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Spiritual Practice as Alignment with Ground Thursday, August 31, 2006 |

Spiritual practice can be seen as a gradual alignment with Ground.

More precisely, it is Ground temporarily misidentifying itself as exclusively a human being, and trying in various ways to mimic what it already is.

It is a gradual remembrance of what we really are, a gradual waking up from the dream of being identified as a human being.

Shikantaza

In shikantaza, just sitting, we allow whatever arises to come and go on its own, to live its own life. Ground does this inherently, allowing any experiences and any phenomena to arise, to come and go, to live their own life.

More accurately: Ground is temporarily misidentified as a segment - as a human self or maybe pure awareness, as seeing but not seen. And through shikantaza or similar approaches to meditation, it tries to mimick what it already is: that which allows any and all phenomena to come and go on their own.

Practicing selflessness

In practicing selflessness, we practice getting out of the idea of I and take a larger and more inclusive view. Ground, temporarily forming itself into any phenomena including all beings, is inherently selfless. There is no I anywhere.

More accurately: Ground, temporarily misidentified as a human self and an object in the world, tries to practice what it already is: selfless. Due to the temporary misidentificaiton, this seems very difficult, if not impossible, until Ground begins to remember what it is.

Prayer

In prayer, we try to connect with God, allowing the apparenty boundary between I and God to dissolve.

Or more accurately: Ground temporarily splits itself into an individual human self or soul, and as God or Spirit, and tries to connect the two, allowing the apparent boundary between the two to dissolve.

Self-Inquiry

In self-inquiry, we explore what is already true in immediate experience. There is a human self, but is there an I anywhere? There is the doing of this human self, but is there a doer? What is it that comes and goes? What is it that does not come and go? What happens when there is an attachment to a thought? What happens when there is not an attachment to a belief? If I take a statement and turns it around any way possible, is there some truth in each of these new statements? Is it possible to not attach to any one, yet be free to engage in and play with any and all of them?

More accurately: Ground, temporarily misidentified as a human self, explores what is already true in immediate awareness. In this way, it gradually starts uncovering what is already there, what always and already is there.

Preparing the ground

Through these and other practices, the ground is prepared - so to speak - for Ground to awaken to its own nature. To suddenly, in a flash, recognize what it already is, what it always is, inherently absent of any I anywhere.

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Ground |

Some ways of talking about a nondual awakening...

It is the Ground of all phenomena that awakens to its own nature, while still functionally connected to a particular human self.

Allowing any and all phenomena

This Ground is that which already allows all phenomena to arise, to come and go, to live their own life. It allows - in no particular order - Hitler and Jesus, Buddha and GWB, pain and pleasure, equanimity and drama, repression and clear seeing, clouds and mountains, inanimate matter and life, seeing and seen, stars and galaxies, dark holes and nebulae, birth and death, cities and rain forests, Bach and Madonna, cars and bikes, confusion and clarity, delusion and realization, a sense of I and awakening as already selfless, beliefs and thoughts freed from beliefs, suffering and joy, arrogance and humility, any and all perspectives, justice and injustice, harming and helping, destruction and building up, war and peace, simplicity and complexity, and anything else that is happening, ever has happened, and ever will happen.

It allows all of this, inherently. It allows itself to be formed into any and all of these. It allows space to hold and take any and all of these forms. As Ground, there is no resistance to any of these, not even to resistance. It is all there, naturally, spontaneously, just happening, living their own lives.

Spiritual practice mimicking Ground

And in spiritual practice, we mimic this as well as we can.

We practice shikantaza, just sitting, allowing anything to come and go on its own, including resistance and holding onto something. We practice selflessness, acting in selfless ways, because that is our nature. We practice self-inquiry, looking at what is already true in immediate experience.

In all of these ways and many more, we prepare the ground for Ground to spontaneously awaken to its own nature.

Content stays the same, context shifts

In a nondual or Ground awakening, the content can stay the same. No change is needed in content. It is just the context that changes, from a sense of I to a realization of no I anywhere in all of this.

When the context shifts in this way, content does change as well as a consequence of this shift. This human self reorganizes and realigns to the new context, at all levels - from physically, energetically, emotionally and mentally, to how it lives its life. It needs time to reorganize, as Ground needs time to become familiar with operating through a specific human self in the context of realized selflessness.

There is a maturing at all levels after this awakening, and this includes exploring and developing skillful means, ways to live this through a human being and in the world.

Ground and human self

No human being awakens. It is the Ground that awakens to its own nature while functionally connected with a human self.

There is no human awareness, only the inherent awareness of Ground temporarily misidentifying itself as human or as the property of a human self.

When the center of gravity is in the human self, it sees itself as an object in the world, within time and space, subject to birth and death, at the mercy of emotions and beliefs, living from likes and dislikes. When Ground awakens to its own nature, allowing and as any and all phenomena arising, this human self just becomes a part of the landscape.

There is a seamless field of whatever is happening, this human self is a small part of this field, and there is no I anywhere. This human self and everything else lives its own life. There is just the doing there, and no doer to be found anywhere.

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Nada Yoga |

I went to the first evening of a nada yoga class last night. Apart from the obvious benefit of opening the voice, and also connecting with the chakras, releasing into spaciousness, and so on, it was interesting to notice parallels with other practices.

In koan practice, any tendency to being self-conscious and censoring oneself comes up and is seen, yet the direction of presenting the koan is in doing it wholeheartedly, and that was certainly the case here as well. In Breema, we use the principles of body comfortable, no extra, no force, and full participation, and all of those seem aligned with the nada yoga approach to using the voice: allowing the voice to rise fully and naturally, free from the force of holding back and pushing.

Earlier in the evening, I went to a kundalini yoga class where we practiced shunya listening, listening from emptiness, which - in a way - is a shortcut to what we arrive at through The Work. By allowing beliefs to unravel through inquiry, the natural spaciousness and clarity is revealed, free from attachment to any one particular idea and perspective and free to play with any idea and perspective.

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Nonduality Video Snippets Wednesday, August 30, 2006 |

I have been watching some nonduality (advaita, zen, buddhism) video snippets on YouTube. There are quite a few of them there already, and I am sure more to come. Here is one of several of Adyashanti, amazingly fresh and clear as he usually is.

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Typical Things Happening in Awakening (?) |

Here are some things that seem typical in an awakening process. At least one that goes from identification with our human self to realized selflessness, or F5 through to nondual in Ken Wilber's framework.

Here is a somewhat rambling and unsystematic overview of what comes to mind...

Wholeness of psyche/body

A sense of wholeness of our human self, beyond and including what we abstract out as psyche and body. This is the F6 or centaur level in KW's framework, and is typically included in further awakenings.

Sense of intimacy with the world, no separation

As there is an immediate experience of the wholeness of our human self, there is also a sense of the wholeness of the rest of the world of phenomena. At the same time, the boundary between our human self and the rest of the world of phenomena appears more transparent. There is a growing sense of intimacy with anything arising in the outer world. There may be an intuition or sense that the boundary was only a mental construct in the first place. This is the nature mysticism, or F7, level in KW's framework.

At this phase, the center of gravity is shifting out of our human self and more into the seeing itself, into consciousness.

As the center of gravity shifts more into the seeing, into witness, pure awareness, this sense of intimacy with the world of phenomena, and of no separation, becomes stronger. The boundaries within the world of phenomena is more clearly seen as superimposed and mere abstractions. And there is also as sense of the apparent split between seeing and seen as an overlay of abstractions, as not inherent in the seeing/seen.

Sense of all as sacred, Spirit, God, Buddha Mind, Divine Mind

As the center of gravity shifts into seeing, into awareness, there is a growing sense of all phenomena as sacred, as Spirit. There is a sense of the seen as no different from the seeing, and it is all the play of the Divine Mind. This is the deity mysticism phase in KW's framework. There is still a sense of I here, although now more placed on the seeing itself.

