The Original Must Disappear

I’ve been experiencing the return of the Original amidst deep inner turmoil. And as said in the first installment, welcoming the Original back with a big sigh of relief, everything since the Original’s first dawning was a deviation of sorts, a subtle distancing from the Original. Even being an enlightened spiritual teacher who’s brought quite some enlightening experiences to participants in his seminars and trainings (here a link to a video of one of my last seminars): very significant experiences, according to some, even physical healings, I’ve been told. And yet, I said a week+ ago, all of these were significant, deep, mostly beautiful, but all of these experiences and ways to live were also almost-but-not-quite the Original.

When the Original first reached me, calling it Grand Disillusionment at the time, it was much closer to what I said in the second installment on this matter just 4 days ago. And yet, as much as it is true what I said there, and as true as it happened to be within the framework of the day, there was still a slight distance involved in writing about it, and subsequently in my way of putting it. And now it’s become much clearer.

There really isn’t any Original, except, of course for the Original, but since that is a happening in time, even if an utter “nothing is happening!” liberation of all that pretended to make sense before, it can’t very well be the Original that I’d taken to have returned. This may not be, or may very well be, a logical conclusion, but that didn’t get me irritated before I wrote this. What irritated me was that the Original is not Original! It’s the returned version!

I guess I got stuck on the resonance of the Original, mistaking it for the Original itself and then – as I hadn’t yet understood what I was doing – I tried to emulate it! For Chrissake! I stumbled right into the trap that I’ve been warned of so many years ago that I can’t remember when it was: “There is no It that is It!” And, I may add now, even the not-It isn’t.

My body, who upon waking up this morning demonstrated beyond any doubt how much Love it is, yes, that body IS love made manifest, my body knew it all along. And hence my body being irritated by me hanging on to the Original of old: the resonance with the Original that came to shake me out of my turmoil and returned me to a sense of lovely sobriety, or realism, of simple being-here with everything and every one that happens to be here. But instead of leaving it at that, and going on with living and doing what feels appropriate, I started to cling to the returning Original and invoke its noting-is-happening lightness of being.

It took me some time to really register the irritation and not filter it away, or touch it with my magic Original Wand. Ah! The amazing wisdom of the body, of embodiment. Should now I sing the praise of imperfection, irritation, the truth expressed in limitation, deviation, distances from the Original? I’m tempted to, but wouldn’t that be just another version of turning things and matters into IT, the  One IT whose realisation  is the Ultimate It, and in consequence the end of all other Ultimates, other Originals, other versions of this mysterious mystery we call life, reality, Goddess and everything?

Being human, always this two-armed, two-legged form embedded in many kinds of ecologies, outwardly and inwardly; ecologies we have hardly begun to understand and are already destroying grand style, while at the same time some of the most brilliant of us escape, sorry transcend, this madness into unearthly spiritual realms; not knowing, of course, that any angel would gladly give his eternal life for embodied, incarnated existence… just to know how it is to be human, at least for a while.

We’re mortal, even though some of us think that we may be among the first immortal generation – it’s not clear if I belong to the former or the latter. But even if we live to be a million, we’ll eventually have to face death. The end of being someone with a definite, even though slowly changing form. And as embodied beings there will always be some imperfection challenging us, causing some pain maybe, or a frustration, or irritation. Only the ignorant could possibly live in perpetual bliss, for some time at least, until whatever dawns on them and they lose some of their ignorance.

As long as becoming is also present, being will never be enough. As long as there is a human around, there is the return to limitation, the return to embodiment, the return to form. We wouldn’t be craving for the formless, if we weren’t embodied. We wouldn’t desire freedom of all, some final liberation, if we didn’t experience our imprisonment more often then not. We wouldn’t want to transcend our present level and state, if we didn’t feel quite uncomfortable here. We wouldn’t yearn for perfection, if we didn’t suffer from being imperfect.

Somehow, seeing that, coming to accept that actuality whenever it happens to be the case here and now, accepting my humanity and the mad, mad times of violent ignorance all around Spaceship Earth for what it is, feels good, feels just right, reconciles me with myself and my brothers and sisters. And in some strange way it restores my power, the Lion shaking its mane, the dragon that lay coiled up on the treasure that I’m to inherit, the iron snake that is my birthright.

[Thank you She Mystery that hid inside the Trojan Horse for completing your mission. Thank you Black Raven that dropped hourly feathers and dived into the Ancient Abyss enticing me to follow. And thank you Friends and Fellows all over this Mothership for being so fricking important to me that I want to share all this with you.]

The Original keeps on Returning

“Do not cling to your timeline,” he said.

As I followed this directive down a few paths, I felt lost. The Orient had gone, no direction. So I said, “No lighthouse in sight. No sun, no stars. What can guide me? Which line to follow? Where to put my foot?”

He smiled. In his eyes I saw how he felt for us, how he was willingly entangled in our human predicament. And yet he answered, “If all lines would be equally good and equally challenging in the long run, if the multitude of possible destinies were of equal quality overall, which timeline would you really want to travel down? What would you want to be your guiding light?”

On a round planet a path can bring you anywhere, and will eventually, if you travel it long enough, bring  you everywhere. And I’m in love with the two-armed form, the never ending diversity, the manifold presencing itself uniquely and originally wherever I care to just look.

The Original hides in plain sight. It reveals its nature as nothing; nothing without a capital letter and a -ness at the end. Imagine, if you like, a completely empty space; and for you smart-asses reading this, a space completely without any energy fluctuations, virtual or manifest. Now, if anyone would be asking you, “What is happening there?”, you’d answer, “Nothing is happening there.” That’s what I mean by nothing. The empty space would be nothingness, but what’s happening there is, “nothing, whatsoever.”

That’s how the Original is hiding in plain view, and reveals itself to me as soon as I remember, and sometimes even without me remembering anything.

The Neverending Dreamer by Cameron Gray

As soon as you try to take hold of the Original, mentally, feelingly, in Spirit or Soul, or any which way, it hides in plain view again. Pretending to be nothing. But once you see, once you understand that you cannot understand, that it cannot be turned into anything whatsoever, even identified with or arrived at neti-neti or iti-iti or any other way, once you let go of letting go, once you re-member, the Original is there. And even though you cannot identify with it, it’s You, it’s Me, it’s presencing originally wherever you care to turn. And it’s nothing special at all.

When the Original returns, it doesn’t return as a realisation. Realisations may follow in it’s wake, and often do, but the Original is no realisation. No sky, no heaven lights up, although colors may return to what seemed like tinges, hues, and glosses before. No divine trumpets announcing the omnipresent, non-dual, eternal out-of-time happening, although a transparent joy may infuse all that appears in your awareness as the Original returns to its ancient homestead in plain view.

And the Original keeps on returning. Not once and for all times, although it may often seem to be that way. Until you discover yourself in the distance, taking yourself to be this, that or the other. Trying to be enlightened. Trying to be good, beautiful and true. Meditating in the divine and blissful regions of the never-ending realms of light and darkness. Or finding yourself stuck in this or that karma, this or that trauma, this or that complex, this or that pain and suffering, this or that desire; finding yourself in all the never-ending imperfections of the human form. And that is Original as well: everything in plain view is. So you do whatever you can, to get the stuck unstuck, to see through your powerlessness and powerfully embody everything you choose, to welcome all and everyone that happens to visit the guesthouse of your awareness. Because, you may conclude on the timeline you’re on, whatever you meet, you meet as the one and only Original one. And healing is its wake, the trail it leaves behind. (Thank you Jody for pointing that out.)

For as long as you try to wrap your head, your self around it, the Original will hide in plain view. But as you accept the impossibility of it all, as you allow for nothing to happen at all, it may unwrap itself for you, and recalibrate everything just for the pure fun of it, the simple and ordinary presence of whatever happens to be.

Nothing is as it is. (Yes, you can read this at least in two ways.) So what I do, whenever I feel like it, is bring myself and what concerns me, or whatever else I care to bring, to nothing. And then it is touched, or maybe recalibrated and brought to another resonance, or it simply stays just the way it is originally.

