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No Mind, No Body Wednesday, June 21, 2006 |

In a more conventional exterior view, I see that working with mind-body connections can be very useful. Yet in my own immediate experience, there is no body-mind connection to be found.

There is only space within which everything happens - what we call sensations, sights, sounds, smells, taste, thoughts, or what we label this body, this human self, this room, this computer, the trees outside the window, the sound of the birds and the traffic, the sunlight on the trees.

It is a seamless field of whatever happens in the present. Or I could say that there is just the fragments of what is happening - a taste over here in space, some sensations scattered around, some fragments of sights and sounds.

Of course, I can play around with the stories of body and mind, and see how they can be used as an overlay of what is happening in the present, but they are still just stories. Not immediate experience.

There is separation in space within this field, yet no separation. It is all just happening. There is no I anywhere, yet also a vague (habitual) sense of I floating around somewhere in/around this human self.

Emotions, Needs & Stories |

For a while, I have been curious about the relationship between Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and The Work.

I went to a workshop with Marshall Rosenberg a while back, and also did a NVC class, and found it intriguing and quite useful - especially the distinction between needs and strategies to meet those needs.

What I didn't want to see for a while is that there may not be any relationship between NVC and The Work. The Work seems to undercut everything that NVC is about.

Doing inquiry for a while, it becomes clear that emotions is a story, and needs is a story as well. There is no substance in either.

I am hurt. I need love. I feel angry. I need food. I am sad. I need appreciation.

They are all stories, and so obviously so.

I may not have food, and may die from the lack of it, but I still don't need food. It is impossible for me to need anything.

I may not receive appreciation (according to my story about it), but I still don't need it.

There may be sensations and then a label on it - hurt, anger, sadness, exhilaration, but those are only stories too. There is a sensation, and that is all. It is impossible for me to know what it is about. And staying with a sensation without the story, it changes to the point where it is impossible to place any label on it even if I wanted to.

It is so simple. So clear. So much ease.

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Softness & Receptivity or Hurt |

Some thoughts came through about being let down by a group (they didn't live up to my story about them), and I noticed I felt hurt, which in turn fed the initial stories and gave birth to some new stories as well.

Just noticing the sensations associated with it, I saw that without the stories, they were just sensations in the chest area of softness and receptivity. On their own, they were actually quite interesting and pleasant.

With
the stories, or rather with the attachment to the story of hurt and the stories of how they did not live up to my expectations, the overall experience was quite unpleasant. The sensations themselves drowned in the overall confusion and turmoil, and to the extent they were in awareness - appeared uncomfortable and intolerable.

Just noticing the sensations themselves, distinct from any stories, makes all the difference. Then, attention can be with them, and notice them without any stories. Just sensations. Simple. Clear.

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Thirst? & Going to Get Water * |

If cravings, emotions and so on are really just sensations + a thought, then what about listening to the signals of the body and all the other things we are told is important?

What I find is that there is a sensation, then a thought "thirst", and then a recognition that without the thought there is just a simple sensation, that there is no way of really knowing what it is about, that the thought is really just a simple question, and that I can go and get some water without making it into a drama or big story.

Of course, this is a simple example, but it seems to reflect a typical pattern. Instead of believing the thought about the sensation, and making it into a drama, I see that there is not any real connection between the sensation and the thought. The sensation is liberated from a story about it, and the thought is liberated from being believed in.

At the same time, if the innocent question is thirst? I can go and get water. If the question is pain? I can move the leg. If the question is persistent strong pain?, I can go to the doctor. If the question is itching? I can scratch. Or not.

In that way, there is peace yet also engagement and activity.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006 |

Jonah & The Whale

Stories get passed on through the generations for a reason, and that reason is often that they mirrror something in ourselves, at collective and individual levels. Beyond mirroring common issues, they also often suggest ways of working with and approaching them.

One of these stories is that of Jonah and the Whale, a story about our calling, what happens if we don't answer it, and the redemption that comes through finally embracing and living our calling.

Jonah was called to prophesise, initially denied this calling, and was haunted by God - in the form of storms and being swallowed by a whale - until he finally changed his mind, at which point God now turns from showing his wrathful to his merciful face, making Jonah into one of the most effective prophets in the Bible.

This is a story about each of us.

What is my calling? I know what it is, even as I try to deny it.

Why do I avoid my calling? Does it look different from my image of myself? Is it too different from my expectations of myself and my life?

In what ways do I avoid my calling?

What are the consequences of avoiding it?

At what point do I have no choice but to embrace and live it? At which point is the pain of avoiding it greater than my reasons for avoiding it? At which point is my resistance broken down?

And finally, what is the gift of this whole process? In what way is it enriching and nurishing my calling, when I finally embrace it?

From Absolute to Relative ** |

Nothing new here either, but something I am still curious about...

When there is an awakening to selflessness, to what is with no I inherent anywhere, there is also the recognition that everything is the play of God. It is perfect and complete as it is.

Before this awakening, we may say that sounds very cold and detached. What about all the suffering in the world? Is that perfect as well? How can you say such a thing?

From this awakening, we would have to say - yes, even the suffering is perfect as it is. It is God temporarily experiencing suffering. It is God, period.

Yet, from this awakening, something else is happening as well.

When what is awakened to its own nature functions through a human self, and this human self encounters another human self manifesting suffering, then there is the recognition that she is I. This is I suffering. Why wouldn't I do whatever I can to help?

From realization of selflessness, helping becomes a manifestation of this awakening. She is I, and she is suffering, so I help in whatever way I can.

Or maybe more precisely, I will make myself available for helping, and if she welcomes it - I will do it in whatever way I can.

This is how the Absolute becomes the Relative. This is how Big Mind gives birth to Big Heart.

This is how awakening becomes rehumanized.

This is how God lives more fully as a human being, awakened to its own nature, embracing the ultimate and the relative truths.

This is how God as awakened to its own nature, and as deluded and confused about its own nature, is embraced.

This is how awakening and delusion is lived in a human life.

This is how this awakening - manifested over here, sees itself as still deluded - manifested over there, and makes it self available.

This is how it comes to it to offer its assistance.

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Collective Processes |

Another pretty obvious thing from psychology...

In a systems approach to family therapy, the person manifesting the symptoms is seen as the symptom bearer for the whole family, the one manifesting processes everyone is involved in - and likely suffer from in various ways.

And the same seems to be the case at any level, from individual levels up through family, community, nation, region and our collective global level.

Most simply, we can say that the world is our mirror. Everything we see in anybody else is also here in ourselves.

And in a more specific way, we can say that whatever processes is happening impacts us all - although we each manifest it in different ways.

If many of us deny our own craziness, to the point of denying care for those who manifest it more clearly, then crazies will wander the cities in plain view - as they indeed do here in the US. They become a reminder our own craziness, and how we relate to it in ourselves.

If we deny our own inhumanity and violence to the point of denying the humanity of those manifesting it more clearly, then these will manifest it right under our nose - in the form of violence in our community, terrorism and even wars. They mirror exactly what is right here, in ourselves, and they also mirror exactly how we relate to it in ourselves.

Our collective issues mirror what goes on within us as individuals, and our collective processes also patterns what goes on in us as individuals - especially as we grow up.

We cannot only work on it in here or out there. Those are just two manifestations of the same process.

Our Development |

One of the characteristics of inquiry - in most or all (?) of its forms - is that it inherently works with where we are at. We look at what is alive for us right now.

Byron Katie sometimes says don't pretend yourself beyond your evolution. Meaning, I assume, don't take what you hear and pretend it is your own insight. Go with what is true for you, right now, no matter if it fits what you have heard or not. Live from where you are at.

I may still have beliefs relating to my current situations, and act as if they were true - because they are true for me, now, in my own experience. It is as simple as that.

And when stress comes up, I can identify a belief behind it and inquire into it. Life itself will show me where I still have work to do, and it will do so at the rate and sequence right for me. The unraveling starts where I am right now.

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Sacred Beliefs |

Even as beliefs unravel through inquiry, and there is more familiarity with the general dynamics of beliefs, there are still some sacred beliefs left.

I assume this is quite typical. The peripheral and less serious beliefs drop away, revealing our sacred beliefs in starker relief.

And these sacred beliefs are exactly those which we can use to kick ourselves out of paradise - even out of an otherwise clear realization of selflessness (as happened with me last fall).

What seems so true and obvious that I wouldn't even consider questioning it?

