They are mental constructs and are different in nature from what they point to. (Unless they happen to point to other mental constructs!)

They simplify and leave a lot out. That’s why they are useful, and it’s also one of their limitations.

They may be more or less accurate. Sometimes, maps are misleading.

They inevitably reflect the biases of the one(s) making them. They reflect a certain time, culture, worldview, personal orientation, and sometimes even hopes and fears. That doesn’t make them less useful, but it’s good to keep in mind.

As with any story, they inevitably reflect and come out of a certain worldview. There are innumerable other existing and possible worldviews that may make as much or more sense, and fit the data as well or better. And these worldviews may produce very different maps of the same terrain.

Maps and stories in general cannot reflect any full, final, or absolute reality.

Reality is always more than and different from any map.

And any mental construct is a kind of map, no matter what form it takes. Whether it’s a book, a diagram, a teacher or fellow traveler sharing something, or our own mental images and words telling us something.

THE LIMITATIONS OF AWAKENING MAPS

Maps of a physical place have these benefits and limitations, and that goes doubly (or triply!) for maps of non-physical and metaphorical places like an awakening process.

Yes, there may be patterns in how the awakening process unfolds that we can detect and put into a kind of map. Many have done just that. For instance, Ken Wilber has collected and synthesized many of these maps into a more inclusive and comprehensive map.

And yet, life doesn’t follow our shoulds or our maps. Life goes its own way.

The process may be different for people in different cultures. Your process may be very different from mine. Each case is always different to some extent, and sometimes by a lot.

Also, maps about awakening are informal. They come from people’s own experiences, or what they have seen or heard from others. It’s not a topic that’s studied rigorously using scientific methods.

Maps of the awakening process are provisional at best, and likely only partially accurate.

In my experience, the process is not necessarily very linear, and the process itself tends to undo any and all fixed ideas I have about it or anything else.

HOW WE RELATE TO MAPS

How we relate to these stories and maps makes a big difference.

Do I hold onto some of them as true? What happens if I do? For me, I typically find it’s stressful. I need to hold onto, rehearse, and defend the stories. I make an identity for myself out of it. If my path is different from the maps, I feel something is wrong. And it’s generally stressful whenever life shows up differently from the “shoulds” of the maps, which it inevitably does.

How would it be to hold onto them more lightly? Here, I find it’s generally more peaceful. I find more curiosity. I recognize the maps and stories as pointers only, and as questions about the world. I am more open to exploring what’s here rather than being distracted by how a story tells me it should be.

USING MAPS TO FEEL BETTER (OR WORSE)

We can use maps, and especially stage maps, to feel better (or worse) about ourselves and our life.

We can use them to tell ourselves: I am at this stage in the awakening process. It means I am further ahead than these other people. It means those people are ahead of me. It means this will happen next. It’s all cleanly laid out and predictable, and I know how it is.

But do we actually know? Can we know if the maps are accurate? Can we know that we understand them well? Can we know that another worldview wouldn’t make as much or more sense, and bring about a very different map? And what about everything left out of the maps? Isn’t what’s left out far more than what’s included?

HOLDING IT ALL LIGHTLY

For me, and for all of these reasons, it makes more sense to hold these stories and maps lightly, and it gives me more sense of ease. It’s more aligned with reality.

Yes, I have found it fun and fascinating to learn about them. (Since my teens and for about three decades, I read everything by Ken Wilber. I read widely about stage models in general from psychology and spirituality. And I studied developmental psychology and stage models at university.)

Yes, they can be somewhat useful as something I keep in the back of my mind and sometimes check in with.

And it feels better to hold it all lightly. To not invest too much into it.

SCIENCE IN GENERAL

That’s how it is for me with science in general.

I love science and find it fascinating, fun, and helpful.

And yet, I know that the stories from science are maps. They reflect our current culture and understanding. They are provisional. Future generations will see our maps as quaint, at best as partially valid, and often as hopelessly outdated.

Perhaps most importantly, what they leave out is far more than what they include. What they include is likely an infinitely small part of what there is to discover. And what we discover may put what we already (think we) know in a completely different light.

Reality is always more than and different from any story we have about it.

[Read on to see what ChatGPT has to say on this topic.]