Nothing is gained, and magically everything is. So, letting go of your timeline, which line to follow?

(Take Two – Take One here)

 

California – oops, Bay Area, here I am

I’m in culture-shock.

Well, okay, I’m exaggerating. The type of spirituality – I call it Californianism – that I meet here wherever I go is a mixture of New Age, Buddhist and positivist, basically Christian ideas (actually easily traceable to “Christian Science“); stirred well in a melting pot of activists, artists, hippies, healers and entrepreneurs. It’s almost as if these ideas have created a bubble, or better a membrane, that for an European mind like mine looks very superficial. Not that we don’t have our own brand of this type of spirituality in Germany and other European countries, but here it stands out very strong and plays an important role in many conversations on almost anything. It permeates everything and has a missionary seal unlike the ‘watery’ version we have in Europe.

Californianism (also in ‘my’ part of the world) lives because the art of self-reflections and deeper inquiry into one’s basic assumptions is not well developed or even unknown, or maybe because the ideas are vague enough so that you can believe in them without necessarily needing to put them into action. Take the “all is one” theme, for instance. It sounds good, saying so also places you on the right side of the fence (you’re one of us!), but it doesn’t require you to act in a way that would put you in any kind of danger – of someone disagreeing with you, for instance. If you believe that “we are the ones that we have been waiting for”, to use a slogan of this spirituality, you don’t really need to contemplate in what way you put that in your daily practices. If you are convinced that in reality “I am!” or “I am what I am!” you don’t really need to look at the patterns you enact daily because doing so would not make you “be here now” but you would look at what you did when and what for – if your meaning-making, and that is what spirituality is in a very important sense, suggests that in reality you are a timeless being, than looking at history, your personal history, is just a waste of time.

Not that all the statements I’ve just been quoting are wrong, they are certainly also expressing a deep experiential truth; it is the context that turns them into superficialities. Going from workshop to workshop, healer to healer, trying on this and that and one more new kind of change – secretly being frustrated that total or absolute happiness, enlightenment, is not yet your home – the consumers trap opens… and catches the spiritual aspirants. And since even more than in my home-continent everybody here is an entrepreneur, and many need or try to make their living by serving some particular brand of spirituality (and branding yours is an important part of the game), the context of this spirituality have become invaded and even overcome by marketing

Coming back to my culture-shock. This ‘in your face’ spirituality comes with the typical US-American agentive stance – it’s all about doing, being positive, changing yourself to, in this instance, be who you really are continually, and most of all: you gotta be excited about it. Maybe it’s all the adrenaline in the air that shocks me, the dominating ‘yang’ attitude everywhere. No wonder the new hit on the market is “The Divine Feminine”…

Photo by Flickr user Franco FoliniAnd then, when I took a walk tonight in San Francisco, down (up?) 9th street and then right into Market… seeing an amazing number of destitute people, mostly dark skinned, apparently preparing or already sleeping on the sidewalks. I’m not sure this was because of the wonderful warm weather – they say that finally it’s summer now – and that ‘normally’ you don’t see them so much, but it definitely gave me the feeling that I was in a 3rd world country.

Picture by Deb Booth (click on pic to visit)

Maybe Californianism is really an opium for the people that would otherwise find the situation unbearable and either choose politicians that change this situation or change it themselves. Californianism, with it’s main focus on “everybody is responsible for what happens in their life” is an escape, it seems to me, from an overly individualistic, harshly competitive, badly educated and deeply hopeful but disappointed life.
AND, at the same time, and paradoxically so – because of this – the possibility of real and deep change is closer than in my home, because this type of chaos might just be the ‘ground’ out of which the dancing stars of our future may be born.

Can God Live alongside Chocolate Icecream?

‘GOD & THE CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM’ | FILM FROM NIC’S MONDAY9AM SERIES [2005/7]

‘… so many of the things people think they want, they want because they think they can’t have.
And as soon as they find out they can have it, the want goes away.’

Starring MICHAEL NEILL | Comments on FACEBOOK


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‘MORE’ from Nic Askew

A film made for a brave soul who moved from a convent to a science lab then ended up as a coach to people searching for the strength to take similar steps. Steps towards meaning.

Body, Soul and Spirit 1: Modes of being alive

This is the very first installment of what I hope will become a Body, Soul and Spirit series of posts that will meander around most of the topics that keep fascinating me since a while.

Starting with a meeting with a great and lovely man in Basel, Switzerland who remembers a long line of incarnations in a, for me, absolutely credible way and context, I’ve started to reconsider most – and in the end probably all – of my convictions connected with body, soul, spirit, consciousness, life and what, who and why we are. (In my hippie-days Death used to be a more or less constant companion, and now s/he is in a new way, faced with the endingness of individual life a couple of times recently. This surely also plays a role: a renewed fascination with each night’s fading of awareness and the life of dreams, and the reappearance of more or less the same person in consciousness upon waking up…)

I will not be very philosophical, in the usual sense of that word, about this, even though I’m in love (philo) with wisdom (Sophia). This inquiry is also very personal, anecdotal and hopefully at times poetical. I might also rave and be full of pathos for something or other… we’ll see. What’ll be my guide, or should I say guides?, are my fascinations with what appears in the theater of what it is to be ‘me’. I could, of course, also call it the arena or the clearing – that space in which matters, things, imaginations, illusions and the real alight; what we ordinarily call consciousness, that mode of being alife that ever eludes our grip of understanding; trying to understand consciousness is as if the eye were trying to see itself, when the best it can do is see itself reflected in a mirror.

Modes of being alive

Being conscious, aware; being taken; in a pensive mood, reflecting on important and not so important, but urgent matters; reverie; witnessing, choiceless awareness; in the flow, totally immersed in sensual immediacy… many of the possible modes of being alive, and some of them mutually exclusive. When, for instance, I’m in a reflective mode – and mood, as often I am these days – I can’t really witness being reflective more than generally, can’t reflect and be choicelessly aware and without judgement at the same time. Isn’t reflecting closely considering a matter, the way the soul participates in life for instance, and looking what this means, what are the concepts being nourished on soul and what are relevant experiences, and what have interesting persons said about this matter? Witnessing this reflection I wouldn’t follow one thread or another but rather I’d let them all unfold as they please as, also, sensations of breath come up and unfold and whatever else unfolds or pops up in consciousness. Witnessing is mostly passive, and only active in extracting oneself from being caught up in any of the phenomena that are witnessed.

adi_da_samraj2Certainly, when in a deeply enlightened mode of awareness, everything can be done or not done – but then there is no witness, no anyone, and, really it is so beyond anything that means something to me as human that I’m not really interested in ‘getting there’ again. Also, those that are supposed to be there – claiming it for themselves or others claiming it on their behalf, the followers or disciples – do not have any characteristics that seems truly valuable; on the contrary, there seems to be an atmosphere of megalomania around them, an air of absolute altitude, an assumed divinity that unpacks as utterly undesirable social context. The unresolved power-issues around that mode of aliveness in our day and age – enlightened teachers abusing their students – are such that however true and beautiful that mode is from the inside of it, it is best left alone.

On the other side of the spectrum, or so it seems, is flow, a mode of being alive that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has made popular; flow as total immersion into what you’re doing. In sports it’s been called ‘being in the zone’. Witnessing could be said to be transcendent to everything that appears and flow as being totally immanent – you’re totally in it. You can witness the flow of events but then you’re not in the flow because being in the flow collapses any kind of witnessing as activity that plays a role, even though there is a particular kind of awareness available. But it’s more that the awareness of it is part of the flow as a whole than that the flow would happen within consciousness. For me this happens in dancing with closed eyes, easily, or in something called body-flow, where the body can just do what it feels like doing… It’s mostly a very sensual experience, being in a physical sensing mode.