Sense of timelessness

As the center of gravity shifts into the seeing, into pure awareness, there is also a sense of timelessness. Pure awareness is timeless, and it can be tasted very clearly as awareness gradually becomes more aware of itself.

Time unfolds within awareness, not the other way around. Change unfolds within, and really as, that which is changeless - this seeing, this pure awareness, that is right here reading these words.

Time and change unfolds as before, although seen as secondary to the context of awareness as inherently timeless and changeless. The nature of awareness it timeless. It is the eternal now, the timeless present, within which and as all change happens.

Sense of spacelessness

At the same time, there is also a growing sense of spacelessness. The world of phenomena seem 2D in a way. There is a sense of no distance. There is a sense or intuition of everything arising as awareness, or consciousness, itself, as arising from the same Ground, and in this - there is no distance, no separation, no space.

Within this sense of spacelessness, conventional space and distance unfolds as before, although seen as secondary to the spacelessness. Spacelessness is in the foreground, conventional space is in the background. Spacelessness is the context of conventional space, which is seen as not different from spacelessness, it is made up of spacelessness.

World of phenomena as a field

Again, as the center of gravity shifts into seeing, into pure awareness, the world of phenomena is seen as a seamless field. This human self is just a part of the landscape of what is arising in the eternal now.

The boundaries between this human self and the rest of phenomena arising, is more and more clearly revealed as superimposed, as a mental construct. It seemed real when the center of gravity was in this human self, but now, as the center of gravity is in seeing itself, the boundary has a sense of transparency and lack of reality about it.

Everything happening on its own, living its own life

As the center of gravity shifts from the world of phenomena, in the form of this human self, and into the seeing, there is also a gradual release of any sense of doer.

First, there is the noticing of sounds, tastes and smells, sensations and thoughts as just happening on their own, they seem to live their own life.

Then, and more shockingly, there is the growing realization that this human self - including its choices and behaviors, is just happening on its own. That too is just living its own life. The sense of doer is retracted from this human self, and seen as another superimposed mental construct.

No doer

The sense of no doer grows. First, it may be seen in sights, smells/tastes, sensations and thoughts coming and going on their own, living their own life. Then, there may be a growing sense or intuition that this is also true for this human self, for the choices and behaviors it engages in.

As the center of gravity shifts into pure seeing, witnessing of this human self, it becomes more and more clear that it is just doing things on its own. There is no I there to make anything happen, it happens on its own. There is no doer there to do anything, the doing happens on its own.

This can be unsettling at first. Will it survive on its own, with no I or doer there to take care of it? Then, there is the realization that it has survived fine so far, and there has never been an I or doer there in the first place.

In the awakening to selflessness, in Ground awakening to its own nature as seer and seen with no I anywhere, this becomes clear. Any lingering doubts fall away. This human self, as any other phenomena, has always functioned without an I, without any doer.

Unless, of course, you see consciousness itself - the Ground as emptiness and phenomena, as seeing and seen - as the doer. The doer with no I anywhere.

World of phenomena as space, emptiness, awareness, consciousness

While the center of gravity is in the seeing, in pure awareness, there is a growing realization that what is seen does not appear so different from the seeing itself. There is a growing sense of the content of awareness as awareness itself.

And although it is the awareness functioning through a human self, it does not seem to be human awareness. It is the Divine Mind which this whole universe arises within, and which is seeing itself right here now.

Along with this, there may be a sense of realization of this human self, and indeed all phenomena, really being space or emptiness. They themselves are this aware space.

The seen and the seeing both arises from this Ground, which is aware emptiness. And this is an immediate realization.

One Taste

As part of all this, there is also a growing sense of One Taste. Whatever happens is recognized as Ground temporarily taking a particular form.

First, this may be tasted in glimpses. Then, there may be a growing undercurrent of this sense. And in the awakening of selflessness, it is clearly revealed as always and everywhere being this way.

Reversals

Along with all of this are various forms of reversals.

When center of gravity was in this human self, awareness seemed within this human self. Now, as the center of gravity shifts into pure seeing and is eventually released as Ground, this human self is seen as arising within awareness, within and as Divine Mind, within and as Ground.

Similarly, early tastes of timelessness seemed to appear within time. Now, time arises within and as the timeless, this timeless awareness, this eternal now.

Tastes of spacelessness seemed to appear within space. Now, space arises within and as spacelessness.

Earlier, things seemed to happen to me, as a human being. Now, everything seems to happen for me, as an invitation for awakening and clarification.

And maybe most shockingly of all: Earlier, there was a sense of an I - variously placed on this human self, pure awareness, and maybe other things. Now, everything arises with no I anywhere. In and beyond the seeing and the seen, there is no I anywhere to be found.

And other aspects...

Synchronicities

Synchronicities, meaningful a-causal coincidences, seem to occur (or at least be noticed) more frequently as this awakening process unfolds.

During the initial awakening in my teens, my days were filled with meaningful coincidences occurring - surprising, unexpected and noticeable enough so even others remarked on it frequently.

Energy shifts and reorganizations

In any awakening, there seems to be a good deal of energy shifts and reorganizations. This human self, and its energy aspects, needs to reorganize within and realign with the new contexts it is operating within.

First, this is the context of center of gravity in pure awareness. Then, the context of realized selflessness, of Ground awakening.

Since it happens within space and time, it takes time...! It takes a long time or a short time, and it can be dramatic and very noticeable if it happens fast and/or there is a lot of realigning needed, or less dramatic and less noticeable if it happens slower and/or less realigning is needed.

Again, in the initial awakening in my teens, this realigning was quite dramatic, and it took a while as well (months and years). It seemed to mostly take place during sleep.

Hidden psychological material (including shadow) emerging to be seen

Psychological material emerges, especially those aspects that have been repressed and denied in various ways. It comes up and all seems to want is to be seen, to be recognized, acknowledged - through the simple seeing of it. No drama is needed. It just needs to surface. These aspects seem to be like children who needs to be let in to the warmth for a while, until they heal, mature and are ready to move on.

It can be dramatic. It can be unpleasant. If it is resisted, there is more drama and unpleasantness. And if it is resisted less, if there is just the seeing of it with no added drama, just the being with it, then it can be less dramatic and less unpleasant.

It can even be quite interesting: here are all these things I didn't even know was here, and now they are surfacing. They, as everything else, come to pass, not to stay, as Byron Katie puts it.

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Trust in this Human Self Functioning Without a Doer Tuesday, August 29, 2006 |

In writing the previous post, I see more clearly that there is a fear around retracting a sense of a doer from this human self. Can it function without it? Will it be OK?

This is of course only a temporary concern. Even in the midst of it, there is the realization that this human self has done very well without a doer, all the way back to its conception. There has never been a doer there in the first place. It has always lived its own life. There has only been the sense of a doer there, superimposed onto it. The does was manufactured in the first place. A figment of nobodys(!) imagination.

And after a while, there is a familiarity with this terrain in the context of selflessness. There is no doer there, yet it does function much as before. There is no I there, yet it still moves, talks, interacts, gets out of bed, brushes its teeth, functions in the world.

So gradually, there is a growing trust. A growing willingness to let the idea of doer go. To allow this human self to function on its own, with no doer, with no I, as it has functioned from the beginning.

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Human Self Living its Own Life |

Just about any form of self-inquiry, and many forms of mediation, gives a taste of it: this human self lives its own life.

In shikantaza meditation, I allow anything arising to live its own life. Thoughts come and go. Sensations come and go. Sights come and go. Tastes and smells come and go. Movements come and go.

