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A Universe Spawned from a Simple Thought Wednesday, May 31, 2006 |

Examining beliefs through the Byron Katie inquiry, I see over and over how a simple belief - an attachment to a simple thought - spawns a large set of secondary thoughts and beliefs.

A simple belief creates a whole world - to keep itself company, or rather to support itself and appear more real, more believable.

Cath the belief as soon as it arises, and the whole set of secondary beliefs do not arise. Don't catch it, and the whole set of secondary (and tertiary and so on) beliefs arise - and create lots of work for psychologists (!)

Example

An example is what happens as a consequence of the belief in the thought "I".

As soon as there is attachment to the idea of "I", there is...

A sense of I and Other, a sense of separation, of wanting something from Other, of wanting connection with some and avoid others. There is a sense of being an object in the world, finite, at the mercy of innumerable unpredictable and ultimately uncontrollable other objects. There is a desire to control other objects, yet a sense of hopelessness in the futility of it. Frustration, anger, desire, loneliness, despair, hope, fear, joy, sadness, and so on arise.

A whole world is created. An imaginary world. A world that appears real, is experienced as real, and acted upon as real.

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Land Mines Tuesday, May 30, 2006 |

During the conversation with Joel, the topic of hot buttons came up (the following is just my interpretation of it).

These buttons are really just beliefs in stories. Stories that seem real to us to various degrees. Some completely real, maybe apparently beyond any questioning. Others less real, although we are still acting as if we believe in them - which we clearly do.

They are there, waiting to be triggered by various circumstances.

Land mines

An image that comes up for me is that of land mines. They are in the ground. The locations of some may be know to us and the location of others may not be known. And as we live our lives, various mines are triggered - some repeatedly.

Inquiry is one way to disarm these mines. One or more mines go off, we know their location, and they are disarmed. A situation does not match one or more beliefs, we take them to inquiry, and the charge goes out of them.

Buttons taking us out of awakening

In looking at my own life, I can see how these buttons can (apparently) even take us out of awakening.

I had what seemed to be a relatively deep and stable F6-F9 awakening in my teens and early twenties. But it was not complete, there was still a sense of accomplishment and arrogance there, there was still a vague sense of I. And even if I saw that clearly, and that those were symptoms of a not complete awakening, they still hang around. There was an Achilles heel there, and life knew exactly how to allow this to come to the forefront so I had little choice but to deal with it.

Last fall, the Ground popped into the foreground in an awakening to selflessness for some weeks, and here too a button got pushed (a habitual pattern which brought up self-consciousness) and the veil of "I" reemerged.

So even in an awakening, these buttons can be pushed and the veil of "I" can reemerge. And of course before any awakening, they are pushed as well.

And I can see the beauty of this, in how it invites me to explore and examine the mechanisms of Samsara in ever more detail.

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Mechanisms of Samsara |

I had a conversation with Joel at the Center for Sacred Sciences today, and it was very helpful - especially in clarifying my process unfolding in time. (Although there is really no "I" here, nor any "time" for it to unfold "within". And the clarification is only of the story about it.)

One of the things he mentioned was the importance of becoming very familiar with the mechanisms of Samsara. How is it that the inherent clarity of mind gets clouded over? How is it that everything inherently absent of any "I" pulls a veil over itself creating a sense of "I"?

I find that the Byron Katie inquiries are very helpful for me in uncovering these mechanisms of samsara, in great detail. It is of course one of many approaches, but one that seems to work for me right now. It seems to bring out just about any practical insight that I have found anywhere else, in my - of course quite limited - studies of the various mystical traditions.

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I am You Saturday, May 27, 2006 |

The deepening experience of I am you (and you are I) comes from both the Absolute and the Relative levels.

Absolute

From the Absolute, I am literally you and the other way around. Everything is Big Mind, Buddha Mind, God, Spirit forming itself into the myriads of forms. Everything is emptiness dancing.

When there is a glimpse or realization of selflessness, there is no I or Other anymore. Everything just is, absent of any inherent I. And when there is no I, there is no Other. It is all just movements within the same ocean, distinctions within a seamless whole.

I - as Big Mind functioning through this human self, is you - as Big Mind functioning through that human self.

As Big Mind, everything and everybody becomes a mirror for myself. I reflect myself in everybody and everything. I fall in love with myself in everybody and everything. I get to know myself through everybody and everything.

This deepens as there is more familiarity with myself as Big Mind. It deepens as there is more familiarity with everything absent of any "I" anywhere.

Relative

From the Relative - the Absolute with an overlay of abstractions - I am also you.

I am a human being, and in myself I can find anything I see in you. You are a mirror for myself.

As a human being, everybody and everything is a mirror for myself. Anything I see in everybody and everything is also here in me. I can find any quality out there, also in here. I see it out there, exactly because I recognize it from in here.

This deepens as I become more familiar with seeing in myself what I see in you. It deepens as I continue to explore, notice, and live this. For me, it especially deepens through inquiry. It becomes more and more clear - in a very down to earth way - that I am you. Everything I see in you is also here in me.

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Intention to Live It |

Changes often seem to follow intention. In my own life, I see how there is an intention to find clarity about something - and it then unfolds.

So one thing it the insight itself (apparently a little more clear than before, although there is always further to go). And the other is the intention to live it, to live the insights - to allow my life to align with and be informed by them. It seems that also here, a clear intention is very helpful.

It seems to provide the nudge to allow it to actually happen, to allow the insights to come to fruition in this life. Until there is more clarity, other insights, which in turn come to fruition. And so on.

Seasons upon seasons.

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Too True to Inquire Into |

In others and myself, I see that beliefs sometimes seem too true to inquire into. They are obviously true, so what's the point?

Still, if we follow the general guideline of following the stress, we are lead to inquire into even those beliefs, no matter how pointless it may seem at first.

Appear true

Of course the belief seem true, and of course it may seem pointless to inquire into it.

We believe in the thought, and - as Byron Katie says - it is the job of our mind to make it appear true. Everything becomes a proof, including the reactions of our body and emotions. The whole universe seems to support the belief, because everything is taken as a proof. That is one way the brilliance of our mind functions. Taking an illusion and making it appear real to us.

And it is all completely innocent. There is a belief in a thought, and everything becomes filtered to make it appear true. That is all.

Choosing peace over being right

When it gets stressful enough, and we have the tool of inquiry, we'll inquire into even (apparently) obviously true beliefs just in the hope of finding some relief.

We are willing to choose peace over being right. We are willing to sincerely explore and find what is true for is in our immediate experience, rather than staying with our familiar surface beliefs.

We are willing to align ourselves with what is already more true for us - and find peace in that.

Follow the stress

The process is simple. Find a stressful situation. Notice the thought (or set of thoughts) that goes along with the situation. And inquire into these thoughts, one at a time - independent of how true or not they may appear at first.

Stress if our guide. And as we become more familiar with this process, stress becomes a friend - our most intimate advisor. Stress becomes the gateway to insight, peace and liberation. It is revealed as its own medicine.

Stress becomes what we are looking forward to, because it shows us where we are still stuck - where we still attach to a belief and are out of alignment with what is.

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Popping & Path Thursday, May 25, 2006 |

An awakening can happen spontaneously, out of the blue, apparently uninvited. Or it can happen following a period of practice, of deliberately walking the path.

In sufism, the initial version is apparently called majzub, and the second salik. One is obviously grace, the second apparently effort. Although there is also effort in the first one, in terms of exploring and living what happened. And there is clearly grace even in the second one, first in the external and internal circumstances coming together for someone traveling the path, and then in the awakening itself.

As J. Nurbakhsh says in The Path (p. 31), both have to be present for it to be complete - especially if that person is to guide others. If there was first an awakening out of the blue, then the path has to be traveled later on (either from within the awakening, or after an apparent fall). And if the path was traveled initially, then the grace and popping of awakening has to happen for it to be more complete. One alone is not sufficient.

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Dreamwork :: Amnesia ** |

A dream from a few days back, May 5, 2006.

