Existence is God manifesting - exploring itself in always new ways.
When we awaken to Big Mind, we get a taste of the absolute and relative being distinct from each other, yet with no separation. Awareness is formless luminous space. Phenomena unfold within this space - emerge from it, unfold, dissolve back into it. It is all beyond dualities.
And the juiciness is in how to live from this experience. How to bring it into the world.
There are no guidelines for how to do this. It is new in every situation.
What does it mean for my personal life? For how I relate to others and the larger social and ecological systems? What does it mean for how we organize ourselves socially? As part of a larger planet? A larger universe?
There is a continuing deepening into Big Mind, into the self, into the relationship between the two, and how the self can express and live from Big Mind in these social and ecological systems, this planet and universe.
View & Deepening
There are many ways of getting a taste of the qualities of awareness and a more transdual view.
When awareness becomes aware of itself as distinct - and inseparable - from the particular and changing experiences, it also becomes aware of some of its own qualities.
Awareness is inherently indepdentent of dualities - it is that in which the fluid phenomena of the inner/outer world unfolds. It is beyond and embracing any duality of existence/nonexistence, spirit/matter, mind/body, delusion/enlightenment, living/dead, right/wrong.
Awareness is what is here/now, reading this sentence. It is the same, wheter it is identified with phenomena or not, deluded or enlightened.
Awareness is formless - it takes on whatever form manifested by inner/outer phenomena.
Awareness is clear, luminous and spacious - that in which all inner/outer phenomena arise, unfold, and fade without leaving any trace.
Having a taste of this - through sitting practice, bodyoriented practice (yoga, tai chi, chi gong, breema), Big Mind, nature, art, spontaneous experiences, or something else - we can deepen it.
We can continue to explore the nature of awareness, continue to stabilize our center of gravity to include awareness, continue to allow layers of "sleep" to fall away...
This is a natural process. Just as a seed grows into a tree, awareness can grow into deepening awareness of itself when the circumstances are right.
And the most condusive circumstance may be sitting meditation under guidance of an experienced teacher.
Hooks & Energy
When awareness is identified with the processes of the personality - sensations, emotions, thoughts - everything becomes hooks. Awareness is caught up in the conditioned responses of the personality, triggered by inner/outer situations. And the stronger and more intense the response, the more caught up it tends to get. There is little sense of spaciousness, overview and choice (although there is of course the perception of choice).
When awareness becomes aware of itself as distinct - yet inseparable - from the particular and changing experiences of the personality, there is a sense of overview, perspective, and more conscious choice. We can choose more how to relate to the inner/outer world, and what actions to take.
In the first situation, strong and intense experiences serves as an even stronger hook. There is a sense of awareness being trapped in a very small space, with few options. It fuels or pushes away the experiences, which leads to a contraction. The stronger the energy in the experience, the stronger the contraction.
In the second situation, strong and intense experiences are just that - experiences. They unfold within and rage through awareness, and the energy in the experiences often lead to a sense of expansion and clarity.
The latter is of course the tantric path. When our center of gravity includes awareness, all experiences becomes food for clarity.
Even here, there is the possibility for hooks. Something may be triggered that brings awareness into identification with it. This can especially happen when wounds not brought into awareness - wounds we are not comfortable with - are poked.
A solution is to familiarize ourselves with our particular pattern of contraction, recognize it when it occurs, and then bring focus to awareness through any tool that works for us - the breath, weight of the body, Big Mind process, Can I be with what I am experiencing right now?
Conditioning, Projections & Transdual
This topic came up in a conversation a couple of days ago...
Attitude: Everything is sacred and of spirit, except the mentality of human beings who behave in a way I do not approve of...
Justification: Humans have free will, and somehow choose to behave in destructive ways.
Resolution: (a) Recognize the conditioned nature of existence, and the different faces of choice/no choice. (b) Recognize and integrate projections. (c) Recognize and experience all phenomena, inner and outer, as expressions of Spirit - of emerging from God, Ground, the Absolute. Nothing is more or less sacred than anything else.
The Many Faces of Choice
All phenomena in the inner/outer world co-emerge, are mutually dependent and interdependent, and thus also conditioned by (a) the nature of the processes of the world and (b) each other. When we are identified with the processes of the personality - with sensations, emotions, thoughts - there is little awareness and little choice. The processes of the personality is conditioned by the nature of the processes of this world and of biology, culture, personal experiences, and when we are identified with these processes, our choices are made based on this conditioning.
When awareness awakens to itself, center of gravity expands to include awareness. There is more sense of overview and perspective. And there is a sense of new choice, although this is also conditioned by a multitude of processes.
When awareness unfolds as luminous, spacious and more fully transdual, it goes beyond choice and no choice. There is a sense of choice, but there is also no choice - it is all one seamless whole. In a way, there is a response to situations - beyond choice and no choice.
Choice is in a sense an illusion. When we operate exclusively from the personality, there is little or no choice - it is all conditioned responses (including the thought and decision making patterns). When awareness awakens to itself, there is a sense of choice - but still somewhat conditioned. When awareness awakens as fully transdual, it goes beyond choice and no choice.
So, it is in a way futile to judge. We all do as best as we can, from our conditioning and experiences. We all make the best choices we can, even if they often lead to suffering for ourselves and others. We are all in the same boat.
Everything we see in others, we recognize because it is also in us. All qualities and characteristics we perceive, are there in the outer as well as the inner world.
We can be aware of them more in the outer world, or more in the inner world, but they are there - as a potential or unfolded/expressed in various ways.
When our ideas - such as self-image, right/wrong and good/bad - prevents us from seeing qualities within ourselves and only out there, we live in a fragmented perception of ourselves and the world. We split ourselves us from ourselves and the world.
And when we live in this split, emotions of aversion and attraction comes up. Attraction and aversion is the "glue" that ties our attention to the qualities of ourselves we are not aware of. They tie our attention to them, until they are recognized as being equally "in here" as "out there".
Attractions and aversions are also the guideposts that can help us recognize and eventually integrate projections. When I experience attraction or aversion to something in the outer world, I can identify the specific characteristic it is aimed at, and then explore it in myself. How is it expressed? Why would I rather not see it in myself? Can I be with it?
Eventually, we come to a point where we recognize all qualities - in both the inner and outer world. For any statement about us, we can sincerely say "yes, that is true too".
This process has several effects.
Our ideas becomes more fluid. My self-image becomes more fluid, porous, transparent and inclusive. My ideas of right/wrong, good/bad, softens and looses their charge.
And I can recognize myself in the other. What I see in the other person, is also there in myself. This softens judgment, and opens for genuine empathy and compassion. We are all in the same boat. I am not inherently any better or worse than anyone else.
This also opens up for more clarity and perspective. From making choices based on attractions and aversions, we can respond to situations in a way that is from more awareness and are more life-supporting. We loosen our grip, and allow some space, overview and clarity in.
All phenomena is a fluid seamless whole. While there is distinctions, there is also no separation.
They are all expressions of movements within this whole (going beyond limited causality).
They are all born from Spirit, God, Ground, the Absolute.
They are all inseparable from Spirit, God, Ground, the Absolute.
Clouds, mountains, emotions, galaxies, the ocean, cities, culture, music, a leaf, a nebulae, feelings of attraction and aversion, sunlight through the leaves, a chirping bird, a fugue by Bach, murder, ideologies, a star, a planet... All inner and outer phenomena - is a seamless whole with God, Spirit, Ground, the Absolute.
There are distinctions - and no separation. Everything is perfect as it is, and there is room for improvement.
Overview & Engagement
If we only see the seamless whole, there is no engagement and no action. It is serene but detached. One half of Existence is left out.
If we only see the distinctions, there is no spacious awareness or overview. This can lead to reactiveness, and a sense of righteousness, being a victim, hopelessness, anger and blame. Again, one half of existence is left out.
When we see distinctions within the seamless whole, there is overview - and there is engagement.
Notes on Choice and No Choice
There is a form of choice and of conditioning on each level, each looking different at each level...
When awareness is identified with the processes of the personality, it is all conditioned by the processes of this world. There is a sense of choice, but even the decision making process is conditioned.