In headlessness, I find myself as capacity for the world, as that which allows anything to arise, to come and go, to live its own life.

As Big Mind, I am that which is beyond and includes all polarities.

In the self-inquiry of differentiating that which comes and goes from that which does not, I first see that I am not that which comes and goes, then that I am that which does not come and go, and finally that the two are not separate.

Seamless field

Each of these allows for a taste of all phenomena as coming and going, living their own life. And the world of phenomena is a field with no boundaries anywhere, it is a seamless whole. There is no inside nor outside in this field of phenomena. This human self is just part of the landscape.

This human self living its own life

Each of these practices also allows for a taste of this human self as living its own life. There is doing there, but no doer. The thoughts, sensations, sights, tastes, smells and movements of this human self comes and goes as anything else. They live their own life, as anything else.

There is a thought, then a movement. It may appear as if the thought somehow initiated the movement, but that too is just another thought, a story about a connection not directly experienced (as Hume and others have noted).

Taste of selflessness

In finding ourselves as either (a) the witness of the world of phenomena, the seeing, pure awareness, or (b) as the Ground of anything happening, there is a taste of selflessness.

In the first case, finding myself as the seeing, there is a taste of selflessness in the world of phenomena. This human self is not separate from anything else, and there is no doer in or as that human self.

In the second case, finding ourselves as Ground, it becomes clear that there is no I even as the seeing. Even that is a superimposed story. The seen and the seeing is revealed as inseparable, as somehow differentiable but not two.

Transcend and include

So first, there is a transcending of the world of phenomena, tasting and then realizing that there is no I anywhere there. It all comes and goes, so I cannot be any of those things coming and going.

Then, I find myself as that which does not come and go. As awareness, consciousness, as room for and awareness of everything coming and going.

Then, there is an inclusion of that which comes and goes. That which arises as a particular form within awareness is awareness itself. The two are not separate, and not two. The seen and the seeing is not two.

Example

There has been many tastes of this lately, including many times today (more as a thread throughout the day). This human self is doing something, and there is just the seeing of it and realization of it happening on its own.

Thoughts come and go. Sensations come and go. Sounds come and go. Tastes and smells come and go. Movements come and go. And it is all living its own life.

Maybe more remarkably: it is all perfectly capable of living its own life. It does anyway. It always has lived its own life.

And it is perfectly capable of doing so, even without the appearance of an I or a doer there.

There are many forms of liberation here. First, it is the liberation of anything arising from a superimposed I, a doer. In Zen language, we can say that the head on top of the head falls away. Thoughts are liberated from a sense of I. Sensations are liberated from a sense of I. The movements are liberated from a sense of I. The doing is liberated from a sense of a doer.

Then, there is the liberation of differentiating the seen from the seeing, that which changes from that which does not change. Each fall into place in awareness and realization of this difference.

And finally, not so different, Ground awakens to its own nature as having no I anywhere. It is liberated from being temporarily deluded about its own nature.

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SETI Monday, August 28, 2006 |

There are some major questions in each of our lives, whether we explore these or not. The main one is probably who/what am I? And another is are we, as human beings, alone in the universe?

It is interesting that very few schools spend much or any time on the first question, whether it is through conventional western style philosophy or more direct self-inquiry. And it is also interesting that only a minuscule amount of resources is spent on the second question, are we alone in the universe? No governments, as far as I know, allocate any money to SETI, and the private funding is very limited as well.

I am not sure what that tells us about who we are at this stage in our evolution. Maybe that we are easily distracted. Maybe that for many of us, other issues appear more urgent. Maybe that our natural curiosity is out competed by other impulses or goes in other directions. Maybe that we have trouble peeling off the layers down to the really big questions.

In any case, I have been fascinated by SETI since I first heard about it in my early teens, became a member of the Planetary Society a little later, and was among the first to sign up for SETI@home. Now, after a while of not running the SETI@home screen saver, it seems time to participate again.

It is difficult to imagine any other discovery that will have a more significant impact on how we see ourselves, and eventually the course of our own evolution. Just knowing that we are not alone will be another nudge in our deprovinsialization of ourselves. And any exchange of real information, although it may take a long time before it gets going, will change our culture and evolution deeply.

Just the question itself, and contemplating the consequences of contact, or of not finding anything even after a thorough (still far into the future) search, is hugely important. The question and contemplation itself will change how we see ourselves.

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Same Thoughts, and I Also Talk to Myself |

I had lunch at an outdoor table today, and there was a homeless (?) man and his dog not too far away. He talked to himself about whatever was happening, including cars running their engines while being parked.

I realized that his thoughts were the same thoughts as I have. Every single one of them were familiar to me.

And I also talk to myself. I talk with myself through my internal monologues and dialogues about whatever is happening. And if I am honest, I often talk to myself and for my own benefit even when somebody is there listening and responding.

Again, when I look I find that he is me, in a very real sense.

This is of course at the relative level, where there is an apparent separation. Even as there is a belief in I placed on this human self, he is me.

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Content of Beliefs, and Believing Itself, Brings a Sense of Something Being Off |

When I believe in a thought, there is a sense of something is wrong.

Content of beliefs making something right and wrong

I believe that I should be wealthy, I am not as wealthy as I should be, so that is wrong. I believe I should be good looking, I am not that good looking, so again that is wrong. I believe my neighbor should be more quiet, he is not, and that is wrong.

Whenever I belive in a thought, then somewhere, sometimes, the world is wrong. It is inherent in beliefs that something is made to appear right and something else wrong.

The content of beliefs automatically splits the world into right and wrong.

Believing itself experienced as off

At the same time, I see that this sense of something being off is a projection. And as any projection, it is a projection of what is happening right here now, it is a projection of experience.

When I believe in a thought, there is an inherent sense of it being off, right there, even before going to the content of the thought. There is a sense of something wrong, just in the process of believing a thought itself.

And this sense of something being off, something being wrong, is projected out. It is added to the appearance of right and wrong inherent in the content of the belief.

Example

The content of any belief splits the world into right and wrong. And the process of believing any thought brings a sense of something being off, which is added to the other source of the world appearing as right and wrong.

I did my (mostly daily) round robin phone call for The Work today, and inquired into foods should make my body sick.

Towards the end, I saw how my story creates a sense of something is wrong. And how this sense of something being wrong, or something being off, is not only inherent in the content of any belief, but also in the process of believing in any thought.

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Low Life Sunday, August 27, 2006 |

I am reading Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York by Luc Sante, and find it a facinating story of the underbelly of New York in the 1800s and early 1900s.

It puts our contemporary western society into perspective, and is a reminder that what we see today in countries with unrest, corruption and barely functioning legal system is what was here not too long ago (and still is, to some extent, especially in the US).

It is also a reminder that Spiral Dynamics red (red in tooth and claw, power, late egocentric, here seen in gangs and organized and unorganized crime) eats Green (egalitarian, nonviolence, worldcentric, seen among sustainability folks, hippies, and political greens) for lunch, as Michael Dowd likes to point out.

Green is typically not the right tool to deal with red, and orange is barely so. As the story of New York shows, it took strong blue (law and order) to tame red. And then it can move on.

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Cravings, Addictions & The Hole |

I talked with a friend yesterday about cravings and addictions, and what we are trying to get out of those addictions.

Working within the relative

On a relative level, and when there is a sense of I, addictions can be seen as a strategy to meet a need, and if that need is clarified, it may be possible to find other strategies that can meet it in a more effective and fulfilling way.

Process Work is one way to explore this. Sometimes, what is uncovered makes good sense. Other times, it may not make much sense but still work. For instance, I explored my sugar craving a while back, ended up with a movement that filled the same need as the sugar, and the sugar craving fell away (mostly). The movement is a jump up and down, similar to the dance of the Masai warriors. On the surface, there seems to be no connection to eating sugar. But from the inside, in my experience, it gives the same effects as eating sugar does, in an even more fulfilling way.