Or as a more practical path into it: Where is there still stress in my life? Which views and behaviors still trigger something in me?

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Two Aspects of Pain * |

I find physical pain to be one of the most pure things to work with. It is a clean laboratory for exploring how the mind works.

Sensation without story

Byron Katie says that pain is always a story about the past.

Thoughts are always about the past or future, even as they appear to be about the present. They can never catch the Present. Whatever happens is gone before it can be reflected in a thought.

From being a sensation with a story, there is now - in seeing this - just a sensation. This sensation may be the same as before, but without the drama that comes with a story about it.

Sensation changing

In addition to this, I also notice that whenever I am with the experience of the pain - without the drama, the sensation itself tends to change. It takes on a different appearance. It moves from being - yes, painful, to something else.

Two levels

So there seems to be two distinct things happening.

First, the sensation is freed from the story about it, allowing the drama and struggle to fall away leaving the sensation as it is. Far more simple and harmless than the story about it.

Then, there is also the changing appearance of the sensation itself, when it is no longer resisted. It changes into something that - even if I wanted to - cannot really be labeled pain anymore.

Process

Both of these may sometimes happen instantaneously as soon as there is recognition of pain. Especially if we are already familiar with these dynamics, if we are more initimate with this terrain.

If this is a new territory for us, it may take a little longer, and the ride may be more bumpy.

And if the pain is strong, or the belief in the story about the pain is strong, the ride may also be bumpy - even for those somewhat familiar with these dynamics. There is an invitation here to see the dynamics of it even more clearly, to be even more intimate with the terrain. To question and go beyond what we think we know.

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Anatomy of a Craving * |

What appears as craving (or addiction) seems to be just a sensation + a thought.

If I believe the thoughts about the sensation, then the experience of a craving appears. And it seems very real, very solid, very substantial, very powerful, something it will take a lot to resist, something to struggle with, something that can defeat me, something I can or cannot defeat.

When I see that there is just a simple sensation and then simple thoughts about this sensation, it all is revealed as innocent and harmless. There is no reality to it, there is nothing there that can be powerful, there is nothing to resist, nothing to struggle with, nothing to defeat or be defeated by.

Ice cream

For instance, I have an experience of ice cream craving and immediately, all sorts of stories happen.

I cannot resist it. I have to go to the store. When can I find time to get to the store? How much time will it take? Should I walk or take the bike? How much will it cost? Do I have enough cash right now? Will it clog up my arteries? I don't exercise enough. I should exercise more. I don't have enough willpower to resist ice cream. I am not disciplined enough to exercise as much as I should. I will get heart problems. Maybe there are nasty things in the ice cream, such as bovine growth hormone, which will give me cancer. I am a failure.


A drama is created. A whole other world is brought into existence.

Unraveling of a craving

When I go back a few steps and look at what is really happening, I see that there is just a sensation and a thought about this sensation.

The sensation in itself is unknown, it is a mystery, I don't know and cannot know what it is or means. It is just itself, living its own life, independent of any stories about it.

And the thought is "craving!", and spawns innumerable other thoughts - all of which seem substantial and important.

Pretending

Seeing through this, allowing sensations and thoughts to life their own independent lives, the craving now looks quite different.

It seems that it didn't exist in the first place. It was just an appearance of a craving which happened through an unexamined connection between a sensation and a thought.

It was all completely innocent.

It only seemed so real, so substantial, so powerful, because the connection was unexamined.

There was only the pretending of it being a craving and so powerful which allowed it its appearance in the first place.

Gateless gate

Even a craving is a gateless gate.

The gate seems very real before I go through it. The craving seems very real and powerful.

Yet, when I pass through the gate and turn around to look at it, it is not there. It is revealed to have never been there.

And I can still eat ice cream, or not.

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Just Happens & Practice |

Another posting on the obvious...

There is and isn't a big difference between something that just happens - that happens to us or out of the blue, and something that comes through practice and from a thorough familiarity with the terrain.

Is and isn't a difference

There isn't a big difference, in that the terrain we land in may be very similar.

And yet there is a difference - in how familiar we are with the process and dynamics of getting there, in our ability to guide ourselves and others there, and in how readily accessible the terrain is to us if we are not there.

There are innumerable examples of this, from any area of life and human experience.

Acupuncture, relationships and awakening

For instance, I can go to an acupuncturist and experience a big shift and maybe even healing or more sense of spirit, passion and clarity in my life. But I don't know the ins and outs of what is happening. I probably won't be able to replicate it on my own. I am dependent on the practitioner and the needles. And all of those are fine. Yet, if I engage in various forms of yoga - for instance taoist yoga - I can learn the mechanics of what is happening at a finely tuned level. I can become so familiar with the terrain and how to get there that I can do it on my own. I can possibly even go further than what the acupuncturist can do for me.

I may be in a good relationship, which just happened to be that way from the beginning. And yet not (consciously) know what allows for such a relationship. Or I can be in a difficult relationship and work with and through it, allowing it to arrive at the same place as the other one - with the big difference that now I know something more about the terrain. I know something more about going from problems to ease, I know something about how to work on these issues - with myself and another person.

Or - as was the case for me - there may be an awakening coming out of the blue. I may be very familiar with the terrain of awakening, and it may correspond with the most clear and insightful descriptions and teachings from any tradition or mystic. Yet, I don't know much about how to get there. It just happened. So there may be a fall (as again was the case for me), allowing me the opportunity to explore how it is without this awakening and how to work through it back into the awakening. I learn far more about this terrain in that way. And really, there is more freedom as there is a deeper and more thorough understanding of the dynamics of the process, of the mechanisms of samsara and how they are seen through and allowed to fall away.

Both beautiful

Both are valuable - the given, the gift, that which comes out of the blue, and the work, the practice, the gradual familiarity with the terrain.

The given is beautiful when it happens, and it allows for a taste of what is possible.

And the practice and gradual familiarity with the terrain is beautiful as well, especially in its insights with more of the ins and outs of the process, and it ability to help oneself and others through the terrain.

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Labels & Resistance in Daily Life |

There is a form of insight meditation which in the past didn't do much for me, but now makes more sense.

Notice whatever comes up in your awareness, and label it sensation, smell/taste, sound, sight or thought.

Effects of noticing simple categories

Noticing these simple categories seems to have several effects.

The main one is to allow each of these experiences to separate and live their own life. Specifically, they are liberated from stories about them, and the stories are liberated from being believed in.

In my case, the main relief comes from allowing sensations to separate from stories about them. And I also see that what I often label emotion is really a combination of sensation and thought.

I can see that each of these - sensations, thoughts and so on - are already separate. The only difference is in noticing that they already are, and allowing the stories to fall away. I also see that none of these are really separate, and that this separating out is just a tool - for finding a sense of ease with it all.

Practice and daily life

I take some time out to notice this more clearly, in between daily tasks and also before falling asleep. I may scan each category and see what I find there, or just allow things to come up in awareness and then label them.

And in daily life, I may notice the categories and the dynamics between them as things happen.

For instance, I was at the dentist yesterday and noticed stories arising about pain, I noticed a resistance to the pain and so on. Seeing this, I went back a few steps in the series of cascading effects, and saw that what was really happening was just a sensation and then thoughts about this sensation. Just seeing this allowed attention to stay with the simple sensation, allowing the stories about it to fall away or at least not go very far.

Without noticing the dynamics of this habitual sensation/thought connection, the stories arise, seem very real and important, and build upon themselves. It is pain, I shouldn't be in pain, pain is uncomfortable, I don't want to be uncomfortable, how can I avoid this pain, and so on.

When there is a noticing of sensation as a simple sensation and thoughts as just thoughts, the attachment to these stories seem to fall away. Maybe a first or second generation thought comes up, with not much substance to them, and the third and fourth and so on generation thoughts may not arise at all.

The drama and struggle is taken out of the situation. There is just utter simplicity and ease. Just being with whatever arising, with less or no need to attach to or push them away. As if attaching to or pushing away was possible in the first place.

There is a quieting down. There is clarity. Simplicity. And engagement as well, when that comes up.

More precisely

I also see the tendency to use an informal and less thought through language when talking about these things.

Some examples of what seems more aligned with my current experience...

Sensations are already liberated from thoughts about them, and thoughts are already liberated from beliefs in them. There is only a pretending that they are not. And it seems that it has never been any different.

