I see that my identity, as so much else, is fluid and rich.
I can be identified with/as...
Existence as a whole, beyond and embracing all polarities (Big Mind).
The universe as a whole, through science, art and the Universe Story.
The Earth as a whole, through science, art, deep ecology etc.
Past and future generations, through deep time activities etc.
The human species.
A religion or ideology.
A region or city.
A human self (which in this case has the label Per)
A belief (abstract identity etc).
An organ (this face or a painful arm)
Molecules, atoms, energy waves etc. (through science)
A story (movie, book)
A plastic game piece.
An animal or plant.
A sports team.
And quite naturally and effortlessly, my identity fluidly shifts among all these and many more. In one situation, I am identified with another human being, in another as my human self, and in yet another as the music being listened to.
When I look, I see that I really become what arises in the present. In my immediate experience, my identity is what arises.
And I also see how we are all trained by culture to disregard this, or translate it in various ways. I "have" a belief. I "support" that sports team. I "am" a patriot. I am "caught up" in the chess game. I "listen" to music.
All these are interpretations of our immediate experience of being what arises. I construct an abstraction called "Per", and then see all of these "other" things as happening to or within Per. And my language reflects all these interpretations and abstractions.
In daily life, this is very useful for helping us orient in the world and communicate. It is purely practical and functional.
But if I take these pragmatic abstractions as gospel truth, then I create trouble for myself. Now, the abstractions cloud over my immediate experience. I act as if these abstractions are real, as if they are anything else than abstractions of mere functional value. And through this confusion, I add a layer of drama and suffering to my life.
The release from this is to just attend to my immediate experience. And there are many aids for this shift, including Byron Katie's inquiry, the headless experiments, the Big Mind process, and Atma Vichara.
I find myself as capacity for the world, being what arises in the present. And then I add abstractions and interpretations as appropriate for functioning in the world.
Here, I am clear about the difference, and my center of gravity is in the richness, vividness and freshness of the immediate experience.
Fluidity & Rigidity
My human life is by necessity fluid as well as rigid.
Any system in the world of phenomena is fluid as well as rigid. It always changes, yet also maintains relatively stable patterns. This is also true for the patterns of my human self - these patterns of matter and energy, emotions, thoughts and actions.
When I experience great restriction and rigidity, there are many elements of fluidity and freedom here as well:
The rigidity itself has an element of fluidity in it - it is change. It is a temporary pattern through which matter and energy flows from the larger whole.
The rigidity is an expression of the great freedom and fluidity in how Existence is manifesting.
And the rigidity arises within myself as awareness, which has a tremendous freedom in reflecting and becoming whatever arises. I can find myself as capacity for the world, for whatever arises in the present - including this sense of rigidity. This is completely without any effort, without any attention. It is just what naturally, effortlessly, is.
Tour of Human Life
All of our lives is a tour of various aspects of human life. And this tour is always individual and always new and fresh. My human life in the present is different from what has been experienced by me or anyone else at any time.
There is a tremendous fluidity, freedom and richness in this.
But it is not a "personal" form of freedom. It is the freedom of Existence manifesting in always new ways. It is the freedom of Existence manifesting freely and fluidly as what I - and anyone else - experience in the present.
Even when I experience a sense of great restricition and rigidity in my human life, this too is within the larger context of the tremendous freedom and fluidity of the larger whole.
Footnote About Projections
Projection simply means to see in others what we see in ourselves.
The most common form of projection is simply recognition, seeing a characteristic in me and you. This allows us to open up for genuine empathy and for seeing our shared humanity. We are all in the same boat.
Other times, I only see it in the "other" and not in myself. This opens up for blind attachments, in the form of blind aversions (fear, anger, disgust) and attractions (desire, conventional love).
And other times again, I may see it only in myself and not in others, and that is an absence of projection. This may take the form of inflation, arrogance, megalomania, hubris, uncaring, etc.
Awakening & Projection
Projection simply means to see in others what we see in ourselves.
The most common form of projection is simply recognition, seeing a characteristic in me and you. This allows us to open up for genuine empathy and for seeing our shared humanity. We are all in the same boat.
(Although not relevant here, there are also - at least - two other forms of projection. See next post.)
Projections of Awakening
So when we awaken as the Absolute or Big Mind, it is natural to project this on "others" as well.
We see how simple it is, that it is just an awakening to what we already are - whether we see it or not, and that anybody is just a hairswidth away from awakening to what they already are. We simply recognize in others what we see in ourselves. This may be a motivation to help others awaken, as can also serve as a guide in the process.
On The Brink of Collective Awakening
There is also another form of projection, which may be less helpful and slightly more confused: Assuming that many others are on the verge of awakening.
We see this assumption all around these days, mainly in New Age circles.
There may be many reasons for this. I see that everybody already are what they are seeking, and it seems so simple to just awaken to it. I naturally find others who have awakened, so it seems that they suddenly come out of the woodwork. There is a desire for company, for a larger community of folks living from awakening. There may be a recognition that larger scale awakening would be very helpful in our time, to deal with all the problems facing us collectively. And we may see that the evolutionary trend is towards greater levels of awakening, so this may well be the next phase in the evolution of the Earth and humanity.
I find this in myself as well, but I also see that it is only an abstraction.
No matter how convincing it may seem, no matter what vivid and mindblowing visions this may come from, no matter how wise and enlightened teachers and gurus speaking about this may be, it is only abstractions. It comes from an attachment to a thought.
I see that for me, the only sincere answer is: I don't know. And in a way, this is also the most beautiful answer, not only in being the most sincere, but also in the receptivity and curiosity reflected in it.
In the unknowing, I do what needs to be done in the present - independent of abstractions about the future. There are no hopes or fears to paralyze current action.
Sincerity is the most simple way to live life.
There is only one question: What is here in the present?
There is nothing to remember, nothing to rehearse, nobody to impress. It is just what is, here now. Always fresh, new, immediate.
Of course, it doesn't preclude remembering or rehearsing - those are often essential - but when it comes to it, there is only what is in the present. I am free to not know, to find myself as unknowing. And I am free to speak from what is here now.
Talk As Inquiry
I am reading The Wonder of Presence by Toni Packer, and am reminded of how talks can function as inquiry. One person shares her immediate findings of inquiry, and this allows others to awaken inquiry for themselves.
So it is both a sharing, and - as always - something each one has to do for themselves.
Of course, it may be that some of what she says is from memory - of past experiences of inquiry, so it is not quite as clean as said above. And this is also a one-way sharing, at least as outlined in the book, although it could be that the real-life situation is more of a juicy two-way and collective sharing.
In any case, her approach seems very fresh, alive and immediate. And simple, homey and demystifying as well.
Another of the many possible meanings of emptiness, and possibly the simplest of them all...
What happens in the present is already empty of any characteristics. When I add a word or any abstraction at all to it, then it becomes just a description. Here, we see that emptiness is not separate from form - it is clearly the same. Form is emptiness, devoid of any labels and abstractions. And emptiness, what is without or before labels, is form.
Other meanings include...
The world of phenomena is a fluid seamless whole, and my human self is embedded in this whole. It is a vortex in a stream. A system within larger systems and containing smaller systems. A temporary pattern formed by the patterns of the larger whole, and fueled by the energy and matter of the larger whole. My human self is empty of any separate (seamlessly embedded) and fixed (always change) existence. My human form is empty of any separate/fixed existence, and this emptiness takes human form.
When I find myself as capacity for the world, I see that it is empty of any characteristics. It is pure capacity, aka void, stillness, Mystery - manifesting as pure awareness, and everything in the world of phenomena. Emptiness, the Mystery, manifests as form. And form is (born of) emptiness.
If what is in the present is an expression of God or Buddha Mind, or is God or Buddha Mind, or even is a creation of God, isn't it then also a perfect expression of God's will?
So who am I to disagree?
There is a terrible arrogance on our part when we resist what is...
I attach to thoughts, and take these as more true than what arises in the present. I fight what is with tooth and claws, placing the habitual preferences of my human self over what is. And I create a good deal of suffering for myself in this way.
And it is also very understandable...
When I identify as only my human self, I am not able to be with or be whatever arises. I am not able to function with a fully transdual view. I am not able to see that the source of everything - the experiencer and the experienced - is the same, is God.
Aligning With What Is II
So how can I align myself (consciously) with Existence, and will I become just a content vegetable?
One way is to find myself as capacity for the world - through the headless experiments, the Big Mind process, Atma Vichara, etc. - and see that this mystery is what everything arises from and as. The source of everything I take as "me" is also the source of everything else, and I can experience that directly in the present.