Aristocrat with Amnesia

I was a young man from a wealthy family - wealthy in any sense of the word: money, culture, education, general interest in the world. But I had amnesia. I could not remember my name, where I lived, my family and friends, or anything else. I didn't want anyone to know, but was also helpless due to the absence of knowledge.

When I woke up, I noticed that there was still some resistance to this, but also a clear willingness to go into it more fully. I used Byron Katie's turnaround for no. 6, I am willing to be this young man with amnesia, I am looking forward to being this young man with amnesia. I am looking forward to not knowing anything.

Vector work

I explored this dream also tonight, again using the vector approach from Process Work.

First, I walked the line representing me in the dream, having a background of wealth yet with amnesia.

Then, I continued by walking the line representing my life of wealth in the dream, my life where there are stories, labels, names, locations, and so on.

Finally, I walked the line from the starting point to the ending point, the third side of the triangle, the line representing the sum of the two other lines, or rather that which holds and embraces them both.

I saw how this line is functional, able to live a daily life and using stories, yet also free from it all, coming from a context of not knowing, free from any belief in any story.

Looking at the two other lines from this third line, I saw that the initial - amnesia - line is free from stories, it is not knowing, yet also not functional in the world. I also saw that the second line - my conventional life in the dream - was functional yet not free, it was somewhat stuck, rigid and narrow.

Together, there is functionality and complete freedom. There is the life and engagement in the world, and the ability to use stories and labels as practical tools. And there is complete freedom from all of this, an absence of any belief in any story.

I also see how this resolution is very similar to what emerged from the death dream mentioned in the previous post.

Initial notes (from May 5)

All of this has to do with the dullness and forgetting which seems to be part of the dark night of the soul. It has been there for a while, but the noticing - in dreams and when I wake up - is coming up more strongly now. It seems to invite me to accept it as it is, to welcome it. To see, notice, welcome, become, be, live it. It is already there, but pushed away in the past. Now is the time to welcome it in more fully. To allow the boundary to dissolve.

It strikes me that this can be seen in two different ways, or that it has two aspects. One is the coming to terms with the dullness and flatness of the dark night phase. And the other is to become a man with no past and no future, and not knowing anything. Both feels OK to me. After so long time of struggling with it, I see that I can now more fully embrace both.

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Dreamwork :: Dead ** |

A dream from March 23 this year (while in Berkeley).

I died, but am still around.

Others can see, hear and touch me, and I can see, hear and touch them, so the interactions are much as before. The main difference is that we all appreciate the preciousness of life and our connections much more, and are closer and more loving.

Still, we are all a little puzzled by what happened. I have the appearance of my usual body, and function similar to before, but am also obviously dead. Others want to know what advice I have for them, and all I can find is to live life too the fullest while the opportunity is here, without too many worries. To experience the fullness of life, while it is here.

There is also a sense of a process. The death had happened, yet is also in process. A process of bringing it to completion.

Vector work

I explored this dream further tonight, using the vector work from Process Work.

First, I walked the line of me in the dream - dead yet still interacting with people.

Then, I walked the line of the others in the dream, the living.

Finally, I walked the third line of the triangle - from the starting point (of the first line) to the end point (of the second line) - the line which (literally) is the sum of both, or rather is embracing and holding both.

This line holds the timelessness of being dead, being outside of time, and with an absence of worries. It also holds time and our conventional and daily lives, the lives of the living.

It is engaged, immersed in human life, unfolding within time and space. Yet it also have the qualities of being outside of time, of the timeless, of the absence of worry.

Looking at the initial line (me in the dream) from this third line, I see how it is outside of time and absent of fear. It is even in communication with the living, yet also somehow on the outside. Not fully engaged.

Looking at the second line (the others in the dream) from the third line, I see how the living are wrapped up in the minutia of daily living, caught up in worries about everything from how to fix the sink to finding their path and awaken. They do not have the freedom that comes with already being dead, and the timeless.

Together, there is full immersion and engagement, yet within the context of the timeless and an absence of worries.

I also see that my advice to the living in the dream - to not worry, to live their life fully without worrying too much - is really the integration of the two dream elements. This advice is the third line, and it is of course really to me. It is what I need to hear. It is what I am invited to bring more into my life now.

Initial notes (from March 23)

This is a very interesting dream to me, and two things comes up.

This reflects the realization of selflessness. I died to any sense of separate I, but was still around and functioning as before. The dream seems to show that this has already happened. There has been a clear enough seeing of the absence of "I", for instance during the weeks last fall when it "popped", and there is also a process of allowing everything to soak in it allowing it to take effect.

A minor aspect is the sense of deadening which came through the dark night phase. This seems to be at its tail end, fluctuating more with a familiar sense of fullness and excitement. From being in this dryness and flatness, there is a desire for a fuller and deeper sense of aliveness and an appreciation for life and sense of preciousness of life.

Active imagination following the dream brought up a process of becoming nothing, so that what is (life, Existence, God, Buddha Mind, Brahman) can become everything. This is very similar to the meet the symptom maker experiment mentioned in a previous post.

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NAET & Precepts |

Some years back, I had a period of increasingly severe food intolerances - draining my energy, muddling clarity and so on. After a while, I found NAET - an acupuncture-related technique for treating (eliminating) any allergic type reactions, where the body (over) reacts to something that in itself is relatively harmless. I was able to clear the food intolerances almost all up over a 1/2 year period. Moving to Oregon's Willamette Valley (home to the grass seed capital of the world), I experienced pollen allergies for the first time in my life, and those cleared up after just 2 or 3 treatments.

Casein treatment

Today, I received a treatment for casein. As usual, I experienced the energy system shifting and reorganizing during the treatment (during and after the use of the thumper).

And since I am supposed to stay away from all dairy products for 25 hours, my mind of course make it appear as if there is a dairy craving - with images of chocolate, milk shake, yogurt, and so on arising coupled with the "have to have" experience.

Dairy craving process

What I see is that there is a particular sensation or feeling in the body, with its own particular texture, and I place a "dairy craving" story on top of it.

By itself, without the story, it is just a mild sensation/feeling. It is almost unnoticeable. With the story, or rather with the attachment to the story, it becomes a full blown dairy craving experience - seemingly almost impossible to resist. I feel out of control, I am worried about making it or not, I imagine having to repeat the treatment (which would be OK since it is pleasant and not too expensive), and so on.

So from completely innocent beginnings - the particularly textured sensation/feeling in my torso - it is made into a stressful experience, all from a story and the belief in this story.

Having to stay away from dairy helps me notice, stay with and explore this process more in detail, beyond the simple outline here. If nothing stopped me from eating dairy, I would just go for a chocolate bar, icecream, a milk shake or some yogurt, and passify - for a time - the apparent craving that way.

Precepts

And that is of course one of the main reasons for precepts in any spiritual practice. I wow to do or not do such and such, and get to see what the mind does when a habitual activity is blocked. I get to notice, stay with and explore the dynamics of the process - of the craving for engaging in habitual patterns.

And I get to see that I am really already free from them. It is only the belief in the story which creates the apparent attachment, the "have to" experience. What is left without the story is completely innocent.

There is an attachment to a story, which makes it appear as if I am attached to a habitual activity or even an object or situation.

Hara |

In many forms of martial arts and yoga, the hara (tan t'ien) is emphasized as the physical center of gravity, the source of energy and/or the center of intake and distribution of energy throughout the body(ies), and the center/initiator of movements.

My experience of the hara is that it (the abdominal region) warms up during tai chi, chi gong, Zen practice, yoga and also Breema. This warmth or heat seems to distribute and nourish throughout the body, and gives a sense of comfort, fullness and being at home. I also notice the ease and flow of movements when they "come from" the hara, in any movement practice.

In reading about it, I also notice that it is sometimes equated with the third chakra (Manipura), sometimes the second (Svadhisthana), and sometimes both - covering the whole abdominal region.

It is usually described as located one or two inches below the navel, although sometimes also as the lower abdomen or the whole abdominal cavity (hara means belly in Japanese).