When awareness awakens, there is a different sense of choice. I can choose how I relate to the inner/outer situation. Even here, there seems to be conditioned residue - from biology, culture and personal experiences.
When awareness awakens as more fully transdual, it goes beyond choice and no choice. There is choice in a certain sense. And there is no choice in a certain sense. There is both, and yet none.
- Allowing everything (full personality with no exceptions) to be subject to change. Nothing held back.
- Looking for blindspots, for what I am not currently seeing.
- Aligning myself more with Existence, on all levels and more deeply.
- Directional, a continuous path. No goal or end is possible.
- Integral model, AQAL (all quadrants, all levels, all lines).
- Working with projections
- Past: yoga, tai chi, chi gong, Feldenkrais
- Current: Breema, walking, hiking, cycling
- Past: yoga, tai chi, chi gong
- Current: Breema, meditation
- Living the questions
Relationships - Intimate & Social
- Say what I mean, and mean what I say
- Bringing a transdual view more fully in to life
- Global justice movement
- Open Source approach (wide sense)
- Transformation into a more life-sustaining, life-centered culture
- Deep ecology
- Systems view (Capra etc)
- Living the questions
- The Great Story
- Living the questions
- Prayer, meditation
- Living the questions
- Basic orientation (sincerity, everything up for change with no exception, looking for blindspots)
I was in a large old growth forest in the Pacific Northwest, and I could jump from one location to another.
When in the air, I saw the whole region and the curvature of the Earth. There was overview, spaciousness and perspective. I could see various human activities on the edges of the forest and beyond.
When I was on the ground, it was sensual, rich and earthy. A rich texture of smells, sights, touch - of soil, pine needles on the ground, trees, bark, branches, the sky above, wind.
It was a slow bounce. There was time to fully experience both the spaciousness of the overview, and the rich texture in the midst of the forest. And I could choose where to land.
The dream reflects a dance within polarities: Awareness and phenomena. Heaven and Earth. Incarnation and disincarnation. Mind and body. Spirit and Matter.
It reminds me of a regression therapy session I did a while back in Salt Lake City. I experienced the incarnation and disincarnation cycle as a pulse, as the breath of Existence. A dance between luminous awareness observing the Earth and the Universe, and of awareness being centered on an individual organism and personality.
The night before, we had the first meeting of our Integral Support Group at our house. The morning after the dream, I met with Gary R. to talk about becoming a formal Process Work student. And in the afternoon, I talked with Casey at a holistic health clinic about Breema - and gave her a session (where we both went unusually deep). Today, I am going to SLC.
Breema & Levels
Breema goes beyond all dualities... Giver and recipient, individuals and surroundings, inner and outer, mind and body, doing and not doing, giving and receiving, absolute and relative. It gives us a taste of all this, and a support in bringing it into everyday life.
For me, it decrystallizes and is deeply transformative on all levels. And it seems to work on each level in a way that is appropriate here/now, with no effort on anyones part.
Sometimes, it works mainly on a very physical level. It can be robust and vigorous, and stretch and loosen up muscles and skeleton.
Sometimes, it works mainly on an energetic levels, shifting energies around according to where they are needed.
Sometimes, the need is on an emotional level, and it is deeply nurturing, supportive and healing, in a safe atmosphere.
Sometimes, it allows us to soften and let go of habitual thought patterns. Cognition becomes clear and receptive.
Sometimes, it is transpersonal - it allows us to rest in spacious and clear awareness, that which goes beyond the personality.
It always works on each of these levels, but the effect may be more clear in one or another.
Meditation in Action
Meditation refers to resting in - or expanding our center of gravity to include - awareness.
First, awareness is blindly identified with the processes of the personality. It gets caught up in sensations, emotions, thoughts, and fuel or push them away. It is caught up in the conditioned and habitual processes of the personality. There is little space, overview, perspective or choice.
As awareness becomes aware of itself as separate from these phenomena, there is a sense of overview, perspective and choice in how we relate to the inner/outer world. Awareness becomes aware of itself as luminous and formless (although at a dull level at first), within which all phenomena unfold.
Awareness is always transdual - it allows all phenomena to unfold within itself, both poles of each polarity. It is a mirror.
When it is identified with the processes of the personality, it experiences the world as fragmented and dualistic - inner/outer, me/you, us/them, mind/body, spirit/matter, etc. It is in the midst of its efforts to push some experiences away and hold onto others. But even here, it is truly transdual - reflecting both poles of each polarity. The mirror is covered in dust.
As the center of gravity expands to include awareness, it allows the (experiences of) the phenomena of the inner/outer worlds to unfold within itself. It becomes aware of itself as reflecting both ends of each/all polarities - whatever comes up here/now. It is aware of itself as transdual. All phenomena of the inner/outer world is experienced as a fluid seamless whole. There are clear distinctions, but no separation. The mirror is clearer.
Then, it deepens the experience of the transdual. Now, spacious awareness and all phenomena is a fluid and seamless whole. Distinct from each other, yet with no separation. The mirror falls away.
Meditation in Action
Traditional meditation practice, resting in transdual awareness, is invaluable in this process. And there are some very valuable techniques for bringing this awareness into everyday life.
One is asking ourselves Can I be with what I am experiencing right now?
This allows awareness to become aware of itself, spacious and reflecting the processes of the inner world. There is a sense of overview, and of choice. There is a growing sense of the transdual nature of the inner/outer world. It is a fluid seamless whole - including and going beyond all polarities. And there is a sense of the transdual nature of awareness and phenomena - as two aspects of a fluid seamless whole. One no more real or important than the other.
Breema is another tool. It gives us a taste of how body, emotions and thoughts are experienced when the center of gravity is expanded to include awareness. There is a decrystallization - a softening of habitual patterns - on all levels. Emotions are nurtured, becomes supportive and gives a sense of fullness, richness and vibrancy. Cognition becomes clear and receptive. This - along with the nine principles - makes it easier to come to awareness in everyday life.
We all have innumerable voices within us. These are the many different aspects of the processes of the personality - their many configurations and groupings. And each of them holds a certain truth. They all contribute something valuable, when they are seen and acknowledged.
Last night, a voice came up strongly that said I am a failure. There several ways I relate to this. Sometimes I allow myself to be with what I am experiencing - to allow it to unfold within awareness. Sometimes I set it aside and let something else come to the forefront - usually a specific task. Sometimes I try to place it in in a larger perspective - remind myself of all the ways I am not a failure, that it depends on the perspective, that this is just the processes of the personality, etc. And sometimes I accept it and acknowledge the truth in it. Yes, I am a failure - I have not lived up to some of my potentials, to some of the promise. There is a great relief in acknowledging the truth in these voices, because it is always there. We are so complex that anything that can be said about any of us contains some truth.
Each of these approaches has some value. And sometimes I need to go through all of them to find a deeper acceptance, and be able to just be with the experience.
Spoonful of Sugar
In many spiritual traditions, they set up a relatively harsh path for the students. It worked then - in that culture and for those involved in it - although may not be appropriate for most people today.
Most past cultures had a strongly authoritarian bent. The student was expected and willing to - figuratively or sometimes literally - give up their lives for the teacher. They accepted a large amount of abuse.
Today, we are in a different culture, with different expectations and configurations of the personality. Most people expect mutual respect and responsibility in the relationship of guide and traveler. We are not willing to give up all autonomy, and not willing to have a one-sided relationship with a teacher.
So the spoonful of sugar approach may be more appropriate, and equally effective if done well.
The Big Mind and Breema are two examples. Both have old roots, yet seem especially well suited for people in contemporary society. They are enjoyable and even fun, while easing people into resting in awareness and a more transdual way of experiencing the world.
When the center of gravity includes awareness, it appears as spacious and luminous. There is a sense of a spacious awareness, within which all experiences unfold. And when the center of gravity includes awareness, nothing sticks. The processes of the inner/outer world emerge, unfold and fade, and leave no trace.
We can say that awareness sees, accepts and moves on. Or that it is similar to a mirror reflecting the experiences. Or even more accurately, that there is a fluid and seamless whole of inner/outer phenomena unfolding within spacious and luminous awareness.
In either case, there is no trace.