Another way is to allow attachments to thoughts to unravel, through for instance Byron Katie's inquiry process.
As Existence is beyond and embracing all polarities, I now find myself as the same. As Existence expresses effortless wakefulness, I find myself as the same. As Existence allows anything to arise in the present, with no trace of resistance, I now find myself as the same.
All I do is align what I experience consciously as "me" with Existence, with what is. It is a process of peeling away the "extra", of revealing what already is, and of familiarizing myself with it and bringing it into life.
Will I become just a content vegetable, with no initiative?
My human self, with all its preferences and passions, is included in Existence, so who am I to disregard it? My human self is as much what I am as anything else.
What I find is that including both the Big View and my human self allows for a wonderful fluidity and richness. I find effortless acceptance here for what is, and I find wonderful passion for change.
Of course, revealing this clearly, familiarizing myself with/as it, and bringing it into my human life, that takes practice. It is a continuous process, always unfolding in new ways. And there is always room for improvement.
Aligning With What Is
When I look at Existence, I see that...
It embraces and includes all polarities, including that of existence and nonexistence.
There is an effortless wakefulness and awareness in all beings, in which what arises in the present is reflected (this wakefulness is of course not always expressed, for instance during sleep).
It allows anything arising in the moment to arise, as it is. There is no trace of resistance.
So whether I see Existence as God, Buddha Mind, Big Mind, or as expressions and manifestations of the same, or as the creation of God, I have to assume that what is reflects, is a manifestation of, and is "God's will". What happens in the present is God's will, expressed perfectly and completely.
When I look at my own preferences, as a human being, they are often at odds with what is. And I see that this is how I create suffering for myself. I resist what is, through attaching to thoughts about how it "should" be different than how it manifests in the present, and I create suffering for myself.
This suffering seems to be a faithful and gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) reminder of the futility of resisting what is, the futility of holding onto personal preferences in a world that manifests on its own anyway, and how I make myself miserable when I do.
When Existence manifests in the present, who am I to disagree?
Freedom & Restrictions
One the one hand, there may be a sense of freedom in finding oneself as capacity for the world - for (and as) anything that arises in the present. Of course, this is just what we are anyway, although sometimes we may resist it.
On the other hand, as a human being we find restrictions everywhere.
There is 100% freedom, as capacity for the world. And there is 100% restriction, as a human being.
I certainly experience both. Sometimes one more strongly, and sometimes the other. And as with so much else, there is a beautiful - and terrible - fluidity and richness in this.
Who I Really Am
In writings about these things, I often see that the Absolute is referred to as more real than our human and transient aspect. There is often a phrase such as "who I really am", meaning capacity for the world, the unborn, etc.
It is just a convenient way of saying it, although it can also come across as a little onesided.
When I look, I find that neither my absolute or temporary aspects seem to be more or less real. I am fully both, until I am not.
And from a Big Mind view, I see that "I" will continue to be both even after the death of my human self.
One is distinct from the world of phenomena and any characteristics. The other is the world of phenomena. None more or less real than the other.
Not Knowing & Unknowing
When I don't know, it is almost unbearable. I cover it up as quickly as I can with the illusion of knowing, with attachment to abstractions. Here, I make it into an "it" and it becomes a disturbance to me.
When I reveal myself as Unknowing, it is beautiful, rich and full. Here, I find myself in and as it, as the groundless ground of my being. It opens up everything.
I find that this ground of Unknowing is that which allows anything and everything to arise in the present. It is that which allows anything to be at all, to unfold in the myriad forms of the universe and in my experience.
Depression & Appreciation
I am struck by what can be seen as the appropriateness and gift of depression.
Really, there is nothing to hold onto. All our ideas, insights, knowledge, is all very limited and of only temporary value. All our accomplishments and skills also has only a temporary and limited value. In everything we do and know, there is someone else - and most likely many - who can do it far better on any criteria we can use. In most of what we do, or maybe everything, we don't live up to our potential. And nothing that we do lasts, not even for the most famous of us - it will all be forgotten in centuries, and any trace of any human activity will be completely gone in just a glimpse of the eye in the cosmic timescale. We are just a speck in the immensity of the universe, of apparent very little importance in the grand scheme of things. And we all know, whether we admit it to ourselves or not, that all our beliefs - everything we cling to as "true" because we so desperately want it to be true, is just that - a belief, an attachment to an abstraction, and ultimately it cannot be anything but a lie. And we know, again whether we admit it to ourselves or not, that this identity we spend so much time creating, maintaining, polishing, defending, is also just an abstraction, it has no substance, and it is used to cover up the (unbearable) truth that we don't know who or what we really are.
All these are very accurate realizations. And if we attached to any of these lies, we are bound to experience a loss when we finally admit this to ourselves.
And any and all of these realizations invite to reveal ourselves as Unknowing. As that aspect of us that is distinct from the world of phenomena, distinct from any description. This mysterious emptiness, which is simultaneously full of the world.
When I find myself in this way, as Unknowing, everything that previously triggered depression in me, now becomes the reason for a profound, deep, rich appreciation for everything that is, and even more so because it is limited and transient.
When I am exclusively identified as a human being, any realization of limits can easily trigger depression. When I find myself as that which is distinct from the world of phenomena, any realization of limits awakens profound gratitude and appreciation of what is.
Everything Is Perfect As Is & Not
From this ground of unknowing, I see that everything is perfect as it is. No matter what it is, it is perfect as it is. It is always a perfect manifestation.
Ironically, this also gives me full freedom in engaging with what is, with the aim of changing it.
The other side of perfect is of course imperfection. From the ground of unknowing, the Absolute, then everything is indeed perfect as is. From the view of my human self, there is room for improvement. And seeing this perfection allows me to go at changing it - to alleviate the imperfections in it - with freedom and passion.
I can work at making my own life a fuller expression of what I find myself to be - as an already integrated free functioning self - moving freely as the Absolute, Big Mind, a human self, and none of these. I can work at finetuning my human self as an instrument in the world, in expressing this and alleviating suffering. I can work at stopping the unraveling of ecosystems, creating alternatives to our current collective modes of functioning, and in facilitating a shift in worldview on smaller and larger scales. I can work at helping people, through their own inquiry, finding who or what they are underneath their current temporary identity.
And along with all this, I can work at sincerely seeing the imperfections in my temporary and limited understanding and approach, I can work at receptivity to feedback from the world and individuals, I can work at seeing and changing the imperfections in my own views and actions. I can do this in humility, in knowing that there is no such thing as "perfection" on a human level, and that anything I say and do is from a limited view. In knowing that there is always room for improvement in any and all areas. And in seeing that none of these are reasons to not be fully engaged in the world, to not engage in the work that needs to be done in the world.
I can do any of these, and more - knowing that what is changed and the change process itself have the same source. All are perfect expressions of unknowing, of life, of Existence.
Emptiness & Fullness in Unknowing
There is an emptiness and fullness in unknowing.
There is an emptiness as it is distinct from the world of phenomena, distinct from any characteristics, distinct from anything that can be said about it. It appears distinct even from existence and nonexistence, distinct from any and all polarities. It is empty of any characteristics, empty of anything that can be said about it.
And there is a fullness in this unknowing, as capacity for the world, as capacity for whatever happens in the present. It becomes, and is, what arises in the present.
In our human lives, there is a wonderful richness as it manifests naturally as any experience, as any view, independent of whether we are aware of it or not.
And when I peel off layers of confusion and reveal myself in and as this unknowing, it can manifest naturally and effortlessly as fluidity among any views and identities, depending on what seems appropriate in the situation.
Everyday Night of the Soul
There seems to be an everyday version of the Night of the Soul.
Whenever there is a sense of sadness or disappointment coming up, even subtly, it invites me to allow abstractions to drop and reveal the unknowing ground of my being.
It invites me to see the futility and nonsense in attaching to abstractions, in taking them as gospel truth. Independent of whether these abstractions take the form of thoughts, dreams, ideas, self-image, identity, wishes, hopes, insights, knowledge, information, or what it may be.
All I am doing is clouding up the wonderful unknowing I find as the "ground" of my being.
This unknowing ground manifests in many ways. It manifests as an experience of a wonderful, rich, effortless and delightful unknowing as the ground of my being. It manifests as openenss and receptivity to what is and the validity of any view expressed. It can manifest as fluidity in taking on various views according to what seems appropriate in the situation. It allows me to use abstractions as a temporary tool, rather than as a way to confuse and create suffering for myself. It allows me to always, and with delight, admit that I really "don't know" - no matter what it may look like when I speak and act.