Different descriptions

It is interesting that there is no consensus on which chakra it corresponds with.

It may be another case of fluidity, in this case where the energy bodies may reconfigure to some extent according to frameworks and practices.

In some traditions, the hara (tan t'ien) may come into focus and be experienced as precisely located at a point below the navel - and this may either correspond with the second or third chakra. In other traditions, the hara emerges more as the lower abdomen or the whole abdominal region - including both second and third chakras.

In my case, the hara seems to include the abdominal region as a whole - and both second and third chakra.

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The Superhero Path Wednesday, May 24, 2006 |

I worked on a dream involving a superhero and his achilles heel, and uncovered in the process a quite obvious parallel between superhero stories and individualization.

There are typically three elements in a superhero story: the person's conventional identity (often mundane), the superhero, and the adversary - either a situation or a supervillain.

The same three are in each of our lives. We have a conventional identity - the persona, our face to the world. We have the amazing and desirable qualities and abilities, developed and used to varying degrees. And then there is the disturbance, the apparent adversary, the shadow - those qualities in us that do not fit our conscious identity.

And the process of individualization involves familiarizing ourselves with each of these, allowing each of them their life, and finding the larger whole which is there beyond and including all of these. This is also the centaur level, in Ken Wilber's terminology.

Sometimes, the polarity may be so strong - in my dream Superman and kryptonite (!) - that the only whole that can hold it is the Ground, emptiness - going into the transcendent realm.

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Stories Pointing Beyond Themselves |

Anything is a story - any scientific model, any spiritual map, any personal or collective history.

Some of these stories point beyond themselves, acknowledging that they are a map only, and that the terrain is more than and different from any map of it. Other stories either omit this point (maybe it is not so clear to those telling it, or they take it for granted, or they don't see the significance of it), or explicitly counter it by presenting the story as somehow true - presenting the map as the terrain. If it is omitted, confusion can set in. And if it is countered, dogmatism neccesarily follows.

The Universe Story - or The Great Story - typically points beyond itself in one way, and not another.

The title itself does acknowledge it as a story only. It points beyond itself the way science points beyond itself, acknowledging that it will change with new information. And it will also change as social and cultural needs change, since it also has a role as a myth - as a guide.

Yet, it typically does not point beyond itself the way stories in a mystical and spiritual context point beyond themselves - to the eternal timeless Present within which time and space unfolds. Realizing selflessness, any belief in any story falls away. What is, is just emptiness dancing. Any story is revealed as just a temporary and practical tool, absent of inherent value or truth.

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Current Symptoms |

It is tempting to go to ideas of what to work on, in for instance the Big Mind process, The Work, and Process Work. We have an idea of a "big" issue for us, and want to dive into it. And that is fine.

But it also seems that the alive symptoms are an easier gateway into what the universe invites us to explore and see. It may be a back ache, the neighbor's dog barking, rain when we wanted to go to a picknick, a project falling through and so on. Anything in everyday life that bugs us, that shows up as a disturbance, as an unvanted Other.

Following these everyday alive symptoms, we may even find that they lead us right into the "big" issues in our life. Although in a much more alive, dynamic and easy way than going to our ideas for guidance.

When something wants to be seen, it comes up in a myriad forms in our daily life. Any one of them can serve as a portal.

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Radical Letting Go |

Existence itself is a process of radical nonattachment - everything continuously dying as what it is and being reborn as something else. Everything always new, fresh, different. An eternal Present which content is willing to go anywhere, to explore every possibility of manifestation - from galaxies to planets and living beings, from delusion to awakening.

As long as there is any attachment here, to any idea, any state, any manifestation, my works is not done. As long as I am not willing to awaken (for God to awaken to its own nature), and then go into delusion again (as God obviously is willing to), the work is not done. Even the attachment to awakening is an attachment.

God goes into delusion, right now - through myriads of beings. And God most likely goes into delusion again as universes cycle through existence. Of course, when God awakens to its own nature, it is all revealed as the play of God. Yet, there is also the willingness to temporarily experience the delusion from the inside - with all its suffering.

In a way, it is the ultimate free-fall. There is nothing in the world of phenomena to rely on. It all comes (in order) to pass, as Byron Katie says. The only Ground is emptiness forming itself into these always new phenomena. The only Ground is God, Big Mind. Empty of any characteristics so also able to take on any temporary form.

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Energy Stories ** |

In looking at the energy drawings from some years back and yesterday, I see that the main difference is in the absence of an oval around the body in the current one.

The earlier ones all did, as far as I can remember, and they were made before the dark night of the soul phase. The few I have doodled more recently are oval-free, and are post (or at the tail end of) the dark night phase.

I wonder if the oval somehow represented a subtle sense of I. There was a sense of accomplishment and arrogance that went with that awakening phase, although I could see it clearly and that it came from delusion. There was also an attachment to phenomena in the form of a certain magical atmosphere and bliss.

Then, there was an invitation to radically let go of any attachments to these ideas - to the remaining idea of I, to any atmosphere, to bliss or absence of bliss. And this invitation took the form of a long dark night of the soul, where all this was - apparently - taken away from me. Where I was plunged into the absence of all this. Where there was no material for any sense of accomplishment or arrogance. Where there was no magical atmosphere and no bliss.

Now, at the tail end of this phase, the oval does not show up - at least not in the few doodles so far. There is the physical body, the energies of grounding, the clear energies going through the heart area, the mental aura, a vortex some feet above the head, and that is about it. There is just clarity and an absence of any borders outside of the human self.

(Maybe the earlier drawings reflect an F6-F9 awakening - centaur, nature mysticism, deity mysticism and witness awakening. They were all definetely strongly present, and with a relatively clear seeing into the nondual. And the newer doodles reflect more of a nondual awakening, although it is definetely not quite emerged and popped yet.)

Who knows. These are all just stories anyway. The drawing are energy stories. These interpretations are also just stories. Just abstractions added to the simplicity and clarity of what is.

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Befriending Shiva |

My process - as it shows up in dreams and otherwise in my life - is inviting me to radical letting go of attachment to ideas (of past, future, present and anything else). As this has been coming up in Process Work explorations of my life and dreams, I see how helpful it can be to personalize this shift for me.

In its impersonal form, it is a finding peace with the continuous death of everything as it is and its rebirth as something else. The content of the eternal Present is always fresh, different, new. God never repeats itself.

And a radical peace with this is only found in the realization of Selflessness, in awakening to/as the Ground happening as the phenomena in the eternal Present. Awakening to what is, with no I anywhere.

This is all fine - it is a beautiful process in itself. Yet, it also has a somewhat impersonal tint to it.

Absolute and relative

From the Absolute, this all just is.

It is Ground forming itself into the world of phenomena. It is emptiness dancing. There may be distinction of this end (human self) and that end (Ground), of impersonal and personal, but also the recognition of it all as just stories - just labels and a level of abstraction added to what is.

From the Relative, the realm of polarities (and stories) emerge. The process can be seen as personal and impersonal, at this end (human self) and at that end (Ground). And if that is a useful way of looking at it, then why not.

Impersonal and personal at this end

This is impersonal at this end, in that it goes far beyond my human self. The Ground is all phenomena. It is one ocean, forming itself into waves of particular discernible phenomena. It is God appearing as trees, mountains, clouds, dogs, cats, flowers, humans, cities, cultures, planets, galaxies, universe(s).

And it is also personal at this end, in two ways.

This human self is Ground happening as phenomena. Any human self already is Ground forming itself into the appearance of a human self, so the Ground is already personal in that sense.

And this human self can reorganize and mature within the realization of Selflessness. When the Ground awakens to its own nature of no I anywhere, then Selflessness becomes personal in a different way - lived in, through, and as a particular human life.

Impersonal and personal at that end

It can also be seen as impersonal and personal at that end, as Ground.

In its impersonal form, it is emptiness dancing, Ground forming itself in the world of phenomena. Continuous death of what is and rebirth of something else. Always new, different, fresh. A continuous radical rebirth.