When awareness is identified with the processes of the personality, it engages in these processes - through fuelling them or pushing them away. The particular processes are impacted from this engagement, and in turn impact the personality. If awareness fuel them, the patterns grow deeper. If awareness push them away, they are not seen by awareness - not processed - and will push in return until seen.
In both cases, there is a tendency for awareness to revisit the experience - especially if it was strong. It was not fully seen initially due to identification with it, and awareness is pulled back to it.
Seeing is essential for moving on. We see what is going on with the personality, accept, and move on.
In therapy, there may be a lot of energy given to certain patterns of the personality. We are trying to "fix" something that cannot be fixed by talking or prodding. It can only be "healed" by expanding our center of gravity to include awareness, and from this view see, accept, and move on. The problem may still be there, but it is in a very different context.
In different spiritual practices, there is often inflation and hangups seen as expressions of realization.
Breema can be an effective antidote to both. We see, accept and move on. And it is a very humbling practice. In all areas, it continually strips away the extra.
As somebody mentioned yesterday, there is a lot of seeing of the personality going on when we do Breema. We see, accept, and move on.
Breema is a very humbling practice. When I work with the principles, I see how I am not as fully awake or present as I can be. I can always move more in the direction of being awake... I can always move more in the direction of the principles coming alive.
It strips away the extra.
What is Experiencing?
Using the living the questions approach (can I be with what I am experiencing?), I have been able to get back into a more regular meditation practice again. Whenever resistance to sitting comes up, I allow myself to be with the resistance - which takes the charge out of it.
This morning, I sat with the koan What is Experiencing?
It is clear that luminous space is experiencing. There is a fluid organism and personality - with fluid sensations, emotions, thoughts - but no center and nothing fixed. There is also a relative dullness (from lack of regular sitting practice) so the luminous awareness is - still - relatively local. Just around the head and body.
Opening for and stabilizing into Big Mind is a continuous process. Fortunately, there are many approaches that can be supports in this process.
The Big Mind process, an expansion on Voice Dialogue, is one. Through guidance, anyone can emerge into a taste of Big Mind in a matter of minutes. And with a little training, we can learn how to apply it in our own lives. It gives a sense of the terrain - where we are at, where we can go, and how to get there.
Meditation, resting in awareness and allowing all experiences to unfold within awareness, is another invaluable support. It trains the mind in single-pointed focus, and brings a sense of spaciousness and expansion to awareness.
As part of the process, we bring relationships into awareness. How do we relate to the inner and outer world?
How do we relate to formless awareness? How do we relate to our physical body? How do we relate to the fluid sensations, emotions and thoughts? How do we relate to other people? How do we relate to the larger social and ecological systems? How do we relate to the universe?
For each of these, there are tools and approaches that can be of great help. For me, these include...
Zen, Big Mind, Breema
- Physical body
Breema, yoga, tai chi, chi gong, walking, hiking, swimming, dance, etc.
- Thoughts and emotions
Councelling, different forms of therapy, jungian work with projections and dreams, Process Work, cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology, etc.
- Other people
Nonviolent Communication, Process Work, meditation, Zen, Big Mind, Breema
- Larger social and ecological systems
Zen, Big Mind, Breema, systems view, sociology, ecology, Process Work, Zen, ecospirituality, deep ecology, The Great Story, The Universe Story, new cosmology.
- The Universe
Zen, Big Mind, Breema, systems view, ecospirituality, new cosmology, the Universe Story.
We also need a map of the terrain, an overall framework. I tend to use the Integral Model as the overall framework, as it helps me see how the different other maps and tools relate to each other. Other frameworks include Buddhism, Daoism, systems theories, any mystical tradition, science. This map is always evolving with different inner/outer situations - responding to different needs and insights.
All of the above helps us shift perspectives - to expand out of small mind.
One that I find especially useful is ecospirituality. From this view, the universe is awakening into awareness to itself through its awareness organs, including us human beings. We are distinct organisms, but also awareness organs for the Earth and the Universe. Through us, the Earth and Universe become more aware of itself, first as fragments then more as a whole. This helps us out of a view of ourselves as separate entities, and helps us see ourselves as a part of a larger seamless whole. It also opens up for a sense of meaning and belonging, and for a more transdual view.
Here are two simple and parallel ways of describing awakening...
When awareness is identified with the processes of the personality - sensations, emotions, thoughts - there is a sense of contraction. Awareness is operating in a very local and medium awake way. This is small mind.
Bringing focus to awareness, and staying with awareness, there is a sense of it expanding and awakening. The center of gravity expands to include both awareness and experiences unfolding within awareness. The sense of "me" goes from being only the sensations, emotions and thoughts, to also include spacious and formless awareness. There is a sense of clear, spacious awareness within which all experiences and phenomena unfold. Awareness is transdual in that all phenomena of the inner/outer world unfolds within it - beyond and embracing all polarities. From this comes overview and perspective, and a more conscious choice in how I relate to the inner/outer world.
In our everyday life, awareness is the observer, the Ground, the Absolute. But it operates in a half-awake and very local way. It is identified with the processes of the inner world. It perceives "me" as the processes of this organism and personality, and get caught up in the fluid manifestations of the inner/outer world. It is a case of mistaken identity, or at least an identity that is less inclusive than what it could be - a part of the picture is missing.
When focus is brought to awareness, the sense of "me" is gradually more inclusive. It expands, becomes more fluid, porous, transparent, and eventually falls away.
As awareness awakens, the sense of "me" goes through several phases - it burns through layers of more inclusive and fluid "me"s until it all falls away. There is only the fluid seamless whole of luminous, spacious, formless Ground within which all phenomena unfolds.
Our awareness goes from local to universal to nonlocal, and from half-awake to fully awake. Our identity, our sense of "me", goes from the personality to Big Mind to falling away completely.
It is a very simple process, and there are many invaluable supports for this process... Some of the ones I find useful are Zen, Big Mind, Breema.
I find that I have trouble describing awareness awakening to itself, and how the sense of identity becomes more inclusive. One way of describing it is that there are several layers of awareness, from half awake to fully awake. As awareness is brought to itself, it identifies itself with the next layer closer to fully awake, and then realize that this too is not the observer. It turns towards itself, thinks that it is something that is another fluid phenomenon, and then identifies with the next layer of semi-awake awareness. It is a process of discovery, of moving towards a more fully awake and transdual experience. Until there is only Existence.
Focus & Spaciousness
There seems to be two central qualities to deepen a transdual view: focus and spaciousness. These correspond to what Buddhism refer to as shamata (single pointed focus) and vipassana (insight).
If there is focus without spaciousness, it is uncomfortable and likely to turn into its opposite. If there is spaciousness without focus, there can be a lack of clarity. Both seem necessary - single-pointed focus, unfolding within spaciousness.
One gives direction, fiery/penetrating energy, and a sense of movement forward. The other gives space for it to unfold within awareness. One gives a sense of progress, the other of everything being OK as it is. One is related to the relative, the other to the absolute. One can be exclusive, the other always inclusive. One burns through layers of mistaken identity, the other is the witness behind everything.
Meditation in Action
Breema is - quite literally - meditation in action.
Meditation refers to resting in awareness. There is a deepening transdual and spacious awareness, in which all experiences of the inner/outer world unfolds.
Some of the tools in traditional practice are... Counting the breath. Asking ourselves Can I be with what I am experiencing right now? Sitting with the koan What is experiencing? All of these brings focus to awareness as different from sensations, emotions, thoughts.
Breema does the same. When we come to the breath, the weight of the body, the movement and posture of the body, we bring focus to awareness as different from all these. There is a focus on awareness, which is always right here right now. We are in the present.
And we use the bodywork and the nine principles as support to bring focus to awareness - to include awareness in our center of gravity.
When we are not in the present, do not have a center of gravity in spacious awareness, we tend to get caught up and lost in sensations, emotions and thoughts. Our emotions tend to be reactive. Our thoughts habitual and circular.
When we are in the present, when our center of gravity includes spacious awareness, we have a sense of overview. Our emotions gives a sense of fullness and richness, and our cognition is clear and receptive.
What Breema has that seems different from meditation, is the Breema atmosphere.