Seems I had to do some explaining to come to the main dish I’m serving here which is that these modes of being alive are in a very large sense mutually exclusive. We are polymorphs, being with many (poly) forms (morphe) and – something I might pursuit at a later time – maybe there is really no unity below all this; although there is the idea that “Isness” – a German term coming from Meister Eckhart, “Istigkeit” – would describe that essential unity, something Mister Tolle calls The Power of Now. Nevertheless we cannot both be in the flow and witnessing at the same time. We could do that in a team, with a third friend then reflecting on what we’re doing, you in the flow, me being choicelessly aware of all this. Which brings me to another very mysterious mode of being that I’ve been blessed to participate in at times: the mode of we-fullness, as I keep calling it, the mode of being with others in such a way that you are deeply convinced and experience yourself to partake of a collective being, the ‘circle-being’ , the first inkling of a collective consciousness, I think, the becoming aware as a living multi-personal field.

foodBack to the main dish. As we do not eat hors d’oevre, main dish and dessert all at once, as that would maybe not taste so great, or at least very different from tasting them separately, so this goes for the modes of being alive. The “One Taste” (Ken Wilber’s diary-like book on being in non-dual mode most of the time) is really a “special taste”, a “particular taste” that some people like and evangelize about; but it is neither superior to other tastes, unless you like it, of course, nor is it the basic essence of all other dishes. The commonality is that it’s all food, but that doesn’t make it one, dish.

Honoring all meals and dishes we are served by life and psyche, by being and soul, by the gods and whoever else cooks them (including all the cooks inside of us) means neither reducing them to the recipes nor to their essential ingredients but eating them with mouth, nose and everything else, actually tasting the meals and the company we eat them in.

Emperors_New_Clothes

We’re polymorphs, able to take on many forms – or maybe it’s forms that take us on; it’s voices that speak us, maybe the voice of the enlightened spirit, the pensive wizard, the flowing joy, the heroic responsible person, the mystic poet and so endless on. There is no need, whatsoever, to become monotheistic about diversity, to call on our unity, to invoke our oneness, to go for the One that keeps it all together. That, as it reveals itself to me more and more obviously, is the naked emperor whose new clothes of the unity of his realm really do not amount to anything but the ego’s (or hero’s) vanity. Yes, in a certain mode of being alive I have experienced an all-pervading oneness, an ecstatic experience par excellence. But it is only in reflection that I can turn this into the essential or absolute or superior or ‘real’ (maybe even with capital letters); a reflection I’ve followed for most of my life. But not so anymore as I’ve come to honor the multitude of meals and cooks, all feeding the soul.

And this post, quite obviously, has been created in a reflective mode of being.

The Living Field & the Art of Living

childrendetail3-cory_enchWikipedia: Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression, including music and literature.

In my most recent post I have been revisiting what I’ve called the Living Field, how I experience it and how I’ve worked with it and still do. Michel Bauwens of the P2P foundation extracted a “typology of fields” from that post and talked about it here.
I don’t know if it was the “Goldberg-Variations field” that Jascha Rohr tweeted about in response that got me thinking about art as a particular type of constellation of the living field or if it was the Wikipedia definition of art; it might also have been the dream I had this morning of creating a large scale systemic constellation in some unknown land and being struck by the beauty of what emerged…

One of the most amazing characteristics of a living field is that it creates epiphanies, realizations or comprehensions of the (larger) essence or meaning of something. In systemic constellations this might be some explicit pattern in the system one inquires into that is surfacing as an “Eureka!” experience, a surprising insight into why or how things are as they are; in a circle that has managed to surrender into a highly coherent we-fulness the epiphany can be the tacit experience of individually being embedded in a higher We or “Circle Being”; and in a Dynamic Presencing constellation it can be the undeniable sense of unity with ‘all-there-is’.
The living field is, it seems, childrendetail1-cory_enchcontinually creating or triggering epiphanic in-formation in living beings. And since my main gate to the spiritual realm is beauty – truth is beauty, love is beauty, the gods are beauty, the essence of life is beauty etc. – to talk about epiphanies is to talk about essential beauty. Beauty – something many of us look for in art – is an epiphany more or less strongly altering our conscious state, momentarily or sometimes even permanently changing us by changing the way we perceive the world and interact with it.

In previous posts I have suggested that a living field is a particular – often dynamic – constellation of elements and/or beings in space and time. It can be regarded as the network, the mesh of relations between all these elements and beings involved. We could also imagine a living field as a web of relationships that in and of themselves already are dynamic, comparable to a melody which can only be enjoyed or understood in their flow.
[This makes me think of the neuronal network in the brain and that this particular constellation gives rise to the ultimate form of beauty: consciousness.]

Take these lines of poetry:

Here are the miracle-signs you want: that
you cry through the night and get up at dawn, asking,
that in the absence of what you ask for your day gets dark,
your neck thin as a spindle, that what you give away
is all you won, that you sacrifice belongings,
sleep, health, your head, that you often
sit down in a fire like aloes wood, and often go out
to meet a blade like a battered helmet.

When acts of helplessness become habitual,
those are the signs.

But you run back and forth listening for unusual events,
peering into faces of travelers.
“Why are you looking at me like a madman?”
I have lost a friend. Please forgive me.

— from Acts of Helplesssness by Rumi

What makes the hair on my skin stand as I read the poem? Is it how I relate to it? Is it how words and meaning of the lines relate to each other as in, “to meet a blade like a battered helmet“? I don’t know. But following the trace of the experience in my imagination/memory it feels as if at a certain moment all the relationships between words, lines, meaning, feeling ‘gel’ into a highly coherent whole. The ecology of the living field has reached a tipping point and evokes an insight, feelings, childrendetail2-cory_enchconnectedness, inspiration – sheer beauty.
This leads me to the understanding that creating the ecology and atmosphere for a living field to resonate with high coherence is very much akin to art. This type of creation, though, goes way beyond the above mentioned definition of art as “deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions“. Creating living field art is also related to the question that shapes the boundary of that ecological niche of highly coherent resonance, asking, “Which dimension am I going to call on, explore and what are the ways, values and means I set out with?”

We know nothing of the living field in ‘ordinary circumstances’ – it is epiphanies that indicate the whereabouts of the high resonant spaces within it that can be used for artful constellation. And then, once the artist has gone through the epiphanic process provided by the living field, s/he can constellate circumstances and deliberately arrange elements so as to propagate an epiphany-prone ‘object of art’. A conversation, a poem, singing, growing a garden, sitting in a circle, writing, dynamic presencing, participatory design, intense we-fulness, the blossoming of the heart-chakra, cooking, painting, cuing up, communing with disembodied entities, a smile on the bus… it is epiphanies that turn these moments and movements into art, making space for beauty in form. There is, of course, always a magic at work, something forever out of control of the artist. Without it all these moments and ‘objects of art’ lose their color and feel; without this mysterious extra it all lacks authentic, beautiful presence in our real-life-stream.

childrendetail-cory_enchAn artist, a living field artist recognizes this ‘magic’, s/he follows its scent to where there is ‘light in the atmosphere’ that is on the brink of emerging as epiphany. S/he’ll arrange – often without knowing how – the words, gestures, colors, beings so that their relationships invoke and evoke, tease out what flows and resounds between them; these streaming sounds, the melody of the artist’s doing, entrain the relating participants into epiphany-prone circumstance. This is where everybody and everything involved is unfolding in a deeper, higher, utterly satisfying space, round and resting in itself, and expressing in religious people spiritually, in the aesthetic ones as beauty, in inquisitive beings as realizations and insights, in philosophic and scientific minds as truth, in life’s sailors as the winds of love, in kosmic space cowboys as bliss-bubbles, in earthlings as the joyful gravity of reality.

Becoming an artist of life entails more than sniffing out, co-creating, co-evolving the forms and ecologies for epiphany, it is developing spiraling processes that enlarge the circle of resonant living fields in the manifest and virtual realms by participating in their emergence wherever that may be, “making it up as we go” with all the other feelers of the collective world-being we truly are.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.

Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

childrenstorymural-cory_ench

Mural by Cory Ench

Enlightening the Passions – Day 10 (Interlude)

A calm day starting out beautifully. And the interesting fact that, if a day starts like this it’s hard to focus on the more challenging feelings. So I took that as an invitation to explore – with my imagination, a major tool if used with care and not to avoid this, that or the other – my family feelings which I hardly have. That’s not a surprise, I guess, for people who have been following this experiment from the start, and it’s natural to me. I hardly remember my father’s birthday or my mother’s. I need to make a mental note of the birthday of my girlfriend and her daughter, and I actually don’t know the one of my grandchild.
This is shocking!
Not to me.

I’ve tried a couple of times in my life to at least get a semblance of family-feelings going, but it never worked. My guess is that in an important period in my young years something didn’t develop that later simply doesn’t develop anymore. So I have to make do with a sense of loyalty. And I do have a keen sense of that.
A couple of days before I started this experiment one evening I was asking myself, “What would I like to leave as a legacy?” And it was very surprising for me to realize that one of the 3 ‘things’ I would love to leave for those that come after me was “a happy family”. And by family I mean the person closest to me, my son and my girldfriend’s daughter, my grand-son, my next of kin, my soul-brothers and soul-sisters, which are not part of the same bloodline but in some sense are much closer to me than most of my kin. So actually I mean a “happy extended family”. And I really don’t know what I can do to help this come true – my guess these days is, if I can consistently be a true human, and by that I mean someone who is feelingly, intelligently and spiritually present with the whole field of life and living, than this will possibly take care of itself; it will be a consequence of the way I live…

Actually one of the fascinating discoveries in between the high waves of strong feelings that are so common these days is what I’ve come to call feeling-field. It seems to me that with/through this field we are much more connected to life than through our intelligence and even our consciousness.
Oddly enough, in writing this I show that I still believe there to be a clear demarcation line between consciousness and feeling. Yet, feelingly observing those nearest to me it seems like there is no such line. We meander in between consciousness and feeling most of the time.

Con-science means ‘knowing with’, and one of the things that are very, very clear is that we live in a society that has been over-emphasizing consciousness for some hundreds of years . This resulted in an education that is all about knowledge; feeling is a weakness that we still suffer from but we’ll conquer that in the long run.
Well, we can’t really leave it behind, can we? We can put the volume down so much so that it seems like it disappeared – dispassionate science, objective knowledge, processes and situations as ‘things’ behaving according to ‘natural laws’, and so on. All of this has led us into a world where we cannot feel with (com-passion: with feeling) others except in a very abstract or hollywoodesk-romantic kind of way. Just look at the way that around these days the professional helpers dance around our wallet hoping to profit from the Christmas-sentimentality by showing pictures of children with huge eyes and thin, extremely thin limbs.

Descartes’ saying, that we have to torture nature so that it will reveal its secrets, might be regarded as extreme in our day and age but we’re still acting accordingly. In physics the Holy Grail (the myth of the Unified Theory which, supposedly would explain everything physical by reducing it to extremely tiny billiard balls governed by unbreakable rules that are thought to explain everything) is now closer, the conviction goes, because we have just finished for 10 billion or so the biggest machine of all times that smashes particles into each other. Dissect, smash, separate, analyze, torture, freeze, kill, these activities are supposed to reveal reality. Yes, indeed, we live in a civilized world! Feeling is a subjective luxury that governs economy by herd mentality on Wall Street and all the other stock exchanges all over the world – who, by the way through the mechanisms of extreme greed brought us to the brink of systemic change where everybody can now see that “the emperor wears no clothes”, as Andersen’s fairy tale goes.
Truth is gained by torture of nature and greed is the feeling governing the capitalist economy – and culture, of course, and religion to bless the large masses of us who buy our bliss at the prize of ignoring what we feel stirring in the depth of our souls.

This is a depressing perspective, one that might depressurize you enough to stop for a moment and maybe decide to reclaim the primacy of your own experience, the nobility of your own soul’s judgment, the deep breath of your openness – for we are super-social animals that, through ages of suffering and hard learning and a century of wide spread richness (at least in the West, and in many other parts of this world as well) and individualism have the unique chance to truly develop further.
I’m learning to see, by passing through the furnace of facing myself just the way I am on the feeling level, the level that is still largely uncivilized and uncontrollable – the only control being ‘desensitizing’, making dead, denial, active ignorance and skillfully channeled romanticism – I’m feeling-seeing the wonder of our interconnectedness, the beauty that in spite of thousands of years of civilization we still have everything it takes to be here, and through the alchemical fire of what is called civilizedness, we now finally have the means to realize, for a change, the healthy consequence of what we are: super-social, so social that we could move to the next stage of evolution: the one planet, Earth, opening up to the rest of the multiverse.

I’m done glossing it over: In the presence of feeling-seeing, in the actual flow of being human with other beings, humans and otherwise, in the soulfulness of every meeting – and the dullness of the superficial that also lives here – in the experiment of passion-intelligence-spirit this world is a truly awesome place.

And I am interested…


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Atheist Spirituality

My friend Robert Seltman from Kyoto, Japan, devoted a whole section of his excellent website (with a great old-fashioned design; gives me retro-feelings) to Atheism and what it is for different people. And as a last little illustration he had the below video by Alan Watts – who was the hero of youth and young years. And what he says (put into fantastic pictures by the guys who do made South Park) is timelessly wise… worth considering.

Me to the Power of Us

A beautiful video illustration a visionary statement by Michel Bauwens which expresses most beautifully the Path I find myself to be on.

“Anyway, this is what the changes are about, augmenting the individual through relationality, with the object of creating common value collectively, through self-aggregation. The whole push of the p2p revolution is to create the infrastructure for this, designing for inclusion, and for convergence of the indiviual and collective interest, through value-conscious design.”
From Our new digital selves and their relational augmentation by Michel Bauwens

Right Brain Enlightenment

Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. As it happened — as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding — she studied and remembered every moment. This is a powerful story about how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another.

The Truth about Sweet Spirituality

My dear friend Sandra put up an interesting post with some music, and among the three vids here was Tom Waits celebrating Chocolate Jesus.

Sometimes when I hear music it sends ripples of joy through my body – it almost feels like my veigns are bubbling champagne – or should I say the sweetness of a chocolate fountain? Anyway, that is what happened when I saw this video.

If you find a bit hard to understand, as I did, here is the text:

Tom Waits (introducing Chocolate Jesus): “This is a eh a song for
those of you in the audience who have trouble getting up on Sunday
morning and going to church… I’ve discovered something, ehm it’s a
candy item. It’s actually kind of an immaculate confection. It’s eh
there’s a cross on one side and there’s a bible inscription on the
other, and eh you put it in your mouth and when it’s gone you can get
up and leave. So This is something for the kids on eh Easter. This is
called eh the ‘Chocolate Jesus’.”

Well, I don’t go to church on Sunday
Don’t get on my knees to pray
Don’t memorize the books of the bible
I got my own special way

I know Jesus loves me
maybe just a little bit more
I fall down on my knees every Sunday
at Zerelda Lee’s candy store

Well, I’ve got to be a chocolate Jesus
Make me feel good inside
Got to be a chocolate Jesus
Keep me satisfied

Well, I don’t want no Abba Zabba [1]
Don’t want no Almond Joy [2]
There ain’t nothing better
suitable for this boy

Well, it’s the only thing that can pick me up
It’s better than a cup of gold
See, only a chocolate Jesus
can satisfy my soul

When the weather gets rough and it’s whiskey in the shade
it’s best to wrap your savior up in cellophane
He flows like the big muddy but that’s okay
pour him over ice cream for a nice parfait

Well, it’s got to be a chocolate Jesus
Good enough for me
Got to be a chocolate Jesus
It’s good enough for me

And it’s got to be a chocolate Jesus
Make me feel so good inside
Got to be a chocolate Jesus
Keep me satisfied

Written by: Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan-Waits

(1) Abba-Zabba: American candy bar manufactured by Annabelle Candy Co.
(2) Almond Joy: American chocolate snack manufactured by Hershey Foods
Corporation.