Working within the relative can be very helpful. Yet, we are still only shuffling around the content. Moving the pieces so they find a relationship to each other that seems to work a little better. It is a temporary and incomplete fix, at best.

Selflessness

From a more ultimate view, it seems that any craving, any addiction, any sense of need, any sense of lack, comes from a mistaken identity. And it will not be resolved until what is awakens to its own nature, with no I anywhere.

What is is the context and content of awareness here now. And the context can be a sense of I, placed on something in the content, or it can be realized selflessness.

When there is a sense of I, placed on a segment of the content, there is immediately a sense of I and Other, of lack, of needs, of something missing. And we try to fill this hole through rearranging the content to the best of our ability, through partners, food, substances, music, entertainment, status, money. Or, if we are more sophisticated, through working on ourselves, our human self, but still just rearranging content.

It may work to some extent, it may work for a while. But ultimately, it does not resolve the sense of lack, of something missing, of something not being complete.

The only release from this discontent is through awakening. Through what is awakening to its own nature, of no I anywhere.

Needs as an attempt to find home

From this perspective, any sense of need is an attempt to find home. Any craving, addiction, need, want, is a sincere attempt to escape the confines of seeing oneself as separate, and find home in realized selflessness. It is a sincere and innocent attempt, although ultimately futile.

The only way to find home is for what is to realize that there is no I anywhere, and the way for this to happen is to set the stage for it to happen, to prepare the ground, for instance through meditation, prayer and inquiry.

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True Meditation & Meditative Self-Inquiry Saturday, August 26, 2006 |

I am listening to Adyashanti's True Meditation and Spontaneous Awakening, and find a deep appreciation for the wonderful simplicity, freshness and clarity of his teachings. I also see how the practices he talks about come from a Buddhist tradition, which is not surprising since he studied with a student of Maezumi Roshi, as I did/do as well (in my case, Genpo Roshi).

What Adyashanti describes as true meditation, just allowing anything arising to be as it is, is a description of shikantaza, or what is sometimes called just sitting. And the practice of meditative self-inquiry is similar to koan studies, and even more similar to the Big Mind process developed by Genpo Roshi.

The meditation allows awareness to notice itself as aware of content, and also as no different from its content. Said another way, it shifts the center of gravity from the content to the seeing of the content, allowing the content to live its own life.

The inquiry allows for a clearer seeing of this process, and also for a clearer seeing of what we really are. Am I the changing content? Am I that which does not change? Am I the seen? Am I the seeing? Is there a separation between the changing content and that which does not change? Am I the seeing and the seen?

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Elements of Inquiry |

I mentioned a particular form of inquiry in the previous post, and want to explore some of the possible sequences and elements of this form of inquiry. Just scratching the surface, as always, especially as I have not explored it for very long.

Sequence

A typical (?) sequence may be:

  1. See that I am not the content.
    The content come and go. Sights, smells/tastes, sensations, and thoughts come and go. They live their own life.

  2. Find myself as awareness.
    This space and awareness which allows any and all content to come and go, that is stainless, not harmed by any content.

  3. See that this awareness is full of the whole world.
    There is no separation. There is no I in either seeing or seen. Or we can say the only I is that of seeing and seen, beyond and including all polarities.
Elements

And some elements within this sequence:
  1. Not the content
    • Notice (sounds, smells/tastes, sensations, thoughts) and how they come and go.
    • Notice how they live their own life. How they just happen.
    • Are you any of these? Can you be any of these?
    • Move the arm up and down a few times. Can you find any doer? Can you find any chooser? Do these movements just happen? Do they live their own life, as anything else?
    • Is there any inside and outside in this world of phenomena? Can you find any absolute boundaries between phenomena? Is it a seamless field?

  2. Awareness
    • Notice that which does not come and go.
    • Notice the space and awareness that anything comes and goes within.
    • Does this awareness allow anything to come and go? Does it resist any content?
    • Is this awareness touched (stained, harmed) by any content?
    • Can you find any beginning to space and awareness? Any end? Does it have any color?
    • Does space come and go? In your own immediate experience, does awareness come and go?
    • Are you space? Are you awareness?

  3. Full of the world
    • Is awareness separate from its content? Is there separation anywhere?
    • Is the nature of awareness and its content different? Is it the same?
    • Notice the content of space. Is that content also space?
    • Notice the content of awareness. Is that content also awareness? Is it different? Is it the same?

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What Comes & Goes, And What Doesn't |

A basic form of self-inquiry is to look at (i) what comes and goes and (ii) what doesn't.

Notice sounds, and how they come and go. Notice smells and tastes, and how they come and go. Notice sensations, and how they come and go. Notice thoughts, and how they come and go. Take time to notice each of these.

Notice if there is anything that does not come and go. Notice the space it all comes and goes within. Notice the awareness it all comes and goes within. Notice awareness aware of itself.

If "I" am any of these, what is it? Am I the content that comes and goes, living its own life? Or do I seem to be that which does not come and go, the space and awareness it unfolds within?

Move the arm up and down a few times. Can you find any doer of that action? Can you find any chooser? Does it seem to happen on its own?

Notice the tendency to jump to a memory, a thought, an expectation, to find the "right" answer. Is this too part of the content? Is this too something that comes and goes? Is this too something that lives its own life?

Notice again that which does not come and go. Notice the space and awareness any content comes and goes within. Can you find any limits? Can you find a beginning? An end? Does it have any color? How does it relate to its content? Is it touched by any content? Can it be harmed by any content? Does it resist any content? Is it separate from its content? Is there a separation anywhere? Is there an I in the content? Is there an I in the seeing?

Who or what are you?

I see that a trick here is to not be too heavy handed. To leave the questions as a gentle invitation for seeing it for oneself. To stay with, and allow the pointers to come from, immeditate experience. The pointers above can certainly be refined to (a) allow more space for people to find their own answers and (b) come more directly from immediate experience.

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Internet Practicalities |

sI switched to blogger beta a couple of days ago, which propelled me to explore some of the technical aspects of blogging, including lots of troubleshooting!

As a reminder for myself (and maybe others), here are some good places for free, and sometimes Open Source, information and utilities...

Blogger support

Blogger Talk to US - to contact blogger support

Blogger Help Group - google group for blogger questions/answers

The Real Blogger Status - up-to-date, practical blogger hints and tips

Utilities

FeedBurner - easy and flexible feed management

Google Analytics - keep track of visitors

Technorati - one way to keep track of who links to your blog

HTTrack Website Copier - backup your whole blog, or any other website

Hint: Under "options", go to "limits". Set maximum mirroring depth to 2 to capture front page and any internal links from front page. If there is an archive on the front page linking to all pages in the blog, then these will be captured. Set maximum external depth to 0 to not capture any external sites.

Mozilla

And while we are on the topic...

Firefox - excellent open source browser

Thunderbird - excellent open source email application

MozBackup - backup Firefox and Thunderbird settings and files

Firefox extensions I find useful:

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Pluto Thursday, August 24, 2006 |

This is not so important, but it makes an astronomy nut like me happy to see that they finally decided to strip Pluto of its status as a full planet and categorize it as a dwarf planet instead. Categorizing it as a regular planet was somewhat of a mistake in the first place, and it is good to see the rational win out over the sentimental.

Which brings me to this inquiry...

They should act in a rational manner.

  1. Is it true?

    Yes (especially scientists!)

  2. Can I absolutely know it is true? What is the reality of it?

    No, I cannot absolutely know it is true. The reality is that even scientists sometimes don't act in a rational manner (they get caught up in sentimentality, attachments and so on.)