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Loss of biodiversity – Norway & the Andes

Many talk about climate change these days, although the global biodiversity loss we are experiencing is as – and likely more – serious.

NORWAY

I grew up in Ski, a village outside of Oslo, Norway. Growing up in the 80s, I remember that the garden was full of life. There were butterflies everywhere, grasshoppers, beetles, and all sorts of insects. A badger family lived next door. There were frequent hedgehog visits. We saw swallows flying around and eating insects. At night, there were bats. If we kept doors or windows open at night, the house would get lots of moths and moths inside.

In the last decade or so, these are all gone. I don’t see butterflies. There are no grasshoppers. I don’t see beetles. The swallows are gone. There are no bats at night. If we keep the windows or doors open, nothing comes inside.

It’s easy to think that this is because this village is more built up and the general area is more built up. That’s true to some extent, but it still has the same mix of rural and suburban. And the same has happened at the cabin which is in the woods outside of Oslo. This is an area that’s scheduled to become a national park, and here too, there is a noticeable loss of biodiversity and life.

A few decades ago, we have several swallow families nesting at the cabin each year. Last year, there were none. I don’t see bats anymore. I see some butterflies, but fewer than before. I don’t see all the insects that used to come inside when we kept the windows and doors open at night.

THE ANDES

I am now in Cañon del Chicamocha in the Andes mountains. The insect and animal life here reminds me of how it was in Norway two or three decades ago. And that makes me worried. Will the same happen here? The loss of biodiversity has been going on here too for centuries, and will most of what’s left be gone too in a while?

CAUSES

Why is it happening? The simple answer is that we – our culture and civilization – don’t prioritize biodiversity and life. We don’t value it quite enough. We have created a system that treats ecosystems as an unlimited resource for us and as having an unlimited capacity to absorb our waste and toxins. We see ourselves as somehow separate from the natural world and the Earth.

The more immediate answer may be a combination of many things: Loss of nature. Use of toxins in agriculture and homes. More manicured gardens and fewer flowers. Loss of key species. And I am sure much that doesn’t come to mind right now or I don’t know about.

We are currently in the middle of a mostly quiet and very serious ecological crisis, and we will all be impacted by it – likely far more than we imagine.

SOLUTIONS & WOLDVIEWS

What’s the solution? We can all do our small part in terms of not using toxins, replacing a manicured garden and lawn with a more natural and wild one, encouraging plants and flowers that support a diversity of insects and wildlife, raising awareness on this crucial topic, and voting for politicians who take it seriously (only a few politicians and political parties do).

Collectively, we need to change our economic and social systems. We need a deep transformation so our human systems take ecological realities into account. In our current public discourse, the vast majority of solutions are piecemeal and far from sufficient. ‘

CULTURE CHANGE

And we need to realize, in a more profound and visceral way, that our ecosystems are fragile when impacted by our civilization, and that our health, well-being, and civilization are dependent on the health and well-being of our local, regional, and global ecosystems. It’s all one living system. It’s all us.

“Us” is not only our family or local community or nation or humanity. It’s all of life. It’s Earth as a whole.

It’s existence as a whole.

That’s the mindset that will support a more sustainable civilization.

And the more viscerally we get it, the more it will naturally color our individual and collective life.

THE SHIFT

This shift in worldview and culture is crucial, and it’s not something that will happen through wishful thinking or shoulds.

We can explore it in our own life and deepen into it. We can make it available to others. We can help others explore it. We can also include it in the education of children.

And, most likely, it’s a shift that will happen because it has to happen. Life and nature will show us that we cannot continue as before, that a major shift is needed, and that’s how many will find it and perhaps how we’ll collectively find it.

The upside is that this ecological mindset is more aligned with reality so what’s needed is to shift our views to be more aligned with how it already is. The downside is that a worldview of separation has been ingrained in our culture and individual mindsets for centuries and millennia. Systems typically don’t change dramatically unless there is a big disturbance. And the upside is that life will show us when we operate on worldviews out of alignment with reality, even if the wake-up call can be harsh and difficult.

Worldviews and how we experience distance energy healing

How we see the world also colors how we experience giving and receiving distance energy healing.