The Breema atmosphere is unmistakable and very tangible when we are in it, but also difficult to express. It seems to include the body remembering how it is to be in awareness, supported by emotions and cognition. It stays in the body - deepens as we continue with self-Breema, bodywork and working with the principles - and supports us in shifting center of gravity to include awareness. It makes it far easier to stay present in everyday life.
Mutuality & Earth
From a certain perspective, the Universe is unfolding awareness of itself through its awareness organs - including us human beings. And the more diverse these awareness organs are, the more angles it is experiencing itself from.
This perspective is as valid as any that is more common in our culture, just less often encountered.
We can also say that the Earth is unfolding awareness of itself. First locally and as fragments, and now increasingly as a whole - through views of Earth from space, global communication technologies, systems theories and more.
Maybe this is one of the new meanings of mutuality. The Earth is unfolding awareness of itself as a whole, through one of its awareness organs - humans.
When we become more aware of this, what will it mean for our relationship to each other and the Earth?
It will most likely include a deepened sense of humility, of awe and respect for each other and the Earth, and of mutuality through an inescapable partnership with each other and the Earth. It will be always new and different.
A Case of Mistaken Identity
In many spiritual traditions, the typical human sense of "me" is seen as a case of mistaken identity. And the resolution unfolds through several phases.
First, there is a half-awake awareness, blindly identified with the organism and personality. We see "me" as these sensations, emotions and thoughts. And we are caught up in the rollercoaster ride of conditioned attractions and aversions, triggered by always changing and unpredictable inner and outer situations.
Then, there is an experience of awareness being separate from these processes. There is a sense that "me" is maybe awareness, not the fluid processes of the personality.
As this unfolds, there is a deepening sense of all inner and outer phenomena unfolding within spacious awareness. We are growing into Big Mind. "Me" then becomes this awareness, observing all the phenomena unfolding in a transdual way. All inner and outer phenomena is a fluid seamless whole, beyond polarities.
As the transdual experience unfolds, we come to experience "me" as both luminous and spacious awareness, and the unfolding phenomena. All phenomena is a fluid seamless whole, and awareness and unfolding phenomena is a fluid and seamless whole.
The awareness is still centered on an organism, but the sense of "me" gradually becomes more fluid, porous, transparent, until it falls away.
Eventually, there may be a more fully awake transdual awareness with no center. Expressed through a human organism or not. At this point, there is only Existence.
This may seem as a detachment process, and in some ways it is. But it seems more accurate to see it as a process of more inclusiveness. The processes of the organism and personality are still there, as is the unfolding awareness. Nothing is lost, except the experience of "me" as limited to this personality and of the world as fragmented.
The transdual view can be fully lived through this organism and personality, in this society and ecosystem, and in this particular universe. And loosing the sense of precariousness that comes from small mind, we can engage in life more fully - without holding back, allowing resistance to fall away.
This - is the truly exiting adventure in this whole process. The parallel unfolding and deepening of transdual awareness and of living and embodying this awareness. How does it look in my personal relationships? How is it expressed in my relationship to and engagement with the wider society? What does it mean for our social system and our relationship to the rest of the Earth? What does it mean for our relationship to the rest of the universe?
There are no final answers here. It will always change and evolve depending on our current situation and what we learn in the process. It is always changing, always new.
It is a path made by walking.
Alert & Relaxed
When we rest in awareness, there is alertness and relaxation.
When we are identified with the processes of the personality - sensations, emotions, thoughts - there is tension and sluggishness.
When we experience the inner/outer world as unfolding within awareness, we can relate to it with a sense of spaciousness and overview.
There is clarity and alertness. And there is less to hold into - we can allow the personality to relax.
When we blindly identify with the processes of the personality - sensations, emotions, thoughts - there is less overview. We are at the mercy of the conditioned processes of the personality, triggered by unpredictable inner and outer situations.
There is a sense of exhaustion from this rollercoaster ride, and a sense of wanting to escape from it by tuning out. And there is a sense of precariousness which makes the personality tense up.
Levels & More
When we operate from a certain level of development in a relatively stable way, we experience it as natural and effortless. It is just what is.
For most of us, thinking - in an everyday sense - is easy. There is nothing to it. For others, including other species, thinking on that level may seem impossible - or at best very hard work.
There are healthy and less healthy expressions of each level.
When there is a sense of contraction, the expression tends to be less healthy. When there is a sense of openness and ease, it tends to be more healthy.
Each level has its place and value, and this is most clearly visible when we are at ease with ourselves and the world.
The maturation from one level to another has different aspects.
There may be glimpses of how it is to function at a higher level - maybe through social interactions with others that operate from that level.
There may be a sense of dissatisfaction with how we currently operate. It does not give us quite what we are looking for, it seems to not work as well as it used to.
And there are processes at work in the inner/outer world beyond these that also allows us to mature into the next level.
An integral model - applying levels, quadrants, lines, types - seems essential for understanding and even guiding our maturation as individuals, culture and a species.
It allows us to see the value of each approach, to see them in relationship to each other, and to find a more neutral terminology to describe levels and maturation into new levels.
This neutral terminology also helps us experience higher levels as more natural and ordinary. It takes the hype and unnecessary mystery out of it.
Attractions & Aversions
Attractions and aversions are natural processes of the human organism and personality. They have helped our ancestors - including those who lived long before they emerged as humans - to survive.
We experience an attraction towards that which supports our life (warmth, companionship, friendliness, support, resources, health, etc) and an aversion towards that which does not support life (hostility, isolation, impoverishment, illness etc).
This is both natural and healthy in a biological and evolutionary perspective.
But it is possible to move to an experience of the world that transcends attractions and aversions - that moves beyond while including these.
When we bring focus to awareness, it becomes more spacious - it is that in which our experiences unfold. This means that we have an overview and perspective on the processes of the organism and personality, and we can choose how to respond to different inner and outer situations.
A simple tool for doing this is asking ourselves Can I be with what I am experiencing right now? It brings focus to awareness, and gives space for us to relate more consciously to our experiences.
Positive & Negative
Our terminology always reflects a particular worldview. When we say "positive" and "negative" emotions, it reflects what we see as "us" and how we relate to the world.
We relatively blindly identify with the phenomena in our awareness - sensations, emotions and thoughts. We experience the world in a fragmented way - we see the poles but not the larger polarities. And we relate to one end of the polarity with attraction, and the other with aversion.
We call experiences we relate to with attraction "positive", and those we relate to with aversion "negative".
Moving into resting in awareness, we experience sensations, emotions and thoughts as unfolding within awareness. Value judgments fall away. They unfold as any other natural phenomena - as clouds, waves in the ocean, the wind. All inner and outer phenomena becomes as fluid and seamless whole. Although there is still differentiation, there is no need for absolute separations.
From this sense of overview - allowing a sense of absolute separation and need for value judgments to fall away - we have a more conscious choice in how we relate to inner and outer situations.
An orientation of curiosity allows us to mature.
It allows us to let go of what was and experience what is right here now.
Evolution and Embodiment
For many centuries, going back to Gautama Buddha and possibly before, individuals have been able to come to a fully transdual awareness.
It is a process of awareness becoming aware of itself, first in a half awake way and then more awake. It continually burns through levels of what seems as "me" until there is only a luminous spacious non-local awareness left within which all phenomena unfolds (close to or identical with the Eye of God).
Those who unfolded transdual awareness in this way made it possible for others to follow in many ways, through maps, individual guidance, and possibly other less obvious ways.
An encounter with - and resting in - the absolute, can be seen as an end in itself. But this is only a partial realization. It leaves out the relative. This does have an end.
If it is truly transdual, it embraces both the absolute and the relative, and deepens our experience and exploration of both. This is a continuous and neverending process.
Today, it seems more important than ever to use an integral approach.
To deepen our experience with the absolute and the relative. To deepen a transdual experience as well as exploring how to embody it in the world - how to live it more fully through this organism and in this social and ecological system.
This universe is always changing and evolving, including our social and ecological systems and the human organism. There is always more to explore, more ways to deepen the embodiment. It is a continous process of discovery.
Good & Evil
As with everything else, good & evil looks different depending on the view. And they are ideas that this particular culture seems to have a fascination with, probably because of its traditional dualism and preference for abstractions.