  3. How do I react when I have that belief?

    I get frustrated seeing people who should be champions of rational thought behaving in a less than rational manner, using sentimentality as an argument for wishful categorizing.

    How do I treat them?

    As a little soft brained, not standing up for what they know is right.

    How do I treat myself?

    As someone who is more rational, more cool-headed, more able to let go of sentimental attachments when that is called for.

    When did I first have the thought?

    Probably in middle-school, when I got more interested in science, rational thinking, valid arguments and so on.

    Does the thought bring me peace or stress?

    Stress, definitely.

    What is the worst that can happen if I let go of that belief?

    I would let the sentimental override the rational, like (some of) them.

    Turnaround: I would not let the sentimental override the rational. Yes, that seems as or more likely. Without the stress coming from this belief, I would be more receptive, open, clear.

  4. Who/what would I be without the thought?

    I would be receptive, open, clear. Able to enjoy the small-scale drama around the discussion. Able to see the validity and good points in the different arguments, coming from any view.

  5. Turnarounds

    (a) They shouldn't act in a rational manner.

    That is true. Some of them don't, and that is the reality of it according to my story. The benefit for me is that I get to see my own beliefs around this, the stress it brings me, and it gives me an opportunity to inquire into it.

    (b) I should act in a rational manner.

    Yes, certainly. The advice is for myself here. When I believe that they should act in a different way from what they do, I am irrational. There is no way I can influence it in any real way, not even with people close to me. These are just processes playing themselves out.


    (c) I should not act in a rational manner.

    Well, not if I don't. When I believe that thought, I do not act in a rational manner, and that is what is playing itself out right then. It is OK. And it, as anything, is subject to change.

    (x) Turnaround to live in daily life

    I should act in a rational manner. I shouldn't expect people to change because it would be convenient to me. I can take my own advice instead. The advice is for me.

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Deity Mysticism, Witness & Fall from Grace Wednesday, August 23, 2006 |

Even as the center of gravity moves to nature and deity mysticism and/or the Witness, there is still an identification with a segment of what is.

There is a belief in the idea of I, and it is placed on the soul (nature/deity mysticism, F7/F8) and/or pure awareness (F9). There is still a sense of I and Other, no matter how apparently transparent and subtle.

It is an awakening still with the presence of a sense of I, and identification with a segment of what is, so it is naturally subject of change with changing content.

Nondual awakening

From here, it can move on to a nondual awakening, to Ground awakening to its own nature of no I anywhere, allowing any content to come and go as it naturally does. This is an awakening where the context is the only thing that needs to change, from a sense of I to an realization of no I anywhere. Content - states, experiences, phenomena, come and go freely and naturally, as they do anywhere, but no with no trace of attachment or resistance to them.

Fall from grace

If this does not happen, if there is a stuckness here even as there is a deeper readiness to move on, there will be a fall from grace, a dark night of the soul. And this fall from grace invites to a gradual wearing off of any sense of I, eventually revealing the Ground - absent of I anywhere.

It seems terrible as it happens. It seems that everything is lost. But it is just another phase in the process of Ground awakening to itself, of God remembering who it is, of Buddha Mind realizing its own nature, of emptiness dancing.

Example

This is what apparently happened in my case.

The nature/deity mysticism awakening and the awakening as Witness initially came out of the blue, uninvited in any conscious sense (to somebody who saw himself as a die-hard materialist and atheist!). It deepened and stabilized over some years.

At some point, there may have been a deeper readiness to move on to a Ground awakening, yet there was also an attachment to and holding onto the belief in I and to the nature/deity awakening and the sense of Witness as I.

So there was a fall from grace, a dark night of the soul, also lasting for years, gradually wearing off attachments to a sense of I, to segments of what is, to any content. And it is still far from complete.

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Forms of Compassion |

There seems to be a few different forms of compassion.

Compassion from realized selflessness

One is what happens when Ground - Spirit, Buddha Mind, Big Mind, Divine Mind, Emptiness, What Is - awakens to its own nature. Here, everything arising is revealed as Ground (etc.), and there is no I anywhere.

There is still a functional connection with a particular human self, and when this human self encounters Ground functionally connected with another self, and is (apparently) confused about its identity, then compassion naturally arises. It is as simple as the left hand helping the right. Effortless. Natural. Spontaneous. Without drama.

Compassion in the context of an idea of I

The other form of compassion is what happens when there is still a belief in the idea of I, still an identification with a segment of what is, typically our human self. This compassion is usually mixed with a sense of drama, ambivalence, struggle, effort, precariousness, and so on.

A belief in the idea of I creates the whole sense of I and Other, and the sense of ambivalence, struggle and drama inherent in that experience. And when there is a belief in the idea of I, there are usually beliefs in lots of other ideas as well, which only complexifies and amplifies the sense of drama, struggle and ambivalence.

Even here, the natural and effortless compassion arising from realized selflessness can come through. It is, after all, what we already are, so it will come through at times.

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Turnarounds and Relative Truths * Tuesday, August 22, 2006 |

Absolute truth is only revealed when the Ground awakens to its own nature, when Big Mind awakens to itself, when Buddha Mind awakens to itself, when Spirit awakens to itself. When the Ground of all phenomena awakens to its own nature of no I anywhere.

As soon as any of this is reflected in ideas, as soon as it is formulated, made into a statement, made into a map, then it becomes by necessity a relative truth. And relative truths are always limited, incomplete, provisional, of temporary and limited usefulness only, subject to revision, modification, replacement.

Absolute truth is immediate, beyond and including any and all polarities. Relative truth is considered and thought out, using ideas, symbols or words that split the world. It can never touch absolute truth, only be the finger that points to it, helping people get a taste of it in their own experience.

In formulated, expressed and relative truth, there are always opposite statements that each also reflect a relative truth. That is why they are all relative truths.

Turnarounds

And this is exactly what happens through the turnarounds in The Work.

We take the initial statement, for instance she shouldn't lie, and turn it around any way possible. She should lie: that is the reality of it, according to my story. I shouldn't lie: I shouldn't lie to myself about her, as I do when I tell myself that she shouldn't lie and she does. I should lie: well, I do, that too is the reality of it. Whatever I say is really a lie, because it is only a story.

We get to see that in the realm of ideas, abstractions and words, every statement has a number of opposite statements that each contains some truth. They are all different perspectives on the same topic, and each one has some validity.

By seeing this, there is a natural release from attachment to any one of these views, perspectives and statements. We find ourselves as the space that can hold each one of them, genuinely seeing how each one has validity, yet is not an absolute truth.

In our human life, we become a little easier to get along with.

And there is also a closer alignment with what is, beyond and including all polarities.

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Planting Seeds Saturday, August 19, 2006 |

I notice that if I plant a seed in the form of a question (and maybe some information to go along with it), an answer will usually surface some days, weeks or even months later.

This has been noted by many people of course, including in writing by many psychologists, inventors and scientists, and Adyashanti as well, on the Spontaneous Awakening CDs.

The most recent example for me was the question of Sakyamuni Buddha's statement following his awakening: all sentient beings, the great earth and I have awakened together. I remember having the question come up briefly some weeks back, and then an answer of sorts came up yesterday, out of the blue. In between these two instances, there was no attention to or even conscious awareness of the question.

The answer surfacing, at least in its expressed form, is of course always relative, provisional, temporary, to be refined, modified, replaced. Any formulated or expressed answer is by its nature relative: It can be very helpful in orienting in the world of phenomena, yet at the same time is not absolute, limited in scope and even of temporary usefulness.

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Ground Awakening to Itself, and Functional Connections Friday, August 18, 2006 |

Ground awakening to its own nature, of no I anywhere, can still be functionally connected to a human self. That is how there is the appearance of a human being awakening.