Any resistance coming up is an invitation to fall into what is, as it is, in the present. It is an invitation to rest as and in the unknowing - which I already am and do, although sometimes hidden behind my attempts to attach to abstractions.
Obscuration, Distraction, Fuel, Existence
During sitting practice, and in daily life as well, I notice that I move between several relationships to what is experienced, to the content.
One is as obscurations.
The content comes to the foreground of awareness, and I don't notice the awareness itself. I identify with the content, whatever it may be in the present. I identify with the experienced, and not the experiencer/experiencing. This is the classic obscuration, a.k.a. samsara.
And this too, is part of the wonderful and rich fluidity of Existence. This too is Buddha Mind, God, Existence expressing itself perfectly, as obscuration, as only half-awake, as functioning dualisticly, as functioning in a way that creates suffering for itself in various ways.
Another is as distractions.
Here, I have found myself as the Witness, as pure awareness, or going further back - as capacity for the world, as the formless unborn, the Original Face, deep stillness, the void, as that which is distinct from the world of phenomena, empty of any characteristics.
If I am not yet very familiar with myself as the Witness or the Absolute, then the content may appear as distractions and disturbance. I shift, involuntarily, between resting as Witness and being caught up in the fluid content of experiences. And the chances are that I don't appreciate this form of fluidity. I resist it, which - although dualistic in itself - also serves as a motivation for practice, for inquiry, sitting practice or whatever else it may be.
Then we find that the content can be fuel.
Anything is a reminder to come to myself as Witness (pure awareness, the experiencer/experiencing), as the Absolute (that which is empty of any characteristics), or as Big Mind (embracing the Absolute and Relative, experiencer and experienced), whatever it may be.
Not only that, I find that the more intense the content is - such as strong emotions - the more stable I find myself resting as Witness, Absolute, Big Mind. The stability and clarity is fueled by the strength of the content.
Finally, there is just resting (a dynamic and active resting) as the experiencing and the experienced, as the Absolute and Relative. They are revealed as two aspects of the same fluid whole, and I am that. It is Existence manifesting, whatever it is.
There seems to be degrees of this as well.
One is with an identification as awareness, as the experiencer, although within the clarity of no separation between the experiencer and the experienced.
Another is where this identification too drops, and the experiencer is revealed as just experiencing, and all that is is just what is - the whole in which experiencing and experienced are aspects. Here, there is no "I" to be found anywhere, no identity - apart from what is in the present, the indivisibility of the experiencing/experienced.
And as with so many other things it seems, there is naturally a wonderful fluidity among all of these. A wonderful richness in the way Existence manifests as all and any of these.
Translucent Revolution, Arjuna Ardagh.
The Wonder of Presence, Toni Packer.
The Mystique of Enlightenment, U.G. Krishnamurti (online).
The Little Book of Life and Death, Douglas Harding.
Face-To-No-Face, Douglas Harding.
Head off Stress, Douglas Harding.
The Awakening West, Lynn-Marie Lumiere & John Lumiere-Wins.
Books waiting to be read...
Mysticism, Evelyn Underhill.
Ramana, Shankara & the Fourty Verses.
The Cloud of Unknowing.
And re-reading parts of...
The Zen Teachings of Huang-Po.
Hsin-Hsing Ming, Seng-Tsan.
The Unborn, Bankei.
Content as Vehicles
The content of our experiences is fluid, always changing, always new. And they function quite naturally as vehicles for insight. Of course, if we pay attention, they do so even more effectively.
In mindfulness practice, we bring attention to the breath (or another aspect of the body), which naturally tends to quiet the mind. After a while, thoughts become fewer and with more space inbetween. There is less need to attach to whatever content comes and goes. A common image is that of allowing muddy water to sit for a while, so the mud sinks to the bottom and reveals the clear water. We are that muddy water sitting, allowing the mind to clear up somewhat. Here, we have more of an opportunity to recognize the nature of mind - the clear seeing, space & awareness, pure awareness, capacity for whatever arises in the present. We find ourselves as the experiencer (or more accurately the experiencing), not exclusively identified with the experienced.
This one is more about how the fluid experiences appear, rather than the content itself.
When there is suffering of any sort, I can use this to deepen our empathy with all living being. We all experience suffering in our life, at one time or another and in one way or another. The suffering I experience is one way I am connected with others. We are all in this together. This is a wonderful way to open my heart and find myself as just a regular human being, in it with everyone else.
I find that sadness is a wonderful way to allow all extra to drop. To allow it all to fall, and to find myself held by Existence in the present. This brings a sweetness to the sadness.
When an impulse arises in me, along the lines of "she should ..." or "he shouldn't ...", I see that this impulse is for me. It is exactly the advice which is most helpful for me in the present. The message is for me, not for anyone else. When I see this, and apply the advice, there is often an instant sense of wholeness and rightness. I come home.
At any time in human history, and especially today with daily access to information about the most successful people around, jealusy is easily triggered. I see that when there is a sense of separation from myself and the other, it takes the form of jealusy. But when there is no sense of separation, it takes the form of rejoycing. Only a little nudge is neccesary for one to shift into the other. When I use what could trigger jealusy as a reminder for rejoycing, I find a reason for happiness - rather than suffering - in other's fortune. Here, there is no end to reasons for happiness.
There is a fluidity in all this as well, between (a) allowing it all to be as it is, with no interference, and (b) a gentle nudge into a shift, for instance from jealusy to rejoicing. Both seems valuable, and appropriate at different times.
The first allows us, and Existence, to just experience what is as it is. The other makes whatever we experience into a tool for transformation, for new habitual patterns to form.
Sincerity & Nothing to Defend
Sincerity for me means to just be with what is, without needing to make it appear as something else. In sincerity, there is nothing to defend. And as resistance falls away, a sense of separation falls away as well. Sincerity is what helps me into a sense of no separation. The boundaries I construct, through attaching to thoughts, dissolve. And what is left is differentiation within a seamless whole.
Nonsense & Liberation
It is such a liberation to see clearly all the nonsense in words and abstractions. To see that they are just cruthces of temporary value, even the most profound and beautiful of them.
It is a liberation into being with, or being, what is - as it is. There is a deep silence, unknowing and mystery, arising as what happens in the present, clearly, vibrantly.
And sometimes, such as right now, I find a support into this through a sense of somberness. The content of my experiences gives me an opportunity to explore different aspects of Existence, and this somberness and slight sadness is a good vehicle for letting go, simply and into what is.
Thoughts, Dark Night, Liberation
I see how, when I deliberately engage in thoughts about what in my life did not go as I hoped or expected, I can create sadness and a sense of hopelessness and despair.
And I also see how, when I don't, everything is so obviously perfect as they are. Nothing is missing. The present is complete. There is a sense of no separation, of the fullness and richness of Existence, and of the wisdom and intelligence behind it all. Effortlessly. It just is.
When I engage in these thoughts, what comes up is a sweet sadness. A sense of nothing to hold onto. There is really nothing in my life to hold onto, in any way. Nothing to take pride in, for so many reasons: It is not much, compared to what is produced through some others. There is no-one here to take pride in anything - it is all a product of the whole of Existence, any way I look at it. There is no hope, and no fear either. It is just the bottomless Mystery, devoid of any characteristics, unfolding in the present - always new, different, fresh. There is no ground anywhere.
There is a sweetness in this. A liberation from anything to hold onto. A liberation into what is. A liberation into being held by existence, in the present. Of allowing it all to drop, allowing it all to fall, and being held by what is.
It is a small taste of the Dark Night of the Soul, and the wonderful mystery that comes out of it.
Experiencing & Experienced II
Among the deeksha receivers, there seems to often be an emphasis on the experiences - the content of experiences - and this is understandable.
But as with any exploration process of who or what we really are, we will always be lost if we attach to the content, the experiences themselves. They always come and go. Even the most profound bliss comes and goes.
Although we become whatever arises in the present, no matter what it is, it is temporary.
And what is left out is the experiencing itself. I can find myself as this experiencing, as that in which everything arises in the present. Here, I find a new "ground", a formless ground which I always am, independent of what is experienced in the present: a city, landscape, stars, trees, a street, cars, a computer, a friend, health, illness, pain, sadness, joy, dullness, bliss.
Together, I find myself as this formless ground and as what happens in the present. I am unchanging, and always changing. Or maybe, the formless ground of Existence is unchanging and its manifestations are always changing.