A guy named Larry had this to say about this video (source):

Chocolate Jesus

The Rev. Tom Waits
Most hoarsely states
That we shouldnt be wary
Of the Lord Jesus culinary.

I prefer a Jesus whos
Tasting chocolatey sweet
To a bloody, sweaty Jesus
Whos just dead meat.

Yep, if you Christians have
Got to be cannibals
You may as well like the taste
Of your Lord the divine animal
Dont let his body go to waste.

Jesus he is chocolate
Be he dark or white,
Jesus he is tasty
Wont you eat him up tonight?

This makes a whole different story out of “My Sweet Lord”. And on that count I wasn’t really amazed to hear that the Catholic artist, Cosimo Cavallaro, had created a nude sculpture of Jesus out of chocolate.

Under the headline “Blessed Be Thy Chocolate” it says:

Artist Cosimo Cavallaro has created a confectionary Christ made from more than 200 pounds of chocolate (entitled “My Sweet Lord“). The folks at Esquire have even broken down the nutrition facts for the anatomically correct chocolate Jesus. The sculpture will be revealed to the public on April 1st (which, by the way, made me think it was a joke when I first read it) at the Lab gallery in the Roger Smith Hotel in New York.

Sure this got one of these Christian Fanatics (a man named William Donahue) going who didn’t turn the other cheek like his Sweet Saviour exhorts his followers to do but rather he says, “you’re lucky I’m not as mean as the Taliban because you might lose more than your head.” Surely a great example of Christianity.

Anyway you can see for yourself how such encounters go (I think Cavallaro responds very well given the venom that is thrown at him).


If Mister Donehue would care to do his homework he would discover that Christians love their Saviour sweet:
On Valentine’s Day, you might get a box of chocolates. On Easter, expect chocolate bunnies. But, what confectionary delight is appropriate for the Christmas giving season? Forget candy canes. We’ve got chocolate Jesus (a.k.a. Cocoa Christ).

But just so that you don’t think this is a Christian only pleasure – the Star of David is available in brown and white chocolate too.

And since we’re in these regions right now here is a girl with the Torah for all you feminist Kabalists out there!

But sucking chocolate out of their sweet divinities or spiritual heroes is not only a monotheistic pleasure, Buddhists love it too.

And with these words about the “Chocolate Deities” website I’ll finish my Sweet Spirituality blog…

Jeanne Fleming of Chocolate Deities, who is into world religions, is well aware of the reservations some Hindus might have, but says she has many Hindu customers:

“Everyone realizes you don’t have to eat them. You can keep them as just a beautiful object with the spirit attached to them, that’s OK. Many put them on their altars, and some make them as an offering and later put them in a body of water. Still others grate the thick chocolate into coffee or dessert, keeping the veneer of the image intact and that they later place on their home shrine.”

One Hindu woman ordered 400 hand painted chocolate Oms in pink and white as keepsakes for the guests who attended her child’s naming ceremony. The deities have also been bought by the Chopra Center and Kripalu Institute. Recently the devotees of Amma, the spiritual mother for many, ordered a large chocolate oval inscribed with the108 names of the Divine Mother for her birthday. Amma, famous for her loving hugs, broke the chocolate into pieces and distributed it amongst her devotees.

_______________________

Today (Oct. 27) I found this:

Chocolate Jesus exhibit cancelled

Chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ

The sculpture was to have been exhibited over Easter


Chocolate Jesus

A New York art gallery has decided to cancel an exhibit of a chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ after protests by a US Catholic group. The six-foot (1.8m) sculpture, entitled “My Sweet Lord”, depicts a naked Jesus Christ with his arms outspread.

The sculpture, by artist Cosimo Cavallaro, was to have been displayed from Monday at Manhattan’s Lab Gallery.

The timing, over Easter Holy Week – the most important part of the Christian year – provoked an outcry.

The Roger Smith Hotel housing the Lab gallery decided to cancel the exhibition after the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights called for a boycott.

We are the next Buddha

Helen wrote in her blog “Why the next Buddha will be a collective.” I hope to show with this article where I am coming from in this regard so that in the time to come we can have beautiful dialogues, trialogues or any other -logues to help this meme propagate.

I guess, for me it all started in earnest when in the summer of 2005 one of my trainees asked, “What about we?” I guess, he asked that because I was using my own path and experience as a template for the spiritual journey, as most spiritual teachers do. Because that’s what I felt myself to be at that time, a spiritual teacher. And, being steeped in a guru culture, my role was centered around having a ‘working relationship’ with the divine, by whatever name you want to call it, and my teaching and methods were congruent with that. (I won’t go into the aspect of the “teaching beyond words and scripture” that also is very much a part of this; some of how I looked at these matters you find here.)
The question really struck me, and so I started to read a lot of Martin Buber, and what he had to say about the possible quality of true relationship moved me deeply.

Wer in der Beziehung steht, nimmt an einer Wirklichkeit teil, das heißt: an einem Sein, das nicht bloß an ihm und nicht bloß außer ihm ist. Alle Wirklichkeit ist ein Wirken, an dem ich teilnehme, ohne es mir eignen zu können. Wo keine Teilnahme ist, ist keine Wirklichkeit. Wo Selbstzueignung ist, ist keine Wirklichkeit. Die Teilnahme ist umso vollkommener, je unmittelbarer die Berührung des Du ist.
Das Ich ist wirklich durch seine Teilnahme an der Wirklichkeit. Es wird umso wirklicher, je vollkommener die Teilnahme ist.

Being in relationship one participates in reality, that means, one participates in a being that is not only one’s inner being nor is it the being outside of one. All reality is a becoming-real in which I participate without my being able to take possession of it. Without participation there is no reality. Where there is a taking into possession to oneself there is no reality. The more perfect the participation the more immediate is the touching of the thou.

The I is real through its participation with and in reality. And it becomes more real the more perfect the participation is.

(My translation of Martin Buber: Das Dialogische Prinzip – Ich und Du – Seite 65-66)

Over time starting to understand what Martin Buber is indicating I left behind my formal conviction that was very much founded on experiences interpreted through Eastern philosophy and spirituality. “Thou art That” (Vedanta)… “I and the world are one” (Upanishads)… “I am is all there is” (Advaita). And I was moved to explore in all manners possible to me, what is between us.

During the winter seminar of the same year I went for a walk in a wooded valley nearby. The afternoon sun was coloring the snow golden white, the gurgling streamlet hid underneath a thin layer of ice and a deep blue sky spanned over the wonderful silence, when all of a sudden I saw a flock of finches, sparrows, stock doves and a rusty brown bird with a many-colored tail that is very common here. Different birds in one flock settling in a couple of trees and starting a game, it seemed, flying from branch to branch and tree to tree: a fink jumped-flew onto a branch on which a dove was sitting who then flew to a branch on which one of the brown birds was sitting and so on. And it seemed to have a rhythm: the birds in a game I used to play as a child called “Bäumchen wechsle dich” – a delightful jumping and a flying all over.
I had never seen anything like it or heard of it before, yet this experience befitted my development of the period very well. It isn’t important what species of bird I am with – what matters is engaging with what is between us, “Can we find a common game?” I wrote in my diary. Because then we can play with all species of birds in the trees of life. You show yourself as the sparrow or the dove you are, as the crane or the eagle or any other bird you find yourself to be, and you are taking the other birds just the way they are… and then something new, unknown, a never before seen or experienced game begins. Whatever song you sing let’s hear it, and listen to our melody, because without both the game, our joyous, delightful, mutual game cannot happen.