Also, what I often call resistance is really just a conglomerate of shifting attention, sensations and thoughts. When I don't see it as a tenuous (really nonexisting) conglomerate, it seems very real, powerful and substantial. It can seem as a real problem, something to deal with.

Yet, when it is seen as just a tenuous conglomerate - or really as not existing at all - then the components fall (in our experience of them) into their own space. The connections among them are revealed as not real, as having not existed in the first place. When the connections are seen as not real, then the question just becomes - what was the problem? The sense of drama and struggle resolves and dissolves, and reveals the clarity that was always there.

Nothing needs to change, apart from the noticing. Nothing can really change, apart from the noticing. Before the noticing, there is drama, struggle and a sense of a very substantial and real problem. After the noticing, this is all seen as only an appearance. There is just ease, clarity and simplicity.

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Fear of Allowing Resistance to Drop ** |

If resistance initiates a sense of I and Other, struggle, drama, suffering - why not drop it? What are the mechanisms which prevents it from dropping?

The most obvious answer is probably habit. We are used to operating from resistance, and anything we are used to tends to perpetuate itself.

The other answer may be fear. Fear of what may happen if resistance drops. Fear of being overwhelmed. Fear of being passive and nonfunctional. And these are natural fears, if all or most of what we know is operating from resistance. We don't know what is on the other side, and project monsters into it.

The irony is that when there is resistance to experiences, there is often a sense of overwhelm. And when there is resistance, there is also often passitivity and nonfunctionality.

Resistance is born from and perpetuates a sense of I and Other, and sometimes of Other as a disturbance, something to hold back, to protect against. So when we hold back experiences, no wonder we feel overwhelmed. We are creating a dam, and feeling the pressure from the other side.

Resistance also takes up a lot of energy. We struggle with the Other, hold it back, fight with it, try to avoid it, engage with it again. And from this comes fatigue, tiredness, leading into passitivity and nonfunctionality. Resistance comes from beliefs, and beliefs drain our energy. Even as they may give rise to manic activity, it drains our energy.

Not surprisingly, what we are familiar with from resistance is exactly what we project into absence of resistance.

What comes alive when there is an absence of resistance could not be farther from this picture. There is ease, utter simplicity, clarity, access to wisdom, full engagement in the world.

An absence of resistance to experiences allows the experiences to come and go, to live their own life, to pass through as if through space. An absence of resistance allows for vitality, fullness of experience, richness in engagement, virtuality unlimited supply of energy.

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Dreams as More True * |

There are a few things about dreams that seem closer to what is than our conventional views.

One is that, in my dreams at least, this human self is just one of many characters. This human self is seen from the outside - along with everybody else, and the inside. It is one of the many characters in a movie, yet there is also access to the interior information for this particular human self - the sensations, emotions, thoughts and so on.

Another is that the main character in these movies can take on any number of shapes and identities. It can be old or young, man or woman, human or animal. There is no fixed or limited identity.

Both of these are close to how it is seen when selflessness is realized. This human self is just one of many characters appearing. It is seen as one of many characters on the screen. Yet it is also the one for which there is consistent interior information available.

There is also no fixed or limited identity, not even as this particular vehicle in the world of form. And even our vehicle, this particular human self, always changes. It is fluid as everything else. To take it a little further, I see that in the context of "rebirth" (although there is really nothing that is reborn), the vehicle in the world of form changes in a different way - it is man or woman, Chinese or European or Indigenous, human or something else. It is all OK. They are all vehicles, instruments, tools in the world of form.

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Anatomy of Resistance |

I have been curious about resistance over the last few days...

The components of resistance

It seems that...

Resistance is always to an experience (how could it be to anything else?).

Resistance is really an resistance to being with an experience. To meet it simply, to experience it, to allow it to unfold within awareness, to allow it its own life.

Beliefs (attachments to thoughts) and resistance seem to be two sides of the same coin. When there is a belief, there will automatically be resistance to experiences that seems related to that belief. There is an attempt to hold onto some experiences and push other experiences away, both of which are resistance. Say I believe there shouldn't be pain, then I will try to hold onto absence of pain and push away pain itself, even if it is there.

Resistance is always to the present. It is always to what unfolds within this eternal Now, to current experiences - whether they are labeled sensations, emotions or thoughts.

Resistance is mental gymnastics. It seems to involve (a) stories about the experience. (b) Shifting attention away from the initial experience, as a way to avoid being with it. (c) Sensations and the stories about these, labeling them pain, fear, terror, anger, resistance and so on. (d) Stories about these cascading sensations, such as if I experience these fully I will be overwhelmed, if I experience them fully I will be incapacitated, if I don't resist I will become passive. (e) Shifting attention away from these experiences. And so on.

Resistance involves a cascade of effects, as listed above. (a) There is an experience. (b) There are be stories about the meaning of this initial experience, and the reasons why it is desirable or undesirable - although the initial experience is now long gone. Stories and thoughts can never keep up with what is actually happening in the present, they are too slow, they are always about the past. (c) There may be innocent sensations happening, and these are labeled pain, fear, resistance, longing, sadness, anger, terror and so on. (d) There may be stories about these sensations, such as if I experience these fully I will be overwhelmed, if I experience these fully I will be incapacitated, if I - which makes them take on a whole other significance. It also helps solidify the initial story about the initial experience. (e) There is a shifting attention away from all of this. (f) There are more sensations and stories to which attention first goes, and then goes away from. And so on. From a simple belief and resistance, a huge complexity emerge, and I cannot see the details of this complexity very clearly yet.

An example: a dog charges at me and barks. I have a story that I should be safe from dogs, that dogs should not attack me, that I should not be physically harmed, that I should be safe from physical harm, and so on. So I resist the experience of the barking dog. There may be sensations coming up, and I label these emotions - such as fear and terror. I believe that fully experiencing these emotions will overwhelm or incapacitate me. Attention goes from the barking dog to my own experiences, to something else, to the barking dog. Back and forth. So from the initial belief and resistance, general mayhem and confusion ensues.

There seems to be a low-level underlying resistance to all experience, in most of our lives. Sometimes, it flares up and becomes more obvious and apparently stronger. And this resistance - whether low level or stronger - is what creates the whole sense of drama and struggle in our lives. It is what creates the sense of I and Other, of a separate doer, of seer and seen, of likes and dislikes. It is one of the keys to samsara.

Resistance is futile. I may try to hold onto absence of pain and push pain away, but both are clearly futile. When there is an experience of pain, there it is, no matter what mental gymnastics are initiated. Whatever is happening is inevitably fully experienced, no matter what.

When there is resistance - or really the mental gymnastics described above - there is a sense of stuckness. The initial experience, especially those labeled emotions, may hang around for what seems a very long time. The machinery grinds to a halt, in various ways.

When an experience is allowed its life, simply, without all of this mental gymnastics, it moves through. It moves through anyway, but in this case with more ease. There is not all of the drama and struggle associated with the mental gymnastics called resistance. There is just a sense of clarity of ease, no matter what labels we could place on the experience.

So whether there is resistance or not, everything is already fully experienced. The only difference is whether there is a sense of struggle and drama or a sense of ease, clarity and simplicity.

Allowing it all to unravel


The good news is that even if there is a huge complexity arising from initial beliefs and resistance, allowing it to unravel can be a relatively simple process - although not always easy or quick.

As beliefs and resistance seems to be two sides of the same coin, we can approach it from either of both of those.

:: Beliefs ::

If we approach it from the belief end, we see that it is really unexamined beliefs and resistance that goes together, so one way is to examine these beliefs. Do they reflect what is? What are their effects? How would my life be without them? And so on.

When the attachment to thoughts fall away, the resistance to experiences falls away with it. Left is just utter simplicity, clarity, ease - even as there is a full engagement in daily life.

:: Resistance ::

If we approach it from the resistance end, we can simple be with the experience. I can ask myself, can I be with whatever I am experiencing right now? Or I can notice a sensation come up and just simply see it as sensation, which cuts the bridge to any story that could be placed on top of it. Which in turn cuts the bridge to the whole drama.

Through this, the attachment to stories gradually falls away as well.

Liberation

There is a sense of liberation in allowing the attachment to stories fall away, and allowing the mental gymnastics of resistance to fall away with it.

Thoughts are liberated to live their life without attachments to them. Sensations are liberated to live their life without a belief in stories about them. This life is liberated from a belief in stories about itself, and from the sense of drama and struggle that comes with those stories.