And it can also be seen as personal. Or rather, the connection with it can be personalized, as they do in Hinduism and (especially) Tibetan Buddhism. There is already something personal at this end, in the form of this human self. And there can also be something personal at the other - Ground - end. In this case, it can take the forms of Shiva and/or Kali and similar deities of death and rebirth.

Coming from a habitual identification as a human being, this may be an easier way into it. It is no longer a somewhat cold impersonal process, but personal as well - an intimate process of befriending Shiva and/or Kali. In a certain sense, it becomes more real for us that way.

It can be very helpful, as long as we also recognize that this too is only a tool, a story, an abstraction - a way of easing into it. The danger here is obviously that we can take it as more real than it is, that we mistake the map (Shiva, Kali) for the terrain (Ground).

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Mutes & Liars * |

When we encounter the Absolute, it becomes clear that it cannot be spoken about in any accurate way. We become mute. And then, when we speak, we become liars - we know we lie, and we know there is no other way. If we are to communicate, we have to lie.

(I think someone once said that everybody lies, but only Buddhas know they always lie.)

The same thing seems to happen for people using the Byron Katie inquiries. After a while, it becomes clear that everything we can speak is a story - it is not true. So we can become "mute" by prefacing everything with "this is my story, but", and then as we become more used to it we speak normally again, yet fully knowing that it is all lies.

Of course, these lies may align as closely as is possible with what is true for us, and even with consensus reality (high degree of intersubjective agreement). They may be functional. They may be very helpful in orienting in the world and in communication. Yet, they remain lies and cannot be anything but lies.

There is a great freedom in fully seeing them as lies, because there is then nothing to defend, and we can let go of them more easily - allowing new and temporarily more functional stories to arise and be temporary guidelines.

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Sketches Tuesday, May 23, 2006 |

A couple of similar sketches from some time back.











..

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Doodle |

I used to do doodles like these (usually in color) to get a sense of what is going on in the moment. It may or may not be an accurate representation of what is really going on energetically, but in any case says something about what is going on (as much as any dream, any set of current stories about anything, any story coming up while watching clouds or inkblots, and so on). This one happened while I facilitated someone over phone earlier today(!).

What comes up when I look at the drawing: I find an attraction to the solid and fluid lines flowing up/down through the ground (would have continued down if it wasn't for the writing right there), the lines - similar to wings - spreading out along the surface of the ground, the line coming up from the center with the vortex 7-8 (?) feet over the head, the fluid lines coming in/out from infinity and going through the heart area.

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Arguing With Reality ** |

When I argue with reality, I loose - 100% of the time. That is one of the classic quotes from Byron Katie, and I can see how it is true in two ways (or maybe one, appearing as two).

Two discrepancies

The obvious one is in terms of outer reality. If I want what is (as I see it) to be different now or in the past, I am in battle with what is - and create stress for myself.

The maybe less obvious one is in terms of what is really true for myself. If I believe something that is not aligned with what is really true for me, in my immediate experience, I again am in battle with what is - and create stress for myself.

Battle among stories

The first is more accurately a battle between two stories - first my story of what is, then my story of what should be (in the past or present).

Battle between stories and what is

The second is a battle between a deep knowing and my stories of what is.

This deep knowing is crystal clear, yet wordless. It is a deep knowing of what is, beyond and including all polarities, and any story is in the realm of polarities. Whenever I believe in any story, I try to tell myself that the map is the terrain, and the menu is the meal. And I also know that is not true. So there is stress. I see this discrepancy, even without formal inquiry, even in the midst of defending and building up my story for myself and others, and create stress for myself.

The only relief is in coming to what is true for myself.

Even if it at a conventional level is quite different from our typical stories about ourselves, as a map may be obviously inaccurate from the terrain. (It may add a bay which is not there and so on.)

Even if it at a more absolute level is different from any story of the world, in the same way any map is different from the real terrain. (It is of paper or points on a screen, while the terrain is of soil and plants and water and rocks. It highlights some features and leaves other out, while the terrain effortlessly embrace it all.)

What is (or rather the map of it)

And what seems to be - from reports by those exploring it, and my own experience - is an absence of I anywhere.

It all is - this eternal Present forming itself into always fresh phenomena - beyond and including any and all polarities. There is differentiation, but no absolute boundaries. It is one ocean, forming itself into a myriad of waves.

What is vs. maps

This is quite different from our conventional maps of it, at least in our western cultures. And it is really quite different from any map, even the most sophisticated and apparently accurate ones from Tibetan Buddhism, Daoism, Adveita, Christian mystics, Sufis, integral models and anything else.

Even those are still maps - and very useful as that. The suffering only comes when I try to convince myself that they are the terrain itself.

Simple yet not easy

It is so simple, yet - when our habit is to believe in our maps as if they were the terrain - so apparently difficult to find. To align ourselves with our deep knowing of what is, we need to let go of attachment to any map, even the ones of "I am a human being", "I am", "I".

Any identity is a map, and out of alignment with what is - as it appear in (our own) immediate experience. Any identity leaves out something, while the terrain effortlessly embrace it all.

The path into stress

And it is simple to see how stress comes about, in different ways, when we attach to maps as the terrain.

Say there is an attachment to the map of "I" (our final story).

This creates the appearance of I and Other, which in turn creates a sense of separation (stress in itself), of wanting something and avoiding something else (more stress), of struggle in innumerable forms. Attaching to the story creates stress from the battle created from within the story. Or more precisely, from the battle among the innumerable secondary stories spawned from the initial story of I, each of which attached to as if they were the terrain itself.

At the same time, there is the deep knowing - even the immediate experience - of what is absent of any I. So there is also stress from the discrepancy of this deep knowing and our attachment to the story of a separate I.

Absent of stories

Absent of this story of I, there is peace. There is no battle among the secondary stories. And there is no battle between the stories and what is - in the immediate experience of it.

There is still differentiation. There are still stories. But also the clear seeing of the terrain as one seamless whole - beyond and including any polarities. And there is clear seeing of the stories as merely maps of practical and temporary value, and limited accuracy.

There are stories, but only as tools of temporary and limited value. There is an absence of attachment to them. An absence of taking them as the terrain.

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Currently Monday, May 22, 2006 |

Hearing other's reports of how they experience themselves help me see what is going on for me. They reflect what has been for me, what is alive now, or what may be.

For me over the last several months, there has been a phase of a sense of neutrality and space. Mostly, there is just space - within which everything happens. There is little or no boundary between this human self and the rest of what is happening, it is just one field of space and phenomena - none of which appears solidly as I, or Other for that matter.

For this physical body where there are just a few disjointed sensations appearing here and there in space, some emotions now and then, and some thoughts now and then. There is a vague sense of center around the head and upper chest area, but it goes away when I look at it - it is just revealed as phenomena arising in space just like everything else. If I don't look, there may be an equally vague sense of "I" here at this "center", and if I look, both vanish - literally - in space.

Whenever I do Breema, either giving or receiving, there is a similar sense of space and a few sensations. The whole from which I can find a body and psyche is very clear, as a whole - as space within which sensations, feelings, emotions and thoughts arise (although it seems that only the sensations seems localized in space, the feelings, emotions and especially thoughts just seem to happen - nowhere in particular in space, not really connected with this human body or not).

The word fragmentation came up in a conversation this morning, and I realize that I cannot find that so easily in my own experience now. There is just space and then everything happening within and as this space. I can see that I can heal, mature, develop and so on as a human being, but it is also beyond fragmentation or no fragmentation.

Over these months and within this space, there has been a sense of dryness and flatness, of neutrality, a sense of fatigue, and punctuated by periods of watching stressful thoughts and images arising, and other periods of seeing some of the old exitement coming up.

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Car Stolen Sunday, May 21, 2006 |

Our car was stolen last night, and it reminds me of the different levels of the world...

