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Wednesday, November 30, 2005 |

Nocturn

I am listening to the new album by Kate Bush, Aerial, and notice how the lyrics on one of the songs is Big Mind infused.

We become panoramic...

The stars are caught in our hair
The stars are on our fingers
A veil of diamond dust
Just reach up and touch it


All of us access Big Mind/Heart to different degress and in different ways, even in our daily lives. It can be triggered by any number of situations, including music, poetry, movies, a quiet moment, nature, love... Here, it is triggered by love, companionship and the immensity of the ocean and the universe. She is simultaneously the immensity of space in which the stars and the ocean arises, and a human being wading and swimming in the ocean. The stars become caught in the hair, they are on the fingers. Just reach up and touch them.

On this Midsummer might
Everyone is sleeping
We go driving into the moonlight

Could be in a dream
Our clothes are on the beach
These prints of our feet
Lead right up to the sea
No one, no one is here
No one, no one is here
We stand in the Atlantic
We become panoramic

We tire of the city
We tire of it all
We long for just that something more

Could be in a dream
Our clothes are on the beach
These prints of our feet
Lead right up to the sea
No one, no one is here
No one, no one is here
We stand in the Atlantic
We become panoramic

The stars are caught in our hair
The stars are on our fingers
A veil of diamond dust
Just reach up and touch it
The sky’s above our heads
The sea’s around our legs
In milky, silky water
We swim further and further
We dive down… We dive down

A diamond night, a diamond sea
and a diamond sky…

We dive deeper and deeper
We dive deeper and deeper
Could be we are here
Could be we are in a dream
It came up on the horizon
Rising and rising
In a sea of honey, a sky of honey
A sea of honey, a sky of honey

The chorus :
Look at the light, all the time it’s a changing
Look at the light, climbing up the aerial
Bright, white coming alive jumping off the aerial
All the time it’s a changing, like now…
All the time it’s a changing, like then again…
All the time it’s a changing
And all the dreamers are waking

[source]

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 |

Phases

A quick overview with some correspondence to Tozan's five ranks and the path(s) as outlined by western mystics.

  1. Duality
    View is dualistic, and identity is exclusively with the human self. "I" am this human self.

  2. Detaching I
    Detaching from dual view and exclusive identity with the human self.
    Tozan's second rank. Dark night of the senses.

  3. Absolute
    Deepening transdual view and identity as Big Mind/Heart and the absolute. "I" am the absolute.
    Tozan's third rank. The brilliant sun of enlightenment.

  4. Detaching II
    Detaching from habitual transdual view and exclusive identity as the absolute.
    Tozan's fourth rank. Dark night of the soul. Fall from grace.

  5. Integration
    Deepening integration of the absolute and the relative, Big Mind/Heart and the human self. Increased fluidity. No exclusive or habitual identification. There is no fixed "I" anywhere.
    Tozan's fifth rank. The hazy moon of enlightenment. Integrated free functioning human being. The unitive life.
This seems to be the general outline, and it is of course possible to refine it and add phases - such as one between 1 and 2 which is the initial glimpse, to wet the appetite (Tozan's first rank). Phase two involves submission, either to a teacher or to God/Christ.

The transitions from the two phases of detachment to the following ones may come to an end when we are ready to embrace the pain in it. When we can fully accept and melt into whatever we are experiencing.

In my experience, phase two was more of a sense of being pulled apart and put together again in a new way - with a good deal of awakenings and illumination mixed in. Phase four was one of being completely ground to dust - on a very human level, with a sense of a complete abandonment of the absolute and of being completely abandoned by God (Buddha Mind). During the early integration phase, the absolute returns although now in a way that seems completely ordinary and unremarkable.

Looking at it this way, the process makes a good deal of sense - although probably most often recognized only in hindsight.

First, there is an exclusive identification with the relative. Then, a detachment of this identification. This is followed by an exclusive identification with the absolute (and a sense of "I" having attained it), and later by a detachment of this identification. After this tour of the relative and the absolute, we are ready to integrate both in a more grounded and ordinary way.

Or even briefer:
  1. Predual
  2. (a) Dual, (b) Detach I.
  3. (a) Nondual, (b) Detach II.
  4. Transdual.
And this whole cycle may of course repeat several times over a lifetime in various ways and intensities, and the phases may not neccesarily come up in order either.

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Perfection In 1st & 2nd Person

As Big Mind (Buddha Mind, God), we see that everything is complete and perfect as is. It is all Buddha Mind, God, Spirit.

In a second person relationship with God, Buddha Mind, Spirit, we learn that every situation is exactly what I need. Every situation, as it is, is the greatest gift I could ever receive. It is complete and perfect as is, all that I could ever need.

This helps me open up, to deepen receptivity, gratitude, humility, compassion. It helps me diffuse the tendency to blame anything outside of me (because I know from 1st person that it is all God). It helps me deepen into maturity and receptivity. To experience my whole life as a prayer.

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Dark Night

The last few days, it has dawned on me that I am in a form of dark night of the soul. What initially looked merely like a personal failure now seems to fit into a relatively common pattern.

This has also invited me to look at the overall pattern over the last several years.

A brief outline...

Drunk & Witness

At sixteen, I drank a large amount of alcohol for the first (and last) time. There are several hours of that night that are lost to memory. The day after, I remember clearly that there was a gradual shift into a sense of unreality - over maybe an hour or two. Everything was as if a dream, and I found myself as crystal clear awareness infinitely removed from the world of form.

Now, I recognize this as a shift into the Witness, being absorbed into formless awareness.

Deepening

This continued and deepened over the following weeks and months, until about a year later (if I remember correctly) when this all bursted into a more full blown opening. I walked down the gravel road to our mail box, it was a dark winter evening, snowless, with a big wind and the stars above. Suddenly, it was as if I was what the wind blew through and the stars appeared within. There was no separation between anything anymore. And there was a tremendous sense of coming home and of joy and bliss. And this too lasted and deepened over the following weeks, months and years.

In the midst of this, there was a bewilderment in trying to make any sense of it all. I had developed a quite strong scientific and atheistic worldview prior to this, with little or no interest in anything that tasted of spirituality or mysticism. Yet, it was exactly in mysticism that I found people who seemed to describe similar experiences. I read a large amount of books in the following years - Fritjof Capra, Jung, Steiner, Yogananda, Jes Bertelsen, Taoism, Buddhism and so on.

All the while, the opening continued to deepen - day and night for years. It was a tremendously intense experience, with a mix of deep bliss and pain. My view became deeply transdual, to the point where I was painfully aware that it was impossible to even begin to describe this in words. Words split, and this was beyond and embracing any and all polarities.

During this phase, which lasted several years, I was enormously productive in terms of studies, reading, painting, drawing, music, consuming culture, engaging with (a small group of) friends, doing tai chi, chi gong, going for hikes in nature, and much more. It seemed that I could do everything, and do everything well.

Fall from grace

During these years, I obviously became somewhat attached to this deeply transdual view and experience. I understood, from direct experience, what all the mystics and sages from so many traditions were talking about. And I could, in some cases, even express it more clearly myself. And there was also a liberation from being caught up and identified as any form, be it my human self or emotions, thoughts or experiences.

So in the midst of this, I knew that it was inevitable to have to loose it for a while. I had to become merely human and learn to live an ordinary human life. And that is exactly what happened, although not in the way I expected. And it was far more painful than I could ever have dreamt of.

During my initial opening, there was a sense of my human self being pulled apart and put together again in a new way. But now, there was a sense of being completely and utterly ground to dust. I had completely lost any connection with God, with any transdual view and experience. I was utterly and completely ordinary and human, and all my passion and clarity was lost.

I ended up being just a passive victim of life as it happened to unfold, without any power to extract myself from it. Where I earlier was able to allow any experience to just unfold within me - within clear space - and leave no trace, I was now utterly in the mud, unable to relate to what was happening in any healthy or sane way. I was unable to do any form of meditation and prayer (although I deeply longed for it, and tried several times). I was unable to read anything spiritual or "uplifting". I was in utter misery, utterly crushed to dust. And this too lasted for several years.

Looking back, I see that there was an oscillation for maybe two years, with some moments of grace and bliss, and then a complete descending into this misery.

And for a long time - up until just the last few days - this all seemed utterly personal and just triggered by bad decisions and circumstances.

Return

Then, with another change in circumstances (another geographic move), there was another opening, although this time more gradual, soft and far more unremarkable. Now, there is a sense of the ordinariness of it all, both the human life and that beyond the human.

Now, with the return - in a different way - and with being exposed to more detailed readings of the dark night of the soul (and Tozan's fourth rank), I see that there is maybe a larger pattern to all of this.