Eventually, this bodymind is liberated from the story of I placed on it.

Left is only a sense of ease, clarity, simplicity and a full engagement in the life of this human self. There is no sense of I or Other, no gap anywhere. It is all revealed as what it always is - the play of Spirit.

Nothing to liberate that wasn't already

And really, there was never anything to liberate. There was never any belief that was not already seen through, never any experience that was not already fully experienced, never a belief in any separate I placed on this human self.

It was all just part of the game. It was all just pretending.

Although it seemed real enough as it was happening.

Just another story

And all of this is of course just another story.

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Dream :: Card Dealer |

I was in a solid and close partnership with a card dealer. He would unfailingly deal me the cards I needed, and was in complete charge of the game and the cards.

After waking up, I realized that the card dealer was very similar to Doc Holiday from the movie Tombstone I watched last night. And after being with the dream for a while, I saw that the card dealer is life itself, dealing me exactly the cards I need. The cards are stacked in my favor, whether I see it or not. It is a close and perfect partnership.

This view is relatively close to my conscious surface view, or primary process in PW terms. Yet, there was certainly a surprise in the closeness and solidity of the partnership. I do not see this all the time in my ordinary life.

In a following dream, I gave a presentation to a group of people, although I don't remember the topic.

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Beliefs, Resistance and Samsara Saturday, June 17, 2006 |

Beliefs and resistance seems to be two sides of the same coin, and also the main mechanism of samsara.

Whenever there is a belief in any abstraction, there is also resistance.

And whenever there is resistance, there is also resistance to the effects of resistance.

Beliefs as resistance

Whenever there is any attachment to a thought, it gives rise to a sense of I and Other, to an identity (I am this and not that), and to a sense of Other and Not That as a disturbance.

There is resistance to what is through trying to hold onto some aspects and trying to push away other aspects. And from this comes a sense of struggle and drama.

Resistance to resistance

When there is resistance to what is in this way, there is not only the appearance of Other and of a disturbance, but the whole process also gives rise to an experience of suffering.

On top of this, there can be resistance to the suffering as well. There is the effects of the initial resistance in the form of suffering, and then resistance to those effects which in turns adds to the experience of suffering.

Unraveling

To unravel this, we can start at the belief end or the resistance end of it.

Starting at the belief end, we can for instance do The Work on beliefs and allow them to unravel in that way. When beliefs unravel, resistance unravel with them - along with a sense of suffering.

Starting at the resistance end, we can be with whatever is experienced - allowing it its own life, befriending it, finding peace with it even if it would never go away (which it always does, at some point). As the resistance falls away and there is a familiarity with the new terrain, the corresponding beliefs tend to unravel as well.

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Inconvenient Truth |

I saw An Inconvenient Truth yesterday, and found it to be engaging, powerful and well enough made to shake me pretty deeply even if I am familiar with (most of) the information presented.

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The movie is a good example of accurate information presented in a way that is clearly understandable and motivates people to seek changes. It speaks to the whole of us.

Definitely worth seeing... And a movie that may indeed be a catalyst for changes.

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Infinity |

Infinity seems to be a good help sometimes.

If we really explore, sincerely and repeatedly, (some!) of the infinite causes to even our simplest behaviors - we come to see that there is no individual and separate doer here. It is the whole - the whole of existence, the whole of the universe - acting, through and as this human self.

We find the context of selflessness, within which the content of the world of phenomena continues to happen.

And through the lens of infinity, we also see that we are always just scratching the surface - at least in our explorations of content: our realizations, insights, bodymind development, skillful means and so on. There is always further to go. And always further to go. Always one more step. Infinitely.

Comparisons at a conventional level is OK and useful, and especially so within this context of infinity. It helps us differentiate, yet also see that we are all in the same boat, and that through the lens of infinity - our insights in terms of content are always just scratching the surface.

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Finding Peace with Fall From Grace ** |

I have struggled finding peace with the fall from grace which happened some years back. So many plans got thwarted, so much seems lost.

I have done several inquiries on it, I have stayed with whatever emotions and other experiences come up around it, I have set the intention of it to unravel and clear, and it has helped - but some remnants of the regrets are still there.

Today, I suddenly saw clearly that my specific role is to find peace with this particular life.

It seems so simple, yet it hit me like a ton of bricks. And there was a huge relief and sense of coming home in it. Finally, this is what my role is - at least in relation to this life situation.

I don't need to process it to death and harvest every little gift and nutrient in it (although I will most likely continue to do that). I can just find peace with it as it is. That in itself is my role.

I can find peace in not completely finding a resolution to it. It is OK.

And of course, this is not just about me. This is the role we each have: to find peace with our particular life. And to demonstrate how to find peace with this particular life. We are all teachers for each other in this.

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Making Good Use of Samsara ** |

Writing down some of these Process Work processes, I am reminded of what Byron Katie said somewhere: As long as we think there is I and Others, we may as well make good use of it (paraphrased).

One way of making good use of it is The Work. Another is Process Work. And then there is the Big Mind process and other approaches as well.

Before awakening to selflessness, they help us align more with this awakening and prepare the ground for it and for living from it.

And after the awakening, they may still be useful and helpful in exploring the dynamics of the Relative world in general, and this bodymind in particular. As long as we have this vehicle we may as well get to know it better and fine tune its functioning in the world of phenomena.

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'Devil May Care' Guy * |

Following along with this theme, here is another process from the train ride home tonight.

I sat in the diner car for most of the journey, and at the table on the other side of the isle was a big guy with a devil may care attitude. His body language, facial expression and movements all reflected this attitude.

I noticed that I initially found it somewhat annoying. He seemed to take up a lot of space, literally and otherwise. And his attitude could be interpreted as "to hell with everybody".

Going into this, I saw that I was actually quite attracted to a variation of the qualities I saw in him. I want and need a more healthy indifference to others in my life.

Typically, I pay far too much attention to what others may think and say about me, and I sensor myself and become self-conscious that way.

There seems to be a readiness to allow that to fall more away. To find a comfort with what and who I am, and allow others to think and say what they do. The first is clearly my business, the second clearly other's business. I also find the Breema principles of body comfortable and no extra helpful here.

So again, what first appeared as Other and a disturbance, became a welcomed reminder of what I want to bring more into my own life. Seeing it over there allowed me to find it here, it made it more alive in my own experience, it helped me see how I can bring it more into my daily life.

And if I forget, there will be other devil-may-care guys reminding me.

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Pressure Washer Qualities * |

Since I went to a Process Work seminar today, I found it easy to fall into Process Work mode throughout the day. Sitting outside at the Amtrak station tonight, waiting for the train, I heard a very loud pressure washer start up just behind me. It went on for quite a while.

Normally, this is something that I experience as Other and a disturbance, and I would probably have walked away to find a more quiet place. But this time I looked for the qualities of the pressure washer, which to me was raw and very focused efficiency. And I saw how those are qualities I want to bring more into my own life.

Sitting with this for a little while, allowing it to sink in, I noticed how my experience of the pressure washer changed. From being a potential annoyance, it now became quite pleasant. It was a reminder of what I want to bring more of into my own life.

And finding it in myself, there was not such a difference between inner and outer anymore, or rather here and there. They mirrored each other beautifully.

I also saw how this process - of bringing focused efficiency more into my daily life, even in small dosages, reflects my dream some days back of travelling with less padding. I am ready to shed some padding and function more as a mountain terrain - and as I need to in a mountain terrain, with raw efficiency.

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Straight & Shaky |

Whenever I am on a bus or train, which sometimes happens several times a week, I tend to either write in my journal or make notes in a book I am reading. And often, it seems to be a struggle between my intention of writing clearly and the shakiness of the bus or train.

On the train tonight, I did a brief Process Work session on this for myself...

Freedom from having to hold onto it

I took the role of the shakiness, and first saw that it was an invitation to just experience without having to write it down. Writing it down can be somewhat compulsive for me, and just staying with the experience is freeing, liberating and allows me to marinate in the experience more fully.

Maybe even more importantly, it allows me a freedom from having to hold onto whatever insight is coming up. To allow it to pass through as anything else. To allow it its own life. To surrender to impermanence in this particular way.

Seeing this was helpful, but I could also see that there was something more there.

