Since my teens, reading Fritjof Capra, Jung, Jes Bertelsen, and others, it was clear to me that one of the core issues in western culture is blind dualism. And I keep rediscovering it in new ways.
The origins of our blindly dualistic worldview has been described by many. It may have started with agriculture, although the main shift seems to have come with patriarchy and masculine gods. Judaism, and later Christianity and Islam, all grew out of and perpetuated this worldview.
This is a worldview that has a split at its core: God vs. creation, male head vs. females/children, humans vs. nature, soul vs. body, good vs. evil, etc.
And it is a worldview that springs from and triggers fear and deep alienation.
An experience of a split world creates a long line of consequences. Consequences we are all too familiar with...
From alienation and fear...
We feel we need to dominate and control nature (from which science and technology springs).
We feel we need to dominate other human beings (power-over rather than power-with).
We have created a social system, reflected in all social institutions (including schools), that operate from a power-over view.
We cling to abstract ideas rather than our direct experiences.
We hold onto ideas and images, rather than being comfortable with the always changing now.
We see something as "good" and something else as "evil", and try to eliminate the "evil" in ourselves and others.
We split ourselves from ourselves (parts of our mind and our body) and the rest of the world.
We are not comfortable with life and ourselves as we are...
We run around trying to "fix" something - through consumerism, self-righteousness, escapism, addictions (including to new approaches to healing), and much more.
We choose from fear, rather than from what is life-affirming...
It is deeply tragic, and it is the engine of our civilization. It is the tool with which we may kill ourselves, unless there is another shift.
And there are many tools for the changes required. Some of which are outlined other places in this journal (breema, trans-dual practices such as Big Mind, working with projections, deep democracy, non-violent communication, etc).
Our experience of the world is expressed in every aspect of our life and activities.
And our experience of our inner world is reflected in our experience of the outer world.
When we bring more of our inner world into awareness, we slowly experience ourselves more as a seamless whole. Through this, we gradually experience the outer world more as a seamless whole. And the inner and outer world as aspects of a larger seamless whole. Our experience of no separation is deepened and brought into our daily life and activities.
And there are many tools for this transformation to take place...
An essential tool is projections. Every quality we see in the outer world, in people, animals, nature, the Universe, fantasies, dreams and movies, are also there in the inner world. We can use the outer world as a reminder of inner qualities. And the way we relate to these qualities in the outer world, with attraction or aversion, reflects how we relate to them in ourselves. Which in turn reflect some of the ideas we have about the world, often learned from culture and family.
One specific technique is to visualize ourselves as whatever it is in the outer world that expresses a certain quality. This helps us experience it more fully and integrate it into our awareness.
As more qualities are brought into awareness, we become more familiar and comfortable with them. This opens up for increased fluidity (less rigid self-image), deep empathy with others based on recognition, and more effective choices since we are less blinded by emotions.
Meditation & Body Oriented Practice
Meditation helps us open up for all our experiences and qualities. We create a container where they can freely surface and unfold, and in the process be brought into awareness. A body-oriented practice (Tai Chi, Yoga, Breema) is also invaluable in experiencing the larger whole that the body and mind are only aspects of.
Contemplation and study is another essential aspect. We explore the different connections in the world, and how the seamless whole is expressed in a multitude of ways. Systems theories is one of many possible avenues.
Life Situations as Teacher
In contemporary psychology, and in particular cognitive psychology, there is an emphasis on bringing the thought processes to "neutral". From thought processes that are not aligned with reality, and brings depression, anxiety etc., we learn to bring them into a more neutral way of perceiving the world.
Buddhism and other practices takes this further. Instead of neutral, they bring our view into one that is similarly aligned with reality, but also opens for deep compassion, gratitude and sense of belonging and meaning.
A few examples...
Buddhist mind training, lo-jong in Tibetan, helps us to use difficult situations to open our mind/heart.
Tong-Len is a dynamic visualization practice where we take in other's suffering as our own (integrating projections), and wish for others to be fully free from suffering, through awakening wisdom and compassion. This also opens up ourselves for what we wish for others.
Bowing to our adversaries is a powerful individual or group practice where we develop genuine appreciation for what our adversaries help us recognize in ourselves.
The Real Boss [last week]
I was back in my first job here in Eugene, engaged in community networking and related projects. My boss walked up to me and said it was time for me to meet the real boss. I did not know that there was another, and it turned our that she was a very tall woman (20-25 feet tall and solidly built). She gave me some instructions and guidance. Her qualities were a combination of strength and masculinity, and earthy femininity. She had native american features and a mysterious and numinous quality.
Active imagination: I tried active imagination several times, which each time ended in a sense of mystery. She seems to be a goddess.
My Father [last night]
I visited my parents in their apartment in an old beautiful building in Oslo (they live in Ski in real life). As it was time for me to leave, I felt some disappointment that we had not connected more deeply. My father, surprisingly, gave me a long and heartfelt hug, and then proceeded to give me some healing in my stomach/lower back region. He displayed deep, soulful qualities, and was deeply comfortable with it (as was I). I asked him what had happened. He said that during a healing process after an illness, he had time to explore other qualities in himself, and found a new way of being in the world. More at ease with his inner richness, and deeply caring and human.