Even in the midst of it, in the midst of the deepest misery, I did sense that it was part of a larger process - that I was carried by something deeper, but there was no way I could see what that was or find any comfort in it.

There is still much further to go, even as part of the tail end of this dark night. I am still much of a wreck as a human being, my life is still quite off track in many ways. But at least now, there is another opening and a deeper - and far more unremarkable - integration going on.

And who knows, there will still be many more dark nights of various types. Any attachment is followed by a detachment, and this process can be quite painful. Especially if we resist it, as I did with all my might during the fall from grace.

When I finally came to a point where I could begin to embrace it, it gradually shifted. But I don't think I could have done that earlier, especially in the circumstances I was in. Of course, what we resist persists, but even knowing that, I was not able to do it. Maybe I'll gradually learn.

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Infinite Delusion & Not

We may always be deluded, even into high awakenings. In the midst of the infinity, our horizon may always be limited. And this is wonderful, because it means there is always further to go, always more to explore. There is delusion in ordinary delusion, and there is delusion in awakenings. And really seing and living this means that the delusion is a little less deluded.

And at the same time, there is not really any delusion. It is all God, Buddha Mind, Spirit, manifesting and unfolding perfectly and completely. Ultimately, there is no delusion and no no delusion. God is beyond and includes all of these polarities.

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Open Heart

Having an open heart is sometimes seen as a way to eternal bliss and joy, but in my limited experience, it is also a way to eternal pain...!

It seems that with an open heart, there is a continual mix of bliss, joy, pain, longing and suffering as well.

If it is not as pure and onesided as sometimes presented, at least it keeps me human and more alert - including to the suffering of others. It keeps me alive.

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No Way Out & Not

On the one hand, there is really no way out - and at several levels as well.

Present experience

First, there is no way out of what I am experiencing right now. I can (and do) try all sorts of approaches, including denial, repression, distractions, etc. But it does not help in the long term.

Eventually, I come to the point where that is abundantly clear to me and the various forms of distractions loose their attraction. Or what I am trying to push away becomes so strong, and my defenses so weak, that it crushes through in a sudden flood. In either case, I am faced with only one option: to face it. To immerse myself in it, whatever it is I am experiencing in the present. To melt into it, embrace it, be with it and then just be it.

When I do this fully, in the realization that there is really no other way out, there is a change. What previously was kept out in the cold, knocking on the door, is now invited into the warmth and melt and soften.

A few weeks ago, I went to a training in a technique that stretches me in several different ways - including some that are definitely outside of my comfort zone. At the end of the first day, there was the experience of being a complete failure, inadequate, etc. For an hour or so, I tried different distractions such as food, reading, music, going for a walk, etc. And it became obvious to me that none of those worked, or had any chance to work. So I laid down on the bed, allowed the experiences fully in, and melted into whatever was there in the present.

What was previously experienced as "other" and a disturbance now melted and shifted. From experiencing myself as fractured and broken, with a strong force coming in from the outside threatening me, everything gradually shifted into a sense of wholeness and deep rootedness, with a current of bliss running through it.

This life

The same is of course true throughout this life. I cannot escape the experiences coming up, nor can I escape whatever life brings up - in the form of any inner/outer circumstances. I have really no choice but to (eventually) face it.

As we go through life, and become familiar with this process of initial avoidance and then melting into it, we also become familiar with a particular pattern. We see that trolls petrify and crumble in daylight. When we allow ourselves to melt into whatever is experienced, the trolls crumble. We allow what was previously kept outside in the cold into the warmth and they mellow out of their fierce and scary appearance.

Continuing beyond death

Going a little beyond our immediate experience, it may also be true that these habitual patterns - now lived in this human life - continue. So even death is not a way out. The patterns continue, and has to be lived, even if it is through another sentient being.

Awakening

Even awakening to our "true nature" (enlightenment) is not a way out. We still have our human self, and this human self will still go through whatever any human self typically goes through: loss, pain, ups & downs, disease and eventually death. There is no escape from any of these, even in awakening (although it may appear that way before and a little bit into the awakening).

Cosmic Cycles

Again, going a little beyond immediate experience (for most of us), we see that there may not even be an escape in the longer run. Even if there is a large scale awakening for humanity, and all beings eventually awaken, and there is some form of "omega point", an enlightened society, a new collective enlightened lifeform emerging, etc., this may just be another phase in the larger cycles. Eventually, it may all start over again, in deep delusion and suffering, again gradually moving through the various levels of awakenings. This is at least what several wisdom traditions say. So even here, there is no way out. Quite sobering, isn't it?

The way out

And yet, to not be onesided, there is also a way out. When we awaken to our "true nature", to and as formless awareness, the Witness, there is a certain liberation. We are no longer blindly caught up in the ups & downs of our human self, we do find a new "ground" which does bring a sense of freedom and liberation from all of this, and also (at least for a while) a current of joy and bliss. But this too may not be "permanent", at least of the cosmic cycles view is somewhat accurate.

Monday, November 28, 2005 |

Dream

I worked at the Integral Institute, and one of the requirements was that everybody had a broad integral practice, especially in the areas where they were weak. I was told to work on strenght and bringing in more masculine qualities in everyday life. We also had periods with music, drawing, etc. where I did well.

Well, yes - those are two areas I know needs strenghtening, especially right now. The dream may be telling me that this is more important than I consciously perceive.

Labels:

Sunday, November 27, 2005 |

Inside & Outside Of A Vase

From various traditions, I have seen the analogy of a vase used to describe the "no self".

There is always the same space inside and outside of a vase, although that does not become obvious to us until the vase is broken. At that point, it appears as if the outside and inside space merges, and we realize it never was separate or different.

This analogy works for both forms (phases) of "no self".

First, when we find ourselves as the Witness, as formless awareness, we see that this human self and the rest of the world of phenomena is a seamless fluid whole. There was never any separation, only the appearance of it from our previously exclusive identification as this human self. From our new "ground", we can see it all as a seamless fluid field.

Then, the apparent separation between the Witness and the world of phenomena dissolves. There is no "I" anywhere, just what is, as it is. The temporary identification as the Witness, as formless awareness, is now revealed as just a belief in another thought. What is, is what is, beyond and embracing all polarities, including those of awareness and matter, the unchanging and changing, one and many, and so on.

What this old analogy does not mention, is that we need to construct the vase before destroying it. We need to build it, familiarize ourselves with it, and then allow it to break and reveal the undivided space which was always there. That is the whole game.

As Ken Wilber points out, it is a case of transcend and include. As we move beyond our current level, some structures remain and are included in future developments, while other aspects are left behind/transformed.

We construct an identity as a human being, and learn to function effectively in the world. Then, we construct an identity as formless awareness and learn to function in the world in that way (deepening into liberation). Then, we learn to function even with no "I" anywhere.

And at this point, we of course continue to make use of what we developed at the previous phases. We can still function effectively in the world, and we are still very much aware of the "ground" of formless awareness. The only difference is that there is no "I" located anywhere, there is no sense of (a separate) subject or object anymore.

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Projections & The Transdual

If we only worked with recognizing and integrating projections, it in itself will bring us right into the transdual - and a continuously deepening transdual view.

First, I am exclusively identified as a human being and see a clear and real distinction between inside and outside, the inner and outer worlds. My view is almost exclusively dualistic.

As I work with projections on a personal level, I gradually find more and more of the qualities I see in the outer world also in the inner and the other way around. The boundary becomes more permeable. My view deepens into the transdual.

As this continues, my identity - and center of gravity - shifts from my human self to the Witness, to myself as formless awareness, the Unborn. I now see that the world of phenomena is a seamless fluid whole, and the distinction of inner and outer is from an added layer of abstractions, of functional and temporary use only. My view of the world of phenomena is now more deeply transdual.

Eventually, I see that this "I" too is just from a layer of added abstractions. There is no "I" inherent in anything, not even this formless awareness which I temporarily identified with. Now, there is just what is, as it is, with no "I" to be found anywhere. My view continues to deepen into the transdual. What is, is that which goes beyond and embraces awareness and matter, existence and nonexistence, formless and form, life and death, and so on.

Working with projections can lead us right up to the final shift (of no "I"). And - depending on which technique(s) we use - can even take us through that shift, using for instance the Byron Katie inquiry process.

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Sincerity

If there is one single guidelines which may help us to become more fully human, embracing, deepening into and being fluid with both the personal and transpersonal realms, it may be sincerity.

Sincerity helps me...

Deepen into what is, fully experiencing and embracing it. Being with and being what is, allowing it into awareness as it is in the present.