More accurately, how we viscerally experience ourselves and reality color how we viscerally experience distance healing.

INITIAL DISTANCE HEALING EXPLORATIONS

During the initial awakening shift in my teens, I discovered I could sense at a distance (mostly medically related things) and also do distance or energy healing. Both the sensing and the healing happen through intention, and it’s the divine doing all of it. (I call it distance energy healing here since it can be done at a distance and seems to have to do with energies.)

During this time, I experienced this type of healing as happening all within and as the divine. All of it was the divine – the healer, healed, what’s healed, and so on. It all happens within and as the same whole of existence with the divine playing all the parts.

And just like all come out of and, in a sense is, nothingness and emptiness, the healing comes out of that nothingness and emptiness. It comes out of and is the ground of existence, just like anything.

I did this type of healing off and on, mostly very occasionally for close family or friends.

OUTSIDE-IN HEALING PERCEPTION

A few years back, I got into Vortex Healing and started doing energy healing more for myself and others. And for a while, I conceived of it as channeling. As something going into something else.

The sensing happens from here to there and outside-in and the channeling and healing also go from here to there and outside-in.

Why? I assume because that’s how they talked about it so it was natural to default to that perception. I also have a tendency to set aside my own natural way of seeing or doing things if experts say something else, at least for a while until I come to my senses again.

(To be fair, Vortex Healing talk about both of these ways of perceiving distance healing, it’s just that they emphasize the channeling and outside-in approach in the beginning since most students more easily can relate to it.)

INSIDE-OUT PERCEPTION

These days, I am finding back to how it was for me in my teens. It’s still all happening within and as the divine. It is still initiated and partially guided by intention. And I experience the healing coming out of nothingness and happening within and as whatever is the focus for the healing. Similarly, the sensing happens more from the inside out within whatever is sensed.

It’s more as if what’s healed is healing itself, and what’s sensed is sensing itself.

In a phenomenological sense, it’s true since to me it’s all happening within and as what I am. It’s all happening within and as the consciousness I am.

And I also assume it’s more accurate from a big-picture view. It’s all happening within and as the divine. It’s all the divine healing and sensing itself.

A TURNING POINT

A while back, I had an experience with Vortex Healing that was a turning point and led me back to my more original perception of distance healing.

My kidneys are quite damaged from a decades-long Epstein-Barr infection (mono leading to CFS), and I had trouble channeling for my own kidneys. It was as if my kidneys had a kind of shell around them and the energy couldn’t enter. I asked a more senior VH student about this, and he suggested I tried too hard.

And that led me to explore other approaches, including reminding myself that what’s inside the kidneys is as much the divine as anything else. So I invited the divine inside the kidneys to explore shifting into a more healthy form, and that worked. The divine inside the kidneys did the work.

THE PLAY OF THE DIVINE

It’s all part of the play of the divine. It’s all the divine – or life, existence, the universe – exploring, expressing, and experiencing itself as all of it. Oneness experiences itself as separation. No-thing as things. Love as sometimes and locally an absence of love or care. Wisdom as sometimes and locally a lack of wisdom. And so on.

And a part of this adventure is illness, loss, death, healing, finding a sense of wholeness, exploring energy healing, and so on.

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What’s most important to the divine?

What’s most important to life or the divine?

Of course, we cannot know for certain.

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

IF ALL IS THE DIVINE

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

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

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

THE WILDLY RECKLESS SIDE OF THE DIVINE I

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

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

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

THE WILDLY RECKLESS SIDE OF THE DIVINE II

In a sense, the divine is wildly reckless.

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

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

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

THE FULLNESS OF IT ALL

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

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

BRINGING IT HOME

These are all stories about existence as a whole.

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE PRACTICAL CONSEQUENCES

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

So what are the practical consequences of this one?

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

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

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

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

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Mysteries of the universe

Many of us are fascinated by the conventional mysteries of the universe.

How old is it? Was there an actual “beginning”? Does it have an end? Will it end in heat death or does it pulse? What’s behind the observations we label “black matter” and “black energy”? Is there other life in the universe? Is it intelligent? Has it visited us? What happened to Mary Celeste? Does bigfoot exist? Will we have controlled fusion within the next ten years?