What I find very interesting is how this Ground is somehow separately functionally connected with innumerable sentient beings. It is the same Ground, yet functionally separated innumerable ways within itself, to a wide range of vehicles (beings) in the world of phenomena.

Typically, there is very little "leaking" of immediate information between these selves, with the exception of synchronicities, and possible esp and so on.

So this awakening of Ground to itself is an awakening to its own nature, expressed through one particular human self. Which means there may be, and most likely are, awakenings beyond this type. These are just speculations, but they could be awakenings expressed through groups of human selves, or through even wider and more diverse groups of beings or even inanimate matter. Who knows. At least here, that is still in the future.

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No Being Has Ever Awakened |

I think this is a statement found in many different traditions. Again, it is a statement obscure before awakening and clear after, and clear even through for instance the Big Mind process.

When there is an awakening to selflessness, it is Ground - Spirit, Buddha Mind, Divine Mind, emptiness, awakening to its own nature of no I anywhere. And this Ground is functionally connected to a particular human self.

From this awakening, it is clear that there are no beings, only the appearance of individual separate beings. There is only Ground (somehow separately) functionally connected to all the different beings, and in many cases temporarily identified with and as a sentient being. It is only an appearance, a temporary experience, a temporary misidentification, however real it may seem at the time.

For Ground still identified as a human being, it will appear as if another human being awakened. Yet from the view of awakened Ground, no being every existed - at least not as separate or individual in any way.

To speak in a very approximate way, we can say that in the absolute, there is no room for compassion. Big Mind is cool, detached, seeing itself everywhere, seeing no real (separate, individual) beings anywhere. Yet, moving towards the relative and Big Heart, there is tremendous compassion for all the suffering experienced, even if it is just Ground temporarily misidentified, experiencing itself, as a sentient being.

Speaking more accurately, we can say...

Ground awakened to its own nature, functionally connected with a human self, will naturally manifest compassion when this human self encounters Ground misidentified as a sentient being, manifesting suffering.

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All sentient beings, the great earth, and I have awakened together |

This is what Sakyamuni Buddha said upon his awakening, according to the story. And it is one of those statements that are confounding before awakening, and clear as day after.

The main question coming up is: If all beings awoke then, why do they appear so deluded?

When Ground awakens to its own nature, including to being the physical space everything appears within and as, then it is clear that this Ground is the same Ground always and everywhere.

It is also the Ground awakening to its own nature, while functionally connected to a particular human self.

So this means that the Ground awakened to its own nature as the Ground of all sentient beings and the great earth. Yet, this awakening is expressed through only one particular human self.

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Finer Detail |

Even when the Ground awakens to its own nature, and is functionally connected to a particular human self, the way this human self talks about and expresses it varies a good deal. The particulars of the vehicle determines how it comes out. This means that the descriptions of the awakening and the awakened realization comes out with varying degrees of precision and clarity.

Various forms of inquiry, including the The Work and the Big Mind process are powerful tools here, allowing for finer and finer levels of exploration and insights.

The strength of The Work is in its uncovering of (a) what happens when there is a belief in a thought, (b) the contrast to who/what we are without the belief, and (c) exploring the (relative) truths in all the turnarounds of the initial statement, allowing for different perspectives and insights we may not otherwise have noticed.

The strength of the Big Mind process lies in exploring all the various ways the mind functions, on personal and transpersonal levels, all the various dynamics and interactions, just about only limited by the imagination.

Having these tools available means that people not operating from a full awakening can have far more clarity and insight around certain issues than those operating from an awakening. This is not surprising. Our levels of knowledge and skills are independent of awakening, and so is - to some extent - our insights into how the mind operates on personal and even transcendent levels. It is very democratic that way.

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Finding peace with the disturbance, even if it never changes |

In different situations in daily life, including when I do inquiry, I sometimes find it helpful to ask myself...

Am I willing to find peace with this situation even if it would never change?

Who would I be if I knew that the situation would never change?

What would have to change in me for me to find peace with it, even if it never changes?

If I have a personality trait I don't particularly like, can I find peace with it even if it will be around forever? If I have a disease, can I find peace with it even if it never changes? If I have an annoying colleague, what in me would have to change for me to find peace with him or her, even if his or her behavior never changes?

This helps me take more responsibility for how I relate to a disturbance, right now, instead of waiting for it to change, or wishing for it to go away.

Inquiry so the disturbance will change

Sometimes when I do inquiry, I see that I do it with the motivation of wanting the disturbance to go away. I use inquiry as a strategy for changing the disturbance itself.

For instance, I do inquiry in the hope that the annoying parts of my personality will change. I do inquiry in the hope that I will change, and then my partner will change and become more easy for me to deal with.

It can be subtle. My conscious motivation may be to find peace with the situation, but somewhere in the background is the thought that this may be the key for having the disturbance go away.

In seeing inquiry as a strategy for having a disturbance go away, the answers are filtered and sensored. Something arises, and right away there is the question - is this the right key? Should I bring it out and explore it futher, or hold it back? This is one way of muddling the process.

Not really a disturbance, but...

Of course, in doing inquiry for a while, I see that what appears as a disturbance is only a disturbance because of my beliefs around it. In itself, it is innocent. And in seeing the situation more clearly, there is peace with it. It changes from a problem to just a situation.

Still, especially at the beginning of an exploration, there may still be the wish and hope that the situation itself will change.

Going beyond wanting the disturbance to go away

Some statements for inquiry around this...

Inquiry makes problems go away.

I shouldn't do inquiry to make problems go away.

Problems should go away.

I am more happy if there are no problems.

And as I mentioned at the beginning, I also find that briefly asking myself the question who would I be to find peace with it, even if it will never change helps me go beyond using inquiry as a strategy for making a disturbance go away.

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Space as Analogy (and more than that) |

Since I was a kid, I have had a deep facination with outer space and Earth-bound nature as well.

One of my first "awakenings" was watching the Cosmos series on TV as a kid, and experiencing not only the awe of the infinity and beauty of this universe, but also that I am seamlessly part of this universe. I, as a human being, is made of stardust and am intimately connected with the whole of the universe, including all the stars I see in the night sky.

We, who embody the local eyes and
ears and thoughts and feelings of the cosmos,
we have begun, at last, to wonder at our origins.

Starstuff contemplating the stars.

Organized collections of ten billion billion
billion atoms, contemplating the evolution of matter,
tracing that long path by which it arrived
at consciousness here on the planet Earth
and perhaps throughout the cosmos.

- Carl Sagan, in Cosmos

This was my first introduction to deep ecology, deep time and evolutionary spirituality, and one that gave me a taste of the profound shift that comes from taking this in, allowing myself to soak in it, allowing it to work in me, allowing me to experiencing this directly - and the deep sense of intimacy, connection of no separation that comes with it, of the sense of belonging to the Universe. Coming from a science oriented rational culture and family, where we and everything are all fragments with tenous connections at best, it was a profound revolution in how I experience the world.

Exploring space and mind

A few years later, as I started exploring these things in my mid and late teens, I also became aware of how outer space can be seen as an analogy for the mind and the explorations of the mind.

When we are identified only as frgaments of our human self, then it is similar to being on the surface of this planet and only knowing the local region.

Then, as we get to know ourselves as a whole beyond and including our psyche and body, it is similar to for the first time seeing the Earth from local space, as a whole. This centaur awakening may come about through various forms of body-oriented or -inclusive practices, such as yoga, tai chi, chi gong, Breema and so on, maybe in combination with meditation practice. First, it comes through a taste, and is then more stable. (For me, now, the experience of my human self as a whole beyond and including psyche and body is so familiar that I usually don't even notice, until I am reminded of the integral map and the centaur level, or talk with someone who experiences their human self differently.)