Open for gratitude, humility and compassion. Gratitude, for what is given - for the infinite beauty, richness and wonder of Existence. Humility, for being an infinitely small creature in an infinetely large universe, and for being just one of many, all in the same boat. Compassion, for all the suffering we all experience, and from recognizing myself in any other being.

Move from duality to deepening transduality, through being with what is and seeing in myself what I see in the outer world.

Living with a more open heart and mind, with greater receptivity. With less to protect.

Stay and deepening into being human, in all ways.

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Living & Dying For

I heard a segment on To The Best of Our Knowledge (Wisconsin Public Radio) where they interviewed random people on what they are living for, and what they would die for. To me, this is an example of good radio and good reporting, going beyond the events of the day and hitting closer to the core of what it is to be a living being.

It is also interesting to see how the answers to these questions (apparently) fall nicely into the Spiral Dynamics model.

Some examples...

  • I would die for liberty, truth and my country (blue level).
  • I don't think I would die for anything in particular (orange?).
  • I would die if it could save significant numbers of people (imagined response, green?).

  • I live for family and friends (any level beyond red?).
  • I live for work (blue or orange?).
  • Woman leaning over stroller and asking her baby to say hello (second tier?).
  • Life is its own meaning (imagined response, second tier?).

Saturday, November 26, 2005 |

Integral Sustainability

Rough outline of a brief article on integral sustainability...

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world
I may not ever complete the last one,
but I give myself to it.
- Rainer Maria Rilke

Main story

  • Deepening transdual view
    • Widening circles of care, consern and compassion.
    • Care for the whole spiral, wherever people are.
    • More aligned with Existence as it is, already more than and including any and all polarities.
    • Need to be real and meet people where they are, use a language they can hear
  • Comprehensive (quadrants: inner/outer, one/many)
  • Include ourselves (also as a tool for transformation)

Outline
  • Intro
    • Comprehensive
    • Developmental
    • Guideline for own engagement/strategies
  • AQAL
    • Levels
      • Widening circles
      • Holarchical development (transcend & include)
    • Four quadrants
      • Inner/outer, one/many
  • Specific to sustainability
    • SD phases & sustainability
      • First tier (general + phases)
      • Second tier (general + phases)
    • Examples
      • Language (embedded above)
      • Applied
  • Integral practice
    Outline
    • Intro
      • Comprehesive, common-sense approach, based on our current knowledge (from west & east)
      • A map to help us orient, form strategies, and align our work with that of others.
      • Become real, take the real terrain into account, look at where people are at and what they are able to hear. Meet people where they are at. Become real about why people would take these issues seriously.

    • Brief overview of integral framework
      • Holarchies
        • Every system is a whole in itself and a subsystem in a larger whole.
      • AQAL
        • Four Quadrants
          • Four terrains, areas of reality
          • Interior/exterior, one/many
        • Lines of development
          • Examples
            • Cognitive, emotional, relational, aesthetic, moral etc.
          • Spiral Dynamics
            • History: first found categories, then predictable progression.
            • Increasing levels of complexity.
            • First tier: I am right, you are wrong (tier chauvinism). Second tier: embracing the whole spiral, concerned with the health of the whole spiral.
      • Benefits
        • More comprehensive approach, more thorough change (avoid some surprises from quadrants left out).
        • Integrally informed, aids strategy planning, coordination and cooperation.
      • Applications: integral practice, sustainability, business, design, culture change, etc.
      • Similarities with permaculture (may write this for a permaculture journal)

    • Applied to sustainability & culture change
      • Quadrants.
        • Examples of each quadrant, related to sustainability/culture change.
        • Examples of approaches that includes each quadrant.
        • The benefits of including each quadrants (more comprehensive).
        • The benefits of being integrally informed even if do not include each quadrant (coordination).

      • Lines/levels
        • Spiral dynamics
          • Background
            • Based in research (not baseless philosophy)
            • Found categories of worldviews/value-memes
            • Then found progression in a predictable sequence
            • Each relate to nature in a particular way, and has a typical "eco-self"
          • Increased complexity/inclusiveness at each level, increased flexibility
            • Reduced fear
              • Widening circles ("us" becomes more and more inclusive)
              • Increased flexibility and more tools in the toolbox (from previous phases)
          • Widening Circles
            • Circle of care, concern and compassion becomes more inclusive
            • Pushing the boundary our chauvinism outwards
            • Egocentric, ethnocentric, worldcentric
            • Moves into a deepening transdual view, especially at end of first tier and at second tier.
            • Gradually more aligned with what is (Existence as it is), more than and includes both ends of any and all polarities.
              • Me - other
              • Humans - other species
              • Culture - nature
              • Current generation - past/future generations
              • Mind - body
              • Spirit - matter
              • Existence - nonexistence
              • etc.
          • General development
            • Egocentric (red), ethnocentric (blue), worldcentric (orange)
            • Preconventional (red), conventional (blue, orange), postconventional (green)
            • Modern (orange), post-modern (green), integral (second tier)
          • Solves problems of the previous level
            • Each new level solves some of the problems of the previous level, and create new problems (new areas in the blind zone) in turn partially solved by the following level.
            • Each level has a blind zone (areas left out which eventually comes up as a problem)
            • Cycles from individual (red, orange, yellow) focus to collective (blue, green, turquise) focus.
          • Holarchical development
            • Widening circles
            • Each level a holon, transcend and include the previous ones (the previous levels are accessible at any later/higher/wider level)
            • Some of each previous level included in the following
            • Some left out as well (some of the exclusiveness dropped)
        • General overview of first & second tier
          • Second Tier
            • Steps back and sees the bigger picture
            • Appreciate the whole spiral, all levels of development, and seek the health of the whole spiral
            • Ever deeply worldcentric: care for all being + the health of the whole spiral
            • Gradually more deeply transdual and integrative
            • Flexibility to meet people where they are at, to use a language they understand, to apply strategies that they will support.
            • Inclusive, fluid and comfortable enough to use a language that makes sense to the recipient (set aside one's own views for a while).
            • Apply strategies to facilitate the health of the whole spiral, and help people along the spiral.
            • Systems view, holarchies.
            • 2% of population
          • First tier
            • Phase-centric
              • I am right, you are wrong
              • Typically see lower levels as primitive and ignorant, and higher levels as naive, elitist and/or incomprehesible
            • 98% of population
        • Specifics of how sustainability looks at each level + approach to change.
          • Higher yet
            • Nondual
            • Deity mysticism
            • More deeply transdual & integrative, higher reaches of consciousness (towards and into nondual and beyond)
          • Coral
            • Integral-holonic
            • Nature mysticism
            • Ecoself: Eco-sage, unity ethos
          • Turquise
            • Whole view, synergize, universal holistic system, unites feeling/thinking, grand unification possible
            • Global networks, nature-culture systems
            • Honor and includes all levels
            • Ecoself: Integral ecologist, inclusive ethos
            • Solves:
            • Problem: Can be more deeply transdual/integrative
            • 1970s on
          • Yellow
            • Integrative, integrate and align systems, holarchies, flexibility
            • Early integral
            • First second tier phase
            • Honor all levels
            • Ecoself: Eco-holist, holistic ethos
            • Solves: flatland (flat web-of-life) approach of green
            • Problem: early synthesis, still somewhat fragmented
            • 1950s on
          • Green
            • Deeper worldcentric: All species included in the circle of care and compassion
            • Web of life, Gaia
            • Egalitarian, communitarian, networking, honor diversity, pluralism, against hierarchy, value communities
            • Ecopsychology, deep ecology, universe story (also second tier versions)
            • First level where a genuine concern and care for the web of life arises
            • Similar to Paul Ray's Cultural Creatives
            • Ecoself: Eco-radical, equality ethos
            • Solves: rampant individualism, oppressive hierarchies, blindness to ecological concerns
            • Problem: flatland, does not take development and hierarchies into account
            • Final first tier level
              • Orientation of embracing all perspectives, although not those who themselves are exclusive
              • Leave out holarchies and holarchical development
              • Green tends to leave out a developmental perspective (in favor of an exclusive egalitarian view)
            • 1850s on
            • Where seen (arises first here): deep ecology, post modernism, ecopsychology, animal rights, diversity movement
            • 10% of population, 15% of power
          • Orange
            • Early worldcentric: all humans included in circle of care & compassion
            • Protect resources for current & future generations
            • Pragmatic, science based, individualistic, achievement oriented
            • Similar to Paul Ray's moderns
            • Ecoself: Eco-strategist, rational ethos
            • Solves: herd mentality and ethnocentrism of blue, rigid hierarchies, blind obediance
            • Problem: leaves out concern for ecosystems, nonhuman species, future generations
            • Where seen: the enlightenment, materialism, liberal self-interest, mainstream democrats
            • 1700 AD on
            • 30% of population, 50% of power
          • Blue
            • Ethno-centric (our value group, nation, religion etc.)
            • Conformist, rules, order, laws & regulations, strong sense of "right and wrong" and "good and bad", often ancient source, rigid social hiearchies, paternalistic
            • Similar to Paul Ray's traditionalsts
            • Stewardship, caring for creation
            • Ecoself: Eco-manager, stewardship ethos
            • Solves: rampant individualism of red level.
            • Problem: ethno-centric, we are right & you are wrong, imposing own values on others.
            • Where seen: religious conservatives, totalitarianism, fundamentalism, patriotism
            • 3000 BC on
            • 40% of the population, 30% of power
          • Red
            • Ego-centric, heroic, "terrible twos"
            • Eco-warrior, won't be constrained, ego over larger system
            • Ecoself: Eco-warrior, heroic ethos
            • Problem: exclusive ego-focus, leaves out the concerns of the collective
            • Where seen: terrible twos, rebellious youth
            • 7000 BC on
            • 20 % of world population, 5% of the power
        • Benefits
          • Be familiar with all of the terrain, what is actually out there
            • If use only for instance green level language, none of the levels below will be able to hear it (sounds naive at best)
          • Less exclusive in communication
          • Use a language that is understood at the particular levels (speak a language they can hear from their worldview/value perspective)
          • Gain cooperation and form partnerships