Finding a stable center

Then, I explored the dynamics between my intention of writing clearly and neatly, and the shakiness which hijacked that intention. The shakiness was clearly an Other and a disturbance for me here, thwarting my conscious intention of and identity as someone who writes relatively neatly (or at least wants to). So writing neatly is my conscious identity and primary process, and the shaking is perceived as Other and is the primary process.

From this, I saw my curiosity and interest in holding a center in spite of the shaking, to find a stable center in the midst of a challenging situation, to find a stable rudder in the choppy seas, to be unshakable within the shakiness. This seemed more juicy than the first layer.

Shakiness and stability together

Beyond this, I saw how the stability and shakiness together made for something that to me seemed even more interesting and juicy. Each alone is relatively one-dimensional and predictable, but together something far more multidimensional and interesting arises.

Stability gives direction and clarity, yet can also be boring and somewhat dead after a while. And shakiness is certainly alive, yet also tends to be chaotic and random.

Together, there is a dance between the intention and the chaos, the human and nature, civilization and rawness, which I find far more intriguing.

All together

Each of these were valuable insights, and each provides something I want to bring more into my daily life - even if it is just in a small amount.

I can take times where I don't write anything down. Where I allow myself the freedom from having to hold onto insights. Where I can allow space for just experiencing.

I can find a stable center even in shaky situations in my daily life. Instead of going into drama, I can take a breath, come to my body or Big Mind, and allow myself that calm within a difficult situation.

And I can allow myself to enjoy the interaction between my conscious intentions and what life serves up for me. Instead of seeing it as a disturbance, I can look for the beauty that can come out of the dance between the two. I will work with both anyway, so I may as well find ways to enjoy it and find some playfulness in it.

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Mechanisms of Samsara and (Other) Edges * |

I read Julie Diamond's Encounters with the Spirit (in The Journal of Process Oriented Psychology, Vol. 7) on the train back from Portland tonight, and of the many parallels to other approaches I noticed, there is an interesting one with realizing selflessness.

Dynamics at the edges

In Process Work, they talk about primary processes (our familiar, conscious and limited identity), secondary processes (what is also there, although not yet brought into awareness and familiar), and the edge between the two.

And in working with a client or oneself, it is important to explore what is going on at the edge, what patterns and dynamics do we find there, what are the mechanisms of the edge, how do we relate to it, and so on. What we find is partly universal and shared, partly an individually flavored longer term pattern, and partly related to the specific edge and time.

The more we familiarize ourselves with the dynamics at the edge in general, and how it shows up for us in particular, the better we will be able to navigate that terrain. The more familiar, the easier the journey.

Mechanisms of samsara

And in realizing selflessness, there is a similar process. As we move between a sense of I and glimpses of selflessness, and explore the shoreline between the two, we gradually gain familiarity and intimacy with the dynamics there.

We get to see, over and over, the mechanisms of samsara. The dynamics which creates a sense of I and Other, and also what allows those to unravel and reveal selflessness.

And one of the many ways to explore these dynamics is through The Work. The four questions and the turnaround helps us see the terrain at this edge between holding onto beliefs and its effects, and of seeing through them, allowing the attachment to them to effortlessly release.

Edges

In both cases, we explore the dynamics at the edge, in one case between primary and secondary processes, and in the other case between samsara and awakening (which can be seen as a particular primary process - sense of I, and secondary process - awakening to selflessness).

And through becoming familiar with the dynamics at these edges, of how they appear in general and also in our particular case, we learn to navigate that terrain more skillfully. And if we want to, how to allow the edges to soften and unravel, and explore what is on the other side in a gentle way.

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Gateways Thursday, June 15, 2006 |

Whenever I do Process Work, Big Mind, Inquiry or Breema, I notice that each of them is a gateway into the same deeper process and dynamics, and also particular commonalities among them.

This is not surprising, but it does give a nice sense of triangulation - or a certain cross-training as they talk about in integral practice (although areas like diet, water, energies, social/ecological engagement and so on are left out of that particular list).

The Work and Process Work

For instance, I noticed today how question number 1,2,3 and 4 in The Work is similar to exploring the edge between primary and secondary processes in Process Work (our conscious identity and that which is there and not yet conscious yet).

And the turnarounds in The Work is similar to exploring the secondary process itself, that which was over the edge from our conscious identity.

And in both, there is an emphasis on living the turnarounds/secondary process, to bring it into our daily life, even if it is just a drop of for now.

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Describing the Self (with Capital S) ** |

When what is awakens to its own nature of an absence of I anywhere, there are many ways to talk about it.

One is to say that I am not this human self, nor anything else in the content. I am this eternal now within which all of this is happening. At our human level, this is similar to saying that I am not this ear, I am a human being. I am not the part, I am the whole.

Another is to say that I am all of it, I am anything and everything arising. At our human level, this is similar to saying that I am everything that makes up this human self - body, energies, sensations, emotions, thoughts and behaviors.

And yet another, that I am none of it. There is no I anywhere - not as any content, nor as all of the content, nor as this eternal now within which everything is happening. It is all absent of an I. This points to the absence of any Other, so there cannot really be any I either.

And of course, we can also negate each of these, including the negation of each and all of them, just to make it abundantly clear that thoughts cannot touch this.

Each of these seem as good as any other. They are each a particular way to overlay abstractions on top of that which abstractions cannot describe, simply because... (a) What is is distinct from - or beyond and including - any and all polarities, and words work within polarities. (b) Words split, and what is is not split. (c) Abstractions is a small aspect of what is, and cannot adequately describe larger holons.

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Acting as if Believe |

When I explore possible statements for inquiry, I sometimes see that I am acting as if I have a certain belief, yet my conscious view is quite different.

For instance, I would not consciously subscribe to needing to impress someone, needing their approval, and so on. But I see that I certainly act as if I believe that, sometimes.

There is of course nothing new here either. It is well known even in mainstream psychology (going back to Freud and earlier). But a good reminder when identifying statements for inquiry.

I may not consciously believe a certain statement, but if I see myself act as if I do, then that is good enough. It means something juicy may come out of the inquiry.

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Transparency, Popping & Beliefs |

At times when there is transparency or it has popped, I see that some beliefs are still strong and solid enough to bring it back to identification with content.

Transparency and popping

Transparency here means that our human self is mostly transparent to the Ground, yet with a vague sense of I floating around somewhere. There is partly a seamless field of what is inner and outer to the human self, yet also the remains of a habitual identification with this human self - or maybe pure awareness. There is a subtle sense of I and Other still.

And popping means that the Ground has moved from being background to the foreground. It has popped into the foreground, and it is abundantly clear that there is no I anywhere. I and Other is not inherent in anything, yet can still be used in a conventional way to navigate in the world.

Remaining beliefs

In either case, some beliefs may be strong enough to lead to blind identification with them. They appear true, real and important. Important enough to temporarily abandon the transparency or the popping and go into the blind identification.

There is a sense of having to take care of "it" - whatever the belief says is going on - exactly because it seems so real, true and important.

From seeing the field of content as seamless and with no I inherent anywhere, it becomes split into right and wrong, true and false, good and bad, I and Other.

This brings discomfort and stress, which is a reminder of attaching to thoughts we at some level know are not true.

Shifting as invitation to clarity

So it may shift between transparency and/or popping and attachment to beliefs, over and over, until the last remains of attachments to thoughts are worn out and seen through. (Or maybe more precisely the attachment to the attachments.)

Each time of shifting into attachment to beliefs is an opportunity to explore and examine what is happening. It is an invitation to getting a little more familiar with the mechanisms of samsara.

And when there is a greater familiarity with and clarity around these mechanisms of samsara, they loose their power. There is no longer any attachment to this process of delving into duality.

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Voice Dialogue :: Voice of Beliefs Wednesday, June 14, 2006 |

In doing voice dialogue - or the Big Mind process, I notice that there is always a few different ways I can go with each voice, and also that what comes out - not surprisingly - often tends to reflect my conscious worldview. Although sometimes, there are certainly surprises and more illuminating revelations.

In this case, what came out is certainly close to my conscious view right now. And I also know that since this is my current conscious view, it is exactly where I am stuck...! But that is OK. We need some time at the current edge of our insights to familiarize ourselves with it, before it moves on.

Can I speak with the voice of beliefs?

Yes.

What do you do?

I help the self navigate the world. I make things simpler for him. I help him feel more confident in his opinions and choices.

Does he appreciate that?

Sometimes. He does listen to me quite frequently.