Footnote: Although many deeksha receivers emphasize the experiences - typically of bliss - the more experienced folks emphasize the essence of the awakening process, starting with awakening as Witness, then to "no self", then to liberation, then to a more fully transdual view - as Big Mind.
When we are still identified exclusively with our human self, and our view functions in a more dualistic way, it is only natural that we also identify with a seeking of bliss - and emphasize this experience.
But it is only temporary. The bliss is temporary, inevitably. And this emphasis is also temporary, as the awakening peels away more and more.
Experiencing & Experienced
I am still exploring how to express this most clearly (at some point I need to become more familiar with the Tibetan Buddhist way of talking about this, as they seem to have the clearest map).
Both the experiencing and the experienced come from the Absolute, the Mystery, that which is empty of any characteristics.
At the same time, is it possible to say that experiencing is really in the realm of the Relative? When I look in, it seems very close to the Absolute, although maybe just one step from it. It too appears distinct from the world of phenomena, distinct from time and space, etc.
The relationship between the experiencing and the experienced is rich, fluid and varied:
They can be seen as both having the nature of the Absolute.
They can be seen as two manifestations/expressions of Existence, God, Buddha Mind.
They can be seen as two aspects of the same whole, beyond and embracing all dualitites.
They can be differentiated from each other, within this context of seamless whole.
They can be experienced as quite different from each other (dualistic view).
No Self & Habitual Patterns
Awakening as the Witness, it becomes clear that there is no separate or fixed self, human or otherwise.
The world of phenomena - anything that can be experienced - is a fluid seamless whole. My human self, is just a thread in the tapestry, a vortex in the stream, a temporary and fluid pattern through which the energy and matter of the larger world of phenomena flows. And the experiencer and the experienced is also a fluid seamless whole.
Still of course, the habitual patterns of my human self are triggered. Often not much at all, other times - more frequently.
And sometimes, these patterns just unfold on their own. They just become part of the overall tapestry and there is no need to take them very seriously or engage with them. The center of gravity is in the vivid whole of what happens in the present, and these habitual patterns are such as small part of it. (Within this, I can just let them go, or see if a more focused attention is appropriate - for healing, information, etc.)
Other times, I engage in them as before, when I took them deadly serious. But now, I cannot take it very seriously anymore. I can act the role (as if I am angry, irritable etc.), but less convincingly. And it doesn't last so long. It is more of a ghost of old patterns, insubstantial. Created from ephemeral memories.
For many weeks now, there has been an experience of neutrality. Of course, emotions and other experiences come and go, but within/as this clear neutrality.
When I look, there is a definite sense of don't know. There is nothing to know, and nobody separate who can know anything. There is only the clarity of what happens in the present.
Attaching to thoughts as if they are the gospel truth, is the only way to have the experience of knowing. But thoughts just come and go as guests. They are mere abstractions, very dull and faint compared to the brilliance of what is - of what arises to and within this human self in the present.
So there is this clear "not knowing", as what arises in the present.
And yet, when there are words - verbally or written - something does come out, about as coherent or not as before. Even when the words seem relatively clear, it is also clear that they are from a very limited perspective (limited experience, information etc). And they are mere abstractions as well. Faint compared with the brilliance of what is in the present.
Gradual vs. Sudden Path
In looking at the gradual vs. sudden paths to awakening, it almost seems that...
In the gradual path, much of the integration comes before awakening, in addition to after.
In the sudden path, the integration comes mainly after awakening, along with a return to the awakening.
Of course, there is not really "integration" before awakening, but more of a mimicking of and preparation for integration.
This is probably a very simplistic view.
Fluidity of Neutral & Engaged
There seems to be a natural fluidity between neutrality (the formless ground) and engagement (as a human self).
On the one hand, they are both there always - existing at the same time.
On the other hand, there is a fluidity in time - from engagement to neutrality to engagement to neutrality. One is in the foreground, then the other, fluidly.
It is similar to shifting gears in a car: there is a period of engagement and speed, and then a period of neutrality before the next period of engagement.
If there was not period of neutrality, however brief, I would too easily go into onesidedness - to attach to one end of a polarity without seeing or being open for the other. The period of neutrality helps me come back to that which is just capacity for whatever arises, whatever it may be. And then I can engage again, from this neutral space of possibilities.
It seems that what is called spiritual bypass is just another example of one-sidedness.
I emphasize the Absolute or Big Mind to the exclusion of my human self, and thus ignore the healing, integration and maturing that needs to take place on that level. But this is just another example of one-sidedness. An example of what can come out of a onesided nondual view rather than a more transdual view.
In a more transdual view, I see how these are all equally important and I can move more fluidly among and as them. They are each just aspects of my fuller holarchy of being as it is present to me now.
In the fluidity of identity with each - my human self, Absolute, Big Mind or no "I" - variously in the foreground and background, there are obviously times when a certain emphasis is more appropriate.
When I as my human self need healing, that is in the foreground and the rest in the background, with maybe times of Big Mind/Heart in the foreground while my human self is still in the center of attention.
Other times, it may be more appropriate for Big Mind/Big Heart to be in the foreground, or even just what arises in the present - with no "I" to be found anywhere.
Awakening as the Absolute and then Big Mind brings with it many reversals.
From object in the world to space for the world
From exclusively being my human self, looking out at the world and finding myself as an object in the world, I now find myself as that in which the world arises to my human self, in the present. My human self is just part of the rich tapestry arising in the present.
From thoughts as truth to thoughts as tools
From believing in thoughts and taking them as gospel truth, I now see them merely as useful, practical tools - for exploration, clarification and communication.
From habitual responses to more of an overview
From blindly struggling with the habitual patterns of my human self, I can now allow them to unfold within me - within space - and don't need to automatically fuel or push them away. The habitual patterns of my human self just becomes a part of the overall tapestry. I can choose how to respond to situations in a way that seems more fitting, more appropriate - taking the whole tapestry into account.
Center of gravity from internal to external of my human self
First, what appears as internal to my human self (emotions/thoughts) takes up a lot of space at the expense of the world external to the small self. Now, the center of gravity is now more often in the "external" - in the world of phenomena out there, arising in the present. Of course, there is a fluidity here depending on where the attention is needed in the present.
Those who emphasize inquiry for awakening seem to have friends rather than students (Byron Katie, Douglas Harding, etc).
In a way, this seems healthier than the usual teacher/student or guru/disciple relationship.
And more honest.
We are all explorers. We can all learn from each other, even if some of us are more familiar with the terrain than others. Less experienced explorers discover more for themselves with the help of pointers from more experienced explorers, and the reverse is also true.
At the same time, the process is always only individual - we each have to see for ourselves.
Words & Inquiry
In spiritual traditions, words are used in two ways: To point to the Absolute and/or Big Mind, and to give guidelines for reorganizing the small self.
Words Pointing to the Absolute & Big Mind
In the first case, words seem quite useless in helping the receivers themselves shift into an awakening as the Absolute and/or Big Mind. In a way, it is nonsense to talk about, if this is the intention.
Still, these words can be very helpful as benchmarks. Before awakening as Absolute/Big Mind, the words are nonsense, just abstractions. When I awaken, there is a recognition: O.K., I see that it can be expressed in that way.
Now, the words can be pointers in clarifying the awakening and guiding integration, as well as for how to speak about it.
When it comes to help people themselves shift into an awakening as Absolute/Big Mind, inquiry seems much more useful than lectures and statements. They help us see for ourselves, which is the only way into it.
Some of the forms of inquiry I have found useful are those of Byron Katie, Douglas Harding and the Big Mind process.
Words for Reorganizing the Small Self
Words can also be used as guidelines for how to reorganize the small self. They can have a pragmatic focus, helping us into a life that may be a little more comfortable. Pema Chödrön is a good example of someone doing this in an excellent way.
So, one way to combine these approaches is to...
Use inquiry as a way to shift into a direct experience of - and awakening as - the Absolute and then Big Mind.
Use word descriptions of the Absolute and Big Mind as benchmarks. They are nonsense before awakening, and are recognized as feeble expressions of it after awakening.
Use words as guidelines for how to reorganize the small self and our relationship with the small self, to helps our lives become a little more comfortable and make us less of a nuisance for others.
Each of these seems to be useful approaches, and combined maybe even more so.
Center of Gravity
If I look for my center of gravity now, I find it "out there" - where the body (about midline-down) and the rest of the world is. And this is such a relief. Where others see a head, I find just wide open space for the world.