These are entertaining and – for most of us – relatively unthreatening topics.

THE MYSTERY WITHIN WHAT WE THINK WE UNDERSTAND AND KNOW

And yet, the mysteries of the universe go far beyond this.

Anything we collectively think we know are stories with limited and temporary validity.

And anything I personally think I know are stories with limited and temporary validity.

These are stories with a practical function only. They help us orient and navigate in the world. They cannot reflect any complete, final, or absolute truth. Reality is always more than and different from our stories about it.

There is a fundamental mystery even in what’s most familiar to us and what we think we know and understand.

And taking that in is, in some cases, difficult. We may struggle quite a bit before we open to the ultimate mystery within what we think we know and understand.

What are our most cherished stories about ourselves, others, and the world? They may include basic assumptions about the world and ourselves. For instance, the world is knowable. I am a being and object in the world. They may also include politics and ethics. People should be decent and fair. People shouldn’t destroy nature. Greed is bad. And they may include our ideas about our own life and other people. I am a victim. Something terrible happened to me. I am good. She is a bad person. He shouldn’t lie. Or even metaphysics. God is love. God is a being. God is all of existence.

THE MYSTERY OF WHAT WE ARE

There is also the mystery of our own nature, and the nature of reality.

What am I more fundamentally, in my own first-person experience? How is it to allow this human self to reorganize within that noticing? How is it to live from it, here and now?

Is what I find also the nature of existence in general?

ENTERTAINING VS CHALLENGING MYSTERIES

Lisa may enjoy the entertaining and relatively unchallenging mysteries of the universe.

But does she enjoy the ones that challenge her most cherished assumptions about herself, others, life, and the world?

How do we relate to those more fundamental mysteries?

Embracing diversity

I am listening to the audio version of Tove Jansson: Arbeide og Elske (Tove Jansson: Work and love), about the Finnish artist and author, including of the Moomin stories. 

One thing that strikes me is that she and others in her political and artistic circle seem to not only have strong views on art, society, and politics (which is healthy) but think that these views are exclusively right and other views are inherently wrong. 

I have always been puzzled by this. For me, there is beauty and necessity in the diversity of views, orientations, and preferences. That’s how the richness of our society and culture is created, it’s how we go outside of our own limited conditioning and learn to view things from other perspectives.

Collectively, it’s how we – as a society and species – can become more resilient and adaptable. Some of us may have insights and solutions that are just what we need in responding to new situations. And we cannot easily predict what this will be in advance.

For me, there is something of value in just about any view and orientation. Each reflects the experiences and background of some of us humans. They all fit into a bigger whole. I can learn something about humanity, the world, and myself from each of these views. And all of it reflects and mirrors something in me, and I can use it as a pointer to find it and get to know it in myself.

When it comes to art, there is obviously art I don’t quite resonate with or understand. And I am very happy if it resonates with someone else. Also, who knows, perhaps it will resonate with me in the future? It likely will if I take the time to explore it.

Why do some of us have a more inclusive orientation, while others take a more exclusive view? 

I can find both orientations in myself, as I assume we all can. In some areas, I am effortlessly more inclusive and value diversity (for instance, food), and in other areas, I may go into unexamined and fearful patterns and take a more judgmental and exclusive view.

If we take a mirror approach and use the diversity in the world to find our own inner diversity, then we tend to find a deeper appreciation of the diversity of the world. We know how to make use of it to get to know ourselves better and consciously embrace more of our own wholeness and diversity. The richness of the world becomes a way for me to find my own richness.

If we take an evolutionary perspective, we see that this diversity – in orientations, views, and preferences – is vital for our survival. Each view has something of value and together creates a richer collective repertoire for us to draw from. Faced with new collective challenges, some subgroups may have just what we need to adapt, survive, and thrive.

If we use our own views, orientations, and preferences to create an exclusive identity for ourselves, we’ll tend to feel we have to defend it, including through putting down and diminishing other views, orientations, and preferences. It becomes a small orientation. This too has its place. At the very least, it serves as a mirror for ourselves so we can find where and when we do the same. (Which we inevitably do or, at least, did.)