But he also tries to get rid of me in various ways. He does not fully appreciate the ways I help him. Not that it changes much - I still do my job.

Is there anything you would like to say to him?

Yes. I would like him to look at a different way of relating to me. I am OK with taking on a somewhat different role, although I am not OK with him taking a dismissive attitude of me. I have an important function, and he needs to acknowledge that. If he tries to dismiss me, I'll just be louder and more persistent.

You said you could take on a different role. Can you say more about that?

Well, one way I function is as a strong belief - when something appears absolutely right and wrong. I see that this can be detrimental to him, it narrows things too much down for him, it blinds him in a certain way.

Yet, I can also function more as a guideline - as a help for him to navigate in the world. In this way, I function more as just plain thoughts and ideas. He knows that each of them are just for navigation, and do not reflect any absolute truth.

I see that as the voice of beliefs, I am really made up of a combination of thoughts or ideas and attachment to these thoughts and ideas. Without the attachment, I become just plain thoughts and ideas again, and that is OK for me. I can still serve my function of helping him navigate in the world.

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Inquiry :: Seeing Their Lives as Sacred |

All the way back to childhood, I have experienced certain things as quite annoying, and I see that the main reason for this is the lack of awareness and clarity I see behind certain (unconscious, habitual) behaviors. So one of the beliefs behind this irritability is that "they should see how sacred their life is."

I did an inquiry on this (I have done near daily inquiries over phone since beginning of May), and one of the turnarounds is that I should see how sacred their life is. This was a big shift for me, and living this turnaround in the week since the inquiry has deepened this shift.

In this last week, have been in many situations where the past irritation would have come up. Now, I remind myself about the turnaround, and see the how sacred their lives are - even if they don't see it themselves.

Sometimes, the reminder is not even necessary, and sometimes it is - if I am on the train or the bus and somebody is triggering some irritation, I may put down the book and take some time to remind myself of the turnaround and sink into it. There is often a big shift.

So from being a source of discomfort, these situations are now a great gift - allowing for fullness, sense of connection, and a deep appreciation of the lives of these people who used to trigger my discomfort. I can see their lives as sacred, even if they do no. It is my job.

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Projections :: Spanning Personal & Transcendent, One & Many ** |

One of the beautiful things about working with projections is that it...

Spans the personal and transcendent levels

Working with projections, I shift what appears as Other to I.

At a personal level, others become a mirror for myself. I find in myself what I see in them, whether I am initially attracted to it or despise it.

At a transcendent level, I again shift what appears as Other to I, although this time spirit, God, Buddha Mind, clarity, brilliance, awareness. Until at some point the whole overlay of I and Other falls away, revealing emptiness dancing.

Allows for individuation and realization of oneness

Working with projections helps me individuate and find my own voice and way in the world. It helps me notice more and more of what is here, be more comfortable and find peace with it, and bring it more organically into my life and the world.

At the same time, it helps me see in myself what I see in others - and not only see it, but eventually comfortably recognize it from myself. I see that I am you, in so many ways. We are in the same boat. Whatever I see in you is also here in me. We are the same.

And at the transcendent level, when the overlay of I and Other falls away, everything and nothing arising is I.

So as a human being, it helps me individuate and find my natural and organic way in the world. As a human being, it helps me see you as I. And at a transcendent level, it helps the overlay of I and Other fall away and recognize everything and nothing as I.

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Fully Experience |

Yet another rambling and pre-organized post (!)

Some of the points here...

  • When there is resistance to an experience, it is seen as Other and a disturbance.

  • When the experience is allowed in, allowed its own life, met at its own terms, befriended, it is no longer seen as Other and a disturbance, and it may even reveal itself in a completely different way - even as space, clarity and bliss.

  • Many approaches allows this to happen, from simply being with what is experienced and Shikantaza to Process Work and The Work.

  • The release and/or gift from meeting it on its own terms is often equal to the size of the initial disturbance. Big disturbance, big gift. Small disturbance, smaller release.

  • These approaches tends to span personal and transpersonal levels, and don't see the two as separate. They are both included in the same process.

  • This process is also one of allowing what is initially seen as Other to be recognized as I, through the process of befriending and finding peace with it.

This is something that seems so simple, yet so counter to what most of us learn in our culture. It is one of the many secrets hidden right in front of our eyes.

When something is fully experienced, without holding onto it or pushing it away, the suffering goes out of it and the experience itself changes.

As Bhagavan says, when something is fully experienced it is revealed as bliss.

Approaches

And there are many variations on approaching this...

The simplest may be to just ask can I be with whatever I am experiencing right now?

In Shikantaza, we allow anything to live its own life, to unfold as it wants to, to come and go on its own, to live its life freely within awareness.

In Process Work, we start with any symptom (anything our attention is drawn to) and allow the process to unfold through movement, images, sound and verbal interactions. Whatever we start with, no matter how much it initially appeared as a problem, it is revealed as a gift. And the gift is often proportional to how much of a disturbance it initially was.

In The Work, it is very similar. The initial symptom or problem is explored through question number 3 (how do you react with that belief?), and it unfolds and reveals its gifts through question number 4 (who would you be without that thought?) and the turnarounds.

From Other to I

In each of these, we take something that initially appeared as a disturbance, something Other. We allow it its own life, we meet it with curiosity, we befriend it, we allow it to unfold. And it is revealed as a gift, something to include as I.

Whenever it is resisted, there is suffering. It appears as Other and a disturbance. Whenever the resistance is allowed to fall away, through any of the many approaches, it is revealed as a gift. And the apparent size of the initial disturbance is often proportional to the size of the gift.

Meeting it on its own terms

One of the keys is to meet the experience in a relatively neutral way. To allow it its own life. To befriend it as it is. To find peace with it just as it is. To find a way of allowing it in and finding peace with it even if it would stay around forever. To meet it on its own terms.

The temptation is of course to "be with it" for it to go away or transform. But that too is a form of resistance. I don't like it as it is, I want it to go away, so I'll use this strategy to make it go away. And resistance it what makes it appear as an Other and a disturbance in the first place.

So we need to (a) surrender to the experience and (b) surrender any hope or intention of it every going away. We need to find a way of being with it and finding peace with it, even if it would stay forever.

Personal and transcendent levels

These are also approaches which work both on personal and transcendent levels. That distinction falls away when working in this way.

I may start with physical pain, and it unfolds into space and clarity. I may start with someone bugging me, and find that I am no different from that person - and also a guidance for myself which is exactly what I have been looking for.

I start with any disturbance in my human life, and end up seeing in myself what I see out there (personal level), and eventually revealing Big Mind (transcendent).

Origin and return

What is - the content of our experiences at any time - is inherently absent of an I anywhere. There is no I and Other inherent in what is.

So when we believe in this overlay of I and Other, and experience it and act on it as if it is real, then there is automatically a sense of unease and dissatisfaction, or even suffering at times.

Whenever something is perceived as Other, it becomes a disturbance - a small one or a big one.

When we begin the process of seeing Other as I, we work on noticing ourselves as more whole on a human level. I see myself in you.

And when we come to the point where the whole overlay of I and Other falls away, we find ourselves as Big Mind, as Spirit, as Ground manifesting in myriad ways, as emptiness dancing.

Recent |

Just some random recent things, for the record. Or, really, just for my own sake right now - allowing it to pass through by writing it down.

New body

Recently, there has been many periods of experiencing having a new body, or even a new human self. After my acupuncture treatment Monday, I certainly felt that my whole human self was new and different. And it also happened again last night while watching the Papaji movie, and many other times. All of these have been pleasant experiences, so not anything to resist.

It reminds me that I also have other phases where it feels like a different human self, and not so comfortable - if I am seriously sleep deprived, stressed out, have eaten something my body reacts towards and so on. At these times, there is often some resistance - unless I consciously allow the resistance to fall away, consciously stay with and fully experience whatever is going on.

These are of course just more noticeable variations of what is happening all the time. This human self and everything else is always new and different. Everything dies as it is and is reborn as something else, continuously. The stream of content is continuous death and rebirth.

Seeing and seen

There are also times when the whole seer-seen dynamic switches. From having a sense of seer in/around my human self, it shifts to whatever this human self is looking at. I see myself from the eyes of the person this human self is talking with. I see myself from the plant this human self is looking at. I see myself from whatever this human self is looking at. And that is not even quite accurate. There is just what is, the usual content, although now clearly beyond and including seeing and seen, or distinct and free from seeing and seen - and free enough to allow even that overlay sometimes.