From a perspective that is strongly dualistic and attached to abstractions, good & evil can almost appear as tangible objects - something real out there. This view is sometimes perpetuated in popular culture and among certain social commentators, although is increasingly seen as an outmoded way of understanding human behavior.
Now, there is more an understanding of the impacts of biology, culture and personal history on how people view the world and act in the world. There is a general understanding of the basic findings of mainstream psychology.
Contraction vs. Opening
Another way of looking at it is in terms of contractions and openings. When we contract, we are apt to behave in ways that bring suffering to ourselves and others. When we open, we are more likely to act in ways that support ourselves and others. Often, we are at the mercy of the conditioned process of the personality, and triggers in our outer situations, when it comes to contractions and openings.
Blind Identification vs. Awareness
When there is a blind identification with the processes of the personality - when "me" is these sensations, emotions and thoughts - then we are in for a rollercoaster ride of contractions and openings, triggered by the changing and unpredictable outer situations.
One way out of this is to bring focus to awareness, and to find triggers for openings. When we stay with awareness, the fluid processes of the personality unfold - there is a sense of overview and perspective. There is more of a choice in how we relate to the inner/outer situations, and how we respond to the inner/outer situations.
Some triggers for awareness can be coming to the breath, the weight of the body, asking ourselves can I be with what I am experiencing right now? Regular practices such as meditation (staying with awareness), Breema, Tai Chi, Chi Gong, Yoga, etc. can help us more easily come to awareness in difficult situations.
There is a difference between aiming at switching contractions into openings, and of coming to awareness. One aims at changing inner processes unfolding, the other at giving more space to them unfolding. One may or may not work, and involves a certain amount of struggle and precariousness. The other allows whatever unfolds to unfold, and there is space and overview to choose how we relate to it.
The trick is to recognize contractions when they happen, know in our being the suffering they lead to if we identify with and act on them blindly, know how to come to awareness, and choose to come to awareness. It is a continuous practice - always deepening, always required.
Even when this becomes more habitual, there will be moments where we may be hooked - getting blindly caught up in sensations, emotions, thoughts.
Trying vs. Allowing
Among the many aspects of Breema I appreciate is the emphasis on allowing rather than trying.
When there is a Breema session, there is no giver, no receiver and nothing being given. It is only Existence manifesting. I get out of my own way, and the movements are allowed to happen. I do it for myself - awareness brings attention to the breath, the weight of the body, the movements. There is no idea of "helping" or "doing" anything for "the other". Whatever unfolds, unfolds.
Any therapeutic benefit is merely a side-effect, and I don't need to bring attention to it.
When this body "receives" a Breema session, this lack of emphasis on "doing" allows me to completely relax. I am free of the exprerience of the other trying to do something to/for me. There is only Existence manifesting - not one object doing something to another.
When there is presence, Existence manifests and whatever needs to happen, happens.
"I get out of my own way" - this reflects awareness resting in itself, allowing the inner/outer phenomena to unfold.
"I do it for myself" - reflects an attitude of focusing on awareness resting in itself, and allowing the inner/outer phenomena to unfold.
"Coming to the breath, the weight of the body" - a technique to bring focus to awareness as different from inner/outer phenomena, to allow awareness to experience itself as that in which all experiences unfold.
Yin & Yang
The two main Japanese Zen traditions are Rinzai and Soto.
Rinzai is characterized by koan study, by deepening and working with intensity and focus.
Soto is characterized by shikantaza, by just sitting - staying with awareness and allow all experiences to unfold within awareness.
Rinzai gives a direction, breakthroughs and a sense of progress. It can also be somewhat single minded, certain areas may not be brought into awareness although they would benefit from that healing. It is intense, with the danger of narrowness.
Soto opens for all that is - we experience everything as it unfolds. It is inclusive, with the danger of sluggishness.
I am in need of the Rinzai qualities right now - intensity, single pointed focus, passion.
There seems to be a gradual peeling away of awareness.
Observer & Observed
And the process seems to occur through awareness becoming aware of itself, in continually new ways. That which observes cannot observe itself, so whatever we experience as "me" or awareness - is not quite that which is observing.
Whenever we find something that looks like "me" or awareness, we can let it go and go beyond.
A useful tool in this process is working with the koan what is experiencing?
When there is first self-awareness, awareness is typically identified with the processes of the body and personality. What I experience as "me" is this body and personality.
Then, awareness becomes aware of itself as that in which experiences unfold. The witness or observer becomes aware of itself. At this point, awareness is still quite local and only half awake, although there is a beginning transdual view. There is a feeling of no separation with Existence. What I experience as "me" is awareness in which experiences unfold, and the sense of "me" is more fluid and permeable.
Then, as the peeling away process continues, there is spacious and luminous awareness in which all phenomena unfold. It becomes more transdual - there is less/no separation between awareness and phenomena. Awareness is more awake, it is awakening into big mind. There is a deepening direct experience of no separation with Existence. What I experience as "me" is a fluid and seamless whole of a more transdual awareness in which phenomena unfold.
But it is still centered on a personality, and still relatively local.
As there is more peeling away, awareness can experience itself as deeper transdual, nonlocal, luminous and spacious.
For each peeling away, awareness becomes closer to experiencing with the eyes of God. It experiences itself closer and closer to the true observer. There is no "me", only luminous awareness and unfolding phenomena.
Deepening and embodying a more transdual perspective is a long and unfolding process.
An integral framework seem essential in this process. Included in this is a big here & long now perspective, and seeing our lives in the context of this physical Universe and Earth.
Here are three aids reflecting - and helping us open to - such a perspective.
Long Now Foundation
Seeing our life in the context of the long now - the long time perspective.
The Great Story
Seeing our life in the context of the history of the universe and the earth.
View From Above
Seeing our life in the context of the Earth as a seamless whole.
Seeing our life in the context of social and ecological systems.
There are many forms of motivations.
Some come from duality. From a dualistic view where we experience a strong separation between us and the rest of the world, and we identify with only some of the processes of the personality. Our identity is quite fixed, limited and precarious.
Here, the main motivations are attractions and aversions, which we act on in a relatively unaware and habitual way. There is a sense of contraction, rigidity and inflexibility in how we relate to the inner and outer world.
From a transdual view, it changes somewhat. Awareness is no longer blindly identified with the personality - there is a sense of overview and of allowing all aspects of the inner/outer world into awareness. Our identity is porous and flexible - incorporating whatever comes up in our experience right here/now. There is less blind attractions and aversions, and less acting directly on and from these.
Now, there is also a depended sense of humanity, gratitude, humility and empathy.
There are many shared motivations in the transdual and dualistice views - such as physical protection, care for oneself and those around us, and wanting to explore, develop and apply our skills. The difference is in how we relate to them - one is contracted, the other spacious.
In a transdual view, some motivations are weakened. We still appreciate recognition, money, sensual pleasures, etc when they are there, but they are not necessarily the main drive for our actions. There is more space around them, more overview and perspective.
And many are new, such as wanting to support life in any way possible. Wanting to reduce suffering and aid others towards a more transdual view - more free from blindly acting on the processes of the personality.
Life continually draws our attention to certain aspects of existence.
It is often not quite what this personality had in mind, but any situation offers valuable insights and gifts. When we are - voluntarily or involuntarily - drawn to something, it is always worth asking ourselves some questions.
What can I learn from this situation? Which gifts does Existence offer to me through this situation? If this is exactly what I need to experience right now, what are the gifts? How can I deepen my humanity - my connection with myself, others and Existence - right now?
When I am present, Existence is magic.
When I am with whatever I am experiencing, everything unfolds within spacious awareness.
When awareness is brought to the body - mind and feelings join. Mind becomes clear and receptive. Feelings become supportive and offer a sense of fullness and richness.
Everything comes to life. All phenomena comes to life, Existence comes to life.
There is a stream of magic here/now enveloping the fluid inner/outer situation.
Hooks & Signpost
After writing the below entry, I realize that another distinction needs to be included.
When awareness blindly identifies with the habitual patterns of the personality, there is a constriction. Through allowing awareness to be with what we are experiencing, we bring healing into the situation. We can allow our experiences to unfold within awareness, and have a sense of spaciousness, overview and choice in how we relate to inner/outer situations.