That spring and summer I was in trouble because I started to see that I couldn’t go on with my old way of teaching in which I was the one that “has it”, and the people coming to me didn’t – or where not conscious of it. Not, that I didn’t feel connected anymore to the deep sources of life and being, not that there were no more Satori’s or deep mystical states – quite the contrary many of my days were spent in a very juicy sense of lightness, as if bubbles of champagne were coursing through my veins. But it was what I and others made out of this that was the trouble. It was the ‘vertical spirituality’ in the patriarchal mode that I became wary of. It reminded me very much of feudalism, a social structure that I didn’t want to be part of anymore.
And as my opposition was growing (the article linked above was written in that period; you can see how very critical it is) so was my insight into what I came to call the emerging archetype of the “between us”. There is the huge P2P movement, Wikipedia, open source programming, sharing economy, distributed research, Web 2.0 & 3.0, etc.; the Internet has opened a huge gate towards the culture of collaboration in the production of knowledge and understanding but also of products and services.
I also came in touch with spiritual teachings and philosophies that are deep and and encompassing, thorough and practical and sophisticated as well, which apparently are not in need of the ‘vertical stance’ (John Heron‘s participatory spirituality, Jorge Ferrer‘s revisioning of transpersonal psychology, Alan Rayner’s inclusionality, Samuel Bonder‘s wakening down in mutuality… to name but a few).

I also saw that many of the methods I was using already for quite some time – dynamic presencing for instance – could be regarded very much as an expression of the spirit between us, the “We” (whenever I am alluding to the emerging archetype of the “between us”, which is also “the spirit between us” I will from now on be using We with capital W). And as I realized this the methods changed to incorporate this understanding. I started to realize that my real art is creating an atmosphere and situations in which the We can appear and start to move and even incorporate each and every one of us. The beauty of course is that this understanding meshes with another insight that came out of facilitating “Enlightenement guaranteed ;-)” events, a method that has become famous through Genpo Roshi who calls it “Big Mind”. Suffice it to say here that this method uses voices or sub-personalities as the main gate to understand how the human mind works. So there is not only the We between the many persons outside of us but inside of us as well. These ideas evolved into an understanding that I will sketch in more detail below.

Then in autumn and winter 2006 I went through a deep existential crisis which touched all aspects of my life, heart and mind – to put it in the metaphor I met the senex, Saturn, and it took quite some time before I could discover the We and allow it to unfold between us. But as spring dawned and with it my old friend Jupiter it was as if I started to hear a symphony – many different melodies coming together. And if I put it in language, this is how it sounds…
At this moment of our history we are on a critical path starting to leave an old view behind. If I am to sketch the perspectives of this view in a few broad strokes I would say it is basically one of centralism. It reminds me of what I think went on at the time when Kepler revolutionized the astronomical place of earth and sun. Before him most people, even the most intelligent ones, believed the earth was the center of the cosmos. But now he showed that the sun was at the center. It took a few hundred years for us then to realize that this is really not so, this cosmos does not have a center (more about this metaphor it in this article). So instead of our sun being at center we are now faced with innumerable stars and their relationships – constellations and configurations. So as beautiful as the sun might be around which I turn, and as enlightening the sun might be around which you turn, we are discovering that if we do not find the We (the movement and nourishment in our relationships and what happens or doesn’t happen in it) between us this universe starts falling apart into discrete stars and galaxies which are separated by huge stretches of empty space.

So it is very beautiful and makes deep sense that obviously this space is not empty at all; it is flowing over with the We that embraces all. And as I said, the We is making itself felt, understood, intuited all over this globe and is manifesting in many different ways – as people wanting to cooperate, to collaborate, to be in community and communion, seeing that the time of heroes (central suns) is definitely over, the time for the saviors and lone leaders that could set things right again. The world and its problems have become so complex that we can only hope to find adequate answers in “circles”of very different people where we can meet eye to eye and heart to heart – in a sort of collective leadership maybe. And this is underfoot already on a worldwide scale. The place here would not suffice to mention all the initiatives that are going on all over the world. Yet, this is one aspect of We manifesting.

Another aspect is the sense of spiritual or soul families or clans finding each other again across countries and continents. It is as if we have chosen ages ago to come together in this critical time on the planet to be midwives to what is wanting to emerge. What ever may be the case we do recognize each other and there is an immediate connection beyond words, even beyond understanding; all we do is accept it.

A third aspect manifests through what has been called the Circle Being, manifesting as a higher order of being together with an incredible coherence that draws in the individuals participating. This certainly is We, being highly coherent. (Helen has written about it here, and I have also reported a very strong experience here). The “between us” can also come into being in what has been called “a silver moment” or in German Sternstunde, “stellar hour”. In the Bible it has been alluded to – and much misinterpreted as only applying to the divine person of Jesus – as, “Where two or three are gathered in My Name there am I am in their midst.” (Matth. 18:20)

A fourth aspect is the insight that our very consciousness itself can best be regarded as plural and not singular as a traditional mysticism has it. In the individual this shows itself as sub-personalities or the many voices that speak in us – for instance the ego, the inner child, the judge, the saboteur, the seeker, the achiever, the non-seeking mind, the inner master, the higher self etc.. So looking at our individual consciousness or psyche as a “we” rather than as an “I” would pave the way for a “circle being” to manifest inside the mind of the individual. This to me at this moment is one of the most interesting aspect of the emerging archetype.
It seems obvious that the “inner We” does not dissolve individuality, I or ego; it rather enhances its possibilities and functionality, because as the so far dominant ego realizes its embeddedness it can let go much easier of its compulsory need to control, and become part of the conductorless orchestra of the “inner We” tuning in to the “larger We” dawning on all of mankind and even, so I think, all beings and what we now still call derogatively ‘dead matter’.

This allows us to regard the emerging We as a scalable, fractal phenomenon on many and maybe even all levels. Contemplating all of this I come to the understanding that I am called – as are many others – to support and nourish these dynamic constellations of individuals and voices to configure themselves so that the transformation that is necessary for the health of the planet and its inhabitants is facilitated optimally.

Towards an Integral & Pluralistic Spirituality

deepest pic of the universeAn archetype is emerging – the archetype of a participatory, integral and pluralistic spiritual culture.

People all over the world — caring about the life on and of this planet, and experiencing themselves as embedded in continually expanding networks and environments — are seeking genuine, open and constructive dialogue and mutual support in their work towards a better world and spiritual wholeness: one planet on which all beings are at home.

Until very recently in our history values and practices have been mostly generated in vertical structures, and this is especially true regarding life-guiding or value-generating structures of learning, practice and daily life, the structures of spirituality and religion. Whereas in many ways the Internet has provided ways and means to transcend and surmount verticality and promotes a co-creative, participatory and pluralistic approach to all kinds of matters and processes (P2P, Wikipedia, open source programming, sharing economy, conscious capitalism, distributed research, Web 2.0 & 3.0 etc.) this approach seems to be missing very much in spirituality and religion.

Also the spirituality that is now on the increase in business, psychology, politics, and numerous other fields of human endeavor is almost entirely ‘vertical’ in teaching and structure, being founded mostly on what is often called perennial philosophy. This philosophy acertains that the material world is the shadow of a higher reality, that spirituality and religion (re)establish the link between the human soul and this higher and ultimate reality, and that the Ultimate Reality, whatever name it is given, is the Absolute (principle/space) from which all existence originates and to which all will return.

Copernicus cosmic view with sun in the center

Even the post-60ies, or modern spirituality – after freeing itself from ego- and intrinsically ethnocentric views, from materialism and scientific reductionism – is still enthralled by the perennial philosophy and happily believes itself to aspire to, be informed or blessed by, and basically move around a singular Transcendent Sun common to all faiths, creeds, mysticisms and spiritual paths and practices.

This spirituality seems to resonate with the situation in astronomy when we believed that our sun was the center of the universe.
We have had to learn, though, that obviously this universe does not have a center at all or, to put it differently and just as true, the universal center is everywhere. And yet, when it comes to our spirituality we are very reluctant to take serious what we have learnt from studying the heavens astronomically. We object to the image that there are numerous Transcendent Suns around which meaning, understanding, love, devotion and divine, true and valid mystic experience revolves. And even then, surrendering one’s defenses against this understanding, one still would love to salvage some of perennial philosophy’s tenets by believing these Suns to turn around a common Center. And indeed, it seems that some Suns do; for instance the Suns of most Christian, Islamic and Jewish faiths turn around the Monotheistic Galactic Center. Yet, other Suns do not turn that way, they participate in and form other constellations in different Galaxies of our local cluster.