The qualities he displayed are the ones I experience in Breema. Deep, soulful, caring, nurturing, deeply human, and beyond/embracing dualities. There was a strong sense, as I woke up, that this is my inner father - as he can be when unfolded/accessed. I also realize that these qualities are there in my real father, but not openly expressed as he may not be completely comfortable with it.
I was also struck by the connections between these two dreams. My real boss, the goddess, expressed a mature integration of masculine and feminine qualities, with an emphasis on the masculine. She was the real master behind the scenes and gave me directions/guidance. My father also displayed a mature combination of feminine and masculine qualities, with an emphasis on the feminine - the deeply caring and nurturing.
Everything I take in is food for my mind/body. What I take in, combined with how I relate to it, influences how it is digested and nourishes me. This is true for air, food, surroundings, conversations/relationships, reading, music and more.
- Comfortable with Uncertainty
Pema Chodron. Excellent anthology of mind training reminders. Very powerful.
- The Path of the Human Being
Genpo Roshi. Deep and profound, as well as simple as it is from direct and lived experience.
- The Essential Ken Wilber
Ken Wilber. I have read most of his books, and this one is a good highlight refresher.
- Wild Fermentation
Sandor Ellix Katz. Wonderful book on just that.
- The Mustard Book
Jan Roberts-Dominguez. Made a wonderful garlic mustard from a recipe from this book.
- Books on monasticism/monasteries in different traditions
- Books on anthroposophical architecture and communities, and intentional communities in general
- The Guardian
- NY Times
- Google News
- NRK, Dagsavisen, Klassekampen, Morgenbladet (Norwegian sources)
- And much more (Al Jazeera, Common Dreams, IndyMedia, Christian Science Monitor, Yes! etc)
Weekly classes, daily application of principles, daily self-breema and/or bodywork
- Good local food
- Music - Marin Marais, Philip Glass, Meredith Monk, Axiom of Choice, Jan Garbarek, Mari Boine, Sister Marie Keyrouz, Stereolab, William Eaton, etc.
- Movies - Monsieur Ibrahim, Marooned in Iraq, Baraka, What the Bleep, Hijacking Catastrophe, etc.
I have seen Baraka several times, and again today. It is a deeply moving movie. One of the few that opens us up for an experience of the Earth as a seamless whole, and a deep sense of us all - all life - being in the same boat... It opens up for deep recognition and deep compassion.
Erik Bye said he became more radical with time. That is my experience as well, although I am not nearly as old (yet) as he was.
It seems that if we live our lives with open hearts, our views are bound to become more radical with time, as we learn more about the world. The alternative is to choose to become numb...
Today, and maybe at most times and places, it is radical to have a life-centered view. To want justice, human rights, the deeply human... Not just the comfortable and going along with the mainstream, which will always be what the priveleged have set up to protect their privelege.
Bad ideas flourish because they are in the interest of powerful groups.
This priveleged group happens to include me this time. So there is even more reason for me to speak up against it...
Erik Bye died a few days ago. He was one of the most prominent culture personalities in Norway - working/living as a singer, poet, actor, composer and reporter.
He is an example of someone fully human, recognizing in the inner world everything he saw in the outer. It opened him up for his inner richness, and deep and lived compassion for others.
Throughout his life, he consistently gave voice to the voiceless. And as his own heart was open, he invited others to listen with an open heart.
It seems obvious, but may be a good reminder...
As Walt Whitman said, we are all multitudes. We all have all qualities in ourselves that we see in the outer world. Some unfolded and obvious, others as only potentials. And the unfolding and expression of these qualities is a mysterious process, partly dependent on our life experiences and situation.
Still, there is a tendency in our culture (maybe universal) to identify people with what is expressed in their lives. And not only what is expressed, but what we are aware of as being expressed.
So from the vastness of potential, we select out a small portion. And from this portion, we select out an even smaller portion. And we identify others and ourselves with it.
There are of course good reasons for this, and mainly an evolutionary one: People do tend to follow certain patterns, at least over shorter time spans. And it is good to know about these patterns so we can make appropriate choices.
But there are also two serious flaws in this that we need to keep in mind.
Everything is in flux. Nothing stays the same. And this seems to be true for all phenomena. We all change. None of us are the same as what we were. This is true for all of us, whether we try to hold onto fixed images or views or not (and we all do to varying degrees and in different areas).
We are all multitudes. What is expressed at any time is only a small fraction of the multitudes of qualities in us. We can at any moment choose to express different qualities, if we have the awareness and experience to do so.
In practical terms, an easy place to start is to not identify individuals with their work. Instead of saying, "I am a baker" we can say "I bake pastries for a living". Instead of saying "She is a medical doctor" we can say, "she works as a medical doctor". It opens up our awareness of the larger potential in each of our lives. It also reduces distress when we no longer have that particular work - we are already used to thinking about ourselves in a larger way.