      • Example
        • Discussion courses
          • How integral
            • Quadrants: UL, with influence on LL & R
            • SD relatively narrow range (orange and up)
          • How to complement
            • Quadrants: LL (structural change in all areas of society) and right side (technologies etc)
            • Extend range down

      • Integral practice
        • Body, mind and spirit and self, culture and nature
        • Examples of what can be included in personal practice.
          • Body: excercise, hiking, yoga, tai chi, etc.
          • Mind: Studies, framework.
          • Spirit: yoga, tai chi, chi gong, meditation, prayer, etc.
          • Culture/society: engagement.
          • Nature: engagement, hikes, etc.
        • Benefits of integral practice
          • Balanced health/development + speed up development
          • More healthy/balanced engagement in the world (take care of your self as an expression of the Earth, and an instrument for change)
          • Explore and model how we each can progress through the levels

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    Exclusive & Inclusive

    Any impulse can be filtered through a transdual or a dualistic view.

    If filtered through a more transdual view, it is expressed in a more inclusive way, and if filtered through a more exclusively dualistic view, it comes out in a more exclusive way.

    Impulses

    Take for instance...

    The impulse of anger. If filtered through a dualistic view, it tends to bring a good deal of harm and pain to anyone involved (the one it arises in and is expressed through, and those around). It often comes from a sense me vs. you, from righteousness, something to protect, etc. If filtered through a more transdual view, it comes from a deeper wisdom and compassion and may take the form of tough love. It is used to cut through the delusions which brings suffering.

    Delusion. When filtered through a dualistic view, it gives rise to arrogance or a sense of inferiority. You are deluded and I am not, or the other way around. Filtered through a more transdual view, we see that we are all deluded in various ways, even those most apparently realized and awakened. It brings a sincere and clear humility, and a sense of us all being in the same boat.

    Fear. From a dualistic view, it is seen as a disturbance and can be paralyzing or be twisted and expressed as anger etc. From a more transdual view, it comes from wisdom and compassion and is used to stir action. We see the very real dangers to any of us as individuals and to all of us collectively, and use the fear it brings up as energy for action and change. For instance, we see the unraveling of global ecosystems and the suffering it is already bringing, and use the fear to deeper our compassion and empathy, and act in the world to protect and to fuel alternatives.

    Desire. Filtered through a dualistic view, it may take the form of narrow selfishness. Filtered through a more transdual view, informed by the natural wisdom and compassion that comes with this view, it becomes a desire to alleviate suffering and to bring all sentient beings to awakening, and it also becomes a desire for deepening one's own clarity and integration so this can be done more effectively.

    Laziness. Filtered through a dualistic view, it becomes just ordinary laziness - a desire to do as little as possible in the world. Filtered through a more transdual view, we allow whatever arises to arise within us and come and go as guests. This is the ultimate laziness, and gives rise to a great deal of effortless and engaged activity in the world. For others, it looks like ceaseless activity, for oneself, it is just relaxing into and as what is.

    Arrogance. Filtered through a dualistic view, it becomes the ordinary arrogance of "I am better than you". Filtered through a more transdual view, it becomes the "arrogance" of seeing all and everyone as complete Buddhas, as Buddha Mind (God, Spirit) manifesting completely and perfectly in a myriad of forms.

    And so on, with no end...

    Further Differentiation

    This can of course be differentiated further, for instance through the lense of different developmental frameworks (as Ken Wilber shows).

    For instance, care and compassion (love) will be expressed differently at preconventional, conventional and post-conventional levels.

    At preconventional - egocentric - levels, we take care of ourselves and maybe a few close to us. We will often apply strategies that benefits ourselves at the cost of others. This is the level where we don't think twice about biting the hand that feeds us.

    At conventional - ethnocentric - levels, our circle of care and compassion expands to include our group, for instance our religion or nation. Again, we often apply strategies that sets up an us vs. them dynamic. Love here can be easily be expressed through for instance wars, protecting the good - us - against the evil, which happens to be them.

    At postconventional - worldcentric - levels, our circle of care and compassion expands further to include all human beings independent of group affiliations. Beyond this, it may eventually include all sentient beings independent of species.

    Here, at a deeper transdual level, the differentiation between inner and outer, and egotism and altruism, begins to dissolve. We see that we are all part of a seamless whole and that the health of the whole and the parts, including myself, is intimately connected in very real and tangible ways. We also see that on a purely psychological level, the way I relate to the outer world closely mirrors the way I relate to the inner world. Acting with care and compassion is reflected in how I relate to the outer and the inner world, with no real difference between the two.

    And these levels can again be differentiated further, through for instance spiral dynamics.

    Background: Dual vs. Transdual

    When we are exclusively identified with our human self, our view is naturally dualistic. There is a sense of me vs. you, I vs. the rest of the world. Since we have not yet awakened to the groundless ground, to formless awareness, we also tend to be identified with abstractions - we believe in thoughts and act as if they were the gospel truth. So in addition to the sense of me vs. you and us vs. them, there is also a split between right vs. wrong, good vs. evil, and all of these are taken deadly seriously. They are, after all, everything we have as our ground.

    When we awaken to/as formless awareness, we find a new ground. From here, we see that there is no real separation between our human self and the rest of the world of phenomena. They are all one seamless fluid whole. And we also see that the layer of abstractions we previously took as our only reality, is really just that - a layer of abstractions. It is only a tool to helps us function in and navigate the world of phenomena. Nothing to be taken too seriously.

    From exclusively identifying with our human self, we now find ourselves as formless awareness in which the whole world of phenomena arises as a seamless fluid field. From identifying with an added layer of abstractions, we now rest in/as the unknowing formless awareness, and see the abstractions as just a tool of temporary and functional value only.

    Resting in/as this new "ground", our view naturally becomes more deeply transdual, and this in turn opens up for sincere and deepening gratitude, humility and compassion.

    Eventually, we see that seeing this formless awareness as "I" is also just an abstraction, and this too erodes. Here, there is just what is, as it is, and with no "I" anywhere. This is another phase of liberation, fullness and freedom, and one that leads into an even more deeply transdual view and a new maturing and rehumanization. One that brings a great deal of fluidity and helps us become more fully human.

    In this particular context, of impulses filtered through dualistic and more transdual views, we move from being temporarily stuck in one or the other to moving more fluidly among them. We are free to apply the impulses in dualistic or more transdual ways, depending on the situation. Or we may apply them from a deeper transdual view, in a way that appears variously transdual or dualistic. Or we may express them in a more transdual way, while fully acknowledging the element of dualistic expression that inevitably is there.

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    Cloud of Unknowing

    I am reading Love Burning in the Soul: The Story of the Christian Mystics, and find a good deal of parallels with what is described in mainstream Buddhism (in particular Zen and Dzogchen) and with my own experiences.

    One example is the "rapture" described by Richard Rolle. One form of this rapture is where there is an absorption into formless awareness, to the point where all influence over the body is temporarily lost. This is described by folks in especially the Indian traditions, and something I experienced this summer as well.