The present day spiritual explorer, teacher and finder is having to face a huge challenge – to come to grips with the undeniable non-centeredness of the cosmos, the plurality of suns and galaxies, the undoing of all ‘cosmic justifications’ for vertical structure and certainties. This might be as scary for us as it wasn’t when it was possible anymore to reasonably doubt Kepler’s, Copernicus’ and Newton’s discoveries. The beautiful certainties of old are evaporating, and with it what gave purpose and meaning to life. All of a sudden we find ourselves in an endlessly open universe that doesn’t turn around us or around what we hold sacred anymore. The One Transcendent Sun setting and a multitude of Stars lighting up the mysterious darkness we now find ourselves in.

This is the challenge: seeing that there are no pre-given and objective constellations in the skies anywhere, and wholeheartedly facing and embracing this freedom; moving from a bi-directional, vertical understanding of the Highest and Lowest towards an omnidirectional, participatory, co-created, radically pluralistic reality.

It dawns on us, a cosmos with innumerable Suns around which a multitude of constellations of experience, understanding, faith and meaning are configured and brought forth, all participating in the dynamic matrix of the mystery we call reality

Formerly embedded in what I’ve been calling “vertical spirituality” it was a personal existential/spiritual crisis which made me realize what I’ve tried to sketch above. Since then I have come in touch with numerous people all over the world moving in this general direction. This in turn has convinced me that, indeed, what is emerging at this time and age is more than a personal revelation. It is an archetype emerging, the archetype of a pluralistic, polycentric, participatory spirituality which is surfacing in many ways, reckognized and not yet reckognized, and being explored with numerous methods which mostly are still very much experimental.
Now, after the the crisis has led me into these truly awesome and beautiful whereabouts, exploring the consequences of such a sea-change in understanding, living, feeling and teaching, I have started assembling material for a book that I hope to write – a portrait of the emerging archetype and how it translates into action, teaching and community all over the world.

Hopefully the book-project in due time will also become a web-plattform for people wishing to communicate what is emerging here, and finally an Academy that will provide an institution where teachers can learn, where students can connect, where all of us can study and learn from each other what richness this emergence offers to us and all of mankind.

At this moment I am seeking financial support of ca. 30.000 for this project.

Thank you.

Beyond the Enlightenment Disease

[Published in Connection Magazine, 2001. Aimed at taking an in depth look at what became famous around that time, Neo-Advaita]

It is the year 1984. I am sitting at the feet of the man who is to become my spiritual teacher a while later. He asks me, “What do you want?”
“I want to be enlightened,” I reply. He laughs and asks me whether I’d be prepared to walk through Berlin naked. ‘If that’s all it takes,’ I think to myself, let’s go! So I start to undress and then he really starts to laugh, and says, “You have to do everything you possibly can. You must want enlightenment like a drowning man grabs at the proverbial straw and then you have to let that go, too.”

This was the first time I realized that I wanted to be enlightened, in this lifetime! But I didn’t really know what enlightenment was, although I had some ideas, of course, ideas that changed in the course of time, naturally. Anyway, I read a lot and learned that what I was striving for could be called ‘Cosmic Consciousness’ (R. Bucke), and that in the Buddhist literature enlightenment was the end of suffering, and that in Zen it was Satori, a breakthrough to this most desirable state of nirvana. And in the course of time I learnt that the highest achievement was called Samadhi, or Moksha (Hindu), Fana, (Sufi) Wu (Taoism), Objective Consciousness (Gurdjieff), the Supramental (Sri Aurobindo), etc.

So I put myself, struggling, for as a former hippie I was rather anti-authoritarian, in the hands of a Master, Michael Barnett, whom I took to be enlightened. He had what I was looking for, and therefore he could give it to me, at least that’s what I thought. And in the many years to follow I experienced small and slightly bigger breakthroughs, moved in transcendental spaces, divine dimensions, visionary states and spiritual places. And at times I felt myself to be enlightened, I was filled with light and blissed out, I saw beings and things like they are in essence, and my eyes shone like the floodlights in the stadium during the Euro cup. If then I reported my “progress” to my teacher, he only told me time and again that this wasn’t It. “Everything you think is It – isn’t,” he used to say. And anyway, my spiritual hunger hadn’t been satisfied, and I still lacked the Big Insight.

The Big Insight: “If I am enlightened,” I was convinced, “than I’ll have no more problems, not with myself, not in relationships, nor financially; I’m free of the world and it’s inadequacies.” I wished for a kind inviolability, wanted to be above all things, untouched by the problems and suffering of mortals. That would be enlightenment. And, arrogant or not, I set out my own conditions too, “I will become enlightened in the city, because if it is only to be attained on a mountainside or in the woods it is unattainable for most people (who live in cities).”

A very male view: Enlightenment as the peak of human possibilities that must be attained. So I became more radical in my behavior and thinking towards everybody, except towards my son. In that regard I had decided irrevocably: If I had to decide between enlightenment or my son I would drop enlightenment until he reached his 18th birthday and could take care of himself. But he was the only exception. Not his mother, not my friends and acquaintances; here I experimented regardless, breaking quite a few of my own (and their!) taboos and hearts more than once, living low budget, meeting many situations head on that I hadn’t encountered before and were new to me, situations that promised important lessons but put me on the line, too, to put it mildly. Like when the head of the community of my teacher one day stormed into the office in which I was sitting and working like 8 other people. She started to shout at me in front of all the others, reprimanding me for stuff I hadn’t done. And every time I wanted to protest, “but…!” she would stop me and shout at me even more. After ten minutes, an eternity, she went out just as fast as she had come in without giving me the slightest chance to defend myself.

“I’ve had it!” I fumed. I was not going to take this! But when I wanted to pack my bags all of a sudden I realized that my reaction had been an automatic stereotype. And that I had decided to break free of all automatisms. I dropped what I was doing and sat down in a meadow to look at it: my whole movie on this topic.

That was only one of the hundreds of films that I had to watch as time passed by; every conviction was based on such a movie and started others, about my masculinity, the inner child, my wish for inviolability, my relationships, profession, deficiencies, what I took to be truth, my strengths and weaknesses, in short the whole hotchpotch one takes oneself to be, and of which one says: That’s me.

Over the years my idea of enlightenment changed of course. Experience taught me that even states of consciousness in which I saw as clear as clear can be or in which I was at one with everything that is, in which I was flooded by transparent joy, in which the subtly profound delight of the cosmos was looking through my eyes to behold the human frenzy, that all of these states come and go. So whatever I experienced in these states couldn’t have been enlightenment because the “holy” scriptures all seem to speak of something that lasts forever. Even meeting the then deceased Osho in a humbling vision in which he showed me where he was, in the heart of all his students, nay of all people, did not finish my search; when this vision overwhelmed me my body bowed down to all hearts and then all hearts bowed down to me and I collapsed in my chair and cried for hours — this experience also, which happened to me during one of his video-discourses in which he said something that would be characteristic for the next phase on my way to enlightenment, has now turned into a memory; one of the most beautiful ones…

Osho in this discourse said, “Human beings are the most vulnerable beings of all, more vulnerable than the petals of roses.” And it became obvious to me that all my striving for enlightenment so far was rooted in the wish to be invulnerable. The scales fell from my eyes: Enlightenment does not make one invulnerable and places one beyond everything. So that finished that part of my search, and the quest continued but now the focus turned very much towards this world. The entire deep spiritual, sometimes even divine, experiences were all right with me but now I was going to incarnate, become flesh and bones to be here in this world and this body.

So whenever I found myself drifting into spiritual dimensions I immediately anchored in the body again, in the senses, the present breath. I began to engage socially and put much more value on the exchange with others than before. Friendliness, mutual respect, even courteousness were again essential achievements of human relating in my eyes. People striving for transcendence now looked like hard and dry rocks, deserts in the midst of the flourishing jungle of feelings and sensations. I was not much interested in spirituality anymore. Not being was important but living, not floating above the world of things, no more moving beyond the given and present but rather diving deep into it, that’s the way I used to put it at the time.