We can then venture beyond, into finding ourselves at the soul level, as essence, which may be similar to seeing the solar system as a whole. There is the human self, as the Earth, and there is the local area around it, the soul level, timeless, giving a sense of direction and guidance, of quiet bliss and joy, as the sun and the other planets.

Going further out, into (mostly) empty space, can be seen as similar to finding ourselves as pure awareness, as seeing, as Witness. Here, I am empty space and awareness, witnessing whatever happens, witnessing the distant stars and galaxies. If there is a relatively strong sense of I here, placed on pure seeing, it can be somewhat cold and detached, although that can be a useful exploration as well.

Then, going even further out to seeing - or rather being, the universe as a whole, it all shifts again. The Ground awakens to its own nature of no I anywhere, free of any beliefs in the idea of I, allowing everything to happen, embracing and including all polarities. This is the nondual. There is absolute intimacy with everything, yet no I anywhere.

Space as more than just an analogy

One of the surprises for me, when Ground awakened to its own nature (for a couple of months last fall), was how physical space awakened. The nature of this mind is really the physical space which allows anything and everything to manifest, from stars and galaxies to clouds, birds, cities and people, to sensations, emotions, thoughts and experiences. It is the same crystal clear space that allows all of these manifestations. It is this very ordinary space which awakens to its own nature. It is this space that everything arises within and as.

When Ground awakened to its own nature, still functionally connected to this particular human self, it was the Ground of everything that awoke to itself, the Ground of the universe that awoke to its own nature. And this is reflected in what Sakyamuni Buddha said upon his awakening, All sentient beings, the great earth, and I have awakened together. This is the literal realization, although it is the Ground of all sentient beings, the great earth and the whole of the universe that awakens to its own nature, functionally connected to this particular human self. It does not mean that this awakening is consciously reflected in or through the lives of all these sentient beings, because it is obviously not.

There was a quiet shock in seeing that it is this space, that we all know so well from everyday life, that awakens to its own nature - crystal clear, empty, allowing all manifestations to freely come and go as they do, with no I anywhere.

Saying that physical space awakens to its own nature is also just an analogy, an approximation. It may be more accurate to say that the Ground that awakens to itself has no space or time, it is space/timeless, yet allows for (the appearance of) space and time.

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What Do I Really Want? Thursday, August 17, 2006 |

An exploration of what I really want.

Guidelines

My guidelines for myself is that anything is allowed, no matter how petty, crude and small minded it may seem. Nothing is excluded. And when I find something I seem to want, I will explore what it is I really want inside of that. What do I think it will bring me? If it is a strategy for getting something else, what do I hope it will get me?

What do I really want?

What is it I really want?

First the wants closer to my public, surface, personality...

I want a peaceful life. (I see that the only way to find peace is in how I experience and relate to what is happening, not in how the external situations are b/c they will always change.)

I want a meaningful life. (Again, this can be independent of external situations.)

I want a sense of coming home, of deeply coming home. (I know from experience that this can happen right here, independent of where I physically am.)

I want freedom from suffering. (That too can happen independent of external circumstances.)

And if I go to the other wants, I see...

I want money. (As a strategy to bring me freedom from suffering and happiness.)

I want sex. (Really, what I want is a sense of connection and intimacy. I also want joy, ecstacy and bliss, and I want those because I want happiness and freedom from suffering.)

I want fame, I want to be looked up to. (This will bring me a sense of being OK, which is what I really want.)

I want revenge. (I want revenge because I think it will bring me a sense of peace and maybe joy, which is what I really want.)

I want to live fully and in a juicy way. (I want intimacy with life, a sense of fullness, richness, even completeness.)

I want to die, sometimes. (I think it will bring me peace, rest, relief from stress and suffering.)

I want status in society. (This may bring me a sense of accomplishment and worthiness, which in turn may bring me peace, freedom from suffering, joy, sense of connection, sense of belonging.)

I want to be right. (In the hope that it will bring me safety, which in turn may bring me freedom from suffering.)

I want knowledge. (It may bring me a sense of accomplishment, which in turn may give me a sense of peace. It may give me a sense of understanding, which gives safety, which gives freedom from suffering. It may bring a sense of intimacy and connection with myself and the rest of the world. It may give me respect, which in turn may give me a sense of safety and freedom from suffering, and also a sense of connection and intimacy with myself and others.)

I want peace. (Because it may give me happiness and freedom from suffering.)

I want a sense of being OK. (Because it may give me happiness and freedom from suffering.)

I want a sense of connection and intimacy. (Because it may give me happiness and freedom from suffering.)

I want a sense of deeply being home. (Because it may give me happiness and freedom from suffering.)

Wanting happiness and freedom from suffering

So I see, through sincere inquiry, that any of these conventional, mundane, egoic, apparently crude wants lead to the Buddha's insights: what I really want is happiness, and freedom from suffering. And if awakening is the only thing that really will get me that, then that is what I want.

Peeling off the layers of wants, I end up with wanting happiness and freedom from suffering. And the strategies for getting that is all of the above, some unexamined and from confusion (which I see when I expore them this way, and some from more clarity (can always go further there).

Innocence

I also see what Byron Katie says, that it is all innocense. We are all innocent. Our wants, no matter how crude they may seem, are innocent. Confused maybe, but innocent.

And I see how this all relates to Nonviolent Communication, in particular the differentiation between needs (what I really want, when I peel off the layers), and the strategies to meet those needs (which may be confused or come from more clarity).

Summary

Guidelines...

  1. Write down what you really want, as it comes up. Don't sensor anything. Anything is allowed.

  2. For each of these wants, explore what it is you hope to get from it. What is it a strategy for getting? And what you hope to get from that? Peel off the layers until what is left is utterly simple, until it is not anymore a strategy for getting something else.

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Trust In What Is |

Some approaches reflect a distrust of what is, while other seem to reflect a trust.

The former often suggest some form of manipulation of content, of phenomena, whether they are physical or mind. The latter approach often suggest working with content to support what already is unfolding, or leaving content as is. In either case, there can be suggestion of merely notice what already is, finding clarity in what is already true for us and alive in immediate experience.

The Byron Katie inquiries is an approach that seem to reflect trust in what is, in who or what we are and what the world is. This includes allowing all our hangups to come out and be seen in question no. 3, how do you react when you have that thought? As Byron Katie says, we give the ego free rein in expressing itself, allowing it all to be seen, without adding drama to it.

Adyashanti's guidelines for practice also reflects trust in what is. One guideline in meditation is to just notice whenever the mind wants to manipulate experiences, including noticing tendencies to want the manipulation to go away. In this, the deep peace and silence already here can also be noticed more clearly. There is an alignment with pure awareness, and with Ground, which naturally and inherently allows anything to come and go.

I listened to the interview with him at the end of Spontaneous Awakening, where he mentioned that the ego also really wants awakening, it wants the truth. This can be covered up because it will want to go wherever there is a boundary, wherever there is a "no" it will want to explore, so the surface desires of the ego tend to take the form of going into mild or stronger taboos, such as money, fame, sex, and so on.

If we dig a little deeper, if we allow all these to be seen and explore them, again without adding drama, we see that what we really want may be things such as coming home (whatever that may mean), truth (because lies and illusions are painful), awakening (again because illusion, including the belief in the idea of I, is painful).

I'll explore this a little further in the next post.

Meditation in Action * Wednesday, August 16, 2006 |

There is no doubt that it can be very helpful to take time out of the day for regular meditation/practice sessions, and also to take several days out of one's schedule for a retreat.

And then there is meditation in action, practice distributed throughout our daily life. To me, this form of practice is more interesting right now, especially as it does not necessarily require any time beyond what I am already doing (in a way, it is practice for lazy and impatient people, for those of us who may be reluctant to set aside a lot of time every day, and especially don't want to wait for these periods).