Some research ideas...
Breema & addictions
I have found that Breema meets deep needs in me that I sometimes attempt to meet through addictive behavior (food etc). A study could include a group of people in treatment for addictions, where half receive regular Breema sessions and the other is a control group. Is there a short term and/or long term difference in the groups?
Breema and well-being/quality of life
Randomly assign people to Breema, Tai Chi, Yoga, swimming, no special activity, etc. Is there a difference between the groups? If so, what?
Lo-Jong/Mind Training and Empathy
Explore the effects of Buddhist mind-training techniques on empathy, quality of life, etc.
Effects of meditation on personality etc.
Study of long-term meditation practitioners, compared to non-meditators and new meditators. Possible flaw: difference to begin with between those motivated for long-term practice and those not.
Meditation and well-being/quality of life/empathy etc.
Is there a connection between meditation and well-being, empathy, etc?
Acupuncture and Psychology
Effects on acupuncture on well-being, reduced depression/anxiety etc. (using control groups)
Meditation/Breema and Youth
Teach meditation and/or Breema to high-school students, and see if there is an effect (socially, quality of life, academically, etc).
Near death and/or mystical experiences
How many has had near-death and/or spontaneous mystical experiences? What effect, if any, did it have on their life?
Cancer and personality/coping approaches
Continuing along a line of existing research.
Of course, for many of these topics the challenge will be to sort out any cause/effect relationships. Is it possible to randomly assign people to Breema, mind training, etc. and expect them to do it with sincerity? If people are self-assigned, then how can we sort out personality from practice effects? Maybe personality/initial motivation is a key factor and random assignment is a mistaken approach?
Natural Wisdom of the Body
I notice that the more comfortable I become with/in/being body, the more the natural wisdom of the body comes out. It is expressed in (a) taking my needs more seriously (taking care of myself better), (b) food choice (my food needs change all the time, so abstract ideas/guidelines are not much help), (c) grounded intuition when making other choices as well.
I have also noticed that the animal wisdom of my body seems wiser than my mind in many cases. This became obvious a few weeks ago when there was a day where I was unusually mentally stressed. That same evening, I had a Breema class. The moment I began receiving the first Breema sequence, my body relaxed and soaked it up while my mind still held onto the stress-inducing thougth patterns. My mind only joined some minutes later.
I saw The Goat by Edward Albee a few days back at Lord Leebrick Theater.
Although it was quite predictable on a certain level, in wanting to shake people in the few remaining taboo areas in our culture, it did have some memorable qualities. The main one was that the characters all were intelligent and mature, and - more importantly - able to hold several emotions and reactions at the same time.
Of course, we all do. We all have a multitude of emotions, reactions and thoughts on any subject. And when we expect this, and realize that this is a natural expression of our rich and transdual nature, we can hold it. And mature and deepen our humanity.
Unfortunately, we live in a culture (especially in the US) where a more one-dimensional human being is expected. So seeing it so clearly in a play is sometimes a rarity, and a very welcome rarity.
I am looking forward to joining a process work group focusing on addicitions, although I have few or no "traditional" addictions.
I do sometimes spend more time on the internet than I would like to.
Media addictions, and internet included, are - on the surface - perpetuated by intermittent reinforcement (which is most resistent to extinsion). Most of what we find on the internet, or are exposed to in the more passive medias, is not interesting. But occasionally, something very rewarding comes along, and that is enough to keep us coming back. Realizing this is one key to having more of a choice. Another is to eliminate exposure to the media all together, as I have done with TV for many years, and more recently also with newspapers (except a few online).
The addictions I am more interested are the ones tied to our culture. An addicition is a behavior that is repeated although not (completely) desired by the person, and one where we seem to have little choice in the matter.
This is the case for me in terms of many cultural assumptions and habits.
First Day - October 6, 2004
It is wonderful to be back into process work. It is such a fluid and profound work.
Some of the insights around addicition...
- We all have a deep urge towards transduality - to live from the view beyond all dualities. And we are often stuck in small mind (aware of differentiation but not unity, and even less aware of the transdual). Addictions is one way we cope with this situation. We seek a sense of connection, looseness and bliss through various addicitions.
- Addictions often comes in pairs and compensate each other. I have an addictive tendency to sugar, which gives me focus and energy, and dairy, which gives me a sense of softness and relaxation.
I worked on my sugar and then dairy addictive tendencies in a dyad...
The quality I seek in dairy is the deep relaxation, the womblike experience, comfort, softness, gentleness, rocking, full body contact, natural, fluid, soft, connection, no separation....
This is what I find in Breema, and when I do Breema for several hours a day, my addictive tendencies falls away. There is no charge there anymore, because my needs have already been fulfilled.
And the quality behind sugar (for me) was first an intensity and shaking, then opening up to a Masai dance. It opened up to spaciousness, centering and deep grounding, as well as the primal, tribal, free.
Fluid, dynamic, trance, connected to the whole world (an image of the world).
The wastness/richness of human experiences - all there.