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Resistance & I Within the Field |

Right now, it seems helpful to notice (a) any resistance and (b) any sense of I as both arising within the field of radical equality and neutrality.

In headless terms, resistance and sense of I arise within this headless space, along with everything else. They belong to the field of what is happening, they are part of the fluid content. No identification with them is needed.

And if there is identification arising, then that too is just part of the field, just part of the content. That too is arising within headlessness.

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Floating at the Edge |

Another rambling post...

For a while now, there has been a floating at the edge of I-Other and absence of I-Other. It is quite interesting to explore this area.

I see that some times, there is an identification with parts of my human self - sensations, emotions, thoughts, and an appearance of an "I" being located somewhere in/around this human self. There is a sense of a center here, of a seer and seen, of I and Other. Of this human self being qualitatively different from any other part of what is happening.

Other times, everything becomes a seamless field - this human self, trees, desk, cat, the wind, sounds, sensations, emotions, thoughts, other people, and there is a disidentification with any part of it. It all just happens, seemingly on its own. No aspect of this field has an "I" in it. No aspect is particularly identified with to the exclusion of anything else. It is beyond intimate. There is "I" anywhere and nowhere in particular. Just one seamless field. Everything just happening within this field, including anything there was previously an exclusive identification with - any aspect of this human self.

Movie screen

It is really quite similar to a movie screen: a radical equality and neutrality to each aspect of the image. Every aspect is projected equally onto the screen, independent of what label we may put on it. It is a seamless image, independent and distinct from any labels put on any parts of it.

Every aspect of the image is distinct, there is differentiation, yet just one seamless image.

The whole field is there, the content is just as before. Yet everything is just happening as part of this field. There is a radical equality and neutrality to it all. This human self is no different from any other part of the field. It just happens, as the clouds happen, the trees, the cat, the computer, the sounds of a fan, people walking by and talking. It is all just Ground manifesting in all these forms.

A seamless field of radical equality and neutrality, of no identification with any part to the exclusion of anything else, of no "I" inherent anywhere. Of it all just happening within this field. Of everything just happening on its own. Of everything living its own life: this human self, sensations, emotions, thoughts, behavior, the clouds, trees, cats, computers, sounds, people.

Everything is just happening on its own, living its own life, within this seamless field.

Resistance

Any resistance arises within this field, harmless, just happening along with anything else.

If there is an identification with resistance, then the sense of I and Other arise immediately. And with it, the sense of drama and struggle, of rather of being caught up in the sense of drama and struggle. There is a sense of I being somewhere within the content of what is happening, and other content becomes Other.

And if any resistance is recognized as simply arising within the field, along with everything else, then it is revealed as innocent and harmless. It arises within the radical equality and neutrality of everything else. The I is everywhere and nowhere in context and content.

Not yet popped

And there is also the recognition that this has not yet "popped" completely. It is almost there. It is swimming at the edge of recognizing radical selflessness, of no I anywhere. Although still with a vague sense of "I" there, even as the field goes towards noticing itself as radical equality and neutrality.

There is a transparency of I towards the Ground, yet not Ground coming into the foreground.

And the trick is of course to see that this sense of I too is just part of this seamless field. It arises within the radical equality of anything else.

Field of radical equality

This comes up quite frequently now, for instance on a walk Sunday, and also as Jen and I watched a video with Papaji last night. We both noticed how we went into a very silent space while watching, just from his presence even as conveyed through a movie. The diksha energy went wild. And I went into the field of radical equality noticing, beneath the layer of I and Other.

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Ego Fighting? |

I went to a talk by a guest speaker at the Center for Sacred Sciences Sunday. What is has clearly awakened to its own nature through him, and just listening allowed the vague sense of I to dissipate more.

Still, there were parts of the content that does not seem to align with my own experiences.

For instance, he talked a few times about the ego fighting its dissolution, fearing its death and so on. This is a quite common way of talking about it, but it seems clearly inaccurate as well. Really, this fighting seems to be an impression that only arises when there is still a belief in I there.

After the belief in I falls away, the whole process appears different. Now, we see that what appears to be "ego fighting" is just innocent habitual patterns. That is all. There was no ego in the first place, only the appearance of it from an overlay of the idea of I. It was a fiction all along. And the habitual patterns are only experienced as a problem to the extent there is identification with them.

And the belief in the idea of I is equally and completely innocent. It is just there as long as it has to, only as long as there has not been a clear seeing of the nature of what is being inherently absent of any I.

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I & Identity |

The sense of I seems to come from a belief in the idea of I.

And our sense of identity comes from all our other beliefs.

Belief in the idea of I

First, there is the simple belief in the idea of I - creating a sense of I and Other, of subject and object, of seer and seen. And as on of the job of thoughts and emotions is to make beliefs appear true, it takes on a very convincing appearance.

Without beliefs, thoughts are revealed as completely innocent - just an aid to explore and navigate in the world of phenomena. When a thought is believed in, it becomes the source of drama and struggle. And when a thought is believed in, it becomes the job of many of the other thoughts to make the belief appear real.

Identity

Our sense of identity, used to fill in and flesh out the initial simple sense of I and Other, comes from all our other beliefs.

From the simple I, there is the more refined and complex I am (...), I believe (...) and so on. We split existence into I and Other, I am this and not that. I am a human. I am alive. I am white. I am male. I am liberal. I like fish'n chips. I don't like conservatives. I believe democracy is good. I believe people shouldn't talk during a movie. Ad infinitum.

Unraveling beliefs

There are many ways to unravel beliefs. The Work seems to be one of the most straightforward and direct ways, and there are also many other forms of inquiry which does the job. Sitting practice is another, repeatedly getting dipped into something which does not match our initial and conventional beliefs, and gradually allows them to erode and fall away.

In the absence of beliefs, there is only Ground manifesting as the myriad phenomena, emptiness dancing. It is just what is - often the same content as before - although absent of any inherent I and Other, subject and object, seer and seen.

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Nurturing Development Tuesday, June 13, 2006 |

There is really no inherent reason to want to develop faster through the SD spiral, or move beyond an attachment to ideas in general and to the idea of I in particular, or include more of Other into I and us.

Yet, it is painful to experience the world through the filter of I and Other. It is painful to experience the split that comes from that filter, because it is not aligned with what is. So we are naturally motivated to move through the spiral, move up the levels, to allow what is to awaken to its own nature (of I everywhere and nowhere) while still functionally connected to this human self.

Since this motivation is as natural as anything else, we have developed a large number of strategies to either temporarily avoid the pain of the apparent split (entertainment, romance, sex, money, vacations, food) or to move towards a more radical solution (awakening to what is with no I inherent anywhere).

And if integrating projections is a big part of this process, then The Work may be one of the faster ways of nurturing development (along with more traditional approaches and other new ones such as the Big Mind process).

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Projections & Levels of Development

The previous post brings up a recurrent curiosity for me: the relationship between projections and levels of development.

Spiral Dynamics and projections

When I see the descriptions of the Spiral Dynamic levels, one way I see it is as different quantities of (blind) projections. At the lower levels, I notice huge shadow areas, and as the spiral expands the shadow areas appear smaller. (Although can still be strong of course. This has more to do with apparent quantity than quality - or intensity.)

Here is a snippet of what Ken Wilber said about his initial strategic feather ruffling post:

But the reason I love the blogosphere is for the 2% that are not predictable, that do not merely rant against the moment of discomfort (and its cause), but rather stand above the herd mentality and post from second tier.

Where I (most readily) see someone who has integrated a good deal of the shadow, and is comfortable in that area in general, he (in this case) sees someone at second tier. And it seems to make sense.

Second tier is marked by an appreciation of any and all levels, seeing them each as part of a natural and apparently neccesary development of individuals (and reflected at a collective level).

And for there to be any genuine appreciation of anything, we have to have befriended it in ourselves. We have to have found some measure of peace with it, as it appears in our own life. We have to have seen, recognized, befriended, famliarized ourselves with, found peace with most of the qualities that we see in any of the other levels.

Projections and widening circles

Another way to look at it is widening circles of concern, compassion and care. Who and what do we see as us?

As we familiarize ourselves with more and more projections, we recognize ourselves more in others, and in more of the others as well.

And as we move up the SD levels, more is included in what we see as us - in our circle of concern, compassion and care.