  1. Absolute / Absence of Stories
    • A step into this is to find myself as pure awareness, as the witness, as that within which the world of phenomena unfolds - and then see that the witness has no inherent "I" either
    • Another way into this is to ask myself can I be with what I am experiencing right now?
    • I find myself without stories
    • I find myself as headless, as the whole world happening with no center
    • I find what is with no "I" anywhere
    • I find the eternal timeless Present, within which the world of phenomena unfolds
    • I find myself as Big Mind, beyond and including all polarities
    • I find myself as nonseeking mind
    • I find myself as Ground taking all these forms
    • Here, it is all fine - it is the Eternal Present within which anything and everything unfolds, as expressions of God, of Spirit, of Buddha Mind

  2. Relative / Stories
    • One set of stories creates a sense of it as desireable
      • We have insurance to replace it
      • It was getting old anyway
      • We can get the car we have wanted to replace our old one with
      • We don't need it right now

    • Another set of stories creates a sense of it as undesireable
      • This is inconvenient
      • Dealing with insurance and buying a new car is a hazzle

      Or fear inducing
      • We live in a dangerous society
      • Who knows what will happen next? Burglary? Fire? Terrorism?

    • And yet another set of stories are pragmatic, helping me to navigate in the world
      • Contact the police
      • Contact the insurance company
      • Researching and looking for a new car

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Agenda |

I notice a hesitancy in posting these days, as it all seems a little too obvious - and too general and too much of a repetition - to mention. But as it still comes up, I guess I need to hear it.

In doing the Byron Katie inquiries - and probably any other forms of inquiry - there can be several different agendas behind it.

There can be an intention to...

  • Hold onto the belief
    It seems too true, or too valuable, for me to question it. Or the implications of questioning it seem too wide-reaching. This seems to be a problem in the very beginning of inquiry, before we see - over and over - the release and clarity that comes out of it.

  • Get rid of the belief
    We either want a particular belief to go away, or - as in my case - any and all beliefs to go away. I notice that I sometimes inquire partly to uncover the dynamics around the belief, but also partly with the intention to have it go away.

  • Change the situation...
    miraculously, through inquiry. For instance, I may have an addiction I hope will clear up through inquiry, or money problems, health problems, relationship problems and so on.
I notice that when these are present for me there is also a discomfort throughout the inquiry. And this discomfort is a sign that there are underlying beliefs about inquiry waiting to be explored through inquiry.

These underlying beliefs about inquiry...
  • Prevents me from staying with the inquiry
    A part of me keeps the intention in mind, compares whatever comes up with this desired outcome, analyzes whatever comes up in the light of this desired outcome, and so on. There is a whole level of filtering and processing going on which clouds over the simplicity of it.

  • Filter the content of inquiry
    They filter what comes up, possibly leaving out that which appears to not fit with the desired outcome. They also cloud over the simple seeing of what comes up.

  • Clouds it over
    In general, it clouds over the simplicity of the inquiry, and the clear seeing of what comes up.
It seems that these intentions are typically more strongly present early on in doing inquiry.

As we become more familiar with inquiry, we start trusting the process and the clarity and wisdom that comes out of it. There is no need to add anything to the inherent simplicity of the process. And as we inquire into these underlying beliefs about inquiry, they tend to clear up as well.

Over and over, I see the effects of the process - and that it is simple. There is no need to add anything to it. I find a simple statement, I ask four questions and turn the statement around, and I do this with sincerity, a curiosity about the dynamics of this particular belief, a curiosity about what comes up as really true for me, and an interest in allowing it all to sink in - allowing it all to be simply seen.

And in this, I find - over and over - that the natural and inherent wisdom, clarity and compassion of mind takes over, allowing it all to reorganize, unfold, untie, unravel, in whatever way it needs to.

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Nadis, Meridians, Chakras & The Holarchy of Being Saturday, May 20, 2006 |

I just finished Theories of the Chakras by Hiroshi Motoyama, and it seems clear that the relationships between the Indian nadis, the Chinese meridians, the chakras, and our holarchy of being still offers many opportunities for exploration and clarification. I also see how Dr. Motoyama only includes the health aspect of the Chinese system, and largely leave out the spiritual - including Chinese yoga, and practices such as five element acupuncture. I am sure that is just from a lack of sources, yet it is also leaves a big hole in an otherwise very interesting and useful book.

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Fool |

When there is no (belief in a) story, we become a fool.

All there is, is the eternal Present - always new, fresh.

The whole world - all there is - is what is right here. Anything else is a story.

There is no past and no future. They too are just stories happening now.

My only life is right here, that is all there is.

There is an absence of belief in any story, including that of "I".

There is unknowing, yet access to whatever experience, knowledge, information, skills and so on that may happen. And there is a story of how they happen in response to the situation, although that too is just a story.

There is nothing to defend. There is an absence of any identity so no I and Other, and nothing to protect or defend.

I can find everything in me (this human self) that anyone comes up with.

Everything is - what we label rain, cat, table, lamp, body, sensations, thoughts, decisions, movements, focus, awareness and so on - with no I anywhere.

Everything just happens, with no doer anywhere.

In short, this human self - operating in this context - looks very much like a fool to anybody. It is too simple. Too childlike. Although it is a simplicity which includes complexity. Childlikeness which includes maturity. Foolishness which includes wisdom.

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Process Work, Big Mind Process, Dreams & Mirrors |

During the dreamwork class at the Process Work center today, I was reminded of the many connections between PW, my own experiences and worldview, and the many other approached I am interested in - including the Big Mind process and Byron Katie's inquiry, in addition to Buddhism, Zen, Taoism, shamanism, and so on.

Process Work & Big Mind process

Arny Mindell talked about the small me and big me several times, which has a close correspondence to Big Mind and the human self in the Big Mind process. I can see how he is on the edge of radical nonduality in his views, radical selflessness, radical absence of any fixed identity, playing at the edge of it before taking the plunge.

World as a mirror

I was also reminded of how I - since my teens - have seen the world and dreams: Both are there as mirrors for myself. Every quality I see "out there" - in the world, in others, in the universe, in stories, in dreams and so on - are also "in here". As a human being, I can find in myself everything I see out there. And as Big Mind, there is no separate "I" - there is just one field, all I.

Every situation, be it in waking life or in dreams, are there to help me see this. To first expand my conscious identity, and then see how any identity is limited, limiting and just a belief in an abstraction. Every situation is here, inviting me to realize what already is - the absence of any separate I.

As my identity expands, my repertoire expands as well and I become more fluid in my life. But it is still limited, there is still a belief in abstractions, there is still I and Other, there is still the belief in the idea of "I". There is still a resistance to what is, although it may appear subtle. There is still a delusion, still a mistaken identity. Still stuckness. Still suffering.

When the belief in the idea of "I" falls away, in the realization of selflessness and Ground awakening, the last bit of resistance falls away with it. Everything happens, revealed as without any inherent I anywhere.

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Dream :: Swelling Ocean ** |

Dream, May 18

I was at the coast, and our house were up on top of an embankment of boulders and cement. The ocean swelled and the waves came higher, although not quite up to the house. My wife and brother were there. I was initially concerned for the house and ourselves, but then saw that the house seemed safe and that I was OK as well. My brother fell into the waves, and I jumped in and rescued him.

Immediate reflections

This dream may be about feeling overwhelmed - by all the hangups I see in myself, all the beliefs to inquire into, my situation and all decisions to make to untangle myself from this quagmire. The ocean swells, washing up to the foundation of my house. Someone almost drown. Although I was able to save him anyway.

Dreamwork

I went to the first of four afternoons on dreamwork with Arny Mindell at the Process Work center in Portland today, and had a chance to work on this dream using the vector technique.

I first walked the direction of myself in the dream (small me), then the direction of the most compelling dream image (the swelling ocean), and then the line from the starting point to the end point (which is the sum of the two initial lines - small me and the ocean together).

Walking the third line - from starting point to end point, the line of the sum of small me and the ocean, the line of big me (or rather Big Mind) - I saw...

First, how I - as small me - shrunk in the situation, into seeing myself as small, limited, a victim of the ocean, separate, alien from the ocean.