Tove Jansson and her friends lived in the last century. Perhaps this more inclusive view is more widespread and common today, at least among the more liberal segments of society. Perhaps

Note: I wrote this on my phone in the wilderness so it’s more flow-of-consciousness and less edited than it normally would be.

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Is my true nature the true nature of all of existence?

Is my true nature the true nature of all of existence? This is a side to awakening that is interesting although it doesn’t have great practical importance for us at an individual level. I thought I would briefly revisit the topic here.

My true nature

Our true nature is capacity for the world, that which all our experiences happen within and as. The content of experience is the normal one – this human self, thoughts, emotions, sensations, the wider world, and so on. The awakeness here is the ordinary awakeness all conscious living beings have. The only thing that changes is that our true nature – this awake capacity – notices itself as all of it.

Since the world to us happens within and as what we are, it seems that the world has the same true nature as ourselves. It has to appear that way to us.

If I am honest, I cannot say that I know for certain that my true nature is the true nature of all of existence.

What are some of the features of our true nature? My true nature is capacity for the world. It’s awake. And it is – if it separates itself a bit from itself – conscious of itself. Those are three aspects that stand out.

The true nature of existence as a whole?

So what about existence as a whole? What can I say about it?

It seems that the true nature of humans is the same as mine, based on their reports. And I have to assume that the true nature of all beings is the same. It’s difficult to imagine it’s otherwise.

Beyond that, it seems that existence as a whole is capacity for itself. It has to be no-thing that’s filled with itself, otherwise, it wouldn’t exist.

Is it awake? Parts must be. In this universe, any conscious being is awake in this sense, whether their true nature notices itself or not. There may also be non-embodied beings that are awake. And yet, other parts may not be awake, like rocks. (When I say awake in this context, I just mean the ordinary awakenes of all conscious beings.)

Is the true nature of all of existence conscious of itself? No, that doesn’t seem to be the case. It is, locally, through some beings, perhaps through some non-embodied beings, and perhaps in a divine realm, but that may be about it.

Does it matter?

Does it matter whether my true nature is the true nature of all of existence?

Not really. It matters in the sense that it’s good to be honest about what we can say something about and what we are guessing or imagining. It also matters for physics and cosmology and our general worldview, although most mainstream physics and cosmology don’t (yet) address these questions. But in a practical sense for us as individuals living our lives in the world, it doesn’t matter so much.

Is all of existence consciousness?

This is a related question. Since my world happens within and as consciousness, it appears to me that all of existence is consciousness. But is it really? It’s a thorny question and I am not sure if I can say much about it, and it also depends on our definition.

We can say that the universe is the body of the divine, or the divine taking a physical form.

And we can, depending on our definition, say it’s consciousness that appears to us as matter and energy. But it’s not necessarily as a whole awake consciousness in the way consciousness is locally awake in and as living beings.

Summary

So locally, existence notices its true nature here and some other places. To me, the true nature of all of existence seems to be the same as my true nature since it happens within and as what I am. It seems that the true nature of all beings is the same as my own true nature. All of existence must be capacity for itself. It’s awake locally through beings in whatever form they take. And the true nature of existence is conscious of itself locally through and as some beings.

Energy healing, identity, and science

I discovered healing abilities in my mid-teens, used it occasionally with people close to me, and mainly kept it to myself. More recently, through Vortex Healing, I have done this type of healing more openly.

And although I know it works, and sometimes works well, it does rub up against some desired identities I have. I want to be seen as someone rooted in science, and I have often gone out of the way to explain what I am doing and interested in – meditation, inquiry, heart-centered practices, therapeutic tremoring etc. – in ways that are grounded, logcial, and fits with current science.

Energy healing, often done at a distance, cannot so easily be explained so it makes sense from a current mainstream view. To explain it, we have to bring in non-local connections, and perhaps all as essentially consciousness, or the divine.

Although this moderate identity crisis is a bit uncomfortable, I also know it’s good for me. It helps me see some identities I am still identified with and wish to hold onto. It helps me see where I limit myself, and where I hold onto unexamined beliefs.

Another side to this is that our mainstream worldview, and the content of our science, changes over time. In fifty or a hundred years, perhaps energy healing at a distance fits in with the current worldview and science. I wouldn’t be surprised, although I have no idea about the timeline. These shifts tend to happen when people cannot any longer deny the validity of what doesn’t fit the existing worldview, and that typically requires the accumulation of solid research over time.