This may be partly due to Breema, but mostly to the Douglas Harding exercises.
After inquiring into my experience, using his experiments, I find that "headlessness" is just what is. And after seeing this clearly, it is very difficult to construct a sense of having a head and believing in it or take it seriously. It becomes just a convention, just for practical purposes.
3rd, 2nd, 1st and 0 Person
It is an interesting richness and fluidity in how I find myself relating to Existence (to God, Buddha Mind etc.) as 3rd, 2nd, 1st and 0 person.
First, I notice how there can be an either/or relationship for each. There is just one, and not much awareness of the other. And there can be more of a sense of all of them weaving into each other, with one in the foreground and the other in the background, fluidly.
If there is an exclusive 3rd person relationship, there is only an abstract "it" relationship. An inclusive 3rd person relationship allows me to talk about Existence as an "it" - it allows for a certain (illusory of course) sense of distance.
If there is an exclusive 2nd person relationship, God becomes an "you" in which I am in dialogue (wordless or not). This can be very beautiful. If this relationship is inclusive, then I also know that there is no separation - what is out there is also in here. This can be even more beautiful.
If there is an exclusive first person relationship, this can also be very beautiful. I find myself as That, or Just This, or however I want to express it. When there is an inclusive first person relationship, it all becomes far richer and more dynamic fluid. It seems that it also helps me stay more open for further wakenings and integrations, and for becoming more fully human. I find a new and deep sense of humility, gratitude and compassion.
If there is an exclusive zero person relationship with God/Existence, there is only what is - with no "I" to be found anywhere. This seems to be what Byron Katie, among others, live from. It appears to others as a quite radical and ruthlessly honest way of living (and teaching if that is what comes out). An inclusive zero person relationship again is much richer and more fluid and dynamic. From others not being able to relate very much, there is now a freedom in expression that helps other relate from where they are at.
In general, an exclusive 3rd, 2nd, 1st or 0 person relationship seems a little impoverished, if it is possible to use that word. Or maybe more accurately, a little less fluid and rich in terms of available views and expressions.
When it is inclusive, I can move more fluidly among the 3rd, 2nd, 1st and 0 person relationships. There is another sense of richness, and a much richer way of relating with others as well. I don't have to come across as a weird or unusual spiritual person. I can be just a regular human being, able to live from and express any of these relationships more as appropriate to the situation.
Indestructible Safety Helmet
This shift into "no I" came about through applying Douglas Harding's "indestructible safety helmet" experiment (p. 114 in Head Off Stress).
A brief description of the experiment:
Use a letter size paper with a large oval hole in it.
First, note how the emptiness (of the hole) is indestructible. Can anyone or anything destroy this emptiness? Then, hold it up to various things and note how this emptiness is automatically filled with what it is held up to. The emptiness and the forms are one, inseparable. Is there even the possibility of using two words for it? For me, there is just emptiness/fullness.
Also note how this emptiness/fullness now is out there, at a distance from you.
Now, gradually bring this emptiness/fullness up to where you are looking out of.
When I do this, I become this emptiness/fullness, and there is no "I" to be found anywhere.
And this is just how it already is. The only difference is in it now being more (locally) aware of itself, more as it is.
When there is no "I" to be found anywhere, there is just...
What arises to/from the small self in the present, what is experienced.
And those two are absolutely inseparable. There is no sense of distinction, no sense of two.
And no "I" anywhere: No attachment as "I" to the human self, nor to the Absolute, nor to Big Mind, nor to what arises.
What is - is just what is.
(Btw: This description is a variety of "drop" Big Mind.)
It is now even clearer how identification alone can be used as a way of describing the awakening process. (There are of course many other ways to describe it, equally valid, and equally much just a made up story with only a distant relationship with what really is.)
First, I awaken as a human being. I receive information through my human self, and then naturally learn to identify as this human self. I look through the eyes out on the world, and become an object in a world of innumerable objects. Through this, I create a good deal of drama and suffering for myself (and enjoyment as well).
Then, I awaken as the Absolute - however I describe this: as capacity for the world, as pure awareness, as void, as the Formless Unborn, the Original Face, the Ground of Being. I may find myself as that in which the world arises, to my human self, in the present. I am the experiencer, unchanging, stainless, with no trace from that which is experienced. The world of phenomena - internal and external to the small self - arises within me.
Then, I awaken as Big Mind - as that which is beyond and embracing the absolute (experiencer) and the relative (experienced). There is still a sense of "I" as the experiencer, and as that which embraces the experiencer and experienced. Again, the world of phenomena - internal and external to the small self - arises within me, in the present.
And I can also awaken as what is, with no "I" to be found anywhere. There is only what is, arising in the present. There is awareness and phenomena, experiencing and experienced, but no "I" anywhere here. Trying to describe it, in words that only split it up: The "experiencer" is revealed as just experiencing. And the experiencing and experienced are revealed as the whole of experiencing/experienced. As just what is in the present.
And I see how there is a fluidity in this: I am my human self. I am the Absolute. I am Big Mind. I am what is with no "I" to be found anywhere. And there is a fluidity among these, each here variously in the background and foreground, weaving into each other in various ways.
There are many footnotes possible here: When I see myself as my human self only, my view functions dualistically. When I see myself as Big Mind, it becomes more transdual. And when there is no "I" to be found anywhere, even more transdual.
When I find myself as Big Mind, there is "no self" in the sense of no separate or fixed human self. Myself as a human is just an aspect of this seamless fluid whole of phenomena. When I find myself as what is, arising in the present, there is not even any "I" anywhere.
The experience of "no I" mentioned in the previous post, is - as the experience of "no self" - completely unremarkable. There are no bells and whistles of any sort. It is just a very gentle shift into what is recognized as what is. The only difference is the unremarkable dropping of a subtle separation of experiencer (absolute) and experienced (relative).
In experience, it is unremarkable. And for others, it must appear unremarkable (as no difference at all). It is just what is experiencing itself a little more as is.
Coming out of this a little, I see that this comes and goes throughout the day now, although the shift seems always available just by a gentle noticing. It is also interesting to note that this comes through inquiry, as there is not much regular mediation practice going on right now (this will change I am sure, as everything else).
No Self & No I
I find that there is a clear difference between no self and no I.
When I come to myself as the Absolute, as capacity for the world - and as Big Mind, as capacity for the world and everything arising in the present, then there is no independent or fixed self to find anywhere. I see the world of phenomena as a fluid seamless whole, and myself as a human being as a vortex in this larger fluid whole. It cannot in any way be separated out from the whole. It just happens, doing its thing, as everything else. It all just happens, in the present - whatever it happens to be. Thoughts, cars, the room, emotions, another human, sensations, sounds - it all arises on its own in the present.
And when I look a little more closely, I find that the capacity and the world is absolutely inseparable. There is only capacity/world, only Existence arising completely beyond any dualities. Here, there is not even any "I" to be found anywhere. It is only what arises in the present.
To others, it still appears - clearly and beyond doubt - that Per is doing things. There is not really any obvious differences. He talks, eats, moves around, engages in different things as usual. But from this side, there is no self to be found anywhere, and not even any "I" to be found anywhere. It is just what arises in the present.
I must admit that I am much more familiar with the "no self" part of it, and the "no I" is - that's how it seems - new. Although I also know that this is only what already is, I am just first now noticing. And of course, there is no "I" noticing - there is only the noticing.
This brings with it a dilemma: how to talk about it? There is no way to talk about it. There is only stories made up, which align with it or not to various degrees - and never really very well.
There seems to be several ways to talk about the Absolute.
It is space & awareness, although space only appears along with phenomena, and awareness also comes out of the empty mystery. It is also onesided, as if space exists without phenomena.
It is pure awareness, although - again - this comes out of the Absolute. It catches it a little too late.
It is capacity for the world, which becomes the world as it arises in the present. This is maybe the most accurate. It is the source, distinct and inseparable from the world of phenomena. It is the Unborn, the Original Face, emptiness, deep silence - the mystery everything arises from and within. It is the mystery I find as the source and context for everything arising for this human self in the present. It is what I am, effortlessly - independent of anything else going on. I find that it is something I can absorb into, distinct from the world of phenomena.
And yet, when I look now, I see that this and what arises appears inseparable. There is only the source/thing, the emptiness/form.
I can experience it as distinct from the world of phenomena, and I can experience it as inseparable from the world of phenomena. And when this happens, there is no "I" to be found anywhere.
1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know it is true?