Slowly, this becomes our new habitual pattern. We stay with awareness in more and more situations - during normal operations of the personality and even when strong reactions are triggered in the personality. Eventually, we stay with awareness with few exceptions.
But even here, there are hooks for our awareness. In extreme situations, awareness may still shrink to identify with the processes of the personality. And extreme situations include when unprocessed wounds are triggered. These are areas of the personality we have not yet brought much awareness into, that have not been allowed to unfold in awareness and loose some of their charge.
This can happen no matter how mature we are - independent of how high stage we are on, how much therapy we have done, etc.
The signs are many and familiar to us: A contraction of awareness into identification with processes of the personality. A sense of blind attachment to certain inner/outer situations. A lost sense of generosity towards ourselves, others, Existence. Reactiveness, defensiveness and justification.
If we are not aware of the signs of this collapse of spacious awareness, we get hooked.
If we are aware of these signs, we can use it as a reminder to bring awareness also into this - to allow the wound to unfold within awareness and loose some of its charge. To allow it to deepen our humanity and connection with ourselves, others and Existence.
No matter how mature we are - which stage we are on (in spiral dynamics, the integral model, or any other scale), how much therapy we have done, how well we know the particular patterns of this personality, how established we are in a deepening transdual experience - there will still be hangups, wounded areas, something that triggers a contraction.
If we identify with the contractions, with the particular habitual patterns of the personality, we loose awareness. We react and act blindly based on these habitual patterns. From relating to the world in a more aware and mature way, there is a temporary lapse into reactiveness and relative immaturity.
We can relate to the contractions in a different way. We can bring focus to awareness - bring awareness into the contractions, and the contractions into awareness.
We can relax into our experience. Allow it to unfold in awareness. We relate to the contraction, and the larger inner/outer situation, with more openness and sincerity. There is nothing to prove, nothing to defend. Only an opportunity to allow an opening into a contraction. To deepen and soften our humanity a little further. To connect with ourselves and others - and Existence - in a deeper and more sincere way.
The signposts for hangups are the familiar ones. It is any form of blind attraction or blind aversion. Any habitual patterns that are triggered, on any level - physical, emotional, mental. Any habitual patterns that brings constriction when awareness identifies with them.
And the signposts for contraction are familiar as well. It is any time awareness is blindly identified with any of the habitual patterns of the personality - any time we allow awareness to push away or fuel patterns. Any time we feel that we are justified in reacting with anger, defensiveness. Any time we feel a need to justify or prove anything.
The resolution for both is the same. To bring our focus to awareness rather than only the pattern. To allow some space into it. To allow the phenomena to unfold within spacious awareness.
And to do this, we can use one or more triggers... Coming to the breath, coming to the weight of the body, asking ourselves Can I be with what I am experiencing right now?
It is a life-long and deepening practice. We become familiar with our particular signs of contraction. We notice them during - or after - it occurred. We allow ourselves to be with our experience right here/now.
We deepen a new habit of bringing awareness into contractions, and eventually to experience all phenomena as unfolding within spacious awareness.
And this in turn gives us more choice in how we relate to inner/outer phenomena. From blindly reacting to situations, we respond in ways more appropriate to the particular situation.
We allow ourselves to respond in ways that heal rather than further deepen the splits and the wounds.
Breema & Research
For a long time, I have wanted to eventually get involved in research on the effects of meditation, bodywork, etc.
There are several grant opportunities, including through the Massage Therapy Foundation.
Some ideas for Breema studies...
- Use standarized/widely accepted measurements.
- Use control groups - Breema, other modality, no intervention.
- Pre/post measurements.
Effects on one or more levels...
- Physical - pain, discomfort, range of motion (subjective and/or objective measurements).
- Emotional - depression, anxiety, addictions.
- Cognitive - self esteem, quality of life.
Poison to Medicine
There are many descriptions of what happens when we move up the spiritual line...
There is a gradually more inclusive sense of "us" - those we take into account when we consider the impact of our actions. It moves from family, tribe, community, to nation, to all human beings, to all sentient beings, to all of existence. Eventually, the blind separation between all phenomena drops away and there is no "me" separate from "they" or "it".
- Complexity to simplicity
There is a movement from complexity to simplicity in how we experience and relate to the inner/outer world. It all becomes simpler - no extra. And it becomes richer and fuller.
- Fragmentation to whole
From a fragmented experience of existence, we move towards a sense and experience of a fluid seamless whole. All inner phenomena, all outer phenomena, inner and outer phenomena, and then inner/outer phenomena unfolding in awareness, is a fluid seamless whole.
- Identification with phenomena to awareness
Identification moves from personality to include awareness, and in the process soften until it eventually is dropped. There is only the fluid and seamless whole of awareness within which all inner/outer phenomena unfolds.
- Small mind to big mind
There is a move from small mind - awareness closely identified to inner phenomena, to big mind - awareness and phenomena as a fluid and seamless whole.
- Poison to medicine
When we operate from small mind, most situations are poison. They trigger and deepen blind habitual patterns of attraction and aversion, and create much suffering. When we operate from big mind, all situations become medicine - deepening compassion, humility and gratitude.
Compassion from seeing in ourselves what we see in others. Recognizing how the patterns of the personality of each one of us is conditioned - by our biology, culture, family and personal experience - and that there is little choice when we operate from small mind.
Humility from seeing how we are an infinitely small part of an infinitely larger whole. Our experience of the world is always biased, incomplete and limited. Existence is always more than and different from our experience of existence, even from a transdual view.
Gratitude - for Existence. For being a small part of such an amazing and beautiful whole. For having moved from the blind suffering in small mind to the spaciousness and different sense of choice of big mind.
Words & Realizations
There are many relationships between words and realizations...
Transdual & Dualistic
Transdual experiences and views cannot easily be expressed through words. Transdual views goes beyond and include all polarities of existence - nonexistence, mind - matter, inner - outer, living - inanimate, life - death, realization - obscuration, sleep - awake. All of these are experienced as expressions of Existence, as a fluid seamless whole. Words, by their nature, differentiate and fragment the world. They are immensely useful, and yet very inadequate to reflect a transdual view.
Shared or Not Shared Experiences
When there is a shared experience, simple and few words are enough to describe it. When there is not a shared experience, no amount of words can convey it. It is impossible to adequately describe the taste of a particular food to someone who has not tasted it for herself.
Maps & Terrain
Words, stories, theories and models are all maps of the world. And all abstract representations reflect a certain limited and filtered view, highlighting some features while leaving others out. Reality is always more than and different from any map.
Words, when spoken from direct experience, can be pointers. They can support us in realizing certain aspects of existence through our own experience.
Whenever new dimensions of Existence open up for me, I search for ways to express it. And often, I find that I end up using similar or the same words as I used before, although they now have a new depth of meaning for me. The words are the same, the experience quite different.
Words & Realizations
From an intelectual view, words spoken from a more transdual experience can appear simplistic or even banale.
Existence is. True health is harmony with existence. Everything is one.
But when we arrive at a direct experience of that which the words point to, we see that they point to profound realizations of the nature of existence.
Existence is - as it is, beyond and embracing all dualities. True health comes from a direct experience of existence, which is consious alignment - or harmony - with existence. Everything is one - a fluid and seamless whole of all phenomena unfolding in spacious and luminous awareness.
A More Integral Path
My own path, as it is taking form...
Meditation - gives focus, clarity, energy intesity (support for certain breakthrougs).
- Big Mind
Transdual view and psychotherapy.
Meditation in action - deepening the connection with body, and continual exporation of the relative and absolute.
- Waking Down (emerging - possibly into the future or not)
Framework for a deepening and integral practice - up, down and mutuality.
I had a very good conversation with Sean today - tea at 5th Street Market, then walked along the river. We talked about Waking Down, Zen, Ken Wilber's model, the Integral Institute, and integral practice.
An idea: to start up an integral practice support group. Some guidelines/elements...
- Integral model as a framework, content free.
- The group supporting each individual in their individual process. Support for exploring their own views, paths, combination of practices etc.
- Speaking from the heart and personal experience.
- A combination of (a) framework/map, (b) experiential and (c) conversations from personal experience.
Gradual Into Infinity
In Avishai's intermediate Breema class tonight, a whole new dimension opened up for me.