Then, seeing small me and the ocean together, I saw how there is the very real opportunity of opening up for both - for connection. I can find the ocean in myself, and thus not be afraid of its external manifestations - and know how to flow with it and respond to it. I can find the larger whole which embraces both (Big Mind and then Integrated Free Functioning Self). I can find the Dao, which is the larger whole expressing itself as small me and the ocean both - in one fluid seamless process.

And finally, I saw how the dream pushed me into this third line - this combination of small me and the swelling ocean - by having my brother fall into the waves and me jumping after him to save him. The patterns of holding back are just a ghost these days, just old habits not needed anymore, and this - the dream + this vector work - is what it took to have me see that, or at least have a glimpse of it.

Further notes

Now, a few days later (May 25), what stays with me from this dream is how I already know how to deal with the swelling and dramatic ocean - I know how it functions from the inside, there is no separation between us yet there is also room for distinction, I know how to flow and roll with it, yet also taking care of myself and others. I am fluid enough with it to even save others within it.

At the same time, I see how my habitual pattern is to stay back. To stay more passive being concerned about it. To not jump into it until I am nudged or pushed into it - although when this nudge comes, I do it without much or any hesitation.

The ocean is life - my life, human life, Earth life, this universe, Existence. It is the Dao. It is the form aspect of Big Mind. It is the dancing of emptiness.

And I am familiar enough with it now to dance with it, to flow and engage with the Dao, to jump into and find myself as the rolling and swelling ocean - and my human self at the same time, able to engage with others.

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Flavors Thursday, May 18, 2006 |

Some of the many flavors of how God expresses itself as/through humans...

Big Mind

This is the realization of selflessness, of realizing that there is no I anywhere. It is Big Mind awakening to its own nature. And it is still functionally connected with a particular human self.

All is revealed as God, as Ground spontaneously manifesting as the world of phenomena, as emptiness dancing. There are no human beings as an entity - it is just God playing a game with itself, temporarily identified with something finite - a human being.

Nothing needs to change. There is nothing to improve. Everything is perfect as it is.

This is the Absolute.

And on its own, it can appear cold, heartless, disengaged - because it really is.

Big Heart

Big Heart is a movement into the Relative, into duality, into a split.

Here, we include a more conventional view of I and Other within the context of Big Mind.

And this inclusion of I and Other in the context of all as God naturally opens and fuels the heart. It brings up engaged and lived compassion and love.

Human self

Into this combination of Big Mind and Big Heart comes the human self, with its own unique human characteristics - including its talents, inclinations, health and maturity.

Deluded

And there is of course also the possibility of God not awakened to its own nature, but temporarily identified with the human self and/or awareness - functioning through the filter of I and Other.

Mix

Mixed together, there is an infinite number of possibilities.

Big Mind can be emphasized, as it often is in Adveita and Buddhism.

Big Heart can be emphasized, as it often is in Theistic mysticism - for instance among Sufis and Christian mystics.

And any combination of Big Mind and Big Heart can be filtered through a human self, a unique personality - with its unique talents, inclinations, level of health and maturity. Sometimes it shows up as a teacher, sometimes as an activist, sometimes as one in service to the unfortunate, sometimes as an artist, sometimes as a healer, sometimes as an office worker, sometimes as a plumber.

Each of these are just different flavors - different ways God is exploring itself through awakening to its own nature.

No difference

There is not even much difference between God awakening to its own nature of selflessness, in various ways and to various extents, and God being identified with something finite. Both are just God exploring itself. Both are the play of God.

Both are perfect as they are, although it does not always look that way - especially if filtered through any exclusive identification (with something finite). And that too is perfect as it is. That too is God exploring itself. That too is part of the Game.

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Examining Underlying Beliefs |

When I do The Work, I find it very helpful to not only split the statements into their components, but also to explore the underlying beliefs - the assumptions behind the belief.

For instance, a statement may be I shouldn't waste my life, and underlying beliefs may be I am wasting my life, and it is possible to waste one's life.

Some of the more basic underlying beliefs include I am a human being (which makes everything else into an Other), I live (which means I can die), I am (which makes nonexistence into an Other), and even just the idea of a separate I.

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Inquiry :: Teaching |

I am not a good teacher (instructor, public speaker).

  1. No (at least not completely true.)

  2. (no)

  3. How do I react when I believe that thought?

    I look for evidence for it, such as blank stares when I talk and so on.

    If I believe that thought, then anything can become evidence for it - including the most innocent things such as people's neutral facial expressions and even expressions of gratitude and appreciation (which I take as not honest, or maybe as a way to make me feel better!).

    How do I live my life when I believe that thought?

    I avoid teaching or public speaking situations. I tell myself that I am not good enough, and that others can do it better. I want to leave room for others to do it better, even if there may not be any others around (at least locally) to do it at all. I hold back. I get frustrated because I hold back. And I sometimes judge others for not teaching well enough, even telling myself that I can do better than that.

    It creates a sense of separation. When I do teach or give a talk, it creates a sense of separation with the recipients, with the topic and with myself. And when I am a recipient myself, it creates a sense of separation with the teacher or speaker.

    It is very dissatisfying, in many ways.

    How do I treat others?

    I may turn down teaching and speaking opportunities, saying that others can do it better. During teaching and speaking, I make the recipients into Other and experience separation.

    What is the payoff from holding onto that belief?

    I get to appear humble to myself and others. I get to show that I realize it can be done better, that my insights and knowledge is not as comprehensive as it can be, that others do it better than me, that I am not arrogant, that people deserve better than what I can offer. I get to be a victim, of my own beliefs.

    What is the cost?

    Frustration. Dissatisfaction. Feeling like a victim. Judgment of others. Sense of separation from recipients, the topic, myself, others in a teacher/speaker role. Holding myself back from sharing with others. Holding myself back from exploring topics more in depth through teaching and public speaking. Holding myself back from exploring the roles of teaching and public speaking, and what it brings up in me and how I can mature through it.

  4. Who would I be without that belief?

    I would have a sense of connection with recipients, the topic and myself, when teaching or speaking. I would connect through eyes, facial expression, humour, sincerity and more. I would enjoy it much more. And I would be open to and seek out teaching and speaking opportunities. I would explore the topics more in depth through teaching and speaking.

  5. (a) I am a good teacher.

    Yes, that is as or more true. I usually prepare well. I am present while teaching. I am focused on what the recipients may benefit from. I am sincere about my limited knowledge and experience with the topic (even if I knew more than anybody else, it would still be limited, still only scratching the surface). I am sincerely interested in the student's questions. I speak from what is true and alive for me. People sometimes tell me they appreciate and enjoy the way I teach and speak.

    (b) My thinking is not a good teacher.

    Yes, that is as or more true. When I believe my thoughts, I take them as my teacher and guru, and am mislead my them. My thinking is not a good teacher if I take it as true, if I believe in it. Also, when I teach, I want to teach from what is alive for me - not from abstractions and thinking, although that is obviously included. I want the thinking to be in service of what is alive for me.

    (c) My thinking is a good teacher.

    Yes, also true. Through inquiry, I learn a lot about the interactions between thinking, believing in them, and my human life. My thinking is a good teacher in that sense. Also, my thinking helps me explore the world in a different way - through abstractions, analysis, differentiation and so on.

    (d) Others are not good teachers.

    Well, I sometimes see others as not good teachers - as not familiar enough with the topic, not aware enough of their hangups and blindspots (as if any of us are!), and so on. Also, others are not good teachers for my teaching. My teaching has to come from me, from what is alive and true to me in the present. I do it for myself, to explore the topic more in depth, to explore the role of the teacher, and so on.

    (e) Others are good teachers.

    Yes, everybody is a good teacher for me - no matter what - because they reflect me. They are my mirror. I learn about and see myself in them, no matter who they are or what they do. And I see that the reverse is true as well. I am always a good teacher for others, because they see themselves in me.

  6. I am willing to see myself as not a good teacher. I look forward to seeing myself as not a good teacher.

    Yes, because that will remind me to explore that belief.