3. What happens when you believe that thought?
4. Who or what would you be without the thought?
5. Turnarounds (to myself, the opposite etc).
(About deeksha guy)
He shouldn't ramble on about abstractions.
1. Yes, feels true.
2. No, just an opinion.
3. Judgmental. Impatient. Want to be somewhere else. Irritable. Engage in circular thoughts and imaginary dialogues where I tear him down. Sense of separation.
4. Clear. See him as he is, and appreciate his process - see that it is right for him. Sense of connection. Discernment.
5a. He should ramble on about abstractions. (Yes, until he doesn't. Is his path right now).
>> 5b. I shouldn't ramble on about abstractions. (Yes. I ramble on right now, when I believe the thought that he shouldn't. I do the same I see in him, right now. The advice is for me. I am the one rambling on about abstractions when I attach to this thought.)
He should drop the sickening spiritual persona.
1. Yes, certainly feels true.
2. No, just an opinion.
3. Angry. Irritable. Judgmental. Circular thoughts, obsessing. Want to tell others about it. Disgust. Want to leave. Want to express my disgust one way or another. Sense of separation. Want to do something so he sees the attachment and allows himself to be a fuller human being.
4. Clear. Sense of connection. Able to be with it without reactiveness. Able to help him gently allow himself be a fuller, more grounded, ordinary person, if that is appropriate.
5a. He shouldn't drop. (Yes, not until he does.)
>> 5b. I should drop the sickening spiritual persona. (Yes. I see myself as "superior", as more spiritually advanced and mature. I am the one with a spiritual persona in this situation, when I attach to that thought. I am the one who is getting into a sickening spiritual persona.)
(About someone I have phone conversations with)
She should be direct with me.
3. Irritable. Annoyed that she is not more straight forward. Judgmental - what are the games she is playing? Hurt, assuming that she doesn't trust me enough to be direct. Critical of what I see as her lack of interpersonal skills.
4. OK with it. Clear. Sense of connection and discernment. Able to communicate my wish clearly and gently, if seems appropriate.
>> 5a. I should be more direct with her. (Yes, the advice is for myself. I should speak up in this situation. I am the one who is not direct.)
5b. I should be more direct with myself. (Yes, be more honest with myself. In this situation: take the urge seriously and speak up, for my own sake.)
She shouldn't drag everything I say down and interpret it in the worst possible way.
3. Angry. Hurt. Not seen. Judgmental. Circular thoughts. Obsessing about imaginary dialogue with her, where I give her my views and opinions of her approach. Hopelessness. Sadness. Contracted breath, stomach and calf muscles. Sense of separation. Behave in a cold and distanced way with her. Bursting at the seams of what I would like to say, but hold it back because I know it is my own hangup - and don't want to express what I would like to express until I am more clear. Snyde.
4. Clear. Able to see that it is her story. Nothing to defend. Free to express is clearly if seems appropriate, from a sense of connection.
>> 5a. I shouldn't drag everything she says down and interpret it in the worst possible way. (Yes. That is exactly what I do when I attach to the thought, and I trigger it. I assume the worst intentions on her part. I drag her down in my own view of her. I am the one who is dragging someone else down here.)
5b. I shouldn't drag everything I say down and interpret it in the worst possible way. (Yes. I often do that. Even now, there is a sense of judgment of myself from still being caught up in these attachments to thoughts.)
>> 5c. I should drag everything I say down and interpret it in the worst possible way. (Yes, this is what I haven't wanted to see. That even the "worst" possible interpretation of what I say is valid, has some truth in it. I often attach to abstractions - to memories, words, ideas.)
(From listening to radio)
Americans are crude, narrow minded, uneducated, dangerous.
She shouldn't be so adversarial.
He should see the bigger picture.
She should take others into consideration.
He shouldn't attach to an abstract principle when people's lives are at stake.
I should know what to do.
I should always be clear.
Emptiness & Fullness
Douglas Harding has another nice little experiment: the indestructable crash-helmet.
Take a letter size piece of paper and cut or tear a large oval hole in it.
Hold it up, and note how the hole is empty and yet filled with whatever it is held up to.
Also note how the space is indestructable. You can explode a nuclear bomb in it, and the space would still be unharmed.
See how, for now, it is all out there: the emptiness and the forms.
Then, gradually bring it to where you are looking from. Notice how you now become this emptiness and fullness. This indestructible emptiness filled with the world. Were you ever anything else?
Wanting What Is
One of the most profound (and simple) effects of various forms of inquiry is to arrive at an natural alignment of personal and universal will. Of the will of this small self (Per in my case) and of the rest of Existence, or of God if you will.
It seems that the inquiry process of Byron Katie, Douglas Harding as well as the Big Mind process all can help us into this. Help us with this gentle and simple shift which has profound consequences for how we live our human life.
Through Byron Katie's process, I see that any resistance I experience is self-created through attaching to an abstraction, a thought.
Through the Big Mind process, I see that everything is Big Mind. It comes from Big Mind and is an aspect of Big Mind.
And even being familiar with this, when I tried Douglas Harding's experiment on this, I experienced a profound shift. One that opened up for deep gratitude - for all that is - and for a tender heart.
His approach is simple. First, familiarize yourself with the basic experiments, such as the pointing experiment: Point out and see what you find (I find objects of all sorts). Then point in, from where you are looking, and see what you find (I find nothingness amazingly filled with everything out there).
Then the alignment of will experiment. First note that there is your personal will, attached to this human being called [name], and then there is the will of everything else - of the universe, of Existence, of God. Note how they sometimes align and (most likely) sometimes do not align, in your own life.
Then look at something in your life that does not align with the personal will. Look at this, and whatever comes up for your human self. Note how they are all objects out there, including the emotions and thoughts that come up. They are all objects in your awareness. It may help to hold out your palms and imagine everything there: the situation, your human self and its reactions.
See how it all exists in you as pure capacity for the world (I find it useful to repeat the pointing experiment here).
Now ask yourself, what is the source of what you see in your palm: this situation, your human self, and its reactions?
I find only one source: this capacity for the world. This emptiness filled with all there is. Where else could it come from? And this is me as well.
It is all coming out of this, which is me as well.
For me, this is a shocking revelation. I see how unnecessary it is to attach to a personal will that wants it different from what is, because what I really am - the context for all experiences - is the same source of everything I know.
It is the one and same source of everything I know.
Whenever I repeat this, over the last day, it is the same shocking revelation - and a sense of deep realignment occurring from it.
It seems that it is so shocking, and has such a deep effect, because I find that what I am most intimate with, what I truly am - unchangingly - is the same source as for all I know. It is the undeniable source of all situations, of this human self, and anything coming up in this human self.
Of course, there is a possible concern here: will I end up as a content vegetable from this, not care or do anything to change situations? I find that it the exact opposite occurs. This releases a great deal of energy tied up in resistance and struggle, and makes it available for me to be more fully engaged in life - including in acting to change situations. That too comes from this same source.
Just This Fluidity
From previous posting:
Actually, I am not sure what is beyond what here. There seems to just be the fluidity of finding myself as the Absolute, as Big Mind, as human, as what arises without any "I" to be found anywhere. There is just this fluidity.
Yes, this is all I can say.
I find myself as the Absolute, as capacity for the world, the void, the mystery, the source, absolute stillness, pure awareness.
I find myself as Big Mind, as the Absolute and the Relative, as capacity for the world and the world as it arises in the present, beyond and including all polarities.
I find myself as a regular human being, with regular sensations, emotions, thoughts, hangups, problems, likes and dislikes, mortality, diseases, etc.
I find no "I" anywhere. Not as the Absolute, not as Big Mind, not as a human being. There is just what arises in the present, with no "I" anywhere to be found. And what arises includes this human being others take for "me".
All there is, is the fluidity of all of these. None seem more final or ultimate than the other. The flow is all there is.
If I try to "get rid of the ego", then the good news is that there never was any.
There is just a temporary misidentification with the small self, and a familiarity with this misidentification. Together, they may appear - or even function - as an "ego", although all there is is a temporary misidentification.
There is no entity to be called the ego, just as there is no entity to be called the self.
As long as there is this temporary misidentification, it does appear very real.
I find myself as an object in a world of objects, with all that brings with it (sense of separation, fear, greed, anger, attachments, etc). And that is fine. There is no problem with it, apart from my experience of it as a problem.
When I awaken as the Absolute (capacity for the world, yet distinct from the world) and as Big Mind (the Absolute and Relative, beyond and including all polarities), I see that I created all the drama for myself through this misidentification. Now, the small self becomes a vehicle for me in the world of phenomena. There is a functional relationship with it - as it provides me sensory input and a way of engaging in the world.