Until, at some point, so much is integrated at our personal level that it grows to include the transpersonal - all the way to a recognition of Big Mind. Or rather, to Big Mind awakening to its own nature of no I anywhere. Of I everywhere and nowhere.

Including Other into I

We start with a small I and large Other, and gradually more of Other gets included in the I (or us). Until it all pops open and there is only what is with I everywhere and nowhere.

What is explores itself with a wide range of identities and a wide range of inclusiveness of identity, until it awakens to its own nature of any and no particular identity.

Mirrors Mirrors Everywhere |

The world is my mirror. At my human level, everything I see out there - any quality I see in any human, animal, plant, fictional character, dreams, landscape, universe - is also in here. And as Big Mind, everything is I as soon as it arises.

eBuddha is exploring some of the apparent flaws of Ken Wilber, and it reminded me of how any teacher and/or pundit also are mirrors for ourselves.

I project out our insights, clarity, brilliance, compassion, awakening and so on onto the teacher, and can familiarize myself with them there. As with any other quality, it is often easier to first see them out there.

And since no person is going to live up to my idealized stories about them, they are bound to do something to shatter my illusion. Again, whatever I see in them reflects something in myself. They help me see my own shadow side.

So as with anything else, I become familiar with myself through the other, and am invited to see in myself what I see in the other.

It the teacher mirrors a conscious and healthy approach to his or her own shadow, then the process can be gradual and less painful. But if not, or if the teacher consciously sometimes use a strategy to ruffle feathers (as seems to be the case may be with Ken Wilber here) it may be a shock to his or her followers.

This is where we get to see (a) if what the teacher manifest - typically something that goes against norms - is something we are familiar with in ourselves and have found some peace with, and if not, then (b) if we recognize the signs of a shadow projection ("that is not me!") and know how to work with it.

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Time Travel?

Some weeks back, I read an article in a popular astronomy magazine on time travel.

Here is one view on it...

The idea of time travel is just that, an idea - born from attachments to ideas. When we attach to thoughts of past and future as reflecting something real and substantial, pointing to something that exists, then past and future appear real as well, and it seems possible to go there. But it is all a fiction.

Past and future are just mental constructs, and we can indeed visit our thoughts about past and future, but that is about it.

There is only this eternal and timeless Now and Present, within which space and time unfolds. There is no past nor any future, apart from thoughts about past and future. There is nowhere to go.

Even if we time travel through visiting our thoughts about past and future, that too is still happening within the Timeless Present.

As all mental constructs, they can be useful in helping us explore and navigate the world. And as any fiction, they are helpful in reflecting ourselves back to ourselves.

Figure-Ground Reversal Monday, June 12, 2006 |

A rambling draft...

It is interesting to explore the flow between the appearance of I and Other and the (near) realization of selflessness, of what is with no I inherent anywhere.

It seems very close to a figure ground reversal in the visual realm. The content stays the same, yet that which is perceived as figure and ground switches.

In one case, there is a sense of I and Other, and I is placed on temporary forms. So the flow of the innumerable temporary forms and appearances is now in the foreground. This human self, sensations, emotions, feelings, thoughts, other human selves, houses, trees, stars, music - all of these are in the foreground. The Ground of space, awareness and clarity is seen as Other and in the background. We may notice the ground of space, awareness and clarity, yet it is all somehow an Other - coming in and out of focus and attention.

In the other case, this Ground of space, awareness and clarity comes to the foreground, revealed as inherently absent of any I and Other. The flow of temporary forms and appearances arises within this context of Ground. The forms now becomes more of a background, as just the dance of this emptiness. As it is sometimes expressed, it is all God appearing in various forms and God is in the foreground.

Reversal as drama

It is very simple. Yet, for understandable reasons, we are used to seeing the forms in the foreground. It becomes a habit.

And as there is the appearance of I and Other as an absolute and final reality, we make the figure-ground reversal of realizing Ground in the foreground as an Other. We distance ourselves from it for this simple reason, and bring also this into our sense of struggle and drama.

When the reversal happens, it may not be complete at first and may clarify over time. And the switch may go back and forth many times before it stabilizes more in the realization of everything absent of any I.

The consequences of each

Each of these reversals have their own natural consequences.

When there is a sense of I and Other, and I is placed on temporary forms, these forms are in the foreground. As space, awareness and clarity appear as background and Other, they appear to be more or less present - although it is really only the noticing of them which comes and goes. And as I is typically placed on this human self, "I" become finite, limited, temporary, within space and time, wanting this and not that. A sense of struggle and drama arises. There is an exclusive identification with our human self, and "I and Other" appear as final and absolute.

When the Ground is in the foreground, there is a sense of ease, flow, of timelessness, of space & time unfolding within this timeless now. There is still I and Other in a conventional sense, although revealed as just conventions with no inherent or absolute reality to them - both revealed as Ground.

Sequence

  1. :: The Origin ::

    There is the Ground (space, awareness, clarity) and the play of the Ground (the flow of infinite forms and appearances of the Ground).

    :: Appearance of I and Other ::

  2. A sense of I as separate from Other arises. It arises as Ground and as one of the appearances of Ground. It is Ground appearing to itself in the form of I and Other, subject and object, seer and seen.

  3. The sense of "I" is typically placed on temporary forms. In our case, on a human self.

  4. Since "I" is placed on temporary forms, these now appear in the foreground and the Ground in the background as "Other".

  5. As Ground can appear as Spirit, God, Buddha Mind, timelessness and so on, these now also appear as "Other". There is the appearance of "I" connecting with God as "Other", and this connection appears to be more or less strong, more or less present, to come and go.

  6. The qualities of the Ground - timelessness, space, awareness, ease, clarity and so on, are now brought into and out of attention. They appear to come and go.

  7. As "I" is placed on something temporary and finite, what it is placed on now takes on a more permanent and solid appearance.

  8. Placing "I" on something temporary and seeing everything else as Other, there is a sense of drama and struggle.

  9. This sense of struggle and drama solidifies the sense of I and Other, it makes the distinction seem even more real, more absolute, more final.

  10. We now either see the reversal of Ground into the foreground as (a) a fantasy, nonexistent, impossible, irrelevant or (b) as a desirable Other. In both cases, this reversal is brought into the drama.

  11. It is possible to still be caught up in the drama of I and Other, and place "I" on some (limited) qualities of the Ground. The fluid and infinite appearances of the Ground may now be seen as "Other". This is another form of the struggle.

  12. Being caught up in the drama of I and Other, it is also possible to see the timeless and formless aspects of Ground as real and the time and form appearances as less real or illusionary. This is yet another form of the struggle.

  13. And being caught up in the drama of I and Other, it is possible to make what is without abstractions and stories as real and desirable and abstractions and stories as false and undesirable. This is yet another form of the struggle, not much different from any other.

  14. Being caught up in the drama of I and Other, we can make the reversal of I and Other in the foreground as false and undesirable and the reversal of Ground in the foreground as true and desirable. And we are still caught up in the struggle as much as in any other way, although it tends to be the final form of the struggle.

  15. When the struggle is exhausted, the reversal to Ground in the foreground is allowed to happen with more ease.

    :: Reversal to Ground in the foreground ::

  16. The reversal to Ground in the foreground happens on its own, although we can practice and train in ways which makes it more likely to happen. It can happen suddenly, out of the blue without or with practice. Or it can happen gradually, over time. The reversal just happens. As a master of reversals said: the reversal it is an accident, and practice makes us accident prone.

  17. When the reversal happens, it seems obvious. It is all Ground. There is a sense of ease. There is still the conventional "I and Other" and the conventional "I" can be placed on our human self used to navigate in the world, but it is not taken as anything final or absolute, just as the play of Ground.

  18. When the reversal happens, there is still a functional connection to a particular human self. There is even the conventional "I" placed on this human self, although it is recognized as just another temporary form and appearance of Ground - no different from any other.

  19. When the reversal happens, there is the recognition of everything - of the flow of forms and appearances - as happening within the timeless and eternal Now and Present. Everything is always fresh, always new, always different. God never repeats itself.

    :: Both reversals the play of Ground ::

  20. And when the reversal happens, we see that it was all the play of Ground. Both reversals are the play of Ground, in one instance with the forms in the foreground and in the other instance with Ground in the foreground. And in one instance with the appearance of drama and struggle and the other with the appearance of ease. Both are fine. Both are Ground. None are inherently more preferable than the other.

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