    Another is the Cloud of Unknowing (from another 1300s English author), which seems to describe another aspect of being centered in formless awareness - a sense of "unknowing" beyond conventional knowing and not knowing. It is the every-present and ordinary formless awareness on top of which we add a layer of abstractions, and the knowing and not knowing we are familiar with from everyday life. It is pure awareness, distinct from any abstractions.

    And through contemplative prayer and/or varius meditation practices, we can become very familiar with this - and allow the center of gravity to move into this unknowing, even in our daily life. The Byron Katie inquiry process is another way of revealing this "ground" awareness - crystal clear, awake, intelligent - and allowing it to be our ground in daily life. It gives a news sense of fluidity and freedom, and absence of drama.

    There is still a full and free access to abstractions, although they are now revealed as just that - abstractions. There is no longer any need to believe in them or take them too seriously, other than as just a temporary and practical tool for orienting and navigating the world of phenomena.

    When we shift into this new "ground", others may not even notice any difference apart from the sense of absence of drama.

    And as the author of The Cloud of Unknowing notes, this is obviously not any end point. It may be an end (or the beginning of the end) of drama and struggle, but it is also a new beginning. It is entrance into an awakening into the Absolute, into Big Mind/Heart, into a fuller union of God.

    From this unknowing, we allow attachments to preferences and anything else in the world of phenomena to erode and fall away. And here, we awaken to/as Big Mind, as that which embraces all polarities - including those of existence and nonexistence, spirit and matter, creator and creation, delusion and awakening. And we awaken to/as Big Heart, which is the infinite and unconditional compassion for all beings, and the joy and bliss aspects of God and compassion.

    The Cloud of Unknowing is simultaneously a barrier to this more full blown awakening - if we attach to it or see it as an end point, and a gateway into this fuller awakening - if we apply the unknowing to the unknowing itself, allowing the unknowing to dissolve attachments to itself.

    Using Ken Wilber's AQAL model, we see that he places the Cloud of Unknowing at the causal level, the level of the Witness, of formless and pure awareness (F9). And this becomes an entrance into the more fully nondual (Big Mind, beyond all polarities) as well as into the subtle level, that of Big Heart, as bliss, joy, rapture, unconditional love and compassion, the level of the typical mystics and bodhisattvas (F8).

    Friday, November 25, 2005 |

    Fulcrums & Voices

    It seems that the Big Mind process could easily be applied to various evolutionary and developmental models, as a way for us to retrace our own evolution (as universe, planet and humans) and development (as individuals) and as a preview of coming attractions.

    One obvious framework is that of Ken Wilber and his fulcrums (F1 to F9 and nondual). Here, we can retrace our evolutionary process up to wherever are are currently, familiarize ourselves with the structures still present as gifts from each evolutionary/developmental phase, and have a preview of future phases.

    Some possible voices:

    • Integrated Free Functioning Human Being, fluidity among all the voices (not one particular fulcrum but more what emerges when we become more familiar with them all).
    • -- | Nondual: Big Mind (the absolute, beyond and embracing all polarities, choiceless, release from all chackras.).
    • F9 | Causal: Witness (dissolving the inner/outer boundary of the human self, 7th/crown chakra).
    • F8 | Subtle: Big Heart (deity mysticism, bodhisattva, love/devotion/bliss).
    • F7 | Psychic: Nature mysticism (God in all there is, 6th/third eye chakra).
    • F6 | Centaur: Bodymind integration + planetary integration/Gaia. 5th/throat chakra.
    • F5 | Mature Ego: Rational mind (dualistic, science, acheivist, 4th/heart chakra).
    • F4 | Persona: Rules & Roles (rule oriented, role self, conformist, absolutist).
    • F3 | ?: Power. 3rd/solar plexus chakra.
    • F2 | Emotions: (maybe go through a few basic ones, 2nd chakra).
    • F1 | Matter: The body. 1st/base chakra.
    When doing this with people, it may be good to streamline it a little and leave some voices out. One possible sequence may be: body > (a couple of basic emotions) > rational/dualistic mind > Big Heart > Witness > Big Mind > IFFHB.

    This is just a slight tweak to how the Big Mind process is typically used. First, we go through some of the voices on a personal/human level, then the transcendent voices.

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    Groundless Ground & Not

    Meditation/spiritual teachers often talk about the importance of no attachment, of allowing experiences come and go as guests, and so on.

    What they sometimes leave out is that this either comes on its own, effortlessly, or don't.

    When we are not familiar with the groundless ground - the unchangeable context for the changing content of our experiences, the formless and choiceless awareness - then any attempts of no attachment is difficult at best, and often impossible. We are exclusively in the realm of attachment, and any attempts of no attachment is just another expression of attachment.

    When we become more familiar with this groundless ground, then this no attachment comes as a natural and effortless result of this groundless ground, which is timeless and free from any stickiness. For a while, it is there sometimes more in the background and other times more in the foreground, often amplified through sitting practice (such as shikantaza). Then at some point, it may 'pop' and have a stable presence. Now, experiences come and go on their own, and they have nowhere to stick.

    Sensations, feelings, emotions, thoughts - all of these now come and go as guests, with nowhere to stick. The mind is revealed as a mirror faithfully reflecting anything coming up in the present, and the content leaves no traces.

    We now see how we create such a drama for ourselves whenever there is struggle with the content of experiences, when we try to hold onto some and push other away. And we see how this is inevitable when the presence of the groundless ground is not stable.

    We also see how all this struggle and drama falls away when the groundless ground is stably present and the content has nowhere to stick. (And we see how any attachment is to the content of our experiences - to a sensation, feeling, emotion, thought - and not to any "external" object.)

    Of course, this groundless ground is always present. It is that which allows the content to come and go, as it naturally does on its own (in our experiences, and in existence as a whole). The difference is how familiar it is in our awareness, how present it is in awareness.

    And to familiarize ourselves with this groundless ground, we can engage in various forms of practice such as sitting meditation or different forms of inquiry (headlessness, byron katie, atma vichara etc.).

    Thursday, November 24, 2005 |

    Melting Into

    This is an insight I am sure must be old, but (to my limited knowledge) traditionally not embraced by western mainstream psychology. Maybe it is too simple? These days it seems to come up everywhere, including in Rapahel Cushnir's Unconditional Bliss, Arjuna Ardagh's Translucent Revolution, and Bhagavan's teachings).

    When we melt into whatever is experienced, it transforms. And when we melt into experiences which we tend to experience as unpleasant, it may transform into a sense of fullness, expansiveness and even bliss.

    From resisting a particular content of our experiences and keeping it out in the cold, knocking at the door, we invite it into the warmth and it melts. Its energy and power, previously experienced as "it" and a disturbance, now becomes "me" and a resource.

    One night last week, strong experiences came which this self does not particularly like (I don't even remember which labels I could put on it). I did initially spend some time on distractions, such as reading and music, but then submitted to my experience: it will not go away as long as I try to distract myself from it, but will melt and transform if I go fully into it. So I turned off the music, laid down on the bed, and fully and willingly embraced the content of my experiences. Right away, it became fluid and it eventually transformed into a sense of fullness, expansiveness, centering and bliss.

    Of course, it is not always as easy as this. As with anything, it is a practice and a habit that forms over time. And in many cases, there may be a long period of staying with it and the discomfort.

    And there is also the intention: if we do it mainly to avoid the unpleasant experiences, it most likely won't work. There is still too much of a reistance there: we still keep it out in the cold and it keeps knocking on the door. If we do it to fully experience whatever is going on and invite it into the warmth, it does melt and transform.

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    Goodenough & Synchronicity

    There are synchronocities everywhere.

    From our human perspective, they are always notable, amazing and surprising. From the view of the largest whole, they are just what movements within this larger whole looks like from the view of the parts. They are merely movements within this larger whole, expressed through our human lives and the larger whole we are parts of.

    A couple of days ago, I spent some hours at a university library reading here and there in transpersonal psychology journals, books on Zen and Christianity, and some of Ken Wilber's essays in his collected works. I walked quickly through a section of the library to find a chair. And I simultaneously appreciated the tremendously important work Ken Wilber is doing, and also realized that - although I have a similar general orientation and insights - I will never be able to contribute at the level of clarity, detail, research and synthesis that he is. And of course the thought came up that maybe I am not good enough, or what I am doing is not good enough (whatever that may mean). A moment later, my eyes caught the spine of one of the thousands of books, with the name of the author: Goodenough.

    And that is of course true. We are all good enough from a certain view. We are all complete, we all perfectly manifest Buddha Mind and God. And the other side is also true, that there is still much work to do and a continuous process of evolution and development.