New statements: People deserve better than what I can offer. I am not arrogant. I am humble.

Turnaronds for new statements...
  1. People deserve better than what I can offer.

    (a) People don't deserve better than what I can offer.

    Yes, they get what they get. And they are free to not attend, or ask for the money back. That is their responsibility. Also, they see themselves in me.

    (b) People deserve what I can offer.

    >> Yes, I can offer something to them, both as a mirror and in terms of learning and exploration. I am them, helping them see it in themselves.

    (c) I deserve what I can offer.

    >> Yes, also true. Can I receive what I can offer? It is for me, after all. The activity, the teaching, the explorations, it is all for me. I am the one to receive it.

    (d) I deserve better than what I can offer.

    Yes, also true. I deserve better than what I, as a human being, can offer. And that is why there is a whole universe out here, reflecting back other things to me than what this human self easily can do.

    (d) I don't deserve better than what I can offer.

    Yes, what is is.

    (e) I deserve what others can offer.

    Yes, it is for me. Can I receive it? Can I see myself in it? Can I take it as an opportunity to see and get to know me better? Can I take it in?

    (f) I don't deserve what others can offer.

    Hmm... Well, not if I am not receptive to it. If I believe in stories, I am not all that receptive to it.

  2. I am not arrogant.

    (a) I am arrogant.

    Yes, as true. Especially if I believe in the thought that I am not arrogant! In that moment, I am. I set myself aside from others and from sides of myself. I make myself right, I make myself better than that.

    (b) My thinking is arrogant.

    Yes, or at least when believed in. As soon as I believe in a thought, there is arrogance. I split the world. I identify with something I see as right, and make something else wrong. I split the world into I and Other.

    (c) My thinking is not arrogant.

    Yes, also true. My thinking is innocent - just innocent questions about the world. It is only when I attach to them, when I believe them, when I make them right and something else wrong, that arrogance comes into the picture. Arrogance, from splitting the world into I and Other, into right and wrong.

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Correspondence |

The Byron Katie inquiries overlaps in many ways with approaches I have used in the past, and also many other approaches out there.

A brief overview of how the Byron Katie inquiries seem to correspond with other approaches.

Question number...

  1. Is it true?
    Awareness of the discrepancy between opinions and reality.

  2. Can you absolutely know it is true?
    Awareness of how abstractions are always only relative truth, unable to touch any absolute truth. Awareness of the limits of knowledge.

  3. How do you react when you believe that thought?
    Psychotherapy (exploring how we are apparently screwed up).

  4. Who would you be without the thought?
    Shikantaza. Big Mind process (Big Mind/Heart, nonseeking mind). Headlessness. Atma Vichara. Mindfulness based psychotherapy.

  5. Turnarounds
    Projections. Shadow work. Everything and everybody are mirrors for myself. Awareness of abstractions as only relative truth, unable to touch any absolute truth.

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Infinite Causes |

One of the many ways to explore selflessness is through inquiry into causes. Take any activity in your daily life, and explore the many contributing causes to that activity.

For any activity, I can find infinite contributing causes. There is always one more, and one more.

I brushed my teeth this morning, and the tip of the iceberg of the contributing causes to that simple activity is...

  • I have teeth
  • I have a tooth brush
  • I have an arm to brush with
  • I have time to brush
  • I had a thought of brushing teeth
  • I had the intention of brushing teeth
  • There is an awareness within which all this unfolds
  • My parents and my school encouraged me to brush my teeth, establishing a habit for me
  • Someone invented the toothbrush
  • Someone manufactured this toothbrush
  • Innumerable people was part of that manufacturing, indirecty or directly, going back innumerable generations
  • I am alive
  • I am a human being
  • I have eaten food my whole life to stay alive for this brushing
  • Innumerable beings brought this food to me, directly and indirectly
  • I have not died yet, from the innumerable things that could have made me die before this moment
  • Innumerable unbroken generations of beings, humans and pre-human, allowed me to exist so I could brush my teeth this morning
  • This planet and solar system was formed from a number of supernovas
  • The whole universe has evolved as a seamless system, allowing this planet, humanity, our culture, and me to exist
And so on... I see that the universe as a whole contributed to this simple action. There is not really much room for any separate doer. It seems far more true that the act of brushing my teeth was the activity of the whole of the universe, of the whole of Existence. I cannot find any separate I here acting as a doer. I as a separate doer seems to be just a story added to what is.

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Undoing Lifetimes Wednesday, May 17, 2006 |

On one of the CDs, Byron Katie mentioned that inquiry can undo lifetimes of material, and it certainly seems that way in my experience.

I see how I can play out these beliefs in my life, over years and lifetimes, and suffer the consequences until the situation finally becomes right for it to resolve - for me to see through the belief. Or, I can notice a stressful thought, take it to inquiry, and allow it to resolve that way. In a few minutes, I can do what would otherwise take lifetimes, or maybe years of exploration through other techniques.

The lifetimes of material seems true in a quite literal sense (without having to bring reincarnation into the picture). These stressful thoughts seem to be universally human, and have been with us since the dawn of civilization and probably before. They come to us through generations of humans, they have come alive in innumerable human lives. And now, they appear in us, inviting us to examine them and allowing them to unravel. They want their life, and they want to be freed from our belief in them.

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Examining Ideas Tuesday, May 16, 2006 |

When I do inquiry, the thought there are too many beliefs to inquire into sometimes surfaces - bringing with it a predictable sense of overwhelm. But I also see that inquiry is about examining ideas, and most of these ideas - at least the basic ones - are typically applied in many different situations. So I can do inquiry into death, or on seeking approval, and it has impacts on a wide range of situations.

When I inquire into beliefs, I do the ones surfacing right now, and that makes it easier as well. They are naturally portioned out.

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Death |

Nothing new here either...

I see how doing inquiry on death has a widespread effect, simply because death is everywhere.

If I find peace with death, I find peace with death in its many forms.

In this eternal Present, the whole world continually dies as it is and is reborn as something else. It is always utterly fresh. The whole world of phenomena is flow - continuous death and rebirth. This human self dies. Everything I know and am familiar with in my life will die, every person, every animal, every city, every culture, every idea, every piece of music, this solar system, this universe, it will all die. And it already does, always.

And this includes my attachment to any idea. These attachments which all together builds up an imagined identity, as an "I", as awareness, as a human, as white, as male, as liberal, as someone liking cheese, as someone appreciating Stereolab, as someone doing inquiries, as someone married to a particular woman, and so on - endlessly. All these attachments to ideas which together define who "I" am as opposed to everything else. All of these, which naturally bring a sense of isolation and loneliness. Which makes the world appear as I and Other. Which create the whole familiar realm of human drama.

And as with everything else, every attachment to any idea will die - including to the idea of I - and if they do while this body is still around, it is experienced as peace and liberation

I see that even these attachments to ideas continuously die, along with everything else in the realm of phenomena. And they are typically continuously recreated as well. Until they are not. Until they are seen through. Until they are examined. Leaving just what is.

I did an inquiry on death a little while ago, received a phone call notifying me that a plan of mine would not be able to go through (it died), and I saw how the inquiry on the death of a person naturally transfered to the death of a plan. No surprise, since they both are really just attachments to ideas.

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Inquiry :: Death |

She shouldn't die.

  1. Yes (Feels true).

  2. No (Cannot know that is absolutely true, nor what is best for her path, my path, or anyone's path.)

  3. How do I react when I believe that thought?

    Images of all the times we have spent together, how rewarding it has been for me. Sadness of losing it. Grief of losing it, even while she is still alive. Images of me without her in my life, and how empty it will be. Images of everything I will miss. Fear. Frustration of how unpredictable life is, that I cannot know when anyone will die - nor do anything to prevent it. Hopelessness. Feel trapped. Feel that life is unfair. I feel separate from her, from myself, from anyone else - because they will all die from me, and from life.

    How do I treat her?

    I either feel needy and want her attention, or sad and unable to connect very well.

    How do I treat myself?