I experienced every lean and release as gradual into infinity. Independent of fast or slow, there was a sense of gradualness and infinity throughout the whole movement. It emerged from and released into infinity. The absolute was right here now as a continuous stream.
This is similar to other tastes...
- A sense of the whole of Existence right here now.
- A sense of each sequence, each body, and each phenomenon having unique personality and the same essence. Of seeing through the surface phenomena into a formless essence.
- A sense of timelessness right here now - a continual stream.
- A sense of touching the absolute right here now.
- A sense of no giver, no receiver and nothing being done - only Existence manifesting.
Awareness & Phenomena
There are at least four major types of relationship between awareness and phenomena.
Awareness can be contracted and closely identified with sensations, emotions and thoughts - the processes of the personality. In this situation, there is little room for overview and choice. Awareness is blindly caught up with sensations, emotions and thoughts, and push away or fuel these.
Pitfall: Blindly repress and/or act on the habitual patterns of the personality - blind attractions and aversions. Only live from, with awareness of, one half of existence.
All phenomena of the inner and outer world unfold within spacious awareness. There is a sense of witnessing, overview and choice.
Pitfall: Sense of disidentification with and distance to the world. Detatched.
There is a resting in luminous awareness, but little or no focus on unfolding phenomena.
Pitfall: Rests in only one half of Existence. Not integrated, embodied.
All inner/outer phenomena unfold in spacious and luminous awareness as a fluid and seamless whole. There is Big Mind and overview, and full participation in life. Transdual awareness is fully lived through and integrated in the personality and world.
Pitfall: If not continue to deepen both ends of the transdual/embodiment polarity.
Typically, we go from (a) blind identification to (b) witness, and then to (d) transdual with some glimpses of resting in (c) pure and luminous awareness w/out phenomena now and then - which is used to deepen the transdual embodiment.
Identification & Traces
When awareness is closely identified with the phenomena arising (sensations, emotions, thoughts), there is little or no space for anything other than resistance. Awareness is compelled to directly interact with whatever arises, either by pushing it away or fuelling it.
And this resistance leaves a trace. We repeatedly return to the specific situation that triggered the experience, and we engage in habitual emotional and mental patterns around it - with a charge of attraction or aversion. In addition, the habitual patterns deepen.
The situation hooks us, until we can be with the experience - allow it to unfold in awareness.
Awareness & No Trace
As there is more awareness and less resistance, the inner processes unfold within spacious awareness and leave less trace. There is less of an impulse to repeatedly revisit the situation and to engage in habitual emotional/mental patterns around it. Both being with the experience, and letting go of revisiting, allows the habitual patterns to soften and decrystallize.
The past situation has less of an hook for us.
Maybe it is not quite accurate to say that there is no trace when we allow experiences to unfold in awareness. There is often a trace in the form of decrystallization, softened habits of the personality. Resistance deepen the habits. Awareness and no resistance decrystallize.
It also seems that the hook that comes from resistance is Existence's way of helping us bring awareness into what is going on. As we repeatedly engage in the same patterns, we see that something is missing - we keep running into the wall head first. This is a gateway into awareness, into a different way of relating to the inner and outer world.
First, we may seek and develop ways to relating to the inner/outer world that produces less suffering. Then, we may gradually allow ourselves to be with whatever we are experiencing.
The former is more from a view of separation, the latter opens for a transdual view. Both can be immensely valuable and can exist simultaneously.
When we stay with a strong experience - allowing it to unfold in awareness without resisting or acting on it - we allow it to burn out. It charges through spacious awareness and leaves no trace.
Karma is a term describing conditioned existence. All inner/outer phenomena are born from the specific processes of the inner/outer world, and this includes the habitual emotional and mental patterns of the personality. They are formed by biology, culture and personal experiences.
When we allow strong experiences to burn out in awareness, the habitual patterns they arise from soften. There is a little more space there, a little more openness for something else to arise next time. In this way, our personal karma slowly burns out. The patterns of the personality soften and decrystallize.
In the same way, karma in the outer world soften and decrystallize somewhat. By allowing conditioned and blind patterns in human interactions to burn out in our awareness, we are less likely to perpetuate them through our own actions. This particular cycle stops right here and now.
I am experiencing this right now, in relationship to another person who is acting in a way that brings up a lot of strong reactions in this personality. It revolves around repeated unnecessary noise, which is a trigger for this personality, and sometimes a hook for this awareness.
When I stay with the experience, it charges through and then burns out within spacious awareness.
I allow awareness to not blindly identify with what comes up - blindly resisting or acting on it (in the world or by fuelling habitual mental patterns) There is more space, overview and choice.
This allows me more choice in how I deal with the situation in the outer world. I can act and speak from more clarity and awareness, in a way that is less likely to aggrivate the situation.
I also notice that when I resist the experience, and either push it away or fuel the emotional/mental patterns arising, there is a strong tendency to revisit the situation and engage in circular thoughts (of judgement etc).
When I allow the experiences to surge through awareness with less resistance, they pass through with little trace. There is not much of an impulse to revisit the situation or engage in certan mental patterns around it.
When I had my opening in my teens, and for several years after, I was "hooked" on meditation and prayer - resting in and deepening the tremendous bliss, clarity, luminance in a transdual state. I did it several times a day, often for long times.
Then, when I moved to Wisconsin a some years back, everything fell apart. I had no support around me, and other aspects of my life made me go into a downward spiral - into small mind and reaching rock bottom.
Ironically, this is what I sensed I needed in the years prior to this. I was very familiar with a more transdual way of experiencing the world, but not the contracted and small mind. I knew this during my time in Wisconsin, but it did not make the pain any lighter. Contrary to everything I had learned and experienced previously, I resisted just about everything I experienced.
There was also a very strong resistance to any spiritual practice - which was baffling to me as meditation and prayer came so easy for me in the years prior to this. This only deepened and further fueled my despair.
Coming to Oregon, I sensed this would open up and release, and it did. I found Breema, and am re-learning much of what came so naturally for me earlier.
My meditation practice has also shifted. I am now, as earlier, more able to be with whatever comes up and use it as a fuel for awareness.
I can be with whatever thoughts, emotions, sensations arises. Whatever arises is a reminder to bring awareness to awareness. Insights I want to write down, pain or tension in shoulders or lower back, thoughts of things I want/need to do, sadness, despair, frustration, irritability, joy, exhilaration, wishing to be somewhere else, wishing to be here.
Instead of contacting them through pushing away or fuelling, they unfold in awareness - fluidly and always as new. They expand spacious awareness, and there is a current of awareness and bliss.
All this is also a reminder of how self-image shifts in this process. From being more fixed and rigid, it becomes very fluid and insubstantial. It adapts to whatever comes up - any sensations, emotions and thoughts, and as these processes - is always new.
From being something fixed enough to be called self-image, it becomes just observing what arises in the always changing now.
Awareness is one of the many mysteries of existence.
It seems that awareness unfolds through several manifestations.
First, it emerges as local and identified with the processes of the body of an organism. We see this in most non-human species.
Then, it emerges as local and identified with the processes of the body and the emotions. This is expressed in many non-human species and probably most mammals.
In most human beings today, it is local and identified with the processes of the body, emotions and the mental level. It is not, or rarely, aware of itself as different from these processes. It tends to be blindly caught up in the processes of the inner world, fueling the habitual patterns, and acting on these with little awareness or choice.
At some point, there is a shift. Awareness becomes aware of itself as a separate phenomenon. This typically happens in glimpses at first. There is a recognition that "I" am not only the body and personality, but also awareness. Maybe there is a curiosity so that we explore this further through meditation, yoga, tai chi, chi gong, breema, living the questions, etc.
As we engage in this exploration process, awareness becomes aware of itself in a gradually more continuous way. Awareness becomes more spacious and clear, and that in which the phenomena of the inner world unfolds. There is a sense of perspective and overview, and from that, more choice in how we relate to the inner and outer world.
As it clarifies further, it becomes that in which the phenomena of the inner and outer world unfolds. The inner and outer worlds are experienced as a seamless and fluid whole, and spacious awareness and phenomena are experienced as a seamless and fluid whole.
It seems to be a clarifying process, where awareness becomes aware of itself, fuels itself, and gradually becomes more and more inclusive. It moves from small mind to big mind. From blind duality to transduality.