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    St. John & Tozan

    I am curious about the various phases of awakening. It seems that it there is an infinite variety and richness here, and possibly also some broad similarities.

    St. John of the Cross talks about the dark night of the senses and the dark night of the soul. As far as I understand (from very limited readings), it seems that...

    The dark night of the senses refers to a detachment to a dualistic view and an exclusive identification with the human self. This of course can be experienced as very dramatic, and painful as well. There is a detachment to anything in the world of phenomena, which gives rise to a more non/transdual view. This is the second of Tozan's five ranks, a submission to a teacher - or in Christianity, to God/Christ (the first rank is an initial glimpse, to wet the appetite).

    We now find ourselves as Big Mind/Heart, and see the human self as just a vehicle in the world of phenomena. In the Christian tradition, there is the experience of "I" as a human self stepping aside, giving room for God to live through this human self.

    In the Buddhist tradition, this is called the bright sun of enlightenment. It is the birth of the Buddha, and thus an infant Buddha stage where we are fascinated with this new way of being. This is the third of Tozan's ranks.

    Naturally, we become attached to this state. It is wonderful and (apparently) complete beyond description. Why would we want to let it go? So we become stuck here, and Existence is wise enough to nudge us out of it, usually with us kicking and screaming.

    This is the dark night of the soul, or Tozan's fourth rank. It is a fall from grace. An experience of being forsaken by God, of loosing any connection with Big Mind and/or God. It is a terrible wasteland, compared with the glory, fullness and completeness of the previous stage. We are now again completely human, completely in the relative.

    We rehumanize, and when we fully embrace this, there is an opening again - this time more gentle and integrated. We find ourselves as the Absolute, as Big Mind/Heart and one with God, and we find ourselves as just ordinarily human, with all our usual flaws and peculiarities. And there is a fluidity and deepening integration between the two. This is Tozan's fifth rank, also known as the hazy moon of enlightenment.

    It is a more ordinary, integrated, mature and human form of awakening/deepening.

    Of course, it is often not quite as linear as this, and there is probably cycles within cycles. We may go through all these five in order or out of order, several times, within one lifetime (or even a day!).

    For me, the three first stages of Tozan happened almost all at once. I was 16, and quite sick from what later turned out to be multiple severe food intolerances. First, my center of gravity moved from my human self to the formless awareness (this gave the world a dreamlike appearance, and I was convinced there was something very wrong going on). This gradually led to an awakening where I eventually experienced God as absolute everything, with no exception. All - in the world of phenomena and formless awareness, is God. It was a very intense state, lasting day and night for years, with a tremendous flooding of realizations and insights (just about all of which mirrored what I later read in Buddhism and Christian/Sufi mysticism). And of course, I got quite attached to being Big Mind/Heart continuously for years...

    Then, there was a fall, about ten years later. It looked very prosaic from the outside, triggered just by external circumstances (moving away from a Zen center). And still, my experience of it was that of utter devastation and desolation. My connection with God/Big Mind was completely gone. I had nightmares almost nightly for two or three years about this loss. I again became just an ordinary human being, and it was terrible after the bliss of continuously being one with God/Big Mind. I resisted it for several years, until my external circumstances again changed and I began to take responsibility for my situation again.

    As I embraced myself as I was (a wreck at this point), the opening returned - this time in a much more ordinary and unremarkable way. Now, there is a gradual integration of the absolute and relative, at a relatively slow and comfortable pace.

    And of course, this whole rigmarole may well repeat itself, in a new form, within this lifetime. There is still much further to go, both in terms of awakenings and integration.

    To summarize...

    First, there is just an ordinary exclusive identification with our human self, and an acompaning dualistic view. Then, a glimpse of something more (Tozan's first rank).

    Then, submission to God/Christ or a teacher (Tozan's second rank). Here, there is also a disidentification with anything in the world of phenomena, including our human self and a dualisitc view (dark night of the senses).

    This is followed by an awakening to/as the Absolute, as Big Mind, a union with God. (Tozan's third rank). Here, we naturally become attached to the absolute.

    And this attachment leads to a fall from grace (the dark night of the soul, Tozan's fourth rank). We are utterly alone, utterly desolate, utterly and purely human. We are (apparenlty) forsaken by God. We are ground to dust and thoroughly humbled.

    As we finally come to accept our new situation, as just one human among many, there is a new awakening and integration. Now, we find ourselves as the Absolute - in union with God, and as human - one of many. There is a more natural integration, as sense of the ordinary and unremarkable of it. We finally become more deeply human. (Tozan's fift rank, also called the Integrated Free Functioning Human Being in the Big Mind terminology).

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    The Three, Two, One, Zero Relationships With God

    I keep coming back to the wonderful fluidity among our third, second, first and zero person relationships with God, Big Mind, Spirit, Existence.

    In my third person relationship with God, I talk about God (beyond and including all polarities).

    In my second person relationship with God, I am a human being relating to the rest of Existence - through for instance prayer. This awakens and deepens a wonderful sense of gratitude, humility, joy and compassion. I am a vessel through with Big Mind/Heart and God can express itself, in various degrees of awareness of itself (awakened) or not (deluded). Here, I have all the flaws of any human being.

    In my first person relationship with God, I find myself as Big Mind/Heart. I am this formless awareness within which the world of phenomena arises and unfolds. Here also, the human self is just a vehicle. I can find myself in this first person relationship through sitting practice (shikantaza among others) and various forms of inquiry.

    In my zero person relationship with God, there is no "I" anywhere in all of this, which gives me a freedom to take on and play with all of the three other relationships with God. There is a tremendous freedom and fluidity in this, moving among all the various perspectives. Allowing them to come and go as guests, and fully explore and live each one as they arise.

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    Headlessness

    I am still using the headless experiments, and find it very helpful.

    I find myself as emptiness full of the world, as it appears to this human self in the present.

    And through this, there is a detatching from any phenomena - whether it is external or internal to my human self, or whether it is any sensation, feeling, emotion, thought, etc. Any experience is seen as just that, an experience arising within the changeless formless, empty awareness.

    It is a sensation in the world of sensations. A feeling in the world of feelings. An emotion in the world of emotions. A though in the world of thoughts. An experience in the world of experiences. All unfolding within awareness, empty of any characteristics.

    What sometimes may appear as "I" is now revealed to be just another temporary phenomenon, coming and going as guests.

    This is a great sense of liberation in this. A liberation from mistaking myself as an object - any object - in the world of phenomena.

    And it is also a liberation from mistaking myself as formless awareness. That too has no "I" inherent in it.

    It all just is - as it is - with no "I" anywhere. There is the fullness of what happens in the present - music, falling leaves, the hum of a fan, the tapping of keys, a sensation of pressure at a few different places in space, a feeling in another place in space, some thoughts arising, formless awareness in which neither of these leaves any trace - and there is no "I" located anywhere in all of this.

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    Need vs. Want

    I read The Gospel According to Jesus yesterday, and was reminded of what used to be my main practice some years ago: seeing everything that happens as God's will, and for my highest benefit.

    This situation is exactly what I need, although it may not be what I (consciously) want.

    From Big Mind, we see that anything is Big Mind and complete and perfect as it is. It is also completely neutral.

    From this - more mystial theistic - perspective, we see that not only is everything complete as it is, but it is also exactly what I need. This situation is the most perfect situation for me, and in my highest interest. Nothing could be more perfect or helpful than exactly this situation.

    It is a wonderful way to open up to my life and the present. It helps me stay interested, curious and awake in what is happening in the present. It deepens sincerity, receptivity, gratitude and humility. It helps me avoid blaming the outer situation, and instead look at what can I learn from this? How can this help me mature? How can it help me open up?

    It is just one of many skillful means, and one that worked wonderfully for me in the past. Maybe it is time to engage in it again.

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    Witness As A Voice

    I have experienced a little with using the Witness as voice in the Big Mind process. It seems to be a quite effective way to help people taste the first level of "no self" - the absence of any absolute boundary between the "inner" and "outer", between the human self and the rest of the world of phenomena.

    Can I speak with the Witness?
    Yes.

    Who are you?
    The Witness.

    What do you do?
    I witness.

    What do you witness?
    I witness anything and everything, inside and outside of the self.

    Can you tell me more about yourself?
    I am impartial, I am pure formless awareness. Choiceless. Everything is equal to me.

    From your perspective, how do you see what arises inside & outside of the self? Is there a big difference?
    No, same. It is a seamless whole. The distinction of inside and outside does not apply.

    So from your perspective, there is not really any separate/fixed self?
    No. Any separate or fixed self is just an overlay of abstractions.