Werner Heisenberg: Only a few know, how much one must know to know how little one knows

Only a few know, how much one must know to know how little one knows.

– Werner Heisenberg (1901 – 1976)

In one sense, we don’t need to know much to know how little we know.

We just need to know that our thoughts are questions about the world, educated guesses at most. They are practical tools to help us orient and navigate in the world. Their role is not to give us any final or absolute answers to anything.

And yet, to know that, we often need to wade through a great deal of worldly knowledge. We need to know a lot about different things and see that what we know is a tiny drop in the ocean of all there is to know, and also that what we think we know often isn’t as certain or valid as we thought. Even our most basic assumptions are up for question.

At a social level, this is especially clear when we learn about the history of thought, science, and worldviews, and we see how different it is across cultures and how much all of it changes over time. What we take as a given today – about specifics and our worldview as a whole – will be seen as obsolete by future generations.

There is a shortcut to realizing how litte we know, and that is to examine our thoughts more directly. We can see how our mental “field” creates an overlay of images on the world and makes up what we think we know about ourselves, others, and the world. It’s all created in our own mind. None of it is “out there” inherent in anything. It’s all just questions about the world. None of it contains any final or absolute truth.

If we rely on knowing things to feel safe or loved or good about ourselves, then this can seem distressing. But, in reality, this realization and noticing is immensely freeing.

We get to see thoughts more as they are, and we get to see their role and function and what they can do – which is to provide some provisional and practical orientation and guidance, and what they cannot do – which is to provide any truths or final answers.

That goes for what we collective think we know and understand about the world. It applies to our personal lives and what we think we know about others, situations, and ourselves. And it applies to our most basic assumptions about existence.

My larger body

Some statements are often seen as poetic or romantic, but in this case, it’s a literal reality.

My larger body is nature and society. My larger body is this planet. My larger body is this solar system and universe.

My existence as a human being depends 100% on this larger body for its existence and survival. The only boundaries between this human self and the larger whole is imagined, and invested with reality only by our minds.

This is very real from a ordinary material and scientific point of view.

And going beyond that, as what I am – what all experience happens within and as – it’s all what I am.

It may seem a romantic or hippyish notion, but it has very real consequences for how we live our lives.

If I see myself as a human being mostly separate from the larger whole, I’ll act accordingly. I’ll act as if the health and well being the larger social and ecological systems matters little for my own health and well being. I’ll tend to act from a short term and narrow perspective. I’ll tend to act in a way that’s – intentionally or not – harmful for the larger whole. And we create our societies, social systems, and worlviews to reflect this. We’ll use economic models that assume that the health and well being of the larger whole doesn’t really matter. We’ll create transportation systems, production systems, food systems, water systems, energy systems, and more that reflect this world view. And we’ll reap the consequences individually and collective. That’s what we see today with a growing awareness of the consequences of toxins in our air, land, and water, diminishing ecosystems, and climate change.

If I see the larger social and ecological systems as my larger body, my view and actions will be different. I’ll act from a longer term and larger perspective. I’ll seek solutions that benefits myself as well as the whole. And we’ll collective use worldviews and systems that reflect this reality and this desire to support life at all levels.

If I see the solar systema and universe as my larger body, I’ll tend to experience a deep and profound sense of belonging and meaning. As Carl Sagan said, we are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We are the universe bringing itself into conscious awareness.

Of course, this has to be a lived reality for us. It may become a living reality through natural adult maturation and development. It may happen if we live in a society or group where this is a mainstream view. And it can happen through education and experiences such as the Practices to Reconnect by Joanna Macy.

I am aware that I am using the word “reality” here and it’s not really that. It’s a perception. An experience. A worldview. But “reality” works as a shorthand even if it’s not that precise.

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Healing, Awakening & Sustainability = aligning with reality

Healing, awakening, & sustainability. As shines through what I wrote above, healing, awakening and sustainability are all about aligning with reality. That’s why the three – for me – are inseperable. The seeds of dis-ease, an unawakened experience, and a society out of tune with the larger living world, are all the same. And the basic remedy is the same as well – align with life and reality.