And even beyond this, I find myself just as what arises in the present. There is no "I" to be found anywhere, not even as the Absolute or Big Mind. There is just what arises, nothing else. And that includes this small self which others take as me.
Actually, I am not sure what is beyond what here. There seems to just be the fluidity of finding myself as the Absolute, as Big Mind, as human, as what arises without any "I" to be found anywhere. There is just this fluidity.
Becoming the Other
I see that I quite naturally and effortlessly become the other when anything or anyone appears to this small self, in the present. It seems to be just what happens on its own, and my only task is to get out of my own way so I can be available to it. If I add too many stories on top of it, I kick up too much dust for me to see it.
I also see that all these words create too much complication and separation: there is just what arises. I cannot really even find any "I" in it... There is just what arises in the present.
I can say...
I find myself - in my immediate experience - as capacity for the world, empty of any characteristics.
And I find myself as the fullness and richness of what arises.
Clear seeing, and fullness of heart.
Although what really is, is just what arises. And even that is saying too much.
When you close your eyes and try to find yourself, here in this moment, who or what do you discover yourself to be?
The sound of the cars, the rustling of the leaves in the wind, the hum of the computer, the movement of the body, the pressure under the feet, the sight of the computer monitor and the room, the sunlight falling through the leaves, the sky seen through the branches, the sensation of cold, the light breeze.
I am what arises in the present. There is not even any concept of experiencer and experienced, although I see that I can create such a differentiation if need be. Of course, anything written here is an abstraction of the experience, made into words and dots on the screen.
The Way of Extremes
Buddhism is called the middle way, which has always puzzled me. For me, it seems more a way of extremes.
Whether I see it or not...
I am 100% not-human (as Absolute and Big Mind), and I am 100% human (as small self).
I am 100% detached, and 100% engaged.
I 100% embrace one end of each polarity, and I 100% embrace the other end of the polarity.
The process of awakening is just to bring this, which already is, into awareness. To find myself as already it. And the process of integration is to live it, bring it into daily life.
There are a few broad categories of healing...
Absolute & Big Mind
In my absolute aspect, as capacity for the world, I find myself distinct from disease and healing. The concepts of disease and healing do not apply here.
And as Big Mind, embracing the absolute and relative, there is similarly no need for healing. Everything is just expressions and manifestations of Big Mind, complete and perfect as is.
On my small self (human) level, there is indeed need for healing.
And this healing can take two broad forms.
One is the healing that comes from the small self arising within Big Mind. Here, there is no struggle in relationship to what arises, experiences can unfold on their own. There is on the one hand no preferences, and on the other hand unconditioned compassion in relationship with the small self. This allows the small self to reorganize and align itself to this new context, and through that find a deeper healing.
The other is the more conventional forms of therapies, those which function (mostly) at the same level as the small self. They reorganize the small self from within the world of phenomena. And they work at any and all levels of the small self (physical, energetic, emotional and mental) as well as with the context of the small self (the larger social/ecological whole).
It seems that when these three aspects of healing are taken into account, we find a more comprehensive and integral approach. One that is more complete.
I find myself as capacity for the world, as that which is distinct from the world of phenomena - and to which the concepts of disease and healing makes no sense.
I allow myself as a human reorganize and realign in the context of myself as Big Mind.
I seek conventional forms of therapies as appropriate, focusing on any and all levels of my being.
For a while, I have wanted more passion in my life.
I see now that it is here, in the form of inquiries (Douglas Harding, Byron Katie, Big Mind process). And I see that I didn't see it for a while, because it takes a form I didn't expect or had in mind...! That's fine. This is how it looks now, until it doesn't.
Reading interviews with Byron Katie, I see that she tends to end with an acknowledgment of that it is all just a story. She says something along the lines of...
It is all nonsense, but if it makes you happy then I am happy.
There is a great beauty in this. She points out that it is all a story, something added on top of what is, and yet she engages in it from compassion with others. She knows others are looking for it, and feel they get something out of it, so she agrees to go along.
I am reading Mystique of Enlightenment by U. G. Krishnamurti, and cannot help myself doing exactly what he doesn't want us to do: try to explain it...! Yet, it is too tempting. And it is of course just a story - of very limited and temporary value.
The search is always in the wrong direction, so all that you consider very profound, all that you consider sacred, is a contamination in that consciousness. You may not (Laughs) like the word 'contamination', but all that you consider sacred, holy and profound is a contamination.
From the Big Mind process, it becomes clear that seeking mind is always seeking something else. This is very valuable, as it keeps us in movement and exploring - and it essential for the survival of the small self. On the other hand, seeking mind is never satisfied. There is always something else around the corner, over the next hill. So it completely misses Big Mind, which is always here and everywhere. To shift into Big Mind, we don't need seeking mind.
Similarly, any idea of the "sacred" and "holy" is indeed a contamination. They are abstractions which split the world up for us. As soon as something is sacred, something else is profane. As soon as something is holy, something else is not holy. As soon as something is profound, something else is shallow. And getting ourselves caught up in these abstractions, as if they were true - even more true than our immediate experience, is where we get stuck. This is where we tangle ourselves up.
Again, the shift into Big Mind is very simple. It is always available, although we are not always available to it. And Big Mind is absolutely inclusive, beyond and embracing any and all polarities, which is why we (apparently) get lost when we split the world up in holy vs. profane etc. Of course, Big Mind is this lostness as well.
The way out of this entanglement is very simple, and there are many processes to help us with it. One is the Big Mind process. Another is finding ourselves as headless. And yet another is Byron Katie's inquiry process.
Double Level of Polarities
Whatever I, or anyone else, says - the exact opposite also contains truth.
This is because we live with a double level of polarities.
Within world of phenomena
One is that within the world of phenomena. When I say I am smart, I am reminded of everything about me (as small self) that is not smart. When I say I am ugly, you can find something that is not ugly. When I say that human life is short, I can also find a way it appears long. Both ends of any polarity are always present. When one characteristic appears to us, the other is there as well.
Between Absolute and Relative
The other is between the capacity for the world (Absolute) and the world of phenomena (Relative). Here we find the polarity of that which is empty of any characteristics and that of which it is full of - the world of phenomena.
When I come to myself as the Absolute, I find that it is distinct from the world of phenomena. No words are - or can be - accurate or appropriate in describing it. (Yet, it is that which is most close to us - that from which there is no separation, even in our immediate experience.)
If we try to come up with words, for the sake of communication, we can say Capacity for the world, void, Formless Unborn, Original Face, pure awareness, space & awareness etc.
And when I look at the polarity between the Absolute and the Relative, as it applies to me in my immediate experience, I find...
I am capacity for the world, and the world as it arises in the present. I am empty of everything, yet full of everything.
And as pure awareness & a human being, I find that...
I am stainless, yet vulnerable. I am distinct from time & space, yet in time & space. I am distinct from existence and non-existence, yet I either exist (as small self) or don't (before the birth and after the death of the small self). I am distinct from alive and not-alive, yet I am alive or not. I am distinct from anything that can be harmed, yet I am in need of healing on many levels. I am detatched, yet I am fully engaged. I am OK with all as is, yet I have preferences. I am distinct from completeness and not-completeness, yet I am complete and not complete to various degrees. I am distinct from any emotions and thoughts, yet I am and have lots of emotions and thoughts. I am the experiencer, yet I am also the experienced.
So no matter what I say, the opposite(s) are also true. I can turn the statement around in many different ways, and I can find a way that each of these new statements say something reasonable about the world. In this way, any statement can be a reminder to find its opposites, and how each of these new statements also true. Where can I find it, in my own experience?
This helps me unstick from one-sided and limited views, to not take any statement as the gospel truth, and to find more inclusiveness and fluidity in my relationship with Existence.
Rehumanize & Connect
I thoroughly enjoy reading and listening to radicals such as Byron Katie and U. G. Krishnamurti.
What they are expressing is so obviously accurate, and uncompromisingly so. They refuse to pretend. They refuse to go along with the game that others engage in.
And this is immensely valuable. It helps us see our own games, which we engage in in so many ways. It helps us see the games of adding stories and abstractions to what is, and of taking the stories for gospel truth rather than as just a practical and convenient abstraction.
At the same time, it is definitely valuable with folks who present it in a way that connects more with where most people are at. Teachers who thoroughly rehumanize and find in themselves what they see in others, fully. People who are willing to play the game, knowing full well they are playing a game. And through that, offer something others can connect with.