    How does the self relate to you?
    He is quite familiar with me, and allows me to come out and be present most of the time.

    Has it always been like that?
    I have always been here, but he has not always acknowledged me or been aware of me.

    What happens when the self is not aware of you?
    He would see the inner and the outer as quite separate, and experience isolation and alienation. He would experience himself as a fixed and separate self, with something to protect. It would bring a good deal of drama and suffering to his life.

    And what happens when you are present?
    There is a great deal of relaxation and letting go of drama. There is no longer any absolute boundary between inner and outer - it is perceived as a seamless whole. There is no longer anything to protect. Everything is just happening. (And there is still a functional differentiation between inner and outer, just enough for the self to function effectively in the world).

    This process helps us see that it is really quite simple, ordinary and unremarkable. And yet, something unremarkable which can have remarkable effects in our human life.

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    Fluidity Of Self & No Self

    During a Big Mind session some days ago, we were asked to observe our human self right now and the day before.

    For me, I only found space - with sparse and random sensations, feelings, emotions and thoughts arising - but nothing that made up a self. And when I looked at the day before, there was only the looking at a thought about the day before. Others seemed to find a self in the present and the day before with ease.

    It made me realize that I currently may be a little stuck in "no self", and not quite able to fluidly move between self and no self.

    To move fluidly between experiencing the self as an organized pattern whole, and the no self experientially as just random phenomena arising in space in the present with no inherent "inner" or "outer" (or more abstractly as a temporary vortex in the world of phenomena with no fixed or separate existence).

    Among those who spoke up at the event, it is likely that some are not yet familiar with no self, and others are to the extent that they can move fluidly between self and no self.

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    'Pop' Goes The Groundless Ground

    This summer, the "groundless ground" popped out for me.

    Since my opening in my teens, I have of course been aware of this formless awareness, the unchanging context for the changing content of experiences. And it has moved to the front or back at various times, and increased in presence during times with more sitting practice or similar.

    The "pop" this summer somehow made it different. It is now standing out effortlessly, in a completely unremarkable and ordinary way. This "groundless ground" which allows any content to come and go as guests, as they do anyway but now with an absence of drama and effort.

    And it also helped me see that there is really no "I" anywhere, not even as this formless awareness. It is just what is happening in the present - the sounds of the keyboard, the chill, the sensations of the tips of the fingers tapping, the hum of the computer, the meow of the cat, the music, the trees outside the window, random thoughts, formless awareness. There is just what is in the present, as it is, and with no "I" located any particular place.

    Completely unremarkable. Completely ordinary. Effortless. With an absence of drama.

    Sunday, November 06, 2005 |

    Staying Human Through Working With Projections

    I am daily reminded of the value of working with projections. Either through just noticing in myself what I see in the outer world, or through using one or more of the many techinques out there (for instance the 3-2-1 technique from the Integral Institute or Byron Katie's inquiry).

    Some of the effects...

    • It helps me see in myself what I see in others and the other way around.
    • It reminds me of our shared humanity. We are all in the same boat.
    • It brings (for me) new qualities and characteristics into my conscious repertoire.
    • It helps me see in myself whatever quality or characteristics I see as "out there", anywhere on this planet and throughout Existence.
    • It helps me into a deepening transdual view (the inner/outer boundary becomes more transparent until it falls away).
    • It helps me avoid some of the ugliest expressions of delusion (which often come from seeing in myself something I don't see in others, or the other way around).

      And it deepens...

      • Humility through seeing in myself what I see in others. I am not special.
      • Receptivity, since there is no fixed/separate identity to protect.
      • Gratitude, for our shared humanity and the infinite richness of Existence (in the inner/outer equally).
      • Compassion, from recognizing in myself what I see in others.
      • My humanity, through all of these and more.
    In short, it helps me stay human and deepens and enriches my life in ways too many to count. It is a daily and lifelong practice, and one that has so many benefits...

    If I leave a projection practice out, it tends to bring stuckness and suffering, through... (a) A deepening sense of duality and inner/outer split, and with it a sense of alienation. (b) A rigid and fixed self-image, and with it a sense of something to protect. (c) A sense of inferiority or superiority, and with it lack of confidence or excessive arrogance. (d) A closed-off heart, since I don't recognize in myself what I see in others, and with it judgement and self-righteousness.

    If I bring such a practice into my daily life, as I have done so since my mid-teens, it brings a tremendous richness, grounding, fluidity and deepening humanity.

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    Always Deluded

    There is a good chance that no matter how far we awaken and realize this awakening in our daily human lives, there will always be new layers of delusion.

    For every awakening, there is a new delusion. There is always something left out.

    From a merely pragmatic point of view, it makes good sense to always assume delusion. It helps me stay more deeply human, humble, grateful and receptive, and it keeps the door open for new awakenings, realizations, insights and integrations.

    As the old Taoists say, if think you understand or have realized the Tao, you loose it. You are no longer (consciously) aligned with it, because you overlook your blind spots and potential for further awakenings, development and realizations.

    Looking at this universe, we see that there is always new manifestations, new evolution, new developments. Why should it be any different for our own awakenings and realizations? At the very least, as the universe continues to unfold, we continue to bring these new unfoldings into awareness. So there is always further to go.

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    Aligned With Existence

    To mature and develop as a human being can be seen as a process of aligning more closely with the view of Existence.

    Whenever there is resistance coming up (as discomfort, sense of disturbance etc.), it is an indication that our view is not quite aligned with what is - with the view of Existence as it is, and as a whole.

    And Existence is just what is, beyond and embracing all polarities. Nothing is excluded.

    I am a human being. I am pure awareness. There is an overlay of abstractions and differentiations, including an "I" which can have different content. There is pure choiceless awareness, reflecting anything as it is. And there is just what is, as it is. There is innumerable subpersonalities, and the whole of my human self beyond and embracing all the mind and body processes on a human level. There is a human self and there is the transpersonal views Big Mind and Big Heart. And there is a natural fluidity among all these, including resistance and phases of stuckness. This all is as it is, and it is all the play of Existence, as it is.

    The continuing process of maturing can be seen as becoming more consciously and effortlessly algined with all of this. With everythign manifesting, as it is...

    Including desires to evolve, develop, change, mature. Including exploring, mapping, and mastering the world of phenomena. Including being a full human being. Including finding myself as the formless unborn. Including becoming more comfortable and skilled at all my many human roles and relationships. And so on.

    It is Existence awakening to itself as it is, including its absence of restrictions in how it manifests.

    Nothing is excluded.

    Friday, November 04, 2005 |

    Ghosts Of Habits Past

    When we are exclusively identified as a human being, we create a great deal of drama for ourselves. We find ourselves in struggle with Existence, at all levels - within our psyche, with our body, with the rest of the world, with Existence as a whole. And many habitual patterns are formed in the midst of this struggle.

    When we awaken from this, first as pure awareness and then to "no I", we are released from blindly engaging in these patterns. They come and go as guests, and there is no "hook" there anymore. They arise as ghosts from past habits.

    Even in this, there are most likely times when we temporarily do hook into these patterns, more from old habit than anything else. And the discomfort from this is a reminder of it not being necessary anymore.

    In some cases, this continuous noticing and letting go may be ongoing for a while. In other cases, there may be less of it.

    All we need is to notice that there is really no hook.

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    Stomach Pain & No I

    Last night, I woke up around 2am from stomach pains and nausea (similar to the food poisoning a few days ago). Pain is a good opportunity to notice a few things...

    Diving in & no labels

    When I dived and melted into the experience, it became fluid... almost right away, the unpleasantness went away and melted into a form of bliss or delight somewhat mixed with the original pain. If I temporarily put a label on it or any "shoulds", it immediately solidified and became more substantial and merely unpleasant.

    So no label and no separation brings about a sense of fluidity and even bliss mixed into it. And labels and separation (as with believing a "should" thought) brings a sense of being victim and of suffering.

    No self

    Over the last few weeks, there has been several instances of waking up during the night, and noticing that there is awareness and the various objects of awareness, but no "self" or "I" anywhere. So simple. So obvious. So natural. So without effort.

    There is just awareness (apparently formless, unborn, timeless, unchanging) and the objects of awareness (this human body, the room, sensations, thoughts and so on). There is no "I" to be found anywhere here, and no "I" is needed anywhere either. This pure awareness and its content is all there is, and all that is needed.

    This experience is there during the days as well, although sometimes more obvious than other times, and rarely as clear as during these times.

    Last night, it was there very clear. Just awareness (crystal clear, inherently empty, choiceless) and its content (pain, discomfort, the room). And nobody, no separate entity, that this is happening "to". It is just happening, as it is.