For healing, we can align through inquiry, TRE, Breema, yoga, meditation and more. For awakening, we can align through inquiry, meditation, prayer, and more (whatever helps us ripen). For sustainability, we can align with life through philosophical and economic frameworks that takes ecological realities into account (which none of the current mainstream ones do), and a generally worldview that does the same.

This is from a previous post where I wrote mostly about healing and awakening, and added sustainability as an afterthought. So I thought I would write a briefer post here about the three as equals.

Healing, awakening, and sustainablity all have to do with aligning with reality.

Healing is here healing of the mind, and we do so by questioning stressful and debilitating thoughts and finding what’s more true for us. When we look closely, my experience and the experience of others, is that we find something that’s genuinely more true for us than the initial thought that’s also very healing. (The Work.) Or we may find that thoughts that seemed real and substantial because they had a charge (associated with sensations) now have less or no charge. They are recognized as a thought, and comes with less or no stress. (Living Inquiries.)

Awakening similarly comes from seeing what’s more real than our initial experience and assumptions. Consciousness takes itself as (a) a being (b) that’s separate from everything else, and that comes from a deeply ingrained thought helds as true. When consciousness starts to align more with reality, it recognizes itself as all there is, and the local being as happening within and as itself. The being doesn’t go away, and doesn’t really need to change. The only change is a shift of what consciousness takes itself to be. And just as with healing and maturing, this is an ongoing process.

Sustainability has to do with aligning our worldviews and all our philosophies, frameworks, and systems with ecological realities. To the extent our views and how we organize ourselves – individually and collectively – is aligned with life, we have a sustainable life and society. Right now, we are quite far from this.

Our current mainstream worldviews and frameworks (for economy, industry, transportation, energy, waste etc.) are set up as if our wider ecological systems didn’t exist. This means they are inevitably unsustainable. Even our current mainstream attempts of sustainability are done within this mental and physical framework and are not anywhere close to being really sustainable.

We do have a wide range of good replacements of these views and systems, and real-life examples of how we can organize ourselves collectively and live our lives. We just need to chose to implement them. And that will come. It has to come, at least if we come to our senses and wish for our civilization to continue.

It may seem that our only choice is between real sustainability or collapse of civilization as we know it. But there is also a(n unsatisfactory) middle ground where we have a partial collapse, a loss of a good number of people, and an attempt to build up again from there.

Reality is kind & ruthless. In each of these three areas, reality waits for us and shows us when we are off. It’s kind in that sense. And also ruthless if we don’t get it.

Why not all three? Why do some chose to focus on only one or two of these, when they so obviously are intertwined? I don’t know. It may have to do with personal inclination and interest, or perhaps just wanting to specialize.

Symbiotic. For me, there is a symbiotic relationship between healing, awakening, and sustainability. The seed problems and solutions are the same in each of these areas. There is a great deal of room to explore how patterns in one area is transferable to another, offering new insights and ways of working with it. I assume we’ll see much more of this in the future.

My worldview

A friend of mine is interviewing me within a couple of weeks to determine my level of maturity or adult development…! It’s part of his certification using the work of Robert Keegan.

It made me reflect a bit on what my worldview is. In some ways, it hasn’t changed much since the dust had settled from the initial opening in my mid-teens. And in other ways, more in the details, it must have changed – or matured – some. Here are some essays I wrote which reflect my teens/early twenties view on – or rather experience of – the world.

Here are some highlights of how I experience/view the world these days.

Lila. Life is existence expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways. Or we could call it God, Brahman, Buddha Mind, Big Mind, Spirit, Allah, or whatever word you prefer for the divine, or life, or existence. It’s all the play of the divine.

I experienced it this way very clearly in the initial opening, and many years later learned it’s called Lila in sanscrit. There is nothing new under the sun, at least not when it comes to our perception or understanding of basic reality.

Integral view. When it comes to maps, I have been drawn to Ken Wilber’s integral maps and framework for understanding the world. It makes a lot of sense of me, and did even back in my teens and early twenties. I typically don’t refer to it explicitly, but it’s there informing how I mentally map things.