    I play images of good times together, and of my own grief and loneliness after she is gone, in my mind. I torture myself by playing them over and over.

    What is the payoff?

    I get to feel that I appreciate what she has brought into my life, knowing it is transient. I get to see myself as a "good" person wanting someone else to stay around longer. I get to experience sadness and the depth and grounding in that.

    And the cost?

    Sense of separation - from her, myself, others, life. Sense of loneliness - even while she (and others) are still around. Sense of frustration and hopelessness. Sense of being a victim - of this life and universe where everything is temporary.

  4. Who would I be without that thought?

    Free to enjoy our time together and apart, free from my stories around it. Free to see what is conventionally called her "death" as just being apart, as I am daily even now.

    >> Free to be as I am right now, apart from her, even after what they call death. Free from adding any stories to it.

    Free to play the stories of our times together in my mind, and enjoy it, appreciate it, experience the love through that as I do now. Free to see that she will continue to live in me, as she already does when we are apart.

  5. (a) She should die.

    Yes, we all do. Everything born dies. Everything is transient. There is no renewal without death - stars die and create heavier elements allowing planets and life, organisms die and give space and matter to new organisms, cultures die and give space and nutrients to new cultures, species die and allow space for new species, ideas die allowing space for new ideas, insights die allowing space for new insights, and so on.

    She wouldn't have been around in the first place if this was not inherent to the world of phenomena. She is born from death, and returns to death - as everything and everyone else.

    I also see how the world of phenomena, unfolding within the eternal Present, is always fresh, always new, always different. The whole world dies as what it was and is reborn as something else, continually.

    Also, when she dies it is as it should be. There are infinite causes to it. It is another expression of the whole.

    I also see that she should die in this memory, because she (most likely) will at some point. She will die in this (my) memory, and be gone from my world. Possibly when this body dies, possibly before, possibly later, possibly never - I don't know.

    (b) My thinking should die.

    Yes, my thinking that she shouldn't die is what should die. It is in conflict with what is, and only creates misery for me. It is an unexamined belief only.

    (c) My thinking shouldn't die.

    Yes, true as well. My thinking about her shouldn't die. If I want her to not die, she should stay alive right here, in my mind. That is about all I have control over, if that.

    (d) I shouldn't die.

    Well, don't know. What I find here is the timeless Present within which the world of phenomena unfolds, and since it is (or seems) unborn it (seems that it) won't die. Really, I don't know.

    (e) I should die.

    Yes, if I see "I" as this body/mind, it obviously should die, along with everything else in the world of phenomena. It all comes and goes. It is all transient. It is flow. Everything and everybody are guests, passerbys.

I will miss her and what she brings into my life.
  1. (a) I won't miss her and what she brings into my life.

    >> That is as true. She will be with me right here, in my own mind, so I won't miss her. And if she is not present even here, then I won't know that she isn't so I won't miss her then either.

    (b) I will miss myself and what I bring into my life.

    >> Yes, that is also true. If I believe that I will miss her, there is a sense of separation even from myself, so I will miss myself and what I bring into my life. In believing the thought, there is separation, and a sense of loneliness. I am in her business, and nobody is here to take care of me.

    (c) I will miss her and what I bring into my life.

    >> Yes, also true. I will miss her, and what I bring into my life through (my story of) her. She serves as a catalyst for things in me, as a mirror for myself. I get to know myself in a different way through her.

I won't have her as a mirror (for myself).
  1. (a) I will have her as a mirror.

    Yes, my stories about her will still serve as a mirror for myself. It may take a different flavor, but still be a mirror. And the role she served as my mirror will be taken up by others. There is a whole universe whose job it is to serve as a mirror for me, so if one part of it goes away there is plenty left to take up the slack.

    (b) I will have others as a mirror.

    >> Yes, that is true. It sets it in perspective. She may be gone in a certain way, but there is still the whole rest of the universe there - faithfully doing its job as a mirror for me. Mirroring me back to myself in innumerable ways. There is an infinite richness out there, even without her.

    (c) I will have myself as a mirror.

    Yes, I mirror myself - through my stories. My stories shows me what I need to see about myself to find who I am without any stories.

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Dentist |

Situations that brings up intensity are often helpful to me for noticing what is - for just allowing it all to unfold within space, as it does anyway. At the dentist yesterday, I had a good opportunity to explore everything unfolding - the room, the dentist, the drill, this body, the reactions in this body, sensations coming and going, emotions coming and going, thoughts coming and going, attention moving around, and the awareness it all unfolds within - and see that there is really no "I" anywhere in all of this. It all unfolds, but none of it is really that personal.

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Harvesting the Nutrients Monday, May 15, 2006 |

In any stressful experience, there is a gift - there are nutrients there, ready to nurture our life if we are available to them.

In my experience, if I just use a regular mindfulness practice - coming to my breath or the movements of the body when I notice getting caught up in a hangup - it works in the short term, giving me some relief and reminding me of who I would be without the story. But it also seems to miss something in the longer run. Until the nutrients are harvested, until the gift is received, it seems to just come up again - over and over. Something wants to be seen, and until it is - it will return.

I am sure there are innumerable very effective ways of harvesting these nutrients. Some that work for me are...

  • The Big Mind process
    Exploring in detail the dynamic behind what is happening, including the polarities (complementary/opposite) voices at a personal level and the transcendent voices.

  • Byron Katie's inquiries
    Exploring in detail what the belief is behind the stress, what happens when I believe that thought, who I would be without it, and integrating projections and loosening up the belief through exploring the various turnarounds.

  • Process Work
    Allowing the process behind the symptom (in this case stress) to unfold, revealing its message and gift, and absorbing this.

  • Shikantaza (sitting practice)
    Allowing it all to unfold within awareness, living its own life as it does anyway. Allowing resistance to even resistance to fall away. Allowing even the fueling of thoughts to unfold within space as everything else.

  • Can I be with what I am experiencing? (daily life)
    Again, allowing it all to unfold within awareness, living its own life.

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Relearning |

Relearning has come up for me in a few different ways lately.

First, there is the astounding difference between how Ground effortlessly manifest as this whole universe, and the conscious understanding of this manifested in humans. Both come from Ground, and the second is Ground exporing itself through immediate experience and maps. Yet, there is such a huge gap between the two. Our understanding as humans, even for the most brilliant among us in any area, is tiny compared with the immense complexity of what is.

This is one example of (apparent) relearning. The Ground manifests as all this, then brings itself into conscious awareness and explores itself through humans (and other species). It "knows" how to do it, how to effortlessly manifest. And then it tries to figure out how it did it.

A similar form of relearning seems to be happening in my life now. In the initial awakening (teens and later), it all seemed revealed and happened effortlessly. Just about anything I have later heard or read about in any spiritual/mystical tradition was revealed in immediate experience. Then, after having deepened for a while, it started to fade and apparently went away (dark night of soul type phase). And now, there is an apparent relearning of it all. A conscious relearning.

Where the initial phase was spontaneous, uninvited, effortless, sudden, veils falling on their own, this time it seems more deliberate, more conscious, more plodding, gradual, one step at a time. And why not? Why not this flavor too of exploration?

Network of Beliefs |

Again, by doing BK inquiries, it seems clear that most of us function from a network of beliefs. Some are more basic than others, many of them (all?) support each other, and together they form our identity. They tell us what is I and Other.

The most basic belief is in the idea of "I", creating the filter of I-Other. Then maybe "I am", excluding nonexistence. Then "I am human", placing the I on a temporary object in the world, and scaring ourselves with that story. Then all the other ones, such as "I am white", "I am European", "I am progressive", "I am kind", "I am considerate" and so on, endlessly.

Looking at it, I see that it can be represented in an inverted pyramid with the belief in the idea of "I" at the bottom, as the other beliefs would have problems existing without that one.

And I also see that we don't have to question and examine every single one of them for this network to unravel. The key ones (the ones most charged for us) take large segments of the network with them, and there is also a natural intelligence here which seems to catch onto the general process and spontaneously applies it to new and other beliefs.

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