    There is obviously a huge liberation here, and it is also so simple. So easy. So obvious. So natural. It is just what is, as it is, with no part of it made into a separate "I".

    Different & not

    Nothing is different, there is still exactly the same content as when there is an overlay of "I". The only difference is in the absence of the belief in the thought "I", and the sense of drama that tends to come with it.

    And yet everything is different. With the absence of the "I" and drama, there is a new sense of ease. Of joy even, in the midst of pain.

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    Feedback Loops & The Fall Of The US Empire

    Everything in the world of forms is always changing, and so is the fortune and misfortune of various peoples. So it is no big news that the US empire too will fall, although when and how is still unknown of course.

    As the Norwegian sociologist Johan Galtung says, this fall is the best that could happen for the US republic and population, as resources - in form of humans, technology, research, money, attention, etc. - now tied up in the military machinery will be freed up and can be applied to the real needs of the US population.

    For me, one of the most obvious signs of the coming fall of the US empire, and one of its mechanisms, may be the lack of quality feedback loops.

    The US media is notoriously skewed in which stories they focus on and how, which means that large portions of the US population holds profoundly mistaken views about so many issues. They are generally far less accurately informed than their counterparts in for instance Canada and Western Europe, as repeated studies show. And the same is true of the focus and rhetoric of many US politicians, also contributing to misperceptions and misinformation.

    I was reminded of this when I listened to NPR this morning, and they - with great passion and emphasis - called demonstrations in Argentina, and the views of Hugo Chavez, anti-american. They give the impression, apparently intentionally, that portions of the world irrationally hate everything about the US... And this misinformation is repeated in the US media over and over.

    Of course, people around the world are smart enough to differentiate the horrors of the current US foreign policy and its support of neo-liberal globalization, from other aspects of the US society and culture. People around the world typically have nothing against the people of the US, but rightfully so abhor the foreign policy of the country - coming from the current administration and for administrations for so many decades - inflicting so much suffering on people around the world through military intervention, undermining and toppling of democratically elected governments, support of dictatorships, pushing through global economical policies aimed at increasing power and profits of multi-national corporations (and draining the people and countries), and so on.

    Although I also notice that this differentiation is now being questioned more and more. Why did the US population elect GW Bush for a second period, even in the face of so much evidence of his incompetence, his use of false information and lies, his simplistic and polarized views, his less than sophisticated way of speaking and argumenting...? Why is the US politics so rife with polarization and obsession with outdated ideas? How come they have such a naive and simplistic view of people around the world? Why did they support the Iraq war, when they knew it was not necessary, was based on lies, and would most likely destabilize the middle east? Did they really believe that they, as an imperial occupying power, would be welcomed with open arms? Why do they try to portray Hugo Chavez as "anti-american", when his views are generally far more reflected, sane, nuanced and genuinely life-centered than that of the Bush administration?

    It is interesting that by the simplistic and naive views promoted by the US media and politicians, they give reasons for people around the world to question their differentiation between the US foreign policies and the US population... The question that comes up is, can americans really be so naive and misinformed - so... stupid?

    From Spiral Dynamics, we see that one reason for this clash of views - especially between the US and Western Europe - is the difference between the predominance of blue (authoritarian, polarized, fundamentalists) in the US, and of orange (science, human rights) in Western Europe. Even many of the typically orange elements in the US get caught up in the rhetoric, views and framing coming from blue... From an European perspective, much of the thinking reflected in US media and government thus appears outdated, naive, simplistic, and dangerous.

    Johan Galtung has studied the fall of empires throughout history, and the common mechanisms bringing these falls about. He correctly predicted the fall of the Soviet empire several years prior, and now predicts the fall of the US empire within 10 or at most 20 years. (With the current administration, seemingly hell-bent on bringing the US to the ground, he predicts that it will occur sooner rather than later).

    There are so many reasons for this. One is the lack of reliable feedback loops for information and decision making. Others are the influence of big money in politics and policy making (taking the interest of big money to heart, leaving out the interest of the people). Military over-extension and pouring of enormous resources into the military machinery. Violent global interventions over decades which turns large portions of the world's population against the US empire. Skyrocketing foreign debt. Its reluctance to take peak oil seriously. And so on.

    This is the fall of the US empire, not republic. It is the fall of the ability of the US to be a global superpower in terms of economy and military. And this will of course leave a vacuum which will be filled by others, not necessarily - but also possibly - more benign.

    It for instance leaves the stage open for a more deeply democratic and stronger global governance. With its own strengths, benefits and shortcomings.

    Thursday, November 03, 2005 |

    Dream

    I was part of a widely varied group in terms of age, gender, ethnic background, social background, and so on. We worked on creating a play which in itself was widely varied in terms of characters, storylines and use of media (actors, multimedia, hand dolls, etc.). The colors of the dream was astonishingly vivid and bright, as was the involvement and engagement of everyone including myself. There was a great sense of richness, engagement, vividness, brightness and aligned passion.

    I wonder if this has to do with finding myself gradually more heart centered? This definetely seems to be related to a sense of vividness and brightness of sensory impressions, of fullness and richness, and engagement and passion in my daily life.

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    Heart Centeredness

    As it was for years during the first awakening, there are now more of a heart centeredness. An unbelieveable tenderness, fullness, joy, sorrow, compassion, sincerity - all in one... And hopefully this time, more grounded - in the sense of unremarkable and ordinary (not so much combined with hypersensitivity - absorbing whatever was going on for others around me as a sponge). I know that this heartcenterdness, this incredible fullness, richness, joy, sorrow, sense of oneness with all there is, seeing God in all and everyone, knowing God so intimately, this is what gives a sense of passion and direction in my life, as it did. I find myself again spending so much time, before falling asleep and upon awakening, holding over the heart area, being the fullness and joyful vulnerability there.

    Wednesday, November 02, 2005 |

    Sounds

    Although my initial opening (awakening) was deeply transdual, I realize now that I made the mistake of attaching to a feeling - an object - as "it". And this may be why it all eventually and apparently fell apart.

    Now, I find especially sounds helpful in finding the crystal clear formless awareness, that which is changeless, always here, effortless, and has a diamond quality to it. I often enjoy doing sitting practice with music for that reason, such as (tonight) Kila's Lemonade & Buns (!) with its energetic quality. The rest of the time - in daily life - any sounds will do as a reminder.

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    God & Societies

    Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side'

    RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.

    According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems. [...]

    The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, reports: “Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly sceptical world. “In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies. “The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”

    Gregory Paul, the author of the study and a social scientist, used data from the International Social Survey Programme, Gallup and other research bodies to reach his conclusions. He compared social indicators such as murder rates, abortion, suicide and teenage pregnancy. The study concluded that the US was the world’s only prosperous democracy where murder rates were still high, and that the least devout nations were the least dysfunctional. Mr Paul said that rates of gonorrhoea in adolescents in the US were up to 300 times higher than in less devout democratic countries. The US also suffered from “ uniquely high” adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, and adolescent abortion rates, the study suggested. [...]

    He said that the disparity was even greater when the US was compared with other countries, including France, Japan and the Scandinavian countries. These nations had been the most successful in reducing murder rates, early mortality, sexually transmitted diseases and abortion, he added. [source]


    While these findings are not surprising, the conclusions may not be so obvious as this article makes it sound.

    In this case, the dominant US religious views is still at a blue level in Spiral Dynamics terms. It is authoritarian, absolutist, ethnocentric, etc. It is not surprising that blue level approaches are less effective in taking care of citizens than the orange (and partly green) level memes more dominant in Western Europe.

    But this does not mean that religion as a whole, in all its forms, is a dysfunctional element in a society. In our current culture, orange, green and second tier religions may indeed be very beneficial, both to individuals and society as a whole.

    Orange religions tends to co-exist peacefully with science, either seeing the two as dealing with separate realities or embracing science more fully. Green religions tends to be more fully bio-centered. And second tier "religions" use a more integral approach, looking at the relationships among the various western and eastern philosophies and spiritual traditions, the various forms of science, and how they all fit in with each other. By the way: at second tier levels, the word religion may not be so appropriate anymore. It is more likely to take the form of integral philosophy, practice and social engagement.

    One expression of orange/green/second tier religion that comes to mind is the Universe Story, with its science-based and deeply meaningful and inspiring view of the Universe and our role as expressions of it.

    The Universe story in itself can take either of these meme expressions, whether it is orange (emphasizing science with added spice), green (emphasizing our deep connections with the universe and the Earth) or second tier (emphasizing the evolutionary and holarchical aspect).