View and perspectives. These are ways to mentally understand and map the world. In the best case, they help us navigate and function in the world. And the drawback is that it’s easy for us to take them as some absolute and final truth, and that tends to create stress and distress.

A thought is the same as a view or perspective, and there is some truth to just about all of them – if we look for it. The type of validity or truth may vary, and it’s helpful to learn to sort these as best and honestly as we can.

Physical matter. Matter is – to us – an experience. It’s sensory input with an overlay of thought telling us what it is. As anything else, it’s “unfindable” in any final or absolute sense. We can say it’s an experience in awareness which is awareness itself, and awareness too is really “unfindable”.

And yet, ideas of matter and awareness can be very helpful in helping us orient and function in the world. If they are recognized as ideas and held lightly, they are even more helpful.

Awareness. Any content of experience is happening within and as awareness, or awakeness, or consciousness, or Spirit. It’s what we are expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself. It’s real in that it’s a real experience. At the same time, it may not be as real or substantial as it initially appears.

Physical senses. The diversity of lifeforms – perhaps including life other places in the universe – allows life to express, explore, and experience itself in a rich and always changing and evolving way.

The different Earth species is Earth and life expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in a rich and changing way, through different physical senses and different perceptions.

Earth. Earth is a living and evolving system. Everything “on” Earth is part of the living Earth and this living system, including humans – and our consciousness, culture, society, technology, hopes and dreams, and everything else that’s part of human experience.

We are a part of Earth, we are the Earth’s local eyes, ears, senses, and awareness (to paraphrase Carl Sagan). Our experience is, in a literal sense, the local experience of Earth. And the local experience of the universe, and life, and Existence, and Spirit.

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Roger Penrose on Fashion, Faith and Fantasy

This interview with Roger Penrose is worth listening to. It’s a reminder that any current view – in science and elsewhere – is provisional, will be replaced by something that seems more useful, and ultimately wrong.

Any view, including our most basic and cherished views on the world and ourselves, is – in a sense – fashion, faith, and fantasy.

It’s fashion, since they are often adopted from our culture, parents, friends, and teachers. The more basic ones tends to be universal, and the frills more culture dependent.

It’s faith, to the extent they are taken to be real and true, or accurately represent what’s real.

And it’s fantasy, in that they are quite literally made up and imagined in our minds.

None of this is wrong. It’s inevitable, it’s innocent, it’s quite beautiful, and it’s often very helpful. We need our world of words and images to function in the world.

And it’s also helpful to examine our assumptions, including our most basic ones, and through that hold them more lightly.

BBC Horizon: Is everything we know about the Universe wrong?

Is Everything We Know About the Universe Wrong? is another excellent BBC Horizon documentary.

Cosmology is undergoing a great shift. The traditional Standard Model is unsatisfactory because it does not explain dark matter or dark energy. And the modifications to the Standard Model that do are unsatisfactory because they are inelegant add-ons. Something is missing from our understanding of the universe, and it is either new forms of matter and energy, our understanding of the basic habits (natural laws) of the universe, or a combination of both.

It is another reminder that what we think we know about anything, however elaborate or useful it may seem, is vanishingly small compared to the infinity we do not know. Our experience is always very limited. (*) And our interpretations of this experience is just one of an indefinite number of possible interpretations, some of which would make equally much or more sense to us than the ones we are currently aware of.

Whenever we have a story about something, there will always be something that doesn’t fit. And if this is something that appears significant to us, or if many smaller things that do not fit keep cropping up, it requires us to reorient, to reorganize how we look at ourselves and/or the rest of the world.

It is a continuous process for us at individual and collective levels.

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Atheist mystics

I was a die-hard atheist before the initial awakening, and became one on my own in elementary school. God doesn’t care.

After – or within – an awakening, we tend to operate from the same general worldview as we had before the awakening, only modified some to fit our new reality. We used to be Christian, and still are afterwords. Or Muslim. Jew. Buddhist. Taoist. And so on.

And the same goes for atheism. The worldview I am most comfortable with is in many ways the worldview of an atheist, only modified to fit my new reality. I still have a more-than-average interest in science, and now also in stories about science that bridge science and spirituality such as integral views and the Universe Story. And it also means I am free to explore pointers and teachings from any tradition, and value and find appreciation for them.

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