It is as if layers of less awake, more constricted and more narrow awareness are burned through or pealed away, only to reveal the next layer - a little clearer, a little more inclusive, one step further in the direction of transdual experience.
Eventually, awareness becomes more fully awake and transdual. Spacious and luminous awareness within which all phenomena of the inner/outer world unfolds. And they are a fluid and seamless whole.
While this awareness operates through a body and personality, there is a sense of a center. Not all layers have been peeled away.
In this situation, there is an unique opportunity to gradually deepen the transdual view and the way this is lived and expressed through the body and personality, in the society, on this planet, in this universe.
There will also be glimpses of a transdual awareness without a center, and this can unfold fully when there no longer is a particular body the awareness operates through.
One useful practice in this process of peeling away new layers of awareness, is to stay with the question who/what is experiencing? Awareness turns its eye towards itself, and the layers burn away - moving in the direction of a fully awake spacious and luminous awareness. First with a center, then without, and then with again as long as it operates through a particular body and personality.
I should mention that this is based mostly on my own experiences, from my opening in my teens and early twenties and from mediation experiences, so it is probably relatively obscured. Others have a much clearer view and explanation of this.
The experience of spacious, luminous, transdual awareness without a center, occured during meditation, and was quite a surprise. There was clear mind, but not center at all. It was that in which all existence unfolded. The non-local awareness spread out throughout the universe as a shockwave, rapidly becoming more inclusive.
Something in me stopped the experience before it unfolded fully - because there was a fear in there that awareness would not be able to come back to this body. It is probably not accurate, but just the habitual patterns of personality and mind holding back - not yet being aligned with this new way of experiencing.
Levels, Lines & Orientations
As Ken Wilber points out, there are many lines of development. Some of the main ones are cognitive, emotional, relational, social and ethical. And if we take the "average" of these lines, or the typical development for most of them for an individual, we find the "level" of development for that individual. Levels are obviously a gross simplification, although useful as a shorthand.
For each level, there is a healthy and an unhealthy expression. There are valuable and essential insights and approaches at each level, and there are diseases particual for each level - ways they go wrong.
It seems that self-awareness may be a line. Maybe this is the same as spirituality, if spirituality is seen as a line (spirituality can be used to refer to higher levels of development, impermanent states, a line of development, or a basic orientation).
At any (?) level, we can have a basic orientation of self-awareness and of being with our experiences rather than resisting them. And this seems to be a gateway into a more healthy and mature expression of each level of development. It allows for a certain overview, self-understanding, and willingness to stay with uncomfortable experiences and insights. It softens us up and allows for more fluidity and flexibility. There is less to prove and less to protect.
As with any line, it is more likely to be highly developed at higher overall levels, although it can be well developed at the lower levels as well. It seems that this orientation would help us mature and develop faster, from each level to the next.
Several years ago I read a wonderful book called The Overview Effect. It outlines how seeing the Earth from space shifts how we perceive ourselves and our place as part of this planet and universe. The effect is strongest for the astronauts and cosmonauts who have seen it with their own eyes, and more so for those who went the furthest away from the Earth. It changed the lives of many of these individuals, and the images shifted the perception of many of us who did not go into space.
It is interesting how many parallel shifts seem to occur at about the same time in the history of humanity.
- Seeing the Earth from space, as one seamless whole
- Development of systems approaches to Earth physiology, including the Gaia theory
- Development of weapons of mass destruction that can wipe out most or all human life
- Increased awareness of the global health effects of toxins and unraveling ecosystems
- Access to insights and tools that help us explore ourselves as a whole as individuals
- Development of social view and tools that are more inclusive and allow for diversity
We are given the greatest incentive to do so, our own survival.
The view neccesary corresponds to the sixth level in spiral dynamics. The green level, concerned with inclusiveness in every sense.
It is somewhat disconcerning that most of humanity are at level 3 and 4, some at level 5, and very few at level 6. But it is encouraging that those at level 5, who may move into level 6, and those already at level 6, are some of the more influental in the world...
Contractions & Openings
I continue to work with contractions and openings, and asking myself can I be with what I am experiencing right now?
Habitual Ways of Contracting
Each of us have habitual ways of contracting, with symptoms on all levels - physical, emotional and mental. For me, it is shallow breath, contraction of the calf muscles, a sense of aversion and resistance, and circular mental processes including judgment and blame. There is a sense of everything contracting, shrinking, becoming more rigid, of cutting myself off from life, of resistance to what I am experiencing. And I revisit old situations in a way that only brings the spiral further down.
When we become aware of our habitual ways of contracting, we can also notice it sooner. It becomes a reminder that we are indeed contracting, and that there is a process to open up. For me, this consists of breathing more deeply, of bringing focus to spaciousness, coming to my breath and the weight of the body, and of asking myself the question.
I also ask myself what else I can do to allow it to open, which could be going outside for some fresh air, taking a walk, playing with the cat, do some self-breema or breema bodywork, talk with a friend, go to the library, listen to some music, eat an apple or some other food that I know helps my clarity, or something else.
Sometimes, it lifts the contractions right away. Other times, I have to work with it for a while. I have to let a little bit of light in, allow for some opening, before I can allow it to open further. It is a long and iterative process sometimes, although it works. And each time I do it, the habitual patterns soften a little and a new habit forms. The habit of allowing myself to open up when there is a contraction.
Contraction & Opening of Awareness
I also notice that the contraction and opening is quite literal, and is a contraction and opening of awareness.
In the contracted state, awareness is very much identified with and caught up in the processes of the personality - the sensations, emotions and mental processes. It is literally a contraction of awareness, to a point where there is very little spaciousness and sense of overview. I am blindly caught up in the habitual processes of the personality.
In the open state, awareness is aware of itself. There is a sense of space and overview. The phenomena of the personality unfolds within awareness, within a larger space. The experience is held in a gentler way. And the space and overview gives more of a choice in how I relate to whatever arises in the inner and outer world. Awareness is literally more open, expanded.
And as we engage in this process of being with whatever we are experiencing, maybe combined with another (intensifying) practice such as mediation, the sense of spacious awareness deepens. It unfolds further.
Until, at some point, it recognizes itself as the spacious and luminous awareness in which all phenomena of the outer/inner world unfolds. It is the space in which the fluid and seamless universe unfolds.
Awareness & Holarchies
Instead of talking about ego vs. personality, it may be more useful to talk about awareness and holarices.
A holon is something that is both a whole in itself, and a part of a larger whole. Everything in the universe is a holon, from the smallest subatomic particles to galaxies and most likely the universe itself.
All living beings are a self-regulating system with its own subsystems, and part of the processes and structures of larger system. Humans are partly autonomous systems, we contain subsystems such as organs, tissues, cells, molecules, atoms, subatomic particles, and we are part of the processes of this planet, both social and ecological, and of this universe.
There is differentiation, we can discern systems and their unique characteristics, and they all are part of a seamless and fluid whole. The universe embraces both ends of the part-whole polarity.
Human Health & Development
If we look at human health and development from this perspective, we see that we need to be aware of the holarchical aspect of our existence. It is equally important to develop a strong and healthy personality, as to develop a sense of the seamless whole of existence.
Using the part-whole polarity as a guide can be helpful.
We see that we need to develop a strong sense of ourselves as a unique part, as a system among many other systems. We need to develop awareness and skills so we can take care of ourselves in the world. And we need to develop awareness and skills in how we relate to our many subsystems, including the physical, emotional and mental.
This is often referred to as developing a healthy ego.
And we also see that we need to develop a sense of the larger whole. We are part of family, social, ecological and cosmic systems and are in relationships to all these larger wholes. We need to bring these relationships into awareness, and to develop our skills in relating to all these larger systems.
Eventually, this includes developing a sense of spacious awareness in which all the phenomena of the inner/outer world unfolds.
We deepen our consious relationships with the ourselves as a whole, with our subsystems, and with the larger systems we are a part of.
Through this process, we gradually become more able to bring a more fully awake transdual awareness into life, through this body/personalty and in this world. In relationships with ourselves, others, society, ecosystems, and the universe.
We continue to develop awareness and skills in both ends of the part-whole polarity.