Both are valuable. Each offer something a little different, another medicine. And something else for people to be upset about, and through that see themselves more clearly. Or just be upset.
It can be shocking to see how much is really just abstractions. Although seeing this, abstractions can become useful tools for us rather than a way to create suffering for ourselves.
What arises in immediate experience, before any labels, is without abstractions. Everything and anything else is an abstraction.
These fragments of experiences - arising here and there in space - in the present, is all there is right now. And even putting these labels on it already is making it into an abstraction, a memory.
Anything in the past or future is an abstraction. Any memory is an abstraction. Any piece of information or knowledge is an abstraction. Any word is an abstraction. Any sense of continuity in time or space is an abstraction.
Abstractions are immensely useful to us. They allow us to orient and navigate the world. They allow for a functional human life, and adds to its immense richness.
At the same time, if we see abstractions as gospel truth, we immediately create drama and suffering for ourselves. When we see them as what they are, just practical tools to help us navigate, with only temporary and limited usefulness, then they become tools for us rather than an instrument of self-torture.
Footnote: For me this has become clearer at times when I do sitting practice and the music is on. The music - and everything else - falls into its components. Everything becomes just what it is in the present and continuity drops away. There is no "music" any longer, no continuity. Only the present arising always new, fresh and different.
Inquiry & Lecture
Different teachers use a myriad of different approaches and styles. As they say in Buddhism, there is different medicine for different people (inner/outer situations).
One way of grouping the styles is in inquiry and lecture. Some teachers use mainly inquiry. Others mainly lecture. And many use a combination of both.
For me, the inquiry style is much more comfortable now. In a pure form, it takes the form of asking a question to the participants, and then everybody - including the main teacher - responding from immediate experience. This can be a wonderfully open-ended, fresh and invigorating exploration, performed individually yet shared with others.
Here, in this shared exploration, the teacher only takes the role as someone (hopefully) more experienced with the terrain (as it appears to her/him), more experienced in describing it, and who has educational and people skills which helps others explore it for themselves. Depending on the setting, she/he may also work more individually with the students and help them see, work with and move beyond wherever they are stuck at the moment.
Of course, it is essential that variations are encouraged. The terrain will not be the exact same one for each person, and their experience of it will also vary. For each person, what they find will have a particular flavor, and they will have their own way of expressing it. This encourages sincere inquiry, and adds to the richness of the overall process and for each individual.
A good example is how the teachers at Kanzeon Zen Center now use the Big Mind process. Instead of giving regular dharma talks, they facilitate the participants in the Big Mind process - and in looking at a particular topic together.
The Sanity & Insanity of Flat-Earthers
There are many differences between functioning from Big Mind or as exclusively identified with the small self. In the first case, I am space for this small self and whatever else happens to manifest in the present. In the second case, I am an object in a world of objects.
Another difference is how we relate to thoughts and abstractions. In the first case, they are taken for what they are - merely useful tools of temporary and limited value. In the second case, we take thoughts as the gospel truth, often as even more true than our immediate experiences.
My immediate experience
For instance, in my immediate experience, I am capacity and space for the world as it arises in the present. I am nothingness for all the things arising. I am empty of any characteristics apart from what I acquire from the world in the present.
When I take abstractions and conventions for gospel truth, I create an "identity" on top of this. I see myself as a separate human being, an object in the world facing other objects. And I act, as well as I can, as if this is accurate and true - creating a good deal of drama and suffering for myself.
Sanity of Flat-Earthers
It struck me how those in the Flat-Earth Society (to the extent they take it seriously) actually have good point. Why believe anything people tell you, especially if it contradicts your immediate experience? There is a soundness and sanity in this.
Insanity of Flat-Earthers
Of course, there is also a lack of sanity in that particular tradition. Although we can trust our immediate experience in who or what we really are, there are some sound conventions we can use when it comes to the world of form - as temporary and useful tools to help us navigate the world. And many of these tools comes from other's experiences and from science.
The difference is that I see that these conventions (a) don't tell me who or what I really am (only my own immediate experience can), and (b) they are merely temporarily useful abstractions.
They are just maps and not the terrain - not 100% accurate or complete even for the world of phenomena. The world is always more than and different from our experiences of it, and even more so when it comes to our abstractions of it.
Ultimately, they are all lies, although very useful and practical lies.
A Natural Fascination Before Ordinariness
When we awaken as the Absolute (capacity for the world, void, emptiness, the Formless Unborn, space & awareness) or as Big Mind (Existence beyond and embracing all dualities), there is a natural fascination. We are drawn to explore this new "I", so different from who or what we thought we were (a limited human being). We want to spend time with it, familiarize ourselves with it, explore this new landscape which opened up.
Along with this is a period of integration and rehumanizing, of being fully human in this new context.
And gradually, this all becomes more ordinary. We become more familiar with it. We become ordinarily human, and hopefully even more fully and deeply human than before.
Of course, these three phases - or aspects of the process - do not necessarily unfold neatly like this, nor do they unfold once and for all.
There are continuous awakenings and continuous periods of integration and rehumanization. And it is a fluid process, with the phases weaving into each other.
With a 3rd person relationship with God/Buddha Mind/Big Mind, I talk about it.
With a 2nd person relationship with God, I relate to God in my immediate experience - through prayer, meditation, visions etc.
With a 1st person relationship with God, I find God behind and in front of the eyeballs.
Each are very valuable, and each have their strenghts and adds to the richness. At the same time, if I only have a 3rd and 2nd person relationship with God, it comes and goes. When I find the 1st person relationship, and see it clearly, it does not come and go in the same way. It may go into the background or the foreground, but is always present.
To see what I appear to be, in my immediate experience, I have to look as if for the first time. I have to let go of memories, ideas, expectations. And it is always fresh, always different, always new.
As one of my Zen teachers said when I struggled with my first koan: How would a five year old answer it? Allow any sophistication to drop, and just say and act from your immediate naive experience.
The experience of Big Mind is nothing new. It is what we all (?) experience now and then. Moments of no particular identity, of becoming whatever arises. There is nothing particularly esoteric or mystical about it.
To enter Heaven, we must become like children - with naive seeing.
The Not Human Allowing for the Human
It is interesting how it seems that finding myself as the absolute - as capacity for the world - allows me to also be more deeply human.
I find myself as that which is distinct from the world of phenomena - as nonhuman, not-alive, as capacity, as space & awareness - and this allows me to find myself as more fully and deeply human.
If I am exclusively identified with the small self, I am in constant battle with the small self and the rest of the world. I operate from an exclusive and relatively rigid identity, and spend a lot of energy comparing everything with this identity and maintaining, refining and defending it. I am attached to thoughts, and whenever a situation comes around that does not conform to these thoughts, I create suffering for myself. I am not able to just be a human being without all the extra that I add onto it.
When I awaken as the Absolute and then as Big Mind, as capacity for the world, I have the opportunity to allow the small self to be as it is. Within this space, it unfold as it wants to, according to its habitual patterns. I am able to experience it fully, to not only be with it but to be it. And as there is no fixed or exclusive identity, there is nothing to defend. I am free to behave through this small self in a way that fits the situation more, rather than just according to the habitual patterns of the small self - which may or may not be what appears appropriate to the situation.
So this extra layer of space & awareness allows the human side of me to be experienced and come out more fully, without the extra added on to it.
Fluidity in Big Mind
I notice, in my own immediate experience, how much fluidity there is in Big Mind.
Sometimes, the vastness of what arises in the present is in the foreground and the small self blends into the tapestry. Other times, what is going on with the small self comes into foreground, and the vastness goes into the background.
Another way of saying it is that I - as space and capacity for what arises - is sometimes in the foreground, and what arises is in the background. And that other times, what arises is in the foreground and I as space for it is in the background.
And either is fine. Sometimes there is no task at hand, or a task that fits very well with the vastness - I as space - in foreground. Other times, it may be more appropriate to focus specifically on what arises in the present.
I also notice how habitual patterns of the small self are triggered, and how I can even engage in what is triggered, and Big Mind is still there in the background. It is delusion and confusion, within the context of Big Mind.
For instance this Friday - when the small self experienced pretty strong reactions to food I had the night before - grumpiness was triggered by different situations. And I - as awareness - went into it and fueled it to some extent. At the same time, I noticed that it all took place within Big Mind - within a sense of being space for whatever arises in the present. Even here, when I do attach to and engage with what comes up, it takes some of the sting out of it.