And a serious separation with my teacher occurred. Because of the way the students related to each other and, in a critical situation, how he behaved towards me. Only later did I learn that this hadn’t been my true reason, but for the time being the break-up provided the opportunity to emancipate myself from him and his community. And indeed emancipate myself from the spiritual world itself. This went so far that just looking at a spiritual book and reading a couple of lines made me physically sick. It didn’t matter whether these were books of my former teacher, New Age, Buddhism, Zen, Sufi or science and philosophy! The world, the senses, other people, relationships, feelings – that was all there was for me, nothing else really mattered.
And then, one day as I was just sitting in my room looking out of my window it dawned on me, and almost took my breath away: It’s all about nothing! Life, the cosmos, the world, my development, and enlightenment, all of this is nothing special at all. Life is about living not about any goal! Striving for enlightenment had gotten me to move, and now the reason for this movement had disappeared from me: I would still have countless experiences but they had no goal anymore; they did have a characteristic though, and that was to broaden my horizon. Nothing was more present than any other thing, everything and everyone is equally here (everything actual has this one quality: it being here now, its Isness, as Meister Eckhard used to put it), as if every phenomenon is celebrating its being, and I came to see it with these very eyes: Being is synonymous with bliss.

And then I was only in awe: That there is anything at all, that anything or anyone exists and that there’s an awareness to go with it recognizing phenomena and makes sense out of them, that is enlightenment! That everything is! It is remarkable and at the same time absolutely obvious, like the air we breathe. The obviousness of all things, states and situations, and of all experiences no matter what they are! What connects me with you, you with the world, and everything with everything else: That we are here, and just the way we are, with the consciousness that is available to us.

Suddenly and out of the blue I was free indeed. Nobody who could or had to okay me anymore, no more inner or outer authority, no guru or master, no god or Buddha, not even myself: I was nothing but the streaming of tendencies and inclinations that meanders through this time and world, that took himself for unenlightened and sometimes for enlightened and now for nothing in particular anymore; just one among the multitudes, not separated from what happens to be the case, always in the flow that’s flowing just now, and at the same time free of it — but not in a way that I could describe, even to myself. The old questions (Who am I? What is all of this? What is the meaning of life?) fell away or answered themselves.

And now I could read spiritual literature again. Much that had been dark or mystical to me before was now quite obvious and evident, often I even had to grin, saying, “Why be so complicated?” But what I noticed most was that hardly any of the enlightened ones said clearly that it was all about nothing. Clearest was Nagarjuna who had said about 1000 years ago: “Emptiness of all views is prescribed by the Buddha’s as the ‘way of liberation’. Incurable indeed are they who take Emptiness itself as a view. It is as if one were to ask, when told that there is nothing to give, to be given that nothing.”
A very beautiful old description of the way I go, the way of liberation.

When I met an old friend, now a sword-master, a few weeks later, and told him that I was still a bit angry with my former spiritual teacher who had withheld the most obvious of all facts, he smiled and asked, “And what is your anger good for?” I had to grin; that I had been so attached to my irritation, what an irony, it had only been there to give me enough space to look with my own eyes. Breaking up with spirituality had given me space, free of opinions and convictions, scriptures and teachings that I had taken in until that time, free of the idea of enlightenment. And all the anger disappeared. I contacted my former master again. And only now could I really start to appreciate his work.

Before my spiritual crises I had done energy-work once a week, and had thought of myself as a competent facilitator, someone who could give the participants essential experiences. Then I wasn’t so sure anymore and finished working. And with the distance from spirituality grew the distance from that kind of work. And the end of the crisis didn’t really change that, as I believed that it wouldn’t be right to ‘sit by the side of the river and sell water.’ What I had found is already given to all whether they know it or not. And I was far away from perfect wisdom, total emptiness, all-encompassing love, egolessness or some such. Sure, sometimes I look at people and look deep into their nature, sometimes I know all I need to know without knowing where that comes from, sometimes there is a silence that comes down on everything without smothering a single sound, sometimes I am flooded with compassion for a human being or other beings, and sometimes I’m not there although everything is there. But not one of these states can be taught anyway. I thought. Wrongly.

Factual happenings I bow down to: Sometimes when I am with people these days they suddenly see that all their endeavors are really all about nothing, and a huge load falls of their shoulders and they are free, and smile, for a moment; until they believe again that it can‘t be that simple or because of something else that bothers them. In my spiritual work I actually only work to reveal that smile in the background of all experiencing, if it has a real purpose at all. Even if I work with chakras, the flow of energies, or lead meditations or dance or whatever is happening, the real work is about the freedom from all attachment to experiences. Bowing down to the endless beauty that‘s here, the happiness of being alive, the pearls of insight that befall us; all of this is to be treasured, but sticking to experiences or the one that experiences them doesn‘t make sense, as it is all nothing special. That one has to discover for oneself though.

„Enlightenment is that which one hasn‘t got when one has got it,“ Sugata, publisher of a prominent German magazine devoted to ‚essentials‘ writes in an email to me. And hits the bull‘s eye. That‘s why I feel a bit awkward towards the army of neo-enlightened ones (I don‘t mean to put them down with terming them thus, but I simply use the pre-fix „neo“ to distinguish them from the enlightened ones so far; 23 of them are mentioned in the Satsang-Kalender of Connection 5/2000) especially if they speak of their enlightenment experiences, an experience which authorizes them to give Satsang and teach the „true nature“, „the one moment“, „total freedom“, „the reconnection to the original nature“ (all quotes are… well, quotes).

But if the enlightenment-experience is not an experience at all, as I tried to point out earlier from the example of my journey, if enlightenment is rather „that which one hasn‘t got when one has got it,” then what? What if the way in truth leads to nowhere? What if there is only a natural development, only beautiful places and vistas from the edge of the road, forever expanding horizons, but simply no end, and most of all no final end-solution to the problems of the world or our being in it? What if the enlightenment-experiences of the Satsang teachers are beautiful („I was one with Osho, god, all being“ for instance) but nothing but experiences? And what if, and this is the main point, the holding on to these enlightenment-experiences, the attachment to this state as the Real, True, Only State isn‘t different from attachment to other beautiful states, like making love for instance? Then these people are suffering from the enlightenment-disease, because that‘s how we could call this spiritual contraction where one is stuck with the enlightenment-experience or the one who experienced it.

I don‘t mean to say the enlightenment-experience of the neo-enlightened ones is irrelevant, no, not at all! I do believe they all had deep experiences far beyond the ordinary, and they can help others to make similar experiences. But to turn these experiences into the foundation of one‘s enlightenment or awakening misses the mark, as I have tried to show.

The opposite of this, to deny that one is attached to certain special experiences; enlightenment, freedom, etc. misses the mark just as much. To deny the dimension one is in at a particular moment only leads to detours, confusion and perplexity. One is then casting a mist. It doesn‘t make sense to deny the actually perceived state, the feeling of not being enlightened or being stuck in all kinds of structures or the ego, denying that would be even worse. To believe one is what one isn‘t doesn‘t confuse anyone else, apart from those people who already kid themselves into believing they are different from what they are.

What helps us on this journey is truthfulness, openness and authenticity. The spiritual city slicker has to clear himself of many things before he can accept the obvious. As long as reincarnation, Satsang, energy-work, retreats, therapies, esotericism of all denominations, astro- and other logics or even enlightenment are still essential questions or answers, how could one accept that all of this isn‘t special at all but just weather; clouds and sunshine and rain and snow and falling leaves?

So as long as one is searching it helps to do so with all one‘s heart, because whatever one does wholeheartedly and engages in totally will reveal its secret sooner or later. And that never stops. Any horizon can be broadened, and there will still be all kinds of things to master, and difficulties to rise above; but the unknown is without end. That‘s where my trust lies, without a shadow of a doubt. I accept what the unknown puts on my path, no matter what, being a free human being I have no choice: How could I possibly say no to what comes and goes on this journey?