Some practices that I find very helpful in daily life, first those that do not take any extra time at all...

Headlessness

Douglas Harding's headless experiments can be included and explored throughout daily life, during any activity. I work on the computer, I am on my bike, I eat, I am in a meeting, I watch a movie, I do Breema, and I can easily explore headlessness - notice that I am already headless in my own immediate experience. I am capacity for the world, that within and as which the world of phenomena - including this human self, happens. This shifts the center of gravity from the human self to seeing and beyond, into a taste of selflessness.

Labeling

Another practice that can be seamlessly integrated in daily life is labeling. I note sensations, tastes/smells, sights, sounds and thoughts. And sometimes just sensations and thoughts, allowing each to live their own life. And sometimes just personality. That is the personality reacting, with its likes and dislikes, its habitual tendencies.

Seeing sensations as sensations, and thoughts as thoughts, allow each to live their own life. They don't conglomerate into something else. And when they do, for instance into personality, then that can be labeled as well, at its own level.

All of this shifts the center of gravity from the human self to the seeing of it. It gives a sense of more space, of liberation from being blindly caught up in it.

Can I be with it?

Yet another practice which can be included seamlessly in daily life is asking myself can I be with what I am experiencing right now? I experience something that could be labeled pain, or sleep deprivation, or hunger, or stress, or confusion, or spaciness, or joy, or excitement - can I be with what I am experiencing right now?

Again, this shifts the center of gravity into the seeing, allowing the content to life its own life, to unfold in its own way. The experience is one of getting out of the way of the content.

Coming to the body

This shift also occurs through simply bringing attention to the body. To noticing the weight, movement or breath of the body, as it happens right now.

Of course, for each of these practices - headlessness, labeling, being with whatever is experienced and coming to the body, it does help to set aside some time in the beginning to become familiar with the process, and even to do so at any point where there is a break in the day.

Then there are practices that very much use the content of our daily life as fuel, and do require some time set aside, although often not much.

The Work

The inquiry practice from Byron Katie is one of these. Whatever happens during my daily life is fuel for finding clarity. The whole world is my mirror, in a very real and practical way.

Big Mind Process

The Big Mind process similarly uses our daily life and everyday mind as material for insights, for seeing what is already alive right here now, and how it is all manifestations of the Buddha Mind, Buddha Mind at work.

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Noticing Sense of I as Ground * |

One of my (irregular) practices is to be with whatever is experienced, for instance through asking myself can I be with what I am experiencing right now? Any content is OK, and whatever arises is something I can be with.

Of course, there is a duality here of I and Other, but this too can be included. The question can I be with what I am experiencing? becomes the starting point, and then even the sense of I can be included. There is a being with, a noticing, of this sense of I. Where it is located in space, what sensations and textures it seems to refer to.

And in this, there is the seeing of this sense of I as Ground as well. That too is part of the landscape of what is happening right now. That too arises within and as awareness.

There is no need to make this sense of I into and Other (!), there is no need to resist it, to try to make it go away. All that is needed is to notice it as arising within and as awareness, within and as Ground, as everything else happening.

There are many aspects to all of this, many ways of looking at it.

Being with and release from drama

First, by being with whatever is experiences, the struggle and resistance falls away. More precisely, it is included in what is being been with (!). The center of gravity shifts to the seeing of it all, and there is a disidentification with and release from the drama.

Allowing the content its own life, allowing the mud to sink to the bottom

At the same time, if we use the muddy water metaphor, the mud is allowed to sink to the bottom and reveal the clear water. As long as center of gravity is in the content, the drama, then everything continues to get stirred up, the mud fills all of the water. It is unclear, confused, muddled. When the center of gravity shifts into noticing the seeing of it, the content is allowed to live its own life and the mud sinks to the bottom, revealing the clear water - which was there all the time.

Including the sense of I

In being with whatever is experienced, we find ourselves as the seeing of it, as pure awareness, as Witness.

In this, there is a sense of timelessness. I am timeless, and that within and as time unfolds. There is also a sense of spacelessness, that within and as space unfolds.

There is no time, no past and future, yet also the conventional unfolding of time. Time unfolds within and as timelessness.

There is intimacy with everything arising, no separation, unity, oneness, yet also the conventional sense of space. Space unfolds within and as spacelessness.

At the same time, there may also be a sense of I floating around, variously placed on this human self (out of habit) and the seeing (it has to be placed somewhere, right?).

And this sense of I can be included. That too can be seen as arising within the world of phenomena, within space and time, arising within and as awareness. The sense of I becomes a part of the landscape of everything happening right now. That too is Ground manifesting as something. Although now noticed primarily as Ground, and secondarily as a sense of I. Its nature of Ground is in the foreground, its manifestation as a sense of I in the background.

Accident prone

As Richard Baker said, awakening is an accident, and practice makes us accident prone.

Noticing the sense of I as Ground is one way to make ourselves accident prone. We are just noticing what already is, what already is alive in immediate experience, what already is more true for us than trying to believe in ideas of I.

Identification & Not Tuesday, August 15, 2006 |

I keep coming back to this...

In terms of our identifications, there are really only two broad categories: The first is a belief in the idea of I, and the other is an absence of this belief.

Identifications

When there is a belief in the idea of I, it can be placed on any number of phenomena or segments of what is.

It can be placed on this human self, and I appear as an object in the world of phenomena. I am within and limited in space and time. I can and am impacted by innumerable other and unpredictable objects. I am born and will die. I have likes and dislikes. Awareness and consciousness comes and goes, and fluctuates in presence. This naturally brings about a great deal of stress and drama.

It can be placed on awareness, on the Witness, on the seeing. In this case, there is I as pure awareness and seeing, and Other as that which is seen.

I am timeless, and that within which time/space unfolds. I find myself as awareness and consciousness, free from coming and going and fluctuation in presence.

The world of phenomena now appears as a seamless whole spanning that which arises within and outside of this human self. It is a seamless field, of which this human self is just a small part of the landscape. I am not this human self, it only arises within me as everything else.

The sense of I and Other can be experienced to varying degrees here. There can be a relatively clear sense of I as seeing and Other as the seen. Or the sense of I and Other can gradually erode, along with a deepening sense of no separation, of unity, of oneness (although there is still an I which is in no separation, unity and oneness with something else).

This naturally brings a good deal of relief, although there is still an identification with a segment of what is, there is still a sense of I and Other, there is still potential for stress and drama here.

There is a potential for a fall from grace. The belief in the idea of I is still around, and may with time shift away from the seeing and into the seen again, from the timeless and into that which is within time.

Absence of identification

Eventually, the Ground awakens to its own nature of no I anywhere. It all arises within and as awareness, as before, but clearly with no I anywhere.

The Ground awakens to its own nature, independent of content. The content may be as before, it may - and will - go through any number of states, and it doesn't matter. It is all revealed as Ground, independent of which temporary form it takes.

There is the activity and doing of this human self, as before, but now revealed as (always) absent of any doer.

This is the only real liberation. The liberation of any belief in the idea of I, placed anywhere.

Each shift notable

Each of these shifts are notable.

Shifting from identification with form to awareness is experienced as a significant shift, and may take time to get used to.

Shifting from identification with awareness to the realization of no I anywhere is experienced as a similarly significant shift, and also takes time to get used to.

While the shift from identification with our human self to awareness is significant, it is really just what the sense of I is placed on which changes. In the shift into Ground realizing its own nature of selflessness, the whole sense of I is shown to be just a belief and falls away.

Fluidity

Within all this, there is a great deal of fluidity. There is a center of gravity shifting among these three. The first two may, and often seem to, appear mixed with each other. The third may happen in periods before it stabilizes.

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